Index 
 Previous 
 Next 
 Full text 
Procedure : 2009/0059(COD)
Document stages in plenary
Select a document :

Texts tabled :

A7-0401/2011

Debates :

PV 30/11/2011 - 17
CRE 30/11/2011 - 17

Votes :

PV 01/12/2011 - 6.14
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0533

Debates
Wednesday, 30 November 2011 - Brussels OJ edition

17. Financing instrument for development cooperation - banana accompanying measures - Financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide - Financing instrument for development cooperation - Establishment of a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised countries (debate)
Video of the speeches
PV
MPphoto
 

  President. − The next item is the joint debate on

– the report by Charles Goerens, on behalf of the European Parliament delegation to the Conciliation Committee, on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (00059/2011 – C7-0379/2011 – 2010/0059(COD)) (A7-0403/2001),

– the report by Helmut Scholz, on behalf of the European Parliament delegation to the Conciliation Committee, on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1934/2006 establishing a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories (00056/2011 – C7-0376/2011 – 2009/0059(COD)) (A7-0401/2011),

– the report by Kinga Gál and Barbara Lochbihler, on behalf of the European Parliament delegation to the Conciliation Committee, on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide (00058/2011 – C7-0378/2011 – 2009/0060B(COD)) (A7-0404/2011), and

– the report by Gay Mitchell, on behalf of the European Parliament delegation to the Conciliation Committee, on the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (00057/2011 – C7-0377/2011 – 2009/0060A(COD)) (A7-0402/2011).

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Chair of the Delegation to the Conciliation Committee. (ES) Mr President, after lengthy, laborious negotiations, on 25 October the European Parliament Delegation to the Conciliation Committee approved, by a large majority, the agreement reached with the Council. First of all, I would like to extend my thanks to all the members of Parliament’s Delegation, particularly those who formed part of the negotiating team, to the Council for its openness, and to the Commission for its relentless support.

As Chair of the Delegation to the Conciliation Committee, I have to say that the overall result is satisfactory to Parliament. We were faced with an interesting challenge both politically and intellectually, namely to adapt the current financing instruments to the circumstances of the new Treaty. This has been achieved, Mr President, by making the key elements of those instruments – priorities, objectives, expected results and general resource allocation – subject to codecision, thus placing Parliament and the Council on an equal footing.

Another significant achievement I should like to highlight is that, thanks to our discussions in the conciliation process, the Commission has made its declaration on the use of delegated acts in future financing instruments explicitly much more forceful.

A further point I would like to emphasise is the Council’s political declaration on the use of delegated acts in future external financing instruments, which it has agreed to deal with appropriately. This was a red line for the Council, as it was initially reluctant to issue this declaration but was finally persuaded to do so by the force of our arguments.

Regarding the instruments themselves, I will point out the following: in the case of the instrument for industrialised countries, we have succeeded in including an annex specifying funding thresholds by priority and geographical area, and in the case of the instrument for banana-exporting countries, we have laid down in very precise terms the criteria for funding allocation and the approach to be taken, ruling out any arbitrariness and any possibility of action by the Commission that escapes the control of Parliament. I must admit, Mr President, that there was one particular point in this instrument on which Parliament’s position failed to prevail. However, Mr President, conciliation means conciliating positions, not winning outright. Therefore, just as we imposed our red lines, the Council was also entitled to draw some of its own.

I would like to add, Mr President, that if Parliament failed to adopt the instrument for banana-exporting countries tomorrow it would have serious consequences. The programmes would be cancelled because, contrary to what some colleagues have stated in this House – in good faith, I presume – there is no money elsewhere in the budget that can be used to fund those programmes. Such a decision on our part would therefore cause serious damage to vulnerable communities in those countries, and the political consequences would likewise be highly detrimental, to say nothing of the agreements we have recently reached in the World Trade Organisation in connection with bananas, which would also be severely undermined.

Mr President, the Council has already approved this agreement. Tomorrow we are expected to honour our gentleman’s pact with the Council by ratifying the agreement. Hence, Mr President, as Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the Conciliation Committee, my recommendation to the House is to support this conciliation agreement tomorrow.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Goerens, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, the regulation on the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) has two sections: a development cooperation section and an institutional section relating to the European Parliament’s power of codecision. The first section does not present any issues. Rather, it is on the institutional aspects that our ideas differ.

How can we make the BAM Regulation compatible with the provisions of the Treaty of Lisbon, and particularly with Article 290? Let it be clear that, under the Treaty of Lisbon, the European Parliament now has the same power as the Council to approve the strategic priorities set in connection with the programming of European funds, including those allocated to development cooperation.

In accordance with the mandate set by Parliament’s Conference of Presidents, and on the basis of the decisions taken by both the Committee on Development and Parliament’s delegation to the Conciliation Committee, I, as rapporteur, adhered to the following two red lines throughout the eight trialogues held with the Council and the Commission.

Firstly, there was no question of relinquishing the equal treatment of Parliament and the Council when financial programming priorities are set. Secondly, and in the same spirit, there was no question of relinquishing the European Parliament’s right of democratic oversight in connection with this instrument and thereby setting an undesirable precedent for the future.

Following eight trialogues, and faced with the inflexibility of the Council, which is not even present here today, two different responses emerged. The majority of the delegation voted in favour of the draft compromise as presented to you. A strong minority, however, failed to endorse the compromise negotiated as part of the conciliation procedure. As rapporteur and as a democrat who respects the principle of the majority, it is my duty to communicate the outcome of our deliberations to you, which is what I have done.

My personal interpretation of parliamentary ethics is such that I could not allow that fact to go unmentioned. Those same ethics permit me, however, to tell you that, personally, I find the outcome extremely unsatisfactory. Why? I find it unsatisfactory because, should the compromise be adopted by Parliament, it could set an undesirable precedent. Indeed, for the BAM project, the European Parliament has only been granted the right to receive information on the strategic choices that the Commission will make in relation to the allocation of the EUR 190 million worth of resources. The European Parliament is given information, and the Council, alone, decides on a Commission proposal.

This is not a step forward; it is two steps back: the first, in relation to the Treaty of Lisbon, and the second, in relation to the situation prior to 1 December 2009, the date of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. Indeed, up until 2009, the European Parliament was able to argue its case before the Commission when there was a negative procedure. Such procedures had suspensive effect. Today, they have no such thing. The Council has succeeded in depriving the European Parliament, despite its role as colegislator, of its right of democratic scrutiny by only accepting a solution whereby the Council alone may take strategic decisions within the scope of the Banana Accompanying Measures.

The Council has succeeded in making the implementation of the BAM programme part of a process dictated by Article 291, which relates to implementing measures and nothing else. We are taking two steps backwards here. To tell the truth, we are regressing. That is why I will be unable to vote in favour of this report. That being said, I admit that this is an extremely difficult decision for me, but it is one that I am prepared to take, because I do not want to be involved in setting an undesirable precedent for the forthcoming negotiations on the European Parliament’s powers with regard to the financing of external policy instruments.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Helmut Scholz, rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, when I took over this dossier, I quite honestly did not expect to be negotiating it intensively for more than two years. In my view, that is certainly difficult to explain to the general public, both to citizens within the EU and also to people in our partner countries.

It is worth noting that, with regard to the negotiations on the actual content and the tasks of the instrument, it was possible to reach an agreement in a few months. What caused the negotiations to drag on so long was the interpretation of the Treaty of Lisbon in respect of the delegated acts and the refusal of some large Member States to actually allow Parliament greater powers of scrutiny.

The Council and the European Parliament agreed at an early stage to thoroughly revise the financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised countries. We planned to release up to EUR 348 million for cooperation in the fields of science, academic exchanges – including the Erasmus Mundus programme – culture, environmental protection and renewable energy sources and the stimulation of bilateral trade relations. Particular consideration was to be given here to small and medium-sized enterprises. That remains the case, but the delay has meant that it will only be possible for a considerably smaller amount to be invested by the end of the current financial framework. That is particularly regrettable because, with the new ICI+, projects in developing countries can also be financed, and this involves projects that do not fall within the general definition of development assistance measures, for example sending European students to universities in Africa, Asia or Latin America.

In the amended regulation we have made clear reference to the opportunities and challenges arising from the expansion of its geographical scope. It is clearly stated for whom and for what purpose the additional funds are to be used according to the intentions of the legislators. In the developing countries listed in Annex II, at least 5% of the funds are to be spent in the area of public diplomacy. In specific terms, that means the promotion of dialogue with civil society with regard to the character and fundamental values of the European Union, namely democracy, respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms.

At least 20% of the funds are to be invested in the promotion of direct relations between the citizens of the European Union and the partner countries. In addition to an emphasis on academic exchange and the mobility of students, this also involves the interlinking of economic, social and cultural players. At least 50% of the funds are to be spent on the interlinking of economic activities, with the focus on small and medium-sized enterprises. The funds are to go mainly to partner countries which comply with the core labour standards of the International Labour Organisation and which are involved in global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That is a new element. With regard to cooperation in the energy sector, the Commission is in any case required to concentrate in particular on cooperation in the area of renewable energy.

For the purpose of the minutes and for the information of the Commission and the supervisory authorities: this instrument is expressly not to be used to provide hidden subsidies for the operation of a European telephone company in Colombia or any other country in Latin America. I consider it extremely important and necessary to ensure that when granting financial assistance no concessions are made as regards the basic principles of the European Union. When promoting projects in developing countries attention needs to be paid in future to policy coherence, and particularly to harmonisation with measures to combat the food crisis.

We in Parliament will continually monitor this. For this purpose, we have enshrined in this instrument a special reporting obligation on the part of the Commission – this is a success too. We want to check whether the multiannual strategic planning by the European External Action Service and the Commission for implementing our regulation is in line with the spirit of the legislators. In the past the Commission has unfortunately often taken the attitude that you can write anything you like on paper. We therefore wanted to enshrine the delegated acts in this instrument and to demand our role and duty as legislators with a right of veto. Therefore, in the interests of those who benefit from the support programme, we did not in the end insist on the relevant wording, but with this instrument as with all the others – and on this point I agree with the other rapporteurs – we will also fight for this democratic right in future too.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Kinga Gál, rapporteur. (HU) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I can only repeat what my fellow Member who spoke before me just said. We were all surprised by the resistance triggered by these negotiations. Parliament’s rightful demand concerning the exercise of the right of democratic control will lead to an extended series of negotiations. I do not think any of the rapporteurs thought that this issue would be protracted so much.

Nevertheless, I am glad that we have come today to this closing debate. As co-rapporteur for the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, I can only stress that the instrument would serve human rights and the protection of democracy worldwide. The instrument could be used to support the fight for children’s rights, the fight against torture and cruel and inhumane treatment, but also the specific protection of advocates of human rights. The beneficiaries of the instrument are civil organisations working towards these goals in third countries. Indeed, it was the events of the Arab Spring that have shown the importance of Parliament having an overview of strategic matters, and how much significance there is to the way such instruments are used.

We did come to an agreement at first reading on the contents of the report, and there was no question to any of us that we would do everything in our power to facilitate the operation of civil organisations.

At the two subsequent readings the coin flipped to the opposite side and we came to the inter-institutional debate. I view this four-pack as the veterinary’s horse of Hungarian proverb, which shows every ailment imaginable. It was the first symbolic sign of whether the interinstitutional system could accept that the role of the European Parliament has indeed increased, and has become different after 1 December 2009. I am glad that we could come to this agreement between the institutions, and for this I would like to thank my fellow Member Mr Vidal Quadras and my other colleagues with whom we went through the struggles of these months.

We feel that it has been a long road, and we all know that at the heart of every compromise is the fact that the parties involved give up their original ideas to some degree. Still, I feel that this has been a significant step forward and that in the future the Council and Parliament will be able to decide jointly in matters concerning the strategic planning of the financial instrument. It is important to have this promise in the negotiations on the framework strategies. I am convinced that this agreement will strengthen the future negotiating position of Parliament. This is also ensured by the joint resolution. This is particularly important and relevant if we wish to talk to third countries in the world about democracy and human rights.

Our responsibility to strengthen the interinstitutional agreement at tomorrow’s vote is not only about inter-institutional trust. We, Members of the European Parliament, must also act responsibly vis-à-vis third countries. We must not appear to them as unserious. This is why I, too, ask you to vote in favour of this package containing the four financial instruments tomorrow.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Barbara Lochbihler, rapporteur. − Mr President, as co-rapporteur of this instrument, I would also like to start by saying something first on the content. The changes brought to the current instrument now entail the possibility of exceptionally covering costs related to taxes paid by NGOs when implementing programmes and projects. This is necessary to increase the flexibility of the instrument and because an increasing number of governments are no longer exempting civil society organisations from paying taxes – sometimes to increase the pressure on them and limit their freedom of manoeuvre.

In the field of human rights and democracy work, I have to say this is a worrying but very real trend we are observing, so it was very good that we could reach this change. I am confident that the conciliation has also produced positive outcomes for the future instrument for democracy and human rights promotion, which will run from 2014–2020 and on which we shall shortly be receiving a proposal by the Commission.

Indeed, as a result of our negotiations, the Commission states in its Communication on the EU budget for 2020 that ‘the future legal basis for the different instruments will propose the extensive use of delegated acts to allow for more flexibility in the management of the policies during the financial period, while respecting the prerogatives of the two branches of the legislature’. A joint European Parliament and Council declaration was also agreed on the use of delegated acts in the area of external relations for the future financial instruments, which strengthens the negotiating position of Parliament for the future instrument for democracy and human rights.

The agreement we have reached with the Council will allow us to decide together on the important strategic aspects of the instruments: objectives, priorities, indicative financial allocations and expected results. This means Parliament will have a greater say on how much money goes to one or other human rights and democracy objectives in the next instruments. For example, Parliament used to complain in the past that not enough funding went to democracy activities, including support for parliaments. Now we will be able to negotiate with the Council hopefully by means of delegated acts in the future instrument to have maximum flexibility to modify such priorities.

Delegated acts would allow us to have a say not only at the birth of the instrument when drafting the regulation, as we do now, but also on the multiannual strategy papers and thus at regular intervals during the life of the instrument.

Finally, we did not achieve everything we wanted during this round of negotiations, but it has made us determined to achieve it in the next round which will start in January.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Gay Mitchell, rapporteur. − Mr President, the conciliation process has yielded some gains on some issues of concern for Parliament. There had previously been numerous questions concerning the extent of powers given to the Commission in implementing the programmes of the EU’s external financing instruments. I am happy to see that we have a situation where the European Parliament and the Council decide together on important strategic decisions. This is positive.

I am fully aware that the negotiations have been extremely difficult and complex, in particular since the Council has not been active and made not a single counter-proposal in the discussions. Parliament was therefore forced to move and make concessions in the interests of beneficiary countries. Many of my fellow Members in the Development Committee, including the rapporteur, Mr Goerens himself, feel that the final result on the DCI/BAM regulation is not acceptable, neither in political nor in legal terms. I will return to that point in a moment.

I would stress that the EPP Development Committee Members attach the highest importance to Section 2 of the draft legislative resolution of the DCI/BAM regulation and, in particular, to its last sentence which ‘underlines that this result does not set a precedent for future negotiations on the post-2013 external financing instruments’. I sincerely hope that Parliament demands respect for this condition in all future negotiations. If this clause is not respected, Parliament will be renouncing scrutiny powers over important multi-billion geographical and thematic strategies.

The fundamental issue is that democratic decision-making and control and respect for the Lisbon Treaty are the two most important principles in this regard, which is why I must strongly support the concerns expressed by Mr Goerens. I have to say – and I say this in your presence, Mr Vice-President – that it is time for the President of this Parliament to call for an independent review of the role that the Commission is supposed to play as honest broker in the conciliation process. It should not align itself with either institution and should ensure that the principles set out in the Treaties, as approved by the people of Europe, are upheld – as is its sworn duty. I have to say that I have some doubts that this is the case.

We can say that we have made progress in relation to financing of the development programmes. Thirty-six million children per day used to die. Thankfully, that is down now to less than 21 million. Much progress has been made, but by 2050 the population of the world will have increased by more than two billion people, 90% of whom will be born into what is now the developing world. We need to address this issue for altruistic reasons and for selfish reasons. If not, we will leave our children and our grandchildren a dreadful inheritance.

We need to educate public opinion in Europe, starting with our fellow European parliamentarians and national parliamentarians, about the importance of pursuing this issue. We need efficiency and coherent policy in relation to aid, but above all I would say that this efficiency, this effectiveness, this coherence, will only happen if there is transparency and accountability. This is not a residents’ association. This is the Parliament of Europe. We have not been shown the full respect we are entitled to by the Commission in this regard, and it is not the first time.

It took me two and a half years to negotiate the DCI because of the same approach and attitude by the Commission. If the Commission of its own volition does not return to the spirit and the principles of the Treaties, then the President of Parliament must call it to account and ensure that it does. It is our duty to defend this institution against intrusion from whatever source.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, the debate today on the financing instruments for external actions comes at the end of a long and difficult process. It concerns a package of important legislative amendments.

The Commission made its first proposals in April 2009. These included proposals to add developing countries under the Industrialised Countries Instrument – creating ‘ICI Plus’. This will enable us to conduct cooperation activities with them which did not necessarily qualify as Official Development Assistance.

The Commission also made proposals for measures to accompany the deal in the Geneva WTO trade talks. These measures concern banana-producing countries – hence the Banana Accompanying Measures or ‘BAM’.

Tomorrow, after two years of negotiation, Parliament will vote on the package of amendments to the Development Cooperation Instrument, to the human rights instrument, and the ICI Plus. The Council has already approved the compromise agreed in conciliation.

The negotiations addressed complex issues concerning the EU’s functioning after the Lisbon Treaty. Despite differences of opinion between Parliament and the Council, the Commission considers that the institutions have achieved a balanced compromise. The Commission – and in particular my colleagues Cathy Ashton and Andris Piebalgs – would like to acknowledge the efforts of both sides in reaching this result.

Thanks are due also to Vice-President Vidal Quadras and the members of his team, as well as to the successive Council Presidencies, culminating in the agreement under the Polish Presidency.

Failure of this package is not an option. If we did not have this compromise, it would be a severe blow to the European Union’s reputation as a credible trade negotiator and as a trusted development partner. We would also be unable to pursue cooperation in some key areas with our strategic partners.

Therefore, the Commission welcomes the agreement covering the short period left between now and 2013. This compromise allows the Commission to immediately start implementing the budget for the ICI Plus initiatives and the Banana Accompanying Measures.

For this reason, the Commission is grateful for amending budget 6/2011, agreed on 18-19 November between Parliament and the Council. The additional EUR 13.4 million for the Banana Accompanying Measures means we can start implementation as soon as possible. The actions to be funded will improve the projection of the European Union’s interests at international level and comply with the development commitments made in Geneva to finally end the long-standing banana dispute in the WTO.

The compromise text addresses Parliament’s request for more clarity on the financial allocations in broad terms. At the same time, the proposal respects the Council position that the legislation should not include specific financial allocations for individual countries and regions.

Turning specifically to the Banana Accompanying Measures: the compromise text includes additional information on the three criteria to be followed by the Commission in determining the financial allocations per country. It also includes an indication of how the criteria will be applied. It also adds an explicit reference to the Commission’s intention to come forward with a formal implementing Commission decision on the indicative country allocations. This will give Parliament and the Council the opportunity to express their views on the financial allocations.

The accompanying measures promised in the framework of the banana trade agreements are important for the ACP countries. The tariff cuts have already started kicking in, and the ACP countries have requested this additional support. Last but not least, I would like to the remind the House that the funds we promised to the ACP countries’ banana producers in Geneva must be additional and cannot be taken out of the European Development Fund. Moreover, as we are also at the end of the 10th European Development Fund Financial Protocol, there is no margin of manoeuvre left within this instrument.

A few words about ICI Plus: under ICI Plus, minimum percentage floors for the three priority areas (public diplomacy, economic partnership and people-to-people links) and a maximum percentage ceiling for administrative costs have been included in the text. The four percentages add up to less than 100%, leaving sufficient margin to decide on final allocations during programming. This gives the necessary flexibility to take account of developments and needs on the ground. At the same time, it provides for involvement of the co-legislators in overall priorities for ICI Plus.

Mr President, to conclude, the Commission therefore looks forward to the final approval of the package by Parliament.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Maurice Ponga, on behalf of the PPE Group.(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow, we will give our verdict for the third time on the new development cooperation instrument (DCI) providing for Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM) for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) banana-producing countries following the reduction in tariff preferences.

This aid programme has a budget of EUR 190 million and is intended to support 10 ACP countries until 2013. It is crucially important for our African and Caribbean partners, since the banana sector is of considerable economic and social importance in these countries. I bitterly regret the fact that not all of Parliament’s demands concerning the use of delegated acts have been accepted for this instrument.

We have nevertheless managed to make progress. Indeed, the text outlines clear objectives and specific criteria for the allocation of resources to the Commission. The Commission has also made a statement specifying how these criteria will be applied. Moreover, we have a statement from the Council regarding the next Multiannual Financial Framework, specifying that the latter will take due account of delegated acts in external aid instruments post-2013. Finally, Parliament states in its resolution – and this is a crucial point in my view – that the outcome of this conciliation does not set any kind of precedent.

I have just come back from Togo, where the 22nd session of the ACP-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly was being held, and I believe I can say that our ACP partners are counting on us, given the urgency of the situation. The funds ought to have been released two years ago. We must be aware of the terrible consequences for our ACP partners should the DCI/BAM Regulation be rejected. The situation of some farmers is catastrophic. We cannot wait any longer and must act accordingly. I am therefore counting on you to endorse this text.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Richard Howitt, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, can I begin by saying that although we are dealing with the legality of the regulations, we must not forget that we are debating the 10% of the European budget which the EU commits to its relations with the rest of the world and to the European Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), in which I have a direct interest. This is the money which we give to the victimised, the oppressed and the threatened of the world, very often against the wishes of the governments of their own countries who are the perpetrators of human rights abuse.

Commissioner, on the legalities I add two things: First I fully support my colleagues Mrs Gál and Mrs Lochbihler in saying that the hard fought interinstitutional agreement will win codecision for this Parliament on strategic decisions post-2014, including on the financial allocation of different priority areas with minimum percentages. This must be honoured.

Secondly, both before and after 2014, we have developed an informal but important strategic dialogue between Parliament and Commission on the projects supported by the EIDHR. For the people concerned, if their projects become publicly known it could lead to their lives being at risk. We found a way to balance confidence and scrutiny and I hope the Commissioner tonight will express his confidence that this arrangement will continue.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Catherine Grèze, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, delegated acts are not very sexy – if I can use that word – but they are crucial.

I should like to begin by paying tribute to the work done by Mr Goerens to defend the rights that were granted to this House, to this democratic institution, under the Treaty of Lisbon.

The Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance is, of course, in favour of granting support measures in the banana sector even though it should be said in passing that, without fair measures at the WTO, compensation will in no way solve the problems of small producers having to compete with Latin America on the globalised market.

On the other hand, our group is fiercely opposed to the idea of our renouncing the rights granted by the Treaty of Lisbon. Parliament has a right of scrutiny over the 190 million that is going to be granted, and under no circumstances can it give the Commission or the Member States a blank cheque.

I call on you, ladies and gentlemen, to reject the compromise on the DCI/BAM financing instrument, which ultimately boils down to us MEPs undermining our own power.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Willy Meyer, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group. (ES) Mr President, one must recognise Mr Vidal-Quadras’s efforts to find his way through the complex labyrinth of the European Union’s political architecture – which really is labyrinthine – in an attempt to ensure that this House is not excluded from codecision in such highly significant matters as these instruments.

I wish to say to you, ladies and gentlemen, that my parliamentary group is very critical of two of these instruments: the instrument for stability and the instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide.

We believe democracy and human rights to be universal. One human right cannot be given priority over another and the recent experiences of our relations with the Mubarak, Ben Ali and Gaddafi regimes or present-day Saudi Arabia or Morocco prove that we have a track record of giving certain human rights priority over others.

Clearly, this instrument is ideologically biased and, furthermore, it justifies foreign interference. We therefore disagree with it and believe we should rather be putting up an uncompromising defence of human rights.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Krzysztof Lisek (PPE).(PL) Mr President, Mr Füle, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say a few words in reference to the legal act on the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide, an instrument which gives global support to democracy, the protection of human rights, political pluralism and democratic participation and representation, and which really does enable intervention in situations which are sometimes very difficult. We are living in the 21st century, but are constantly the witnesses of torture, executions, discrimination, persecution, the abuse of children and many other ills. Naturally, we will not put the world to rights with the help of this instrument, but it definitely can foster the development of civil society and democracy, the formation of independent media and the growth of free speech. Our work is, therefore, extremely important.

In talking about the outcome of the conciliation procedure, a line could be quoted from the well-known film Nobody’s Perfect, but in my opinion what we have to do today is to accept this compromise so that we can at some point return to the matter of strengthening the position of Parliament in the oversight of this instrument.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: RAINER WIELAND
Vice-President

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Ana Gomes (S&D). - Mr President, I am happy to acknowledge that, with respect to the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, we already have a procedure developed between us and the Commission that does allow for scrutiny. We need to develop procedures that are flexible and publicised, specifically by the EU delegations who should work more on the ground with human rights defenders, civil society organisations, the media and so on.

This Parliament needs to be kept abreast of the implementation of projects while ensuring protection for the persons and organisations that are supposed to be assisted by this instrument. We need as well to explore more effective ways to help media escape and counter censorship, particularly internet censorship.

Let me now turn to the negotiating procedures regarding the delegated acts, and in particular in terms of the DCI instrument. I join colleagues who deplore the blackmail tactics used by the Council and the Commission to try to make this Parliament relinquish the powers that were conferred on it by Article 290 of the Lisbon Treaty. These are powers that this Parliament cannot abandon; it is an absolute must to exercise democratic control of an instrument – the DCI – with tremendous potential for development and empowerment of people worldwide.

We do not accept those tactics, particularly the threat of defaulting on the commitments made under the Banana Accompanying Measures. This will not work; Parliament will not relinquish such powers.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Lena Kolarska-Bobińska (PPE). - Mr President, I very much regret that Parliament was unable to fully defend its position during the negotiations with the Council and the Commission. I support the position that, in the future, Parliament should have a greater say on how funding under this instrument is used. It should be the elected representatives and not the working groups in the Commission who should decide on these important matters.

In spite of this fact, I will vote in favour of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights because I believe this programme is too important to delay any further. We must continue to work towards greater democracy in Belarus, Iran and the Ukraine.

We now need to enlarge our actions in this domain. In addition to the European instrument for democracy we should now move towards the creation of a European endowment for democracy. The original idea of the European instrument for democracy was for an endowment and now is the time to fulfil this idea. In combining both instruments, I believe the role of the European Union in promoting democracy in the world will definitely be strengthened.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Patrice Tirolien (S&D) . – (FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, our coordinator Thijs Berman could not be with us in the end this evening for personal reasons. However, I know that he shares my views on this issue fully.

The conciliation on this legislative package was tedious and time-consuming and, while the outcome on the human rights instrument and the enlarged Industrialised Countries Instrument (ICI Plus) is satisfactory, we still have a very long way to go with regard to the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM). The compromise reached on this text thus brushes aside the mandate that was given to our negotiating team, which was to place Parliament on an equal footing with the Council in all of the programming decisions relating to the choice of strategic priorities and financial allocations. I say this because it is indeed Parliament’s powers and the spirit of the Treaty of Lisbon itself that are we are talking about here.

The choice of programming priorities is a highly political decision, in which our Parliament must have its say. By categorically refusing to grant Parliament any such power of oversight and by employing shameful blackmailing tactics, the Council has, once again, made a reprehensible ideological withdrawal. Member States must, however, understand that the European Union’s external actions are now a responsibility that is shared between our institutions.

That is why Parliament must retain its authority and reject the proposal on the BAM. This is the only means we have of showing the Council and the Commission that Parliament wishes to see greater transparency in Community decisions. If we lose this battle, it could lead to an absurd situation in which we would have to wait for a new Treaty in order to obtain, at long last, the powers that are in fact already conferred on us by the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jacek Protasiewicz, (PPE).(PL) Mr President, in my capacity as Chair of the European Parliament delegation for relations with Belarus, I know how important it is that the European Commission and the Union in general possess an instrument for the financial support of non-governmental organisations working for democracy and human rights in conditions dictated by authoritarian regimes. As an example, I would like to highlight the sad story of Ales Bialatski, who has just been sentenced in Belarus to four and a half years’ hard labour because he was receiving foreign aid. This shows too that these instruments should be as flexible as possible, to make it easier for these people to use the funds we allocate to their support and also to protect them from repression.

I am pleased that the negotiations which have been undertaken have led to adoption of the current legislation. I am pleased that in comparison to earlier measures it is somewhat more flexible, but am hoping that future measures will enable still more effective support to be given to organisations working for democracy and human rights in countries such as Belarus.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Jaroslav Paška (EFD).(SK) Madam President, since April 2009, when the Commission adopted the draft regulation amending Council Regulation No 1934 establishing a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries, the position of the European Parliament and the Council has diverged on many points. It was therefore necessary at the beginning of this year to proceed to an arbitration procedure, so that the differing views of these institutions on the Regulation can be harmonised, allowing a new regulation to be brought into effect. During the eight trialogues from March to the end of October, progress was made over the different positions of Parliament and the Council such that we can now talk about agreement that important strategic decisions will be adopted within the framework of the codecision process, and that Parliament’s position will be strengthened through the use of delegated acts. In this way, certain preconditions have been created for the successful continuation of this legislative process.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I welcome the debate on this report, in light of the shift in the global economic balance. This is why cooperation must be encouraged with developing countries which exert a major commercial influence at the moment. I should highlight the relevance of paragraph 5 of the report. At present, the European Union’s trade relations must be diversified geographically. The EU’s partnerships need to take into account the current challenges. For instance, making financial aid conditional upon fulfilling environmental requirements.

I should point out that the developing countries with economic potential display shortcomings in this area. Their contribution to the implementation of treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol is vital. In addition, these states must ensure compliance with the legislation drafted by the International Labour Organisation. Rapid economic development can lead to abuses and violations of fundamental rights.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Czesław Adam Siekierski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, financing instruments are a means to achieve stated objectives. In the case of foreign policy or external actions, and this includes development policy, particular precision is required in choosing the instruments to be applied. How should priorities be established? How much should be spent on education? How much should be spent on financial and material aid? What place should be given to developing enterprise or to humanitarian aid, to developing democracy or, finally, to assisting the development of non-governmental organisations? The European Parliament is an institution elected by society, so it has a particular right to make decisions about the allocation of funds for building and developing freedom, democracy and human rights, building civil society and meeting the needs of society and particular groups in society.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Štefan Füle, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, this debate has been interesting and has paved the way for a better understanding and, I hope, also more cooperative interaction in the future.

In this regard, I have heard the concerns of Parliament. I am confident that they will be met in the next Multiannual Financial Framework when the Commission presents its proposals for the new instruments in the coming weeks. I agree with many of you who said that even now we need protection to be provided to those defending human rights. The Commission agrees that it is a problem when regimes use tax laws to further oppress human rights NGOs. The changes agreed allow us to accept taxes as eligible costs so that the attention of the authorities is not drawn to NGOs or to Commission funding.

Honourable Members, I would like to remind you that the Commission is sensitive to the European Parliament’s requests and has already made the formal commitment to fully comply with the new provisions of the Lisbon Treaty. In its Communication ‘A Budget for Europe 2020’, the Commission made that commitment to the extensive use of delegated acts. Ms Lochbihler has referred to that part of the text, so I will not quote it again.

Let me just restate that the compromise before you represents today a fair balance between Parliament and the Council. Each side can see things it likes, and things which it does not like. However, I would insist on having a more forward-looking vision going beyond the limited field of interinstitutional relations.

As I stated in the debate, failure of this package is not an option. There is no Plan B. If Parliament does not adopt this legislation tomorrow, the Commission will have no basis to implement the budget for ICI Plus and the Banana Accompanying Measures. For the ICI Plus, we will be unable to promote our interests and value abroad. For the Banana Accompanying Measures, the Commission wants to state clearly that funds are not available from any other source, such as the European Development Fund.

If it fails to adopt the Banana Accompanying Measures, the European Union will be seen as an unreliable trade partner and, what is even more dramatic, unreliable for our poorest ACP partners. This is not what our citizens are expecting from the European Union.

Nevertheless, I would like to stress the fact that this compromise is a good result for the European Union as a single player in its external dimension, both for the European Union’s cooperation with its strategic partners and for its cooperation with the ACP banana-producing countries.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Charles Goerens, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I just heard Commissioner Füle refer to, and I quote, ‘good cooperative action, here, in this sitting’. While we are very willing to cooperate with those who are present, it is difficult to do so with those who are absent: there is no one on the other side. I have not heard a single argument this evening or in the course of the eight trialogues that we had with the Council.

If the Council had been present this evening, we could have discussed the areas on which we differ; we could also have talked about what unites us. I have often had the opportunity to do this in the European Parliament’s Committee on Development. We could, for example, have discussed a common vision for development cooperation to be established by the European Union, the Commission and Member States as a whole – indeed, the Treaty of Lisbon requires this of us. This vision should be reflected in a sharing of responsibilities – and I stress the word responsibilities.

What, though, is the situation today? Member States spend approximately 80% of their development cooperation budget as they see fit. It is right, in this respect, that Member States have the final word with regard to their national budgets. Parliament has nothing to say in the matter.

In addition, Member States entrust a significant sum to the Commission, which implements these resources under the mandate entrusted to it by Member States: this is the European Development Fund (EDF). Until we have authority regarding the allocation of the EDF’s budget, the European Parliament will remain on the sidelines. For the European Parliament has no say in this matter either; it has no say in how almost 90% of the EDF’s budget is spent.

Parliament may apply Article 290, which puts it on an equal footing with the Council, for a very small proportion of the funds entrusted to the Commission. Here too, the Council wants to keep us on the sidelines, which is unacceptable. Is the aim for the European Parliament to play a role in the creation of a proper development cooperation policy, too? Yes or no? I continue to believe that the Council has not understood the message.

Once again, the Council is insisting that Parliament stay on the sidelines, and that was in fact, as you will recall, the mandate that the Council set for the Hungarian Presidency. On the one hand, there is a call for political coordination, and, on the other hand, we are being denied the means to command respect for ourselves. We are not even granted the means to ensure that a tiny bit of respect is shown to us in our dealings with our institutional partners.

The European Parliament, for its part, has not remained silent. When it was a question of integrating development activities into the External Action Service, we supported the Commission, through thick and thin. I take all of you sitting over there as my witnesses and challenge you to dispute what I have just said. We have spared no effort in enabling you to exist alongside the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs.

I believe, Mr President, that the efforts made by Parliament, and particularly by the Committee on Development, deserved to receive stronger support from the institutions, and especially from the Council.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Helmut Scholz, rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, Commissioner, I can only agree with Mr Goerens’s criticism of the Council, as I too would have very much liked to have seen the Council here today. Nevertheless, after all the fine words about compromise and also the areas of disagreement listed at the end of the debate, I would like to take the opportunity to point out once again that the Commission should now submit a completely revised strategy paper for the ICI+.

It would be unacceptable for us as legislators to give the instrument a completely new direction and then for the Commission to simply continue with the old strategy paper, which was drawn up even before the legislative amendment and therefore had the old ‘Global Europe’ communication as its reference document. Instead, the legislators have given the regulation a completely new tenor, namely that of a partnership approach and mutual benefit. The legislators are placing the regulation in the context of other key policy goals of the European Union, in particular coherence with development policy, the enforcement of international labour law standards and the combating of climate change. However, the strategy paper continues to ignore this intention, maintaining that the goal of the multiannual plan is to promote European business and profit interests. According to the text, the instrument is intended to resolve the problems which EU companies have in penetrating certain markets. As legislators, that was not what we aimed to achieve with this instrument and the corresponding money from taxpayers. The ICI+ is intended to be a modern cooperation programme, not a weapon of conquest.

Commissioner, in my view you still have an obligation to implement the will of the legislators in future, too. We do not want to write planning and strategy papers ourselves. We have repeatedly made that clear. That is something that the Commission should continue to do. However, we will utilise our right of veto if the requirements that we have written down have been ignored. Therefore, the proposals for the new generation of financing instruments must employ the principle of the delegated acts wisely.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Kinga Gál, rapporteur. (HU) Mr President, I would like to thank the Members for everything that has been mentioned during this debate and also for the problems that have been pointed out here. I would like to stress that I can fully understand those fellow Members who are concerned about a negative precedent being set here. Our common intention here is for the EU to have effective, functional and coherent financial instruments, and this is especially true in respect of human rights and democratisation.

In order for European citizens to truly believe that these millions of euros serve a good cause there is a need for a strategy that they can develop jointly with Parliament. It is therefore a most natural demand on our part for multiannual frameworks or strategies to not be allowed to be adopted without our consent and codecision. This is why the resistance shown by the Commission and the Council is so incomprehensible and bitter to everyone.

As I said, I understand the reservations of the rapporteurs; however, we must realise that we have reached the point of compromise, and we essentially see this as a significant step forward as regards the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights. However, we expect this agreement, this resolution, to also be adhered to in the course of the establishment of the next strategy and framework. I would also like to stress the matter of our double or multiple responsibility and our credibility, which are increasingly binding for all of us in this debate which has been going on for two years now.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Barbara Lochbihler, rapporteur. Mr President, let me come back to the instrument for democracy and human rights.

The contributions in this debate have also shown that this instrument is one in which Parliament has always had great faith and for which it has had a keen passion. But we also see, for example in the ongoing discussion on the European Endowment for Democracy, that we clearly need to render this instrument more flexible, and readier to support urgent cases like human rights defenders, civil society under threat, unregistered actors and social movements, and so on.

Let me also repeat that the principle of greater involvement of the European Parliament in the establishment, running and control of the human rights and democracy instrument has been accepted on all sides, from the EU institutions to Member States to civil society. Therefore, I would like to invite and to call on colleagues to get ready for the upcoming struggle. Last time we had to fight for the very existence of the instrument. Now we will have to work to support its improvement.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Gay Mitchell, rapporteur. − Mr President, first of all may I also thank our colleague Mr Vidal-Quadras for his efforts in the conciliation process though there are concerns which remain. I realise that he did his very best to bring this agreement to the most successful conclusion he could in all of the circumstances.

But I do want to say this: with the advent of the Lisbon Treaty, on which my country had not one but two referenda, we were told that there would be clear codecision powers between Parliament and Council in a variety of areas, one of which is in the development cooperation area, and I do not accept in this instance that this has been the case.

Anywhere where Council is involved, Parliament should be involved in relation to the legislative process. At no stage do I want to see Parliament involved in micro-management: we have neither the skills nor the time nor the interest in doing that, but in the legislative process – post-Lisbon in particular – it is our responsibility, it is our duty and it is our Treaty-based power to do so.

I believe that handsome is as handsome does – to use the phrase that I was taught as a young boy – that is, there is no point in telling us we are going to do this and that and then do something else. We know you by what you do. I say this to the Commission: what you have been doing in relation to the respect for the mutual legislative powers of Parliament and Council leaves a lot to be desired. It is really sowing a lot of sourness, and there will be a time when you will come back to Parliament and Parliament may not be as accommodating as you may wish if you do not treat Parliament with the basic respect that it is due.

Can I say in relation to the particular instrument for which I have responsibility, the Financial Instrument for Development and Cooperation, that it is clear that if we could get cohesion working properly a lot of lives could be saved – I think the Commission’s own figure is 6 billion per year, perhaps the Commissioner might indicate this.

 
  
MPphoto
 

  Alejo Vidal-Quadras, Chair of the Delegation to the Conciliation Committee. (ES) Mr President, if I may briefly vent my own feelings at this point in the debate, as Chair of the European Parliament Delegation to the Conciliation Committee, I feel like a student who has handed in an essay with outstanding content, vocabulary, spelling and syntax, but is given a fail because there is a small blot of ink on the last line. This is a very regrettable situation, Mr President.

I should like to thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your kind words and, since we have been talking about precedents, is it or is it not a wonderful precedent that all the essential elements of these instruments should be subject to codecision in this transitional agreement? Is it or is it not an excellent sign for the future that the Council should offer us a political declaration in this transitional agreement, agreeing to deal appropriately with the use of delegated acts in future financing instruments?

I therefore believe that, where strategic issues are concerned, this agreement represents a valuable step forward. No doubt, when the Commission enters negotiations with the individual banana-exporting countries to decide how the money allocated under Parliament’s control and subject to its criteria and priorities is to be spent in each country, the Member States will have a say at that stage according to the previous procedure. However, demanding the total exclusion of the Member States from this specific final stage seems to me to be pushing one’s luck.

In view of this, bearing in mind that progress has been made and that the political and social consequences of failure would be seriously detrimental, I once again request the House …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
  
MPphoto
 

  President. – The joint debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday, 1 December at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing.(RO) I welcome the agreement reached following the conciliation procedure between Parliament and the Council concerning the Regulation on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide. The amendments agreed provide greater flexibility in using the European funds earmarked for promoting human rights worldwide, based on the fact that, in special cases, they define as eligible the costs relating to the taxes and charges paid by the beneficiaries of these funds. This flexibility will be able to help make these funds more effective and unblock the funding for programmes and projects in third countries. However, it is important that this eligibility is granted on a case-by-case basis and not automatically, so as to eliminate any abuses. It is just as important that the review of this regulation also helps make the European Union more consistent in terms of the instruments used for financing its external policies, bearing in mind that the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights was, in addition to the Development Cooperation Instrument, the only one which did not offer any kind of exemption from the principle of ineligibility of costs relating to taxes and charges.

 
Legal notice - Privacy policy