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Texts adopted
Thursday, 13 March 2003 - Strasbourg
Equality of opportunity between men and women and the Structural Funds
 ECB Statute *
 Restrictive measures directed against terrorism *
 Military mission of the Union in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
 Transfer of personal data by airlines to the US immigration service
 Gender mainstreaming in the EP
 Protection of financial interests and the fight against fraud
 Consumer Policy Strategy 2002-2006
 Future of EU consumer policy
 Legal protection for consumers
 Myanmar (Burma)
 Nigeria: case of Amina Lawal
 Closure of undertakings after receiving EU financial aid

Equality of opportunity between men and women and the Structural Funds
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European Parliament resolution on the objectives of equality of opportunities between women and men in the use of the Structural Funds (2002/2210(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 2, 3(2) and 141(4) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 of 21 June 1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds(1),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1784/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 on the European Social Fund(2),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1783/1999 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 on the European Regional Development Fund(3),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999 of 17 May 1999 on support for rural development from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) and amending and repealing certain Regulations(4),

–   having regard to the Council Resolution of 2 December 1996 on incorporating equal opportunities for men and women into the European Structural Funds(5),

–   having regard to European Commission Technical Paper No 3 entitled "Mainstreaming equal opportunities for women and men in Structural Fund programmes and projects" of March 2000,

–   having regard to Council Decision No 2001/51/EC of 20 December 2000 establishing a Programme relating to the Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001&nbhy;2005)(6),

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000,

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Stockholm European Council of 23 and 24 March 2001,

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 April 2002 on the Report from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on equal opportunities for men and women in the European Union - 2000(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 June 2002 on the 12th annual Commission report on the Structural Funds (2000), the annual Commission report on the Cohesion Fund (2000) and the annual Commission report on the instrument for structural policy for pre&nbhy;accession (ISPA) (2000)(8),

–   having regard to the Third European Seminar on "Equal opportunities for women and men in the Structural Funds", held in Santander (Spain) on 14 and 15 June 2002,

–   having regard to the Commission communication to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled "Implementation of gender mainstreaming in the Structural Funds programming documents 2000-2006" (COM(2002) 748),

–   having regard to Rule 163 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report by the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities (A5&nbhy;0059/2003),

A.   whereas the gender equality requirements laid down in the EC Treaty, which provide both for the incorporation of equal opportunities objectives into all Community measures and programmes under a horizontal approach and for the adoption of specific measures in favour of women, were transposed into the new Structural Funds regulations for the period 2000-2006 at the time the Structural Funds were reformed,

B.   whereas Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 laying down the general provisions on the Structural Funds, which applies to programmes covered by any of these funds, makes equal opportunities for men and women a key objective of Structural Fund measures by incorporating equal opportunities objectives into operations co-financed by the Funds,

C.   whereas the incorporation of equal opportunities objectives into the Structural Funds implies automatically taking the differences between the situation of women and men into account at the various programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages of all the measures and operations co-financed by the Structural Funds, as well as taking into account the impact of these measures and operations on the respective situations of women and men,

D.   whereas, despite a relative improvement in the programming for the period 2000-2006 in comparison to the preceding programming period (1994-1999), the implementation of equal opportunities in operations co-financed by the Structural Funds is far from satisfactory, and whereas most programming documents concerning the European Social Fund (ESF) provide for a dual approach in which the horizontal mainstreaming of equal opportunities can be combined with specific measures in favour of women,

1.  Notes that, as in the preceding programming period, the ESF continues to play a more prominent role than the other Funds vis-à-vis the equal opportunities objective, in that the majority of ESF programmes target the field of employment and human resources; regrets that in other important areas such as infrastructure, transport, the environment, local, rurual and urban development, fisheries, enterprise policy, the information society, research and technological development, further development and education, etc., the programmes only touch on the issue of equal opportunities; calls on the Commission, therefore, to develop specific guidelines on "equal opportunities" in all these areas by the end of 2003;

2.  Notes that measures under the ESF, in particular, tend to focus on enhancing women's participation in the labour market, education, and vocational training, and that little attention is awarded to reducing the horizontal and vertical segregation of the labour market, to pay inequalities, or to promoting the role of women in the fields of information and communication technologies, entrepreneurship, new employment opportunities and the decision-making process; requests the Commission, therefore, to take more specific measures to remedy these shortcomings;

3.  Takes note of the undertaking entered into by the Member States to include the objective of the horizontal incorporation of equal opportunities objectives into the Community Support Frameworks (CSFs) and into Single Programming Documents (SPDs), but regrets that this undertaking has been poorly implemented in the programme complements in terms of the concrete measures taken; calls on the Commission, therefore, to take the appropriate steps to improve the situation in this case, in the approval procedures of the underlying CSFs and SPDs;

4.  Regrets, therefore, that the majority of Structural Funds programmes do not include an analysis of economic and social inequalities between women and men or an estimation of the expected impact of the measures on men and women; stresses that even when such an analysis is included, the strategy to be pursued and the measures to be implemented, on the basis of precise or quantified objectives, with a view to reducing inequalities, do not always conform to the analysis; this state of affairs demonstrates a genuine lack of political commitment on the part of the Member States vis-à-vis the objective of promoting equal opportunities in the context of the Structural Funds;

5.  Takes note of the progress made in the field of the development of gender-specific statistics, but emphasises that greater efforts should be devoted to this, as statistics are a necessary tool for establishing monitoring indicators; draws the attention of the authorities responsible for programming to the need to develop statistics, both at national level and at regional and local level, in order to better illustrate the respective situation of women and men, and to ensure that these statistics cover all aspects of equal opportunities in each programme and that they are available to programme managers at every level; emphasises that statistics are also a key factor in establishing the proportion of women and men in each socio-economic bracket;

6.  Notes with concern that no progress has been made in relation to the preceding programming period with regard to the establishment of monitoring indicators; emphasises that the introduction and systematic use of gender-specific qualitative and quantitative indicators are crucial to the monitoring and evaluation of programmes with an eye to assessing the effectiveness of Structural Funds measures in terms of the equal opportunities objective, and particularly with a view to the 2003 mid-term evaluation, the potential revision of the measures and the allocation of the performance reserve;

7.  Invites the Member States to endeavour to ensure:

   systematic mainstreaming of equal opportunities at every stage of the programming and implementation of measures, and to regularly report their achievements to the Commission; the reinforcement of specific measures aimed at women, particularly those faced with major problems in the labour market, such as women with disabilities, immigrants and heads of one-parent families;
   the participation of the bodies responsible at local, regional and national levels for promoting equal opportunities, including NGOs, and involvement of the economic and social partners in the work of the managing authorities and the monitoring committees;
   balanced participation by both women and men in decision-making, selection and monitoring bodies, at local, regional and national level;
   systematic training, in the field of mainstreaming equal opportunities, for members of the managing authorities and monitoring committees, evaluators and members of the paying authorities;
   information for applicants (project initiators) and project management staff illustrating how equal opportunities can be most effectively built into planned measures;

8.  Invites the Member States to make full use of existing opportunities in the programming of the various types of Structural Funds measures with a view to promote the mainstreaming of equal opportunities and to support specific equal opportunities policies or measures; asks the authorities responsible for managing the programmes to endeavour to ensure that adequate funds are available for this; asks the Commission to support technical assistance measures in all areas concerning development of the mainstreaming of equal opportunities, during the preparation and the implementation of programmes; also asks the Commission to take steps to disseminate and develop good practices, which are very useful tools for improving, in particular, monitoring and evaluation;

9.  Invites the Member States to include a financing plan in Structural Fund plans and programmes, setting out the appropriations available for individual measures and programmes to improve equal opportunities, so that an assessment of the effectiveness of each of the measures can be made;

10.  Invites the Member States to promote more extensive use of the Structural Funds for the purpose of making it easier to combine work and family life, not least by developing childcare facilities and facilities for other dependent persons such as the elderly, sick or disabled, and by promoting the reorganisation of working time and arrangements for returning to work after long absences; stresses that the Structural Funds should be used to raise awareness of the need for an equal division of tasks between women and men in families; emphasises the need to develop measures targeting employers with a view to reorganising working time for men as well as women;

11.  Draws the attention of the managing authorities to the importance of establishing relevant equal opportunities criteria for the selection of projects, in order to ensure that measures cofinanced by the Structural Funds contribute to the pursuit of the equal opportunities objective; asks these authorities to penalise projects which fail to satisfy the requirement of mainstreaming equal opportunities by rejecting project proposals or returning them to applicants for revision before any financing can be considered;

12.  Invites the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the 2003 mid-term evaluation establishes not only the extent to which the objective of mainstreaming equal opportunities has been taken into account in the Structural Funds measures, but also the extent to which this objective has been achieved, which financial resources are allocated to specific equal opportunities measures and whether resources have been put to appropriate use; on the basis of this evaluation, to make any necessary amendments to the programming of the measures for the remainder of the programming period so as to achieve the objective of incorporating equal opportunities, and to implement those amendments;

13.  Calls on the Member States to do everything possible to provide the population groups concerned and the bodies responsible for equal opportunities issues with information on the structural funds regulation and the possibilities for financing equality initiatives and to encourage them to put forward project proposals;

14.  Emphasises the particularly important role that the Structural Funds can play in combating the adverse effects that economic and social restructuring has on women in many of the candidate countries, particularly from the point of view of rising unemployment and the decrease in childcare facilities, which would enable work and family life to be combined; asks the governments of the candidate countries and the Commission to ensure that adequate financial support is provided to the NGOs concerned with equal opportunities and that they are involved at every stage of the programming and implementation of measures; calls for specific measures for women in the candidate Member States, who have specific problems staying in or re-entering into employment, having received most, if not all, of their education and vocational training under the "old" economic/ political system;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the candidate countries.

(1) OJ L 161, 26.6.1999, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 213, 13.8.1999, p. 5.
(3) OJ L 213, 13.8.1999, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 160, 26.6.1999, p. 80.
(5) OJ C 386, 20.12.1996, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 17, 19.1.2001, p. 22.
(7) P5_TA(2002)0206.
(8) P5_TA(2002)0320.

ECB Statute *
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European Parliament legislative resolution on the recommendation of the European Central Bank for a proposal for a Council decision on an amendment to Article 10.2 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank (6163/2003 – C5&nbhy;0038/2003 – 2003/0803(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the ECB Recommendation to the Council (6163/2003)(1),

–   having regard to Article 10.6 of the ECB Statute, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C5&nbhy;0038/2003),

–   having regard to the Commission Opinion of 19 February 2003 (COM(2003) 81)(2),

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A5&nbhy;0063/2003),

A.   fully conscious of the need to reform the voting procedures of the Governing Council of the ECB in view of a possible extension of EMU,

B.   observing that the proposed rotation model has been widely criticised for being excessively complex, even taking into account the difficulty of the task within the limits set by Article 10.6 of the ECB Statute,

C.   emphasising that reform steps must ensure both full participation of all ECB Governing Council members in decision-making and adequate representation of the euro area economy,

D.   considering that, over the longer term, an increased membership will require more efficient decision-making structures,

1.  Rejects the ECB Recommendation;

2.  Reaffirms the existing rule whereby all governors of the national central banks in the euro area have full and unrestricted voting rights, and whereby the Governing Council of the ECB takes decisions by a simple majority vote of its members;

3.  Calls for a proposal to be made by the European Convention with a view to its adoption at the next Intergovernmental Conference, after consulting the European Parliament, which would distinguish between operational decisions, to be taken by an enlarged Executive Board of nine Members, adequately representing the euro area economy, and strategic and general monetary policy decisions, to be taken by the Governing Council acting on a double majority, based on the population of the Member States, the total size of the economy and the relative size within it of the financial services sector;

4.  Calls on the Commission and any interested Member States to submit to the European Convention new proposals reflecting a better balance between equity and efficiency along the lines set out in this resolution;

5.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, the ECB, the European Convention and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ not yet published.
(2) OJ not yet published.

Restrictive measures directed against terrorism *
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European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council regulation amending, as regards the exemptions to the freezing of funds and economic resources and for the tenth time, Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 imposing certain specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities associated with Usama bin Laden, the Al-Qaida network and the Taliban (COM(2003) 41 – C5&nbhy;0048/2003 – 2003/0015(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2003) 41)(1),

–   having regard to Article 308 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C5&nbhy;0048/2003),

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs (A5&nbhy;0036/2003),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty;

3.  Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

4.  Calls for initiation of the conciliation procedure under the Joint Declaration of 4 March 1975 if the Council intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

5.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to amend the Commission proposal substantially;

6.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
RECITAL 4a (new)
(4a) Furthermore, Regulation (EC) No 881/2002 should introduce a procedure, based on existing UN procedures1 and respecting the spirit of Article 19 of the EU Treaty, for the deletion of persons, groups and entities from the list in Annex I.
1. UN Press Release of 16/8/2002 (SC/7487, AFG/203)
Amendment 7
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1a (new)
Article 5, paragraph 1a (new) (Regulation (EC) No 881/2002)
1a. In Article 5, the following paragraph 1a is inserted:
"1a. Reasons shall be given for any freezing of assets under this Regulation by the competent authorities of the Member States listed in Annex II."
Amendment 2
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1b (new)
Article 5, paragraph 1b (new) (Regulation (EC) No 881/2002)
1b. In Article 5, the following paragraph 1b is inserted:
"1b. In addition, natural and legal persons, entities and bodies may submit a petition requesting that persons, groups and entities be deleted from the list in Annex I ("de-listing") to the competent authorities of the Member States listed in Annex II where they are resident or located or of which they are citizens and, directly or through these competent authorities, to the Commission.
Such a petition shall include a justification of the request, all relevant information and a request for support for de-listing."
Amendment 3
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1c (new)
Article 8a (new) (Regulation (EC) No 881/2002)
1c. The following Article 8a is inserted:
"Article 8a
Any Member State which receives a petition as referred to in Article 5(1b) shall, with the support of the Presidency and the Commission, maintain contacts with the government which proposed designation and may communicate to the Sanctions Committee any request for the deletion of persons, groups and entities from the list in Annex I."
Amendment 4
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1d (new)
Article 10a (new) (Regulation (EC) No 881/2002)
1d. The following Article 10a is inserted:
"Article 10a
The Presidency and the Commission shall inform the European Parliament regularly on the implementation of this Regulation."
Amendment 9
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1e (new)
Article 13a (new) (Regulation (EC) No 881/2002)
1e. The following Article 13a is inserted:
"Article 13a
Within two years of its entry into force, Member States shall assess the legality and effectiveness of this Regulation."
Amendment 5
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1f (new)
Article 13b (new) (Regulation (EC) No 881/2002)
1f. The following Article 13b is added:
"Article 13b
This Regulation shall expire on the same day as UN Security Council Resolutions 1267(1999), 1390(2002) and 1452(2002) are revoked or annulled."

(1) OJ not yet published.

Military mission of the Union in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
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European Parliament resolution on the ESDP operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Council Joint Action 2003/92/CFSP of 27 January 2003 on the European Union military operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(1),

–   having regard to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to Rule 37(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   noting that the Union will conduct its first military operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at the request of the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

B.   noting that the operation will be carried out with recourse to NATO assets and capabilities and be commanded by the Deputy Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (D-SACEUR), and that the EU operational HQ will be at the Supreme Headquarters of Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE),

C.   drawing attention to the fact that Article 9 of the Joint Action establishes an operational financing mechanism providing for the joint financing of the European operation to relieve the NATO force in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

D.   convinced that the launching of any military operation in the name of the European Union needs full democratic legitimacy and public support,

E.   deploring that the Treaty on European Union so far only contains limited provision for parliamentary consultations on matters relating to the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), and that the right of Parliament to be fully informed on ESDP matters is still restricted,

F.   demanding, therefore, that any crisis-management operation within the framework of the updated Petersberg tasks should only be launched after consultation of the European Parliament, as the only directly elected democratic institution at European level,

G.   recognising that national parliaments are competent for military expenditure, military procurement and the deployment of national armed forces, but that, on the basis of future treaty changes, the European Parliament should be responsible for approving the mandate and objectives of any jointly financed EU crisis-management operation and, in this respect, given that it shares budgetary authority with the Council, should be regularly informed about the allocation of common expenditure under such EU joint actions,

H.   taking note of the fact that around EUR 4.7 million will be pooled by Member States for the joint costs of this mission this year,

1.  Welcomes the Council's decision to take over the NATO operation 'Allied Harmony' in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as the EU's first-ever military mission;

2.  Underlines that this operation must be seen as an important test for the practical functioning of the ESDP and for EU-NATO cooperation;

3.  Deplores, however, that Parliament was not informed in advance about the mandate, the capabilities needed and the financial implications, pursuant to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union; welcomes the fact that, in the context of the 2004 budget consultations, the Greek Presidency agreed to submit all information in accordance with the Interinstitutional Agreement of 6 May 1999(2) and the Joint Declaration of 25 November 2002(3) approved in the 2003 budget procedure;

4.  Emphasises the need to ensure that this mission is well integrated within the overall EU Stabilisation Policy and other conflict-prevention policies for the region, and stresses the EU's contribution towards improving border security in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia;

5.  Stresses the need for a clearly defined relationship between the military command structures and the political responsibilities of the High Representative for the CFSP;

6.  Calls for the Council, especially in view of the intended take-over of the SFOR command in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to inform Parliament's competent committee, in good time and with the utmost transparency, about:

   - the mandate and objectives of future ESDP missions,
   - the security situation for the deployed troops in the country,
   - the size of the deployed forces, their composition and their equipment,
   - the relationship between forces under EU control and those under NATO control in the area,
   - the operation of the command structures from in-the-field level to SHAPE and up to the EU Political and Security Committee,
   - the civil-military cooperation of the mission and how the operation fits into the context of the Stabilisation and Association process and the other policies of conflict prevention,
   - the financing of the shared costs of the EU operation,
   - cooperation with the OSCE and the UN agencies in the region;

7.  Calls on the Council to extend the operational financing mechanism, set up for the EU operation in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, to all future European Union military operations;

8.  Invites the Conference of Presidents to authorise its competent committee to send a fact-finding delegation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia two months after the start of the operation in order to establish a progress report to evaluate the efficiency of the operation in relation to the above questions;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States and the President of the European Convention, as well as the OSCE.

(1) OJ L 34, 11.2.2003, p. 26.
(2) OJ C 172, 18.6.1999, p. 1.
(3) See Annex I to the European Parliament resolution of 19 December 2002 on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2003 (P5_TA(2002)0624).

Transfer of personal data by airlines to the US immigration service
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European Parliament resolution on transfer of personal data by airlines in the case of transatlantic flights

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 95/46/EC of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(1) and to Council Regulation (EEC) No 2299/89 of 24 July 1989 on a code of conduct for computerised reservation systems(2),

A.   whereas, in the wake of 11 September 2001, the US has carried out a root-and-branch overhaul of its legislation with a view to tightening internal security, including security in the area of transport, adopting, on 19 November 2001, the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA)(3) and, on 5 May 2002, the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act of 2002 (EBSV)(4), as well as other related measures, affecting, for transatlantic flights alone, between 10 and 11 million passengers a year,

B.   whereas at first the US Administration confined itself to asking airlines to supply data on passengers and crew (Passenger Manifest Information) ((5)) using the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS); whereas, however, it has subsequently interpreted the interim agreement so as to impose, under threat of severe penalties, direct access to computerised reservation systems and, in particular, to the Passenger Name Record (PNR), which can be linked up not only with identification data but with other information of the most various kinds(6), including sensitive information as defined in Article 8 of Directive 95/46/EC,

C.   sharing the doubts and concerns that have been expressed by the national authorities(7) concerning the legitimacy of this demand, including its legitimacy under US law, and in particular doubts about its compliance with EU data protection legislation given the risk that reservation system databases may become de facto 'data-mining' territory for the US Administration,

D.   expressing its doubts as to whether these data will be protected ((8)i) in an 'adequate' fashion once they have been transferred to American databases; regretting the Commission's failure to set under way, in good time, the procedure for assessing the compatibility of the US legislation with Community law(9),

E.   noting that the new legislation proposed by the US Immigration services(10) would make it possible to go beyond the limits of the existing transmission system (known as US EDIFACT) via a more detailed format (UN EDIFACT) which would permit inclusion of the passenger's address in the US and of the number, date and place of issue of his visa (as required by Section 402 of the EBSV), as well as more clearly defining the effective scope of the PNR by limiting it to a set of predetermined data,

1.  Expresses its regret at the Commission's delay in submitting proposals to Parliament and the Council on a set of problems which have been on the agenda for more than fifteen months, affect data protection and have a huge impact on other Community policies (transport and immigration) and Union policies (police and judicial cooperation and the fight against terrorism and organised crime);

2.  Regrets the failure of the Commission, given its role as guardian of the Treaties and Community law, to assume its responsibilities with the necessary diligence insofar as:

   - it has not verified whether there is a real basis in US law to justify access to reservation systems' data or whether this is an over-broad interpretation on the part of the present Administration(11); calls, furthermore, on the Commission to take advantage of the debates under way in the US on the new APIS and PNR legislation with a view to securing a pledge from the US authorities that this new legislation will take account of the data protection requirements of Community law;
   - it has delayed the verification of the US legislation required under Article 25 of Directive 95/46/EC; a delay creates obvious problems for the airlines, which are caught between a rock (if they follow Community law, they are liable to US sanctions) and a hard place (if they give in to the US authorities' demands, they fall foul of the data protection authorities) and also creates difficulties for the national data protection authorities, which are obliged to enforce the Community rules;
   - it has not provided information to the public, who should be the first to know what is being done with information about them;

3.  Regrets the joint declaration of 19 February 2003 by EU and US officials, which lacks any legal basis and could be interpreted as an indirect invitation to the national authorities to disregard Community law; instructs its President to activate the procedure provided for in Rule 91 of the Rules of Procedure with a view to determining whether an action may be brought before the European Court of Justice;

4.  Believes that, if negotiations are to be launched, they should be based, on the one hand, on the Community's powers in the field of air transport, which, as far as transatlantic links are concerned, affect between 10 and 11 million passengers a year, and for which the Commission is preparing to negotiate an 'open skies' accord, and, on the other, on its powers in the sphere of immigration policy; is, furthermore, surprised that these issues have not been considered in the context of the agreements on judicial and police cooperation, which have now reached an advanced stage;

5.  Calls on the Commission to secure the suspension of the effects of the measures taken by the US authorities pending the adoption of a decision regarding the compatibility of those measures with Community law;

6.  Calls on the Commission to examine the problems raised in this resolution; reserves the right to examine the action taken before the next EU-US summit;

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Permanent Representation of the United States to the European Union, and the US Congress.

(1)1 OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(2)2 OJ L 220, 29.7.1989, p. 1.
(3)3 Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 19 November 2001 (107-71), Interim Rules of the Department of the Treasury (Customs) – Passenger and Crew Manifests Required for Passenger Flights in Foreign Air Transportation to the United States (Federal Register, 31 December 2001), and Passenger Name Record Information Required for Passengers on Flights in Foreign Air Transportation to or from the United States (Federal Register, 25 June 2002).
(4)4 This act updates the relevant provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
(5)i Section 44909 is amended by adding at the end the following: (c) FLIGHTS IN FOREIGN AIR TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES. (1) IN GENERAL. Not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, each air carrier and foreign air carrier operating a passenger flight in foreign air transportation to the United States shall provide to the Commissioner of Customs by electronic transmission a passenger and crew manifest containing the information specified in paragraph (2). Carriers may use the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS) established under section 431 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1431) to provide the information required by the preceding sentence. (2) INFORMATION. A passenger and crew manifest for a flight required under paragraph (1) shall contain the following information: (A) The full name of each passenger and crew member. (B) The date of birth and citizenship of each passenger and crew member. (C) The sex of each passenger and crew member. (D) The passport number and country of issuance of each passenger and crew member if required for travel. (E) The United States visa number or resident alien card number of each passenger and crew member, as applicable. (F) Such other information as the Under Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner of Customs, determines is reasonably necessary to ensure aviation safety. (3) PASSENGER NAME RECORDS.‐The carriers shall make passenger name record information available to the Customs Service upon request. (4) TRANSMISSION OF MANIFEST.‐Subject to paragraph (5), a passenger and crew manifest required for a flight under paragraph (1) shall be transmitted to the Customs Service in advance of the aircraft landing in the United States in such manner, time, and form as the Customs Service prescribes. (5) TRANSMISSION OF MANIFESTS TO OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES.‐Upon request, information provided to the Under Secretary or the Customs Service under this subsection may be shared with other Federal agencies for the purpose of protecting national security.'
(6)5 PNR number, date of reservation, travel agency, information appearing on the ticket, financial data (credit card number, expiry date, billing address, etc), itinerary and PNR history; the latter may include details of past journeys, but also religious or ethnic data (choice of meal, etc), affiliation to a particular group, residence data and contact information (email address, address of a friend, workplace, etc), medical data (medical assistance required; oxygen; vision, hearing or mobility problems or any other problem needing to be disclosed in the interests of the proper operation of the flight), and other data (e.g. membership of frequent flyer schemes).
(7) See own-initiative opinion 6/2002 of the group set up under Article 29 of Directive 95/46/EC, at: http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/dataprot/wpdocs/wpdocs-2002.htm.
(8)ii (EBSV page 6) On 'Chimera' system: '... The plan under this subsection shall establish conditions for using the information described in subsection (b) received by the Department of State and Immigration and Naturalization Service (A) to limit the redissemination of such information; (B) to ensure that such information is used solely to determine whether to issue a visa to an alien or to determine the admissibility or deportability of an alien to the United States, except as otherwise authorized under Federal law; (C) to ensure the accuracy, security, and confidentiality of such information; (D) to protect any privacy rights of individuals who are subjects of such information; (E) to provide data integrity through the timely removal and destruction of obsolete or erroneous names and information; and (F) in a manner that protects the sources and methods used to acquire intelligence information as required by section 103(c)(6) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50U.S.C. 403–3(c)(6)).'
(9) Cf. Article 25 of Directive 95/46/EC.
(10) Federal Register, 3 January 2003 (Vol. 68, No 2).
(11) For example, the reorganisation of reservation systems, so as to isolate data which does not relate solely to the travel contract.

Gender mainstreaming in the EP
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European Parliament resolution on gender mainstreaming in the European Parliament (2002/2025(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the EC Treaty, in particular to Articles 2, 3(2), 13 and 141(4) thereof, and to the case-law of the European Court of Justice,

–   having regard to Article 23(1) of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights(1),

–   having regard to the 1979 UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW),

–   having regard to the Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing on 15 September 1995,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2000 on the follow-up to the Beijing Action Platform(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 11 February 1994(3), its opinion of 24 May 1996(4) and its resolution of 2 March 2000(5) on women's representation in decision-making,

–   having regard to the Council Resolution of 27 March 1995(6) and to Council Recommendation 96/694/EC of 2 December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 November 1996 on the implementation of equal opportunities for men and women in the civil service(8),

–   having regard to its resolutions of 16 September 1997 on the Commission's communication "Incorporating equal opportunities for women and men into all Community policies and activities"(9) and of 9 March 1999 on the progress report from the Commission on the follow-up to this communication(10),

–   having regard to the Resolution of the Council and of the Ministers for Employment and Social Policy, meeting within the Council of 29 June 2000, on the balanced participation of women and men in family and working life(11),

–   having regard to its position of 15 November 2000 on the proposal for a Council Decision on the Programme relating to the Community framework strategy on gender equality (2001-2005)(12), and to its resolution of 3 July 2001(13) on the work programme for 2001,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2001 on the Commission report on the implementation of Council Recommendation 96/694/EC of 2 December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process(14),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 September 2002 on representation of women among the social partners of the European Union(15),

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 2002/73/EC of 23 September 2002, amending Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions(16),

–   having regard to the Staff Regulations applicable to Officials and other Agents of the European Community, in particular articles 1(a), 27, second subparagraph, 28, 29 and 45(1) thereof,

–   having regard to the Secretary-General's report "Towards a new staff policy", adopted by the Bureau in October 1997, and to the evaluation report of 22 March 2001,

–   having regard to the reports on equal opportunities in the EP secretariat adopted by the Bureau in 1998 (report by Ms Hoff), in 2000 (report by Ms Lienemann), and in 2002 (report by Ms Lalumière)(17),

–   having regard to the COPEC Third Action Plan 2001-2005,

–   having regard to its decision of 10 April 2002 on discharge in respect of the implementation of the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2000(18), in particular paragraphs 17-22 thereof,

–   having regard to the hearing on gender mainstreaming in the European Parliament held by the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities on 17 June 2002 in Brussels,

–   having regard to Rule 163 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities and to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Internal Market (A5-0060/2003),

A.   whereas equality of men and women is a fundamental principle of Community law and, according to Article 2 of the Treaty, is one of the tasks to be promoted by the Community,

B.   whereas Article 3(2) of the Treaty lays down the principle of gender mainstreaming by stating that in all its activities the Community shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality of men and women,

C.   whereas the Beijing Platform for Action endorsed gender mainstreaming as an effective strategy to promote gender equality and stated that governments and other players "should promote an active and visible policy of mainstreaming a gender perspective in all policies and programmes, so that before decisions are taken an analysis is made of the effects on women and men respectively",

D.   whereas gender mainstreaming involves the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies, at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy&nbhy;making"(19),

E.   in view of the fact that gender mainstreaming leads to a fairer and more democratic society in which both women and men can participate, and that full use can be made of human resources by taking into account the diversity represented by women and men,

F.   whereas the policy of gender mainstreaming complements and does not replace specific equality policies and positive actions as part of a dual approach to achieving the goal of gender equality,

G.   whereas positive actions are set out in Article 141(4) of the EC Treaty (in the field of employment and occupation), Article 4 of the CEDAW, Article 23(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU, and in the Council Recommendation of 13 December 1982 on the Promotion of Positive Action for Women,

H.   whereas, since 1996, the Commission has adopted a policy of gender mainstreaming and incorporation of equal opportunities for women and men in all Community activities and policies,

I.   whereas the Commission has signalled commitment at the highest level by setting up the Group of Commissioners on Equal Opportunities; it has further set up an organisational structure in each DG and division and has developed tools to mainstream policies and to monitor the gender mainstreaming process,

J.   whereas the Danish Presidency of the Council has put forward an ambitious approach to mainstreaming gender in the work of the Council,

K.   whereas balanced participation in decision-making by women and men is an important prerequisite for achieving a gender-sensitive policy and thus forms an integral part of a gender mainstreaming approach,

L.   whereas despite the steady increase in the percentage of women in the EP from 17.5% in 1979 to 31.5% in the 1999 elections, women are still largely under-represented in positions of authority and responsibility in EP political decision-making bodies (in particular in the Bureau, where only two vice-presidents are women, and in the Conference of Presidents, with only one woman as co-president),

M.   recalling that women's participation and representation in politics in several of the candidate countries are lower than the EU average and that the current percentage of women in the European Parliament could decrease if action is not taken to ensure that women are able and willing to run for office in these countries,

N.   considering that women are largely under-represented in the higher ranks of the EP administration, and stressing the lack of progress since the Bureau reports of 1998 and 2000; whereas the report adopted by the Bureau on 3 September 2002 focuses on access for women to posts of responsibility in Parliament (recruitment and appointment, career development) and sets objectives to this end,

O.   whereas in its abovementioned resolution of 18 January 2001 it called for the promotion of gender balance in all policy fields and all committees at EU, regional, national and international level, whereby the representation of either gender should not fall below 40%,

P.   whereas the Lisbon European Council of 23-24 March 2000 recognised the importance of promoting all aspects of equal opportunities in employment and set the objective of increasing the number of women in employment to more than 60% by 2010,

Q.   whereas, according to the abovementioned Council Resolution of 29 June 2000, the objectives of balanced participation by men and women in family and working life and of balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process constitute two particularly relevant conditions for equality of men and women,

R.   recalling that the same Council Resolution called upon the institutions and bodies of the European Community, in their capacity as employers, to implement measures promoting the balanced recruitment and career advancement of men and women with a view to preventing the horizontal and vertical segregation of the labour market,

1.  Commits itself to adopting and implementing a policy plan for gender mainstreaming; the overall objective of this policy is to promote equality of women and men through genuine and effective incorporation of the gender perspective in policies and activities, including decision-making structures and the administration, so that the different impact of measures on women and men is assessed before decisions are taken; this involves quality assurance, which should relate to processes and structures as well as substance and be developed in the context of a gender management approach;

2.  Considers that its policy plan should be based on the following priorities:

   a) signalling political will and commitment at the highest level, by setting up a High-level Group on Gender Equality; this group might be composed of the EP President and Members of the Bureau, Chairs of the relevant committees and the Secretary General;
   b) mainstreaming gender in the activities of the European Parliament through, on the one hand, effective work by the competent committee and, on the other, the integration of the gender perspective in the work of the other committees and delegations;
   c) gender balance in decision-making processes by increasing the representation of women on Parliament's governing bodies, on the bureau of committees and delegations and other posts of responsibility, in the composition of delegations and in other missions such as election observation;
   d) incorporating gender analysis into all stages of the budgetary process as a tool for promoting transparency and equality, ensuring that women's and men's needs and priorities are considered equally and assessing the impact of EU resources on women and men;
   e) an effective press and information policy which systematically takes into account gender equality and avoids gender stereotypes, takes women's needs and perspectives into account and not only provides information about gender mainstreaming but also promotes that policy;

3.  Underlines the need for adequate financial and human resources, so that EP bodies are provided with the necessary tools, including gender analysis and assessment tools, with appropriate gender expertise (research and documentation, trained staff, experts) and with gender-specific data and statistics;

4.  Calls on the Conferences of Committee and of Delegation Chairs to make recommendations to the Conference of Presidents as to how to concretely implement gender mainstreaming in the committees" and delegations" work, on the basis of proposals by its competent committee;

5.  Suggests the following guidelines for implementing gender mainstreaming in the committees' and delegations' policy work:

   appointment of a member (the Chair or a Vice-chair) responsible for implementing gender mainstreaming in the work of the committee/delegation;
   prioritising areas or subjects where gender mainstreaming could be relevant; carrying out a project or an initiative in this area;
   making an annual assessment of the activities and achievements in the field of gender mainstreaming;
   committees and delegations should be assisted in their tasks by members of the secretariat who have received appropriate training and who constitute a network of experts in gender mainstreaming;

6.  Considers it necessary to strengthen the secretariat of the competent committee in order to maximise its operations and to offer appropriate assistance to its members in coordinating the implementation and further development of gender mainstreaming in all policy sectors;

7.  Considers monitoring and evaluation an essential part of the mainstreaming strategy and proposes, to this effect, that its competent committee draw up an annual report on gender mainstreaming in the EP committees' and delegations' work, including the identification and assessment of failures to incorporate the gender dimension; this report would be submitted to plenary; the annual report on gender mainstreaming in EP policy work, combined with the Bureau report on equal opportunities in the EP Secretariat, would represent the state of play of gender equality in the EP as a whole;

8.  Stresses the important role of political parties in implementing gender mainstreaming, changing gender stereotypes through their programmes and activities and promoting women's participation in politics;

9.  Calls on the Conference of Presidents to discuss how gender could be mainstreamed in the activities of political groups, if necessary by amending the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure, and to propose concrete measures to this effect, among other things, in order to guarantee balance between women and men in the Bureau of the European Parliament and in the bureaux of the committees and delegations;

10.  Reiterates its calls upon the Commission to encourage, as it has itself undertaken to do, the applicant countries to establish programmes and campaigns for female politicians and candidates to ensure that they are prepared for the EU institutions and for the 2004 European elections, with the aim of ensuring an increase in the percentage of women members of the European Parliament;

11.  Urges that guidelines for gender-neutral language in EP texts be drafted and that the terminology and language used in EP documents be reviewed; considers that this will require training of all staff involved in administrative drafting and of the translation service;

12.  Calls on the specialised committees to ensure that all programmes and activities financed through the EU budget in their respective fields of responsibility promote gender mainstreaming, and to report yearly on their committee's activities concerning gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting;

Gender mainstreaming in the EP Secretariat

13.  Calls for the implementation of a coherent and comprehensive framework for gender mainstreaming in the EP administration, in close cooperation with the Directorate-General for Personnel and COPEC, and with the involvement of staff representation; this policy plan should coordinate all existing initiatives, indicate objectives and priorities and the means of achieving them, and be complemented by data and gender statistics, indicators, clear targets and benchmarks;

14.  Welcomes the strengthening of the Equal Opportunities Unit in the Directorate General for Personnel and the appointment, in March 2001, of 'equal opportunities correspondents' in each Directorate General; deems it necessary to define clearly the correspondents' role and tasks;

15.  Recalls the opportunity provided for in Article 141(4) of the EC Treaty and the relevant provisions of the aforementioned Directive 2002/73/EC allowing for positive measures to favour the under-represented sex in recruitment, career development and other professional activity;

16.  Considers that awareness-raising, information and professional training are essential to support changes in attitude and behaviour; asks for the introduction of gender mainstreaming modules in the training plans of each DG for staff members at all levels, starting from high-level management, and for a specific programme of conferences and seminars;

17.  Recommends that gender be mainstreamed in all staff policy documents and regulations; existing rules and policy guidelines need to be reviewed from a gender perspective and adapted accordingly;

18.  Recommends that each DG indicate priority areas it considers appropriate for starting gender mainstreaming; results of their action or initiatives in this field would be disseminated in cooperation with COPEC, the Equal Opportunities Unit and the network of equal opportunities correspondents in each DG; successful and particularly interesting projects or initiatives could be presented on International Women's Day (8 March) as best practice;

19.  Calls on the Staff Committee to play an active role in implementing the mainstreaming strategy in the EP secretariat by striving to achieve gender balance in the designation of its representatives on all boards and committees and in the distribution of posts of responsibility among its members; stresses the importance of awareness-raising on gender equality issues and of specific training for the members of the Staff Committee;

20.  Reiterates the importance of achieving gender balance in the decision-making process as an important precondition for achieving a gender-sensitive policy; to this effect:

   a) fully supports the recommendations contained in the 2002 report by Ms Lalumière, as adopted by the Bureau on 3 September 2002, concerning women's access to posts of responsibility and the measures proposed concerning competitions, recruitment and career development;
   b) requests, as a complement to the Bureau recommendations and to the measures contained in the COPEC Action Plan 2001-2005, the introduction of mentoring systems, as part of career guidance, based on the principle of equal opportunities, and a study analysing career progression of female staff in all categories compared with men and of part-time staff compared with full-time staff;
   c) draws attention to the fact that women make up 70.4% of C- grade staff and considers it necessary to accelerate the implementation of measures designed to facilitate moving to a higher category, given in particular the decreasing proportion of women in category B since 1998 (cf. Ms Lalumière's report to the Bureau); such measures would contribute to narrowing the gap in career prospects between women and men;
   d) recalls the need stated by the Secretary-General in his 1997 report to the Bureau "to adapt the working environment to ensure that officials working part time, of whom the vast majority are women, or from home (teleworking), do not experience discrimination as regards training opportunities, promotion, or mobility";
   e) welcomes the progress achieved in ensuring gender balance in recruitment, selection and competition boards; recommends targets for striving to achieve parity in the representation of the administration and the Staff Committee on statutory boards and consultative committees;

21.  Considers working arrangements and measures enabling women and men to combine work and family life for women and men as a priority area in which to mainstream the gender perspective; draws attention to the following issues:

   making the necessary provisions, in particular by means of the systematic replacement of staff working part-time, to ensure that part-time working is granted in all Directorates&nbhy;General to staff who request it (see paragraph 21 of its resolution of 10 April 2002) and is considered a valid option for both women and men;
   introducing flexible time schemes, which might better suit the EP's particular working needs and would help staff to combine their professional and private lives more successfully;
   providing adequate and well-organised childcare facilities (crèches, day nurseries, after-school centres, medical care, flexible hours, etc.) in order to accommodate parents, both women and men, employed in the EP, with a view to meeting the increasing needs that will result from enlargement;
   guaranteeing the right to return to the original or an equivalent post after unpaid leave is taken for family reasons and/or parental leave;
   looking into the possibilities of extending teleworking, on a voluntary and temporary basis, to services other than Translation;
   addressing issues of the general organisation of work, in particular long working hours, late meetings and missions;

22.  Considers it essential to ensure that human dignity, privacy and integrity are respected and harassment at the workplace combated; recalls that, according to some research, women are more frequent victims of harassment than men(20); expects the Advisory Committee on Psychological Harassment, set up in 2000, to play an increasingly effective role in preventing and combating harassment;

23.  Supports the anti-discrimination provision, in line with Article 13 of the Treaty, and the reversal of the burden of proof in cases where direct or indirect discrimination may be presumed, as put forward in the Commission proposal for a Council regulation amending the Staff Regulations of officials and other servants of the European Communities (COM(2002) 213);

o   o

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, COPEC and the governments of the candidate countries.

(1) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 59, 23.2.2001, p. 258.
(3) OJ C 61, 28.2.1994, p. 248.
(4) OJ C 166, 10.6.1996, p. 269.
(5) OJ C 346, 4.12.2000, p. 82.
(6) OJ C 168, 4.7.1995, p. 3.
(7) OJ L 319, 10.12.1996, p. 11.
(8) OJ C 362, 2.12.1996, p. 337.
(9) OJ C 304, 6.10.1997, p. 50.
(10) OJ C 175, 21.6.1999, p. 72.
(11) OJ C 218 , 31.7.2000, p. 5.
(12) OJ C 337 E, 28.11.2000, p. 196.
(13) OJ C 65 E,14.3.2002, p. 43.
(14) OJ C 262, 18.9.2001, p. 248.
(15) P5_TA(2002)438.
(16) OJ L 269, 5.10.2002, p. 15.
(17) PE 318.444/BUR
(18) P5_TA(2002)167.
(19) Report by the Group of Experts of the Council of Europe on gender mainstreaming EG-S-MS (98) 2.
(20) EP resolution of 20 September 2001 on harassment at the workplace (OJ C 77 E, 28.3.2002, p. 138).

Protection of financial interests and the fight against fraud
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European Parliament resolution on the protection of the Communities" financial interests and the fight against fraud – annual report 2001 (2002/2211(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission's annual report 2001 on the protection of the financial interests of the Communities and fight against fraud (COM(2002) 348 – C5-0519/2002),

–   having regard to the Commission's communication on protecting the Communities' financial interests - fight against fraud: Action Plan for 2001-2003 (COM(2001) 254),

–   having regard to the annual report of the European Court of Auditors for the financial year 2001(1),

–   having regard to Article 276(3) and Article 280(5) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Rule 163(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A5-0055/2003),

A.   having regard to the four objectives set by the Commission in its overall strategic approach to the fight against fraud (COM(2000) 358), and in the Action Plan for 2001-2003 (COM(2001) 254): development of an overall anti-fraud legislative policy, development of a new culture of operational cooperation, an interinstitutional approach to prevent and combat fraud and corruption, and the enhancement of the penal judicial dimension,

B.   whereas the total volume of fraud and irregularities specified in the Commission's annual report amounted to EUR 1.275 billion in 2001, a figure which breaks down as follows:

   - revenue side: Own resources EUR 532.5 million (previous year: 1 143)
   - expenditure side: EAGGF Guarantee EUR 429 million (previous year: 576)

Structural actions EUR 249.1 million (previous year: 139)


Direct expenditure EUR 64.2 million (previous year: 170),

C.   whereas this represents a considerable reduction in comparison to the figures for 2000, when the total volume of fraud and irregularities was calculated at EUR 2.028 billion,

D.   whereas this reduction can partly be explained by the fact that, of the cases investigated by the Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) only those concluded in 2001 were included in the statistics, and not those for which investigations had been opened, but not completed,

E.   whereas, according to the Commission, problems in adjusting to a new notification procedure may also have led to a reduction in the number of irregularities communicated by the Member States,

F.   whereas, further, despite the reduction in comparison to the previous year, the volume of irregularities identified in 2001 (EUR 1.275 billion) was considerably higher than the long-term average,

G.   whereas in the year 2000 only 87.9% (EUR 83.3 billion out of EUR 94.8 billion) and in 2001 only 82.3% (EUR 80 billion out of EUR 97.2 billion) of the resources available for payments were actually used; whereas this low utilisation rate places the decrease in the volume of irregularities in context,

Recovery of excessive or undue payments

1.  Notes that an analysis of the communications received in 2001 has revealed that the total number of irregularity messages communicated decreased in all sectors in comparison to the year 2000; in that connection, points out that in the years 2000 and 2001, over EUR 26 billion in unused budget resources was paid back to the Member States;

2.  Notes, however, that the financial impact of irregularities on the budget decreased only in the spheres of own resources (from EUR 1 143 million to EUR 532.5 million) and the EAGGF Guarantee (from EUR 576 million to EUR 429 million), whereas in the sphere of the Structural Funds, that impact increased from EUR 139 million to EUR 249.1 million;

3.  Reminds the Commission that the European Parliament in its resolution of 29 November 2001(2), called upon it to provide, by 15 December 2001, a list of all the irregularities communicated since the entry into force of the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1681/94 of 11 July 1994 concerning irregularities and the recovery of sums wrongly paid in connection with the financing of the structural policies and the organisation of an information system in this field(3) showing in each case the size of the financial loss and whether, and to what extent, monies had been recovered;

4.  Notes that the amount recovered in 2001 (EUR 40 342 534) was more than 50% lower than in the year 2000 (EUR 86 101 547), giving an overall recovery rate of 15.7%;

5.  Criticises the fact that amounts still to be recovered in connection with cases of fraud and irregularities established by the Member States, OLAF, and the Commission have built up over the years to almost EUR 3 billion, which is an entirely unacceptable state of affairs;

6.  Notes that the procedures for the recovery of wrongly paid sums clearly do not work and constitute a shortcoming which is severely damaging to the financial interests of the Community; calls on the Commission, therefore, to submit to Parliament by 30 June 2003 a detailed analysis of the causes of this problem and proposals to remedy it;

7.  Urges, therefore, that pending the establishment of an effective recovery procedure, the Commission should halt payments as soon as OLAF assessments substantiate reasonable suspicion of fraud and the Office opens an investigation;

8.  Notes that, on 3 December 2002, the Commission submitted, albeit very belatedly, a communication on this subject with the aim of improving the recovery procedure; doubts, however, that this aim can be achieved until such time as the division of responsibilities between OLAF on the one hand, and the Commission's competent directorate-general on the other, has been clarified; notes with amazement that Luxembourg has never yet communicated an irregularity; points out that, in view of the stated figure of almost EUR 1.4 billion in sums outstanding for the period to 2002, any move by the Commission to offer Italy special treatment must be rejected; calls for the immediate submission of the promised amendment to Article 8 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1258/1999 of 17 May 1999 on the financing of the Common Agricultural Policy(4);

Combating fraud in the sphere of the Structural Funds

9.  Regrets the fact that the figures compiled by the Commission in its annual report do not clarify to what extent effective, uniform protection of the Community's financial interests is being achieved in all the Member States in relation to the Structural Funds;

10.  Expresses concern at the fact that, in the sphere of the Cohesion Fund (overall volume in 2001: roughly EUR 3 billion), only Greece communicated irregularities (involving some EUR 2.5 million), whereas Spain, Ireland and Portugal informed the Commission that there were none to communicate; notes the Annual report of the cohesion fund (COM(2002) 557), in particular point 4.2 thereof, and urges the Commission to make a statement on this matter in the next annual report on the combating of fraud and on the action it has taken in cases in which contracts financed under the Cohesion Fund have been awarded in a manner which is not consistent with the directives on tendering procedures;

11.  Notes that the number of suspected cases communicated by the Netherlands in 2001 was more than four times as high as the corresponding figures for Spain or Greece and indeed almost twice as high as the figure for Germany, the obvious implication being that the degree of diligence in identifying and communicating irregularities varies substantially from one Member State to another;

12.  Calls strongly once again on the Commission to refrain in future from merely reproducing without comment the figures communicated by the Member States, but instead to carry out a comparative analysis and assessment of those figures, to openly draw attention to shortcomings and thus encourage the Member States to step up their efforts;

Dealing with internal cases of fraud

13.  Makes clear that the financial implications of external cases of fraud far outweigh those of internal cases; points out, however, that internal cases of fraud seriously damage the reputation of European institutions and that the Commission has therefore announced a "zero-tolerance policy";


14.  Criticises the way in which OLAF has so far investigated this case: allegations known about at the end of the 1990s were not investigated with the necessary rigour despite very precise information, investigations were closed without any results and subsequently reopened; calls on the OLAF Supervisory Committee to make a thorough examination of OLAF's work in connection with Eurostat and to report on it in its next activity report;

15.  Notes that in two cases (EuroCost and EUROGRAMME) OLAF brought in the Luxembourg prosecuting authorities;

16.  Calls on the Commission to take measures which enable it to keep Parliament and OLAF informed of the progress of the investigations conducted by the Luxembourg prosecuting authorities;

17.  Notes that the EUROGRAMME company gave the Commission unclear information not only about its financial position but also about the qualifications of the staff it employed;

18.  Regards it as incomprehensible, in the light of this, that in the period between 1996 and the end of 2001 the Commission should have concluded 70 contracts with EUROGRAMME (the value of the contracts for 2000 and 2001 alone amounting to more than EUR 2 million), with three further contracts even being concluded in 2002;

19.  Welcomes the new Commission's approach to the contractual relationship with EUROGRAMME as stated in the Commission's reply of 28 February 2003 concerning the 2001 discharge procedure, including the suspension of all payments under current contracts and the application of cancellation clauses in contracts, provided that this does not impose any extra financial burden on the Union's budget;

20.  Calls, further, for an explanation as to what extent "intra-muros" employees of private firms have been working on Eurostat's premises since 1999 and whether there is any truth in allegations that these employees were given tasks that could or should have been carried out by officials;

21.  Notes that the PRODCOM project is now being implemented directly by Eurostat;

22.  Notes, further, that Eurostat and the Commission have begun to implement recommendations made as part of the internal PRODCOM audit and to improve the project management arrangements;

23.  Notes that in 2001 alone Eurostat made provision for commitment appropriations for payments to more than a hundred different firms and approximately EUR 8 million was paid (Commission's answer to Written Question E-1283/02); expects an assurance from the Commission by 30 April 2003 that it will ask its Internal Audit Service to examine by summer 2003 the legality and regularity of all the contracts concluded by Eurostat since 1999 and to include in the investigation those contracts concluded by other Commission services on Eurostat's recommendation;

24.  Notes that the Luxembourg-based firm ASBL EuroCost has been accused of serious irregularities (balance-sheet manipulations, double and triple financing of projects, theft of IT equipment) which, according to the Commission (answer to Written Question P-3742/02), has left the Community budget facing a loss of more than EUR 1 million;

25.  Calls on the Commission to state, further, whether those irregularities were first brought to light as long ago as early 2000, as a result of checks carried out by officials of the Commission's DG Financial Control, even though the case was handed over to the Luxembourg judicial authorities only in summer 2002;

26.  Finds it incomprehensible that the relevant report by DG Financial Control was not submitted to the Commissioner responsible for financial control and combating fraud;

27.  Expects to be provided by 30 April 2003 with copies of all the audit reports in connection with Eurostat since 1999;

28.  Calls on the Commission to state to what extent any senior official of Eurostat, as a founding member and past chairman of ASBL EuroCost, helped to secure for EuroCost subsidies from the Community budget over a period of more than 10 years;

29.  Is astonished that the Commission apparently approved the activities of the senior official and asks for copies of the relevant decisions; notes with surprise that, according to the Commission, up until the year 2000 the senior official of Eurostat was also active in other associations in his capacity as Director-General of Eurostat; asks the Commission whether it still regards such activities on the part of its senior officials in organisations which receive subsidies from the Community budget as acceptable;

30.  Asks the Commission to state whether it will require the senior officials of Eurostat involved to make good any losses suffered by the taxpayer;

31.  Asks the Commission to state whether senior officials of Eurostat have also been involved with other firms or associations which have received subsidies from the Community budget, and if so, to identify which ones;

32.  Welcomes the Commission's decision to halt cooperation with EUROGRAMME; calls on the Commission to pursue with the utmost vigour the recovery procedure against EuroCost, which is now in liquidation;

Suspected cases of fraud and favouritism in the Commission

33.  Notes that the cases involving two former Commissioners have been followed up by OLAF and the Commission; calls on the Commission and OLAF to inform Parliament of the outcome of the proceedings;

34.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission decided to prepare a statement setting out the facts relating to possible breaches by Mrs Cresson of the obligations of a Commissioner, as set out in Article 213 of the Treaty; welcomes, further, the fact that the Commission decided, at the same time, to send a statement to Mrs Cresson inviting her to submit any observations to the Commission within two months; notes that the Commission has thus acted on Parliament's recommendation;

35.  Calls on the Commission to forward OLAF's report and the recommendations set out therein concerning the so-called 'official cars affair';

36.  Notes that in December 2002 a Belgian court sentenced the main defendants in the so-called 'PerryLux' case to four and one year's imprisonment respectively;

37.  Calls on Luxembourg, after years of prevarication, to finally meet its obligations under Article 280 of the EC Treaty and to ensure that its judicial authorities take all the steps required to clear up the PerryLux case and the allegations in connection with Eurostat and, if necessary, to instigate criminal proceedings;

38.  Calls on the Commission to inform Parliament of the steps the Luxembourg prosecuting authorities have taken in connection with this matter and to state, by 30 June 2003, when the investigations are likely to be completed;

Commission delegation offices in Stockholm and Vienna

39.  Notes that the Commission has still not answered the question as to when it was informed about the illegal practices involving works contracts in the Vienna delegation office;

40.  Notes with incomprehension the fact that the investigations were opened on 7 August 2001 and had still not been completed by the end of 2002; calls on the Commission to inform Parliament in March 2003 of the follow-up measures taken;

41.  Notes that disciplinary measures were taken against two members of staff of the Stockholm delegation office; a third case is pending before the Swedish courts; calls on the Commission to inform Parliament as to why the court proceedings will not open until March 2003 and asks, furthermore, to be kept informed of the progress of those proceedings;

42.  Calls on the Commission to state the conditions on the basis of which one of the members of staff concerned has retired;

Protection of financial interests in connection with enlargement

43.  Shares the Commission's view that the correct use, control and evaluation of Community pre-accession financing represent important indicators of the applicant countries' capacity to implement the Community's financial control provisions; points out, in that connection, that Parliament, in its aforementioned resolution of 29 November 2001, called on OLAF to set up units in the applicant countries;

44.  Makes clear that the units need not necessarily be independent offices; however, a representative of OLAF should be present on the spot;

45.  Points out, further, that in the above-mentioned resolution of 29 November 2001, it called on the European Court of Auditors to submit to it by early 2003 at the latest, an opinion on each applicant country, showing whether the system of financial control in those countries is able to work in such a way that the shift to decentralised management, a fundamental aspect of the enlargement, can be made;

46.  Expresses concern at the rate of utilisation of SAPARD resources: only 0.1%, or EUR 1 million, has reached the final beneficiaries (solely in Bulgaria and Estonia); the Commission underestimated the amount of time and money needed to develop administrative and control systems in the applicant countries;

47.  Shares the Commission's view, however, that the establishment of an effective Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) alone offers guarantees of the effective and fraud-proof use of resources;

48.  Insists, in the light of that fact, that the applicant countries should not be judged against more stringent criteria than the Member States;

49.  Takes the view that the deadline for implementing multiannual commitments under pre-accession aid schemes should be extended;

50.  Expresses concern that the isolation of the Kaliningrad region as a result of the enlargement of the Union to the east, and the increase in financial crime being perpetrated from Kaliningrad is increasingly undermining the protection of the Community's financial interests; calls on the Commission to take measures to prevent fraud in connection with trade in goods, services and capital with the Kaliningrad region; calls on OLAF to take prompt steps to set up cooperation with the Russian tax police in that region with a view to drawing up a survey of the "Kaliningrad financial crime" problem as the basis for practical recommendations and measures;

Anti-fraud legislation

51.  Calls, on the basis of the Commission proposal of May 2000, for further progress to be made with the development of an information system designed to exclude bidders already convicted of fraud from public invitation-to-tender procedures; points out, further, in connection with the improvement of financial follow-up measures and penalties, that Parliament is still awaiting clarification as to how the principle of proportionality will be applied in connection with the imposition of fines: Parliament made both these calls in the aforementioned resolution of 29 November 2001;

52.  Notes that in 2001 two regulations on the more effective monitoring and financial control of the Structural Funds were adopted(5);

53.  Welcomes the regulations which lay down a legal basis for cooperation between the European Central Bank, Europol and the Commission/OLAF, thereby protecting more effectively the authenticity and credibility of the common currency;

54.  Calls on the Commission to explain why no progress was made in 2001 in the negotiations with Switzerland on a mutual assistance agreement on tax and customs matters;

Developing cooperation between the competent authorities

55.  Notes the list of new national legal provisions implementing Article 280 of the Treaty, the survey of the stage reached in the procedures for ratifying the Convention on the protection of the Communities" financial interests and its protocols, and the survey of the degree of coordination between services responsible for the protection of financial interests;

56.  Points out, however, as it did in its aforementioned resolution of 29 November 2001, that such lists are of scant value to Parliament as long as they are not analysed by the Commission with a view to highlighting any shortcomings in the protection of the Community's financial interests;

57.  Criticises the fact that a uniform system for the forwarding by Member States of data, details of irregularities and cases of fraud has still not been set up; calls on the Commission, therefore, to keep Parliament regularly informed of the progress of the negotiations between the Member States and the Commission;

58.  Notes that in 2001, OLAF opened investigations into 381 cases which, on the basis of a preliminary assessment, are criminal in nature (own resources: 74 cases; agriculture: 105 cases; Structural Funds: 66 cases; direct expenditure: 136 cases); calls on the Commission to state which areas, in addition to claims in respect of expenditure not eligible for support, pose the most serious risk of fraud;

Strengthening the criminal law dimension

59.  Emphasises that protection of the Communities" financial interests is not a matter for the institutions alone; instead, those institutions must be seen as part of a comprehensive system;

60.  Welcomes, in that connection, the submission in December 2001, of the Commission's Green Paper on criminal law protection of the financial interests of the Community and the establishment of a European Prosecutor (COM(2001) 715);

61.  Looks to the Commission to immediately inform it of any difficulties which arise in connection with consideration of the Green Paper with Member States;

62.  Calls on the Commission to incorporate in its considerations, and to submit to the European Convention, Parliament's proposals on this topic(6), made on 27 March 2003, in particular the draft of a new Article 280a of the Treaty;

63.  Acknowledges the establishment of EUROJUST(7) as an important contribution to judicial cooperation among the Member States; makes clear, however, in this connection, that Parliament, as the institution granting discharge, remains the guardian of the Community's financial interests and that EUROJUST is accountable to Parliament in this sphere;

64.  Calls for information on the stage reached in the legal action brought by the Commission and Parliament against major tobacco concerns in the United States, with a view to averting the danger of cigarette smuggling and money laundering carried out by organised crime in the EU;

65.  Welcomes the judgment handed down by the Court of First Instance on 15 January 2003 rejecting as inadmissible the attempt by the cigarette manufacturers Philip Morris, Reynolds and Japan Tobacco to prevent the Community from continuing the legal proceedings brought in the United States against those firms on the grounds of their involvement in cigarette smuggling;

66.  Notes the most recent report drawn up by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee which puts at GBP 3.5 billion the tax revenue lost by the United Kingdom in the year 2000/2001 as a result of cigarette smuggling; against the background of this financial loss, calls on the United Kingdom to join the legal action brought by the Commission and Parliament in the United States;

Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)

67.  Emphasises that Parliament will submit its own report on the working methods of OLAF, which will draw on the information contained in OLAF's annual report, the conclusions set out in the annual report of the OLAF Supervisory Committee and the recommendations set out in the Commission's progress report;

68.  Regrets the fact that, contrary to Article 15 of Regulation (EC) No 1073/1999 of the European Parliament and the Council of 25 May 1999 concerning investigations conducted by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF)(8), the Commission failed to submit the progress report prior to the expiry of the term of office of the OLAF Supervisory Committee, at the end of June 2002; notes that the Commission is in breach of the law; calls for a written explanation, by 30 April 2003, as to why the report has not yet been submitted;

69.  Regards it as entirely unacceptable that the pending appointment of the members of the OLAF Supervisory Committee could have been delayed by the Italian Government in the Council since September 2002; welcomes the fact that the Greek Presidency of the Council has now apparently managed to remove this obstruction;

70.  Notes that, in the term of office which has now expired, the OLAF Supervisory Committee, working in difficult conditions, has made a decisive contribution to building up OLAF and securing its independence; declares itself, therefore, emphatically in favour of reappointing the current members of the Supervisory Committee;

o   o

71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the parliaments of the Member States, the European Court of Auditors, the Commission and the Anti-Fraud Office.

(1) OJ C 295, 28.11.2002.
(2) OJ C 153 E, 27.6.2002, p. 325.
(3) OJ L 178, 12.7.1994, p. 43.
(4) OJ L 160, 26.6.1999, p. 103.
(5) Commission Regulation (EC) No 438/2001, OJ L 63, 3.3.2001, p. 21; Commission Regulation (EC) No 448/2001, OJ L 64, 6.3.2001, p. 13.
(6) P5_TA(2003)0130).
(7) Council decision 2002/187/JHA (OJ L 63, 6.3.2002, p. 1).
(8) OJ L 136, 31.5.1999, p. 1.

Consumer Policy Strategy 2002-2006
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European Parliament resolution on the Commission communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on "Consumer Policy Strategy 2002-2006" (COM(2002) 208 – C5&nbhy;0329/2002 – 2002/2173(COS))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication (COM(2002) 208 – C5&nbhy;0329/2002)(1),

–   having regard to the report from the Commission on the 'Action Plan for Consumer Policy 1999-2001' and on the 'General Framework for Community activities in favour of consumers 1999 - 2003' (COM(2001) 486),

–   having regard to Articles 95 and 153 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market and the Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities (A5&nbhy;0023/2003),

A.   whereas the proposed Consumer Policy Strategy represents a clear statement of three key overarching and strategic objectives; whereas it is regrettable, however, that its introduction has been delayed far beyond the Commission's practice in previous triennia,

B.   whereas this strategy understandably does not include food safety issues, which are the basis of a separate legislative strategy embodied in the agreed establishment of the European Food Safety Authority with its own Management Board and Executive Director; whereas it is regrettable that the lack of a permanent seat has caused additional budgetary constraints,

C.   welcoming the range of actions proposed in the Rolling Programme contained in the Annex, but reminding the Commission of the ambitious nature of previous action lists with deadlines that have not always been adhered to; stressing therefore the importance of a regular update and review of these proposed actions by the Commission, to be sent to the Council and European Parliament in the spirit of scrutiny and implementation now endorsed by both the Commission and Council,

D.   commending the Commission for concluding that completion of the Single Market is a priority, that obstacles to realising its full potential still remain, and that buying across borders widens consumer choice,

E.   whereas the consumer policy strategy should take greater account of social changes, such as the new age structure, the greater role of women and the integration of ethnic minorities,

F.   whereas consumer policy in the applicant countries should be improved and insufficient attention is paid to opportunities for consumers to protect their interests and to function as fully-fledged players in the market,

G.   whereas, although interest groups have an important role to play in shaping consumer policy, the balanced participation of women, young people, the elderly and cultural minorities should be better anchored in policy,

1.  Points out that the Strategy presented by the Commission goes four years beyond the period of the current legal basis, which expires at the end of 2003, and that the Commission will subsequently present a proposal for a new legal basis which include financial and budgetary provisions beyond 2003;

2.  Believes that it is problematic that the timeframe for the Strategy put forward runs to a different timetable than the legal basis and welcomes the Commission's statement to improve this situation; believes, however, that it is not sufficient to better coordinate the Strategy with the legal basis and calls on the Commission to align the timeframe of the two;

3.  Points out that the current financial perspective, establishing expenditure ceilings for different headings of the budget, is valid until 2006 and, therefore, the actions contained in the Strategy and in the forthcoming proposal for a new legal basis, should fit within that framework without restricting other policies under heading 3 (internal policies) of the budget;

4.  Recalls that if the actions contained in the Strategy, as and when included in the proposal for a new legal basis, should nevertheless go beyond the year 2006, the financial amounts will have to be confirmed either by an agreement on a new financial perspective or by annual budgetary decisions;

Objective 1 - 'A high common level of consumer protection'

5.  Reminds the Commission that the principle of minimum harmonisation for consumer protection policy is enshrined in the EC Treaty (Article 153 (5)) but that measures should promote and develop a high level of consumer protection (Article 153(1) of the EC Treaty);

6.  Strongly endorses the need for a high common level of consumer protection at the EU level, but notes concern over the uniform proposal to adapt existing EU consumer directives 'from minimum harmonisation to full harmonisation measures', and therefore stresses to the Commission that the suitability of minimum or maximum harmonising provisions be appropriately assessed when amending existing legislation, or developing new legislation, on a case by case basis;

7.  Urges the Commission to clarify and assess what proven national measures would be forfeited in any proposal that seeks to harmonise at a maximum level;

8.  Believes that harmonisation should not prevent Member States' legislations from going beyond the common level of consumer protection, provided these measures do not interfere with the principles laid down in the EC Treaty; as long as a high level of harmonised consumer protection is not in place, consumers should not be deprived of the protection offered by their own national laws;

9.  Calls on the Commission to decide on a case by case basis whether regulations should be used as the primary legal instrument for consumer protection legislation;

10.  Calls for serious reflection over any further use of the mutual recognition and country of origin principles without first effectively setting and enforcing a high common level of consumer protection at the EU level;

11.  Considers that a single definition of the main legal terms, such as "consumer", "consumer contract", etc. could contribute to coherent consumer legislation;

12.  Suggests that all legislation should take the definition of "consumer", as enshrined in the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice, as a starting point;

13.  Considers that any legislative proposal should respect the important criteria laid down in the Commission's better regulation package, more particularly:

   - the principles of subsidiarity, necessity and proportionality;
   - provision of substantial evidence of the need for Community action;
   - identification of the existing barriers hampering the internal market;
   - provision of adequate information about the impact on the relevant acquis communautaire and the main stakeholders concerned (i.e. businesses and consumers);
   - provision of sufficient evidence and guarantees as to the viability and effectiveness of the measures in achieving the objectives sought;

14.  Considers that all legislative proposals should have a single underlying pattern; utmost importance should be given to the preparation of legal texts; as a result, the Commission must clearly identify the problems to be solved before seeking expert legal advice, securing proper consultation of the stakeholders and guaranteeing an efficient impact;

15.  Calls for legislation to be drafted on the legal basis provided by Articles 95 and 153 of the EC Treaty;

16.  Notes that Article 153 of the Treaty has only been used once as a legal basis for consumer protection legislation and asks the Commission to reflect on ways of ensuring its greater use;

17.  Supports the specific policy actions proposed within the framework of objective 1 and grants a particular priority to the following, either individually or as the intended consequence of framework directives;

   - development of legislation on the safety of services,
   - revision of the Toys directive,
   - review of the effectiveness of the existing CE mark system to ensure that it conforms with EU safety requirements in a more efficient manner,
   - proposal for a directive on fire safety in hotels as reiterated by the Parliament in its resolution of 4 May 1994(2),
   - amendment to improve the Directive 94/47/EC to protect consumers against new market developments which circumvent the current provisions, as called for by Parliament in its resolution of 4 July 2002(3),
   - extension of consumer protection measures from the air transport sector to other modes of transport, as called for by the European Parliament in its position of 24 October 2002, with a view to the adoption of an air passenger compensation regulation(4),
   - establishing optimum health and safety provisions in the current evaluation of chemical substances whilst ensuring maximum use of in-vitro testing procedures;
   - amendment and extension of the Package Travel directive;
   - promotion of consumer confidence in electronic commerce;

18.  Calls on the Commission to guarantee universal and affordable access to high-quality services of general interest;

19.  Stresses the importance of a Single Market in retail financial services such as insurance, investments and banking being developed to the benefit of consumers;

20.  Calls for the establishment of a framework proposal on fair trading, which would contribute significantly to the further harmonisation of consumers' rights in the EU, and asks the Commission to present a legislative proposal for the framework directive as soon as possible;

21.  Urges the Commission to take all appropriate steps to initiate Community action to promote sustainable models of production and consumption;

22.  Calls on the Commission to raise the profile of Community ecolabels, so as to enable consumers to make informed choices, in the knowledge that they can consume products throughout the European Union which comply with the highest European environmental standards;

23.  Stresses the need to ensure that consumers are fully and reliably informed about GMOs and the products, foods and feed produced therefrom, so as to allow them to make an informed choice of product and gain confidence in GMO products and technology;

24.  Reiterates the call made in its resolution of 4 May 1999 on a Consumer Policy Action Plan 1999-2001(5), for the Commission to review and amend the existing EU Trademarks directive so as to ensure that it is not applied to the detriment of consumer prices and consumer choice;

25.  Reiterates its call, made in the aforementioned resolution of 4 May 1999, for the Commission to promote the adoption of internationally recognised basic consumer rights within the modus operandi of the WTO, thereby reconciling consumer interest with the desire for economic growth through free trade, and reminds the Commission that these basic rights are: safety, information, choice, representation, redress, education, satisfaction and a clean environment;

26.  Calls on the Commission to promote the use of labelling in the WTO as an instrument to ensure that consumers are informed of the origin and production method of products;

27.  Stresses the need for a pro-active policy from the Commission to ensure that the views of civil society are taken into account in the development of the EU's own input in international policy forums;

28.  Encourages the Commission to continue developing its knowledge and understanding of consumer attitudes throughout the EU and suggests that this could provide key evidence in shaping future policy initiatives;

29.  Points out that a key strand of consumer policy should be the maximisation of consumer choice;

30.  Emphasises the importance of the gender dimension as an integral part of consumer policy;

31.  Calls for greater attention to be paid to target groups such as women, young people, the elderly, ethnic minorities and, in particular, immigrant women, in the formulation of policy;

Objective 2 - 'Effective enforcement of consumer protection rules'

32.  Welcomes the emphasis placed by the Commission's communication on effective enforcement of consumer protection law, and encourages the Commission to concentrate on strengthening uniform enforcement of existing legislation before proposing additional rules that might bring about further legal uncertainty if applied unevenly;

33.  Notes that unequal enforcement of consumer protection rules amongst national jurisdictions may lead to considerable distortion of competition in certain sectors, and calls on the Commission to include a thorough survey of this aspect in its action plan;

34.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a legislative framework for the enforcement and the monitoring of cooperation between Member States, as a priority;

35.  Calls for a clear and transparent structure to be established for the annual reporting on progress in, and the enforcement of, consumer protection legislation;

36.  Welcomes the proposal to establish comprehensive data and information systems building upon the RAPEX and EHLASS systems, to provide accurate and comparable information on services and products and their effects on consumers; stresses that the maintenance of a data and information system must not be excessively complicated;

37.  Endorses the greater priority given to European Consumer Centres (ECC), calls for their opening in every Member State and candidate country as a key priority, and encourages greater publicity of the services they provide to consumers; stresses that the consumer centres must be adequately funded;

38.  Suggests that cooperation between ECC's and other networks such as EEJ-net and FIN-NET should be strengthened;

39.  Welcomes the fact that all candidate countries set to enter the EU in 2004 have adopted those parts of the acquis relating to consumer protection and have not requested transitional periods for implementation, but strongly urges the Commission to do its utmost in assisting the candidate countries in ensuring that the acquis is accurately and effectively enforced with all progress carefully monitored;

40.  Observes that consumer policy is lagging behind in the applicant countries and that insufficient attention is being devoted to the opportunity for consumers to play their full role in the market;

41.  Supports the Commission's intention to organise a special training seminar on enforcement of consumer policy with the candidate countries in the area of general product safety, and calls on the Commission to pursue similar initiatives for other consumer protection related directives (for example, those relating to the economic and legal interests of consumers);

42.  Welcomes the Commission's proposals concerning measures and timetables in the field of alternative dispute resolution, as referred to in Objective 2 – effective enforcement of consumer protection rules;

43.  Considers that the enforcement of consumer rights should take into account the different procedural laws of the Member States; anyhow, forms of alternative dispute resolution should be further promoted by means of a better cooperation between consumer organisations and Member States;

44.  Considers it necessary for consumer protection legislation to confer on competitors a status which is recognised in the legal order; considers that in legal proceedings concerning improper sales methods, competitors must be assured a right to speak and access to effective legal remedies;

45.  Asks the Commission to acknowledge the importance of protecting consumers from the dangers of passive smoking, and urges them to set an example by enforcing smoking restrictions within EU institutions and by encouraging the banning of smoking in public places;

46.  Suggests that regulatory impact assessments on proposed legislation should include assessment of the impact on consumers;

47.  Insists that countries that flout EU consumer protection laws should be more rapidly and thoroughly penalised;

48.  Considers that the mechanisms of the internal market operate effectively when consumer protection policy is based on Community rules, the implementation of which can also be monitored by scientific and analytical methods which do not allow fraud, the misleading of consumers or distortion of competition;

Objective 3 - 'Involvement of consumer organisations in EU policies'

49.  Suggests, in the context of the Commission's White Paper on European Governance(6), that guidelines should be established to distinguish bona fide consumer groups from those that masquerade as such whilst being funded by industrial interests. Therefore, basic requirements for consumer organisations, including safeguards for their internal transparency and democracy, should be established;

50.  Considers that better cooperation between consumer organisations and business interests should be created by establishing an organised dialogue at EU and Member State level;

51.  Considers that the Consumer Policy Strategy justifiably attaches great importance to the need for a more comprehensive, systematic and continuous effort to develop a suitable consumer knowledge base as an essential tool for policy makers; this will help ensure closer involvement of consumer organisations within the legislative process;

52.  Reiterates emphatically the call made in its aforementioned resolution of 4 May 1999, for the systematic integration and representation of consumer representatives in EU policy making;

53.  Calls upon the Commission and Member States to ensure and improve the representation of consumer interests in standardisation, at European, national and international level; suggests, in the case of the latter, that measures be taken to develop systematic and direct consumer participation in international standardisation bodies, complementing consumer representation as part of national delegations that are tied to national "consensus" positions often determined by industry;

54.  Calls, in connection with consumer protection through international institutions, particularly the WTO, for an on-going dialogue with consumer organisations to enable consumers to participate effectively in international standardisation;

55.  Encourages the Commission to continue and develop existing forums such as the EU Consumer Committee, Annual Assembly of consumer associations and the Trans Atlantic Consumer Dialogue;

56.  Notes with concern the results of the latest Internal Market Scoreboard which show that only 52% of EU consumers overall are fully aware of their rights under Internal Market legislation, and urges the Commission and the Member States to improve ways of informing consumers, thereby enabling them to become more empowered;

57.  Calls on the Commission to continue to promote the use of EU education programmes so as to heighten consumer awareness of consumer rights and responsibilities; stresses therefore, the importance of the swift implementation of on-line interactive educational tools which are readily accessible to all;

58.  Encourages the development of consumer information campaigns in all appropriate media and suggests that a proper evaluation is carried out after each campaign to ensure that consumers receive the information they need, when they need it;

59.  Calls for additional attention to be devoted to young people and information campaigns aimed at them, with the objective of preventing not only tobacco consumption but also, in particular, drug use and excessive consumption of alcohol;

60.  Stresses the need for continuous action in the training of personnel of consumer organisations through the responsible agencies in the Member States, for instance in the areas of general management, public relations and consumer law, and for consumer groups from Member States and candidate countries that do not have a traditionally strong basis of active and independent consumer action to be particularly targeted;

61.  Notes the findings of the Commission's 2002 progress report of the candidate countries (COM(2002) 700), which suggest that there is a need for assistance to the development of consumer organisations in some countries, including financial support which should form part of the 2004 budget, and strongly suggests that the integration of consumer organisations from the candidate countries into the EU Consumer Committee and all training courses for EU consumer organisations are some of the actions to be taken by the Commission in this regard;

62.  Calls for greater attention to be devoted to, and a specific programme targeted at, consumers and for independent organisations to be established in the applicant countries;

63.  Calls on the Commission to urgently come forward with a proposal to establish a new general framework for Community activities in favour of consumers;

New: Objective 4 - Integration of consumer protection objectives into all relevant EU policy areas

64.  Regrets the weakness with which this key horizontal objective is put forward by the Commission in its proposed Communication on Consumer Policy Priorities 2002 - 2006 and, given the importance of consumer policy in the daily life of all EU citizens, calls on the Commission to set as one of its key objectives, at the highest political level, the integration of consumer interests into all EU policy areas;

65.  Calls for discussions within the European Convention and subsequent IGC to address the need to reinforce Article 153 of the Treaty, by calling for the systematic integration of consumer policy into all EU policy areas, with particular reference to the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable consumers;

66.  Draws attention to the important role played by consumer protection policy and consumer organisations in devising policies which ensure that a range of aspects, values and principles are put forward; considers that it is important to strengthen the involvement of women, particularly immigrant women, in these consumer organisations so as to achieve a better balance in the shaping of consumer policy;

67.  Urges the Commission to publish regular reports on the integration of consumer policy into other EU policies and encourages it to develop the inter-services group on consumer policy into a systematic consultation tool within the Commission;

68.  Records its disappointment with the Council's decision to restructure the Council dealing with consumer affairs by integrating it with Employment, Social Affairs and Public Health policy; regrets the absence of any consultation over this, and notes with disquiet the effect of this on the integration of consumer concerns in the development of the Internal Market where they will inevitably be subordinate;

o   o

69.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 137, 8.6.2002, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 205, 25.7.1994, p. 163.
(3) P5_TA(2002)0368.
(4) P5_TA(2002)0514.
(5) OJ C 279, 1.10.1999, p. 84.
(6) OJ C 287, 12.10.2001, p. 1.

Future of EU consumer policy
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European Parliament resolution on the implications of the Commission Green Paper on European Union Consumer Protection for the future of EU consumer policy (COM(2001) 531 – C5-0295/2002 – 2002/2151(COS))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper (COM(2001) 531 – C5-0295/2002),

–   having regard to the Commission's follow-up Communication (COM(2002) 289),

–   having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the Green Paper (CES 344/2002) of 20 and 21 March 2002(1),

–   having regard to Articles 95 and 153 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Rome Convention of 1980 on Law Applicable to Contractual Obligations,

–   having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy (A5-0423/2002),

A.   whereas the shortcomings in European consumer law, which are due in particular to the fragmentation of national and Community rules, hinder the implementation of a genuine internal market for consumers as a result of the lack of consumer confidence in the legal certainty of cross-border transactions,

B.   whereas fair business practices help to protect not only consumers but also competitors, in the interests, in particular, of small and medium-sized undertakings,

C.   whereas it would be useful to conduct research in order to better understand the way in which business and consumers behave with regard to cross-border trade and to pinpoint the obstacles to the development of the internal market,

D.   whereas there is a need to achieve a high level of consumer protection, which is a precondition for establishing the climate of confidence that is required if the internal market is to function as it should,

E.   whereas it is important to provide consumers with a simple, standardised, reliable and efficient legal framework that is applicable whatever the nature of the commercial practice in question,

F.   whereas there is a particular need to protect the most vulnerable consumers, including the elderly, children and persons suffering from a disability,

G.   whereas the ability of consumers to exercise their rights hinges, among other things, on the quality, completeness and reliability of the information they are provided with, which must be made available in a language which each individual consumer understands,

H.   whereas producers must be able to substantiate all claims concerning products or services,

I.   whereas traders and consumers should collaborate so as to produce appropriate and balanced rules,

J.   whereas, however, it is the responsibility of the public authorities to establish an appropriate level of consumer protection and to enforce its application,

K.   whereas the role of consumer organisations should be enhanced in order to ensure that their collective interests are better represented, not least in the field of regulation and in the exercise of legal rights in connection with the application of consumer law,

L.   whereas the use by consumers of alternative methods of dispute resolution that are accessible to all, equitable, swift and available at low cost should be facilitated, while emphasising consumers' right to free access to justice,

M.   whereas difficulties arise from the lack of coordination between the national authorities responsible for the application of consumer law,

N.   whereas a comparative study of fair trading laws in the Member States should be conducted with a view to establishing to what extent a common body of provisions already exists,

1.  Considers that common general rules enabling a high level of consumer protection should be adopted as a matter of priority;

2.  Supports the aim of harmonising legislation on trading practices, which should be done in a coherent way by first setting the general framework and only afterwards establishing vertical legislation on specific practices, such as sales promotion, if necessary;

3.  Points out that the harmonisation approach should not lower the level of consumer protection achieved under certain national arrangements;

4.  Underlines that consideration can only be given to the application of the principles of mutual recognition and control by the country of origin if a sufficiently wide scope of harmonisation on a high level of consumer protection is achieved;

5.  Points out that harmonisation should not lower the level of protection against unfair trading practices achieved by means of national legal instruments;

6.  Advocates introducing a general clause on fairness in relation to the consumer into the framework directive and supports the concept that the directive should deal mainly with practices which are detrimental to consumers; the consumer should not be misled as to the content and functions of the product or service; a product or service should therefore only be attributed properties, effects or origins which can be substantiated;

7.  Considers that the general clause on fairness should be based on precise and objective criteria in order to avoid differing interpretations in the legislation or case law of the Member States, and suggests that an unfair commercial practice be defined as contrary to the requirements of 'good faith' in line with the provisions contained in Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts(2);

8.  Emphasises the need to enable the consumer to make an informed choice; therefore stresses the need to include in the fairness criteria the duty to always provide consumers with prior information in a language understood by the consumer concerned and accessible to everyone, including the disabled, on aspects which are fundamental to consumer health and economic security, as a minimum:

   the nature of the goods and services provided,
   the presence of dangerous substances in consumer goods,
   the exact content and origin in the case of foodstuffs,
   the price in Euros, and in local currency in the non-Euro zone, inclusive of all taxes,
   any delivery charges,
   the arrangements for delivery or performance,
   conditions of withdrawal, exchange or refund,
   the identity and address and full contact details of the supplier,
   full details of the product guarantee and conditions of after-sales service,
   membership of a code of conduct, where applicable,
   existing remedies;
   all information to be displayed in a clear and visible manner;

9.  Considers it appropriate, in the interests of establishing a single corpus of harmonised general rules, to incorporate into the framework directive certain provisions of existing directives, such as those covering misleading advertising;

10.  Considers it essential that the concept of unfair behaviour should also include any commercial behaviour aimed at exploiting temporary or permanent physical or mental vulnerability arising, for example, from the age, infirmity, mental state, or low level of literacy of a consumer or a consumer group;

11.  Considers that, without prejudice to the special provisions applicable to vulnerable consumers, any commercial behaviour constituting physical or psychological coercion, and in particular harassment or intimidation, the use of threats or force and obstructive behaviour (such as the practice of making it difficult for consumers to change service providers), should also be deemed unfair behaviour;

12.  Suggests that the framework directive be accompanied by a non-exhaustive blacklist of practices considered to be detrimental to the interests of consumers, which should be regularly updated with the help of consumer groups at the appropriate levels in the Member States;

13.  Suggests that the framework directive should lay down the principles applicable in the event of a legal action being brought, in particular as regards territorial jurisdiction and the law applicable if the undertaking accused of unfair trading practices has its headquarters in a Member State other than that in which the consumer who has allegedly been wronged is resident;

14.  Recommends that, in addition to a general clause, the framework directive should give further practical examples of individual unfair trading practices;

15.  Is in favour of continuing discussions with the Member States and the parties involved on new forms of regulation, especially on co-regulation and self-regulation; when such new forms are chosen as a supplement to legislative measures, expresses a preference for co-regulation, since this would allow the European Parliament and Council to be involved in adopting the objectives, and ensure open and transparent processes with consultation of business and consumers;

16.  Stresses the need to ensure that the stakeholders involved in the regulatory approach are representative;

17.  Considers that co-regulation and self-regulation should always be subsidiary to Community rules and that their aim should be confined to establishing supplementary measures better geared to the interests of consumers in the sectors concerned;

18.  Recommends that Community-level codes of conduct be introduced;

19.  Considers that the proposals for governing codes of conduct at a EU level are insufficient;

20.  Believes that in order to guarantee the legal certainty of commercial relations between business and consumers, non-compliance with a voluntary commitment established by a code of conduct duly validated by the Community authorities should be viewed as an unfair practice within the meaning of the framework directive;

21.  Considers that in view of this need for legal certainty, it is inadvisable to promote the introduction of recommendations without binding force;

22.  Calls on the Commission to assess the experience gained through voluntary cooperation, for example in the Nordic states and within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and to establish a legal framework and effective scrutiny arrangements for cooperation between the authorities responsible for enforcement in the field of commercial practices; calls on the Commission to consider in detail the factors to be included within a framework directive and to discuss the content with the Member States and relevant consumer and trade organisations;

23.  Calls on the Commission to continue consultations on this matter with the Member States, with stakeholder participation;

24.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a proposal setting up frameworks for cooperation on enforcement by mid-2004;

25.  Suggests that databases be established in order to promote the exchange of information between the Member States;

26.  Suggests that a harmonised warning system be created so as to enable Member States to take concerted action to enforce the Community rules;

27.  Suggests that the Commission should build upon existing practice by convening regular meetings with Member State authorities to look at how general and specific directives are working in practice;

28.  Calls on the Commission to swiftly present a draft framework directive taking into account the opinions of national experts and stakeholders;

29.  Recommends that the Commission should organise regular meetings for Member States to exchange best practice ensuring effective and consistent transposition of EU consumer protection legislation;

30.  Calls on the Commission to publish and disseminate an easy-to-read consumer guide so as to inform consumers of their rights;

31.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that initiatives following up on the Green Paper are discussed as far as possible in tandem with the proposal for a regulation on sales promotion;

32.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission and the parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 125, 27.5.2002, p.1.
(2) OJ L 95, 21.4.1993, p. 29.

Legal protection for consumers
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European Parliament resolution on prospects for legal protection of the consumer in the light of the Commission Green Paper on European Union Consumer Protection (COM(2001) 531 – C5&nbhy;0294/2002 – 2002/2150(COS))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper on European Union Consumer Protection (COM(2001) 531),

–   having regard to the Commission follow-up Communication to the Green Paper on EU Consumer Protection (COM(2002) 289),

–   having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the Green Paper(1),

–   having regard to the motion for a resolution by Salvador Garriga Polledo, on a European Consumer Arbitration Tribunal (B5-0108/2002),

–   having regard to Articles 95 and 153 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Rule 47(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (A5&nbhy;0054/2003),

A.   whereas, ten years on, the internal market is operational, but the regulatory process has still not been concluded in all areas,

B.   whereas the internal market is an economic success, but the consumer still does not use it to full advantage,

C.   whereas the number of cross-border legal relationships can be expected to increase further, not least on account of the acceleration in electronic means of communication, the arrival of euro notes and coins and EU enlargement;

D.   whereas the EC Treaty aims at a high level of consumer protection,

E.   whereas there is no contradiction between completing the internal market and achieving a high level of consumer protection,

F.   whereas efforts to achieve both those objectives can and must be pursued, so as to ensure that they effectively support each other,

G.   whereas, apart from what applies to measures designed to support, supplement or monitor Member State policies, the basis for introducing legislation to protect the consumer at Community level is derived from the rules of the internal market,

H.   whereas completion of the internal market will consist, in particular, in removing judicial obstacles to free movement, not only for business operators but also in the daily life of the citizen-consumer,

I.   whereas any intervention by the EU, in accordance with the subsidiarity principle, can only be justified in the event of confirmed substantial obstacles to cross-border transactions,

J.   whereas European and national legislation, and the connection between them, must create consumer confidence in the judicial status and legal certainty of cross-border transactions,

K.   whereas the consumer must be able to rely on efficient and affordable dispute settlement options in relation to cross-border transactions,

L.   whereas consumer protection and the promotion of fair trading practices between competitors can often be two sides of the same judicial coin,

M.   whereas, there is reluctance on the part of many small and medium-sized enterprises to become involved in cross-border trading for the same reasons as those that inhibit consumer confidence,

N.   whereas Community legislation must be clear, simple and to the point, must provide legal certainty, preferably be of high legislative quality, able to stand up to the challenges of a rapidly changing market, and must lend itself to being readily incorporated into Member State legal systems, since it will otherwise be perceived by consumers as an external intrusion that will undermine acceptance of Community law,

O.   whereas in addition to judicial restrictions, there are other obstacles that dissuade the consumer from making cross-border purchases, including the language barrier, geographical distance, an unfamiliar consumer culture and journey time; whereas these set natural boundaries to market integration that European regulation neither can change nor should seek to change, making it appropriate, before initiating legislative action, to identify the real obstacles and quantify their impact on cross-border transactions,

1.  Welcomes the Commission Green Paper, which invites all parties concerned to consider and express their views on future developments in consumer protection at the level of trading practices, and in particular on possibilities for improving the operation of the internal market of business operators and consumers (the so-called 'B-to-C' relation);

2.  Is convinced that it is appropriate for the sphere of operation of the instruments that the Commission considers using and the impact-test of the measures adopted not to be confined to so-called 'B-to-C' relations, not least because the distinction between 'B-to-C' and 'B-to-B' cannot be taken for granted, and might well not be compatible with the objectives of simple and consistent legislation and legal certainty;

3.  Considers that it is particularly important to establish a uniform legal concept covering the whole spectrum of economic transactions within the internal market, and to boost consumer confidence, in order to make e-Europe a reality, particularly as regards cross-border transactions;

4.  Notes that a great deal has been achieved at Community level in the matter of consumer protection, but that the total arsenal of legislation applicable to the internal market should be aimed not at securing full legislative approximation, but at setting minimum norms and standards, in order to inspire consumer confidence;

5.  Points out that any proposals for legislative measures resulting from the debate on the Green Paper must actually lead to simpler, more understandable and better targeted legislation that will be easier to enforce;

6.  Takes the view that maximum harmonisation may be an effective means of eliminating the fragmentation of business-practice and consumer-protection legislation applicable to the internal market, so as to enable the latter to operate more smoothly and thereby raise consumer confidence; stresses to the commission that the suitability of minimum or maximum harmonising provisions be appropriately and individually assessed when amending existing legislation, or developing new legislation;

7.  Insists that maximum harmonisation must aim at a high level of consumer protection, which is one of the objectives of the Treaty and a prerequisite for the promotion of consumer confidence;

8.  Is convinced that the principles of mutual recognition and law of the country of origin can only be fully implemented to all-round satisfaction once a sufficient degree of harmonisation and a high level of protection have been achieved;

9.  Advocates the establishment of a consistent legal framework and affirms its preference, on the basis of the information currently available to it and in the undermentioned conditions, for the so-called 'mixed approach' as opposed to continuing with the series of specific directives, often unconnected to each other;

10.  Recognises that any framework directive will have to be supplemented by a full range of specific directives or regulations, but believes that the relationship between the framework directive and the specific directives or regulations will have to be defined extremely precisely;

11.  Considers that the relationship between the framework directive and contract law ought to be clarified;

12.  Inclines to the view that the objective of consistency, simplification and comprehensibility presupposes that the required changes to existing specific directives will be made at the same time as a proposal for a framework directive is being drawn up, thereby ensuring that the legislation can be drafted on the basis of a complete picture and the assurance given that the legislative package will in fact simplify the internal market rather than making it more complex;

13.  Does not rule out the option of incorporating a general condition into the framework directive based on the principle of outlawing unfair trading practices, but emphasises the need for a clear definition of unfair practice, backed up by expert opinions, while insisting that the implementation of such a framework directive will result in simpler and more efficient legislation which will guarantee legal certainty to both consumers and business;

14.  Proposes, in order to facilitate interpretation, that the framework directive be accompanied by a non-exhaustive black-list of practices considered as jeopardising for consumer interests;

15.  Assumes that a framework directive will contain definitions of the basic terms of consumer law;

16.  Agrees with the Commission's approach of establishing a uniform legal basis in the framework directive within which European codes of conduct would be enshrined;

17.  Considers it necessary, in the interests of legal certainty and democratic legitimacy, that with respect to the use of European codes of conduct on consumer protection, the following conditions be taken into consideration:

   (a) A code of conduct can only play a supplementary part and can be no substitute for legislation;
   b) it must come into being on a voluntary basis;
   c) it can apply only to those natural and legal persons who have subscribed to it;
   d) the enforceability of a code of conduct must be ensured by introducing the rule whereby any infringement of a voluntarily accepted code of conduct will be treated as equivalent to an unfair practice and will be sanctioned accordingly by the appropriate authority (arbitration body or court);

18.  Calls, being concerned fundamentally with legal questions, for additional expert research into the approval mechanism suggested by the Commission that could lead to a contestable assumption of the legality of codes of conduct, because:

   (a) It cannot act as a generally valid test of the law, as market participants might well be given a false impression of legal certainty;
   b) it will confuse the consumer, who must be able to distinguish between approved and non-approved codes of conduct and, in addition, be able to assess their importance correctly;
   c) it will undermine the flexibility of the 'code of conduct' mechanism;

19.  Advocates the development of rules for a better treatment of Community law in cross-border relations, and agrees that an internal market calls for coordinated market supervision;

20.  Supports, consequently, the idea of intergovernmental cooperation by national enforcement authorities, which can operate to the advantage of mutual information and mutual assistance in specific cases;

21.  Calls on the Commission to provide detailed information on the nature of the obstacles encountered, to quantify their impact on cross-border purchases and, on that basis, to continue consultations with all parties concerned, on both the production and the distribution sides, and with representatives of SMEs and consumer organisations;

22.  Reiterates its call for a coordinated approach of the consumer protection framework directive and the regulation on sales promotions, which must coincide perfectly with each other;

23.  Urges the Commission to make good its intention to appeal to experts to conduct preparatory studies and to draw up the extended impact study announced in its 2002-2003 programme of work, and to do so before submitting proposals for legislation;

24.  Calls upon the Commission to draw up an extended impact study on the suitability of the maximum-harmonisation approach and, whilst this impact study is not available, to indicate for each proposal why a particular option has been chosen;

25.  Urges the Commission to engage in a broad and focused consultation to ensure the best possible input from interested parties;

26.  Reserves the right to issue a definitive opinion when the necessary additional information is available and specific proposals can be submitted;

27.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission, and to the parliaments of the Member States and the candidate countries.

(1) OJ C 125, 27.5.2002, p. 1.

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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Cambodia on the eve of the general elections of 27 July 2003

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Cambodia,

–   having regard to the EC-Cambodia Cooperation Agreement, which entered into force on 1 November 1999(1),

–   having regard to the Commission communication on EU election assistance and observation (COM(2000) 191),

–   having regard to the EC-Cambodia Strategy Paper 2000-2003,

–   having regard to the Declaration of 1 March 2002 by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the Commune Elections in Cambodia,

–   having regard to the observations made by the delegation of Members of the European Parliament after visiting Cambodia from 11 to 14 September 2002,

–   having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on Human Rights on Cambodia,

A.   whereas general elections will be held in Cambodia on 27 July 2003, marking another important step in the country's democratisation process,

B.   alarmed at the violence perpetrated against political activists, mainly from the opposition,

C.   whereas the flawed voter registration process has been denounced by the main opposition party and fears of intimidation have been expressed,

D.   noting that the National Election Committee figures, which show that more than 90 per cent of Cambodian voters have registered to vote in the general election, are widely contested by the opposition as being highly exaggerated,

E.   concerned about the government's decision in January 2003 to bar Christian groups from disseminating religious literature in public and noting the difficulties in registering experienced by Buddhist monks,

F.   whereas Cambodia's government has decided to close its borders with Thailand,

G.   whereas the destruction of the Thai Embassy and of Thai businesses in Phnom Penh on 29 January 2003 highlighted the volatile security situation and the climate of targeted xenophobia,

H.   whereas the government has tried to exploit these events to the detriment of the opposition leader Sam Rainsy,

I.   concerned at the lack of political will on the part of the government to stop child prostitution in the country and trafficking in human beings to, within and from Cambodia for purposes of forced labour including prostitution, begging and adoption, which remain a major problem,

J.   deeply concerned at the impunity accorded to people, mainly from Europe, who sexually abuse children,

K.   whereas the Cambodian authorities continue to deny basic protection to many of the Montagnard minority from the Central Highlands of Vietnam who have sought asylum in Cambodia, and to collude with the Vietnamese in their return to likely persecution,

L.   whereas Cambodia has ratified the Statute of the International Criminal Court,

M.   whereas during the past year human rights defenders, opposition journalists and the independent media have become increasingly subject to intimidation, arrests and killings, the perpetrators of which have never been brought to justice,

N.   whereas the electronic media remain under the control of persons and companies affiliated to Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party,

O.  Recalling that Cambodia is the largest recipient of per capita aid,

1.  Condemns the acts of violence and intimidation taking place during the pre-election period, and calls on the government of Cambodia to take immediate measures to counter the widespread impunity with which these are perpetrated, inter alia by ensuring that credible cases of political violence are investigated;

2.  Urges the government of Cambodia to guarantee free and fair elections without intimidation and harassment;

3.  Asks that all parties be afforded the possibility of checking the veracity of the electoral lists well before the start of voting;

4.  Calls on the government of Cambodia to ensure that the electoral campaign and the ballot take place in a peaceful atmosphere;

5.  Calls on the Commission to send the clear message, via its two representatives in the region, that, in order for the elections to be considered free, fair and democratic, the lives of opposition leaders must be safeguarded, failing which the cooperation agreement with the EU will be cancelled;

6.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to send an EU observer mission to monitor the general elections, and asks for the mission to have enough members and to arrive in Cambodia sufficiently early to ensure that the ballot takes place in accordance with the rules;

7.  Calls on the government of Cambodia to respect freedom of expression and freedom of religion and to reverse its decision to bar Christian groups from disseminating religious literature in public;

8.  Calls for all the political groupings fielding candidates to be afforded total freedom of political expression and equal access to the media, particularly the State media;

9.  Condemns the unilateral and unexpected decision by the Phnom Penh government to seal all land border crossings with Thailand and expresses its concern that the border closure will affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of poor Cambodian citizens;

10.  Calls on all responsible leaders to push for the annulment of this decision and for the opening of serious negotiations with the government in order to normalise relations between the two countries as soon as possible;

11.  Requests the Cambodian authorities to take all necessary measures to end abuse of children and child prostitution, and to bring those responsible to justice;

12.  Calls on the government of Cambodia to cooperate fully with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in protecting the Montagnard minority;

13.  Calls for a proactive commitment by EU representatives in Phnom Penh with regard to improvement of the human and civil rights situation in Cambodia, and for EU aid to be made conditional thereon;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the ASEAN member states and the government and parliament of Cambodia.

(1) OJ L 269, 19.10.1999, p. 18.

Myanmar (Burma)
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European Parliament resolution on Burma

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma and in particular its resolution of 11 April 2002(1),

–   having regard to the Council's Common Position 96/635/CFSP on Burma/Myanmar of 28 October 1996(2), as extended by Common Position 2002/831/CFSP of 21 October 2002(3), and to Declaration 6474/03 of 18 February 2003,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 552/97 of 24 March 1997 temporarily withdrawing access to generalised tariff preferences from the Union of Myanmar(4),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1081/2000 of 22 May 2000 prohibiting the sale, supply and export to Burma/Myanmar of equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism, and freezing the funds of certain persons related to important governmental functions in that country(5),

–   having regard to the report of the EU troika following its visit to Burma of 8-10 September 2002,

A.   whereas Aung San Suu Kyi, who entered into talks with the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) in October 2000 to resolve the country's political problems, was released from house arrest in May 2002, but is being increasingly harassed and intimidated by the authorities of Burma, as are those people who wish to see or listen to her,

B.   whereas there are still over 1200 political prisoners in various jails in Burma, who are subject to various forms of mistreatment and torture and have no access to adequate food and healthcare facilities,

C.   whereas recent arrests in the country were clearly politically motivated, in particular those of the Secretary-General of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy and a number of Members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party of Aung San Suu Kyi,

D.   whereas the UN General Assembly in November 2002 strongly urged the SPDC to ensure that the contacts with Aung San Suu Kyi and other leaders of the National League for Democracy move without delay into substantive and structured dialogue aimed at democratisation and national reconciliation, and deplored the continued violations of human rights, particularly those directed against persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities and women in Burma, and the denial of religious freedom,

E.   whereas the ILO was able in October 2002 to open a liaison office in Rangoon,

F.   whereas nothing has happened since the UN Special Envoy, Tan Sri Razali Ishmael, was told by the SPDC in July 2002 that talks with Aung San Suu Kyi would begin soon,

G.   whereas the Burmese army is continuing to inflict gross human rights abuses on members of the ethnic nationality civilian population, such as the Arakan, Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Shan and Mon peoples, including beatings, rape, destruction of food supplies, forced relocations, forced labour, torture, extrajudicial summary executions and disappearances,

H.   whereas ethnic nationalities' leaders, meeting jointly in Copenhagen in September 2002, again offered to enter into a nationwide ceasefire and negotiate a peaceful political settlement with the NLD and the SPDC through a 'Tripartite Dialogue' based on the principles of the 1947 Panglong Agreement - equality, voluntary participation and democracy,

I.   whereas on 28 January 2003 the EU invited SPDC Deputy Foreign Minister Khin Maung Win to attend the EU-ASEAN Ministers' meeting in Brussels,

J.   whereas on 11 February 2003 Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra announced after a visit to Rangoon that the Burmese Senior General Than Shwe had agreed to Thailand's offer to try to persuade the ethnic nationalities fighting Rangoon to come to the negotiating table,

K.   whereas on 18 February 2003 the EU Presidency stated that repression, political arrests and detention in Burma have increased in spite of the ILO presence, the UN Special Envoy's attempts to facilitate a dialogue, and the visit of Amnesty International,

L.   whereas Burma is currently facing a banking crisis brought about by opaque banking practices and crony capitalism, and whereas there is significant European investment in Burma, particularly in oil and gas,

M.   whereas most new foreign investment in Burma is made through military-backed companies, and the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions has called on oil and gas companies 'to cease investment in Burma while the use of forced labour continues',

N.   whereas the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has called for economic sanctions against Burma, and has published a list of companies investing in Burma,

O.   whereas the UNHCR, which is responsible for safeguarding and supporting Rohingya Muslim refugees in Bangladesh, has decided to gradually withdraw its activities from Bangladesh, starting June 2003, and eventually close its office there,

P.   reiterating its condemnation of the failure to respect the results of the May 1990 elections and the maintenance of military rule, and regretting that the Committee representing the People's Parliament created in 1998, which represents the Parliament elected in 1990, has still not been allowed to convene,

1.  Urges the SPDC to revive the process of dialogue with Aung San Suu Kyi in order to solve the many critical problems Burma is currently facing, including the banking crisis;

2.  Calls upon the SPDC to show its commitment to the political dialogue process by stopping the harassment and intimidation by the Union Solidarity Development Association of Aung San Suu Kyi, the people who want to see or listen to her and the Burmese democracy movement in general;

3.  Urges the SPDC to demonstrate convincingly its intention to bring about national reconciliation by fully supporting the efforts of Prime Minister Thaksin of Thailand to mediate between the SPDC and the ethnic nationalities;

4.  Urges the Royal Thai Government to facilitate the negotiations by allowing the ethnic nationalities' leaders to meet in Thailand to discuss their future and work out a response to the mediation offer made by the Thai Prime Minister;

5.  Urges the SPDC, in particular, to respond to the offer to enter into a nationwide ceasefire and negotiate a political settlement with the ethnic nationality leaders, on the basis of the principles of the 1947 Panglong Agreement;

6.  Urges the SPDC to immediately and unconditionally release Sai Nyunt Lwin, General Secretary of the Shan Nationalities League for Democracy, who was arrested on 6 February 2003, and to stop the restrictions on freedom of movement and association imposed on other political leaders, of Burmese or ethnic nationality;

7.  Urges the military government to release all remaining political prisoners without preconditions, starting immediately with those who have already completed their sentences;

8.  Urges the SPDC to improve the appalling conditions in prisons and labour camps, and to ensure that prisoners have access to adequate food and healthcare facilities;

9.  Stresses the need to implement strictly the law of October 2000 banning the use of forced labour and to ensure the end of this widespread practice, and urges the SPDC to allow the ILO unrestricted access to areas of the country where the use of forced labour is being reported;

10.  Strongly urges the SPDC to stop the systematic use of rape against ethnic women as a weapon of repression; calls on the Commission to bring these cases before the UN and demand that an independent international inquiry be set up;

11.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that support for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the areas most in need is possible without political interference by the military, and that international NGOs are involved;

12.  Urges the SPDC to put an end forthwith to all human rights violations committed by the Burmese army, the military intelligence services, the police and other security forces, including the widespread practice of torture, forced relocations, forced labour and extrajudicial and summary executions, and to bring those responsible to justice;

13.  Stresses that the military regime in Rangoon needs to understand that the EU does not regard minimal concessions as a sign of real change, and insists that the EU Common Position be strengthened in April 2003 to include a foreign investment ban and other measures;

14.  Calls on the Commission to bring the case of the continued widespread use of forced labour in Burma to the attention of the World Trade Organisation, which in December 1996, in its Singapore Ministerial Declaration, pledged: 'We renew our commitment to the observance of internationally recognised core labour standards. The International Labour Organisation is the competent body to set and deal with these standards';

15.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that there will be no forced repatriation of the Rohingya Muslims to Burma and to urge the SPDC to immediately end all human rights violations in Rakhine State;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the ASEAN member states, the Governments of India, China and Japan, the NLD and Aung San Suu Kyi, the SPDC, the ethnic nationality leaders in Burma and the UN Secretary-General.

(1) P5_TA(2002)0186.
(2) OJ L 287, 8.11.1996, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 285, 23.10.2002, p. 7.
(4) OJ L 85, 27.3.1997, p. 8.
(5) OJ L 122, 24.5.2000, p. 29.

Nigeria: case of Amina Lawal
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European Parliament resolution on the case of the Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal, sentenced to death by stoning in Nigeria

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to its resolution of 5 September 2002(1) opposing the death sentence by stoning passed on Ms Amina Lawal by the Sharia Court of Bakori in Katsina State on 22 March 2002, for having a child out of wedlock,

A.   aware that the death sentence has been appealed and is due for hearing on 25 March 2003,

B.   repeating the point made in its earlier resolution that Nigeria remains one of the few countries in which a person can be sentenced to death for consensual sexual activity,

C.   whereas to execute Ms Amina Lawal for the alleged offence is in breach of human rights as defined inter alia in the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights,

D.   whereas Amina Lawal has the right to appeal against this verdict to a non-religious court,

E.   whereas the new Federal Justice Minister, Kanu Agabi, has announced the Government's wish to appeal the Sharia court verdict and has recalled that Muslims must enjoy the same rights and protection as other Nigerians, in conformity with the Constitution,

1.  Expresses its categorical opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances because it represents the ultimate violation of the right to life guaranteed by international law, and urges the Nigerian Government to take all steps to ensure that all executions are halted and that the use of the death penalty is ended;

2.  Calls on the Upper Sharia Court of Appeal of Katsina to uphold its commitment to all the international agreements entered into by Nigeria in the human rights field, and therefore asks that all elements of Sharia law that contradict international law be repealed;

3.  Calls on the Nigerian Supreme Court to deliver a judgment bringing regional legislation into line with the international law that Nigeria has signed up to;

4.  Calls on the Nigerian Government to ensure that the courts operate in accordance with international human rights law and the bill of rights in Nigeria's own constitution;

5.  Confirms that respect for human rights forms the subject-matter of one of the fundamental clauses contained in all agreements between the EU and third countries;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the African Union, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the UN Secretary-General and the Government and Parliament of Nigeria.

(1) P5_TA(2002)0411.

Closure of undertakings after receiving EU financial aid
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European Parliament resolution on closure of undertakings after receiving EU financial aid

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Charter of the Fundamental Social Rights of Workers of 1989 and the action programme relating thereto,

–   having regard to Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies(1),

–   having regard to Council Directive 94/45/EC of 22 September 1994 on the establishment of a European Works Council or a procedure in Community-scale undertakings and Community-scale groups of undertakings for the purposes of informing and consulting employees(2),

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 2002/14/EC of 11 March 2002 establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community(3),

–   having regard to its earlier resolutions on restructurings, mergers, relocations and closures of undertakings,

A.   whereas in this sector unfair trade practices are sometimes applied in non-EU countries,

B.   whereas the workers affected, their trade unions, their communities and local authorities have taken part in numerous protests in defence of the jobs concerned and the viability of the undertakings,

C.   whereas the traditional leather and tanning industry is currently undergoing a restructuring process,

D.   whereas in a number of European countries there is now a widespread trend towards relocating factories, the sole aim of which is to obtain short-term profit by means of speculation, thereby creating unemployment and jeopardising the social stability of the region in which they are located,

E.   whereas restructuring relocation affects not only the "traditional" – i.e. labour-intensive – industries such as textiles, shoe or toy making, but also capital-intensive industries such as steel, ships, machine tools, aircraft and electronic equipment, as well as important areas of the service sector such as software development and financial, information and logistics services,

F.   whereas this problem is particularly acute in the less economically developed Member States, in the light of the relocations, recently carried out or announced, of a number of companies or branches of companies (such as C&J Clark, Gerry Weber, Bagir, Sasimac, Schuh-Union, Scottwool, Ecco'let, Bawo, Rohde, Philips, Yasaki Saltano, Efacec, Eres, Alcoa, Delphy, Alcatel and Eftec), which will make thousands of workers redundant and jeopardise progress towards economic and social cohesion,

G.   whereas, for instance, C & J Clark applied for public funding amounting to almost EUR 1.7 million for its plant in Castelo de Paiva in the region of Aveiro (Portugal) and, as a result of reorganisation, has made 1 056 workers redundant in the past two years in its two plants in Castelo de Paiva and Arouca - in the same region - and has operated many closures elsewhere in the EU; whereas, in addition, this company had a contractual agreement with the local authorities to maintain its production in the plant of Castelo de Paiva until at least 2007,

1.  Considers that aid from public funds should be linked to long-term agreements with the management of a company in matters of employment and local development;

2.  Urges the Commission, accordingly, to refuse aid under Community programmes to undertakings which fail to honour the above commitments, which misuse investment subsidies or which directly or indirectly subsidise relocation within the Union; demands, in particular, the refusal of Community aid to undertakings which, having received aid in a Member State, transfer their plants to another country without having respected all the conditions of their contracts signed with the Member State concerned;

3.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a code of conduct in order to avoid subsidised company transfers whereby jobs are shifted from one EU country to another, and the relocation of companies from the EU to candidate countries with the sole purpose of obtaining EU financial aid and taking advantage of the cheaper work force in those countries;

4.  Expects the Commission, in granting aid under the Structural Funds, to ensure that the aid is dependent on long-term employment guarantees;

5.  Calls on the Commission to draw up and maintain an up-to-date record of actions which harm competition and of failures to comply with contracts on the part of companies benefiting directly or indirectly from public incentives, as well as to monitor operations to transfer assets either inside or outside the Union in order to assess compatibility and decide whether to impose sanctions;

6.  Asks the Commission to call on the European Monitoring Centre on Change to devote particular attention to the study of the relocation phenomenon, with a view to devising policies to neutralise the adverse effects thereof;

7.  Recommends the Commission to undertake full and proper monitoring of the current wave of company closures and relocations, and to adopt, as a matter of urgency, practical measures to support workers and promote economic recovery in the regions affected;

8.  Asks the Commission, as well as the Member States, to withdraw subsidies from aid programmes and to claim reimbursement of these subsidies from companies which do not respect their obligations;

9.  Calls on the Commission to ascertain whether the companies C&J Clark, Gerry Weber, Bagir, Sasimac, Schuh-Union, Scottwool, Ecco'let, Bawo, Rohde, Philips, Yasaki Saltano, Efacec, Eres, Alcoa, Delphy, Alcatel and Eftec have complied with the provisions of the aforementioned Directives 94/45/EC and 98/59/EC;

10.  Recalls that in other cases where collective redundancies appeared to offer the only solution to a company crisis, negotiations with the employees helped to develop alternative plans which allowed jobs to be safeguarded;

11.  Recommends, therefore, that the management of the companies involved, together with workers" representatives and the local authorities, find alternative solutions in order to safeguard jobs; calls on the Commission, in collaboration with the local authorities involved, to consider the efficient and targeted use of the European Social Fund for the vocational training and retraining of the workers involved;

12.  Considers that firms in sectors threatened by global competition need to collaborate, with assistance from Member States and the Commission, in developing world best practice technologies that will reduce costs and improve value for consumers;

13.  Emphasises that investment in research and development, with the engagement of EU funds through the Sixth Framework Programme, can be used to develop new materials, designs and processes that can reconfigure traditional industrial sectors;

14.  Expresses its solidarity with the workers who are directly or indirectly affected by the closure and, in particular, the relocation of undertakings;

15.  Asks its committees with responsibility in this area to evaluate carefully the Commission's follow-up to this resolution;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the social partners, in particular those linked to the firms C&J Clark, Gerry Weber, Bagir, Sasimac, Schuh-Union, Scottwool, Ecco'let, Bawo, Rohde, Philips, Yasaki Saltano, Efacec, Eres, Alcoa, Delphy, Alcatel and Eftec.

(1) OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, p. 16.
(2) OJ L 254, 30/9/1994, p. 64.
(3) OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p. 29.

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