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Procedure : 2010/0258(COD)
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Texts tabled :

A7-0212/2011

Debates :

Votes :

PV 01/12/2011 - 6.17
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0536

Debates
Thursday, 1 December 2011 - Brussels OJ edition

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

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument highlights once more the crucial need for the EU budget to be increasingly flexible. At the same time, despite contained reinforcements in commitments on a limited number of budget items and several decreases in other budget items, the ceilings of subheading 1a and Heading 4 do not allow for adequate financing of selected priorities carried by Parliament and the Council.

Hence, for the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, the flexibility instrument shall be mobilised to provide the sum of EUR 30.75 million in commitment appropriations under subheading 1a and of EUR 208.67 million in commitment appropriations under Heading 4. The mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to finance the Europe 2020 strategy will therefore require a total amount of EUR 239.42 million.

We are satisfied with these figures, which is why we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, I wonder where it comes from, this idea that the way to get rich is by receiving subsidies? It is not true of individuals and it is not true of nations. If it were true, Greece would now be the wealthiest country in the EU, and there would be angry, impoverished, penurious German crowds protesting about the bail-out that they were getting from Athens.

But, of course, as we have seen in the European Union, the reverse is true; the effect of receiving large subsidies is in fact deleterious to your GDP. The reason for that is that among states, as among individuals, people will eventually begin to arrange their affairs around qualifying for the hand out. Just as within a nation, welfare can be debilitating to the recipient, so among nations, the same principle pertains. Excessive intervention at EU level, excessive spending, was the cause of our problem. It is not going to be the solution.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR). – Mr President, today we approved the EU budget for 2012, agreeing to an increase in spending of 2% and this actually represented a victory for Member States and taxpayers over this Parliament and the Commission. Hard though it is to believe, the Commission called for an increase of 4.3% and the Parliament wanted an increase of 5.3% – this at a time when national governments are having to increase taxes and cut expenditure at home.

Could there be any better illustration of how detached both the Commission and this Parliament have become from the real world? In my view, even a 2% increase is too high; we should cut the EU budget and save our taxpayers’ money. Rather than asking for increases in funds, the Commission should concentrate on spending wisely the money it already receives.

 
  
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  George Lyon (ALDE). – Mr President, could I, too, seek to back the budget as agreed today. I welcome the deal which has been found between the Council and Parliament for next year’s budget which now reflects the reality of tough budgetary decisions being taken at national level right across Europe. The European Union has the responsibility to share the burden of the economic crisis and take part in the joint effort towards budget austerity and responsible spending.

For this reason, I support the 2% overall increase decided today, which is way below the original budget bid of 5% by the Commission and 5% by Parliament. It was the right thing to do. It is the only realistic way forward with the EU annual budget; I welcome my colleagues’ support in Parliament and I congratulate the colleagues who negotiated this deal last week. It is a good decision and one which reflects well on this Parliament.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would like to begin by saying that we can see that the European Parliament, too, has lived up to its responsibilities in this case. We have passed a budget within the necessary time frame – to that extent all is well. That is the good news.

The other news, which is to say the bad news – and I, personally, am really peeved by this – is that the Member States have more and more new duties for the European Parliament and constantly pass on new functions to us, but then, when it comes to funding, the necessary funds are not handed over along with the responsibilities.

That will be our task for the future – there needs to be a fair negotiation, a fair deal. Additional duties for the European Parliament clearly also mean additional funding, additional financial resources. It is for that reason that I abstained from voting on this motion. It is worth repeating, however, that the European Parliament has lived up to its responsibilities and has passed its budget within the scheduled period.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, after 15 hours of constructive negotiations, the 2012 budget has been finalised with an agreed level of payment appropriations of EUR 129.08 billion, corresponding to the amount agreed by the Council in its July position. In contrast, the amount of commitment appropriations stands at EUR 147.23 billion, which is almost EUR 1 billion more than the sum in the Council’s position.

When it became clear, during the negotiations, that there would be no room to negotiate on payment appropriations, given that the Member States’ delegations had illustrated the difficulties facing national budgets, the European Parliament’s approach was to focus on the level of commitments, with particular reference to competitiveness and external relations. I therefore support this 2012 budget; considering the difficult economic and financial period we are in, it has still found a far-reaching solution under the heading of competitiveness, for example, by regarding innovation and investment as being conducive to a future European recovery.

I should like to conclude by pointing out that, for the first time since the introduction of the new procedure under the Treaty of Lisbon, an agreement has been reached by the conciliation deadline.

 
  
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  Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto (S&D).(ES) Mr President, since 2010, we have been experiencing a sovereign debt crisis, particularly in the euro area, of a kind not seen before in our recent past, and it is highlighting the weaknesses of European instruments in fighting against speculation by the so-called ‘markets’.

One of the instruments at our disposal in the euro area is the European Central Bank. In my view, its political will to get the debt crisis under control and focus on growth has been sorely lacking. Firstly, in relation to growth, it has decided, unlike other central banks, not to lower interest rates, which would encourage consumption and investment and boost these within the scope of its powers. Secondly, in relation to sovereign debt, it has only acted in the secondary markets at crunch times, without being able to mobilise and use all its resources to combat speculation and help to protect our single currency, acting as a bank of last resort, yes, but not quickly or decisively enough.

These are the reasons for the way we intend to vote on this report, and also for our demands about the future role of the European Central Bank.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report as the stability of the financial markets needs to be maintained. Europe needs to have a suitable economic policy framework, thereby limiting public sector debt. I welcome the proactive stance taken by the European Central Bank (ECB) during the crisis. However, it is important that the evaluation methods used are made public.

At the same time, it would be appropriate for the ECB to provide better information about the funds held by the central banks in the euro area. I support the establishment of macro-prudential supervision for the financial system. It must take into account the disparities between Member States both inside and outside the euro area. However, I should point out that the bank must have a constructive and balanced attitude to all the countries in the European Union. The ECB must use the instruments available to it responsibly, including printing money.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the report submitted to us today by the European Central Bank (ECB) contains information that I find deeply interesting. In 2010, the ECB earned a surplus of EUR 1 334 million; a fall compared to the previous period. Factors contributing to this fall were, firstly, the lower net interest income as a result of lower interest rates both on the Eurosystem’s main refinancing operations and on US dollar-denominated official foreign reserves and, secondly, the fact that no gold sales took place in 2010.

The Governing Council decided to transfer, as at 31 December 2010, an amount of EUR 1 163 million to the risk provision, thereby increasing it to the level of its present ceiling. As a result, the ECB’s declared net profit for 2010 amounted to EUR 171 million, which the Governing Council decided to distribute in its entirety to the euro area national central banks.

The purpose of the risk provision is to cover foreign exchange rate, interest rate, credit and gold price risks. The size of, and the continuing requirement for, this provision are reviewed annually.

The ECB’s regular income derives from investment earnings on its foreign reserve assets and its own funds portfolio, from interest income on its 8% share of the total euro banknotes in circulation, and from net interest income arising from securities purchased for monetary policy purposes under the covered bond purchase programme and the Securities Markets Programme.

 
  
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  Hans-Peter Mayer (PPE). (DE) Mr President, I voted against the amendment of the accompanying measures for the banana sector as this report completely fails to take account of what was decided in the Treaty of Lisbon. This report would enable the Council to take far-reaching decisions on development policy in 10 important African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states on its own. There is neither a political nor a legal basis for denying Parliament the right to codecision in the procedure concerning the delegated acts on development policy. On the contrary, in fact, Parliament, as representative of the people, should pay particular heed to its competences so that it can help decide the conditions on which, and the purposes for which, taxpayers’ money is used in the field of development policy. In a declaration of intent for the post-2013 period, the Council agreed to give due consideration to the delegated acts. I consider that to be a disregarding of Parliament’s rights. The division of competences is clear. We should not relinquish our rights!

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D). – Mr President, on behalf of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, we voted in favour of this report because we had no guarantees that alternative sources of funding and financing would be found. Furthermore, we cannot fight our interinstitutional fights on the back of the world’s poorest.

The package is a compromise, agreed by the European Parliament as part of the conciliation team, and we need to be seen as reliable partners. The non-approval of the DCI banana accompanying measures could well mean the loss of the declaration which was agreed as part of that package and which contains an improved position for Parliament in including delegated acts in the future financing instruments.

Finally, we regret that the Council was not willing to accommodate further and that this agreement does not create a precedent for future negotiations on the instruments, for which delegated acts will have to be included.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Parliament is ready to accept the compromise package, as the current instruments will shortly expire. However, due to the Council’s inflexible position, it was not possible to further improve the text of the instrument, in particular, with regard to Parliament’s role in strategic decision making, in which equality between colegislators is fundamental.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the mid-term review scheduled by the regulations establishing the financing instruments has revealed a substantial difference of opinion between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council with regard to the arrangements for approving multiannual cooperation programmes with developing countries.

This difference of opinion has meant that the Conciliation Committee has had to be convened together with a trialogue, which has led to four compromise proposals being drafted. In the case of the instrument with industrialised countries, the change was aimed at extending the geographical scope of programmes under the financing Instrument for Cooperation with Industrialised and other high income countries and territories (ICI) to encompass emerging countries that still feature amongst the beneficiaries of the existing instrument for cooperation.

The most sensitive aspect of the negotiations related to the European Parliament’s request for the text of the regulations to include specific financial allocations for countries or regions, expressed in either monetary or percentage terms. As far as the Council and the Commission are concerned, such allocations can only be indicative and must not jeopardise the allocation of regional and national funds by the Council and the Commission in accordance with existing procedures.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE).(SK) Mr President, the European Union is based on values such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These values are also enshrined in the founding Treaty, and they were strengthened by the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The Union actively supports universal human rights, and defends them not only on its own territory, but also in relations with third countries. The new legal framework of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights has the potential to improve the effectiveness and transparency of Community external assistance worldwide. We must bear in mind the fact that the directly elected European Parliament is the bearer of democratic legitimacy within the institutional framework, and it is therefore becoming an issue of principle to strengthen the position of Parliament through the use of delegated acts in the area of external relations.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the text on which we have voted establishes an instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights that furthers the development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

To ensure the effectiveness and consistency of aid projects, the Commission will ensure that its own activities and those of the Member States are closely coordinated. The aid provided through this instrument is aimed at guaranteeing greater respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in countries and regions where they are most under threat.

In this regard, the European Parliament has always called for a zero tolerance approach to the violation of fundamental rights of any kind. The entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon rendered the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union legally binding, with basic values turned into actual rights. Today’s vote provides another powerful and concrete example of legal basis.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, it is difficult not to derive a certain wry amusement from the way in which those in this Chamber who are loudest in their condemnation of colonialism and imperialism are quite happy to sign up to precisely that ideology when it is the European Union pushing causes which they happen to favour: anti-discrimination or more access to contraception or local federations on a multinational model in mimicry of the EU or whatever it is.

Just two questions. First of all, given what is happening in Europe, do you really think we have this money? Secondly, if you look at it from the point of view of the peoples in those more waxing and virile countries when they cast their eyes at this cramped and declining customs union, why do you think they should take our advice on any subject?

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the main overarching objective of European Union cooperation is the eradication of poverty in partner countries and regions in the context of sustainable development. This includes the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, as well as the promotion of democracy, good governance and respect for human rights and the rule of law.

Its action plan with regard to the financing instrument for development cooperation includes providing support for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Sugar Protocol Countries, geographic assistance programmes for South Africa and 47 countries in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, and thematic programmes.

On a multilateral level, the Millennium Development Goals are the main reference point, and their aim continues to be the halving of absolute poverty, or of the number of people who live on less than a dollar a day, by 2015. The European framework is an essential reference point for each Member State’s development cooperation. A third of Italy’s official development assistance is managed by the European Commission in Brussels, which explains my strong vote in favour of this measure.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, codifying various acts applicable to road statistics and setting new conditions for the delegation of powers by the legislator to the European Commission: these are the important – extremely important – objectives set pursuant to Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and they must be highlighted here.

Moreover, it is necessary to ensure that the application of delegated powers will not impose any additional substantial financial burden on statistical respondents. Therefore, in line with the similar approach taken for the regulation on tourism statistics, the Committee on Transport and Tourism must adopt amendments aimed at limiting the scope of powers delegated to the European Commission and setting further conditions in relation to their use. The proposed amendments could serve as a good foundation for further discussions with the Council and the Commission.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report as the signing of the Accession Treaty marks an important moment for Croatia, and I would like to see stability in the Balkans. This means that a future in Europe is becoming a reality, and the reform efforts made have paid off. However, I wish to say, from my own experience, that this moment does not mark the completion of the process. The justice and anti-corruption reforms must be continued, as well as the measures for privatising the shipyards, as requested by the European Commission.

However, I should point out that an objective evaluation needs to be carried out of the progress made by Croatia while the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism is being maintained for Romania and Bulgaria. It is also important to inform the general public to ensure that the ratification process is successful. At the same time, Croatia’s accession offers a timely opportunity for us to conduct a campaign in all the Member States to remind ourselves of the benefits of the EU.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, 20 years after its declaration of independence, and roughly eight years since it submitted its application for accession to the European Union, Croatia has achieved an historic objective in its process of integration into the European Union. This has also been shown today by the enthusiasm with which this Chamber has welcomed the Members of the Croatian Parliament, thus concluding the accession negotiations on a positive note.

It is in this way that accession negotiations with Croatia have come to an end, concluding almost six years of work and many years of preparation, which have significantly changed the socio-political, economic and cultural landscape of the country. The positive outcome of this process will bolster support for European Union membership amongst Croatian citizens and will encourage them to participate in the European Union accession referendum and to support the Accession Treaty.

It is important for Croatia to continue its efforts to resolve the bilateral issues with several countries, such as Serbia, that are still outstanding, in particular, with regard to border demarcation, missing persons, property restitution and refugees.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI). (NL) Mr President, I wanted to cast a vote of principle on the question of Croatia’s accession to the European Union, and I voted ‘yes’. However, it was a ‘yes, up to a point’ vote.

On the one hand, it is true that Croatia is a European country, which cannot be said of all the other candidate countries, and should, therefore, definitely have its place in the European Union. On the other hand, there are still a large number of problems in Croatia. I am thinking of, among other things, the problem of corruption. These problems must be tackled first and resolved successfully before the country is effectively allowed to join the European Union. Croatia should only be allowed to join the European Union if it fully meets all the Copenhagen criteria.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE).(DE) Mr President, my colleagues from Baden-Württemberg and I today abstained from the vote on Croatia’s accession to the European Union. However, the result of the vote provides proof positive that, overall, there is very broad-based and solid support for the accession of this 28th Member State to the European Union, and we are pleased about that.

Croatia’s accession on 1 July 2013 shows that the European Union continues to be a strong community, and one that is attractive to those still outside it. The result of the vote also shows that Croatia, which has had the most stringent of conditions imposed on it in recent years, has very thoroughly met them.

All the same, Mr President, many citizens take the view that it is high time that we made a point of truly consistently tailoring the implementation of European law to what we actually need in Europe. Many Member States of the European Union do not meet these requirements themselves. We admit that. Nevertheless, we realise that before its accession, Croatia, too, will tinker with a few details here and there. We hope that, on 1 July 2013, Croatia will truly have met all the conditions imposed on it and become a fully-fledged member of the European Union.

My group’s delegation from the State of Baden-Württemberg thus decided to abstain. We see this as a positive way of calling on Croatia still to overcome the last few remaining obstacles in its path.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE).(SK) Mr President, Croatia has long displayed a strong determination to join the EU. Political will has been reflected in reforms to public administration, justice and basic rights, greater transparency, and in the fight against corruption and organised crime. In the area of legislation, Croatia shows a good level of harmonisation of its laws with the acquis communautaire, and continues to make significant legislative and institutional changes. It is, of course, necessary to continue implementing the reforms in full, particularly in the key areas of the democratic legal state. Croatia is a republic based on values that are also common to other EU Member States, and I therefore support Croatia’s accession to the EU. It will be a pleasure for me to welcome our Croatian colleagues in July 2013.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, I supported the proposal, but Croatia needs to keep up to speed with its reforms. All of society must be completely involved in the reform work. Accession to the EU will succeed, as it has the support and commitment of the people behind it. Even after accession, Croatia will need to continue with its implementation of half-accomplished reforms, especially the reform of the judiciary and the eradication of corruption in high places.

In the area of the economy, Croatia must continue with its structural reforms, improve levels of employment, revitalise the labour market, and strengthen the state economy to improve competitiveness. All this also applies to those Member States of the EU in the throes of recession.

We welcome Croatia to a Union of peace, prosperity and wellbeing. It would also be a dangerous case of double standards to block Serbia’s aspirations to EU accession in December. Serbia is the leader in the Western Balkans that is reforming and steadily developing its European perspective. Macedonia is also being treated unfairly on account of the political row over its name.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, two weeks ago, on the day he announced his candidacy for the Croatian elections, Aleksandar Saša Radović, a long-standing veteran anti-corruption campaigner, was arrested. He had announced his candidacy in the name of Croatia 21st Century, an anti-corruption party, which stands for the dismantling of the crony state economy there. He has written several books exposing malfeasance in high places and although, of course, I do not know the circumstances exactly around his arrest, it does seem highly suspicious and it sends out a signal to all those who are challenging vested interests in Zagreb.

When I visited Croatia earlier this year, I was saddened by how many of the brave and patriotic people of that beautiful country came to me and said that they saw EU membership as an antidote to domestic corruption. It was heartbreaking to have to say that in fact, their fraudsters would find a whole new field of operation at European level with far greater sums at their disposal.

This is now a judicial process. But I have to say the national parliament now being elected in Croatia is going to be the one from which we draw observer members to this House prior to the 2014 European election. Surely there is a case for some international scrutiny in the face of what looks prima facie like a political arrest.

 
  
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  Leonidas Donskis (ALDE). – Mr President, I expressed strong disagreement with my group and I voted against the position of my group concerning the assessment of what happened to our colleague, Viktor Uspaskich. I am afraid that the audiatur et altera pars principle has been severely violated and that only one side has been listened to.

The criticism of Lithuania as a country where politically motivated trials are allegedly pursued is unfair, one-sided and misguided. Lithuania is a democracy. The rule of law does exist in Lithuania. To imply that things are otherwise and that Lithuania is engaged in something similar to the Tymoshenko case in Ukraine would be absurd. I see no reason why a politician should avoid a trial defending his or her honour.

I find it difficult to believe that we could send a message to my country that the separation of powers does not exist in Lithuania. To treat Lithuania like Belarus would be simply preposterous and would deal a blow to the reputation of the European Parliament in my country.

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the crisis is no longer simply a threat; it is a reality that is, in fact, capable of changing the social and political order, and which accordingly requires a powerful, ambitious response.

While the success of the Europe 2020 strategy depends on the commitment made by the EU as a whole, the Member States must consider economic and budgetary policies as a matter of common interest. Some countries may be able to make faster progress on their own, but together we can all go further. We therefore need to become more coordinated when adopting and implementing budgetary measures and measures to combat tax fraud and tax evasion effectively.

In this context, promoting international commercial links and enhancing the internal market are elements that are crucial to increased competitiveness and economic growth. However, the Europe 2020 strategy needs to have a broader regional and social dimension. Only by directly involving local bodies in the planning and implementation of programmes will it be possible to ensure greater awareness of the objectives to be achieved.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because the European Union needs to tackle macro-economic imbalances using a symmetrical approach. Member States’ economic policies need to be coordinated more closely, especially during a recession. However, a sense of responsibility and courage are needed from governments so that they apply the austerity measures required for economic recovery. Current disparities in terms of inflation rate and competitiveness must be corrected.

I must point out that, without adopting effective structural measures, Europe will only achieve an economic growth rate of roughly 1.5% by 2020. At the same time, national budgets must not jeopardise the whole EU’s financial stability, and harmonising the EU budget and Member States’ budgets is an absolute must. The Euro Plus Pact, which my country has also joined, will help improve the coordination of economic policies.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, one of the effects of the economic crisis has been the increase in inequalities, macro-financial imbalances and disparities in terms of competitiveness. These problems have shown that the EU must address macro-economic imbalances on the basis of a symmetrical approach that tackles both excessive deficits and excessive surpluses, thereby ensuring closer coordination of economic and budgetary policies and better budgetary monitoring.

The experience gained from the introduction of the euro and the mistakes made during the first 10 years of the functioning of economic and monetary union have highlighted the need for more effective economic governance of the EU, governance that should be based on greater national ownership of commonly agreed rules and policies and on a more robust framework for monitoring national economic policies at EU level.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, we are in the middle of the most serious crisis of capitalism in Europe since the 1930s. The answer of the bosses and their representatives in governments across Europe is very clear. It is contained in the one word ‘austerity’. The problem that they face is that the majority of people across Europe do not agree with their solutions. The majority of people know that while the rich are getting richer, the economies of Europe are being destroyed and thrown into a downwards spiral.

That is why we have this so-called ‘European Semester’ and ‘economic surveillance’. It is part of the process of doing away with that very awkward notion of democratic checks, democratic accountability, and replacing it with financial coups in Italy and in Greece and the use of colonial tactics where austerity budgets are imposed by the likes of the Commission.

The meaning of this process was seen in relation to the Irish budget, where next week, we will have a discussion in the Dáil, the Irish Parliament, about a budget that will contain cutbacks of up to EUR 4 billion – savage attacks on ordinary people – but before any discussion in the Irish Parliament, before any discussion in Irish society, the outlines of this budget turned up in the German Bundestag. Despite the false outrage of the Irish Government, that is precisely what ‘economic surveillance’ means.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the first Single Market Forum brought together citizens, entrepreneurs, social bodies and policy makers from all levels to discuss the state of the single market.

Much attention has been paid to the Commission document outlining the 20 obstacles that are most frequently encountered by citizens and enterprises, and which therefore confirm the gap that exists between the expectations and the reality of the single market, 20 years from its foundation.

Thematic seminars were held to discuss the most sensitive issues. One such seminar that should be mentioned was the one on the recognition of professional qualifications, the posting of workers and basic social security, fiscal hurdles and the streamlining of legislation on public tenders.

In conclusion, the meeting provided an opportunity to raise spirits and discuss the problems that are still preventing the achievement of one of the main objectives set by the EU, although the latter has already delivered countless benefits to consumers and 21 million companies throughout Europe.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of this motion for a resolution. In the past 20 years, the internal market has been seen to bring with it many different benefits. Despite the benefits, however, an unfortunately large number of ordinary people and companies still feel that the internal market is something alien to them.

In the current economic crisis and crisis of confidence, one of the most crucial tasks that all we parliamentarians have is to convince both the public and businesses of the benefits of the internal market. In the same way, we should find a common will among the different Member States also to implement in practice those measures that have already been agreed.

The internal market is still one of the EU’s finest accomplishments and, if I may say so, the most crucial and influential factor in the future of the EU.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Cymański (ECR).(PL) Mr President, it is very important to step up efforts aimed at countering the spread of the HIV virus, at both Member State and EU level. Many of the proposals contained in the resolution on the EU response to the HIV/AIDS problem are worthy of support and rapid implementation.

Unfortunately, it is yet again the case that more or less explicit recommendations to promote abortion are being added to provisions adopted by the European Parliament in the field of public health. Therefore, I voted against the proposed resolution.

 
  
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  Michael Cashman (S&D). – Mr President, I welcome this excellent report. The European Parliamentary Labour Party voted in favour of it. It is absolutely right that we have a holistic approach. I want to point out that women’s sexual health and reproductive rights are vital. There needs to be access to contraception and access to emergency contraception, as well as to safe and legal abortions where necessary. HIV prevention and awareness is vital, and therefore, the emphasis on education programmes is welcomed.

We must also recognise the enormous positive developments that have been made. In this respect, as I said at the beginning of the debate, we need to call on the Commission to unfreeze the funds for the global fund on AIDS and HIV. Unlike a previous British speaker, I wish to say that the promotion and defence of universal human rights are not colonialism: they are the tools and the aspirations of all civilised societies.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I warmly welcome the text of this motion for a resolution, which is part of the efforts to achieve one of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

As the statistics and a paragraph of the report on which we have voted show, there is a higher rate of infection among young men and women. A UN research project has found that, while the HIV information campaign was particularly high-profile in the 1980s, interest in this type of disease has gradually diminished, as if the danger has passed. As a result, young people today are less well informed and less aware of the risks associated with infection. Few know that a person living with HIV does not necessarily have AIDS, or that HIV is transmitted while AIDS is not, or that tests are carried out to diagnose HIV, but not AIDS.

That is why I am pleased that the report fulfils the task of updating a subject that still requires a great deal of discussion and explanation in order to find a global solution to the problem through increased awareness and better information.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, 33 million people are currently living with HIV, 2.5 million people are newly infected every year, and over two million people die of AIDS annually. According to Irish Aid, HIV/AIDS is likely to become the leading cause of death in the 21st century. These shocking figures underline the need for a real response to this disease and unfortunately, in some respects, we are going in the wrong direction.

International financing for HIV programmes in the ex-colonial world has fallen by 10% in 2010. Even in Europe, as part of the massive cutbacks that are taking place in the public sector and in public services, cost-cutting measures have been introduced in relation to antiretroviral drugs, a move which, in reality, puts people’s lives at risk.

Important research has been conducted and important steps forward have been made in terms of increasing access to antiretroviral drugs with generic medicines and patent pills, but it is still not enough. The existence of patents that protect the pharmaceutical industry often means that those who need these drugs do not get access to them. Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry needs to be nationalised and run democratically in the interest of people not profit, and this needs to be accompanied by a substantial increase in internationally coordinated patent-free research to guarantee progress and access to improved HIV/AIDS drugs for all.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI). (NL) Mr President, I voted against the report on HIV and AIDS, but not because I am opposed to people infected with HIV or AIDS being able to receive the best possible care or to more funding being set aside for drug development. What I am opposed to is things creeping into such a report that, in fact, have nothing to do with the actual subject. I am referring here, for example, to recital 22, which calls – and I quote – for ‘safe and legal abortion’.

Well, the European Union should not be meddling in these kinds of matters. This is a matter for the Member States, and if there are Member States that want abortion to remain illegal, then that should be perfectly possible.

The report rightly calls for respect for rights, including the right to privacy of those who have been infected, but it fails to address the question of how people who have to deal with those infected with the virus, such as doctors, dentists and nurses, can be protected if they are never made aware that one of their patients has been infected. This is a sensitive issue, but it is also a problem that urgently needs to be discussed. We should also be able to protect society at large.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes the explanations of vote.

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Reimer Böge (A7-0353/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it is important to properly finance the various subheadings of the Europe 2020 strategy on account of their importance to the EU.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today, we voted for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in favour of the EU 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy. The EU 2020 strategy is one of the instruments created to address the current difficult period of economic crisis and the lack of confidence we are seeing in Europe both at an institutional level and among the citizens. Mobilisation of the fund is needed to enable these two EU instruments to drive the European strategy for growth and economic, social and political stability within the Union. The Conciliation Committee convened for the 2012 budget approved the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to the tune of EUR 200 million above the ceilings of subheading 1a and Heading 4, in order to support the neighbourhood policy and the EU 2020 strategy. Following this decision, I welcome Parliament’s overwhelming support for the mobilisation of the fund.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The EU’s budgetary procedure comprises three stages, namely: adoption, implementation and evaluation of the budget. When the budget is adopted, there is the facility to mobilise a ‘flexibility instrument’, which allows us to go above the ceiling set for certain EU policies. For the 2012 budget, this instrument is being mobilised for the European Neighbourhood Policy and the EU 2020 strategy. In view of the fact that help for Europe’s immediate neighbours (especially in the wake of the Arab Spring) is vital if we are to guarantee Europe’s stability, and that achieving the aims of the 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth is a top priority, I voted for the Böge report.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution and welcomed the decision attached to the resolution on the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in favour of the EU 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument. The interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. After having examined all possibilities for re-allocating appropriations under Heading 1a (Competitiveness for growth and employment) and Heading 4 (EU as a global player), the two arms of the budgetary authority (the Council and the European Parliament) have agreed to mobilise the flexibility instrument to complement the financing in the 2012 budget, beyond the ceilings of Headings 1a and 4, of EUR 30.75 million for the EU 2020 strategy under Heading 1a and EUR 208.67 million for the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument under Heading 4.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of mobilising the flexibility instrument for the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy, pursuant to point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 concluded between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management. The 17 May 2006 interinstitutional agreement provides for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to provide finance for any specifically identified expenditure that cannot be financed within the maximum limits available under one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. There is a need in the 2012 budget to exceed the maximum limits for Headings 1a and 4, so the Commission is proposing to mobilise the flexibility instrument pursuant to point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for a decision to mobilise the flexibility instrument in order to go above the ceilings set in the multiannual financial framework. This is because, during this period of economic crisis, it is important to invest in forward-looking projects. The EU’s budget must be made more flexible so that we can adjust our funding priorities when circumstances require it.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As the rapporteur mentions, the 17 May 2006 interinstitutional agreement provides for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to provide finance for any specifically identified expenditure that cannot be financed within the maximum limits available under one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. It has become clear that, with regard to the 2012 budget, it will be necessary to exceed the maximum limits for Heading 1a, relating to the Europe 2020 strategy, and Heading 4, relating to the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument. The importance of both means it is advisable to make this effort, since, if not, there could be a threat to funding considered a priority by the EU, thereby calling into question its capacity for action and the results of its policies.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Böge, analyses the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in favour of the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy, in accordance with point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission concerning budgetary discipline and sound financial management. The purpose of this mobilisation is to strengthen two key areas of EU policy: the Europe 2020 strategy and the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument, spending on which is exceeding the maximum available limits under the multiannual financial framework. The sums to be mobilised are as follows: EUR 30.75 million for the Europe 2020 strategy, under Heading 1a, and EUR 208.67 million for the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument, under Heading 4. I voted for this report because I believe the situation of economic and financial crisis being experienced in the European Union requires all of us to take greater responsibility in terms of not calling into question the public’s expectations of the European institutions.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We did not vote for this report on using the flexibility instrument to make available EUR 50 million in commitment appropriations for Heading 1a and EUR 150 million in commitment appropriations for Heading 4 of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, henceforth ‘the 2012 budget’. This sum will be used as a EUR 50 million top-up for the funding of the Europe 2020 strategy, under Heading 1a, and as a EUR 150 million top-up for that of the European Neighbourhood Policy, under Heading 4.

The Conciliation Committee convened for the 2012 budget has agreed to use the flexibility instrument to mobilise a total sum of EUR 200 million above the maximum limits set out in Headings 1a and 4 under the aforementioned terms, when, as the bare minimum, the sums should be changed to benefit employment more, particularly in a period of severe social crisis in various European Union countries.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available to one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. In accordance with point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement, and after a review of all of the options for apportioning budgetary resources under Heading 4, the Commission is proposing to mobilise the flexibility instrument for financing the European Neighbourhood Policy to the level of EUR 208.67 million, which is EUR 153.3 million above the ceiling for Heading 4, and EUR 30.75 million for the EU 2020 strategy under Heading 1a. Publication of this decision in the Official Journal of the EU must take place no later than the publication date of the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Jiří Havel (S&D), in writing. (CS) The EU 2020 strategy committed to by the Member States must go beyond mere words. It therefore has to be adequately funded, particularly its central pillars of lifelong learning, research and innovation. In light of the recent political changes in the Mediterranean area, with the so-called Arab Spring, it is also clear that a strong neighbourhood policy is vital for European stability and prosperity. Mr Böge’s report proposes that the limits on the funding of these key policies forced through by the Council, in spite of previous commitments, be fulfilled with the help of the flexibility instrument. The Commission and the European Parliament both consider this the best approach, and I intend to support it as well.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. The ceilings of the multiannual financial framework, especially for Headings 1a and 4, do not allow the financing of EU priorities without jeopardising the existing instruments and policies. I welcomed the document because, after having examined all possibilities for re-allocating appropriations under Heading 1a and Heading 4, the two arms of the budgetary authority have agreed to mobilise the flexibility instrument to complement the financing in the 2012 budget, beyond the ceilings of Headings 1a and 4, of EUR 30.75 million for the EU 2020 strategy under Heading 1a, and EUR 208.67 million for the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument under Heading 4.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today’s vote is closely connected to the approval of the EU general budget for 2012. As a result, during the work that was carried out before a common position was reached, the European Parliament decided, with the Council’s agreement, that it was vital to increase spending for 2012, in order to relaunch the economy in sectors of strategic importance for growth and to help Europe to emerge from the crisis, if it is decided, upon a proposal by the Commission, to mobilise the flexibility instrument. As we know, the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 permits the flexibility instrument to be used to finance spending that could not be financed from the maximum amounts available under one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. For these reasons, today’s vote has enabled us to exceed the maximum amounts of subheading 1a and Heading 4 and thus to increase the funds provided for in the 2012 budget to EUR 30.75 million for the EU 2020 strategy (under subheading 1a) and to EUR 208.67 million for the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (Heading 4).

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. For the 2012 budget, additional expenditure, beyond the ceilings of Headings 1a and 4 is required, and the Commission has proposed to mobilise the flexibility instrument in accordance with point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement. The amounts to be mobilised are as follows: EUR 30.75 million for the EU 2020 strategy under Heading 1a; EUR 208.67 million for the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument under Heading 4.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the Böge report. It is more necessary than ever to mobilise the flexibility instrument in order to finance the EU 2020 strategy. Indeed, I believe this is an important step towards achieving the objective of making the European budget even more flexible.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am voting for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument, so as to free up funds for tackling the shortfalls of EUR 30.75 million for the Europe 2020 strategy, under Heading 1a, and of EUR 208.67 million for the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument, under Heading 4.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The interinstitutional agreement of 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure that could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. The EU now wants to use this ability to switch between budget headings in order to use additional money for the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy. Especially in these times of crisis, I oppose the use of this flexibility instrument.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the flexibility instrument must be mobilised as soon as possible in order to allow the financing of expenditure and support the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument. It should be noted that it is necessary to continue to develop a flexibility instrument framework, which would ensure the financing of unforeseen needs, because the implementation of the priorities and structural reforms of the EU 2020 strategy and European Neighbourhood Policy Instruments is one of the EU’s key tasks. Attention should be drawn to the fact that the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument highlights once more the inevitable need for the EU budget to be increasingly flexible. In all cases, however, a balance must be achieved and maintained between flexibility in the EU budget and budgetary discipline. It is also very important to ensure that EU budget expenditure is predictable and guarantees the continuity of programmes.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am, of course, in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in the context of the EU 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy as I believe it is vital to boost financing and cohesion in Europe so that stronger links are forged and our initiatives produce increasingly concrete results. It is important, particularly at a time of crisis such as this, for the EU 2020 strategy, through its focus on research, growth and innovation, to become the objective that the entire Union seeks to achieve. If this is to happen, however, it is vital that we provide the financial instruments needed to achieve it in full.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in favour of the Europe 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy, in accordance with point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management. The aforementioned interinstitutional agreement provides for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to provide finance for any specifically identified expenditure that cannot be financed within the maximum limits available under one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. The necessary authorisation for exceeding the aforementioned maximum limits for the headings has been requested from the European Parliament. I voted in favour, because the need to exceed the aforementioned limits has been properly justified.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) According to the elements raised by the rapporteur, there is a need, in the 2012 budget, to mobilise EUR 30.75 million for the Europe 2020 strategy, or Heading 1a, and EUR 208.67 million for the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument, or Heading 4. To this end, the flexibility instrument needs to be utilised, using the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 as the legal basis. In view of the ex ante evaluation carried out by the Committee on Budgets, I voted for this resolution.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. For the 2012 budget, additional expenditure, beyond the ceilings of Headings 1a and 4 is required, and the Commission has proposed to mobilise the flexibility instrument in accordance with point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement. The amounts to be mobilised are as follows: EUR 30.75 million for the EU 2020 strategy under Heading 1a; EUR 208.67 million for the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument under Heading 4. The two arms of the budgetary authority are reminded that the publication of the Decision in the Official Journal of the European Union shall not intervene later than the publication for the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Taking into account the interinstitutional agreement of May 2006, the European Commission is proposing to mobilise the flexibility instrument for Heading 1a of the 2012 EU budget, on competitiveness for growth and employment, and Heading 4, on the EU as a global player, since it is becoming essential to exceed the maximum limits for both headings.

The sums to be mobilised represent EUR 30.75 million for Europe 2020 strategy targets, and EUR 208.67 million for the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument. Both areas are extremely important to the EU, to differing degrees. Firstly, it is crucial to start taking the required measures and to allocate the necessary funding to transform the EU into a smart, inclusive and sustainable economy by reducing the unemployment rate, by increasing productivity, and by increasing social cohesion. To this end, there is a need to implement the seven flagship initiatives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

As regards EU foreign policy, following the revolutions of the Arab Spring, it is essential that the EU support processes of democratic transition in these countries and that it create, at the same time, the measures necessary for the economic and social development of the public, whose expectations are now extremely high.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in favour of the EU 2020 strategy and the European Neighbourhood Policy. Point 27 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management allows for the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument in order to finance clearly identified expenditure which could not be financed within the limits of the ceilings available for one or more headings of the multiannual financial framework. I support the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument for financing the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy under subheading 1a, and for financing the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument under Heading 4, for a total amount of EUR 239.42 million. Therefore, as part of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, the flexibility instrument will be mobilised to provide the sum of EUR 30.75 million in commitment appropriations in Heading 1a and EUR 208.67 million in commitment appropriations in Heading 4. I urge, as part of the European Neighbourhood Policy, that the EU should attach greater importance to the Eastern Partnership and to cooperation with neighbouring EU Member States in the Danube region. The mobilisation of the flexibility instrument highlights the vital need for the EU budget to be increasingly flexible.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) By means of six amendments to the Commission proposal on mobilisation of the flexibility instrument – concerning re-allocating appropriations in order to complement the funds proposed for the 2012 budget under subheading 1a and Heading 4 – the resources for the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (Heading 4) have been cut back from a proposed EUR 208.67 million to EUR 150 million, while the funding for the Europe 2020 strategy (subheading 1a) has been increased from the proposed EUR 30.75 million to EUR 50 million. I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Francesca Balzani, José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0414/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this joint text because the European Parliament’s main concerns about the 2012 budget are reflected in this final draft, which has resulted from intense negotiation that gave rise to the joint text adopted by the Conciliation Committee. The Council’s initial proposal would jeopardise the implementation of EU policies on the ground. In general terms, there is a need for EU budgets to be increased, and it is important that this happen in future and from the start of the next multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I would like to congratulate Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes for their work, both earlier on the parliamentary committee and on the Conciliation Committee. While I understand the Council’s reasons, the situation the Member State economies were in required an austerity-based response, and in this sense, the compromise agreement we have reached is a satisfactory solution. I share Commissioner Lewandowski’s doubts, but I would like to reiterate that the possibility of adopting an amending budget at a later date, should it not be possible to meet the payments, has rightly been included in the joint statement by the Parliament and the Council. Finally, I am pleased that we have managed to honour our promises on the immigration policy appropriations. We cannot predict what repercussions the political situation in the Maghreb may have, and we must be prepared and in possession of the right tools to deal with any emergency. Therefore, I hope the subject can be the subject of debate in this House.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Since the Treaty of Lisbon came into force in December 2009, the European Parliament has enjoyed increased budgetary powers. Parliament and the Council now fully share these powers. After the two institutions adopted different draft budgets last October, the matter was then passed on to the Conciliation Committee for discussion, in order for the European Parliament and the Council to reach an agreement on a common draft budget. I am pleased to see that the priorities set out by Members of the European Parliament have been retained. Whilst taking the Member States’ current situation of budgetary austerity into account, we have made sure that Europe will keep its commitments to growth, employment and innovation. I therefore voted in favour of this draft 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Margrete Auken and Emilie Turunen (Verts/ALE), in writing. (DA) The compromise on the EU budget agreed on by the majority in the European Parliament and the European Council means that the budget will increase by 1.86% in 2012 (which, in real terms, entails a reduction in the EU budget compared with 2011).

The members of the Danish Socialist People’s Party in the European Parliament believe that the EU should take more initiatives at European level to create growth and jobs than it is doing at present. This requires a larger EU budget than we currently have, as well as a radical redistribution within the EU budget, shifting the focus from the massive agricultural aid and investment in unsustainable energy solutions to green growth and job creation.

However, we are currently in a situation where many of the EU Member States are having to make enormous cuts in their national budgets, and in light of this, the Danish Socialist People’s Party acknowledges the fact that it is unreasonable to ask the Member States to increase their payments to the EU in the present circumstances. On the other hand, we cannot support a budget in which there is no serious demonstration of the will to reprioritise and, what is more, where an increase in support for nuclear power has also been agreed. We have therefore decided to abstain from the vote on the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the EU budget for 2012 and approved the joint text agreed by the Conciliation Committee at the negotiations in November. The overall level of payment appropriations in the 2012 budget is set at EUR 129.088 billion, with commitments set at EUR 147.232 billion. Taking into account the ongoing fiscal consolidation efforts in Member States, the Council and the European Parliament have agreed on a reduction in the level of payment appropriations for 2012 as compared to the Commission’s draft budget. However, the Commission will be able to request additional payment appropriations in an amending budget if the appropriations entered in the 2012 budget are insufficient to cover expenditure under subheading 1a (Competitiveness for growth and employment), subheading 1b (Cohesion for growth and employment), Heading 2 (Preservation and management of natural resources), Heading 3 (Citizenship, freedom, security and justice) and Heading 4 (EU as a global player). I agree that the Europe 2020 strategy must be at the centre of the EU budgetary strategy for 2012 because these policies are vital and necessary parts of the EU strategy for economic recovery, and we must therefore ensure that they have adequate investment at both EU and national level. I also believe that the EU budget must be an instrument which helps Member States to pursue economic recovery policies, promoting and supporting national investment which would boost growth and employment.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The draft 2012 budget contains some useful initiatives, such as the EUR 250 million allocated to fruit and vegetable producers, or the ‘Erasmus for all’ budget. It is a shame, however, that over the course of the negotiations, the small percentage increase in the budget that was provided for by both the Commission and Parliament in its October vote was lost. We are still a long way off devoting 1.24% of our GDPs to the EU budget. Naturally, the current climate calls more for reigning in than for increasing expenditure; however, I believe we cannot make do with a policy of austerity alone. We need to be proposing long-term plans for economic regeneration at the same time. The budget we have voted for today will not enable us to plan for economic, environmental and social regeneration. I abstained for this reason, but also because a sum of EUR 100 million (and this is merely the first in a long series) has been allocated to ITER. In my view, this research project should be conducted on a steady budget. Its budget has grown exponentially since it was launched, and from now on, ITER should be developed with the funds that are available.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I welcome the agreement that has been reached with the Council as it is relatively balanced, resulting from the lengthy efforts of the negotiators from Parliament and the Council. It contains a number of positive points which I totally endorse, such as the mobilisation of the flexibility instrument under subheading 1a for financing the measures required to achieve the EU 2020 strategy objectives, and under Heading 4 for the EU’s external action and for the European Neighbourhood Policy in particular. I think that in light of the Arab Spring, the EU needs to provide financial support to these countries in their efforts to rebuild and move towards democracy. As the Arab revolutions have shown, economic stability provides a basis for political stability, and the EU can contribute to this through granting financial aid. Last but not least, I am also pleased that this agreement contains Parliament’s proposals for funding pilot projects and preparatory activities, including a pilot project aimed at organising an event in Romania for young people involved in sport in 2013.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for the 2012 budget, which was agreed on between Parliament and the Council. This budget will be worth EUR 129.1 billion in payment appropriations, representing a 1.86% increase, and EUR 147.2 billion in commitment appropriations. Several of Parliament’s priorities have been taken into consideration: food aid for the most needy; help for vegetable producer organisations; the lifelong learning programme; aeronautical and space research programmes; border controls (Frontex); the new financial regulation authorities; and initial funding to meet the additional cost of the ITER reactor.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the agreement reached in the conciliation meeting at which the Council unanimously adopted the final draft of the 2012 budget. I would also stress the fact that the Council approved Parliament’s proposal to use a sum of EUR 200 million on the basis of the flexibility instrument. This EUR 200 million was made available in response to the European Parliament’s concern about promoting competitiveness, and its objective is to boost growth and employment, as a means of combating the economic crisis. Amongst the priority areas of the EU budget, I should like to mention some examples, such as the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme, Erasmus Mundus, and research in the field of energy and by small and medium-sized enterprises.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing. (FR) I abstained. As my colleague, Estelle Grelier, so rightly said, this 2012 budget is, in fact, a Council budget, with just a ‘bit of soul’ added by the European Parliament. We are not fooled by the Council’s ploy: the Member States’ main preoccupation is to impose austerity, but they will not openly admit to the impact that this choice will have on EU policies on the ground. In order to cope with the recession that European citizens are enduring, while States are having trouble funding themselves and austerity policies abound, we need an EU budget that will meet this challenge at the very least, and allow us to implement policies for regeneration. Employment and growth in Europe are at stake.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) The work carried out at the conciliation table by the European Parliament delegation is both praiseworthy and positive. The financial conditions of Member States meant that no more could have been achieved. Yet difficult times like these require the will and the courage to make innovative political choices that in some ways represent a break with the past. The conservatism of some Member States (especially, but not only Germany) is dangerously slowing down the process leading to the introduction of measures which, conversely, increasingly appear to be both urgent and unavoidable. At the same time as the budget lines were being approved, not without difficulty, the Commission was beginning consultations about the eurobonds, which were met with a negative reaction by some national governments. However, eurobonds are just part of the possible solution. In the 2012 budget, the evident widening of the gap between commitments for appropriations and payments is symptomatic of how the current system of delivering EU resources is inefficient and inadequate, and that it is therefore time it was changed to reflect an actual system of own resources based not only on the tax on financial transactions (TFT) and a new value-added tax (VAT), but also on a new way of taxing energy sources.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As I have said before, I believe that the EU general budget for the financial year 2012 has sought to be concerned about the crisis situation through which we are living, without succumbing to easy populism. That is why I am voting today for the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee. I would congratulate my colleague, Mr Fernandes, on his work relating to this delicate brief.

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira (S&D), in writing. (PT) The agreement on the 2012 European Union budget provides for a 1.86% increase in payments in relation to 2011, representing a reduction in real terms. Despite Parliament’s more ambitious proposal, the final agreement confirms the Council’s proposal, which limits total payments to 0.98% of the Member States’ gross domestic product.

At this extremely serious point in the life of the European Union through which we are living, when divergence within the euro area and a lack of growth and jobs are threatening to destroy the single currency itself, this European budget should send a message of confidence to the public, at least in symbolic terms, and constitute a stimulus – even a limited one – for the relaunch of the economy, compensating for the multitude of recessive policies imposed by various Member States. There was a need for a strategic strengthening to promote territorial and social cohesion within the Union, thereby relaunching public confidence in the European project. I am voting against because of the lack of this message. Despite this, I would express my appreciation of the work undertaken by my fellow Members on this difficult negotiation: although they did not manage to reverse the aforementioned key issue, they have substantially improved the initial proposal.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) With this report, the European Union is giving its final assent to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, giving its backing to the joint text resulting from the negotiations with the Council. Further cuts are now being added to the failings of the previous draft budget, meaning that the 2012 EU budget is now below 1% of gross national income, at 0.98%. The EUR 129.088 billion in payments will represent a decrease in the EU budget in real terms. What we have here, therefore, is a clear surrender to the impositions of the most powerful countries and the interests that they advocate, at the expense of the countries with weaker economies, passing on to the latter the economic and social costs of the policies that led to the crisis. These are policies and measures central to the European process of capitalist integration, and they have been reinforcing these rather than reversing them, as was necessary. As such, the much vaunted economic and social cohesion is proving to be a big lie. It is a lie that the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament – the same people who voted for this budget – have been peddling as propaganda.

For our part, we continue to fight for the adoption of policies promoting genuine cohesion, social justice, employment, solidarity and cooperation, properly supported in budgetary terms, obviously.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the result of the conciliation on the administrative and operating costs of the European institutions, an area for which I am rapporteur, since the Council has accepted my proposal in its entirety. I would reemphasise that the administrative costs of all the European institutions represent less than 6% of the EU budget. Agreement was reached between the European Parliament and the Council on 18 November, following a conciliation meeting that lasted over 16.5 hours. I would stress that Parliament’s priorities regarding promotion of economic growth and young people were considered. With a view to this, subheading 1a – Competitiveness for growth and employment – has been increased to EUR 50 million above the margin, using the flexibility instrument. In the final draft of the 2012 EU budget, a sum of EUR 129.1 billion has been agreed for payments and a sum of EUR 147.2 billion has been agreed for commitments. The Council adopted the final draft of the 2012 budget unanimously, which is something of a surprise, given that the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland had voted against at first reading.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) With this report, the European Parliament is giving its final assent to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, approving the joint text resulting from the Conciliation Committee, composed of a list of budget headings unchanged from the Council’s draft budget and position. It also includes the summary figures by financial framework headings, the line-by-line figures on all budget items, and the consolidated document showing the figures and final text of all lines modified during the conciliation relating to the 2012 budget process.

We have rejected this budget because it follows the paths of the neoliberal, militarist and federalist policies of the European Union, and in no way meets the needs of the public. Quite the contrary, it accentuates divergences and ignores the consequences of the serious crisis of capitalism. There is an urgent need to adopt policies promoting social justice, employment, dignified living conditions, solidarity and cooperation, so that the general budget of the European Union might, within this framework, be of benefit to the public.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European budget must support growth and the creation of high-quality jobs, in accordance with the EU 2020 strategy. In my opinion, it is justifiable for the Council to fund this strategy properly, despite the cost-cutting measures. The EU budgets for individual years form part of the seven year financial framework, which estimates how much money will be needed for EU programmes. The European Parliament's proposal for the 2012 EU budget focuses on the need to respect existing commitments and to accelerate programmes that are coming to an end. The total budget for next year will be EUR 129.1 billion (a growth of 1.86%) in payments and EUR 147.2 billion in commitments. There will be a limited increase in funding for payments, as requested by Member States, which have accepted the European Parliament’s growth priorities, such as, for example, innovation, employment, border protection and migration management and supporting the development of democracy in the Arab world. The budget headings where Parliament is requesting more growth include research and development (+8.8%) and headings covering the Cohesion Fund and the Structural Funds (+10.35%). These policies include as a component long-term investment projects that are now, during the fifth year of the multi-year financial framework, fully operational and within the framework of which it will now be necessary to pay invoices that the EU made a commitment to pay in the past.

 
  
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  Vicky Ford (ECR), in writing. – I have voted against the 2012 EU budget. Whilst I welcome the significant reductions between this budget and previous proposals from this Parliament, I believe that there are still substantial savings and efficiencies that could be made. At a time when UK public sector workers find their wage increases capped at 1%, increases in the EU budget are unfair and unaffordable.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) The European Parliament today gave its approval to the EU’s budget for 2012. The budget, which includes payments to the value of EUR 129 billion and commitments to the value of EUR 147 billion, aims to reduce operational costs in tandem with encouraging growth and competitiveness.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (S&D), in writing. (FR) I refuse to back the outcome of the trialogue on the 2012 EU budget. The European Parliament has settled for a handful of vague promises of further commitments, whilst after months of wrangling over hundreds of amendments that have come to nothing, it has allowed itself to be dictated to by the Council on the level of payment appropriations. Payments have been frozen at EUR 129.088 billion; in other words, the Council’s exact initial figure. The European Union is clearly not equipping itself with the wherewithal to achieve its goals, especially at a time when all the Member States will be under added pressure because of the recession.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the huge support for the 2012 EU budget, following the agreement reached with the Council of the European Union in the Conciliation Committee. The 2012 budget will be worth EUR 129 billion, representing a moderate 1.86% increase in payment appropriations compared with 2011, and EUR 147.2 billion in commitment appropriations. Parliament has made a constructive effort, and has managed to adjust its goals in the light of the current climate, whilst still preserving major policies such as the common agricultural policy and cohesion policy, and areas of investment in the future of the economy, such as entrepreneurship, innovation, aeronautical and space research, and so on. By contrast, the European institutions’ operating budgets have been restricted to less than 6% of the EU budget. In making this decision, the institutions have sent a clear message to the public: the economic crisis affects everyone, and no one is immune to it. Amid this climate, we must also do whatever it takes in terms of restricting our spending as much as possible. I am also delighted that the programme for food aid to the most needy has been kept, as it has been one of the central concerns of the French Government and the members of the French UMP party throughout the last few months.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. (RO) First of all, I would like to congratulate my colleague, Francesca Balzani, for all her efforts in achieving a more than commendable outcome for the European Parliament, under some extremely tough conditions. The European Parliament has managed to become the only institution in Europe which defends economic growth and wants to boost the economy, and the EU budget has become one of the only hopes for the European economy’s recovery. Right-wing governments in Europe are cutting national budgets, not to mention the EU budget, salaries and pensions, and then they are wondering why there is no economic recovery. Europe needs investment not budget cuts, and the budget deficits can be funded from the financial sector which continues to make profits, while also being the source of the crisis.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) As I already emphasised this morning during the debate, I am very pleased with today’s vote. I would like to take the opportunity provided by the explanation of vote to thank the two rapporteurs, Ms Balzani and Mr Fernandes, Commissioner Lewandowski, the Council in the person of Mr Dominik, and all the assistants and my fellow Members for their excellent work during this procedure. I think that the broad majority achieved today fully reflects the constructive spirit with which the three institutions have worked over the last three months to achieve approval of the European budget for 2012, a budget which, in my view, takes full account of the difficult time of crisis, and, at the same time, tries to stimulate investments and the economy in order to achieve smart, inclusive and sustainable development of the European Union.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for the 2012 budget.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report and the concluding agreements reached through the conciliatory meetings determining the EU budget for 2012.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the success achieved during negotiations in the Conciliation Committee on the 2012 budget process. This budget is very important for the economic future of the EU.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Particularly in the fraught times of crisis in which we find ourselves, absolutely all possibilities of savings must be exploited. This is not just because increasing the size of the budget is incomprehensible in the light of national austerity programmes, but also because next year, payments have to be made into the permanent European financial stabilisation mechanism. The money for this needs to be found from the already cash-strapped national budgets. It may well be that spending has been scheduled for many multiannual programmes and that the relevant funding cannot be cut at present because the EU would otherwise be open to accusations of breach of contract. However, there is plenty of scope available for savings. I therefore voted against this budget.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Today, we approved next year’s European Union budget. Reaching an agreement on the budget is always a challenge. This is particularly the case now that the European Parliament participates actively in negotiations on the establishment of the budget and, on the other hand, given that the European Union economy does not promise increased budgetary revenues next year at either national or EU level. In terms of figures, the EU budget is increasing. However, when we factor in annual inflation, we find ourselves in the same place. It is important not to reduce the amount of money earmarked for economic growth and research – this is the only way to boost the faltering EU economy. Even so, in future, the Member States themselves should also be interested in reducing administrative costs, above all, by cutting three European Parliament jobs.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of and support this budget agreement. Parliament had asked for a higher amount, but the Member States insisted on a lower percentage. The compromise we managed to reach may not be the best one, but it is an important milestone, particularly at a time of crisis like the present when it is important to support growth. Funds that may be forthcoming from the EU budget can provide a breath of fresh air and an important support for institutions that have suffered and continue to suffer from highly critical situations during this crisis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Through this legislative resolution, the European Parliament has adopted the institutions’ joint text on the 2012 budget process; a draft already adopted by the Conciliation Committee. I voted for this resolution, as it is based on the report by the European Parliament’s delegation to the Conciliation Committee.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Conciliation Committee, convened to overcome the deadlocks that had emerged with regard to the 2012 European Union budget, has achieved a comprehensive draft, resulting from an understanding between the representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission. This means the way has now been cleared for the final adoption of the 2012 budget. In view of the agreement reached, I voted in favour of confirming the common agreement and of the joint declarations tabled by the three institutions.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today in plenary, we voted on the 2012 budget procedure. The final figures and priority expenditure areas of the 2012 EU budget were approved. The proposals of the European Parliament focused on growth, innovation, employment, border control, management of migration and support for the development of democracy in the Arab world. These priorities were all accepted by Member States in the final agreement. All increases to payment appropriations will be limited, as requested by Member States. The Commission, the Council and Parliament agreed on the need to assess the situation during next year to see whether the budget, as approved, is realistic or whether it will be necessary to make adjustments. Member States signed a statement to this effect. The total budget for next year will amount to EUR 129.1 billion (a 1.86% increase) for payments and EUR 147.2 billion (up 3.8%) for expenditure commitments.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this document because I believe that the 2012 budget thus defined focuses on growth, innovation, employment, border control, management of migration and support for the development of democracy in the Arab world. The new total budget for next year will amount to EUR 129.1 billion, with a 1.86% increase for payments and EUR 147.2 billion (up 3.8%) for expenditure commitments. At a time of crisis, it has been possible to reduce operating costs, while maintaining growth and competitiveness. Now we need to proceed along the established route with conviction and a great sense of shared intent.

 
  
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  József Szájer (PPE), in writing. (HU) The 2012 European Union budget was undeniably shaped by the financial problems of the Member States. The EU is being hit hard by the financial crisis because it is in an economically vulnerable position. Yet now, I can gladly state that the EU institutions eventually managed to agree on the adoption of a modest, economical budget.

Currently, our principal focus should be on restoring the financial system, for which job creation, the expansion of employment, and investments that promote economic growth are indispensable.

I believe that the adoption and implementation of a responsible budget, which must, in my opinion, be accompanied by strict economic discipline, is a prerequisite of all the aforesaid. These requirements apply not only in respect of the EU but also the individual Member States.

It is exemplary that with the adoption of the new Hungarian Basic Law, Hungarian budgetary law has also undergone considerable reform with a view to ensuring effective crisis management and economic upturn. It is now enshrined in constitutional provisions that Hungary functions on the basis of the principle of balanced, transparent and sustainable budgetary management. Responsibility for the implementation of this principle rests primarily with the Hungarian Parliament and the government.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European institutions have agreed on the budget figures for the financial year 2012, prioritising action on economic growth and resolving the financial crisis. In addition to these priorities, I consider it important to stress that the European institutions have agreed a EUR 50 million increase in subheading 1a of the budget – Competitiveness for growth and employment – and that this means there is more funding available to boost programmes supporting businesses and young people.

Finally, I believe it is right to have chosen, in section 3.2 of the budget, to channel EUR 38 million from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Social Fund, as this demonstrates that the European Union continues to promote social cohesion.

 
  
  

Report: Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska (A7-0407/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it is line with the conclusions of the Conciliation Committee. However, I deeply regret the climate of mistrust that has hung over the negotiations between the Commission and the Member States regarding the level of additional payment appropriations necessary in 2011 in order that the Commission might be able to meet the Union’s legal obligations.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Under the EU’s budgetary procedure, the Commission may propose amendments to the current year’s budget, in order to deal with unanticipated financial needs. The Commission has therefore proposed various ‘draft amending budgets’ for the 2011 budget. In keeping with its budgetary powers, the European Parliament discusses the Commission’s proposals, and votes on the draft amendments. The draft amending budget on the agenda for this part-session covered the European Social Fund, the programme to support the development of an integrated maritime policy, and EU aid for Palestine. These amendments are necessary if the EU is to achieve the goals it has set itself. I therefore voted in favour of Ms Jędrzejewska’s report.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution, which approves, without amendment, the Council position on draft amending budget No 6/2011. Draft amending budget No 6/2011 to the general budget 2011 covers reinforcements in commitment appropriations in Headings 1 and 4 for a respective amount of EUR 3.25 million to provide specific expertise in support of the Administrative Reform Operational Programme in the field of tax administration in Greece, and EUR 113.4 million for financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as for banana accompanying measures.

It also provides for an increase in payment appropriations of EUR 550.3 million. This increase is intended to cover needs in Heading 1: EUR 142 million will be used to increase payments in Heading 1a (Competitiveness for Growth and Employment), in the budget line Cooperation – Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies, and the remaining EUR 408 million will be reallocated to Heading 1b (Cohesion for Growth and Employment), in the budget line European Social Fund – Convergence, in order to meet outstanding needs remaining after the global transfer. Furthermore, a new budget line is created: the programme to support the further development of an integrated maritime policy (IMP), with commitment appropriations of EUR 23.14 million entered in reserve.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In view of the report by the Committee on Budgets, and given that Parliament has repeatedly stressed, throughout the 2011 budget process, that the overall level of payments advocated by the Council and adopted for the financial year 2011 was insufficient and would not enable the clearly set out objectives to be met, I voted for the Council position on draft amending budget No 6/2011, without amendments, which declares draft amending budget No 6/2011 finally adopted; I also agree with its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for draft amending budget No 6/2011 because I believe it respects the agreement concluded by the Conciliation Committee. However, I regret the fact that the Council’s approach contradicts the processes of the European Semester and of improving European economic governance.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of draft amending budget No 6/2011, as tabled by the Commission, is to increase various areas, like own resources, Greece, the European Social Fund and Palestine, and to create a new budget heading for the integrated maritime policy. I share the rapporteur’s concerns and hope that Parliament will not neglect its role as budgetary authority, and will not stop fighting for rigour and clarity in Europe’s accounts.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The specific purpose of this amending budget is to ensure that the EU will meet its commitments as regards cohesion policy. In order to meet commitments already made, the Commission estimates that the European Social Fund needs a further EUR 1.5 billion for 2011, while another EUR 142 million is required for research. The Commission has tabled amending budget No 6/2011 in order to tackle this need for EUR 1.642 billion by redeploying funds, so it remains within the margins of the budget. In Heading 1, EUR 697 million has been found, and EUR 395 million has been found in Heading 2, more specifically, in rural development. There is, therefore, a EUR 550 million shortfall. That is why there is a need for this amending budget. However, the Member States do not agree with these sums and have approved only EUR 200 million for this purpose; even so, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands voted against. There is no record of the Council calling into question the figures tabled by the Commission. Moreover, I would point out that the Council has stated that it had other figures, but has never tabled them.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The draft amending budget under consideration proposes a EUR 113.4 million increase in appropriations to Heading 4, which funds, inter alia, aid for Palestine, the peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. We consider this increase in appropriations important and welcome, and believe it is a potential contribution to the peace process in the situation currently faced by the Palestinian people. The increase in this budget heading is accompanied by the necessary appropriation for the banana accompanying measures (BAMs). In both cases, the necessary funds are obtained by redeploying unused appropriations under the Macro-Financial Assistance.

This draft amending budget, relating to the financial year 2011, comes under the agreement concluded by the Conciliation Committee on the budget for the financial year 2012. While we still have some concerns about how these funds will be used, and despite our well known criticisms of the insufficiency of the funds provided for the BAMs, we believe this proposal has positive aspects, which should prevail. That is why we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This draft budget proposes a EUR 113.4 million increase in appropriations to Heading 4, which funds, inter alia, aid for Palestine, the peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). We believe this increase in appropriations is a fairly significant contribution to the peace process and the Palestinian people.

Increases under Heading 4 in financial aid for Palestine, the peace process and the UNRWA, as well as in banana accompanying measures, are being redeployed from unused appropriations under the Macro-Financial Assistance, and are part of the agreement reached by the Conciliation Committee on the budget for the financial year 2012. Although we have some doubts about how these sums are to be used, there are very positive aspects, not least those targeting Palestine, so we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In accordance with Article 16 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1150/2000 of May 2000, the Commission has revised the estimates of own resources. This applies mainly to the balances for VAT and gross domestic product (GDP), as well as to traditional own resources. As far as the integrated maritime policy is concerned, it was funded for the first three years after its establishment in December 2007 via pilot projects and preparatory actions. In September 2010, the Commission submitted a draft regulation aimed at continuing its funding up to the end of the current financial framework. The proposed funding will enable the Commission to continue developing and determining the options for implementation of the integrated maritime policy, in accordance with the instructions set out in the progress report. The administrative reform in Greece is of fundamental significance for the successful implementation of cohesion policy through the Structural Funds. The aim of the administrative reform operational programme is to introduce reforms that will improve specific important operations of the Greek state, the functioning of the public administration and the efficiency of public services. From the analysis of needs relating to the committed budgetary commitments up to the end of the year, it emerges that there is EUR 60.4 million available in Heading 4 ‘The EU as a global actor’. It is proposed to apportion this sum to budget line 19 08 01 02 – European Neighbourhood and Partnership financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East).

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because Parliament is all the more concerned by the stance of the Council given that, if the Union is to recover from the current economic and social crisis, forward-looking investments need to be supported. Reinforcements for financial assistance to Palestine, the peace process and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, as well as for banana accompanying measures, are redeployed from unused appropriations under Macro-Financial Assistance and are part of the agreement reached by the Conciliation Committee on the budget for the 2012 financial year.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted against this proposal because I do not support an increase in expenditure for the 2011 budget.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) This draft amending budget is important for tackling the budget shortfalls with regard to the integrated maritime policy, to Greece, to the European Social Fund and to Palestine. We are talking about sums of around EUR 113.4 million being channelled into the aforementioned headings.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Parliament motion for a resolution on the amendment of the 2011 budget is due to the need to increase the budget required for the EU’s payments. Avoiding shortfalls in payment appropriations was the basis for the first draft budget, and in order to cover it, the amendment strategy, which increases the available funds in the European coffers for the third quarter of 2011, is, in my view, indispensable. For this reason, I voted in favour of the aforementioned motion.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Through this legislative resolution, the European Parliament has adopted the institutions’ joint text on draft amending budget No 6/2011 of the European Union for the financial year 2011, which has already been adopted by the Conciliation Committee. I voted for this resolution, as it is based on the report by the European Parliament’s delegation to the Conciliation Committee, and since draft amending budget No 6/2011, amended by the Council, reflects the agreement concluded by the Conciliation Committee, which also covers the budget for the financial year 2012.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The initial purpose of draft amending budget No 6/2011 to the general budget for 2011 was to increase commitment appropriations under Headings 1 and 4 by EUR 3.25 million and EUR 113.4 million respectively, and to increase payment appropriations for Heading 1 by EUR 550.3 million. However, the Council has amended the proposal, cutting the total increase in appropriations to EUR 200 million, as a result of the agreement concluded by the Conciliation Committee on the 2012 budget. While I regret the Council’s lack of trust in Parliament during the negotiations, which the rapporteur mentions, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The EU’s continued support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is an essential element of the EU’s strategy for the peace process in the Middle East to alleviate the difficulties of the refugees in Lebanon, and hence contribute to stability in the region. The EU and its Member States are the biggest donators to UNRWA. Together with humanitarian aid, support from the stability instrument and the European neighbourhood and partnership instrument, the EU has provided more than EUR 64 million to support Palestine refugees in Lebanon in the last four years. The EU’s main objective in providing support to Palestine refugees is to contribute to the correct solution to the problem of refugees as part of a global solution to the issue of final status. In this way, the European Union ensures that the essential humanitarian and development needs of Palestine refugees are met. The EU offers most of this assistance through its partnership with UNRWA. The EU will continue to support UNRWA in its efforts to alleviate the terrible living conditions of Palestine refugees in Lebanon through a new programme for a total budget of EUR 12 million.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Draft amending budget No 6/2011 has several objectives: increasing payments under Headings 1a and 1b, increasing commitments with respect to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, reviewing the revenue increase relating to own resources, an increase relating to the European Social Fund, and creating a new budget heading for the integrated maritime policy. It is an amending budget that is already closely tied to the budget process for the financial year 2012 and which, in view of current requirements for 2011 and its budget that has been manifestly insufficient for all the commitments made and for present needs, should be adopted.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Amending budget No 6/2011 concerns a previously agreed increase to Headings 1 and 4 of the budget for 2011. I voted in favour.

 
  
  

Reports: Francesca Balzani, José Manuel Fernandes (A7-0414/2011) and Sidonia Elżbieta Jędrzejewska (A7-0407/2011)

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Against. Today’s budget vote rubberstamps a scaling-back of ambition for the EU and the prospects for a European response to the crisis. The EU budget is a key instrument for European investment and should be a key instrument for stimulating European economic recovery in response to the crisis, but this deal will reduce its ability to do so. The proposed spending in key areas will also fail to ensure the sustainable transformation of the European economy. Instead of prioritising investment in green technologies, the budget allocates a disproportionate amount of funding to nuclear energy vis-à-vis safe and sustainable energy technologies, like renewables and energy efficiency. All of this ignores the ticking budgetary time bomb that is the ITER nuclear fusion project. Despite the blind focus on cutbacks across the budget, the Council is still insisting that the ballooning costs for ITER are met under the EU budget. Instead, with nuclear fusion a technology that will not be commercially viable before 2050, if ever, the Council should finally give up on pouring public funds into this hugely expensive white elephant.

 
  
  

Report: Barbara Matera (A7-0395/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. We should use this fund for emergency situations like this, especially given that Portugal is currently experiencing serious financial difficulties, and that aid for the unemployment phenomenon is crucial.

 
  
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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 a time of severe crisis, one of the principal consequences of which is 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 concerning the mobilisation of EUR 1.5 million from the EGF for Portugal, with the objective of supporting the workers made redundant from the companies Kromberg & Schubert and Lear and Leoni, which operated in the automotive sector in the country’s Norte and Centro regions.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created to provide additional support for workers affected by major structural changes in the patterns of world trade. That is why I voted for this report on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on mobilisation of the 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/2011/005 PT/Norte-Centro Automotive, Portugal).

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was created in order to provide assistance to workers rendered redundant due to structural changes in global trade patterns. The EGF will help workers find new jobs or train them to learn relevant skills geared towards the current needs of the labour market. This fund has not been used to its full extent due to the bureaucratic difficulties involved in its mobilisation. Currently, the EGF can be improved through the following measures: improved procedural and budgetary plans to make mobilisation faster, allowing the EGF to provide individual support for workers who have suffered due to globalisation, and the creation of a specific budget line for EGF. I support the rapporteur and believe that these changes will be necessary to help workers in finding work and reducing the EU’s unemployment rate. In short, the faster the EGF can be mobilised, the sooner the EU can help workers in need.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given the various repercussions that Portugal has been suffering owing to its vulnerability in the face of the financial crisis and structural changes in the patterns of world trade, I am voting for this report, which will provide vital one-off, time-limited assistance to the workers made redundant. Furthermore, I believe in the purpose for which the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be mobilised, to a total of EUR 1 518 465 for Portugal. This support for Portugal’s reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis is vital in order to safeguard 726 redundancies in three companies in Division 29 (‘Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers’). I would like to stress two of the measures in the package proposed by the Commission: firstly, careers guidance, whereby one-to-one occupational counselling sessions will be arranged for redundant workers in order to give them advice on steps to take towards returning to employment; and also vocational education programmes, whereby workers will receive the training best suited to their education and skill levels with a view to upskilling, which is ever more important in the context of growing competitiveness in an increasingly globalised world.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report on mobilising the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund to support workers who have been made redundant in the automotive industry. By releasing these funds, the EU is showing solidarity towards workers who have been affected by the consequences of the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, as I support the mobilisation of EUR 1.5 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Portugal, intended to aid 726 workers made redundant from three companies operating in the automotive sector in the country’s Norte and Centro regions. I consider this application relevant as the companies in question went out of business because of reduced demand caused by the crisis or on account of the relocation of production units to Morocco.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union’s automobile manufacturing sector has been suffering particularly from the globalisation phenomenon. Unfortunately, Portugal has not escaped this trend. This resolution concerns 726 redundancies from that sector, located in the country’s Norte and Centro regions. I hope that the additional support provided by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be able to minimise the personal tragedies of redundant workers and contribute to their integration within the labour market, as well as that it will be possible to mobilise the envisaged aid with the greatest speed, so that it might be as effective as possible.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is yet another request to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), submitted by Portugal. Hundreds more workers have been made redundant after three companies from the automotive sector in the country’s Norte and Centro regions – Kromberg & Schubert Portugal, Lda., Lear and Leoni – went out of business, thereby exacerbating the social tragedy unemployment has become in these regions today. This is yet another consequence of the structural policies of the EU, and of the successive Portuguese governments that have promoted the dismantling of significant aspects of the country’s industrial sector, thus leaving it more exposed to the free will of multinationals, which act solely in accordance with an old, natural, well known and single criterion: the maximisation of profits.

It is regrettable that the European Commission has not taken all the measures necessary to defend these jobs, as we advocated several times, by taking measures to put a stop to the veritable ‘nomad’ strategy of these multinationals. Once again, we would stress the injustice of the high rate of cofinancing – 35% of the full sum envisaged – demanded of the Member States under the EGF’s finance criteria, which makes applications by countries with weaker financial situations more difficult.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) 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 allows for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) through a flexibility mechanism, within the annual ceiling of EUR 500 million over and above the relevant headings of the financial framework. On 6 June 2011, Portugal submitted Application EGF/2011/005 PT/Norte-Centro Automotive to mobilise the EGF in respect of redundancies in three enterprises operating in the NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (‘Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers’) in the NUTS II regions of Norte (PT11) and Centro (PT16) in Portugal. After a thorough review of the submitted application, the Commission concluded that the conditions for providing a financial contribution are met. I share the view that it is right to approve the Portuguese application and provide the funding.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I endorsed this document because, on 6 June 2011, Portugal submitted an application to mobilise the EGF in respect of redundancies in three enterprises involved in the manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers in the Portuguese regions of Norte and Centro and supplemented it by additional information submitted up to 18 July 2011. This application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contributions, as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. The Commission has therefore proposed to mobilise an amount of EUR 1 518 465.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this mobilisation of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund to help workers made redundant by the fall in demand for electrical equipment for cars. The decline in car manufacturing, combined with the impossibility of further reducing production costs and/or access to credit, resulted in the closure of Kromberg & Schubert Portugal, Lda and the Lear production plant in Guarda. The closure of Leoni Wiring Systems Viana, Lda was due to the combination of a difficult economic situation due to the crisis and the relocation of the production plant to Morocco.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I support the assistance this report will provide, to mobilise a total amount of EUR 1 518 465 from the European Globalisation Fund for the retraining of redundant workers in the Portuguese manufacturing sector.

 
  
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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 the 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 already been used by other EU countries in the past, so now it is appropriate to grant this aid to Portugal, which has applied for assistance with regard to 726 redundancies, all of which have been targeted for assistance, at three companies operating in the NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (‘Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers’), in the NUTS II regions of Norte (PT11) and Centro (PT16).

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report for funds from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) to be specifically made available to cover the 726 redundancies in three companies operating in the NACE Revision 2 Division 29 (Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers) in the NUTS II regions of Norte (PT11) and Centro (PT16) in Portugal. The EGF provides additional support for workers suffering the impact of major structural changes in global trade patterns and helps them to re-join the employment market. Denmark has submitted an application for EGF funds to cover redundancies in the automotive industry meeting the fund’s requirements. Guarantees are now needed that the EGF will help the workers who have been laid off to re-enter the employment market, although EGF assistance must not be used in place of company liabilities under national legislation or collective bargaining agreements, or in place of company or sector restructuring measures.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – This is already the twenty-second application to be examined under the 2011 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 1 518 465 from the EGF for Portugal. It concerns 726 redundancies in three enterprises operating in the field of manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers during the nine-month reference period from 1 July 2010 to 1 April 2011. The EGF has never been applied to Latvia. I think that criteria should be amended in order to allow small countries, such as Latvia, to be able to participate in the fund.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Five Portuguese firms have had to lay off 726 employees due to the economic crisis. In order to grant financial aid to Portugal for reintegrating the unemployed, an application was made for EUR 1 518 465 to be made available from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. EUR 500 million is the annual ceiling for the funds that can be mobilised through the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. I am voting in favour of this report as the mobilisation of this money is absolutely justified, given that all necessary reports and applications were filed in good time.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), necessary for reintegrating people into the labour market or safeguarding workers in insecure company situations, is an indispensable tool for receiving the assistance that many local companies need from the European Union. The report I voted for specifically concerns three local Portuguese companies manufacturing trucks, trailers and semi-trailers and which, in the current period of economic crisis, are confronted with 726 redundant workers, and so have asked the EGF for assistance.

 
  
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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. Within the framework of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2011, the sum of EUR 1 518 465 in payment and commitment appropriations should be mobilised from the EGF in the case of Portugal. Given that the application fulfils all the necessary requirements for mobilising this financial aid mechanism, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The twenty-second application for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) under the 2011 budget has been submitted. The purpose of the EGF is to support workers who find themselves in highly vulnerable situations because the company in which they worked has relocated as a result of the global competition phenomenon.

In this case, in which Portugal has requested EGF intervention, there have been a total of 726 redundancies from three companies in the Norte and Centro regions, over a four-month reference period. Indeed, all the criteria for EGF intervention, enabling the mobilisation of up to EUR 500 million per year, have been met. As such, I voted in favour, in the hope that the difficulties of those seriously affected by recent events can be reduced in this way.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – 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 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 trialogue could be organised in order to find an agreement on the use of the fund and the amounts required. The trialogue can take a simplified form.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union has already put in place appropriate legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market. From 1 May 2009, the scope of the fund was extended. Now it includes support for workers who have lost their jobs as a direct result of the global economic and financial crisis. Portugal has requested assistance in respect of a case concerning 726 redundancies, all targeted for assistance, in three enterprises involved in the manufacture of trucks, trailers and semi-trailers in the Norte and Centro regions. In view of the fact that the application fulfils the eligibility criteria set up by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) Regulation, the institutions must make the necessary efforts to improve procedural and budgetary arrangements in order to accelerate mobilisation of the EGF.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of 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. Portugal has submitted a request to mobilise the EGF, with a view to supporting the 726 workers made redundant at three automobile parts companies located in the Norte and Centro regions, specifically, at Kromberg & Schubert in Guimarães, at Lear in Guarda and at Leoni in Viana do Castelo. European aid to the value of EUR 1.5 million represents 65% of the programme’s total cost, and is to be used on running activities relating to careers advice, on recognising, validating and certifying skills, on professional training, and on supporting business start-ups.

 
  
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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 Portugal to provide support to the workers from the automotive manufacturing industry affected by the major changes in global trade patterns. The application concerns the mobilisation from the EGF of a sum of EUR 1 518 465 for Portugal in the event of 726 redundancies in three companies manufacturing cars, trailers and semi-trailers. The redundancies were made in the period between 1 July 2010 and 1 April 2011 in two contiguous regions, Norte and Centro. The cause of these redundancies is the decline in demand for new cars in the European Union. Car production in the EU dropped by 17% in 2009 and by 23% in 2008, compared with the same period in 2007. The fall in demand for electrical equipment for cars, combined with the impossibility of reducing production costs further and/or having access to credit, resulted in the closure of the Lear production plant in Guarda and its relocation to Morocco. I support the need to mobilise the EGF to provide assistance to the redundant workers. I also think that the EU needs to strengthen its industrial policy to prevent the relocation of European industry to third countries.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Not again! Once again, I voted no. This report seeks to mobilise over EUR 1 million in the name of support for Portuguese workers, which will fund the corporate strategies of the three firms that are sacking them. As happened with Renault and Peugeot last month, these are three Portuguese car manufacturers that are making hundreds of men and women redundant in order to boost their profits and/or relocate a production site to Morocco. As I see it, this is about as effective as sticking a plaster on a wooden leg. If we really want to help workers, we should not restrict ourselves to ‘globalisation adjustment’. It would be better if the money distributed by the EU were matched by lasting democratic practices within the companies, a ban on speculative redundancies and fairer distribution of the wealth created. It would be better if all Members of the European Parliament supported us when we call for job and training security, financed by public funds. Europe’s workers deserve better than short-term responses at the mercy of companies, which view them as just another adjustment variable.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Among other things, the financial crisis led to a fall in demand for manufacturing in the automotive sector and for electronic equipment for vehicles. Three companies ceased production in Portugal as a result, and 726 workers consequently lost their jobs. EUR 1 518 465 is now being made available from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in order to support these workers and re-integrate them into the labour market. I voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Tadeusz Zwiefka (A7-0410/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, in view of EU law, Greek law and the arguments put forward in the text regarding the events that have led to this process.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) At the request of the Piraeus Court of First Instance in Greece, the European Parliament has voted in favour of waiving the immunity of Member of the European Parliament Georgios Toussas, who is charged with fraud. Parliament made the point that Members of the European Parliament have responsibilities, as well as rights. They are accountable to citizens, and must be beyond reproach in the performance of their duties. I therefore voted in favour of the Zwiefka report.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report on waiving the parliamentary immunity of Member of the European Parliament Georgios Toussas. This decision will show our fellow citizens that politicians are not shielded from legal sanctions if they commit an offence, and that no one can act with impunity within our institutions.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Zwiefka, concerns the request for waiver of the parliamentary immunity of our fellow Member, Mr Toussas, following the letter from a judge at Piraeus Magistrates’ Court, Athens, Greece. The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Piraeus Magistrates’ Court is accusing this Member of the European Parliament, along with eight other people, of misappropriating a sum in excess of EUR 147 000 as a Member of the Board of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund (NAT). During his hearing before the Committee on Legal Affairs, Mr Toussas alleged that this accusation constituted political persecution, which was not confirmed by said committee. In view of the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Affairs, and although all defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty, I am voting for this proposal for the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Mr Toussas, since it is crucial for Parliament’s credibility that no form of corporatism exist between us.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The judge at the Piraeus Court of First Instance, Section 7, has requested the waiver of the immunity of Georgios Toussas, Member of the European Parliament, in order to enable him to conduct criminal proceedings started as a result of instructions issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Piraeus Magistrates’ Court. Mr Toussas, together with eight other persons, is charged with knowingly defrauding for the benefit of another party, by a sum in excess of EUR 147 000, the property of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund (NAT), a legal entity under public law, the management of which he was entrusted with. The alleged fraud was committed by Mr Toussas when acting as a member of NAT’s Board, having, as such, a status of employee within the meaning of Greek criminal law. In the course of his hearing by the Committee on Legal Affairs on 10 October 2011, Mr Toussas indicated that the criminal proceedings possibly constitute a political persecution directed against him. After reviewing all of the facts, and pursuant to Rule 6 paragraph 2 of the Rules of Procedure, the Committee on Legal Affairs, having examined the reasons for and against waiving the Member’s immunity, recommends that the European Parliament should waive the parliamentary immunity of Georgios Toussas.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report on the waiver of the immunity of Georgios Toussas.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is Parliament’s responsibility to defend the independence of its Members’ mandates and that independence cannot be jeopardised. In the case under consideration, Piraeus Magistrates’ Court, Section 7, has requested the waiver of the immunity of Mr Toussas, Member of the European Parliament, in order to enable it to conduct the criminal proceedings started as a result of the instructions issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Piraeus Magistrates’ Court, relating to an alleged abuse of trust involving losses in excess of EUR 147 000 (Article 390 of the Greek Criminal Code and Article 1 of Law 1608/1950), as well as a judicial inquiry (Articles 246, 248 and 250 of the Greek Code of Criminal Procedure). The judge intends to summon Mr Toussas to testify as a defendant in that case and to answer the abovementioned charges against him, pursuant to Articles 270, 271 and 273 of the Greek Code of Criminal Procedure. As such, it is advisable to recommend the waiver of parliamentary immunity in the case under consideration, which is why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The judge at the Piraeus Court of First Instance, Section 7, has requested the waiver of immunity of Georgios Toussas, Member of the European Parliament, in order to enable him to conduct the criminal proceedings started as a result of the instructions issued by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Piraeus Magistrates’ Court. Mr Toussas, together with eight other persons, is charged with knowingly defrauding for the benefit of another party, by a sum in excess of EUR 147 000, the property of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund, a legal entity under public law, the management of which he was entrusted with.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Parliament has been asked to waive the parliamentary immunity of a Member of this House, Mr Toussas. The Committee on Legal Affairs has issued its opinion on the matter, with a report that decided to waive his parliamentary immunity being adopted unanimously. Indeed, it was thought that no basis had been found for the allegation of fumus persecutionis in the case at hand.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour of waiving the immunity of Georgios Toussas as the case concerns an alleged breach of trust resulting in damages.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The request for the waiver of parliamentary immunity has been requested by a Greek magistrate court, so as to start a legal process relating to the alleged breach of trust, with indications of fraud. Such procedures are in line with the European Parliament’s Rules of Procedure. The Member declared, in the Committee on Legal Affairs, that this case was political persecution; the committee has found no indications that this is the case. As such, and in view of this report, I support the waiver of parliamentary immunity.

 
  
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  Georgios Toussas (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The waiver of parliamentary immunity of the Greek Communist Party MEP Georgios Toussas, at the request of the Piraeus Public Prosecutor’s Office because, as a member of the management board of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund and representative of seafarers, he – together with the other members of the management board – allegedly voted unanimously on 27 March 2003 to issue a certificate of no debt to Mare Naftiliaki, which had won the auction for the Dimitris Moiras and had debts to the Merchant Seaman’s Fund, is a distortion of the truth and an attempt to exonerate the real parties responsible for the bankruptcy of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund and the workers’ insurance funds; namely, shipowners, the long-standing policy of the PASOK and New Democracy governments and the EU. The request by the Piraeus Public Prosecutor’s Office for waiver of immunity is bereft of any legal or moral basis, based on the facts and the clear position of the management board of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund. The minutes of the relevant meetings of the management board of the Merchant Seamen’s Fund prove that Georgios Toussas, as the representative of the Hellenic Association of Merchant Fleet Engineers expressing the positions of the class-based seafarers’ movement, not only did not agree at the Merchant Seamen’s Fund board meeting to grant a certificate of no debt; on the contrary, he sought full security and payment of insurance contributions to the fund. The Greek Communist Party MEP has already been tried – on 16 October 2007, together with other trade unionists – by the Piraeus Lower Criminal Court, for strike action by the class-based seafarers’ associations and he was acquitted when the flimsy bill of indictment collapsed.

 
  
  

Report: Bernhard Rapkay (A7-0412/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since I subscribe to all the arguments presented by the Committee on Legal Affairs.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Rapkay, concerns the request for the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of the Italian Member of the European Parliament, Mr de Magistris. Mr de Magistris, elected Member of the European Parliament in 2009, has been summoned to appear before the Court of Naples following a charge brought by the Naples company, Bagnolifutura SpA, accusing the Member of denigrating the reputation it has with markets, banks, public authorities and suppliers. Bagnolifutura SpA accuses the Member of putting press releases on his website accusing the company of delays and wasting public money, of passiveness and inefficiency, and of being involved in conduct that he categorises as ‘a mixture of politics and criminality’. Mr de Magistris has defended himself by arguing that he disseminated information relating to a written question submitted to the European Commission on irregularities noted by the Commission, as well as on the alleged waste of public funds. Given that the facts of the case demonstrate that the details published ‘have a direct and obvious connection with Luigi de Magistris’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament’, and in view of Article 8 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, I am voting in favour of defending the privileges and immunities of Mr de Magistris.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) A Member of the European Parliament, Luigi de Magistris, has requested the defence of his parliamentary immunity, a request that relates to a writ of summons filed against him before the Court of Naples on behalf of Bagnolifutura SpA, a company domiciled in Naples engaged in design and in soil remediation, in connection with press releases issued by him and published on his website. According to the writ of summons, statements made in those press releases constitute libel, resulting in a claim for damages. In those press releases, Luigi de Magistris published information relating to a follow-up written question to the European Commission, in which he asked for additional details concerning public procurement irregularities noted in May 2009 by the Commission. He asked for more details about an alleged waste of public funds in the area of Naples where Bagnolifutura conducts its business. The facts of the case, as presented in the writ of summons and in Luigi de Magistris’s written submissions to the Committee on Legal Affairs, indicate that the statements made do have a direct and obvious connection with Luigi de Magistris’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament. At the same time, however, as Luigi de Magistris was acting within the framework of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament in publishing the press releases in question, Parliament has decided to defend his immunity and privileges.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for the waiver of the immunity of Luigi de Magistris but of course, without prejudice to his guilt or otherwise, which is for a court to decide.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is Parliament’s responsibility to defend the independence of its Members’ mandates and that independence cannot be jeopardised. The request by Mr de Magistris relates to a writ of summons filed against him before the Court of Naples on behalf of Bagnolifutura SpA, a company domiciled in Naples engaged in design and in soil remediation, in connection with press releases issued by him and published on his website. The press releases were published on the website at a time when Mr de Magistris was a Member of the European Parliament, following the 2009 European Parliament elections. In those press releases, Mr de Magistris published information relating to a follow-up written question to the European Commission, in which he asked for additional details concerning public procurement irregularities noted in May 2009 by the Commission. Given that Mr de Magistris also asked for more details about an alleged waste of public funds in the area of Naples where Bagnolifutura conducts its business, by publishing those press releases, he was acting in the performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament. I therefore support defending the immunity and privileges of Mr de Magistris.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Mr de Magistris was summoned before the Court of Naples by Bagnolifutura SpA, a mixed company domiciled in Naples engaged in design and in soil remediation, in connection with press releases issued by him and published on his website. Luigi de Magistris submits that in the press releases, he expressed his political opinion as a Member of the European Parliament and according to him it is absolutely normal and necessary to inform the public of the results of his work. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the opinion or statements publicly expressed by a Member of the European Parliament should be seen as an expression of political will to ensure the proper and effective performance of duties and accountability to constituents. No person can be punished for a publicly expressed opinion if such a statement does not show any signs of criminality. Attention should be drawn to the fact that the immunity of an MEP is an institutional arrangement and guarantee of independence, offering protection from external pressure and ensuring the independence of MEPs in the performance of their duties. Moreover, parliamentary immunity is aimed at protecting both the institution of Parliament itself and its members as individuals.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Parliament has been asked to waive the parliamentary immunity of a Member of this House, Mr de Magistris. The Committee on Legal Affairs has issued its opinion on the matter, with a report that decided not to waive his parliamentary immunity being adopted unanimously. In fact, it was considered that Mr de Magistris was performing his duties as a Member of the European Parliament when he made the declarations that motivated these criminal proceedings. Seeking to prevent Members of the European Parliament from expressing their opinions in matters of public interest by instituting legal proceedings is unacceptable in a democratic society. I voted in favour because I advocate freedom of expression for Members when performing their duties, and in order to defend the interests of the European Parliament as an institution.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour of defending the parliamentary immunity of de Magistris, as his statements have a direct connection with de Magistris’s performance of his duties as an MEP.

 
  
  

Report: Danuta Maria Hübner (A7-0380/2011)

 
  
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  Alexander Alvaro (ALDE), in writing. (DE) The representatives of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament will only vote in favour of the Hübner report on amending COM(2011)0482 on condition that, when raising the applicable cofinancing rates by ten percentage points, there is an exception for those Member States explicitly affected. This exception must not be able to act as a precedent in any way and should be revoked in respect of the Member States in question once the severe financial and economic crisis and its liquidity squeezes have been overcome.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, and would highlight the undeniable need for additional EU measures in order to adapt existing regulations to the requirements of the current financial crisis.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering. The proposal provides for a definition of reimbursable grant as a direct financial contribution by way of donation which can be totally or partially reimbursable without interest. It states that the Structural Funds may finance expenditure in respect of an operation comprising contributions to support repayable assistance. Moreover, it clarifies that the assistance repaid to the body providing the assistance or to another competent public authority of the Member State must be kept in a separate account and reused for the same purpose or in line with the objectives of the operational programme. Legal clarity and certainty should be ensured as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments. I agree with the rapporteur’s opinion that appropriate monitoring of financial engineering instruments is necessary, but that the Member States should not be subject to new additional reporting obligations. The amendments tabled by the European Parliament are aimed at clarifying the text, adding the definition of credit line, modifying the reporting requirements, and clarifying the obligations as regards statements of expenditure.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 did not define the financial assistance awarded to beneficiaries by the Member States as repayable or non-repayable. With the objective of clarifying the existing doubts regarding the eligibility of certain types of aid, in August 2011, the European Commission tabled a draft amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 regarding repayable assistance and financial engineering, clarifying the eligibility for repayable assistance and introducing obligations to report on financial instruments.

This report will enable the Member States to award support in the form of repayable assistance to all types of entity, thereby making it possible to make use of the Structural Funds a number of times over the course of the programming period. I voted for this report for the above reasons.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing.(IT) I offer my congratulations for the excellent and complex work carried out by the rapporteur, for which I voted. During the 2000-2006 programming period, Member States established forms of assistance, identified by Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999, by setting up specific funds and through repayable assistance delivered via other instruments. Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not define whether assistance is actually repayable or non-repayable and contains rather narrow forms of financial engineering. Although repayable assistance does not appear to be covered by the regulation, Member States continued to use repayable forms of assistance, mindful of the positive experience of the past programming period. I agree with the spirit of the report, which aims to provide clarity about the legality of an existing legal practice. Legal clarity and certainty should be ensured as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments and, in agreement with the rapporteur, I believe that additional reporting obligations of Member States should be limited. Finally, I am in favour of the use of Structural Funds to finance expenditure in respect of an operation comprising contributions to support repayable assistance.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering, since I agree with the general objective of the proposal and believe that most elements are immediately clear. I also agree that legal clarity and certainty should be ensured as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – This proposal discusses amendments made to a Council regulation regarding repayable assistance and financial engineering. Member States have had great success with repayable assistance schemes from 2000 to 2006 and have now started implementing these repayable assistance schemes in the programming for 2007-2013. In July of 2006, Council Regulation No 1083/2006 gave the general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation 1260/1999. These provisions laid out the rules for financial assistance, but the repayable assistance plans in the form of reimbursement grants and credit lines that Member States adopted were not completely covered by the provisions of Regulation No 1083/2006. I thus agree with the rapporteur in that it is necessary in accordance with Article II of Council Regulation No 1081/2006 to make amendments that allow Structural Funds to cofinance repayable assistance. Such amendments need to include the following provisions: the financial resources used during repayable assistance must be reimbursed by beneficiaries, enhanced transparency and more efficient execution of financial engineering resources, and making clear that provisions on major projects are not applicable for repayable assistance.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not define whether the financial assistance granted by Member States to beneficiaries is repayable or non-repayable, and there are also doubts about the eligibility of some types of support to be provided. This is an interesting fact if we think that assistance to Member States has continued to take the form of non-repayable assistance over the years. In August 2011, the European Commission tabled a proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 with regard to repayable assistance and financial engineering, clarifying the eligibility of partially repayable assistance and the definition of mandatory reporting obligations in the area of financial instruments. I agree and I believe this report is positive because I hope that, remaining with the repayable type of assistance, Member States will grant assistance to various entities, in order to be able to use the Structural Funds, more than once if necessary, throughout the programming period.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) The need to introduce a framework of legal certainty that would oversee a common practice, in other words, the use of a financial instrument which was included in the previous general regulation and not in Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 and which has continued to play an important part in the management of unit trusts, is in response to clear evidence of its functionality. It is no coincidence that Member States have continued to use them, even in the absence of clear indications. It was therefore certainly urgent to clarify and increase the transparency of procedures. However, we wish to express particular support for the provision for re-use of the reimbursed assistance, which would be managed in a separate account and used for the same purposes. This instrument would guarantee suitable and effective reinvestment of the funds, and could also be a way to alleviate pressure on cofinancing by Member States. Overall, the granting of repayable funds and the setting up of a special credit line for individual beneficiaries to use both seem to be moving towards an expansion of the range of funding possibilities, which is all the more important at a time of serious financial difficulty for many Member States. For this reason, I have to support this report.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) The aim of the report is to make the regulation of financial instruments clearer and more differentiated. In the 2000-2006 programming period, Member State experiences regarding the use of financial instruments were very positive and accordingly, they decided to continue to use these instruments in the 2007-2013 period as well.

I welcome the European Commission’s intention to clarify the use of an existing instrument. In order for the Commission to be supplied with appropriate information about the implementation of financial instruments, it is imperative to introduce special reporting provisions in this regard, but I consider it important to stress that a more thorough European Commission supervision of financial instruments must not result in a substantial increase in Member State reporting and administrative burdens.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which will help to clarify the legal framework for EU aid. By implementing these measures, we will be able to support projects to promote growth, and strengthen monitoring of how the funds are allocated.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I consider it positive that some extra flexibility is being introduced into the use of the Structural Funds in the current crisis situation. As such, I believe the Commission proposal is a step in the right direction, since it enables some of these funds to be used to cofinance repayable assistance.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 identifies the various forms of assistance that could be provided through contributions from the Structural Funds. The intention of the proposal that we are adopting today is to amend this regulation, so as to include amongst its articles a well established practice, which consists of cofinancing repayable assistance with the Structural Funds. Moreover, it also intends to confirm that the provisions relating to major projects, to income-generating projects, and to the durability of operations, are not applicable to financial engineering instruments. For that very reason, this is a clarifying proposal that improves legal certainty.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) My colleague, Ms Hübner, has submitted a report to us on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering. Good administrative and financial practices, when they promote results in terms of excellence, should lead to the adoption of innovative methods that reform legislation which, while adopted with the best of intentions, does not always, in practice, meet the objectives that governed its creation. The Commission proposal in question aims, following statements by the European Court of Auditors, to make ‘the legality of an existing legal practice’ explicit in the context of the 2000-2006 programming period, in line with Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 but in breach of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006. It is therefore crucial that the financial engineering instruments covered by the new regulation include the repayable assistance that has previously shown itself to be extremely positive in the EU.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the amendment of a regulation which makes no provision for whether or not assistance from the Structural Funds may or may not be refundable. This amendment introduces the concept of the ‘reimbursable grant’, as a direct financial contribution by means of a donation which can be totally or partially reimbursable without interest. This makes it possible for the Structural Funds to finance spending on operations, including through contributions intended to fund repayable assistance, whilst also clarifying that such repayable assistance for the body awarding the aid, or to another competent public authority of the Member State, should be held in a separate account and reused for the same purposes or in line with the objectives of the operational programme.

The Commission proposal also sets out obligations relating to adequate reporting and monitoring in the area of financial engineering instruments. The rapporteur proposes, as seems appropriate to us, to accommodate the general objectives of the Commission proposal, although she restricts additional reporting obligations for the Member States.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 identified the various forms of assistance that could be provided through Structural Fund contributions. Member States established these forms of assistance during the 2000-2006 programming period by setting up specific funds and through repayable assistance delivered via other instruments. On the other hand, Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not provide a definition of assistance as either repayable or non-repayable. It contains provisions for financial engineering instruments, but these provisions are rather narrowly defined. Repayable assistance does not appear to be covered by this regulation. Nonetheless, Member States continued to use repayable forms of assistance, based on positive experience from the previous programming period. It is therefore necessary to specify in Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 that the Structural Funds may cofinance repayable assistance. I also think it is important to provide clarity as to the legality of an existing legal practice. Legal clarity and certainty should be ensured as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments. In my opinion, it is right to monitor the financial engineering instruments, although the additional reporting obligations of the Member States should be modified.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 identified the various forms of assistance that could be provided through Structural Fund contributions. Member States established these forms of assistance during the 2000-2006 programming period by setting up specific funds and through repayable assistance delivered via other instruments. By contrast, Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not provide a definition of assistance as either repayable or non-repayable. It contains provisions for financial engineering instruments, but the scope of these is rather narrow. Repayable assistance does not appear to be covered by this regulation. Nonetheless, Member States have continued to use repayable forms of assistance based on the positive experience of the past programming period. I welcomed this document because it is necessary to set out in Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 that the Structural Funds may cofinance repayable assistance. The Commission proposal aims to provide clarity regarding the legality of an existing legal practice.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) The Commission’s proposal states that the Structural Funds may finance expenditure for operations comprising contributions to support repayable assistance. Furthermore, the document clarifies that the assistance repaid to the body providing the assistance in the Member State is kept in a separate account and reused for the same purpose. I think that this proposal clarifies the use of all forms of repayable assistance at project level and offers considerable assistance in using the Structural Funds. In addition, it also stipulates a new obligation on timely spending (within two years of the payment into the fund) and on reporting the financial engineering instruments used. This offers a useful means of monitoring and providing an overall assessment of the performance of these types of support.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal because I consider that the thrust of the proposal is sensible and that most elements are immediately clear. I agree that legal clarity and certainty should be ensured as regards repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments. I also support the view that appropriate monitoring of financial engineering instruments is necessary; however, I am of the view that additional reporting obligations of the Member States should be limited. In addition, I consider that some elements of the proposal should be clarified. I therefore supported the rapporteur tabling amendments aiming at clarifying the text, adding the definition of credit line, modifying the reporting requirements and clarifying the obligations as regards statement of expenditure.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I agree with the rapporteur on the fact that repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments must be put in place with maximum legal certainty. I also agree with the amendments with which the rapporteur intends to clarify the text. The introduction of a definition of the credit line is important. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE), in writing. (IT) We voted on the proposal for an amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 on Structural Funds in order to add a general definition of repayable assistance to the regulation. The regulation does not, in fact, provide a definition of assistance as either repayable or non-repayable, and Article 44 only contains provisions for ‘financial engineering instruments’. Member States in any case continued to use forms of repayable assistance based on the positive experience of the past programming period. The definition of ‘repayable assistance’ includes reimbursable grants (totally or partially reimbursable without interest) and credit lines managed by the managing authority through intermediate bodies (public financial institutions). In view of the growing use on the ground of financial engineering instruments as defined in Article 44, and given that the Commission currently only has limited information about such instruments, it seemed appropriate to amend the regulation to ensure that Member States and the Commission can monitor these forms of repayable assistance correctly and inform the Commission about them.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 identifies the various forms of assistance that could be provided through contributions from the Structural Funds. Member States established these forms of assistance during the 2000-2006 programming period, by setting up specific funds and through repayable assistance delivered via other instruments. By contrast, Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not define assistance as either repayable or non-repayable. Repayable assistance does not appear to be covered by this regulation. Nonetheless, Member States have continued to use that type of assistance, based on the positive experience of the previous programming period. The Commission itself approved programming documents that included descriptions of these systems. It is therefore necessary to set out in Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 that the Structural Funds may cofinance repayable assistance. This is, therefore, a case of making an existing practice legally possible.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – It is known that during the previous programming period, Member States had positive experiences with repayable assistance schemes – which were introduced at the national level – and therefore continued to use them in the current programming period. However, these schemes – in the form of the reimbursable grants and of credit lines – have not been properly covered by EC Regulation No 1083/2006 (General Regulation). Therefore, the Commission submitted a proposal to amend the current General Regulation accordingly, so as to provide the clarity of an existing legal practice. I am completely in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because we must make every effort to ensure that funds repaid are properly invested and Union aid is used as effectively as possible. Above all, the Structural Funds should be used to finance expenditure in respect of an operation comprising contributions to support repayable assistance. The assistance repaid must be kept in a separate account and reused for the same purpose so that the implementation process is transparent and swift. Particular attention must be paid to financial engineering as an innovative means of using EU Structural Funds. The Commission and Member States should therefore ensure monitoring of these instruments. Moreover, it is very important to ensure that administrative costs or charges are proportionate to the overall performance of the financial engineering instrument.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report because I think it is right that assistance should be repayable, and also because Member States continued to use repayable assistance following the positive experience of the past programming period. I also agree with the Commission’s proposal which introduces a legal obligation to ensure that the financial contribution paid by managing authorities to establish financial engineering instruments is used for eligible expenditure within a time frame of two years of the payment into the fund.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the position of the European Parliament, adopted at first reading on 1 December 2011, with a view to adopting a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending previous legislation regarding repayable assistance, financial engineering and certain provisions related to the statement of expenditure. I did so because the proposal’s general objective is correct and most elements are immediately clear.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the tabled proposal, aimed at amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 regarding repayable assistance and financial engineering, is to clarify that the Structural Funds can cofinance repayable assistance. This is a practice that European judges have been following, and the justification for this amendment is that it realises customary law, thereby offering benefits in terms of the cognoscibility of Union law. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 identified the various forms of assistance that could be provided through Structural Fund contributions. Member States established during the 2000-2006 programming period these forms of assistance by setting up specific funds and through repayable assistance delivered via other instruments. On the contrary, Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not provide a definition of assistance as either repayable or non-repayable. It contains provisions for ‘Financial Engineering Instruments’; however, these provision are rather narrow. Repayable assistance seems not to be covered by this regulation. Nonetheless, Member States continued to use repayable forms of assistance based on the positive experience of the past programming period. Even the Commission approved programming documents, including descriptions of these systems. The European Court of Auditors has identified the issue of repayable assistance in its audits of ERDF operations. It is therefore necessary to set out in Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 that the Structural Funds may cofinance repayable assistance. The Commission proposal aims to provide clarity about the legality of an existing legal practice.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union is being confronted with the persistence of the economic and financial crisis having an alarmingly negative impact on the economic stability of Member States. Reductions in national financial resources available to finance public investments have become a constraint to cohesion policy implementation. The report adopted today represents a balanced compromise on the retroactivity of the proposed measures, combined with a clause allowing all the countries to make use of the increased cofinancing rate, at the same time ensuring that the amending regulation is without prejudice to the negotiations on the future legislative framework and on the future multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not define the financial assistance awarded to beneficiaries by the Member States as repayable or non-repayable, and there are doubts regarding eligibility for some of the types of assistance to be awarded. This fact is all the more important when, during the current programming period, a number of Member States have continued to use non-repayable forms of assistance. In August 2011, the European Commission tabled a draft amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 regarding repayable assistance and financial engineering, clarifying the eligibility for repayable assistance and introducing obligations to report on financial instruments.

I am voting for this report, since I consider it positive that the Member States should award support in the form of repayable assistance to all types of entity, thereby making it possible to make use of the Structural Funds a number of times over the course of the programming period.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – The use of repayable instruments, as provided for in the 2007-13 General Regulation governing the Structural Funds, has been subject to some degree of legal uncertainty regarding their use. In order to regularise this anomalous situation, and in light of the intervention of the Court of Auditors, the Commission believed it necessary to introduce a general definition of repayable assistance. I supported proposed changes which promote the usage of innovative financial instruments, which could support revenue generating projects, alongside more traditional sources of funding, such as non-reimbursable grants. I am satisfied that the proposal provides clarity about the legality of existing legal practices in our Member States. The Parliament’s report also reduces the administrative burden on the part of the Member States by limiting some of the proposed additional reporting obligations by the Commission to those required by the Court of Auditors.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 does not incorporate a definition of assistance – repayable or otherwise. Nonetheless, the Member States have made use of repayable forms of assistance, based on their positive experiences in the preceding programme period. This practice is now to be given a statutory basis, and repayable assistance and financial engineering instruments are to be guaranteed. That gets my vote.

 
  
  

Report: Danuta Maria Hübner (A7-0383/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, and for all necessary and exceptional measures to help the Member States in difficulties to confront the current financial crisis. This crisis is, in fact, currently contaminating all the Member States and reaching proportions that were unbelievable until a very short time ago. There is a need for policies to stimulate investment that lead to growth and employment, without which we will never manage to control ‘sovereign debt’. However, in the current situation of the lack of bank liquidity, and of the public finances of the Member States where there have been interventions, only European funds can promote that investment. With debilitated public finances, capacity for absorption of funds is reduced, so the reduction in the need for national cofinancing that has just been introduced will make a valuable contribution to improving the socio-economic and financial situations of these countries.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) During this period of economic and financial crisis, European solidarity is more relevant than ever. This solidarity is at the heart of cohesion policy, which grants aid to regions experiencing slow economic growth. At the moment, some Member States in receipt of EU Structural Fund support are no longer in a position to cofinance some of their development projects, due to liquidity problems. As I am in favour of a strong cohesion policy, I voted for a European Parliament resolution to temporarily increase the cofinancing level for certain projects by 10% (which, in some very specific cases, may raise this level to 95%). These projects will be targeted, and must meet the objectives of competitiveness, employment and growth.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability. The European Commission proposal is aimed at providing additional financial resources to EU Member States facing particular difficulties in managing public debt/deficit and ensuring financial stability so that it is possible to continue implementing the programmes. A balanced compromise was reached in the negotiations with the Council on the retroactivity of the proposed measures, combined with a sunset clause, allowing all countries participating in the programme to make use of the increased cofinancing rate. This will also allow for swift action to help Member States hit hard by the crisis. The temporary increase in cofinancing ceilings will facilitate the concentration of the funds on the realisation of certain projects and reduce the pressure on national budgets.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) In August 2011, the European Commission tabled a draft amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability: specifically, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania. EUR 629 million will be made available to Portugal, which represents an anticipation of the cohesion policy funds available for the 2007-2013 period. With the 10% increase in cofinancing rates, Portugal will be better off, since this contribution will contribute to injecting funds into the national economy, will help businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, and will contribute to creating jobs. I voted for this report for the above reasons.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I congratulate the rapporteur for having dealt in this report, for which I voted, with a subject that is necessary in order to be able to face the difficult situation currently being experienced by Europe. The persistence of the economic and financial crisis having an alarmingly negative impact on the macro-economic stability and budgets of Member States makes it necessary to take prompt action through the provision of additional financial resources to EU Member States in situations of particular difficulty, with a view to ensuring the continuation of the implementation of the programmes. The method chosen is that of a ten percentage points ‘top-up’ of the applicable cofinancing rates for the priority axes of the programmes, allowing for an increase in payments to the countries eligible. The proposed measures will be temporary, coming to an end when the Member State exits the financial assistance mechanism, but the regulation needs to be applied retroactively. I also agree with the rapporteur that the procedure of granting the top-up measures needs to be transparent, and for this purpose, that it would be useful to have appropriate reporting on the use of the increased interim payments, although this should not lead to an increase in the administrative burden.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) The financial crisis facing the European Union is causing serious damage to economic stability. Immediate measures need to be taken to continue the absorption of Structural Funds in certain countries where the pressure on national budgets is steadily growing. The decision to increase the funds granted to certain states by ten percentage points will contribute to the recovery of national economies, as well as to the development of certain regions experiencing difficulties, through optimising the use of the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. I would like to say how pleased I am that this text was adopted at first reading in order to support the economies suffering under the strain of the financial crisis.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the Hübner report on amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability. The aim is to help Member States most affected by the financial crisis to continue to implement programmes financed by the Structural Funds. Operational programmes and projects are being hampered by liquidity problems linked to budgetary pressures. The revised regulation will therefore increase the sums allocated to the countries in question on a temporary, exceptional basis. In practice, this will mean a ten percentage point increase in the level of EU cofinancing applicable to priority areas, and hence a reduced level of financing by the States concerned. Commitment appropriations will remain unaltered, and the increase in payment appropriations will be offset between now and the end of the programming period.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the times of economic and financial crisis we are experiencing, it is important to ensure the proper implementation of cohesion policy programmes as instruments for injecting funds into the economy. However, the implementation of programmes constitutes a problem, especially for the Member States that were hit hardest by the crisis and received financial assistance in the context of the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism. I welcome the Commission proposal, whose objective is to make payments to those countries whilst they benefit from support mechanisms, without changing the total cohesion policy contribution for the 2007-2013 period. This will provide the Member States with additional financial resources at this critical juncture, and will facilitate the continued implementation of programmes on the ground.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – The economic crisis has had a devastating effect on economic growth and financial stability in almost all Member States. In order to take measures to counterbalance these negative effects, it is necessary to amend the relevant current legislative framework. This amending regulation supports the European Commission’s proposal to amend Council Regulation No 1083/2006 in order to provide additional financial resources to Member States that are struggling under unsustainable debts. In May 2011, Ireland and Portugal were given such assistance and it proved crucial to these two countries, which is why the current regulation must be amended in order to continue the aid supplied by this programme. It is for this reason that I support the rapporteur.

 
  
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  Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Jürgen Creutzmann, Britta Reimers and Alexandra Thein (ALDE), in writing. (DE) The representatives of the German Free Democratic Party (FDP) in the European Parliament will vote in favour of the Hübner report on amending COM(2011)0482 only on condition that, when raising the applicable cofinancing rates by ten percentage points, there is an exception for those Member States explicitly affected. This exception must not be able to act as a precedent in any way and should be revoked in respect of the Member States in question once the severe financial and economic crisis and its liquidity squeezes have been overcome.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The economic and financial crisis and the economic recession, which the world and Europe are experiencing, have led to a deterioration in financial, economic and social conditions in several Member States, including Portugal; this has led to a reduction in the financial resources available for funding public investments.

I welcome the European Commission proposal to use cohesion policy to provide additional financial assistance for the Member States currently facing serious difficulties handling their deficit, as is the case with my country. This will enable the continued implementation of programmes that were threatened by the economic situation.

I agree with the rapporteur on the strategic importance of the retroactivity of these measures to increase the rate of cofinancing by 10%. The agreement reached seems balanced to me, establishing sunset clauses and eligibility criteria that do not harm the future multiannual financial framework.

I am convinced that this amendment to Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 will play a key role in helping the Member States hit hardest by the crisis, alleviating the pressure on their national budgets and doing justice to a policy of genuine cohesion among the EU Member States.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this report. By now, we are all aware that the peripheral debt crisis has turned into a new economic crisis in the euro area, with an extremely negative impact on the macro-economic stability and budget of Member States. The proposal of the European Commission to amend Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (General Regulation), which provides additional financial resources in other EU Member States experiencing particular difficulties in managing their debt and public deficit, therefore aims to guarantee fiscal stability by making a slight adjustment in direction while remaining on the right track. The euro area now needs a strong political message. I hope that the next Council meeting at the EU Summit on 9 December will demonstrate the common wish of all Member States to cooperate in adopting very specific measures to overcome the crisis.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) There can be no disagreement with support for a measure which represents a real and substantial breath of fresh air for Member States with the greatest economic and financial difficulties. In the same way, there can be no opposition to backing a measure which represents an attempt to maximise the use of European funding, avoiding the risk of funds not being spent due to a lack of available funds on the part of Member States, and of a consequent further deterioration and weakening of economic and social conditions. Although limited to Member States that have had access to financial stability mechanisms, the measure should therefore be supported and approved without further ado. However, this does not mean that we should not draw attention to the fact that it is a demonstration of the failure of the stability pact and ‘six-pack’ as wished for and approved by the right-wing majority in the Commission and Parliament. More specifically, this ‘contingent’ action restricts itself to mitigating the effects, which are, by their nature, ‘structural’, of the vicious cycle created, in particular, by the failure to exclude appropriations for investments from the rigid criteria of the stability pact, also because of the failure to introduce a golden rule on investments. Stop-gap measures are welcome, provided we are aware that the strategy pursued was wrong and that corrective structural measures are urgently required.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) The European Union must overcome a protracted economic and financial crisis that has an extremely negative impact on the budgets and macro-economic stability of Member States. The use of regional funds is seriously endangered as a result, as it is increasingly difficult to produce the Member State portion of cofinancing.

In the light of all this, I welcome the European Commission proposal for a temporary ten percentage point increase of the cofinancing rate in the case of Member States facing particular difficulties as regards public debt and financial stability. The total cohesion policy support received by the Member States affected by the provision (Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Portugal, Greece and Ireland) would not change on the whole.

I am pleased that there were no considerable differences of opinion between the political groups, that the negotiations could be concluded within a short period of time, and that the vote on the report can therefore take place during the current plenary sitting, with the disbursement of support beginning in early 2012.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) The Member States that have submitted themselves to financial stabilisation/assistance programmes are currently facing great difficulties in financing their public investments. The enormous budgetary consolidation efforts to which they are subject and the lack of liquidity in their economies threaten to block a significant body of public investment with strong EU backing. If the EU allows this to happen, not only would those countries cease to benefit from the Union support to which they are entitled, but it would also make it hard for their economies to recover. As such, I voted for the report, because I consider the proposal to increase EU cofinancing very positive.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) At a time when there is a need for positive signs from the European institutions as regards halting the financial crisis, it is important to adopt the draft amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (General Regulation), so as to provide additional resources for EU Member States facing serious financial difficulties. This amendment enables increased rates of cofinancing for EU funds intended for Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Romania, Latvia and Hungary, and that contribution can cover 95% of the total costs of projects increasing competitiveness, growth and employment.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the European Parliament’s adoption of this proposal, which enables the increase of interim payments from the Structural Funds as well as from the Cohesion Fund by an amount corresponding to 10% above the actual cofinancing rate for each priority axis for Member States that are facing serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability and have requested to benefit from this measure. The Member States eligible for this measure are euro area countries that have received financial assistance in the context of a European financial stabilisation mechanism programme, and countries that do not belong to the euro area that have received financial assistance from the European Balance of Payments mechanism. As such, this measure shall apply retroactively to Portugal, Ireland and Greece, with effect from the day on which they were awarded financial assistance, pursuant to Article 77(2). It shall also apply to Hungary, Latvia and Romania, starting from 1 January 2010. This means European cohesion policy funding can have 95% European cofinancing. The overwhelming majority in the European Parliament have voted for this report. I hope the Council will have the same attitude.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) For a long time, the required national contribution, in addition to the restrictions imposed on public investment under the pretext of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), has been compromising the full uptake of EU funds by the very countries that are weakest and need it most. The IMF-EU programmes have been significantly exacerbating this situation, with investment – public and private – hitting historic lows. As such, this Commission proposal to increase EU cofinancing – from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund – for the countries facing the worst difficulties, with the corresponding reduction in national contributions, has been urgently needed for a long time and has come too late, regrettably.

However, it is important to mention that this proposal does not increase – as it should – the budget available to each of the countries in difficulties. Quite the contrary, owing to the reduction in national contributions, the practical result will be reducing the overall sum intended for investing in the areas in question: social areas and regional development. As a result, the prospects for growth and development opened up by the investment made will be reduced. This compromises the goal of cohesion. There is therefore a need for the Commission to consider the possibility of actually increasing the Union funding available to these countries beyond abolishing the irrational criteria of the SGP, by freeing up the necessary public investment.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The full uptake of EU funds by the very countries that are weakest and need it most has been made more difficult for a long time by the national contribution required, in addition to the restrictions imposed on public investment, specifically under the pretext of the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP). The recent IMF-EU programmes have been significantly exacerbating this situation, with investment – public and private – hitting very low levels. This Commission proposal to increase EU cofinancing – from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund – for the countries facing the worst difficulties, with the corresponding reduction in national contributions, has come too late.

It is important to mention, however, that this proposal does not increase – as it should – the budget available to each of the countries in difficulties. Quite the contrary, owing to the reduction in national contributions, the practical result will be reducing the overall sum intended for investing in the areas in question: social areas and regional development. There is therefore a need for the Commission to consider the possibility of actually increasing the Union funding available to these countries beyond abolishing the irrational criteria of the SGP, by freeing up the necessary public investment.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The global financial crisis and economic downturn have seriously damaged economic growth and financial stability, leading to a substantial deterioration in financial and economic conditions in several Member States. They are experiencing serious difficulties or are threatened with such difficulties, which mainly entail problems with their economic growth and financial stability and a deterioration in their deficit and debt position caused, among other things, by the international economic and financial environment. Despite the fact that important actions to counterbalance the negative effects of the crisis have already been taken, including amendments of the legislative framework, the impact of the financial crisis on the real economy, the labour market and citizens is clear. Pressure on national financial resources is increasing, and the optimal use of funding, in particular from the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund, might help to alleviate that pressure. The crisis and the economic downturn which have seriously damaged the financial stability of several Member States necessitate a rapid response, in order to mitigate the effects on the economy as a whole. I believe it is important for Member States to receive financial assistance from the Union or from other euro area Member States in order to address serious difficulties with respect to financial stability.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – I support this report, which aims to provide additional financial assistance through the mechanism of the cohesion policy by topping up the cofinancing rate by ten percentage points. However, sometimes in these institutions, one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. A real problem has arisen in Ireland and I presume elsewhere with regard to LEADER funding. Queries have suddenly arisen about projects costing more than EUR 200 000 and whether there is a conflict with State aid. This has caused a full stop with regard to projects that are in the pipeline and awaiting funding. State aid was never an issue before for these types of projects but now, because there is a query, everything stops. Is nobody considering all the many projects that are currently at a standstill and the knock-on effects of the entire spend? If there are queries, projects should be allowed to continue until a decision is made. I am calling for an immediate decision on this matter. There is no point voting here to give higher levels of cofunding to Member States and, at the same time, blocking LEADER projects because of new queries.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I am delighted at the fact that Ms Hübner’s report was adopted almost unanimously. It will allow six Member States – Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Romania, Hungary and Latvia – to benefit from the increase in the cofinancing rates of the Structural and Cohesion Funds temporarily and exceptionally. In line with the spirit of solidarity that lies at the heart of the European Union, these six countries experiencing problems with liquidity linked to the crisis and, indeed, difficulties in implementing programmes financed by regional funds, will be able to receive further funding from the European Commission and see a temporary reduction in their contributions. This exceptional financial assistance will, I hope, provide a response to the urgency of the situation by injecting funds into the real economy and by reviving projects that will allow these countries to face the future with peace of mind. This is a wise decision which will have no effect on the overall funding of these countries for the period 2007-2013, as the payments made for 2012 will be absorbed at a later time.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the Commission’s proposal amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006. It is aimed at providing additional financial resources to EU Member States facing particular difficulties in managing their public debt/deficit and ensuring financial stability so that it is possible to continue implementing the programmes.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. (LV) I supported the proposal for a regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund. These amendments would provide for an increase of ten percentage points in EU cofinancing from these funds for those states whose financial stability is endangered or which have received financing from international lenders (Latvia, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Hungary). In Latvia’s case, this would mean an increase in cofinancing from the current 85% to 95%.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) I think that granting additional aid for regional development projects financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) is beneficial. The list of countries which will benefit from the new EU measure also includes my country, Romania, in addition to Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Greece and Ireland. The new regulation that has been adopted envisages a temporary increase by ten percentage points in Europe’s contribution to EU projects. This measure will be of assistance to beneficiaries and is intended to support the development of regions which are poorer and more inclined to continue to be affected by the economic and financial crisis. The procedure for granting the top-ups must be clear and should not increase the administrative burden, allowing also the policy to be adapted quickly to address the needs of the countries hit hardest by the crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The European Union is being confronted with the persistence of the economic and financial crisis having an alarmingly negative impact on the macro-economic stability and budget of Member States. Reductions in national financial resources available to finance public investments have become a clear constraint to cohesion policy implementation and absorption of Structural Funds in some countries. I welcome the proposal of the European Commission (COM (2011)0482) amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (General Regulation), and note that the aim is to provide additional financial resources to EU Member States facing particular difficulties in managing public debt/deficit and ensuring financial stability – with a view to ensuring the continuation of the implementation of the programmes.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Hübner. Reductions in national financial resources available to finance public investments have become a clear constraint to cohesion policy implementation and absorption of Structural Funds in some countries. It is therefore probably necessary to provide additional resources to Member States in order to manage public debt in the best possible way.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE), in writing. (IT) On 1 December, we voted on the proposal amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006, in order to introduce extraordinary measures for certain Member States experiencing serious economic and financial difficulties. This is part of the package of extraordinary measures adopted by the European Commission in August 2011, which were necessary in light of the economic and financial crisis, and which is putting growing pressure on national financial resources at a time when Member States are implementing budget cuts. This creates a problem of available funds due to budgetary constraints, which puts the implementation of cohesion policy programmes and the impact of such investments on the real economy at risk. This measure proposes to amend Article 77 of the regulation in order to allow the Commission, at the request of the Member States involved, and subject to the Council’s Decision to grant assistance in the context of support mechanisms, to top-up the reimbursement of expenditure declared for the period in question by 10%, thus increasing the cofinancing rates applicable to each priority axis. This will not involve additional financial costs for the general budget because the total financial appropriations of the funds for the countries and the programmes involved for the entire period will remain unchanged.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In August 2011, the European Commission tabled a proposal amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability, such as Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania. The 10% increase in cofinancing rates is beneficial for Portugal, since it will facilitate the injection of funds into the national economy, will bring forward the implementation of EU funds, and will promote projects that will create jobs and generate wealth. The EUR 629 million made available to Portugal represents the moving forward of the cohesion policy funds available for 2007-2013, and not new or additional finance for the Member States.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I support all the necessary measures to be taken to support Member States in difficulty to face the current financial crisis. Decreasing the cofinancing rate under the Structural Funds for those Member States, exceptionally, for this period could be a major help.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the continuing financial and economic crisis has had a severe impact on the national budgets of the Member States and it is therefore necessary to take action to ensure the Member States’ financial stability and the further implementation of the programmes. Consequently, it is necessary to provide temporary additional financial assistance to Member States facing major difficulties in managing their public debt/deficit. I therefore agree with the proposal to increase cofinancing ceilings for a certain period. Moreover, it is very important to ensure that assistance is only provided in particular cases where it is impossible to resolve the issues by other means.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The economic crisis we are facing, and which impacts daily on Member State budgets, is being tackled by Member States with different methods of funding. Financial stability, the primary objective of every country, is at risk and any proposal for ensuring it should be taken into consideration. I voted for the text by Ms Hübner because Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 needs to be amended in order to resolve a problem affecting many Member States using the repayable assistance system, along with structural payment grants, as forms of direct aid. There being no precise definition of repayable subsidies, it was not possible to establish to what extent Member States could apply for this form of assistance without additional interest. Approval of the new text establishes that Structural Funds can cofinance repayable assistance.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report. Everyone now understands that the financial debt crisis in the region has turned into a new economic crisis in the euro area, with an exceptionally negative impact on macro-economic stability and the budgets of the Member States. The European Commission proposal, amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (General Regulation) and making provision for additional financial resources for EU Member States experiencing serious difficulties in managing their public debt/deficit and, hence, in safeguarding their financial stability, is a move in the right direction but does not suffice. The euro area now needs a strong political message. The forthcoming EU Summit on 9 December will have one – perhaps one of the last – chances to demonstrate the common political will of all the Member States and to take very specific measures to overcome the crisis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability. I agree with the rapporteur’s conclusions. Indeed, this amendment to the general regulation will enable action to be taken quickly to assist Member States hit hard by the crisis. The temporary increase in the maximum cofinancing limits will enable funds to be focused on realising certain projects and will reduce the pressure on national budgets. In short, these measures will assist our countries in this crisis situation.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The present crisis with which the Union is grappling has enabled the improvement of EU mechanisms for preventing systemic risk and for reacting to situations of economic and financial weakness. On the one hand, it has enabled the EU’s political decision makers to focus their attention on the need to adopt structural instruments that will, in future, make possible a quicker response to the various problems that could emerge. On the other, it has led to the adoption of measures that, in the short term, could minimise the effects of the economic and financial crisis.

The latter category includes the draft amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 on provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability. One of the points that should be stressed is the 10% increase in the rate of Union cofinancing for cohesion projects. The regulation applies, inter alia, to euro area countries that have received financial assistance under the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism, including Portugal.

As such, I voted in favour, in the hope that these instruments will enable the minimisation of the problems we have been experiencing.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Union is being confronted with the persistence of the economic and financial crisis having an alarmingly negative impact on the macro-economic stability and budget of Member States. Reductions in national financial resources available to finance public investments have become a clear constraint to cohesion policy implementation and absorption of Structural Funds in some countries. Member States eligible for this measure are defined (1) as those EURO countries that have received financial assistance under a programme from the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM) or (2) those NON-EURO countries that that have received financial assistance from the Balance of Payments (BoP) mechanism. The way to provide additional financial assistance through cohesion policy is a ‘top-up’ of the cofinancing rate, allowing for an increase in payments to the countries eligible. The EC proposes a ten percentage point top-up of the applicable cofinancing rates for the priority axis of the programmes.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In August 2011, the European Commission tabled a proposal amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 as regards certain provisions relating to financial management for certain Member States experiencing or threatened with serious difficulties with respect to their financial stability: specifically, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Portugal and Romania.

I believe the proposal for a 10% increase in cofinancing rates is beneficial for Portugal, since it will enable the injection of fresh money into the national economy, will bring forward the implementation of EU funds, and will promote projects that will create jobs and generate wealth. The EUR 629 million made available to Portugal represents the moving forward of cohesion policy funds available for the 2007-2013 period, and not new or additional finance for the Member States. The urgency of the proposal and the short deadline for the report in committee have required close coordination between the rapporteur and the Polish Presidency, which is conducting negotiations in the Council.

I should also like to congratulate all those involved on reaching a quick decision to support Member States in financial difficulties.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for Danuta Maria Hübner’s report on the amendment to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 relating to financial management for certain Member States facing financial difficulties. Hungary, Romania, Latvia, Portugal, Greece and Ireland have been hardest hit by the crisis and have received financial assistance via the European Financial Stabilisation Mechanism (EFSM), in the case of euro area countries, or via the Balance of Payments mechanism for countries outside this area. The measure that has been adopted is temporary and allows the Commission to provide a 10% top-up of the applicable cofinancing rates when the support mechanisms are being applied, with the overall funds allocated to these countries as part of the cohesion policy for the 2007-2013 period remaining unchanged. The relevant Member State submits a request to the Commission within two months of the date from which the Member State meets one of the conditions specified in the regulation. The request will detail the purpose for resorting to the derogation and will provide information about additional measures envisaged for directing the funds towards competitiveness, growth and employment, including with regard to the modification of the operational programmes. The Commission has 30 days from the date when the request was submitted to raise objections. The regulation will be applied retrospectively, and the measure will cease to be applied after the Member State leaves the support mechanism.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – This proposal aims to harness cohesion policy in order to provide additional financial resources to Member States such as Greece and Portugal, which face huge difficulties in managing their debts. This proposal allows for additional financial assistance through cohesion policy by allowing for a temporary ‘top-up’ increase of present cofinancing rates by up to 10%. While cohesion policy can be used as a tool to assist those Member States who are struggling to finance quality public investments, it is questionable whether this proposal is an adequate reaction to the economic and fiscal problems in the Member States concerned. In many ways, it is just as important to pay attention to the quality of the supported projects and their potential contribution to economic growth, rather than merely seeking to maximise absorption rates of Structural and Cohesion funding in the Member States concerned. Moreover, the proposed arrangement can appear unfair, in that operational programmes in Member States which managed their public finances more carefully will be subject to less favourable cofinancing conditions than those Member States such as Greece, thereby creating a perverse reward for financial irresponsibility. Given these factors, I was unable to support this proposed measure and opted to abstain.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The still ongoing financial and economic crisis has extremely negative consequences for the macro-economic stability of the public finances of Member States. Budget cuts have given rise to problems realising important cohesion policy projects and form an obstacle to the necessary use of the EU’s Structural Funds. The proposed amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 is designed to enable particularly hard-hit Member States to be able to make use of EU aid for which they meet the required conditions by means of lowering the cofinancing rate. The measures are of a temporary nature, the Commission proposal being given specific definition in its final form by means of amendments. I voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Danuta Maria Hübner (A7-0381/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report since, at this time of crisis, it is important to pay particular attention to Europe’s outermost regions, which already face permanent difficulties. As such, there is justification for exemptions and reductions in the tax levied on products manufactured locally in the Canary Islands, whose economy has been harmed by the present crisis.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report and welcomed the Commission’s proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/546/EC as regards its period of application. Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002 authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM (this tax is mostly imposed on products imported into or obtained in the Canary Islands) to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. Decision 2002/546/EC sets out the reasons for adopting specific measures designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive. The global economic crisis of 2009, which led to a drop in passenger numbers, had severe consequences on the economy of the Canary Islands, which is highly dependent on revenues from tourism. On 16 November 2010, Spain submitted a request to the European Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years. The Commission has assessed it in light of the scale of the handicaps affecting the Canary Islands. It has come to the conclusion that it is justified to grant the request on the basis of the available data. The proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/546/EC as regards its period of application will allow the extension of the period of application until 31 December 2013.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Taking into account the Commission proposal to the Council, and in line with Rule 46 of the Rules of Procedure, I voted for the report on the proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/546/EC as regards its period of application. For this reason, I do not believe that this report requires any amendments.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) does not allow for a distinction between the taxation of local products of the Canary Islands and the taxation of products from Spain or other Member States. Council Decision 2002/546/EC of June 2002 authorised Spain up until 31 December 2011 to apply exemptions from or reductions to taxes for products produced locally in the Canary Islands. This was adopted in order to strengthen the local industry and increase competitiveness. With the economic crisis, however, travelling abroad has been reduced substantially and has had harsh consequences on the Canary Islands, an economy that heavily relies on tourism as a source of revenue. On 16 November 2010, Spain introduced a proposal that would allow Council Decision 2002/546/EC to be extended until December 2013. I support the rapporteur and believe the Canary Islands have benefited from this tax exemption, and this extension will allow for the area to return to economic growth.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) I find it unsettling that the Canary Islands were hit particularly hard by the financial and economic crisis, and that unemployment has more than doubled in the Islands as a result of the crisis (standing at 26.2% in 2009, after having ranged from 10.4% to 12% in the 2001-2007 period). To increase employment is a fundamental goal of European Union regional policy, and this objective becomes especially pronounced in times of economic crisis.

In light of the aforesaid, I endorse the extension of the period of application of the tax reduction applied to products produced in the Canary Islands by one year.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report in order to support this tourist destination, which is popular among Europeans. The extension of this measure is a good example of European solidarity towards regions where the economy, being highly dependent on tourism, is threatened by the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report because I believe the gravity of the economic situation in the Canary Islands justifies the implementation of certain exceptional measures; specifically, the introduction of a system of taxation exemptions.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002 authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in taxation on products produced locally in the Canary Islands. This decision seeks to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive. On 16 November 2010, Spain submitted a request to the European Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years, until 2013. In view of the specific needs of the outermost regions, I am voting for this extension, and I support the Commission in granting this request.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report in question, by Ms Hübner, concerns the proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/546/EC as regards its period of application, which ended on 31 December 2011. The aforementioned decision, whose legal framework is Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, provides for special support measures for the outermost regions of the EU as a means of overcoming the economic disadvantages resulting from their geographic location. The Canary Islands are among the regions considered ‘outermost’. The global economic and financial crisis has had serious repercussions on tourism in the Canary Islands and has caused a significant increase in unemployment in the region, which increased from 17.3% in 2008 to 26.2% in 2009, leading the government of Spain to request from the European Commission a two-year extension of the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC. As such, I voted in favour of extending the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC to local products of the Canary Islands by two years; in other words, until 31 December 2013, on which date the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’ expire.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) A series of structural factors weigh down on the outermost regions, affecting their social and economic situations and their development; for example, remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult terrain and climate, and economic dependence on a small number of products. Particular attention should therefore be paid to these regions.

Among other things, specific conditions should be set out for implementing legislation and sectoral policies. Obviously, this applies to all the outermost regions, including the Azores and Madeira, even though the measures adopted here relate only to the Canary Islands. Council Decision 2002/546/EC authorises Spain to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands up to 31 December 2011. At the request of the Spanish Government, the intention is now to extend the period of application of these measures. We agree with the proposal by the Commission and the rapporteur that Spain’s request be granted.

In addition to defending local production in the outermost regions, there is a need for measures protecting national production, particularly in the Member States with weaker economies, such as Portugal. We have already tabled proposals to that effect.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are aware that in the outermost regions of the EU, there is a range of factors of a structural nature that affect their social and economic situation, as well as their development. These are cases of remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, and economic dependence on a few products. Particular attention should therefore be paid to these regions. Among other aspects, specific conditions should be defined for applying legislation and sectoral policies.

Obviously, this applies to all the outermost regions, including the Azores and Madeira, even though the measures adopted here relate only to the Canary Islands. Council Decision 2002/546/EC authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. At the request of the Spanish Government, the intention is now to extend the period of application of these measures.

We agree with the Commission and the rapporteur’s proposal that Spain’s request be granted. However, measures are also needed to protect national production, particularly in Member States with weaker economies, such as Portugal.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002, adopted on the basis of Article 299 paragraph 2 of the EC Treaty, authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. The measures listed in the decision are designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive. The decline in tourist numbers resulting from the global economic crisis of 2009 had severe consequences for the economy of the Canary Islands, which is highly dependent on tourism revenues. Unemployment rose from a rate oscillating between 10.4% and 12%, for the 2001-2007 period, to 26.2% in 2009. On 16 November 2010, Spain submitted a request to the European Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years, so that its expiry date coincides with the one of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’. The Commission has assessed it in light of the scale of the handicaps affecting the Canary Islands. It has come to the conclusion that, on the basis of the available information, the request is justified. I share the same opinion regarding the application of a decision allowing the extension of the period of application until 31 December 2013.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) In light of the very specific situation of the Canary Islands, which have been badly hit by the crisis, the European Union has decided to increase its support to the local economy, which is highly dependent on tourism. It has authorised Spain, for an additional period of two years, to apply exemptions or reductions to the tax known as AIEM for certain local products. This decision, which is broadly supported by the European Parliament, is part of the overall approach of providing assistance, through targeted measures, to all regions of the European Union, particularly those which are severely handicapped by their remoteness or their lack of accessibility.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union does not, in principle, allow any difference between the taxation of local products of the Canary Islands and the taxation of products from Spain or other Member States. The Council Decision of 20 June 2002 authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. The decision sets out the reasons for adopting specific measures designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive. The global economic crisis of 2009, which led to a drop in passenger numbers, had severe consequences on the economy of the Canary Islands, which is highly dependent on revenues from tourism. Hence, unemployment rose from a rate fluctuating between 10.4% and 12% over the period 2001-2007 to 26.2% in 2009. On 16 November 2010, Spain submitted a request to the European Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years, so that its expiry date coincides with the one of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’. The Commission has assessed it in light of the scale of the handicaps affecting the Canary Islands. It has come to the conclusion that it is justified to grant the request on the basis of the available data. I welcome this document because it is a proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/546/EC as regards its period of application, allowing the extension of the period of application until 31 December 2013.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal. Although the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) does not, in principle, allow any difference between the taxation of local products of the Canary Islands and the taxation of products from Spain or other Member States, Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002, adopted on the basis of Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty, authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. Decision 2002/546/EC sets out the reasons for adopting specific measures, designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002, it is possible for Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to products produced locally in the Canary Islands. This decision, as it concerns an outermost region, sets out the reasons for adopting specific measures designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive. Spain submitted a request to the Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years, so that its expiry date coincides with that of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The report is about the application of the special arrangements concerning the AIEM tax applicable in the Canary Islands. Spain submitted a request to the European Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years. The Spanish authorities confirm that the handicaps that justified the approval of total exemptions and partial reduction of the AIEM tax to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands are still valid. Accordingly, the purpose of this proposal is to extend the period of application of Decision 2004/162/EC for a period of two years – until 31 December 2013 – in order to make it coincide with the Guidelines on National Regional Aid that are applicable for the period 2007-2013. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this decision because, owing to the scale of difficulties faced by the Canary Islands, it is appropriate to extend the tax exemption currently applicable to them. It should be noted that the Canary Islands obtain a large proportion of their revenues from tourism. The continuing economic and financial crisis has had a particularly severe impact on the economy of the Canary Islands, and the level of unemployment has increased. I believe that the EU must help its outermost regions as much as possible by applying special instruments, thereby giving the economies in these regions an opportunity to develop. Given the unfavourable market situation of the Canary Islands, their competitiveness needs to be improved by strengthening domestic industry and providing certain tax advantages.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I approve the amendment of Decision 2002/546/EC as regards extension of its period of application to 31 December 2013 because, due to the crisis, removing the possibility of exemption from a tax like the AIEM on products produced in the Canary Islands from a country like Spain could make already risky situations worse. This extension will give the country an expiry date that coincides with one of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’. Obviously, the measure is a temporary and extraordinary measure and must remain so.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Decision 2002/546/EC authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. On 16 November 2010, Spain submitted a request to the Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years, so that its expiry date coincides with that of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’. The Commission has assessed this in light of the scale of the handicaps affecting the Canary Islands. The Commission has come to the conclusion that it is justified to grant the request to Spain on the basis of the available information. As a consequence, there is a proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2002/546/EC as regards its period of application, allowing the extension of the period of application until 31 December 2013. Parliament has been called upon to vote on this amendment, and as I have no objections, apart from believing that these measures of positive discrimination in favour of the outermost regions are important for the archipelago, which benefits from them directly, and for others which can cite this as a precedent, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002 authorised Spain to apply a range of exemptions from or reductions in tax to products produced in the Canary Islands, with a view to strengthening the local economy and making it more competitive. In spite of its exceptional nature, I voted for the extension of the period of application until 31 December 2013, given the current economic and financial crisis.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) does not, in principle, allow any difference between the taxation of local products of the Canary Islands and the taxation of products from Spain or other Member States. Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002, adopted on the basis of Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty, authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the tax known as AIEM to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. Decision 2002/546/EC sets out the reasons for adopting specific measures, designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive. The global economic crisis of 2009, with its impact in the reduction of travelling, had severe consequences on the economy of Canary Islands, highly dependent on the revenues from tourism. Hence, unemployment rose from a rate oscillating between 10.4% and 12%, for the 2001-2007 period, to 26.2% in 2009.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Decision 2002/546/EC of 20 June 2002 authorises Spain, up to 31 December 2011, to apply exemptions from or reductions in the AIEM tax to a list of products produced locally in the Canary Islands. The decision sets out the reasons for adopting specific measures, designed to strengthen local industry by making it more competitive, particularly due to the fact that it is an outermost region.

Spain submitted a request to the Commission to extend the period of application of Decision 2002/546/EC for two years, so that its expiry date coincides with that of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’. The Commission assessed the application in light of the scale of the handicaps affecting the Canary Islands, and has come to the conclusion that it is justified to grant the request to Spain on the basis of the available information. Parliament has supported this decision. However, I believe that this should not affect trade with other outermost regions, but should, as its origins suggest, encourage the competitiveness of regions that have specific difficulties, and therefore require special measures.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – Article 349 of the Treaty authorises the Member States of France, Spain and Portugal to provide for a difference between the taxation of local products and the taxation of products from other Member States. This was introduced on the basis of the perceived permanent handicaps that affect the economic and social conditions of these ‘outermost regions’, as they are defined in the Treaty. This report accepts the Commission’s proposal to extend the application of exemptions from and reductions in a tax known as AIEM for certain products produced locally in the Canary Islands. In line with consistent ECR policy on such Article 349 measures, I have refused to support this report in committee, on the basis that the Treaty provision grants an unfair advantage to the three Member States concerned, even though all Member States have their own peripheral regions and yet cannot benefit from such exemptions from harmonising Community provisions on VAT.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) EU law does not allow favourable tax treatment for local products in comparison with goods from other Member States. In November 2010, Spain made an application to the Commission for an extension to a derogation held by the Canary Islands so that the expiry date would coincide with the expiry of the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’. The Commission has concluded that, because of the current economic situation in the Canaries, where the slump in the tourism sector has given rise to a rapid rise in the unemployment rate (from no more than 12% to 26.2%), the derogation is appropriate. The rapporteur concurred with this view, as did I.

 
  
  

Report: Danuta Maria Hübner (A7-0382/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this report as it is important to bear in mind the permanent disadvantages that beset the outermost regions, and to create instruments that are designed to compensate for these disadvantages. At present, it is all the more pertinent not to ignore the gradual waning of efforts which can be seen in the pursuit of policies based on greater rigour or austerity whenever we face situations of great vulnerability. As such, these measures are justified in terms of fiscal policy, not least because they do not jeopardise the legal system of the Union.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution and welcomed the Commission’s proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2007/659/EC as regards its period of application and the annual quota benefiting from a reduced rate of excise duty. Taking into account the special conditions, characteristics and constraints of the EU’s outermost regions, including the French Overseas Departments, acting on the basis of a proposal from the Commission, and having consulted the European Parliament, the Council will adopt specific measures aimed at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties, including common policies. These specific measures primarily concern fiscal policy. However, the measures mentioned will not undermine the integrity and coherence of the Union legal order.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2007/659/EC as regards its period of application and the annual quota benefiting from a reduced rate of excise duty, taking into account the Commission proposal to the Council, and in accordance with the provisions of Rule 46 of the Rules of Procedure. For this reason, I do not believe that this report requires any amendments.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – This proposal will adopt specific measures to specify the conditions of application of the Treaties and common policies to the EU’s outermost regions, such as the French Overseas Departments (FOD). One of these specific measures deals with fiscal policies, particularly the decision to authorise France to apply a reduced rate of excise duty on traditional rum produced overseas and sold in the French mainland. I support the rapporteur and believe the following amendments should be passed: 1. an increase in the annual quota of 108 000 hl of pure alcohol to 125 000 hl and 2. extend the derogation date from 31 December 2012 to 31 December 2013. These proposals reflect the market price for rum in the EU and will certainly be helpful to the economies of the EU’s outermost regions.

 
  
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  Tamás Deutsch (PPE), in writing. (HU) The development of the EU’s outermost regions, in particular, the French Overseas Departments, is simultaneously impeded by their remote location, small size, and unfavourable topographic and climate conditions. This is why the French authorities are allowed to apply an excise duty reduction in the European territory of France to traditional rum produced in French Overseas Departments.

In this context, I would like to stress that it is very important for the EU to pay special attention to the support and cohesion of the most disadvantaged regions, and this consideration must also be applied consistently in negotiations on the future of cohesion policy.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this text, which extends a special authorisation for exempting overseas products from tax, in order to support our overseas producers and to enable our fellow citizens to gain access to these products at a lower cost. By extending this measure promoting the rum trade of French Overseas Departments, the European Union is showing how important it is to facilitate the free movement of our regions’ products.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report as it allows this traditional product from France’s overseas departments to temporarily continue to have the current reduced rate of excise duty applied to it, so that its conclusion coincides with that of the State aid decision on this sector taken by the Commission.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Decision 2007/659/EC of 9 October 2007 authorises France to apply to traditional rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland a reduced rate of excise duty until the end of 2012. The French authorities asked the Commission not only for an increase in the annual quota, but also an extension of one year, until the end of 2013. I am voting for this extension, and I support the Commission’s granting of this request.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for special support measures for the outermost regions of the EU which have weak economies. On 9 October 2007, the Council adopted Decision 2007/659/EC which authorises France to apply to traditional rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland a reduced rate of excise duty. However, France has requested the extension of the period of application of the aforementioned decision by one year and an increase in the annual quota of pure alcohol from 108 000 hectolitres to 125 000 hectolitres. This report concerns the Council decision amending Decision 2007/659/EC as regards its period of application, which would expire on 31 December 2012, extending it until 31 December 2013, when the ‘Guidelines on National Regional Aid for 2007-2013’ expire, along with an adjustment in the annual quota of pure alcohol, to reflect developments in the market for rum in the EU. I am voting for this report as I believe that these measures do not jeopardise the legal order of the EU.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This proposal relates to the French Overseas Departments and pursues the same objectives as the proposal on the Canary Islands, drafted by the same rapporteur. Essentially, it seeks to protect certain products that are considered to be more sensitive in the outermost regions through tax measures.

Council Decision 2007/659/EC authorises France to apply a reduced rate of excise duty to traditional rum produced in these regions. Given that this derogation expires at the end of 2012, the French authorities have made two requests to the Commission: firstly, the request to increase the annual quota from 108 000 hectolitres to 125 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol; and secondly, to extend the period of application of the decision for one year, until the end of 2013. The liberalisation and deregulation of trade and free competition, which is considered sacrosanct, threaten the viability of local products, particularly in countries and regions which have weaker systems of production and are subject to various structural constraints. However, reality has shown that this risk is not restricted to the outermost regions. Many of the reasons underpinning the need to protect local production in the outermost regions also justify the need to protect production in Member States with weaker economies, as in the case of Portugal.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report relates to the French Overseas Departments and pursues the same objectives as the proposal on the Canary Islands, drafted by the same rapporteur.

It seeks to protect certain products that are considered to be more sensitive in the outermost regions through tax measures. Council Decision 2007/659/EC authorises France to apply a reduced rate of excise duty to traditional rum produced in these regions. Given that this derogation expires at the end of 2012, the French authorities have made two requests to the Commission: firstly, that the annual quota of pure alcohol be increased from 108 000 hectolitres to 125 000 hectolitres, and secondly, that the period of application of the decision be extended by one year, until the end of 2013.

The liberalisation and deregulation of trade and free competition, which is considered sacrosanct, threaten the viability of local products, particularly in countries and regions that have weaker systems of production and which are subject to various structural constraints. However, reality has shown that this risk is not restricted to the outermost regions. Many of the reasons underpinning the need to protect local production in the outermost regions also justify the need to protect production in Member States with weaker economies, as in the case of Portugal.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which applies to remote regions of the Union, including the French Overseas Departments, provides that, taking account of the structural social and economic situation of very remote regions, which is compounded by their remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate, and economic dependence on a few products, all of which severely restrain their development, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting the European Parliament, shall adopt specific measures aimed, in particular, at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties to those regions, including common policies. These measures mainly concern tax policy. The Council adopts them without violating the integrity and cohesion of the EU legal order, including the single market and common policies. In France, the reduced rate of excise duty is limited to an annual quota of 108 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol, and the validity of the exemption expires on 31 December 2012. The French authorities are requesting an increase in the annual quota to 125 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol, and have applied for the implementation period of Decision 2007/659/EC to be extended by one year. After reviewing all of the facts, an increase in the quota to 120 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol is proposed. Accordingly, in light of the available information, an extension of the implementation period of Decision 2007/659/EC by one year, until 31 December 2013, is justified.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) Once again, the European Union has demonstrated its flexibility by extending by one year the authorisation granted to France to apply, on its territory, a rate of excise duty reflecting developments in the EU rum market to traditional rum produced in the French Overseas Departments. The reduced rate, which heretofore has been restricted to an annual quota of 108 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol, will be increased to 125 000 hectolitres. This decision is evidence of the EU’s ability to adapt to market demands, which often have the effect of boosting employment, and of its concern to maintain links between the continent and regions that are remote from where the decisions are taken.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) France is authorised to apply a reduced rate of excise duty to traditional rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland. The reduction in excise duty is limited to an annual quota of 108 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol. The derogation expires on 31 December 2012. The French authorities have sent the Commission the required report with two requests. Firstly, a request to increase the annual quota from 108 000 hectolitres to 125 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol in order to reflect developments in the rum market in the EU. Secondly, the extension by one year, to 31 December 2013, of the period of application of Decision 2007/659/EC so as to bring it into line with that of the State aid decision on the same issue adopted by the Commission on 27 June 2007 (State aid No N 530/2006). I welcomed the proposal to approve the Commission proposal.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal, which takes into account the special conditions, characteristics and constraints of the EU’s outermost regions, including the French Overseas Departments (FOD). The Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting the European Parliament, will adopt specific measures aimed at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties, including common policies. One of the areas concerned by these specific measures is fiscal policy. However, the measures formerly mentioned will not undermine the integrity and coherence of the Union legal order.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Taking into account the special conditions, characteristics and constraints of the EU’s outermost regions, including the French Overseas Departments, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting Parliament, will adopt specific measures aimed at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties, including common policies. One of the areas concerned by these specific measures is fiscal policy.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Council Decision 2007/659/EC authorises France to apply to ‘traditional’ rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland a reduced rate of excise duty. The reduction in excise duty is limited in quantity and the derogation expires on 31 December 2012. The report contains two requests: an increase of quantity from 108 000 hectolitres to 125 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol to reflect developments on the market for rum in the EU; and a request for an extension by one year, i.e. to 31 December 2013, of the period of application of Decision 2007/659/EC. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution, which provides for an extension of the reduced rate of excise duty applied to rum produced in France’s overseas departments and sold on the French mainland and an appropriate increase in its quotas. Attention should be drawn to the fact that the application of the reduction in excise duty is particularly important for these regions and their development. It should be noted that their remoteness, insularity, small size, difficult topography and climate severely restrain the social and economic situation of the overseas departments. Taking into account the characteristics and constraints of these regions, we must therefore continue to apply a reduced rate of excise duty to traditional rum produced in France’s overseas departments in order to avoid endangering their development and to guarantee economic and social stability.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for Ms Hübner’s report because I believe it is important to offer the EU’s outermost regions equal opportunities for trading with the internal regions, and that it is therefore necessary to reduce the level of excise duty for trading specific products on the markets of the outermost regions. This would provide an incentive for the trade of such products, keeping the price in line with the demand of European markets. Taking into account the special conditions, characteristics and constraints of the EU’s outermost regions, the Council will adopt specific measures aimed at laying down the conditions of application of these policies.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report relates to the proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2007/659/EC as regards its period of application and the annual quota benefiting from a reduced rate of excise duty, in the case of the sale of rum from the French Overseas Departments. In view of the Commission’s report, which justifies this preferential treatment, and given that I believe that these measures of positive discrimination towards the outermost regions and/or the French Overseas Departments are important for the archipelago, which benefits directly from them, and also for other such regions, which can cite this as a precedent, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Council Decision 2007/659/EC of 9 October 2007 authorises France to apply a reduced rate of excise duty to traditional rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland, with a view to strengthening the local economy and competitiveness. Despite its exceptional nature, I voted for the extension of the period of application until 31 December 2013, along with the increase in the annual quota to 125 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol, so as to bring this system into line with the period of application of the State aid decision on the same issue taken by the Commission.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Taking into account the special conditions, characteristics and constraints of the EU’s outermost regions, including the French Overseas Departments (FOD), the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting the European Parliament, will adopt specific measures aimed at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties, including common policies. One of the areas concerned by these specific measures is fiscal policy. However, the measures formerly mentioned will not undermine the integrity and coherence of the Union legal order. Council Decision 2007/659/EC of 9 October 2007, adopted on the basis of Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty (now Article 349 TFEU), authorises France to apply to ‘traditional’ rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland a reduced rate of excise duty. The reduction in excise duty is limited to an annual quota of 108 000 hl of pure alcohol. The derogation expires on 31 December 2012.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Taking into account the special conditions, characteristics and constraints of the EU’s outermost regions, the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, and after consulting Parliament, can adopt specific measures aimed at laying down the conditions of application of the Treaties, in accordance with Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, including specific measures relating to fiscal policy. Council Decision 2007/659/EC of 9 October 2007 thus authorises France to apply a reduced rate of excise duty to traditional rum produced in its overseas departments and sold on the French mainland, limited to an annual quota of 108 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol, with the derogation expiring on 31 December 2012.

On 29 June 2010, the French authorities sent the Commission the report, which included two requests: to increase the annual quota to 125 000 hectolitres in order to reflect developments on the market for rum in the EU, and to extend the period of application of the decision until 31 December 2013, so as to bring it into line with that of the State aid decision on the same issue, which was granted by the Commission and agreed by Parliament.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing. – Article 349 of the Treaty authorises the Member States of France, Spain and Portugal to provide for a difference between the taxation of local products and the taxation of products from other Member States. This was introduced on the basis of the perceived permanent handicaps that affect the economic and social conditions of these ‘outermost regions’, as they are defined in the Treaty. This latest Article 349 measure concerns rum produced in French Overseas Departments and sold on the French mainland with a reduced rate of excise duty. The reduction is limited to an annual quota of 108 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol. The Commission’s proposal is to extend this special tax exemption for two additional years until December 2013, and to increase the annual quota concerned to 125 000 hl. I have voted against such Article 349 measures, on the basis that the Treaty provision grants an unfair advantage to the three Member States concerned, even though all Member States have their own peripheral regions and yet cannot benefit from such exemptions from harmonising Community provisions on VAT.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Council Decision 2007/659/EC authorised France to apply a reduced rate of excise duty on traditional rum produced in its overseas departments (for a limited number of years). It has been proposed to extend this derogation until December 2013. I voted in favour of this.

 
  
  

Report: Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (A7-0361/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) This is a balanced report, so it merited my vote. I would point out that it is important for the European Central Bank to be able to make a more robust intervention in the European economy in future, so it was desirable that this should be reflected in reports for the coming years.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The vote on the resolution concerning the European Central Bank (ECB) annual report provided an opportunity to debate in the European Parliament the ECB’s role in ending the crisis in the euro area. MEPs were able to put questions to the new president of the Bank, Mario Draghi, who replaced Jean-Claude Trichet last November, on the measures to be adopted to tackle the crisis. I voted in favour of this report, which is a reminder that the European Parliament plays an active role in proposing solutions for overcoming the crisis. We spoke in favour of greater economic governance, which should go hand in hand with monetary governance. We also advocate a strong euro area, which needs a European Minister for Finance and a European Treasury in order to support the ECB. The creation of a European Monetary Fund to reduce the EU’s dependence on the International Monetary Fund was another idea put forward. Lastly, setting up a European credit rating foundation would enable us to break the monopoly of the US rating agencies which threaten market confidence in the euro area.

 
  
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  Margrete Auken and Emilie Turunen (Verts/ALE), in writing. (DA) Paragraphs 41 and 42 of the report on the European Central Bank’s annual report state that there is a need for a single European Minister for Finance for the euro area, possibly drawn from the Commission, and there are also calls for the establishment of a single European Treasury.

For the members of the Danish Socialist People’s Party in the European Parliament, it is important to emphasise that, if such a treasury is to be established, it must be done under strict democratic control. We are therefore unable to support the idea as formulated in these two paragraphs in the report, as the way in which it is worded is far too vague and imprecise. However, the report contains many good elements, and we have therefore chosen to vote in favour of it.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this important document. The European Central Bank (ECB) plays an important role in maintaining price and financial stability as well as proper liquidity in financial markets. The continuing financial crisis in the EU and the increasing lack of economic convergence in euro area countries and in countries whose currency is pegged to the euro continues to be one of the most serious problems for the single monetary policy. I believe that the European Union needs common fiscal governance, which would cover not just countries in the euro area but also those Member States whose national currency is pegged to the euro and that are directly affected by all the decisions adopted by the ECB. On more than one occasion, I have proposed setting up a European credit rating agency as a matter of urgency, which would enable us to assess the economies of the Member States objectively and independently, based on clear and transparent rating criteria. I also welcome the report’s call for the Commission to take all the steps needed to establish a European Monetary Fund so that the International Monetary Fund will not need to be involved in Europe’s credit policy, thereby reducing the Member States’ dependence on other international institutions.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) In the last few weeks, the risk premiums of Italy have reached historical limits on the financial markets. Although recent tensions may indicate the opposite, since 2008, the euro has been a success. Without the single currency, the global financial crisis would have been far worse for all European countries, and furthermore, Europe’s northern countries would not have recovered as quickly as they have done since 2009 through their exports-based model. The consensus today in the academic field is that without the euro, the single market and the free movement of people, which are the greatest successes of the EU, would have probably imploded. I believe, therefore, that the euro has not failed in its function in the face of a big economic and financial crisis, but rather that there has been a problem of economic governance in the euro area. Economic theory teaches us that the viability of a single currency is based on its capacity to minimise major macro-economic imbalances when they exist. It is precisely during these moments of rising tensions for the European project that our currency symbolises that the present failures in the euro area must be considered a valuable experience in order not to repeat the same mistakes.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the Tremosa i Balcells report on the European Central Bank (ECB) annual report for 2010. It emphasises the continued absence of budgetary governance within the European Union and expresses concern about the increasing dependence of a number of banks within the euro area on liquidity provided by the ECB in the absence of a fully functional interbank market. Furthermore, the report welcomes the decisive action taken by the ECB since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007, and recognises that the non-standard measures taken by the institution in the field of monetary policy have proved necessary even though they must remain of a temporary nature. In order to tackle the crisis effectively, the report would like to see the introduction of ‘more integrated economic governance’ and suggests several courses of action, including the creation of a ‘European Monetary Fund’, a ‘European Ministry of Finance’ and a ‘single European Treasury’.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am convinced that the euro will survive the critical times that we are experiencing. I commend the proactive and determined stance that the European Central Bank has taken during the crisis, which has led it to take on a vital role in economic growth in Europe. I welcome the economic governance package and would highlight the need to rapidly implement and apply the provisions that it contains. I would call for the consistent and balanced application of the European Stability and Growth Pact and an automatic mechanism for the imposition of sanctions on countries which run budget deficits. I would also call for a significant increase in the resources available for the new financial supervisory architecture, in order to increase its effectiveness.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – The European Central Bank has a duty to keep eurozone inflation in check so as to protect the purchasing power of the euro. These goals will be more easily reached if the European Central Bank were to mutualise eurozone debt by issuing eurobonds. I agree with the rapporteur in that the ECB needs to create a discount rate mechanism that can be adjusted if securities are further downgraded by credit rating agencies. I also agree with the rapporteur in that there needs to be more power given to the EU institutions so that national fiscal policies can be better coordinated and kept within agreed rules.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The statutory role of the European Central Bank, to safeguard price stability without heed for the repercussions on the real economy, has proven to be catastrophic under the present circumstances. Unfortunately, the report does not recognise the weaknesses in the statutory objectives of the ECB and sees this specific fact in a positive light. The role of the ECB needs to be changed into a role of real solidarity and support for nations and Member States. This specific ECB annual report for 2010 does not recognise that, at a crucial time, the ECB hid behind decisions to contain inflation and that this had a series of unfortunate consequences. Firstly, it failed to halt rocketing spreads; secondly, it failed to halt action by the ‘speculation mafia’ in credit rating agencies. On the contrary, it incorporated them into its charter. Thirdly, it kept interest rates high, in a period of recession, higher than in the US and higher than in Great Britain. Finally, the independence of the ECB is a very moot point, as ‘independent bankers’ are being canonised, to the point of being made prime ministers, as we have already seen in two countries. The Central Bank is being politically manipulated. Political, parliamentary control of the ECB is needed. It is for all these reasons that I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which provides an objective assessment of the activities of the European Central Bank (ECB) in 2010. It proposes solutions for deepening economic integration in the euro area and for overcoming the sovereign debt crisis that is now affecting the entire area. We must urgently find a European response to this crisis in order to reassure the markets and to protect our fellow citizens’ savings.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report as I broadly agree with its content. In particular, I support the proposal to introduce euro securities and to ensure greater coordination of budgetary policies between the Member States.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats abstained in the vote on this report. On the one hand, the general conclusions with regard to the European Central Bank’s activities are reasonable and balanced. On the other hand, the report contains passages that we cannot support with regard to setting up a European credit rating foundation, appointing a single European Minister for Finance and creating a single European Treasury. It is still not entirely clear whether it would be possible to ensure the independence and credibility of a public credit rating foundation. We wish to observe the additional analyses and further discussions on this matter before we adopt a definitive position. With regard to the finance minister and treasury, we are open to further investigations being carried out, but we are essentially highly doubtful about this type of very far-reaching integration of finance policy.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the current economic climate, the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) is the subject of much discussion, as its primary objective is to ensure price stability, and thus financial stability and proper liquidity in the markets. There is still much that it can do to assist in the economic recovery of the EU. In addition to the increasingly active approach of the ECB to managing the crisis, particularly in the summer of 2011, the report considers several scenarios to be explored by the EU, such as the creation of the European Ministry of Finance, a European Treasury and a European Monetary Fund, as well as the greater involvement of the ECB, along with the Commission and the International Monetary Fund, in countries that have been subject to intervention, among other proposals that are currently being discussed in the EU. This report does not, therefore, restrict itself to conducting a mere assessment of the role of the ECB and its activity during 2010, but also presents concrete proposals.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Central Bank (ECB), founded on 1 June 1998, is the EU institution responsible for the monetary policy of the Economic and Monetary Union, and its main objectives are to preserve the purchasing power of the euro and ensure price stability in its respective area. The importance of the euro is unquestionable, and without it, the global financial crisis would have been much worse for the majority of European countries. Recently, we have also been able to see the way in which its intervention can calm the markets. Given the crisis that the EU is experiencing, now more than ever, it is vital that we have a strong and stable euro in order to ensure that the single market and the movement of people and goods are successful. In fact, it was not the euro that failed; the failure came from the governance of the euro area, and, in particular, the breach of the Stability and Growth Pact. I believe that the ECB has maintained a balanced and constructive approach, making appropriate use of the mechanisms at its disposal, including issuing money, seeking to keep markets stable and exercising supervision at macro level. I therefore voted in favour of the ECB Annual Report for 2010.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This year, something that we have long denounced has become quite clear: the false independence of the European Central Bank (ECB).

While speculators have been focusing on the sovereign debt of the Member States, making the funding that they need subject to loan sharks, the ECB has been financing the banks at interest rates that are several times lower than those at which they previously charged the Member States. Fuelled in this way by the ECB, the banks have profited from this mechanism of utter extortion, especially the big banks of the major powers, but the Member States, in particular those with weaker economies, and their people have lost out. This mechanism is now compounded by the purchase of debt securities in the secondary market, thus relieving the exposure of these banks to the debt securities of countries in difficulty, which are potentially ‘toxic’ assets.

In this way, the banks keep their hands warm, encouraging the continued extortion of the Member States and the public. In view of all this, there needs to be a profound change to the statutes, guidelines and false autonomy of the ECB, ensuring the equal participation of the Member States in its leadership, so as to ensure effective monitoring of its policies by the Member States. The report ignores all this and endorses the role and the interventionist approach that the ECB has been perpetrating. We therefore voted against.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) If anything has become clear during the year in question, it is something that we have long been denouncing: the false independence of the European Central Bank (ECB).

While speculators have been focusing on the sovereign debt of the Member States, making the funding that they need subject to loan sharks, the ECB has been financing the banks at interest rates that are several times lower than those at which they previously charged the Member States. Fuelled in this way by the ECB, the banks have profited from this mechanism of utter extortion, especially the big banks of the major powers, but the Member States, in particular those with weaker economies, and their people have lost out. This mechanism is now compounded by the purchase of debt securities in the secondary market, thus relieving the exposure of these banks to the debt securities of countries in difficulty, which are potentially ‘toxic’ assets.

In this way, the banks keep their hands warm, encouraging the continued extortion of the Member States and the public. In view of all this, there needs to be a profound change to the statutes, guidelines and false autonomy of the ECB, ensuring the equal participation of the Member States in its leadership, so as to ensure effective monitoring of its policies by the Member States. The report ignores all this, and instead endorses the role and interventionist approach that the ECB has been perpetrating. We therefore voted against.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Central Bank (ECB) has so far been very successful in holding the Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices inflation at a level of around 2%, despite a number of shocks at the macro-financial level and fluctuating commodity prices, and at a time of low average growth in the Union in terms of GDP. However, there is concern over the impact of higher interest rates on economic growth in the euro area, as it might impede what is, in any case, a slow recovery in the euro area, particularly in the weaker economies. In accordance with Article 282 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the main aim of the ECB is to maintain price stability, which contributes to financial stability and appropriate liquidity on financial markets. On the other hand, financial instability is a serious risk for medium-term price stability, since it prevents the smooth operation of currency policy transmission mechanisms. The persistent lack of economic convergence – a situation which is actually constantly deteriorating – remains a structural problem for single currency policy in the euro area. Equally, the impact of currency policy on the different euro area Member States varies substantially, and the assumption is, based on all the evidence, that this asymmetry will further deteriorate if the ECB raises interest rates. This is because most loans are indexed with reference to short-term interest rates in many Member States. For this reason, too, common fiscal governance at Union level is vitally necessary. I firmly believe that much closer international coordination is necessary in order to increase the stability of the global currency system.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour, firstly, to show my appreciation for the conciliation negotiations between the Economic and Financial Affairs Council (Ecofin) and the European Parliament delegation, which were conducted in an extremely constructive atmosphere. I cannot deny that there were strong concerns about the risk that a budget based on austerity would not allow funding for all the programmes. However, I am pleased with the result of the increase in financial commitments for immigration. I am also satisfied with the adoption of the package of 70 pilot projects and preparatory actions, for a total of EUR 105.4 million in expenditure commitments, of which five were proposed and supported by the Italian delegation of the Group of the European People’s Party (PPE). In the area of immigration, I would particularly like to mention the pilot project on unaccompanied minors, which received EUR 1 million in funding. Since the beginning of 2011, hundreds of minors who have arrived in Italy from North Africa have, in fact, disappeared, often the victims of organised crime. This pilot project will therefore help to develop reception and integration strategies and good practice in order to protect unaccompanied minors. This will protect the best interests of minors, guaranteeing proper social integration, education support and true integration.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I supported this document because it welcomes the fact that so far, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been remarkably successful in maintaining HICP inflation at close to 2%, despite a number of macro-financial shocks and volatile commodity prices, and at a time when average GDP growth has been low in the Union. The primary objective of the ECB is to maintain price stability and that this should contribute to financial stability and proper liquidity in financial markets. Financial instability poses a serious risk to medium-term price stability, and this hampers the smooth functioning of the transmission mechanisms of monetary policy. I believe that the ECB has played a decisive role by taking emergency measures to maintain market stability.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) All the national and European institutions are aware of the need to strengthen the role of the European Central Bank (ECB), especially because of the economic and financial situation currently being experienced worldwide. The public debt of several European Member States is in a serious state, requiring institutional and banking support that needs to be perceived with the same decision-making capacity as that of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Furthermore, as the report states, action needs to be comprehensive in order to ensure that the ECB’s economic and monetary policy supports individual EU Member States, as well as the single currency, which, over the last few weeks, has been going through a difficult time and has been the subject of much debate. The recovery of the single currency and the European economy as a whole will involve important decisions by the ECB, such as the recent decision by the new governor, Mario Draghi, to cut interest rates from 1.5% to 1.25%. These and other fundamental measures will be able to strengthen the ECB and improve the fortune of the euro and the Member State economies.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this report. Eurobonds can simultaneously achieve a remarkable source of financing for countries with low levels of debt and very expensive financing for those countries that break the rules, following the red and blue bonds model. Finally, eurobonds can give an impulse to the euro as a global reserve currency, as with them, a debt obligations market would be born on a European scale, five times bigger than the German one and almost as big as the North American.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The financial crisis is bringing the euro area close to break-up. Country after country, bail-out after bail-out, the debt crisis threatens to create a domino effect throughout Europe. The euro has not failed as an integration mechanism for strengthening the single market. However, something has clearly failed and that is unmistakably due to the lack of any real economic governance. What has been missing is internal discipline in the euro area, particularly regarding compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact, as, since 1999, there have been dozens of violations by many countries, and no penalties have never been levied. On account of all this, the euro area has become vulnerable to speculative attacks focused on the sovereign debt of the less efficient and competitive countries. We believe that the European Monetary Union has a duty to keep inflation under control and protect the purchasing power of the currency. In order to continue making the euro a viable project, it is necessary to build a clear framework that makes it possible to help countries with liquidity problems, but, at the same time, is able to incentivise fiscal responsibility and the sustained convergence of competitive levels between Member States.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the report. I agree with the concern at the effect of interest rate increases on economic growth in the euro area, as this could hinder the already slow recovery there.

 
  
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  Arlene McCarthy (S&D), in writing. – This report addresses the actions and activities of the European Central Bank during this critical period of stress in the eurozone and the wider European economy. The ECB has a crucial role to play in containing the threat of sovereign debt and banking crises in the eurozone, in the absence of clear and credible long-term arrangements being put in place. This report fails to support the ECB in undertaking this urgent role. The report also includes a call for the establishment of a new European Finance Minister and a European Treasury. It is a matter for eurozone members to determine whether such institutions should be put in place for the eurozone but Labour Euro MPs do not support any implication that such bodies should apply to non-eurozone Member States and believe consideration of Treaty change for such matters is a distraction at this time of crisis. We therefore abstained on this report.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I welcome the findings of this report on the role of the ECB, although the focus of today’s debate is less about 2010 and more about the future. A solemness is required of all of us during these difficult times. We do need to restore confidence and it is a very difficult thing to do once it is sundered. We need to move away, and I think we have, from the blame game that has happened in the past, because we now know that this is a much bigger problem for all of us. We need the euro to succeed and the ECB to be part of the restoration of both confidence and the new measures that we will require for the future. In voting for this report, I welcome its findings.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report appears against a backdrop of crisis in which, despite the consequences, several measures have been taken that have succeeded in achieving their main objective, the financial stability of the European economy. This document highlights the actions of the European Central Bank, especially in relation to price stability and financial supervision. There are, however, some points that bear criticism, such as the need to publish the minutes and conclusions of the meetings of its governing council, and the growing difficulty of promoting economic convergence in the euro area.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I am in favour, because the report inscribes itself in the annual exercise aimed at establishing some democratic control over the European Central Bank, whilst respecting its full independence.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) With its intervention in the bond markets, which has been happening since May 2010 and has so far amounted to over EUR 200 billion spent on government bonds from highly indebted member countries of the euro area, the European Central Bank (ECB) has definitely exceeded its mandate. At the end of the day, the ECB is only responsible for the purchasing power stability of the euro. Its primary role is to keep inflation within the single currency zone in check. The ECB may view its purchases as being important for the stability of the capital markets. However, the reality is that the fact that the ECB has been operating in the grey area between fiscal and monetary policy has in no way pushed down the interest burden on the crisis states within the euro. Once credibility is lost, the costs associated are enormous. In this crisis, the ECB must not, under any circumstances, continue its current errant approach. I therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against this annual report on the European Central Bank (ECB) because, not only was it unable to anticipate and put in place mechanisms to prevent the crisis, but it was actually part of it. The ECB must overhaul itself in order to promote full employment, the economy and sustainable growth. The goal of budgetary stability has shown itself to be a disaster. The independence of the ECB is more than questionable given that it is an institution clearly manipulated by bankers, which has proved to be incapable of stopping the actions of speculators and rating agencies. With the troika, the ECB pushed to impose the austerity measures that are driving people into poverty. The ECB has been a co-conspirator in the coup d’état by the markets, which have managed to replace democratically elected governments with governments of technocrats and bankers.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Since May 2010, the European Central Bank (ECB) has been acting outside the scope of its original competences, which, of course, were to control inflation and thus the stability of the euro. Since that date, however, it has been acting as the source of liquidity for bankrupt states and, since spring 2010, has bought up junk bonds to the sum of over EUR 200 billion. The fact that this in no way lessened the crisis, but, in fact, turned it into the mother of all crises, is something that we can all read about in the media these days. The ECB should recall its original mandate. What we need now is stability, so that those economies in the euro area that are strong are not sucked into the crisis, too. As I regard the ECB’s current approach to be errant, I voted against.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome the European Central Bank (ECB) Annual Report for 2010. We should welcome the fact that the ECB has done its job very well, particularly at such a difficult time for the whole of Europe, when GDP growth has been low and commodity prices have been volatile. In spite of these factors, the ECB has played a decisive role by taking emergency measures to maintain market, price and financial stability, and proper liquidity in financial markets. Throughout the crisis, the ECB has taken a determined and proactive stance. However, in carrying out the functions assigned to it, the ECB must ensure that its work is more transparent. I believe that in order to eliminate the current credit rating oligopolies and promote fair competition, it is appropriate to set up a European credit rating foundation. Moreover, the Commission must make every effort to ensure that a European Monetary Fund is established and begins to function as soon as possible. Only by implementing these measures will we reduce the dependency of the Member States on other international institutions and ensure that the IMF is not involved in Europe’s future credit policy.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The intervention by the ECB in the secondary bond market was undoubtedly important, but it no longer suffices. The ECB is being called upon to take action, insofar as action is necessary, in order to give the Member States access to liquidity. Yesterday’s decision by the biggest central banks in the world to relax their harsh monetary policy is another step in the same direction; however, the next few days will be crucial. The ECB has to play its part in efforts to resolve the crisis in the euro area. With the rise in borrowing rates in countries referred to as the ‘hard core’ of the euro, such as Italy, the ECB may have an appeasing function on the money markets. The report, which I supported, outlines this need and notes the importance of bolder decisions, in the hope that next year’s ECB report will contain more optimistic messages for the European economy.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the European Central Bank Annual Report. Like the rapporteur, however, I do regret the absence of an adequate EU economic policy framework for crisis management and the hesitant management of the crisis by the Commission and the Member States, particularly those in which reforms are needed. I would emphasise Parliament’s request that the Council and the Commission rapidly present the comprehensive and far-reaching measures which are required to safeguard the stability of the euro.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Central Bank (ECB) Annual Report for 2010 concerns the difficulties that the EU has been facing for some months. It is utterly pertinent that the rapporteur points out the successes that have been achieved, in spite of recent events. Indeed, monetary union appears to have been behind the success of the single market, providing the necessary conditions for a comprehensive system of free trade. It has also allowed the introduction of mechanisms for correcting and monitoring the public finances of the Member States, despite these being weak, which seem to be the source of the current turbulence. However, although monitoring mechanisms are provided for, there is a lack of a central governance mechanism, which has led the ECB to intervene. It should be noted, for instance, that since its introduction, there have already been dozens of violations of the Stability and Growth Pact, including by France and Germany.

I therefore voted for the resolution, in view of the fact that the most crucial thing is to have a genuine EU fiscal policy.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The EP: expresses concern at the effect of interest rate increases on economic growth in the euro area; adds that this could hinder the already slow recovery in the euro area, particularly in its weakest economies; stresses that before the financial crisis, private debt, as well as credit bubbles and, in some cases, public debt, increased in an unsustainable way, and that risks were created through private debt bubbles; notes, further, that the increase in government debt was the result of the need to save the private sector, in particular, the financial sector; takes the view that, in addition to the HIPC, asset price trends and credit growth in the EU and in Member States are crucial indicators for the effective monitoring of financial stability within the EMU and, more broadly, the EU; emphasises that the repurchasing of bonds on secondary markets is justified by the aim of restoring a monetary policy which functions effectively during this period of exceptional malfunctioning of certain sectors of the market; notes that these repurchasing programmes are complemented by programmes neutralising liquidity.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) I am partly in favour of the report because, although the European Central Bank (ECB) acted correctly by purchasing government bonds of some Member States and supporting the role of the euro as an international currency, it failed to stand up sufficiently to the excessive power of the rating agencies, for example, by setting up a European credit rating foundation. I believe that in conjunction with the Commission, any reference on official EU documents to ratings assigned by rating agencies should be removed. I am also concerned about the creation of a European Ministry of Finance which might be able to intervene with advice and support for countries with budget problems, but could become a costly body that would limit the sovereignty of Member States.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Central Bank (ECB) Annual Report was drafted against a backdrop of crisis in which, despite the resulting constraints, several measures have been taken which were aimed at achieving the main objective, which was to ensure the financial stability of the European economy. The document by Parliament highlights the actions of the ECB, especially in relation to its success in terms of price stability and its new tasks in the area of financial supervision. However, it highlights some critical points, such as the need to publish the minutes and conclusions of the meetings of its governing council, and the growing difficulty of promoting economic convergence in the euro area. I voted for the document for the reasons that I have given.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted against this report, which broadly supports the role of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the negative way in which it has managed the current crisis, including going beyond the scope of the Treaties. Worse still, this report welcomes the ‘constant and rigorous’ stance taken by the ECB and its successful fight against inflation. Even worse than that, the report promotes a new political role for the ECB, calling on it to broaden its activities. To my mind, the essential issue is, on the contrary, the need to place the ECB under political supervision and to force it to intervene to support the Member States, employment and social cohesion instead of the financial markets and the banks. It should therefore be allowed, in the first instance, to offer direct loans to Member States, rather than leaving them to rely on market rates. This would prevent unnecessary complications such as the current proposal to allow the ECB to lend money to the International Monetary Fund so that the latter can pass it on to the Member States. That would be the best way of combating speculation on public borrowing. In the face of mounting economic aberrations, it is more necessary than ever to supervise the European Central Bank.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The average public deficit in the euro area rose from 0.7% of GDP in 2007 to 6% in 2010, while the average deficit-to-GDP ratio rose from an already excessive 66.2% to 85.1%. Without the strong single currency, the impact of the financial crisis would be considerably more dire, however – the deficit-to-GDP ratio for the United States is currently 101.1%, while the rate for Japan is as high as 212.1%. However, as has already been observed in various reports and long debates, the euro has not succeeded in establishing (self-dependent) governance of the single currency area and ensuring that budgetary discipline is maintained. In order to sustain the single currency, the rapporteur recommends building a clear framework that makes it possible to support Member States with liquidity problems. Furthermore, the rapporteur calls for the enhancement of fiscal integration through relevant transfers of sovereignty from the Member States to the EU, making this relinquishing of power out to be a middle way within which market discipline is to be combined with the imposition of budget policy constraints by the Member States. Finally, the rapporteur calls for the creation of a European Ministry of Finance and a European Treasury able to issue eurobonds in order to prevent the repeat of previous errors. Given that I failed to share all of the rapporteur’s views, I had to vote against this report.

 
  
  

Report: Mary Honeyball (A7-0363/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as education is an area which irrevocably determines the future of the EU. By tackling early school leaving efficiently, we can help the EU, as strengthening the competitiveness of our economy is ultimately based on an investment in knowledge. We therefore need to increase skill levels in order to add value and skills to our resources, and face the increasingly demanding labour market and the competitive world.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Early school leaving (ESL) is a social issue that absolutely must be tackled. More than 6 million young people in the EU leave school before finishing secondary school. The average ESL rate in the EU is 14%. The phenomenon also significantly affects Roma and differently able children. For the latter, the ESL rate is far higher than for their peers, and only 40% get to secondary school. Member States must adopt inclusive integration policies and more efficient actions to reduce ESL, which is one of the major causes of poverty and unemployment. I am strongly in favour of the report by Ms Honeyball, because in order to reach the target of reducing ESL to less than 10% by 2020, the EU will have to take immediate and concrete action.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) According to some statistics presented by the European Commission at the start of this year, more than 6 million young Europeans are leaving the education and vocational training system. They face obstacles in finding a steady job as their low level of education is also a cause of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. I think that fair access must be improved to high-quality education from the earliest age, as dropping out of school entails severe consequences not only for economic growth and social stability, but also for social cohesion in the EU, with a detrimental effect on young people’s career prospects, health and wellbeing. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report because early school leaving is a huge challenge. One of the five Europe 2020 headline targets indeed is to reduce the proportion of early school leavers to less than 10% and to increase the share of the younger generation with a degree or diploma or equivalent level of education to at least 40%. It is fundamental to stress that early school leaving has severe consequences for the EU’s social cohesion as it damages the career prospects, health and wellbeing of young people. A low level of education is also a key cause of poverty, negative health and social exclusion. Unfortunately, it is a matter of fact that early school leaving is particularly pronounced among children from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds and children from migrant families. The equality of opportunities and choice in education is vital for creating a fairer and inclusive society. In that regard, a fundamental role is played by the public services. Therefore, the possible public spending cuts in the education sector, on account of the economic crisis and the budgetary austerity policies, will have a terrible impact.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Since I firmly believe that if we prioritise education we will make Europe more competitive, I voted in favour of the Honeyball report on tackling early school leaving. This fight is part of the Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to improve levels of education by reducing early school leaving rates to less than 10%. The European Parliament advocates compulsory education up to the age of 18 and the setting up of ‘second chance schools’ aimed at getting young people who have dropped out of school back into education. Vocational courses should be an integral part of educational curricula.

 
  
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  Zoltán Bagó (PPE), in writing. (HU) One of the five headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy is to reduce the share of early school leavers to less than 10% and increase the share of the population aged 30-34 having completed tertiary or equivalent education to at least 40%.

According to 2009 data, the share of early school leavers in Hungary is 11.2 per cent, while that of people aged 30-34 who have completed tertiary or equivalent education is 23.9 per cent. In Hungary, too, there is a particularly high rate of early school leavers among poor and disadvantaged children.

In the case of Roma children, further measures are necessary to fulfil the educational objective of ensuring equal opportunities of success for everyone. I voted in favour of this report, which is a parliamentary follow-up to the political agreement that was reached during the six months of the Hungarian Presidency as regards reducing the number of early school leavers.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for Ms Honeyball’s report as I welcome the focus placed on including vulnerable groups in general education. In Romania, the school dropout rate has risen by a third in the last 10 years from 1.8% to 2.4%. This issue is exacerbated by the current economic and social crisis. The Roma community continues to be the most affected. According to studies, 4 out of 5 children who do not attend school in Romania are Roma. There are numerous causes for this situation. One of them is the difficulty families have in supporting and encouraging their children to pursue some form of education. In these circumstances, practical, structured support needs to be offered by the school, community and authorities. At the moment, one of the problems in this area is the lack of national good practices. This is why, for example, the Roma Education Centre was set up in Bihor County, which helps devise alternative educational programmes. One of the actions introduced is an informal educational programme called ‘Summer nursery’, which is aimed at eliminating the disparities between Roma and non-Roma children registering for class I in terms of pre-school preparation. I support initiatives of this kind which will make a significant contribution to implementing the National Roma Inclusion Strategy.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Early school leaving is a complex phenomenon and a huge challenge for Europe. One of the Europe 2020 strategy’s headline targets was to reduce early school leaving to 10% by 2020. Underachievement cannot be viewed in isolation, as it is inextricably linked to aspects such as poverty, migration and family background, and has social and economic implications which have been shown to be extremely serious.

This report proposes the adoption of a set of measures and initiatives which are mainly aimed at reducing this phenomenon, as it is estimated that reducing the early school leaving rate in Europe by only 1% could boost the number of qualified young people by 500 000 every year. In view of this, it is crucial that this approach is centred on the student’s best interests, with a view to offering a wider choice at school, promoting mobility between the different educational streams, improving pupil-teacher ratios and reintegrating young people who have left school early into the school system. I voted for this report as I believe that these measures can help to tackle early school leaving.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Early school leaving and its impact on youth employment and social exclusion are a major challenge for Europe. Ms Honeyball’s report addresses a major priority: reducing the rate of early school leaving to less than 10%. This is a major challenge. In 2009, the early school leaving rate among young people aged 18 to 24 in Europe stood at 14.4%. Most countries in the European Union have made progress in reducing the number of young people leaving school early or with low qualifications, but a great deal still remains to be done if we are to achieve this aim. I believe that the guidelines outlined in this report are extremely constructive. They include the tailoring of educational pathways and training to individual needs, early identification of and support for pupils who are at risk of leaving school early, recognition of the impact of social inequalities, the development of vocational training and better provision for disabled students. We still have to commit the funding needed to implement this. The European educational system must ensure that no young person leaves school without a solid foundation of basic skills enabling him or her to follow training courses, embark on further education or find a job.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD) , in writing. (IT) The report places much emphasis on tackling early school leaving (ESL) in specific communities such as Roma and immigrant populations. In these contexts, the rapporteur proposes specific forms of support and the adoption of measures that would allow students without identity documents to go to school. More particularly, specific measures for Roma are warmly recommended. Given the latter’s traditional custom of moving frequently, as they are nomadic, they would require special measures in order to overcome these difficulties which naturally lead to a high level of ESL within their youth population. As happens with many measures put to the vote, again a significant emphasis is being placed on these communities, which receive special treatment by the House. I do not share this position, or in general the tendency to pass legislative measures in favour of a community that does not itself show any desire to integrate, which effectively makes any action we take in its favour pointless. I therefore voted against the report.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Dropping out of school is a complex issue and poses a huge challenge facing Europe. This is why the EU’s action in implementing numerous measures and instruments to provide better support to Member States in drafting efficient and effective national policies for tackling this issue is important. Furthermore, the Europe 2020 strategy outlines six headline targets for Member States, one of which is a 10% reduction in the school dropout rate by 2020. However, the previous target set in 2003 was only met by seven Member States because, at the end of 2009, the school dropout rate for all young people aged between 18 and 24 was 14.4%. High dropout rates have major social and economic implications. Dropping out of school has an adverse impact on economic growth, resulting in economic and social instability. This is why actions aimed at harnessing the energy and developing the skills of young people are crucial for the future economic and social development of Member States. It is thought that reducing the school dropout rate across Europe by just 1% would create nearly half a million additional qualified young people each year.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) One of the headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy is to reduce the rate of early school leaving (ESL) to 10% by 2020. Unfortunately, this is still a very real problem for many Member States, including my own, and, in 2009, average ESL for 18 to 24-year olds in Europe stood at around 14.4%. I voted for the report whilst acknowledging the difficulty of identifying suitable policies, a problem resulting from the fact that there are no standard predictors to identify those most at risk. However, there are some social groups, identifiable by certain factors (low income, poverty, social context and family background) which need more help. Therefore, I agree with the rapporteur that there is a need to introduce effective policies, with a personalised approach, and to create solutions for reintegrating people back into the education system through ‘second chance’ schools, for example. Success in this area would have important social and economic repercussions and directly affect growth and economic stability. Reducing ESL in Europe by just one percentage point would mean almost half a million young people receiving educational qualifications every year.

 
  
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  Cristian Silviu Buşoi (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I firmly believe that providing young people with access to education is the most important means for developing society and democracy in a sustainable manner. Europe is at a juncture where it cannot afford to lose talent, not to mention the huge burden dropping out of school imposes on social welfare systems. We cannot talk about the European economy’s recovery without investing in education. I therefore supported the decision to offer young people who drop out of school access to EU funds and mobility programmes.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for the Honeyball report on tackling early school leaving. This report was the subject of a broad consensus. It proposes a series of ambitious measures to tackle early school leaving.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I would like to highlight Parliament’s concern with equal opportunities and choice in access to education for individuals from all social, ethnic and religious backgrounds, regardless of gender or disability, and with providing for pupils with learning difficulties, with a view to integration. I would emphasise the joint effort made by the Member States in introducing a system of means-tested financial support for those who need it in order to support the poorest families through the provision of free school meals and school books, to reduce the impact of social inequality. I would highlight Parliament’s recommendation that training in new information and communication technologies (NITC), as well as in language technologies, should begin at an early age, as these are particularly useful means of communication which young people have the ability to master quickly.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – Early school leaving (ESL) remains a largely unaddressed phenomenon in the EU despite efforts through the Europe 2020 strategy to lower the relatively high average rate. A target to reduce ESL to 10% by 2020 was agreed upon by all Member States in 2003 and so far, only seven countries have reached this goal. Though most Member States have shown signs of progress, there is still much to be done in order to lower the ESL rate as a high proportion of young people who drop out of school negatively affects economic growth and the development of skills that are necessary for the future economic and social development of Member States. I support the rapporteur and her proposed efforts to curb this unresolved problem.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Early school leaving is a complex phenomenon, and reducing it requires strong political commitment. Early school leaving is undoubtedly a major contributing factor to unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, so the Europe 2020 strategy has made it one of its five headline targets to reduce the proportion of early school leavers to less than 10%.

The reality is that young people’s employability largely depends on their level of qualifications. According to data from Eurostat, in 2009, approximately 52% of young people in the EU who had left school early were unemployed. I welcome the fact that we are seeing a steady decline in the school leaving rate. However, more than half of the Member States have failed to achieve the target of 10%, since the vast majority of them still have a fragmented and inadequately coordinated approach to tackling this problem.

I support the proposed framework for the adoption of comprehensive and consistent strategies to help the Member States develop effective policies for reducing early school leaving. Significantly reducing the number of young people who leave school early is a vital investment not only for their future as individuals, but also for the future prosperity and social cohesion of the EU as a whole.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the proposal on tackling early school leaving. It is a complex phenomenon and a huge challenge facing Europe. To combat this phenomenon, it is necessary to innovate and diversify the national curriculum by extending the variety of educational options open to pupils. Offering students a wider choice at school is not only important for increasing their motivation to stay on, but also for providing them with the broad spectrum of knowledge and essential skills necessary for finding employment later. Structural reforms are important for giving young people the skills and training that they need to make a smooth transition into the world of work. These include problem solving, critically evaluating information, and communicating effectively. I believe it is important to set up ‘second chance’ or ‘alternative’ schools. These must be sensitive to the needs of individuals. I would like to stress that investing more money in combating early school leaving can have the long-term effect of preventing young people from becoming dependent on social security, thus bringing down unemployment in the EU and encouraging the recruitment of new blood to replace the old.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) In the European collective mentality, the image of literacy as a goal to achieve suggests areas outside the continent or, at the most, limited, peripheral areas. However, it is also a problem in ‘western’ and ‘industrialised’ areas. It is no coincidence that recent studies have shown that in Italy, 71% of the population is below the minimum comprehension threshold of an average difficulty text. Despite these statistics, no coordinated policies to tackle the problem have been found in the individual Member States, which will make it difficult to achieve the target set for 2020. It is important, in line with the European platform for tackling poverty, to underline that there is a need to coordinate the two areas of action, creating a synergy able to reverse the rate at which ‘poverty’ affects the percentages of early school leaving and, more generally, of poor school attendance. National governments, in the grip of the financial crisis, have almost all reduced educational funding. This risks boosting the vicious cycle of ‘low school attendance-unemployment’. This is why it has become so much more important for the European institutions to take action and provide support, through the targeted use of Structural Funds and implementation of alternative financial instruments.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. (FR) Tackling early school leaving is one of the EU’s objectives in the Europe 2020 strategy. The aim is to reduce school drop-out rates to 10%, from the current rate of 14.4%. I voted in favour of this report, as it proposes individualised measures to prevent early school leaving and to get young people who have dropped out back into the school system. I think that the creation of channels of cooperation between as many educational and economic stakeholders as possible is one of the most crucial proposals made in this report, which reflects the role of the school as a crucial stage in a person’s integration into society and the world of work.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – I support this report on tackling early school leaving. The current European Commission target is to reduce the rate of early school leaving to 10% or lower across the EU by 2020. We need to work to ensure equality of opportunity for children from all social, ethnic and religious backgrounds, and regardless of gender or disability. We also need more efficient early warning mechanisms and follow-up procedures put in place in response to learning difficulties which might lead to early school leaving. We should also encourage Member States to take measures to counter stereotypes which can lead pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds to be steered towards vocational training courses, regardless of their potential in other areas. It is important also to develop teachers’ skills to help them deal with ‘at risk’ pupils Young people should also be involved in discussions about programmes designed to tackle early school leaving. There is a clear link between early school leaving and youth unemployment, particularly in the light of the decline of jobs in low-skilled or unskilled labour sectors in the EU. Member States must develop suitable programmes to reintegrate early school leavers into their education systems. Equally, lifelong learning should also be promoted.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report, which enables us to combat more effectively the exclusion of these groups of young people in difficulty. It is important to help these young people to remain within the educational system so that they can benefit from all the tools they need to embark on working life with qualifications.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because dropping out of school is a fundamental factor contributing to unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. To be able to participate fully in society and achieve their potential as European citizens, young people must possess a broad range of knowledge and skills that are vital to their intellectual and social development. They must be able to communicate effectively, work in teams, solve complex problems, as well as critically evaluate certain information This issue is of paramount importance, especially in the context of the Europe 2020 strategy as one of the five headline targets is to reduce the school dropout rate below 10% and to ensure that at least 40% of young people have a qualification or a diploma for completing higher or an equivalent level of education. Last but not least, I advocate that the issue of young Roma requires a special approach. They must be allowed to have access to education. Additional measures are required within traditional Roma communities to resolve the problems of dropping out of school.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report as I believe that the proposals that have been adopted contribute towards tackling early school leaving in a more effective way. Early school leaving has very negative consequences in both economic and social terms. All measures to reduce early school leaving are crucial to the future economic and social development of the Member States. It is estimated that reducing the early school leaving rate in Europe by only 1% could boost the number of qualified young people by around 500 000 every year.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Europe 2020 strategy makes reducing early school leaving to 10% by 2020 a priority. In 2009, the early school leaving rate for all 18 to 24-year-olds stood at 14.4%, a figure which is still far behind that goal. As the rapporteur clearly explains, early school leaving has serious social and economic implications, as it has a negative impact on economic growth and generates economic and social instability. It is therefore imperative that the Member States develop policies for tackling early school leaving, and that they invest particularly in technical and professional training, creating close ties between schools and the labour market, so as to promote growth and competitiveness.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Honeyball, addresses the problem of school leaving and the measures and instruments adopted by the EU in order to assist the Member States in setting out more efficient and effective national policies to resolve this problem. In the Europe 2020 strategy, the six headline targets include the reduction of early school leaving to 10% by 2020. It should be noted that in 2009, the early school leaving rate for all 18 to 24-year-olds stood at 14.4%. This is a matter of extreme importance, as by tackling this problem, we will not only boost the self-esteem of citizens, but also improve their quality of life, thus helping to reduce poverty and the number of those who are socially excluded. Firstly, it is necessary to identify groups that are at risk, such as ethnic minorities, parents who have a low level of education, children from rural areas, as well as the causes of school leaving, such as underachievement and the factors that exacerbate it, including poverty, abuse and an unstable family background. In view of the fact that this problem requires a comprehensive approach and the mobilisation of all those involved in the process of education and teaching, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report seeks to tackle the problem of early school leaving in a comprehensive way. It does so firstly by providing some useful information for understanding the scale and persistence of the problem, and noting the failure of the goals set by the EU in this area. It goes on to identify causes and makes some concrete proposals to tackle the problem.

There are several significant aspects of the report that we believe to be positive: calling attention to the higher number of instances of the problem in the most disadvantaged social groups; the unequivocal link between dropping out of education and poverty and social exclusion; the warning about the consequences of ongoing cuts in the public education system; and the impact of ineffective policies on work-life balance. However, we believe the report could and should have gone much further, particularly by denouncing the policies in place in many countries, including Portugal.

The deregulation of work relations, the withdrawal of investment, the lack of state accountability and the dismantling of public services as a whole have led not only to an increase in dropping out of education, but also to the upsurge of tragic situations like child labour. Moreover, we do not agree with the rapporteur on the focus placed on the increasing orientation of the educational system towards the labour market, to the detriment of the formation of the individual as a whole.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report addresses the problem of early school leaving in a comprehensive way. It does so firstly by providing some useful information for understanding the scale and persistence of the problem, and noting the failure of the goals set by the EU in this area.

It goes on to identify causes and makes some concrete proposals to tackle the problem. There are several significant aspects of the report that we believe to be positive: calling attention to the higher number of instances of the problem in the most disadvantaged social groups; the unequivocal link between dropping out of education and poverty and social exclusion; the warning about the consequences of ongoing cuts in the public education system; and the impact of ineffective policies on work-life balance.

However, we believe that it could and should have gone much further, particularly by denouncing the policies in place in many countries, including Portugal. The deregulation of work relations, the withdrawal of investment, the lack of state accountability and the dismantling of public services as a whole have led not only to an increase in dropping out of education, but also to the upsurge in tragic situations like child labour. We do not agree with the rapporteur about the focus placed on the increasing orientation of the educational system towards the labour market, to the detriment of the formation of the individual as a whole.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) A reduction in the number of early school leavers appears to be essential to achieving many of the key objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy. It supports the achievement of two of them above all: arriving at so-called smart growth by improving the level of education and vocational training, and arriving at so-called inclusive growth by eliminating one of the largest risk factors of unemployment and poverty. The reasons for early school leaving vary considerably between individual countries, and within regions. I firmly believe that policies for reducing the numbers of early school leavers must be adapted to the specific situation in regions or countries, since it is impossible to achieve a common solution benefiting all Member States. Early school leaving clearly occurs more often with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, such as young people with special needs, for example. Early school leaving subsequently results in social disadvantage and entails a risk of social exclusion. As early school leaving is a complex phenomenon which cannot be addressed just through education and vocational training, I believe it is essential to incorporate measures to support a reduction in the level of early school leaving into all relevant policies focusing on children and young people.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour because I believe that early school leaving (ESL) is a complex phenomenon and a huge challenge facing Europe. ESL is a contributing factor to unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. It also has severe consequences for the EU’s social cohesion, for economic growth, the European skills base and social stability, as it damages the career prospects, health and wellbeing of young people. The Europe 2020 strategy has outlined among its headline targets the need for Member States to reduce ESL to 10% by 2020. This is because the social and economic implications of high rates of ESL are stark. ESL negatively impacts on economic growth, driving economic and social instability Interventions to harness the energy and develop the skills of young people are therefore crucial. In this regard, action is necessary in the form of greater support for European instruments for qualifying, training and helping young people into the world of work.

 
  
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  Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. (GA) This proposal recommends that schools, public authorities and health and social services cooperate with a view to adopting a specific approach to tackle the problem of early school leaving.

It also requests that more investment be made in the development of teachers’ skills and new methods of teaching introduced to encourage young people to return to school. The aim of the motion is to reduce early school leaving to 10% by 2020. Each reduction of 1% in the rate of early leaving is equal to 500 000 new young skilled workers for the European economy every year, which would be a big advantage for economic growth and social equality.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Everything starts at school – it is where our children are given the keys to their future in educational and cultural terms. However, every year in Europe, more than six million children leave the educational system with no qualifications. Early school leaving is an important contributory factor to unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, and it presents Europe with an enormous challenge: our children are our future and we must act on their behalf. Therefore, I am delighted that our Parliament has adopted a resolution on tackling early school leaving during this plenary session. In particular, I fully support certain key provisions in this report: greater efforts to achieve a ‘personalised approach’ for every child, greater access to educational support for all pupils, better careers guidance with more exposure to entrepreneurialism, the end of separate special education for the disabled to enable those pupils to become better integrated and, finally, the creation of more second chance schools, which are excellent and very effective in terms of getting young people who have left the educational system back into the world of work and society. These are all extremely relevant provisions if we want to improve our educational systems in Europe, but the Member States still need to implement them.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) Fifty-two per cent of young people who leave school with no qualifications find themselves out of work. The current rate of early school leaving can no longer be tolerated. That is why I voted in favour of adopting this resolution, in order to call on Member States to undertake educational reforms that target those children who are most at risk of early school leaving, and who usually come from poor, marginalised or migrant families. A special effort should be made for Roma children, of whom 20% are not enrolled in school at all and 30% are early school leavers. The success of the ‘second chance schools’ programme should be boosted in order to help reintegrate early school leavers. Lastly, different learning methods could also help to reverse this trend, as could the promotion of educational pathways that reward practical skills more.

 
  
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  Sergio Gutiérrez Prieto (S&D), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report in order to send out a double message. The first one is to the EU institutions, calling on them, despite the crisis, to continue investing in education and programmes to prevent and take action against early school leaving as the most important policy for preventing inequality and social exclusion. The second message is to individuals, to tell them that they must not give up their right to education at a time like this, when Europe is redefining its role in the world, not least in economic and social terms. Having highly-qualified citizens is not just a right to be guaranteed but a moral obligation to be promoted. The European Commission has already said that within just a few years, 85% of jobs will require a high level of qualifications. The more training people have, the less unemployment there will be, with better jobs and less insecurity. Today, combating the phenomenon of children dropping out of school is the most crucial policy for helping people to find a place in the employment market. Creating cross-cutting strategies between individuals, EU institutions and the educational community is of fundamental importance in order to combat exclusion.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – Roma pupils are frequently subject to low-quality education throughout the EU, often aggravated by segregated education and gypsy-only classrooms. Their difficulties in receiving quality education result in their astoundingly low educational achievements: 20% of Roma children are not enrolled in school, 30% are early school leavers and some 50% of Roma are illiterate or semi-illiterate. Local governments must take appropriate measures for the reintegration of early school leavers up to the maximum age of compulsory education and the institution must inform the parents and the local government about school-leavers. Assistance mechanisms, such as scholarships and mentoring support should be established for young Roma, to inspire them not only to obtain diplomas, but also to enrol in higher education. A system of perks should also be considered, which would increase the participation of Roma youth in such institutions and improve their qualifications. Teachers who teach underprivileged students or are employed in lagging-behind regions should be financially compensated and receive appropriate training. It is also necessary to create specific programmes targeting pre-school education and to develop semi-boarding programmes and ‘tutoring’ in schools, simultaneously targeting the adult age group with vocational training and lifelong learning programmes.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the adoption of the report on early school leaving, which affects six million young Europeans every year. This report is consistent with the priorities of the Europe 2020 strategy, which aims to reduce the rate of early school leaving to less than 10%. In France, we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of bringing that rate down to 9.5%. It is vital to get to the root of the problem and ensure that these young people do not become marginalised. For that reason, I fully support the recommendations made in this report, which highlights the need to identify and support, right from early childhood, those young people who are at high risk of leaving school early. The report also recommends establishing a personalised approach to educational pathways and training, developing work-study programmes, strengthening cooperation with parents and taking into account the impact of social inequality.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing. (BG) I supported this resolution as tackling early school leaving is one of the measures which need to be taken to reduce unemployment, increase employment and prevent the loss of the EU’s social and economic potential. I regard it as important to work towards keeping pupils at school, as well as giving those who stopped their education early a second chance. This will allow young people to be given the opportunity to participate fully in society and will reduce the risk of social exclusion. I share the view that a greater focus is required on vulnerable groups, as well as on the population living in poorer and remote regions, as they are hit hardest by this problem. Research carried out in Bulgaria indicates that the main reasons for children dropping out of school are not associated with their reluctance to go, but with the educational and social status of their parents. Problems of this kind require enhanced coordination between the individual institutions, an improvement in educational assistance, social services and additional support for the families. I believe that providing equal opportunities and access to high-quality education to people from every group will contribute to growth in Europe.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because a system must be established to reintegrate those who leave school early back into the education system. Encouraging Member States to set up so-called second chance or alternative schools is one solution. These must be sensitive to the needs of individuals who have dropped out in their younger years after becoming disillusioned with the education system. They must also be flexible and adaptable, allowing individuals to fit their education commitments around their work and family responsibilities.

 
  
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  Jaroslaw Kalinowski (PPE), in writing. (PL) Young people leaving school early is a major problem in the European Union. I fully support the cooperation of the Member States in this area, thanks to which we are able to reduce its severity.

Nowadays, in view of the low birth rate, it is vital that young people receive education to a level that enables them to find valuable and well-paid jobs in later life. This will help improve the financial situation of future workers, as a result of which the number of those living in poverty will fall. In future, this will have a positive impact on the economy, as well as improving its stability.

Teaching in schools can be adapted in such a way that pupils are eager to learn, and feel that what they are taught will be useful in later life. The use of innovative teaching solutions can have an impact on pupils’ development, which will encourage them to continue their education. Unconventional education methods, for example, dance, theatre or other forms of expression, may lead to a reduction in early school leaving. Learning in the form of entertainment will become attractive and interesting for pupils, which, in the future, may result in a smaller percentage of young people becoming disinterested in education.

At present, early school leaving is more of a problem in rural areas than in towns and cities. There are regions which expect our help in this area. In this respect, it is also important to support schools and parents in order to better reach out to pupils.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Honeyball because I believe that the principle of education and training provided to the people of Europe is essential in the context of strengthening the labour market and professional skills that will be available in tomorrow’s society. Tackling early school leaving (ESL) by focusing on high-quality educational programmes, an in-depth understanding of the problems that result in pupils leaving school and the creation of possible alternatives to repeating academic years is a priority if we want to build a Europe that will be increasingly capable of tackling a changing global situation. I am convinced that focusing on this problem shows the sensitivity of Parliament and European institutions towards a topic which, if underestimated, would undermine the future economic and cultural foundations of us all, and especially of our children.

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on tackling early school leaving because I firmly believe that specific measures need to be adopted at European and national level to resolve this problem. The problem of dropping out of school is rooted in a number of causes specific to each environment, which are influenced by the features of the education system in the Member States. This is why my vote today was in support of the need for an approach which is adapted to the particular features and distinctive requirements of each state. I also voted for both the Commission and Member States to devise and implement policies capable of identifying in time and supporting children and young people who are most at risk of dropping out of school. I believe that this is a good report as it includes measures which are needed to resolve this problem, while stressing the importance of coordination at both European and national level, as well as the key role Member States have to play in preventing children from dropping out of school. I think that Member States must first of all carry out an analysis of the causes at the root of this problem and introduce national action plans, in keeping with the European recommendations in this area.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which ‘urges the Member States to carry out an in-depth analysis of the problem of early school leaving, while taking due account of data protection, in order to identify the root causes at national, regional and local level, and to develop appropriate packages of measures for prevention, intervention and compensation, including specialised establishments or school support services for recognised disabilities; believes that strategies to tackle early school leaving must be based on an analysis of the specific national, regional, and local dimensions of the phenomenon and that these data should serve to focus research on the reasons for the exceptionally high drop-out rates among given categories of pupils and in the regions, localities, and schools most affected’.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Early school leaving (ESL) is a complex phenomenon and a huge challenge facing Europe. The Europe 2020 strategy establishes, among its headline targets for Member States, the reduction of ESL to 10% by 2020. We agree with this report which appreciates some of the progress made by EU Member States in this regard, but posits the theory that much more needs to be done. The social and economic implications of high rates of ESL are stark. Interventions to harness the energy and develop the skills of young people are therefore crucial. Structural reforms are therefore important for giving young people the skills and training that they need to make a smooth transition into the world of work It is crucial that schools encourage students’ mobility between the different educational streams, be it academic, vocational, and so on. Offering students a wider choice at school is not only important for increasing their motivation to stay on, but also for providing them with the broad spectrum of knowledge and essential skills necessary for finding employment later.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) Early school leaving (ESL) is one of the most urgent social problems facing the EU and Member States. Important initiatives have been introduced by the European Commission over the last few years, and recognising the problem as one of the targets of the Europe 2020 strategy shows the attention to this social plague. ESL as acknowledged in Ms Honeyball’s report is a complex phenomenon that affects all of European society and takes on different forms in different Member States. All EU and national measures need to be reinforced in order to help the most vulnerable families and ensure a high level of education for our children, foster the adoption of a personalised and inclusive approach to education starting from primary level education, encourage the sharing of responsibilities between families, school and public authorities, and improve the way people who have previously left school early are reintegrated into the education system, by developing ‘second chance’ schools, as clearly described by the rapporteur. These are the reasons I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union’s economic recovery is closely linked to having a highly qualified workforce, which is an objective featuring in the strategy which we have committed to for the period ahead: Europe 2020. At the moment, unfortunately, a large number of young people are leaving school early, with an inadequate level of qualifications. This reduces appreciably the chances of them being successful in life, of social integration and of getting a well-paid job. What is significant is that, according to the statistics, reducing the school dropout rate by one percentage point could produce every year 1 million well-qualified young people and new opportunities for economic growth. In this respect, it is important for us to identify those measures capable of reducing the incidence of dropping out. For example, counselling could be offered to both pupils and their parents, given the influence the family environment has on pupils’ educational and social path. Extra-curricular activities organised within educational institutions also make a vital contribution. At the same time, I should point out the additional support which must be provided to people with disabilities to offer them suitable qualifications, as well as ‘second chance’ type solutions for those who have dropped out of school, but would like to continue their training.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the report. The rapporteur has provided an exhaustive list of the causes and possible solutions to a problem still affecting too many people in the EU. Member States therefore still need to analyse the problem of early school leaving in greater depth.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – Approximately 6 million young people leave education and training per year with a lower secondary school level education, or less. Action to address this situation is needed from an early age to ensure that children are given the best possible start. This report aims to tackle early school leaving in the context of the Europe 2020 Agenda; I welcome it and voted to support it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The construction of an effective educational system and tackling early school leaving is one of the biggest challenges that each country faces. In an area made up of 27 Member States, the challenge is all the greater. It has been proven that educational qualifications (or a lack of them) are an indicator of poverty, and thousands of skilled young people are lost every year. The social and economic consequences of high rates of early school leaving are severe, as they have a negative impact on the economic growth of the Union. Education is an essential pillar of successful European integration, so defining efficient national policies to address the problem of early school leaving is crucial. I therefore welcome the adoption of the Europe 2020 strategy, which will certainly oblige the Member States to take new directions with their educational policies.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) Poor performance is one of the main reasons why pupils leave school early. I agree that a frequent reason for failure among children is that school curricula are not tailored to suit children’s age-appropriate learning needs and their socially conditioned interests. A uniform education system makes it hard to individualise school work.

An individualised approach benefits students with special educational needs or behavioural problems. In the case of such students, positive results can only be achieved with smaller class sizes.

We know that teaching assistants are a great asset to both teachers and students, but are (for budgetary reasons) employed at schools only in very limited numbers. An increase in their numbers would be justified in the case of students with special educational needs because it would result in them receiving additional assistance and attention.

I support the proposal that every secondary school should set up a counselling service so as to ensure that schools not only have an educative role, but also provide pastoral care. I agree with the use of ‘second chance’ solutions that would allow for the reintegration of early school leavers.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) Young people who want to participate fully in society and reach their potential as people and citizens must have a wide range of skills and abilities to ensure their intellectual and social development, such as effective communication, problem solving and the ability to critically evaluate information. The problems that lead to early school leaving have their roots outside school, and must be identified and solved. That is why the report calls for redistribution measures to be put in place, such as free school meals, school books and basic sports kit, in order to reduce the impact of social inequality and combat the risk of these students being stigmatised. The report calls on the Member States to submit action plans to stem the problem of early school leaving and requests more funds for and improved access to the EU Lifelong Learning Programme, which boosts student and teacher mobility, encourages the exchange of good practices and helps to improve teaching and learning methods. It also suggests making efficient use of financing from the EU Structural Funds so that measures can be put in place to prevent early school leaving. I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Ms Honeyball’s report is particularly relevant to a European Union that is trying to become the leading knowledge-based economy. It makes no sense to cut budgets in areas such as education at national level, because that is precisely what will cause the EU to sink further into economic crisis. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s brains and manpower. We need to establish a system for exchanging best practices in this area, because national situations vary significantly. Combating this scourge is all the more vital because it has been proven that those with qualifications will be given priority in the near future. If we fail to do everything in our power to combat early school leaving, then it will mean failure for the Europe of knowledge, citizenship and responsibility.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I believe that tackling early school leaving quickly and effectively can help the EU from a cultural, social and economic viewpoint. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) High school dropout rates have considerable socio-economic consequences, for which reason the Europe 2020 strategy includes a plan to reduce this rate to 10%. Studies have shown that there are clear characteristics for those who tend not to finish their school careers. We can thus see, for example, that fewer girls (13%) than boys (17%) drop out. In addition, we can observe that children from families in which the level of education is lower are much more likely to drop out. Migrants, too, have a higher dropout rate. Nevertheless, a one-size-fits-all approach to this phenomenon is not appropriate and it certainly cannot be isolated from external influences such as poverty or abuse. It is demonstrable that early school leavers are considerably more likely to face the threat of poverty, which is due, amongst other things, to their lack of education and the associated limited access to the labour market for such people. I am voting against this report as I believe that education and schooling are issues for the nation states, issues for which there are individual solutions in each Member State.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) The education of Europeans has a great deal of impact on the European Union’s objective of becoming the most competitive economy in the world. One of the issues in education is early school leaving. My country, Lithuania, is one of the few countries that has already achieved the target set to reduce the number of early school leavers to less than 10%. I would like to propose to other countries that they should draw from the experience of countries like Lithuania, but the education system in every country is unique, echoing specific cultural and social features. While agreeing with the resolution’s general principles, I would like to draw attention to the fact that in the area of education, more than anywhere else, we still really need to take into account the specific characteristics of each country and find individual solutions that are attractive to each one of them. At the same time, at supranational level, we can only encourage the Member States and EU institutions to cooperate more closely and exchange best practices.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) High early school leaving rates have serious socio-economic consequences: school drop-out levels impact negatively on economic development and also threaten economic and social stability. It is assumed that if we succeed in reducing the early school leaving rates by just 1% per year across Europe, this could mean we would have an additional 500 000 well-qualified young people available to the workforce. The demographic development of Europe means that it will be particularly important to integrate as many competent young people into the workforce as possible, so that they will not be forced to migrate. I do not believe that the measures proposed in the report will have the desired effect, however. The rapporteur suggests that traditional examinations should be abolished because grades depend on performance on a particular day. I believe that conventional testing techniques are important, however, because in their subsequent professional and social spheres, young people need to be able to perform when the situation demands it. I cannot accept the methods adopted by the rapporteur, for which reason I voted against this report.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because early school leaving is the main factor increasing unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. I believe that by implementing appropriate measures at European Union level, it is possible to address this issue and halt the spread of poverty. Attention should be drawn to the fact that most Member States still have a fragmented and inadequately coordinated approach to tackling this problem. Above all, we need to implement certain school reforms and establish an advisory foundation for pupils. Schools must be encouraged to move away from traditional testing, so that the future prospects of an individual do not depend on their performance on one day. Assessment must be a continuous process. It is also very important for Member States to use a variety of means to continually extend educational options, take steps to innovate and diversify the national curriculum. I welcome the idea of establishing second chance schools, which would give those who leave school early the opportunity to reintegrate back into the education system and enable them to fit their education commitments around their work and family responsibilities.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The battle against early school leaving (ESL) by our Union is absolutely fundamental and has my full support. We live in highly competitive times, and learning and educational culture are the foundations for enabling young people to be successful in their lives and the world of work. Education shapes people, making them better prepared for life and used to social interaction. ESL must be tackled especially when it is caused by bullying or drug addiction and schools need to provide pastoral care so that youngsters can find the support they need to help them through difficult times.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) In 2009, the percentage of all early school leavers in Europe between the ages of 18 and 24 was 14.4%. The Member States have undertaken to reduce this to 10% by 2020. Greece has one of the highest rates of pupils leaving school immediately after primary education and almost the highest rate of young immigrants leaving school early (over 40%). This has important social and economic repercussions. They extend from social marginalisation of early school leavers and fewer job opportunities to a reduction in the country’s economic capabilities. It is estimated that reducing early school leavers throughout Europe by just 1% would increase the number of qualified young people by half a million year on year, with a commensurate contribution to the GDP of those countries. The report, which I supported, highlights these consequences, while at the same time proposing a series of actions, such as reforming the education system, extending the ‘second chance’ scheme and increasing social funds earmarked for that purpose.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report as I believe that equality of opportunities and choice in education, and access to high-quality education for individuals from all social, ethnic and religious backgrounds, regardless of gender or disability, is vital for creating a fairer and more cohesive, innovative and dynamic society, and I believe that the proposals that it presents go in this direction.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) One of the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy is to reduce the rate of early school leaving to 10% by 2020. The aim of this is to provide the whole EU with skilled workers, while also ensuring a future for the various Member States. To this end, measures need to be adopted that can give a response to young people who, year after year, are leaving formal education at a very early stage. The data indicates that a wide range of reasons lead to early school leaving, which suggests that a range of different responses are also needed. This justifies the exchange of best practice between the different Member States in an attempt to find the most suitable ways of achieving the laudable objective of the Europe 2020 strategy. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. (FI) I have just voted in favour of the report on tackling early school leaving. The subject is very relevant to our time. As a consequence of the economic crisis, we are in ever greater danger of the gulf between the well-off and the poorly-off deepening. Low levels of education are often linked to poverty and social exclusion, where there is a danger of a continued downward spiral from one generation to the next. The situation is at its worst in families where unemployment, rather than a profession, has been handed down from the parents to the children for three generations now. Such families are to be found in many European countries already. One way to prevent exclusion is to invest in education and to pre-empt early school leaving. That is why I strongly support this report.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. (FR) More than 6 million teenagers leave the education system with no qualifications. The Member States are all experiencing this problem, which is increasing dramatically and therefore justifies the fact that Parliament has focused on the issue by voting, this afternoon, for a resolution on early school leaving. According to recent figures, 52% of young people who leave school with no qualifications find themselves out of work, and will join the ranks of the 5.5 million young people who are unemployed. This is quite simply unacceptable and untenable in the long term if we want to maintain social cohesion and intergenerational solidarity in our Western societies. That is why we should welcome the interesting proposals set out in the Honeyball report, such as extending compulsory education from the age of 16 to 18, and setting up more ‘second chance schools’, given that a single approach does not suit all young people in schools. Reversing this trend of early school leaving cannot be achieved by decree; it requires investment in education. It is important to reassert the value of technical streams and guarantee that qualifications will entitle a person to a job. Entitlement not luck: that is the dilemma that needs to be resolved in the field of education.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today in plenary, we voted on the report by Ms Honeyball on tackling early school leaving (ESL). ESL is a complex phenomenon and a huge challenge facing Europe. Consequently, the EU has been putting in place numerous measures and tools to better support Member States in developing efficient and effective national policies to tackle it. They include the Commission communication on tackling early school leaving, a new proposal for a Council recommendation on policies to reduce ESL and the Commission’s initiative ‘Youth on the Move’. Most EU countries have made at least some progress in reducing the number of young people leaving school early or with low qualifications, and there has been a noticeable and positive change in how they approach ESL. The report on which we voted today argues that far more needs to be done.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I voted for the resolution on tackling early school leaving. The text recalls one of the main goals of the Europe 2020 strategy: reducing the rate of early school leaving to less than 10% by 2020, which would have a positive impact in terms of cutting youth unemployment and improving employment rates in the EU (more than half of Europeans who left school early are currently unemployed). This goal is all the more important given that the number of jobs available for low-skilled or unskilled labour will decline even further in the coming years. The resolution also highlights a worrying situation: one young person out of every four currently has reading difficulties. It is clear, however, that reading is a vital tool for making progress in any school subject, becoming integrated into the world of work, understanding information, communicating properly and participating in cultural activities. Let us therefore go back to basics: specific measures for remedying deficiencies in reading skills are urgently required. Furthermore, we should promote early learning of new information and communication technologies (NICT), such as language technologies, which young people have the advantage of being able to master quickly.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Early school leaving (ESL) is a complex phenomenon and a huge challenge facing Europe. Consequently, the EU has begun putting in place numerous measures and tools to better support Member States in developing efficient and effective national policies to tackle it. They include the Commission communication on tackling early school leaving, a new proposal for a Council recommendation on policies to reduce early school leaving, and the Commission’s flagship initiative ‘Youth on the Move’. The Europe 2020 strategy, in addition, outlines six headline targets for Member States, one of which is to reduce ESL to 10% by 2020. This 10% target was previously agreed by Member States in 2003; however, only seven of them managed to reach the benchmark. In 2009, the rate of ESL for all 18-to-24-year-olds in Europe stood at 14.4%. Most EU countries have made at least some progress in reducing the number of young people leaving school early or with low qualifications, and there has been a noticeable and positive change in how they approach early school leaving; yet this report argues that far more needs to be done.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today, the early school leaving (ESL) rate in the EU is 15%. A reduction of at least 5% would have important effects, reducing youth unemployment and the unemployment rate, since currently, 52% of early school leavers are unemployed. With today’s resolution, we are urging the Member States to carry out an analysis of the problem of early school leaving, and to develop appropriate packages of measures for prevention. We need to support more effective and targeted policies for needs-based learning at schools. All youngsters should be helped to enter the world of work through individual careers advisory services.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) There is no doubt that a report on early school leaving could have provided an opportunity for the EU and the Member States to make a careful evaluation of the support youngsters need to help them through their education. Particular attention to young people with social integration and disability issues should consequently have led to a request for a financial commitment on the part of Member States in order to improve dedicated structures. Unfortunately, the report does not afford equal dignity to all students who leave school early, but focuses primarily on ethnic minorities, immigrants and Roma, suggesting these groups need special care and attention. On account of this discrimination against European youngsters, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported this report in plenary because it tackles a real scourge, which mostly affects young people who are already in a precarious situation. It cannot be denied that early school leaving is often linked to poverty and social exclusion. If we combat one, we therefore combat the others. This report puts forward simple guidelines: early identification, increased support and a personalised approach. These solutions are well known, but very few Member States today have the will to implement them as a priority. The fact is that if we enable more young people to take full advantage of their education, it will raise the overall skills level and therefore increase employment opportunities. One final word on reading: the proportion of young people aged 15 who have reading difficulties has reached 24.1% in the Member States. If we have to choose a point of attack, that is it. In my view, reading is the key to all forms of knowledge, and it cannot be dispensed with. We need to ensure that all young people, whether they reach the end of the school system or leave early, have that key in their pocket.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report by Mary Honeyball because it concerns a very delicate issue which needs to be resolved as quickly as possible. Early school leaving (ESL) is a complicated problem and a huge challenge facing Europe. As such, the European Union has started to implement numerous measures and instruments to improve support for the Member States in developing effective and fundamental national policies to address this problem. The EU 2020 strategy also describes six main objectives for the Member States, one of which is to reduce early school leaving to 10% by 2020, a target which all the Member States are required to attain.

 
  
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  Christel Schaldemose, Dan Jørgensen, Britta Thomsen and Ole Christensen (S&D), in writing. (DA) The Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament have voted in favour of the report on tackling early school leaving (A7-0363/2011) as we believe that it takes up a serious problem in the education sector and proposes a number of sensible solutions. Even though there are parts of the proposal that we are unable to support (for example, paragraphs 1, 31, 32 and 48), and even though education policy is primarily a matter for the Member States, we believe that, overall, the report sends out the right signal with regard to tackling the number of pupils leaving school early.

 
  
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  Marco Scurria (PPE), in writing. (IT) In order to tackle youth unemployment in the EU, we need to implement a series of measures such as extending compulsory education to the age of 18 and creating ‘second chance’ schools. These schools would have teachers, psychologists and trainers to allow young people in situations of difficulty, poverty and early failure, also brought about by an excessively rigid existing education system, to be reintegrated into the education system with flexible learning programmes sensitive to their interests and extra-curricular pastimes. In the face of youth unemployment affecting one in five young people, reducing early school leaving by 1% would suffice to produce 500 000 qualified young workers. Furthermore, according to recent statistics, 52% of young people who leave school without qualifications remain unemployed. In order to guarantee Europe, which is in the grip of the economic crisis and rising migration, the concrete possibility of a return to growth and social cohesion, I believe it is crucial to focus on knowledge and suitable levels of education. The reform of the education system must involve partnerships between schools and local enterprises in order to offer students a better careers service.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) One of the headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy is to reduce the early school leaving rate to below 10% and increase the number of young people with a degree or diploma or equivalent level of education to at least 40%. In order to achieve this objective, Member States will have to develop ways of reintegrating early school leavers into the education system by introducing special measures, such as ‘second chance schools’ offering appropriate learning environments that will help young people to rediscover their self esteem and ability to learn. In addition, more funds need to be allocated and access to the EU’s lifelong learning programme needs to be improved. This increases pupils’ and teachers’ mobility, enhances the exchange of best practices and contributes to improving teaching and learning methods. Finally, funding allocated by the EU Structural Funds needs to be used more effectively in order to implement the measures put in place to prevent school absenteeism.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Early school leaving is a problem which affects EU Member States and jeopardises the development of a society based on knowledge and innovation, as set out in the objectives of the EU 2020 strategy, namely, the flagship initiative ‘Youth on the Move’. The target of reducing early school leaving to 10% by 2020 is still far from being achieved; in 2009, the early school leaving rate for all 18 to 24-year-olds stood at 14.4%. There are many factors which lead to early school leaving, which occurs particularly in at-risk groups associated with poverty, abuse, family background, underachievement, and ethnic minorities and immigrant populations. If this problem is tackled successfully, it will lead to the reduction of intergenerational poverty and will provide economic growth in the medium and long term.

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, but rather a set of initiatives and measures, with particular focus on public policy, in order to involve the various educational actors and the local communities. More support services and careers guidance, innovative and continuous forms of assessment, the learning of critical evaluation skills, learning to learn and greater mobility can make all the difference.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on tackling the problem of children dropping out of school as equal opportunities and access to education are vital for the European Union’s economic and social development, regardless of social background, family economic situation, gender or disabilities. The EU’s competitiveness depends on quality and on young people having access to good-quality education. I should emphasise the link between dropping out of school and youth unemployment. More than half of the young people who had left school early in the EU were unemployed in 2009. Dropping out of school means precarious jobs, while the long-term economic and social impact of this problem poses a high risk of poverty. Tackling the problem of dropping out is an effective way of preventing social exclusion among young people. I urge Member States to invest in teacher training and in providing staff with qualifications, both in pre-school and compulsory education. I should stress that information and communications technology (ICT) can have a positive impact in an educational setting and can encourage motivation and learning. Member States should promote and increase pupils’ access to ICT and introduce training programmes for teachers. I call for additional funds and increased accessibility as regards the EU lifelong learning programme, as well as extra funds for increasing pupil and teacher mobility.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – More needs to be done to reduce the rate of school drop outs, particularly for the most vulnerable groups in our society – 20% of Roma children get no education at all and, of those who have been in education, 30% have dropped out of school. We need a more varied and effective approach to teaching – a wide curriculum which includes vocational training is vital at this time. We need young skilled workers to help boost the economy and need to ensure that everybody leaves school with qualifications – at the moment, around 52% of children that leave school without qualifications are jobless. Making sure that people have a second chance to gain qualifications is a fundamental part of this report, which I fully support.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report on tackling early school leaving, which persists and is indeed getting worse in all the EU Member States. The report contains positive proposals: the need to identify pupils who are at risk of dropping out; the call for a personalised and inclusive approach to education; and the need to develop free public education services and care, particularly for young children. We need a school system that will truly be one of freedom and inclusion for every child, based on school success. It is up to the Member States to turn these proposals into action at a time when austerity measures are primarily attacking public education services.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing.(CS) The proportion of pupils leaving school early is currently very low in the Czech Republic. The Czech Republic, next to Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia, has long been among the four Member States with the lowest level of early school leaving, and, with a figure of 5.6%, it is also well below the EU’s target value for 2020 (the EU average in 2008 was 14.9%). In the debate on this report, I adopted a contrary position, because I do not think we will resolve the situation by developing payment-free public crèches and day-care facilities, or by Member States providing out-of-school activities and groups, as the report proposes. At the same time, I have reservations over the effect of the proposed social mapping of people who leave school early by collecting and centralising data from all Member States here in Brussels. In my opinion, rather than the gung-ho measures called for by the report, we in the Czech Republic should primarily aim to analyse the specific causes of early school leaving and to respond immediately if the situation deteriorates, in other words, if the percentage of early school leavers increases.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) People drop out of school early for a variety of reasons. However, their chances on the labour market have been shown to be poor and their low income levels mean that they are also at a high risk of poverty. One of the six headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy is the reduction of the early school leaver quota to 10% (by 2020), as the direct link between a high quota of early school leavers and the negative impact on economic growth is quite obvious. In order to achieve its own targets, the EU urgently needs to take effective action: schoolchildren must receive qualified guidance in their choice of careers at an early stage. Current testing procedures must themselves be reviewed and the curriculum must be brought up to date, with innovative, broadly-based elements.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – When Margaret Thatcher became British Prime Minister in 1979, she instructed the Department for Education to send no more than one circular (set of instructions) to schools and colleges each year. Now our educational establishments are bombarded with proposals and recommendations on almost a daily basis. As a school governor and a former local councillor, I know that we should not be telling our schools what to teach, how to teach or what targets to achieve. I certainly don’t believe that this is a job for the European Union, which is why I voted against this report. The report also includes recommendations which are idealistic, impractical and verging on the irrational. If, as the report suggests, EU Member States are to provide financial support to parents who ‘devote time and love to bringing up young children’, the next obvious step would be the establishment of an EU love police to check that all European children are receiving the necessary Brussels-sanctioned quota of affection. The report also calls for the ‘special relationship between parents and children’ to be strengthened. Is this really an area which requires EU legislation? I think not.

 
  
  

Report: Charles Goerens (A7-0403/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am abstaining from voting on this report as Parliament is not on an equal footing with the Council when it comes to making strategic decisions.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The EU development cooperation policy gave the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States trade preferences on agricultural products such as bananas. Condemned by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), this preferential trade regime was the subject of a banana agreement negotiated between the EU and the WTO. While the preferential tariffs have been reduced, the EU has not abandoned the ACP banana-producing countries. In fact, it has established banana accompanying measures (2010-2013) in order to support their efforts to adjust. These measures were part of a compromise package with the Council. I voted in favour of the Goerens report, which reminds us that the Treaty of Lisbon puts the European Parliament on an equal footing with the Council when it comes to approving strategic priorities in the programming of funds allocated to cooperation.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) This programme, proposed by the Commission, merits my full support, as it seeks to support the adjustment of areas that depend on banana exports. These measures will support economic diversification policies or investments in order to increase competitiveness, as well as their social and environmental impact. They will also contribute to reducing poverty and the gradual integration of the countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States which export bananas worldwide, supporting their sustainable development.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – On 15 February 2011, a constituent meeting of the EP delegation to the Conciliation Committee was held in Strasbourg where the EP delegation discussed four files as a package (DCI, DCI/BAM, ICI+ and EIDHR). It was agreed that these files will remain unchanged until 2013. I support the rapporteur and call for these documents to be accepted as a compromise package between the Parliament and the Council.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this agreement, which will help support the banana industry in the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States while respecting World Trade Organisation rules. The aim is to help those countries whose economic development is based on specialised sectors.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I abstained from voting on the financing instrument for development cooperation – banana accompanying measures, as I believe that Parliament should be on an equal footing with the Council in strategic political decisions on the negotiation of future financing instruments.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The banana trade is an important source of income for many countries, including countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. The EU used to give these countries preferential treatment, which was repeatedly rejected by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This led to the negotiation of a new trade agreement within the framework of the WTO which reduced the margin of preference for ACP countries. This situation will continue to have an impact on these countries, so this justifies the proposal to establish the monitoring programme under discussion. I agree with the need to monitor developments in this sector.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report under discussion forms part of a set of four documents that have been adopted in a conciliation process between Parliament and the Council. This has been a somewhat complicated process, as the Treaty of Lisbon has not been respected by the Council as regards codecision. As Parliament is conscious of the urgency of reaching an agreement so as not to harm third parties, it finally gave up its positions. 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 establishes a financing instrument for development cooperation through banana accompanying measures. I welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted, as its rejection would have had severe consequences both for European citizens, who would see their supplies cancelled, and for the producing countries from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States, who need this aid for their survival, as in some cases, the humanitarian situation is already a tragedy, and is becoming worse. In addition, the adoption of the report was a good result for the credibility of the EU, as otherwise it would have been deemed an unreliable partner.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Apart from the issue that has dominated the discussion of this report, the fundamental question remains, although it has been put to one side in this debate. From the first reading, through to the current phase of conciliation, the discussion has centred on delegated acts and the role of Parliament in decisions that are considered to be strategic. This discussion is now at an end, as Parliament has ceded to the Council, giving up on an equal footing between the colegislators, which it had earlier asserted.

However, we cannot fail to point out, as we did earlier, that the banana accompanying measures, under the financing instrument for development cooperation, do not properly take into account the interests and needs of the countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States. These countries, which will be significantly affected by the liberalisation of trade with the countries of Central America, and the outermost regions of the EU, for that matter, were not properly involved in the discussion of this agreement. According to the ACP countries, the amount of aid needed to maintain their banana sector, cushioning them from the impact of this liberalisation, will be approximately EUR 500 million. Therefore, the amount proposed by the Commission, EUR 190 million, is well below the estimated cost of the impact of this agreement. It is worth remembering that in Africa alone, around 500 000 people depend on the banana sector.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As we have already said in previous discussions on this matter, the issue of delegated acts has dominated the discussion around the financing instrument for development cooperation, as in fact has happened with other financing instruments. In this case, well-founded concerns have been expressed, which we share, about a possible delay in the transfer of the funds foreseen in banana accompanying measures as a result of the current dispute between Parliament and the Council.

Without detracting from the importance of this discussion, it would nevertheless also be worthwhile to look at the underlying questions arising from the agreement for the liberalisation of the banana trade signed by the European Union. We need to remember here that the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which will be significantly affected by this agreement, despite not being properly involved in its negotiation, estimate the amount of aid necessary to maintain their banana sector at EUR 500 million.

The amount proposed by the Commission is well below the estimated cost of the impact of this agreement. In Africa alone, approximately 500 000 people depend on the banana sector for their living. The sector is regarded as a focus of sustainable development, and this has made it possible to install health, water, energy and housing infrastructure. Free trade, to which this agreement opens the gates, will now put all that in jeopardy.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Following the second-reading vote of 3 February, and given the political will to conclude the conciliation process as soon as possible, the constituent meeting of the European Parliament (EP) delegation to the Conciliation Committee took place in Strasbourg on 15 February 2011. The EP delegation decided to negotiate the four files concerned – the development cooperation instrument (DCI), the DCI/banana accompanying measures (DCI/BAM), the financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries (ICI+) and the European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR) – as a package. On the mid-term review of the DCI and the EIDHR, it was agreed that these instruments would remain unchanged, as no new strategy papers are foreseen until 2013. The EP declares itself ready to accept the compromise package, as the remaining duration of the current instruments is rather short. Parliament regrets the fact that, due to the Council's rigidity, it was not possible to improve the text on the DCI/BAM instrument further, particularly in relation to the EP’s role in strategic decisions where an equal footing between the colegislators is essential. In line with the criteria defined in Article 290 paragraph 1, the EP will insist on the use of delegated acts wherever strategic political decisions are involved on financing and programming with regard to those instruments.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I voted against this report on establishing a new financing instrument for development cooperation, which provides for banana accompanying measures (BAM) for certain African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, following the reduction in their tariff preferences. Needless to say, I am in favour of this aid programme, which has a budget of EUR 190 million; I am also in favour of establishing BAM in the banana industry, because it is a crucially important sector for our ACP partners. However, I am totally against the position taken by the Council on this issue, and its refusal to acknowledge any of Parliament’s powers. Indeed, the Treaty of Lisbon places the European Parliament on an equal footing with the Council when it comes to the approval of strategic priorities and financial allocations in the programming of European funds, including those allocated to development cooperation. With its inflexible position and threats to block the entire legislative package, the Council has shamefully denied the mandate given to the European Parliament’s negotiating team led by Mr Goerens, who has himself requested that his name be withdrawn from the report as a sign of his displeasure. Those are the reasons why I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The European Parliament has declared that it is ready to accept the compromise package, as the remaining duration of the current instruments is rather short. I abstained from voting because regrettably, due to Council’s rigidity, it was not possible to further improve the text of the DCI/BAM (development cooperation instrument/banana accompanying measures) instrument, in particular, in relation to Parliament’s role in adopting strategic decisions, where an equal footing between the colegislators is essential. I believe that this result should not set a precedent for the future negotiations on the post-2013 external financing instruments. Parliament must insist on the use of delegated acts wherever the financing and programming of those instruments involves strategic political decisions.

 
  
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  Kartika Tamara Liotard (GUE/NGL), in writing. – The Council has proven to be very rigid in its position during the conciliation, effectively prohibiting Parliament from being treated equally as a colegislator in the sense that there have to be delegated acts (Article 290 TFEU) for strategic political decisions on financing and programming of instruments for development cooperation. However, a vote against would mean that the ACP banana-supplying countries would be denied much needed financial assistance, something for which I cannot take responsibility. Therefore, I abstained on the final vote.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for the banana accompanying measures instrument so that countries impacted by tariff reductions on bananas can get assistance for their industry.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006, presented in May 2010, establishes a financing instrument for development cooperation aimed at creating a programme of banana accompanying measures for the main banana-exporting countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). I am voting for the report as it includes measures that are aimed at supporting the existing amendments at a social and environmental level, establishing economic diversification policies and organising investments in order to increase competitiveness.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing. (PT) I abstained from the final vote on the regulation on EU financing for development, through the DCI/BAM instrument, in order to comply with the voting compromise made within the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament between those who were in favour and those who were against this legislative instrument.

However, having been part of the Conciliation Committee that negotiated with the Council, I believe that this regulation is the best that it could be. It is not the case, as those who oppose the regulation say, that Parliament will have fewer powers than the Council in monitoring its application by the Commission. I do not believe that any national parliament goes so far in monitoring national programmes of aid to developing countries. Neither Parliament nor the Council can replace the Commission in exercising the powers of execution granted to it by the Treaties. This is a simple case of respect for the separation of powers.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) Banana production for export to the EU is an important economic activity for many of the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) Group of States because this has a knock-on effect for the entire economy in these regions. For this reason, the EU offers banana exporters from the ACP Group of States certain trade preferences. This enables the EU to encourage prosperity and economic dynamism in the region without simply providing a supply of monetary aid. This establishes an incentive for people to cultivate a product in their own country, then market and export it. Thus, a programme with accompanying measures for the banana sector is required for the most important banana suppliers in the ACP Group of States. That is why I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) A comprehensive compromise must be reached when adopting this package on the DCI/BAM (development cooperation instrument/banana accompanying measures) instrument. It should be noted that policy coherence for development, independence in development and intact assistance are particularly important for ensuring the efficiency of assistance. Particular attention should be paid to provisions concerned with Parliament’s role in adopting strategic decisions. The colegislators must be on an equal footing. Delegated acts must be used whenever the financing and programming of the instruments involves strategic political decisions.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On the basis of report A7-0403/2011 and the remarks that I made in my written statement, I voted for the legislative resolution amending the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation in this area.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 established a financing instrument for development cooperation, and has recently been subject to a review procedure. However, given the disagreements that arose between the institutions during the legislative process, a conciliation committee was formed. This made it possible, after eight trialogues, to reach a final agreement, confirmed in writing on 24 and 26 October 2011. I therefore voted in favour, but would emphasise the need for Parliament to be considered as a colegislator in these decision-making processes.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Clearly, I did not vote against this report because I am opposed to the idea of granting financial aid to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) banana-producing countries, which have been affected by the reduction in customs duties on bananas imported from Latin American countries. On the contrary, the EUR 190 million aid package to be shared between 10 countries over four years seems to me to be quite justifiable. I am, however, very concerned by the way in which Parliament’s powers have been denied at every stage of the negotiations on this text. Even though the adoption of the Treaty of Lisbon means that Parliament is now on an equal footing with the Council when it comes to overseeing the Commission’s implementing powers, the Council has demanded the right to merely inform Parliament of the implementing measures that will be taken following the adoption of this text. The Council’s refusal to allow Parliament to exercise its legitimate right of scrutiny is completely unacceptable. For the purpose of condemning this refusal, and to avoid setting a precedent in future negotiations on financing instruments, I voted against Parliament’s adoption of this text.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing.(FR) I voted against. Leaving aside the technical and financial aspects aimed at supporting the banana sector in 10 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, I rejected this report to ensure that the European Parliament’s powers are respected. After several months of tense negotiations, I am frankly disappointed that my colleagues have failed to understand what is at stake with this vote, preferring to sacrifice the rights of this House in the face of continual – and unjustifiable – threats by the Commission and the Council. While our fellow European citizens have the growing impression that democracy is labouring under the yoke of economic constraints, the European Parliament would have sent them a positive signal by strengthening the prerogatives conferred on it in 2007 and by defending those granted to it under the Treaty of Lisbon. The European Parliament, being on an equal footing with the Council, makes strategic decisions regarding the financing of development cooperation, and has a democratic right of scrutiny. By adopting this report today, Parliament has relinquished those two powers, following the false rumours that have been spread and the blackmail carried out by the Commission and the Council.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In March 2010, the Commission presented a proposal amending Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation, aimed at creating a programme of banana accompanying measures for the main banana-exporting countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP).

I am voting for this report as it includes measures that are aimed at supporting the existing amendments at a social and environmental level, establishing economic diversification policies and organising investments in order to increase competitiveness. Having been approved at first reading, eight trialogues took place, resulting in the compromise package budgeted at EUR 190 million and with a maximum duration of four years, from 2010 to 2013.

 
  
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  Patrice Tirolien (S&D), in writing.(FR) This DCI/BAM text brushes aside the mandate that was given to Parliament’s negotiating team, which was to observe the spirit and the letter of the Treaty of Lisbon, to place Parliament on an equal footing with the Council in all programming decisions relating to the choice of strategic priorities and financial allocations, and not to set a negative precedent for Parliament prior to the forthcoming negotiations on the future external aid financing instruments 2014-2020. By applying Article 291 TFEU on strategic programming decisions, Parliament’s power of scrutiny will be more limited than it was with the comitology procedure under the old Treaty. All this is a result of the shameful blackmail by the Council, which was threatening to block the entire package of measures if Parliament rejected any one of the four texts that were voted on. I therefore voted against this text, because our Parliament had a duty to defend its rights as set out in the Treaty of Lisbon, whilst demonstrating that its plenary remained sovereign in the face of the Council’s efforts at destabilisation.

 
  
  

Report: Helmut Scholz (A7-0401/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, and would emphasise that Parliament will insist on delegated acts in future financing instruments, and on being on an equal footing with the Council whenever it is involved in strategic decisions.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the main objective of the development cooperation instrument, namely, to eradicate poverty through the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. It is in the common interest to continue to deepen relations with countries that are both developing countries and important partners in the global economy, as in the case of India, China, Brazil and Mexico. I would emphasise the importance of energy security and public diplomacy for EU interests and for the elimination of poverty in regions like Central Asia and the Middle East.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – On 21 April 2009, the Commission adopted its proposal to amend Regulation No 1394/2006, which established financing instruments for cooperation with the industrialised and other high-income regions (ICI Regulation). This amendment expanded the regulation to also cooperate with developing countries in Asia, Central Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, as well as South Africa. However, this ICI Regulation does not provide a legal basis for financing these activities as they do not fulfil the criteria laid down by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. The European Parliament made many improvements with its first and second readings of this bill in 2010 and 2011. Changes made include improvements to the EP’s programming and financing. Also, the Council and EP agreed to accept the four files (DCI, DCI/BAM, ICI+ and EIDHR) as a compromise package. This compromise enables the EU to strengthen its economic relations with developing countries, as well as with major emerging economies – like Mexico and China.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report as I believe that the ICI+ instrument is going in the right direction by promoting stronger relations between the EU and developing countries. At a time when most of the world’s economic growth takes place in developing countries, the EU needs to invest in political diplomacy, promote economic partnerships and foster business cooperation with emerging markets in order to protect European interests. This is the only way in which the EU can rise to the challenge of globalisation.

 
  
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  Göran Färm, Anna Hedh, Olle Ludvigsson, Marita Ulvskog and Åsa Westlund (S&D), in writing. (SV) We Swedish Social Democrats have nothing against the amended regulation establishing a financing instrument for cooperation with the industrialised and other high-income countries and territories (ICI Regulation) as such. It provides a legal basis for the financing of activities that do not fulfil the criteria for official development assistance laid down by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and therefore are not covered by the regulation establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (DCI Regulation). However, we do not support the financing of the ICI+ instrument using funds from the official development assistance budget, amounting to EUR 176 million for the period 2010 to 2013. These funds should be used for those activities that fulfil the criteria established by the OECD Development Assistance Committee.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) As I argued in the vote at first reading in October 2010, I believe it is essential for Europe to establish strong relations with certain regional and global players, by supporting them and establishing strong political and economic ties. I would particularly like to mention two countries with which Portugal has strong historical and emotional ties: Brazil and Angola, two important global players in South America and Africa, respectively, that the EU should increasingly see as partners. However, in view of the worsening of the crisis in Europe and the good performance of many of the countries covered by this instrument, it is even more important to ‘deepen the European Union’s relations with countries which are both developing and major partners in the world economy, such as China, Brazil and Mexico, and regions like Central Asia and the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, as well as South Africa’.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report under discussion forms part of a set of four documents that have been adopted in a conciliation procedure between Parliament and the Council. The joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1934/2006 establishes a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories (ICI Regulation), the objective of which is to extend the scope of this financing instrument to also include cooperation with developing countries covered by Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006, particularly countries in Asia, Central Asia and Latin America, plus Iraq, Iran, Yemen and South Africa. The agreement reached on this, in addition to official development assistance, enables the EU to deepen its relations with countries which are both developing and major partners in the world economy, such as India, Brazil and China. I welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted, as its funds will allow for the strengthening of public diplomacy and raising awareness, as well as promoting economic partnerships and business cooperation, thus enhancing the relationship between Europeans and the citizens of these countries.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Since 2007, the EU has been rationalising its geographical cooperation with developing countries in Asia, Central Asia and Latin America, and with Iraq, Iran, Yemen and South Africa, within the framework of Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation. The EU has a strategic interest in strengthening the various links with these countries, especially in the area of economic, commercial, academic and scientific exchanges, and it therefore needs a financing instrument to enable the funding of these measures which, by nature, do not meet the conditions of official development aid. Four preparatory actions were established within the framework of budgetary procedures in 2007 and 2008 in order to fulfil this aim: commercial and scientific exchanges with India, commercial and scientific exchanges with China, cooperation with middle-income-group countries in Asia and cooperation with middle-income-group countries in Latin America. During the review of the regulation, an inconsistency was identified in provisions under which costs relating to tax, customs or other fees are exempted as ineligible. For the sake of consistency, it is necessary to bring these provisions into line with the other instruments, and for this reason, I believe that Regulation (EC) No 1934/2006 must be amended appropriately.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) On 21 April 2009, the Commission adopted its proposal for a regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1394/2006 establishing a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories (ICI Regulation). The proposal was presented as part of the mid-term review of the external financing instruments. The main objective is to extend the scope of the ICI Regulation to also include cooperation with developing countries covered by Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of 18 December 2006, the development cooperation instrument (DCI) for geographical cooperation with developing countries in Asia, Central Asia and Latin America, plus Iraq, Iran, Yemen and South Africa. The amended ICI Regulation will provide a proper legal basis for (financing) activities which do not fulfil the criteria of Official Development Assistance (ODA), as set by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and which are, on that basis, excluded from the DCI Regulation. I welcomed the proposal because the amended ICI Regulation will further deepen the European Union’s relations with countries which are both developing and major partners in the world economy, such as China, Brazil and Mexico, and regions like Central Asia and the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, as well as South Africa.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted to support the outcome of the Conciliation Committee on the financial instrument for cooperation with industrialised countries.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) I am convinced that this agreement will enable the European Union to significantly deepen activities, other than official development assistance, with countries which are both developing and emerging economies and which are experiencing booming growth, such as India, Brazil and China. I am voting in favour of the report by Mr Scholz.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The development cooperation instrument was created for geographical cooperation with countries in Asia, Central Asia and Latin America, and with Iraq, Iran, Yemen and South Africa, with the aim of eradicating poverty through the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. It is very important that the EU deepen its relations with countries which are both developing and increasingly major partners in the world economy. We need to ensure that what is proposed guarantees stable funding for cooperation for the period between 2010 and 2013, with EUR 176 million being made available.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution. I believe that it is appropriate to extend the scope of the regulation to include cooperation with developing countries. The amended ICI Regulation will deepen the European Union’s relations with countries which are both developing and major partners in the world economy, particularly Brazil, China and Mexico. It should be noted that these countries are important bilateral partners and players in multilateral fora and in global governance. The EU also has a strategic interest in promoting diversified links with them, in particular, in areas such as economic, commercial, academic, business and scientific exchanges.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this report. I did so because the establishment of a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and high-income countries and territories – which has been proposed in order to help Asian and South American countries, plus Yemen, South Africa and Iraq – will undoubtedly bring tangible results by funding projects that can then be brought properly to fruition. Clearly, it will also be useful to check the effectiveness and efficacy of this aid. Indeed, the funds must be targeted and not scattered around indiscriminately. Above all, they must not end up underwriting those sectors that compete unfairly with the European Union.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this legislative resolution by Parliament on the joint text, approved by the Conciliation Committee, on the amendment of the Council regulation establishing a financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories. I voted as I did because I am in complete agreement with the objectives and priorities that the Commission is reiterating here, namely, the eradication of poverty through the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals, which are presented as the main principles of its development cooperation policy.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1394/2006 established a financing instrument for development cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries and territories. Since then, it has sought to extend the scope of the regulation to include also cooperation with developing countries that do not fulfil the criteria of Official Development Assistance, as set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, but which are very important for EU foreign policy, such as China, Mexico or Brazil. However, given the disagreements that arose between the institutions during the legislative process, a conciliation committee was formed. This made it possible, after eight trialogues, to reach a final agreement, confirmed in writing on 24 and 26 October 2011. As I believe that this initiative is important in terms of EU external action, and as it has been possible to reach a comprehensive agreement between the institutions, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report because the EU financing provided for by the regulation as negotiated with the Council will support economic, financial, technical, cultural and academic cooperation with partner countries. It will also serve to strengthen economic links with those countries. Another important point, in my view, is the strengthening of Parliament’s role under this new regulation. It will at last be involved in the programming, evaluation and reporting of programmes. Parliament will therefore no longer be limited to giving its opinion a posteriori, but will now be able to issue proper guidelines. That is why I hope the regulation will enter into force soon.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU established the development cooperation instrument (DCI) for geographical cooperation with countries in Asia, Central Asia and Latin America, and with Iraq, Iran, Yemen and South Africa, with the general aim of eradicating poverty through the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

I agree with this report, as I believe that it is important that the EU deepen its relations with countries which are both developing and increasingly important partners in the world economy. The proposals that have been presented are aimed at ensuring stable funding for cooperation for the period between 2010 and 2013, with EUR 176 million being made available.

Finally, I believe that it is extremely positive that the proposal contains strategic management principles that will optimise the development of the DCI, particularly through the establishment of objectives, priorities, indicative financial allocations and expected results.

 
  
  

Report: Kinga Gál, Barbara Lochbihler (A7-0404/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report due to the importance that the EU should continue to place on the promotion of human rights, basic freedoms and democracy. In fact, all of the economic and trade agreements that the EU signs with third countries should continue to take account of the level of respect that those countries demonstrate towards human rights. As the EU is a model area, it is therefore up to us to set an example of respect for human rights and, as such, we need sufficient financial resources to carry out programmes and projects for this purpose.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the agreement that has been reached during conciliation, strengthening Parliament’s negotiating position, particularly with regard to future financing instruments in the area of external relations. I voted in favour because I believe that this agreement will allow obstacles to the application of the development cooperation instrument (DCI) and the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide (EIDHR) to be overcome. The EIDHR and the DCI are the only instruments for external action that do not provide an exception to the principle of the non-eligibility of the EU for the funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – On 21 April 2009, the Commission adopted a proposal amending Regulation No 1889/2006 that established a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide. In this package, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), which is an instrument that can grant aid where no established development cooperation exists, was also discussed. The EIDHR and the development cooperation instrument (DCI) are the only measures that do not have an exception to the principle of non-eligibility for EU funding. This kind of flexibility is essential to the operation of EIDHR and DCI, which is why the Commission has proposed to adopt the words ‘in principle’ in Article 13, paragraph 6. The European Parliament has further amended this legislation by harmonising the EIDHR and DCI and by introducing a measure for the adoption of multiannual cooperation programmes and strategy papers. At second reading, the Parliament and Commission agreed that the four files (DCI, DCI/BAM, ICI+ and EIDHR) would be accepted as a compromise package and would remain unchanged until 2013. I therefore support the rapporteur and this finalised package.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The review of the regulation on establishing a European instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide is needed due to the lack of flexibility that has characterised it, as this instrument for external action does not provide any exception to the principle of non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges. This lack of flexibility can make it extremely difficult to implement programmes and projects financed by external aid properly. The review of this instrument was included in a package made up of four instruments for external action. Following intense negotiation between the Council and Parliament, it was finally possible to reach a political agreement.

I believe that the overall result reached during conciliation is quite positive, as it essentially establishes that Parliament and the Council establish the key decisions, such as objectives, priorities, indicative financial allocations and expected results, in codecision. The position of Parliament has also been improved in terms of delegated acts, and the fact that the two institutions have reached an agreement on a joint declaration on the use of delegated acts in the area of external relations for the future financial instruments is to be applauded.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide, in view of the importance of these funds to those who benefit from them, and because I believe that the compromise reached in the negotiations with the Council is a positive step.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is one of the major external financing instruments of the EU. It does not provide an exception to the principle of the non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges. Such flexibility is essential as excessively rigid formulation may jeopardise action financed now or in the future by external aid. The Commission is seeking to change this state of affairs, which I believe to be appropriate for the purpose of this financing instrument.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU sets the global standard for the functioning of democracy – for better or for worse – and its uncompromising defence of human rights. It therefore adopted the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is binding for all the Member States, for this reason, and it speaks out in the fight against the death penalty and other examples of inhumane treatment. The report under discussion on the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) forms part of a set of four documents that have been adopted in a conciliation procedure between Parliament and the Council. 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 establishes a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide. I welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted, because we need to continue to defend human rights in those countries where they are violated. We therefore need to provide protection for activists and non-governmental organisations, as we cannot accept certain countries using taxes to disrupt the work of those who are defending basic human rights.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 21 April 2009, the Commission adopted a draft regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is one of the external financing instruments that is dealt with in a package. The EIDHR, together with the development cooperation instrument (DCI), are the only instruments for external action not providing an exception to the principle of the non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges. In all of the other instruments in this area, the funding of these costs is made possible in individual cases for the purpose of proper programme and project implementation. This flexibility is important, because the inflexible formulation of the EIDHR and DCI may make the financing of actions through external assistance very difficult. The aim of the Commission proposal is to harmonise the relevant provisions with other development assistance instruments.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and the development cooperation instrument (DCI) are the only instruments for external action not providing an exception to the principle of the non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges. In specific cases, all the other instruments in this area allow these costs to be financed flexibly in order to properly implement programmes and projects. I welcomed this proposal because such flexibility is essential as the rigid formulation of the EIDHR and DCI instruments may make it extremely difficult to implement action financed by external aid.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of this report’s proposal, which aims to achieve more flexible financial instruments for promoting democracy and human rights worldwide. These financial instruments are important. Their adoption as a package – comprising the development cooperation instrument (DCI), the related banana accompanying measures (DCI/BAM), the industrialised countries instrument plus (ICI+) and the European instrument for democracy and human rights (EIDHR) – was essential in order to slim down the procedures for accessing these financial instruments, thereby allowing them to be managed in a unified way that also made it easier to standardise the relevant bureaucratic processes. Conciliation on a particularly delicate subject like the use of financial instruments to promote democracy and human rights worldwide is an important and tangible indicator of the European institutions’ shared desire to ensure that such instruments are used in a consistent way and that they work more effectively and with fewer problems.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted to back the work of the Conciliation Committee on this important instrument to promote democracy and human rights.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) I am voting in favour of the report by Ms Lochbihler. Making the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and development cooperation more flexible is a priority if we really intend to build a credible foreign policy, as per the Treaty of Lisbon.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The lack of flexibility in the regulation establishing a European instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide has led to it being reviewed. This instrument for external action does not provide an exception to the principle of the non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges, and this may make it difficult to implement the programmes and projects financed by it properly. The consensus reached between the Council and Parliament on codecision issues was also crucial.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted against this instrument, because although I realise that we are voting on the conciliation procedure, which Parliament wants the power to oversee, we must not overlook the content of the instrument. I have always been very critical of this instrument, because the European Union has used and continues to use the subject of human rights to pursue a policy of interference in third countries. The EU can use this instrument to finance political parties, foundations and even individual people in any third country of its choice, without any authorisation from the target country. Thus, we have seen how it has been used since 2006, the year in which it was created, to finance destabilising groups in certain countries in Latin America.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights must be flexible. Currently, the formulation is very rigid, and this makes it difficult to implement action financed by external aid. In specific cases, we must make it possible to allow costs related to taxes, duties and other charges, which are not eligible for EU funding, to be financed more flexibly, so that these instruments are implemented effectively and their objectives achieved.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) We are all duty-bound to export and promote democracy and human rights around the world. The fact that the financial instrument for spreading these values is being boosted is, without doubt, one of the most appropriate ways to promote development and ensure that the values we believe in are upheld and supported. We live at a time when we need to ensure that the injustices of the past and of history are overwritten with new, shared values based on justice and democracy.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide is one of the EU’s financing instruments for external action. This instrument was negotiated as part of a so-called legislative package, along with others relating to external action. The aim of all this was for Parliament to have greater power of scrutiny. Conciliation resulted in a joint declaration of Parliament and the Council on the future use of delegated acts in the area of external relations for future financial instruments, which strengthens Parliament’s negotiating position vis-à-vis the inclusion of delegated acts in the new instruments. This agreement is crucial to the democratic nature of these financing processes.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1899/2006 established a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide. This has recently been subject to a review process aimed at establishing more flexible criteria for allocating financial aid.

However, given the disagreements that arose between the institutions during the legislative process, a conciliation committee was formed. This made it possible, after eight trialogues, to reach a final agreement, confirmed in writing on 24 and 26 October 2011. As I believe that this initiative is important in terms of EU external action, and as it has been possible to reach an overall agreement between the institutions, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The Commission adopted its proposal for a regulation amending Regulation No 1889/2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide on 21 April 2009. The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) is one of the external financing instruments that are dealt with in a package. The EIDHR, together with the development cooperation instrument (DCI), are the only instruments for external action not providing an exception to the principle of the non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges. All the other instruments in this area allow for flexibility to accept, on a case by case basis, these costs to be financed in the interest of a proper implementation of programmes and projects. Such flexibility is essential as the rigid formulation of the EIDHR and DCI instruments may make action financed by external aid extremely difficult. The Commission proposal intends to align the relevant provision with the other instruments by adding the words ‘in principle’ in Article 13, paragraph 6.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report by Kinga Gál and Barbara Lochbihler because I believe that the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide is one of the financial instruments used in external action to promote democracy and human rights worldwide. It is very important in times of economic crisis, when European communities are beset by financial debts, for there to be a financing instrument to support domestic markets and, by extension, the entire euro area when times are hard.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Some inconsistencies have been found in the Union’s various financing instruments for external cooperation regarding the principle of non-eligibility for EU funding of costs related to taxes, duties and other charges. It is therefore necessary to clarify the procedures which need to be adopted.

I am voting for this report as I believe that as a matter of principle, EU aid should not be used to pay taxes, duties or other charges in the countries that receive it.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – I was pleased to vote for this report because I believe that the proliferation of democracy and human rights has been one of the successes of the European Union. However, when funding democracy and human rights projects in third countries, the EU must ensure not only that taxpayers’ money is not wasted, but also that the projects are meeting their objectives. A recent case of a democracy and human rights project in Afghanistan involving one of my London constituents has highlighted the need to manage such projects better and to ensure value-for-money for citizens. The EU office in Afghanistan paid my constituent EUR 70 000 to make a documentary on the plight of women who have been raped or beaten and then imprisoned under the country’s justice system. These unreasonable punishments and discrimination against women were highlighted in my constituent’s film In-Justice. And yet the EU Delegation refuses to release this film. My constituent wishes to reach an agreement with the EU Delegation in order to tell the story of these mistreated and persecuted women. I call on the EU to reach a solution so that the film can be released or return the money it has wasted to the taxpayer.

 
  
  

Report: Gay Mitchell (A7-0402/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this report. The European Union provides the greatest development support worldwide for countries that need to reach more advanced levels of progress. It is vital that Europe continues to set an example in this regard, as solidarity between peoples is one of the social features that should continue to be ingrained in the very DNA of the EU. The EU should support sustainable development and the execution of its aid programmes should be as transparent as possible.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) As part of its development cooperation policy, the EU has introduced a financing instrument for the period 2007-2013 to assist developing countries. This instrument contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. I agree with the development aim pursued by this instrument and would point out that the Treaty of Lisbon puts the European Parliament on an equal footing with the Council regarding the approval of strategic priorities in the programming of funds allocated to cooperation. I therefore voted in favour of the Mitchell report.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this compromise package as I believe that the European institutions have been working to clarify EU financing and have decided, in particular, that the EU funds allocated cannot be used to pay taxes, duties or other charges by the recipient countries.

 
  
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  David Casa (PPE), in writing. – On 15 February 2011, a constituent meeting of the EP delegation to the Conciliation Committee was held in Strasbourg where the EP delegation discussed four files as a package (DCI, DCI/BAM, ICI+ and EIDHR). It was agreed that these files will remain unchanged until 2013. The Parliament accepted this package as a compromise with the Council as not much more could be implemented that would improve the DCI/BAM instrument. I agree with the rapporteur in that Parliament must insist on the use of delegated acts whenever political decisions are made on financing and programming with regard to DCI, DCI/BAM, ICI+ and EIDHR.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide, in view of the importance of these funds to those who benefit from them, and because I believe that the compromise reached in the negotiations with the Council was a positive step.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report under discussion, drafted by Mr Mitchell, forms part of a set of four documents that have been adopted in a somewhat controversial conciliation process on codecision between Parliament and the Council. 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 establishes a financing instrument for development cooperation. In a financial framework as rigid as the one we are in, owing to the economic and financial crisis, the funds for development cooperation are not high enough to support more countries and students, or to implement measures to combat poverty and social exclusion. I am pleased that this report, for which I voted, has been adopted, so it is vital that we continue to work towards the eradication of poverty by pursuing the Millennium Development Goals and the Europe 2020 strategy. In addition, it is important that these funds encourage people to respect human rights, requiring compliance with the rules set out by the International Labour Organisation, and that they contribute towards the reduction of CO2 by combating climate change.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The conciliation process saw Parliament back down against the Council’s positions. The report is critical of the Council’s position but it accepts it, in the interests of compromise, on the condition that this does not set a precedent for the future. We are not making light of this discussion on delegated acts, which has been dragging on since discussions on this report began. However, there is more at stake in the discussion on the financing instrument for development cooperation than this issue.

In concrete terms, as the financing instruments are inseparable from the political objectives that they serve, further reflection is needed on one fundamental issue: the direction taken by the EU’s development aid and cooperation policy. Moreover, in this matter, there are not only quantitative aspects to bear in mind, relating to the amount of funding, which has been delayed in fulfilling its commitments, but also qualitative aspects, which are no less important. Among other aspects, due to its responsibility to set an example, it is once again important to denounce the way in which the Commission has sought to impose free trade agreements (so-called economic partnership agreements) on developing countries, despite much resistance. These agreements are becoming a condition, whether explicitly or implicitly, of present and future aid, in an unacceptable act of blackmail.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The conciliation process saw Parliament back down against the Council’s positions. The report is critical of the Council’s position but it accepts it, in the interests of compromise, on the condition that this does not set a precedent for the future. We are not making light of this discussion on delegated acts, which has been dragging on since discussions on this report began. However, there is more at stake in the discussion on the financing instrument for development cooperation than this issue.

In concrete terms, as the financing instruments are inseparable from the political objectives that they serve, further reflection is needed on one fundamental issue: the direction taken by the EU’s development aid and cooperation policy. Moreover, in this matter there are not only quantitative aspects to bear in mind, relating to the amount of funding, which has been delayed in fulfilling its commitments, but also qualitative aspects, which are no less important. Among other aspects, due to its responsibility to set an example, it is once again important to denounce the way in which the Commission has sought to impose free trade agreements (so-called economic partnership agreements) on developing countries, despite much resistance. These agreements are becoming a condition, whether explicitly or implicitly, of present and future aid.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Following the second-reading vote of 3 February, and given the political will to conclude the conciliation process as soon as possible, the constituent meeting of the European Parliament (EP) delegation to the Conciliation Committee took place in Strasbourg on 15 February 2011. The EP delegation decided to negotiate the four files concerned – the development cooperation instrument (DCI), the DCI/banana accompanying measures (DCI/BAM), the financing instrument for cooperation with industrialised and other high-income countries (ICI+) and the European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights (EIDHR) – as a package. On the mid-term review of the DCI and the EIDHR, it was agreed that these instruments would remain unchanged, as no new strategy papers are foreseen until 2013. The EP declares itself ready, in a spirit of compromise, to accept the compromise package, as the remaining duration of the current instruments is rather short. Parliament regrets that it was not possible to further improve the text on the DCI/BAM instrument, particularly in relation to the EP’s role in strategic decisions where an equal footing between the colegislators is essential. In line with the criteria defined in Article 290 paragraph 1, the EP will insist on the use of delegated acts wherever strategic political decisions are involved on financing and programming with regard to those instruments.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because the European Parliament has declared that it is ready to accept the compromise package, in a spirit of compromise, as the remaining duration of the current instruments is rather short. It is regrettable that it was not possible to further improve the text of the DCI/BAM (development cooperation instrument/banana accompanying measures) instrument, in particular, in relation to the European Parliament’s role in adopting strategic decisions, where an equal footing between the colegislators is essential. This result should not set a precedent for the future negotiations on the post-2013 external financing instruments. In accordance with the criteria defined in Article 290(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the European Parliament should insist on the use of delegated acts wherever strategic political decisions need to be adopted on the financing and programming of those instruments. It should be noted that the delegation recommended maintaining the package approach and that the Parliament should approve the joint text at third reading.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Even though I do not entirely support the outcome of conciliation on the development cooperation instrument, I voted to support it.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) I completely agree with the rapporteur on the bemusement over the lack of equality between institutions in key decisions on this issue. I do, however, think that the proposed compromise should be accepted. My vote is in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European institutions have been working on the amendments to this regulation in order to clarify the prohibition on using funding to pay taxes, having decided that EU aid cannot be used to pay taxes, duties or other charges by the recipient countries. I therefore agree with this report, in view of the need to standardise and clarify the aid that is allocated, in order to avoid the misuse of aid granted by the EU.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The financing instrument for development cooperation has a budget of around EUR 17 billion for the period 2007-2013. It aims to eradicate poverty and promote democracy, good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law. This is an extremely important issue, as it relates to the fight against poverty. At the G20 meeting in Cannes, the Heads of State or Government reiterated the crucial role of official development assistance in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. I sincerely hope that this commitment is honoured in practice. Moreover, at an institutional level, this issue is strategically important. A global compromise has been accepted in a spirit of conciliation because it was essential to find a solution quickly. In future, however, it is vital for the colegislators to be placed on an equal footing.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because the remaining duration of the current instruments is rather short and we therefore need to reach a compromise to ensure the efficiency of external assistance. It is very important to also take into account Parliament’s role in adopting strategic decisions in future. All legislators must be on an equal footing. Moreover, in the future negotiations on the post-2013 external financing instruments, delegated acts should be used when adopting decisions on the financing and programming of those instruments.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I agree with the report on financing for development cooperation because, under the circumstances we find ourselves in, cooperation needs to be given the utmost support available. Cooperation has always been one of the cornerstones of the EU’s work, yet we must learn from the past in order to avoid repeating the mistakes that were made. As I said, we need to make sure that the aid is not scattered around indiscriminately but targeted to where it is actually needed. Parliament had more ambitious goals in mind, but accepts this compromise in order to gain equality with the colegislators so that our work may be faster and more fruitful, and to ensure that the perennial goal of development continues to be among the prerogatives of our governments and unions.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under the same circumstances as the previous process, A7-0404/2011, Parliament negotiated to obtain great powers of scrutiny. Conciliation resulted in a joint declaration of the European Parliament and the Council on the future use of delegated acts in the area of external relations for future financial instruments, which strengthens Parliament’s negotiating position vis-à-vis the inclusion of delegated acts in the new instruments. This agreement is crucial to the democratic nature of these financing processes.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 established a financing instrument for development cooperation, and has recently been subject to a review procedure. However, given the disagreements that arose between the institutions during the legislative process, a conciliation committee was formed. This made it possible, after eight trialogues, to reach a final agreement, confirmed in writing on 24 and 26 October 2011.

I therefore voted in favour, but would emphasise the need for Parliament to be considered as a colegislator in these decision-making processes.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The European Parliament declares it is ready to accept the compromise package in a spirit of compromise as the remaining duration of the current instruments is rather short. It regrets that it was not possible to further improve the text on the DCI/BAM instrument, in particular, in relation to Parliament’s role in strategic decisions where an equal footing between the colegislators is essential. The Parliament underlines that this result does not set a precedent for the future negotiations on the post-2013 external financing instruments. In line with the criteria defined in Article 290, paragraph 1, the European Parliament will insist on the use of delegated acts wherever strategic political decisions are involved on financing and programming with regard to those instruments. The delegation recommends maintaining the package approach, and that the Parliament approves the joint text at third reading.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 294 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union establishes the way in which the ordinary legislative procedure for the adoption of an act should function, whereby the Commission presents a proposal to Parliament and the Council. The European institutions have been working on the amendments to the regulation in order to clarify the prohibition on using funding to pay taxes, having decided that EU aid cannot be used to pay taxes, duties or other charges by the recipient countries.

I am voting for this report as I believe that it is necessary to standardise and clarify the aid that is allocated, in order to avoid misinterpretations with regard to aid granted by the EU.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I abstained on this report, which redefines the regulation on the use of financing instruments for development cooperation. I am generally opposed to paying out these funds, which are often used as a weapon in our relationships with developing countries and their citizens. Moreover, this report makes little progress with regard to the European Parliament’s role in defining the objectives which will underpin the use of the resources thus mobilised. However, I voted in favour of two other reports, which give a more precise idea of how these funds will be used: the report by Kinga Gál and Barbara Lochbihler, which focuses on promoting democracy and human rights, and the one by my colleague and friend, Helmut Scholz, which deals with cooperation with industrialised countries. With these two reports, the European Parliament has gained a more substantial right of scrutiny. This democratic progress is, in itself, positive. It must be used to refocus these instruments on cooperation that is genuinely based on the values of democracy, solidarity and respect for differences, particularly cultural differences.

 
  
  

Report: Brian Simpson (A7-0212/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report at first reading, after amendments relating to conditions for the delegation of powers to the Commission have been introduced by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing.(IT) This report looks at the Commission’s proposal on the recast of the regulation on statistical returns in respect of the carriage of goods by road. The proposed recast contains a dual goal of the Commission: to codify various acts applicable to road statistics and to set new conditions for the delegation of powers by the legislature to the Commission. In my opinion, the Commission’s request for the delegation of powers set out in the second proposal is too broad, even though it is in line with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. At the same time, I believe that it is necessary to ensure that the application of delegated powers would not cause any additional substantial financial burden on statistical respondents. I therefore agree with the rapporteur that it would be best to limit the scope of the powers delegated to the Commission and to set further conditions on exercising them.