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Procedure : 2011/2194(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Select a document :

Texts tabled :

A7-0048/2012

Debates :

PV 20/04/2012 - 8
CRE 20/04/2012 - 8

Votes :

PV 20/04/2012 - 10.10
CRE 20/04/2012 - 10.10
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2012)0147

Debates
Friday, 20 April 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition

11. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
 

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: László Tőkés (A7-0057/2012)

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR). – Mr President, Europe undoubtedly faces challenges when it comes to education and employment in the future. It is worrying to learn that we are heading for a shortfall in highly-skilled workers needed to fill 35% of all jobs by 2020. It is right that we highlight these issues here. As ever, I support the sharing of ideas on education between Member States and the mobility of students across Europe. The Erasmus programme provides a wonderful opportunity for young people.

Diversification between Member States is important, but institutions can work together to help each other engage with outside bodies such as business. These are the kinds of ideas that help to make students become confident, employable adults. However, this report’s endorsement of the Commission’s proposal for increasing the budget is unnecessary. We do not need to increase the budget to modernise our higher education systems. Education is vitally important. It is an important area and I take a strong interest in it within the European Parliament, but it remains a competence of the Member States and I abstained on this report because of the endorsement that it makes.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the economic crisis, technological development and demographic changes have transformed Europe’s society and labour market in recent years.

In order to meet future skills demands, more people will have to complete higher education and many workers will have to continuously update their skills and knowledge while at work.

This is why I voted for Mr Tőkés’s report, which aims to modernise higher education systems in order to achieve the objectives laid down by the Europe 2020 strategy and promote social, cultural and economic development in the European Union.

 
  
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  Jan Kozłowski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, I endorsed the Tőkés report because I think it raises questions which are very important for the future of higher education in Europe. In view of the growing difficulties being encountered by young people in the labour market and the fact that unemployment is increasingly affecting people with a higher education, I think that instituting reforms intended to adapt education programmes to the expectations of employers and allowing greater flexibility in the area of extending knowledge and skills are essential. Partnership between tertiary education, business and the public sector should become a basic norm. Two other matters which I think are very important are the rapporteur’s emphasis on the significance of education in the area of entrepreneurship and his call for mobility, exchange and research programmes to be opened to students from countries affiliated to the Eastern Partnership.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE).(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the Tőkés report because I understand the importance of modernising Europe’s education systems.

Higher education plays a fundamental role in an individual’s personal growth, social integration and contribution to the economic and cultural influence of the European Union. Europe’s total investment in higher education is still too low. We all know about the current budgetary constraints but this is a key issue. We must use all the tools available to us to provide European universities with the necessary funding.

The Commission has proposed an ambitious education budget for the next period. It will be able to count on Parliament’s full support. Structural Funds can and must also be mobilised for higher education. Between 2007 and 2013, more than EUR 70 billion from these funds will have been allocated to education and training. Lastly, some inexpensive initiatives can have considerable multiplying effects. In my region, a cross-border university research centre has been established, allowing for integrated training between France and Spain. Students therefore have two job markets and all the potential of two cultures available to them.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report that I find comprehensive enough, but I am convinced that much remains to be done in the European Union to support the educational project, which is a vital project for both the economy and social cohesion. I believe, however, that the 2% Member State funding of the university system is not a sufficient guarantee for the educational project to improve in quality, and particularly to adapt to labour market requirements.

As regards this project, I welcome the fact that Erasmus traineeships were considered a useful experience for the European Union and I, too, believe they should carry on. I also believe we should consider the issues regarding the guarantees that must accompany individual educational projects and I think the recommendation addressed to Member States to ensure access to education is a useful one.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I abstained on this report on modernising Europe’s higher education system, which is, of course, vitally important. Whilst I accept that there are many serious challenges facing the higher education system today in Europe, in particular due to the current economic crisis, there were certain aspects of this report which worried me.

With such a high level of youth unemployment across our Union, and with the increased demand for new skills resulting from the rapid technological changes that we have seen over recent years, it is clear – in some ways at least – that modernising the higher education system may help it face these problems. I would therefore support the idea of introducing lifelong learning programmes, for example, and increased European cooperation between educational institutions and businesses.

The fact remains, however, that education provisions should ultimately be a Member State responsibility. I could therefore not fully back this report, in view of its calls for increased public funding from Member States at a time of widespread austerity and cuts.

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt (PPE).(DE) Mr President, the higher education system remains the responsibility of the Member States and in Germany of the federal states, but we need common principles and networks. The Tőkés report addresses important issues, including lifelong learning, studying at university alongside work, cultural diversity, protection for minorities, religious and ethical values and education on European issues. I very much welcome this. The university in your home town of Breslau, Mr President, sets an excellent example in this respect because it provides Polish, German and Silesian literature across national borders in several areas where different languages are spoken. This is the sort of European higher education policy that we want, not the Americanisation of our university system.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, I supported the report by my colleague, Bishop László Tőkés, because, in the future, jobs will require ever higher levels of education. At present, just 26% of the European labour force have high-level qualifications. At the same time, we hear the results of studies that indicate that education will not necessarily guarantee a job today. There are more holders of a Master’s degree than before, and the number of those obtaining a doctorate is at an all-time record.

Employees have to update their skills and knowledge continuously, while they continue to work. This highlights the importance of lifelong learning. Universities and colleges should provide people with the skills and knowledge that they will need in the future labour market. The skills learned should also reflect the realities of the labour market. This means that we need to provide recent graduates with better opportunities for employment in the field for which their qualifications have prepared them.

 
  
  

Report: Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (A7-0083/2012)

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this report on a competitive digital single market. I agree that there are many advantages to a competitive EU digital single market – both for SMEs and for our consumers – and I support the adoption of the European eGovernment Action Plan, the Interoperability Strategy and the Interoperability Framework.

The report notes that uptakes in the areas of eProcurement and eInvoicing have been disappointingly low, and I back the report in its calls for further action to be taken in support of these areas at EU and Member State level. I also support the calls for more to be done to set up a system for the exchange of best practice, as I feel that this is an extremely good way of doing things and a cost-effective way, in particular, of improving performances across the European Union.

 
  
  

Situation in Mali (RC-B7-0201/2012)

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE).(FR) Mr President, I welcome the vote in favour of this resolution on the situation in Mali.

In the face of this security, humanitarian and food crisis, we have a duty to act and ensure that everything is put in place, firstly, to protect the most vulnerable populations – that is, displaced persons, women and children; secondly, to support the regional and international efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union and the UN in order to resolve the conflict; thirdly, to accompany the interim Malian authorities in the coming democratic transition process and thereby defend the sovereignty, integrity and unity of Mali; lastly, to ensure the stability and security of the Sahel region, which has today been weakened by the terrorist threat and the food crisis that weigh heavily on the future of the region.

I would therefore ask the Commission and the Member States to make a commitment to the people of Mali and the various international organisations to let the Sahel region know that the European Union will do all it can to ensure that fundamental rights are respected, including the right to live in a peaceful environment.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this resolution because the military coup has threatened the constitutional order in Mali. This country is among the poorest in the world, but it had managed to maintain itself among African democracies. Due to recent events, it has become one of the most dangerous regions in the world, and the rebellion in the North brought the region to the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe. However, it is encouraging that last week, power was handed over to civilians and the new interim President was invested, but efforts should be intensified in order to avoid an internal conflict with dramatic repercussions on the population. I welcome the Commission’s decision to urgently increase humanitarian aid intended mainly for refugees. I emphasise the need to open humanitarian corridors in order to ensure the supply of food and medicine to the most affected people.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I totally condemn the unilateral declaration of independence made by the Tuareg rebels, who benefited for years from military and financial support from Gaddafi’s Libya, are connected to Islamic militants in Northern Mali and are now taking advantage of the power vacuum left following the military coup that ousted President Touré. These rebels must hand over control of the northern areas to the central political authorities in Mali as has been demanded by the international community, which does not wish to see further bloodshed and chaos in this fragile country.

We must also enforce sanctions against the leaders of the MNLA – such as asset freezes and travel bans – in order to put across to them a strong message from the EU that their behaviour is unacceptable. I believe that the proposals put forward in this motion for a resolution will go some way to supporting Mali’s territorial integrity and to building a democratic Mali with the aid of new free and fair elections. For this reason, I and my ECR Group voted in favour of this resolution.

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt (PPE).(DE) Mr President, the situation in Mali and the current conflict between Sudan and South Sudan make it clear how fragile the national borders in Africa are. This is because they are artificial, colonial boundaries. Nevertheless, I agree that we need territorial integrity, democracy, the rule of law and borders that do not change. However, if we want to achieve all of this, we will have to be creative.

Just as we have developed a Roma policy in Europe at the initiative of Mr Orbán and of Hungary, we also need a Tuareg policy in North Africa for peoples who live a life which involves moving across national borders. We must establish regions and we need cross-border neighbourhood policies which bring peoples from similar cultures together, without calling into question the integrity of the states. There is a great deal for the African Union to do here, with our support.

 
  
  

Situation in Burma (RC-B7-0202/2012)

 
  
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  Bernd Posselt (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I am also of the opinion that we should support the process of democratisation in Burma, by gradually – and I would like to emphasise the word ‘gradually’ – removing sanctions. It is true that there are some sanctions which only affect the civilian population and these must be abolished as quickly as possible. We must also support positive developments. On the other hand, we must acknowledge that sanctions are not a bad thing in and of themselves. Burma would not have reached the position it is in today without certain sanctions and the awarding of the Sakharov Prize by the European Parliament. We need to make one thing absolutely clear. This is not just about the civilian population. There are companies which have been trading in raw materials during the worst period of the dictatorship and this has undermined our policy in Burma. Therefore, we need a balance between the two things: economic common sense and cooperation, on the one hand, and a clear human rights policy, on the other.

 
  
  

Legal security of European investments outside the European Union (RC-B7-0214/2012)

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I believe this is one of the most important resolutions adopted today because it concerns a practice which is becoming increasingly common, namely, that of the expropriation of shares or property owned by European Union companies in other third countries. Argentina’s intention to expropriate a European company is not likely to remain an isolated case, but to spread. Unfortunately, certain governments believe the answer to the crisis lies in the nationalisation or expropriation of property, which is fundamentally wrong and questions the capacity of the World Trade Organisation to act as a market regulator and guarantor of good economic practices. For these reasons, I voted in favour of this resolution.

 
  
  

Report: Filip Kaczmarek (A7-0056/2012)

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this report on the Commission’s devolution of external assistance to its EU delegations in third countries. The report concludes that aid delivery is more efficient under the more devolved system, with both the speed of the delivery and the thoroughness of financial procedures having seen some improvements. It does accept, however, that there is still room for further improvement from the old central system coming straight from Brussels.

I welcome the fact that the report notes that the European External Action Service itself has not yet provided the value added that was initially promised in terms of EU development assistance, in particular, the coordination between the CFSP foreign policy dimension and the development policies and priorities, and I note the fact that the mandate of the External Action Service remains unclear. I back calls for the Commission to continue all efforts to increase the transparency and accountability of the External Action Service, which should remain budget-neutral and subject to constant audit and scrutiny by this Parliament in the hope that this, in turn, will lead to it being more effective and better value for money for the Member States.

 
  
  

Report: Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (A7-0049/2012)

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, I voted in favour of what is, in principle, a very important report. For climate change is not just something that affects our environment and well-being: it has an especially acute impact on women in developing countries. In all areas of life, women make a considerable number of family consumption choices, everywhere in the world. There is discrimination against women in environmental, economic and family policy. That is surely why the position and role of women must be changed: they need to have far more influence.

It is encouraging that research suggests that women are interested in making sustainable consumption decisions. This, however, is not enough. Women also need to make themselves heard in society when measures aimed at combating climate change are being decided. All the Member States of the European Union must do much more to support the realisation of this goal, particularly in developing countries.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted in favour of this report because it meets the objective of including gender issues in all EU policies. Studies show that women are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially in case of migrations caused by droughts and water shortages. They would amount to as much as 75% of the total number of environmental refugees, but women should not be perceived only as victims, but rather as potential contributors to the prevention of global warming through a more responsible behaviour and their central role in water management. This latter aspect was recognised by the UN within the International Decade for Action ‘Water for life’ which runs until 2015. I encourage closer cooperation with the UN in order to promote women’s participation in environmental protection programmes.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I abstained from voting on this report, which I find interesting, only due to the fact that it manages to draw up an inventory of all issues related to climate change and its impact on women’s life. In reality, however, this report is nothing more than an ordinary account of issues and comes up with no solution for tackling this challenge. I agree that women are recipients of disaster-associated risks and water management issues, and I also agree that the impact on migration and health is stronger in their case, but I would have expected an answer to these challenges in a coherent policy. Unfortunately, there is no such answer and probably the report did nothing more than check off an issue of utmost importance, which, in my opinion, was approached in an absolutely formal manner.

 
  
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  Philip Claeys (NI). (NL) Mr President, when I started reading the report on women and climate change, I thought it was a piece of satire, a caricature intended to ridicule the Utopian atmosphere of political correctness that prevails in this Parliament, but it appears to be deadly serious.

One of the first recitals immediately sets the tone and in it, it is written in black and white that – I quote – ‘as women consume more sustainably than men and show greater willingness to act to preserve the environment’. Where did you actually get that one from? Has any research been carried out into this? Since we appear to actually have the time to occupy ourselves with such matters, I would, in any case, propose that we follow up this report with one on men and climate change, on gays and climate change, on redheads and left-handers and climate change, and why not, even on stamp collectors and climate change. My apologies to any demographic groups and subgroups that I have not been able to mention here.

 
  
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  Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE). (FI) Mr President, on the global scale, women are on lower income levels, in vulnerable positions and at risk of exclusion more often than is the case with men. Consequently, the threats of climate change and the harm that it causes affect them more readily in their everyday lives and in the way in which they organise their lives.

On the other hand, women also play a crucial role in building sustainable consumption habits and lifestyles, in sustainable community planning, and in the fight against climate change. That is why, as it says in this report, it is especially important that women can be more deeply involved in policy making and, furthermore, in making choices with regard to climate policy. I am also pleased that it has become very much the will of Parliament to strengthen the position of women in climate policy.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Mr President, I wanted to say that as a doctor, I would like to see a deeper study of the impact of climate change on human health, that of both men and women, perhaps on malnutrition and the incidence of infectious diseases in order to ensure prevention, access to health services, medicines and health care, particularly in areas at risk of natural disasters. It is true that women are somehow vicariously more affected, for example, when it comes to climate change in rural communities, where, in some regions, 70% of women work in agriculture and produce 90% of cereals. However, truth be told, on the commissioning of such studies, in which we then add articles about the right to abortion and controversial issues with which I disagree, I wish to state that I could not support this report because other things have been incorporated into it.

 
  
  

Report: Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (A7-0101/2012)

 
  
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  George Lyon (ALDE). – Mr President, I am delighted to have supported my colleague, Mr Gebrandy’s report on an EU biodiversity strategy for 2020. It is a balanced report and recognises that farmers and land managers have a key role to play in halting biodiversity loss across the EU.

I also welcome the call for agricultural payments to be targeted at rewarding farmers for delivering public goods. The report also backs the greening of direct payments by targeting 30% of the payments at developing more sustainable agriculture, which I think is vital for future food production. However, the Commission’s current greening measures need to be widened to better reflect the different circumstances in the Member States. One size does not fit all.

Finally, I am pleased that Parliament voted to reject the call for a European soil directive. This to me is a matter best dealt with by Member States and not at European Union level.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because it is necessary to enhance at once the efforts to protect biodiversity. Hence, a quarter of existing species might disappear within the next 30 years. I support Article 44 on further involvement by local actors. I also emphasise the importance of regional configurations for ensuring a coordinated approach. I should mention that the EU strategy for the Danube region includes in its scope of action the preservation of biodiversity, under the priority axis regarding environmental protection. I wish to point out the issue of illegal fishing and poaching. For example, over one hundred persons involved in such activities have been apprehended in the four months since the establishment of the coastguard service in Dobrogea. Therefore, I am in favour of the proposal contained in Article 86 for the establishment of a European coastguard service.

 
  
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  Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE). (FI) Mr President, the alarmingly fast disappearance of the biodiversity safety net, which is gathering pace all the time, requires us to take drastic action, and time is running out.

Parliament’s position is not nearly ambitious enough in this respect, but I am pleased with the form it has adopted since the votes. Nevertheless, I regret that the position calling for protection of the soil did not become the view of the majority.

In the same connection, I deeply regret the fact that I had to vote against the majority position in my group with regard to these matters, but I believe that the loss of biodiversity is such a serious threat to the whole of human existence that, personally, I could not have done otherwise.

 
  
  

Report: Jo Leinen (A7-0048/2012)

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because more consideration should be given to environmental and climate-related issues in the debate on the quality of life. A high level of protection is not only beneficial for the environment, but also from an economic perspective. In this context, I emphasise the importance of integrating environmental objectives into all other EU policies, with no exception. Although the 6th Environment Action Programme has consolidated legislation, its results are not entirely satisfactory. I wish to point out that environmental acquis implementation is still insufficient. The 7th Environment Action Programme should include specific objectives enabling the transition to a sustainable future. At the same time, it should provide a comprehensive and coherent framework with a view to overcoming constant challenges and embracing a more ambitious vision.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE).(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, a former President of my country once said, ‘The house is on fire and we are looking the other way’. Indeed, the economic crisis has tended to overshadow the ecological and environmental crisis that we are experiencing, the long-term consequences of which are extremely serious.

With this 7th EU Environment Action Programme, Parliament is therefore today urging the Commission to focus on applying and strengthening existing measures, and to take the environment into account in all sectoral policies so that the European Union continues to act as a driving force in the fight against climate change on an international scale.

There are tools available to turn our economy into a more sustainable growth model. The EUR 370 billion proposed in the budget for the next cohesion policy will only represent real added value if these funds are used to finance future projects that respect the environment.

The Commission is proposing that the most developed regions devote 20% of their European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) budget to moving towards a low-carbon economy and the less developed regions only 5%. I question this gap. Is 5% really enough? I think, rather, that all the regions should recognise the usefulness of the European environment strategy and make efforts to apply it and respect its objectives.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Francesca Balzani (A7-0097/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because the funding for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project does not jeopardise the other research programmes originally proposed by the Commission and the Council. However, it does emphasise the importance of the role of Parliament in ensuring that the funding given to ITER is not to the detriment of other policies that are needed in order to meet the Europe 2020 strategy objectives.

 
  
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  Marta Andreasen (EFD), in writing. – I am in favour of fusion energy; however, having the EU involved is not the way to achieve it. I voted against the Balzani report on the Draft amending budget no 1 of 2012 because it contributes to the continuation of wasting large amounts of money for a huge, controversial project with a slipping deadline and escalating costs that may never achieve its aim. The ITER agreement was signed in 2006 for a total of EUR 10 billion. It is now already going to cost EUR 15 billion and this figure will probably increase. There is little accountability to taxpayers.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the Draft amending budget 2012 which is aimed at allocating EUR 650 million in commitment appropriations to the European Joint Undertaking for ITER. This project, which was first implemented in 1988, is aimed at proving that fusion energy in the EU could become a very useful source of energy, the use of which would ensure security of energy supply and energy diversification in the long term. The European Union, Japan, the United States, the People’s Republic of China, South Korea and the Russian Federation are participating in this international project. With the change in prices, the EU’s contributions also increased and, in December 2011, the European Parliament and the Council therefore adopted an agreement to allocate an additional EUR 1.3 billion to the ITER project in 2012-2013.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. (FR) I support the decision to allocate additional funding to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. The compromise that has been reached is a good compromise, which does not hamper other areas of growth in the EU. ITER is a project that must be pursued, for it is a tool for the future that will be a source of innovation and employment. In the future, it will contribute to restoring growth that is both strong and sustainable in Europe. This extension is an investment. In these times of public spending cuts, this funding has been the subject of an important in-depth debate in order to limit the resources used as much as possible and ensure that they are used efficiently.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this amending budget, which will allow the development of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project to continue under good conditions. The Europe of tomorrow must be built on major projects. It is essential for the European Union to assume ownership of these projects and this will come about through budgetary adjustments to allow them to come to fruition.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This Draft amending budget aims to incorporate in the 2012 budget the amount of EUR 650 million in commitment appropriations for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. These are fully in line with the agreement reached between Parliament and the Council in December 2011 in order to accommodate the additional EUR 1.3 billion that the ITER project will cost in 2012-2013.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The report in question, presented by my colleague, Ms Balzani, concerns Draft amending budget no 1/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012, Section III Commission, on the financing of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) programme. ITER is the only scientific programme in the world on fusion energy, otherwise known as ‘star power’, with the involvement of the world’s leading experts on nuclear energy, and which may prove to be an energy solution in the future. It began in 1985 with a commitment to future energy between the Presidents of the US and the Soviet Union, Reagan and Gorbachev. The EU has been one of the main driving forces behind the programme from its outset. During the debate on the EU budget for 2012, the issue of underfunding was addressed, given the importance of the programme in question, and the Commission guaranteed that this matter would be resolved. I therefore welcome this report, which consolidates the Council’s position on this Draft amending budget, and I welcome the agreement that has been reached between the three European institutions, which has provided a solution to this problem. It is, however, necessary to ensure that it is funded in the future.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This amending budget follows the amendments to the interinstitutional agreement of 16 May 2006, in particular, the multiannual financial framework, to which a sum of EUR 1.3 billion was added for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. This follows the agreement between the three institutions on the financing of the additional EUR 1.3 billion that the ITER project will cost in 2012-2013 in commitment appropriations. Of this amount, EUR 100 million would have already been included in 2012 budget headings; EUR 360 million will be made available during 2013; and the ceilings for commitment appropriations under the heading ‘Competitiveness for Growth and Employment’ for 2012 and 2013 will be increased by EUR 840 million. The 2013 ceiling for payment appropriations will see an increase of EUR 580 million. We would like to reaffirm that, despite the controversy surrounding this project, we believe it is important that research in the field of energy be able to continue, so as to minimise and overcome the risks and limitations of the forms of energy currently available by taking account of the range of possible options and focusing on renewable energy sources. Having said that, we are not overlooking some of the legitimate and serious concerns about the overall costs of the ITER project.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 1 December 2011, an agreement was reached in trialogue on the financing of the EUR 1.3 billion additional cost of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project in 2012-2013. These additional costs would be financed as follows: EUR 100 million already included in the 2012 budget on the ITER budget lines, with EUR 360 million in commitment appropriations will be made available in the 2013 budget procedure within the multiannual financial framework (MFF) commitment appropriations ceilings, making full use of the provisions laid down in the Financial Regulation. The ceilings for commitment appropriations will be increased by EUR 650 million in 2012 and EUR 190 million in 2013; the 2013 ceiling for total payment appropriations will be increased by EUR 580 million. Political agreement in this form was subsequently adopted by the European Parliament and the Council in December 2011, in accordance with their respective internal procedures.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) While highlighting the need for better cost planning of major projects in the future, the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council clarifies the financing of the ITER project for the coming years under the multiannual financial framework. It solves the difficulties which the project has posed until now, with extra appropriations in addition to those originally earmarked being required. For these reasons, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) As an ecologist, I can only vote against an additional budget of EUR 650 million for ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) for 2012 alone. This project, which is very centralised and focused on production, is a real financial abyss while the budget situation in Europe is serious. This increase is taking money away from other much more useful energy sectors such as renewable energy. In the light of the environmental and economic challenges that we must face up to, we must urgently put a stop to ITER financing.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) The Draft amending budget no 1/2012 was put to the vote in the European Parliament on 18 April during the April plenary session. I supported the report by Ms Balzani in plenary. This report, which relates to the financing of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) programme (http://www.iter.org), will provide financing for the additional cost of this project, amounting to EUR 1.3 billion for the 2012-2013 period. The Commission adopted this draft amending budget in January 2012. The Council took its position in March and made no changes to the Commission’s proposal. The Balzani report was adopted with no amendments in the Committee on Budgets on 29 March. I recommend that we follow the position of the rapporteur and the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) by voting in favour of this draft amending budget.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this Draft amending budget no 1/2012, which follows the agreement reached between the three institutions on the financing of the EUR 1.3 billion (in commitment appropriations) additional cost of the ITER project in 2012-2013.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this proposal for an amending budget. The proposal tabled by the Commission is aimed at obtaining the necessary funds for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, without which it will be necessary to ask the Member States for more contributions. This means that there is no amendment to the budget. As such, an extra EUR 1.3 billion will need to be made available to ITER in 2012 and 2013. The ITER project is a long-term investment in energy security in Europe and the rest of the world. This is a very important project that requires strong investment. That is why there is a need for this budget appropriation.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) Fusion energy has the potential to provide a sustainable, long-term solution to the energy dependence of the European Union and the world. ITER demonstrates and perfects the key technologies that are required for the development of fusion as a safe and environmentally sound energy source, since it does not generate greenhouse gases or long-lived radioactive waste. We are all aware that its construction is an extraordinary challenge, both from a financial and a technical standpoint. The budget has been under constant pressure in the past years, which is why we need reliable funds until the end of the programme. It is of exceptional importance that a solution has been found to the EUR 1.3 billion additional cost for 2012-2013, enabling us to maintain our leading role in research and development. I believe that ITER will bring the promised revolutionary breakthrough capable of providing a radical solution to our energy problems in the long term. For that reason, I voted in favour of increasing the budget.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – ITER is an international nuclear fusion research and engineering project which aims to make the long-awaited transition from experimental studies of plasma physics to full-scale electricity-producing fusion power plants. Thermonuclear reactors are safer than nuclear reactors in terms of radioactivity. The extra financial needs for ITER in 2012 and 2013 which will be made available in due time by using unused margins without jeopardising other research programs is the most important point. The EP must remain vigilant as to the sources of funding within the budget procedure 2013 to ensure that ITER is not financed to the detriment of other polices necessary to achieve the EU 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The ITER project, an international research reactor in the southern French town of Cadarache with a budget of billions of euro, receives 45% of its funding from the European Union. A total of EUR 1.3 billion is to be released to fund the additional costs of the ITER project in 2012 and 2013. Financing nuclear research on this scale in the light of the high level of risk involved in nuclear power is preposterous. In addition, many famous scientists have strongly opposed the ITER nuclear fusion reactor and believe that the experimental project is unaffordable and not capable of functioning. The construction costs of the project, which have risen from EUR 5 billion to EUR 15 billion, have ultimately put numerous other important research projects at risk. For the reasons I have just set out, I have voted against this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on the Council position on Draft amending budget no 1/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012, as the Council position follows the agreement reached between the three institutions – the Commission, Council and Parliament – to fund the additional cost of EUR 1.3 billion in commitment appropriations for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project Fusion for Energy (F4E) in 2012-2013. ITER is an international research project that is unique in that it has broken with tradition by bringing together multicultural, geographically dispersed teams in order to coordinate a technically challenging nuclear fusion project for energy.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Against. This Draft amending budget (DAB) no 1 for the year 2012 concerns the financing of ITER, and incorporates into the 2012 budget the amount of EUR 650 million in commitment appropriations onto budget item 08 20 02 Euratom – European Joint Undertaking for ITER – Fusion for Energy (F4E), in accordance with the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council in December 2011. It is thus a purely technical translation of this agreement. As we have consistently opposed ITER and especially the increased funding, we reject DAB 1 as well.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE), in writing. (IT) The ITER project has a particular importance within the programme for a greener, more sustainable Europe, a key objective of the Europe 2020 strategy.

I fully agree with the content of Ms Balzani’s report and believe that the project to build a power plant in the south of France will help produce clean energy on a large scale, without releasing harmful and polluting emissions into the environment.

The additional financing for 2012-2013 confirms Parliament’s desire to support a project that is very ambitious, much discussed, but also extremely important when it comes to striving for excellence in a sector in which the EU can take a leading role.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Draft amending budget no 1/2012 follows the agreement reached between the three institutions on the financing of the EUR 1.3 billion additional cost of the ITER project in 2012-2013. I think that this additional financing, specifically the amount of EUR 650 million in commitment appropriations for the ITER project, is appropriate. In recent years, ITER has been developed into a detailed engineering plan ready for construction, for which models or prototypes of the major technological components have been built by industry, and fully tested. Based on this experience, industry has evaluated the construction costs in a comprehensive way. The project needs these additional funds so that Europe can become a world leader in the construction of demonstration fusion reactors.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR), in writing. – I voted in favour of this draft amending budget proposal. The proposal put forward by the Commission manages to raise part of the funds necessary this year for the ITER project without the need to ask Member States for further contributions, meaning that this proposal is budget-neutral. I support the breakdown of the extra EUR 1.3 billion needed for ITER in 2012 and 2013 put forward. ITER is a long-term investment in not just European but global energy security and brings on board China and India as participants in trying to develop the long-term hope of controlled thermonuclear fusion using seawater-based deuterium as an energy source. It is the same process as the sun and is 100% clean, but requires huge investment by the EU. We all hope and pray for a breakthrough in this key area of research. R&D spending is one area of EU spending which brings clear value added by pan-European cooperation and funding.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012 was adopted on 1 December 2011, and it is now necessary to make financial adjustments in order to maximise the activity of the EU bodies in certain specific areas of activity. This is happening with this motion for a resolution, which is aimed at injecting a further EUR 650 million into the 2012 budget, in order to fund the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project Fusion for Energy (F4E). I am voting for this report, which seeks to enhance the overall value of the ITER project to the tune of EUR 1.3 billion, giving it greater financial sustainability in order to invest in the area of energy production.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the European Parliament Resolution on the Council position on Draft amending budget no 1/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012, which provides for the incorporation in the 2012 budget of the amount of EUR 650 million in commitment appropriations into Article 08 20 02 Euratom – European Joint Undertaking for ITER – Fusion for Energy, because I believe it is important to ensure the necessary resources for the financing of one of the most important and promising projects of the European Union. At the same time, this budgetary adjustment is fully in line with the agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council in December 2011 in order to accommodate the EUR 1.3 billion additional cost of the ITER project in 2012-2013. Under this agreement, the ceiling of heading 1a of the multiannual financial framework is increased by EUR 840 million, of which EUR 650 million is forthcoming in 2012 and EUR 190 million in 2013. I think the achievement of the ITER project objectives can ensure safe and clean energy for citizens in the future.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This amending budget follows the amendments to the interinstitutional agreement of 16 May 2006, in particular, the multiannual financial framework, to which a sum of EUR 1.3 billion was added for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project. An important point worth highlighting from the agreement between the three institutions is that the ITER project will cost an additional EUR 1.3 billion in 2012-2013 in commitment appropriations. Of this amount, EUR 360 million will be made available during 2013, and the ceilings for commitment appropriations under the heading ‘Competitiveness for Growth and Employment’ for 2012 and 2013 will be increased by EUR 840 million. We also believe it is important that research in the field of energy be able to continue, so as to minimise and overcome the risks and limitations of the forms of energy currently available. However, the overall costs of the ITER project are causing us some concerns.

 
  
  

Report: Lázló Tökés (A7-0057/2012)

 
  
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  Damien Abad (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the own-initiative report by Mr Tőkés on modernising higher education systems. While highly skilled workers will be needed in 35% of all jobs by 2020, currently only 26% of the workforce has high-level qualifications. In the face of this challenge, Member States must widen access to higher education, adjust their curricula to meet market needs and strengthen partnerships between universities and businesses. However, I want to mention that promoting university education must go hand in hand with promoting vocational training.

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, as I believe that it is essential to have an initiative that proposes both a quality framework for higher education and the rapid harmonisation of qualification systems at European level, in order to achieve a real European higher education and research area, and to promote conditions for future generations to be able to integrate professionally not only into national labour markets, but also into the European labour market. In view of the situation of economic crisis, which is responsible for the unprecedented high levels of unemployment among young people in Europe, the proposal by the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament to support the creation of mechanisms for entry into higher education for citizens with secondary education who did not continue their studies is to be welcomed, as is the proposal to create a quality framework for traineeships and to use structural funds in order to help students to enter the labour market. In short, the modernisation of higher education should give people of all ages and from all social strata the opportunity to attend higher education, so that this focus on knowledge can be put to the service of the challenges that Europe is facing in the 21st century.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Education and, in particular, higher education, is responsible for shaping the attitudes and values that underlie society, encouraging individual autonomy and creativity and promoting knowledge. Greater coordination among Member States in the field of higher education is a prerequisite for achieving the goals of employability and economic growth in Europe. I believe that Member States should make every effort to ensure that higher education is widely accessible and give priority to the quality of research and citizens’ training, promoting, at the same time, mutual recognition of degrees and qualifications across all Member States in order to respond to the challenges of the communication society in which we live.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The Europe 2020 strategy states that, by 2020, 40% of 30-34 year-olds in Europe should complete higher education or equivalent studies. It is expected that by 2020, highly skilled workers will be needed in 35% of all jobs, but currently only 26% of the workforce has appropriate qualifications. The Member States therefore face a major task reforming and modernising national education systems and adapting them to the needs of the labour market. At a time that is difficult economically and financially for all Member States, it is important to maintain sufficient financing for education and ensure that higher education is accessible to all. Given the ever-increasing mobility of EU citizens and its importance, it is essential to ensure mutual recognition of degrees and qualifications across all Member States.

 
  
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  Ivo Belet (PPE), in writing. – (NL) A modern and effective higher education system is crucial for the future of Europe. By 2020, at least one in three jobs in the EU will require a higher education degree. On average, only one in four young people today graduate from a college or university. We therefore need to make huge efforts to catch up.

At the same time, we have to focus more strongly on cross-border studies: our new ambition is that, by 2020, 20% of all students will complete a part of their studies or training abroad. This represents a two-fold increase on the current figures. So, there is work to be done.

Finally, allow me to add this: despite the criticism of the new ranking model for higher education, I do believe that we at least need to give this U-Multirank system a chance, if only because it is based on the needs of the student and not on the prestige of the educational institution.

In any case, this is a fresh approach. Education is about a lot more than just available budgets for R&D and the number of publications you publish in reputable journals. We support the Commission in this project and look forward, with interest, to the end-result which we need to have ready by the summer.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the situation with regard to youth employment today is very poor in most European Union Member States, including Lithuania, and the situation will only get worse. Unemployment is affecting all groups of young people, regardless of their education and training. However, the risk of not finding a job is greater for young people with poor qualifications or without work experience. Moreover, many young people run the risk of becoming long-term unemployed. We therefore not only have to discuss what measures we will take in the future, but have to decide what to do now with young people who are currently unemployed and who are already threatened by long-term unemployment. It is very important to ensure that future generations of young people entering the labour market have high levels of education and training, which match current and future needs. This means cutting the number of school drop-outs and more young people completing vocational training. Barriers between the education system and the labour market should also be dismantled and the partnership between businesses and the education sector should be deepened. In the current crisis, when budgets are being cut, young people need effective and targeted investment, not fine words and promises. We have to invest in people, i.e. in education, vocational training, lifelong learning and jobs because only then will we be able to give young people opportunities to find a job that matches their education and qualifications.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Universities are, in essence, genuinely European institutions, as they were founded on the ‘old’ continent due to a fortunate symbiosis of tradition and innovation. Since the foundation of the first universities through to the present day, this establishment has evolved from a reserved and elitist institutional entity to a genuine centre of research and innovation, open to knowledge restructuring for the benefit of society. In the European system, universities are truly res publica, their ultimate purposes being linked to the collective interest of society as a whole. Currently, the supranational dimension of universities is becoming increasingly dominant, a trend undoubtedly due to the Sorbonne-Bologna Process, which started in 1998 in Paris, following the famous Sorbonne declaration. I would like to remind you that only 200 of Europe’s 4 000 higher education institutions rank among the top 500 in the world, and of these, few are located in Central and Eastern Europe. I believe it is necessary to improve the entire higher education system if we wish to maintain and even enhance Europe’s global competitiveness.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The dynamics of Europe’s labour market mean the demand for highly skilled workers is continually on the increase. If we do not take action on the supply side, by adapting the number of skilled workers to demand, this will lead not just to an inevitable slowdown of economic growth, but also to a wider pay gap between skilled and less skilled workers, and higher unemployment among the latter, who are already suffering the effects of strong competition from large incoming migration flows. In addition to the aforesaid economic reasons, strengthening higher education systems will have clear, positive effects on society. It is therefore in everyone’s interest to have a modern, effective education system, accessible to all, and which does not discriminate on the basis of social background. I therefore decided to vote in favour of the own-initiative report on modernising higher education systems which sets out, among other things, a series of suggestions seeking to reward excellence in teaching; to increase collaboration between education institutions and employers in order to improve the employability of students; to improve mobility by increasing funds for the Erasmus programme and to extend this programme to cover Master’s degrees; and lastly, to provide universal access to education through student loans guaranteed by the European Investment Bank.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – In particular, I would like to support the passages in this report regarding the Youth Guarantee scheme and the call for Member States to incorporate such schemes into their own employment and educational strategies. This scheme is particularly welcome in the context of our current economic challenges, and represents a novel way to tackle youth unemployment. I fully support this initiative and will be working towards its adoption at national level.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) Since the creation of a European Higher Education Area is a significant development that could contribute to European integration, I believe the European Union has an important role to play in strengthening this area while drawing on the efforts and cooperation of the Member States in this regard.

 
  
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  Michel Dantin (PPE), in writing. (FR) Allowing young people in the EU to train anywhere in Europe and therefore follow an individual pathway is essential for future generations. An effective education system in Europe today is, above all, a guarantee that our continent will remain a land of creativity and progress tomorrow.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. (FR) In order to create growth for the future, we must rethink higher education so that it can face up to the global crisis and international competition. I voted in favour of this text, which contributes to the discussion on this modernisation. It proposes concrete measures to make European higher education a world leader: more graduates, high-quality teaching, better governance, better links with research and employment. It stresses, in particular, the key role of lifelong learning, which should be adapted to students from a wide range of backgrounds.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The modernisation of European education has been under discussion for at least the entire period of this parliament. I am concerned, however, that fundamental errors will be made which will reduce our higher education to the level of merely obtaining degrees. The rapporteur on higher education talks about highly qualified education, a term involving two completely different concepts which do not necessarily have a direct correlation. The growing number of graduates in the European population is an ever-increasing problem, with more than one third of people holding a university degree. At the same time, we have an ever-worsening shortage of traditional apprentices. It is essential for us to understand that having a large number of graduates for whom there is no work will not get Europe out of the crisis. I am in favour of closer links between secondary-level vocational schools and the business sector. On the one hand, we want to make it possible for all young people to study at university, but, on the other hand, we are then unable to offer them any suitable employment. The jobs on offer on the market are usually in the skilled trades category. We must therefore give some thought as to whether we are not doing something wrong here, and as to whether we are leading young people into a vicious circle of unemployment. We should instead be offering and encouraging both the traditional and the new skilled trades which our economy needs. Despite my reservations, the report is beneficial for this issue, and I will therefore vote for its adoption.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the context of a post-crisis Europe that is recovering and growing, higher education and training are of crucial importance. It is essential to give young Europeans the tools necessary for them to be able to compete in a globalised world and for them to be able to enter the labour market using their knowledge and skills. We cannot forget that youth unemployment figures are overwhelming throughout Europe. However, we should be aware that more training often does not correspond to more opportunities in the labour market. Cases of young graduates, with additional training and postgraduate training, but without a job and without prospects of finding one, are increasing in the EU. Training must be geared towards the needs of the market and must prepare young workers. In my view, this paradigm shift and the modernisation of the systems in order to bring them closer to the labour market will be vital in stopping the growth of unemployment among young people, and in ensuring that they have a future with more opportunities.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The future of a country rests with its young people. The more competent and better prepared the younger generations are, the better their future will be. The report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems, drafted by Mr Tőkés, is of great importance not only for countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain, but also for the rest of the Member States. For the former, it is important because it represents an opportunity to continue with democratic reforms, combat the crises of the past and move towards the modernisation of their education systems. For the latter, it is important because it provides support for overcoming the current crisis by boosting economic growth and promoting skilled employment among young people. The Bologna Process, which is divided into two cycles, has certainly entailed an increase in costs, and not everyone succeeds in completing their courses. Moreover, unfortunately, the economic and financial crisis has forced education budgets to be cut, particularly in Member States that are under a financial assistance programme. It is therefore vital to work with our social partners in order to ensure that those who are disadvantaged have access to learning. That is the only way in which we will be able to contribute to achieving the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As many warned, the Bologna Process and the so-called harmonisation of the higher education system have served the purpose of attacking the right to education and the social function of the Member States in this area, despite this being enshrined in the constitution of the Portuguese Republic. The consequences of this are visible in numerous countries today, including Portugal, which is seeing a dramatic rise in the cost of attending higher education, in particular – but not only – in what is now designated the ‘second cycle’ (postgraduate study). Higher education is clearly becoming the domain of the elite. There is now a distinction between those who are able and those who are unable to progress to higher education, but also between those who are able and those who are unable to attend the ‘second cycle’, which entails huge tuition fees. Numerous reports in the media have revealed that every day, thousands of students are abandoning higher education because they cannot afford it, and numbers are on the rise. The prime objective of the Bologna Process was simply to merchandise higher education. That is essentially why many called for its ‘modernisation’. The same goes for this report.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Although Europe has around 19 million students and more than 4 000 higher education institutions, currently, only 26% of the workforce has high-level qualifications. Responsibility for higher education rests mainly with Member States and higher education institutions themselves. Currently, they face several challenges. These include, for example, the issue of the number of graduates, widening access to higher education and adjusting curricula to meet labour market needs. This is also one of the options available to enable graduates to gain employment in a field for which their degree has prepared them. Monitoring graduates’ employment outcomes and improving the quality and availability of internationally comparative data on graduates may help higher education institutions to better fulfil their function. In the context of the current economic crisis, it is equally important that institutions of higher education continue to be well funded. It is good news that access to higher education for people from all social backgrounds is being improved. In connection with this fact, however, schools have to deal with rising numbers of students and a changing student base. They often also have to adapt their teaching methods to students with different needs. Taking into account the often difficult circumstances, I firmly believe that in trying to modernise higher education, it is necessary for Member States to take steps to stop it from falling behind higher education elsewhere in the world.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing. (IT) I fully supported this report, including in my capacity as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Culture and Education. It aims not only at widening access to higher education and raising the number of graduates, but, above all, at adjusting curricula to meet labour market needs and strengthening links between universities, businesses and research. We need to train highly specialised workers to fill 35% of all jobs by 2020; we need to improve our higher education systems since it is worrying that only 200 of our 4 000 European institutions rank among the top 500 in the world; however, above all, we must provide young Europeans with a future. I voted in favour for the above reasons.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. (HU) I believe the report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems should be strongly supported since it deals with one of the most pressing issues for Europe in troubled times, namely, the problems affecting higher education systems, which is also closely related to the issue of youth unemployment, and thereby to one of the greatest challenges that Europe faces. The report is good because it rightly recognises that modernising higher education is a vital need under the changed circumstances of today. The report also rightly indicates that it is not just the educational methods, learning structures and training itself that are of key importance and in need of reform, but also the financial support of the system as a whole. The latter is an issue that cannot be treated separately and which fundamentally influences the quality of European education and training, and thereby supply on the European labour market. If we look at the issue of European higher education in the context of Europe 2020, then the view needs to prevail that we must create a system that does not place even greater burdens on those wishing to participate in higher education, but, at the same time, uses its resources rationally in response to real needs. Universities need even more financial support from the European Union in order to standardise their requirements, with attention to the appropriate mobility of students and the mutual recognition of degrees.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) In an increasingly competitive and economically interconnected world, having an excellent basic education is a decisive starting point for every young person entering the world of work.

Often, however, young Europeans start from a disadvantage compared with their peers in the rest of the world: recent research found that only 200 European universities rank among the top 500 of the world.

Giving European students the best possible preparation for their entry into the world of work is the challenge that we must meet with determination and without wasting time, by increasing funding for student mobility programmes (such as, for example, the Erasmus programme, which has proved to be one of the most popular instruments with young Europeans) and providing loans to students so that they can study for a Master’s degree abroad. This will raise the quality of the training of European students and, at the same time, it will strengthen the EU’s competitiveness.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) Following the call by the European Parliament for the increased use of the Bologna Process to standardise degree courses (bachelor’s and master’s degrees), this report looks at another challenge facing colleges and universities. It is necessary for our education system to focus more closely on the labour market and the economy. Courses must take greater consideration of research and technological developments in many areas, so that universities and the labour market can be brought closer together and the move into working life can be made easier for graduates.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In the section entitled ‘Funding higher education systems’, this report stresses that higher education is a public good that fosters culture, diversity, democratic values and personal development. This lies at the heart of the Scottish Government’s policy of providing higher education without fees in line with Scotland’s democratic intellectual tradition.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the Tőkés report in plenary. This report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems reminds us that it is crucial that higher education institutions remain well-funded in spite of the economic crisis. Furthermore, the report stresses the need to support the Erasmus programme and remain vigilant with regard to the quality of higher education at European level.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) Although the Member States are responsible for coordinating tertiary education, the European Union should be very much involved in supporting it. Young people are the capital of the future, and money spent on their education acts as a subsidy for the European economy. As well as giving financial support to universities and directly to students, the Union should be making efforts to increase the numbers of people studying mathematics, science and technology subjects. With the greatest respect for the humanities, it has to be said that engineers are the engine of the economy. Meanwhile, many students currently choose subjects of study which, after graduation, give them little chance of a good job. As a result, there are increasing numbers of unemployed graduates in the market. Therefore, we need to ensure that as many young people as possible choose subjects of study which will be right for the European economy and which, for the young people themselves, will be a source of satisfaction.

 
  
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  Filip Kaczmarek (PPE), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems. I did so for several reasons. Firstly, modernisation of higher education systems is a very important matter. Secondly, the report is balanced, comprehensive and well founded. Thirdly, I am a lecturer at the Poznań School of Humanities and Journalism, which means I am very familiar with the realities, challenges and needs of higher education in Europe. Formal limitations on the length of my statement prevent me from listing all the strong points of the report. I will mention only a few.

I agree with the proposition that ‘the quality and relevance of higher education are a core condition for taking advantage of Europe’s intellectual capital’. This is precisely why it is necessary to take a series of steps which will allow us to use the potential of our universities. The Member States as well as the European Union should support these measures. The call for institutions of higher education to adapt to new challenges is important. They can do this by creating new fields of study that reflect the needs of the labour market. They should also take into account the development of science and technology by maintaining an appropriate balance between theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Another important task is raising the quality of education and promoting the mutual recognition of qualifications. I support the plea contained in the report which urges ‘all EU countries to implement the national qualification frameworks linked to the European Higher Education Area Qualifications Framework and to develop, and provide financial support for, mutual recognition’.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE), in writing. (SK) In 2020, 35% of all jobs in the EU will require high-level qualifications. The EU higher education system will have to meet this challenge and customise courses and working methods to the requirements of the labour market and the increasingly more diversified student population. Parliament has expressed its regret at the significant cutbacks to education budgets in several Member States and has reminded them of the target of investing 2% of GDP in education. Parliament calls on Member States and regional and local authorities to ensure adequate funding of higher education institutions. According to Parliament, investment in university infrastructure might be cofinanced from the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. I fully agree with this view.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Education is a fundamental component that must be optimised and made increasingly efficient as the driving force behind the economy and the future growth prospects of the EU. Investing in education, and, as proposed by the report, the modernisation of higher education systems, means investing in our future by improving the skills of Europeans who must face new employment challenges. Given the target laid down by the Europe 2020 strategy which states that, by 2020, at least 40% of 30-34 year-olds in Europe should complete higher education, and given the estimate that 35% of all jobs in the EU will require such qualifications, I think that education and related investments will represent a significant part of the EU general budget for 2013 and the multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing.(FR) I supported the report by Mr Tőkés on modernising Europe’s higher education systems. With this text, Parliament has shown its determination that higher education institutions remain well-funded in spite of budgetary constraints. Europe must therefore use all of the budgetary instruments available to ensure sufficient financial resources for European universities. However, above all, we must work in the most concerted way possible in Europe to further open up our universities and our higher education systems to the professional world, in order to provide European institutions with high-quality, excellent training, equip them to face up to the challenges of global competition among universities and allow students to find their place in the labour market. I am also pleased with Parliament’s will to continue and broaden the success of the Erasmus programme, as demonstrated in the proposal to introduce an Erasmus Master’s Degree Mobility Scheme.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. – (RO) Universities have a vital role to play in the knowledge triangle represented by education, research and innovation, and should be perceived as key elements for sustainable socio-economic development in Europe. The existing university system is far from being optimal, but the European Commission could encourage universities’ high potential by objective assessments and country-specific recommendations. I would like to highlight the necessary measures aimed at students and workers in the field of knowledge and research. In their case, the following will be necessary in the future: - a European framework for careers in the field of research which should facilitate the mobility of researchers; - extending the activities of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology; - intensifying Marie Curie initiatives; - improving the image of technical education. In this respect, social partners at national and regional level can play an important role, given that interaction between higher education and enterprises might provide: - substantial contributions to research; - knowledge transfer; - the development of skills and ideas.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report. In the present, difficult circumstances, our main goal in trying to modernise our higher education systems must be to stop them falling behind higher education elsewhere in the world. It is a sobering fact that only 200 of our 4 000 higher education institutions rank among the top 500 of the world, and of these, few are from Central-Eastern Europe. European higher education must do better. More generally, improvements throughout higher education are necessary if we are to maintain, and perhaps even raise, Europe’s global competitiveness.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Given the current challenges that European societies face, it is crucial that higher education institutions remain well-funded, even at a time of economic crisis.

Indeed, they must be capable of providing people with the skills and knowledge needed for tomorrow’s labour markets. We consider it essential to ensure that the skills taught are truly relevant to the realities of the labour market and enable graduates to gain employment in a field for which their degree has prepared them.

Only careful monitoring of graduates’ employment outcomes and improving the quality and availability of internationally comparative data on graduates, as proposed by the Commission, will help higher education institutions better to fulfil their function and adapt curricula to labour market needs.

Furthermore, we believe it vital for small and medium-sized enterprises to be more involved with higher education institutions by means of a systematic dialogue, in order to improve curricula and their content. For students, quality traineeships can be a way to gain entrance to the labour market and see how they can best apply their skills and knowledge in practice.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Europe has around 19 million students and more than 4 000 higher education institutions but, while highly skilled workers will be needed in 35% of all jobs by 2020, only 26% of the workforce currently has high-level qualifications. Responsibility for higher education rests mainly with the Member States and the higher education institutions themselves. EU actions – such as the Erasmus student grant to study abroad – complement and coordinate the Member States’ efforts. The European Higher Education Area and the European Research Area make up the framework for an EU higher education policy. Given the challenges that European societies face, it is crucial that higher education institutions remain well-funded, even while societies have to deal with the current economic crisis. In order to meet future skills demands, more people will have to complete higher education, and workers will have to continuously update their skills and knowledge while at work.

 
  
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  Marek Henryk Migalski (ECR), in writing.(PL) I support efforts to increase innovation in universities and for greater mobility for young people, and I think that a strength of the Tőkés report is that it refers to the autonomy of universities and that it lends its support to the Erasmus programme and to the need for home universities to recognise qualifications acquired while studying at other universities. I think another great strength of the report is its call for collaboration with the countries which are covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy.

The report also contains worrying features, and among these I do not support the proposal to introduce uniform criteria for the creation of pan-European rankings of higher education institutions or the intention to introduce, within the study cycle, a compulsory training period at a university in a Member State other than the one to which the student is affiliated. A decision like this should be completely voluntary, not imposed on students from above. For these reasons, I decided to abstain.

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – (PT) I voted for the Tőkés report on education, which argues that increased spending on modernising education systems is key to social change. During an economic crisis, new measures for modernising Europe’s education systems need to be demanded, since that is a sign of courage. It is an investment in human capital in the EU Member States. Regions like Galicia, whose young people are migrating in search of education and work outside our borders, need an education system that equips them with critical analysis tools and knowledge suited to a context of global change. Meanwhile, the Spanish Government is cutting public investment and increasing university fees by as much as 65%, meaning it has the lowest level of public investment in Europe; this example runs counter to what this report advocates.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The modernisation of European higher education systems must encourage people from different age groups and from all social strata to avail themselves of the opportunity to further their education and knowledge in order to enable the EU to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It would also be useful to explain where and when funds will be granted. Anyone can make promises. In general, I am in favour.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which highlights the importance of greater cooperation between Member States and institutions in the implementation of common core curricula. The report actually encourages them to strengthen their exchanges so as to adapt their curricula to a growing number of students from a wide range of backgrounds. It also calls for the links between higher education institutions to be strengthened so as to allow students to gain initial work experience, on the one hand, and have a choice of teaching that better responds to the specific needs of the labour market, on the other. By voting for this report, I am therefore encouraging the modernisation of our higher education systems to better face up to competition and increase Europe’s competitiveness.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) The European Parliament often deals with issues related to higher education, and rightly so, because it is one of the most important areas of human activity in the modern world. While taking care that higher education institutions provide Europeans with high-quality qualifications which are sought after in the labour market, we must not forget the critical and civil function of universities.

This resolution is distinguished from many previous documents on higher education by the fact that it draws attention to the problem of the persistent disparities between the systems of higher education in Western Europe and Central and Eastern Europe. It gives me great satisfaction to welcome this part of the resolution. It is an extremely important aspect of the higher education system in today’s Europe. I fully support the resolution’s call to the European Commission to develop a strategy and draw up a professional financial action plan for reducing these disparities. I welcome the attention given to this matter, and this led me to endorse the resolution.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I concur with the issues identified in the report on the modernising of Europe’s higher education systems and the challenges in the area of higher education in Europe. The foremost objective of institutions offering higher education is to prepare people to compete in the labour market. In order to fulfil this objective successfully, efforts must be made in three directions. Firstly, the real needs of the labour market, and the expectations it has of graduates of higher education institutions, must be regularly mapped to ensure that Europe’s higher education system does not ‘produce’ people whose education and skills do not match existing jobs. Along similar lines, institutions offering higher education should also monitor their graduates’ subsequent progress and career path. Based on the needs of the labour market and the career paths of present graduates, improvements can be made to existing curricula. Secondly, higher education institutions must be ready today to accept an altogether different group of people from those they accepted a few decades ago – the specialisations taught today and the instruction itself must be suitable for people with very different backgrounds with respect to age, gender, ethnicity, mother tongue, disability, prior work experience, etc. In addition, the nature of traditional professions and people’s attitudes have changed, and I therefore think that the third priority in the modernisation of higher education systems should be to make vocational guidance more effective. In addition to presenting different career paths, such guidance should encourage people to choose careers that are untypical for their gender (for instance, encouraging men to apply for work at institutions offering secondary education or encouraging women to seek careers in more technical fields).

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe a policy of improving European higher education and bringing EU higher education institutions in line with the world’s best is a policy of economic growth. The percentage of highly-qualified workers currently falls short of the targets set for 2020, so all efforts in this regard are essential. It is crucial that higher education institutions remain well-funded, even with the current economic crisis. Quality of education is a key aspect of extending access to higher education, making the rapporteur’s intention of including this factor in university rankings pertinent.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Young European graduates are among those most affected by unemployment and a particularly inflexible labour market. Hence, the importance of higher education that is better adapted to developments in the labour market and the needs of employers. This is also the message being sent this afternoon by Parliament which, having adopted the Tőkés report by a very large majority, has highlighted the need for Member States to modernise their higher education systems. Only 200 of the 4 000 higher education institutions in Europe rank among the top 500 in the world. It is therefore now more crucial than ever to create the positive conditions required to unearth the talents of the future and stop the ‘brain drain’ if the European Union wants to remain globally competitive and successfully deal with the reality of the situation: 35% of all jobs in Europe will require highly skilled workers by 2020. Other initiatives in favour of young people in the EU should be put into practice with the target of investing 2% of each Member State’s GDP in education. I am referring, in particular, to real access to higher education for all social groups, facilitating loan systems for students and better recognition of qualifications obtained abroad.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Today in Strasbourg, the plenary of Parliament welcomed Mr Tőkés’s report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems.

The topic is important given that, while highly skilled workers will be needed in 35% of all jobs in Europe by 2020, currently, only 26% of the workforce has high-level qualifications.

The challenges that higher education institutions must overcome, such as ensuring that the skills taught are truly relevant to the realities of the labour market, and becoming engaged with external partners (such as regional and local councils, communities and businesses, including small and medium-sized enterprises) in order to promote social, cultural and economic development in their regions, must therefore be supported by the EU with sufficient funding, even while societies have to deal with the current economic crisis.

We therefore need to improve the entire higher education sector if Europe wants to continue to be competitive, in cultural and productive terms, at global level.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on modernising our higher education. Indeed, I support the broad outlines of this text, which stresses the need to encourage student mobility and allow access to education for people from all social backgrounds as well as the importance of intensifying the interactions between the three sides of the knowledge triangle – education, research and innovation – as a key element for growth and job creation. In view of the coming budgetary constraints, the unemployment rates we are experiencing and the current demographic changes, higher education will have to undergo a huge transformation to meet the European target of around 35% of highly skilled workers for all jobs by 2020. This transformation will obviously impact on the question of practices, but also on questions regarding organisation, the development of ‘alternance’ (work-associated training), and resources. On this last point, however, I believe we should exercise caution when the report tackles the issue of the budget allocated to lifelong learning and training: I would like to remind you that these budgets must remain in line with the constraints currently being imposed on Member States’ public finances.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The report is well balanced, especially with regard to the combination ‘business’ and ‘higher level of education’, prudent about the wording of ‘knowledge alliances’ and ‘sector skills alliances’, specifying that the role of higher education institutions is to develop curricula to address skills shortages, incite business and entrepreneurs to develop partnerships by providing high-quality internships. It is interesting that there is insistence on a better governance system, including all stakeholders in universities and being transparent as to the different cooperation systems, ensuring independence of action and mission. Some recommendations are made in order to ensure a better gender balance, with flexible time arrangements. The target should be broader than just making people immediately ‘employable’ and the report reminds us that universities have a duty to provide general tuition with a humanistic dimension open to all at all times of life (insisting particularly on vocational training like ‘Leonardo da Vinci’, which is about to disappear in the Commission’s proposal for the new education programme ‘Erasmus for all’) and adding up a special Euro-Mediterranean dimension for mobility.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) I support the text insofar as it aims to modernise education systems in Europe and adapt them to labour market needs.

It is important, at EU level, to coordinate the best education policies, adjust curricula and establish a qualifications scoreboard that has the same value across the EU.

Responsibility for higher education rests with the national States and institutions themselves, but the EU intervenes in this area, using instruments aimed at coordinating education policies and complementing the educational pathways of young Europeans, such as the Erasmus student grant. These choices are essential given the possibility for qualified people to practise their profession in all European countries.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE), in writing. (IT) Education is a fundamental aspect that must be taken into account in the process of growth, development and prosperity for the Europe of the future.

I voted for Mr Tőkés’s report since I fully agree with the practical measures set out in this text that aim to modernise higher education systems in Europe.

Highly skilled workers will be needed in 35% of all jobs by 2020. Actions such as widening access to higher education, the Erasmus Master’s Degree Mobility Scheme and loans for students who want to study for a Master’s degree abroad will help the national governments in this delicate process in the interest of future generations.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE), in writing. (DE) University education lies at the heart of the European Union’s growth strategy, which is based on the ability to innovate.

For this reason, it will be crucial over the next few years to ensure that graduates can enter the labour market quickly and make use in a practical setting of the knowledge that they have acquired at university. At the same time, the universities must make their structures more open, in order to create a more accessible higher education system in Europe. In this context, the apprenticeship model plays an important role. Ultimately, all educational establishments must make an equal contribution to allowing people in Europe to obtain educational qualifications.

 
  
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  Marco Scurria (PPE), in writing. (IT) The economic crisis – and its consequences in terms of the imposition of austerity measures and budget cutbacks – demographic changes, rapid technological change and the resulting demand for new skills pose serious challenges to, and call for far-reaching reforms in, Europe’s higher education systems, which must not have a detrimental effect on the quality of education. In a knowledge-based society, the future hinges on education, research and innovation. This report marks a step towards implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy, which states that, by 2020, at least 40% of 30-34 year-olds in Europe should complete higher education or equivalent studies, given the estimate that 35% of all jobs in the EU will require such qualifications.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems. I would like to draw attention to the need to improve the correlation between education and the needs of the labour market in accordance with the objectives set in the Europe 2020 strategy, amongst other things, by creating new fields of study which reflect the needs of the labour market, by increasing the range of educational and occupational advice being offered and by promoting internships and traineeships.

In order to increase women’s employability in technical and scientific positions, non-traditional jobs and the low-carbon and high-tech sectors of the economy, it is necessary to create new opportunities for women to train in the fields of science, mathematics and technology. I support increasing the proportion of women on decision-making boards relating to research, in order to encourage greater numbers of women to work in higher education.

Only 30% of the people working in research in Europe are women. Even more worrying is the proportion of women holding positions on decision-making boards related to research. The overall average for the Union is 27%. In Poland, only 7% of the people holding positions on decision-making boards in research are women, which puts the country in second-to-last place out of the EU’s 27 Member States. Women pursuing an academic career still also have to face the glass ceiling. The proportion of women who obtain a professorship amounts to 15%. I appeal to the Commission and the Member States to set up programmes which support young female scientists in relation to participation in research programmes and the submission of grant applications, in order to help them to stay in academia.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) There are around 19 million students and over 4 000 higher education institutions in Europe. According to the Europe 2020 strategy, at least 40% of people aged between 30 and 34 in Europe should have a degree or an equivalent qualification by 2020. Given the challenges that European societies face, it is crucial that higher education institutions remain well-funded, even at a time when societies are having to deal with the current economic crisis. This vote serves to stress the need for the modernisation of higher education systems. The institutions of the future should increasingly provide people with the skills and knowledge needed for tomorrow’s labour markets. Given the persistence of inequalities between Western and Central-Eastern European higher education institutions, it is also very important to bring about a real integration of the latter institutions so as to facilitate their development and help them to modernise.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Only 75 of the top 200 universities in the world are in the EU and only 26% of its workforce has higher-level qualifications. I am voting for this report because I believe there is a need to reinforce higher education institutions’ role as a key carrier of countries’ development. The entities of the Portuguese National Scientific and Technological System (SCTN) should increasingly invest in developing activities of scientific excellence, foster entrepreneurship, adapt academic education to the labour market, and boost programmes enabling increased international mobility whilst studying or working. I also believe it is urgent to set out a European system for mutual recognition of the qualifications acquired. Finally, I believe young people should have equal opportunities to access high-quality education and training; it is crucial that the Member States consider education the main investment in their nations’ future. As such, I argue that higher education spending relating to investment in university infrastructure and in people should be included in the EU budget for the period 2014-2020, in order to hit the target of investing 3% of GDP.

 
  
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  Róża Gräfin von Thun und Hohenstein (PPE), in writing. – ‘Education, education, and education’. This was the answer Tony Blair famously gave when asked what his areas of priority were. At a time when public purse strings are being increasingly tightened, many higher education institutions across Europe are feeling the pinch. Education – and higher education in particular – is a crucial long-term investment if Europe is to reach the targets set by the 2020 strategy in the area of smart growth. Cuts in education should be avoided, where possible, as they will ultimately set us back further. The target of spending 2% of GDP on education should be maintained by all Member States. Taking into account the prevailing economic conditions, the loans facility proposed in the Erasmus for All programme for masters students wishing to study in another EU country is particularly welcome. Not only will this provide much needed financial support to students; it will also promote mobility, which is a key component in achieving a true European Area of Higher Education. I fully endorse Mr Tőkés’s report and call on the Member States to implement its recommendations.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on modernising Europe’s higher education systems because this modernisation should enable university graduates to find a job matching their studies. Nowadays, 21% of young people in the EU are unemployed and most university graduates face difficulties in finding employment. I believe Member States should invest at least 6% of GDP in education. We call for the EU budget for 2014-2020 under the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund to include spending on higher education related to investments in university infrastructure and academic staff. I do not approve of paragraph 5, which requires Member States to support higher education institutions serving traditional national, ethnic or linguistic minorities. I believe university autonomy is a fundamental concept that any democratic country respects, and a guarantee for preserving the cultural and scientific heritage of any country and ensuring conditions for development by stimulating higher education, research and innovation. Member States should make every effort to ensure that higher education is widely accessible, that it adapts to new challenges by creating new fields of study that reflect the needs of the labour market, and that it takes into account the development of science and technology.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The report highlights the importance for EU Member States of increasing the number of graduates. This is not the most important thing for Lithuania because our country has one of the highest university graduation rates in the EU. Lithuania also exceeds the EU average in terms of the number of students per 1 000 inhabitants (Lithuania – 73.21; EU – 52.8). The most important thing should be to improve the quality and the application of what is taught in our universities. I very much agree with the rapporteur that university study programmes should match the real needs of the labour market and enable graduates to find work according to their profession. According to information from a survey conducted by the media in January, 32% of Lithuanian employers feel that people who have completed higher education lack the necessary skills for work. The funding of high-quality education is a problem in Lithuania. Although almost 10% of EU Structural Fund money provided for Lithuania is allocated to higher education, research and innovation, funding per student in Lithuania is among the lowest in the EU – funding per student in Lithuania is approximately half the EU average. Education reform is essential and it is also important for both students and academics to be actively involved in the process.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – Europe’s higher education sector is fundamental to the social, economic and cultural well-being of Member States. However, more must be done to ensure that universities have the funding and the opportunities to realise their full potential. The modernisation of higher education institutions, as outlined in this report, is essential in the current economic climate in order to ensure that students are fully equipped to deal with the changing labour market and are able to find employment after graduating. I fully support the measures proposed in this report as I believe that a coordinated EU-wide approach will create a successful education environment that is attractive to European students and staff and also to those from other parts of the world.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The report on modernising higher education systems was adopted this morning, without surprise and, moreover, without debate. There was just a brief presentation by the rapporteur. This report contains some positive proposals, such as the need for public investment in higher education. The EU’s response does not, however, meet the needs of those who want to undertake studies, have access to continuing training or be mobile, and who are facing ever more insurmountable difficulties. Adapting curricula solely to the needs of the labour market, strengthening cooperation with the ‘business world’, and researching ‘innovative alternative funding mechanisms’ (which are often private). This report goes as far as to welcome the Commission’s initiative to establish a European-level loan guarantee facility for Masters students within the new ‘Erasmus for All’ programme. Replacing bursaries with student loans, leaving financial institutions free to define the conditions for granting these loans, can only compromise not just the right to free movement but, above all, equal access to education for all.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The economic crisis is damaging Europe’s higher education systems. Some countries are not financially supporting their universities as they should if they want to compete with the more advanced Member States. The report provides alarming data, such as that more than 21% of young people in the EU are unemployed. The rapporteur urges Member States to develop and fund new modern courses which provide students with professional skills useful for directly integrating into the future labour market. However, it underlines the importance of academic spirit, which should never be subordinated to the market. Therefore, this report can be positively assessed.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report evaluates the process of harmonising the EU higher education system. It even recommends deepening this process, particularly by standardising educational content ‘to meet the needs of the labour market’. It advocates enhancing the European Higher Education Area and the Bologna Process, using the justification that they facilitate student mobility between the EU’s higher education institutions. What, however, happened when the Bologna Process was applied in Portugal? What happened was nothing short of making higher education the domain of the elite; distinguishing between those able or unable to access higher education, but also between those able or unable to attend the ‘second cycle’, which entails huge tuition fees. There are countless cases and reports in Portugal today of students dropping out of higher education because they cannot afford it. For these students, expressions like ‘the modernisation of higher education’ are only rhetorical concepts, with no practical application. We will continue fighting for high-quality, state-run education that is free for all. We therefore voted against this report.

 
  
  

Report: Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (A7-0083/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because I believe that Europeans and businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), still frequently hit insurmountable obstacles when their activities take them across borders within the EU. They should particularly benefit from eGovernment, since it reduces administration costs and bureaucracy; increases productivity, efficiency and competitiveness; makes politics more transparent, open and effective; and makes procedures more accessible and rational. eGovernment should also facilitate the creation of synergies and the sharing of resources and capacities between companies, thereby enabling a more cooperation-focused professional environment for SMEs. National and European authorities also need to promote innovative use of public information for academic purposes, including by students, and by the general public, as well as for research and development in businesses, thereby also increasing transparency.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The information and communication technologies sector is directly responsible for 5% of the EU’s GDP, with a market value of EUR 660 billion annually, while, at the same time, making a major contribution to the overall productivity growth. Therefore, the entire European potential for developing ICT services in public and private sectors should be fully exploited with a view to improving the services provided by local and regional authorities in areas such as health, education, public procurement, and social security and services. However, I believe that promoting eGovernment must also be accompanied by a reform of the administration and its relations with the user, especially by supporting users in carrying out electronic administrative procedures. At the same time, the EU and the Member States will have to take all necessary measures to include in the digital society all manner of members of the general public, including disadvantaged persons, according to the EU 2020 strategy and Article 9 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. The creation of a digital single market is one of the most important objectives of the EU 2020 strategy. A competitive digital single market would facilitate the elimination of all remaining barriers to cross-border e-services, would contribute to employment and sustainable economic growth, particularly in the area of SMEs, and would facilitate the modernisation of public administration and reduce the cost of providing public services. The Information and communication technologies (ICT) sector is directly responsible for around 5% of European GDP, with a value of EUR 660 billion annually, but this sector’s potential has not been fully realised. Citizens still rarely use cross-border e-commerce because they do not feel safe due to the legislation in force in different countries, particularly in cases of compensation. There are also many administrative barriers to business, creating additional costs, such as different treatment and requirements for eInvoices in different Member States and difficulties due to differences in the regulation of signatures. I welcome the European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015 presented by the Commission, whose successful implementation in the Member States would help modernise and reduce the costs of European and national public administrations. Therefore, the Commission must closely monitor the implementation of this plan in the Member States, undertake an annual assessment of the goals of the Digital Agenda, and report to Parliament on a yearly basis.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because a competitive digital single market that would eliminate all barriers for cross-border e-services and be free of distortions of competition would benefit European Union citizens. eGovernment is about using the tools and systems made possible by information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide better public services to citizens and businesses. The ICT sector makes a major contribution to maintaining the balance between the EU’s industrial policy, innovation, growth, competitiveness and trade. ICT’s contribution to overall productivity growth is huge. ICT can make a significant contribution to the EU 2020 strategy, particularly with regard to employment, sustainable economic and productivity growth, citizen empowerment, R&D, energy, innovation and the environment, and to tackling major societal challenges. Cloud computing is an economic and ecological tool that improves the IT performance of public and private concerns, cuts processing costs and limits storage costs. However, there are no uniform rules on electronic invoicing and, for the most part, its benefits remain untapped. A competitive digital single market therefore needs to ensure the successful deployment of ultrafast broadband and telecommunications networks across all EU regions and eliminate disparities between levels of infrastructure development in and between Member States, in order to ensure the demographic sustainability of sparsely populated regions.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The public sector and its relations with society have generated numerous analyses and discussions in recent years. The increased demand for public services, the budgetary restrictions, the personnel costs and the new facilities offered by information technology have all been challenges that have led to the creation of new concepts: ‘online government’, ‘eGovernment’, ‘e-administration’. The key element of the ‘eGovernment’ concept lies in improving the relationship and streamlining the information exchange between the public sector, on the one hand, and citizens and the business environment, on the other. eGovernment means providing public services to citizens and businesses electronically, which is a cheaper and more efficient alternative that would allow the government to get closer to the citizens and adapt its services to their needs. I believe eGovernment is one of the important expressions of the information society because it involves state institutions, public and private organisations and especially citizens, who become e-citizens, involved directly, practically and constructively in all areas of political, social, cultural, civic and moral life.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I believe that an effective eGovernment system must provide two-way and automated interaction between both administrations and citizens, and businesses as well, requiring mutual recognition and interoperability of e-identification, e-authentication, e-signatures and Private Key Infrastructure.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the report on a competitive digital single market – eGovernment as a spearhead, because I strongly believe that eGovernment represents an extraordinary tool for European citizens. This is because it provides great opportunities for the modernisation of public administrations by increasing transparency and accountability, reducing the costs of public services, and because it is an important instrument to overcome the digital divide existing among the Member States, in keeping with the goals of the Digital Agenda for Europe. The report highlights the importance of the development of tools – such as eSignature, eProcurement and eInvoicing – as necessary services that not only have the potential to drastically cut administrative costs and burdens for the citizens, but also to act as mechanisms to increase the efficiency and speed of bureaucratic and administrative procedures, which are often too slow and complex. eGovernment truly is a spearhead, not only for a ‘competitive digital single market’, but for the innovation of the European society as a whole.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is increasingly important and unavoidable as far as society is concerned that there be a competitive digital single market. Technological developments, especially in terms of making information, content and knowledge available online, have been extremely swift, and in little more than a decade, the ‘digital’ landscape has changed drastically, with mass access to the Internet and mobile communications. It is therefore important to look to the future and think how these new facilities for the digital age can be put at the service of individuals and businesses, by modernising administrations and bringing them closer to the public.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Smart growth – one of the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy – is founded on what is known as the ‘Digital Agenda’. According to Ms Ţicău’s report on a competitive digital single market with eGovernment as a spearhead, implementing an interoperability strategy will not only improve communications among Member States, but it will also drive a fundamental reduction in the cost of relaunching economies. Public administration plays an important role as an engine for achieving the goals of this digital modernisation process. However, there are some problems requiring urgent resolution, such as the lack of fast and ultrafast broadband throughout the EU. This is a sector with great potential, representing around 5% of GDP, which should be freed of all obstacles. I voted for this report and I hope that the measures advocated therein – such as eInvoicing, eSignature, mutual recognition, eProcurement and infrastructure renewal – will be rapidly implemented, so as to make life easier for companies, and to make public services more effective and user-friendly.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report tackles the issue of the digital single market, which is intended to be ‘competitive’, ‘without barriers’ and ‘free of distortions of competition’. It also tackles the issue of implementing public administration online. To begin with, it must be stressed that mixing these two issues in the same report is not opportune; it was surely not done innocently. We believe that scientific and technological advances, such as new online technologies, can open up possibilities for society and civilisation to make progress. Introducing these services in public administrations could help make them more efficient, and improve public and staff convenience and well-being. It could also pave the way for diversifying, improving and expanding public services themselves. However, we cannot forget that the current situation is marked by a variety of attacks on public service and the social functions of the state. In this context, introducing new technologies has, at times, been used as a pretext for cutting costs and functions, without any resulting improvements for the public or public servants; quite the contrary.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) One of the seven flagship initiatives of Europe’s growth strategy is the Digital Agenda for Europe, a strategy for taking advantage of the potential offered by the rapid progress of digital technologies. Member States use different models for eGovernment applications using electronic signatures, and most of the EU countries have adopted e-signatures in their eGovernment applications without taking into account e-signatures created by companies and individuals in other countries. The regulatory, technical and organisational framework is always organised from a strictly national perspective. This means, in practice, that non-nationals must physically register in the country where the application is deployed. Only a few national eGovernment applications are open to them. The main obstacle to the cross-border use of e-signatures lies in the lack of trust in e-signatures originating from another state and in difficulties in validating these signatures. However, I firmly believe that when deciding on the level of security for signatures in eGovernment applications, Member States should also consider cross-border cooperation and, where possible, remove obstacles to cross-border services. I believe that efforts to adopt the best combination of new technologies and open specification and innovative architectures would also clearly be to the benefit of all stakeholders – citizens and businesses – and would enhance their rights.

 
  
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  Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz (PPE), in writing. (HU) Soon, it may be possible to write and send an appeal against a decision while sitting at home on the sofa with a coffee and cake, or to fill out any type of tax return while sunbathing at the seaside. Electronic communication between citizens and public administration, that is, eGovernment services, is gaining ground across Europe. I can proudly report, for example, that the www.magyarorszag.hu portal puts my country well on the way to achieving electronic public administration across the board. However, we must not forget that we can only create digital confidence if we also guarantee personality rights, tackle security risks and invest in human knowledge and the provision of access. To that end, it is vital to provide the framework for the digital operation of enterprises, since running into problems daily can destroy the entrepreneurial spirit. In my view, today, it is the Internet that represents the best opportunity for small enterprises, which is why I wish, by voting in favour, to create the right conditions for our enterprises in what they do best: business. Of course, there is still a long way to go to achieve our common goal. A great deal more work is still needed for the favourable conditions to be created at a European level that will allow everyone in our joint European family to enjoy the results achieved through cooperation on the part of the Member States.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This report rightly highlights the importance of e-procurement. eProcurement Scotland is recognised as one of the most comprehensive and successful Public Sector eGovernment initiatives in the world. The Scottish Government is committed to retaining that leading role, and I can endorse much of what this report says.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the Ţicău report on implementing the first European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015. Its implementation has allowed the governments of all EU Member States to exchange good practices. The aim is to be able to eventually provide robust cross-border eGovernment services.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. (LV) I supported the proposal for the resolution on a competitive digital single market, as I believe that eGovernment opens up broad possibilities for improving and modernising public services for both businesses and individuals. It would also enable a much more efficient and transparent method for carrying out, for example, public procurement. These days, the electronic environment plays an increasingly more important role in everyday processes. By developing it, we should also be able to improve the labour productivity of individuals and businesses. That is why it is essential that as many people as possible should have access to eGovernment services, and that services such as eSignature and eInvoicing should be developed as rapidly as possible. At the same time, however, we must ensure that people who, for example, have limited access to the Internet or no access at all, are not disadvantaged as a result. I consider that a secure and sustainable system that would promote growth and competitiveness throughout Europe must be developed.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE), in writing. (SK) Considering that the public procurement market represents 16% of the EU’s GDP, and that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent 99% of EU enterprises, special attention has to be given to the cross-border interoperability of e-procurement systems and to the mass adoption of eInvoicing. Although 70% of public authorities have started working with eProcurement, its mere 5% level of take-up does not yet allow for major benefits. Its wider application could produce cost savings of up to 30%. The Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) proposal sets aside almost EUR 9.2 billion to support investment in fast broadband networks and pan-European digital services. I fully support these activities.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Internet offers opportunities that are already being used by many public administrations. The use of the Internet as applied to institutions and administrations gives rise to an ever-evolving democratic situation, which nonetheless requires constant updating. Therefore, eGovernment is a driving force not only for the democracy factor that we are all committed to including in our daily activities, but also for the digital market. Businesses operating in the European market, including those functioning in a cross-border environment, have the need to streamline relations with public bodies in order to speed up their production processes. Improving the relationship that citizens and private companies have with institutions is a process made possible in part by the inherent characteristics of the Internet, which has to be kept continuously updated.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) The contribution of information and communication technologies to the everyday life of our citizens, in social, cultural, as well as economic terms, can bring considerable benefits to the European Union. However, in order to have a competitive digital single market, we must fulfil a series of technical and legal preconditions aimed at consolidating eGovernment services in Europe. It is necessary to promote cross-border interoperability, implement ‘one-stop shop’ approaches and use electronic identification and payment schemes throughout the EU. At the same time, I believe this interoperability must be supported by an effective electronic identity management and by stimulating innovation in the field of eGovernment.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report. In 2010, the EC adopted the EU 2020 strategy with the aim of creating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and of improving economic governance. One of the seven flagship initiatives of Europe’s growth strategy is ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’, a strategy to take advantage of the potential offered by the rapid progress of digital technologies. eGovernment is about using the tools and systems made possible by information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide better public services to citizens and businesses. eGovernment development is considered in most of the Member States as being based, on the one hand, on office automation, the interconnectivity network between public administrations and, on the other hand, on the development of the right digital content and applications.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) In 2010, the Commission adopted the Europe 2020 strategy aiming to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and to improve economic governance. One of the flagship initiatives of the EU’s growth strategy is the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’, a strategy for taking advantage of the potential offered by the rapid progress of digital technologies. eGovernment is about using the tools and systems made possible by information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide citizens and businesses with better public services. In most of the Member States, eGovernment development is considered to be based on office automation and the interconnectivity network between public administrations, on the one hand, and on developing the right digital content and applications, on the other. Applying ICTs to public administration is very important to providing the public with a better service. That is why I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Digital services, such as eGovernment, give great opportunities to improve and modernise public services for citizens and companies and to increase the efficiency and transparency of government activity. Digital technologies have a bright future. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Online services are already available in many Member States in order to make it easier for citizens to interact with the public authorities. In most of the Member States, eGovernment development is considered to be based on office automation and the interconnectivity network between public administrations, on the one hand, and on developing the right digital content and applications, on the other. In order for eGovernment to be successful, the mutual recognition of identifications, authentications, signatures and Private Key Infrastructures is needed. I have abstained from voting because the report does not include any solutions for the cross-border recognition of electronic certificates.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Now that an increasing number of people are using broadband Internet, and e-commerce and other services provided via digital networks are increasing in popularity, government must not be left behind. EU citizens linked to several Member States need the European Commission’s initiative simplifying the use of e-signatures. On the other hand, the Member States themselves must also continue to make significant efforts to ensure that e-services are accessible and effective not just for other countries, but, above all, for their citizens.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) The report ‘A competitive digital single market – eGovernment as a spearhead’ underlines the most important advances in information technology in the European Union, as well as possible future developments. In recent years, we have made noticeable advances in digital development – an increasingly large number of people have access to a high-speed Internet connection, and an increasing number of people use that opportunity every day. In view of this, steps have already been taken to make public services available to citizens. The next objective should be to coordinate the validation of opportunities for identification on the Internet – in other words, private individuals and legal entities are indeed now able to identify themselves and sign documents on the Internet, but other European Union Member States may not recognise this. As a result, the public services now offered on the Internet are still limited. I think that citizens of the European Union should also be able to perform public e-services and conduct official business across borders and, for that reason, I voted in favour of the report in question.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the Europe 2020 strategy was to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, and to improve economic governance. One of the seven flagship initiatives of the EU’s growth strategy is the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’, a strategy for taking advantage of the potential offered by the rapid progress of digital technologies. I voted in favour because I believe the European Union’s project of developing eGovernment will aid efficient development, provided that it is based on cooperation among public administrations and full respect for the underlying principles of the European public services.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I congratulate Ms Ţicău on her work.

With the adoption of this text, in view of the Commission communication ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ and the European Parliament resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce, Parliament is seeking to emphasise the fact that, despite the further progress achieved on the digital level and the further modernisation of the sector, Member States must take into account the basic needs of ordinary citizens, especially the young, the uneducated, the disabled and those without Internet access, in order to ensure that all EU citizens have equal access to good-quality public service.

It is also fundamentally important to promote and make use of the most advanced technologies resulting from research and development, so as to ensure data protection and the security of data against cyber attacks.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. eGovernment was a major component of the eEurope, eEurope+, eEurope2005 Action Plans and of ‘i2010 – A European Information Society for growth and employment’ policy framework. According to the ninth benchmark measurement report, the average availability of online public services in the EU reached 82% in 2010. The best performers are Austria, Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Sweden. The report shows that services for businesses are more advanced than those for citizens. A competitive digital market needs reduced red tape, and public services needed to start up a company available in a streamlined way. 55% of services required to start up a company are provided either through a dedicated portal or automatically in Austria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Sweden and the UK. Only 46% of useful services for the unemployed are currently delivered through a dedicated portal. Concerning the online sophistication of 20 basic services, Malta, Portugal, Sweden, Austria, Slovenia and Estonia are the leaders.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because I believe that a decentralised approach to aid delivery brings decision making closer to delivery realities and to where more operationally efficient donor coordination and harmonisation take place. In addition, I welcome the positive contribution that this devolution has made to aid delivery, since the speed of aid delivery, the thoroughness of financial management procedures and the quality of aid in partner countries have improved.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of this report as it is about using tools and systems made possible by information and communications technologies in order to make services more accessible and useful for citizens and businesses.

The Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2011 shows that 65% of people use the Internet. Of these, 40% use it to purchase goods and services, while 57% use it for online shopping. In the Europe 2020 strategy, eGovernment could be the future and might well be successful in meeting the requirements of posting information online, one- and two-way interaction and full online transactions.

So as to ensure the exchange of information through the web, thereby improving trust between Member States, the European Commission is committed to proposing a revision of the eSignature Directive to ensure cross-border recognition and interoperability. I agree with the proposal for a new mechanism for the construction of a Europe-wide digital infrastructure capable of transmitting data and information through the Internet.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Information and communication have had a direct impact on the political, economic, social, cultural and daily lives of EU citizens. A competitive digital single market that could eliminate all obstacles to cross-border electronic services without distorting competition would bring many benefits to European citizens. To this end, the optimal deployment of ultrafast broadband and telecommunications networks should be guaranteed in all regions of the European Union. Additionally, differences in the levels of infrastructure development between and within Member States need to be eliminated in order to ensure the demographic sustainability of populations in sparsely populated regions. Finally, the development of eGovernment on a European and national level should be based on cooperation between public administrations, with full respect for the fundamental principles of European public services.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Commission set out seven areas for intervention in the Europe 2020 strategy, one of which was the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’, with the goal of delivering ‘sustainable economic and social benefits from a digital single market based on fast and ultrafast Internet and interoperable applications’. Having drafted a number of strategic documents and opinions submitted by the full range of European entities, the European Parliament has decided to issue a statement on the importance of public administrations in implementing and developing the digital single market. I am voting for this report because I think there is a need to set out an eGovernment Action Plan, to encourage eProcurement and to realise the eInvoicing initiative. I also believe there is a need to stress the importance of the telecommunications sector for European Union industrial policy, for the digital single market, and for research and innovation. However, I believe particular attention needs to be paid to the outermost regions: a programme similar to the POSEI agriculture and fisheries programme should be created for the area of transport, energy and telecommunications.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) The report ‘A competitive digital single market – eGovernment as a spearhead’ recognises the major contribution made by the information and communication technologies sector (ICT), to the EU’s industrial policy, competitiveness and its trade balance. eGovernment empowers European citizens and helps reform and modernise public administration. The implementation of eGovernment services is the responsibility of Member States. In addition to the European funding contributing to the EU-wide interoperability of eGovernment services, Member States have to ensure the necessary financial, technical and human resources for the implementation of high impact eGovernment services. Member States are encouraged to adopt the best combination of new technologies and open specification and innovative architectures to deliver efficient, effective, secure and cross-border interoperable eGovernment services, at all levels. The EU and national development of eGovernment services should be based on cooperation between public administrations with full respect for the underlying principles of European public services: respect for subsidiarity and proportionality, user-centricity, respect for privacy and multichannel delivery, inclusion and accessibility, security, multilingualism, administrative simplification, transparency, preservation of information, openness, reusability, technological neutrality and adaptability, effectiveness and efficiency.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I very much welcome this public stance of Parliament in favour of eGovernment. As I stressed in my amendments, eGovernment is key to improving the competitiveness of our SMEs and promote innovation. It may be a great help in reducing public expenditure and achieving fiscal consolidation targets, while at the same time enhancing the quality of services and improving their results.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Only 23% of people in Lithuania use electronic services (eGovernment services), which is considerably lower than the EU average of 41%. The same can be said about Internet use in Lithuania, which amounts to 54%, whereas the average in the EU-27 is 70%. Recently, a lot of money from the EU’s Structural Funds and the country’s budget has been allocated to the development and improvement of e-signatures in Lithuania. As is noted in the report, the promotion of transparent and sustainable eGovernment is an important objective of the European digital agenda. This is a sensitive objective and I believe that Lithuania is interested in the promotion of digital technologies. The modernisation of public administration in Lithuania is essential. However, we should set ourselves clear priorities – it is impossible to successfully establish an eGovernment structure when the real government is not transparent and does not take sustainable decisions. Good management of everyday decisions is one of the conditions of effective e-services. The report rightly notes that e-services for business are more advanced than services for citizens. However, it does not mention the problem of the huge technological divide between urban and rural areas. This should be considered in an effective European digital agenda.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – Within the framework of the EU 2020 strategy for Europe’s growth, the ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ is one of seven flagship initiatives. A very important component of this agenda is to promote smart, secure, sustainable and innovative eGovernment centred on using the tools and systems made possible by information and communication technologies to provide better public services to citizens and businesses. I agree with this aim. eGovernment development is considered in most Member States to be based, on the one hand, on office automation and the interconnectivity network between public administrations and, on the other hand, on the development of the right digital content and applications.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) On the one hand, this report advocates creating a competitive digital single market that is meant to be without barriers or distortions of competition; on the other, it states that its goal is increased implementation of eGovernment, thereby ‘reducing the costs of public services’ in exchange for more ‘efficiency and competitiveness’, specifically for the digital single market, but also ‘saving’ public resources. The issue of the single market, digital or otherwise, retains the same principles, objectives and interests as the single market responsible for dismantling national production, for destroying jobs, for increasing external dependence, and for the trade imbalance that causes continuous deficits and weakens the economies of more vulnerable countries. However, we acknowledge that new technological advances like the Internet are an important instrument and an asset for society. We also recognise the convenience and efficiency that they can introduce when applied to public administration services as a complement to the existence of the normal departments and their staff. Nonetheless, we cannot agree with the use of this tool as a pretext for continuing to pave the way for cutting back on public services, thereby enabling and encouraging privatisation, and brutal attacks on the jobs, rights and wages of government employees.

 
  
  

Situation in Mali RC-B7-0201/2012

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report and would express my deep concern at the intensifying terrorist threat in northern Mali, due to the presence of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb members and other extremists amongst the rebels. As such, I condemn the acts of violence and looting of which, specifically, staff from humanitarian organisations have been victims, as well as the abduction of Algerian diplomatic personnel in Gao. I also particularly condemn the atrocities committed against the civilian population, which were directed more against women than against any other victims, as well as the use of abduction and rape as weapons of war. There is an urgent need to investigate the atrocities in Mali in recent months. The EU and its Member States need to pay particular attention to the situation of women and children in the Sahel region, and to take all the measures necessary to ensure their protection against any form of violence or human rights violation. If the European Union wants to be a global player, it has to defend human rights assertively.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the European Union has a vital interest in the security, stability and development of the whole Sahel region. Terrorism in the Sahel is fought actively by implementing the policies of development, social justice, the rule of law and integration. However, during the night of 21-22 March 2012, the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, was overthrown in a coup, which put an end to a long democratic process, which had begun more than two decades previously. The proliferation of arms emanating from Libya, drug trafficking, high unemployment and poverty are contributing to the destabilisation of the region as a whole. The country is also dealing with renewed fighting in the north between government forces and rebels, which has displaced more than 200 000 people since January. Others have fled to neighbouring countries where the severe drought has already caused significant food shortages in recent years. Even worse, child soldiers are being recruited to fight. The Sahel is thus facing its worst humanitarian crisis in the past 20 years. There are reports of serious violations of the human rights against the population of Mali, especially in rebel-held northern areas. Food shortages are affecting millions of people – approximately 175 000 children are suffering from serious malnutrition. It is necessary to hold out to local population groups economic prospects which provide an alternative to the criminal economy. A framework agreement should be signed that provides for actions to facilitate a return to constitutional order.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution because it censures the military coup in Mali and the country’s suspension of its constitution. The report condemns the violence and atrocities committed in recent years and calls for immediate release of the people currently being arbitrarily detained by the soldiers responsible for the coup.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Unfortunately, recent reports from Africa state that increased instability in some countries has led to coups d’état and the overthrowing of legitimately elected institutions therein. Very recently, Guinea-Bissau – a country sharing a history and language with my own – suffered a similar disruption of constitutional order. I applaud Parliament for its unequivocal condemnation of violence as a way of obtaining political power, I hope that the international community supports the stabilisation of these countries, and I wish to see their institutions reinstated as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The situation in Mali is volatile following the military coup that overthrew the government and was condemned by the Organisation of African Unity. The economic and social crisis and poverty that the country was going through has worsened as a result of this military action. An estimated 250 000 people have been displaced and 140 000 have fled Mali. The humanitarian situation is very complicated and the intervention of non-governmental organisations to provide food and medical aid is urgently required. Having been perceived since it was founded as a staunch defender of human rights as defined by the United Nations, the European Union has adopted a strong leadership role in this process and secured an agreement for a return to order – which is no mean feat – by supporting the appointment of an interim government until elections are held. I voted for this joint motion for a resolution as violence is violence everywhere and we cannot allow human rights to be ignored. I therefore urge the EU to pursue its foreign policy to support the establishment of democratic regimes and call for further humanitarian aid to minimise the Malian people’s suffering.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) When NATO took military action against Libya, we warned that it would have extremely serious consequences for its people, as is apparent today: the situation there is marked by social regression, instability and conflict. However, we also warned that the consequences could potentially affect the whole of North Africa. Weapons and military equipment arrived in northern Mali following the military intervention of France, Great Britain, the United States and NATO in Libya, further igniting the tense internal situation. This coup d’état is compounded by other highly unstable situations in the Sahel region and West Africa, which are rich in natural resources, particularly energy, and are therefore coveted by many. It is important to seek a peaceful, political, negotiated solution to this conflict that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Mali. This resolution leaves the door open for possible European military intervention, under the European Security and Defence Policy. If this materialises, it will only heighten instability and the risk of further conflict, as previous interventions of this type have demonstrated, particularly in Africa.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The situation in northern Mali threatens the stability of the whole of the African sub-region. The Sahel arc is a pivotal area between sub-Saharan Africa and Europe, with major importance for the security of both parties. The European Union has an interest in bringing stability and security to the region and a desire to do so. At present, however, the situation in this area is critical. There are links to traffickers in drugs, arms and even human beings, who are often in captivity with a ransom being required for their release. Terrorist groups exploit the adverse living conditions, social deprivation and uncertain job prospects, recruiting mainly young men into their ranks under the pretext of earning a wage. In order to combat separatist militant groups, terrorism and various forms of human trafficking, cooperation between all countries of the Sahel and Sahara region plays an important role. Efforts to prevent terrorism, human trafficking and human rights violations are also in the direct interest of the European Union and its Member States. I firmly believe that it is necessary to mobilise all available resources in order to protect and promote security and development in this African region.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing. (FR) Parliament has made known its deep concern with regard to the political situation in Mali, shaken by the Tuareg rebellion and the military coup on 21 March. The ECOWAS intervention and the designation of President Compaoré as mediator have allowed constitutional order to be restored in the country, and I am very pleased about that. On 6 April, a framework agreement to emerge from the crisis was signed and allowed ECOWAS to lift its sanctions from 10 April. Investment from Europe, and from France in particular, is strong in this country, with which we have always maintained close relations. Indeed, the European Union is investing EUR 560 million in Mali to accompany its development efforts, EUR 50 million within the framework of the strategy for development and security in the Sahel and EUR 9 million to fund assistance for refugees and displaced persons in northern Mali. However, the situation has not been fully resolved and we must remain vigilant with regard to the risk of the humanitarian and food situation deteriorating, which could lead to a serious crisis in a region that has already been weakened by the threat of terrorism and organised crime.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the European Parliament’s joint resolution on the situation in Mali and I am pleased that it has been adopted by a large majority. While we are condemning the military coup in Mali and the suspension of its republican institutions, we are also expressing deep concern at the increased terrorist threat in the north of Mali and at the violence and looting against humanitarian workers. Furthermore, we are reaffirming the need to uphold and respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali and calling for the immediate release of all abductees.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. – I find the situation in Mali of great concern. The recent wave of arrests of political leaders, as well as the dire humanitarian situation of more than 300 000 refugees and displaced persons, requires strong condemnation. I voted for this resolution, and I join the international condemnation of the military coup and the suspension of the country’s republican institutions. I believe that sending an EU election observation mission to monitor the upcoming elections would constitute a first step towards political stability in the country. I also hope that the EU will remain in close contact with the new interim authorities in Mali in order to define concrete assistance in all the different fields where it is needed.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I supported this resolution on Mali in which Parliament reiterates its serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and food crisis and calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase and speed up the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the populations in need; notes that the Commission is giving an additional EUR 9 million in response to the new humanitarian needs in northern Mali; points out that urgent efforts are needed in order to open up the humanitarian space and allow food and medical supplies to reach northern Mali; is concerned that, unless such measures are taken rapidly, a major humanitarian crisis may develop which could also have a negative impact on neighbouring countries.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU cannot remain indifferent to what happened in Mali, given that violence and taking power by force do not form part of the Union’s DNA. The EU defends democratic processes that do not violate the most basic human rights. Therefore, we must strongly condemn the events in Mali and call on all parties to quickly restore order in the country and democratically re-elect the people’s representatives to the Malian institutions.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the resolution, the European Parliament condemns the military coup in Mali and the suspension of its republican institutions; welcomes the signing of the framework agreement providing for a series of steps aimed at restoring constitutional order; urges all the Malian stakeholders concerned to implement this agreement immediately; commends the action taken by ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and neighbouring countries with a view to facilitating Mali’s rapid return to constitutional order and initiating concrete measures designed to protect its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity; takes note of the outcome of the conference held in Ouagadougou on 14 and 15 April 2012 under the auspices of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré, the mediator appointed by ECOWAS, and hopes that the timetable and detailed arrangements for the transition will swiftly be clarified further. We should do everything we can to stop the conflict. This resolution is the beginning. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The murder of President Amadou Toumani Touré in mid March has brought an end to the slow democratisation process in Mali, probably for a long period. Signs of an escalation include the wave of political arrests and the conflict between government troops and rebels which has flared up once again. In addition, several extremist groups have gained a hold in Mali. Humanitarian aid is important, but I believe that in the current circumstances, it will not reach the civilian population which is in need of it. There is a risk that the aid will be misused by the rebels and others. First of all, we need to coordinate the activities of all the aid organisations more effectively, so that they are not working at cross-purposes. Overall, I believe that this fundamental approach deserves our support. However, the content of the motion for a resolution has not been adequately thought out and, therefore, I have abstained.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I share Parliament’s call for the Commission to step up its action to assist the people of the region by helping to give them better access to water and public education and health services, as well as better infrastructure in order to improve access to the region.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. In our text, we have clearly stated that we wanted the European Parliament to call for an opening of a humanitarian corridor in order to help tens of thousands of people displaced by fighting in Mali, many of whom have sought refuge in neighbouring countries like Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. We also wanted Parliament to call for a comprehensive and rapid response to the Sahel humanitarian crisis as a whole; to call on West African governments to fight against proliferation of arms and drug trafficking by putting balanced and sustainable development at the heart of their development policy, to provide basic public services to the population in general and employment for the youth in particular; and to call on the authorities of Mali, West African governments and the Tuareg National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad to do their utmost for the immediate release of all hostages.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) On the night of 21-22 March 2012, the Comité national pour le redressement et la démocratie (CNRDE) overthrew the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré. This coup, which has been strongly condemned by the international community, threatens the stability of Mali but also that of the whole Sahel region. Through considerable mediation efforts, a framework agreement has been signed between the military junta and ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States). The subregional organisation will, from now on, play a major role in the negotiations. This is proof of the effectiveness of the African Peace Facility, a European fund that finances training for subregional brigades in crisis management. I voted in favour of the joint resolution on the situation in Mali because this is a balanced and fair text. While it clearly exposes the risks to peace and security in the Sahel, it also highlights the effective response by the regional actors. The partnership between the EU and African Union aims to provide Africa with the means to prevent political crises but also, and above all, to do so in an autonomous way.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mali is a country that has managed to practise democracy successfully in recent years. However, the situation has now changed, with the secessionist threat in the North, the coup, kidnappings, fundamentalist groups imposing strict Sharia law and the risk of famine. Each one of these problems is a human drama which is difficult to solve. Each of these problems can have a contagious effect in the region. Mali is a collateral victim of the conflict in Libya. It finds itself in a situation that is larger than itself, the real reasons for which have their roots outside its borders. If one considers the confirmed links that terrorist groups in the Sahel-Sahara region have with criminals trafficking drugs, weapons, cigarettes and human beings, and particularly with the taking of hostages for ransom, and if one takes note of the news informing us of the serious human rights violations perpetrated against the people of Mali, my vote can only be in favour. I welcome the signing of the framework agreement, which provides for a series of steps to restore constitutional order. I am of the opinion that state institutions should be strengthened, that the active participation of citizens in decision-making processes should be promoted, and that the necessary groundwork for sustainable and equitable economic development should be established.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The coup d’état that took place in Mali was loudly condemned by the European Union. On 22 March 2012, military officials announced that they had kidnapped the President, in order for government authorities to support the army by strengthening arms to defend the north of the country against Tuareg occupation. They thus declared the abrogation of the constitution and the dissolution of all state institutions. This event in the West African region is exacerbating existing problems and creating a humanitarian crisis at the borders, due to the increased number of displaced persons and refugees fleeing to neighbouring countries such as Mauritania, Algeria and Burkina Faso. The EU should coordinate its activities with the interim authorities, once an understanding is reached for an interim government to prepare the country for the forthcoming elections. Political declarations must be combined with concrete actions, together with the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, the Economic Community of West African States and the UN. The EU’s role will be essential in initiating a future peace proposal and in restoring stability and the democratic process.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the motion for a resolution on the situation in Mali. I believe that a lasting solution in the region should aim at strengthening state institutions, promoting active participation of citizens in decision making and laying the ground for sustainable and equitable economic development. We emphasise that the current crisis in Mali originates in the country’s economic and social difficulties and we highlight the necessity to urgently meet the population’s needs regarding equal access to employment, health, housing and public services, guaranteeing basic human rights, including minority rights. I express my concern over the deteriorating humanitarian and food crisis and I call on the Commission and the Member States to increase and speed up the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the persons in need. Unless such measures are taken rapidly, a major humanitarian crisis may develop which could also have a negative impact on neighbouring countries. We call on the European Union and its Member States to support efforts to increase the capacities of the states in the region and to mobilise all available resources to protect the people and promote security and development in the region.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – Once again, an African country suffers a coup d’état that hampers its democratic development and its economic progress. I would like to support this resolution calling for a regional solution, but, at the same time, I am not satisfied with paragraph 4. We have had very little time to study the Tuareg revolt and its declaration of independence, and I do not think it is right to deny them the right of self-government and auto-determination. I know that this revolt has been violent and there remain many unanswered questions, but I would like to say that once democracy and the rule of law are re-introduced in Mali, the Tuareg issue should be tackled, if necessary, with a referendum on the independence of northern Mali.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), in writing. – While I voted in support of the overall resolution on the situation in Mali, I voted against the paragraph concerning a possible CSDP mission to provide support to the Malian Army. CSDP creates no additional military capabilities and is part of a political process to establish the EU as a state-like actor on the world stage. The EU therefore seeks to create a narrative of ‘CSDP operations’, most of which are not military at all, or the continuation of French military operations under EU auspices, or a military operation best carried out by another organisation. At a time of cutbacks in defence expenditure and military capabilities in practically all European countries, we do not think it appropriate for the EU to duplicate capabilities which are already well established in NATO and elsewhere.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – This motion for a resolution stresses the importance of finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict between the Malian authorities and the Tuareg liberation movement. Malian citizens have the right to fair access to resources, sustainable and equitable development of their regions and redistribution of wealth. The military forces – in agreement with the government – have to respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali, and fight against jihadist and separatist groups in order to protect the civil population. They must also promote development, social justice, the rule of law and integration, and prevent future drought in this area.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As we warned at the time, the attacks against Libya would have extremely serious consequences, not only for its people – who are facing social regression, instability and conflict – but also for the entire region. Weapons and military equipment arrived in northern Mali following the military intervention of France, Great Britain, the United States and NATO in Libya, further igniting the tense internal situation. This coup d’état is compounded by other highly unstable situations in the Sahel region and West Africa, which are immensely rich in natural resources, particularly energy, thus stirring the interest and neo-colonial intentions of European powers, the United States and NATO. As opposed to contributing towards a peaceful solution, most of Parliament are in favour of interference and support a European military intervention under the European Security and Defence Policy. If this materialises, it will only heighten instability and the risk of further conflict, as previous interventions of this type have demonstrated, particularly in Africa. What is needed is unconditional support for a peaceful political solution to the conflict in Mali, without outside interference, so as to safeguard the sovereignty of Malians and the territorial integrity of the country.

 
  
  

Situation in Burma RC-B7-0202/2012

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I approve, because it draws attention to the fact that serious human rights concerns remain. Hundreds of political prisoners are still in prison and many of those who are no longer detained have only been released conditionally There is a need for caution in addressing the situation of this country. The government is addressing the legacy of decades of civil war and armed unrest, resulting in a series of ceasefire arrangements with the majority of armed ethnic groups, while humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of displaced citizens is blocked and the policy of discrimination against the Rohingya minority continues unabated. In my view, it is important to support the government, which has indicated that it is pursuing a three-step process of peace building: firstly, a ceasefire, secondly, socio-economic, cultural and political processes and, finally, an all-encompassing agreement – involving changes to the constitution. Taking all this into account, it seems particularly important that the EU and international society demand that the government of Burma/Myanmar also initiates legal reforms in order to ensure a truly independent and impartial judiciary, and to establish a process of justice and accountability for past human rights abuses.

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Despite the fact that the situation in Myanmar is still far from what international institutions – the European Union in the first place – expect for the future, the progress achieved by the nation under the leadership of President Thein Sein can be seen by one and all. A political process has begun that has given rise to a series of radical changes: the satisfactory outcome of the by-elections held on 1 April; the release of a significant number of political prisoners; the adoption of a series of legislative and governmental measures aimed at increasing openness, from the initiation of economic reforms to the easing of press and Internet censorship and the promulgation of laws on freedom of association and the freedom to strike; and the initiation of a process of dialogue with the main ethnic groups. While recognising the still undeveloped context in which this process of opening and national reconciliation is taking place, the transition from a military to a civilian government and the democratic opposition’s possibility to be represented are basic aspects. Finally, I would like to emphasise that, in this sense, it was the firm diplomatic actions of Italy, Germany and France that led to the gradual easing of EU sanctions and to a gradual evolution of political and democratic structures in Burma.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because the changes taking place in Burma offer important opportunities for developing a much improved relationship between the European Union and Burma/Myanmar. On 1 April 2012, Burma held by-elections for over 40 seats in its lower house of parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw), and these by-elections, which were broadly deemed to be free and fair by the international community, are an indication that Burma/Myanmar is on the path to democratic change. The invitation and presence of foreign observers and journalists, including a European Parliament representative, at the elections is proof of the willingness of the government of Burma/Myanmar to continue its process of reforms, which should be sustainable and irreversible. During its first year in office, the government of President Thein Sein has made more progress towards democracy than was made in the last few decades. The government is at last taking note of people’s concerns regarding projects that may be environmentally and socially disruptive and has taken steps to expand civil liberties in the country, with greater freedom of information and expression. The changes taking place in Burma are therefore welcomed by the European Union’s Member States. However, there is a gap between the political decisions at the highest level and the limited institutional and technical capacities on the ground. Changes are slow to impact on the lives of the majority of Burmese citizens, who continue to face great poverty, high levels of debt, a lack of employment and an absence of social services.

 
  
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  Emer Costello (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the progress that has been made in Burma over the past year, most notably the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and the free elections that took place on 1 April. Aung San Suu Kyi was bestowed with the Freedom of Dublin City in 2000 by my colleague, the then Lord Mayor, Cllr Mary Freehill, and, as Lord Mayor myself in July 2009, I opened a book of solidarity to protest against her detention under house arrest. I hope that she will soon be able to visit Dublin to sign the ‘book of freemen’ in person. The Burmese authorities should release all remaining political prisoners without delay or conditions, allow free access by international human rights bodies to Burma, and amend the 2008 Burmese constitution so as to remove the military’s role in civilian politics in the run-up to the 2015 elections. The EU is correct to suspend for one year its restrictive measures currently in place against Burma. This one-year suspension will enable the EU to continue to exert pressure on the Burmese authorities to ensure that the reform process is sustainable and irreversible.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the motion for a resolution, given the by-elections of 1 April, deemed to be free by international observers. The resolution recognises all efforts made by the Burmese authorities to guarantee that the democratic reform process is sustainable and irreversible. It also calls on the government of Burma/Myanmar to release all remaining political prisoners without delay and conditions and to guarantee free and independent media.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The news reaching us from Burma gives renewed hope to those following the tribulations of its people and hoping to see a free, fair, democratic regime, that respects human rights and civil liberties, established there. This is an appropriate time to remember the example and personal sacrifice of Aung San Suu Kyi who was a peaceful leader and who will be asked to assume an equally leading and moderating role in the transition ahead. Burma deserves a responsible, peaceful and irreversible transition to democracy.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This joint motion for a resolution adopted by this Parliament, pursuant to Rule 110(2) and (4) of the Rules of Procedure, replacing the motions by the following groups: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance, Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left and European Conservatives and Reformists, concerns the situation in Burma/Myanmar. After fifty years of guerrilla warfare and rights violations, Burma has finally shown the world signs of wanting to change its regime, moving towards establishing freedom and democracy in full compliance with the fundamental rights laid down by the United Nations. As such, I welcome the ongoing changes that give us great hope, including the release of significant numbers of political detainees, improved media and Internet freedom, the conduct of the 1 April by-elections (the Burmese Government invited observers from the European Union), the mutual rapprochement putting an end to ethnic persecution and the new legislation on freedom of assembly. I voted for this motion and urge the Burmese Government to continue its process of reforms and, in particular, to release all political prisoners, so that, in the forthcoming general elections, the democratic system will be even stronger.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We value the national parliamentary elections in Burma/Myanmar as an expression of the independence and sovereignty of its people. And we affirm our solidarity with all those who are fighting for democracy and acting in the interest of this country’s sovereignty. This is one of the poorest countries in the world. Many years of conflict between different ethnic groups and the central power (inherited from a colonial presence that has always exploited and exacerbated ethnic differences) continues to push the vast majority of its population into deeper poverty and misery. We condemn sanctions that seek to interfere. It is apparent that the pragmatism of the interests of big capital and of the major powers requires a change in approach to this country. The geostrategic location of Myanmar, between China and India, and its natural resources, in particular energy, could play an important role for the EU and for its allies in NATO, notably the United States.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) According to the report by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Burma/Myanmar, serious human rights concerns remain, including the detention of many prisoners of conscience in appalling conditions and the persecution of ethnic minorities. So far, no progress has been made in efforts to achieve legal reforms, nor has there been progress in ensuring the independence of the judiciary. Despite the fact that the government has started ceasefire negotiations with rebel groups, there continue to be severe human rights abuses, and a number of people are being violently displaced. Many sectors of economic activity in Burma/Myanmar, such as timber, oil and gas, have been directly linked to serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction, and have also been the main source of the military and government revenues. In addition, the government of Burma/Myanmar blocks access of humanitarian aid to the country. For prospective and cooperative relations with the European Union, I think it is important for Burma/Myanmar to take the necessary steps leading to the democratisation of the country. I believe it is essential to release the remaining political prisoners and to allow local and international humanitarian organisations unhindered access to conflict areas.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) The resolution on the situation in Burma was adopted in Parliament by a large majority and I welcome this. In this resolution, my colleagues and I recognise that, despite reports of irregularities during the pre-election period, the elections of 1 April were carried out in a transparent and credible manner. Furthermore, we are reaffirming our respect for the long struggle over decades by opposition leader and Sakharov Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, and we congratulate her on her victory in the elections. Finally, we welcome the decision by Baroness Ashton to establish a diplomatic presence in the country and to inaugurate the EU Office during her forthcoming official visit.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE), in writing. – Burma/Myanmar has made significant progress over the past year, and I am therefore happy to commend the country’s efforts towards democratic change. However, according to the latest report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights, there are still serious human rights concerns that remain to be addressed: prisoners’ release, discrimination against ethnic groups, as well as poverty and development. Therefore, I hope that the government of Burma/Myanmar will continue to take an active approach to protecting human rights and implementing reforms. In this respect, I am in favour of the one-year suspension of the EU restrictive measures currently in place against Burma, a measure which I believe will keep the pressure on the Burmese government to continue reforms, while also making a strong positive statement that genuine reforms will be rewarded.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I am not entirely happy with this resolution, but pleased that it calls on the government of Burma/Myanmar to release all remaining political prisoners without delay or conditions, to allow free access for the ICRC and international human rights bodies to Myanmar’s prisons, and also calls on the National Human Rights Commission to intensify its work of promoting and safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Recent events in Burma confirm that this country is on the path to democratic change. The elections scheduled for 2015 will be a big test with which to measure its progress. The EU must continue to support the Burmese authorities so that they are able to achieve the objectives of making Burma a truly democratic country.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – In the resolution, the European Parliament welcomes the transparent and credible conduct of the by-elections of 1 April, deemed to be free by international observers, while noting the reported irregularities in the run-up to the poll; trusts that the newly elected parliamentarians will take up their duties as soon as possible; supports the authorities in their efforts to guarantee that the reform process is sustainable and irreversible; expresses its great respect for the long struggle over decades of opposition leader and Sakharov Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, congratulates her on her party’s victory in the April by-elections, and applauds her courage and tenacity as an example of selfless courage and struggle for freedom and democracy in the face of tyranny; urges the Burmese Government to introduce amendments to the 2008 constitution, prior to the 2015 elections, that would remove the military’s role in civilian politics. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The most recent elections in Burma were free and fair and, therefore, represent another step on the road to democracy and peace. Of course, we welcome any progress that is made, but we must not overlook the fact that most of the political prisoners have not been released. Despite our pleasure over the move towards greater democracy, we must not forget the regime’s disturbing human rights record. If the progress towards democracy continues, the human rights situation improves dramatically and those responsible are brought to justice, there will be nothing to prevent the EU from entering into a closer trading relationship with Burma. I took this into consideration when voting.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I share Parliament’s call for the rapid finalisation of peace negotiations and I hope that the Sakharov Prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, can finally visit Parliament in order to be officially presented with the Sakharov Prize which she was awarded in 1990 for all she has done to promote democracy and freedom in Burma/Myanmar.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) In the last months, Burma has made more progress towards democracy and peace than was made in the last decades. The by-elections of 1 April 2012, which were broadly deemed as free and fair by the international community, are, above all, an indication that Burma is on the path to democratic change. This change creates important opportunities for establishing a much improved relationship between the European Union and Burma. Nonetheless, the next legislative elections, which should take place in 2015, will be the real test of the Burmese authorities’ will to democratise the country. In the meantime, there is a need for caution, all the more so because the report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma highlights serious human rights concerns – hundreds of political prisoners are still in prison to this day. This resolution on the situation in Burma seems balanced in my view. It recognises the recent efforts made by the country while reflecting my concerns, particularly with regard to the situation of Burmese political prisoners. I therefore voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. It is time to urge the Burmese Government to undertake further steps as proof of their genuine engagement for the democratisation of the country. The European Parliament thus calls, in particular, for a swift and unconditional release of the remaining political prisoners, allowing international and local humanitarian organisations unhindered access to conflict areas, reforming laws that penalise free expression and allow censorship of the media, and repeal of the 1982 citizenship law.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am pleased to witness the democratic transition taking place in Burma, following the parliamentary elections of 1 April. After 50 long years of military rule, the Burmese authorities are showing signs of openness to free and democratic elections, as well as mutual rapprochement with the election of Aung San Suu Kyi and activists belonging to her party. In addition to these developments, I would also like to stress the gradual release of political prisoners and the importance that President Thein Sein intends to place on ending ethnic wars in the country. However, more steps need to be taken, including the need to amend the Burmese constitution so as to remove the military’s role in civilian politics. The EU must now invest its full support in this transitional process, including creating senior management positions in several areas, and supporting education and sectors of the economy. I therefore believe it is important for the EU to review certain sanctions imposed on the country, as a way of initiating a constructive dialogue.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing.(FR) Burma is on the path to democratic change. That is the main message contained in the resolution on the situation in Burma adopted by MEPs in plenary. Indeed, the elections of 1 April marked the victory of the historic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party. Deemed free and fair by the international community, the election consolidates the reforms undertaken over a year ago by the Burmese Government (the release of political prisoners, demobilisation of ex-combatants, actions in favour of freedom of expression). In this text, we wanted to take stock of the unique opportunity that has presented itself in order to develop a privileged relationship with Burma. Although the recent developments are encouraging, they are not enough to remove all the risks. Parliament has therefore encouraged the Council to suspend, rather than lift, the restrictive measures weighing on Burma (with the exception of the arms embargo).

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), in writing. – I am, of course, strongly supportive of the process of democratic change that has been taking place in Burma over the past year. However, as I do not support the creation of the EU’s External Action Service – which I regard as a very deliberate effort gradually to erode the responsibilities of our national embassies in favour of ‘EU Embassies’, with all that that implies – I am against the ‘decision to establish an EU diplomatic presence in Burma’.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – The results that Burma/Myanmar has obtained after the democratic elections are one step, and more improvements in human right’s protection in the country are needed. Although the new government has initiated democratic processes, the EU and other international bodies have the ethical duty to monitor the unstable situation in Burma/Myanmar, deliver humanitarian assistance, evaluate the ongoing political and economic reform process, and stress the importance of the presence in Burma of aid agencies and the United Nations.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The national parliamentary elections held in Burma/Myanmar – which we welcome as an expression of this people’s independence and sovereignty – was the moment chosen by the majority in the European Parliament to justify a change in political and diplomatic direction, proposing new instruments for EU interference in this country’s domestic affairs. Big business and the major powers, which the majority in the European Parliament serve, demand a change in the approach to this country for their own pragmatic reasons. Myanmar’s geostrategic location between China and India, and its natural resources, especially energy resources, could play an important role for the EU and its NATO allies, particularly the United States. It is clear that the concerns of the majority in the European Parliament have little to do with the people of this country. The resolution makes no mention of the fact that this is one of the poorest countries in the world. Many years of conflict between different ethnic groups and the central government – the legacy of a colonial presence that always exploited ethnic differences – continue to drive the overwhelming majority of its population into greater poverty and misery. We consider it essential that the European Parliament remember in future that one of the democratic rights is the inalienable right to national sovereignty.

 
  
  

Legal security of European investments outside the European Union (RC-B7-0214/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this joint motion for a resolution to express my deep concern, as Argentina’s nationalisation of a European company represents a breach of its obligations under international agreements. I believe we must take precautions against the possible negative effects that such measures might have, such as international divestment and adverse consequences for Argentina in the international community. It must also be recalled that the objective of the ongoing EU-Mercosur association agreement negotiations is to introduce a framework for economic integration and political dialogue between the two blocs, in order to achieve the highest possible degree of progress and prosperity for both regions. I believe that, for such negotiations to be successful, both sides have to approach the talks in a spirit of openness and mutual trust.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) On Monday, the European Union was surprised by the news that the government of the Argentine Republic had sent a draft law to its congress in order to validate the expropriation of 51% of the shares of the Spanish YPF/Repsol hydrocarbons corporation. If this is passed, it will be a clear and unequivocal violation of international treaties, the more so because Argentina has traditionally benefited from the generalised system of preferences granted by the EU. This behaviour is worrying for all Europeans. It sets a very serious precedent and constitutes political opportunism, given the economic and financial crisis that certain Member States are experiencing. First of all, I would like to stand alongside the Spanish Government and to deplore the decision by the Argentine Government. I welcome the prompt condemnation made by senior EU officials via the delegation in Buenos Aires. European investors need security for their companies if they are to continue investing and creating jobs. I voted for this joint motion for a resolution, and I urge the European institutions to adopt a resolute stance in condemning this behaviour and, if necessary, to assert this position in the ongoing EU-Mercosur association agreement negotiations.

 
  
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  Elisa Ferreira (S&D), in writing. (PT) I wish to abstain from the vote on this text as there has been no debate on the content thereof, particularly in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, where I am coordinator.

Voting on texts that have not been adequately debated does not enhance the reputation of this Parliament.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) We consider it important to respect each country’s sovereignty over its natural resources and the right of all countries to organise their economies in accordance with the interests and will of their peoples. Accordingly, we support the sovereign decision of the Argentine Government to renationalise YPF. This is an example for other EU Member States to follow, especially Portugal, taking public control of not only the energy sector, but other strategic sectors of the economy. This decision is all the more justified, as experience shows that privatisations do not resolve sovereign debt problems, but lead to reduced income, employment and tax receipts; to increased social security costs, because there are always redundancies following privatisations; and to weaker democratic public control over key sectors of the economy. As such, they undermine democracy itself. This resolution demonstrates, once again, that the majority in this Parliament are not here to defend the sovereignty of the peoples, or the rights, interests and needs of the workers and general public by protecting their access to energy and other natural resources. Rather, they are here, above all, to defend the profits of the shareholders of large companies, such as Repsol.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that European investment in third countries is an inseparable element of the European Union’s common commercial policy. The government of Argentina has decided to expropriate a majority stake in a certain oil company. This step was accompanied by the transfer of control over the company by the Argentine federal government authorities, whilst displacing managers and staff. The financial instability and uncertainty in recent months have led to a decline in its market value, and a similar situation has also affected some other European companies. I believe that the Argentine government’s decision to expropriate the majority of shares may call into question the principle of legal security in that country and will adversely affect the climate for European investment. There have traditionally been good partnership relations between the European Union and Argentina, which share common values, principles and interests, and I firmly believe that it would be right to resume the path of dialogue and negotiation as the most suitable means of resolving possible differences. I believe it would be appropriate for the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy to open a process of dialogue with the Argentine authorities in an attempt to overcome this situation in order to gain legal security for European investments in Argentina.

 
  
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  Ana Gomes (S&D), in writing. (PT) I abstained from the vote on this resolution, as I have been unable to discuss its content, particularly with the Committee on Foreign Affairs, in which I am coordinator for the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament.

Voting on texts that have not been adequately debated does not enhance the reputation of this Parliament.

 
  
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  Catherine Grèze (Verts/ALE), in writing. (FR) As an ecologist, I voted against this resolution, which prioritises the economic and geostrategic interests of a European company at the expense of the social and environmental rights of the Argentine population. Repsol has always promoted an extractivist model, disregarding all other considerations. Therefore, Argentina has every right to take a sovereign decision on the management of its resources and energy policy, even though this is not a guarantee of exemplarity in the matter. The European Union and Spain should instead commit to heavily investing their economic, political and diplomatic resources in order to promote a new energy and development model based on renewable energy and reducing the dependency on fossil fuels.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the resolution on the legal security of European investments outside the European Union. The Argentine Government announced on Monday, 16 April, its intention to nationalise YPF, the subsidiary of the Spanish Repsol group. The YPF takeover should come about through the vote on a draft law in the Argentine Congress. The Spanish company is asking for EUR 8 billion for the buyout of its shares, a figure that the Argentine Government seems unable to accept. This resolution aims to clarify the situation for the disputes over bilateral contracts concluded before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. It states that, before the adoption of the regulation ensuring the stability of these bilateral agreements concluded before the Treaty of Lisbon, Member States and their operators must settle their disputes themselves in terms of investment and any retaliation measures.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I was very disappointed that Amendment 8, which called for GSP preferences to be withdrawn from Argentina, was passed. This strikes me as an overreaction to the nationalisation of Repsol and a provocative act.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution, as I believe that European investments outside the European Union should be protected and respected. Under the rule of law, we cannot accept trading partners unilaterally taking the shares of European companies. Argentina, as a member of Mercosur, must respect existing bilateral agreements and not make them meaningless. We must roundly condemn Argentina’s behaviour to prevent similar situations arising in the future.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The European Parliament deplores the decision taken by the Argentine Government, disregarding a negotiated solution, to proceed with the expropriation of the majority of shares of a European company; maintains that this represents a unilateral and arbitrary decision which entails an attack on the exercise of free enterprise and the principle of legal certainty, thus causing the investment environment for EU businesses in Argentina to deteriorate; notes that this decision affects only one undertaking in the sector and only part of its shares, which could be considered discriminatory; urges the European Commission and the Council to explore and adopt any measures required to safeguard European interests in order to avoid such situations arising again, including the possible partial suspension of the unilateral tariff preferences. I would call things by their real names. The government of Argentina is trying to rob a European company of its property. More strict wording and sanctions are necessary. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Vital Moreira (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted for the resolution on the nationalisation of YPF in Argentina, with reservations. I agree with the need to protect European foreign investments, but do not think that this should negate the right of any country to nationalise companies with European capital, as long as this is not done in a discriminatory way and due compensation is paid. This is why I voted for the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left proposal on Argentina’s right to nationalise YPF, notwithstanding the condemnation of Buenos Aires with regard to the selective nature of the discrimination against Repsol. I voted against this motion for a resolution on the points where it proposes manifestly disproportionate retaliatory measures against Argentina.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution because I reject any government’s decision to expropriate the majority of the shares in a European company without seeking a negotiated solution.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. (ES) Against. We are facing a brazen example of neoliberalism, that is, state-protected companies, which destroy the social and environmental rights of Argentine citizens and two countries at loggerheads over the control of oil rather than cooperating in order to tackle the huge climate-related crisis that exists at global level. Both sides would do much better to make a massive investment of all the economic, political and diplomatic resources they can in promoting clean and renewable energies, and in reducing dependence on fossil fuels. The underlying problem lies, therefore, in determining what model of energy and economic development should be promoted. I consider it very interesting that Parliament is debating this issue, but I would think it better still if President Rajoy appeared before Parliament to explain the steps that he has been taking lately, such as cutting more than EUR 10 billion in education and health, steps that do have a major impact on the lives of the citizens of the State as a whole. I fear that this matter is working very well for him precisely because it means not having to tackle, as he ought, the major problems that we currently have on the table.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) In recent months, a Spanish company has been the subject of a public defamation campaign that, along with various administrative measures, may have contributed to the collapse of its share value. I wish to express my deep concern regarding this action, which has significantly affected a European business and, consequently, the substantial investments made by the European Union in Argentina. Given that European investments in third countries are a key element of the EU’s common trade policy, and are therefore an integral part of its external action, I think that it is necessary to engage with the Argentine authorities to protect the interests of the Union and preserve the principle of legal certainty that guarantees Europe’s presence and investment in the country. Therefore, with this vote, we urge the Commission to adopt all necessary measures to protect and oversee the EU’s interests in Argentina in order to avoid similar situations arising again in the future. Finally, in this context, I would like to express my solidarity with Repsol in these difficult times.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) Since the beginning of the plenary sitting, we have seen a surreal reaction from the European institutions with regard to the decision of the Argentine Government to nationalise the Spanish company Repsol’s shares in the hydrocarbons company YPF. Through this decision, the Argentine Government has simply reversed the privatisation of the main Argentine oil company by Carlos Menem’s ultraliberal government in the 1990s. Parliament’s resolution attacks the decision of a sovereign state with the sole motivation of protecting European investments. It is entirely legitimate for a sovereign state to proceed with the nationalisation of companies that do not respect their commitments in terms of economic development and respect for human rights and that prioritise the interests of their shareholders to the detriment of national workers. Argentina has made a political choice in favour of Argentineans and the country’s public interest. It is therefore not political interference in the free market. Calling for sanctions is ridiculous. The European Union would be more credible in calling for such sanctions in the case of human rights violations, such as in Colombia.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This debate took place in the European Parliament because the Argentine Government decided to look after its natural resources, exercising its sovereign right to respond to the interests and needs of the Argentine people. From our point of view, the renationalisation of YPF is a totally legitimate decision. It reverses the privatisation process of the 1990s, which simply made the Argentine people hostages to the interests of private business, specifically the Spanish company Repsol. We advocate that strategic economic resources should be under public control. The opposite has been happening in Portugal, where the governments of the Socialist Party (PS) and Social Democratic Party (PSD) have been paving the way for, and realising the surrender of, the Portuguese people’s public and collective resources. The majority in the European Parliament should be supporting this decision rather than submitting to Spanish private interests, which stand to lose much profit owing to the renationalisation. This demonstrates that they represent the interests of a minority, not the interest of the peoples.

 
  
  

Report: Filip Kaczmarek (A7-0056/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted for this report because, in order to make EU development policy more coherent and more effective, the Commission services in the EU delegations should contribute to development aid policy making and be in the lead with its implementation. The Commission should appoint policy coherence for development focal points in each delegation to monitor the impact of EU policy at partner-country level. Consideration should also be given to using local expertise, and existing staff at EU delegations should strive towards greater involvement in local society, in order to bridge the knowledge gap and to ensure an accurate understanding of the local environment in which they operate. It is also extremely important that the relevant EU financial instruments and the European Development Fund be more poverty-focused and more flexible with regard to their approach and operations, as well as more accountable and transparent. Finally, we cannot fail to take note of the Court of Auditors’ criticisms of the working relationship between the Commission’s headquarters and its delegations regarding external aid management.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I support this report because – although the decentralised approach to aid delivery brings decision making closer to local realities – there is still considerable room to improve coordination among donors. The Agenda for Change acknowledged the need to enhance harmonisation among the EU, Member States and partner countries, as well as to coordinate development activities and increase their efficiency and effectiveness. Indeed, the recent reorganisation within the Commission has not yet generated the expected results in the overall coherence of EU development assistance. For this reason, the evaluation of the results of the Commission’s interventions in the field should be improved. It is also vital for the Commission to consider promoting local consultation when deciding on aid projects. In addition, I totally agree with the need to stress that neither the Commission nor the Member States should use the current economic crisis to justify a ‘doing more with less’ approach.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. In 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, 189 world countries approved the Millennium Development Goals, and committed to implementing these by 2015. These goals aim to halve poverty by 2015, reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five, reduce by three quarters the mortality rate amongst pregnant women, halt the spread of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases and ensure sustainable economic and environmental development, etc. The European External Action Service (EEAS) established under the Lisbon Treaty should make an effective contribution to the implementation of these objectives and, with three years remaining until the deadline for the implementation of the MDGs, we need to enhance coordination of action among the EU, Member States and partner countries, as well as harmonise development activities and increase their efficiency and effectiveness. I agree that we must strengthen the EEAS and clarify its mandate and the competences in development cooperation.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the reform of EU external aid should be used to showcase how the provision of aid is improving the lives of poor people. The ultimate objective of devolution and the wider reform of external assistance managed by the Commission is to enhance a) speed, b) the thoroughness of financial management procedures and c) the quality of aid in partner countries. Furthermore, the process of devolution should be coupled with a mechanism at Member State level to provide all relevant information on where agencies are planning to spend their budgets, therefore making aid more targeted and allowing resource gaps and funding opportunities in individual countries to be identified. The Commission should complement the criteria and strengthen the procedures for assessing the quality of the projects financed in order to increase the quality of aid and to further decrease the number of non-performing projects. The Commission should also take all the necessary measures to overcome the weaknesses of the supervisory and control systems, notably at delegation level. The Commission and Member States should also increase their efforts to improve links between EU delegations and bilateral agencies, partner governments and other development groups such as think tanks, universities, foundations, NGOs and sub-national authorities, because closer ties would maximise the comparative advantages of the devolution process and of the different actors within the national context.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this report, which welcomes the reforms put in place within the Commission in order to rationalise the operating costs of the delegations while ensuring a better distribution of the funds allocated to third countries. The European Union can no longer be allowed to help third countries with money from European taxpayers without properly verifying that it is being used for its intended purpose. As the report highlights, the Commission must improve its own instruments for checking on its interventions and behave with greater accountability in the matter.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because it advocates devolution of the Commission’s management of external assistance from its headquarters to the EU delegations. The rapporteur warns about current problems related to human resources and high staff turnover in delegations, and observes that the development cooperation competences of the European External Action Service are still unclear. It therefore calls on the Commission to take the necessary steps to resolve this situation.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Union is the world’s principal donor and is seeking to make use of the ‘soft power’ resulting from this situation to promote democracy, liberty, the rule of law and the development of disadvantaged peoples and nations. However, it cannot fail to take particular care about how it spends taxpayer’s money, or to evaluate the results of how its financial and human resources are used to these ends. I support European involvement in this global effort to promote development, and agree that such involvement should be increasingly transparent and scrutinised by the citizens of Europe and of countries in receipt of aid.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The strategy of devolving management of the Commission’s external aid, as suggested in the Court of Auditors report, has proved a very positive initiative. In fact, the effectiveness of aid to developing countries is of the utmost importance in helping them to escape the economic and social situation in which they live. Improving development aid through sound management of funds is in the interest of the recipient countries. I welcome the Commission’s intention to implement the recommendations of the Court of Auditors, particularly as regards enhancing human resources, not only in Africa but in other regions, and utilising the experience of its staff, by changing the length of contracts from three to six years. I agree, therefore, with Filip Kaczmarek’s proposals in relation both to the recommendations of the Court of Auditors and to the need to increase coherence between European Union objectives and the real needs of the recipient countries. Accordingly, aware that devolution contributes to reducing the costs of the aid provided, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) The report takes the view that decentralising the management of external aid has improved the availability of funds, and makes recommendations with which we generally agree: more permanent staff and fewer contract agents; reduced bureaucracy for distributing funds; and promotion of local consultation. The rapporteur makes an important warning: the crisis must not be used to justify a ‘doing more with less’ approach that involves containing or reducing external aid or the expenditure required for its delivery. Attention is drawn to what remains to be done in the area of the Millennium Development Goals. However, we would distance ourselves from some aspects of the report – for example, the comments on the European External Action Service – and there are some omissions that we consider important. As we stated during the debate, the country, and its authorities, institutions and civil society organisations need to be closely involved in making and implementing policy if they are really to take ownership of development aid. The European Union must support and not direct. It must build capacities and not impose. It must respect the uniqueness, choices and sovereign will of developing countries, whilst keeping in mind the bad example of imposing the so-called economic partnership agreements on countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States in the face of their resistance.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) A decentralised approach to aid delivery brings the decision-making process closer to the realities of aid delivery and to a more operationally efficient coordination and harmonisation of donors. It is important to ensure that, by devolving power and carrying out a wider reform of the external assistance managed by the Commission, the speed, the thoroughness of financial management procedures and the quality of aid in partner countries is enhanced. 74% of EU external assistance from the EU budget and the European Development Fund is managed directly through 136 EU delegations. I think it is appropriate to enhance coordination between the EU, the Member States and partner countries, as well as to coordinate and harmonise development activities and increase their efficiency and effectiveness. The process of devolution from the Commission to the delegations should be coupled with a mechanism at Member State level. This functional mechanism would provide all relevant information on where agencies are planning to spend their budgets, therefore making aid more targeted and allowing resource gaps and funding opportunities in individual countries to be identified. At the same time, the growing support for official development aid as a means of eradicating poverty and achieving the set development goals is good news. In this regard, I believe it is appropriate to showcase how the impact of aid is improving the lives of poor people, because such a move would greatly help to refute scepticism about the effectiveness of aid.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This report states that the Commission and Member States should not use the ongoing financial crisis to justify cuts in aid budgets. I fully endorse those sentiments.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the Kaczmarek report. This own-initiative report deals with the impact of devolution of the Commission’s management of external assistance from its headquarters to the delegations of the European Union. Firstly, it recalls the objectives of devolution of external assistance: to enhance a) speed, b) the thoroughness of financial management procedures and c) the quality of aid in partner countries. While it mentions the overall improvements in aid delivery (greater efficiency and speed), it encourages the Commission to continue its efforts.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report, which provides a positive assessment of devolution of the Commission’s management of EU external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations. This report underlines the main advantages of devolution, that is, increasing the effectiveness of aid and the speed of aid delivery. With this in mind, it calls on the Commission to continue its efforts. Furthermore, it advocates better evaluation of the quality and the results of the EU’s financial interventions, which will, according to the report, result in better accountability for these interventions and ensure increased visibility for its actions.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution in which Parliament express its belief that the relevant EU financial instruments and the European Development Fund (EDF) need to be more poverty-focused and more flexible with regard to their approach and operation, and that more accountability and transparency and better value for money in terms of achieving clear results should also be encouraged.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We are of the opinion that a decentralised approach to aid delivery brings decision making closer to the realities of delivery and to where more operationally efficient donor coordination and harmonisation take place, while taking due account of the need for local ownership.

The ultimate objective of devolution and the wider reform of external assistance managed by the Commission is to enhance a) speed, b) the thoroughness of financial management procedures and c) the quality of aid in partner countries. In order to make EU development policy more coherent and more effective, consideration should be given to using local expertise and working towards greater involvement in the local societies.

We therefore encourage the Commission to ask its delegations to systematically carry out technical and financial monitoring visits to projects, and to make greater efforts to improve links with bilateral agencies and partner governments and other development groups, universities, foundations, NGOs and sub-national authorities, since closer ties will maximise the comparative advantages of the devolution process and of the different actors in the national context, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of efforts.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing.(PT) A decentralised approach to aid delivery is beneficial, as it brings decision making closer to the realities of delivery and to where more operationally efficient donor coordination and harmonisation take place, while taking due account of the need for local ownership. The ultimate objective of devolution and the wider reform of external assistance managed by the Commission is to enhance a) speed, b) the thoroughness of financial management procedures and c) the quality of aid in partner countries. The conclusions of the evaluation by the European Court of Auditors can only serve to increase the efforts to increase the effectiveness of aid delivery.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The report defends the decentralisation of aid delivery from Commission headquarters to EU delegations in order to make it more operationally efficient and to improve coordination and harmonisation among donors. I am not sure that it will be efficient. I abstained.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) It is hugely important for European external aid to be targeted carefully and used efficiently. Moving the administration of external aid from the central body in the Commission to the delegations will have a positive impact on cost-effectiveness and efficiency. In addition, by decentralising the system, the speed with which aid can be provided will be increased dramatically. Overall, there is still room for improvement. Therefore, I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) Devolution of the Commission’s management of external assistance on aid delivery is necessary in order to increase the speed and accuracy of budgetary management processes and improve the quality of aid to partner countries. Without doubt, however, the devolution process should be combined with mechanisms at Member State and EU level that will safeguard both transparency and the provision of all related information on the nature of the expenditure budgeted by organisations. This own-initiative report, which I voted in favour of, calls on the Commission to safeguard the criteria and strengthen the procedures for assessing the quality of the projects financed, in order to increase the quality of the aid and to decrease further the number of non-performing projects. At the same time, it calls on the Member States to make greater efforts to improve links between EU delegations and executive agencies, in order to maximise the competitive advantages of the devolution process within the national context, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, as I support the European Parliament’s call for the Commission and the Member States to make greater efforts to improve links between EU delegations, and bilateral agencies, partner governments and other development groups, such as think tanks, universities, foundations, NGOs and sub-national authorities. Closer ties will maximise the comparative advantages of the devolution process and of the various national-level stakeholders, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. We believe that, in order to make EU development policy more coherent and more effective, the Commission services within the EU delegations should contribute to development aid policy making and be in the lead for its implementation; repeats its call on the Commission to appoint Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) focal points in each delegation to monitor the impact of EU policy at partner-country level; in the report, we also call on the Commission and Member States to make greater efforts to improve links between EU delegations and bilateral agencies and partner governments and other development groups such as think tanks, universities, foundations, NGOs and sub-national authorities, since closer ties will maximise the comparative advantages of the devolution process and of the different actors within the national context, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported this report as it highlights the positive effects of devolution of the management of external assistance, already underlined in the report published by the Court of Auditors in 2011, particularly enhancing speed and the quality of aid in recipient countries and the effectiveness of this aid. This is also an idea that I have supported for a long time: in my view, the EU delegations in third countries are the best placed to judge when, how and on which projects EU aid can represent real added value. For example, I introduced this idea into the framework of the resolution on the reform of the European Neighbourhood Policy adopted in April 2011. However, the Commission must make further efforts to improve the manner in which it evaluates the quality and the results of its interventions and especially to further improve its links with each of its delegations. Better coordination will enable us to further increase the effectiveness of aid and, more generally, a better exchange of information between the Commission’s headquarters and its delegations will make European policy on the matter more relevant.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The devolution process should be combined with a mechanism at Member State level to draw up reports on how the agencies intend to spend the funds they have at their disposal, thereby making the aid more predictable and allowing resource gaps and funding opportunities in individual countries to be identified. The speed of aid delivery has improved, as has the thoroughness of financial procedures, but there is still considerable room for improvement. That is why I think consideration should be given to using local experts and providing them with greater financial and legal training, in order to optimise the management of EU aid and ensure good governance at local authority level in the medium term. With this vote, we are calling on the Commission to require the delegations to carry out meticulous technical and financial monitoring visits in relation to projects and to focus the internal reporting system more on the results achieved by the aid interventions.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that ‘development cooperation policy shall have as its primary objective the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty. The Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries’. It should be noted that 74% of EU external assistance comes from the EU budget and the European Development Fund, necessitating a decentralised approach from the existing 136 EU delegations. I am voting for this own-initiative report, as I believe the European Commission should contribute to developing a long-term strategy for development aid policy, encouraging the involvement and consultation of local organisations, and conducting systematic visits for monitoring projects under way. As Bill Gates said in the European Parliament in Brussels, the EU must take the lead in analysing and identifying the possibilities for multiplying the resources of development aid programmes, involving the European Investment Bank and other international bodies.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report by Mr Kaczmarek positively analyses the general conclusions of the Court of Auditors, according to which the devolution of the Commission’s management of external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations on aid delivery has helped to improve aid delivery by making the process both faster and more effective.

I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) The report argues that decentralising the management of external aid has helped to improve aid delivery and makes several positive recommendations: it advocates more human resources for the headquarters; more and better evaluation of aid delivery; more directly employed staff and fewer contract agents; and reduced bureaucracy in delivering funds. It also warns that the crisis should not lead to a reduction in resources and that any reduction should not lead to staffing levels being contained or reduced. However, we have two questions. The social and economic development of marginal countries will only really occur and be sustainable when they cease to be dependent on powers such as the EU, are able to take advantage of and strengthen their domestic capacity, and are not seeing their resources continuously depleted. We would also stress that EU external development aid should never, under any circumstances, be used to pursue a so-called defence agenda, with EU military and interventionist intentions. Development aid must never be used as a pretext for intervening in other countries’ domestic affairs, by exercising political influence and creating destabilising environments, which undermine the sovereignty of the peoples.

 
  
  

Report: Nicole Kiil-Nielsen (A7-0049/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted for this report, as including gender issues provides an opportunity to step up the fight against climate change. As such, this report must be used to address inequalities and tackle the principle causes thereof, so as to increase women’s financial autonomy, thereby not only supporting women in critical situations, but also utilising their potential for combating climate change.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on women and climate change since a lot of work still needs to be done in this area because the gender aspect has not yet been integrated into climate policies. In some regions, almost 70% of all employed women work in agriculture and produce up to 90% of some crops, yet they are virtually absent from budget deliberations and climate change activities. Furthermore, droughts and water shortages resulting from climate change force women to work more in order to provide water, food and energy, while young people frequently abandon school to help their mothers in these tasks. It should be recognised that climate change exacerbates gender discrimination in addition to its other catastrophic effects. Averting dangerous climate change must therefore be the highest priority of the European Union, both in domestic and external policy. Unfortunately, at present, there is still a lack of data and statistics produced according to gender, which could be used to carry out research in the areas of transport, energy and agricultural policy. More information in the area of climate change would help provide a better understanding and evaluation of the gender aspect in this area. The Commission should therefore take more action in this area and seek to ensure that a gender-based perspective is integrated into the European Union’s policy on combating climate change as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I believe the rapporteur’s proposal to create gender-disaggregated databases during project assessment and implementation phases is beneficial. It is essential to have a better understanding of the gender dimension of climate change in order to find the best-suited solutions for policies aimed at combating this change, such as the solution regarding the inclusion of women in EU climate diplomacy, provided that a minimum quota of 40% women in the delegations is observed.

 
  
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  Rachida Dati (PPE) , in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which takes into account the role and place of women in the fight against climate change. In many countries, women represent an at-risk population that will be seriously affected by the consequences of climate change. I particularly welcome the inclusion in this report of an important reminder: the transition to a green economy will only come about with more female scientists and engineers. This report also recalls our ambition to see quotas for women applied to management positions, particularly within the framework of climate diplomacy. While this report focuses solely on the situation of women, we must not forget the situation of other groups who are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI), in writing. – It is fair to say that some of the proposals before this parliament never cease to amaze, not because of their genius, but sadly, all too often, because they are ludicrous. The report ‘Women and Climate Change’ is one such example when you really cannot fail to be bemused. Apparently, global warming adds to gender discrimination. Apparently, a necessary step to address this is a 40 per cent female quota on EU negotiating teams on climate change. In addition, we must give funding to get women involved in the political battle to tackle climate change. The reality is that men and women are equally affected by climate change. The impact that it has on our lives has nothing to do with gender. Furthermore, I find the suggestion that women should be granted positions because of gender, not ability, wholly offensive. What utter nonsense and what a waste of our time when much more pressing matters should be addressed in this House.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted for this report on women and climate change because the effects thereof do not have the same effect on men and women, on rich and poor, or on developing and developed countries. Women are more likely to be poor – 70% of poor people are women – and are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regardless of the gender perspective, any climate change policy must seek economic efficiency and sustainability, especially given the economic and financial crisis, and must harness innovation and research to develop new techniques and solutions that are more environmentally friendly, as well as equally efficient and competitive. The focus should be on clean energy, on using natural resources more efficiently, and on significant investment in research and more environmentally friendly technologies, so as to enable Europe to stay competitive and to create employment within a framework of sustainable development.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This motion for a resolution, drafted by Nicole Kiil-Nielsen, draws our attention to a new problem: raising awareness of the influence that gender could – or does – have on climate change. The role played by women in many societies confers on them responsibilities in managing certain natural resources with a direct impact on environmental sustainability. In reality, it is they who use the most water and forest products day to day, for cooking and cleaning, and as an energy source, respectively. This issue increases in significance when we consider that around 85% of the victims of environmental disasters and 75% of the refugees therefrom are women. It is therefore essential that they participate in discussion forums and decision-making bodies, where their experience will add value to measures adopted to improve this situation. I voted for this motion for a resolution because I am confident that making action on the climate more responsible and appropriate will contribute to improving quality of life for the populations of many parts of the world, especially in at-risk areas.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) This report addresses the climate change issue from the gender perspective. It should be remembered that, as the report states, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed that the impact of climate change varies according to gender, age and class, with the poor likely to suffer the most. We agree that all policies should have an integrated gender dimension, including ‘climate-related policies’. We also agree with establishing gender-equality and gender-justice objectives in all policy areas, including this one, so that developments in this field do not exacerbate the inequalities between men and women. Equally positive are the aspects of the report relating to drawing up plans for implementing and evaluating policies and projects; to adapting evaluation tools and developing environmental protection actions for local projects on specific issues and with a focus on women; and to the gradual increase in new and additional funding, calling for the integration of gender equality as an issue cutting across all climate funds and instruments.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Awareness of the links between gender and climate change has only recently developed, and gender issues have yet to be fully integrated into climate change policies. In addition, issues of climate justice tend to be overlooked. The effects of climate change will have a disproportionate impact on women, and we therefore consider it important to emphasise that climate change needs to be an absolute priority for the European Union. Gender-based discrimination is found everywhere in our societies. It is therefore essential that we are not indifferent towards the situation in our climate policies. The inclusion of gender issues provides an opportunity to make the fight against climate change stronger, fairer and more effective. I firmly believe that it is important to base our approach equally on two principles – addressing the effects of inequality and tackling its causes, principally by increasing women’s financial independence and their means of emancipation. Although, at European Union level, the links between gender and development policy are well established, the link between gender and mitigation policy has been neither explored nor used. I fear that, if no effort is made to take account of the gender perspective when drawing up comprehensive policies, these policies run the risk of obstructing efforts to achieve equality between men and women.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) According to a study carried out by the London School of Economics and the Max Planck Institute, women are the main victims of climate change and are more at risk than men of dying in natural disasters. Furthermore, 75-80% of the world’s refugees are women and children and climate change contributes to this population displacement and very often the precarious nature of their situation. That is why I voted in favour of the Kiil-Nielsen report on women and climate change because Parliament must show that we must take the gender issue into account and integrate it into European policies on the fight against climate change. The approach and the measures proposed in this report are relevant, be it introducing 40%+ quotas in the European delegations responsible for climate change negotiations, gender-based data collection, awareness-raising when evaluating or launching climate change projects, investments for increasing women’s financial independence and their means of emancipation within their community.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the report by Ms Kiil-Nielsen on women and climate change. This own-initiative report calls for the gender issue to be taken into account in the fight against climate change.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Climate change is related to a group of issues such as global warming that need to be researched and considered as extensively as possible so that effective responses can be adopted and implemented. In particular, the relationship between gender and climate change appears to be strong and closely correlated. In fact, women consume energy in different ways and at different times from men, but they are not involved on an equal level in making decisions on the strategies to be adopted in the fields of pollution reduction, environmental protection and the fight against waste.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) The issues surrounding climate change are directly linked to questions of equality. We will not be able to propose effective measures without taking account of the important role played by women, considering that they make up approximately 50% of the world population and that they still take relatively more responsibility in everyday decisions on consumption, child care and looking after the home. Including more women in EU climate diplomacy is a first priority here. The proportion of women in political decision making, and especially in climate change negotiations, is still unsatisfactory, and little progress has been made. Therefore, we should make efforts for women to be properly represented in groups involved with tackling climate change. I am certain that giving consideration to the question of gender at every stage of the operation of policies on climate change – from creation and funding to implementation and evaluation – will benefit both parties, which is why I endorsed this report.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which underlines that 70% of the world’s poorest are women, who carry out two-thirds of all work done, but own less than 1% of all goods; notes that they are denied equal access to and control over resources, technology, services, land rights, credit and insurance systems and decision-making powers, and are thus disproportionately vulnerable to, and affected by, climate change and have fewer opportunities to adapt; underlines that 85% of people who die as a result of climate-induced natural disasters are women, that 75% of environmental refugees are women, and that women are also more likely to be the unseen victims of resource wars and violence resulting from climate change

 
  
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  Emma McClarkin (ECR), in writing. – The report on women and climate change undoubtedly highlights a number of important points with regard to roles played by women. For example, the use of women’s knowledge drawn from their everyday lives in order to find solutions to problems – such as the installation of toilet facilities in Indian slums – is vital. The report also outlines the gender imbalance across the world, an example being the fact that 70% of the world’s poorest are women, carrying out two-thirds of all work done. We know of these imbalances and must address them. Yet despite these points, I have voted against the report as a whole. I do not agree that climate change widens the gender imbalance. As I have expressed before in this Parliament, I am against the imposition of quotas from an EU level, particularly in terms of outside bodies. And finally, in the financial climate of today, it is important that we concentrate what limited funding we have on combating climate change itself, rather than on funding women’s groups in the area of climate change when, in fact, there is no need to do so.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Women represent approximately 50% of the global population, but have relatively more responsibility for everyday consumption choices, child care and household activities. Owing to gender roles, women’s impact on the environment is not the same as men’s, and their access to resources and ways to cope and adapt is severely affected by discrimination in terms of income, access to resources, political power, education and household responsibility. Climate change could amplify inequalities and there is a risk that climate change policies will also have a negative impact on gender balance and women’s rights if they do not take gender discrimination into account from the very start. This report addresses this issue in a balanced way, so I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Many still regard climate change as a purely scientific and/or technical issue. However, since societies still largely rely on gendered roles and responsibilities, women and men do not have the same impact on climate change and –more importantly – are differently affected by climate change. The inclusion of gender issues provides an opportunity to make the fight against climate change stronger, fairer and more effective. Therefore, the mainstreaming of the issue has to be based on addressing the inequality and tackling its causes, principally by increasing women's financial independence and their means of emancipation within the communities. Finally, it is essential to collect gender disaggregated data which will make the decision making better. The report was widely regarded as very good, as it stresses that measures to protect women in already critical situations should complement each other.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Morin-Chartier (PPE), in writing. (FR) Through my vote in favour of this report, I am stressing the importance of taking gender into account to effectively combat climate change due to gendered roles. Indeed, the discrimination suffered by women makes them more vulnerable to this phenomenon which, furthermore, amplifies inequalities. I voted in favour of this report because it also strongly encourages the adoption of a gender-based approach and greater women’s participation in drawing up development, human rights and climate change policies.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for paragraphs 30 and 41 and recital K because I fully support the right of women to family planning, reproductive health and contraception methods. For several decades, my country of origin promoted an absurd policy against these rights, a policy which affected Romanian society deeply, and this must never happen again.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) The report on women and climate change is a prime example of the far left attempting to ideologise all areas of society. The objective here is no longer equality for women, but the complete restructuring of society on the basis of left-wing social engineering. This does not give individuals more freedom, as is claimed. On the contrary, the introduction of all-embracing gender mainstreaming results in a lifestyle which goes against the ideas of the broad majority of the population both intuitively and in the way that the arguments are presented. I have voted against the report for reasons of principle.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) Although the battle against global climate change is a shared concern of all of us, it has a particular importance for women, as the more socially vulnerable gender. It is known that on a global level, women are at greater risk of poverty and are in a weaker competitive position in the labour market. Today, however, we are in a situation in which decisions affecting society as a whole, including in environmental matters, are taken mainly by men. In order to obtain a better overview of the situation, we should first gather statistics on the influence of climate measures on women, and also on whether men or women are the decision makers in policy areas connected with the environment. Environmental problems and the measures adopted to combat them are of global importance and influence everyone, which makes it extremely important that one gender should not be under-represented in delegations of negotiators and decision makers. The report ‘Women and Climate Change’ emphasises those very problems, and for that reason, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The impacts of climate change affect women more than men as they are in a more vulnerable situation. Climate change fosters this discrimination. However, the green economy, which is still in its infancy, is a source of hope. There is still time to fully integrate women into this green economy. I support this report as it presents the need to increase training for women. I firmly believe that access to education and greater training for women is an essential prerequisite to reducing their vulnerability. It was therefore an opportune moment for Parliament to send a message to the Commission, the Council and the Member States and to urge them to take measures in this area. I therefore voted in favour of this report as it encourages the Member States and institutions to continue to support projects in developing countries. This resolution also recommends that the Commission put in place indicators to evaluate the impact of the projects we are supporting and to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on the situation of women.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour!!! Climate change and its impacts are by no means gender neutral. Due to gendered roles, women’s impact on the environment is not the same as men’s, and their access to resources and ways to cope and adapt is severely affected by discrimination in terms of income, access to resources, political power, education and household responsibility. We therefore need to take women into account at every stage of our climate policies, and in the following aspects: adaptation policies, mitigation policies, financing of these policies and political representation of women. The proportion of women in climate change negotiations is still unsatisfactory, women account for only 12-15% of heads of delegation and around 30% of the delegates. Links between gender and climate, although they appear clearly in developing countries, also exist within the EU, e.g. in energy, transport and agricultural sectors. The future green economy relies on overwhelmingly male-dominated industries, which affects equal opportunities in occupation, education and training and encourages ‘male-only’ business cultures incompatible with the implementation of gender equality.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I endorsed the report on women and climate change. Research shows that climate change is not gender neutral and that it affects women and men in different ways. This is confirmed by the International Panel on Climate Change in its 4th assessment report of 2007. Women make up 85% of people who die as a result of climate change and 75% of environmental refugees. The level of fatalities caused by natural disasters is higher among women – over 70% of the victims of the tsunami in 2004 were women.

Research on climate change should therefore give greater attention to the issue of gender. I would like to draw attention to the situation of women in developing countries, who are bearing the brunt of climate change – ubiquitous gender inequalities mean women and girls are disproportionately more at risk from its consequences.

The traditional division of roles and discrimination against women reduce their ability to adapt the way they live to changes in climate. The effects of climate change will lead to long-term consequences for gender equality. They exacerbate inequalities in access to wealth, land, new technologies, education and information – factors which play an essential role in the fight against climate change. I appeal to the European Commission to develop aid programmes which address the situation of women. Women should have a greater role in developing adaptation strategies.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Women make up approximately 50% of the world’s population and still hold a relatively greater responsibility for daily decisions regarding consumption, child care and domestic chores. This means that consumption patterns differ between women and men, as women consume in a more sustainable manner than men do. They also show greater willingness to act to protect the environment by making sustainable consumption choices. In addition, women play a key role in the procurement and management of water in developing countries, as they are often the ones who collect, use and distribute water, not only in the home, but also in farming. With this vote, we are seeking to integrate gender issues into strategies for the prevention and management of the risks associated with natural disasters, and to promote women’s empowerment and awareness through capacity building before, during and after climate-related disasters.

 
  
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  Laurence J. A. J. Stassen (NI), in writing. (NL) The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) voted against this report. It sells vague assumptions and far-fetched conclusions by the dozen. According to the report, for example, ‘climate change is not gender-neutral’. In addition, it claims that women ‘do not have the same impact on the environment as men’ and that we need ‘climate justice’. The report oozes climate hysteria and feminism. The PVV really cannot take this report seriously. What is the next report we can look forward to? Women and fishing quotas? Women and CO2 emissions? Our citizens will start wondering whether Parliament really has nothing better to do. The PVV is voting against this useless report.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report focuses on the effect climate change will have on increasing gender inequality. According to the rapporteur, climate change will have a disproportionate impact on women, since gender inequality is present in all areas of society. It calls for the gender issue to be fully included in climate change policies and programmes. I consider it important that the gender issue be included in the EU’s main priorities, becoming an issue that cuts across all EU policies and strategies. This requires a change to mindsets and an enhanced role for women in all aspects of society. Nevertheless, I disagree with the need to introduce quotas in EU climate diplomacy, since quotas devalue women.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on women and climate change because the inclusion of gender issues provides an opportunity to make the fight against climate change stronger, fairer and more effective. I emphasise the need to see concrete action to include more women at all levels of decision making. I support the introduction of the 40% mandatory quota for female representation in the delegations for climate change negotiations. We call on the Commission and the Member States to propose climate change mitigation programmes that take account of gender inequalities as well, in order to improve the welfare of women, especially as regards access to information and services, natural resources and sustainable energy. We call on the Commission and the Member States to support the development of renewable energy sources in developing countries, through transfers of technology and knowledge which involve the balanced participation of women, with a view to contributing simultaneously to both equal opportunities and climate change mitigation. Women should be encouraged to pursue training and careers in the technical and scientific sector, and in the environmental and energy sectors, since this can guarantee women secure jobs and a stable future and will increase their involvement in defining climate change policies.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – I want to show my support for this report. Whilst I am not a fervent feminist, I understand the fact that the worst consequences of climate change will be felt in less developed countries, and that gender inequalities in such countries are a very relevant factor in the equation. Moreover, I feel that it is of the utmost importance to empower women with regard to disaster management, taking into account the terrible cost in human lives that natural disasters related to climate change produce.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. – According to the rapporteur, gender-based discrimination is found everywhere in our societies, and she believes it essential that it be taken into consideration in climate policies in order to avoid worsening the situation – an opinion with which I fully agree. Even if the link between women and climate change is not immediately obvious, this is because women are not a homogenous group around the globe, and most probably because gender is not a sufficiently universal factor. The adoption of this report will improve the protection policies towards women in already critical situations that should complement each other. It is also important to use climate policies to change current mindsets by including groups which defend women’s rights in negotiation processes and funding mechanisms that improve women’s education.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – The ECR group does not accept that climate change exacerbates gender discrimination. We believe that this report simplifies what is a complex issue by claiming that women have greater responsibility for the family by being caregivers. We believe that both women and men care about the welfare of their families to an equal extent. The ECR strongly opposes the suggestion that a solution to this problem is through the introduction of quotas for women working in the climate change field; the ECR Group is consistent in its approach on targets and quotas and we strongly oppose targets being set – in any area – at EU level. For these reasons, we have chosen to vote against this report.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report’s belief that dangerous climate change must be an absolute priority for the EU is relevant. However, we would stress that the capitalist system and its mode of production bears more responsibility than climate change for exhausting natural resources, for putting the survival of the human race at risk, and for increasing the inequality of access to quality of life between the workers and the bourgeoisie. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has itself confirmed that the impact of climate change varies according to gender, age and class, with the poor likely to suffer the most. We welcome the recommendation that all policies have an integrated gender dimension at all stages, and that all areas have gender-equality and gender-justice objectives, in order to ensure that climate action does not increase gender inequality. However, we are opposed to the section on introducing ‘quotas’ in delegations and ‘relevant bodies’, since such measures only serve to evade and obscure the real gender inequality in various economic and social areas.

 
  
  

Report: Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy (A7-0101/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted for this report as I acknowledge that infrastructure-building, urbanisation, industrialisation and physical intervention in the landscape in general are amongst the most significant drivers of the fragmentation of ecosystems and habitats. In the context of their planning regulations and implementation measures, and within the framework of their competences, local, regional and national governments must take these factors that sometimes pose a threat to ecosystems and habitats into account in their large- and small-scale planning and development projects. The pressures and the requirement at local and regional level to provide substantial economic development are understandable. I therefore consider it very important that local and regional authorities be mindful of striking a balance between development, and the need to protect biodiversity and natural habitats. For example, the Azores islands are at the forefront of protecting biodiversity, seeking to implement energy plans, tourism activities, etc. that enhance and protect their biodiversity. As such, regional and local development policies must deliver biodiversity benefits and halt further loss of habitats.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because biodiversity is essential to the existence of human life and the well-being of societies through the ecosystem services it provides, and payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a promising, innovative financial tool for biodiversity conservation. In 2010, the European Union failed to achieve its objective of halting the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity loss is currently reducing global GDP by 3% each year. Nearly 65% of the habitat types and 52% of the species listed in the Annexes to the Habitats Directive have an unfavourable conservation status. Furthermore, habitats and species are threatened by climate change. Even worse, the EU’s borders have already been breached by more than 11 000 alien species, at least 15% of which are invasive and detrimental to biodiversity. Measures therefore need to be taken to secure nature and ecosystem services for future generations, to this end giving higher political priority to biodiversity. The European Union’s 2020 headline target for biodiversity and global biodiversity commitments also needs to be met. It is also important for sufficient funding to be made available in the next multiannual financial framework and for the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services to be integrated into the economy. The preservation of biodiversity is a collective challenge, which with adequate financial resources and political will, must be addressed with the commitment and participation of numerous interested parties.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Biodiversity provides us with food and water, shelter and medicines, reduces the consequences of natural disasters and epidemics, regulates climate and provides vital services that support the economy. If we lose biodiversity, we risk losing wealth and jobs and endangering our future. Biodiversity loss occurs on an unprecedented scale (100 up to 1 000 times higher than the natural rate of species extinction), meaning that, together with climate change, it is the most serious threat to the environment. I believe we need better cooperation at European level with regard to the diversity of animal and plant genetic resources in order to preserve them and improve their capacity to adapt to climate change. At the same time, European citizens’ initiatives for the protection of biodiversity and their commitment to biodiversity and eco-volunteering through civic service must be supported by the Member States and the European Commission in order to identify patterns and best practices that can then be applied at European level, as well as the need to conduct information and awareness campaigns on biodiversity, intended for all ages and social categories.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) Although the implementation of a strategy for biodiversity is very important in my view, I voted against this report, which is mistaken on some specific points concerning fishing. Furthermore, I would like Parliament to follow the recommendations of the Johannesburg and Nagoya conferences, which propose achieving maximum sustainable yield by 2015 where possible, if not, by 2020. That is the position I support. This report also provides imprecise figures, particularly concerning the number of fish stocks that have now been fished beyond their maximum sustainable yield. I would also argue that the common fisheries policy reform is based on an undefined and unproven principle, namely, the so-called overcapacity of the European fleet. Given that there are no figures on fishing capacity, I do not think we can have policies based on overcapacity.

 
  
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  Michel Dantin (PPE), in writing. (FR) The final text put to the vote in Parliament does not take into consideration some scientific knowledge and portrays a caricature with regard to agricultural issues, showing a lack of understanding of the reality of agriculture, that is, the reality of 13.5 million European farmers. The common agricultural policy (CAP) should, in my view, remain an economic and social policy as well as an environmental policy.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) While the general objectives of the report are commendable (protecting biodiversity), I could not support the adoption of this report, which calls for a break from the traditional organisation of the common agricultural policy (CAP): making agricultural policy greener involves the ‘second pillar’ alone and must not, at this stage, concern the first pillar. European farmers already face various constraints and are making a number of efforts to make their practices greener. It is important not to further restrict their production activities at a time when it is essential to preserve European production capacity and our food independence.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing.(PT) I voted for this report on our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020, because biodiversity is not incompatible with development. Biodiversity is the guarantee of life.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the context of EU biodiversity strategy, the EU as a whole must find a sustainable strategy for protecting biodiversity and preserving ecosystems, paying particular attention to all areas covered by EU policies. I consider this particularly important in the areas of agriculture and fisheries. Accordingly, I have closely followed the reforms to the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy. As much as the appropriate and sustainable preservation of biodiversity is crucial and desirable, it cannot be an obstacle to the sustainable development of farming and fishing activities.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 is part of the Resource-Efficient Europe flagship initiative and is intended to give the opportunity to take the necessary measures to secure the services of nature and ecosystems for future generations. This is the right time to include biodiversity in all other policy areas, since all major European policies are currently being reviewed. The common agricultural policy, cohesion policy, the common fisheries policy, and the European road maps on energy, transport and resource efficiency are going to be transposed into legislation. It is now time to show that the warm words about biodiversity also translate into concrete policy measures. It is important that the Commission and the Member States undertake to adopt integrated strategies in order to identify each geographical area’s natural values and the features of its cultural heritage, as well as the conditions necessary for maintaining them. I voted for this report because I believe that political support for biodiversity must now be translated into expert and integrated policy measures in all policy areas.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing.(PT) This report has been greatly improved since its first version. We are satisfied that several of the amendments we tabled in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety have been adopted. Examples include the amendments relating to the issue of financing, particularly for the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE) programme; to invasive alien species; to the study on the impact of biofuels; to reducing the biodiversity of cultivated species; and to certain limitations to, and distortions of, the European Commission’s greening proposal for the next common agricultural policy (CAP). However, we regret that other important amendments that we tabled were rejected. Consequently, there are still some serious omissions from the report and it contains opinions and positions that we do not share, such as welcoming the European Commission proposals for reforming the CAP and the common fisheries policy, and all aspects of so-called ‘business and biodiversity’. We would highlight, inter alia, our amendments on Natura 2000 funding; on criticisms of current agricultural and commercial policy, and the need for significant changes thereto; on fisheries policy, regarding local management and more data-collection channels; and on monitoring the implementation of the strategy. It is not enough to set ambitious targets: attention must also be given to how to achieve them. The report has shortcomings in this regard.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Biodiversity is our life insurance, giving us food, fresh water and clean air, shelter and medicine, mitigating natural disasters, pests and diseases, and contributes to regulating the climate. It is also our natural capital, delivering ecosystem services that underpin our economy. The loss of biodiversity is the most critical global environmental threat alongside climate change – and the two are inextricably linked. Current rates of species extinction are unparalleled. This rate is 100 to 1 000 times faster than the natural rate, and this situation is mainly driven by human activities. The continued and growing pressures on Europe’s biodiversity, such as land-use change, over-exploitation of biodiversity and its components, the spread of invasive alien species, pollution and climate change, have either remained constant or are increasing and, at the same time, indirect drivers, such as population growth, limited awareness about biodiversity and the fact that the economic value of biodiversity is not reflected in decision making are also taking a heavy toll on this situation. I believe it is important to reverse biodiversity loss and accelerate the EU’s transition towards a resource-efficient and green economy. This effort also represents an integral part of the Europe 2020 strategy.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) The conservation of biodiversity is not only a moral obligation we have towards future generations, but also an issue of inherent economic and social importance.

One need only think, for example, that insect pollination cannot be replaced by any artificial method, or that thanks to the self-purifying ability of the soil, it is easy to obtain low-cost drinking water. What biodiversity conservation lacks is not new programmes, policy statements or instructions for use. What is needed is action.

It is also of the utmost importance to integrate the biodiversity strategy into the EU’s forthcoming reforms of, for example, the fisheries, agriculture, energy and cohesion policies. Future funding will have a very important role in this respect.

The EU and its Member States have so far spent less than 0.004% of their economic capacity on comprehensive measures designed to safeguard and promote biodiversity. The Member States have to begin to understand the importance of including natural capital in their public accounts.

For this reason, I hope that appropriate financial instruments aimed at preventing the loss of biodiversity and the decline of ecosystem services in the EU are made available in the next multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted against this report because, while I am very much aware of the importance and richness of biodiversity, it seems to me that this text presents some rather extreme ideas that could unfairly stigmatise certain areas.

The passages concerning, for example, the common agricultural policy or the common fisheries policy are thus problematic in my view: agriculture and fishing must not be seen as intrinsically bad for biodiversity. We must, rather, take a more constructive view of their role in an effort to protect and enhance biodiversity, for the actors in these sectors have an essential role to play. Therefore, the role of some actors, such as hunters, is presented in this report as negative, even though hunting has a very important purpose in terms of managing the biodiversity of our natural spaces.

Despite some positive elements (the highlighted importance of better scientific data collection and sharing, for instance), this report does not seem to me to promote a balanced and fair view of the roles played by the various actors in our society to protect biodiversity.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This report has much to commend it. Nevertheless, the stated belief that a centralised common fisheries policy can bring about improvements to marine biodiversity and increase our natural capital is wholly misguided. The failure of the CFP to achieve its objectives is widely recognised, and yet the wording of this report ignores that reality. I could not vote in favour of the final report for that reason.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The environment is unquestionably our planet’s greatest treasure. It is thanks to the environment that we live and breathe, are born and die. It is thanks to the goodness of nature that the human race continues from one generation to the next, together with other species of animals and plants. The environment plays an extremely important role for all citizens because, of course, we all want to live in clean and cared-for surroundings. Unfortunately, according to scientific data, over half the natural ecosystems of our planet are today degraded, non-renewable resources are being exploited too intensively, and industry and our consumer lifestyle are giving rise to ever greater climate change. To ensure the survival of the environment for future generations, we must make every effort to support action to protect biodiversity and the security of ecosystems. The right spending, cooperation not just at international but also at intercontinental level, coordination of different policy areas and, above all, an awareness that without nature, life on Earth cannot exist – these factors are essential for the rapid and effective implementation of pro-environment strategies which will ensure a bright future for those who come after us.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The protection of biodiversity should again be one of the European Union’s goals in the fields of environmental protection and, more broadly, the economy and food security. The data we have on the subject indicate that we are still far from reaching the target of preserving 40% of species and natural habitats by 2020. This means that much more can and must be done in this respect. The multiannual financial framework, the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the common fisheries policy (CFP) will be important test cases to see what can be done to achieve this. With regard to the CAP, today this is already an important tool for the protection of biodiversity. However, as drawn up by the European Commission, the proposal for the ‘greening’ component must take into account the need not to increase the administrative burden for farmers and not to compromise the penalties system, which should not affect the right to receive basic CAP aid payments.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Recent studies have shown a steady biodiversity loss in the European Union, which leads to devastating economic costs for society, costs that have not been sufficiently taken into account so far either in economic policies or in other EU policies. In the future, we need a more effective and coordinated use of the funding provided from the cohesion policy instruments, the R&D framework programme, the LIFE+ programme and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) for environmental protection, biodiversity and climate-related projects, where necessary, through the provision of additional technical support.

 
  
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  Marian-Jean Marinescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted against the report on the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 because I failed to grasp the meaning of the article raising the issue of hunting in the Danube Delta under the presumption that it would have a negative impact on biodiversity. The Danube Delta is a biosphere reserve where the hunting of protected species is prohibited anyway. I believe that if Natura 2000 requirements are met, especially as regards hunting practices that require Member States to avoid the deterioration of natural habitats and species habitats, and should the Birds Directive regarding the principles of rational use be observed, the danger of a negative impact would be eliminated. For these reasons, although I consider the report an important step in achieving the targets of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020, I could not vote for it.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I fully support the underlying theme of this report, which is that a strict and rapid implementation of all environmental policy is crucial for biodiversity. Climate change and the quality of air, soil and water all have a huge influence on biodiversity. The same is true of the Natura 2000 network and the Birds and Habitats Directives. For marine life, a CFP based on achieving at least maximum sustainable yield, accompanied by tougher enforcement measures, is a minimum requirement.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – The EU biodiversity strategy 2020 proposes measures to secure nature and ecosystems for future generations; I support these goals. However, paragraphs were adopted in this report that attempt to prescribe agricultural policy before the review of the CAP 2014-2020 has been adopted by Parliament. I did not support these paragraphs and therefore abstained on the final vote.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 presents us with the opportunity to take the necessary measures to secure the services of nature and the ecosystem for coming generations. All that we need to succeed is political will, courage and commitment. The main objective is to include biodiversity in all policy areas. This could be the right time, as key European policies are now under review. The common agricultural policy, cohesion policy, the common fisheries policy, and the European road maps on energy, transport and resource efficiency are going to be transposed into legislation The objectives set out in the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 are achievable. All we have to do is transpose the political support for biodiversity expressed by many world leaders into policy measures.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Biodiversity is crucial for the functioning of ecosystems which provide us with products and services without which we could not live. Biodiversity loss is one of the most serious global environmental threats alongside climate change, and the two are closely linked. Statistics illustrate that biodiversity losses are continuing at alarming rates in the EU and worldwide, despite the fact that the importance of biodiversity is widely acknowledged. Urgent action is needed, and the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 looks at the necessary measures to secure nature and ecosystem services for future generations. Biodiversity should be included in all EU policies. Our support is necessary for the achievement of the targets in the next multiannual financial framework and for the phasing out of harmful subsidies. As major European policies are currently under review, the timing is right. I voted in favour, since this report is really useful.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Biodiversity means the variety of life. Over the millennia, the planet and the species which live on it have changed. There have been ice ages and periods of drought, the continents have moved and the climate has altered. We are in a period of this kind at the moment. Some changes to the environment are not caused by mankind and, therefore, we cannot control or manage them. I have abstained from voting, because the strategy has not been fully thought out.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Biodiversity is an essential element of EU environmental protection policy to which we need to pay a lot of attention, particularly now, when many countries are not giving priority to biodiversity, but economic activities. I would nevertheless like to focus on one fact: while discussing the integration into EU law of both biodiversity protection in particular and environmental policy as a whole, we must not forget the principles of proportionality and legal certainty. We have to implement the principle of the integration of biodiversity protection while ensuring that legislation (particularly on the environment) remains clear and comprehensible.

 
  
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  Mariya Nedelcheva (PPE), in writing. (BG) I voted in favour of the report on our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020, drafted by Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, because it represents a step forward in protecting this diversity in Europe and encouraging the sectors that contribute to it. I thank my colleagues for supporting my amendment to protect the beekeeping sector. Now that we are discussing the new common agricultural policy (CAP), we must give beekeepers a positive sign and assure them that their efforts are not in vain and do not go unnoticed. As mentioned in the European Parliament report on honeybee health and the challenges of the beekeeping sector, this sector is of great importance to biodiversity conservation. Eighty-four per cent of plant species and 76% of food production in Europe depend on honeybee pollination. Bulgaria is one of the richest countries in Europe in terms of biodiversity. At the same time, beekeeping in Bulgaria, just as in other European countries, is facing the problem of bee colony loss – a fact that threatens biodiversity in Europe. This is why we need to give the sector a chance, because, unlike the European Commission’s environmental measures that are being discussed, which we are to impose on farmers for a greener CAP, the only thing that we need to do for beekeepers is to help them simply do their job.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted against certain parts of paragraphs 28, 58, 61 and 70 because the ideas contained in these fragments of text are unrealistic and try to hold agriculture responsible for reducing biodiversity. The measures proposed or suggested by these paragraphs are incompatible with the goal of developing agriculture as a pillar of food safety. Agriculture can make an important contribution to the preservation of biodiversity, but the related policies should be chosen, taking into account long-term food safety in particular.

 
  
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  Siiri Oviir (ALDE), in writing. (ET) Despite the fact that the UN has declared the years 2010-2020 to be the decade of biological diversity and the European Union considers the protection of biological diversity to be one of its very important priorities, it is regrettable that the EU, as the spokesperson for global environmental protection, has itself been unable to fulfil the objectives it set in 2010. We have a habit of pointing our fingers at developing countries, but this time we should look in the mirror. Neither is it a solution for us to move the worst-polluting factories of European industry to developing countries and then report that the situation is improving. Planet Earth is the common home of all humans, and the activities of every people and every country influence and affect us all, regardless of geographical location. There are direct and mutual connections between biological diversity and climate change, and we must approach the solution of such questions on a global level. In order to ensure that the European Union’s objectives on protecting biological diversity are achieved, different spheres of life must increasingly be involved, and increasing importance must be assigned to the evaluation of environmental impact. European agricultural policy certainly has one of the most important roles to play in implementing these objectives, and so I am glad to see that this has been taken into consideration in the next reform of the common agricultural policy. I concur with the areas of concern and proposals noted in the report, and for that reason I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) In every international organisation and every international forum, we have declarations and commitments to spare on combating climate change and protecting biodiversity. However, the truth is that, despite the declarations, biodiversity in general is still shrinking throughout the world, in Europe and in Greece in particular, at rates which are up to 1 000 times faster than natural rates. This report, which I voted in favour of, sets out the lack of correlation between the declarations and the actual data. It urgently calls for practical measures to apply and to make practical use of the commitments made both by the Member States and the EU, and sets particular store by additional efforts by the Member States to change the public’s attitude on these issues, both through their education systems and by promoting general codes of conduct.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, as I believe that European natural capital is a very important asset requiring investment and maintenance, and from which genuine cohesion policy results. The objectives set out in the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 can be achieved by transposing the political support for biodiversity expressed by many world leaders into policy measures supporting biodiversity.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr Gerbrandy’s report was put to the vote today during the Strasbourg plenary session.

The preservation of biodiversity and ecosystems should be placed high on the Union’s political agenda. Data show a constant decline in biodiversity within the EU. This is a loss with a high economic cost. Economists have stated that 3% of GDP is lost due to the loss of biodiversity every year. That costs the EU EUR 450 billion year after year. The main issue is not the new strategy, but the forthcoming reforms of the agricultural and fisheries policies and the next multiannual financial framework.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I deeply regret that the European Union failed to reach the target that it set for 2010. Europe enjoys a high level of biodiversity in terms of both habitats and animal species, which absolutely must be protected. Ecosystems are part of our cultural heritage and make Europe unique. I voted in favour of the report on biodiversity as it defends the active protection of the environment. In agricultural terms, biodiversity and promoting more sustainable agriculture are considered alongside one another, without harming each other’s interests in any way. This resolution also advocates pooling resources to combat threats to biodiversity and pooling available scientific resources. It must be clearly understood that no country is capable of facing up to the problems that a loss of biodiversity represents on its own, and that combining our efforts in this way is essential. I also strongly support the international dimension of this text.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. During the International Year on Biodiversity (2010), we heard the most beautiful declarations from political leaders all over the world on the huge importance of biodiversity; about the crucial role it plays for mankind. But as they were speaking, the EU’s strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity in 2010 failed completely. As they were speaking, species were being lost 100 to 1 000 times faster than the natural rate. As they were speaking, they failed in all attempts to agree on measures to fight against climate change. Somehow, the warm words on the importance of biodiversity have not translated into strong policy measures. But the statistics speak for themselves. 60% of the world’s ecosystems are degraded or used unsustainably (FAO, 2010); 90% of our fish stocks are over-exploited; and 25% of all European species are threatened with extinction. According to the UN study, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB, 2010), we lose 3% of worldwide GDP each year due to biodiversity loss. The costs of inaction are many times higher than the investments needed now. The need for urgent measures seems to be clear.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am convinced that meeting the targets set out in the European Union’s biodiversity strategy to 2020 is of fundamental importance, as it offers the opportunity to take the necessary steps to protect nature and safeguard ecosystem services for future generations. The main challenge is to integrate biodiversity into all other policy fields. I hope that advantage will be taken of the fact that all major European policies are currently being reviewed. In order to avoid yet another failure, what is needed is political determination, courage and commitment, as well as the availability of sufficient funding.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The European Union’s biodiversity strategy to 2020 offers the opportunity to take the necessary steps to protect nature and safeguard ecosystem services for future generations.

All major European policies are currently being reviewed. The common agricultural policy, cohesion policy, the common fisheries policy and the European road maps on energy, transport and resource efficiency will soon be translated into legislation. It has to be shown that the statements on biodiversity are more than just promises and are reflected in concrete policy measures.

I am in favour of the text of the report, but I have strong doubts about the development of new ad hoc financial instruments. Sufficient funding should be made available in the next multiannual financial framework. The value of biodiversity and ecosystem services should be integrated into our economies. Only then will their costs and benefits be reflected in product prices.

That is why the Member States should integrate natural capital into their national accounts. However, that would come up against the current economic and financial crisis, and moreover would expose the States to a huge risk that could prove to be yet another failure on a European level.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The United Nations has declared the period 2010-2020 the Decade on Biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential to the existence of human life and the well-being of societies, both directly and indirectly through the ecosystem services it provides. Climate change, biodiversity loss, threats from invasive species and overexploitation of natural resources are transnational and transregional challenges that affect all EU citizens, whether they live in urban or rural areas. For these reasons, urgent action needs to be taken at every level of government – local, regional and national – in order to mitigate these effects. This vote in favour serves to show the urgent need for action and the need to give greater priority to this issue, in order to meet the European Union’s 2020 headline target for biodiversity and global biodiversity commitments. In fact, the preservation of biodiversity is a collective challenge which should be addressed with the commitment and involvement of all stakeholders.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Safeguarding biodiversity must be an issue that cuts across EU sectoral policies. At the same time, the EU diversity strategy to 2020 must be present in EU external policy, as a way to encourage third countries to use an appropriate and targeted response to ensure the sustainability of natural ecosystems. I regret the fact that the Lisbon strategy objectives were not achieved in full. Accordingly, I consider including the issue of biodiversity in all EU sectoral policies key to achieving one of the pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy. On the other hand, for plans in this regard to achieve the proposed objectives, the next multiannual financial framework will have to take this issue into account. At the same time, the Member States must cooperate in protecting our natural heritage, including it in their national programmes and projects. We cannot fail to stress that our natural heritage is a finite resource. Our use and abuse of it will have repercussions on our way of life and, consequently, on our quality of life as citizens.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 because the environment and natural resources are a fundamental asset to human well-being. I emphasise the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity protection and preservation in the development, implementation and funding of all other EU policies – including those on energy, industry, transport, tourism, research and innovation – in order to make the EU’s sectoral and budgetary policies more coherent. I believe that Member States should cooperate and coordinate their efforts in order to ensure more effective use of natural resources and avoid losses in terms of biodiversity and ecosystem services in both rural and urbanised areas. I urge the Member States to design their forestry policies in such a way as to take full account of the importance of forests in protecting biodiversity, in preventing soil erosion, in carbon sequestration and air purification and in maintaining the water cycle. The increasing deterioration of essential habitats, such as wetlands, should be treated as a priority and addressed by means of urgent measures that actually correspond to the special protection status granted to them by the EU.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – The strategy for biodiversity is one of the key policies for green growth that we should push forward as one of our main priorities either in the EU, as voted in this dossier, or – I add – in all of the international agreements that we have to sign. In fact, without respecting and protecting biodiversity in the EU, there is no future. The heritage that we will leave to our families is the respect for our environment, and learning about it should be – as mentioned in the dossier – another policy that we ought to pursue without delay.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) The rapporteur rightly observed that the European Union was unable to achieve the biodiversity target set in 2010; greater political attention should be paid to damaged ecosystems. At 32%, the level of biodiversity in Lithuania is significantly higher than in other EU countries. Lithuania is covered by more than 20 000 forests and there are 1 800 plant species. However, according to research by the Lithuanian Fund for Nature, agriculture and tourism has recently had a very negative impact on biodiversity in Lithuania. Coastal and forest ecosystems are in greatest danger. I am pleased that the rapporteur has mentioned biodiversity as an important economic factor. A study recently carried out has shown that biodiversity loss may have huge economic consequences on the Baltic Sea region. In order to protect our biodiversity, Lithuania must raise public awareness and regulate agriculture more strictly. Lithuania should also increase efforts to create special protected territories (such as reserves protected by the state, other reserves and heritage sites) and environmental protection areas. Currently, the system for safeguarding protected areas only covers 15.3% of Lithuania’s territory, which is not enough.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) Following the failure of the strategy to halt the loss of biodiversity in 2010, and in response to Parliament’s request in September 2010, the Commission has presented a new strategy for 2020.

This report puts forward many measures but they are merely good intentions that do not provide the resources, financial or otherwise, to fulfil its ambitions. Moreover, the report is not critical enough with regard to the current tools that are harming biodiversity, particularly in terms of the common agricultural policy (CAP) and international trade.

This new strategy does not, therefore, seem to match up to the stated objectives in my view.

I therefore abstained as I regret the EU’s lack of ambition with regard to the increasingly alarming biodiversity situation.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report has positive aspects, which we appreciate, such as the parts referring to finance for the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE) programme; to invasive alien species; to the study of the impact of biofuels; and to the reduction in the biodiversity of cultivated species. There are, however, some recommendations that we could never support, particularly those relating to the European Commission proposals for reforming the common agricultural policy and the common fisheries policy, and the emphasis placed on the idea of ‘business and biodiversity’. Environmental concerns should never be seen as a business ‘opportunity’, from which some will profit. They should be considered issues of principle.

 
  
  

Report: Jo Leinen (A7-0048/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, as I believe that the 7th Environment Action Programme (7EAP) should provide the right framework for ensuring adequate funding, including for innovation, research and development; and that financing environmental objectives, in synergy with the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE), and fully integrating protection of the environment should be an important part of the next multiannual financial framework, of the reform of the common agricultural policy, of the common fisheries policy, of cohesion policy and of Horizon 2020. I believe, in particular, that the EU should allow the creation of new sources of funding for the 7EAP. I think that the 7EAP should be an overarching framework that makes it possible to deal with both persistent and emerging environmental and sustainability challenges, with due regard for existing and planned measures. It should take account of the outermost regions; these are considered to be of high environmental value and could turn this programme into an opportunity to promote their sustainable development.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because a healthy environment and a high level of environmental protection are prerequisites for guaranteeing the quality of life as well as preserving the stability of ecosystems. The current 6th Environment Action Programme (EAP), which was the first one to be adopted by codecision, will expire on 22 July 2012. The 6th EAP has provided an overarching framework for environment policy, during which environmental legislation has been consolidated and substantially completed, its legitimacy has increased and this has helped create a sense of ownership. However, progress towards the objectives set out in the 6th EAP has been variable. The EU Member States and the Commission have not always acted in accordance with this programme – major differences in environmental quality and public health remain between Member States. Furthermore, the programme had some shortcomings, which have to be addressed. Major environmental challenges therefore remain which will have significant consequences unless they are addressed. Urgent action thus needs to be taken to help the move towards a sustainable future. We should adopt the 7th EAP which should be an overarching framework that makes it possible to deal with both persistent and emerging environmental and sustainability challenges, with due regard to existing and planned measures. It is important to focus attention on the implementation and strengthening of EU environmental legislation, the integration of environmental objectives into all sectoral policies and the international dimension of environment protection.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. – (PT) I voted for this report on reviewing the 6th Environment Action Programme and setting priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme because I believe it is essential to ensure a rapid transition to the next programme and to avoid any gaps. It is important to ensure the environment action programmes continue, as guidance for EU environmental policy and so as to achieve greater integration of environmental objectives in all policy sectors

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The 6th Environment Action Programme will expire in July 2012. Its final assessment, published on 31 August 2011, concluded that, on balance, it has provided an overarching framework for environmental policy, during which environmental legislation has been consolidated and substantially completed, and that its adoption by codecision has increased its legitimacy and has helped create a sense of ownership for subsequent policy proposals. The priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme are now to be set, at a time when the environmental challenge is critically important and far from being met. There is an urgent need to improve global environmental performance by 2050, and to this end it is important to invest in a greener and more sustainable economy within a framework of competitiveness, innovation and job creation.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The 6th Environment Action Programme has provided an overarching framework for environmental policy, during which time environmental legislation has been consolidated and substantially completed. The adoption of the Environment Action Programme by codecision has increased its legitimacy and has helped create a sense of ownership for subsequent policy proposals. However, the current situation with regard to the environment is far from satisfactory. Scientific data clearly show that business as usual is not an option, as it puts too much pressure on the planet’s capacity to sustain demands for resources or ecosystem services or to absorb pollution. Accordingly, we consider it important that the 7th Environment Action Programme strengthens environmental legislation, addressing environmental policies in a cross-cutting and integrated way, and brings an international dimension to environmental protection.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The 6th Environment Action Programme expires on 22 July 2012, so this report assesses it and sets out priorities for the next programme. There are positive aspects to this report: specifically, it advocates a ‘right framework to ensure adequate funding’ for ‘innovation, research and development’; it argues that funding for environmental objectives should take into consideration protecting ‘biodiversity and forestry’, and efficient and sustainable resource use, thereby providing the required ‘synergy with the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE)’; and it advocates ‘planning sufficient resources for the conservation of the Natura 2000 Network’ and fully including environmental protection as an important part of the next multiannual financial framework (MFF). However, as is well known, the draft MFF under discussion does not do this. Several improvements to the new programme’s objectives were proposed, particularly the removal of references to the market. Citizen responsibility has been watered down to put greater emphasis on producer responsibility. It is important to remember that the future 7th Environment Action Programme lacks coherence between the proclaimed environmental objectives and the other sectoral policies, as well as a framework ensuring coherence between different environmental policies and actions. This coherence does not currently exist.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) A healthy environment and a high level of environmental protection are prerequisites for guaranteeing the quality of life as well as for preserving the stability of ecosystems. Environment action programmes are a powerful driver for the adoption of strong EU environmental legislation, particularly in areas such as air, water, waste and climate. The protection of our environment increases the quality of life, in particular, by safeguarding ecosystems and their services, halting the loss of biodiversity, ensuring better air quality and less noise, creating jobs and growth, and safeguarding the well-being of current and future generations. The current 6th Environment Action Programme (6EAP) will expire in July this year. Its final assessment concluded that the 6EAP has provided an overarching framework for environmental policy, during which environmental legislation has been consolidated and substantially completed. Despite these positive facts, I believe that the state of our environment still cannot be considered to be fully satisfactory. I therefore consider it important and legitimate to adopt as soon as possible a 7th EAP in order to ensure continuity and, as far as possible, a long-term sustainable future. In addition, a future 7th EAP should provide a clear ambitious vision for 2050, in order to give a long-term perspective for all stakeholders.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report as the environment action programmes have been a powerful driving force for adopting solid environment legislation in the European Union.

That is why, in my view, it is important to look to the future now and to put in place concrete targets for 2020 as well as a vision for 2050. If we want to build a dynamic Europe that is respectful of the environment, we must have a long-term perspective so that all the economic and social actors can take the necessary measures without being caught off guard or destabilised. One of our priorities must be to properly implement the existing environmental legislation, which is not always respected.

Lastly, it is important to communicate our intentions as citizens need to know the direction that Europe is taking in terms of protecting the environment. Our environmental policy must set an example to our non-European partners, while being realistic and consistent and becoming fully integrated into our growth targets without causing panic among our economic actors.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. – Although I agree with the essence and majority of the text of the Leinen report ‘Review of the 6th Environment Action Programme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme’, I strongly believe that competences in tax matters should remain with the Member States. Therefore, I voted against paragraph 65, which takes the view that the 7th EAP should address fiscal reform measures to enhance Member States’ activities on shifting taxes from labour to natural resources and pollutants.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – While this report was passing through committee, the European and External Affairs Committee of the Scottish Parliament highlighted the 7th Environment Action Programme as one of their priorities for the coming year. I look forward to working in this Parliament and with colleagues in Scotland in setting the new EAP priorities.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the report by Jo Leinen on the 7th European Environment Action Programme. Since the beginning of the 1970s, the environment action programmes have guided EU policy development and allowed us to progress towards solid, coherent European environmental legislation. The Leinen report calls on the Commission to quickly present a proposal on the 7th action programme with concrete, ambitious long-term objectives. It proposes that this programme should be based on three main axes: strengthening of environmental legislation, integration of environmental objectives into all sectoral policies and the international dimension of environment protection.

 
  
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  Kartika Tamara Liotard (GUE/NGL), in writing. – Although I agree with the essence and majority of the text of the Leinen report ‘Review of the 6th Environment Action Programme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme’, I strongly believe that competences in tax matters should remain with the Member States. Therefore I voted against paragraph 65, which takes the view that the 7th EAP should address fiscal reform measures to enhance Member States’ activities on shifting taxes from labour to natural resources and to pollutants.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report. A healthy environment and a high level of environmental protection are prerequisites for guaranteeing quality of life as well as preserving the stability of ecosystems. Environment Action Programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early seventies. They have been a powerful driver for the adoption of strong EU environment legislation, notably in areas such as air, water, waste and climate. Protection of our environment increases quality of life, notably by safeguarding ecosystems and their services, halting the loss of biodiversity, ensuring better air quality, less noise, as well as by creating jobs and growth and by ensuring well-being for current and future generations. The current 6th Environment Action Programme (6EAP), which was the first one to be adopted by codecision, will expire in July 2012. Its final assessment, published on 31 August 2011, concluded that on balance, the 6th EAP has provided an overarching framework for environment policy, during which environmental legislation has been consolidated and substantially completed, and that its adoption by codecision has increased its legitimacy and has helped create a sense of ownership for subsequent policy proposals.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) A healthy environment and a high level of environmental protection are prerequisites for guaranteeing quality of life and preserving the stability of ecosystems. Environmental action programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy since the early 1970s. They have been a powerful driver for the adoption of strong EU environmental legislation, notably in areas such as air, water, waste and the climate. Protection of our environment increases quality of life, notably by safeguarding ecosystems and their services, by halting the loss of biodiversity, by ensuring better air quality and less noise, by creating jobs and growth, and by ensuring well-being for current and future generations. However, the state of the environment is far from satisfactory and we should immediately begin the 7th Environment Action Programme.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – A healthy environment and a high level of environmental protection are prerequisites for guaranteeing quality of life as well as preserving the stability of the ecosystems. Environmental action programmes have guided the development of EU environment policy and they should continue to do so through the 7th Environment Action Programme, which will provide for an overarching framework that makes it possible to deal with both persistent and emerging environmental and sustainability challenges. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree with the rapporteur’s comment that the 7th Environment Action Programme should give a strong overarching framework that would ensure coherence. It should ensure that all existing environment-related 2020 targets for the various policy areas are included and examined in conjunction with each other, and should provide for a clear ambitious vision for 2050, in order to give a long-term perspective for all stakeholders. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Our environment is once again under threat. I am particularly concerned about our unsustainable consumption. To get us moving, to shed light on the issue for us, the carbon footprint of our everyday actions is still too large. Improving the energy efficiency of the products we use every day must therefore be encouraged. At the same time, reserves of fossil fuels are dwindling and we are increasingly dependent on the countries that supply us. The next EU environment strategy focuses on reducing our dependence on oil and gas by promoting the development of renewable energies. This 7th Environment Action Programme, which has been put to the vote, also calls on Member States to better implement the existing body of legislation on water. This is a strong signal to improve water quality in Europe. Lastly, this review of the existing programme considers the green economy to be an excellent source of jobs and growth, which will enable us to achieve our objectives for intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe for 2020. It is for all of these reasons that I voted in favour of this new strategy for the environment.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. We did not table many amendments as the rapporteur had already produced a very good draft. Most of our amendments were adopted or integrated into compromises. We highlighted the fact that key decisions with a strong impact on the environment are likely to be taken prior to the adoption of the 7EAP (MFF, CAP, CFP, Horizon 2020), and that environment protection needs to be fully integrated. We called for full implementation of EU environment legislation also in times of austerity. We also raised issues with regard to sustainable use of land, more action on biodiversity protection, sustainable chemicals policy and action on endocrine disruptors. Several of our amendments that tried to strengthen the link to effects on health were not successful.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this document because I believe that a high level of environmental protection is a prerequisite for guaranteeing the quality of life and preserving the stability of ecosystems. The protection of our environment enhances quality of life by halting the loss of biodiversity and ensuring better water quality and less noise pollution. Such protection also contributes to job creation and growth, and ensures the well-being of present and future generations. The forthcoming 7th Environment Action Programme will ultimately provide a clear and ambitious vision for 2050, in order to offer a long-term perspective to all stakeholders.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The 6th Environment Action Programme has almost come to an end after a 10-year programme that has led to the achievement of a number of environmental policy targets on a global level.

Europe continues to want to be at the forefront by taking upon itself unilateral commitments without demanding, as it should, a global effort. A 7th Environment Action Programme has become necessary to achieve targets set by the Europe 2020 strategy. Among these are the strengthening of environmental legislation and the recognition of an international dimension to environmental protection.

The protection of our environment enhances quality of life, especially since it preserves ecosystems and their services, halts the loss of biodiversity, ensures better water quality and less noise pollution, creates jobs and growth and ensures the well-being of present and future generations.

I am against the text of the report because the prospect of achieving these objectives will prove to be counterproductive, since they will be difficult to achieve except at a disproportionate and hardly sustainable cost, which will be borne entirely by European citizens. Environmental protection, the protection of biodiversity and the fight against climate change need to be undertaken on a global level.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) Environmental degradation caused by air pollution, noise, chemicals, poor water quality and ecosystem degradation is an important factor in the increase of chronic diseases. Given the current sustainability challenges that the EU has to tackle, the environment action programmes, as global instruments, help to ensure the necessary coordination between different EU policies. Over the next 10 years, it will be even more important to address environmental issues through a more coherent and integrated approach that takes into account the links between different issues and bridges the gaps that still exist; otherwise, irreversible damage could be caused. Therefore, this vote serves to emphasise how the 7th Environment Action Programme will provide the clarity and predictability needed by national and local governments, citizens, entrepreneurs and investors regarding the European Union’s environmental choices. It will then be necessary to enforce and strengthen environmental legislation, integrate environmental objectives into all policy areas and create an international dimension to environmental protection.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The environmental action programmes are intended to set out the EU’s environment policy. They play a central role in guiding legislation in the environmental areas of air, water, waste and climate. The 6th Environment Action Programme (6EAP) expires on 22 July 2012, and there is a need to conduct an exhaustive evaluation and to set the strategic priorities for the next programme. I am voting for this report, which gives a positive evaluation of the 6EAP, but also takes the view that many of the enshrined objectives were not achieved and, accordingly, must continue to be a priority in the next programme. I believe that the 7th Environment Action Programme should establish a strict environmental policy that is in close alignment with the economic development of the Member States. It should establish concrete objectives for 2020 and set out an ambitious long-term vision for achieving a sustainable future and better quality of life for the European public. I voted for this report because I think the European Union’s international role needs to be reinforced in the areas of climate change, efficient and sustainable resource use, biodiversity, forestry and environmental quality.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on the review of the 6th Environment Action Programme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme – A better environment for a better life. A healthy environment and a high level of environmental protection are prerequisites for guaranteeing the quality of life as well as preserving the stability of ecosystems. I emphasise the importance of involving citizens in environmental policies and informing them thereupon in order for these to be successful. I call for increased efforts in this regard in the next action programme, taking into account that a better environment for a better life cannot be achieved unilaterally by the institutions, without the support of society as a whole. I believe the 7th Environment Action Programme should reflect mandatory targets with regard to energy efficiency and/or energy savings, as these will help fight global warming and protect the environment. We urge the Member States to fully implement water legislation so as to ensure compliance with the Water Framework Directive and the directive on the assessment and management of flood risks. We call on Member States to take measures for the recovery of natural river banks and the reforestation of neighbouring areas.

 
  
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  Ramon Tremosa i Balcells (ALDE), in writing. – Establishing priorities for the upcoming years at EU level has wide-ranging effects, not only with regard to the 27 Member States, but also – and no less importantly – to the rest of our neighbourhood in this interconnected world. Thus, I voted in favour of all amendments and in favour of the report, which is in line with the strategy of taking ambitious and realistic action towards achieving the programme. Responsible economic growth should – in the 21st century – be part of every policy, and not only those related to the environment, in order to ensure that our heritage is respected and that the world is protected for our descendants.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – The Commission must come forward with an ambitious Seventh Framework Action Programme as soon as possible. I support calls to phase out environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020 and to set achievable targets in other areas, namely, targets for renewable energy, emission reductions and energy efficiency. I support calls for the 7th EAP to integrate environmental protection into other EU policy areas such as industry and agriculture. Furthermore, I support requests to better enforce EU waste legislation, and I call on the Commission to come forward with more ambitious targets for recycling. Finally, the report outlines the need for sustainability criteria for biomass and biofuels to ensure the sustainability of land use.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report as I generally support its outlines and the three main priorities of the 7th Environment Action Programme:

– implementation and strengthening of environmental legislation,

– integration of environmental objectives into all sectoral policies,

– international dimension of environment protection.

The European institutions must put everything in place to strengthen environmental legislation and integrate environment protection into other EU policies.

I abstained on paragraph 65 of the report which calls for transferring income tax to protecting resources and the fight against pollution. Tax reform must be comprehensive if it is to be effective. As it is described here, such a transfer could only maintain the current levels of taxation. There is again still more to be done if we are to turn fine words into action.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) There are positive aspects to this report. It advocates a ‘right framework to ensure adequate funding’ for ‘innovation, research and development’; it argues that funding for environmental objectives should take into consideration protecting ‘biodiversity and forestry’, and efficient and sustainable resource use, thereby providing the required ‘synergy with the Financial Instrument for the Environment (LIFE)’; and it advocates ‘planning sufficient resources for the conservation of the Natura 2000 Network’ and fully including environmental protection as an important part of the next multiannual financial framework (MFF). The removal of references to the market and placing responsibility on producers are positive amendments. However, we would stress that European Union economic policy in general is incompatible with its proclaimed objectives of environmental protection.

 
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