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Procedure : 2006/2633(RSP)
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PV 14/02/2007 - 5.9
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Wednesday, 14 February 2007 - Strasbourg
Preparations for the European Council (8-9 March 2007)

European Parliament resolution on the input to the 2007 Spring Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Spring European Council entitled "Time to move up a gear: the new partnership for growth and jobs" (COM(2006)0030),

–   having regard to Commission's Staff Work Document entitled "Community Lisbon Programme: Technical Implementation Report 2006 (SEC(2006)1379),

–   having regard to the 25 National Reform Programmes for Growth and Jobs as presented by the Member States (NRPs),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled "A strategic review of Better Regulation in the European Union" (COM(2006)0689),

–   having regard to the Community strategic guidelines on economic, social and territorial cohesion, 2007-2013, the Commission's Guidelines for the implementation of the Structural Funds in line with the Lisbon Strategy,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission, the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled "Global Europe: Competing in the World - A Contribution to the EU's Growth and Jobs Strategy" (COM(2006)0567),

   having regard to the Communication from the President of the Commission in agreement with Vice-President Verheugen and Commissioners Almunia and Spidla on Integrated Guidelines for Growth and Jobs (2005-2008) (COM(2005)0141),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Lisbon European Council of 23 and 24 March 2000, of the Stockholm European Council of 23 and 24 March 2001, of the Brussels European Council of 22 and 23 March 2005 and of the Brussels European Council of 23 and 24 March 2006,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2006 on a European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy - Green Paper(1),

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs on the macro-economic impact of the increase in the price of energy (A6-0001/2007),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Council and the European Parliament on an energy policy for Europe (COM(2007)0001),

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Lawmaking of 2003(2),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(3),

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

General observations

1.  Welcomes the efforts of the Commission and the Member States to make the Lisbon Strategy a success and notes that the Lisbon Strategy is Europe's response to the challenges of globalisation; moreover, emphasises, once again, that growth and employment are prerequisites for the success of the Lisbon Strategy, together with economic, social and environmental reforms, with the aim of creating a dynamic and innovative economy and society; warns against reducing the strategy to only a few priorities that are linked to the completion of the internal market and better regulation; draws attention to the many complementary features of the new Sustainable Development Strategy and the Lisbon Strategy, such as their common goal of increased competitiveness, the creation of more and better-quality jobs, greater social inclusion, environmental protection and risk prevention;

2.  Welcomes the steps taken at the 2005 Spring European Council to revive the Lisbon Strategy, including a clarification of the division of responsibility for the implementation of individual measures between the Member States and the Community;

3.  Believes that, in a world with limited resources and a fragile ecological system, the European Union should strive to become the most resource and energy-efficient economic area in the world; points to the costs of inaction or delayed action in this respect and emphasises the huge economic potential for energy-efficient technologies and renewable energies on the world market, which the European Union is best placed to exploit;

4.  Believes that innovation plays a critically important role in the European Union's ability to respond effectively to the challenges and opportunities of the global economy, as well as other major challenges, such as climate change;

5.  Points out that implementing the Lisbon Strategy calls for the provision of sufficient and well-targeted financial resources through the Community budget; regrets in this context the lack of financial resources earmarked to achieve the goals set by the Lisbon Strategy;

6.  Recognises the unique added value of regional policy in the pursuit of the Lisbon Strategy objectives, which is also reflected in the 'Community Strategic Guidelines 2007-2013: Cohesion Policy in support of Growth and Jobs'; points out that for the current programming period the EU-15 are being asked to earmark 60% of expenditure for the Structural Funds' Convergence objective and 75% of expenditure for the Regional Competitiveness and Employment objective in order to pursue the Lisbon Strategy objectives; calls on the Commission to monitor the performance of Member States in achieving the Lisbon Strategy objectives through their Structural Fund interventions;

Improving Lisbon governance for better law-making
Better law-making

7.  Supports all the efforts made by the institutions to carry forward the better law-making agenda; believes that Parliament should retain the lead role in promoting better law-making by securing the basis for common procedures with other institutions, for independent impact assessments of proposed legislation, for greater openness in Council decision-making and for improved democratic scrutiny of the adoption, by the Commission, of delegated legislation; recalls that better law-making does not mean deregulation or minimal regulation;

8.  Insists on the full recognition of the Parliament's role in the area of comitology, which would help to simplify legislation by removing truly implementing measures while guaranteeing the full respect for Parliament's legislative powers; notes that impediments to democracy and cost-intensive obligations do not arise only from legislation, but also, and primarily from comitology decisions; calls, therefore, for comitology decisions also to be the subject of comprehensive and independent impact assessments;

9.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative on reducing administrative and cost burdens for businesses; asks to be more closely involved in obtaining solid cost-benefit analyses as a basis for informed decision-making, and therefore calls on the Commission to develop a methodology for an independent ex ante assessment of administrative costs; urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States to commit to a joint cost reduction target at the 2007 next EU Spring European Council; calls on the Commission regularly to consider all policy instruments, legislative and non-legislative, with a view to achieving the desired objectives; insists that all simplification initiatives comply fully with the principles and conditions outlined in its resolution of 16 May 2006 on a strategy for the simplification of the regulatory environment(4);

10.  Suggests that a 25 % reduction in the administrative burden on the Member States would lead to an increase in real GDP of 1 to 1,4 %; urges all Member States to set quantitative and qualitative targets in this area and to contribute, within the framework of better transposition, in particular, to simplifying existing regulations and to introducing impact assessment procedures, whilst establishing consultation and complaint procedures with relevant stakeholders; underlines the important role of national parliaments and the need for cooperation structures in this context;

Early and better transposition

11.  Calls, in the interests of increasing transparency and fostering a better understanding of the Lisbon Strategy and its implementation, for the development of a common and coherent structure for NRPs, making for a better comparative analysis of the impact of the proposed actions at Member State level, as well as an open and constructive dialogue at European level on the progress achieved; supports the idea, in this respect, of establishing country-specific recommendations and a best practice ranking system on reform agendas in the different policy fields; calls on all national governments to publish and to communicate to the Commission the text of the provisions when transposing EU directives: the so-called correlation tables;

12.  Calls for the broad involvement of civil society to bring about changes to increase growth and jobs; recalls that the success of reforms depends on the involvement and ownership of the whole of society; therefore proposes to establish an exchange of views on best practice with regard to the participation of representatives of civil society in this reform process;

Improving Lisbon governance and national ownership

13.  Stresses that Member State specific recommendations must be discussed and adopted in Council in order to develop a real European framework, to strengthen the economic and employment coordination work and to foster greater national ownership;

14.  Reiterates that EU economic and employment problems will not be overcome without the active involvement of parliaments, at national and European level; supports the Commission's request that Member States promote wider discussion of their NRPs and Implementation Reports, including national recommendations, with their national parliaments and establish closer links between NRPs and national budget debates;

15.  Encourages the Commission to introduce a form of benchmarking surveillance, using structural policy indicators with a clearly identified link to economic and employment performance and indicators underpinning the structural surveillance exercise, taking into account policies that stimulate innovation and job creation;

16.  Stresses the need for a more effective role for government representatives specifically responsible for implementing the Lisbon Strategy in all Member States, at the highest political level, with a view to convincing national decision-makers to improve the policy-mix-approach of this reform agenda at both national and European level;

17.  Points out that it is the guiding role of the 2007 Spring European Council to establish the growth and employment reform agenda for the European Union; calls on the European Council to ensure the equal involvement of all the Council formations concerned; underlines its own role in monitoring the implementation of the Lisbon Strategy as a whole;

Growth, employment and competitiveness
Creating more employment and employment opportunities

18.  Considers that labour market reform must aim to reconcile the demands of industry for greater flexibility with the demands of workers for more security, for example by creating new job prospects and new forms of security; is convinced that this combination of flexibility and social security makes it easier for employees, enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adapt to the challenges of a dynamic economy and a changing society; calls, therefore, on the European Council and the Member States to define clear and objective principles and to introduce an intensified benchmarking exercise and exchanges of best practices with a view to developing and implementing flexicurity;

19.  Calls for more investment and better-trained and more highly qualified workers, in order to raise productivity and employment rates and to achieve the goals of the Lisbon Strategy, which should enable the European Union to meet the challenge of global competition; points out that modernising employment and social security systems in all Member States, including the promotion of active labour market measures (as in the Danish model), is a political imperative and that prosperity and solidarity are truly mutually supportive objectives of the Lisbon Strategy;

20.  Recalls that unemployment is most highly concentrated in vulnerable groups, especially among less-qualified workers and that a special effort is therefore needed to promote active policies of vocational training for unemployed workers who may be less qualified, and to improve the education system so as to reduce the high level of failure among school children;

21.  Believes that barriers to job creation, including disincentives to take up moderately paid employment, must be removed; recognises the responsibility of unemployed people to take up job offers; acknowledges the need for working-time arrangements to be sufficiently flexible to meet the needs of employers and employees and to allow people to balance their work and family life;

22.  Deplores the fact that the proportion of women in the workforce still falls far short of the Lisbon Strategy objectives; believes that older workers should be able to remain in the workforce on a voluntary basis, supported by appropriate training and health care at work; also believes that early retirement must be discouraged and that workers should be allowed to work past their legal retirement age voluntarily if they and their employers so agree; insists that these measures are needed to stimulate economic growth and strengthen the sustainability of public finances;

23.  Underlines that older workers account for an increasing share of the European Union's working population and economic production capacity; calls on the Member States to increase efforts to modify tax and social security systems to encourage a longer active working life and calls for the effective implementation of anti-age-discrimination legislation;

24.  Notes that there is a lack of skilled labour in the European Union, and that lifelong learning is a key to achieving the Lisbon Strategy objectives; urges the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners, to do more to create employment and raise labour market participation among young, female and older workers in particular, by:

   ensuring that every school leaver is offered a job, training or other employment and related opportunities within six months of leaving school and providing broader access to training for unemployed workers regardless of gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation;
   ensuring a higher employment rate amongst disabled people, fully harnessing their creative capacity;
   reducing the start-up time for new businesses to no more than one week, together with low start-up fees and administrative costs;
   raising investment in comprehensive and affordable childcare and other care networks;
   further reducing the tax burden on employment;
   combating social exclusion and discrimination and developing immigration and integration policies which respond to the needs of the European economy and society;
   lending fresh impetus to knowledge and innovation by raising investment; establishing clearer rights and duties in the areas of education, professional training and lifelong learning; using information and communication technology (ICT); improving the correlation between the educational system and the needs of new labour markets; and including entrepreneurship in educational curricula;

25.  Supports the policy of allowing universities to be privately funded and encourages the private sector to make its views known on the education and training that the market requires;

26.  Considers that the health-care aspects of demographic change are of extreme importance and points out that the longer that people enjoy good health, the longer they can and will stay economically active and not send health-care costs escalating; is convinced that investment in measures to protect people from factors causing chronic and long-term illness is of particular importance; at the same time, efforts should be made to ensure that individuals suffering from those illnesses are not discriminated against in the workplace;

27.  Urges Member States to review inefficient social models in the light of their financial sustainability, changing global dynamics and demographic patterns in order that these become more sustainable;

Elimination of persistent internal market shortcomings

28.  Stresses that if the European economy is to be globally competitive, it also needs a dynamic internal market; recommends measures to facilitate market access and promote innovation-friendly policies, consistent with the principles of public interest and a high level of consumer protection, so as to enable citizens to reap the full benefit from the internal market; welcomes the Commission's initiative to review the functioning of the internal market and fully endorses its ambition finally to complete the project; calls on the Member States to take ownership of the internal market and establish a culture of cooperation among themselves, with a view to policing and promoting participation by firms in pan-EU activity; highlights, in particular, the importance of proper implementation and enforcement of EC legislation and stresses the role of adequately trained national judges in this respect;

29.  Notes that the long-term strengthening of the internal market is fundamental to achieving the Lisbon Strategy objectives and, in particular, to making the European Union sustainably competitive in a globalised economy; notes also that the European institutions and the Member States must maintain their efforts to strengthen this key aspect of the integration process;

30.  Stresses that the free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the internal market; points out that, in the case of products that have not been the subject of Community harmonisation, Articles 28 to 30 of the EC Treaty prohibit Member States from maintaining or imposing barriers to intra-Community trade in goods; therefore calls on the Member States and the Commission definitively to remove all obstacles to the free movement of goods within the European Union;

31.  Notes that, as regards the free movement of goods, there are still serious shortcomings in the area of the mutual recognition of non-harmonised products; supports, therefore, the Commission's plans to secure the adoption of a legal instrument making the relevant case law of the European Court of Justice binding in all Member States;

32.  Highlights, following the final adoption of the Services Directive, the Commission's obligation to provide guidance to Member States and monitor their progress; urges the competent authorities in the Member States to cooperate so as to ensure consistent implementation across the European Union; stresses that this is essential for the European economy in order to comply with the Treaty provisions and to continue to complete the internal market;

33.  Underlines that the free movement of services is one of the cornerstones of the internal market; points out that the services industry accounts for no less than 70 % of GDP and the labour market; calls for improved cooperation between health services, in particular as regards patient mobility;

34.  Underlines that the enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights remains relatively costly and time-consuming in Europe, impeding innovation-related competitiveness; the issue of standardisation has received the necessary attention neither at European nor at national level; reiterates its call for an improvement in the framework conditions for a better intellectual property and patents policy, which is to be achieved through EU-wide standards, improved cooperation between national standardisation bodies and simplified procedures; reiterates the need effectively to address counterfeiting (drug counterfeiting) in the interests of patient safety;

35.  Regards as exceptionally regrettable the failure to make any progress with European patent policy and as unacceptable the failure to develop a uniform European patent strategy; draws attention to the outcome of its consideration of the European patent regulation at first reading, which points to a solution to the problems which have not yet been resolved in the Council; calls on the Commission immediately to submit proposals for a new patent strategy so that a fresh basis for negotiations in the Council can be established without delay; calls on the Member States to adopt an effective patent system based on past consultations, including consideration of participation in the European patent litigation agreement , to ensure progress and legal security as fast as possible;

36.  Underlines the importance of an effective, innovative and properly functioning public procurement regime to the creation of a competitive internal market; calls on the Commission to continue its reform of the public procurement framework, to maximise participation and minimise bureaucracy and to examine the best ways of ensuring fair access to public procurement for SMEs;

37.  Welcomes the progress which has been made through the implementation of the first Financial Services Action Plan and points out that a properly functioning financial market is fundamental to the growth prospects of the European economy; strongly urges the Member States and the Commission to ensure that European legislation on financial services is correctly implemented in all Member States and is fully complied with by our international partners;

38.  Points out that effective financial markets are fundamental to the proper functioning of a single market; believes that ensuring the development of high-quality financial products on a cross-border basis will contribute to an innovative business environment in Europe; believes that rapid innovation and growth in international financial transactions are creating new challenges for the business sector and for the international finance system; calls on the Commission to improve transparency and define more effective regulatory policies to promote financial stability, appropriate consumer protection and market integrity; urges the Council and the Commission to examine the need for more effective supervisory rules for private equity and hedge funds;

39.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to make the free movement of capital a reality; deplores recent instances of national governments trying to impede cross-border mergers within the European Union; commends the Commission for its unambiguous defence of the EC Treaty in this regard; calls, therefore, on the Commission to propose, without delay, including in the area of company law, new draft legislation to facilitate the mobility of firms and capital in the European Union; this applies, in particular, to the 14th Directive on the transfer of the registered office and to the European Private Company;

40.  Calls for more attention to be given to other flanking policies which will make the internal market work better; considers that priority should be given in particular to transport and to demonstrating the potential of better logistics and faster roll-out of the TENs; supports the EU German Presidency initiative in this area;

Strengthening the EU's external competitiveness

41.  Points out that free and fair trade enhances prosperity in Europe and the wider world; notes that companies within the internal market operate in a global environment, with interdependent markets and global players; calls on Member States to refrain from protectionism; considers that further global economic integration can boost competitiveness, growth and jobs in the European Union; points to the importance of international regulatory cooperation, especially in the fields of supervision, regulatory reform and simplification; notes, however, that international trade may also have negative consequences for the most vulnerable and least qualified workers in some sectors;

42.  Considers that market access, a more balanced regional approach and the promotion of International Labour Organization Core Labour Standards and decent work worldwide are vital to strengthening the European Union's external competitiveness and that avoiding environmental dumping is a crucial element of fair competition; states its readiness to consider appropriate trade measures against 'free rider' countries, which do not shoulder their fair share of the burden of combating global climate change, whilst taking into account the different stages reached in their socio-economic development by our trading partners;

43.  Points out that corporate social responsibility (CSR) should not be interpreted as being imposed unilaterally by the state, through new legal burdens on business, which would lead to a reduction in competitiveness and in the capacity to generate employment; believes that CSR should instead be brought into play through company initiatives, whether of a fiscal or other nature, so that companies voluntarily take on social interest functions;

44.  Emphasises the need to secure better financial, labour and fiscal conditions for SMEs, the source of European economic competitiveness, which will help to make for constant product innovation; regards the implementation of effective policies as imperative if the challenges of globalisation are to be faced;

45.  Points to the importance of international regulatory cooperation, especially as regards regulatory reform and simplification; considers that cooperation on the basis of multilateralism and democratic accountability should be stepped up in order to open up foreign markets to European companies" products and services on a balanced basis; in this context, stresses the need to rebalance the World Trade Organization Government Procurement Agreement by ensuring that the exclusions in favour of SMEs retained in the commitments of several signatories are counterbalanced in the European commitments by a similar exclusion or a provision entitling the signatories to grant SMEs preferential treatment, provided that such treatment is extended without discrimination to any SME within any signatory;

46.  Believes that EU assistance to third-country governments in implementing social and environmental regulation consistent with international conventions, together with effective inspection regimes, are a necessary complement to advancing the CSR of European business worldwide; stresses that CSR must be part of the business dialogue with other markets;

Boosting the EU's innovative capacity

47.  Stresses the vital importance of boosting EU investment in R&D, embracing both products and services;

48.  Welcomes the adoption of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), the main objective of which is to strengthen the scientific and technological basis of Community industry, thereby ensuring a high level of international competitiveness; reiterates, once again, the importance of research funding targets of 3 % of GDP and urges the Member States to honour the commitments into which they entered during the 2002 Spring European Council in Barcelona; emphasises the overriding aim of FP7 and its contribution towards the European Union becoming the world's leading research area; points out that it has repeatedly stressed the importance of R&D and the increased role of knowledge in fostering economic growth and social and environmental well-being;

49.  Strongly endorses the work of Joint Technology Platforms in promoting coherent strategic research agendas in key areas for Europe's competitiveness; calls on Member States to promote participation in these platforms by small enterprises and research organisations;

50.  Commends the Commission for directing targeted funds through joint technology initiatives to help translate research concepts into concrete programmes; calls on Member States to promote these programmes through their national innovation initiatives;

51.  Notes the disparity in ICT investment per employee between the United States and the European Union, and the correlation between ICT investment and productivity growth; endorses the need to sustain and develop a highly competitive ICT sector within the European Union, in particular by fully implementing the EU communications regulation framework in all Member States;

52.  Stresses the strong potential for public procurement funds to be used to promote innovation; notes that pre-competitive procurement of innovative goods and services can be carried out within the existing public procurement framework; calls on the Member States to promote this activity within their own public authorities; notes that the effective application of ICT to the delivery of public services will improve customer experiences and help EU companies to produce globally competitive products;

Securing sustainable energy policies

53.  Is convinced that the Lisbon Strategy can be a success only if further efforts are made to establish a common energy policy; is of the opinion, however, that policy should not lead to the communitarisation and standardisation of national energy policies, but rather create more competition and benefits for consumers; points out that not only Europe's strength, but also its security in the area of energy supply, lies in its diversity;

54.  Draws attention to the importance of the three key energy policy objectives, namely security of supply, sustainability and competitiveness, for stability and growth in the European Union; emphasises the need constantly to revise these three objectives in the light of changing circumstances and to strike a fresh balance between them;

55.  Draws attention to the fundamental importance of sufficient and cheap supplies of energy for the competitiveness and growth of European industry;

56.  Welcomes the Commission's Green Paper on a European Strategy for Sustainable, Competitive and Secure Energy (COM(2006)0105), but underlines the need to acknowledge the ever-changing conditions on the broader global energy market and highlights the importance of extending the producer perspective to a systematic approach embracing production, distribution and consumption in order to develop a European energy policy which can secure affordable energy for European businesses and private households;

57.  Agrees with the Commission that an essential element of a common energy policy should be enhanced solidarity between Member States in order to deal with difficulties relating to the physical security of infrastructures and security of supply; considers, furthermore, that such enhanced solidarity would considerably strengthen the capacity of the European Union to defend its common interests with regard to energy issues at international level;

58.  Notes that energy policy, and in particular security of energy supply, must become an integral part of the European Union's common foreign, trade development and security policies and calls for a common strategy to secure and diversify supplies and transit routes, thereby demonstrating solidarity within the European Union; urges the Commission and the Member States, in this context, to take very seriously the real danger of a deficit in gas supplies from Russia after 2010, due, inter alia, to a lack of investment; insists that Member States and the European Union, in its energy-related discussions with Russia, press for the signing and ratification of the Transit Protocol and the ratification of the Energy Charter Treaty; is of the opinion that partnership and cooperation agreements should be used to create a stable but open regulatory framework in supplier countries and that the Commissioner responsible for energy should follow a well-defined mandate, which sets out a long-term European approach to energy planning;

59.  Stresses that the experiences of the winter of 2005 to 2006 and the drastically increasing energy demand of booming economies such as China and India have highlighted the fact that no sustainable and safe source of energy must be left unused in order to safeguard security of energy supply;

60.  Welcomes the efforts to achieve the targets for reductions in CO2 emissions agreed at Kyoto; recognises that nuclear energy is an important part of the energy mix in a number of Member States; notes the role that it currently plays in some Member States in maintaining security of electricity supply, as part of the energy mix, and in preventing CO2 emissions; emphasises, however, that there are risks relating to its production and that there is, at present, no final solution for the recycling of nuclear waste; supports research in the areas of reactor safety and new technologies, considers that decisions on whether nuclear energy production should continue to play a role in some Member States can only be taken at Member State level within the framework of subsidiarity;

61.  Draws attention to the European Union's growing dependence on imports of oil and natural gas, which could reach 94 % and 85 % respectively by 2030, whilst dependence on imports of solid fuels will increase to no more than 59 %; points out that imports of oil and natural gas will increasingly come from politically unstable regions, into which, as a result, large volumes of money will flow and be put to uses over which the European Union will have no influence;

62.  Stresses that inflationary pressure due to the rise in oil prices increases uncertainty about the extent of monetary tightening connected to it, leading to a higher perception of risk, tighter global liquidity, and increased volatility, particularly on commodity and equity markets; warns against the negative impact of oil price speculation on the financial markets, which in turn amplifies the oil price crisis; calls on the Commission and the Council to draw up a detailed plan to reduce the European Union's dependence on oil imports and initiate a shift towards clean energy; calls for an integrated EU emergency mechanism to guarantee security of supply;

63.  Stresses the fact that a new form of political dialogue and cooperation among consumer countries has become indispensable, especially with the United States, China, India and Japan; notes that a similar dialogue between key consumer and producer countries has also become necessary in order to develop a global approach to energy; believes that these new forms of global energy dialogue should aim at making global energy markets stable, secure and transparent, and at the same time provide a continued boost in support for clean energy sources and energy efficiency;

64.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to promote an internationally recognised mediation system for conflicts and disputes concerning the delivery and distribution of energy; believes that the European Union could initiate such a process by developing a mediation system as part of its neighbourhood policy and also with other key supplier countries, as well as by actively promoting this mediation system globally; takes the view that the EU should therefore develop a model approach to the international management of energy distribution;

65.  Welcomes the draft Energy Community Treaty as an essential contribution to the stabilisation of south-east Europe, to the openness of energy markets and to the security of transit routes in Europe; calls for the gradual extension of the Energy Community to encompass Norway and Turkey and all countries involved in the European Neighbourhood Policy;

Making energy policy environmentally sound

66.  Stresses that the need to change the current energy production mix is not a burden but an opportunity and that the use of solar, wind, biomass, hydro or geothermal energy and more energy-efficient technologies will help to fulfil the commitments made in Kyoto and under the UN Framework Climate Change Convention and will also strengthen innovation, job creation and competitiveness in Europe;

67.  Supports, therefore, the efforts to develop renewable energy sources with a view to securing a sustainable supply of energy; welcomes the steady growth of this sector and its positive impact on jobs; sees major potential for exports of renewable energy production plants to third countries;

68.  Urges the 2007 Spring European Council to endorse the Energy Efficiency Action Plan action plan proposed by the Commission, which should at least contain the following elements: the placing of consumers, whether they are householders or commercial and industrial users, at the centre of energy policy; a road map at Council and Commission level for reaching a target for renewable energy of 50 % by 2040, a 30 % reduction at EU level in the CO2 target for 2020, an EU target for energy efficiency improvements of at least 20% by 2020 and a 60 to 80 % reduction for 2050; reform of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) to guide the market into investment in a low carbon economy, which should be driven by a set target for EU carbon emissions by 2020, including a target of 25 % of energy from renewable sources by 2020 and a binding target for car emissions; a step change in energy efficiency, faster implementation of existing EC rules in the Member States, or failing that, concrete improvements in the regulatory framework; a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution through stronger independent regulatory control, which takes into account the interests of Europe as a whole, an effort to address missing interconnections, stimulate investment and innovation, minimum binding guidelines set out for regulators, including a procedure for the appointment of regulators, independence, transparency and accountability; an ambitious R&D strategy on clean energy technologies, including an increase of at least 50 % in its annual spending on energy research over the next seven years; the development of an effective solidarity mechanism to deal with any energy supply crisis; a common foreign energy policy strategy so that it can increasingly speak with one voice to third countries; a doubling of the efforts to prompt global action to combat climate change, since the European Union cannot tackle the problem alone; and the full implementation of all current EC legislation on energy; finally, calls on the Commission to propose a framework for options for harmonised renewable energy support schemes as part of the renewable energy roadmap;

69.  Recognises that climate change is causing serious environmental problems requiring immediate EU and international action; believes that by 2050 the overwhelming proportion of EU energy needs must be produced from carbon-free sources or using technologies which cut greenhouse gas emissions, with a focus on energy saving, efficiency and renewable energies, and that there is therefore a need to set out a clear roadmap for attaining that objective; urges the governments of the Member States to agree, by the end of 2008, on a binding 2020 CO2 target and an indicative 2050 CO2 target; calls on the Commission to set ambitious but realistic targets for ultra-low or non-CO2-emitting and CO2-neutral energy technologies to supply 60% of EU electricity demand by 2020, in support of European climate and security of supply objectives;

70.  Acknowledges the significant role which renewable energy sources play in helping SMEs achieve the objectives of the Lisbon Strategy; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take practical measures to improve the energy efficiency of SMEs; notes that those measures should include, in particular, measures to raise awareness of the issues involved and to facilitate access to funding, for example from the Structural Funds, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, so that firms can make investments aiming at a reduction in energy consumption;

71.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that the European Union becomes the most energy efficient economy in the world by 2020 and to make energy efficiency measures a horizontal priority for all sectors of the EU economy; calls on the Commission to ensure timely implementation of EC directives in that field and urges the Council to adopt the proposals in the Commission's Action Plan to improve Energy Efficiency in the European Community (COM(2000)0247) and Member States to use best practices as a basis for their first national Energy Efficiency Action Plans, which Directive 2006/32/EC requires be submitted by 30 June 2007; points out that if Member States were to fully implement existing EC legislation, half the EU target of a 20 % energy saving by 2020 would already be met; calls on the President of the Commission to promote a global energy efficiency agreement;

72.  Calls for the Spring 2007 European Council to ensure that Europe's future energy policy is backed up by an ambitious R&D strategy in the field of energy, including more adequate public funding and strong incentives for increased private R&D funding; encourages Member States to set out a strategy for increasing the budget for energy research, especially when there is a mid-term review of the EC budget for the FP7 and for the Intelligent Energy Specific Programme, and therefore welcomes the Commission's proposal that the European Union should increase, by at least 50 %, its annual spending on energy research over the next seven years; calls for a European strategic energy technology plan and hopes that it will cover research fields focusing on new energy technologies, such as all renewable energy sources, including wave and tidal power, coal gasification and in particular energy storage, as far as the medium and long-term prospects are concerned;

Creating the internal market for energy

73.  Stresses that further action is required to deliver a functioning internal market for energy through a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution; therefore welcomes the Commission proposal for further action aiming to achieve this separation, accompanied by stronger independent regulatory control which considers the interest of Europe as a whole; insists that this action, together with national measures, must deliver on the European Union's target of 10% minimum interconnection levels, by identifying key bottlenecks and appointing coordinators; believes that a clear and stable political framework and a competitive energy market are needed to establish a high degree of competitiveness, energy independence, long-term stability, efficiency, environmental sensitivity and security of supply, and calls on the 2007 Spring European Council to provide a broader vision of the common European interest in the energy field, in order to place the completion of the internal market within a clear political framework, which is currently lacking;

74.  Believes that cross-border trade will lead to the elimination of the existing bottlenecks between national markets; urges the Commission and the Member States to promote improved cooperation among transport system operators (TSOs), especially in areas such as cross-border capacity allocation, transparency, intraday markets, planning of grids and investments relevant to development of regional markets; calls on the Commission to draw up, together with TSOs, a European grid code ensuring interoperability of national energy grids;

75.  Congratulates the Commission on the energy sector inquiry, calls on the Commission to pursue enforcement action, including fines against companies which breach competition rules, and encourages the Commission to take action against Member States which unduly protect national energy champions;

76.  Believes that consumers must be placed at the centre of all future energy policies and that energy poverty should feature more clearly in the Commission's proposals; recalls that consumers, particularly public authorities, which must set an example in this area, also have obligations in terms of energy saving; recognises the central role that smart metering and billing can play in increasing consumer awareness of how and why energy is being used and therefore in changing consumer behaviour; calls on the Council and the Commission to propose measures which help low income households to achieve energy savings in their homes, thereby reducing their energy bills and their exposure to future price increases;

77.  Points out that energy policy calls for cost-intensive, long-term investment decisions which must be based on a high degree of transparency and predictability; calls on the Member States and the Commission to provide undertakings with legal certainty and to avoid new regulatory proposals at regular intervals, which create uncertainty and delay vitally needed investments in energy infrastructure;

78.  Reaffirms its strong support for renewable energy sources; in order to boost the diversification of energy sources, proposes that the Commission should set a stable, long-term policy framework in order to create the necessary investment climate; this framework should contain an EU target for energy efficiency improvements of at least 20 % by 2020; asks the Commission to propose a framework for a range of harmonised support schemes for renewable energies as part of the renewable energy roadmap;

79.  Stresses that further action is required to deliver a functioning internal market for energy through a clearer separation of energy production from energy distribution; calls, therefore, for stronger independent regulatory control, taking into account the European market, as well as national measures to deliver on the European Union's target of 10 % minimum interconnection levels, by identifying key bottlenecks and appointing coordinators;

o   o

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

(1) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0603.
(2) OJ C 321, 31.12.2003, p.1.
(3) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(4) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 136.

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