Texts adopted
Wednesday, 6 September 2006 - Strasbourg
EC/Comoros Fisheries Agreement *
 EC/Seychelles Fisheries Agreement *
 Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania ***
 A European social model for the future
 Improving the mental health of the population - towards a strategy on mental health for the EU
 Simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy (2006-2008)
 Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities
 EC-Albania agreement

EC/Comoros Fisheries Agreement *
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European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council regulation concerning the conclusion of the Partnership Agreement in the fisheries sector between the European Community and the Union of the Comoros (COM(2006)0096 – C6-0103/2006 – 2006/0032(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council regulation (COM(2006)0096)(1),

–   having regard to Article 37 and Article 300(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0103/2006),

–   having regard to Rules 51 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A6-0242/2006),

1.  Approves conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Union of the Comoros.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.

EC/Seychelles Fisheries Agreement *
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European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council Regulation concerning the conclusion of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Republic of Seychelles (COM(2006)0097 – C6-0102/2006 – 2006/0029(CNS))

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council Regulation (COM(2006)0097)(1),

–   having regard to Article 37 and Article 300(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0102/2006),

–   having regard to Rules 51 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries and the opinion of the Committee on Development (A6-0241/2006),

1.  Approves conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Seychelles.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.

Stabilisation and Association Agreement with Albania ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council and Commission decision concerning the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Albania, of the other part (8161/2006 - C6-0197/2006 – 2006/0044(AVC))

(Assent procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council and Commission decision (8161/2006),

–   having regard to the request for assent submitted by the Council pursuant to Article 300(3), second subparagraph, in conjunction with Article 300(2), first subparagraph, second sentence and Article 310 of the EC Treaty (C6-0197/2006),

–   having regard to Rule 75 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A6-0246/2006),

1.  Gives its assent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Republic of Albania.

A European social model for the future
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European Parliament resolution on a European Social Model for the future (2005/2248(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission communication on European values in the globalised world (COM(2005)0525),

–   having regard to the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe(1),

–   having regard to the European Social Charter,

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2006 on the European Council's position on the Financial Perspective and the renewal of the Interinstitutional Agreement 2007-2013(2),

–   having regard to ILO conventions on international labour and environmental standards,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2006 on social protection and social inclusion(3),

–   having regard to the Report of the High Level Group on the future of social policy in an enlarged European Union of May 2004,

–   having regard to the Commission communication on the Social Agenda 2006-2010 (COM(2005)0033),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document on Sustainable Financing of Social Policies in the European Union (SEC(2005)1774),

–   having regard to the Commission communication on European policies concerning youth − Addressing the concerns of young people in Europe − implementing the European Youth Pact and promoting active citizenship (COM(2005)0206),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working paper on the social situation in the European Union − 2004 (SEC(2004)0636),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0238/2006),

A.   whereas the European social model reflects a common set of values, based on the preservation of peace, social justice, equality, solidarity, the promotion of freedom and democracy, and respect for human rights,

B.   whereas one of the cornerstones of the European social model is the social economy,

C.   whereas in the last 60 years, the set of common values reflected in the European social model has allowed a growing EU successfully to become an area of greater economic prosperity and social justice,

D.   whereas, although Member States have different social systems, and have implemented these values in different ways, they commonly aim to attain a balance based on active interdependence between economic growth and social solidarity, and this is reflected in the European social model as a unity of values with a diversity of systems,

E.   whereas Member States and the EU have given priority to upholding the values associated with the European social model, demonstrated by the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy, which makes social development one of the pillars of sustainable development,

F.   whereas there is a clear need to modernise and reform the European social model to respond to demographic changes, meet the challenge of globalisation, and increase the adaptability of human resources to rapid technological evolution, in order to better achieve social inclusion, social justice, and the eradication of poverty,

G.   whereas the European social model must provide measures that meet the challenge of increased migration and immigration and their implications for social cohesion,

H.   whereas any reform of the European social model must not dilute the values that constitute its essence,

I.   whereas a core message of the European social model is equal pay for equal work at the place of work,

J.   whereas higher economic growth is paramount for the sustainability of European social standards, and social standards are intrinsic to sustainable growth,

K.   whereas an adequate income is fundamental to social inclusion and active participation in society as well as a life of dignity,

L.   whereas social policies, when appropriately designed, should not be regarded as a cost but, instead, as a positive factor in the EU's economic growth, not only by increasing productivity and competitiveness, but also by generating social cohesion, raising living standards for citizens, and ensuring access to fundamental rights and equality, thus becoming an important factor in ensuring societal peace and political stability, without which there can be no lasting economic progress,

M.   whereas such social policies must recognise that the majority of employers are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and that they employ the majority of employees,

N.   whereas services of general interest (SGIs) and services of general economic interest (SGEIs) were expressly recognised for the first time in the Amsterdam Treaty as core elements of how Member States ensure social and territorial cohesion and as areas which Member States retained the right to define and to fund, and this position was reinforced in the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe,

O.   whereas the concept of the European social model is reflected in that constitutional Treaty, and is underpinned by the principles of equality, solidarity and non-discrimination,

P.   whereas the Member States should follow the Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 (COM(2006)0092), and the European Pact for Gender Equality, and fully transpose current Community anti-discrimination legislation into national law,

Q.   whereas the EU has the capacity positively or negatively to influence the economies in many other parts of the world, by the way in which it trades, both in terms of its role in the WTO and in the conditions that it applies and the agreements into which it enters with less developed regions and countries,

R.   whereas the implementation of a trade policy based on European collective preferences and globally shared values, and an aid policy aimed at eliminating child labour and promoting education, basic labour and environmental standards, and standards of transparency and good governance, will contribute to the enhancement of the political strength of the EU in international institutions,

Reform of the European Social Model

1.  Stresses the necessity of preserving and enhancing the values associated with the European social model: equality, solidarity, individual rights and responsibilities, non-discrimination and redistribution with access for all citizens to high-quality public services, and the high social standards already achieved;

2.  Insists that only an EU based on economic and social cohesion that defends its common values can be strong enough to protect its interests;

3.  Is convinced that there is no alternative to urgently reforming economic and social systems where they fail to meet the criteria of efficiency and socially sustainable development, and where they are inadequate to tackle the challenges of demographic change, globalisation and the IT revolution;

4.  Expresses its deep disappointment at the present growth rate in the EU which makes structural reform extremely difficult;

5.  Is aware of the widespread concerns among EU citizens regarding unemployment − especially unemployment among young people − exclusion, poverty, insecurity on the job market, and the potential failure of social security systems;

6.  Believes that where demographic changes and unemployment affect certain groups disproportionately the European Union must aim to ensure equal access to high-quality jobs;

7.  Views the need to renew the EU's commitment to a social Europe as of paramount importance in restoring citizens' confidence in the EU project, which provides jobs, growth and prosperity;

8.  Is fully aware that employment and social policy remain broadly within national competence, but stresses that the EU also has competences in this field, as set out in the Treaties, and that there is a need for the EU to create a stronger economic and social framework, in order to allow Member States to implement reforms as necessary at national level, according to their own economic, social and political circumstances;

9.  Asks the Commission to take further initiatives to achieve the full implementation of the internal market, which, if fully realised, will create economic growth and competitiveness, having regard to the need to exclude any "race to the bottom" in social, consumer or environmental standards;

10.  Supports the Commission in its efforts to encourage the creation and success of European enterprises, with particular reference to SMEs, which contribute greatly to the EU economy and account for the great majority of private-sector employees;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to respect the initial equilateral triangle of the Lisbon Strategy and to develop an approach that is better balanced between economic coordination on the one hand and employment and social policy on the other;

12.  Expresses its disappointment that many Member States are far from achieving the Lisbon Strategy objectives; therefore reiterates the call on Member States fully to implement the revised Lisbon Strategy, which is considered to be the only sustainable way to achieve economic growth, increase competitiveness and create more and better jobs; calls on the Member States to achieve, in particular, the specific targets set for employment, especially of women and young people, R&D investment, childcare and lifelong learning; views the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy as minimum goals that are vital if the Member States are to undertake the necessary structural reforms;

13.  Recommends that Member States deepen cooperation and the exchange of best practice through the enhanced open method of coordination, thereby providing an efficient policy making instrument in the fields of employment, social protection, social exclusion, gender equality in the labour market, pensions, and healthcare; believes that the open method of coordination should enhance the role of parliaments, social partners and relevant organisations;

14.  Calls on the Commission to democratise the open method of coordination, ensuring that not only the European Parliament but also national parliaments play a full role in the setting and achieving of targets by Member States' governments;

15.  Stresses the importance of launching public campaigns to explain and negotiate the basis of reform objectives in which EU institutions, national governments, public authorities, social partners, and NGOs have an active role to play;

16.  Reaffirms its resolution of 12 January 2005 on the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe(4) and the Commission's '3D' campaign of dialogue, debate and democracy; calls on the Commission now to incorporate the social dimensions in its impact analyses in accordance with the social clause provided for in the constitutional Treaty;

17.  Calls on the Commission to respect the social economy and to present a communication on this cornerstone of the European social model, as well as to introduce a statute for a European mutual society and a European association;

Financing the reform

18.  Calls on the Member States to undertake reforms in order to ensure the financial sustainability of national social systems, without prejudicing acquired rights, mutual support and intergenerational solidarity, having regard to the context of a changing society and a changing labour market, demographic change, globalisation and technological developments; points out that some of the most successful Member States have already carried out such reforms, while maintaining the sustainability and effectiveness of their social systems; considers, therefore, that comparative analyses should be made of the reforms already made, together with SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analyses of those still to be implemented; stresses the importance of promoting excellence, inter alia, by pooling good practice;

19.  Is aware that in some Member States current contributions to social protection systems may be inadequate to meet citizens' expectations; considers that Member States, while respecting the principle of solidarity and subsidiarity, should reflect on alternative ways to finance those systems which would promote dynamic reforms while not adversely affecting wages, such as harnessing the added value produced by companies and promoting the principle of vertical and horizontal subsidiarity between institutions and the public;

20.  Calls for improved coordination of Member States' tax policies with a view to avoiding harmful tax competition, ensuring sustainable financing for social protection and making tax policy more employment-friendly; notes the fact that tax rates on capital and consumption have, in general, remained stable over the last 30 years while real tax rates on labour have risen over the same period; recommends that the Member States reflect in a coordinated way on the possibilities of improving the existing tax systems in the Union, since tax reforms of this nature would benefit the financial sustainability of national social systems;

21.  Stresses the need to strengthen the Structural and Cohesion Funds in order to take account of economic and social cohesion and calls on the Member States to utilise EU funds, such as the Structural Funds, more efficiently in order to co-finance national reforms; deplores the fact that the recent agreement on the Financial Framework was manifestly insufficient to properly resource programmes in favour of cohesion, education and training, lifelong learning, mobility and social dialogue;

22.  Stresses that any reforms have to be considered within the context of the Member States' budgetary margin of manoeuvre, but suggests that the reformed Stability and Growth Pact offers opportunities for social investment not previously available;

SGIs and SGEIs

23.  Recalls that SGIs and SGEIs are an essential element of the European social model, and are fundamental to the universal delivery of health, education, public transport, water and energy supplies to all citizens; considers it essential that in reforming the EU's social systems, SGIs and SGEIs are respected, given their key role not only in improving the quality of life of citizens, but also in enhancing businesses" capacity for efficiency and their access to a high-quality labour force;

24.  Notes the necessity of dealing adequately with new types of family, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, and of enlarging the scope of social services, such as accessible childcare, care for those with special needs or disabilities, and long-term care for elderly persons, while maintaining a high level of consultation in medium and long-term planning;

Social Dialogue

25.  Recalls that social dialogue in its various manifestations is an essential element in the traditions of the Member States and, in accordance with national customs and practices, that any successful reform of social systems should involve all stakeholders, in particular the social partners; calls for the renewal of the social dialogue at both national and European level and the development of a greater role for the trialogue at European level;

26.  Recognises the positive role that corporate social responsibility can play in promoting social cohesion through the way in which companies' behaviour impacts upon the daily life of the communities in which they are involved and in enhancing companies' accountability to their stakeholders; recommends the use of social and environmental reporting requirements and public policy measures such as public procurement, in order to stimulate responsible behaviour on the part of companies;

Human Resources

27.  Insists that as a central element of the modernisation of social systems the Commission and the Member States cooperate in the setting up of concrete programmes and initiatives focused on the improvement of working and living conditions and the sustainable development of human resources, such as the setting of targets and standards for improved healthcare;

28.  Calls for a broad debate concerning the right of all people to a pension of an acceptable level; recognises the fear that pension reforms, begun in many Member States, will increase the number of pensioners already living in poverty; highlights the urgent need for positive action to encourage and enable older workers to remain in or re-enter the labour market, grant fair access and more flexibility in the choice of pension and retirement schemes; calls on the Commission to study national efforts to address the impact of demographic change on pension sustainability and pensioner poverty, and to monitor more effectively the implementation of existing age-discrimination legislation;

29.  Draws attention to the situation of women whose pension entitlement should not be diminished because of their marital status or interruptions in employment due to maternity or parental leave, or child-care breaks;

30.  Recognises the advantages of 'flexicurity' systems which Member States should adopt, in accordance with their circumstances, in order to protect workers' capacity to keep/find jobs through mobility and/or improvement of professional skills by way of occupational training and lifelong learning, and considers them to be a means of promoting the reconciliation of work-life balance and work and lifecycle concepts;

31.  Notes the creation of a Globalisation Adjustment Fund as a potential complement to the European Social Fund, as well as the Member States' efforts at national, regional and local level to provide specific support to workers seeking new or better jobs;

32.  Recalls that gender and race equality and the principle of non-discrimination under Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which provides a legal basis for appropriate action to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, must be systematically included in all social policies; considers that emerging EU policies on integration are in fact a concrete form of social policy that should be developed; believes that ensuring that everyone, women, men, minority groups, and immigrants, are well integrated delivers benefits to society and social benefits in terms of cohesion and preparedness for the workplace;

33.  Emphasises in particular the importance of introducing social and work inclusion measures for disadvantaged persons experiencing difficulties in gaining access to the labour market without assistance, as provided for in Commission Regulation (EC) No 2204/2002 of 12 December 2002 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty to State aid for employment(5), with a view both to taking practical action to combat discrimination and to providing those concerned with a means of securing an income, independence, personal development and integration, either as an alternative to or in conjunction with welfare assistance;

Social Protection

34.  Emphasises that social protection systems should be efficient in achieving their goals of preventing and combating poverty and social exclusion, with particular emphasis on eliminating poverty traps;

35.  Considers that employment is a decisive factor in achieving social inclusion; therefore, calls for reforms that direct public spending towards raising employment rates and return-to-work rates and provide incentives to work by eliminating poverty traps and other forms of social exclusion, and address as a matter of urgency the numbers of women and of persons from some ethnic minorities who are unemployed, many of whom face societal and/or structural barriers to entering the labour market; further considers that the specific problems faced by women from ethnic minorities and immigrant women should be studied and addressed;

36.  Recognises that, in the 'flexicurity' approach, creating and maintaining adequate social protection mechanisms is an indispensable prerequisite of flexibility, as is firm protection against unfair dismissal;

The external dimension

37.  Reaffirms that only if the EU can preserve its economic and social cohesion will it be able successfully to defend EU interests at international level;

38.  Recognises that, despite its positive effects, globalisation is producing economic and social imbalances, thus arousing deep apprehension in the citizens of Europe, especially in Member States with high unemployment rates and the regions most affected by company relocations; calls on the Member States, accordingly, to undertake the structural reforms that are needed if the EU is to remain attractive on the world stage, with high-value products and services;

39.  Stresses that the EU should confidently promote its social values of solidarity and social justice in all trade and development negotiations and agreements;

40.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to adopt political actions in relation to third countries with high economic growth (Brazil, Russia, India and China) in order to attain a development model which provides for the respect of human rights, democracy, freedom, labour and environmental standards and social justice; urges the EU to help in finding a global equilibrium between economic growth and high social and environmental standards;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt a consistent line in fora such as the ILO, the OECD, and multilateral environmental agencies; believes, in particular, that the work of the ILO should be more closely integrated into WTO agreements and considers that ILO core labour standards should be integrated into EU strategies towards WTO and bilateral negotiations; calls on the Commission to ensure, through bilateral agreements, that ILO standards are, as a minimum, respected so that child labour is eliminated and humane working conditions are guaranteed;

42.  Welcomes the introduction of the Generalised System of Preferences Plus (GSP+) scheme, which provides incentives for higher social and environmental standards, and calls for this approach to be extended to bilateral trade agreements; notes the need for the Commission to monitor closely the implementation of the scheme with a view to ensuring that compliance with these standards is being achieved;

o   o

43.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 310, 16.12.2004, p.1.
(2) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0010.
(3) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0089.
(4) OJ C 247 E, 6.10.2005, p. 88.
(5) OJ L 337, 13.12.2002, p. 3.

Improving the mental health of the population - towards a strategy on mental health for the EU
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European Parliament resolution on improving the mental health of the population. Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union (2006/2058(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Green Paper from the Commission - "Improving the mental health of the population. Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union" (COM(2005)0484),

–   having regard to Articles 2, 13 and 152 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(1),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(2),

–   having regard to the Council Resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health(3),

–   having regard to the declaration of the WHO European Ministerial Conference of 15 January 2005 on facing the challenges of mental health in Europe and building solutions,

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations(4),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0249/2006),

A.   whereas one in four people in Europe experience at least one significant episode of mental ill health during their lives; whereas mental ill health affects everyone in the EU either directly or indirectly, and during the course of any one year 18.4 million people in the European Union aged between 18 and 65 are estimated to suffer from major depression; whereas good mental health enables citizens to be intellectually and emotionally fulfilled and integrated into social, educational and professional life; whereas, conversely, poor mental health gives rise to expense, social exclusion and stigmatisation,

B.   whereas mental health conditions substantially detract from the quality of life of those either directly or indirectly affected,

C.   whereas economic costs to society of mental ill health are enormous, with some estimates putting them at between 3% and 4% of GDP in the Member States of the European Union,

D.   whereas mental health conditions already have a very significant economic, health and social impact, which is set to increase as the rate of incidence rises, given the ageing population and changes in society,

E.   whereas some 58 000 European Union citizens commit suicide each year, more than the annual deaths from road traffic accidents or HIV/AIDS, and whereas ten times this number attempt suicide,

F.   whereas, in view of the assignment of competences in the EC Treaty, the added value of a Community strategy on the mental health of the people of Europe lies primarily in the field of prevention,

G.   whereas in some European countries up to 85% of the money devoted to mental health is spent on maintaining large institutions,

H.   whereas a lack of understanding and investment in mental health promotion has contributed to deteriorating health and disabilities among individuals and societal problems,

I.   whereas approximately 40% of all prisoners have some form of mental disorder and whereas they are up to seven times more likely to commit suicide than people in the community, and whereas inappropriate imprisonment can worsen the disorder and prevent rehabilitation,

J.   whereas throughout the European Union not enough attention or resources have been given to the mental health of children and young people, even though mental ill health is increasing significantly among the young,

K.   whereas there is a clear gender dimension to the issue of health, particularly as regards eating disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, schizophrenia, mood disorders, anxiety, panic, depression, abuse of alcohol and other psychoactive substances, as well as suicide and delinquency, areas which also require systematic research,

L.   whereas women tend to seek assistance from services more than men and are prescribed twice as many psychotropic drugs as men; whereas pharmacokinetic studies have shown that women have less tolerance to such products,

M.   whereas the prevention, early identification, intervention and treatment of mental disorders significantly reduces the personal, financial and social repercussions,

N.   whereas a great number of people suffer from neurodegenerative disorders and this number is expected to grow on account of, inter alia, longevity and the concomitant increase in the elderly population,

O.   whereas in most European Union countries there has been a move from long-term institutionalised care, both for children with developmental and behavioural problems which jeopardise their normal development, particularly in the educational sphere, and for adults with chronic and severe disorders and for those with learning disabilities, towards supported community living, but whereas this has been without proper planning and resourcing of community services,

P.   whereas mental health problems related to violence against women and girls are poorly identified; whereas accounts of victimisation are routinely not taken into account and many women and girls are reluctant to disclose a history of violent abuse unless doctors and medical personnel ask about it directly,

Q.   whereas the precondition for good mental health is an upbringing in a healthy family environment providing both material and psychological security and parental love,

1.  Welcomes the Commission's commitment to mental health promotion; calls for greater priority for this in health policies, with the emphasis on prevention, and in the Union's research policy, and believes this should be mainstreamed into the policies and legislation of all Commission Directorates and all Member State ministries, which should make a commitment to harmonising the current national and international mental health indicators, with a view to ensuring a comparable set of data at EU level;

2.  Considers that the gender dimension has not been duly taken into account in the Green Paper; calls, therefore, for this dimension to be systematically considered in the measures proposed to promote mental health, in preventive measures and in research, in which studies have to date been insufficient and inadequate, to such an extent that progress on the prevention and cure of mental illness has been significantly less great than in the case of other diseases;

3.  Considers the role of doctors in monitoring patients to be of paramount importance;

4.  Believes that good mental health is a prerequisite for the overall health and well-being of European citizens and for a healthy economic performance in the EU; encourages and supports all measures which aim to help prevent mental disorders;

5.  Stresses the need to think about the best way to use the available Community instruments, such as the 7th research framework programme, in order to build up a capacity capable of supporting research into mental health in the Union;

6.  Believes that any future proposal by the Commission relating to mental health should involve partnership and consultation with and the participation of those who have experienced or are experiencing mental health problems, their families and carers and advocacy NGOs, associations of family members and other interested parties, so as to make decision-making processes more representative and inclusive, and should promote networking among members of the families of psychiatric patients;

7.  Highlights the sizeable differences in mental health expenditure in individual Member States, both in terms of the absolute amount and as a proportion of health care expenditure as a whole;

8.  Believes that different actions will be needed to achieve the three aims of mental health promotion, mental health improvement and mental disorder prevention; believes that the aims of such actions should be to provide appropriate information, to obtain relevant knowledge and to develop appropriate attitudes and skills in order to safeguard the mental and physical health and improve the quality of life of European citizens;

9.  Stresses the need for careful use of terms such as "Mental Ill Health", "Mental Health Disorders", "Severe Mental Illness" and "Personality Disorder";

10.  Stresses the importance of the need for early screening, detection and diagnosis and of integrated, tailor-made treatment;

11.  Stresses the need to combat, through appropriate action, inequalities in the treatment of mental diseases which are evident in this field;

12.  Calls for people with learning disabilities to be included within any future strategy, as they face similar issues as people with mental disorders, including social exclusion, institutionalisation, abuse of human rights, discrimination, stigma and lack of support for themselves and their families and carers; calls, at the same time, for greater efforts to recognise cognitively gifted children and young people as such and to provide better support for them;

13.  Stresses the importance of mutual help and the leading role played by people's experience of treatment, illness and recovery;

14.  Welcomes the Commission's highlighting of children, employees, older people and disadvantaged members of society as key target groups, but would extend this to include, for example, those with severe mental illness, those with long-term and terminal illnesses, the disabled, prisoners, ethnic and other minority groups, rough sleepers, migrants, persons in precarious jobs and the unemployed, and the range of mental health and care issues of specific reference to women;

15.  Recognises that personality disorder presents particular challenges of diagnosis, treatment or management and care, requiring more research and distinct policies; calls on the Commission also to devote attention to aggression, the determinants of aggressive behaviour and its psychological consequences;

16.  Acknowledges that men and women may have different mental health needs, and calls for more research particularly into the link between compulsory in-patient care and self-harm and the higher rate of prescription of psychotropic drugs among women;

17.  Stresses the need for research into the proven variations in structure and activity between the brains of men and women, in order to develop separate approaches and treatments for the two sexes in the field of mental health;

18.  Calls for support for mothers during the prenatal and postnatal periods in order to prevent depression or other psychopathological conditions which manifest themselves in significant numbers of cases in these situations;

19.  Believes that good mental health of mothers and parents helps children to develop without hindrance and grow into healthy adults;

20.  Calls for a multi-disciplinary and multi-agency response to tackling complex mental ill health situations, such as how best to support children or adolescents with developmental or behavioural problems or eating disorders, and/or whose parents in many cases themselves suffer from mental ill health (or are kept in long-term institutions);

21.  Notes that socially-defined images of how girls' and women's bodies should look have an impact on women's and girls' mental health and well-being, resulting inter alia in an increase in eating disorders;

22.  Points out that mental ill health and mental disorders commonly have their roots in early childhood and stresses the importance of research into a healthy early childhood;

23.  Stresses the importance of continuing training and in-service training of the intermediaries: teaching staff, care workers, social and judicial services and employers;

24.  Welcomes the fact that the Green Paper recognises that social and environmental factors, such as personal experiences, family, and social support; living conditions such as poverty, living in big cities, and rural isolation; and working conditions, such as job insecurity, unemployment, and long working hours, play a role in the mental health of people; stresses that mental disorders are one of the reasons for early retirement and disability pensions;

25.  Considers that good working conditions contribute to mental health and calls for employers to introduce "Mental Health at Work" policies as a necessary part of their health and safety at work responsibility, with a view to ensuring the 'best possible jobs' for and best possible incorporation into the labour market of persons with mental disorders, and that these should be published and monitored within existing health and safety legislation, while also taking workers' needs and views into account;

26.  Welcomes the social initiatives within social policy and employment policy to promote the non-discriminatory treatment of individuals with mental ill health, the social integration of individuals with mental disabilities, and the prevention of stress in the workplace;

27.  With regard to the EU employment strategy, emphasises the influence of mental health on employment as well as the influence of unemployment on people's state of mental health;

28.  Believes Member States should work together to find and implement effective strategies to reduce suicide, particularly among young people and other at risk groups;

29.  Calls for greater recognition of the connection between discrimination, violence, and poor mental health, which underlines the importance of combating all forms of violence and discrimination as part of the strategy for the promotion of mental health through prevention;

30.  Sees one of the greatest challenges in mental health as being the ageing of Europe's population and urges that more emphasis is given to research into the mechanisms and causes of neurodegenerative diseases or other psychiatric illnesses in the elderly and to their prevention as well as their care, including the development of new therapies;

31.  Further believes that emphasis should be placed on the link between the consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs and mental disorders; considers that alcohol and drug addiction cause serious mental and physical health problems and problems for society as a whole; calls on the Commission to review without delay what detoxification programmes and methods of treatment are the most effective;

32.  Stresses that people with mental disorders should be treated and cared for with dignity and humanity and that medical care and support services should be effective and of a high quality, accessible to all sufferers and universal; that there should be a clear understanding as to their rights to be or not to be treated; that they should be empowered wherever possible to participate in decisions about their own treatment and consulted collectively on services; that, when prescribed medicines, they should have the fewest possible side effects; and that there should be information and advice for those who wish to withdraw safely from medication;

33.  Believes that the use of force is counterproductive, as is compulsory medication; believes that all forms of in-patient care and compulsory medication should be of limited duration and should, wherever possible, be regularly reviewed and subject to the patient's consent or, in the absence of such consent, to authorisation by the appropriate authorities used only as a last resort;

34.  Takes the view that any restriction of personal freedoms should be avoided, with particular reference to physical containment, which requires monitoring, verification and vigilance by democratic institutions responsible for upholding individual rights, in order to guard against abuses;

35.  Calls for the defeat of stigma to be at the heart of any future strategy, e.g. by establishing annual campaigns on mental health issues in order to combat ignorance and injustice, as the stigma attached to mental ill health leads to rejection by society in every field from employment to family, and from community to health professionals; considers furthermore that with a view to improving the mental health and conditions of patients, basic social and civil rights should be guaranteed, such as the right to housing and economic support for those unable to work and the right to marry and manage one's own affairs; further believes that stigma is in fact a form of discrimination and should be tackled by anti-discrimination laws;

36.  Recognises that an element of the stigma is a widespread perception that mental health disorders are acute and lifelong, whereas it is important to stress that, with appropriate help, people can recover, while others will achieve remission or a sufficient level of functionality or stability;

37.  Emphasises the need to reform mental health services so that they are based on high-quality community care at home or in sheltered accommodation with access to proper health and social care; with regular monitoring and assessment; with respite care for people with mental health problems and their carers; with a one-stop-shop approach to accessing health, social, housing, training, transport, benefits and other services; stresses that this should be backed up by a range of in-patient services for acute, chronic or secure needs but always with independent monitoring of anyone who receives compulsory in-patient care;

38.  Stresses, with this in mind, the need to support cooperatives formed by psychiatric patients and all activities geared to the inclusion of users and former patients and to earmark resources for the training of staff, so as to enable them to take account of all the needs of psychiatric patients;

39.  Stresses the need for continuous training on mental health matters for general and family practitioners and other professionals in primary health care services;

40.  Recognises that local government has an integral role to play in promoting good mental health, supporting those in poor mental health within their local communities and bringing together the various strands of a multi-agency approach to mental health service delivery;

41.  Believes that dual diagnosis of people with mental health and addiction problems should normally lead to concurrent treatment;

42.  Stresses that mental and physical aspects of health are interlinked, that mental disorders can have a biological, social, emotional or historical basis which must be addressed in order for other approaches to be successful, and that some psychiatric medicines can actually worsen the underlying biological condition;

43.  Calls for greater attention to the psychological consequences and symptoms of somatic diseases; stresses the need to give equal importance to mental and physical well-being in hospital care protocols, including for the treatment of serious and/or incurable illnesses; and believes it is essential for medical and paramedical personnel working in other specialised fields to undergo continuous training in psychopathology since disorders often remain undiagnosed or are underestimated;

44.  Supports the Commission's comments on deinstitutionalisation, as long-term stay in psychiatric institutions can lead to the protraction and exacerbation of psychopathological conditions, reinforcement of stigma and social exclusion, but acknowledges that greater efforts must be made to convince the public of the better results achieved when people with severe mental or learning disorders receive care in the community;

45.  Suggests that the Commission should collect, through the Public Health Programme, data on mental illness, recovery rates of treated patients and the effectiveness of their reintegration in society;

46.  Suggests the Commission identify sites and examples of good practice and disseminate details of these to all Member States, these "Demonstration Sites" being comparable to WHO sites under their "Nations for Mental Health" programme; considers that demonstration sites, "demonstration treatments" and "demonstration prevention strategies" could be important ways of reducing mental health inequalities between Member States; calls on the Commission to involve knowledge institutes in identifying demonstration sites, demonstration treatments and demonstration prevention strategies;

47.  Believes that, because all persons (according to UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/46/119 of 17 December 1991 on the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care) have the right to the best available mental health care, best practice and relevant information should be disseminated and be available to all citizens;

48.  Believes that the term "treatment" should be interpreted broadly, with the emphasis on identifying and eliminating social and environmental factors, while the use of medication should be a last resort, particularly in the case of children and young people; criticises the growing medicalisation and pathologisation of life stages, without a comprehensive search for causes; calls for account to be taken of factors such as personal experiences, family, social support and living and working conditions which play a role in mental illness as well as genetic factors;

49.  Draws attention to the large number of children who grow up in state care institutions in some Member States, especially in some of the new ones; urges the Commission to support more effectively the creation of alternative systems, which would help parents from risk groups to care for their children properly; calls for the "Child and adolescent mental health in an enlarged Europe: development of effective policies and practices" project, which would coordinate progress in children's mental health strategy in the Member States, to be started as quickly as possible and effectively implemented;

50.  Further believes that in addition to treatment, an appropriate social and work environment as well as family and community support are required to prevent mental health problems and improve and promote mental well-being and the therapeutic strategy for and rehabilitation of sufferers of mental disorder; stresses the need for research into environments conducive to mental health and recovery;

51.  Urges the Commission to support continuing reforms in any Member State that practised the abuse of psychiatry, over-use of medication or incarceration, or inhumane practices such as caged beds or excessive use of seclusion rooms, particularly in some of the new Member States; stresses that in some of the new Member States mental health indicators in society are as a rule drifting in the wrong direction, with a lot of suicides, violence and dependencies, especially on alcohol; underlines that these countries inherited inadequate mental health care systems and large psychiatric and care institutions which increase social exclusion and stigma, while at the same time there is a lack of community services which need to be integrated into general health and social protection systems; calls on the Commission to place the reform of psychiatry on the agenda for EU accession negotiations; considers that prison is not a suitable environment for those suffering mental ill health and that alternatives should be actively pursued;

52.  Calls for more research into therapeutic and psychological interventions, into the development of more effective drugs with fewer side effects, into determinants of mental disorders and suicide, into outcome measurements for investment in mental health promotion and into methods contributing to successful recovery and remission; calls, in particular, for special attention to be devoted to research into medicines more suitable for children; stresses, moreover, that research must not be confined to pharmaceuticals but must extend to epidemiological, psychological and economic studies on the community and the social determinants of mental illness; further calls for an increase in the involvement of service users in all aspects of mental health research;

53.  Believes further that more research is needed into stigma and ways to counter it; the experience of individual service users and their carers; working relations between different services and professions and former service users; and cross-border provision;

54.  Believes that mental heath services should receive sufficient funding to reflect the cost of mental disorders to individuals, health and social care services, and society as a whole, so as to be effective and command public confidence;

55.  Believes that it is essential to apply high quality, individualised methods of promoting mental health, taking into account the particular needs of individuals and target groups;

56.  Recognises the valuable contribution that family members and informal carers make to supporting people with mental health problems, and equally recognises that many of them will have their own care needs, and will need information and support from professionals if they are to continue providing care; further recognises the valuable contribution that service users can make in supporting each other;

57.  Stresses the need to use vocabulary and terminology which will help to combat stigma, e.g. measures to eliminate prejudice, change attitudes and criticise stereotypes in regard to every category of mental disorder;

58.  Calls for a "Mental Health Coordinating and Monitoring Group" to be established by the Commission to collect information on mental health practice and promotion in the EU, to assess the adequacy (in terms of numbers and training) of existing mental health professionals and infrastructure, and to disseminate information on best practice to all Member States and all parties involved in the treatment of mental health; stresses that patients' organisations, those providing treatment, care institutions and knowledge institutes must be involved in this Coordinating and Monitoring Group;

59.  Calls on the Commission to follow up the Green Paper with a proposal for a directive on mental health in Europe and the defence of and respect for the civil and fundamental rights of persons suffering from mental disorders;

60.  Urges the EU and ACP countries to work closely on investing in good mental health through development and Cotonou policies;

61.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the acceding and the candidate countries, the ACP countries and WHO-Europe.

(1) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(3) OJ C 86, 24.3.2000, p. 1.
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0115.

Simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy (2006-2008)
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European Parliament resolution on the 2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy (2006/2053(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled "2006-2008 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy" (COM(2005)0647),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Perspectives for simplifying and improving the regulatory environment of the Common Fisheries Policy" (COM(2004)0820) and the Commission staff working document entitled "Analysis of the possibilities of simplification and improvement of the regulatory environment of the Common Fisheries Policy and of its implementation" (SEC(2004)1596),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled "Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme: a strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment" (COM(2005)0535),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 15 April 2005 concerning the Commission Communication entitled "Perspectives for simplifying and improving the regulatory environment of the Common Fisheries Policy" (8077/2005),

–   having regard to the interinstitutional agreement on better law-making which was concluded on 16 December 2003 by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission(1),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A6-0228/2006),

A.   whereas improving and simplifying the legislative environment with a view to making it more efficient and transparent is a priority task for the European Union which will benefit ordinary people and help to increase competitiveness, growth and sustainable development, thereby contributing to the achievement of the Lisbon objectives,

B.   whereas administrative bodies in the Member States and those who work in the fisheries sector deplore the dispersal and the juxtaposition of measures, the lack of clarity and accessibility in the case of existing texts and the difficulties stemming from the administrative burden created by a multitude of requirements, some of which are superfluous,

C.   whereas the task of simplifying the rules governing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) calls for the extensive involvement of fishermen and of the other parties concerned,

D.   whereas the fishing industry must be consulted within deadlines which will allow its effective participation and upstream involvement in the decision-making process,

E.   whereas the effectiveness of the CFP is closely linked to the introduction of a harmonised inspection and monitoring system applicable to all who work in the fisheries sector,

1.  Warmly welcomes this sectoral action plan designed to simplify and improve the CFP;

2.  Fully supports the objectives established by the Commission, in particular those concerned with making existing texts simpler, clearer and more accessible, reducing the workload and the administrative costs shouldered by the administrative bodies responsible for fisheries, and reducing the burdens and the restrictions imposed on fishermen;

3.  Welcomes the methodology proposed by the Commission, in particular the drawing up of a three-year action plan covering the 2006-2008 period;

4.  Agrees with the Commission's view that simplification efforts must focus on conservation policy and the monitoring of fishing activities;

5.  Considers that there must genuinely be more extensive pre-legislative consultation of all the parties affected by the measures envisaged and that such consultation should be carried out as far as possible at an early stage, in order to enable the interested parties to make an effective contribution to the preparatory work prior to any legislative proposal;

6.  Considers that all legislative proposals must be preceded by impact analyses and that the latter must be based on accurate, objective and comprehensive information and must be made public at the appropriate time;

7.  Considers that there must be an adequate period of time between the date of adoption and the date of implementation of any new rules, in order to enable the parties concerned to adapt;

8.  Considers that regulatory texts must be drawn up more precisely and in a way that can be understood by stakeholders;

9.  Considers that assessments concerning the effectiveness and the implementation of the measures adopted must be carried out systematically on the basis of objective and clearly defined indicators;

10.  Insists that the advisory bodies (in particular the Regional Advisory Councils and the Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture) must play an integral role in the process of simplification and of assessing the effectiveness and implementation of existing and new measures; considers that closer consultation with these bodies would undoubtedly result in those involved in the fisheries sector identifying more closely with fisheries legislation;

11.  Considers that the legal structure of the provisions relating to technical measures, to fisheries management measures, to monitoring measures and to catch limits must be revised with a particular view to clarifying texts, making them more consistent and easier to read, deleting obsolete provisions and both condensing and consolidating the provisions relating to each aspect of the CFP;

12.  Supports the simplification guidelines set out in the action plan for regulating the total allowable catches (TACs)/quotas and the fishing effort, in particular the separate treatment of the various existing components, the targeting of decisions at uniform groups and the development of multiannual approaches;

13.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to reform existing legislation by gradually bringing together technical measures relating to each fishery, whilst at the same time clarifying the provisions in force and ensuring that the rules as a whole are more consistent and better coordinated;

14.  Rejects the possibility outlined by the Commission of submitting a "short" regulation on technical measures to the Council, which would be followed by detailed Commission regulations, since such vital aspects as the body of technical measures by which the Community fleet is to be governed cannot be removed from debate and approval by the European Parliament and the Council;

15.  Takes the view that special attention should be paid to the possibility whereby the Member States may be authorised to adopt certain locally applicable technical measures; considers that, with a view to preventing such arrangements from having an adverse environmental impact, the use thereof should be periodically assessed;

16.  Notes that Article 9 of Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 of 20 December 2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy(2) already permits Member States to adopt non-discriminatory measures for the conservation and management of fisheries resources and to minimise the effect of fishing on the conservation of marine eco-systems within 12 nautical miles of their baselines; urges that the Commission proceed cautiously with any extension of this principle, as an authorisation to adopt certain locally applicable technical measures could result in the emergence of discriminatory conditions in the Member States concerned;

17.  Approves of the development on a case-by-case basis of targeted approaches for individual regions or individual fisheries, duly based on scientific resource-protection criteria and thorough socio-economic impact analyses, and considers that all the parties concerned should be closely involved in the development of such approaches;

18.  Considers that the recovery and management plans proposed by the Commission as part of the CFP need to be made flexible in line with the actual circumstances for fishing in the various Member States;

19.  Approves of the increased use of computers, of information technologies and of automation in order to facilitate access to Community legislation and to facilitate and rationalise the collection and the transfer of data intended both for administrators in the Member States and for people who work in the sector;

20.  Considers that information on legislation must not be forwarded only through institutional channels but must also reach the interested parties directly, in particular through associations, Regional Advisory Councils, the Internet and the drafting of codes of conduct;

21.  Considers that the use of new technologies on board fishing vessels should be increased gradually, with exemptions to be made in the case of the smallest vessels and with sufficiently long transition periods to be established in order to enable the sector to adapt;

22.  Considers that Community aid should be granted for the development of the new technologies and for the specific training required;

23.  Considers that the provisions concerning all aspects relating to the monitoring and surveillance of fishing activities must be consolidated and recast;

24.  Calls upon the Commission to revise the Community provisions relating to minimum sizes with a view to harmonising them;

25.  States once again that a harmonised inspection and monitoring system applicable to all who work in the sector and accompanied by a uniform set of interpretation provisions and penalty procedures should be established as a matter of urgency in order to bolster fishermen's trust in the basic principle of equal treatment; considers that the Community Fisheries Monitoring Agency should contribute to the achievement of this objective;

26.  Welcomes the general principle concerning the rationalisation of the reporting requirements imposed on the Member States and on the sector but emphasises the crucial role played by certain Commission reports, in particular those which serve to monitor the implementation of the CFP;

27.  Considers that the administration of authorisations outside Community waters (and of catch and effort data relating to such activities) should be clarified, improved and computerised, and welcomes the initiatives which the Commission has already undertaken in this area;

28.  Agrees with the Commission that the complex and lengthy procedures applied by the European Union in order to transpose the provisions adopted by Regional Fisheries Organisations into Community legislation are completely undesirable, but takes the view that most of the complexity in transposition stems from excessive bureaucracy within the Commission itself and therefore categorically rejects the possibility that any simplification process should be carried out at the expense of robbing the European Parliament of its responsibilities as regards intervening in legislative procedures;

29.  Calls, furthermore, upon the Commission to finalise a "standard agreement" for the two main categories of fisheries partnership agreement (mixed and tuna) on the basis of which the rights and the obligations of the two parties (Community and third country) will be enshrined;

30.  Considers that the process of negotiating and monitoring fisheries partnership agreements should be reworked and simplified as a matter of priority and welcomes the efforts which the Commission has recently made in this area;

31.  Is willing to contribute actively to the effort required to implement the simplification process and calls for an on-going interinstitutional dialogue on better law-making in relation to the CFP;

32.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

(1) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 358, 31.12.2002, p. 59.

Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities
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European Parliament resolution on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (COM(2005)0181 - COM(2006)0213 - C6-0234/2005 - 2005/0090(CNS))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2005)0181)(1) and the modified proposal (COM(2006)0213)(2),

−   having regard to Article 279 of the EC Treaty and Article 183 of the Euratom Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0234/2005),

−   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(3),

−   having regard to its re-consultation by the Council of 28 June 2006 (C6-0207/2006),

−   having regard to its position of 15 March 2006(4) and 6 July 2006(5),

−   having regard to Rules 54(3) and 56 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Notes that the Commission has altered its proposal pursuant to Article 250(2) of the EC Treaty and, in particular, that the principle of proportionality, the demand for more transparency, the excluded-participants database and the Member States" annual reports have been incorporated, as called for by Parliament in its amendments adopted on 15 March 2006;

2.  Welcomes the incorporation of the principle of effective and efficient internal control, including a tolerable level of risk;

3.  Approves the modified Commission proposal of 18 May 2006 in so far as it takes account of Parliament's amendments, without prejudice, however, to its position of 15 March 2006 and 6 July 2006, which still applies unreservedly;

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

5.  Draws attention to point 45 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management and to Declaration No 6 annexed thereto; calls on the Council to adopt its joint guideline and initiate the conciliation procedure under the Joint Declaration of 4 March 1975(6);

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

7.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.
(2) Not yet published in OJ.
(3) OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0085.
(5) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0312.
(6) OJ C 89, 22.4.1975, p. 1.

EC-Albania agreement
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European Parliament resolution on the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States and the Republic of Albania

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Albania, of the other part (COM(2006)0138),

–   having regard to the Commission's Progress Report on Albania in the context of the Stabilisation and Association Process of 9 November 2005 (SEC(2005)1421),

–   having regard to the Commission's Enlargement Strategy Paper of 9 November 2005 (COM(2005)0561) and to the European Parliament's resolution of 16 March 2006 on the Commission's 2005 enlargement strategy paper(1),

–   having regard to its position of 6 September 2006 on this subject(2),

–   having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Albania fulfils the conditions to enter into the SAA with the European Communities and their Member States,

B.   whereas the SAA will replace the 1992 Agreement on Trade and Commercial and Economic Cooperation,

C.   whereas the conclusion of the SAA with Albania places relations between the European Union and Albania on a new contractual basis that provides new opportunities for Albania to promote the rule of law, strengthen its democratic institutions, contribute to its stability, which is of the utmost importance for the whole region, and deepen cooperation with the European Union,

D.   whereas the Thessaloniki European Council of 19 and 20 June 2003 reiterated its determination to fully and effectively support the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries, which will become an integral part of the EU once they meet the established criteria,

E.   whereas Albania is still facing serious challenges in tackling corruption and organised crime, achieving full implementation of adopted legislation, improving public administration and fighting trafficking in human beings and drugs,

F.   whereas the last parliamentary elections in Albania were criticised as being not wholly in line with OSCE/ODIHR commitments and other international standards for democratic elections,

1.  Welcomes the SAA, which holds out the prospect of a close and far-reaching contractual relationship between the EU and Albania and which will be instrumental in achieving political, economic and institutional stability in the country as well as in the whole region and in promoting the transformation of Albania into a pluralist democracy respecting the rule of law, with a functioning market economy;

2.  Believes that progress in achieving the standards laid down in the SAA should be monitored by means of concrete measurable benchmarks by the SAA Council and the relevant joint parliamentary committee;

3.  Draws attention to the long-term benefits of the SAA for both the Albanian people and the EU; notes that the major advantages of the SAA lie in the achievement of the goal of a complete free trade area and the establishment of a clear legal commitment to cooperation in the areas of common concern, as well as the promotion of a more stable legal environment for investors;

4.  Urges the EU and Albania to use the SAA as a mutually beneficial opportunity; furthermore advises Albania to exploit the opportunity to find its own niche on the European market and develop competitiveness in targeted sectors;

5.  Recommends that Albania focus more strongly on developing its economic potential, not least through the improvement and possibly the expansion of its existing transport infrastructure and the development of environmentally and socially sustainable tourism; regrets the recent cuts in external action assistance as provided for in the Financial Framework; calls on the Commission to earmark sufficient funds for the improvement of the country's infrastructure, in particular for the development of public transport;

6.  Confirms, in line with the conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of 19 and 20 June 2003, its full support for Albania's European perspective and future integration into the European family; believes, however, that the Albanian commitment to European values and standards is first and foremost for its own benefit and should also be pursued as a goal in itself;

7.  Notes the reforms Albania has undertaken in order to create a state based on principles of democracy, the rule of law, the free market economy and the protection of human rights and good governance; stresses, however, that Albania needs to expand these reforms and show more tangible results, in line with the provisions set out in the European Partnership, and establish a sustained record of successful implementation of the SAA in order to move to a further stage in European integration; is particularly concerned about the lack of substantial progress as regards full implementation of adopted laws; considers it vital to considerably strengthen administrative capacity, to reform the judiciary and strengthen its independence, to protect women's rights, to fight organised crime and to promote media freedom, while the media themselves should strive for transparency;

8.  Notes that the government has committed itself to cracking down on organised crime, including the decision to ban the use of speedboats in order to combat trafficking in human beings and drug smuggling, but insists that Albania must demonstrate further substantial progress in combating all forms of organised crime, in particular trafficking in women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, exploitation at work or compelling them to beg, as a prerequisite for intensified cooperation with the EU; calls on the Commission to continue and reinforce its support to the Albanian authorities in this regard;

9.  Notes the efforts of the government in the fight against corruption and organised crime; observes that corruption is one of the main obstacles to the economic and social development of Albania and therefore expects the government's campaign to continue to show tangible results; is of the opinion that corruption has no political colour and should be fought irrespective of any political affiliation;

10.  Encourages Albanian governmental bodies to empower civil society by providing it with greater opportunities to participate in the formulation of policy and in the monitoring of its implementation and effectiveness at all levels of government, to improve the quality and credibility of reform, as well as to increase transparency and accountability;

11.  Notes with respect the efforts undertaken by the Education Minister to reform the education sector but urges the government to guarantee equal education opportunities for children all over the country;

12.  Stresses that there are still significant violations of human rights in Albania which should be addressed; urges the Albanian Government to implement the necessary reforms to give detainees access to defence in legal proceedings and to combat torture, brutality or inhuman or degrading treatment; calls on the government to carry out the relevant legislative reforms required for the full implementation of the 2003 Family Code, particularly as regards making domestic violence a criminal offence;

13.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to help Albania to put an end to the persistence of the 'blood feud', which constitutes a failure of the rule of law and is fundamentally at odds with European values;

14.  Notes that the current electoral system was used during the last parliamentary elections in 2005 to distort the principle of proportionality, also known as the "Dushk phenomenon", and urges the Albanian Government and Parliament to further reform the system before the forthcoming local elections following the recommendations formulated by the OSCE/ODIHR, in particular as regards the accuracy of voter lists and of civil registers;

15.  Calls on Albania to make further efforts to protect minority rights, including the rights of the Greek minority in Albania, and to complete and implement its minority-related legislation so that it supports the implementation of the relevant international conventions ratified by Albania; observes that further efforts are needed, in particular, as regards increasing the use of minority languages in citizens' dealings with the authorities and the display of traditional local names, improving access to the media for members of minority groups and extending minority language education; notes the shortage of accurate statistical information on national minorities;

16.  Expresses its concern at the recent threats by the opposition to boycott the forthcoming local elections; calls, in this respect, on all parties to act in a responsible manner, making every effort to reach an agreement on delicate issues such as the law governing the media and the list of voters;

17.  Welcomes the positive and constructive role that Albania has played in multilateral regional initiatives; underlines, however, the need to continue to promote regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations with regard to key issues affecting South East Europe, such as cross-border cooperation, the free movement of persons, fighting organised crime and trafficking, establishing a free trade area capable of attracting foreign investment, sharing environmental resources and developing integrated trans-border networks;

18.  Takes the view that, on account of economic under-development, Albania should devote special attention to developing economic cooperation in the region, in particular with its direct neighbours; considers that Montenegrin independence, the negotiations on the future status of Kosovo, and the opening of negotiations on EU membership with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the near future should be seen as additional opportunities for economic cooperation and development in Albania and the region as a whole;

19.  Takes the view that Albania has a particularly important role to play in the stabilisation of South East Europe with regard, in particular, to the final status of Kosovo; urges the Albanian Government and its leaders to continue to adopt a constructive approach in this respect;

20.  Underlines the importance of the Union's assistance missions for capacity building and welcomes the results achieved by the police assistance mission (PAMECA), customs assistance mission (EU-CAFAO Albania) and the judicial assistance mission (EURALIUS); taking into account the extensiveness and complexity of the fight against organised crime in the Western Balkans, calls on the Commission to substantially increase and strengthen EU assistance in the police (PAMECA) and rule of law (EURALIUS) area; calls on the EU and Albania in this context to take advantage, by means of twinning and secondment programmes, of the extensive knowledge and experience gained by the new Member States in reforming their societies and economies in the EU integration process, in particular as regards adopting and implementing the legislation on land and property restitution, including for religious communities, and strengthening the border guard and customs authorities;

21.  Welcomes the conclusion of the readmission agreement with Albania in November 2005 and calls for a visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Albania within the framework of visa facilitation for all the countries of the Western Balkans in order to facilitate cross-border exchanges for the business community, social partners, academia and students as a first step; stresses, however, that the ultimate objective must be to facilitate travel for all citizens;

22.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Albania.

(1) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0096.
(2) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0339.

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