Index 
Debates
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Tuesday, 11 September 2012 - Strasbourg OJ edition
1. Opening of the sitting
 2. Composition of Parliament: see Minutes
 3. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes
 4. Sulphur content of marine fuels (debate)
 5. Energy efficiency (debate)
 6. Commission Question Time
 7. Composition of Parliament: see Minutes
 8. Request for the defence of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
 9. Composition of committees and delegations
 10. Voting time
  10.1. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: EGF/2011/008 DK/Odense Steel Shipyard from Denmark (A7-0232/2012 - Bendt Bendtsen) (vote)
  10.2. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: EGF/2011/017 ES/Aragón (A7-0233/2012 - Juan Andrés Naranjo Escobar) (vote)
  10.3. Energy efficiency (A7-0265/2012 - Claude Turmes)
  10.4. Waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (A7-0230/2012 - Cecilia Wikström) (vote)
  10.5. Waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen (A7-0229/2012 - Francesco Enrico Speroni) (vote)
  10.6. Alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA (A7-0266/2012 - Hélène Flautre) (vote)
  10.7. Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum (A7-0248/2012 - Kyriacos Triantaphyllides) (vote)
  10.8. European standardisation (A7-0069/2012 - Lara Comi) (vote)
  10.9. Electronic identification of bovine animals (A7-0199/2012 - Sophie Auconie) (vote)
  10.10. Pharmacovigilance (amendment of Directive 2001/83/EC) (A7-0165/2012 - Linda McAvan) (vote)
  10.11. Pharmacovigilance (amendment of Regulation (EC) No 726/2004) (A7-0164/2012 - Linda McAvan) (vote)
  10.12. Sulphur content of marine fuels (A7-0038/2012 - Satu Hassi) (vote)
  10.13. Single payment scheme and support to vine growers (A7-0203/2012 - Herbert Dorfmann) (vote)
  10.14. Administrative cooperation through the internal market information system (A7-0068/2012 - Adam Bielan) (vote)
  10.15. Common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments (A7-0227/2012 - Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz) (vote)
  10.16. Preparation of the Commission work programme 2013 (B7-0346/2012) (vote)
  10.17. Voluntary and unpaid donation of tissues and cells (A7-0223/2012 - Marina Yannakoudakis) (vote)
  10.18. Role of women in the green economy (A7-0235/2012 - Mikael Gustafsson) (vote)
  10.19. Women’s working conditions in the service sector (A7-0246/2012 - Iratxe García Pérez) (vote)
  10.20. Education, training and Europe 2020 (A7-0247/2012 - Mary Honeyball) (vote)
  10.21. Online distribution of audiovisual works in the EU (A7-0262/2012 - Jean-Marie Cavada) (vote)
 11. Explanations of vote
 12. Corrections to votes and voting intentions: see Minutes
 13. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting: see Minutes
 14. Questions for oral answer (submission): see Minutes
 15. Presentation by the Council of its position on the draft general budget - 2013 financial year (debate)
 16. Main aspects and basic choices of the common foreign and security policy and the common security and defence policy (Article 36 TEU) - Annual report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy (debate)
 17. Composition of committees and delegations: see Minutes
 18. Situation in Syria (debate)
 19. Political use of justice in Russia (debate)
 20. Measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing for the purpose of the conservation of fish stocks - Common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products - Conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources - Reform of the common fisheries policy (debate)
 21. Minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime (debate)
 22. Current management of the sugar sector (debate)
 23. Documents received: see Minutes
 24. Agenda of the next sitting: see Minutes
 25. Closure of the sitting


  

IN THE CHAIR: OLDŘICH VLASÁK
Vice-President

 
1. Opening of the sitting
Video of the speeches
 

(The sitting opened at 08.32)

 

2. Composition of Parliament: see Minutes
Video of the speeches

3. Debates on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law (announcement of motions for resolutions tabled): see Minutes

4. Sulphur content of marine fuels (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. - The first item is the debate on the report by Satu Hassi, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 1999/32/EC as regards the sulphur content of marine fuels (COM(2011)0439 - C7-0199/2011 - 2011/0190(COD)) (A7-0038/2012).

 
  
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  Satu Hassi, rapporteur. (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to all the shadow rapporteurs, and also to the Commission, for their excellent levels of cooperation during the negotiations.

With cooperation from Parliament’s negotiating team, we managed to improve the directive considerably from the perspective of both human health and easing the cost burden for industry. The directive brings into effect the new sulphur limits for ships agreed four years ago by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and they are to be made part of EU legislation. Pollutant emissions from ships will decrease substantially: ships must either switch to low sulphur fuels or clean their flue gases. In the emission restriction areas, that is to say, the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel, a 0.1% sulphur limit will take effect at the beginning of 2015, and in other European seas, a 0.5% sulphur limit will be introduced in 2020.

This might be the most significant health reform introduced during the entire parliamentary term. The air pollution currently caused by ships is thought to be responsible for around 50 000 premature deaths a year. If marine sulphur emissions are reduced to almost a tenth, thousands of lives will be saved every year.

Although the main content of the directive is about streamlining EU legislation so that it more closely reflects the international agreement on the environment, it is an example of lobbying that focuses sharply on the issue. I would now like to correct what appears to be a common misconception. The new sulphur limit in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and English Channel will become law even if the EU directive is not enacted. The decision taken four years ago by the IMO is international law, and will be in force even without the directive. Most of the Member States of the EU and the other IMO Member States have already ratified it. For example, after 2015, a Finnish ship would no longer be able to enter legally the ports of other European countries, nor even those in virtually any other country.

I have the following questions for those of you who have called for the EU to oppose international environmental norms for shipping. Do you want half of all countries – including Russia, for example – to dissociate themselves from the double hull requirement for oil tankers? That would incur costs too. Or do you want tens of thousands of people to die prematurely from marine pollution? Do you want European taxpayers to pay for the costs of heart and lung disease, which is many times what cleaning up marine pollution would cost?

The directive is needed to coordinate the implementation of the IMO’s decision with monitoring in Europe. In addition, it will provide a level playing field for Europe and soften the impact on industry. The negotiated text means that Section 86 of the guidelines on State aid for environmental protection, the section on retrofitting environmental protection, needs to be applied. In this case, far more State aid than normal can be granted for the installation of flue gas scrubbers up to the end of 2014.

The directive will also level the playing field between northern and southern Europe, when they, too, switch to low sulphur marine fuels in southern Europe in 2020, even if the IMO grants a five-year grace period to seas outside the emission restriction areas.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would ask those of you who intend to vote against the directive this question. Do you want to deprive industry in northern Europe of this safety net that the directive has agreed on, and do you also want to deprive Europe of the improved standards of equality within it, which the directive incorporates?

 
  
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  Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, first of all, I would like to thank and congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Satu Hassi, as well as the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Transport for the excellent work carried out on this proposal. We have been waiting for it for a number of years. It was already clear in 2005 that, with business as usual, sulphur emissions from shipping would exceed those from all land-based sources in the European Union by 2020. In order to reverse this trend, the Commission supported the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in developing internationally binding standards for the quality of marine fuels, which were agreed in 2008.

This was a major breakthrough. The new standards will bring very significant health and environmental benefits and will contribute to resolving problems faced by Member States in complying with air quality limits.

Although they are highly cost-effective for the economy as a whole, the Commission is aware of the potential economic impact on the shipping industry. That is why we have brought forward a set of measures to support compliance with the legislation in a staff working paper entitled the Sustainable Waterborne Transport Toolbox. This work has now culminated in the proposal on which you will vote today.

The Commission is satisfied with the compromise text, which aligns the directive with the international rules of Annex 6 of the MARPOL Convention in respect of sulphur standards and strengthens provisions on enforcement and monitoring.

Let me explain some of the very good reasons which have already been explained by Ms Hassi.

Firstly, the stricter sulphur standards agreed at the IMO will now be introduced into European Union legislation and, hence, will benefit from the European Union enforcement regime. The European Union legislation will introduce the global 0.5% sulphur standard in 2020, while the IMO foresees a review clause with a possibility to postpone it till 2025. We support the choice made by the colegislators as it brings certainty for investors and operators, as well as fairness across the European Union.

Secondly, the directive will allow the use of emissions abatement technologies, such as scrubbers, or LNG as alternatives to the use of low sulphur fuels. These alternative compliance methods allow operators to choose the most cost-efficient compliance option and also promote development of clean technologies.

Finally, the provisions on enforcement of the standards and guidelines on monitoring and reporting of fuel used by ships should result in a more effective control of compliance with the new standards.

I am convinced that this directive will contribute significantly to reducing air pollution and thus will have a positive impact on people’s health. It is also a step towards a more modern and greener shipping industry.

However, a number of changes introduced in the Commission’s proposal during the first reading deliberations require the Commission to make six declarations concerning: the revision of Directive 2000/55/EC on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues; the use of the ‘non-opinion’ clause for the adoption of implementing acts; the use of dynamic reference to the IMO on the establishment of new Sulphur Emission Control Areas; the use of implementing acts instead of delegated acts for sampling and reporting of marine fuels; the request to the Commission to develop new measures supporting the implementation of the directive by the end of 2012; and finally, the ongoing work to review the EU thematic strategy on air pollution to assess the costs and benefits of additional measures to reduce air pollution from shipping, including the impact of applying a maximum fuel sulphur standard of 0.1% in territorial waters.

We will, of course, pass the full text of these declarations to the plenary services to be recorded in the minutes. The Commission firmly believes that the outcome of the codecision process is a good step forward and it accepts the compromise reached at first reading. So, once again, congratulations on the very good work. It was not an easy compromise but it was very well done.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Transport and Tourism. (ET) Mr President, the sulphur content of marine fuels undoubtedly has a significant effect not just on the European environment and on air quality, but also on the transport sector. According to various estimates, the secondary particulates produced by sulphur and nitrogen oxides arising from air pollution from ships cause up to 50 000 premature deaths in Europe every year.

Given the above, and in view of the agreement that is on the table today, it must be said that the objectives that were set have largely not been achieved. We need to set equal rates that apply to all of Europe’s seas, in order to guarantee clean air not only for Northern Europeans, but also for other coastal areas of Europe. It is also important to guarantee fair and equal competition in the transport sector, and to avoid the unequal treatment of shipping companies operating in different regions.

The European Commission and the Member States should follow the example of the United States and Canada, which jointly established a sulphur monitoring area within 200 nautical miles of their entire coastlines, and they should set firm deadlines for establishing a pollution monitoring area covering the whole of Europe. Although I take a critical view of the agreement concluded between the Council and Parliament, I support the adoption of this report, because the indecision that has existed since 2008 must be brought to an end, and a clear signal must be given about the future. Finally, I would like to thank the rapporteur, Satu Hassi, and our other colleagues.

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner, on behalf of the PPE Group.(SV) Mr President, it is with mixed feelings that I stand here today, as the decision that we are to vote on, that is to say, the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) agreement on sulphur, is something that we have had very little opportunity to influence. I think it is far from a brilliant piece of legislation.

I welcome the fact that we are finally tackling the issue of sulphur and that we have a global solution, as it is a major health problem. As the Commissioner pointed out, sulphur emissions from shipping will soon exceed sulphur emissions on land.

Anyone who has seen bunker oil will know what I mean. Bunker oil is so dirty that in many cases, it has to be heated up just to get it into the engine to burn it. However, as I said, the way in which this decision was taken is not at all good. In fact, it is completely unreasonable. The agreement splits Europe in two. It gives the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, in other words, the areas that already have the strictest rules in the world, even stricter rules, while, at the same time, nowhere near as much is done in other parts of Europe. It is as though the lives of Greek people are worth less than those of Danish people, for example.

At Parliament’s reading of the matter, we tried to rectify this absurdity and ensure that we have stricter requirements everywhere at the same time. We managed to make a slight improvement, but it is a long way from being enough. This decision results in unequal conditions throughout Europe. This will be extremely expensive, costing in the order of many billions, which will be noticeable in the already stretched state budgets. Even yesterday, I saw that industries were announcing that they would move, in which case we have gained nothing.

However, the Member States have asked for this themselves. Those countries that are currently worst affected have asked for this. Therefore, it is simply up to us to implement this decision. I think that the scheme is unreasonable. Those of us here, who are forced to legislate on this, should clearly have been involved from the outset in the discussion on the form this IMO decision should take. We cannot now stand here and claim that we would react at five minutes to twelve when the whole debate on the consequences of the decision took place at five minutes past twelve. If I had been able to stop this from happening, I would have done so, but unfortunately, the opportunity did not arise.

 
  
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  Marita Ulvskog, on behalf of the S&D Group.(SV) Mr President, four years ago, the global decision to establish this more stringent Sulphur Directive was taken. All of the governments of the EU were involved in that decision.

Our task has been to translate this into EU legislation. We have had tiny opportunities to change the content, but I think that we have nevertheless succeeded on a few points. This does not mean, however, that we can be satisfied with the result.

We can be satisfied with regard to the environmental and health aspects, at least as far as the northern half of Europe is concerned, as the requirements mean that we are moving a step towards treating our environmentally damaged seas, our seas that are struggling to survive, and thus also jeopardising the survival of human beings, in a better way. We need to be aware that the requirements for emissions from transport on land are a hundred times higher than those for maritime transport. That really is unacceptable.

However, the problem is that we are placing a great deal of pressure on the northern half of Europe and no additional pressure on southern Europe, at least, no significant additional pressure. We are creating a divided Europe. That is not acceptable if we are to have a common internal market. I now hope that, with our proposal, we have been able to even out some of the differences, and the work must continue.

 
  
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  Holger Krahmer, on behalf of the ALDE Group.(DE) Mr President, firstly, I would like to express my thanks to the rapporteur. We have recently enjoyed very constructive cooperation on this subject in particular. The result that we have before us today is a compromise, and it is in the nature of compromise that everyone is both satisfied and dissatisfied with it at the same time. Overall, it is a step in the right direction when it comes to the quality of marine fuels in the European Union. We have been making policy on air quality in other areas for years and, in my opinion, we often overshoot the mark and pass measures that are not particularly efficient. In this case, we are on the right track.

Nonetheless, I have certain objections here. In reaching agreement so quickly at first reading, we have disregarded some of the arguments and concerns of some players in Europe’s internal market. In 2015 at the latest, when it becomes compulsory to use what are, in fact, sulphur-free fuels in the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), which is essentially in the North Sea and the Baltic, there may be consequences of this legislation that can already be foreseen today but which, at the end of the day, we are completely ignoring. It cannot be in the interests of this legislation if more expensive fuel for goods transport by ferry in the North Sea and Baltic results in goods vehicles turning around at the ferry ports and going by road instead, where this is a possible alternative to short sea crossings. We have given no thought to that, and it was not considered when the Marpol Convention was concluded either. We have simply disregarded this argument. Consequently, I fear that we will have to look at this situation again in the northern regions in two years’ time.

I think it is important to harmonise things in Europe, but we also have to be clear that this cannot happen at the very highest level. I can quite understand some of the arguments from southern Member States, particularly those bordering the Mediterranean, which are dubious about this idea and feel that they have other priorities than the introduction of sulphur-free fuel. It costs money, and you can only ever spend your budget resources once. Consequently, I see this as a step in the right direction but, in the end, unequal competition within the EU has been written into the legislation here.

My final point is that compensating Northern Europeans for their hardships by means of State aid cannot be the way to go since, in the end, this would distort competition between the countries of Northern Europe. Some countries will pay, while others will not.

 
  
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  Carl Schlyter, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group.(SV) Mr President, I would like to thank the rapporteur for her excellent cooperation. The maritime industry would claim that shipping is an environmentally friendly means of transport. I therefore think it is wrong to complain about the fact that we are asking the industry either to stop burning waste – which is what it has in its tanks now, that is what we can liken bunker fuel to – or when it does burn this waste for it at least to treat it. These are entirely reasonable requirements that will save 50 000 lives.

The stricter regulations in the Baltic Sea are entirely to be expected, as it is an extremely sensitive sea. No organisms are perfectly adapted to brackish water. The organisms are sensitive. It is logical to have more stringent rules there. Not everyone can install scrubbers and change vessels at the same time. It is good that some are leading the way. The costs for this have been hugely exaggerated. They are equivalent to a fifth of a cent per share dividend for those companies that need to invest in this. We can afford this. The alternative, in other words not implementing this, is not something we can afford to do, however.

 
  
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  Sampo Terho, on behalf of the EFD Group. (FI) Mr President, Ms Hassi, I am opposed to the adoption of this report, and I also urge others to vote against it.

The report contains massive flaws that would have a very adverse effect on my own country, Finland, and northern Europe as a whole. The Finnish economy is totally dependent on exports. In all, 90% of Finnish exports travel by sea. The additional annual cost to the Finnish export industry that would result from this directive is estimated at more than EUR 500 million. It is thought that job losses would increase to 20 000. At the same time, the benefits from regulation on sulphur emissions, which is far tighter than elsewhere in Europe, to natural conditions in the Baltic region will be minimal. This decision is unfair and contrary to the European spirit because it favours some Member States while punishing others. If a directive comes into force that imposes regulation on the Baltic Sea area that is five times stricter than, for example, that in the Mediterranean, it will distort competition in the internal market.

The forestry company UPM has now said it intends to move part of its paper production operation out of Finland if the directive is implemented. UPM’s Managing Director has said that 300 tonnes of paper now produced annually will leave the country and it will be manufactured in the future in the company’s plants in central Europe. This is a clear example of the directive’s blatant unfairness and distortion of the internal market.

 
  
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  Sabine Wils, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(DE) Mr President, it is time to put an end once and for all to the fact that, every year, tens of thousands of people in the EU die prematurely because of marine emissions. Outside the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs), ships’ engines are more or less burning special waste. On this, the EU is lagging far behind the US and Canada, where only low sulphur fuel can be used in coastal areas. As far as I am concerned, this proposal to amend the directive represents a clear improvement, and this is partly down to the tenacity of the rapporteur.

Better limit values are only half the battle, however. Equally as important is the fact that these are then implemented and enforced. There are certain loopholes, as a result of which it cannot be ruled out that shipowners will be able to evade the directive if, for example, a shipowner apparently proves that he is unable to store low sulphur fuels. It really comes down to the Member States and the Commission here. They must implement the regulations and impose painful penalties when necessary.

 
  
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  Jacqueline Foster, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, my apologies for my delay this morning. I would like to agree with my Finnish colleague and, while I agree with the main concerns of this proposed directive and believe that it is important to improve and protect the maritime environment through reductions in the sulphur content of marine fuels, there are still a number of areas that need close attention.

This proposal is in clear conflict with the principle of equal treatment of Member States regarding internal market agreements across the EU. The different sulphur limits set between the Sulphur Emission Control Areas in northern Europe, including the English Channel, North Sea and Baltic Sea, and the rest of the EU will create disadvantages across the maritime sector, leading to increased costs for shipowners and operators and causing modal back-shifting, which will lead to increased congestion and an increase in CO2 emissions. Any assessment by the Commission must take this disparity into consideration.

To conclude, it is also important to ensure that the technology required by the maritime sector to meet conditions of this directive within the timeframe is widely and affordably available. My information at the moment is that there is insufficient cleaning equipment available. There must also be assurances to those wishing to invest in alternative fuels, such as liquid natural gas, that the investment will be made in the infrastructure.

 
  
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  Richard Seeber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I, too, would like to thank the rapporteur for the way she has taken this report through Parliament. There is no dispute that action needs to be taken in the marine sector. At the same time, however, we have to bear in mind that shipping is international in nature and has very long investment cycles. Nonetheless, this is a good compromise. You can tell that from the fact that so many Members have already complained about it. I believe that it is balanced.

It needs to be pointed out to the northern Member States, in particular, that they have already agreed to the whole package in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and in the Council. It is precisely their region that is most affected by marine emissions and in which the greatest health problems have arisen. Consequently, that is where action most needs to be taken. There are thus objective reasons that justify this division of Europe into two here.

It is also clear that we see a need for action here because, otherwise, in 2020, all the successes that we have achieved in terms of clean air on land would be invalidated by the significant increase in marine emissions. At the same time, we must make sure that we adhere to the transitional periods. That is why we chose 2020, in order to give the shipping industry time to make the changeover and also in order to be able to make the fuels available to them. That is currently the biggest problem. Let us bear in mind, however, that each euro invested here is well invested and will be worth many times that amount in terms of saved health care costs and quality of life. That can only be right.

 
  
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  Janusz Władysław Zemke (S&D).(PL) Mr President, I should like to draw attention to the following fact: the sulphur content of marine fuels has been falling steadily for several years. This is a welcome trend, because it improves the quality of people’s lives and protects the environment. This also applies to the Baltic Sea and the countries which lie around it, so it also applies to Poland.

It should be noted, however, that the reduction in sulphur content now being proposed is to be a severe one. Only a few years ago, the sulphur limit for fuel was 1.5%, today it is 1%, and in a few years, it is to be 0.1%, so there is to be a tenfold decrease. Such a requirement puts many of Europe’s shipowners in a very difficult situation, and the cost of fuel, which will have to be higher because it is going to be of better quality, may reduce the competitiveness of this form of transport. These shipowners should therefore be given technical and financial assistance, and this is something which should be provided by the Union and, in particular, by Parliament.

 
  
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  Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE). (NL) Mr President, this is a good day for Europe: we are finally again tackling air pollution caused by sulphur. We all know that this type of pollution has a major impact on our air quality, as well as our water quality, and it is really important that we do something about it. We need to look at shipping, in particular, because, in 2020, shipping in Europe will produce more sulphur emissions than land-based sources of pollution. We will finally ensure a level playing field by doing something about shipping now.

To all of you who have talked about a level playing field in this Chamber, I say this: at the moment, shipping produces 2 700 times more sulphur emissions than freight transport. And so, by tackling sulphur emissions, we will ensure a level playing field. This is a good day for Europe and it is this path that we should continue to follow.

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

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE), Blue-card question.(DA) Mr President, we are now forcing some maritime traffic onto land, and the result, namely, that lorries will be driving all through the Baltic region and on through Germany, will not be good for the environmental balance sheet. Bas Eickhout said that it is a good day for Europe now that we are choosing road transport over shipping. Why, then, is something not being done in the Mediterranean?

 
  
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  Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE), Blue-card answer. – Mr President, I will react to that question and not the other one. I am hearing different things here. You are mixing up what is happening in the Baltic Sea area and the Mediterranean.

I do not think there is much competition when you look at transport from the northern and southern parts of Europe. It is also not true that there will now be a lot of transportation by trucks because of this legislation, because trucks already have far higher standards for lowering sulphur emissions. I therefore do not see the point you are raising.

I also think it is high time for the shipping industry to emit less sulphur, just as trucks are doing right now.

 
  
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  Liisa Jaakonsaari (S&D). (FI) Mr President, we have to remember a basic fact: this is a very important directive on health and the environment, and one that will actually save human lives. This is important.

I would be even happier if there had been an opportunity for more fine-tuning. For example, it would have been fair if the same stringent limits had been imposed on all European countries, which is what the rapporteur, Ms Hassi, endeavoured to do at first. It would also have been fair if, for example, my country, Finland, which asked for a transitional period – which would have been very important for its industry, economy and employment figures – had had its request granted. We have failed in these fine-tuning strategies, and that is why it is understandable that in many countries, people are very dissatisfied, because this affects employment and regional development very greatly. However, the EU’s powers of decision are limited here.

 
  
 

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Peter van Dalen (ECR). (NL) Mr President, we may not have a perfect compromise on the table, but it is a reasonable one. Of course, it is a shame that low sulphur marine fuel will not become mandatory in all European seas. At the moment, it is only the Baltic Sea, the English Channel and the North Sea that are benefiting from low sulphur fuel and that is a pity. On the other hand, we have prevented a situation where all the other seas in Europe are not required to comply with the requirements. We have made several agreements regarding those seas as well.

This is, therefore, the maximum that we have been able to achieve and I think that it is also good that we, as Parliament, have made a clear statement regarding what is commonly known as shore-side electricity. That, in my opinion, is a huge achievement for the residents of a number of ports in Europe, such as Rotterdam. To sum it up then, this is the best that we have been able to achieve. I support the Hassi report.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE).(FR) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, after months of work, as I was saying, Parliament, the Council and the Commission have reached a compromise concerning the amendment to the directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels, as we know.

This text, on which our three institutions have reached a consensus, is the result of a long process of negotiations in which we participated fully with a small number of colleagues. Not all of our expectations were met, but I am delighted with one particular point where our commitment has borne fruit. The directive, as amended by Parliament this week, will allow Member States to request the revision of the Marine Pollution (MARPOL) convention within the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in order to ensure a deadline for the application of newly authorised sulphur levels.

Indeed, a strict application of MARPOL could add unacceptable constraints to an already very precarious sector, which is forced to invest in very long cycles. On this point, the report by Satu Hassi allows for, in my opinion, an intelligent balance between environmental and economic requirements. We must never forget that the future will be built by ceasing to set the environment against the economy.

While it is often criticised, on this issue, the European Union is proving that it can act as a real lever, and our governments – and I should say ‘but’ our governments – are now fully responsible for realising this work.

 
  
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  Karin Kadenbach (S&D).(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, it is essential that we take action quickly in this area. Look at the figures: 50 000 deaths, solely as a result of the pollutants contained in marine fuels. The level of lung disease and respiratory disease in Europe is increasing dramatically. Above all, we should think of the children and focus on them. The patients are getting younger and younger. I urge you to set stringent standards in future in this regard.

Naturally, we want to shift transport from the roads to the waterways as far as possible. However, we cannot allow that to result in additional air pollution, and therefore also in additional deaths in Europe. We want the opposite. We want healthy air. We want healthy children. We want a clean environment.

 
  
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  Werner Kuhn (PPE).(DE) Mr President, as a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, I should like to point out once again that the European Union has set out its position clearly as regards its transport strategies. From Road to Sea, Short Sea Shipping and Motorways of the Sea are eloquent examples of this. I would also like to clear up a few myths that are being spread here, suggesting that ships are more or less floating waste incinerators on this blue planet. Specific energy consumption per tonne and kilometre, per passenger and kilometre, is at its lowest in shipping, better than for rail and better than for the transport of goods by road.

That is why it is essential, Commissioner Potočnik, that we agree on a sensible investment programme for the introduction of new fuels, because if we are moving towards diesel quality, then we still have not yet had an impact assessment, which would ask whether things will then move in the opposite direction, from sea to road. That is exactly what we do not want to happen. Consequently, if we want to make new fuels such as LNG available, we need to build up an infrastructure in our Baltic and North Sea ports that allows shipping to fill up with these fuels. The flue gas desulphurisation facilities, known as scrubbers, also need to be developed further. These are very important things, which is why I wanted to draw attention to them once more.

 
  
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  Riikka Manner (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, Commissioner, firstly, I wish to thank the rapporteur, Ms Hassi, for the work that she has done. This issue is a very difficult one, and she has certainly worked hard to promote it.

It is quite obvious that we have to reduce sulphur emissions, but the way in which we are now approaching the matter is very unfair, as has already been made clear here. First of all, it would have been a good move if there had been a longer transitional period for the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). Now, the SECAS have to lower their emissions to 0.1% by 2015, while countries in southern Europe can keep their 3.5% emission rate until 2020. This puts competition in a very unfair position. We would also have liked a rather longer transitional period for developing sulphur scrubbers, and I wish that this had been considered. Nevertheless, we have to remember that what we in the European Parliament decide will be very restricted in nature, because these decisions have already been taken by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), as well as by the Council.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Mr President, the EU is obliged to comply with international obligations in this important matter and we have a timetable to meet. Within the opinions prepared, some mention has been made of the possibility of what might be described as the unintended consequences of this proposal. These include the potential of diverting ships to ports in those countries that choose to circumvent international obligations, as well as diverting the carriage of goods from sea transportation to roads, which counters policy elsewhere.

As well as issues about ocean-going ships being able to comply with the timetable, there is a related issue as to where the lower sulphur content fuel will come from. Refining capacity for these fuels is not infinite and there is no doubt that the obligations the EU wishes to meet in a little over two years time will increase demand. Consequently, there is a danger that demand will outstrip supply, with the result that fuel prices for those marine sectors that already use low sulphur content fuels, such as our fishing industry, will be further squeezed, thus adding to the pressures faced by that sector. We should be wary of unintended consequences.

 
  
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  Georgios Koumoutsakos (PPE). (EL) Mr President, the basic objective of the directive is to improve and apply maximum limits to the sulphur content of marine fuels, as agreed by the International Maritime Organisation. An effort has been made to go beyond those provisions and apply stricter limits. The compromise achieved is satisfactory. Clear progress and a clear improvement have been made. However, I still have certain misgivings, mainly concerning the review clause. Before reviewing the directive, we need to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the impact of its application. I also believe that the new legislative initiative in 2013 already provided for undermines the predictability and stability of the economic environment, We are all aware of the vital importance of investment, especially in the current recession. We therefore need to combine realism with ecological awareness.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Mr President, Parliament constantly supports the objective of encouraging maritime transport, given the low environmental impact it has. The Commission should make full use of instruments such as Marco Polo and the trans-European transport network, by which I am referring, in particular, to the short-distance maritime corridors, to provide prompt assistance and increase the proportion of maritime transport among all the transport operations carried out in Europe.

Member States might also feel it necessary to offer support to the operators affected by this directive, in line with the applicable regulations on State aid. We wanted to use the amendments tabled and adopted in the Committee on Transport and Tourism to call on Member States to encourage the use of electrical energy generated onshore as an alternative, in order to ensure the balanced availability and distribution of marine fuels and reduce the emissions caused by maritime transport.

 
  
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  Pilar Ayuso (PPE).(ES) Mr President, the agreement reached by Parliament and the Council reflects what was unanimously approved by the Member States concerned in the International Maritime Organisation. These seas have disconcerting levels of acidification. Moreover, their capacity for regeneration is very limited. The fuels required are going to be more expensive, and therefore there are plans for financial aid for businesses, which is very reasonable.

Some Members, however, have sought to have the requirements for new fuels applied to all the Union’s seas. We would find ourselves with a paradox in that we would be trying to solve an environmental problem of some Member States by creating a major economic problem in the Mediterranean, which does not have that environmental problem, but does have other environmental problems, the costs of which we are not seeking to impose on the other Member States.

The Treaty is very clear. Sensitive areas must be protected. However, not all areas are equally sensitive.

 
  
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  Bogusław Sonik (PPE).(PL) Mr President, on the question of reducing the sulphur content of marine fuels, we should try to reach a compromise between maintaining standards which are safe for health and acknowledging the realities of economic competition. This is particularly the case when it comes to consignments from countries outside Europe – from the developing world, for example – where fuel standards are significantly lower. We should therefore stay with the proposed limit on the sulphur content of fuels used by vessels coming to Europe and leave these other countries time until 2020 to raise their standards and make their fuel less harmful.

In addition to this, the International Maritime Organisation should also take action to reduce other emissions, and the European Union should accept and adopt current international agreements on the sulphur content of marine fuels.

 
  
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  Matthias Groote (S&D).(DE) Mr President, air quality is an important topic in the European Union, particularly in the coming year, which is the Year of Air. We should take heed of this and work to ensure that progress is made in this area. However, we also have to take into account the fact that maritime transport is currently facing one of its most severe crises. I have major concerns regarding the technology that is to be used to provide clean air. In this area, we must make sure – and that includes in the financial perspective – that alternatives are pointed out.

As my fellow Member has just said, LNG is a very good alternative in the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). However, for this we need research and development. It is also an economic recovery plan for our shipyards, particularly in the case of scrubber technology, which has not got that far yet. I sometimes get the feeling that some of my fellow Members believe that the required technology is just sitting on the shelf waiting to be used. It is not. I would therefore like to see greater focus on promoting technology, so that we really can have clean air in our ports and port cities. Please would you also pay heed to who foots the bill at the end of the day.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Janez Potočnik, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I would like to comment on five points.

First, it is obvious from your interventions that this is not an easy compromise, but it is a compromise which has been reached. It is a good, reasonable compromise, one which I believe is really important. That is why I would encourage you to support it by voting for it today.

Second, the fact is that whatever means of transport you take has an influence on air quality, be it air, land or water. As some of you have mentioned, it is true that travelling by water is many times more environmentally friendly than travelling by land. But if we want this to remain so, we have to adopt the proposal which is on the table today.

In terms of today’s proposal, the contribution for the shipping sector, which I believe is a good one, has already been completed for other sectors, so in a way this represents a kind of catching up. I have listened carefully to the others – especially from the Transport Committee – underlining the necessary transitional measures, because whatever transition you undertake, you will always have something which has a negative influence on others. That is why we believe that we have to help those people, and we foresee with the directive the possibility of complying with the sulphur standards by using alternative abatement methods.

The Commission presented a number of actions for mitigating undesired impacts, as I mentioned in the staff working document. In the short term, it is foreseen to use the existing EU financial instruments and programmes, trans-European transport network and Marco Polo, and possible national State aid funds to support the deployment of new infrastructure and superstructure in support of green ship technology, LNG scrubbers and short-side electricity.

The compromise proposal also contains a provision on financial assistance allowing Member States to grant State aid that is compatible with the EU rules and guidelines. In the longer term, we are considering green technology and alternative fuels (notably LNG), regulatory measures for the safe and secure implementation and use of green technology and alternative fuels, green infrastructure and superstructure, possible economic and funding instruments, public-private partnerships and, of course, as was mentioned, also research and innovation. So all that is foreseen and is important.

I also understand some of you who have had mixed feelings from a geographical point of view. To be clear about the Commission’s position: we believe that the extension of the Sulphur Emission Control Areas – SECAs – to other zones in European waters, especially in the Mediterranean, would yield promising heath benefits. SECAs are a cost-effective tool for addressing air pollution. However, any extension of SECAs would require, in particular, that the Member States themselves introduce such a request to the IMO. Implementing unilateral EU action in this field could be very complex – irrespective of its legal feasibility – and would definitely require further analysis. I would just like to inform you that, apart from the political and legal considerations, the Commission is currently studying the benefits of extending SECAs to all EU territorial waters.

Fourthly, as Mr Groote mentioned, next year, our focus will be on air pollution, and we will come with a review of the air policy, including a review of the NEC Directive. More and more scientific facts clearly show the impact of air pollution on human health, and it is simply impossible to ignore this.

My final comment: as one of your colleagues mentioned, coherence between economic activity and the environment is, of course, of fundamental importance. I think that the proposal which is in front of you is the best example of how to approach in this context the idea that prevention is much better than cure. Thank you again for your work and support. It was excellent work and I hope it will also have your support.

 
  
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  Satu Hassi, rapporteur. – Mr President, I would like to thank all colleagues for this very constructive discussion.

As several colleagues have mentioned, there will be a difference in environmental requirements for shipping in northern and southern Europe, but this difference already exists. In the Baltic Sea, the English Channel and the North Sea, the sulphur limit for ships is now 1%, while it is 3.5% for the other EU seas. From 2015 onwards, the difference will be even greater. It is very important that the Commission carefully monitors the impact on transport modes, and it should act if there are any signs of a modal shift from shipping to roads. It is also very important that the Commission monitors the impact on industry in the northern European areas.

I agree with everyone who has said that it would be fair in terms of competition, as well as in terms of human health, to have the same limits in northern and southern Europe. Therefore, I very much welcomed what Commissioner Potočnik said. This is actually part of this compromise, namely, that the Commission is studying the impact of extending the 0.1% sulphur limit to all EU territorial seas. I believe that this will prove to be the most cost-effective way to meet the EU air quality standards.

Finally, all experts to whom I have spoken see that LNG gas is the future fuel for shipping. It is both cleaner, meeting all environmental standards, and cheaper. I think that one of the most important measures we need to take is to speed up the LNG fuelling infrastructure in EU harbours. The technology for using LNG in ships exists. In my country, for example, that technology is being produced. I really hope that these new rules will prove to be a boost for greener shipping in Europe.

 
  
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  President. - The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Tuesday, 11 September, at 12.00.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Sławomir Witold Nitras (PPE), in writing.(PL) While I am in full sympathy with the proposal to reduce sulphur dioxide emissions from marine fuels, I would like to express certain doubts about this legislation. I do realise the Commission’s calculations are clear in their objective: the monetary value of the benefits of carrying out this reform is expected to exceed the costs by a factor of between two and 25. I am also aware of the fact that no price can be put on human health. However, while the benefits associated with this project are to be enjoyed by all citizens to a certain extent, the costs may end up being concentrated in centres associated with transport and the maritime industry.

It so happens that I come from Szczecin, a city which is quite right to be worried about this. If it is true that the people of such cities in particular are to bear the burden of this directive, serious consideration should be given to adopting measures or instruments designed to ease this situation. Furthermore, I would like to point out that the tenfold reduction in emissions in Sulphur Emission Control Areas – and the Baltic Sea is also part of one such area – is to be delivered as early as 2015. This poses the question as to whether it is technically possible to ensure the supply of sufficient quantities of fuel by this time. I think these reservations are sufficiently serious to make us think carefully about how we vote on this directive.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D), in writing. (FI) I am absolutely in favour of environmental protection and health protection. It is important to safeguard the cleanliness and vitality of northern sea areas, but protection should not be introduced at any cost.

The rules on transition are far too stringent for sulphur emissions in the Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs). For example, Finnish industry will not have time to adjust to the emission restrictions so quickly. The directive will also mean that different Member States of the EU will be treated unequally. This runs counter to the principles on which the internal market operates. Logistical conditions in Finland are already very challenging. As they stand, the regulations will cause the Finnish economy to incur considerable costs. It would be irresponsible to understate the consequences.

 
  
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  Kathleen Van Brempt (S&D), in writing. (NL) Marine fuel contains, on average, 2 700 times more sulphur than diesel for lorries. As a result, shipping accounts for 30% of sulphur dioxide emissions in the countries bordering the North Sea. The efforts we are making on land are increasingly at risk of being cancelled out as a result of increasing ship emissions. In particular, people with asthma and other lung diseases are suffering due to high sulphur concentrations in the air, accounting for about 50 000 premature deaths in the EU. The estimated cost of this switchover (between EUR 2.6 and 11 billion) will be amply offset by health care savings of around EUR 30 billion. As a result, north-western Europe will be in a win-win situation. The Channel between the United Kingdom and the North Sea coast is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world and, because of our geographical location, we experience first-hand the many disadvantages of shipping emissions. In addition, millions of Europeans live close to our major ports. It is good for the competitiveness of our ports that these areas that are subject to stricter conditions should be extended. The need to make use of the more expensive low sulphur fuels will, as a consequence, become less of a competitive disadvantage. At the same time, we need to strengthen our efforts concerning shore-side electricity in ports and the switch to using ships that run on liquid natural gas (LNG), the environmental impact of which is significantly lower.

 
  
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  Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (PPE), in writing.(PL) I welcome this proposal to amend legislation related to protection of the environment. The air pollution caused by the sulphur present in marine fuels is an important problem, particularly in view of the solutions currently being applied to land-based sulphur emissions. I think maritime transport needs rules which will reduce the effect of the emission of pollutants both in the maritime environment and on land. The most important challenge is to establish stricter limits on sulphur content: a reduction to 0.1% inside Sulphur Emission Control Areas by 2015, and a reduction to 0.5% outside these areas by 2020.

It is possible for fuel standards and legislation on methods of reducing emissions to be tightened while upholding the principles of sustainable growth. By promoting high standards of environment protection at the same time, Europe will become more competitive. The predicted ecological impact will be similar in northern and southern Europe, so the limits should not differ significantly either. Another important question which we should not forget is passenger ships, which should also be covered by the tougher restrictions. This is because we want to concentrate on ensuring a level playing field to all enterprises regardless of their size, while respecting the environment and the principles of a sustainable economy.

In order to avoid upsetting the balance of competition with countries from outside the European Union, marine fuels which exceed the current maximum 3.5% sulphur content will be permitted for use only by incoming vessels, but only until 2020, and I think this is warranted. Starting from that year, all vessels sailing in EU waters will have to comply with this legislation. To ensure a smooth transition, there are plans for programmes which will facilitate the implementation of methods for reducing emissions.

 

5. Energy efficiency (debate)
Video of the speeches
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  President. - The next item is the debate on the report by Claude Turmes, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC (COM(2011)0370 - C7-0168/2011 - 2011/0172) (A7-0265/2012).

 
  
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  Claude Turmes, rapporteur. – Mr President, as the rapporteur, I can proudly announce that today, this House will discuss and, even more importantly, adopt, by a very large and broad majority, the Energy Efficiency Directive. This was a huge collective effort by us as Members of this Parliament and, of course, by all the staff involved. I am proud that once again, it was the directly-elected European Parliament, which, after having brought Europe on to the right track on the internal market and on renewable energies, has again been the most progressive institution in making this compromise possible at the end of the day.

Why is this legislation also important for citizens and businesses in Europe? This is an anti-economic crisis and anti-job crisis directive. Our economies in Europe are also weak because, in 2011 alone, we lost the astronomic sum of EUR 488 billion in having to buy oil, gas and other energy supplies. This is the single biggest wealth transfer out of the European economy to oligarchs in Russia and elsewhere in the world. It is six times bigger than at the beginning of the century and constitutes almost 4% of our GDP. I am proud that with this directive, certain oligarchs in the oil and gas market will earn less money.

On the other hand, many people will be happy about this directive. Firstly, all the people in Europe who are complaining about energy costs being too high. We do not control the oil price, but we can help citizens to invest in reducing their energy consumption. With this directive, we are creating businesses opportunities, above all for small and medium-sized enterprises in the construction sector. It is also good news for jobs in Europe. What I also want as a priority in transposition is for these investments to be linked to training, especially for young people in Europe. It will be so much better, bring so much more hope, if, with this directive, we can deliver not only organisation of energy in the future, but also guarantee the professional future of many young Europeans.

I have one more minute in which to outline two or three priorities for where we go from now on. First, of course, is financing. It is very important that, in the context of the discussions on the EU budget, we now make energy efficiency a priority for the Structural Funds; we need project bonds for efficiency; the European Investment Bank has to step in; and all this requires follow-up action.

But there is also the issue of legal implementation. I have three questions on that for the Commissioner, whom I want to thank for his personal, positive commitment to making this deal possible. I should also like to thank his staff. Commissioner, there will be a need for a lot of implementation notes and guidance. I think we should make the most of the range of stakeholders involved and constitute a forum, as was the case for the legislation on ecodesign. Within this forum, stakeholders can bring their expertise to the discussions on the details of implementation.

Second, going back to ecodesign, a decision on boilers is pending. Maybe in your speech, Commissioner, you can give us some details as to where we are now.

The last point is something that is very confusing. At this very moment, the Commission is forcing the UK Government to have VAT rates for energy efficiency products that are four times higher than the rates for gas and oil. This is very disturbing and annoying, so Commissioner, can you explain to us the rationale behind this push by the Commission?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission. (DE) Mr President, honourable Members, to start with, I would like to say that of all our energy policy and environmental policy objectives, energy efficiency is the most under appreciated and, perhaps, even the most important issue. That is why, alongside our subsidy policy for renewable energy and alongside the general goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it was necessary for us to look at setting binding targets for energy efficiency – for us as the Commission to do so, but with substantial involvement from Parliament.

Looking at the last two-and-a-half to three years, I note that the impetus to make energy efficiency a binding area of work for European energy policy did not come from the Council. It did indeed come from the European Council in 2007, but not since then. The national ministers tended to be reticent, some of them even unwilling, and were not prepared to have binding targets set. Parliament has pushed this.

I would like to thank you personally, Mr Turmes, along with those from the other groups who have been fighting for this. You have not just lobbied hard; you have also been skilful negotiators. After all, this whole issue is not just a matter of facts, dates and statistics. It is also a matter of diplomacy. It was on a knife edge, but it succeeded. You and the minister from Copenhagen, who is not here today and whom I would expressly like to thank, were mainly the ones responsible for a pragmatic, but, in fact, quite credible, success.

What is it all about? Firstly, we hope to bring about a reduction in imports of primary energy through energy efficiency – that means using energy well, reducing the amount of energy that is wasted, improving the use of energy and saving energy. Oil, gas, coal, biomass, uranium – the amount we import must not increase further as a result, but be limited instead.

Secondly, in the long term, we want to reduce our costs; in other words, the amount our citizens and our businesses have to spend on energy. Thirdly, we hope thereby to reduce emissions and make a contribution to stopping climate change. Fourthly, we also want to utilise the skills that our citizens have – engineering skills and trade skills – and thereby also secure and enhance jobs. Those are the four goals that make binding energy efficiency a sensible course of action at European level.

Looking at the Commission proposal, it did not go as far as many in Parliament had expected: that is to say, at the moment, we have not introduced a binding target. We have proposed binding measures and binding targets for some areas, public buildings and others. However, the proposal does not go as far as some Members of Parliament had expected.

Moreover, it was watered down somewhat in the course of the negotiations. Nonetheless, what we have on the table now that is to be debated and passed by you – and in the Council in parallel – is by no means mere empty words. It has substance that will be effective. With what we are currently proposing, we will essentially meet our 20% efficiency target. I am counting on the Member States to implement it on a one-to-one basis.

Not only that, however. We are also counting on there being Member States that do more. In other words, I would expressly like to mention today the idea of a competition. I think it would be terrific if, in two, three or four years’ time, we were able to note that the Member States were not just complying with binding European laws, but were exceeding them – were doing more. I would like to see a competition to find the best Member State that does more in respect of energy efficiency than is necessary under European law. Our work does not end here.

I see three tasks for the Commission. The first is checking implementation – implementation in the Member States and the progress reports, in other words, looking year by year to see whether we are making progress in reducing energy consumption. If so, where? If not, why not? We will then submit a progress report still under the current Barroso II Commission – in other words, before the end of our period of office in 2014 – to tell the next Commission, the next Parliament, either that things are proceeding successfully or that more needs to be done at European level by binding means. Then we will approach other sectors with other products by means of ecodesign and eco-labelling in order to be able to make further specific progress in this area, as announced previously.

All in all, this is a good day. Bearing in mind that at European level – and that applies both to you and to us – we are still focusing almost entirely on the state debt crisis and the concerns regarding the euro, today’s draft legislation and your compromise result demonstrates that Europe can still shape things, can still act. There is nowhere else in the world that has made such binding progress on energy efficiency as we have in the European Union. I would like to thank everyone concerned once again.

 
  
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  Peter Liese, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety.(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way of cutting down on fossil fuels and CO2. Per euro spent, we can achieve substantially more by means of energy efficiency than if we invest only in renewable energy. Moreover, electricity that is never used to start with does not generate a requirement for new grids or expensive reserve power stations. I would therefore like to thank everyone who helped bring about this result.

We are focusing primarily on incentives. The core of the directive – Article 6 – obliges the Member States to introduce incentives for medium-sized enterprises and for citizens. Anyone who renovates their house or installs new, efficient heating or who buys an efficient washer-drier should be subsidised by the state or, alternatively, by the energy suppliers.

For the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, it was very important that the problems involving emissions trading be resolved. The linchpin of European climate policy is not working. I am therefore grateful that the Commission has tabled initial proposals. We need incentives for industry and we also need income for the state to provide these incentives. The Commission needs to make its proposals more specific, however. The Commission has not yet done everything that is in the statement.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela, rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality.(PT) Mr President, in my capacity as rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, I consider it crucial to guarantee women access to specialised training and to promote jobs for women in sectors relating to energy efficiency. We also need to create measures for vulnerable social groups so that they will be able to make their homes more energy efficient and cut the cost of their energy consumption.

These measures should be designed with a gender perspective in mind, since women run a greater risk of poverty than men in almost all EU Member States. As regards agreement at first reading, although better than the Commission’s estimates, I think 15 or 17% energy efficiency by 2020 is very little: we must be more ambitious.

 
  
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  Markus Pieper, on behalf of the PPE Group.(DE) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I, too, would like to start by saying how pleased I am about the twenty 2020 goals where the environment is concerned. Where CO2 reductions are concerned, we will exceed our target. As regards the share of renewable energy, we will exceed our target. As for energy efficiency, we are going down the right route here, at least as regards energy usage in relation to economic output. Unfortunately, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) was not able to get this definition agreed in the procedure. In the directive, we now equate energy efficiency with saving energy. They are not the same, however. If I save, that does not automatically make me more efficient. The compulsion to make savings could even jeopardise the expected economic growth in many countries. In this respect, the rapporteur’s actions were unfortunate. What he refers to as strip poker sometimes meant provoking the other groups. Sometimes nothing was offered to the Council. There were clips around the ear. A diplomatic process could have achieved more for this directive and for the environment.

We therefore welcome the fact that, in the end, we were able to achieve some compromises. The savings targets are flexible and can be implemented by each Member State according to their own particular requirements. Early actions, flexibility in the Emissions Trading System (ETS) sector and also the recognition of subsidy programmes and tax reliefs have been taken into account. Finally, we have also saved the local authorities from being forced to renovate 3% of their stock annually. It is a good thing that the Commission and the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance have had to adjust their wishful thinking, which is out of touch with the real world, to the reality of public finances and high energy prices. In short, there is less of the European planned economy and red tape, and greater flexibility and responsibility for the Member States themselves – all of which will benefit the environment. That is a great result.

One thing remains unclear, and that is what influence this directive will have on the ETS system. We did not call for a reduction in the allowances. A revision, yes. We need to be very careful that having more and more European environmental targets – such as in this directive – does not undermine the market economy-based system of emissions trading. If we decide on changes to the ETS system, then the emphasis is on ‘we’. The Commission is not permitted to push through decisions of such consequence in the comitology procedure. In this respect, we call for the comprehensive participation of Parliament.

 
  
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  Britta Thomsen, on behalf of the S&D Group.(DA) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, over the past year, many people have asked me whether the EU can haul itself out of the crisis. Each time, my answer has been, ‘Yes, if we save energy, that could make a great contribution to pulling Europe out of the crisis’. The EU is expected to spend around EUR 400 billion on imports of oil in 2012 – money that could be spent much better. We have already come a long way towards our targets for renewable energy and for reducing CO2 emissions, but we are not good enough at saving energy. Before we can save, however, we have to invest, and energy savings are a really good investment. Investments in energy efficiency do not just mean that we save on our electricity bills. Investments in renovating buildings and in more energy-efficient technology will also stimulate the European economies and create new green jobs – and these will be local jobs in the Member States, because you cannot transfer jobs such as cavity wall insulation of buildings or energy audits abroad.

As we come to vote on the Energy Efficiency Directive today, it is a bittersweet feeling. The directive, as has already been said here, is nowhere near as ambitious as Parliament had intended. On the other hand, I am pleased that, despite everything, we managed to reach agreement with the Council on the fact that we can and must do better. Without the directive, the EU’s energy saving would only be 9% in 2020. With the new directive, we will save 15% and perhaps even more, and it is a sensible step in the right direction. What we lack, however, is a fundamental recognition of the fact that it is not a question of what we can afford to do, but rather that we cannot afford not to do it. I would therefore urge you to vote in favour of the Energy Efficiency Directive, but not to forget that we are still a long way from our goal.

 
  
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  Fiona Hall, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, first, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Claude Turmes. The gloom-mongers said we would never reach agreement on this directive, but, thanks to his great skill and determination, we did. That was in June. Now we must move on and look ahead at what steps are necessary to make sure the Energy Efficiency Directive is properly implemented and achieves its goal.

First, there is the gap. According to the Commission, the text of the EED will achieve about 15% of the 20%. On top of that, the proposed measures on boilers and on cars and fans will take us to 17%. But, as we have heard, the boilers measure is still under discussion in the Council, and the cars and vans legislation has not yet come to Parliament yet. So there is important work to do, and do ambitiously. I am anxiously awaiting the promised additional measures to close the remaining gap of 3%. Commissioner, can we have them this autumn please?

Second, there is implementation. The directive calls for all requirements to be implemented by 2014. That is only six years before 2020. I hope that lessons have been learned from the Energy Services Directive. The Commission will need to monitor Member States closely and provide a guiding hand if necessary.

Finally, regarding the 2050 national road maps, this could be the most effective measure in the directive if it is carried out seriously. To reach 2050 greenhouse gas reduction targets, the existing building stock needs to use 80% less energy than today. The national road maps must not be vague. They must set out a clear path for that reduction.

Energy efficiency is a key part of economic efficiency and, in terms of the economy, we are all in this together. We cannot afford slackers. Every country’s business is everybody’s business. I hope the Commissioner will now commit to the task of making sure that the directive is 100% implemented.

 
  
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  Satu Hassi, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. (FI) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, all the climate scenarios that I have seen – whether they were from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact, McKinsey or whatever agency – suggest that by far the best way to protect the climate and reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to invest in energy savings. These measures are also the quickest to implement, though it is these very measures that are implemented very slowly in practice.

The core of the problem is that many millions of people each day take decisions on energy consumption and savings. That is precisely why we need more stringent policy and more innovative policy measures. For example, there is immense savings potential in the energy renovation of buildings, but it will not become a reality unless the Member States take ambitious steps to inform and re-educate people, and which extend to the entire construction industry, from the architects to the plumbers and electricians. That also applies to the European Parliament, incidentally.

 
  
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  Vicky Ford, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, last night, when I was writing this speech, we had a power cut. It saved a lot of energy but my productivity went to zero – and this sort of sums up the energy efficiency debate: we need to have stable energy (no power cuts) and to use less energy because we cannot afford our ever increasing fuel bills, but we need to do this without reducing productivity and helping growth at the same time.

I support the ambition of energy savings, and I know that we need to do this without also forcing companies to simply relocate outside the EU. I have also fought for Member States to have the flexibility to introduce savings schemes which suit their own local markets. We also need to be aware that there is no bottomless bank account and to make sure we take cost-effective measures first.

The Commission has said that it supports energy savings, but now another part of the Commission has announced that the UK cannot keep its low VAT levels for energy efficiency installations. So it is fine to give tax incentives to fuel wasters but not to fuel savers. That is ridiculous. I agree with this directive – we have got it in the right place – but let us now turn our energy to fighting this crazy tax decision.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas, on behalf of the EFD Group. (LT) Mr President, Rolandas Paksas is not here today, so I will speak for him.

One of the previous speakers mentioned a very large figure – 4 billion on energy costs in the European Union. This really is big money. If the European Union fails on energy efficiency, then it will also fail on climate change, energy security and social security. We therefore have to improve our energy security and efficiency and control spending because otherwise, the price per unit will continue to rise. Targeted policies and specific measures must be used to achieve an absolute reduction in energy consumption, which will thus reduce consumers’ spending on energy. Increasing energy prices have a negative impact on low-income households, particularly during the economic crisis. In Lithuania today, prices for centralised heating have become an intolerable burden for residents. It is also essential to reduce the bureaucratic burden in all Member States. I am not speaking about the renovation of buildings. Consumer organisations should also have a greater role in developing a national strategy to protect consumers from unjustifiable price increases. All information regarding energy price increases should also be made public and be publicly accessible. Finally, perhaps the European Union financing percentage for establishing smart energy facilities should be reviewed, so not 50% but more, and I have cogeneration in mind.

 
  
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  Miloslav Ransdorf, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group.(CS) Mr President, I would like to make a few brief comments.

First, a personal comment. I was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere among the entire group of shadow rapporteurs and, despite the reputation of Mr Turmes, I must say that he is an agreeable, tolerant and open partner in discussion, when he wants to be.

Secondly, I would like to say that there is a persistent problem here, which is that energy efficiency and savings are too close in this project. Savings are not the same thing as energy efficiency, and what Mr Pieper said, of course, is true.

I would also like to say that some of us had the impression that a way would be found, and that the Commission and the Council would agree on the binding nature of the aims and the flexibility of resources. That would be far better than a result which rather favours binding resources and aims that are not binding but are, on the contrary, flexible.

In my opinion, implementation will not happen, even when the resulting compromise is quite good, without the involvement of the municipalities and the regions. That is where the problem lies. The same applies to the clarification of terms, many of which – even key ones – have remained rather vague. All of the shortcomings are trumped in my eyes, however, by the fact that the result may be positive for European employment. Two million jobs add up to an argument for giving this measure a try.

 
  
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  Francisco Sosa Wagner (NI).(ES) Mr President, Mr Turmes has done an admirable job because he needed courage to move forward with this type of legislation and he has been capable of neutralising the obstacles, which were many and cleverly placed. It was worth the effort, because energy efficiency and energy savings are requirements of any energy policy worthy of that name.

We must welcome significant measures such as the requirement to renovate public buildings, the imposition of a cumulative energy savings percentage on energy companies, as well as compulsory audits imposed on large private companies.

The work done by Mr Turmes and the other rapporteurs will be in vain if it is not accompanied by decisive action from the Member States. This action must, in turn, be accompanied by a firm commitment to the targets by European regions, towns and the public.

I would like to highlight the participation of the public. Currently, what we are seeing is a great deal of frivolousness among the authorities and the public. Is it not true, ladies and gentlemen, that in the harsh European winter, we see people sitting on street terraces with heating?

Mr Turmes, we should not spare any efforts in order to try to save energy.

 
  
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  Pilar del Castillo Vera (PPE).(ES) Mr President, Commissioner, this is undoubtedly one of the most important legislative contributions in the field of energy in this parliamentary term. Ultimately, there will be few other things that will have the same significance as this Energy Efficiency Directive, and this is as a result of tenacity and hard work. It is as a result of the work done by the rapporteur, but also by shadow rapporteurs who have done truly admirable work, and I therefore congratulate them all.

This directive basically has three objectives: it will help to make the European Union less of an energy island, it will help to make climate change targets a reality, and it will also help to develop an energy efficiency market that will make it possible to have greater economic growth through the right technologies.

I would, however, like to highlight one thing which I think is the major contribution that Parliament is making to this directive, which is flexibility: flexibility in the 1.5% savings target for energy distributors and sellers, or the target of renovating 3% of buildings; and the flexibility that Member States have to apply alternative measures. This is the key, because there is a great deal of diversity within the European Union.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D).(ES) Mr President, Commissioner, I would like to highlight an aspect that is crucial in the current situation, because this directive has an overwhelming economic logic.

Firstly, it will create jobs, many of which will be in the construction sector, which has suffered so much in terms of jobs, which play an important role locally. Secondly, it will help to combat the energy poverty of many homes. Thirdly, it will help save on energy imports. Fourthly, it will act as an incentive for research and innovation and will encourage our businesses to be more competitive.

For all these reasons, my group applauds the report, although we feel that some measures have been left by the wayside, especially with regard to the example-setting role of our public authorities.

 
  
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  Jens Rohde (ALDE). – Mr President, for me as a Dane, it is safe to say that although energy efficiency has maybe faded a bit from a public perspective during the current economic situation, the dossier was by far one of the most important tasks for the Danish Presidency and – let us be honest – it was not a walkover for anybody to get a first agreement. There were quite a few hurdles to overcome, but we succeeded.

I think the Danish Presidency did very well. It managed to balance ambitions between goals and flexibility and recognised when to close a deal in the Council, which was absolutely crucial for further negotiations. Having been in close contact with Minister Lidegaard during and after the negotiations, I know that the Presidency was extremely grateful to this House: to the Committee on Industry, Trade and Energy as a whole and to the rapporteur and the shadows in particular. There were lots of obstacles along the way. Without the impressive strong political will of the European Parliament to get a result, the Danish Presidency would have been sent home with empty hands.

Of course, ambitions were drastically cut, but we have a sound compromise where ambitions and the need for flexibility meet. This is, in particular, thanks to very efficient and professional codecision work between all the European institutions, which is something to learn from in the future. Congratulations to Europe, congratulations to us. Mr Turmes, you did a fine job.

 
  
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  Bas Eickhout (Verts/ALE). (NL) Mr President, today, many of you have said that it is extremely satisfactory that we are finally making progress in the field of energy conservation.

It is insane that Europe is trailing behind when it comes to energy saving, to using less energy, which is the cheapest, easiest and best option in the climate package that Europe has adopted. So, it is really good that we are now taking action on this, but we must really push on.

So, I have a question for Mr Oettinger: when are we going to have the Ecodesign Directive, with additional details for boilers? We know that there is a proposal, but when are we actually going to see it? This is an extremely important step that we need to take and I expect a concrete answer to my question.

My second point concerns the Emissions Trading System (ETS). We have an incredible number of emission allowances in the ETS, there is a huge surplus, and it will only get worse. When will the Commission take concrete action to remove this surplus from the ETS, so that we can continue to work on that part of Europe’s climate change policy?

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR).(PL) Mr President, the compromise over this proposal, which was arrived at with great difficulty, solves a great many of the problems linked to this directive, but not all of them. One of these unsolved problems is the question of public procurement. I think the criterion of energy efficiency in public procurement must be clearly balanced by that of price. It must not be the case that we exchange the high electricity bills we pay today for very high bills for services and goods related to energy efficiency when these services and goods do not produce overall cost savings and are incapable of doing so. I do not think our citizens are particularly interested in whether they pay too much for electricity or too much in the form of taxes levied to pay for energy efficiency. A very harmful role is being played by the linking of energy efficiency with climate policy. Manipulation and administrative correction of the carbon market – only because this market produces unexpected results – is very bad news for businesses, because it compromises the profitability of business done in the European Union and undermines confidence in legal transactions conducted here.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD).(EL) Mr President, I should like to take my turn in congratulating Claude Turmes on an exceptional and balanced report. A great deal has already been said, to which I should like to add the following: one way of turning energy efficiency into a source of energy is to communicate with the citizens of Europe in a bid to encourage a certain type of behaviour. I propose that we integrate the principles of energy efficiency and energy savings into national school curricula. We could also run European information and guidance campaigns for European citizens in order to encourage energy awareness and the right behaviour.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL).(PT) Mr President, I also want to congratulate Mr Turmes on the agreement achieved with this directive. We know that energy efficiency is, undoubtedly, one of the most powerful anti-crisis measures that we in the EU could currently have. We have had enough of punitive austerity policies without a cent of investment in Europe’s economies and energy efficiency can be one of these areas for investment. We see the waste that we have in terms of consumption; we see the throttling of many European companies, particularly because they cannot pay their energy bills; and we also see that we are extremely dependent on fossil fuels and the oligarchies that produce those fossil fuels.

It is therefore obvious that this investment has to be taken seriously and we cannot continue treating energy efficiency as some sort of garnish for governments to use however they choose or to abandon if they feel like it. It is, in fact, an anti-crisis policy; it is an investment policy. The EU plays a key role here and, if we want growth and jobs, energy efficiency is a means to that end.

 
  
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  Auke Zijlstra (NI). (NL) Mr President, the power of Brussels is, fortunately, restricted through subsidiarity and the Treaty. Subsidiarity means that Brussels is unable to interfere with matters on which Member States can themselves regulate. The Swedish Parliament has officially protested against this directive but Brussels is, as ever, ignoring the interests and sovereignty of the Member States.

Article 194 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU explicitly sets limits on the EU’s powers in the field of energy. This article states that Brussels is not allowed to interfere with the operation, choice or structure of energy supply in a Member State, whether it is efficient or not. The current proposal on the efficient use of resources is therefore not only contrary to the principle of subsidiarity, it does not even have a legal basis.

Why are we voting on this? What Brussels is actually concerned with is the organisation of the European Union itself. And there we can definitely achieve efficiency gains. We have huge numbers of officials, we are getting one new agency after another. We have an incredibly costly and an utterly failed euro policy and all those things are not necessary.

Anyway, we could use our energy more efficiently from now on by talking about the things that we actually have control over. If not, we might as well abolish this Parliament.

 
  
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  Richard Seeber (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I would first like to thank Commissioner Oettinger and his team for looking at this issue. Energy efficiency is really something to get on our soapbox about. We are all in favour of it, but we all have great difficulties when it comes to doing something concrete about it. It is clear that if we want to bring about a change in the use of energy, and we have all undertaken to do so, then we have to do things not just on the supply side – in other words, investing in renewables – but also on the demand side. Energy efficiency is undoubtedly the most cost-effective way to do that.

To be frank, I am a little disappointed with the Member States for being so reluctant to accept a fixed target for energy efficiency as we agreed in 2008. That would have been the simplest way. Each Member State establishes how much it wants to save, and then decides the measures itself. That would have saved us all the red tape on energy that we have created with this proposal and this report. That is actually my main criticism. Mr Turmes was a very tough negotiator. In the end, we decided to accept this compromise. The problem will be that we now have a set of rules that are extremely complicated and laborious to implement.

The simple variant – targets, with everyone doing it the way they want to, as has already been mentioned by a number of Members – would undoubtedly have been the most elegant solution. The Member States must be openly criticised for not having been prepared to do this. Please could we also not forget the social problems that are naturally associated with the Energy Efficiency Directive. Buying these new products costs money. We need to watch out that we do not overdo things here. Fundamentally, then, I am in favour. However, we need to see how this is implemented in practice.

 
  
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  Pavel Poc (S&D). - (CS) Mr President, how can I sum up a year’s work in 60 seconds? That is obviously not possible, but there are some points I can make. I would like to thank and applaud the rapporteur and all colleagues who worked on the directive. Parliament has done an excellent piece of work here. The Danish Presidency deserves recognition. With strong opposition and powerful enemies, it was no simple matter. The result can be regarded as a success, because we do have at least something on the table. Without a directive, we would not have achieved even half of the intended objective.

Despite all of the enthusiasm and joy over what we have achieved, the current version of the directive is, above all, a missed opportunity. All of the main objectives, all of the binding objectives, were removed from the proposal by Member State governments, and instead ways were proposed of achieving the objectives contrary to the logic of the issue, despite the fact that Member States have varying heterogeneous conditions. This is what they wanted and what they pushed for here.

I speak with people a great deal, ladies and gentlemen, and I would like to take this opportunity to pass on to you one message from them. People are getting poorer, energy poverty is affecting increasing numbers, and they have had enough of this. We must do something to stop the anger boiling over.

 
  
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  Evžen Tošenovský (ECR). - (CS) Mr President, Commissioner, the planned directive contains measures that include a slew of cost cutting initiatives for boosting energy efficiency. The effort to boost energy efficiency in Europe may lead to positive effects on the European economy, but also on the environment, as long as sensible steps and measures are taken in the area of energy savings which do not interfere in the basic market principles that Western Europe has so long profited from. The Energy Efficiency Directive should bring about these sensible steps.

In my opinion, the submitted text is a balanced compromise. I primarily support the view that states should have some flexibility in the choice of instruments through which they will help to boost energy saving, because conditions often vary between individual Member States.

The measures introduced by this directive should motivate and make possible real savings. The directive should not introduce restrictive and unachievable targets and greater bureaucracy, which would harm businesses and end consumers. This proposal must not lead to reduced primary energy consumption in the EU at any cost, and it should take account of other EU objectives, such as competitiveness.

 
  
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  Alejo Vidal-Quadras (PPE).(ES) Mr President, this directive started off with an advantage and a disadvantage, both of which were very strong. The advantage was that in this House, there is unanimous agreement on the benefits of promoting energy efficiency as the most effective, most direct and cheapest method of ensuring security of supply and competitiveness and of combating climate change. The disadvantage is the current economic and financial situation of many Member States, which are struggling under a terrible recession, which means that both their governments and their businesses, which are fighting for survival, are resistant to anything that involves taking on additional obligations requiring them to make investments.

Therefore, in view of the advantage and the disadvantage, we had to find a balance between these two factors, which we have achieved. This balance has been achieved thanks to the way that we work and the excellent quality of the work done by the rapporteur, Mr Turmes, and by the shadow rapporteurs and all Members, and to the very positive role played by the Commission.

Without any doubt, there are occasions when our work takes on all of its European meaning. This has been one of those occasions, and therefore we must congratulate Mr Turmes and all those who have contributed to achieving this great result.

 
  
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  Marita Ulvskog (S&D).(SV) Mr President, the aim of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament was to link the improvement of energy efficiency with major investments in buildings and energy systems in order, at the same time, to be able to help reduce unemployment levels.

If we had managed that, it would have been good. We would have been able to demonstrate an ability to act and to show that we can combine environment and climate policy with social survival-related issues. It was not to be, but I would nevertheless like to offer my sincere thanks to Mr Turmes and Ms Thomsen and all of the other shadow rapporteurs, who have done a fantastic job. The opposition was strong. The bargaining offers were a little mixed sometimes, as the aim was, after all, to achieve something. We have, in fact, indirectly achieved a binding target in relation to the final customer’s energy usage. We should do as much as we possibly can with that.

 
  
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  Herbert Reul (PPE).(DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we are and were agreed that we need to use energy sparingly and that this is a huge task ahead of us. That was an advantage, as Mr Vidal-Quadras pointed out. After a lot of work and a lot of efforts on the part of many Members, in the end, we did achieve something.

Personally, I would have liked to see a different result; namely, that we establish a binding target and then give the Member States the freedom to decide themselves how they achieve this goal. That would have meant fewer rules, fewer regulations, fewer reasons for people to get up in arms about European policy and perhaps, at the end of the day, we would even have achieved a better result if we had concentrated on incentives rather than rules. That did not succeed, however, because in the end, we had to reach a compromise and because there was much opposition and many difficulties. Sometimes, Claude, I also thought that perhaps a slightly more flexible approach, less of the all-or-nothing attitude, might have achieved such a result. The result is an acceptable one, but I would have liked to see something better.

 
  
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  Matthias Groote (S&D).(DE) Mr President, the best kind of energy is energy that is not used in the first place. We are not talking here about saving energy, but about using energy more efficiently. There is one aspect of this where I would like us to have gone further, and that is in the public sector. There is huge potential here, a huge backlog of investments among our local authorities. I would have liked to have seen Parliament being more ambitious in this regard.

We have pushed through this procedure, partly unnecessarily. One Member – one of the shadow rapporteurs – has mentioned it already; I even thought he wanted to vote against the whole compromise. If it is all so terrible, why did he then not push for a second reading? I would have liked the community to take such an important matter to second reading, so that the whole package could be discussed with the chambers and guilds. Greater transparency in this area would really have done us good. That is what I would like to see happen next time.

The rapporteurs have made their decision, but I would like to remind Members that two readings are actually the rule in this House. In this parliamentary term, it has become the exception. We should take that to heart and think about it sometime.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Mr President, Commissioner, ladies and gentlemen, I think that this is a good agreement, and it is good that it has so much support. If we can save up to 20% of the EUR 400 billion that we spend on imports of oil and gas, then that is money that can be spent on other things. It is money that can be used for new energy renovation measures. It puts local workers to work. We are creating jobs in Europe. I would have liked to see a more ambitious agreement, but where the energy saving scheme is concerned, for example, I think it is a fantastically good result, and we have got this part on track. We have tried the energy saving scheme in Denmark and it now emerges that we can save even more through voluntary agreements. However, we will have to look at whether we can do something more in the future. I believe that ecodesign can also be expanded into industry, which would benefit the competitiveness of European enterprises on the world market, so there is no doubt that there are still a great many opportunities. There are still low-hanging fruit that can be picked. All in all, however, it is an excellent agreement.

 
  
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  Amalia Sartori (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this has been the compromise possible today to clarify the issue of energy efficiency, which, until now, has remained the Cinderella figure of the climate and energy package.

I thank all those who worked to achieve this result which – I repeat – is the only compromise possible today. It is now up to the Member States to respond accordingly by taking action on public buildings and cutting red tape to raise public awareness.

I am glad that the Commissioner reaffirmed the commitment to present the report by 2014, because that will allow us to assess the results already achieved and to propose any new guidelines, which are certainly necessary.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: ANNI PODIMATA
Vice-President

 
  
  

Catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Madam President, according to the directive on the energy performance of buildings, Member States must ensure that from 2021, all new buildings and, from 2019, all new buildings which are occupied and owned by the public authorities have nearly-zero energy consumption. However, the Commission has not received so far any national plan on increasing the number of buildings with nearly-zero energy consumption.

The directive being debated today introduces new obligations for Member States, such as renewing every year 3% of the floor space of buildings owned by public institutions to increase energy efficiency. Although it is less ambitious than the initial position adopted by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the compromise that has been presented offers national, regional and local authorities flexibility.

I should point out that we are imposing ambitious obligations on Member States without, however, ensuring the appropriate funding. I call for energy efficiency measures to receive adequate sources of funding in the forthcoming multiannual financial framework, especially via the Structural Funds. Tomorrow’s vote should be a firm commitment from Parliament in support of this.

 
  
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  Zofija Mazej Kukovič (PPE).(SL) Madam President, my congratulations to the rapporteur and the shadow rapporteurs. Energy efficiency and this directive are extremely welcome. They are welcome in terms of energy conservation, economic growth and, of course, an environment that will be kinder to our health, because we only become aware of our health when we lose it.

I would just like to draw your attention to information technology, which may limit use and which obviously regulates and measures things. This will, therefore, really bring us jobs with a lot of added value, not only in the construction industry, but also in this particular sector.

I would like us to look at energy efficiency so that we can see the whole wood, not just one tree. That is how I see things.

 
  
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  Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (S&D).(HU) Madam President, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Turmes, and I would like to bring up the example of Hungary. Over a period of four years, the country’s former socialist-liberal government facilitated the renovation of 280 000 panel buildings, largely from EU funds with contributions from the Hungarian State and the local governments, while citizens needed to contribute only 25-30% to these energy efficiency improvements for panel buildings. This specific example is another indication that energy efficiency is the best way to go. I agree with both Commissioner Oettinger and the rapporteur. It is unfortunate that Hungary’s current government chose not to continue this programme. I ask Commissioner Oettinger and Parliament that we put aside separate funds for this purpose, that is, for energy efficiency improvement, for the period between 2014 and 2020.

 
  
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  Romana Jordan (PPE). (SL) Madam President, improvements in energy efficiency are considered the most effective measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and any dependence on imports.

It will only be possible if we provide an impetus to innovation and investment, both in product development and services. Therefore, we need efficiency, not energy conservation, if we are to create new jobs.

The problem is, of course, that investments are needed first, and only later with the passage of time come savings. Another problem is that those who invest do not always conserve energy. In a time of financial crisis, it is also difficult to find investors in many Member States. For that reason, this directive is very flexible in terms of the measures that should apply to certain countries.

Having said that, this directive will bring a lot of added value as this is the first comprehensive EU regulatory framework for more efficient energy use.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to one particular aspect: the fact that it is now time that economies comparable to our own economies started implementing comparable measures and that we should, as a result, be much more assertive in international negotiations on climate change.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL).(PT) Madam President, it is clear that the energy efficiency problem could, and should, contribute to achieving the objectives of increased environmental sustainability and economic independence. However, persisting with a neoliberal model has, in practice, simply been contributing to increasing the prices of these goods for the end consumer, thereby also increasing the huge profits of companies that cooperate in this regard.

Energy should be considered a basic good of the utmost necessity and many types of consumer behaviour can only be analysed from this point of view. In other words, many people only consume what they need and that is not dependent on the lack of information for consumers. What happens is that many of the companies providing this type of service have a monopoly and charge very high prices. The concept of market liberalisation – the idea that the consumer can freely choose their supplier – is far from proving that it contributes to reducing prices; quite the contrary. As such, rather than rewarding the companies with the lowest energy costs with State aid, it is essential to regulate the energy prices charged by the companies that provide these services.

 
  
 

End of the catch-the-eye procedure

 
  
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  Claude Turmes , rapporteur.(DE) Mr President, I have not yet had my full minute. I asked you three questions: one on implementation and how the stakeholders can be involved, what the situation is with the decision on boilers, and this very important issue of value-added tax in the UK. In communication terms, it is an absolute disaster. The Commission will be ripped to shreds in the British press, and quite rightly too. We cannot pass this important directive on efficiency this afternoon and then, on the same day, the Commission completely interferes with its implementation by one of the largest Member States. How can it be that people have to pay four times as much value-added tax for efficiency products than they do for oil and gas? I would be grateful if you would include these three points in your answer.

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I should like to comment on the interesting and constructive contributions in five points.

Firstly, it was asked why we are enacting legislation at European level at all. Firstly, we have common climate change objectives, and energy efficiency is an important instrument for better climate change policy. Secondly, we have an internal market. That is why energy targets at European level make sense. Moreover, a 20% improvement in energy efficiency is a target that was developed and adopted jointly by Parliament – by you – as well as by the Council and the Commission. Since this decision was made in 2007, we have not really made much progress. That means it is now necessary to arrive at binding European measures if the objective on which you decided, which is greater energy efficiency by 2020, is to be achievable at all.

Secondly, the subject of buildings and efficiency is of great significance, not only as regards industrial buildings, but also public buildings, infrastructure and private buildings. We have a problem here. If you take a normal building and renovate it so as to be energy efficient from basement to roof – using state-of-the-art materials and windows, using ICT, using the most efficient modern condensing boilers with the highest energy efficiency, then you will only get a return on your investments – in other words, you will only recoup the costs – in at least 15 or maybe 25 years’ time, as a result of lower energy bills for heating and electricity. In other words, it is an investment for the future.

Now imagine a mayor. He is up for re-election in two years’ time. Why should he invest now in renovating nurseries and schools and the town hall when it is not even the next mayor, but the one after that who will reap the benefit? He will probably consider visible renovation of the market place, of old buildings and the pavements, or providing more staff in child care and provision for the elderly, as being more important. We are talking here, then, about an altruistic investment for the benefit of the next generation.

That is why I think it important and necessary to make billions available in our European structural programmes each year for cofinancing in our proposed budget that you will be debating in the coming weeks for the budget years 2014-2020, and to encourage our Member States and our regions and local authorities, which call in the funds, to attach great importance to the subject of energy efficiency. I believe that here, we must provide a carrot, an incentive in the best sense of the word, in order to steer national and municipal budgets more towards energy efficiency in the building stock.

Thirdly, Mr Turmes, we will be tabling a binding proposal on condensing boilers in a few weeks’ time. The final hearing was a few days ago. I am also prepared to engage in bilateral talks, but we will be consulting on our proposal in the Commission during the autumn and will then reach a decision by the end of the year.

Fourthly, value-added tax is naturally a sensitive subject. Like you, I can see that it would be desirable if a lower rate of tax were to create an incentive for energy-efficient appliances and for buying such appliances. However, this is not a matter of policy, but rather a matter of the interpretation of applicable law. I will therefore take up this matter again, but when I made enquiries a few days ago, I found that there was no room for discretion by the Commission and that rather account could only be taken of the objective that the government in London is pursuing by an amendment. I will be happy to provide you with a letter in the coming days, Mr Turmes, showing that there is no room for discretion and why this is the case. It there were, we would be using it. It there is not, then we cannot use it. The only possibility, then, is to amend the appropriate European law.

My final point concerns the Emissions Trading System (ETS), which was mentioned by Mr Liese and others. When the ETS was introduced – that was you, I was not even here yet then – there were certain expectations, such as the expectation of creating an incentive in the market for reductions in CO2 emissions. There was also an expectation that it would trigger investments in the energy sector, in industry and also in the private sphere in new technologies that would prevent CO2 emissions. Finally, there was an expectation that was not shared by all, but which was assumed in many budgets, that new sources of income would be created to finance sensible new work and expenditure.

In the long term, ETS revenues in the years 2006 to 2011 averaged EUR 16, 17 or 18; at its peak, it was up to EUR 30, and it is currently EUR 6 to 8.50. A price of EUR 6 to 8.50 is not enough to send a price signal. That means that there is really no longer any incentive for investing in reducing and avoiding CO2 emissions.

We, as the Commission, have now tabled a proposal, in July, and decided to postpone the release of certain CO2 emissions allowances that were to be made available each year over the course of the period up to 2020; in other words, not to make them available next year or the year after, but rather at the end of the decade, in order to achieve a certain change in supply and demand and thus also to send a price signal. Counter-argument number 1 is that all this is harmful to planning certainty and undermines the confidence of all players. Counter-argument number 2 is that the target of a 20% reduction in emissions will be achieved by 2020 even with a price of EUR 6. In other words, even without changing our current ETS system, the allowances are sufficient to achieve a 20% reduction in emissions – whatever the price at which they are made available.

This autumn, we will have to decide – Ms Hedegaard is leading on this, we are helping – what allowances will not be placed on the market in 2013 and 2014; in other words, what allowances we will hold back. In truth, however, it is not a matter of whether we postpone the release of certain CO2 emissions allowances onto the market, as is our current proposal which is based on the applicable law, but rather it is a matter of whether we decide not to release allowances onto the market at all over the period up to 2020; in other words, in practical terms, creating a shortage of emissions rights overall and not simply postponing their release onto the market. This is a matter that will be discussed in the Commission and we would also like to discuss it with you in the autumn.

That is our own problem that is internal to the EU. Let us not be under any illusions, however. There is also an external problem. At the time the ETS was created as a market instrument for reducing CO2 emissions in Europe, we also had an external expectation. We, the European Union, were pioneering this, and our partners in other regions of the world would follow. So far, it seems we were largely mistaken. Australia is following in our footsteps, but with unimaginably low volumes. Have you, like me, been following the election campaign in the US, in Washington? The subject of CO2 and climate change is playing no part in the American election campaign. Consequently, we must assume – whoever wins the election – that there will not be a majority in the next Congress for binding CO2 emissions reduction targets, for binding worldwide climate change. I have no hope of this.

China – likewise. Russia – likewise. India – likewise. We have the problem that we, the European Union with its 500 million inhabitants, are responsible for just about 11% of worldwide CO2 emissions. Since we have no partners, the question of where we go from here is one that must be asked not just internally, but also externally, and it must be about how we get others on board.

Those are the key points. I believe that the legislation that we have before us today puts Europe on an innovative yet pragmatic course that will, in the end, benefit our citizens, that will not harm our economy, and that can be checked by us and implemented by the Member States without a great deal of red tape. We will be happy to report – whenever you would like us to, but within the next two years – in a progress report whether the Member States have kept their word when it comes to implementation and what progress we are making. If necessary, we may yet have a binding general target during the period of office of the Barroso II Commission, as was mentioned by Mr Reul, and which was generally considered a priority in Parliament, but which it was not possible to get the Council to accept.

 
  
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  Claude Turmes, rapporteur.(DE) Madam President, perhaps I could add a couple of words about the directive itself and its architecture. What we have done here is that in March 2007, with the assistance of Chancellor Merkel, a political objective was established: Europe would aim for a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, in renewable energy and in climate change. Laws were then passed on renewable energy and the climate, making them binding. What we are doing here now is actually putting Chancellor Merkel’s promise into concrete legislation and creating a new architecture for energy efficiency in Europe, with a maximum primary energy consumption in Europe in 2020 of 1 474 million tonnes oil equivalent. The Member States must send national efficiency targets to Brussels as early as April 2013. I am very grateful to you, Commissioner, for having made it clear that if the Member States do not submit a national efficiency target, the debate on binding targets will be reopened.

I would also like to thank you for being prepared to discuss the issue of UK VAT once more, so that we do not get a bad press in the United Kingdom. What I am still waiting to hear about is the implementation, and the issue of how you are organising yourselves in the Commission. Experience shows that apart from Denmark, Belgium and Ireland, and eventually, to some extent, Poland, Italy and then the new French Government, the others have done nothing but negotiate downwards. If you now go and discuss the whole guidance only with the Member States, then there is a risk that the whole thing will be watered down. I believe that the Ecodesign Forum is the appropriate place, where stakeholders and Member States sit down together at particular times to simply discuss facts only and to ask ourselves what is going on here. It is clear that the decisions between the Commission and the Member States are subsequently agreed decisions. However, we should create such a forum.

I would also like to thank you for having mentioned the Structural Funds. I would then like to move on to the Emissions Trading System (ETS). In the case of the Structural Funds, we are talking about EUR 20 billion by 2020 – if it goes through. If we get the ETS back on track, then we are talking about revenues for the Member States in the order of EUR 120 billion to EUR 200 billion. In other words, the question of how we reinvest in Europe is also related to us getting this ETS market back up and running. However, that is also important for the major energy concerns and the captains of industry. How are they supposed to develop a vision? How are they supposed to elaborate an investment strategy when ETS prices are falling so much?

I have one very final word to add. Last week, something happened that I find mind-blowing. Last week, I was informed that Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology had attempted to more or less water down or moderate two fundamental definitions in the German translation. I must say that as a Member of Parliament who is negotiating an English text, I consider it institutionally impossible if I can no longer be sure that once the negotiations are complete, governments will not go in and exert extreme pressure on the translators. I would like this to become known externally so that it does not happen again. It cannot be the case, and we cannot allow it to happen, that governments attempt to rein in a fully negotiated text; it makes them look like bad losers.

Once again, I would like to express my thanks for the excellent cooperation by you all, and I would particularly like to mention the chair of our Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. We have enjoyed positive cooperation with the secretariat, with my staff. We have once again written a little bit of energy history.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place shortly.

Written statements (Rule 149)

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing.(RO) The new directive on energy efficiency marks important progress towards achieving the Europe 2020 strategy targets, both in the energy sector and for reducing pollution. The new directive will be able to bring about a reduction in energy consumption, restrict imports, create new jobs and provide social protection. We must bear in mind that achieving energy efficiency does not only mean investing in renewable energy sources or new energy projects but also, primarily, improving existing energy sources and wasting less energy, which is at a very high level at the moment, incurring unjustifiable costs for ordinary citizens, especially for those who are socially vulnerable.

It is vital that new investments in energy efficiency are economically sustainable and do not give rise to undesirable spin-offs, such as increasing energy costs for end consumers. In addition, I think that these investments must also cover the private housing sector as in many Member States, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, this causes huge energy losses. The same also applies to the production infrastructure and the transportation of energy, which need to be modernised to restrict collateral losses.

 
  
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  Gaston Franco (PPE), in writing.(FR) This text is realistic and ambitious. The proposed regulatory framework is an important step towards achieving the goals set within the energy and climate package, as well as promoting green growth and employment. With the addition of the European sectoral measures on energy efficiency and the provisions taken at national level by Member States, the European Union should therefore be in a position to meet its indicative target for energy efficiency, set at 20% by 2020. It is essential to fight against waste, control energy use and drive innovation, without reducing our production and economic activity. At a time when the issue of energy costs is on everyone’s mind, let us not forget that the best energy is that which we do not consume. Finally, I am particularly pleased with the provisions of the directive which aim to promote heating and cooling efficiency. However, I do regret that the final compromise does not incorporate my amendment aimed at creating a category of cogeneration units between 1 and 20 MW in remote areas that are disadvantaged and have insufficient electricity, in particular where resources are available nearby. This could have helped stimulate decentralised energy production in rural areas.

 
  
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  Adam Gierek (S&D), in writing.(PL) According to the report, energy efficiency is determined by reductions in energy consumption imposed from above. This is obviously wrong. The efficient use of primary energy depends on the efficiency and number of conversion processes involved, activation energy and the dynamics of the combustion processes employed (that is, making use of processes which involve lower ignition temperatures), the efficiency of transmission and resistive losses. The 20-20-20 targets require a real improvement in efficiency, not a reduction in consumption. What is needed is to stimulate innovation as a step towards achieving this goal, and not reductions, exclusions and price barriers. The greatest reserves of real efficiency lie in thermal refurbishment, cogeneration and reducing energy intensity. The Member States should measure their efficiency as primary energy consumption per capita in 2020 in relation to a baseline year.

 
  
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  András Gyürk (PPE), in writing.(HU) Out of the EU 20-20-20 targets, we have the largest backlog in respect of the energy efficiency target. Many initiatives are already pointing in the right direction, but the results are still dwarfed by the untapped possibilities. Europe has recognised its backlog, and has realised that in the middle of an economic crisis, it cannot afford the luxury of taking the development of energy efficiency lightly. These investments not only cut down our energy bills but give immediate boosts to the economy. However, as long as issues regarding financing remain unresolved, our energy efficiency goals laid down in the directive remain nothing but grandiose targets. Often, the problem does not lie in the lack of determination but in obtaining the subsidies necessary for renovation and raising the required own contribution. I therefore find it a major step forward that upon a Hungarian initiative, an innovative financing instrument has been included in the directive. According to the proposal, the state can sell excess quotas from non-industrial emitters and can use the resulting income for the achievement of energy efficiency goals. The Hungarian proposal allows the own contribution required in energy efficiency programmes to be replaced by the income from quota sales. This allows a large number of investments generating notable energy savings to be implemented despite the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Edit Herczog (S&D), in writing.(HU) I find it exceptionally important for the future of Europe that we make significant progress in energy efficiency in the upcoming period until 2020. In crisis-stricken times such as these, the promotion of energy efficiency is a vital interest for Europe, because by reducing our dependence on external energy, we could save billions of euro on energy imports, not to mention the resulting improvement in energy security, which has always been among the primary goals of the sector. In addition to the 20% efficiency improvement target for 2020, the present agreement requires Member States to implement the energy-related renovation of 3% of their central government buildings each year, and sets an EU-wide minimum target of 1.5% per year for the energy savings of energy companies. The advantage of the agreement is that it approaches the issue of energy efficiency from many aspects, and can therefore have a simultaneous effect on both the public and the private sector. As a Socialist MEP, I find it particularly important to note that the implementation of the draft would promote job creation, and would encourage invoicing based on actual consumption, thereby promoting the interests of disadvantaged groups. Bearing Hungary’s interests in mind, I wholeheartedly support the objective of the draft that Member States should pay increased attention to the operation of the heating and air conditioning systems in buildings, as one-fifth of Hungary’s population still lives in panel flats, which are especially exposed to this issue. I am of the opinion that if we manage to make actual progress in energy efficiency in the near future, Europe’s recovery from the crisis can be accelerated substantially.

 
  
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  Bogdan Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz (PPE), in writing.(PL) I think that the directive we are discussing today allows great flexibility to the Member States, industry and the public sector, and that it also supports Member States’ efforts to increase efficiency of energy consumption at practically all stages of the energy chain, from conversion and distribution to final consumption. The energy efficiency ratio in the industrial sector went down by 58% between 1995 and 2009, whereas the ratio for the EU as a whole fell by 20%. This reflects a significant improvement in energy efficiency in industry, where it is clearly above the EU average.

An example of the compromise directive’s flexibility are the provisions concerning the shift to high-efficiency cogeneration technology. All newly built or renovated industrial installations must be equipped with a cogeneration system, as long as the cost-benefit analysis of such projects shows a surplus. In addition, where important reasons exist, Member States can decide to set aside this requirement for industrial installations. Further improvements to efficiency will require enormous investment in the short and medium term, because almost half of today’s electricity generating capacity and cogeneration systems are over 30 years old. The need to save energy has existed for a long time. However, both in industry and in domestic situations, current expenses are always more important than investments in increasing energy efficiency.

I hope the directive will change our point of view, and that a heightened awareness will help us understand how to change the present state of affairs.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing.(HU) The European Union intended to achieve 20% savings in energy use by 2020. It even included this goal among the five headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Based on the results so far, however, it seems that we will be able to achieve only half of that target. It has become certain that we need to make further strategic decisions in order to increase energy efficiency. We are importing increasing quantities of energy at increasing prices, and there have been disruptions in access to energy sources. Energy efficiency is one of the simplest ways to cut back greenhouse gas emissions, ensure that our energy consumption is sustainable, and increase supply security. The largest energy savings can be achieved by reducing the energy demand of buildings. Energy-related aspects must be given more weight when designing buildings, as the energy demand of buildings currently constitutes 40% of the EU’s total energy requirements. Several Member States, including Slovakia, should be encouraged to include among their short- and long-term plans a support scheme for the modernisation of obsolete buildings and for the construction of new houses, with particular focus on passive houses.

 
  
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  Theodor Dumitru Stolojan (PPE), in writing. – I congratulate the rapporteur for the work done on this sensitive subject: intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy. The proposals of the report represent a step ahead but a small one. At European level, it is better to have information about intergovernmental agreements in the field of energy than no information. However, the European Union is still far from its goal: to use the negotiation power of the European Union for making agreements in the field of energy for the needs of the whole Union. Therefore, the European Commission and the European Council should further work to achieve this goal.

 
  
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  Vladimir Urutchev (PPE), in writing.(BG) The Energy Efficiency Directive we are adopting is one of the most important pieces of EU legislation, which is expected to facilitate the creation of more than 1 million jobs in the Member States and the saving of tens of billions of euro from energy supplies.

Energy efficiency, generally recognised as the cheapest option to solve the EU’s energy problems, is finally being included in European law with compulsory measures and targets, with a consensus on first reading reached in just one year. This highlights its extreme importance and the wide support for it.

I welcome the compromises reached to make the Member States more flexible in implementing the measures and on their funding, thereby ensuring the best solutions are found for achieving the energy savings targets, and during a crisis at that. Without this flexibility, the governments and political forces would not have given their agreement.

The requirements for energy efficiency in public contracts are an important element. However, we must tread carefully here because of the potential danger of paying for the most expensive energy efficiency solutions if the criterion for the public contracts’ final cost is not given sufficient weight.

The mark of energy efficiency’s true success would be a change in people’s attitude and behaviour towards the wasteful use of energy. This directive will contribute to the change. I congratulate the rapporteur and everyone else who has worked on this dossier on a job well done.

 

6. Commission Question Time
Video of the speeches
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  President. – The next item is Question Time to the Commission. I should like to welcome once again Commissioners Oettinger and Almunia.

The specific topic for Question Time today is the state of play of the energy market acquis (third package) implementation.

I will interpret this topic as widely as possible, but I should also warn you that if your question is completely off-topic and if it deals, for example, with the common agricultural policy, you are liable to be cut off.

I should also like to remind you of the ground rules. Questions are taken exclusively on a catch-the-eye basis and each Member has one minute to put his or her question and 30 seconds to put a supplementary. The Commission has two minutes to reply if only one Commissioner is to be responsible for answering. If more than one Commissioner is to reply, each Commissioner has one minute’s speaking time.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, the first comment I would like to make is that we again have one and a half hours on the Parliament agenda for questions to be addressed to the Commission, which has not happened since April, even though this is provided for by the Rules of Procedure. My second point is that the time has already been cut by half an hour. My third comment is that we have two distinguished representatives of the Commission before us, which is a good sign, but we can only ask them questions on a very restricted topic. I do not know, Madam President, why you actually gave agriculture as an example. A subject I am actually interested in, as it happens.

The time allocated to questions is a form of exercising parliamentary control over the Commission’s activities, but it is just a sham in this format.

 
  
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  President. – We took note of your remark.

 
  
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  Romana Jordan (PPE). (SL) Madam President, the REMIT Regulation is extremely important for the implementation of the internal market. We adopted it last year and, in late August, a Parliament delegation visited the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), which has the enormous task of implementing the regulation.

In order to do so, it will require a great deal of human and financial resources and, for this reason, I ask the Commission: what is your position on the implementation of REMIT, how important is it for the completion of the internal market? How does the Commission think the market will function without the implementation of REMIT, or with its partial implementation? How does it intend to ensure sufficient human and financial resources? Finally, I am also wondering what the Commission thinks of the principle that the European Union budget should be such as to enable us to fulfil all of the political commitments we have already taken regularly and without delay?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the single market is one of the two pillars of the European Community. One was and is the union for peace; the second is the internal market. The free movement of goods and products, of workers and companies, of services throughout an environment of 500 million EU citizens. Electricity and gas were latecomers to the internal market. We have had an internal market for food, textiles, vehicles, electrical appliances, furniture and financial services for more than 60 years. Likewise, for oil and coal. Gas and electricity, however, were late to follow, in 1996 and 1998. Since then, we have been working on the implementation of this, on bringing about an internal market. We have achieved a great deal, and we still have some work to do. We have a mandate from the European Council, and also from you, to complete the internal market in 2015. We are working on this by means of legislation, internal market packages, checks, Commissioner Almunia is working on it through specific surveillance of the markets, and also by initiating proceedings against actors in the market. We are working together very well on this.

What is clear – and here I turn to the first question and its answer – is that electricity is not entirely comparable with food or cars. Moreover, electricity and gas need infrastructure. That is why expansion of the infrastructure – transmission networks, interconnectors, cross-border gas pipelines and electricity lines, modern supply lines – is crucial if the regional markets of our 27 Member States are genuinely to come together to form an overall market and if we are also to be able to implement in this market our rules of play, such as competition, transparency, strong consumer rights and thus also an increase in security of supply, and perhaps also pressure on prices.

 
  
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  Romana Jordan (PPE). (SL) Madam President, I would like to add a few comments to my question on the implementation of REMIT. The internal market should be implemented by 2014, not by 2015. In this internal market, we have to do everything we can to prevent abuse and fraud. Therefore, this is about the European Union’s credibility.

Under the current draft budget for next year, ACER has not been granted either sufficient human resources or sufficient resources for the purchase of adequate ICT equipment.

And so, once again, I would ask the Commission to answer how it imagines the internal market will be organised if we do not prevent abuse?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) We have mandated the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) in your capital city Ljubljana to carry out this task. We are in contact with Members of Parliament, your fellow Members, including Ms Hohlmeier, so that the appropriate temporary posts and resources are made available through appropriate budget applications, so that this agency can carry out the task comprehensively in your interests and in our interests, and so that the regulation on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency (REMIT) can be implemented in the years ahead.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, our role in the area of energy efficiency is jeopardised in today’s times of economic crisis. However, if we fail in the area of energy efficiency, we also will fail in the area of ​​climate change, energy security, green growth and social protection.

I would like here to point out one important fact. It is very likely that prices per unit of energy will continue to rise. Increasing prices per unit of energy in the middle of the economic crisis, however, will have a very negative impact on low-income households.

I would therefore like to ask the Commissioner how the Commission is preparing a solution to the energy price increases for low-income households.

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Madam President, we believe that the internal market, with competition between suppliers and strong consumers, makes an important contribution to keeping prices and price increases moderate and in proportion. That is why we are pursuing a strategy of diversification. Take gas, for example. Our most important partner is Russia, but Russia does not have a monopoly. Where Russia does still have a monopoly – in the Baltic States, for example – we are creating competition by means of infrastructure.

Secondly, Norway; thirdly, Algeria; fourthly, we are encouraging the construction of LNG terminals and we are also taking an open approach to demonstration products for shale gas in some Member States. In this way, we avoid monopolies setting the price. As a result, the price in the market falls. Energy efficiency is another means by which we can lower energy costs long-term.

Thirdly, it is the Member States – not us – that are responsible for taxes. There is a European minimum tax rate. The majority of the Member States have much higher taxes. In other words, the Member States have it within their power to lower energy costs for their citizens by reducing taxes.

One final point: spending on electricity and heating is spending on basic requirements. That is why the Member States must adjust their social policies – the way they provide financial assistance to people in need – to increases in energy costs. Energy belongs in the European shopping basket just as much as housing, transport and food. Member States have a duty to check energy costs year by year and to adjust their social payments accordingly for the benefit of their needy citizens.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D). (SK) Madam President, very briefly this time. Commissioner, you have mentioned several times that, despite the efforts of the European Commission, it is the Member States that may enter into pricing, including in the area of energy policy, using their instruments of tax policy or social policy.

I therefore have a question – at this moment, a rather political one – about the future. As the Commissioner responsible for this area, do you think it would be appropriate if we moved faster towards some sort of unification, towards the creation of a common basis for determining, say, tax policy in the area of energy policy?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Ms Flašíková Beňová, we will be publishing a communication on the internal market this autumn. In it, we will show how far the internal market has been completed and where we see further measures as being necessary. To answer your question more specifically, I would very much welcome further convergence and harmonisation of energy taxes. It is just that, as you know, harmonisation of tax law requires unanimity, and as Commissioner Šemeta and the Commission in general very often remark, the Member States do not vote unanimously in favour of even sensible proposals for harmonisation of European tax law. For that reason, progress will also be slow in this area. I repeat, however, that I would support harmonisation of energy taxes.

 
  
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  Graham Watson (ALDE). – Madam President, the Commissioner referred to the Council’s deadline of the end of 2014. The internal energy market is a key priority in the Commission’s Energy 2020 strategy and in the Road map 2050.

Earlier this year, the Commission sent reasoned opinions to 17 Member States for failure to implement the Third Energy Package. I would like to ask when the Commission intends to bring infringement proceedings. If the Third Package is about unbundling supply from transmission, will there be a fourth package on physical interconnection of the internal energy market?

Would the Commission at least guarantee that most of the EUR 9 billion foreseen for the energy schemes in the Connecting Europe Facility – if we get it – will be spent on electricity interconnection rather than on gas pipeline investments to the benefit of companies who made a combined profit of USD 180 billion last year?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Mr Watson, infrastructure is one of the keys to the internal market. We still have some Member States that have only one supply line and are dependent on one supplier, so they cannot choose their supplier. That is why we want all 27, soon to be 28, regional markets to be integrated in the coming years. In the energy sector, the Connecting Europe Facility – on which we are spending EUR 9.1 billion over seven years – is our instrument for doing this. You are right that the majority of the infrastructure must be financed by the market and by the grid operators and via energy prices. A power line from Rotterdam to Cologne does not need cofinancing. However, if you want to connect, say, Malta with Sicily and Italy, then you need European cofinancing, because the number of gas and electricity consumers on Malta is too small. Likewise, if you want to have a LNG terminal for a state in the Baltic Region – which would make sense – or to integrate Cyprus, then cofinancing is useful in these areas.

Four years ago, you, as Parliament, made EUR 4 billion available to us for a crisis programme. We cofinanced 60 projects and today I can tell you that with 10-50% cofinancing, we have succeeded in getting some interconnectors up and running which otherwise would not have come about, or only at a later date. We will submit our list of priorities to Parliament in the spring, detailing which projects we see as being in the common European interest – i.e. which we see as being in the interests of more than one Member State – in order to complete the internal market. You will then decide whether you want them. The Council is heading in the right direction here. In the Council, the subject of the Connecting Europe Facility in the energy sector is already largely accepted.

 
  
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  Graham Watson (ALDE). – Madam President, I am grateful to the Commissioner for his answer and his recognition that it is only through interconnection that the market can properly work. Of course, interconnection also creates jobs in the European Union because we are the major – if not the only – manufacturers of the high-voltage direct current cables which are needed for such interconnection.

However, would the Commissioner not agree that it is, in a sense, crazy that we are spending millions of euro on solar power in Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom and very little in southern Europe, where there is actually rather more sunlight? Therefore, can we expect the Commission to come forward with a Europe-wide renewables support scheme so that we can do exactly what he was talking about, namely, connect Malta and Italy, with all of the potential that they have, for the generation of electricity from renewable energy?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Mr Watson, you will have read our communication on the subject of renewable energy that was issued in spring this year. We believe that the national subsidy systems for the establishment of renewable energy, namely, wind energy and solar energy, were correct. Now, however, it is increasingly a matter of the European coordination and harmonisation of these subsidy rules.

I regret to say that the Member States have not so far utilised the existing possibilities. I will illustrate with an example. Together with the Greek Government, we are now trying to get new Helios projects under way; that means photovoltaics and solar parks in Greece that can be attributed to other Member States, that can be credited to other Member States as they work to reach their 20% target. In general, we believe that we cannot retain 27 national subsidy instruments any longer, but that we must increasingly take a European approach to this.

A second problem is that unfortunately, some Member States have made their laws on subsidies for the construction of renewable energy retrospective or have abruptly ended them. This has had a damaging effect on the principle of confidence in some Member States. It does not create planning security and it unsettles investors. In other words, the principle that a party investing must know what the subsidy will be in the coming years should apply throughout Europe and should not be damaged as it has been in some Member States over the past three years.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D).(ES) Madam President, Commissioners, certainly the third package, once it is implemented in full, is a very important step forward in the creation of an internal market.

However, Mr Oettinger, as you are well aware, in order for legislation to be properly implemented, above all, there need to be truly independent, professional infrastructure operators without interests in other parts of the value chain. It is also essential that there are sufficient infrastructures connecting the countries.

In the current economic circumstances, the trigger for investments should not be only market signals but rather the genuine needs of an integrated energy system.

How does the Commission intend to ensure that infrastructure operators are genuinely committed to developing the networks and will adopt the necessary long-term undertaking, as was the intention in the third package?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Two instruments play a particular part in our internal market packages. Firstly, unbundling – as you mentioned; the separation of generation and sale on one side and transmission on the other. Secondly, third party access; in other words, opening up existing infrastructure, power lines and gas pipelines to multiple suppliers. We are making good progress on both measures and on both packages. We do not see it as our primary task to take the Member States to court. Our primary task is to advise them and support them as they implement the measures. I can tell you that the vast majority of the Member States are working very constructively on implementation and our Directorate-General is providing them with specialist support in this area. Nonetheless, we do initiate proceedings. We have a number of very different proceedings in progress against various Member States.

Commissioner Almunia is responsible for market surveillance. You will have read in the past few days that a major investigation is under way into a large operator in the market to examine whether it is abiding by our rules in the European market or whether its supply contracts infringe European law.

My final point concerns interconnectors. We are working very closely with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) and the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSO-G). Those are the European associations of transmission system operators. We also have specific plans in larger European regions for how the networks are to be expanded in the coming years. Along with the Connecting Europe Facility and our list of priorities, we believe that in the coming 5-10 years, the gas and electricity networks will be expanded to bring about the internal market through a capable infrastructure, just like Europe’s motorways and rail networks, the Single European Sky, or our digital world of communications and information. That is the goal that we have for gas and electricity, too.

 
  
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  Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission.(ES) Madam President, since my colleague Mr Oettinger has mentioned the competences in terms of sound operation of the market, through the instruments for which I am directly responsible, I would like to state once again here in Parliament, before you all, what was made public a few days ago regarding the opening of an investigation into the possible infringement of Article 102 of the Treaty concerning certain activities by the company Gazprom in at least eight Member States.

If you recall, last year, a series of inspections were carried out in plants that belonged to companies that have signed long-term contracts with Gazprom or with its subsidiaries or companies associated with the Gazprom group. In the light of the information obtained from those inspections, and also based on some complaints received from Member States, the Commission, through the Directorate-General for Competition, has thoroughly analysed this whole case and has concluded that there are serious questions regarding possible infringements by Gazprom within our internal market in relation to three aspects, which concern several of the matters that you raised in your previous questions and in the previous debate.

Firstly, we think there are serious questions regarding a possible infringement relating to fracturing or fragmentation of the market, with prohibitions signed or included in agreements concluded by Gazprom within the European Union or with agents operating within the European Union. This fragmentation of the market consists of prohibiting exports of the gas received from Gazprom to other EU Member States. This is clear fragmentation of the internal market.

The second objection is the indexation of prices included in long-term gas supply agreements or in similar clauses, with a similar effect. We believe that the conditions that existed in the gas market several decades ago have changed substantially and are changing fast, firstly due to the existence of a spot market for natural gas and also due to the changing conditions of the global market with gas produced by the technique known as fracking and shale gas. This means that there is no longer the same justification for price indexation in long-term contracts as there was in the past, and according to our analysis, it does not comply with market principles; in other words, the interaction between supply and demand that must exist in a market and which we want to exist in our internal market.

The third objection is that we think that some of the clauses or conditions established in these long-term contracts create barriers that make it difficult for possible competitors to operate in the market and restrict competition, in particular through, for example, conditions relating to compulsory entry points for gas for those signing a supply contract.

This is the basis for our opinions. What we have done, of course, is open the investigation. Gazprom has been notified and questionnaires have been and are being sent out in order to gather information, not only from Gazprom and its customers here in the EU, but also from all the wholesalers in the gas market and parties concerned in the wholesale gas market that can contribute to ensuring that the competition rules under Article 102 of our Treaty are fully respected.

As you know, the Commission’s responsibility in terms of competition policy is to apply the Treaties and make sure they are applied, in particular, Articles 101 and 102, irrespective of the ownership, nationality or location of the companies operating in our market. The nationality of the company is of no concern to us, nor does it concern us who are the owners or shareholders of the company, whether private or public. We are concerned with the impact of a company’s business on the internal market, and therefore we have opened this investigation, just as we have opened many others in the energy, electricity, gas and many other sectors.

I believe it was important to take this opportunity to inform you of this, as there have been some statements made seeking to divert attention away from our sole objective when opening anti-trust investigations: protecting the sound operation of the market. With regard to energy, this is particularly important for all Europeans.

 
  
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  Claude Turmes (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I have one question for Mr Almunia. I would firstly like to congratulate you on your actions against Gazprom. We cannot accept what they are doing and I think we should also largely ignore Mr Putin’s recent declaration. We have an internal market and they will have to abide by the rules.

Basically, power exchanges fix prices. In Germany, there are some discussions and some studies that show the following. The prices on the power exchange in Leipzig have gone down over the last two or three years but the contracts, and the reduced costs for the companies and traders buying electricity on the power exchange, have not meant that these benefits have been passed on, particularly to smaller consumers. At the same time, when E.On and RWE presented their balance sheets this year, we – and the media – discovered huge profits. Last year alone, there were profits of EUR 3 billion plus. Some would argue that there is a strong connection between not passing on reduced prices on the Leipzig power exchange and the big benefits for larger – and perhaps also some smaller – companies.

Are you following this situation, and what can you do to ensure that smaller consumers also get the benefit of reduced prices on the power exchanges? Otherwise, people will lose trust in the pricing.

 
  
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  Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission. – Madam President, I fully agree with Mr Turmes’s analysis of the key role that power exchanges play in the electricity market. We carried out this year – I cannot remember when, I think it was February – inspections on a list of operators in this market.

We are working with information we collected through these inspections. I cannot tell you any more, though, because we are still dealing with this issue. In the coming weeks, some information should be published on what our next steps will be in this regard.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Madam President, it is clear to everyone that we lack investment in infrastructure; that is, in energy infrastructure. We are very well aware that funding is always a huge problem. I actually believe that we can create an increased desire to invest among our European pension funds, among others, by adjusting the guidelines concerning ownership. I would like to state quite clearly that I am very much in favour of unbundling and liberalisation in the energy sector, but if we want to create more investment without compromising on competition, then it is perhaps a good idea to do this. Is the Commission open to adapting the rules in this way, and how can this be done in practice?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) We will also go into that in our communication on the internal market. We believe that European legislation does not need a general revision. Where unbundling is concerned – in other words, the independence of the transmission network operators – the measures have been taken. It is now a matter of the national regulations offering sufficient incentives and energy policy offering sufficient planning security.

We will then get investors, if investors know that a pipeline or a transmission network is necessary, makes sense in the European market, and if the returns are sufficiently fair. We are in talks with the European insurance sector. Life assurance and pensions insurance, in particular, are ideal partners for long-term investments, because they need long-term, low-risk investments and moderate returns for their insurance customers.

There is one problem, and that is unbundling. A number of insurance companies have told us that they have shareholdings in energy generation, around 5% in the case of ENEL or ENI or RWE or others, and therefore, strictly speaking, they are not allowed to invest in networks. It is clear that our unbundling policy was intended to separate the commercial interests of the generators from the commercial interests of the transmission companies. If a company has a stake of just 3% or 5% in an energy generator, I believe it is still able to invest in the network. We need a pragmatic interpretation here, and we are working on that.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Thank you, Commissioner, for that answer. This is precisely one of the issues – the fact that a pension fund that is there to look after employees’ savings can invest in both a generating company and a distribution company. I am very pleased to hear this clear statement and I consider it very positive.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) Madam President, one of the objectives in implementing the internal market in the energy sector is to reduce energy poverty and increase the access to energy for all citizens, especially to electricity and gas. The EU population is poorer due to the economic crisis, and the implementation of large energy infrastructures is being delayed. What, therefore, is the impact of implementing the Community acquis in the energy sector on reducing the risk of energy poverty in the European Union?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) In general, I believe that our task is to avoid increasing poverty, reducing net disposable incomes, among our citizens. I believe that our work together in the coming years can bring us back to growth, to more jobs and also to the Member States, their citizens, their companies and their economies being competitive.

When it comes to energy, firstly, we, as the Commission, help to check the market, to avoid or destroy monopolies, to promote competition and to strengthen consumer rights. We have a major conference in London each year which deals solely with consumer rights; in other words, the position of the small electricity or gas or heating consumer vis-à-vis its contractual partner in an open market.

Finally, the Commission’s budgetary proposal for the years 2014-2020 takes the energy sector as one of its focal areas. We want energy research to be carried out in the public sector using European resources, thereby reducing the burden on consumers. We want to cofinance infrastructure – the Connecting Europe Facility – to the tune of EUR 19.1 billion from European budgetary resources, which will reduce the burden on electricity and gas consumers, and we want to cofinance energy efficiency by focusing our structural programmes on the renovation of European buildings, with the aim of improving energy efficiency and thus lowering electricity bills in the long term, whether for schools, kindergartens or old people’s homes, whether for private dwellings or public infrastructure.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D).(RO) We will follow these developments closely.

I would also like to ask you about what stage of implementation the ‘smart grids’ for transporting electricity are at, and about what the financing perspectives are in the forthcoming multiannual financial framework, apart from the Connecting Europe Facility. Lastly, given that the Balkans region is facing an energy shortage, what kind of international cooperation does the Commission envisage for supplying this region with the energy it needs?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Our European energy community represents an opportunity for the countries of the former Yugoslavia, for all the countries in the Western Balkans. You are a Member of Parliament there. Moreover, Serbia will take over the Presidency next year. In other words, the largest country in the Western Balkans will be leading the energy community. Here, we have been very successful in expanding the European energy community beyond the 27 Member States into neighbouring countries, for the benefit of all citizens both within and outside the European Union.

The European budget is only used to fund infrastructure that will benefit more than one Member State. Why? It is because the basic idea of subsidiarity says that where a transmission network – a smart grid – serves only the local citizens in one Member State, this is a matter for that Member State and for the regional market. What we do is standardise. Together with our partners in the European energy community and in the electrical industry, we are in the process of arriving at uniform European standards for smart grids and smart meters. This is in the interests of the internal market and, since it results in higher volumes and facilitates possible associated cost reductions, it is in the interests of the consumer. Our budget does not yet foresee subsidies for transmission networks in the region.

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR).(PL) Madam President, Commissioner, this will be a very direct question. I would like to ask if, in accordance with the official report of the Franco-Russian intergovernmental meeting held in November 2011, Russia has, in fact, given the Commission a copy of the proposed bilateral agreement under which Russian gas export pipelines would be exempted from the rules of the single market and the third liberalisation package in the energy sector? Has the Commission received a draft of such an agreement? Has the Commission received this kind of proposal, as part of negotiations concerning an association agreement between the European Union and Russia, for example? If so, has the Commission passed the draft of this agreement to the Member States for consultation?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) I am not aware of any such agreement. Even if it existed, however, it would not be relevant. European internal market law in the energy sector is governed by European rules and not by bilateral agreements by a Member State with a third country. In other words, I cannot confirm your conjecture, but even if I could, it would not be relevant as far as I am concerned.

In the area of gas pipelines, we always specify where the point of entry into the European market is. Take Nord Stream, for example. From what point does European internal market law start to apply? The supply lines in the regional European market are then subject to the European internal market law that you have passed. There may be exceptions, but as a general rule, third party access applies. That means everyone has access to every pipeline. Unbundling also applies, so the gas network operators are independent of gas producers and gas users, so that they can play an important, objective role in this energy business.

 
  
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  Konrad Szymański (ECR).(PL) My question was about the draft of an international agreement. An international agreement is a piece of legislation which quite obviously takes precedence in international law over the secondary legislation of the European Union. This being the case, I would like to ask you, Commissioner, if you can deny that Russia has put forward a proposal which, by means of international law, removes Russian gas export pipelines from the scope of legislation that governs its dealings with the European Union?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) I have no intention of lying to Parliament. Obviously, the interests of our Russian partners are different to our interests. They understand our internal market rules very well. They do not really accept them. Our Russian partners have a different culture to ours. In all talks with our Russian partners, we place great emphasis on the comprehensive application of our internal market rules. You can assume that the Commission also complies with applicable law in respect of every third country – irrespective of whether that is Russia, Norway or Algeria – and insists that the third country complies with it.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Madam President, the launching into operation of the new Nord Stream gas pipeline through the Baltic Sea has relieved some of the pressure on the Ost Stream pipeline carrying gas from Russia to Western Europe through Central Europe. At present, the volume of gas transported through its pipes is at about 60% of the maximum possible. The 40% of the capacity of this pipeline that has been freed up could now help supply the industrial areas of Austria and northern Italy with cheaper Russian gas if it was possible to build a short pipeline connection between Slovakia and Austria.

I therefore wish to ask Commissioner Oettinger by what active measures is the Commission prepared to support such a project for improving the efficient use of the European Union’s energy network.

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Nord Stream is a project involving two pipelines; the second will be inaugurated in a few weeks’ time. When it is, up to 55 billion cubic metres of gas from Russian sources will come to Europe via Nord Stream, which is around 10% of our total annual gas consumption in the EU. From Greifswald-Lubmin, a German town on the Baltic where the Nord Stream pipeline ends, supply lines take the gas to the markets of Central Europe. These are covered by internal market law. In this respect, we are in sensitive negotiations with our Russian partners as to the extent to which third party access must apply here.

The crucial thing is that gas, wherever it comes from, benefits every European citizen. That means we need a functioning internal European gas network with reverse flow and with the possibility of transporting gas from each regional market to every other regional market. The North-South link, for example, from the Baltic to Croatia, a project that we are currently planning, is an important contribution to this. Interconnectors between the Member States are a second part of this. The combination of internal market rules and infrastructure will result, in the medium term, in consumers having equal rights and comparable gas prices throughout Europe, so that we do not have very different gas prices in Lithuania and Latvia, on the one hand, and in France and Germany, on the other.

 
  
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  Jaroslav Paška (EFD). (SK) Madam President, I asked the question slightly differently. Perhaps it was the translation: I asked whether the Commission was willing also to support a link between Slovakia and Austria, from Eustream to the distribution networks in Austria and northern Italy, in order to shorten the transport distance of the gas, since Eustream capacity currently allows such a link to be supplied.

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) These pipelines are in the European interest. That is why we support them. Whether financial support will be necessary for that depends on two factors. The first is what costs are incurred and whether these are reasonable for gas consumers. Can they be financed in the market by transmission charges, or is cofinancing by the European Union required? Secondly, this will be possible if, in the next few weeks, Parliament adopts the seven-year financial framework and supports the Connecting Europe Facility in the energy sector to the tune of EUR 9 billion. I will then be able to act and will be happy to have talks with the relevant energy ministers and the operators within the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENTSO-G).

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI). (FR) Madam President, Commissioner, in order to create competition, which, in principle, I advocate, European legislation has imposed the decoupling of energy suppliers and network operators.

My question is as follows: have you yet to carry out a serious, detailed, and quantified assessment of the supposed advantages which consumers should have benefited from? I am talking in terms of price and customer satisfaction.

Allow me to recount a personal anecdote: in my house, I have recently suffered serious damage due to over voltages. When there was just a single operator, work was carried out free of charge, as the operator was also responsible for the network. Now, in my country, France, where things were previously much simpler, the network operator and the energy provider are shifting responsibility between one another.

Now for my question: have you undertaken a customer satisfaction survey, in terms of price, provision of services and maintenance?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Energy customers – in this case, electricity customers – are happy firstly, if there are no interruptions to supply, or if these occur only rarely. You could say that the subject of power cuts plays much less of a role in Europe and that we have much better security of supply than in many Asian countries, for example, or even in the US. We have greater security of supply for electricity than do Americans in Detroit or Los Angeles.

Secondly, customers are happy if the price is reasonable. There is evidence that as a result of the opening up of the market, of competition, of the internal market rules, prices in recent years have not risen as much as they would have done had there been monopolies, when electricity consumers cannot switch electricity supplier. Transparency – in other words, knowledge of electricity providers and their prices and contractual terms – is part of this.

Thirdly, many citizens – not all of them – are, as electricity consumers, also interested in other matters such as protection of the environment, sustainability and climate change. We are working for those, too, and we believe that therefore, the internal market and our European energy and climate policies have helped consumers, and that the further completion of the internal market will help them further.

 
  
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  Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission.(ES) Madam President, I would like very briefly to add to the answer by my colleague, Mr Oettinger, because, thinking about electricity users and, in particular, domestic users and their families, obviously from the point of view of my responsibilities as Commissioner for Competition, I have instructed my services to monitor the situation of the market in electricity and other energy sources very closely and continuously.

If you recall, there was a sector enquiry a few years ago, when the Commissioner for Competition was Neelie Kroes; since then, a whole series of measures has been implemented based on what we assessed in that enquiry.

In the specific case of France, there have been decisions that help the market work better, although the concentration of that market is obvious, with an extraordinarily powerful main operator. I can tell you that we are currently particularly monitoring some of the actions of that operator in the market.

I cannot reveal which actions, or the stage that our investigations have reached, but you can rest assured that we are not forgetting electricity users and, in particular, domestic users. This includes those in the longer-standing Member States, where the Commission has already adopted decisions on competition relating to some of their largest operators, based on the enquiry into the sector, and more recently the Member States that joined the Union in 2004 and 2007, where we have also opened investigations and are working on several cases.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI).(FR) Yes, I will speak very briefly to simply say that it does not seem to me that there were more disconnections before, when there was a single operator. I can tell Commissioner Almunia that, previously, this operator was responsible. Now that it has been split into two separate entities, when a maintenance problem arises, the two entities – the energy supplier and the network operator – shift the blame by claiming that the other party is responsible for resolving the problem. This is a real pain for consumers.

 
  
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  Joaquín Almunia, Vice-President of the Commission. (FR) It is true that several authorities are responsible for ensuring that European standards aimed at regulating both the electricity sector and competition are applied as intended, in such a way that they have a positive impact on the market. Naturally, the French energy authority imposes these responsibilities on the French market, together with the French competition authority. The Commission, in particular Mr Oettinger, is responsible for enforcing the directive. In this way, several proceedings were initiated, once the Commission realised that the directive – in particular, the third package – had not been applied by Member States.

When necessary, investigations will be opened and decisions will be taken under Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty relating to competition, whenever we believe that the Treaty rules are not being applied or that operators are not applying them in this market.

How do we work in the field of competition? Sometimes, we undertake investigations on our own initiative. We receive some extremely useful information from users – citizens or companies.

Therefore, if you have information that you believe the competition authorities, the Directorate-General for Competition, or myself, should be aware of because it is likely to lead to the opening of procedures in the area which falls under my responsibility, please pass it on to me.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D). (LT) Madam President, today we have been informed by Commissioner Almunia that timely and correct data or information is very important. Our main objective is the implementation of the Third Energy Package. However, tomorrow we will vote on another document entitled ‘information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements between Member States and third countries in the field of energy’, in which Member States and companies retain the right to provide information about mutual agreements. I therefore have the following question. Will this possibility weaken the implementation of the Third Energy Package and, on that basis, distort the internal market in the European Union?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) We believe that the energy foreign policy that is to be discussed tomorrow will have no negative effects on the development of the internal market. We believe that we need a certain common European strategy in respect of third countries – that is, in respect of supplier countries – which is why we feel it is important that bilateral agreements – in other words, treaties between third countries and Member States – are made public. What we do not want, and are not calling for, is the publication of specific private sector contracts – prices, quantities, terms – unless these infringe internal market law. Then, and only then, will investigations be necessary, as stated by Commissioner Almunia half an hour ago. However, the general publication of private sector contracts is not something we feel is called for.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D). (LT) Thank you very much for your reply.

I have another question. Our main objective is to minimise dependence on third countries and this depends on energy balance. What is your view today of the development of nuclear energy, because this type of energy could be the very best and most effective means of favourably resolving the issue of energy balance compared to third countries, particularly Russia?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) We have various legal bases for our Europeanisation of energy policy. Firstly, as always, there is the primary law of the Euratom Treaty; secondly, there is the Treaty of Lisbon, with its separate section on the Europeanisation of energy legislation; thirdly, there are our general internal market rules that have applied to oil and coal for decades, and that we have been implementing for gas and electricity for 15 years now. On top of that, we have the twenty 2020 goals that are binding energy and climate change policy. There is one thing that we do not have, and that is the decision on the technology. In other words, the issue of nuclear power – yes or no; or coal – if yes, how much and for how long; or renewable energy beyond the binding European target – in other words, more than 20%. All that is a matter for national governments and parliaments. We respect that.

In a few weeks’ time, we will submit to you our comprehensive report on our stress tests, containing extensive information on standards, strengths, the risks of the more than 130 nuclear power stations in the EU plus our partners in Ukraine and Switzerland, and which will also provide suggestions as well as requirements for retrofitting and higher standards. We will conduct a debate on that. In the final event, however, the decision will remain a matter for the national governments and parliaments.

We currently have around 30% nuclear power in the European electricity mix. According to our investigations, this percentage is likely to fall slightly, but will remain around this level because as well as shutdowns and exit strategies, there are also new nuclear power stations being planned and built. We respect the decision made on this. We have a multicultural Europe: Italy decided in a referendum not to build any nuclear power stations, Germany has decided to phase out nuclear power over ten years, Poland plans two nuclear power stations, the United Kingdom intends to increase the share of nuclear power in the electricity mix from 25% to 60% and France, with President Hollande’s victory in the election, wishes to reduce the share of nuclear power long-term from the current 76% to 50% by 2025.

 
  
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  Jolanta Emilia Hibner (PPE).(PL) Madam President, Commissioner, I have an important question. If there turns out to be a lot of shale gas, is it to be included in the energy mix? Many countries are making plans to increase their extraction of shale gas. At the same time, many of the Commissioners have asked research centres to carry out a variety of research on questions related to the safety of the technologies used to extract shale gas and the environmental impact of the techniques involved. I would like to know how these research centres are selected, because the results they produce often contradict each other. One centre produces a very positive assessment of shale gas extraction technologies, but another does quite the opposite, and speaks of the very great danger associated with using this kind of technology.

The next question I would like to ask is about the Emissions Trading System. It has not delivered the expected results. We however – the countries of Europe – are still using this system. I would like to know what is going to be done about the ETS.

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Commissioner Hedegaard is responsible within the Commission for matters relating to the Emissions Trading System (ETS). We consider the ETS to be a sensible market economy solution for achieving a reduction in CO2 emissions, and next year we will enter into the control phase. We now have a problem. As a result of the economic stagnation, of the crisis, the CO2 price is no longer around EUR 14-18 as it was for many years, but is now around EUR 6-8. That does not send out a price signal. Consequently, we are considering whether we should take certain CO2 emission rights, certain allowances, off the market for a period in order to achieve a certain increase in the market price. The Commission will make a decision on this in the next few weeks.

The external problem is that CO2 and the ETS have not been recognised or adopted by any other regions of the world. In other words, a world market for CO2 emissions has not yet arisen.

On the first topic, that of shale gas: shale gas has completely changed the world market for gas in the US. Whereas previously, the Americans were major importers of gas, of LNG gas, today they are largely self-sufficient in gas energy and have a cost factor: in the US, gas now costs only around 30% of the price of gas in the European markets.

Last week, we presented three studies on the subject of shale gas and its environmental impact and risks. We are working closely together on this: Commissioner Potočnik, Commissioner Hedegaard and I. We are following demonstration projects. We think it is good that demonstration projects are being tried out in a few Member States. At present, we believe that it is too early for further-reaching binding European rules. In general, we believe that shale gas can play a supplementary role in the European gas market, but that it will not replace existing gas entirely. We will continue to need conventional gas from third countries in the long term. Shale gas will have a supplementary function, but will not be a replacement.

 
  
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  Jolanta Emilia Hibner (PPE).(PL) Thank you for your answer. I would, however, like to know something about the independence of these research centres. I ask this because information received by the committee on which I serve shows that many of the research centres have, in fact, been representatives of specific producers, such as manufacturers of equipment used in the renewable energy industry. It is hard to expect that what they say and the results of their research should be particularly neutral. Therefore, I would like to know if it would not be better if it were research centres from the United States which gave us information on the technologies and methods used in shale gas extraction, and not centres which have a particular interest in promoting particular methods.

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) There are many studies on the subject of shale gas. Certainly, some of these have been commissioned by players in the market and are thus not necessarily completely independent. Our research services are also active. We maintain that the Commission is independent and our experts are able to work uninfluenced by market interests.

One further point: renewable energy is not, in fact, an opponent of gas, but a partner for gas. Electricity from solar energy and wind power needs supplementary power generation, and gas is the natural partner. Whether that gas then comes from Russia, Norway or Algeria, or from our own geological formations, is more or less irrelevant to the renewable energy partner.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia de Campos (S&D).(PT) Madam President, Commissioner Oettinger, part of this issue has already been discussed today. Everything we know about the application of the third package as regards the delay with transposing its directives – the most recent information available to me seems to suggest that 18 Member States have been notified – seems to suggest that this information is probably out of date already because of the lack of transposition. My question is: how likely do you think it is that the legislation being drafted on trans-European transport networks will include a measure, an incentive, laying down conditionality for the presentation of projects of common interest? Will they be conditional on Member States complying with the obligations resulting from the third package or, on the other hand, do you consider such a mechanism extraneous and think all intervention in this area should simply be left to the normal competition mechanisms covered in Article 101 onwards?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) Mr Correia de Campos, we have the same problems with implementing the internal market packages into the law of the Member States as in other areas of the law. Energy is not a special case; exactly the same applies in the areas of consumer protection, business and in other sectors of the internal market. I do not believe that, if Member States delay implementing EU law, we should use the European budget as a penalty. We believe that our treaty infringement proceedings are successful and that, in the coming years, we will see all the Member States implementing internal market law in the energy sector on a one-to-one basis. The majority of the ministers are highly constructive. However, the Parliaments of our Member States are often rather reticent when it comes to implementation.

 
  
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  António Fernando Correia de Campos (S&D).(PT) Madam President, Commissioner, I recognise the Commission’s goodwill and the spirit of tolerance that has existed in this regard. However, the issue is, do you, who are drafting new legislation that could introduce additional conditionality that is even more robust, consider such conditionality an abusive instrument or do you think it would be acceptable?

 
  
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  Günther Oettinger, Member of the Commission.(DE) I would like to see our treaty infringement proceedings being able to be dealt with more quickly in court. We do not need instruments that go further. We will show in our communication on the internal market that we are making good progress with the implementation of our internal market packages in the Member States.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes Question Time.

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: EDWARD McMILLAN-SCOTT
Vice-President

 
  
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  President. – Colleagues, can I first of all share the joy at the liberation from the Ethiopian authorities of two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, who have been pardoned together with others, and safely reached Sweden during the night. I think Ms Corazza Bildt has something to say about that.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Mr President, I should truly like to thank you for that announcement. This is a great day for the people of Sweden. Now, Johan and Martin are free. We wish to thank all colleagues for the solidarity and support they have shown. Johan and Martin, together with others who had been in prison in Ethiopia, have been pardoned. They arrived safely home this morning. Now, of course, we all hope for the liberation of all journalists imprisoned throughout the world.

(Applause)

 

7. Composition of Parliament: see Minutes
Video of the speeches

8. Request for the defence of parliamentary immunity: see Minutes
Video of the speeches

9. Composition of committees and delegations
Video of the speeches
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  President. – I have received from the S&D Group requests for appointment to committees. The list of these requests will be published in the Minutes of this sitting. Unless objections are raised before the approval of the Minutes, the appointments will be deemed to have been approved. They are: to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Sophocles Sophocleous, and to the Committee on Security and Defence, Sophocles Sophocleous.

We have a point of order from Mr Hartong.

 
  
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  Lucas Hartong (NI). (NL) Mr President, 11 years ago, there was an attack by Islamic terrorists against the freedom of the West, especially against our friends in America. I would very much appreciate it if we could observe a minute’s silence to remember the almost 3 000 victims of that attack. Thank you.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you for that, Mr Hartong. It is not on our agenda but I think it would be appropriate for the House to rise in memory of the victims of 9/11.

(The House rose and observed a minute’s silence)

 

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

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

 

10.1. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: EGF/2011/008 DK/Odense Steel Shipyard from Denmark (A7-0232/2012 - Bendt Bendtsen) (vote)

10.2. Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: EGF/2011/017 ES/Aragón (A7-0233/2012 - Juan Andrés Naranjo Escobar) (vote)

10.3. Energy efficiency (A7-0265/2012 - Claude Turmes)

10.4. Waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa (A7-0230/2012 - Cecilia Wikström) (vote)

10.5. Waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen (A7-0229/2012 - Francesco Enrico Speroni) (vote)

10.6. Alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA (A7-0266/2012 - Hélène Flautre) (vote)

10.7. Enhanced intra-EU solidarity in the field of asylum (A7-0248/2012 - Kyriacos Triantaphyllides) (vote)

10.8. European standardisation (A7-0069/2012 - Lara Comi) (vote)
 

- Before the vote:

 
  
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  Lara Comi, rapporteur.(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I will be very brief.

I give my sincere thanks to all the shadow rapporteurs, the Commission and the Council, but I would like to dedicate this regulation to a friend, a delegate of the Italian Representation who passed away during the work on standardisation.

On behalf of everyone, I therefore dedicate this regulation to Alberto Normand, whose humanity and professionalism exceeded all standards.

 

10.9. Electronic identification of bovine animals (A7-0199/2012 - Sophie Auconie) (vote)
 

Before the vote on the legislative resolution:

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie, rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, I would kindly ask you not to put the final proposal to a vote in order to leave the negotiations open. We will come back to it later.

 
  
 

(The request to refer the report back to committee was accepted)

 

10.10. Pharmacovigilance (amendment of Directive 2001/83/EC) (A7-0165/2012 - Linda McAvan) (vote)

10.11. Pharmacovigilance (amendment of Regulation (EC) No 726/2004) (A7-0164/2012 - Linda McAvan) (vote)

10.12. Sulphur content of marine fuels (A7-0038/2012 - Satu Hassi) (vote)

10.13. Single payment scheme and support to vine growers (A7-0203/2012 - Herbert Dorfmann) (vote)

10.14. Administrative cooperation through the internal market information system (A7-0068/2012 - Adam Bielan) (vote)

10.15. Common system of taxation applicable to interest and royalty payments (A7-0227/2012 - Ildikó Gáll-Pelcz) (vote)

10.16. Preparation of the Commission work programme 2013 (B7-0346/2012) (vote)

10.17. Voluntary and unpaid donation of tissues and cells (A7-0223/2012 - Marina Yannakoudakis) (vote)
 

Before the vote on paragraph 43:

 
  
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  Peter Liese (PPE). – Mr President, if there is no opposition to this in the House I would ask you to take a roll-call vote on paragraph 43, all parts, and on the final vote. We have been contacted by patients, with brain cancer for example, by hospitals and by SMEs, to say that we need to change the existing legislation and this is in paragraph 43. If we want to send a clear signal to the Commission, it needs to be documented that we have a big majority in the House, so a roll-call vote please for paragraph 43, all parts, and the final vote.

 
  
 

(The request was accepted)

 

10.18. Role of women in the green economy (A7-0235/2012 - Mikael Gustafsson) (vote)

10.19. Women’s working conditions in the service sector (A7-0246/2012 - Iratxe García Pérez) (vote)

10.20. Education, training and Europe 2020 (A7-0247/2012 - Mary Honeyball) (vote)

10.21. Online distribution of audiovisual works in the EU (A7-0262/2012 - Jean-Marie Cavada) (vote)
 

(That concludes the vote)

 

11. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Claude Turmes (A7-0265/2012)

 
  
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  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, the current global economic and environmental crisis requires us to make choices to save resources.

With the Energy Efficiency Directive adopted today, we can achieve important goals, such as tackling the problem of climate change and the scarcity of fossil fuels, including coal and oil; cutting the annual cost of buying fuel, which amounts to EUR 400 billion, by making a potential saving of EUR 50 billion per year; reducing Europe’s dependency on Russia and OPEC countries, from which we import gas and oil; reducing air pollution, which, in some regions of Europe, currently poses an unfortunately unresolved threat to the health of millions of European citizens; creating new jobs and benefits for small and medium-sized enterprises, including installers and the building sector, which is currently going through a very serious crisis.

I therefore welcome the rules introduced for the renovation of public buildings and for four-yearly energy audits, which are compulsory for all large enterprises. This is one of the many steps Europe needs to take. However, we need to do more: we must set ourselves more ambitious targets and take measures that are more binding on all Member States.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I voted in favour of Mr Turmes’s report, which paves the way for adoption of a directive that will finally make it possible to overcome the differences between Member States with regard to energy efficiency.

Though it does not change the non-binding nature of the goal of energy efficiency set by the climate and energy package of 2008, the directive imposes on suppliers and distributors compulsory annual saving schemes in terms of final consumption.

According to the Commission’s figures, the measure will bring about a total saving of around EUR 20 billion in the costs of investment in energy generation and distribution. This is vitally important and will help reaffirm the Union as a global player, since the future geopolitical balance will be primarily decided by policies on the supply and use of energy resources.

 
  
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  Markus Pieper (PPE).(DE) Mr President, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), I should like to make a comment on the voting procedure for the minutes. The proceedings have clearly given rise to some confusion as regards the German translation – the rapporteur has also become involved in this – which is contrary to the spirit of the negotiations. The text was negotiated in English. On behalf of the PPE Group, I should therefore like to make it clear that the terms ‘cost effective’ and ‘cost efficient’ are to be used in the sense of the German word ‘kosteneffizient’. The term used by the language service, ‘kostenwirksam’, does not correspond to the spirit of the negotiations, nor is it sufficiently clearly defined. We therefore expect that, as in the case of the Buildings Directive, the terms ‘cost effective’ and ‘cost efficient’ will be uniformly translated by ‘kosteneffizient’. Should this not be the case, we urgently call for this to be changed in the translation. I should like to refer to a letter to the Tabling Office signed by all German-speaking members of the PPE Group, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament and also the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – in other words, a clear majority of the German-speaking Members. They cannot all have misunderstood it.

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I voted in favour of this dossier because I believe that the issue of energy efficiency, together with sustainability and competitiveness, can certainly be an essential instrument in a particularly difficult process, such as this one.

We need sustainable growth that has to involve small and medium-sized enterprises and that can be used as a virtuous cycle, including through innovative green technology. All this must be achieved through a culture of design that makes the best use of these resources, channelling them towards building refurbishment, which, in particular, requires the full and appropriate use of EU cohesion funds. One third of buildings in Europe were built after 1973, which is clearly significant.

It is possible to act within this context, including by means of better training and design that is consistent with the aims of the provision.

 
  
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  Francesco De Angelis (S&D).(IT) Mr President, energy efficiency is one of the pillars of EU climate policy. That is why today’s vote is particularly important. It is the result of a satisfactory and timely agreement in terms of the content, in that it obliges the Member States to prepare a strategy based on indicative national targets that take account of EU objectives and, at the same time, enables energy companies to comply with energy saving requirements in accordance with the principle of reasonable flexibility.

The goal of a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020 is therefore within reach. I believe that credit is due, above all, to this House, because if the most disruptive Member States within the Council have at last accepted this good compromise, that is due to the tenacity with which Parliament’s negotiators, starting with the rapporteur, safeguarded these goals. This is an important step for the creation of green jobs and, ultimately, to boost competitiveness and sustainability.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Mr President, I, too, voted in favour of the motion, although I have certain qualms about doing so. In the end, however, I was won over by the conviction that, firstly, it is necessary, and secondly, that our resolution opens up the possibility of putting cost efficiency at the heart of things. It is not about saving energy at any cost, but rather it is, above all, about the whole thing adding up. If it adds up, if we create the necessary framework conditions with as little red tape as possible, then we will have the famous win-win situation in which the economy takes a leap forward and we create new job opportunities in what is known as the green economy. Let me repeat, however, that we need an alliance with the economy so that the whole thing is worthwhile and sensible.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Mr President, an excellent compromise has been achieved which puts Europe on the right track to achieve the goals of the climate package.

One of the successes is having maintained the target of 3% in relation to the energy efficiency of public buildings, an ambitious target at a time of economic crisis, which has great environmental value and will act as a lever for the EU’s economic growth.

The directive lays the foundations for redesigning energy saving strategies, for which both private and public operators will need to call on experts in the sector, without whom the established goals will be difficult to achieve. That therefore paves the way for encouraging national training programmes for audit and energy saving experts.

 
  
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  Eija-Riitta Korhola (PPE). (FI) Mr President, the Energy Efficiency Directive had good intentions, but the final outcome is unfair. Once again, the Member States are being treated on an unequal basis, as no attention is being paid to what has already been done. In practice, the countries that have already sorted out their problems properly are being penalised by ever more stringent targets, while the estimated targets are the same, whichever point you start from.

I represent here today the country that is footing the bill for this directive, Finland. Finland is facing a bill of hundreds of millions of euro a year, for both consumers and businesses. Since we are ahead in measures taken to ensure efficiency, continued attempts at efficiency will be even more expensive.

At the risk of sounding cynical, the decision that has now been taken will, in fact, encourage those who have sorted out their problems properly to end their current action to boost energy efficiency and to resume again at the start of 2014. This does not reflect the spirit of good legislation and, for that reason, my country’s parliament also proposed a notification regarding the directive.

For all these reasons, I found it impossible to support this proposal for a directive. I also hope that this House will consider at what point we actually have to resort to the undemocratic first reading agreement short cut procedure.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE). (LT) Mr President, in the European Union, we all recognise that efficient consumption of energy contributes to combating climate change and to environmental conservation. However, it is very important that this area brings undoubted benefits for the economy.

In order to make our buildings highly energy efficient, new jobs are created and commissions increase in the construction sector. Most importantly, the money saved due to the reduction in energy consumed can be transferred to other sectors.

The text of the document proposed by the Commission was rather ambitious – above all, in the sense of binding energy saving targets. I understand that the situation varies across the Member States and perhaps Member States need flexibility as proposed by the European Parliament. However, the so-called compromise that has now been reached with Member States to make these targets simply indicative shows that Member States lack political will or, for other reasons, do not want to adopt common agreements. This is particularly typical of the large European Union Member States.

Often, Member States need a push to achieve certain objectives – that is exactly how binding energy targets could have been set. Unfortunately, so far we are going round in circles.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report as the consumption of energy must be reduced. This has to be done to tackle the challenges and restrict dependency on fossil fuels.

My country has set itself the aim of cutting primary energy consumption by 19% by 2020. However, this is a highly ambitious target, while also being very difficult to achieve. The main thrust of action is aimed at making the system of producing and distributing energy more efficient, as well as informing the public. The Structural Funds have an important contribution to make in this regard, and monitoring progress ensures that the project is implemented correctly and consistently, and meets the specified indicators.

I think that priority access should continue to be given to renewable energy and investments in this area. Romania is increasingly encouraging this form of energy and intends to continue to promote renewable energy sources by using the green certificates.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, no business needs to be told to look for energy efficiency, nor does any householder need to be told to keep his bills down. There is a wonderful mechanism for driving energy efficiency already and it is called the market. What we are doing in this House when we talk about energy efficiency is precisely the opposite. We are intervening through subsidies and other market distortions, thereby creating not only a financial crisis but an energy crisis, because we are intervening in the natural flow of supply and demand.

Why are we doing it? Not in response to an identified crisis but in order to flaunt our virtue. The difficulty, as so often, is that MEPs cannot resist meddling, cannot resist scratching at something in order to show how very concerned they are. I have observed before that Shakespeare has something to say about every subject, including MEPs who cannot help legislating in energy policy: ‘What’s the matter, you dissentious rogues, that, rubbing the poor itch of your opinion, Make yourselves scabs?’.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Mr President, I welcome the fact that in looking at the whole debate on climate change and energy production, we are also looking at energy efficiency. Quite often, this is the forgotten element of this whole debate – this wider debate – on climate change and alternative sources of energy.

We do need to incentivise businesses, customers and others towards energy efficiency. That is absolutely right. But, as my colleague said previously, do we need to do this through taxpayer subsidy? Do we need to do it in this way or should we rely on the crucial elements of the market which will drive people naturally towards this? We should be encouraging insulation, smart metering and regeneration technologies but, at the same time, we should not meddle where it causes more problems.

The EU is telling the British Government that it has to increase its VAT on insulation products. So, while on the one hand we are discussing energy efficiency and claiming that we are promoting energy efficiency, by what we actually do through taxation policy we are reducing the incentives for energy efficiency.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, cooperation and coordination in energy efficiency policies could actually bring added value, provided they are not binding on the Member States. But this is an area where you could bring financial savings to the consumer by making things cheaper. I agree with Mr Hannan that the market is important.

There would be less environmental pollution, with the emission of certain toxic noxious gases, if the power stations could be more efficient. There could also be fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but I also think that there is a danger sometimes of being over-reactive, as with the abolition of the incandescent light bulb. The imposition of mandatory CFL light bulbs is something that irritated me no end. They cannot be dimmed, so you cannot make them more efficient. They give off UV light, which potentially causes cancer in people with certain conditions of the skin, and they release toxic mercury into the environment. This was like using a sledge-hammer to crack a nut, because you could have actually used the market – made them cheap and available – and people would therefore have switched to them on a voluntary basis. But to make it mandatory was something that made the EU very unpopular in my constituency of London.

 
  
  

Report: Hélène Flautre (A7-0266/2012)

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, on several occasions, Parliament has asked that the fight against international terrorism be conducted with full respect for human dignity and fundamental freedoms. The EU’s policies on security and the fight against terrorism are based on police cooperation and on effective intelligence.

That is why I think it is right to call on the Member States to investigate whether there are any secret detention centres or any human rights violations on their territory, provided that these investigations are based on sound legal grounds and not on media and public speculation.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, apologies – I had mixed up two cards. More than a decade has passed since the terrorist attack on New York in 2001, which triggered the war against international terrorism. The CIA’s programme of secrecy has meant that more than 3 000 terror suspects have been abducted and, on the grounds of extraordinary rendition, flown to secret prisons, often to be tortured.

Unfortunately, however, we in Europe are just as guilty. It is a contradiction that, while the European Union heavily criticises the United States for its secret transportation of prisoners by air, for the prison camps at Guantánamo, and for the brutal interrogation practices employed with terror suspects, it has been unwilling to investigate its own role in this. This is by no means a trivial matter.

The report also calls on Finland to disclose all necessary information on all suspect planes associated with the CIA and its air transportation programme. I doubt if any very murky secrets about CIA flights would be found in the archives of the EU countries. I do, however, wonder greatly why Europe lacks the will to clean up its own back yard.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I wanted to take the floor to explain why I voted for this report, because it is one of the few balanced, realistic reports on a subject which has been debated not only by politicians, but by civil society as well.

We carried out a parliamentary inquiry in my country, Romania, and, based on the evidence available at that time, we excluded the existence of detention centres, but we did not exclude that transfers went on. In this context, I welcome the option relating to the need to review the Chicago Convention on civil aviation and the Tokyo Convention on criminal offences committed on board aircraft. There are several obsolete international legal mechanisms which did not allow Member States to carry out effective inquiries and which will probably cast doubt on the replies received as part of the inquiries already completed.

Apart from this, there is still the need for a European counter-terrorism mechanism to be approved by all Member States.

 
  
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  Krisztina Morvai (NI).(HU) Mr President, I naturally voted in favour of the report, which essentially reveals that the United States is on the rampage against fundamental human rights under the pretext of the war on terror, with the involvement of several European countries. I have experience with the bizarre and terrifying results this can have, including in Hungary. I am referring to the case of Mr Budaházy, which I have often mentioned here in the past. Mr Budaházy is a well-known opposition leader in Hungary. His criminal trial has been going on for more than four years, with gross violations of fundamental procedural guarantees. He had been on remand for two and a half years, which the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg found to be unlawful, requiring the Hungarian State to pay compensation to Mr Budaházy.

Yet this member of the opposition is still being held under house arrest. And on what grounds? The threat of terrorism! We must obviously reject this completely and put an end to the rampage.

 
  
  

Report: Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (A7-0048/2012)

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, at a time when migration flows are most often mixed, including migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, a tangible commitment to ensuring that asylum policies are effective and efficient is essential.

The harmonisation of standards of protection, effective practical cooperation and increased solidarity, not only between EU Member States, but also between the EU and non-EU countries, are therefore key to creating an area of protection wherein the rights of asylum seekers and beneficiaries of international protection are duly respected and promoted. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of the report by my colleague, whom I thank for the excellent quality of his work and for his valuable suggestions.

Despite the ongoing harmonisation of standards of protection and asylum, we still have a long way to go before creating that concept of solidarity and fair sharing of responsibilities enshrined in Article 80 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Indeed, the Dublin system places disproportionate expectations on those Member States constituting entry points into the EU.

I therefore agree with the priorities identified by the rapporteur on practical cooperation, technical assistance and financial solidarity. On this latter issue, I think it is absolutely necessary to make the best use of the complementarities between the different EU funds available, in order to translate solidarity into concrete action, including financial incentives for relocating beneficiaries of international protection.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Mr President, today, the Swedish delegation voted in favour of the report on intra-EU solidarity because we do support burden sharing and mutual assistance among all Member States.

However, the compromise reached is not balanced. First of all, our work on asylum has to be based on correct facts. Although the report is based on a notion that only countries on the external border are subject to extreme pressure and that they are the ones receiving the largest number of asylum seekers, this is not the reality. Asylum seekers enter Europe not only by sea, and second-line countries – where their final destination is – should also be taken into account.

I would just like to take an example. In Sweden, we are now receiving a thousand people from Syria every week and, of course, we feel enormous solidarity towards them. So external borders and absolute numbers cannot be the only criteria for receiving support and financial aid. It should also be clearly stated that relocation should be on a voluntary basis for the Member States who want to participate in the programmes and, of course, the people concerned should be asked for their views.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, it was reported over the summer that the United Kingdom was drawing up contingency plans to close its borders in the event of a refugee crisis caused by a sudden collapse of the single currency. Journalists are addicted to this story; they deal in drama, so they love the idea that the crisis has to be presented as a choice between some cataclysmic fall and a solution. But I suggest that there is a third option.

What if people simply carry on becoming gradually poorer? This is not some fanciful theory of mine, indeed it has already started. Our constituents are worse off than they were a year ago; they were worse off then than the year before. We could be in for years and years of progressive dilapidation. When you go to the southern countries in the eurozone, the signs are that much clearer. It need not be a catastrophe. It need not be the end of Atlantis. It could simply be the end of Atlas Shrugged: a shabby, miserable, demoralising slide into darkness. This is the way the West ends. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Mr President, one of the constant criticisms we have of EU policies is that, whatever the problem, the solution always tends to be more Europe. When we look at an issue, such as the highly emotive one of asylum, an issue where people facing persecution seek refuge in our lands, why are we playing politics and continuing this one-size-fits-all idea and playing with people’s lives?

We should look at and understand the individual policies of individual governments. Governments themselves and local communities have to consider the impact of new people coming into the country on existing community cohesion, including the impact on existing immigrant communities. So, when the UK Government, or any other elected government, says that it has a policy and that it has decided on what is a sustainable number of people to allow in, considering the impact on local communities, it should be allowed to continue that policy and should certainly not be told by the EU, or any other body, that it should allow more room. We should depend on the wise decisions of the national elected governments.

 
  
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  Monica Luisa Macovei (PPE). – Mr President, I voted for this report in view of the important commitment made by the European Union in setting up a common asylum procedure and status for people who have been granted international protection. The establishment of a common European asylum system will increase the solidarity and also the accountability of Member States and non-EU countries in the harmonisation of protection standards.

We are committed to offering a safe environment to vulnerable people, but this cannot be achieved without practical cooperation and effective allocation of responsibilities between Member States, complemented by financial solidarity. I want to stress that solidarity and responsibility go hand in hand if we want to offer real protection, international protection, to those vulnerable people.

 
  
  

Report: Lara Comi (A7-0069/2012)

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the compromise reached between the Council and Parliament, after a year of tough negotiations, is a starting point to help boost the revival of the internal market. Indeed, the use of standards will help European businesses to obtain certificates of conformity and safety for their products and services more quickly and more cheaply than at present.

The simplifications envisaged will be particularly important for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), given that Member States will have to facilitate the participation of SMEs on standardisation committees and SME access to the standards.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to congratulate Ms Comi for her work and for the excellent quality of her report.

Standardisation is one of the twelve levers to boost the internal market and will play a key role in helping to achieve the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Indeed, the new regulation will enable European businesses to obtain certificates of conformity and safety for their products and services more quickly, using a technically updated, flexible and effective system. This will benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular, enabling them to reduce production costs and administrative burdens, and raising their profiles in the single European market.

That said, we will need to continue encouraging voluntary consultations between industry, public authorities and other stakeholders, so as to ensure that the development of standards and regulations is transparent and can be updated over time.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, this regulation is the result of the resolution adopted by Parliament two years ago on the future of European standardisation. It underscores the role of standards as the driving force of innovation, and also their role in ensuring that the single market provides a high level of consumer protection. An important feature is the inclusion of a number of significant amendments which make it possible to enhance the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in standardisation work. Furthermore, increasing the participation of national public authorities and societal stakeholders, including consumers’ organisations, will facilitate the standards development process and improve the clarity of standards. The inclusion of service standards in the legal framework of European standardisation will contribute to a significant improvement in the quality and security of this sector of the economy, and will also contribute to its harmonisation, transparency and competitiveness, with clear benefits for consumers. The report includes the proposals from the public consultation conducted by my committee, so I endorsed it with complete conviction.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, this satisfactory compromise leads to a technical upgrade of the European standardisation system, bringing in one that is more balanced, effective and relevant to the real needs of businesses.

Dealing with the slowness of the standard-setting process and the issue of under-representation of small and medium-sized enterprises is a worthy achievement. We should also highlight the creation of a notification system, by which businesses will be informed in advance of the Commission’s intention to introduce significant standards and the extension of the scope of the regulation to these standards, with regard to all those services that account for 70% of EU GDP.

We voted in favour because it is an important policy instrument that ensures the proper functioning of the internal market of products for the protection of consumers and the environment, for innovation and for social inclusion.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Mr President, today we have approved an important step towards the completion of the single market. This is the most effective way to promote growth in Europe at a time of economic crisis, so we should not underestimate the importance of this legislation. Although technical, it is crucial for our companies and consumers in their daily lives. In a rapidly changing world, standards must ensure interoperability and keep pace with technological developments. We also need to have effective tools to drive innovation and boost the competitiveness of European companies in global markets.

I therefore welcome the fact that standards will continue to be bottom-up, market driven and voluntary. We have adopted a framework that will help develop European standards. We have been pressing hard for better, more flexible regulation, and we are removing unnecessary administrative burdens and increasing transparency. I think it is important that this will really facilitate the participation of SMEs and ensure access to user-friendly standards for all. I hope we will continue to work together to implement all the aspects of the Single Market Act effectively.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report as reviewing the European standardisation system must resolve the current problems and consolidate EU policy in this area.

Standardisation has a strong impact on economic activity and influences growth and productivity. It is one of the measures proposed for revitalising the single market. This is why it is important to provide clear, easy-to-use standards so as to make it easier for all operators to participate. More attention needs to be paid to SMEs in particular, who should have greater involvement in this process. In this regard, I welcome the rapporteur’s proposals for improving SMEs’ participation in, and access to, the standardisation process.

Introducing standardisation in the services sector will also facilitate international trade, competitiveness and innovation. At the same time, I welcome the standards for services because they will reduce trade barriers and afford consumers greater protection.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, just before the vote, my friend and colleague, Chris Davies, said that I had to read Niall Ferguson’s book ‘Civilisations’. It is actually a book I had already read, and the thesis in it is not especially new. The idea that Europe flourished because it was a diverse, competing plurality of states rather than a single empire on the oriental model has been well-rehearsed by historians, by Alan Macfarlane, by Paul Kennedy, by Eric Jones, indeed by Adam Smith. It is a pretty old theory. Or, if you think I am being too Anglocentric about this, also by Montesquieu and Tocqueville, both of whom understood that the stasis inherent in uniformity, as it existed in the great ancient monarchies, is bad for growth and bad ultimately, therefore, for living standards.

Now I am sure you can tell where I am going with this argument. In trying to get on top of wars, the founders of the European Union also smothered the competition, the diversity, that had been the basis of the greatness of European civilisation. Our generation is living through a tragic reversal whereby just as China and India learned the virtues of the dispersal of power, Europe is going down this Ming, Mogul, and Ottoman road towards uniformity, taxation and decline. Our mistake and our tragedy.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you, Mr Hannan. Your disquisitions get ever more elaborate.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Mr President, it is important, when we look at the idea of standards, that we understand what we are trying to achieve. Of course it is often good for the consumer, and often good for industry, to be able to have the certainty to produce the standards that others can work towards. But with standards, there is also the other side of the issue: What does it do to innovation? How do we come up with those standards? We have to be wary of those who lobby loudest for their particular standards in order to stifle the competition and to crowd others out of the marketplace. We have to be careful of the rent-seeking behind this.

We also have to be careful that we are not so keen on our own standards that, when it comes to global agreements and trade practices, one man’s standard becomes another’s non-tariff barrier or technical barrier. Surely the best way for most of these products to be developed is to allow the market to provide the standards and then allow the best standards to win out. Then the bodies can agree after negotiation on the best standard, rather than imposing it too early and crowding out the players that you do not want to flourish.

 
  
  

Report: Sophie Auconie (A7-0199/2012)

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, food safety is, without doubt, one of the main concerns of European citizens.

In 1997, after the spread of mad cow disease, the EU had adopted strict rules on the identification and traceability of cattle. The text we are debating today would amend the legislation in force, even though it does present limits as regards provisions relating to voluntary labelling. It would make it possible to obtain more reliable data through a system of electronic identification of bovine animals and enhance its traceability system.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, removing voluntary beef labelling in Europe means arbitrarily choosing to go against safety and quality for our products.

In an effort to simplify, we must not cut down on useful information to the detriment not only of consumers who buy the meat, but also of those European farmers who use labelling to differentiate and market their products. For some time now, we have been arguing that origin must be marked in order to defend production and purchasing power.

We therefore oppose a proposal that would bring us back to the status quo prior to this labelling, which has made it possible today to achieve excellent results both in organisational terms for the entire value chain of the industry, and in terms of communication to the end consumer of the meat.

We want a safer Europe, more attentive to the needs of consumers, to quality, to food safety and to rural development.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Mr President, as you so aptly put it, this report concerns cows. ‘How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? He giveth his mind to make furrows; and is diligent to give the kine fodder’. It is perhaps appropriate that I pause at this stage and thank the interpreters who have been very patient with my flights into Jacobean English over many years. What a tragedy that now, the descendent of that honest man giveth his mind to fill in forms and is diligent to meet the latest directives coming out of the common agricultural policy.

As the rural year comes to revolve around bureaucracy rather than the natural seasons, we have seen not just a rise in prices for consumers and a rise in taxes to sustain the system but also, bizarrely, a depreciation of output in the countryside. A system designed to help stimulate food production has ended up damaging both the farmer and the consumer. Here you have a microcosm. What is wrong with state control? The sooner we get out of the common agricultural policy and design a policy tailored to meet the needs of our countryside, the better for all concerned.

 
  
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  President. – Was that The Bible? The King James version?

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because food safety is particularly important and the safety of consumers is crucial in this respect. The electronic identification of bovine animals is of vital importance and helps improve them.

I endorse the amendment to the current legislation to better reflect the most recent technological advances. At the same time, adapting the legislation will strengthen the traceability system, which will become faster and more accurate.

I also think that the labelling of beef should be simplified. This will remove the administrative burden and make the procedure easier. I also believe that electronic identification should not be imposed on livestock farmers, but should remain voluntary. Therefore, consumers will be protected and small farmers will avoid unfair formalities. The proposal will also boost the sector’s competitiveness and improve its commercial prospects.

 
  
  

Report: Linda McAvan (A7-0165/2012)

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR).(PL) Mr President, public health is an issue which affects every citizen of the Union, and is an area of work in which the European institutions should be involved. The worrying information which appears from time to time about problems connected with the operations of pharmaceutical firms makes it necessary to provide constant clarification of the principles of pharmacovigilance and of the rules governing the cooperation of all Member States on this matter, particularly because the review carried out by the Commission revealed significant flaws in the current legal system.

Public interest leads me to support the proposed amendments, in particular, the increase in the number of cases requiring the automatic procedure when a Member State considers suspending or withdrawing a pharmaceutical product from sale. Furthermore, provisions making the actions of drug producers more transparent and the longer list of medicines subject to additional post-authorisation monitoring are essential today. I hope that the new legislation will help improve the safety of patients, and this hope was expressed in the common position of all the parliamentary groups. I voted to adopt the report.

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to express my appreciation for the adoption of this report that, once again, draws the attention of the European Union to the protection of health and to the protection of citizens.

With this report, we have, in fact, re-addressed the issue of surveillance of medicinal products, following the adoption of Directive 2010/84/EU and Regulation (EU) No 1235/2010 amending the directives on pharmacovigilance.

Since the so-called Mediator case, indeed, there has been a need to address the shortcomings identified by the tests conducted in this regard, and to refine the existing system, especially with regard to information requirements and notification of stakeholders and to the list of medicinal products subject to strengthened pharmacovigilance.

The amendments introduced, although modest in their scope, complement and reinforce the legal framework outlined previously in favour of greater transparency and efficiency and improved product safety standards, thus benefiting the health of European citizens.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Mr President, freedom also means the opportunity to make the wrong decision. Unfortunately, we often unreasonably restrict it when we adopt draft legislation that hinders business and constrains the economy and the market. But laws and regulations are sometimes justified. For example, the State must guarantee food and drug safety, otherwise irreparable damage can be done to health and lives.

I am glad that we are able to quickly correct legislation that was not strict enough. At the same time, however, I am filled with indignation that there exist companies and people who, for the sake of profit, sacrifice the lives of patients who trust them. In the case of Servier, there could be 500, or even 2 000, victims. Unfortunately, we can do nothing to save these people now, but I believe that we can save thousands of others.

 
  
  

Report: Linda McAvan (A7-0164/2012)

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, as a medical doctor, I support these measures strongly. In 2010, it was decided that EU rules governing pharmacovigilance had to be revised and a stress test was carried out on the legislation which demonstrated weaknesses in the system, which now need addressing.

These current proposed changes aim to close dangerous loopholes to protect our patients in Europe. In particular, they seek to meet the need for an automatic, urgent EU-wide procedure in cases where a Member State or the Commission considers that serious adverse side effects have occurred and therefore, there is a need to prohibit the supply of a particular medicine. They also seek to clarify the transparency obligations on pharmaceutical companies, namely, that companies are obliged to inform the European Medicines Agency, which is a very successful agency based in my own region of London, when a medicinal product is deemed to be harmful and this agency is then, in turn, obliged to inform all Member States without undue delay. So pharmacovigilance is a good thing and it is something which can be done well at EU level.

 
  
  

Report: Satu Hassi (A7-0038/2012)

 
  
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  Marek Józef Gróbarczyk (ECR).(PL) Mr President, I could not support this report because of its unfair treatment of shipowners from the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, requiring them to use fuels with a maximum sulphur content of 0.1% from 2015. Shipowners from countries which are part of Sulphur Emission Control Areas have appealed for Parliament to postpone the date for the introduction of these provisions until 2019, when, in other parts of the world, ships sailing outside SECAs will be able to use fuel containing no more than 0.5% sulphur. The proposed legislation will cause the price of marine fuel to rise by 70%. This will mean vessels operating in short sea shipping will be completely unprofitable. The sulphur content of marine fuels does have to come down, but a reasonable date should be chosen for this to happen. These reductions could lead to bankruptcies among shipowners and cause the loss of a great many jobs.

 
  
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  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, today is a very important day for the health of European citizens. Indeed, this is, without doubt, one of the most important reforms of the entire parliamentary term when one considers the beneficial impact it will have on the health of European citizens.

From today, the EU has stricter regulations and is establishing new upper limits on the sulphur content of marine fuels, which contain air pollutants that are estimated to cause as many as 50 000 premature deaths in Europe.

For Northern European countries – the so-called Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) – a maximum sulphur content in fuels of below 0.1% comes into force from 2015 while, for all other countries, the limit will be 0.5% from 2020.

We should no doubt have aimed higher; these new limits should have applied across the whole of the European Union. What price life, though? That is what thousands of European citizens are wondering in cities with major ports like that of my beautiful mistreated Venice, whose inhabitants and whose works of art are constantly being poisoned by smoke from the stacks of great ships. Well, thanks to Europe, that smoke will now be a little less black.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Mr President, I am opposed to the proposal for a directive because, once again, the European Union, in relation to the environment and the climate, wants to be top of the class. Unfortunately, this attitude leaves us in a position of clear competitive disadvantage in the global market, while the environmental benefits are of negligible impact.

The text, which is the product of the trialogue, is better than the one approved by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), but it goes beyond the requirements laid down by the Marpol convention (International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships): the detention of a vessel in the event of infringements has not been transposed; in other words, it is for the vessel to demonstrate good faith regarding the acquisition of fuel; it is impossible to understand why open sea ferries are subject to more stringent limits than those set internationally; in addition, the ban on selling fuel with a sulphur content of over 3.5% in the EU amounts to a competitive disadvantage for European suppliers.

Why does the Commission not act consistently and apply duties to the goods of those third countries which use fuel with a high sulphur content, damaging the environment as a whole? Does it not realise that continuing to impose restrictions on our enterprises favours unfair competition?

 
  
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  Jan Kozłowski (PPE).(PL) Mr President, I voted to adopt the report on the proposal for a directive on the sulphur content of marine fuels because I think that in its present form, it is a balanced document which takes account of key environmental questions as well as the importance of maintaining the competitiveness of European shipping. I support the view that air quality standards should be the same throughout the European Union, and I am pleased that this view is reflected in the report.

I think, too, that allowing inbound vessels from countries outside the European Union to use fuel with a higher sulphur content only until 2020 is a good step towards maintaining competitive conditions. I think it is very important to ensure that the Member States have access to training and programmes which help people understand emission abatement methods, and also to monitor the risk of a shift from sea- to land-based transport.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, I voted in favour of this report. It is my view that, given the harmful effects of sulphur dioxide emissions, not only to respiratory health in humans but also to the environment, the sulphur content of marine fuels must continue to be closely monitored at EU level.

Whilst various measures have already been taken internationally to reduce the sulphur content for marine fuels, for instance, those done through the IMO, the new directive goes further by ensuring that the Commission is able to assess the impact of enforcing the 0.1% limit for all EU waters, as well as committing to a reduction of the current 4.5% limit outside EU SECAs to only 0.5% by 2020. Furthermore, the new directive now imposes fines on those who surpass the limits. I believe that this is indeed a positive step forward and it is in keeping with my party’s environmental policy to protect the environment for future generations and to improve our own quality of life and well-being.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Mr President, it could be said that the Sulphur Directive is fundamentally an issue of health versus industry. It is absolutely right, in itself, to lower sulphur emissions, but health and environmental protection should not be introduced at any cost.

I could have cast my vote for or against, but this time the disastrous consequences of emission limits for Finnish industry carried more weight. The directive also treats the Member States of the EU unequally and distorts competition in the internal market. The rules on transition with respect to emission limits should be the same for all the sea areas of Europe and, for that reason, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE). (FI) Mr President, I voted against this report. Obviously, we all think that the environment must be looked after and that sulphur limits should be lowered. However, this must take place in all European sea areas at one and the same time, and preferably globally, of course. At present, it only concerns the Baltic Sea.

We know about the problems of the Baltic Sea, and we know that eutrophication is a huge problem there. It is not actually due to sulphur now, but, of course, this decision will result in a dramatic weakening of the competitiveness of Finnish industry. This will distort competition within the European Union. That is why I would have liked the scope of this directive to extend to the whole of Europe at the same time, and so the deferment until 2020 would have been good, because it is not fair from the perspective of the internal market either that some countries should pay far more for their exports than others. In this sense, fairness could be achieved by including the whole of the European Union within the scope of the Sulphur Directive at one and the same time.

As has already been said, this will mean a bill to Finnish industry of more than EUR 800 million a year. Finland is an economy that is dependent on exports, and, in this respect, I would have liked the scope of this directive to extend to the whole of the European Union at the same time. For that reason, I voted against it.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because it will allow us to gain important benefits for both our health and the environment. Air quality standards can be achieved by reducing sulphur emissions from ships. Restricting atmospheric pollution could also help prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths every year. Maritime transport has a significant impact on air quality and can help provide an effective solution to the problems relating to pollution.

The benefits to public health will greatly outweigh the estimated costs. The directive will also help ensure a level playing field in terms of competition and foster innovation and resource efficiency. I should stress that reducing marine emissions will also provide great economic benefit.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution RC-B7-0346/2012

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this resolution because I think it is important in view of the current challenging situation for both the Commission’s agenda and Parliament’s agenda. I think that the Commission’s future concerns, particularly relating to the economy, are vital for the EU’s future.

If we want more Europe and greater cohesion, the Commission has a chance of achieving this next year in the legislative and decision-making projects it has also set out only by working alongside Parliament. I supported, in particular, the amendments calling on the Commission to involve Parliament more in implementing next year’s agenda, as failure in the projects envisaged by the Commission could be crucial to the EU’s well-being and, in particular, it could create, if you like, a deficit of democratic dialogue not only between citizens and the bodies of the European Union, but also between the Commission and Parliament.

 
  
  

Report: Marina Yannakoudakis (A7-0223/2012)

 
  
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  Rebecca Taylor, on behalf of the ALDE Group. – Mr President, while acknowledging the efforts of the rapporteur to take a balanced line, the ALDE Group felt obliged to abstain in the final vote today due to conservative and religious views dominating the final report to the detriment of patients who face shortages of tissues and cells in many Member States.

Currently, in many Member States, there are too few donors and too many people waiting for tissues and cells, particularly spinal marrow, gametes, cornea and skin. This report was an ideal opportunity to address this serious health problem, but the focus on other issues means it has sadly fallen short in this respect.

A number of provisions were adopted today that threaten the already insufficient supply of tissues and cells in many Member States, including calling on Member Sates to require that donors be anonymous except in the case of a donation from a living person to a relative, thus potentially preventing, for example, an EU citizen from choosing to donate to a friend in need. The ALDE Group does not see the need to further restrict donation rules when we have shortages of tissues and cells in over half the Member States.

Another point was calling on Member States to promote only public cord blood banks, thus ignoring the existence of well regulated private cord blood banks in some Member States, awareness of which should also be promoted in the interests of promoting the donation of cord blood for the benefit of patients.

As regards the call for European standards and requirements for private stem cell banks but not for public cell banks, the ALDE Group believes that all stem cell banks should be required to meet the same high standards of safety and quality and that imposing higher standards only on private banks could further hinder access to much-needed tissues and cells. Calling for the Commission to revise Regulation (EC) No 1394/2007 to guarantee the application of the principle of unpaid donation, the ALDE Group believes that in order to avoid undermining the quality and safety of donated tissues and cells, it is vital to encourage various models of donation developed by both public and private sectors and to ensure reasonable reimbursement of donors. This vote does not send the right message to scientists or patients.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, having in mind the more than 60 000 people awaiting transplants and the 10 people, on average, who die every day because they have not managed to get an organ, I voted for this report. I believe that the initiative being put forward by the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI), supported by the work of Ms Yannakoudakis, is more relevant than ever.

At the very difficult times we are currently experiencing both in Europe and worldwide, many desperate people are fuelling the deplorable practice of the commercialisation of organs. We increasingly hear reports of European citizens who, in order to cope with the serious problems of everyday life, put their own organs up for sale on the Internet or through other channels.

Through this report, the European Union is setting out to combat an extremely difficult situation, a sort of unsustainable Wild West. Once again, we are saying ‘enough’ – because, unfortunately, the laws making this trade illegal are not sufficient – once again, we are saying ‘enough’ to trafficking in organs and the illegal market and instead, we are seeking to promote life and health among citizens.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Mr President, as a doctor, I am particularly enthusiastic about the proposals to break down the barriers to sharing donor registries across the European Union, which will, of course, contribute to the fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases. I am also pleased with the emphasis placed by the rapporteur – who happens to be my London colleague Marina Yannakoudakis – on the ethics of donation, taking the view that the human body should not be a source of financial gain. The report thus rightly rejects the practice of an open market for tissues and cells, but importantly, it goes on to stress that donors across the Union deserve fair and reasonable compensation for their efforts.

There is also emphasis on the requirement for greater traceability and transparency in the donation process across the EU. The report equally encourages Member States to build on existing examples of best practice in those countries, for example, the renowned cord blood collection scheme in the UK run by NHS Blood and Transplant and the famous Anthony Nolan Trust. I am also pleased to say that the final report crucially resisted calls for a ban on private storage clinics anywhere in the European Union.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I abstained from voting on this report, even though I think it is important and marks progress compared to the old directive. However, I do not believe that it offers the best solutions. The report takes a unilateral approach based on a certain type of ethics which advocates donation. However, for religious reasons and from a perspective which I would consider deeply religious, these ethics are not compatible with valuing human life.

I believe that the discriminatory schemes which it introduces and the double standards with regard to private and public donation schemes are not right and tend, in actual fact, to hamper the purpose of this directive, which means the attempt by some of us to save other human lives with their organs. I believe that identical standards were required for both state and private schemes.

I believe that unpaid donations must be favoured, but we cannot discourage either these donations made in return for payment when this does not affect the moral good and the principles of good. I also believe that we need to encourage the concepts of presumed consent, with Member States being free to try different options, and we should not impose a standard option on Member States.

 
  
  

Report: Mikael Gustafsson (A7-0235/2012)

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I would like to take the floor to present the voting option for this report for which I was shadow rapporteur. I would like to highlight two points. Apart from this being a subject which did not add very many new insights to this own-initiative report, I believe that it contains several recommendations which I feel are extremely important in terms of the option we have to involve women in the green economy, which is a hypothetical one because, unfortunately, the green economy is not the norm, nor is the presence of women in this economy the norm either.

However, the appeal to the Commission to promote gender equality in the rules for accessing European funds, the European Social Fund and the European Regional Development Fund is, in my view, one of the solutions for promoting women in this kind of economy. Ongoing professional training along with an environmental aspect would also provide the second solution. Lastly, the gender aspect when implementing European directives ought to be taken into account when Member States are implementing this option in their own legislation.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Mr President, I voted for this report because I think that the transition to a green economy is one of the EU’s main objectives. Unfortunately, the way in which this transition is achieved fails to take into account the gender aspect. Adapting environmental policies to the gender aspect must take into account the fact that women generally develop a more environmentally friendly attitude. There must also be some recognition that women and men have unequal access to certain resources. I believe that we need to improve how women access the business technologies needed to gain high-skilled jobs in the green economy.

All the programmes and projects launched should feature indicators to assess their gender-specific impact. I call on the Commission and Member States to devise such indicators.

 
  
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  Andrea Češková (ECR).(CS) Mr President, although I support gender equality in all areas, and I therefore oppose any form of discrimination, I was unable to support this report. In my opinion, it contains several declarations that are insufficiently substantiated, such as the statements on the difference between women and men when it comes to consumption or the use of public transport and private means of transport.

The report also calls for objectives to be addressed or regulated at national level, including education or health care, for example. Just as in other reports, however, I did vote in favour of the points relating to sexual and reproductive health rights.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Mr President, we need more jobs and we need greener energy. I hope the green economy can help drive economic growth.

We must ensure that both men and women benefit from this growth. But what does this report call for? An improvement in women’s transport opportunities, among other things. What nonsense. I do not see women abandoned on the streets of Strasbourg, forsaken by men-only buses and trams. Perhaps the rapporteur thinks that women need improved transport because, according to the report, women do not affect the environment in the same way as men. Again, what nonsense.

Time after time, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality tries to turn everything into a feminist issue. This is bad for women and it hurts the reputation of both the committee and the EU. I call on my fellow members of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality to stop the nonsense once and for all. Not everything is a male plot to do a woman down.

 
  
  

Report: Iratxe Garía Pérez (A7-0246/2012)

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE).(IT) Mr President, I voted for this report. I welcomed the work done by Ms García Pérez and I supported the request for an own-initiative report by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) because I believe – as I have had occasion to say several times in this Chamber – that it is important to work on the process of cultural growth in order to counter the disparities that still exist in our social fabric between men and women.

This report analyses, in particular, the gap between the two genders in the tertiary sector and takes a step forward which I believe is important and which convinced me to vote for the report. The step it takes is to call upon Member States, trade unions and employers to adopt a uniform evaluation grid that will finally make it possible to overcome, or at least to restrict, the pay gap between men and women.

 
  
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  Norica Nicolai (ALDE).(RO) Mr President, I, too, supported this report, but for completely different reasons to my colleague. I feel that this is one of the serious analyses of the gender inequality which persists on the labour market, and specifically in the services market.

Women are employed in 10% of the 130 professions considered accessible to everyone on the labour market, generally in those with low qualifications, which I feel sounds an alarm bell in terms of access and creating a certain type of poverty among women in the labour market. I also consider it significant that the wage gaps which persist in this sector are highlighted.

However, what is certain, apart from these observations, is that not only the solutions advocated in the report, but also those advocated in the Commission’s options are not the ones to provide a response in terms of solving this problem. I believe that, by adopting such reports, we will only end up sounding the alarm bells about real situations which have existed for a very long time. This may hinder both our approach and that of the Commission on this matter.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, the EU likes to claim that it is a fort for progress in relation to women’s rights. However, it is EU-led austerity programmes and neoliberal policies that are disproportionately increasing hardship for women workers. These programmes are resulting in mass job losses, together with attacks on wages and conditions in the service sector, particularly in retail. A majority of the unemployed workers in the EU are now women. Women are also disproportionately hit by savage budget cuts, targeting vital public services and social welfare. We have seen this in Ireland with the scandalous cuts to single parent allowances, to home helps and the threatened cuts to child benefit.

Women workers in the service sector have been one of the most active sections of workers taking action against redundancies and attacks on their conditions. In Ireland, we have seen this with the recent strikes and occupations in La Senza, Thomas Cook, EBS and Laura Ashley. The trade union movement must now organise in the service sector to fight against low pay and job losses, and for decent working conditions with improved maternity and paternity leave and decent public services.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Mr President, this report states that gender stereotypes are impeding women from realising their full potential. It is possible for women to be CEOs, brain surgeons, concert pianists and even MEPs. It is also possible for women to stay at home and raise a family, perhaps picking up a part-time job in the service sector along the way. This report looks down its nose at the service industry and insults all the women and men who work in this sector. This report also suggests that women are treated differently by employers because they are more likely to interrupt their careers in order to have children. Well, regrettably, this may be true to an extent. If it is true, though, why does the rapporteur call for the Council to unblock the Maternity Leave Directive? Twenty weeks’ fully paid compulsory leave will reduce young women’s chances of getting a job.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Bendt Bendtsen (A7-0232/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because the workers from the shipyard have been made redundant, and because their specialised technical experience makes it hard for them to apply for jobs in other industries. As these 550 workers will run into great difficulties finding work, I consider it essential to provide them with personalised measures supported by the submitted sum from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). These situations jeopardise the European public’s social and economic well-being, and we should take that into account. The EGF does not just use compensatory measures to adapt our economy to the global economy, but, above all, it protects citizens and businesses in difficulties, which should be taken into account in times of crisis. As such, the EGF goes some way to attenuating some of the harmful consequences of the current economic, financial and social crisis taking place in Europe, in response to which it falls to us to act.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Created in 2006, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aims to help towards the reintegration of workers who have lost their job due to changes in world trade patterns. In 2009, its scope was broadened to include victims of the financial crisis. This request, put forward by Denmark, is intended to help 550 people recently made redundant and meets the European criteria. I therefore voted in favour of this request.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the mobilisation of support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). This support will be mobilised for 550 workers made redundant at the Odense Steel Shipyard. The shipbuilding workforce in Europe declined by 23% over the past three years. The aim of the EGF is to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global economic crisis. I therefore welcome the proposal to mobilise the sum of EUR 6.455 million from the EGF reserve in order to support workers made redundant in the Danish shipbuilding sector.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because I think it is a good decision to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Denmark. This means that workers made redundant in the wake of the global economic and financial crisis will be supported in the process involving their reintegration into the labour market. I welcome the additional support provided to them as a result of the structural changes in global trade patterns. I should stress that the global shipbuilding market has been particularly hard hit by the economic crisis, reflected in a significant decrease in the workforce in this sector. The employment situation in Denmark has also deteriorated considerably, while the unemployment rate has reached extremely high levels. In this climate, I believe that mobilising the fund with the aim of boosting the economy is a more than welcome step.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the scope of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. As we are currently facing a serious financial, economic and social crisis, one of the most important consequences of which has been increased unemployment, the EU must respond using all means available to it, particularly as regards supporting people who are out of work. I therefore voted for this report, which concerns the mobilisation of EUR 6 445 104 from the EGF for Denmark, with a view to supporting the 550 eligible workers out of the 981 made redundant from Odense Steel Shipyard, in its capacity as the primary enterprise, and from four downstream suppliers and producers.

 
  
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  Nora Berra (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to support European workers who have lost their job. It enables them to reintegrate into the labour market. Exceptionally, the financial and economic crisis has been deemed sufficient grounds for a Member State to submit an application for assistance. The crisis-hit shipbuilding sector in Denmark has seen one wave of redundancies after another. In an effort of solidarity towards this sector, we have released EUR 6.4 million of assistance.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report as it means mobilising funds which will help Denmark in relation to 981 redundancies, 550 of which are to be the recipients of this aid, from the Odense Steel Shipyard and four of its suppliers. The general employment situation in Denmark declined sharply between 2009 and 2010 and this aid from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is seeking to help that company.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted for the motion for a resolution by Mr Bendtsen because I support the allocation from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) of EUR 6 455 104 requested by Denmark, with reference to the four-month period from May to August 2011. This is for 981 Danish workers made redundant by the shipbuilding enterprise Odense Steel Shipyard, 550 of whom will be able to benefit from the EGF.

The Danish application fulfils the EGF criteria since it demonstrates the correlation between the structural changes in progress in the abovementioned enterprise as a result of the current financial crisis and the redundancies carried out.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The fund was created with the aim of providing additional support to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in global trade patterns. I therefore support the mobilisation of EUR 1.12 million for the creation of a knowledge base, administrative and technical support, and a final assessment of the EGF.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I regret that in Denmark, 981 workers have been made redundant with some 550 targeted for assistance in relation to the Odense Steel Shipyard and in four suppliers and downstream producers related to the primary enterprise. Redundancy is challenging on any individual and their family and rising unemployment is changing the face of society and breeding levels of poverty unacceptable in 21st century Europe. Yet it is EU fiscal policy, including austerity demands and the inept handling of the euro crisis, that is part author of this script. It is thus suspect that while with one hand, Brussels continues to undermine and weaken national economies through flawed single currency policy, they are, with the other, willing to provide hand outs to those stricken by its effects. It should be the priority and prerogative of national governments, with the optional aid of sympathetic third countries, to deal with the major structural challenges many countries are currently facing in the wake of the global financial crisis. To continue to endorse the mobilisation of the Adjustment Fund is to permit the perpetuation of Brussels undermining national economies.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this proposal to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in accordance with point 28 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 between Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management, because the conditions for EGF mobilisation have been met. It concerns application EGF/2011/008 DK/Odense Steel Shipyard, Denmark.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I support the way the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) has been mobilised to help the workers made redundant from Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark. This is the fourth mobilisation of the EGF in 2012. In recent decades, the European shipbuilding industry has been losing a significant amount of market share to Asia. This sector is being rocked by the global economic and financial crisis, and has seen the number of people employed there decline by 23% over the last three years. I also regret that Denmark is one of the countries compromising negotiations on the EGF after 2013, since it has applied for mobilisation of the fund several times. Finally, I would re-emphasise that the EGF was born out of a 2005 Commission communication: European values in a globalised world. It was against that backdrop that President Barroso sent a letter to the EU Heads of State or Government and to Parliament, proposing the creation of the EGF. Seven years later, the effects of the crisis are not just still with us, but are getting worse, which clearly demonstrates the importance of a Europe of solidarity and with effective resource redistribution between Member States. It is a shame that these examples are not replicated in other European mechanisms.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is an instrument for supporting workers who have fallen victim to the crisis and changes in the world economy. The global market for shipbuilding is one of the main areas that has been hit hard by the crisis. It declined by 20% between 2008 and 2009. European shipbuilders have, for several years, had to face increasingly strong competition from Asia in particular. Therefore, the European Union will mobilise EUR 6.5 million to help 550 Danish shipyard workers who have been made redundant. These funds will be used, in particular, to finance new professional training and support programmes for entrepreneurship.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text, which grants the Danish town of Odense European financial assistance in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of 981 workers made redundant in the shipbuilding sector. This decision illustrates the major role that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) can play in supporting economic sectors in crisis. A strong European Union is one that, above all, protects its citizens when they are faced with life’s uncertainties.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome the vote that was passed on Tuesday in favour of an intervention by the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Danish workers. An estimated EUR 6.4 million will be devoted to assistance and training programmes for 550 Danish workers who were made redundant from the shipbuilding company Odense Steel Shipyard and four of its suppliers and downstream producers. This sector has been hit hard by competition from Asian countries. Cofinancing from local authorities, an operational obligation of the EGF, will total EUR 3.4 million.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on ‘mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund’ because I believe Denmark meets the application conditions, in view of the 585 redundancies in Odense shipyard because of relocations to lower-cost non-EU countries.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is the second time that Parliament has approved the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for this same company: Odense Steel Shipyard, from the shipbuilding sector. The aim is to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant in the Danish city of Odense as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. In October 2010, 1 356 workers were made redundant. This time, the closure of the shipyard has led to the redundancy of 981 workers.

The annual report of the Community of European Shipyards’ Associations shows that labour in Europe’s shipbuilding industry has declined by 23% in the last three years. This is the result of capitalist globalisation and the policies that have been supporting it, imposing competition between workers and the general devaluation of the workforce. More and more people are being made redundant as the social and economic crisis deepens, particularly, but not exclusively, in productive sectors. That is why we still advocate extending the ‘crisis derogation’, which increased the rate of EU cofinancing to 65%.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 4 June 2012, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Denmark in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. This is the fourth request to be reviewed within the framework of the 2012 budget, and relates to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 6 455 104 from the EGF for Denmark. It concerns 981 redundancies, of which 550 are targeted for assistance. The Commission has concluded that the application meets the conditions for deploying the EGF as set out in Article 2(a) of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, and was submitted within the deadline of 10 weeks referred to in Article 5 of that regulation. The interinstitutional agreement allows the mobilisation of the fund within the annual ceiling of EUR 500 million

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in accordance with application EGF/2011/008 DK/Odense Steel Shipyard from Denmark. Pursuant to Article 6 of the EGF Regulation, EGF money should support the reintegration of individual redundant workers into employment. EGF assistance can only cofinance active labour market measures which lead to long-term employment. Assistance from the EGF must not replace either actions, which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements, or measures restructuring companies or sectors. The industrial structure of the local economy is characterised by a high share of employment in manufacturing, particularly in metallurgy. Many jobs in this industry have already been lost to other countries with lower wages. The shipyard workers being dismissed have great technical expertise, which is difficult to apply in other industries in Funen or even across Denmark. Many of them have worked in the shipyard all their lives and their parents may have worked there too. I therefore welcome the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Danish authorities decided to embark on implementation of the measures ahead of the final decision on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has been created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. Denmark argues that shipyards in Europe over the past decades have been losing substantial market shares to Asia. Assisting workers impacted by the closure of the Odense Steel Shipyard therefore falls well within its remit.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. – The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was established in 2006 as a support system for workers impacted by global structural change in trade patterns. Denmark’s application in respect of the Odense Steel Shipyard notes that the country’s workforce is highly concentrated in manufacturing and metallurgy, but has lost business because many global market shares have been transferred to Asia. By mobilising the EGF with an amount of EUR 6 455 104, workers will be helped to return to the labour market, which is especially important because these employees have highly specialised training in their field which it is nearly impossible to apply in other industries. For these reasons, I voted in favour of Mr Bendtsen’s report.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Denmark following 981 redundancies in the shipbuilding sector. The EUR 6.5 million of assistance for 550 workers will help them to find work in other sectors.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am abstaining out of consideration for the Danish workers who have been sacrificed on the altar of globalisation. Given the situation into which they have been plunged as a result of the neoliberal policies advocated by the European Union and the derisory amount of this handout, one might be inclined to vote against. However, the little that is being given may help to ease their suffering.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Denmark submitted an application for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) on 28 October 2011. It concerns 981 redundancies (of which 550 are targeted for support) that occurred in the company Odense Steel Shipyard, as the main enterprise, and in four subcontractors and downstream manufacturers in Denmark during the four-month reference period from 1 May 2011 to 31 August 2011. The application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contribution as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise the amount of EUR 6 455 104. In the spirit of active European solidarity, the EGF should, therefore, be mobilised in order to provide a financial contribution for the application submitted by Denmark. I therefore voted in favour of the application.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) is a very important European Union instrument. Set up to try to resolve controversial economic issues, it offers enterprises experiencing difficulties the possibility of recovery, or at least of protecting their employees and, as a result, their employees’ families. In the case of the Odense Steel Shipyard, the EUR 6.5 million to be sent to Denmark, due in part to my vote, will cover 1 000 redundancies issued by the firm as a result of dismissals resulting from the worldwide decline in shipbuilding, the major structural changes in world trade patterns and the financial crisis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 4 June 2012, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Denmark, with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the fourth application to be examined under the 2012 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 6 455 104 from the EGF for Denmark. It concerns 981 redundancies, 550 of which are targeted for assistance, from the enterprise Odense Steel Shipyard, in its capacity as the primary enterprise, and from four downstream suppliers and producers in Denmark, during the four-month reference period from 1 May 2011 to 31 August 2011. Given that this case has been examined by all the stakeholders, especially the Commission, and that the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs supports mobilising the EGF for Denmark, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Commission’s application, the fourth to be examined under the 2012 budget, refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 6 455 104 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Denmark, and concerns 981 redundancies, of which 550 are targeted for assistance, in Odense Steel Shipyard, in its capacity as the primary enterprise, and four suppliers and downstream producers in Denmark during the four-month reference period from 1 May 2011 to 31 August 2011. The proposal therefore meets the conditions for deploying the EGF as set out in Article 2(a) of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, and was submitted within the deadline of 10 weeks referred to in Article 5 of that regulation. I would also like to emphasise the importance of ensuring a fast procedure, in accordance with the interinstitutional agreement, on adopting decisions relating to the mobilisation of the fund, and so I voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) As the global shipbuilding industry has been hit hard by the crisis (it declined by 20% between 2008 and 2009), and European shipbuilders have been losing market share to their Asian competitors for decades, the workers in this sector find themselves in a difficult situation. To cope with this, and to help the 550 workers made redundant by the Odense Steel shipbuilder or their suppliers, Denmark has applied for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). Convinced of the usefulness and the need for assistance from the EGF for these unemployed workers, I supported the release of EUR 6.5 million. This sum, supplemented by the Danish Government, will fund programmes that will help them to find employment in other sectors. Although I support EGF assistance for redundant workers, I deplore the fact that the Danish authorities are among those that are threatening the future of the EGF after 2013, when this country has already benefited from this fund on several occasions. I hope that the fund can be extended beyond what is currently planned. I call on the Council and the Commission to act on this matter.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund has been created in order to provide additional assistance to workers suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns. According to the provisions of point 28 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(1) and of Article 12 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(2), the fund may not exceed a maximum amount of EUR 500 million, drawn from any margin under the global expenditure ceiling from the previous year, and/or from the cancelled commitment appropriations from the previous two years, excluding those related to Heading 1b. The appropriate amounts are entered into the budget as a provision as soon as the sufficient margins and/or cancelled commitments have been identified. As concerns the procedure, in order to activate the fund, the Commission, in case of a positive assessment of an application, presents the budgetary authority with a proposal for mobilisation of the fund and, at the same time, a corresponding request for transfer. In parallel, a trialogue could be organised in order to reach an agreement on the use of the fund and the amounts required. The trialogue can take a simplified form.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D) , in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Denmark, in order to provide support for 550 people made redundant from the Odense shipyards and from the four suppliers and downstream producers. These redundancies were caused by globalisation of the economy and the relocation of shipyard activities to Asia. Clearly, the adverse impact of globalisation highlights even more the added value of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund as an instrument of EU social policy. The targeted financial support which it provides under retraining and reintegration programmes for workers hit by mass redundancies is especially important. Furthermore, the support which it provides is a real expression of EU solidarity. Finally, the case of Denmark illustrates in the best possible way that this financing instrument is not limited to countries facing economic and budgetary challenges and can be equally useful in helping to reintegrate people made redundant into the labour market even in economically robust countries. This, in turn, underlines the importance of this fund and proves the need to maintain it during the forthcoming multiannual financial framework 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Alf Svensson (PPE), in writing. (SV) I voted today in favour of two reports on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Since 2009, I have, as a rule, abstained or voted against all proposals for the mobilisation of this fund because I believe that the fund is not the right instrument to use to help workers affected by structural changes. The fund has now grown, developed and made an impact. It exists and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future. From now on, I will adopt a position in each individual case in relation to whether they meet the very strict requirements made of the applicants with regard to cofinancing and long-term employment measures, something which these two cases do. Thus, it is a case of making the best of the situation.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text. It is normal to make our financial contribution following the direct redundancies at Odense Steel Shipyard. These redundancies represent 2% of the local workforce. The closure of a shipbuilder, which has just added to indirect job losses, is another economic tragedy, but it is also and, above all, a social tragedy.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who have lost their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. I agree with the request for mobilisation of the EGF made by Denmark in relation to 981 redundancies, 550 of whom are potential beneficiaries of aid, from the company Odense Steel Shipyard and from four suppliers and producers. I believe that the Commission should mobilise EUR 6 455 104 to help these workers from Danish shipbuilding enterprises back into work. The financial package just adopted should be channelled into supporting assistance measures in the areas of vocational guidance, individual training and general information provision through specific employment channels.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the Odense Steel Shipyard in Denmark. The application concerns 981 redundancies in the Odense Steel Shipyard as the primary beneficiary and in four other suppliers and producers in Denmark in the period from May to August 2011.

The Danish authorities argue that shipyards in Europe, over recent decades, have been losing substantial market share to Asian companies. The global financial and economic crisis then adversely affected the situation in the global shipbuilding market so that, according to the Community of European Shipyards’ Associations (CESA), European companies saw their order books decline between 2008 and 2009. According to Eurostat, the general employment situation deteriorated sharply in Denmark during 2009 and 2010. Unemployment rose from an unusually low rate of 3.4% in 2008 to 7.6% in 2010. I therefore think that it is important to mobilise the EGF for Denmark in order to facilitate the redundant workers’ reintegration into the labour market.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD), in writing. – I voted for the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Denmark in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE), in writing. (DE) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is there to provide additional support to workers who are suffering the effects of globalisation and to help reintegrate them into the labour market. The application from Denmark has been reviewed. It concerns 981 redundancies. The general employment situation in Denmark worsened greatly in 2009 and 2010. It meets all the requirements and therefore it was right to vote in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing.(PL) This is not Denmark’s first application for mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Several previous applications have been successful, under both trade-related and crisis-related criteria. However, Denmark is among the countries undermining the future of the EGF after 2013. These countries are blocking the extension of the crisis derogation and decreasing the financial allocation to the Commission for the EGF for 2012 while, at the same time, Denmark is proposing a relatively expensive package of personalised services amounting to EUR 11 737 of EGF support per worker. This led me to vote against the proposal.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) The crisis that has affected Europe has not spared the countries of northern Europe: in Denmark, the general employment situation has deteriorated significantly and unemployment rose from a record low of 3% for the year 2008 to a high of 7% in 2010, with serious repercussions, particularly in the steel sector.

The shipyard workers being dismissed have a high level of technical expertise, which is difficult to apply in other sectors. Without significant retraining, it will therefore be very hard for them to find new employment. For these reasons, I voted for the application on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in favour of Denmark.

 
  
  

Report: Juan Andrés Naranjo Escobar (A7-0233/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since the construction sector in Europe is facing great difficulties, particularly in Spain, where the property boom had damaging economic consequences for the country, for its citizens and for its companies, at a time of economic crisis. The case put forward in this report concerns 836 redundancies from 377 companies in the construction sector between January and October 2011, leaving 320 workers facing great difficulties in finding work. I am voting for this report on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund since it should serve for the very purpose of alleviating the economic and social consequences of the crisis.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Created in 2006, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) aims to help towards the reintegration of workers who have lost their job due to changes in global trade patterns. In 2009, its scope was broadened to include victims of the financial crisis. This request, put forward by Spain, is intended to help 320 people recently made redundant and meets the European criteria. I therefore voted in favour of this request.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report on the mobilisation of support from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). This support will be mobilised for 836 workers made redundant in the Aragón region of Spain. There is a decline in demand for construction in Spain: the number of building permits granted in Spain decreased by 75.6% in 2009 and 82.8% in 2010 compared with 2007. The aim of the fund is to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global economic crisis. I therefore welcome the proposal to mobilise the sum of EUR 1.3 million from the EGF reserve in order to support workers made redundant in the Spanish construction sector.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because I think it is a good and necessary decision to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Spain in the current context. The aim of mobilising this fund is to provide additional support to facilitate the reintegration into the labour market of the workers who have lost their jobs due to the financial and economic crisis which has had a global impact.

In Spain, the construction industry has been particularly severely affected by the crisis, and the loans granted to this sector have decreased sharply. There has also been a fall in demand for new houses due to a lack of consumer confidence and liquidity. Indeed, there has also been a huge rise in unemployment. Against this background, I believe that the fund needs to be further mobilised to tackle the decline facing the sector.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in 2006 in order to provide additional assistance to workers affected by the consequences of significant changes in the structure of international trade and to assist in their reintegration into the labour market. Since 1 May 2009, the scope of the EGF has been expanded to include support for workers made redundant as a direct consequence of the economic, financial and social crisis. As we are currently facing a serious financial, economic and social crisis, one of the most important consequences of which has been increased unemployment, the EU must respond using all means available to it, particularly as regards supporting people who are out of work. That is why I voted for this report concerning the mobilisation of EUR 13 000 000 from the EGF for Spain, with the aim of supporting the 320 eligible workers out of the 836 made redundant by 377 enterprises operating in the construction sector in the region of Aragón.

 
  
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  Nora Berra (PPE), in writing.(FR) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) was created in order to support European workers who have lost their jobs. It enables them to reintegrate into the labour market. Exceptionally, the financial and economic crisis has been deemed sufficient grounds for a Member State to submit an application for assistance. The crisis-hit construction sector in the Spanish region of Aragón has seen one wave of redundancies after another. In an effort of solidarity towards this sector, we have released EUR 1.3 million of assistance.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I supported this report, which brings European Globalisation Adjustment Fund aid to Aragón Construction in order to deal with 836 redundancies, 320 of which are targeted for assistance. Due to the low density of the population in the majority of the area affected by this application and due to the risk of depopulation, the redundancies have an extremely negative impact on the region and could jeopardise the efforts made to encourage the population to stay in the area.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this application for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) since it does not present any critical issues and the application fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down.

The amount involved is EUR 1 300 000 requested by Spain to provide support to the 836 workers made redundant, of which 320 are targeted for assistance from the EGF, who were working in the building industry for the firm Aragón Construction in Spain.

 
  
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  Zuzana Brzobohatá (S&D), in writing. – (CS) The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was originally established for the duration of the 2007-2013 programming period by Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. It has annual resources of EUR 500 million. The aim of the fund is to help workers who have been laid off due to the major changes in the structure of world trade brought about by globalisation. Through cofinancing, an effort is made to facilitate their return to employment. Since 2009, the scope of the EGF has been extended to help workers laid off as a result of the global financial and economic crisis. I therefore voted in favour of releasing funds for the company concerned in Spain.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I regret that in Spain, 528 workers have been made redundant by 323 construction firms. Redundancy is challenging for any individual and their family, and rising unemployment is changing the face of society in Spain and breeding levels of poverty that are totally unacceptable in 21st century Europe. Yet it is EU fiscal policy, including austerity demands and the inept handling of the euro crisis, that is part-author of this script. It is thus suspect that while, on the one hand, Brussels continues to undermine and weaken the Spanish economy through flawed single currency policy, it is, on the other hand, willing to provide hand-outs to those stricken by its effects. In essence, policy making in Brussels is crushing domestic ability to provide pastoral care for its peoples, in terms of jobs, social provisions and welfare, yet allows the EU to step in to subsume these roles. It should be the priority and prerogative of national governments, with the optional aid of sympathetic third countries, to deal with the major structural challenges many countries are currently facing in the wake of the global financial crisis. To continue to endorse the mobilisation of the Adjustment Fund is to permit the perpetuation of Brussels’ undermining of national economies.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this proposal to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in accordance with point 28 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006 between Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management, because the conditions for mobilisation laid down in the EGF Regulation have been met. It is application EGF/2011/017 ES/Aragón.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the light of the structural changes in international trade, it is vital that the European economy be able to implement effectively instruments to support workers affected in this way, and to retrain them with a view to assisting their swift reintegration into the labour market. As the Commission acknowledges in its plan to relaunch the European economy, the crisis has caused an abrupt decline in the construction sector, and there is clearly a positive correlation between increased numbers of redundancies and changes in the patterns of world trade. I therefore voted to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the region of Aragón, Spain. However, I would re-emphasise that mobilising funds via the EGF cannot replace measures that are the responsibility of firms under national legislation or collective bargaining agreements, and that, since they are aimed at helping workers, these funds should not be allocated to restructuring companies or sectors of economic activity.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text, which grants the Spanish region of Aragón European financial assistance to support the reintegration into the labour market of 836 workers made redundant in the construction sector. This decision illustrates the major role that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) can play in supporting economic sectors in crisis. A strong European Union is one that, above all, protects its citizens when they are faced with life’s uncertainties.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) Parliament has endorsed assistance for Spanish workers from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). Following the opinion of the Commission (June 2012) and that of the Committee on Budgets of the European Parliament (July 2012), we have approved this assistance, which amounts to more than EUR 7.7 million, by a very large majority. At the end of 2011, Spain asked for support from the EGF for 320 workers made redundant from small construction companies in the Aragón region. The reason: this sector had been particularly hard hit by the financial crisis and the recession that followed. The Aragón region, for its part, will contribute EUR 700 000 to support programmes for new jobs. I welcome this.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report proposing the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Spain. This application concerns workers made redundant from the construction sector and includes measures intended to reintegrate 320 workers into the labour market.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is the third time that Spain has requested support for the Aragón region from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF). The previous occasions related to supporting the motor-vehicle and retail sectors, and their stated aim was to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. It should be noted that unemployment has risen sharply in Aragón and that, at the end of 2011, the number of people registered for state unemployment benefit was around 100 000. A tormented region in a country being savaged by the austerity decreed by the centres of power of an EU whose policies do nothing more than pile crisis on crisis and unemployment on unemployment. In this context, we can once again only lament the Council’s decision not to extend the ‘crisis derogation’, which increased the EU cofinancing rate to 65%. This means that the countries with the greatest economic and social difficulties – those where the most companies have gone bankrupt and where there is the most unemployment – are those that will least be able to make use of the EGF. We continue to advocate increased cofinancing for the EGF, particularly for countries in a fragile economic state such as Portugal, in order to ensure that the national contribution does not exceed 5% of the total funds provided for.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 18 June 2012, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Spain in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant due to the global financial and economic crisis. This is the fifth request to be reviewed within the framework of the 2012 budget. It relates to the mobilisation of a total sum of EUR 1 300 000 from the EGF for Spain. It concerns 836 redundancies, of which 320 are targeted for assistance. The Commission has concluded that the application meets the conditions for deploying the EGF as set out in Article 2(b) of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006, and was submitted within the deadline of 10 weeks referred to in Article 5 of that regulation. Due to the low population density in most areas covered by the application, and because of the risk of depopulation, redundancies have a very negative impact on the region.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), in accordance with application EGF/2011/017 ES/Aragón Construction from Spain. The Commission has already recognised in its Economic Recovery Plan that the construction industry in the EU had seen demand plummet as a result of the crisis. Available data confirms the significant downturn in the construction sector, which fell in the EU27 for eight consecutive quarters from the start of 2009, compared with the same period of the previous year, mainly due to the decrease in private investment in the residential sector. In 2009, construction output in Spain followed the same negative trend as the EU27 average. However, in 2010 and the first half of 2011, the downturn in the Spanish construction sector was further exacerbated. Due to the low population density in most of the territory concerned by this application and the risk of depopulation, layoffs have a highly negative impact on this region and might jeopardise the efforts made to encourage the population to remain in this region. Furthermore, the EGF has already intervened in five cases of dismissals in the construction sector.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal. The Commission concluded that the application meets the conditions for deploying the EGF. One of the criteria for the Commission’s assessment was the evaluation of the link between the redundancies and major structural changes in world trade patterns or the financial crisis. Spanish authorities argue that the construction sector has been severely affected by the crisis. Loans to the construction sector and to individuals have been drastically reduced and the demand for new houses has decreased due to declining consumer confidence and the lack of liquidity. The Commission has recognised in its Economic Recovery Plan that the construction industry in the EU had seen demand plummet as a result of the crisis. The arguments presented in previous cases concerning the construction of buildings sector, and in which the redundancies were a direct result of the crisis, remain valid. The territory concerned by the redundancies is the autonomous community of Aragón.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. – Spain’s application for the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the construction sector in the NUTS II region of Aragón addresses redundancies caused by the current economic crisis. The financial and economic crisis has greatly impacted Spain’s construction industry due to a lack of demand for new construction. This trend is in line with the falling demand for new construction that exists throughout Europe, but the condition of the housing market has degraded at an even more rapid pace in Spain. A mobilisation of the EGF for an amount of EUR 1 300 000 will allow workers that had been employed in construction to diversify their skills, which will alleviate some of the burden of unemployment in Aragón. I voted in favour of Mr Escobar’s report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Spain in order to help 320 workers made redundant by small construction companies to find new jobs. The amount of European assistance is EUR 1.3 million.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I am abstaining out of respect for the Spanish workers who have been ill-treated by globalisation and budget cuts. Given the situation into which they have been plunged as a result of the austerity and ultraliberal policies advocated by the European Union, one could feel entitled to vote against the derisory handout that Eurocracy is reluctantly granting them. However, the little that is being given may relieve their suffering.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report even though I believe this mechanism to be clearly insufficient in the face of the defenceless position of millions of Spaniards with regard to the tragedy of unemployment. It is nothing more than a palliative measure, which does not in any way solve the serious consequences of the redundancies that are taking place under the pretext of the economic fraud that we are experiencing. Disguised under the umbrella of the crisis, this is being used to justify an unprecedented step backwards in terms of workers’ rights, as demonstrated by the fact that companies are being allowed to make redundancies even when they are still making profits.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Spain submitted an application for financial assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) on 28 December 2011 as a result of redundancies in 377 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 41 (building construction) in a NUTS II region, namely, in the region of Aragón (ES24), and supplemented this application with additional information by 23 March 2012. The application complies with the requirements for determining the financial contribution as laid down in Article 10 of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006. The Commission therefore proposes to mobilise the amount of EUR 1 300 000. In the spirit of active European solidarity, the EGF should, therefore, be mobilised in order to provide a financial contribution for the application submitted by Spain. I therefore voted in favour of the application.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 18 June 2012, the Commission adopted a new proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Spain with the aim of supporting the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global economic and financial crisis. This is the fifth application to be examined under the 2012 budget and refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 1 300 000 from the EGF for Spain. The application relates to 836 redundancies, 320 of which are targeted for assistance, which occurred in 377 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 41 (building construction) in the NUTS II region of Aragón (ES24), during the nine-month reference period from 31 January 2011 to 31 October 2011. Given that this case has been examined by all the stakeholders, including the Commission, and that the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs is associated with and supports mobilising the EGF for Spain, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Commission’s application, the fifth to be examined under the 2012 budget, refers to the mobilisation of a total amount of EUR 1 300 000 from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Spain, and concerns 836 redundancies, of which 320 are targeted for assistance, in 377 enterprises in NACE Revision 2 Division 41 (building construction) in the NUTS II region of Aragón (ES24) during the nine-month reference period from 31 January 2011 to 31 October 2011. The proposal therefore meets the conditions for deploying the EGF as set out in Article 2(b) of Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 and was submitted within the deadline of 10 weeks referred to in Article 5 of that regulation. In view of the fact that during the years 2008 and 2009, unemployment increased dramatically in Aragón, and continued its upwards trend in subsequent years, I voted for the proposal.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Unemployment has increased dramatically in Aragón in recent years: the region had 40 000 unemployed people in 2008 and around 100 000 in 2011. Of these, 15% were workers made redundant in the construction sector. In December 2011, Spain applied for assistance from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) in order to address this situation and to help workers who had been made redundant by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in this sector in Aragón to find work. I supported the release of such assistance to help these workers who found themselves in difficulty. This EUR 1.3 million, supplemented by the Spanish Government, will help to finance a number of activities, including training, advice and job-search assistance. As the economic crisis continues, I strongly condemn the Council’s decision not to extend the exemption that allows the EGF to provide financial assistance to workers made redundant as a result of the current financial and economic crisis. The EGF is normally reserved for those who lose their jobs as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns. I call on the Council to reconsider its decision as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The Commission has presented a transfer request in order to enter specific commitment appropriations in the 2011 budget, as required in point 28 of the interinstitutional agreement of 17 May 2006. The trialogue on the Commission’s proposal for a decision on the mobilisation of the EGF could take a simplified form, as provided for in Article 12(5) of the legal base, unless there is no agreement between Parliament and the Council. According to an internal agreement, the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) should be associated with the process, in order to provide constructive support and contribute to the assessment of applications from the fund. EMPL has decided to table amendments to the report, as well as the traditional letter of opinion, which reflect their position and constructive input. The Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, has confirmed the importance of ensuring a rapid procedure with due respect to the interinstitutional agreement for the adoption of decisions on the mobilisation of the fund.

 
  
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  Georgios Stavrakakis (S&D) , in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for Spain, in order to support 320 people made redundant from 377 enterprises in the construction sector in the region of Aragón. The economy in this particular region has been hard hit, as the globalisation of the market has had an adverse impact on important sectors of the economy, such as construction. This situation, in conjunction with the problems faced by the automotive sector in that region, has made Aragón one of the most economically fragile regions in Spain. The adverse impact of globalisation, in conjunction with the economic crisis that continues to grip Spain, illustrates even more the added value of the EGF as an instrument of EU social policy. The targeted financial support which it provides under retraining and reintegration programmes for workers hit by mass redundancies is especially important. Furthermore, the support which it provides is a real expression of EU solidarity. The Spanish regions are in the process of rationalisation and drastic cutbacks. EGF support will help in the fight against unemployment, without putting any significant pressure on efforts to restructure under the Spanish national budget or the region’s budget.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text. Unemployment has increased dramatically in Aragón. By the end of 2011, the number of workers registered in the public labour offices was close to 100 000, of which 15% were workers made redundant in the construction sector. In addition to this, Aragón had been hit hard in the past by mass dismissals. Europe’s role is to support, where possible, the victims of the crisis, of whom there are still too many.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. – (PT) Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 established the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) with the aim of supporting workers who have lost their jobs due to structural changes in the context of the global economy. Spain has submitted a request for mobilisation of the EGF for 836 workers made redundant, 320 of whom are eligible, from 377 enterprises in the building construction sector in the Spanish region of Aragón. I support the mobilisation of EUR 1 300 000, in order to help the reintegration of these workers into the labour market. In particular, I support measures for vocational training which seek to create high-added value jobs within the footwear sector, thereby avoiding the loss of acquired expertise in this sector. It is also important to stress that the EGF should not be a substitute for the legal and financial responsibilities of the Spanish firms, but rather an additional support granted by the EU in order to mitigate the social difficulties that these workers will face.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) for the Aragón region in Spain. Spain submitted an application to mobilise the EGF for 836 redundancies in 377 enterprises in the building construction sector in the Aragón region, in the period January-October 2011.

The Commission has recognised in its Economic Recovery Plan that the construction industry in the EU had seen demand plummet as a result of the economic and financial crisis. The number of building permits granted in Spain decreased by 75.6% in 2009 and by 82.8% in 2010 compared with 2007, while the number of buildings started decreased by 52.2% in 2009 compared with 2008 and by 76.7% compared with 2007. The Spanish authorities argue that the redundancies in the construction sector will aggravate the unemployment situation, which has already deteriorated as a result of the financial and economic crisis in recent years.

During 2008 and 2009, the unemployment rate increased dramatically in Aragón, from 40 000 unemployed to 80 000. I support the mobilisation of the EGF with the aim of reintegrating into the labour market the workers made redundant in the construction sector in the Spanish region of Aragón.

 
  
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  Niki Tzavela (EFD), in writing. – The construction sector has been severely affected by the crisis in Spain, but also in many other EU Member States. The main reason for this is that loans have been drastically reduced, thus creating a sudden drop in demand for new houses. Furthermore, I voted on the mobilisation of the EGF in favour of Spain in order to support the reintegration into the labour market of workers made redundant as a result of the global financial and economic crisis.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing.(PL) There is no doubt that the crisis has done great harm to the construction sector in the European Union. The European Globalisation Adjustment Fund was established to provide additional support to workers made redundant as a direct result of the crisis. EGF support should be allocated primarily to training and job search activities as well as to training programmes. It should not be used to improve unemployment benefits. However, in the coordinated package prepared by Spain, this is precisely the nature of the financial incentives to be offered to encourage participation. Unemployment benefits are the responsibility of national, not EU institutions. I therefore voted against the report.

 
  
  

Reports: Bendt Bendtsen (A7-0232/2012), Juan Andrés Naranjo Escobar (A7-0233/2012)

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, Christofer Fjellner, Gunnar Hökmark and Anna Ibrisagic (PPE), in writing. (SV) We voted today in favour of two reports on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. Ever since the fund was set up in 2006, we have always abstained from voting because we were opposed to the fund from the outset, as we do not believe that this fund is the right instrument to use to help workers affected by structural changes. The fund has now grown, developed and has its own impact. It exists and it is not going to disappear in the foreseeable future. Therefore, we will now adopt a position in each individual case in relation to whether they meet the very strict requirements made of the applicants with regard to cofinancing and long-term employment measures. In both of these cases, we believe that the applications meet these requirements. Within the framework of the work on the 2013 budget and the long-term budget, we will continue to support more effective and longer-term instruments to increase employment, cope with structural changes and increase flexibility on the labour market.

 
  
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  Ashley Fox (ECR), in writing. – This fund costs the taxpayer EUR 500 million every year. This EUR 500 million comes from our Member States and, more importantly, our constituents. While some of the applications to this fund may be worthy, more could be achieved if this money were returned to the Member States. The process for this fund is too bureaucratic. A company has to submit an application to the national government, which then, in turn, applies to the Commission, which judges whether the application is worthy or not. If it is deemed worthy, the Commission submits the application to the budgetary authority, and then finally we are required to vote on something we are far, far removed from. National governments and local authorities are better placed to decide on whether they need to use such funds, and how they should be applied. They are also accountable to their citizens for the taxes they levy to pay for such expenditure. I therefore voted against this report.

 
  
  

Report: Claude Turmes (A7-0265/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. I think that investing in innovative energy technologies capable of providing jobs, wealth, sustainability and autonomy compared with importing fossil fuels is an important strategy for the European economy’s recovery. Although the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) has steadfastly advocated reducing investments, my group has been able to do work whose results are reflected in this report: a strong directive aimed at helping towards a 20% cut in energy consumption by 2020, as set out by the Commission in the Europe 2020 strategy as a path towards green, smart and sustainable growth, and aimed at tackling the lack of energy sources by creating jobs with a view to economic growth in the EU.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The EU has set ambitious standards in terms of energy efficiency. However, according to the assessments made, the extraordinary potential for energy savings and efficiency is not sufficiently utilised. The measures already adopted by Member States have proven to be inadequate in terms of removing the obstacles still hampering the market and regulation. This is why the Energy Efficiency Directive is so important, because it establishes a common framework for promoting energy efficiency in the EU by 2020 and beyond.

I wish to commend, in particular, the provisions on the long-term building renovation strategy and those on the funding schemes for energy efficiency measures. We perhaps wanted, of course, an even more ambitious directive so that the 20% target could actually be achieved by 2020. However, we must also realise that adopting this directive marks a major step on the part of the European Union and we have the chance to turn it into a valuable economic opportunity.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) By adopting this directive on energy efficiency, Parliament has sought to strengthen its commitment to the fight against climate change. Ensuring that Member States improve energy efficiency by 20% is crucial if the EU is to remain a leader on environmental issues. I supported this text, the main measures of which are to insulate public buildings, carry out energy audits and mobilise funds to facilitate this transition. Together with the development of renewable energies and the reduction in CO2 emissions, energy efficiency represents one of the areas with the greatest potential for progress in the fight against climate change.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal on energy efficiency. The EU spends around EUR 400 billion a year on energy imports. We therefore need to take all the measures necessary to enable us to promote efficient and sustainable energy use and contribute to guaranteeing energy security and reducing energy dependence on third countries. I welcome the directive’s binding targets at EU and national level to achieve a 20% energy efficiency target by 2020, which would help improve not just the Union’s energy security, but would also contribute to the EU’s economic recovery. I agree that energy saving systems should be established in the Member States to achieve energy efficiency and public bodies should be obliged to purchase energy-efficient buildings. The provisions included in this directive on the introduction of smart meters will help to better protect EU consumers against unreasonable energy price increases and will raise consumer awareness of actual energy consumption and energy prices.

 
  
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  Ivo Belet (PPE), in writing. (NL) With this new directive, we are taking a big step forwards in terms of achieving the Europe 2020 climate targets. This is not only good in terms of further reducing CO2 emissions; investments in energy efficiency will also promote jobs and energy costs for businesses and consumers will decrease. By providing better information on the energy bill and through initiatives undertaken by energy suppliers to save 1.5% in energy each year, we will all be encouraged to consume energy in a more conscious way.

Member States should set the example. Every year, 3% of central government buildings will need to be renovated in order to make them more energy efficient. This will undoubtedly provide an impetus for employment. The long-term strategies for the renovation of residential and commercial buildings which Member States need to draw up will undoubtedly contribute to this.

Admittedly, this Energy Efficiency Directive could have been more ambitious. It is a compromise and there is certainly still work to be done. However, it is clear that we are on the right track in order to ensure a better environment, more jobs and reduced energy dependence.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Finally, we have binding measures for energy efficiency. We should welcome this. Indeed, we are not in a position to achieve the targets that we have set for ourselves at present. There are exemptions of course, and some measures are still voluntary, but even so, the agreement reached at first reading enables us to turn certain elements of the Energy Efficiency Plan into binding measures. Energy companies will have to reduce their sales to industrial and domestic consumers by at least 1.5% per year. Each Member State will have to ensure that 3% of the floor area of government buildings is renovated every year, in accordance with the directive on the energy performance of buildings. Finally, EU countries will have to submit an action plan at regular intervals. While Parliament would have liked to go further on these issues, we should remember that it is the Council and therefore the Member States that have made this text less ambitious. The text remains, all in all, resolutely positive in the current context of energy transition.

 
  
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  Nora Berra (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome the adoption of the Turmes report on energy efficiency. Having previously been a purely political matter, the target of a 20% reduction in the EU’s energy consumption by 2020 is now binding. It adds to the targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% and of increasing the share of renewable energies in energy consumption to 20%. The directive thus makes provision for a 3% renovation rate for public buildings, energy saving programmes for public services and energy audits for large companies. The report also proposes that Member States should submit national targets to the Commission next May.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) The European Union’s Member States spend over EUR 400 billion on energy imports every year, creating significant dependence on foreign suppliers. I welcome all measures intended to increase energy efficiency, save resources and reduce this high level of dependence. Support for enterprises in the EU which produce energy is fully justified because it helps increase Europe’s competitiveness in the world, and inside the EU it helps develop this and other branches of the economy and creates jobs. In view of steadily rising energy prices, it is in the interests of European consumers to ensure that these costs are kept under control. The objective stated in the directive of achieving an absolute reduction in energy consumption must therefore be incorporated in strategies for the management of energy. I hope that well thought-out and effective economy measures will mean that during the crisis, we will be able to protect household budgets, which are currently under great strain. I support the report.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of this report because I entirely support the establishment of a joint framework of measures for promoting energy efficiency within the EU in order to ensure that we achieve the headline energy efficiency target for the Union of 20% savings by 2020 and to pave the way for further improvements in energy efficiency beyond that date.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union is increasingly exposed to instability and rising prices on the global energy markets, as well as to the consequences of the situation where the oil and gas reserves are gradually ending up being monopolised by a limited number of owners. Competition between energy suppliers will not be enough to keep energy costs in check.

Another important aspect is the situation regarding residential and industrial buildings which account for more than 40% of primary energy consumption in Europe. Increasing energy efficiency in buildings is an absolute must in order to achieve the important environmental protection targets, on the one hand, and to reduce the ever rising energy costs for the users of the buildings, on the other. This is why I think that the policies and measures adopted must result in a complete reduction in energy consumption, which will lead to a decrease in the overall cost of energy for consumers, thereby freeing up income for the EU’s citizens and businesses and cutting public sector expenditure.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because the main objective of EU environmental policy is to reduce the amount of dangerous and harmful gas emissions and other emissions. Promoting energy efficiency is the best means of doing this. Energy efficiency may help to bring costs for efficient products and services down and increase the business opportunities for the industries involved. The decision adopted by the Heads of State in 2007 set the target of increasing energy efficiency by 20% and this is a key element of the 2050 Low Carbon Road map. In order to achieve this target, the Member States should deliver national action plans, which are decisive and specific, and the Commission must have the right to assess and amend them. A European methodology should also be laid down based on a model allowing the different situation in the Member States to be assessed. A correction factor linked to the economic situation of the country should also be applied to avoid a situation where the model is difficult to implement for some countries and not decisive enough for others. It is worth mentioning that the objective of energy efficiency is not only inseparable from the regulation of the activities of every citizen and SME, but from the provision of incentives, such as the creation of an energy saving support system. However, national incentives need to be clearly defined so that they are not seen as illegal State aid.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is easy to find points of convergence with a report as complex as this, and I would like to say right away that I voted for it.

Many of the recommendations seem to be convincing in terms of not ‘wasting’ the crisis, or, in other words, interpreting energy efficiency as one aspect of a structured response to the crisis. Therefore, it is an excellent idea to make legislative thinking, individual incentives, the promotion of competition and excellence in the construction and facilities industries all converge on the aim of efficient buildings.

Promoting a redevelopment of significant proportions of the building stock, both private and public, through the involvement of and support for economic forces and enterprise, a concrete commitment on the part of the public authorities and the participation of families, produces many results: in environmental terms, it contributes to achieving the targets as set out in the Europe 2020 strategy; it could be a factor helping to revitalise our economies, because it is based on values of know-how and the quality of enterprises; it helps families and consumers, affected by the pervasive and knock-on effects of the fuel price rises or increases in tax on resources; it promotes research and development, without indulging in attractive but dangerous utopias of negative growth; it contributes to security and stability, easing energy dependence on supplies that are located, for the most part, in politically volatile areas.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the directive on energy efficiency. As the 20% energy saving targets set by the Commission and adopted by Member States as part of the EU 2020 strategy appear to have run out of steam, it was necessary to reassess and adapt them to more suitable feasibility criteria. These new measures aim to make additional savings and, at the same time, highlight the need for energy efficiency. Binding measures have thus been drawn up to get Member States more closely involved: cost-effective approaches to building renovations are required, and energy efficiency should become a key factor when awarding contracts. I also support the move to make regular energy audits compulsory for large companies.

 
  
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  Arkadiusz Tomasz Bratkowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) The report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC contains an analysis of several key questions which are going to decide the future of Europe. The EU faces the huge challenge of its growing demand for electricity, among other reasons, because of the way the new Member States are developing. According to the International Energy Agency, in 15 years, Poland will need 50% more energy that it is currently able to produce. Rigorous EU standards on CO2 emissions and the need to implement renewable energy technologies make it difficult to produce energy in such amounts.

Europe also faces the challenge of increasing its energy efficiency by 20% by the end of 2020 (conclusions of the European Council of 4 February 2011). Unfortunately, achievement of this objective is not made easy by numerous internal and external factors, including the economic crisis and the competition facing Europe on every side in the field of transport or heavy industry. We currently face a challenge which is forcing us to grow faster while doing less damage to the environment, which is not easy to do. Outdated infrastructure and technologies are causing huge losses and contributing to high levels of emissions, but to change this situation, it is necessary to invest. Apart from this, consideration should also be given to creating instruments which would help the citizens reduce their energy consumption.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – The proposals lean towards increasingly centralised and punitive measures that would essentially burden the taxpayer, indirectly and directly, to fund energy efficiency targets stipulated by the EU. While energy efficiency is paramount in the light of decreasing resources and increasing fuel prices, with energy deficit seeing many European countries depend upon fuel importation that undermines and weakens national economies, creating a pan-European policy is only likely to backfire and see the burden of cost passed onto the public via legislation that fails to appreciate and accommodate specifics of particular industries or regions. Costs enforced upon utility companies will simply be passed down to the consumer, as will the results from energy audits on large enterprises if not handled effectively. While the rapporteur acknowledges the need to protect consumers against unjustified price rises, and the role of local governance in actuating energy efficiency, these principles stand in direct contradiction to the proposition of centralised targets and to the identification that ‘levies or obligations on all customers or retailers can raise substantial and constant funding’. I would not trust Brussels to forge a centralised energy efficiency strategy that would avoid deep and divisive consequences.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the proposal for an Energy Efficiency Directive, presented by Mr Turmes. I fully support the aim of closing the gap in order to meet the 20% reduction target of energy consumption by 2020 by laying down a common framework for energy efficiency, without setting binding targets. I am convinced that the provisions in this measure will significantly contribute to tackling the economic crisis, creating more opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the construction sector and an increase in jobs. The main benefits will include lower CO2 emissions and a resulting reduction in waste, and investment and innovations designed to achieve the targets will be encouraged. I would particularly like to emphasise that this agreement is the fruit of a good compromise which, when transposed by Member States, will make it possible to achieve the targets already set, leading to greater efficiency, more innovation and a reduction in costs, including for public administrations. I would like to voice my appreciation of the fruitful negotiations that resulted in constraints being laid down while leaving a certain degree of flexibility to Member States in terms of application. The Commission will have a monitoring role and, with its assessment report on the application of the directive in 2014, will check on the state of progress.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I believe there is a need to adopt ambitious policies combating climate change and resource scarcity. Energy efficiency has been proving to be the cheapest and fastest way of reducing CO2 emissions. I also consider it essential to adopt measures aimed at reducing the EU’s external debt in relation to energy, at increasing its geopolitical independence and energy security, and at keeping energy costs under control and achieving sustainable growth in the EU.

 
  
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  Françoise Castex (S&D), in writing.(FR) Parliament has today approved a directive on energy efficiency that should enable us to aim for energy savings of 20% by 2020, which represents considerable progress. I particularly welcome the fact that the directive specifies a series of compulsory measures that contribute to the goal of energy efficiency. These include renovating public buildings, a strategy to encourage investment in renovating housing stock and commercial premises, cogeneration, energy saving certificates, and so on. The Commission has also agreed to publish a list of additional sectoral initiatives in order to ensure that the overall target of 20% energy savings by 2020 is really achieved. The course has been set; it is now up to Member States to implement this directive as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing. (IT) Negotiations on energy efficiency measures are proving increasingly difficult and complex, particularly because of some large Member States which are not always fully prepared to support ambitious agreements and perspectives which, in the short term, may give rise to costs and negative effects on their competitiveness. In this case too, despite some improvements, we are faced with a directive which, although it contributes to achieving the 20% energy efficiency target by 2020, will not be sufficient in itself (a result between 15 and 17% is estimated). In our view, there will thus have to be an increased commitment to ensuring that long-term perspectives and requirements find a way to establish themselves in the face of the selfish interests which, in the short-term, can have a strong influence on Member States’ governments and, in particular, at a time of acute economic crisis. A structural and lasting solution to this crisis must instead be sought in measures that address and solve the roots of the serious issue of energy poverty. We need to think afresh about the way out of this situation. It is not possible to return to the production and consumption models that preceded the crisis and therefore we need to be ambitious and courageous in order to create new opportunities and new jobs.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Cymański (EFD), in writing.(PL) I abstained in the vote on the directive on energy efficiency. On the one hand, legitimate objectives were presented in terms of reducing the costs of energy. On the other hand, a system of ‘energy-efficient public procurement’ is being created, for which a very high price will ultimately be paid by the taxpayer.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I think it is beneficial that Member States are encouraged to use cogeneration more, as the potential of this process still remains untapped at its real level across the European Union. On the other hand, Member States must encourage long-term investments aimed at renovating residential and commercial buildings – belonging both to public and private sector institutions – by using cost-effective renovation solutions and taking into account the different building types and climate zone they belong to.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) The European Union has set itself the target of reducing its carbon emissions and energy consumption by 20% by 2020. In order to achieve this target, it is essential that concrete measures are implemented, such as renovating public buildings, developing energy saving programmes or enforcing regular compulsory energy audits for large companies. If these measures are properly implemented, the European Union will achieve savings of EUR 50 billion each year. Increased energy efficiency will not only enable us to protect the environment, but it will also help to boost the economy and create new jobs by stimulating the research and innovation sectors.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the adoption of this report, which responds to a real recognition by EU citizens of the need to adapt our societies in order to significantly reduce energy waste, in accordance with our past commitments.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) On Tuesday, a very large majority voted in favour of a directive that should enable Europe to improve its energy efficiency by roughly 15% between now and the end of the decade. The stakes were high. The text, which should be transposed into the law of the Member States by early 2014 at the latest, forces Member States to renovate 3% of public buildings each year, with a view to increasing their energy efficiency. It is worth noting, however, that as a result of pressure from several countries, and given the current state of public finances in Europe, local and regional administrative buildings – which represent 12% of offices in Europe – will not be subject to this requirement. On the other hand, European energy suppliers will have to take measures to reduce their customers’ energy consumption by 1.5% each year between 2014 and 2020. The directive also forces Member States to adopt national energy efficiency plans, which will be submitted to the Commission. If these plans are not sufficiently ambitious, then the Commission will be able to impose binding measures on them from 2014.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I think that the new directive on energy efficiency marks important progress towards achieving the Europe 2020 strategy targets, both in the energy sector and for reducing pollution. It is vital that new investments in energy efficiency are economically sustainable and do not give rise to undesirable spin-offs, such as increasing energy costs for end consumers.

In addition, I think that it is important for these investments also to cover the private housing sector as in many Member States, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, this causes huge energy losses. The same also applies to the production infrastructure and the transportation of energy, which need to be modernised to restrict collateral losses.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This directive constitutes an opportunity for Europe to honour the energy and climate commitments made by the Heads of State or Government in March 2007 and February 2011. The objective is to increase energy efficiency in the EU by 20%, which will lead to a saving of 368 million tonnes of oil equivalent against the trend by 2020. I believe the EU cannot fail to hit its energy efficiency target: if it does, it will also fail as regards climate change, energy security, environmentally friendly growth and social protection. The renovation, every year, of 3% of the total floor area of heated and/or cooled buildings owned by the state or occupied by the central government, as well as the installation of smart meters that help consumers to improve their behaviour as regards energy efficiency, are some examples of things this directive aims to introduce with a view to increasing energy efficiency. I would stress that this directive encourages the Member States and the regions to use the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund to invest in energy efficiency measures.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We argue that it is imperative to take significant steps to increase energy efficiency and, in general, to rationalise energy consumption. This requires profound changes to take hold, first and foremost, by changing the dominant economic model at international level. Continuing with the same principles that have been guiding EU energy policy, such as liberalising the energy markets, will not have the desired effect. The goal in the so-called ‘market economy’ is to produce and sell, increasing supply and inducing demand; this underlies unsustainable energy consumption. This explains, in part, why efficiency is the poor relation of European energy policy. There are a number of positive aspects of the report, particularly its statement that energy efficiency is ‘a major element in ensuring the sustainability of the use of energy resources’, and its mention of smart meters, of energy-efficient buildings, and of concern for small and medium-sized enterprises. Nonetheless, it is missing the crucial element: a break with neoliberal policies to enable energy efficiency that does not try to paper over the crisis and the ever greater energy poverty in Europe.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Energy efficiency is the most cost-efficient way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other emissions related to fossil fuels. It makes us less dependent on energy imports, for which the EU currently pays more than EUR 400 billion per year. By investing in energy efficiency, the EU is reducing its dependence on Russia and the OPEC states and investing in European industries. Small and medium-sized businesses in particular – including installation and construction companies – would benefit. This directive is Europe’s chance to honour the Heads of State’s energy and climate commitment of March 2007 and 2011: realising a 20% rise in the EU’s energy efficiency will lead to a reduction against the trend of 368 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) by 2020. A common EU approach is necessary to reinforce energy savings, energy efficiency and innovation, achieve economies of scale and reduce the bureaucratic burden in all Member States. EU energy efficiency policy will build on existing and well-functioning regional and national policies while leaving the necessary flexibility to take account of local and national specificities.

 
  
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  Elisabetta Gardini (PPE), in writing. (IT) The political agreement reached is ambitious. The legislative proposal is an important instrument which, although of a non-binding nature, introduces energy efficiency measures which ought to allow the European targets in the energy and climate package to be attained in terms of reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020. In addition, we hope that the package will make it possible to stimulate economic growth, increase the competitiveness of enterprises and create jobs. I welcome the fact that this package incorporates the concerns imposed by the economic crisis in terms of budget constraints by introducing a level of flexibility which is well adapted to certain contexts such as the Italian situation, without forgetting environmental sustainability.

 
  
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  Adam Gierek (S&D), in writing.(PL) The Commission did consider the impact on the market and finally decided quite rightly to take action to improve energy efficiency, but the report has, in fact, failed to address this subject properly. Objective criteria are needed for measuring the real gross efficiency of the Member States, both at micro-economic and macro-economic levels. The macro-economic aspect should be examined by looking at the rate of growth, calculated as the year-on-year difference in primary energy consumption per unit of GDP per capita for each country, divided by baseline consumption per unit of GDP per capita and expressed as a percentage. Energy policy, as it was defined when the Member States adopted the very worthy 20-20-20 objectives in 2007, has been distorted by the Climate and Energy Package, which introduces unfair competition by discriminating against countries whose energy mix is dominated by coal as a source of primary energy. The Climate and Energy Package represents a departure from economic realities: the Member States are being forced to pursue different objectives at the same time. We do not have an optimal, step-by-step, economically advantageous route to achieving the 20-20-20 objectives. If, alongside responsibility for developing the energy mix, policy objectives are also put in the hands of the Member States, it will result in greater squandering of primary energy and in higher emissions of CO2 than could otherwise realistically be achieved. It is, however, a question of confidence, and a crisis of confidence is where we find ourselves today. For these reasons, I did not endorse the report.

 
  
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  Robert Goebbels (S&D), in writing.(FR) I did not vote in favour of the Turmes report because the compromise between the Council and the rapporteur was reached with no regard for the democratic rules that should govern the European Parliament. Based solely on the vote held in the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the rapporteur and the rapporteurs for the opinion of the various committees have negotiated a compromise that is far removed from Mr Turmes’ initial ambitions. More importantly, however, neither individual Members nor Parliament as a whole were able to exercise their right of amendment in order to improve the directive. Parliament had no choice but to vote for or against the proposed text as a whole. I voted against it, all the more so since I believe that the directive could have been improved had the rapporteur not chosen to negotiate behind closed doors and with a complete lack of transparency.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) As we know, Europe has been trapped in a crisis for more than four years and is implementing all possible measures and mechanisms in order to put an end to it. However, the crisis should not overshadow other priorities, such as energy issues. The European Union had committed to achieving a target of 20% energy efficiency by 2020. This is an ambitious but not unattainable target, provided that we invest more in sectoral energy efficiency measures. That is why I welcome the adoption at first reading of the directive on energy efficiency, which, once implemented by Member States, will help to stimulate green growth and employment and to fight against waste. In practical terms, public buildings will have to be adapted in order to improve their energy performance, large companies will have to carry out energy audits, energy suppliers will be required to encourage their customers to make savings and so forth. Finally, the directive encourages the development of cogeneration in inaccessible or rural areas. Cogeneration is a technique that enables the production of heat as well as electricity using different energy sources (such as natural gas, coal or biomass).

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this proposal because energy efficiency is the most cost-efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other emissions related to fossil fuels. Energy efficiency also makes us less dependent on energy imports, for which the EU currently pays more than EUR 400 billion per year. By investing in energy efficiency, the EU will reduce its dependence on Russia and the OPEC States and, in such a case, will be able to invest more in European industries. Energy efficiency is a central objective for 2020. It is key to achieving our long-term energy and climate goals and also the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, improve energy security and competitiveness and keep energy costs down. The energy challenge is one of the greatest tests faced by Europe today. Not only do rising energy prices and increasing dependence on energy imports have a negative impact on consumers, they also jeopardise our security and competitiveness. Key decisions have to be taken as a matter of urgency to slash spending on energy and emissions and mitigate climate change.

 
  
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  Sergej Kozlík (ALDE), in writing. (SK) Achieving an energy saving of 20% will require the EU to invest EUR 800-1 200 billion in the next decade. The pay-back period of the investments is usually between four and eight years and they will create numerous jobs and trigger innovation. It is possible to involve EU funding sources, as well as private sources, including on the basis of revolving funds. Other resources of around EUR 400 billion may be achieved by 2020 directly from energy savings. An important source of savings may be the renovation of buildings which account for 40% of the EU’s energy consumption. The estimated annual rate of building renovations of 2% would have to increase to 3% if the target of a 1.5% yearly end-use energy saving obligation in the EU is to be achieved. I fully support all measures aimed at saving energy in the EU.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) The efforts made on energy saving, according to the data available to us, are not yet sufficient to achieve the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95% by 2050, as compared with 1990. The report does well to highlight this problem and to set out solutions to try to implement an energy plan that is sustainable and has measurable targets. In this regard, all productive sectors, not just the private sector, are identified as agents for greater energy efficiency. Public buildings, for example, play a fundamental role from this perspective and they should be renovated in order to meet the minimum energy performance requirements and to move closer to the gas emissions reduction targets.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this report, which is particularly important with regard to the proper use of our energy resources. Indeed, this European directive imposes binding energy saving measures, particularly through the renovation of public buildings and energy audits for all large companies. This 20% reduction in energy consumption will enable the European Union to save EUR 50 billion each year. The adoption of this text is a step in the right direction. In France’s case, it will enable us to step up our efforts, initiated by the previous government, to reduce energy costs and to promote renewable energies. This text was adopted by 632 votes to 25, with 19 abstentions.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE) , in writing.(FR) We voted in favour of the directive on energy efficiency by a large majority. On 8 March 2011, the Commission presented a new Energy Efficiency Plan (EEP) that specifies measures for achieving additional savings in energy supply and use, while establishing a common framework for promoting energy efficiency within the EU for 2020 and beyond. This directive requires that Member States set energy efficiency targets that take into account the overall target of 20%. However, while energy efficiency is a real prerequisite for economic efficiency, the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) felt that it was also necessary to take into account the realities facing our companies and encouraged the rapporteur to accept the compromise proposed by the Council. Member States, industry and public bodies have been given greater flexibility. Member States should nonetheless put incentives in place for citizens and companies. We therefore support a gradual transition and flexible measures so that Member States can adapt in a way that suits their industrial structure and economy.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Union needs to take action as soon as possible to secure its future energy provision and protect its interests in this area. Energy efficiency measures play a crucial role in achieving this by guaranteeing that the climate and energy targets set are achieved at the lowest possible cost.

I think that additional pressure needs to be applied to local and regional representatives to get them to comply with the EU guidelines set out and, at the same time, we must provide considerable financial support to devise projects. The smart use of EU funds for the forthcoming 2014-2020 programming period will enable us to achieve the 20% energy efficiency target and, by extension, the European Union’s objectives on sustainability and competitiveness. Furthermore, decreasing consumption through energy efficiency is the most sustainable way of reducing dependency on fossil fuels and will enable us to bring about a significant drop in imports of approximately 25%.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report and agree with the rapporteur that a common EU approach is necessary to reinforce energy savings, energy efficiency and innovation, achieve economies of scale and reduce the bureaucratic burden in all Member States. I agree also that an EU efficiency policy will build on existing and well-functioning regional and national policies while leaving the necessary flexibility to take account of local and national specificities.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the directive on energy efficiency, in order to achieve the European target of a 20% reduction in energy consumption by 2020. The measures adopted are varied and include a range of mechanisms relating to building renovations, standards applicable to public procurement, energy saving requirements, transport and distribution. In setting national indicative targets, Member States should demonstrate their commitment and choose the most effective measures in order to contribute towards this joint European effort.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Setting targets for a 20% cut in carbon emissions by the end of this decade entails not only effort but also numerous benefits. Energy efficiency is beneficial in terms of reducing energy consumption costs significantly. At the moment, the EU retains its role as global leader for energy efficiency, but, in order to compete successfully with the emerging economies, it will reinforce this position by supporting European companies operating in the green technologies sector.

The aim of the EU’s energy efficiency policy must be to utilise efficiently the energy potential offered by EU regions. Consequently, Member States have the task of submitting action plans as part of their national development strategies. The Structural Funds and national contributions which are intended to finance energy efficiency projects should be a priority of the cohesion policy.

Supporting SMEs with the aim of enhancing sustainable technologies brings immediate benefits by cutting costs significantly. The role of local and regional initiatives is to promote investment in green technologies and to attract private investment. Innovative financial instruments can help boost private capital with a view to trading emissions.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report. I agree with the clarification of the fact that the EU is spending more than EUR 400 billion per year to import energy. Realising the minimum 20% energy savings target will not only enhance our energy security but also reduce by at least EUR 50 billion per year the wealth transfer from EU economies to energy producing countries.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report by Mr Turmes because I believe that one of the most important areas to encourage, at both European and national levels, is that of energy efficiency. Against this background, I very much appreciated the excellent work done by my fellow Members, which has made it possible to identify priority areas for encouragement. The difficulty in achieving the targets set by the Commission for 2020 means that the EU and all the Member States must be able to fully commit themselves to setting an example and seeking solutions capable of making energy consumption efficient. In addition, I believe it is right to lay down the required regular audits in order to intervene where and when necessary. This is both in order to optimise the present and to look to future goals with renewed vigour.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The only progress contained in this report is the introduction of binding energy efficiency targets. Unfortunately, this progress is made meaningless by the narrow and unrealistic vision of energy efficiency proposed in the text. It does away with the requirement to factor into energy efficiency calculations the total amount of primary energy consumed by each product or service and its impact on the planet. Worse still, it exempts nuclear power stations from energy efficiency analyses. Add to this the validation of the carbon market and that of free competition between energy companies, and you get a high environmental cost for our ecosystem. I voted against.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I voted in favour of the adoption of this report on energy efficiency because I think we need to redouble our efforts to achieve more efficient energy systems as, alongside orienting energy policy towards renewable energy sources, energy efficiency is one more way to increase security of supply and reduce CO2 emissions. This resolution will represent a positive step towards achieving the target, which, in itself, is insufficient, of reducing energy consumption in EU Member States by 20%. For these reasons, I supported the report, while taking into account the fact that seeking energy efficiency must go hand in hand with other energy measures, such as, for example, a radical change in energy production, including the gradual closure of all nuclear power stations.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing. (SK) The European Union and all its Member States face challenges arising from the limited energy resources in the EU, and therefore also from a dependence on energy imports from outside Europe. Energy efficiency is not only a valuable means of mitigating the negative effects of climate change through the cost-effective reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, but also a way of increasing energy security and moving towards a competitive, energy-efficient economy. I believe, therefore, that EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 for science and research should pay attention to innovative technological solutions in the sectors related to energy efficiency. In this way, we would also manage to create new skilled jobs. I agree with the approach that, when setting indicative national energy efficiency targets, the Member States should be able to take account of national circumstances and adapt specific incentives to improve energy efficiency to them.

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This essential legislation is not only crucial for achieving our energy security and climate goals; it will also give a real boost to the economy and create jobs. Crucially, it will reduce the sizeable and growing cost of our dependence on energy imports – EUR 488 billion in 2011 or 3.9% of EU GDP – which is particularly stark in crisis-hit countries. Policy at EU and national level must now be reoriented with a view to swiftly implementing and fully maximising the benefits of these new rules, which are a concrete tool for responding to the economic crisis. This includes mobilising European funds to support energy efficiency and savings, as well as creating training programmes – notably with a youth focus – with a view to creating employment in the sector and tackling unemployment. This is essential legislation, and I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Energy efficiency is a key element of the flagship initiative ‘A resource-efficient Europe’, which was announced within the framework of the Europe 2020 strategy. As the Commission’s communication ‘Road map for moving to a competitive low carbon economy by 2050’ shows, energy efficiency is one of the aspects of a low carbon economy that can help create new jobs in the short and medium term, through more intensive training, through further education and through programmes for better acceptance of new technologies, as well as through R&D and entrepreneurship. This proposed directive emphasises that the switch to a more energy-efficient economy will also improve the competitiveness of industry in the Union, thereby promoting economic growth and creating high-quality jobs in a number of sectors related to energy efficiency. That is obviously to be welcomed. Nonetheless, the fundamental question arises here as to whether global warming can actually be mitigated or limited by the planned measures. In view of the fact that this is primarily a natural phenomenon, it must be assumed that the proposed measures will mean substantial additional costs for public budgets and for companies which, in the end, will have no effect. All this at a time of crisis. I therefore voted against the proposed directive.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report, which I feel is particularly important, especially at the moment with the rising price of oil and heated debates about the use of agricultural products for producing energy. I regard in particular the provisions on developing efficient power grids and promoting cogeneration as important because this provides a future solution for meeting local heating and electricity needs. This solution is extremely suitable for rural areas where large resources of timber are available. The report marks progress in terms of European energy saving policy, which is a measure we must continue.

 
  
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  Wojciech Michał Olejniczak (S&D), in writing.(PL) Increasing energy efficiency is one of the best methods for combating climate warming. I think the measures currently being taken to improve the energy efficiency of residential buildings are extremely beneficial. In Poland’s case, the financial assistance being made available for insulating buildings and replacing windows has produced one of the most visible signs of Poland’s membership in the European Union. Public opinion is unequivocal in its approval. So I welcome the proposal for a directive on energy efficiency, which includes a requirement that each year, the Member States renovate 3% of the total floor area of heated and/or cooled buildings owned and occupied by government institutions.

I regret that Parliament did not manage to push through its proposal for the renovation of all public buildings and not just central government buildings. On the other hand, the approach which has been adopted is an important step towards achieving the objectives on greenhouse gas reductions. An extremely important feature is that the directive reduces the gap preventing us from reaching the objective of a 20% saving in energy by 2020. We can now guarantee that we will be able to reduce energy consumption by 15%. If the former rules were still in force, only a 9% reduction could realistically be expected. This is a result which falls far short of expectations and needs. For these reasons, I decided to endorse the report on energy efficiency.

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The report on energy efficiency is one of the EP’s most significant tasks in the current parliamentary term. It is a very important piece of legislation for EU citizens and companies, helping to combat the economic crisis and unemployment. The EU does not have direct measures to reduce global oil and gas prices, but it can help to reduce energy consumption. This directive will also create two million jobs for small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in the construction sector. This is also crucial for young people. Energy efficiency not only saves money, but also protects the environment leading to fewer emissions. I voted in favour of this report because it is particularly important for EU citizens living through difficult times. An increase in the price of energy resources has a particularly painful impact on EU Member States that are still in a difficult economic situation and the weakest layers of their societies. It is important that this directive is not just seen as a document promoting energy efficiency. It is also important to save energy resources in everyday life.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The text that has just been adopted repeals a directive from eight years ago which, in the sphere of research and development, industry and energy, means that it is an old and obsolete piece of regulation. In line with the EU 2020 targets, the proposal for a new directive seeks to reduce the European Union’s energy use by 20%. Energy saving, environmental protection and sustainable growth will be safeguarded by specific provisions that will channel energy companies towards better control, partly through the use of new technologies. This will limit firms’ wastage without constraining individual Member States too much. Energy efficiency means savings on energy costs, an increase in security and specialisation and development of industries and, for these reasons, we can only back these targets.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is widely accepted that policies for combating climate change and resource scarcity are needed. I agree with the objective of keeping energy costs under control and achieving sustainable growth for the EU, so I voted for this report. In fact, specialists consider energy efficiency one of the most effective and least burdensome ways of reducing CO2 emissions. I therefore think this policy is important, as is the adoption of measures increasing the EU’s energy independence and reducing its external debt in relation to energy.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is vital to achieve the European Union energy efficiency targets, since, in the event of failure, the EU would also fall short in terms of its targets on climate change, energy security, green growth and social protection. A common EU approach is therefore necessary to reinforce energy savings, energy efficiency and innovation, achieve economies of scale and reduce the bureaucratic burden in all Member States. In addition, in view of the fact that EU efficiency policy will build on existing and well-functioning regional and national policies while leaving the necessary flexibility to take account of local and national specificities, basing itself on pre-financing of efficiency measures and triggering technological, financial and social innovation, I voted for the proposal.

 
  
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  Alojz Peterle (PPE), in writing. (SL) Finally, we are seeing signs of binding measures that, together with mandatory austerity measures, will help improve the outlook on energy in the European Union. I am pleased that the directive is also binding on public institutions that are large consumers of energy. I will therefore be voting in favour of the strategic objective of energy conservation.

 
  
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  Tomasz Piotr Poręba (ECR), in writing.(PL) The European Union spends over EUR 400 billion every year on importing energy and, in many cases, Member States are dependent on a single source, particularly in the case of gas. Therefore, I fully support the proposal to reduce energy consumption by using it more efficiently, which will lead to reduced dependence on third countries and deliver benefits to ordinary citizens. This is a very important matter for all the Member States, because not only can it generate substantial financial savings, it can also reduce the use of natural resources. For these reasons, I decided to endorse the EU directive on energy efficiency.

 
  
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  Teresa Riera Madurell (S&D), in writing. (ES) Energy efficiency is one of the most affordable ways of increasing our energy security. This directive will firstly create jobs, the majority of which will be in the construction sector, which has suffered enormously in terms of jobs as a result of the current economic crisis. Moreover, we are talking about jobs with very significant local roots.

Secondly, this directive will help to combat the energy poverty that many homes are currently facing. Thirdly, it will help save on energy imports and therefore, at the same time, it will reduce our external energy dependency. There is no need to point out the impact of that dependency on our trade balances.

Finally, it is significant that it will act as a considerable incentive to research and innovation in the area of efficiency and will encourage our businesses to be more competitive in a context in which there is to be major global competition for increasingly scarce energy resources.

These are the reasons why I voted in favour of a directive which, nevertheless, could have gone much further in using the public authorities as an example and demanding a greater commitment from them to increase the energy efficiency of their buildings.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. As my colleague and rapporteur, Mr Turmes, has said, this essential legislation is not only crucial to achieving our energy security and climate goals, it will also give a real boost to the economy and create jobs. Crucially, it will reduce the sizeable and growing cost of our dependence on energy imports – EUR 488 billion in 2011 or 3.9% of EU GDP – which is particularly stark in crisis-hit countries. Policy at EU and national level must now be reoriented with a view to swiftly implementing and fully maximising the benefits of these new rules, which are a concrete tool for responding to the economic crisis. This includes mobilising European Union funds – such as the Structural Funds, project bonds and European Investment Bank funds – to support energy efficiency and savings, as well as creating training programmes – notably with a youth focus – with a view to creating employment in the sector and tackling unemployment.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for this document because I am convinced that a net reduction of 20% in energy consumption in the EU could save EUR 50 billion per year.

This ambitious target can be achieved only through new mandatory measures to save energy, such as measures to renovate public buildings, energy saving plans for public enterprises and energy audits for all large enterprises. This decision is doubly important: not only is it fundamental in order to achieve our energy security and climate targets, but it will also give a strong boost to the economy and create new jobs.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) This directive, to which we were strongly opposed at the beginning of the legislative process, so much so that we submitted an alternative resolution, asking the Commission to withdraw its proposal and to reformulate it because it impacted on the right of individual Member States to decide upon the conditions for using their energy sources, has been significantly amended.

The changes made in the trialogues with regard to the texts produced by the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) increase the level of flexibility for Member States, industry and public bodies, considerably lowering the level at which sights had been set. The rapporteur, who was strongly opposed to the changes, has accepted the compromise, despite the fact that the attainment of the 20% energy efficiency target cannot be fully guaranteed, because a more ambitious position would have jeopardised the agreement.

Since what we were asking for in our alternative resolution has, in fact, been granted, we voted for the report, even though we continue to have doubts regarding the application of the directive.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing.(FR) I welcome this report, which advocates compulsory measures to reduce energy consumption in all Member States. Energy efficiency, in addition to its environmental benefits, is an incredible booster for growth and employment and is crucial to our energy independence. The directive will enable us to reduce the increasing cost of our dependence on energy imports –EUR 488 billion in 2011 – which weighs down our trade balance, penalises our companies and erodes households’ purchasing power. Member States should set an example and implement a 3% annual renovation rate for buildings of public bodies. As for large companies, they will be required to carry out energy audits. Structural Funds and other EU financial instruments will be of precious help towards financing this energy efficiency. It is vital that we make this a priority area of future operational programmes.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) The text we adopted this morning proposes a further reinforcement of the measures submitted by the Commission, inserting them within the viewpoint of European energy policy in 2050, and also granting demands regarding financial support for programmes/investments for efficiency measures. I believe that the sections of the proposal that are particularly worthy of support are where it pays special attention to the identification of energy efficiency targets, the exemplary role of the public sector, mandatory schemes for energy efficiency and the promotion of efficient heating and cooling systems, with particular reference to cogeneration and efficiency in the transmission and distribution of energy. Finally, according to the Commission’s estimates, in the face of an increase in costs of approximately EUR 24 billion per year for investments in the energy efficiency sector, the legislative proposal would lead to an overall reduction in the costs of investing in energy generation and distribution and the costs of the ‘energy bill’, amounting to approximately EUR 20 billion for the 2011-2020 period. For all these reasons, I voted in favour of the directive.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of this text. We fought, in particular, on three main ideas: 1. All measures to ensure the achievement of the Union’s target of 20% must be binding, unless all Member States were to impose national binding targets of at least 20% – and, in this case, Member States would be allowed more flexibility in designing measures. 2. All Member States must establish ‘2050 building road maps’, addressing, inter alia, the issues of social housing and reducing energy poverty. 3. An extensive renovation rate of 2.5% per year must be implemented for all publicly owned buildings (representing energy savings of at least 70%).

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission has tabled the ‘Energy 2020’ initiative, placing energy efficiency at the core of the EU energy strategy for 2020. The communication also outlines the need for a new energy efficiency strategy that will enable all Member States to decouple energy use from economic growth. The EU has been playing a leading role in the international-level negotiations on improving energy efficiency, since all actions and measures adopted will have an impact on climate change, on energy security, on environmentally friendly growth and on social protection. I am voting for this report because I believe the EU should adopt a common approach, increasing energy saving and energy efficiency, whilst investing in new products and innovative services, in inter-company economies of scale, and in cutting the red tape present in all Member States. I would also argue that European efficiency policy will be based on existing regional and national policies that have been meeting with success, since there should be enough flexibility to adapt to the needs and specific situations of the Member States and regions.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) The European Union objective of increasing energy efficiency by 20% is one of the five headline targets of the Europe 2020 strategy. Energy efficiency is also one of the key priorities of the European Union’s energy policy for the coming years as it is the most viable and quickest way of increasing supply security and an effective way of cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which are responsible for climate change.

Achieving the energy efficiency targets will boost the competitiveness of European industries, contribute to economic growth and create jobs. Energy efficiency may also mean lower energy bills for ordinary citizens, as well as a reduction in energy poverty, which can be achieved by adopting and funding measures for improving energy efficiency.

I support the need for Member States to use and increase the funds allocated to energy efficiency, especially through the Cohesion Fund, Structural Funds and the European Regional Development Fund, as well as through specific European financial instruments such as the European Energy Efficiency Fund. Furthermore, I think that it is useful for Member States to set up a national energy efficiency fund with the aim of supporting national energy efficiency initiatives.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the report, but with gritted teeth. Dirigiste measures are mentioned here that are more appropriate to a communist system than to a system of democratic authority. The basic idea is correct and, through substantial efforts, Mr Pieper, the shadow rapporteur for the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), has been able to prevent something even worse. We will see where this is leading when it is implemented.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution, which will implement a number of significant energy-saving measures. Thanks to this directive, energy consumption will be reduced by 15%, representing an improvement on current legislation, under which a reduction of only 9% would be possible. Not only will this resolution ensure that energy efficiency targets are more likely to be met, it will also boost jobs and economic growth in Member States, with the mandatory renovation of 3% of central government buildings set to create millions of jobs all over Europe. This resolution, which has my full support, will also help to reduce energy costs for citizens. This is particularly important at a time when many are going without heating or electricity owing to the effects of the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing.(FR) High energy costs, pollution and climate change are just a few of the many reasons for us to support strong initiatives to ensure energy efficiency in our social and industrial models. This does not mean going back to the time of candles or initiating a trend of decline; instead, it means adopting modern methods and concrete objectives to rationalise our consumption, both individually and collectively. That is precisely the aim of this regulation, which I supported, and which sets objectives for Member States to achieve by 2020. This recommendation is in keeping with the idea of the energy and climate package, that is, to achieve energy savings of 20% over the next eight years. Achieving energy efficiency, in my view, involves encouraging the small everyday efforts, such as opting to use public transport over cars or keeping an eye on household energy use. However, it also requires public authorities to implement an extensive programme to ensure the implementation of insulation and environmental standards in buildings: that is where the main potential for improvement can be found. We have the required technology and know-how; the only thing missing is political will. That is how the EU will continue to set an example and, above all, that is how we will truly achieve a new form of green growth.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (ALDE), in writing. (DE) Energy efficiency fundamentally also concerns the areas of climate change, energy supply, green growth and social protection. If we are to limit global warming, we need ambitious measures – and energy efficiency can make a beneficial and speedy contribution to this. Moreover, energy efficiency can also have a positive impact on the economy.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D), in writing. – The directive will set binding measures to ensure we are sticking to our 2011 Energy Efficiency Plan, which will enable the EU to reduce energy consumption by 15% by 2020, bringing us closer to our 20% target. Better energy efficiency in the EU will help to lower both emissions and the cost of energy for consumers, as well as reducing the EU's reliance on foreign imports of gas and oil. Ensuring that 3% of central government buildings will have to be renovated every year will not only improve the energy efficiency of those buildings but also help to boost the construction industry and create jobs. The directive also places an obligation on energy companies to make savings of 1.5% annually until 2020. The final directive did not go as far as we Socialists and Democrats would have liked – for example, we were pushing for annual renovation targets on all public buildings – but is nevertheless a good start.

 
  
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  Hermann Winkler (PPE), in writing. (DE) I feel that this directive is a classic case of ‘We have prevented something worse, but it is not good’. The European Commission’s proposal on energy efficiency had very strong traits of the planned economy about it: I find the idea of annual energy saving targets for energy companies – in this case, savings of 1.5% of their energy sales to end customers year on year, without exceptions or substitution measures – very reminiscent of our former East German planned economy under communism. Nonetheless, we as the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) were able to prevent the worst of it, as in the case of the energy saving target. Nonetheless, there is a more flexible catalogue of measures that could be used to achieve this aim, such as tax relief for investments in energy efficiency. In addition, initially, only central governments must renovate 3% of their public building stock, not all of public administration – which would include the local authorities, for example. I stand by my criticism of both the content and the process. The main thing we must ensure at the moment is that our enterprises and our citizens have affordable electricity available and that we do not wave through the next do-gooder directive in a knee-jerk process – a directive that was already fully negotiated before Parliament as a whole could do anything with it. For these reasons, I voted against this report, even though I am very grateful for the work and efforts put in by my colleague, Markus Pieper.

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR), in writing. – Energy efficiency is important, not least because our citizens are facing rising power bills. I supported this report because ultimately, it was balanced and did not introduce burdensome requirements on business which would have driven companies out of the EU and cost jobs. We need incentives to encourage more energy efficiency, not draconian penalties. This is why I am aghast at the Commission’s decision to threaten the UK with legal action in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over reduced VAT on energy saving materials. VAT was reduced to 5% on energy efficiency products in the UK in order to tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions. This is exactly the kind of spur we need to encourage the installation of energy efficiency measures such as double-glazing or loft insulation. The Commission’s challenge is not only muddle-headed, but also mistaken: the reduced VAT rate is beyond the scope of the EU’s VAT Directive. If the EU really wishes to embrace energy efficiency, it should – rather than penalise Britain – encourage other Member States to introduce similar schemes.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing.(IT) Mr Turmes’s report introduces a raft of energy saving measures – including obligations for retraining, constructing public buildings and the development of cogeneration technology – which the Member States will have to implement in order to achieve the energy efficiency targets for 2020.

Considering not only the difficult economic situation that Europe is in, but also the efforts already made by European businesses in the field of energy efficiency, I think the text adopted today is a good compromise. The measures laid down should make it possible to meet commitments under the climate package. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Zbigniew Ziobro (EFD), in writing.(PL) The report on energy efficiency, which was debated earlier today, is one of few parts of the Europe 2020 strategy which does not have a detrimental effect on the economy. However, as with other features of the strategy, reducing energy consumption by 20% is also very expensive for the Member States, particularly during an economic crisis. Therefore, the increase in energy efficiency should principally be a matter of better efficiency in insulating residential buildings and of increasing energy efficiency in industry, including an improvement in the efficiency of energy transmission.

Deployment of smart grids and modernisation of existing ones is a strategic and exceptionally expensive exercise. In Poland, most power lines are over 30 years old, so their modernisation, essential to comply with the requirements of the directive, is an extremely expensive exercise, and the provisions of the directive we have voted on do not include sufficient funding for such work. Furthermore, they do not make any concessions to the EU’s new Member States. Implementing this directive may therefore prove to be problematic and far more expensive than is assumed in the EU’s analysis.

 
  
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  Inês Cristina Zuber (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We agree with the general objective of increasing energy efficiency. However, it is regrettable that the much-ballyhooed target of 20% by 2020 – one of the five core objectives of the failed Europe 2020 strategy – is far from being achieved. The same principles – liberalisation of the energy market, and subsidised private production from renewable energy sources – are still guiding EU energy policy, so it is no surprise that the target is unlikely to be hit because so-called market rules rarely result in energy efficiency. The neoliberal workings of the economy involve producing and selling, increasing supply and inducing demand; the effect of that is not to reduce consumption of the good produced. There are several positive aspects of the report: smart meters, energy-efficient buildings, and the concern for small and medium-sized enterprises. However, were the intention a measure to help consumers in a period of crisis, we would need to regulate the prices charged by the companies supplying energy services, which make large profits. The report does not meddle with the interests of these monopolistic companies, placing the onus for energy efficiency exclusively on the consumer.

 
  
  

Report: Cecilia Wikström (A7-0230/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since it falls solely to Parliament to decide whether or not to waive immunity, and because Parliament can take into account the position of the Member in question when deciding whether or not to waive his immunity. As such, and given that the facts of the case, as manifested in the submissions to the Committee on Legal Affairs, indicate that the alleged activities do not have a direct connection with Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa’s performance of his duties as a Member of this Parliament, meaning that he was not acting in the performance of his duties as a Member, I support the decision to waive Mr Wałęsa’s parliamentary immunity.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the request for waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa as he was not acting in the performance of his duties when he was involved in the traffic accident of September 2011, which is the reason for the waiver request. The Member himself put forward this request to allow the swift completion of investigations into the incident.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) On 20 April 2012, the Public Prosecutor of the Polish Republic forwarded a request for a waiver of the immunity of Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa in connection with criminal proceedings concerning an alleged offence under the Polish Act of 20 May 1971 establishing a Code of Offences and the Road Traffic Act of 20 June 1997. These related to a traffic accident on 2 September 2011 in Poland in which Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa was involved and in which he was severely injured. Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa declined to be heard by the Committee on Legal Affairs, but has indicated that he prefers a quick conclusion of this issue and is of the opinion that his immunity should be waived. The facts of the case as presented in the submissions indicate that the alleged activities do not have a direct, obvious connection with Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament. In the case in question, therefore, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa was not performing his duties as a Member of the European Parliament.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I followed the rapporteur’s recommendation on the waiver of Mr Wałęsa’s immunity.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of waiving the immunity of Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, as requested by Mr Wałęsa himself. Immunity must ensure freedom of political action, not prevent the proper functioning of the justice system in the event of common law proceedings. I would ask for mine to be waived, if it were necessary.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Parliament has been asked to waive the parliamentary immunity of our fellow Member, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, in connection with legal action concerning an alleged offence under the Road Traffic Act in relation to a traffic accident. Given that the facts of the case, as manifested in the submissions to the Committee on Legal Affairs, indicate that the alleged activities do not have a direct connection with Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa’s performance of his duties as a Member of this Parliament, it has been decided to waive his parliamentary immunity. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing.(IT) Having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, forwarded on 20 April 2012 by the Public Prosecutor of the Polish Republic in connection with legal action concerning an alleged offence and announced in plenary on 23 May 2012, and whereas the Public Prosecutor of the Polish Republic has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, in connection with legal action concerning an alleged offence, and Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa declined to be heard by the Committee on Legal Affairs, but has indicated that he prefers a quick conclusion of this issue and is of the opinion that his immunity should be waived, I voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The request relates to a traffic accident in which Mr Wałęsa was severely injured. Mr Wałęsa has indicated that he would prefer a quick conclusion to this issue and is of the opinion that his immunity should be waived.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the waiver of immunity. The Public Prosecutor of the Polish Republic made this request following an alleged offence under the Polish Act of 20 May 1971 establishing a Code of Offences and the Road Traffic Act of 20 June 1997 in relation to a traffic accident on 2 September 2011 in Poland, in which Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa was involved and in which he was severely injured. Wishing to settle the issue, Mr Wałęsa himself expressed his wish to see his immunity waived.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Public Prosecutor of the Polish Republic has requested that Parliament waive the parliamentary immunity of our fellow Member, Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa, in connection with legal action concerning an alleged offence. In view of the position of the Committee on Legal Affairs and since the facts of the case, as manifested in the submissions to the committee, indicate that the activities do not have a direct connection with the performance of his duties as a Member of this Parliament, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing.(PL) In this particular case, I did not have a moment’s hesitation in voting to waive the immunity of a Member of the European Parliament. Opinion is united that this decision will help speed up the process of clarifying the circumstances of the accident and enable the guilty party to be identified. Another fact which had great bearing on this decision is that the matter concerns activities which are not connected with Jarosław Leszek Wałęsa’s performance of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament.

 
  
  

Report: Francesco Enrico Speroni (A7-0229/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because, as with the other report for this sitting, it falls solely to Parliament to decide whether or not to waive immunity, and because Parliament can take into account the position of the Member in question when deciding whether or not to waive his immunity. As such, and given that the facts of the case, as manifested in the submissions to the Committee on Legal Affairs, indicate that the alleged activities do not have a direct connection with Birgit Collin-Langen’s performance of her duties as a Member of this Parliament, meaning that she was not acting in the performance of her duties as a Member, I support the decision to waive Ms Collin-Langen’s parliamentary immunity.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the request to waive the parliamentary immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen because, at the time of the events giving rise to the request, she was not yet a Member of the European Parliament and the Committee on Legal Affairs has thus not found any direct links with her role in the European Parliament.

The Member herself requested the waiver with the aim of enabling the authorities to conduct the investigation into the use of public funds and procurement for a flower show in 2008 in Bingen, Germany, where the Member was mayor, more swiftly.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The request by the Senior Prosecutor relates to proceedings concerning an alleged offence under Section 331 of the German Criminal Code, which states that ‘A public official or a person entrusted with special public service functions who demands, allows himself to be promised or accepts a benefit for himself or for a third person for the discharge of an official duty shall be liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine’. Birgit Collin-Langen has been heard by the Committee on Legal Affairs, where she asked for a quick conclusion of this issue and declared that her immunity should be waived. The facts of the case date back to 2006-2008 and the alleged activities do not have a direct, obvious connection with Birgit Collin-Langen’s performance of her duties as a Member of the European Parliament. Birgit Collin-Langen was therefore not acting in the performance of her duties as a Member of the European Parliament, and the facts set out in the explanatory statement do not constitute a case of fumus persecutionis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I followed the rapporteur’s proposal on the waiver of Brigit Collin-Langen’s immunity.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of waiving the immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen. My vote is consistent with the desire expressed by Ms Collin-Langen to see that justice is done. Immunity must ensure freedom of political action, not prevent the proper functioning of the justice system in the event of investigations concerning alleged offences in relation to a previous office.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Parliament has been asked to waive the parliamentary immunity of a Member of this House, Birgit Collin-Langen, in connection with legal action relating to an alleged offence. Ms Collin-Langen has had a hearing, at which she asked for a quick conclusion of this issue. It has therefore been decided to waive her parliamentary immunity. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing.(IT) At the sitting of 14 June 2012, the President announced, under Rule 6(2) of the Rules of Procedure, that he had received a request dated 27 April 2012 from the Senior German Prosecutor in Koblenz concerning the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen with reference to Articles 8 and 9 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union. The President referred this request to the Committee on Legal Affairs under Rule 6(2). Birgit Collin-Langen was heard by the Committee on 10 July 2012, in accordance with Rule 7(3). On the basis of the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Affairs to waive the parliamentary immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen, I voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. As the facts of the case date back to 2006-2008, when Birgit Collin-Langen was not acting in the performance of her duties as a Member of the European Parliament, the Committee on Legal Affairs agreed to waive the immunity.

 
  
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  Marc Tarabella (S&D), in writing.(FR) We voted in favour of waiving the immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen. The waiver was, in fact, requested by the Senior Prosecutor in relation to proceedings concerning an alleged offence. Ms Collin-Langen does not oppose this request, as she wishes for a quick conclusion to the issue.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Parliament has been asked to waive the parliamentary immunity of a Member of this House, Birgit Collin-Langen, in connection with legal action. In view of the position of the Committee on Legal Affairs, and given that the alleged activities do not have a direct connection with the performance of her duties as a Member, I voted to waive her immunity.

 
  
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  Jacek Włosowicz (EFD), in writing.(PL) With regard to my decision to endorse the request for waiver of the immunity of Birgit Collin-Langen, I think that since the matter concerns events which took place several years ago, it is in the interests of Parliament’s work and the transparency of our rules to allow the German authorities to conduct an objective and fair investigation. Furthermore, the Member herself has said she would like to bring about a quick conclusion of this issue, and the only way to do this is for her to be present when the case is heard in court.

 
  
  

Report: Hélène Flautre (A7-0266/2012)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report. I would re-emphasise that anti-terrorist strategies can be effective if conducted in strict conformity with human rights obligations, particularly the right to a fair and equitable trial. Even considering the extremely sensitive nature of anti-terrorism policies, I think that only genuine reasons of national security can justify secrecy. Under no circumstances can state secrecy supersede fundamental and inalienable rights, so it will never be possible for arguments based on such a situation to limit states’ legal obligation to investigate serious breaches of human rights. There also needs to be provision for guarantees to prevent the Member States from disrespecting human rights when implementing their anti-terrorist policies, despite having declared their desire to comply with international law. Not all the Member States have yet met their obligation to investigate serious breaches of human rights relating to the CIA programme. The report regrets the delays with completely clearing up this case, so as to give the victims full and rapid redress, including the offer of apologies and the provision of compensation, where appropriate.

 
  
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  Charalampos Angourakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The report is a blatant attempt to deceive the people. It refuses to condemn the governments of certain countries, including Greece, which demonstrably had an active role and cooperated with the CIA and the US in the abduction, illegal detention and torture of ‘terrorist suspects’ and in maintaining secret prisons in their territory. It even goes so far as to call on the bourgeois governments involved in the crimes to investigate themselves, supposedly in order to get to the truth, which has been proven and is known to everyone except the European Parliament. The Greek Communist Party reaffirms its position that the European Parliament committee in question and the reports which it has drafted are hypocritical and are aimed essentially at defusing popular disapproval and covering up the responsibilities of the governments of the EU Member States. The real aim of the so-called ‘fight against terrorism’, led by the EU and the US and various secret services, is to strike at the class movement that questions the exploitative capitalist system and the way in which grassroots freedoms and democratic rights are being reduced and trampled underfoot.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report because I believe that any counter-terrorism strategy should be conducted in strict compliance with human rights obligations. This Parliament has repeatedly and strongly condemned ‘extraordinary rendition’, detention without trial, secret prisons and torture. I believe that the EU commitment to human rights must be reflected in all policy areas in order to be credible. For this reason, with this text, we call on Member States to investigate whether there are secret prisons on their territory or whether operations have taken place whereby people have been detained under the CIA programme in facilities on their territory. With regard to ‘state secrecy’, I strongly believe that only genuine national security reasons can justify secrecy, which is, in any case, overridden by fundamental rights obligations that cannot be derogated from, such as the absolute prohibition on torture.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing.(FR) Parliament has called for EU Member States to investigate their involvement in illegal extraditions of suspected terrorists carried out by the CIA between 2002 and 2004. As I myself am convinced that the EU should be a model for transparency, I voted in favour of this report, which calls for light to be shed on these possible violations of fundamental rights. Without questioning our support for our allies, it is our duty to make sure that the European Union remains a model with regard to the protection of human rights.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Following on from Parliament’s inquiry into illegal flights operated by the CIA, which fall outside of any framework capable of ensuring minimum fundamental rights, MEPs are, with this report, calling for the necessary conclusions to be drawn both politically and legally. Fundamental rights are a cornerstone of our collective project here in Europe. Yet, from 2001 to 2005, the CIA carried out no less than 1 000 illegal flights in which 12 Member States were directly involved. We must see this task of achieving transparency through and urgently fill in the legal vacuums which allowed such abuses to occur. I therefore supported this report, which aims to give legitimacy back to the EU’s discourse on human rights.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) I abstained from the vote on the report by Ms Flautre because I believe that, despite the results achieved by collecting various data on the location of sites where prisoners were illegally detained by the CIA in Europe, there is a great deal of inconsistency in the EU on the issue. Many Member States are not seriously investigating human rights violations connected with CIA operations within the EU, in terms of the transportation and detention of prisoners. I regret the lack of communication, transparency and implementation of investigative methods on the part of certain Member States.

 
  
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  Philippe Boulland (PPE), in writing.(FR) Through the adoption of this report, which I supported, it was our intention to send a strong signal to Member States, so that we in the European Union can make progress towards a more effective area of security, justice and freedom that is closer to European citizens. There is no longer any justification for the European Union to participate in CIA-led anti-terrorism programmes as it did in the wake of the attacks of 11 September 2001, nor for the transfer and detention of persons suspected by the CIA of terrorism to be allowed in Member States. The fight against terrorism must be a priority for the European Union, but this fight must in no way be carried out at the expense of respect for human rights, which is one of the inalienable values of the EU.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – Whilst UKIP stands against the illegal transportation and detention of prisoners by third countries, we cannot vote in favour of this report, as to do so would endorse in numerous ways the authority of the EU in foreign affairs and human rights, where such powers should not be granted. It also would lead to general oversight of matters by the EU if followed through in its entirety. It is the prerogative of national judicial authorities to open independent inquiries into alleged CIA secret detention sites and flight connections and conduct criminal investigations into such matters, but it should not be within the scope of the EU to demand the disclosure of the findings or command that investigations take place.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because I consider rigorous and transparent proceedings, scrupulous compliance with EU rules and full respect for international agreements essential.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) I voted ‘in favour’ of the report because I consider that it exerts the necessary pressure both on the EU institutions and on each individual Member State to continue with investigations to ascertain the level of illegal abduction, secret detention and torture by the American secret services (CIA), with the assistance and acceptance of European states, in breach of every concept of international law and respect for human rights. The motion for a resolution expresses in the clearest possible way the wish of the European Parliament that human rights should not be sacrificed in the fight against terrorism, that terrorist suspects should not be tried under a special judicial procedure, that the US administration should close the Guantánamo base immediately and that UN resolutions on human dignity in general should be respected. It also calls on the European Council to acknowledge the very obvious fact that European Treaties were violated during illegal transfers of detainees by the CIA via European territories, to investigate the cases in question, and to ensure that they do not reoccur. Finally, it rightly urges the Temporary Committee of the European Parliament to take action to further investigate cases in the event of unnecessary delay on the part of the European Council.

 
  
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  Tadeusz Cymański (EFD), in writing.(PL) As we all know, half the countries of Europe allowed the CIA to use their airspace to carry out secret operations in the European Union. We are talking here about Member States such as Germany, Spain, Portugal, Finland and Poland. This does not and must not allow us to conclude that these countries have no regard for the humanitarian achievements of international law or do not respect human rights standards. In particular, the governments of individual countries had to make decisions after the terrorist attacks in New York, London and Madrid. The use of special measures seemed at that time to be essential. The suggestion made in the report that those suspected of being the leaders of terrorist organisations should have been given the same legal privileges as are enjoyed by suspects in our own criminal cases is mistaken.

Furthermore, the report makes an unfair evaluation of those decisions but does not say what should have been done instead. We all respect the universal nature and indivisibility of human rights, but we also have to know the difference between a common criminal and a terrorist who plans and carries out a suicide attack on a military target or innocent civilians. For this reason, I could not endorse this report.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) On this occasion of the painful 11th anniversary of the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers, Parliament took a new look into the issue of the transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in certain European countries by the CIA (with a particular focus on Lithuania, Poland and Romania), and called on these Member States to shed as much light as possible on secret detention programmes implemented by the CIA in Europe in the wake of the events of 11 September 2001, and on human rights violations committed in this context. In other words, this is about investigating in order to establish the possible existence in these countries of secret prisons or facilities, where persons may have been detained under a secret CIA rendition programme. It is indeed quite clear that there are still some grey areas with regard to this matter. The resolution approved in this sense calls for the Commission to create a framework, by the end of 2012, allowing full light to be shed on these activities.

 
  
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  Marielle de Sarnez (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Eleven years on from the events of 11 September 2001 and the United States’ declaration of war on terrorism, there are still many grey areas with regard to the issue of secret CIA prisons in Europe. The fight against terrorism requires a determined commitment from the European Union and its main international partners. It is vital that the 27 Member States implement effective measures to improve the everyday security of EU citizens, and that they conduct investigations to rule out any risk of an attack. This process must be transparent and must not violate human rights. The European Union is an area in which the law is fully applicable and in which Member States cannot be involved in illegal activities. Secret detention must only be possible on the grounds of national security, and acts of torture must not be allowed on EU territory.

 
  
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  Ioan Enciu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I abstained from voting on this report because, although I fully endorse the principle that the protection of human rights should not be jeopardised for any kind of security reason, even relating to counter-terrorism, I still think that the report exceeds the strict scope of the legitimacy which Parliament can assume, by accusing certain Member States directly of collaborating illegally with the CIA without providing in return any objective evidence and arguments.

Investigations into possible secret CIA flights and detentions must be carried out in Member States which have not already done so, while investigations already carried out in countries such as Romania, and the conclusions drawn by them, must be acknowledged. Furthermore, Parliament must not replace the authorities in investigating and enforcing the law, but should see to it that the latter legally fulfil the duties incumbent upon them.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because it argues that anti-terrorist strategies can be effective if conducted in strict conformity with human rights obligations, particularly the right to a fair and equitable trial. The investigations currently being conducted by the Member States must be guided by robust, legal evidence, and by respect for national legal systems and EU legislation, not just by information provided by the media or by public opinion.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report has the virtue of drawing attention to the heinous fact, now irrefutable, that the CIA used the territory of a number of EU countries to transport people who, without any charge or arrest warrant, were transported to the US military base in Guantánamo and to various countries, where they were tortured and, according to some reports, murdered in some cases. This fact is all the more serious because there is a dense web of silence and complicity surrounding the bilateral agreements between the Council, the Member States, the US, NATO and the CIA. They all involved illegal and arbitrary detention, torture, and the mistreatment and forced disappearance of hundreds of people as part of the supposed War on Terror. While we support this report, we do not share the federalist perspective that shapes it, seeking to set up the Council as judge of the Member States and involving the Commission in ensuring ‘accountability for human rights violations committed in the context of the CIA programme’. Nor do we agree with the uncritical approach to NATO – which is in this up to its neck – and its role as an organisation whose history demonstrates its links to terrorism, particularly state terrorism.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing.(IT) The resolution on the alleged transportation and illegal detention of prisoners in European countries by the CIA focuses on an issue that continues to cause controversy, including in Italy. Collating flight data managed by Eurocontrol suggests that there is an illegal system that has led to suspicious disappearances, which is unacceptable. All responsibilities need to be established so that there is no recurrence of similar cases in the future. The fight against terrorism in the EU should be conducted in compliance with EU law and the sovereignty of the Member States, which have the right and the duty to prosecute those suspected of terrorism and bring them to trial.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Union is founded on a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity and international law, not only in its internal policies, but also in its external dimension. The EU’s commitment to human rights, reinforced by the entry into force of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the process of accession to the European Convention on Human Rights, must be reflected in all policy areas in order to make EU human rights policy effective and credible. The instruments governing the EU’s common foreign and security policy mandate an absolute ban on torture and also entail an express obligation to investigate allegations of torture and to provide remedies and reparation. EU guidelines on torture provide the framework for the EU’s efforts to prevent and eradicate torture and ill-treatment in all parts of the world. Secret detention, which is a form of enforced disappearance, may amount, if widely or systematically practised, to a crime against humanity.

 
  
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  Nathalie Griesbeck (ALDE), in writing.(FR) I voted firmly in favour of this report, which, once again, strongly condemns the inadmissible practices of ‘extraordinary rendition’, secret prisons and torture, and, above all, EU Member States’ complicity in these CIA ‘programmes’. We have been demanding, for years now, that Member States involved in such activities conduct thorough, impartial and independent inquiries into the failings and abuses which occurred, and demanding that the European Union bring its action in line with its values. In this new report, we restate these demands. More detailed enquiries must be carried out and responsibility must be determined. The adoption of this report is a new step towards remedying these inadmissible practices. However, much work still remains to be done in order to establish the truth and acknowledge all of the violations which were committed.

 
  
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  Timothy Kirkhope (ECR), in writing. – The ECR believe that human rights are universal for all and that torture is unacceptable in all circumstances.

However, whilst we support the full and independent inquiry into the alleged involvement of Member States in the detention and transportation of prisoners in European countries by the CIA, we believe that it is for Member States to first carry out their own investigations before judgment is made by the European Union or the European Parliament. Equally, we do not believe that it is for the European Union to make recommendations on the functioning of Member States’ security services.

 
  
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  Agnès Le Brun (PPE), in writing.(FR) It has now been five years since Parliament adopted its final report on the illegal activities of the CIA in Europe. However, Member States are still reluctant to the idea of revealing what happened. This lack of transparency is preventing us from shedding light on alleged human rights violations. The idea that secret detention, without trial, took place on EU territory undermines the founding principles and moral authority of our institution. I voted in favour so that the situation can be clarified, but also to reiterate that respect for human rights is one of the founding principles of the European Union, which no one may violate.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this resolution, which rightly stresses the need to provide guarantees in order to avoid, in the future, any infringement of fundamental rights when anti-terrorism policies are implemented.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report condemning extraordinary rendition, secret prisons and torture, which breach the rights to liberty, security and humane treatment. Thus, Member States faced with credible allegations should make every effort to provide the necessary clarification and determine responsibility where necessary.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing.(IT) Full application of the human rights clauses of agreements with third countries is fundamental in relations between the EU and its Member States and those countries. We need to review the way in which governments cooperate with dictatorships’ apparatus of repression in the name of countering terrorism. Security sector reform must ensure a clear separation between intelligence and law enforcement functions.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This text calls for an end to the US special services’ interference in the European Union. It recalls that the systematic use of secret detention constitutes a crime against humanity for which the United States and complicit governments may be tried. It deplores NATO’s role in secret detentions carried out on EU territory. It calls for an end to special procedures for persons suspected of terrorism and calls on the US authorities to repeal the power of indefinite detention for suspicion of ‘terrorism’. It recalls that state secrecy does not prevail over fundamental rights. It is for all of these reasons that I endorsed this text, even though I regret that it does not more strongly condemn NATO and the US authorities’ interference in European affairs in general.

 
  
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  Willy Meyer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (ES) I believe this resolution to be very important, not only because it is continuing to stress the need for an effective and independent investigation into the CIA programme of flights, detentions and secret prisons, but also because it establishes clear foundations in terms of EU foreign affairs. I agree with the resolution’s recognition of the value of transparency for the democratic control of governments when it states that ‘in no circumstance does state secrecy take priority over inalienable fundamental rights’ and that therefore ‘arguments based on state secrecy can never be employed to limit states’ legal obligations to investigate serious human rights violations’. The resolution also rightly raises the need for human rights to be strictly respected at all times in the fight against terrorism, which I support, as under no circumstances and under no pretext can the fight against terrorism be conducted, as it was in this case, outside the international legal framework, nor can it violate human rights in any way. For all these reasons, I voted in favour of this resolution.

 
  
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  Ana Miranda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I voted for this resolution, which demands that EU Member States open independent investigations and sends a strong signal that calls for independent investigations into these secret prisons will not go away until the full truth comes to light. As an MEP from Galicia, which is deeply compromised in the area of human rights, I am very concerned that European countries may have assisted in the extra-judicial detention and transportation of detainees. This is particularly worrying if it turns out to be the case that these people were transported on to third countries where they faced torture. EU governments have obligations under international law and EU law. There is a political, a legal and also a moral responsibility to uncover the truth about any collusion in extraordinary rendition. We cannot expect the rest of the world to take us seriously on human rights unless we are willing to practise what we preach.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) It is scandalous that we have still not taken all the necessary steps resulting from the participation of some EU Member States in the illegal prisoner transports and the operation of secret prisons by the CIA, the US foreign intelligence service. While the EU plays the role of head teacher when it comes to human rights elsewhere in the world, it applies extremely low standards to itself. In any case, the participation of EU Member States, such as Poland and Romania, in CIA practices which violate human rights casts a gloomy light on the EU’s self-styled community of values. The scandal surrounding the CIA flights and secret prisons shows that, when a choice has to be made between the two, cosying up to the US is apparently more important to us than respect for fundamental human rights. By adopting this attitude, the European Union is making itself complicit in human rights abuses by the US, which are carried out under the supposed mantle of fighting terrorism. For this reason, I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) Violations of human rights cannot be tolerated or justified. I therefore congratulate those countries which have investigated this issue seriously and welcome the fact that the European Parliament has devoted significant attention to it. Both facts and rumours surrounding the transportation and illegal detention of suspects, which took place or may have taken place, weaken the efforts of the fight against terrorism and the Member States’ prestige. It is important that the search for the truth is based purely on the facts, not assumptions. I believe that if new facts should come to light at any point, even those investigations that have now been completed should be relaunched. Nevertheless, at some point, we should have all the answers in this affair and a line should be drawn under it.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. – (RO) I voted against this resolution because some of the conclusions are superficial and risky to say the least. I am totally in favour of guaranteeing human rights and personal freedoms for all citizens, even for those suspected of committing crimes. However, the statements about the alleged incidents must be based on truthful information from credible sources and cannot be based on simple allegations.