Procedure : 2013/2612(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : RC-B7-0188/2013

Texts tabled :


Debates :

Votes :

PV 23/05/2013 - 13.8

Texts adopted :


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PE509.822v01-00} RC1
B7-0194/2013} RC1

pursuant to Rule 110(2) and (4), of the Rules of Procedure

replacing the motions by the following groups:

ECR (B7‑0188/2013)

S&D (B7‑0189/2013)

ALDE (B7‑0192/2013)

PPE (B7‑0193/2013)

Verts/ALE (B7‑0194/2013)

on asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition (2013/2612(RSP))

José Ignacio Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra, Tokia Saïfi, Mairead McGuinness, Elmar Brok, Roberta Angelilli, Elena Băsescu, Daniel Caspary, Anne Delvaux, Sari Essayah, Eduard Kukan, Cristian Dan Preda, Salvatore Iacolino, Giovanni La Via, Filip Kaczmarek, Mário David, Mariya Gabriel on behalf of the PPE Group
Véronique De Keyser, Pino Arlacchi, Ana Gomes, Göran Färm, María Muñiz De Urquiza, Raimon Obiols, Pier Antonio Panzeri, Maria Eleni Koppa on behalf of the S&D Group
Annemie Neyts-Uyttebroeck, Ivo Vajgl, Marietje Schaake, Niccolò Rinaldi, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Marielle de Sarnez, Robert Rochefort, Louis Michel, Edward McMillan-Scott, Kristiina Ojuland, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Sonia Alfano, Graham Watson on behalf of the ALDE Group
Isabelle Durant, Judith Sargentini, Raül Romeva i Rueda on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
Charles Tannock on behalf of the ECR Group

European Parliament resolution on asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition (2013/2612(RSP))  

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Arab Spring countries and on the Union for the Mediterranean, in particular its resolution of 14 March 2013 on the situation in Egypt and its resolution of 10 May 2012 on ‘Trade for change: The EU Trade and Investment Strategy for the Southern Mediterranean following the Arab Spring revolutions’,

–   having regard to the recommendations of the Committee on Political Affairs, Security and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean of 12 April 2013,

–   having regard to the new Council regulation of 26 November 2012 concerning the adoption of a new legislative framework to facilitate asset recovery in Egypt and Tunisia,

–   having regard to the EU-Tunisia and EU-Egypt Task Forces Co-Chairs’ Conclusions of 28‑29 September 2011 and 14 November 2012 respectively, and in particular the sections thereof concerning asset recovery,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 101/2011 of 4 February 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Tunisia and Council Regulation (EU) No 1100/2012 amending it,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 270/2011 of 21 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Egypt and Council Regulation (EU) No 1099/2012 amending it,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2011/137/CFSP of 28 February 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya and Council Decisions 2011/625/CFSP and 2011/178/CFSP amending it, to Council Regulation (EU) No 204/2011 of 2 March 2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya and Council Regulation (EU) No 965/2011 amending it, and to Council Implementing Regulations (EU) No 364/2013 and No 50/2013 implementing Article 16(2) of Regulation (EU) No 204/2011 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Libya,

–   having regard to the existing EU legal instruments aimed at improving confiscation and asset recovery under Council Decisions 2001/500/JHA, 2003/577/JHA, 2005/212/JHA, 2006/783/JHA and 2007/845/JHA, and the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2012 on the freezing and confiscation of proceeds of crime in the European Union (COM(2012)0085),

–   having regard to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2005, in particular Article 43 thereof on international cooperation and Chapter V thereof on asset recovery, to which Egypt, Libya and Tunisia are parties and which was approved on behalf of the European Union by Council Decision 2008/801/EC of 25 September 2008,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (Palermo Convention) of 2000,

–   having regard to UN Human Rights Council Resolution 19/38 of 19 April 2012 on the negative impact of the non-repatriation of funds of illicit origin to the countries of origin on the enjoyment of human rights, and the importance of improving international cooperation,

–   having regard to the UN Secretary-General’s initiative of 17 September 2007 on stolen asset recovery,

–   having regard to the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a joint programme of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime,

–   having regard to the Action Plan on Asset Recovery of the G8 Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition of 21 May 2012, to which the EU is a party,

–   having regard to the Final Report of the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery of 13 September 2012,

–   having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas, while the freezing of assets is an EU competence, the recovery and repatriation of assets is a competence of the Member States and must be carried out in accordance with national legal provisions; whereas the EU institutions have a vital role to play in stimulating and facilitating this process;

B.  whereas asset recovery by Arab Spring countries in transition is a moral and legal imperative and a highly political issue in the EU’s relations with its southern neighbourhood; whereas it is also an important economic issue for the southern neighbours concerned, given the potential for these assets, when returned and used in a transparent and effective manner, to contribute to their economic recovery; whereas asset recovery sends a strong message against the impunity of those involved in corruption and money laundering;

C. whereas there exists a comprehensive international legal framework governing this area, with special regard to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) of 2003, which confers clear obligations on States Parties; whereas Article 51 of the UNCAC declares that the return of assets ‘is a fundamental principle of this Convention, and States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard’;

D. whereas the judicial process for recovering assets is complex and lengthy; whereas the applicable legal requirements of requested states cannot be circumvented and legitimate third parties cannot be deprived of their legal rights in this process; whereas the lack of adequate legal expertise and limited institutional capacity in requesting states are additional obstacles to successful initiatives in this field; whereas there is a lack of efficient cooperation between requesting and requested states;

E.  whereas following the Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, the EU promptly froze the assets of former dictators, their families and several other persons associated with their regimes; whereas a similar EU decision was adopted, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1970 (2011), in the case of Libya;

F.  whereas the new legislative framework adopted by the Council on 26 November 2012 allows EU Members States to release frozen assets to the Egyptian and Tunisian authorities on the basis of judicial decisions recognised in EU Member States and facilitates the exchange of information between EU Member States and the relevant authorities;

G. whereas the EU-Egypt and EU-Tunisia Task Forces have underlined the importance of the return of illicitly acquired assets which are still currently frozen in a number of third countries; whereas the Task Forces agreed to finalise a roadmap, which could include the establishment of an asset recovery group coordinated by the European External Action Service (EEAS) for each country;

H. whereas the G8 is supporting countries in the Arab world engaged in transitions towards ‘free, democratic and tolerant societies’ through the Deauville Partnership of May 2011; whereas its Action Plan issued on 21 May 2012 recognises that, in the wake of the Arab Spring, asset recovery has become a more urgent area of focus in the region and in the international community;

I.   whereas Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have made considerable efforts to ensure that misappropriated assets stolen by former dictators and their regimes are repatriated to those countries, including setting up dedicated national investigative commissions tasked with tracing, identifying and recovering such assets, and initiating legal cases in the courts of EU Member States; whereas several key international actors – including the EU, G8 members, and Switzerland – responded positively to these efforts; whereas, however, few concrete results have been achieved in this context so far; whereas this has caused growing frustration among the governments and civil societies of the requesting countries;

J.   whereas communication is key in asset recovery efforts in order to disseminate best practice and create incentives by publicising success stories; whereas this would avoid misleading statements about the quantity of assets to be recovered;

K. whereas asset recovery can be achieved by bilateral judicial mechanisms and multilateral cooperation; whereas asset recovery operations should be launched at both national and international levels;

L.  whereas in April 2013 the Lebanese authorities returned to their Tunisian counterparts close to USD 30 million illicitly deposited in the former Tunisian ruler’s bank accounts;

1.  Stresses that the return of misappropriated assets stolen by former dictators and their regimes to Arab Spring countries in transition is, beyond its economic significance, a moral and legal imperative and a highly political issue owing to its implications in terms of justice and accountability being restored in the spirit of democracy and the rule of law, as well as of the EU’s political commitment and credibility, and therefore constitute a key dimension of the Union’s partnership with its southern neighbourhood, with special regard to Egypt, Libya and Tunisia;

2.  Acknowledges that for the Arab Spring countries the recovery of stolen assets is also of economic and social importance, as funds are needed to help stabilise economies and create jobs and growth across those countries, which face serious economic challenges;

3.  Notes that, despite the considerable efforts made by the Egyptian, Libyan and Tunisian authorities and the strong political will on all sides, practitioners engaged in the recovery of misappropriated assets have experienced very limited success, owing mainly to the diversity and complexity of the relevant provisions and procedures in the various national legal systems, legal rigidity, the lack of expertise on the part of the Arab Spring countries concerned regarding legal, financial and administrative procedures in European and other jurisdictions and the lack of resources available to them;

4.  Urges the EU and its Member States to make further significant efforts aimed at facilitating the return of misappropriated assets stolen by the former regimes to the people of Arab Spring countries within a reasonable timeframe; encourages national asset recovery offices in all the Member States to work closely together and to develop their relations with the relevant authorities of Arab Spring countries with a view to assisting them with the complex legal procedures involved; calls on the European External Action Service to take a proactive leadership role, notably in coordinating Member States’ efforts, providing capacity-building, and encouraging cooperation among all the states concerned;

5.  Stresses that asset recovery is an essential part of the Union’s support for democratic transition and economic recovery in those countries and can strengthen mutual confidence on both sides in the spirit of partnership with societies, which is a cornerstone of the revised European Neighbourhood Policy;

6.  Welcomes, in this connection, the initiative of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Japan, Switzerland and the United States to issue a guide containing a comprehensive description of their national legal systems in relation to asset recovery, so as to give the requesting countries a better understanding of what is legally possible, the kind of information available, the types of investigation that can be conducted, and how to proceed in order to obtain effective asset recovery through the provision of mutual legal assistance; encourages all the Member States to do likewise and to establish a common EU set of principles;

7.  Welcomes the G8 initiative of the Deauville Partnership’s Action Plan on Asset Recovery, which identifies concrete measures to promote cooperation, case assistance, capacity‑building efforts and technical assistance, and suggests a collaborative regional initiative, the Arab Asset Recovery Forum, for discussion and cooperation on continued efforts;

8.  Welcomes the new legislative framework adopted by the Council on 26 November 2012, which facilitates the return of misappropriated funds to Egypt and Tunisia by authorising Member States to release frozen assets on the basis of recognised judicial decisions and by encouraging the exchange of information between the relevant authorities of Member States, on the one hand, and of Egypt and Tunisia, on the other; stresses, however, the need to achieve concrete results and to fully include Libya in this process;

9.  Welcomes the close cooperation between EU institutions and other key international actors in asset recovery by Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, with special regard to the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; stresses the importance of making full use of existing mechanisms, at both national and international level, in parallel with adopting the necessary new legislation and adjusting existing legislation within national legal systems in this area;

10. Calls on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean to raise the issue of asset recovery with national parliaments, so that parliamentarians from both shores can be persuaded to actively promote legal measures to ensure closer cooperation between the police and judicial authorities involved;

11. Calls for the establishment without delay of an EU mechanism composed of a team of national and international investigators, prosecutors, lawyers and other experts, with the aim of providing legal and technical advice and assistance to Arab Spring countries in the process of asset recovery; requests that this mechanism be duly financed by the relevant financial instrument within the field of the Union’s external relations; underlines, in the context of complex, sensitive and lengthy judicial procedures, the importance of this EU mechanism being sustainable; calls on the EU institutions to draw lessons from, and build on, this experience; notes also the possibility of additional funding for this mechanism, at a later stage, through co-financing agreements with requesting states;

12. Urges the Arab League to define, adopt and quickly implement mechanisms of cooperation on asset recovery, and calls on the Gulf countries in particular to enhance their cooperation and to offer their legal assistance to Arab Spring countries in addressing the process of asset recovery;

13. Acknowledges and fully supports the contribution of civil society organisations, in both requesting and requested countries, to the process of asset recovery, in particular by providing information to the relevant authorities, encouraging cooperation among key national and international actors, monitoring the return of assets and ensuring that returned assets are used in a transparent and effective way in the requesting states;

14. Reaffirms its commitment to supporting democratic transition in the Arab Spring countries and pledges to support and assist Arab Spring countries in creating strong and stable democracies in which the rule of law is upheld, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including women’s rights and freedom of expression, are respected, and elections are conducted in line with international standards; stresses that it is of the utmost importance for the EU to show its concrete and genuine commitment to this process;

15. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Parliament and Government of Switzerland, the Congress and President of the United States, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union for the Mediterranean and the parliaments and governments of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.


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