Texts adopted
Thursday, 12 July 2007 - Strasbourg
Community Statistical Programme (2008-2012) ***I
 Towards a future maritime policy for the Union
 First railway package
 Sustainable mobility
 Cardiovascular disease
 PNR Agreement
 Eurozone (2007)
 European Central Bank (2006)
 The Middle East
 2006 Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
 TRIPS Agreement and access to medicines
 Democratic scrutiny under the DCI
 Negotiation mandate: enhanced EC-Ukraine agreement
 Reducing disparities in the poorest regions of the EU
 The humanitarian situation of Iraqi refugees
 Human rights violations in the Republic of Moldova
 Human rights in Vietnam

Community Statistical Programme (2008-2012) ***I
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 12 July 2007 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Community Statistical Programme 2008 to 2012 (COM(2006)0687 – C6-0427/2006 – 2006/0229(COD))

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2006)0687),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) and Article 285 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0427/2006),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Regional Development, and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0240/2007),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Considers that the reference amount indicated in the legislative proposal must be compatible with the ceiling of heading 1a of the new multiannual financial framework and points out that the annual amount will be decided within the annual budgetary procedure in accordance with the provisions of point 37 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006;

3.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 12 July 2007 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Community Statistical Programme 2008 to 2012


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position at first reading corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision No 1578/2007/EC.)

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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the situation in Darfur

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Darfur, and in particular those of 16 September 2004(1), 23 June 2005(2), 6 April 2006(3), 28 September 2006(4) and 15 February 2007(5),

–   having regard to the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed in Abuja, Nigeria, on 5 May 2006,

–   having regard to the Tripoli Consensus on the Political Process for Darfur, adopted in Tripoli on 28 and 29 April 2007,

–   having regard to the African Union (AU) decision of April 2004 to establish the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS),

–   having regard to UN resolution 1706 (2006) proposing a 22 000 strong peacekeeping force for Darfur,

–   having regard to the report of 12 March 2007 drawn up by the High-Level Mission of the UN Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in Darfur,

–   having regard to the final report of 11 October 2006 drawn up by the Panel of Experts on Sudan, appointed under United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1591 (2005),

–   having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is binding and applied without exception,

–   having regard to the findings of the Darfur Development Committee Delegation which visited Sudan and Chad from 30 June to 5 July 2007,

–   having regard to Rule 91 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas it is deeply concerned over the human rights situation in Darfur, with countless instances of abuses of human rights, among them mass rape, abductions and forced displacement and violations of international humanitarian law, as pointed out by the report of the UN Human Rights Council's High-Level Mission to Darfur,

B.   whereas it is deeply concerned by the fact that the conflict in this region, involving regular troops, pro-government militias and rebels, has resulted in the death of at least 400 000 people and created more than two and a half million refugees and displaced persons during the last three years, despite the signing of the above-mentioned DPA,

C.   whereas the number of people affected by the conflict in Darfur now stands at over four million, the highest ever, which includes 2.2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) of which over 500,000 cannot be reached by humanitarian workers; whereas with a total of more than five million IDPs and international refugees, Sudan has the largest refugee population in the world today,

D.   whereas there is no respect for or adherence to the N'djamena ceasefire agreement of 8 April 2004 and since the failure of the DPA there has been a rise in lawlessness and increased insecurity; whereas continual fragmentation of rebel groups, to the extent that there are currently over 20 of them, is hampering the distribution of humanitarian aid and will make any peace negotiations more difficult,

E.   whereas the Darfur crisis is currently considered by the UN to be the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,

F.   whereas the operating environment for humanitarian agencies has never been worse and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and aid workers are continuing; whereas 19 humanitarian workers were killed in 2006, and 18 AMIS soldiers have also died, including nine in the past month; whereas, already this year, 74 humanitarian vehicles have been ambushed and 82 humanitarian workers temporarily abducted,

G.   whereas sexual violence against women and children has been recognised as a crime against humanity, but rape continues to be used with impunity as a weapon of war by parties in the Darfur conflict; whereas victims who denounce the situation risk being prosecuted under Sudanese law, as proof requires corroboration by four male witnesses,

H.   whereas torture and forced conscription of adults and children have become a feature of the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in Darfur, with the victims too frightened to report the abuses,

I.   whereas the UN "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine provides that where "national authorities manifestly fail to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity", others have the responsibility to provide the protection needed,

J.   whereas the AMIS mandate has been extended until the end of 2007 and the hybrid force will not be deployed until 2008 at the earliest; whereas until the hybrid force is deployed, AMIS is the only force on the ground with a mandate to protect civilians,

K.   whereas it is extremely concerned about the continuing supply of arms and military equipment of all types to Sudan and the use of these items in the current human rights and humanitarian disaster in the Sudanese province of Darfur as documented in recent reports by the above-mentioned Panel of Experts and by Amnesty International,

L.   whereas the Darfur conflict – together with impunity from prosecution – is increasingly affecting the stability of the region and therefore constitutes a threat to general peace and security,

M.   whereas the crisis in Chad is part of a wider regional conflict, the crisis also has its own dynamic and should be treated as a crisis in its own right; whereas the Chadian government is failing in its responsibility to protect civilians and there are currently 230 000 Sudanese refugees in camps in Chad and 190 000 Chadians have been forced to leave their homes,

N.   whereas the UN mandated a multidimensional force in Chad in 2006; since then, no progress has been achieved in the deployment of this force, despite the increasing and serious protection needs of civilians,

O.   whereas the International Criminal Court (ICC) opened an investigation into crimes in Darfur in 2005 and issued arrest warrants on 2 May 2007 against Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Ali Kushayb, as suspects in a total of 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the murder, rape, torture and persecution of civilians in Darfur,

P.   whereas on 10 May 2007 China appointed Liu Giujin as Special Envoy for Darfur; whereas China announced its willingness to send engineers to the area to support UN-backed peacekeepers, following China's support for an AU/UN hybrid force in late 2006; whereas China hosts the Olympic Games in 2008, is a privileged commercial partner of Sudan and as a permanent member of the UNSC holds a special responsibility for pursuing peace in Darfur,

Q.   whereas the latest UN Environment Programme report points to the spread of deserts by an average of 100 km in the last forty years, a loss of almost 12% of forest cover in fifteen years and overgrazing of fragile soil in Sudan,

R.   whereas oil revenues have permitted the national budget to increase from $900 million in 1999 to over $2.5 billion in 2003 and to a projected $11.7 billion in 2007,

S.   whereas the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) provides for elections to take place in 2009,

1.  Deplores the human rights situation in Darfur, where the conflict has directly affected more than four and a half million people and more than three million people depend on food aid;

2.  Calls on the UN to act in line with its "Responsibility to Protect", basing its action on the failure of the Government of Sudan (GoS) to protect its population in Darfur from war crimes and crimes against humanity, and also its failure to provide humanitarian assistance to its population;

3.  Calls on the Member States, the Council and the Commission to assume their responsibilities and make every possible effort to provide effective protection for the people of Darfur from a humanitarian disaster;

4.  Calls on the GoS and the rebel movements to ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access to those affected by the conflict and to respect international humanitarian law; welcomes the signing on 28 March 2007 of the Joint Communiqué on Facilitation of Humanitarian Activities in Darfur between the GoS and the UN and calls for its full implementation;

5.  Calls on all parties to immediately respect the ceasefire, condemns any violation of the ceasefire agreements and in particular any violence directed towards the civilian population and the targeting of humanitarian workers; insists that the GoS stop the bombing of the Darfur region and disarm the Janjaweed militia; notes that without security, a true development policy to and in Sudan is not possible;

6.  Welcomes the acceptance by the GoS on 12 June 2007 of the AU/UN hybrid force, recalling however that the GoS has made previous unfulfilled commitments to allow the hybrid force into Sudan; stresses the importance of making adequate preparation for the hybrid force and of the swiftest possible deployment and continued cooperation of the Sudanese authorities; calls, therefore, for a rapid deployment of the AU/UN hybrid force with a mandate which enables it to efficiently protect civilians; points out that any solution to the conflict will be a political and not a military one;

7.  Reminds the GoS that it bears the prime responsibility for internal security, and action from the international community should not be taken as a pretext for abdicating this responsibility;

8.  Realises that even a rapid deployment is unlikely to enable a significantly increased number of troops to be in position before spring 2008 and that meanwhile the killings and other abuses are likely to continue;

9.  Calls, therefore, on the EU and other international donors to urgently provide additional support to AMIS under its present structure, including long-term funding commitments as well as much needed technical support for a transitional period until the hybrid force is completely implemented; calls for an in-depth investigation into the fact that at least some AMIS soldiers have not received any pay for many months;

10.  Considers that, in order to protect the civil population and the humanitarian workers, enabling aid distribution to continue, as well as to try to ensure that the GoS abides by its promises to admit a hybrid force unconditionally, a military no-fly zone over Darfur should be immediately established;

11.  Calls on the EU and the international community to reconvene peace talks to improve the content of the DPA and make it acceptable to all parties; calls on international actors to hold all parties accountable under the resulting agreement; urges all parties to the conflict in Darfur to show their commitment to a peaceful solution to the crisis by implementing the agreement without delay;

12.  Calls on the EU, the UN and the AU to show a united front in efforts to resolve the conflict in Darfur and to prioritise a comprehensive peace process, which should include the consultation and representation of Darfur's tribes, IDP communities, women's groups and other civil society groups, all political parties, including the opposition parties as well as relevant regional actors, facilitating a lasting peace;

13.  Calls on the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to help unify all Darfur rebel factions with a view to their taking part in international negotiations, and calls on the international community to bring pressure to bear on rebel groups to unify, further calls on the GoS to allow the rebels time to regroup;

14.  Urges the GoS to urgently establish a road map for the resettlement of the IDPs and refugees, for the restitution of their property and compensation, for a special fund for the victims of rape, women who have been rejected by their families or borne children as a result of rape, and their rehabilitation;

15.  Calls on the Governments of Chad and Sudan to honour their recently confirmed commitments to halt support to armed movements and to work towards improving their relations;

16.  Calls for the urgent deployment of an international force in Chad, capable of proactively protecting both refugees and IDPs, as well as other vulnerable communities, from violence and stabilising the security situation to allow for improved humanitarian access; urges the international community to coordinate its diplomatic efforts to encourage President Deby to accept the deployment of a UN force in Chad;

17.  Calls on the GoS to fully cooperate with the ICC in order to end impunity; urges, therefore, the GoS to arrest Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmad Muhammad Harun and Janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb and to surrender them to the ICC; calls on the AU and the Arab League to put pressure on the GoS to do so;

18.  Considers it vital that the CPA with the South be properly implemented, noting that there has as yet been no agreement on wealth-sharing and border demarcation; points out that the successful implementation of the CPA and the recently concluded agreement with the East would help to establish the trust which will be necessary for any lasting political agreement on Darfur;

19.  Condemns the blatant violation of the UN arms embargo by the GoS;

20.  Calls on the Member States to introduce forthwith stricter monitoring and verification procedures to ensure compliance with the above-mentioned UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (2005) and EU Council Common Position 2005/411/CFSP of 30 May 2005 concerning restrictive measures against Sudan so that the procedures apply to EU nationals, EU registered companies, EU funds and EU-registered vessels and aircraft or companies operating within EU territorial jurisdiction regarding:

   a) a prohibition of the supply of dual-use technology to Sudan which is fully consistent with Council Regulation (EC) No 1334/2000 of 22 June 2000 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use items and technology(6) and the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies;
   b) a requirement in the civil-military cooperation framework of the single sky legislation that the Member States and EU organisations strictly monitor cargoes of flights which may contain military or dual-use items and technology that may be destined for Sudan, in particular when those cargoes are passing over the territory of the EU; freight by ships should be monitored as well;
   c) the use of all legitimate means to promote full and strict observance and compliance by all States with the UN arms embargo and sanctions on Sudan as set out in the UNSC Resolutions 1556(2004) and 1591(2005), including strict prohibitions of arms and military items likely to be used by the GoS in Darfur;
   d) the design of a stricter and more comprehensive regime of arms and trade prohibitions on Sudan that applies to the supply of military equipment to Sudan from subsidiaries and associates of EU companies;
   e) measures to avoid the parallel use of means for the transportation of humanitarian aid into the region to transport embargoed military items;

21.  Calls on the EU and other international actors to apply targeted sanctions, including measures to tackle business activities that fuel the conflict, to any side, including the GoS, that violates the ceasefire or attacks civilians, peacekeepers or humanitarian operations and to take all necessary action to help end impunity through the implementation of targeted economic sanctions including travel bans and asset freezes;

22.  Supports the statement of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu that the GoS "must now be subjected to tough and effective sanctions until the suffering ends"; calls on the AU to back such action against those responsible for perpetuating the violence in Sudan;

23.  Calls on the Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, to exert more pressure on the GoS to comply with the positions taken by the UNSC and to emphasise that lack of compliance with UN calls will result in punitive measures;

24.  Welcomes the signs that China is now more willing to promote peace in Darfur, and calls on China, as the purchaser of 80% of Sudanese oil exports, to use its significant leverage responsibly in the region to hold the GoS to its commitments under the CPA and DPA; further calls on China to cease exporting arms to Sudan and to cease blocking decisions on targeted sanctions against the GoS in the UNSC;

25.  Calls on the GoS to address environmental issues and in particular to reduce the environmental impact of its oil industry and agricultural practices and prevent local conflicts over natural resources;

26.  Calls on the GoS to publish the amount of its oil revenues in a transparent way and calls on the Member States to encourage divestment of European companies and funds from Sudan;

27.  Points out that power and wealth, now expanded thanks to oil revenues, is very much concentrated in the centre, to the disadvantage of those in the periphery;

28.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Heads of State and Government of the EU Member States, the Government and Parliament of Sudan, the United Nations Security Council, the Heads of State and Government of the Arab League, the Governments of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Institutions of the African Union.

(1) OJ C 140 E, 9.06.2005, p. 153.
(2) OJ C 133 E, 8.06.2006, p. 96.
(3) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 320.
(4) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 397.
(5) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0052.
(6) OJ L 159, 30.06.2000, p. 1.

Towards a future maritime policy for the Union
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on a future maritime policy for the European Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas (2006/2299(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Green Paper "Towards a future maritime policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas" (COM(2006)0275),

   having regard to Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2007 on the islands and natural and economic constraints in the context of the regional policy(1),

   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Fisheries and the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0235/2007),

A.   whereas the seas and oceans make a decisive contribution to the EU's geographical greatness and wealth, through its outermost regions, offering the EU 320 000 km of coastline and being home to a third of Europe's population, including 14 million living on islands,

B.   whereas marine-based industries and services, not including raw materials, contribute between 3 and 6 % of Europe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and the coastal regions overall account for 40% of GDP, and whereas 90 % of the EU's external trade and 40 % of its internal trade is transported by sea, and whereas Europe has 40 % of the world's fleet,

C.   whereas applying the Lisbon Strategy to maritime policies not only concerns objectives linked to improving competitiveness but must also have an impact on other pillars of the strategy, such as creating more sustainable and better quality maritime employment in the EU,

D.   whereas the oceans and the seas in Europe contain major transport corridors that accommodate a considerable proportion of transport volume; whereas the oceans and the seas still have substantial potential in terms of worldwide capacity and whereas the oceans and the seas therefore do not only have an important ecological value but a social and economic one too,

E.   whereas shipping is responsible for about 4 % of CO2 emissions worldwide, corresponding to about 1 000 million tonnes, and whereas maritime emissions are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol; whereas, according to an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) study, maritime climate gas emissions will rise by more than 70 % by 2020 and whereas, in addition to CO2, large quantities of other greenhouse gases are given off by on-board cooling systems every year,

F.   whereas, in many maritime fields of activity, improved performances are driven by innovative ideas as regards shipping and whereas the European shipbuilding and ship repair industry, together with its wide network of equipment and service providers, is the worldwide driving force behind innovative maritime hardware,

G.   whereas shipping produces less greenhouse gases per tonne mile than any other mode of transport and technological advances constantly improve the efficiency of this sector; whereas there is a strong political will to promote shipping as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions emanating from freight transport,

H.   whereas the United Nations Environment Programme estimates that about 80 % of marine pollution is caused by effluent from the land,

I.   whereas shipping is also responsible for discharging large quantities of various kinds of effluent into the seas, including effluent from tank cleaning, from ships' kitchens, laundry facilities and sanitary installations, ballast water and accidental oil discharge during operations; whereas various kinds of solid waste are also produced in the course of work on board ships and only a small proportion of it is disposed of at port reception facilities, most of it being burnt at sea or simply thrown overboard,

J.   whereas large ships now carry large quantities of bunker oil on board for their operational needs and, in the event of an accident or incident, this oil can and has caused considerable ecological damage, with few possibilities for redress,

K.   whereas, according to official estimates, about 80 % of accidents at sea are directly attributable to human error,

L.   whereas, at present, when the vast majority of large ships reach the end of their life they are dismantled in shipbreaking yards in the developing world under unacceptable social and ecological conditions, and whereas in most cases the sale of these ships to non-European buyers is a way of circumventing the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal under which these ships would be subject to an export ban as hazardous waste,

M.   whereas sea water levels have been rising, thus endangering coastal regions, populations and industries, such as coastal tourism,

N.   whereas diversity in sea and coastal activities requires flexible spatial planning by Member States and their authorities,

O.   whereas the EU is a world leader as regards the limiting of pollutant emissions emanating from other means of transport as a result of which European industry has become a world leader in innovation, and whereas the sustainable future of European industry in the long term can only be assured through innovation,

P.   whereas the EU has several agencies, including the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders (FRONTEX), the Fisheries Agency and the Environment Agency, all of which undertake various marine-related tasks and whereas there are clearly no formal exchanges between them,

Q.   whereas, since 2004, the motorways of the sea have been among the 30 priority projects of the TEN transport network but very little progress has been made,

R.   whereas the oceans and seas are the basis of all life on earth and play a significant role in climate change; whereas an important aim of an integrated maritime policy should be to protect and sustainably preserve their resources, whereas a quarter of marine fish stocks are endangered and of this quarter 17 % have been overfished and 7 % have greatly diminished, whereas only 1% of stocks are gradually recovering, and whereas 52 % of fish stocks have already been so overfished that their numbers cannot be replenished and scientists warn that commercial fishing could collapse by the middle of the century (2048),

S.   whereas fisheries is a highly regulated economic sector and measures must therefore be put in place so as to ensure that these regulations translate into good practice and good results; whereas, in order for there to be sustainable fish stocks, it is necessary to take into account the many varied factors which influence the state of fish stocks, such as climate change, predators, pollution, oil and gas exploration and drilling, maritime wind farms and sand and gravel extraction,

T.   whereas in twenty years' time the EU fisheries sector will have been transformed because of external factors, such as climate change and human action, and whereas, with evidence of such transformation already apparent in the case of North Sea cod, it is crucial to tackle effectively the causes of climate change,

U.   whereas the sea and the oceans play a major role in the production of energy from alternative sources and increase the security of energy supply,

V.   whereas the specificities of European outermost regions and islands, namely illegal immigration, natural disasters, transport and also their impact on biodiversity must be acknowledged,

W.   whereas a large part of the EU external border is maritime and its surveillance and protection implies increased costs for coastal Member States,

X.   whereas the Mediterranean and Black Seas are shared between EU Member States and third countries the latter of which have less resources at their disposal to implement environmental rules and security and safety measures,

1.  Welcomes the above Green Paper and supports the integrated approach to maritime policy, in which, for the first time, maritime policy areas such as shipyards, shipping, ship-safety, tourism, fisheries, ports, marine environment, research, industry, spatial planning and others are described and their mutual interdependence highlighted; sees this as an opportunity for the EU and its Member States to develop a forward-looking maritime policy, cleverly combining the protection of the marine environment and innovative, intelligent use of the seas while ensuring that sustainability remains at the heart of maritime policy; believes that the EU has the opportunity to pioneer an innovative and sustainable maritime policy and that this requires that Member States act with a sense of common purpose; notes that Parliament will, in future, evaluate each Council Presidency according to progress made in the field of European maritime policy;

2.  Welcomes a maritime policy which calls for the integration of policies, of actions and of decisions relating to maritime affairs and which promotes better coordination, more openness and increased cooperation between all players whose actions have an impact on Europe's oceans and seas;

3.  Notes that, with responsibility for policies and actions related to the seas shared between EU authorities, national governments, and regional and local authorities, all levels of government should move towards a more coordinated approach, ensuring that their actions in the maritime arena take full account of the multiple interactions between them;

4.  Calls upon the Commission to take on board the various recommendations of the abovementioned resolution of 15 March 2007 on the islands and natural and economic constraints in the context of regional policy, and in particular to make the setting-up with the Commission of an administrative unit for the islands a priority, so as to develop a long-awaited trans-sectoral approach towards the problems of these territories, as well as to give proper recognition to islands in the EU statistical programme in relation to future maritime policy;

5.  Supports the principle of anchoring European maritime policy into the Lisbon Strategy in order to facilitate economic growth and jobs in a sustainable manner, based on scientific knowledge; stresses the significance of maritime transport in terms of transport volume and economic impact; encourages the Commission to revise existing legislation in the spirit and context of the Commission's Better Regulation initiative and the Lisbon Strategy; stresses that priority should be given to better implementation and enhancement, by the Commission and the Member States, of existing legislation; emphasises Europe's added value in practical initiatives regarding, for example, better coordination and cooperation between Member States in order to avoid possible duplication or contradiction;

Climate change as the greatest challenge to maritime policy

6.  Highlights that, in view of the current discussion on climate change and the first publications of the Fourth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, all those involved must be aware that action is long overdue and that the Community has just 13 years left to use new technologies in order to prevent a climate catastrophy; notes that, according to the report, specific scenarios concern rising sea levels which will be particularly damaging for coastal countries, heatwaves, floods, storms, forest fires and droughts all over the world; stresses that there is also a potential problem pertaining to climate refugees and other problems relating to international security resulting from possible disputes over common resources;

7.  Stresses that the EU must play a leading and pioneering role in combating climate change; emphasises that the Community should use its strengths in research and innovation, take the lead and act decisively at international level;

8.  Stresses that onshore and offshore wind power has very substantial potential for development and could make a major contribution to climate protection and, therefore, calls on the Commission to take action by establishing a section or coordinating unit for wind power and launching a wind power action plan;

9.  Highlights the fact that European maritime policy must play a significant role in combating climate change through at least three policies: first, the emissions from ships of substances such as CO2, SO2 and nitrogen oxide must be drastically reduced; second, emissions trading must be introduced for shipping; third, renewable energies such as wind and solar power must be introduced and promoted for shipping; calls on the Commission to propose legislation to effectively reduce maritime greenhouse gas emissions and calls on the EU to take decisive action to include the maritime sector in international climate conventions;

10.  Is concerned at reports which suggest that maritime carbon dioxide emissions are higher than previously thought, representing up to 5 % of global emissions, and are projected to rise by as much as 75 % in the next 15 to 20 years unless action is taken to counter the trend; points out that greenhouse gas emissions from fishing vessels are significant; notes the lack of progress within the IMO on this issue despite the mandate given in the Kyoto Protocol ten years ago;

11.  Recognises that, in order for Marine Strategy to become the "environmental pillar" of maritime policy, the policies need to be fully complementary so as to ensure consistency in the EU's approach; recognises that carbon dioxide storage in sub-seabed geological structures could provide part of a portfolio of measures for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and calls for the creation of a clear legislative and regulatory framework for the deployment of this technology;

12.  Insists that the planning of development along the Community's lengthy coast, namely for urban development, industrial sites, ports and marinas, recreational sites etc., must explicitly take into consideration the consequences of climate change and the associated rise in sea levels, including the increasing frequency and force of storms and greater wave height;

13.  Stresses the importance of an integrated approach, such as integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), in order that measures be effective.

Better European shipping with better European ships

14.  Stresses that sea transport is an essential part of the world's economic system, and that the transport of goods by ship represents, at present, one of the least environmentally damaging methods of transport; considers, nevertheless, that shipping has a considerable environmental cost, and therefore a sustainable balance between environmental protection and the economic use of Europe's oceans is essential, whereby guaranteeing sustainability must be an absolute priority; calls on the Commission to safeguard this balance when designing its future proposals on maritime and port policy;

15.  Stresses that promoting maritime transport as a sustainable mode of transport requires the development and expansion of ports and port areas; notes that ports are often adjacent to Natura 2000 sites protected under the Birds(2) and Habitats(3) Directives, and stresses the need for constructive approaches and initiatives between port operators and nature conservation bodies in order to achieve acceptable solutions for port authorities, regulators and wider society which respect the spirit and the objectives of those Directives, whilst enabling ports to maintain their central role as global gateways;

16.  Believes that European maritime policy should seek to preserve and strengthen the position of European maritime industries and specialised activities and avoid policies that promote the movement towards third-country flags, which jeopardise the security and protection of the seas and impoverish the European economy; emphasises that the protection of the marine environment can be better achieved through international regulations applying to all ships regardless of flag and port of call;

17.  Considers that an innovative, competitive European maritime manufacturing industry is crucial to sustainable growth according to the Lisbon Strategy; underlines that, considering that production capacities are increasing elsewhere, positive developments as regards European shipyards in recent years should not lead to complacency and therefore calls for further efforts to improve competitiveness and to secure a level playing field;

18.  Urges the Commission to provide support at WTO level for European shipyards, which are continually exposed to unfair competition from Asian shipbuilders;

19.  Welcomes the Commission working document "LeaderSHIP 2015 Progress Report" (COM(2007)0220) and emphasises, in particular, the success of the new comprehensive approach to industrial policy which LeaderSHIP2015 pioneered as one of the first sectoral initiatives;

20.  Stresses that better (transborder) coordination and cooperation between sea ports, and a more balanced European-wide sharing of responsibility between ports, can contribute considerably to avoiding unsustainable land transport;

21.  Sees the EU's role as a leader as regards the imposition of stricter limits not as a restriction but as an opportunity for European industry; in this connection, calls on the Member States and the Community to step up their efforts to promote research into and the development of more efficient and cleaner technologies for ships and ports;

22.  Recognises that ship-source air pollutant emissions will exceed those from land-based sources in the foreseeable future; recalls its request, in the context of the Thematic Strategy on Air Quality, that the Commission and the Member States take urgent measures to cut emissions from the shipping sector and that the Commission come forward with proposals:

   to establish NOx emission standards for ships using EU ports,
   to designate the Mediterranean Sea and the North-East Atlantic as Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) under the MARPOL Convention,
   to lower the maximum permitted sulphur content in marine fuels used in SECAs by passenger vessels from 1,5 % to 0,5 %,
   to introduce fiscal measures, such as taxes or charges on SO2 and NOx emissions from ships,
   to encourage the introduction of differentiated port and fairway charges favouring vessels with low SO2 and NOx emissions,
   to encourage the use of shore-side electricity by ships when in port,
   for an EU directive on the quality of marine fuels;

23.  Sees huge potential for reducing the use of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions in the maritime transport sector, in particular through tax incentives for the use of this type of fuel and greater incentives for R&D and, inter alia, by promoting the use of, and further research into, biofuels and stepping up the use of wind energy for ship propulsion; stresses, however, the need for mandatory environmental and social certification of biofuels and that their full life-cycle, climate efficiency and CO2 balance be undisputed;

24.  Believes that efforts to prevent and respond to pollution caused by ships should not only be confined to oil pollution but should apply to all types of pollution, especially those caused by hazardous and noxious substances; notes, in this regard, that the role played by EMSA is essential and that it should gradually take on more tasks, although these should always be additional to the tasks carried out by Member States in the field of pollution prevention and response; considers it, therefore, necessary to guarantee appropriate financial security for the funding of the tasks entrusted to EMSA;

25.  Welcomes the CleanSeaNet operating system for monitoring and detecting pollution emanating from ships, which will help coastal states locate and identify polluters in geographic areas falling under their jurisdiction; calls for Member States to promptly transpose Directive 2005/35/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of penalties for infringements(4);

26.  Acknowledges the Commission's activities in the field of ship and maritime safety following the Erika and Prestige disasters the main result of which has been the packages of measures on maritime safety;

27.  Urges the Transport Council to discuss the third maritime safety package very soon and to take a decision, together with Parliament, in order that there be no question of a credibility gap;

28.  Urges the Commission to reinforce all measures relating to civil and criminal liability in the event of an accident or incident, in keeping with the principles of subsidiarity and the division of powers and with the international legal framework;

29.  Recalls its resolution of 21 April 2004 on improving safety at sea(5) and calls on the Commission to take more account of the human factor when taking further steps;

30.  Notes with concern that the Baltic Sea is currently one of the most polluted seas in the world and reminds the Commission of its previous call for the drafting of a recommendation on an EU strategy for the Baltic, proposing measures to improve the environmental condition of the Baltic Sea, in order to reduce the eutrophication of the Baltic in particular and to prevent the discharge of oil and other toxic and damaging substances into the sea; recalls that existing instruments for cooperation, such as INTERREG programmes, should be fully exploited when implementing interregional projects to improve the state of the Baltic environment;

31.  Calls for the establishment of special zones within environmentally sensitive and navigationally difficult areas of the Baltic Sea, particularly the Kadet Trench, the Skagerrak/Kattegat, the Great Belt and the Sound, which ocean-going vessels, in particular oil tankers, may no longer navigate without a pilot, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to initiate the drawing up of necessary measures within the competent international bodies, in particular the IMO;

32.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to submit a proposal to the Parliament and Council as soon as possible in order to ensure that bunker oil for engine fuel in new ships is stored in safer, double-hull tanks since freight or container ships often contain heavy fuel as engine fuel in their bunkers the quantity of which may considerably exceed the cargoes of smaller oil tankers; considers that, before submitting such a proposal, the Commission should ascertain whether or not the existing IMO rules laid down in Resolution MEPC.141(54) are sufficient to guarantee the safe transport of bunker oil used as fuel;

33.  Urges the Commission to intensify vigilance with regard to the application of the rules on the mandatory use of double hulls;

34.  Calls for all ships calling at European ports to have the highest safety standards in place; in this connection, calls for Europe to play a leading role; is aware that these requirements cannot be extended to all ships in the 200-mile zone;

35.  Is concerned that fewer and fewer well-trained young Europeans are working as officers and crew on European ships, which gives rise to fears of a massive brain drain; takes the view that better working conditions, in keeping with the provisions laid down by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the IMO, can help to encourage more Europeans to take up a career at sea;

36.  Urges the Member States and maritime sector stakeholders to review career plans and lifelong learning opportunities in the maritime sector, in order to, firstly, enable skills and experience acquired to be put into practice and, secondly, with a view to introducing systems for switching between sea- and land-based occupations so as to preserve know-how and make career prospects more attractive;

37.  Supports the current negotiations for an agreement between the social partners in the European Union on the implementation of the 2006 ILO Convention on Maritime Labour Standards, noting the non-regression clause enshrined in that Convention: considers that Member States should be required, in the context of future EU maritime policy, to ratify and implement that Convention; calls on the Commission to develop all possible contacts in order to ensure the adoption in 2007 of the ILO Convention on Work in the Fishing Sector, which failed to be adopted in 2005;

38.  Believes that, as suggested in the abovementioned Green Paper, the exclusion of seafarers from social directives should be reviewed by the social partners;

39.  Notes that fishermen and seafarers are excluded from EU social legislation in many areas (e.g. Directive 98/59/EC(6) on collective redundancies, Directive 2001/23/EC(7) on the safeguarding of employees' rights in the event of transfers of undertakings, businesses or parts of undertakings or businesses, Directive 2002/14/EC(8) on informing and consulting employees and Directive 96/71/EC(9) on the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services ); calls on the Commission to reconsider these exemptions in close cooperation with the social partners;

40.  Calls on the Member States and ship-owners to enter into a partnership for the training of quality seafarers and officers, as is successfully being done in Denmark, and, through their education and training policies, to increase their knowledge of and enthusiasm for maritime heritage and provide additional incentives for activities and professions linked to the sea; calls on the Commission to create the requisite conditions to support these partnerships with finance and advice;

41.  Calls for the introduction of a European quality label for ships, in line with the IMO white list classification scheme, meeting the latest safety standards and social conditions, which will give those ships favoured treatment with regard to port state controls;

42.  Notes the scarcity of expert and well-trained professionals facing the industry; suggests that special training courses for skippers and crews of fishing vessels be developed in order to provide a basic understanding of the science that affects their industry, including providing an understanding of the importance of environmental stewardship and sustainability as an aid to the progressive development of an ecosystem-based approach to successful fisheries management;

43.  Urges the Commission to create vocational retraining plans for fishermen, encouraging them to focus on new practices that promote the use of knowledge relating to work at sea; points to the offshore aquaculture and eco-tourism sectors as being among the possible targets;

44.  Points to the importance of improving the image of the fisheries sector, which currently suffers from a lack of respect; is of the opinion that improved health and safety conditions on vessels, and better pay and conditions for crews, can only be achieved in a sustainable and profitable industry and that more resources must be devoted to research and education aimed at improving knowledge and skills;

45.  Notes that the creation of conditions ensuring hygiene, safety and comfort for workers in the fishing industry, both for fishermen themselves and for people working in sectors upstream and downstream, is a key objective of a policy for the seas and oceans;

46.  Considers that, compared to legislation, the concept of corporate social responsibility is of limited value in the context of conserving the maritime environment, and that, therefore, a proper legislative base must continue to underpin the Community programme for environmental conservation, to be strengthened by voluntary actions undertaken by companies wishing to demonstrate their responsible behaviour;

47.  Condemns the conditions under which ships are currently dismantled in the developing world, and calls on the Commission to draw up proposals in order to improve working conditions in the docks where the ships in question are dismantled and to explore all the possibilities in the area of criminal law made available by the Court of Justice with the "polluter pays" principle applying in the maritime sector as is the case in other sectors; welcomes the publication of the Green Paper on safer ship dismantling (COM(2007)0269); calls on the Commission, in this connection, to develop a proposal for a "green passport" to be carried with ships" papers, listing all the toxic substances used in the construction of the ship; believes that the Community should address the ship recycling issue by concluding a mandatory international Convention - foreseen for 2008 or 2009 - and in the meantime follow the IMO guidelines;

48.  Considers that shipyards and marine equipment industries in the Union have managed to remain competitive by investing in innovative products and processes and by creating knowledge-based niche markets; believes that a European maritime strategy should create conditions which are conducive to maintaining the Union's leading position in these markets by, for example, promoting the development of maritime technology transfer mechanisms,

49.  Invites Member States to take full advantage of the Community state aid guidelines concerning employment costs and taxation, with particular emphasis on the tonnage tax system; considers that the LeaderSHIP 2015 Progress Report has had a positive impact, and that the maritime sector must be kept eligible for state aid in order to promote innovation;

50.  Calls for the trans-shipment of oil, or other toxic cargoes, by sea to be limited in future to carefully designated zones under surveillance so as to facilitate the identification of who is liable in the event of a discharge of pollutants into the sea; notes that shipping contributes to marine pollution, and potentially to the disturbance of ecosystems through the introduction, into the seas and oceans, of alien species which are found in discharged ballast water and the use of chemicals in anti-fouling paints that affect the hormones of fish; emphasises that oil slicks are also a major maritime hazard;

51.  Calls for training and information to be provided by compiling, analysing, and disseminating best practice, techniques, instruments for monitoring tank-emptying and innovation to combat pollution by oil and noxious and hazardous substances, and for technical solutions, using inspection and satellite-based surveillance, to be developed for the purpose of monitoring accidental or deliberate spillages;

Better European coastal policy including better European ports

52.  Underlines the importance of the contribution that territorial cooperation and coastal regions networking can make to a holistic maritime policy through the promotion of joint strategies for the competitiveness of coastal zones; considers therefore that the participation of regional and local stakeholders is essential for the success of a European maritime policy; therefore welcomes the fact that European coastal regions are developing ever closer mutual cooperation and networks;

53.  Takes the view that the Commission, the Member States and the regions should make a particular effort to increase awareness of maritime topics; believes this could include, for example, recognition of good examples of tourism projects, environmentally sound shipping or particular contributions to education about the sea; in this regard, proposes that prizes be awarded to exemplary maritime regions as a way of promoting best practice; emphasises the significance of its initiative, which should be promoted by the Commission, regarding the establishment of a European Maritime Day in celebration of the maritime sector; stresses that pilot courses on "maritime education" should be introduced in secondary schools with the support of the Commission;

54.  Stresses that it is of the greatest importance for the development of islands and coastal areas that quantitative restrictions be placed on the discharge of phosphorus and nitrogen into the Baltic Sea, in view of the fact that the condition of the sea is fundamental to tourism and related business; emphasises that there is a need for a clear, easily understandable set of rules and a manual clearly explaining the incentives and their consequences;

55.  Encourages regions and Member States to use cohesion policy instruments in order to achieve further integration in maritime and coastal policy, promote entrepreneurship and set up SMEs, thus helping to overcome the problem of seasonal employment; calls, in particular, for the creation of a network of regions of maritime excellence in the framework of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective;

56.  Considers it to be of major importance that early warning systems be developed along Atlantic coasts which are potentially exposed to tsunamis;

57.  Emphasises the fundamental importance of ports and the role they play as funnels for international trade, as economic drivers and job creators for coastal regions and as transit centres for fisheries, as well as being essential security-control points;

58.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission, in view of the air pollution in many port cities and regions, to significantly increase incentives for the use of land-based power supplies to ships in port when this is cost-effective and results in environmental benefits; calls, therefore, for Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity(10) to be revised in order that those Member States taking advantage of tax-free bunker oil, as provided for by Article 14 of that Directive, be obliged to exempt land-based electricity from tax to the same extent;

59.  Calls for the revision of Directive 2000/59/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2000 on port reception facilities for ship-generated waste and cargo residues(11), so that all ships calling at a Member State's ports would be obliged to discharge 100 % of their solid and liquid waste;

60.  Considers that, in future, goods transport bottlenecks are more likely to occur in the connections between ports and European land transport networks, rather than in the reception capacities of ports; considers that, if the best use is to be made of the maritime transport possibilities, European ports must have the best possible hinterland connections available to them, and therefore calls for them to be developed where necessary, giving priority to more environmentally friendly modes of transport, such as rail and inland waterways;

61.  Believes, given the huge importance of waterborne transport both within the internal market and between the Union and its trading partners, that a new EU maritime strategy should contain a port strategy allowing ports to develop in response to market developments and demand while respecting relevant legislation with a view to establishing a favourable climate for investment in order to facilitate sufficient port capacity to accommodate increasing maritime cargo traffic flows; insists that such a strategy be developed in coordination with the current debate on a European Ports Policy, in order to avoid the duplication of work;

62.  Notes that Europe is a popular region for yachting tourism, cruiser tourism and sub-aqua tourism; encourages the maritime regions to invest in their marina infrastructure and other related infrastructures in order to benefit from this growing market whilst ensuring the protection of habitats, species and marine ecosystems in general; calls on the Commission to help set harmonised standards for facilities and technical equipment so as to ensure a high level of service quality throughout the Union;

63.  Favours the creation of more maritime clusters which take advantage of the positive experience gained and good practices already being carried out in this domain, and believes that these examples should be followed and promoted; calls on the Member States to take measures to enhance the economic competitiveness of coastal regions by encouraging research, the creation of centres of maritime excellence and technological development and innovation as well as inter-business cooperation (networks, clusters, public partners) and the provision of improved support services aimed at reducing the dependence of those regions on a very limited number of (traditional) economic activities;

64.  Reconfirms its position of 14 November 2006 on the Marine Strategy Directive(12) and in particular as regards the prohibitions and/or criteria for systematic/intentional disposal of any solid materials, liquid or gas into the water column, or seabed/subsoil; furthermore, considers that any storage of carbon dioxide in the seabed and subsoil should be subject to authorisation pursuant to international law, a prior environmental impact assessment in accordance with Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment(13) and relevant international conventions, as well as regular monitoring and controls;

65.  Is thus convinced that renewable resources of the marine environment can and should be used sustainably so that their exploitation, and the resulting economic benefits, can continue in the long term; stresses the need, therefore, for the various policies concerned to be adapted to the requirements of a healthy marine environment; calls in this connection also for greater use of onshore and offshore wind power in order to exploit sustainably its potential from the point of view of employment and economic policy;

66.  Insists, however, that coastal zone management must have, as one of its core objectives, the conservation of the marine environment, rather than setting aside a few sample areas as a token gesture to conservation efforts, particularly in the light of Recommendation 2002/413/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2002 concerning the implementation of Integrated Coastal Zone Management in Europe(14);

67.  In this context, agrees with the Commission that there is a natural limit to the amount of human activity, in terms of population density and industrial activity, that coastal zones can support without suffering severe and possibly irreversible environmental degradation; supports, therefore, the Commission's view that a comprehensive study is needed in order to be better able to identify these limits and to forecast and plan accordingly;

68.  Points out that three-dimensional mapping of the seabed will be of immense value not only to the fishing industry but also to the energy sector, conservationists and even defence interests; considers that the significant commercial value of such maps is evident and thus they may help to solve the question of funding for this activity; believes improved data across the maritime sector could include better weather forecasting, information on anticipated wave heights and a range of factors which would enhance safety and development;

69.  Calls for the development of all necessary measures to prevent and manage the risks of damage to coastal areas by natural disasters such as floods, erosion, storms and tsunamis; further stresses the need to adopt Community measures in order to deal with dangers to European coastal ecosystems, engendered by various human activities;

70.  Considers that building sea defences to protect against rising sea levels can lead to a loss of habitat, while the rise itself causes a 'coastal squeeze' of salt marshes and mudflats and the erosion of sand dunes all of which are rich habitats for plants and animals; calls for a long-term strategy to maintain coastal defences, protect against rising sea levels and minimise habitat loss;

71.  Encourages the development of new networks for the implementation of projects and activities in the form of partnerships between the private sector, NGOs, local authorities and regions, with a view to achieving greater dynamism, innovation and efficiency and improving the quality of life in coastal areas;

72.  Stresses the need to make coastal regions more attractive not just as places of leisure but as places in which to live, work and invest, by improving accessibility and internal transport infrastructure; further calls for the adoption of measures to improve services of general interest (health, education, water and energy, information, communication technologies, postal services, waste water and waste treatment), taking into account seasonal demographic changes;

73.  Urges the Member States, in view of the fact that a significant proportion of the overall pollution of European seas originates from the land, to rapidly implement all current and future European legislation in this area; in addition, calls on the Commission to put forward an action plan in order to reduce this pollution; takes the view that financial support for projects to reduce pollution in third countries is also important, as in these countries the level of filter and purification systems is often far below European standards and therefore financial investment can have a greater effect;

74.  Notes that most pollution in the marine environment originates from land-based sources, including, but not limited to, agricultural run-off and industrial emissions, which have an especially deleterious impact on closed and semi-enclosed seas; stresses that the EU must pay particular attention to these areas and take measures to limit and prevent further pollution; also considers that the new GMES technology (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) could be successfully used for that purpose;

75.  Takes into account that the maritime sector is one of the few areas in which the 'polluter pays' principle is not adhered to; believes that effluent-discharging industries, industries involved in sand and gravel extraction, maritime energy concerns and any other businesses which, though based on land, can be viewed as a source of pollution of the marine environment, should contribute to an EU fund geared towards the conservation of marine flora and fauna, including the replenishment of fish stocks, and that the Commission should make an effort to ensure a more uniform and effective application of the 'polluter pays' principle;

76.  Calls on the Commission to take action to control pollutants (environmental pollution of the seas) from agricultural run-off, sewage or industrial effluents and litter which is often plastic and which can choke sea mammals, turtles and birds; stresses that such pollutants are becoming an increasing hazard, impacting severely on the fisheries sector and on tourism as well as reducing the quality and health of fisheries products destined for human consumption; calls on the Commission, with regard to ocean-going vessels, to urge Member States to implement Annex V of the MARPOL Convention, which prohibits the discharge of plastic waste and ash from plastic incineration into the sea; calls on the Commission to amend Directive 2000/59/EC on port reception facilities in order to improve the adequacy and availability of such facilities in the EU and ultimately reduce the discarding of refuse into the sea;

77.  Urges the EU, in the context of international maritime policy, and the UN Convention of 10 December 1982 on the Law of the Sea and the Agreement of 28 July 1994 relating to the implementation of Part XI thereof(15), to improve international rules on the safety of maritime transport, marine pollution prevention, and protection and preservation of the marine environment; in addition, calls on the EU authorities to make a particular effort to ensure that the Member States make effective use of the legally binding dispute settlement procedure embodied in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which was set up in 1996, with its seat in Hamburg, on the basis of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as regrettably Member States have to date tended not to settle disputes through the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea;

78.  Encourages the Commission to undertake specific science-based environmental and socio-economic statistical and other studies of the maritime regions in order to monitor and control the effects that the development of economic, sports, and recreational activities have on those regions;

79.  Is concerned at the lack of well-trained personnel in important land-based sectors of the maritime economy; considers that, employment campaigns, run jointly by the Member States and the enterprises concerned, can help to alleviate the problem;

80.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve all relevant stakeholders concerned in all stages of the process of improving EU maritime policy, both in implementing and enforcing existing legislation and in drafting new initiatives;

Sustainable coastal tourism

81.  Stresses the fact that, if developed wisely, tourism is a sustainable source of income for local economies, ensuring the protection and enhancement of the environment as well as the promotion and preservation of cultural, historical and environmental features, crafts, and sustainable maritime tourism; therefore particularly urges investment in tourism infrastructure in connection with sailing, diving and cruises, and the protection and promotion of archaeological marine treasures;

82.  Emphasises that the subsidiarity principle applies to tourism; stresses the need to respect national plans based on experience and best practice;

83.  Stresses the fact that the lack of appropriate and comparable data is one of the key problems in obtaining reliable data on the employment situation in the coastal tourism industry;

84.  Also considers that a clean environment and good air and water quality are vital for the sector's survival and that, therefore, all future European tourism projects should be considered with a view to ecological acceptability and sustainability;

85.  Notes that Europe is a favourite destination for cruises; stresses that the supply of services should be organised in such a way that it guarantees open competition and that the need for better infrastructure regarding this activity must be met;

86.  Takes the view that traditional seasonal business should be developed into a year-round activity; stresses that the sector should make use of the opportunity to invest in sustainable, year-round tourism activities; considers that extending the season can create jobs and bring about economic success; emphasises that, in terms of sustainability and environmental education, examples of best practice can have a significant influence on the concept of tourism; highlights that the main objective is that the sector and the coastal environment benefit from extending the seasonal business period;

87.  Believes that European Agenda 21 for the sustainability of European tourism must take into account the specificity of coastal tourism, and island tourism, and present useful initiatives and share good practices that are efficient in fighting seasonality, such as, for example, developing tourism geared towards senior citizens;

88.  Calls on the Commission to propose a sustainable European maritime tourism strategy that adopts an integrated policy approach;

Sustainable maritime environment

89.  Recalls its resolution of 14 November 2006 on a Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment(16) and reiterates, in particular, the need for:

   the EU to have as its overarching objective the sustainable use of the seas and the conservation of marine ecosystems, including a strong EU policy on marine protection, preventing further loss of biodiversity and deterioration of the marine environment,
   the inclusion of a common EU-wide definition of good environmental status,
   the European Environment Agency to provide regular assessments of the marine environment, which requires an improvement in national data collection, reporting and exchange,
   recognition of the importance of prior consultation, coordination and cooperation with neighbouring states in the adoption and implementation of the forthcoming Marine Strategy Directive,

90.  Recognises that a healthy marine environment constitutes the basis for sustainable development of the shipping sector in the EU and recalls the EU's commitment to incorporate the environmental dimension into all aspects of Community policy;

91.  Insists that a clean marine environment, with sufficient biodiversity to ensure the proper functioning of its component ecosystems, is essential for Europe; further insists that, because of the intrinsic value of maritime areas, the benefits of a good marine environmental status in the EU extend well beyond the potential economic gains to be made from exploiting the various components of the seas, coastal waters and river basins and that, therefore, the conservation and, in many cases, rehabilitation of the EU's marine environment is imperative;

92.  Recalls the principle underpinning the ecosystem approach to the management of human activities as one of the key elements of the Thematic Strategy on the Marine Environment; insists that this principle also be applied with regard to maritime policy;

93.  Stresses in the strongest possible terms that the criteria used to define good environmental status must be sufficiently far-reaching since these objectives, which pertain to quality, will probably constitute the benchmark for action programmes for a long time to come;

94.  Also considers that measures to improve water quality must be taken swiftly and is, therefore, concerned at the extended timetable proposed in the proposal for a directive on a marine strategy;

95.  Insists that the implementation of a network of marine protected areas be accelerated;

96.  Is convinced that a clean marine environment is critical for marine species, including both commercial fish and fish that are not commercially exploited, and that the replenishment of depleted fish stocks depends on a reduction in marine pollution as well as in fishing levels; considers that, in order to ensure that fishmeal used in the EU is not contaminated, it is imperative to reduce marine pollutants;

97.  Draws attention to the sometimes disastrous impact of exotic organisms in the marine ecosystem and recognises that invasive alien species are a significant threat to marine biodiversity; calls on the Commission to take urgent measures to prevent the transfer of organisms in ballast water and to introduce effective controls on the discharge of ballast water within EU waters;

98.  Considers that the concept of clustering could have a positive impact on the marine environment if habitat conservation, pollution control, and other environmental technologies are incorporated into the design and implementation of clusters from the planning stages onwards;

99.  Welcomes the recognition by the Commission that a comprehensive system of spatial planning is necessary in order to ensure a stable regulatory environment and a legally binding basis for decision making; considers that an essential criterion for effective ecosystem-based spatial planning must be to organise activities in such a way as to reduce the impact of environmentally damaging activities on ecologically sensitive areas while simultaneously using resources in all other areas in an ecologically sustainable manner; in this context insists on the use of the Strategic Environmental Assessment instrument under Directive 2001/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 June 2001 on the assessment of the effects of certain plans and programmes on the environment(17); stresses that any system of marine spatial planning at EU level must add value to national systems and plans, where they exist, be based on the level of marine regions and sub-regions as proposed by the Marine Strategy Directive and be a tool to further the use of an ecosystem-based approach to marine management and the objectives of good environmental status under the Marine Strategy Directive;

100.  Notes that the achievement of a good environmental status also requires that human activities conducted outside ecologically sensitive areas be strictly regulated so as to minimise any possible negative impact on the marine environment;

Integrated fisheries policy

101.  Takes the view that fishing activity must contribute to the maintenance of viable coastal communities; stresses that, in order for this to be achieved, inshore, small-scale fishing interests and recreational anglers must be given access to fisheries, and that such fishing activities encourage tourism, protect our rich coastal heritage and help to keep our seaside communities together;

102.  Expresses its concern that, while the sector is ready to accept the development of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, as a result of the additional restrictions that might result from the Natura 2000 network and other possible marine protected areas (MPAs), unrestricted access and the fisheries activities in these areas might be compromised; takes the view that the development of fisheries activities that do not harm the protection objectives should be allowed within MPAs; also takes the view that, in the case of fisheries activities that harm, or potentially harm, the protection objectives of MPAs, greater efforts should be made, including through research and development, to make fishing methods more environmentally-friendly in order to facilitate greater access to such areas wherever justifiable;

103.  Notes, however, that fishing will have to be restricted in the future through a precautionary approach ensuring the maintenance of healthy ecosystems and the protection of rare, vulnerable or valued species and habitats and that this will inevitably include an increased level of environmental protection than before, involving a network of MPAs created in accordance with the provisions laid down within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and a system of ICZM, so as to ensure that the needless degradation of habitats and sharp decline in biodiversity is stopped;

104.  Calls on the Commission to take due account of successful experiences in fisheries management by local and regional authorities so that they can be applied as models in other regions, particularly those experiences that involve integrated and sustainable management of the sea through a ban on non-selective fishing gear, matching the size of fishing fleets to available resources, coastal planning, regulating tourism activities, such as cetacean watching, drawing up management plans for sites in the Natura 2000 network and creating protected areas;

105.  Stresses that the valuable advisory role of Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) should be recognised and that RACs should be consulted on marine management;

106.  Endorses the commitment made by the EU at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg 2002, and reiterated in the recent Commission Communication entitled "Implementing sustainability in EU fisheries through maximum sustainable yield" (COM(2006)0360), to restore fish populations to levels capable of producing maximum sustainable yield (MSY) by 2015, where possible; is of the view that this is best done by avoiding the use of arbitrary reference points that are based on a simple mathematical model; considers that an alternative interpretation of MSY, using a concept such as maximising the cumulative catches over a fixed period of time (possibly a decade), could provide a realistic and possible way of improving the state of fisheries in the EU;

107.  Considers that one important way of reducing discards is to improve the selectivity of fishing, through modifications to fishing gear and techniques; recognises that the cooperation and knowledge of fishermen in this matter is essential and that fishermen who are innovative in this sense should be rewarded;

108.  Calls for increased efforts to end the disgraceful by-catch and discard problem which is a serious consequence of the Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas regime of the CFP; takes the view that the by-catch depredation of marine mammals, seabirds and turtles is an abhorrence that must be stopped and that, in addition, the damage caused by fishing gear to sensitive seabeds and vulnerable deep water habitats, such as cold-water reefs, seamounts and sponge fields, requires that these be given special protection from fishing gear; points out that lost nets also lead to 'ghost-fishing' which can cause considerable fish-stock depletion and habitat damage;

109.  Believes strongly that there is an urgent need to promote and apply a mapping/spatial planning programme for Community waters in order to meet the need to maintain a sustainable and geographically representative fisheries sector; believes that the mapping out of zones is a suitable exercise as regards off-shore wind-farms or energy production, carbon sequestration and sand and gravel extraction or as regards aquaculture and that mapping the location of marine protected areas, including Natura 2000 sites and other sensitive habitats and species, would lead to a more efficient and sustainable use of the maritime environment; stresses that in order to enable effective spatial planning, areas of fishing activity need to be mapped, and this should be facilitated by improving and standardising access to vessel monitoring systems and logbook data across Member States; considers that planning decisions concerning Community waters should be taken in full consultation with the fisheries sector and the communities directly affected;

110.  Highlights the increasing socio-economic significance of fish farming as marine fish stocks diminish worldwide; believes that the worldwide annual sale of aquaculture products will soon exceed the sale of wild catch; stresses that the EU has been at the forefront of this exciting development and should strive to maintain its leading position and encourage further development in a way that is compatible with other coastal and maritime uses; stresses the importance of fish farming for often remote, rural communities where few other job opportunities exist; highlights that, within the context of an ICZM approach, clearly defined areas where fish farms may be clustered should be promoted and that this should be linked to a simplified regulatory regime encouraging entrepreneurship and sustainability; believes that new techniques should be developed in the aquaculture sector in order to enable improved management of quality, traceability assurance throughout the production and value-added chains and the overall recognition of fish farming as a key activity in the maritime sector;

111.  Draws attention to the fact that certain aquaculture practices are contributing to the depletion of some stocks; points out that catching juveniles of certain species in the sea for fattening prevents them from reproducing and ensuring the biological balance between species; takes the view that the high prices that some of these species reach in some world markets lie at the root of this complete disregard for the need to preserve certain marine ecosystems;

112.  Points out that military operations also impact on the fisheries sector; notes that marine firing ranges are 'no go' areas for fishing and other forms of shipping but that they can, however, offer havens for biodiversity; stresses, nevertheless, that the use of ultra low frequency sonar, particularly by submarines, has a serious effect on sea mammals and other fish stocks and should be strictly regulated and confined to zones;

113.  Stresses the need to monitor fishing in international waters, since this also affects fishery resources in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) within the EU.

Marine research, energy, technology and innovation

114.  Considers that most of the environmental and sustainability challenges need a response that makes proper use of the scientific and technological knowledge which must be, for that purpose, properly supported by sufficient funding by the Community and Member States; calls for the Commission to deliver a strategy for European Maritime Research and for better coordination and networking of European marine research institutes; to this end strongly endorses the establishment of a "European marine science network", with participation by all relevant European marine research institutes and support from the EU; calls for the knowledge acquired to be entered and stored in a European marine data centre to which all marine research institutes would have access; favours in this context the promotion of a European maritime conference on a regular basis to provide a forum for researchers and industry;

115.  Acknowledges that good governance of marine environment resources requires a solid information base; stresses, therefore, the importance of sound scientific knowledge of the marine environment in order to assist cost-effective decision making and to avoid measures that do not add value; insists, therefore, that marine research be given special treatment in terms of resource allocation in order to enable sustainable and effective environmental improvements to be made;

116.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up and implement a survey programme for the European seabed and European coastal waters, with a view to developing a European marine atlas on this basis;

117.  Endorses the view in the Green Paper that there are significant and serious problems with the data available on the condition of the marine environment and the activities that are either conducted or have an impact on it; supports, therefore, the call for much improved programmes of data collection, mapping and surveying, vessel tracking, etc. in those areas involving the Member States, the Marine Conventions, the Commission and other Community bodies, such as the European Environment Agency and EMSA; stresses the importance of exchanging best practice at national, regional and European levels;

118.  Calls for maritime research to be part of the EU's Seventh Framework Research Programme as a crosscutting theme and as a key topic for future framework research programmes; insists that the oceans" potential contribution to solving Europe's energy problems be included as the main focus of research, which must be encouraged;

119.  Stresses the enormous development potential of offshore wind energy and the major contribution it is able to make to Europe's independence from energy imports and to climate protection, while pointing out that enormous efforts are still needed to fully develop this potential; therefore calls on the Commission to draw up an offshore wind energy action plan embodying an efficient European approach to offshore technology, promoting more extensive networking and indicating the prospects of achieving a power generation capacity of at least 50 GW by 2020: therefore expects above all the adoption of a 'one-stop shop' approach and the promotion of an intelligent offshore network infrastructure; welcomes the Commission recommendation for a European strategic Energy Technology Plan and urges that efforts be focused on the large-scale development of offshore wind energy;

120.  Recognises the importance of the coastal zone for the development of renewable energy which forms a crucial and integral part of the EU's efforts to combat global climate change; points out that proper zoning for the purposes of maritime spatial planning to allow for the development of sites for the exploitation of wind, tide and other forms of power will therefore be necessary in order to minimise conflict with other users of the marine environment and to avoid degrading the environment, taking account of environmental impact assessments (EIA); welcomes the significant opportunities offered by the growing renewable energy industries for the creation of employment and technical expertise in the EU;

121.  Stresses, while bad practice must be ruled out, the importance of non-fishery developments which can be compatible with the fishery sector, such as the design of energy production platforms or wind turbine platforms that help to encourage and sustain a flourishing ecosystem, thus helping establish of nursery and spawning grounds for marine species in a fishing exclusion zone;

122.  Supports the shift to carbon-free energy generation, ensuring that the design and location of renewable energy generators provides proper safeguards for maritime wildlife; therefore, calls for the careful planning of maritime renewable energy installations; notes that there are many potential hazards associated with energy production which must be avoided; highlights that structures aimed at harnessing wind or wave energy can effect the natural cycles of the lower layer of the sea; emphasises that estuaries could lose inter-tidal bird feeding areas due to the introduction of barrages that reduce tidal range; underlines, similarly, that tidal power changes could affect horse mussel and flame-shell reefs, maerl beds, anemone and soft corals;

123.  Considers that there is considerable room for improvement as regards desalination technology to avoid the pollution of coastal waters, specially if those areas are part of the Natura 2000 network; invites the competent authorities to assess the environmental impact of desalination plants, particularly in those areas where water can be obtained through more sustainable means;

124.  Considers that, given the particularly rapid development of seawater desalination plants discharging tonnes of brine and other products into the sea, the Commission should investigate the effect of such plants on plankton and the seabed and on the changes and mutations occurring within the ecosystem;

125.  Believes that the Galileo satellite navigation system and the GMES system offer huge potential for the maritime sector; encourages the Commission to better promote the use of these systems in the framework of the maritime strategy;

126.  Points to the importance of ICT in port logistics; is convinced that new legislative proposals, such as those on Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), should be aimed at pushing forward the use of these technologies; calls on the Commission to set EU-wide ICT standards for all ports in the Union and to take a leading role in the negotiations on setting international technology standards;

127.  Points out that, as the outermost regions lie in areas of the Atlantic and the Indian oceans and are well placed for observing phenomena, such as those related to weather cycles and vulcanology and, furthermore, that oceanography, biodiversity, environmental quality, management of natural resources, energy and water, genetics, public health, health sciences, new telecommunications systems and services in these territories are par excellence fields for European research, these regions should be considered when planning future research and development programmes;

128.  Considers blue biotechnology as one of the most promising technologies of the coming decades, with many possible uses in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, the food industry and environmental remediation; believes that research efforts in this area should be strengthened and that Member States could take advantage of the creation of Blue Investment Funds, as proposed by the Green paper and that better synergy could be achieved by better coordinating Member State research efforts in this field; emphasises that any blue technology development must be strongly regulated and properly assessed in order to avoid overexploitation and further damage to already fragile and threatened marine ecosystems;

129.  Points out that ocean floor sediments comprise large quantities of gas hydrates that might supplement or replace traditional hydrocarbons; highlights that securing access to and evaluating these resources and developing ways of exploiting them are a major challenge that Europe should examine closely; believes that EU Member States" extension of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, under Article 76 of the Montego Bay Convention, is an opportunity to preserve access to potential extra resources;

A Common Maritime Policy

130.  Highlights the significant achievements of the EU in recent years as regards maritime safety and environmental protection (ERIKA I and II package and other legislative measures); calls on the Council to adopt, as soon as possible, common positions on the legislative proposals of the "Third Maritime Safety Packages" on which a political agreement has only just recently been reached;

131.  Maintains that the transnational sea region is an important area for potential partnership and consultation between the actors concerned by sectoral policies (transport, environment, maritime safety, management of fish stocks, etc.) and urges the Commission to encourage this networking with the support of the 2007-2013 territorial cooperation programme and the "sea regions" programme of the new neighbourhood policy; considers that the specific nature of their geographic locations in no way excludes the outermost regions from being part of these sea regions, and that they therefore have a legitimate role to play in the dynamic of the sea basins.

132.  Agrees with the Commission that the creation of a common European maritime space could considerably increase the efficiency of territorial waters management and believes that such maritime space will contribute to the integration of the internal market for intra-EU maritime transport and services, especially as regards the simplification of customs and administrative procedures and with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and IMO Conventions including the "freedom of navigation" and the "right of innocent passage" within the EEZ in international waters (High Seas); notes that Community law has already taken considerable steps in this direction but that in some cases implementation in the Member States is still lagging behind; calls on the Member States to implement European laws promptly;

133.  Highlights the advantages and potential of short sea shipping as a sustainable and efficient transport mode that easily bypasses land bottlenecks and has sufficient capacity for growth; asks, therefore, the Commission to support and promote short sea shipping by fully implementing the acts concerning short sea shipping; considers that the fact that short sea shipping is still viewed in law as international transport is a hindrance to its growth; therefore calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to integrate short sea crossings into the European internal market; underlines that this must not interfere with the UNCLOS and IMO Conventions including the "freedom of navigation" and the "right of innocent passage" within the EEZ in international waters (High Seas);

134.  Is disappointed at the progress made to date as regards the implementation of TEN project No 21, "motorways of the sea", and calls on the Commission to appoint a coordinator in order to speed up implementation of the sea motorways;

135.  Considers that the new maritime policy adopted by the EU should also focus on the protection and promotion of maritime archaeological resources; considers that the inclusion, in the European marine atlas, of a cartographic inventory of submerged wrecks and archaeological sites would facilitate the understanding and study of those phenomena, enabling the competent authorities in each Member State to improve the preservation of their historical and cultural heritage;

136.  Considers that the full and timely implementation of all EU environmental legislation (inter alia the Water Framework Directive(18), Habitats and Wild Birds Directives, Nitrates Directive(19), Marine Fuel Sulphur Directive(20), Directive on Penal Sanctions for Marine Pollution) is imperative for conserving the quality of the marine environment, and that the Commission should exert the necessary pressure to encourage the Member States to do so, and, if necessary, take legal action;

137.  Is convinced that the precautionary principle, as embodied in Article 174(2) of the Treaty, must form the basis of all types of exploitation of the maritime zones of the EU; stresses that a lack of scientific certainty should therefore not be used as an excuse for delaying preventive action; believes, on the other hand, that haste as regards preventive action should not prevent the use of scientific information;

138.  Notes that the Green Paper mentions several useful contributions that could be made by the military, including search and rescue, disaster relief and surveillance at sea; regrets, however, that no mention is made of the environmental degradation that can be caused by the military, such as weapons testing, construction of naval bases and the use of high intensity underwater sonar systems which can have a detrimental effect on cetaceans leading to deafness, internal organ damage and fatal mass stranding; insists, in this respect, that military activities be fully incorporated in the maritime policy and be subject to full environmental impact assessments and liability.

139.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to include in their maritime policy comprehensive investigations into old ammunition stocks from previous wars that have been dumped in European seas, and the dangers they present for people and the environment, and to examine the possibilities of making them safe and/or salvaging them, and to take appropriate action;

140.  Calls for the Community to play a more prominent role in international organisations; stresses, however, that the Community cannot and should not represent, still less replace, the Member States; reiterates however, that the Community must be given observer status within the IMO;

141.  Stresses that the EU must actively engage in maritime governance at international level in order to promote a level playing field within the maritime economy without compromising ambitions concerning the environmental sustainability of maritime activities;

142.  Stresses that the implementation and enforcement of existing IMO-, ILO- and EU-legislation has led to a safer, cleaner and economically viable maritime sector; welcomes the fact that Annexes I and II of the MARPOL Convention that came into effect on 1 January 2007 have been revised; calls on the EU Member States to ratify rapidly all relevant IMO- and ILO-Conventions, particularly Annex VI of the MARPOL Convention, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships and International Convention on Liability and Compensation for Damage in Connection with the Carriage of Hazardous and Noxious Substances by Sea (HNS); calls for ratification or non-ratification to be used as a criterion for searching ships during port State control operations;

143.  Encourages Member States and the Commission to participate actively in discussions, under the auspices of the International Oil Pollution Compensation Funds (IOPCF), to combat substandard shipping and therefore, promote quality shipping; stresses that, in the medium term, consideration should be given to the review of the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage and the IOPCF;

144.  Considers that EMSA, FRONTEX, the Fisheries Agency and the Environment Agency have various instruments at their disposal which could usefully be combined to provide effective support to a European maritime policy; therefore urges the Commission not only to remove obstacles to cooperation between these agencies, but to formalise such cooperation in order to achieve the following:

   i) safety at sea and the protection of the marine environment (including fisheries inspection), protection from terrorism, piracy and criminal acts at sea and illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing;
   ii) coordinated fisheries inspections and equal enforcement throughout the EU with equal penalties and sanctions being applied in the courts of Member States;
   iii) strict monitoring of compliance with designated shipping routes and prosecution for illegal discharges from ships; rapid, coordinated response in the event of an accident, deploying the necessary measures as soon as possible, including designating places of refuge and ports for emergency use and combating illegal immigration; reiterates its call, included in its resolution of 21 April 2004, for a European coastguard service to be set up and asks the Commission to come forward with the study on its feasibility as soon as possible;

145.  Expects the European Neighbourhood Policy to take into due account the maritime policy for the Union and the need to cooperate with the EU's neighbouring states as regards the environment, safety and security of the seas and at sea;

146.  Considers that IUU fishing is a serious and increasing problem, causing both the destruction of valuable fish stocks and unfair competition between fishermen who respect and fishermen who do not respect the rules; notes that, as regards certain fisheries in the EU, IUU catches are a significant part of the total catch; looks forward to the Commission's forthcoming communication and legislative proposals to combat IUU fishing and update the EU's 2002 Action Plan;

147.  Calls for a continuing integrated approach to European maritime policy in the future; stresses that this should include at least regular coordination meetings of the relevant Commissioners and regular public exchanges of views with other stakeholders, for example during biennial conferences; calls on future Council Presidencies to include maritime policy in their work programmes; also calls on the Commission to indicate annually all EU-funded projects with maritime relevance.

148.  Notes that the concept of maritime policy integration must now be put into practice and requests the Commission to reinforce its policy framework, with a view to carrying out a holistic analysis of maritime affairs and the policies that affect them, ensuring that interactions are fully taken into account in each sectoral policy and coordinating between them where appropriate; welcomes the steps taken by all the Community institutions and Member State governments as regards their response, in a cross-sectoral manner, to the Maritime Policy Green Paper and invites them to take further steps in this direction;

149.  Calls for the creation of a budget line entitled 'Maritime policy: pilot projects' to promote pilot projects seeking to integrate various systems for the monitoring and surveillance of the seas, collate scientific data on the sea, and disseminate networks and best practices in the field of maritime policy and the coastal economy; calls for maritime policy to be taken duly into account in the budgetary architecture of EU policies and instruments after 2013;

o   o

150.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0082.
(2) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7).
(3) Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1).
(4) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 11.
(5) OJ C 104 E 30.4.2004, p. 730.
(6) OJ L 225, 12.8.1998, p. 16.
(7) OJ L 82, 22.3.2001, p. 16.
(8) OJ L 80, 23.3.2002, p. 29.
(9) OJ L 18, 21.1.1997, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 283, 31.10.2003, p. 51.
(11) OJ L 332, 28.12.2000, p. 81.
(12) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0482.
(13) OJ L 175, 5.7.1985, p. 40.
(14) OJ L 148, 6.6.2002, p. 24.
(15) OJ L 179, 23.6.1998, p. 3.
(16) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0486.
(17) OJ L 197, 21.7.2001, p. 30.
(18) Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1).
(19) Council Directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (OJ L 375, 31.12.1991, p. 1).
(20) Council Directive 1999/32/EC of 26 April 1999 relating to a reduction in the sulphur content of certain liquid fuels and amending Directive 93/12/EEC (OJ L 121, 11.5.1999, p. 13).

First railway package
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the implementation of the first railway package (2006/2213(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the implementation of the first railway package (COM(2006)0189) and the accompanying Commission staff working paper (SEC(2006)0530),

–   having regard to Directive 2001/12/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2001 amending Council Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community's railways(1),

–   having regard to Directive 2001/13/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2001 amending Council Directive 95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings(2),

–   having regard to Directive 2001/14/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2001 on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and the levying of charges for the use of railway infrastructure and safety certification(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2006 on the deployment of the European rail signalling system ERTMS/ETCS(4),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0219/2007),

A.   whereas the first railway package is intended to revive the rail industry, by acting as a first step towards the creation of an integrated European railway area, and to expedite progress in the modal shift of freight traffic from road to rail,

B.   whereas Parliament, at first reading on the third railway package, requested the Commission to submit reports on the impact of the first and second railway packages,

C.   whereas the transport sector is responsible for between 15 and 30 % of all the EU's CO2 emissions, and whereas, accordingly, there is a need to boost the shift of traffic from road transport to the railways and inland waterways, which have a less negative impact on the climate,

D.   whereas moves towards a modal shift, and to optimising intermodal chains, have as yet proved unsatisfactory, and whereas the first railway package has not yet delivered the desired results,

E.   whereas the underlying conditions for competition and cooperation between rail, road, air and maritime transport are inevitably bound to have an impact on the performance of each mode of transport, and whereas any debate on the efficiency and competitiveness within each mode must begin with the issue of fair competition between them,

F.   whereas environmentally harmful road transport is given preferential treatment because an EU-wide system of tolls, with their fixed maximum limit, is levied on a voluntary basis, mostly only on motorways and only for lorries, with no internalisation of external costs,

G.   whereas tolls have shown remarkable success in generating a shift of traffic from road to rail – for example in Switzerland - and are an example of the greatest interest for EU transport policy, particularly since the improved efficiency of freight transport by road has increased costs for the consumer by only 0,5%,

H.   whereas the EU, in its agreement with Switzerland and in the Alpine Convention, has signed transport protocols, thus ensuring that the shift of more trans-Alpine freight traffic towards the railways will form part of the EU's future transport policy,

I.   whereas experience has shown that the degree of market opening and the number of firms entering the market has been very varied, both within and outside Europe, in smaller and larger, old and new Member States; whereas competition has proved its worth in those areas in which it has been introduced and smaller rail undertakings have often successfully filled niches which larger firms regarded as unprofitable,

J.   whereas enlargement from 15 to 25, and now to 27, Member States has brought countries into the EU whose rail structures in some cases differ markedly from those in the "old" Member States, which entails different types of opportunity and risk for the rail sector; whereas EU enlargement and the EU Neighbourhood Policy are presenting new challenges for the EU as regards shaping an appropriately differentiated rail policy,

K.   whereas, in some new Member States, notably the Baltic States, freight traffic to and from third countries constitutes almost half of total turnover; whereas the liberalisation of the rail sector is hindered by the different legal frameworks found in the EU's neighbouring countries and a lack of active dialogue between the EU and those states; whereas traditional rail companies, as a result, have a dominant market position when cooperating with non-EU rail operators,

L.   whereas the opening up of the networks is one of the factors that has led to an increase of 60% in rail freight traffic in the UK, of 42,5 % in the Netherlands, of more than 30% in Poland and of 25% in Germany, while in France, where the national railways for the moment practically face no competition, it has fallen by 28%; whereas this also has an impact on jobs and on the quality of the service offered, not to mention the climate, since the freight lost to the railways is now transported by road,

M.   whereas this is particularly connected with the fact that on the rail network in Germany, where the scheduled date for the opening up of the market to competition has been anticipated, there are 274 licensed freight operators; and whereas there are60 operators in Poland, while there are only five in France, where the dates for the opening up of the market were strictly applied, not to mention countries such as Finland and Slovenia, where the state monopoly still faces no competition at all,

N.   whereas fair and transparent charging on the rail infrastructure is an essential precondition for any competition in this sector; whereas Directive 2001/14/EC, while it makes marginal cost the underlying principle of charging, allows for discretion in the levying of charges, which leads in effect to widely differing charging systems and levels of charge in the Member States; whereas the differing levels of investment by the Member States in the rail sector are passed on as differences in charging by infrastructure operators,

O.   whereas past experience and the current intensity of competition show that the rail system works even if the network and operations are separated in a regulated manner,

P.   whereas single wagonload traffic, with a share of over 50%, is an important component of European rail freight traffic on which many of the rail companies" customers rely,

Q.   whereas the available statistics on rail accidents, while still incomplete, show a positive trend in rail safety even since the opening of the freight transport market; whereas in Member States which have opened up their markets to the greatest extent there has been no worsening in the level of safety; whereas it has become too difficult to obtain safety certificates in practice as a result of implementation problems, a lack of transparency and organisational and administrative restrictions,

Conditions for intermodal competition

1.  Recalls that – given growing traffic volumes, rising emissions and limited energy resources, as well as thousands of road accident victims – reviving rail transport is a key objective of EU transport policy, and calls on the Commission to take account of this fact when implementing the first rail package;

2.  Considers that the "Eurovignette 2" Directive is an initial step towards fair intermodal competition: fair competition is not possible when the levying of charges is mandatory throughout the EU for all trains on all rail routes, while road tolls in the EU have an upper limit, are charged only on a voluntary basis without an internalisation of external costs, mostly only on motorways and only for lorries; calls, therefore, on the Commission to submit a proposal for a directive by 2008 (cf. Article 1(9) of Directive 2006/38/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures(5)) in which the Eurovignette is adjusted in line with the rail route pricing system, tolls are made mandatory for all lorries over 3.5 tonnes on all roads in the EU without loopholes, and external costs are internalised;

3.  Calls on the Commission to translate the principles of the transport protocols of the agreement with Switzerland, and of the Alpine Convention, into corresponding measures for the shift to rail of trans-Alpine freight transport;

4.  Notes that competition between rail and air transport is distorted; considers that an exemption from kerosene tax and from VAT on international air tickets should be placed on the agenda as a matter of urgency, both at international and EU levels;

5.  Considers it incompatible with the objective of European transport policy that Member States charge high route prices on the rail freight network, while, at the same, charging no tolls for lorries on the roads;

6.  Emphasises that the lack of network interoperability is still the main obstacle to the creation of an integrated European railway area, and welcomes the Commission's decision to put forward a new initiative on this issue; considers that liberalisation should have gone hand-in-hand with the progress made on interoperability and regrets that the two processes have proceeded at very different speeds; points out that opening up the networks to competition will bear fruit only if there is a real integrated trans-European network; calls for this question to be treated as a priority in future;

7.  Calls on the Commission to modernise and develop intermodal infrastructures, particularly junctions with port infrastructures;

Conditions for intramodal competition

8.  Stresses that the interoperability of rail traffic must be further improved so as to enhance the competitiveness of the railways; calls in this connection for ERTMS to be installed rapidly and without gaps in the six corridors on which the EU, through its coordinator Karel Vinck, has reached agreement with the railway undertakings and the Member States (A: Rotterdam-Genoa; B: Naples-Berlin-Stockholm; C: Antwerp-Basle/Lyon; D: Seville-Lyon-Turin-Trieste-Ljubljana; E: Dresden-Prague-Brno-Vienna-Budapest; F: Duisburg-Berlin-Warsaw);

9.  Urges the Commission to extend the good example set within the field of state aid for rolling stock, made possible in connection with the installation/improvement of ERTMS in trains and to noise reduction in goods trucks, as this will enable savings to be made in infrastructure investments;

10.  Recognises that the option of giving preference to passenger rail transport at the expense of rail freight transport through very high route pricing is a factor which negatively affects the competitiveness of rail freight transport; notes that such action by rail undertakings is a direct result of the under-funding of these undertakings by the Member States; calls, therefore, on the Commission to take all legal steps to prevent this practice;

11.  Calls on the Commission to take action against the practice whereby EU transport aid flows into Member States which use it almost exclusively to subsidise their road networks while neglecting the railways; considers that, in the event of co-financing, at least 40% of the appropriations should be allocated to the railways;

12.  Notes that the three Baltic Member States have implemented EU legislation and are liberalising their markets while this is not the case in their neighbouring country, Russia. This special situation should have been acknowledged in the European Commission report;

13.  Supports the Commission in its efforts to promote the trans-European rail freight network still further and expects support to be given in particular to the priority Trans-European Network projects;

14.  Requests the Commission to put forward recommendations for the sustainable reform of the railways" financial structure (see Article 9 of Council Directive 91/440/EEC);

15.  Calls on the Commission to draw up a plan for promoting the restoration of rail connections to industrial undertakings and to ensure that links are no longer destroyed;

16.  Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of making route prices more transparent and predictable , establishing the principle of a minimum of harmonisation of prices on international corridors in which railway undertakings are investing in order to improve interoperability;

Regulation of the separation between network and operation

17.  Considers the separation of railway infrastructure and operations to be a key issue of rail policy, given the central role of infrastructure operators within the rail industry, and in this connection regards it as absolutely essential to create an independent and transparent regulatory body with adequate funding;

18.  Considers both the separation and the integration models to be compatible with Community law, provided that the independence of the essential functions is safeguarded in accordance with Directive 2001/14/EC; considers that this is not fully the case, as is shown by the numerous complaints made by undertakings entering the market which are in competition with incumbent state railway undertakings; highlights that their complaints include or have included the following:

   access to the network or to a favourable route could not be granted because this route had already been allocated to a rail undertaking belonging to the dominant group;
   their wishes could not be met since points had previously been extended and/or passing loops dismantled;
   low-speed stretches of route (speed limits) had been ordered – for no good reason – in order to undermine competitors" security of connections;
   it was not possible to purchase second-hand locomotives because they had already been scrapped, or because potential buyers were prevented from doing so by national rail undertakings;
   route prices were drastically increased after a former state railway undertaking was purchased;
   route prices were raised at such short notice that it was not possible to take them into account in pricing, while the railway undertaking belonging to the dominant group was notified in advance;
   cross-subsidisation within dominant groups was not prevented, because parts of the route prices they paid flowed into the holding company instead of being used to benefit the infrastructure, which not only improved their results but also enabled them to provide their service more cheaply on the market;
   non-state undertakings often pay higher energy prices than group subsidiaries, even if energy supply is integrated into the holding company, and this distortion of competition has even been ruled permissible by the Frankfurt Regional Court ;
   licensing, particularly of locomotives, is regulated differently from one country to another and each Member State requires a separate licence for its own network, which is not only very time-consuming but also prohibitively expensive;

19.  Notes that the entry into the market of new service providers in the single wagonload traffic sector is dependent on the efficient operation of marshalling yards; regards it as necessary for marshalling yards to be neutrally operated in order to ensure that all undertakings are treated in a non-discriminatory manner, and calls on the Commission to consider amending EU law to this effect;

20.  Calls on the Commission to adapt the rail systems currently confined within national borders in such a way that each rail undertaking which meets the necessary legal and technical requirements in a Member State be permitted to operate across the whole European network (cross-acceptance), thus promoting not only trans-European but also regional cross-border traffic; emphasises that this will also eliminate the advantages of road and air transport where these have existed for many years;

21.  Calls on the Commission to initiate legal proceedings without delay against those Member States which have not implemented the first and/or second railway package by the specified date;

22.  Notes that absolute priority must be given to the full implementation of the First Railway Package, including the test criteria laid down by the Commission in the Annexes to its report on the implementation of the First Railway Package;

23.  Highlights that the railways" share of the freight market has been stabilising since 2001 in the EU-25 and the best performance, disregarding the Baltic States which benefit from their very special geographical location and the kind of goods transported, can be seen in Member States that were first to commence with a reform of their railway industry in anticipation of the promulgation of the Community Directives and the opening up of the market;

24.  Notes that capacity shortages on the railways in Europe have a negative effect on the operation of the railways in relation to other modes of transport; calls on the Commission, before the end of 2007, to study the effects of Articles 22, 25 and 26 of Directive 2001/14/EC with reference to the capacity analysis and capacity enhancement plan prescribed therein in the event of infrastructure congestion;

25.  Emphasises that improving the competitiveness of the sector through market opening will encourage future investment, thus ensuring growth and employment, two objectives that the Lisbon Strategy aims to attain; notes that, in addition, by contributing to the development of environmentally friendly transport, the Community thus opts for the development of sustainable transport;

26.  Stresses the importance of an independent role for railway undertakings, as enshrined, inter alia, in Article 5 of Directive 91/440/EEC with regard to technical, organisational and financial management, and notes the positive effects of such a role on the development of rail as a mode of transport;

27.  Highlights the importance of European social dialogue in preventing the process of liberalisation from facilitating social dumping;

o   o

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

(1) OJ L 75, 15.3.2001, p.1.
(2) OJ L 75, 15.3.2001, p.26.
(3) OJ L 75, 15.3.2001, p.29.
(4) OJ C 300 E, 9.12.2006, p. 499.
(5) OJ L 157, 9.6.2006, p. 8.

Sustainable mobility
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on keeping Europe moving − Sustainable mobility for our continent (2006/2227(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament "Keep Europe moving - Sustainable mobility for our continent - Mid-term review of the European Commission's 2001 Transport White Paper" (COM(2006)0314),

–   having regard to the synthesis of the Finnish presidency on the Mid-term review of the European Commission's 2001 Transport White Paper, which reflects the discussion at the Transport Council of 12 October 2006 (Council doc. 13847/06 - TRANS 257),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0190/2007),

A.   whereas the above mentioned Communication from the Commission has been published following an extensive consultation with the involvement of stakeholders; whereas it is based on an up-to-date approach, is in line with the Lisbon targets and falls within the framework of European sustainable development,

B.   whereas Parliament acknowledges the achievements in some European transport policy fields and emphasises the importance of continuous efforts, such as:

   building the internal market in transport services through infrastructure network interconnection, pursuing policies to promote interoperability, ensuring accessibility to this market in order to secure the necessary cross-border permeability and applying specific measures to alleviate the geographical handicaps of the outermost regions and countries on the Union's external borders,
   ensuring greater cohesion between citizens through transport policy and other tools,
   applying measures to reduce the negative environmental effects of the transport sector,
   continually reviewing and further developing safety, taking into account its socio-economic importance, in all modes of transport (aviation, maritime, inland navigation, railway and road),
   efforts to increase quality of service and to protect consumers in all transport modes in order to comply with the objective of creating an internal market,
   efforts to ensure basic passengers' rights, not least by guaranteeing a universal service in cooperation with Member States,
   effectively implementing rules on working conditions,

C.   whereas Parliament emphasises that the following new challenges must be met by European transport policy:

   transport demand is growing faster than anticipated, and has grown more strongly than GDP,
   the competitiveness of the European economy needs more than ever an efficient, well-functioning sustainable transport system, where transport should be seen as part of European growth and competitiveness,
   new challenges as regards an integrated transport system covering EU-15 and the new Member States have appeared due to the latest enlargements, in particular as regards density, capacity, quality and other transport infrastructure parameters,
   the adverse effects of greenhouse gases in terms of climate change have increased, not least because of the sector's contribution to climate change,
   energy prices, especially the prices of the fossil fuels used in transport, are continuing to rise,
   the potential of innovation and new technologies has increased significantly,
   new tasks have also arisen from globalisation,
   the security and protection of transport infrastructures from terrorism is becoming increasingly important,
   problems, in the transport sector, pertaining to transport criminality and the organised theft of commercial vehicles and their loads have increased,
   large cities are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a smooth flow of passenger and goods traffic,

D.   whereas the transport industry accounts for about 7% of European GDP and the revenue from transport has grown continuously; stresses that efficient transport contributes not only to economic growth, but is also vital for investment in available technologies that are commercially possible and economically sustainable; points out that transport congestion has increased and costs the European Union about 1% of GDP, and the transport industry accounts for about 5% of employment, which means over 10 million people are employed in transport related sectors; believes that, in this context, the mid-term review gives Parliament an opportunity to express the aims of European transport policy more explicitly and unambiguously, with a focus on goals and a view to sustainable mobility,

1.  Stresses the importance of strengthened cooperation at European, national, regional and local levels, which should include the effective implementation of common rules and more efficient ways of enforcement; also stresses the need for pragmatic and cooperative interconnection of transport and other policy areas such as energy, environment and innovation; proposes that transport policy should be fully integrated into the Lisbon Strategy and taken into account in the assessment and recommendations put forward each year by the Member States in their national plans in order to measure and compare progress;

2.  Stresses the need for pragmatic and cooperative interconnection in the field of transport and in other national or Community policy areas such as energy, environment and innovation; emphasises that these policies must incorporate the requirements of climate protection, namely reducing CO2 emissions from the transport sector by 20% by 2020 as a priority; considers that only an integrated approach could achieve positive results in reducing casualties and emissions and improving safety and the environment, as laid down for example by the CARS 21 High Level Group; points out the importance of providing targeted information for citizens in their capacity as transport users and of encouraging them to behave more responsibly;

3.  Fully agrees that Community legislation − in line with the principle of better regulation and the principle of subsidiarity − should focus on new areas such as urban transport, where legislation is necessary and policy measures should be taken at EU level only where it would bring clear added value and replace the inordinate red tape entailed in 27 bodies of national legislation on the same subject, but at the same time calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the implementation common interpretation and enforcement of the existing European transport legislation; further calls on the Commission to carry out regular monitoring to observe the effectiveness of measures seeking to achieve the objectives set and, where necessary, to make corrective changes;

4.  Deplores the conditions under which the Union's transport policy is being implemented by the Council and calls strongly for decisions to be taken more quickly under the legislative procedure and for swifter and better coordinated transposition into national law; calls on the Commission to do all in its power to achieve this goal;

5.  Notes that Community funds for financing trans-European transport projects remain limited, and the added value of the TEN-T programme cannot be attained unless the entire network is completed; emphasises the financing of infrastructures (especially where congestion problems are significant), the cross border sections and transport hubs; considers that priority investment progress is slower than expected; emphasises that the key TEN-T projects − supervised by their coordinators − need to be selected according to their financial feasibility and in particular according to the financial willingness of the Member States concerned and their regions, and furthermore according to their level of operational feasibility and the degree of progress made in their technical planning, so as to ensure that the declarations of intent find practical expression in the investment schedules to be incorporated in the Member States" various finance laws; considers that these projects should provide proven 'pan-European added value' in terms of setting up a genuinely interconnected and interoperable trans-European network rather than creating a patchwork of national networks;

6.  Stresses that there is a significant risk to European economic growth from continued financial inaction as regards infrastructure; calls on the Commission to make proposals about the possible extension of new alternative and innovative ways of financing − taking into account also the report on the future of the European Union's own resources − and also extra resources for transport and the related researche during the review of the EU 7-year budget in 2008; emphasises that it should include finding sources for transport investments, and not least fair charging − based on the "user pays" principle and the ability to apply the "polluter pays" principle − provided that the revenue is reinvested in the transport sector; believes that the Commission and the Member States should together consider the long term financial problems of constructing the TEN-T as a whole and making it operational, bearing in mind that the building time will cover at least two 7-year financial periods and the life cycle of new infrastructure is at least some decades;

7.  Welcomes the establishment of the Guarantee Fund but expects more initiatives like this especially where public-private partnerships − in a proper legal framework − will be able to play a role in financing but not without clear economic and financial viability; highlights the role of the EIB, which must, however, be made compatible with the wider involvement of the European banking and financial system in infrastructure and transport projects;

8.  Points out that the geographical extension of the Union caused a significant increase in diversity, because of which, before legislating, in-depth impact analyses should make the Union aware of the possible effect on each Member State, especially on the newcomers; calls on the institutions and the Member States to do their best in order to exploit fully all available funds related to the development of transport infrastructure because, where there is a lack of capacity and infrastructure, qualitative progress towards more effective and more sustainable transport cannot be made with the help of horizontal measuresco-modality and intelligent transport;

9.  Agrees to follow a more realistic path than before and to make optimum use of limited capacities and stresses the importance of the efficient and innovative use of the various transport modes operating on their own or in multimodal integration; stresses that the development of co-modality should be in line with reducing the impact of transport on the environment; notes that each transport mode should develop on its own merits under corresponding environmental standards, carrying its own costs, thereby enhancing mobility by increased efficiency in all transport modes; stresses that co-modality enables optimal and sustainable utilisation of resources to be reached by mobility management in transport logistics and by intermodal linkage of the various modes, something which could decrease traffic, while enabling surplus capacities to benefit the entire system;

10.  Considers that rapid completion of the TEN-T network is the first way to create the conditions for better co-modality; notes that in different markets modal shift is essential for reducing the environmental impact of transport, and a modest modal shift can reduce road congestion; points out that shifts to more environmental modes, such as rail, bus and coach, carpooling and car-sharing, walking and cycling, maritime transport or inland navigation should be achieved, and emphasis should be put on those transport modes whose level of participation is often still low, meaning that they have vast potential;

11.  Points out that, while TEN-T projects continue, the conventional measures are reaching their limits; therefore emphasises the potential of intelligent transport systems, technological innovations, investments in telematics in order to enhance traffic efficiency, reduce congestion, and improve safety and environmental performance; points out that the benefits of intelligent systems and technological innovations (SESAR (air transport), ERTMS (railway transport), RIS (river information system), Galileo (satellite navigation) etc) should be realised; emphasises that the main task − both of the Community and of industry − is to support the market for new innovative solutions, and to create an appropriate legal and technical environment, including facilitated applications of the new technologies through public procurement;

12.  Notes that new challenges have emerged as a result of the globalisation of logistics, which is a key element for the competitiveness of the European economy; supports the development of a framework strategy for goods transport in Europe and considers that such a strategy must be based on the view that goods transport is fundamentally a purely business undertaking and that regulation should therefore be confined to the creation of an appropriate business environment for efficient goods transport; emphasises that European transport policy should integrate logistics with port development and integration and the development of logistics platforms; encourages multimodal logistics solutions and the European modular system, infrastructure connections and advanced informatics;

13.  Stresses the need for co-operation and EU agreements with third countries individually and within international organisations in the fields of transport, energy and environment and security; expresses its wish to be substantially involved in these negotiations and agreements;

14.  Welcomes the plans of the Work Book, set out in Annex I of the above mentioned Communication from the Commission, for the forthcoming years, and:

   stresses the importance of European maritime policy and especially the integrated maritime transport strategy together with a port policy, which should fall within the scope of the Treaty,
   stresses the importance of the "Motorways of the Sea" projects,
   emphasises the further developments made in the field of aviation, including emissions trading, and supports the progress of the SESAR programme,
   points out that a common overall concept at European level to develop airports is necessary in order to avoid inappropriate allocation of funds,
   supports the continuation the Marco Polo Programme,
   emphasises that the Galileo Programme and ERTMS should be sped up,
   supports the progress of the eSafety and radio frequency identification (RFID) projects,
   supports the progress of the inland waterways project NAIADES and urges the Commission and the Member States to come up with proposals with regard to the implementation of the actions announced in this action plan, and supports the progress of RIS,
   looks forward to the Commission proposing, in 2008, a generally applicable, transparent and comprehensible model for the assessment of all external costs to serve as the basis for future calculations of infrastructure charges, which model shall be accompanied by an impact analysis of the internalisation of external costs for all modes of transport and a strategy for the implementation of the model for all modes of transport,
   calls on the Commission to increase its efforts to fully implement Directive 2004/52/EC on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the Community and asks the Commission to produce a report on the implementation of this Directive before the end of 2007,
   calls for a feasibility study − in line with the report on the future of the EU's own resources − to be carried out so as to provide secure and lasting funding,
   emphasises that priority should be given, when implementing the Seventh Framework Programme, to projects and programmes concerning intelligent transport systems and logistics, including road safety, urban transport and clean-engine technology,
   calls for EU-wide quality and interoperability standards for biofuels to be ensured,
   underlines the need for an energy efficiency road plan,
   emphasises the importance of the Green Paper on urban transport, and hopes that specific means will be provided to help urban public transport move towards modal integration, developing traffic management systems, and creating conditions enabling users to be rewarded for their decision to make use of alternatives,
   underlines the importance of taking further measures in favour of sustainable transport in mountainous as well as densely populated areas, following the signature, by the Transport Council on 11 December 2006, of the Transport Protocol to the Alpine Convention,
   suggests that a Green Paper on European tourism be submitted and that a specific impact assessment of legislation which has a clear influence on European tourism be carried out;

15.  While the transport policy of the reunified Europe has faced and is still facing new challenges, emphasises that the Mid-term review of the Transport White Paper 2001 has not laid down long-term objectives nor given answers on an integrated approach to future European transport policy; therefore calls on the Commission to immediately start work on a well-prepared European transport policy after 2010, which can meet the new challenges in a sustainable manner;

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

Cardiovascular disease
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on action to tackle cardiovascular disease

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 152 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council meeting on 1 and 2 June 2004(1),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal for a Public Health Action Programme 2007-2013 (COM(2006)0234),

–   having regard to the its Resolution of 15 December 2005 on the Commission legislative and work programme for 2006(2),

–   having regard to the World Health Organisation's "European Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases"(3),

–   having regard to the conclusions and strategic objectives as regards women and health of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, adopted by the Fourth UN World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995,

–   having regard to the European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention(4),

–   having regard to the declaration adopted at the Heart Health Conference, held in Luxembourg on 28 and 29 June 2005(5),

–   having regard to the Women's Health at Heart Conference, held in Brussels on 7 March 2006(6),

–   having regard to the June 2007 European Heart Health Charter(7)

–   having regard to the Finnish Presidency's initiative Health in All Policies from 2006(8),

–   having regard to the Seventh Research Framework Programme (2007-2013)(9),

–   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, according to European cardiovascular disease statistics of 2005, cardiovascular disease is the most significant cause of death in men and women in the EU, accounting for 1.9 million deaths; whereas women and men are affected differently by cardiovascular disease; whereas women are more likely than men to die from a stroke or a heart attack; whereas cardiovascular diseases in women are often not diagnosed and treated properly(10),

B.   whereas cardiovascular disease causes nearly half of all deaths, namely 42%, in the EU(11),

C.   whereas cardiovascular disease is the second main cause of disease burden (illness and death) in the EU, amounting to 18% of the burden(12),

D.   whereas the total cost of cardiovascular disease amounts to EUR169 billion in the EU, of which EUR105 billion is spent on treating the disease in the EU and the remaining sum of EUR 64 billion results from lost productivity and the cost of informal care(13),

E.   whereas health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,

F.   whereas the changing demographic structure of the EU requires that people work longer and whereas debilitation arising from high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease has a negative effect on the labour market (14),

G.   whereas the OECD 2005 Indicators(15) state that "only around 3% of current health expenditure is spent on prevention and public health programmes",

H.   whereas major risk factors for developing a cardiovascular disease are notably the consumption of tobacco and alcohol, an excess of visceral fat, which may lead to metabolic disorders, a high level of glucose, lipids and cholesterol in the blood and high blood pressure,

I.   whereas the majority of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented by a change in lifestyle together with an early identification of high-risk individuals and proper diagnosis,

J.   whereas the WHO recognises that "the most cost-effective methods of reducing risk among an entire population are population-wide interventions, combining effective policies and broad health promotion policies"(16),

K.   whereas a tangible European strategy for addressing cardiovascular disease is non-existent,

L.   whereas the March 2006 Women's Health at Heart conclusions called for the Council to adopt a Recommendation on a tangible EU-wide cardiovascular health strategy on the basis of a Commission proposal encompassing cardiovascular health promotion, mechanisms in support of the Member States" strategies and activities, guidelines on risk assessment, optimal preventive methods, treatment, rehabilitation and screening, and education of doctors by doctors,

M.   whereas there are major discrepancies in cardiovascular disease prevalence, prevention and care between Member States and it is the role of the EU to combat such inequalities and close the gap,

N.   whereas gender is a crucial factor in the development, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease; whereas not enough attention is being paid to gender in the health sector, which is having a negative effect on the treatment of women for cardiovascular diseases,

O.   whereas in its resolution of 15 December 2005 it has called on the Commission to "ensure a proper follow-up to its communications on the fight against obesity, heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, mental disorders and HIV/AIDS",

P.   whereas the treatment of other major diseases received overwhelming support from the European Parliament in 2006 in the form of the declaration of 27 April 2006 on diabetes(17) and the resolution of 25 October 2006 on breast cancer in the enlarged European Union(18), while none currently exists on cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in Europe,

1.  Calls on the Commission to propose a Recommendation on cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure, and on the early identification of high-risk individuals and prevention strategies in Europe, taking into account gender differences so as to ensure gender equality in the health sector;

2.  Calls on the Commission to launch a survey in order to encourage the equipment of large public spaces, such as railway and metro stations, airports and stadia, with pre-hospital system care such as early defibrillation for victims of cardiac arrest (cardiac fibrillation);

3.  Calls on the Member States to develop and strengthen their risk factor surveillance systems;

4.  Calls on the Member States to adopt or review national public health strategies so as to include the promotion of health, population and early high-risk management strategies on cardiovascular health, and to develop health impact assessments in order to measure the burden on national healthcare systems, taking into account gender differences so as to ensure gender equality in the health sector;

5.  Calls on Member States to establish national guidelines for the prevention of cardiovascular disease, including standard best practice guidelines in order to identify high-risk individuals;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish a consensus on the setting of targets for managing high blood pressure screening and control;

7.  Encourages the Member States to develop and implement cardiovascular health promotion, early identification of high-risk groups and prevention strategies, as the most cost-effective methods of combating cardiovascular disease;

8.  Urges the Member States to adopt a multi-sectoral approach to cardiovascular health promotion and preventive strategies in consultation with all relevant stakeholders;

9.  Calls on the Member States to further develop their action plans on lifestyle-related health determinants in order to promote healthy lifestyles;

10.  Calls for continued financial support for further research into preventing cardiovascular disease and promoting cardiovascular health at local, national and European levels, including research into cardiovascular disease risk factors, prevalence and genetic factors;

11.  Calls on the Member States to implement public education programmes in order to raise awareness of the risk factors relating to cardiovascular disease and specialist programmes for the further education of health professionals;

12.  Calls on the Member States to measure the prevalence of cardiovascular disease among their population and to evaluate their national programmes in order to identify benchmark figures that will enable national health authorities to set tangible goals when implementing dedicated initiatives;

13.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to support the implementation of the most recent European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention produced by the Joint European Task Force;

14.  Calls on the Commission to encourage initiatives and collaborations with interested stakeholders which aim to promote better cardiovascular health through further controls on tobacco and alcohol and an improved diet and physical activity as a means of preventing obesity and high blood pressure and their related complications;

15.  Urges the Commission to follow up on its earlier initiatives on exchanges of best practice regarding cardiovascular disease prevention between Member States;

16.  Calls on the Commission to promote the regular exchange of experience, information and data on cardiovascular health between all stakeholders involved in cardiovascular disease prevention;

17.  Calls on the Commission to increase the comparability of data by encouraging the establishment of a database that monitors cardiovascular disease prevalence, mortality, morbidity and risk factors across Member States;

18.  Urges the Commission to develop, further to the Council's conclusions on Health in all Policies, health impact assessments in order to measure the burden of cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure on European economic productivity across Member States;

19.  Welcomes the Commission's recently announced plan to develop a health strategy and urges the Commission, in this plan, to focus on the need for equal access to facilities for the prevention, treatment, diagnosis and control of disease for all Europeans regardless of their nationality;

20.  Calls on the Commission to point out to Member States the funding opportunities available for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure screening and prevention methods as well as for further research into cardiovascular disease, such as through the Seventh Research Framework Programme, the Structural Funds and the European Development Fund;

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

(2) OJ C 286 E, 23.11.2006, p. 487.
(3) EUR/RC56/R2
(4) Eur. J. Cardiovasc. Prev. Rehabil. 2003 Dec;10(Suppl 1):S1-78
(9) Decision No 1982/2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 (OJ L 412, 30.12.2006, p. 1).
(10) Study: Discrimination against Women and Young Girls in the Health Sector, Policy Department C, PE 378.295
(11) Ibid.
(12) Ibid.
(13) Ibid.
(14) High Blood Pressure and Health Policy, Kanavos/Őstergren/Weber et al., 2007.
(15) Health at a Glance – OECD Indicators 2005, November 2005.
(16) WHO Information sheet - Cardiovascular diseases: prevention and control, WHO, 2003, available at
(17) OJ C 296 E, 6.12.2006, p. 273.
(18) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0449.

PNR Agreement
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the PNR agreement with the United States of America

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union, Article 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

–   having regard to its recommendation of 7 September 2006 to the Council(1) and its resolution of 14 February 2007(2) on PNR,

–   having regard to the previous PNR agreements between the European Community and the United States of America of 28 May 2004 and between the European Union and the United States of America of 19 October 2006,

–   having regard to the draft agreement of 28 June 2007 between the European Union and the United States of America on the processing and transfer of PNR data by air carriers to the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), informally transmitted by the President-in-Office of the Council, Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, to the Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–   having regard to the judgment of 30 May 2006 of the Court of Justice in Joined Cases C-317/04 and C-318/04,

–   having regard to the letter from the DHS of 28 June 2007 on the assurances explaining its safeguarding of PNR data, informally transmitted by the President-in-Office of the Council, Mr Schäuble, to the Chair of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs,

–   having regard to the letter from the European Data Protection Supervisor of 27 June 2007, concerning the new PNR agreement with the US ('the new PNR agreement'), addressed to the President-in-Office, Mr Schäuble, and the responses he received from Mr. Schäuble and from Jonathan Faull, Director-General of the Justice Liberty and Security Directorate-General of the Commission of 29 June and 3 July 2007, respectively

–   having regard to Article 2 of the Council of Europe's Additional Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, regarding supervisory authorities and transborder data flows,

–   having regard to Council Directive 2004/82/EC of 29 April 2004 on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data(3),

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

A.   whereas the declared purpose of the new PNR agreement is to provide a legal basis for the transfer of EU PNR data to the US on the one hand, and to ensure an adequate protection of personal data and procedural safeguards for EU citizens on the other,

B.   whereas the new PNR agreement is meant to help prevent and combat terrorism and international crime,

C.   whereas the new PNR agreement fails to meet the second objective, as it is substantively flawed in terms of legal certainty, data protection and legal redress for EU citizens, in particular as a result of open and vague definitions and multiple possibilities for exceptions,

D.   whereas the new PNR agreement provides the legal framework for the transfer of EU PNR data to the US and, by doing so, provides a basis for the air carriers to operate their business in the US,

E.   whereas adequate protection of the privacy and civil liberties of individual citizens and data quality controls are necessary if the sharing of data and information is to be a valuable and reliable tool in the fight against terrorism,


1.  Recognises the difficult conditions under which the PNR negotiations took place, and acknowledges, in principle, the benefit of having a single EU-US PNR agreement rather than 27 bilateral agreements between the Member States and the US;

2.  Strongly regrets the lack of democratic oversight of any kind, as the new PNR agreement, prompted by US requirements, has been negotiated and agreed without any involvement of the European Parliament and leaving insufficient opportunity for national parliaments to exercise any influence over the negotiating mandate, to thoroughly assess the proposed new PNR agreement, or to propose modifications to it;

3.  Is concerned at the persistent lack of legal certainty as regards the consequences and scope of the obligations imposed on the airlines as well as the legal relationship between the new PNR agreement and the DHS letter;

4.  Criticises the failure of the new PNR agreement to offer an adequate level of protection of PNR data, and regrets the lack of clear and proportionate provisions as regards the sharing of information and retention and supervision by data protection authorities; is concerned about the numerous provisions that are to be implemented at the discretion of the DHS;

5.  Calls, therefore, on the national parliaments of the Member States to examine the draft new PNR agreement carefully in the light of the observations made in this resolution;

As regards the legal framework

6.  Is concerned that the DHS's handling, collection, use and storage of PNR data is not founded on a proper agreement, but only on non-binding assurances that can be unilaterally changed by the DHS at any given moment and that do not confer any rights or benefits on any person or party;

7.  Regrets the lack of clear purpose-limitation given in the DHS letter, which notes that the PNR data may be used for the fight against terrorism and related crimes, but also for a range of unspecified additional purposes, notably 'for the protection of the vital interests of the data subject or other persons, or in any criminal judicial proceedings, or as otherwise required by law';

8.  Welcomes the willingness of the DHS to move to the PUSH system no later than 1 January 2008 in principle, but regrets the fact that the shift – already foreseen in the 2004 PNR agreement – has been delayed for years, even though the condition of technical feasibility has long since been met; believes that the PUSH system for all carriers should be a sine qua non for PNR transfers; stresses that the concurrent existence of the 'PUSH' and 'PULL' systems could lead to a distortion of competition between EU carriers;

9.  Insists that the joint periodic review by the DHS and the EU must be comprehensive and take place annually and that the results must be published; insists that the review must include an assessment of the effectiveness of the measures in terms of greater security; regrets the fact that the review does not provide for any involvement of national or European data protection supervisors, which was provided for under the previous PNR agreement;

10.  Insists that passengers must be properly informed of the use of their data and their rights, especially the right to redress and the right to be informed on what basis a traveller is stopped, and that this obligation rests with the airlines; believes that the DHS and the Commission must take responsibility for the information provided to passengers and proposes that the 'Short notice for travel between the European Union and the United States' suggested by the Article 29 Working Party (WP 132) be made available to all passengers;

11.  Regrets the fact that the EU negotiations with the US took no account of Directive 2004/82/EC or of the EU's PNR agreements with Australia and Canada, which ensure higher standards of protection of personal data;

12.  Recalls that the administrative agreement concluded between the EU and the US must not have the effect of reducing the level of protection of personal data assured by Member States' national legislation, and regrets that it will create further confusion as to the obligations of EU airlines and the fundamental rights of EU citizens;

As regards data protection

13.  Welcomes the provision that the US Privacy Act will be extended administratively to EU citizens;

14.  Regrets the fact that the DHS reserves the right to introduce exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act;

15.  Regrets the failure of the new PNR agreement to lay down precise criteria for the definition of the protection of personal data transferred to the DHS which could be considered adequate according to EU standards;

16.  Deplores, in this respect, the fact that EU citizens' PNR data are to be treated solely according to US law, without an adequacy assessment or any indication of the specific US legislation applicable;

17.  Deplores the fact that the length of retention of PNR data will be extended from 3.5 years to 15 years, as well as this being retroactively applied to data collected under the previous PNR agreements; strongly criticises the fact that after the 15-year retention period, consisting of a 7-year 'active' and an 8-year 'dormant' period, there is no guarantee that the data will be definitively deleted;

18.  Takes note of the reduction in data fields from 34 to 19, but points out that the reduction is largely cosmetic due to the merging and renaming of data fields instead of actual deletions;

19.  Notes with concern that sensitive data (i.e. personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, and data concerning the health or sex life of individuals), will be made available to the DHS and that these data may be used by the DHS in exceptional cases;

20.  Is concerned that data will be kept for seven years in 'active analytical databases', leading to a significant risk of massive profiling and data mining, which is incompatible with basic European principles and is a practice still under discussion in the US Congress;

As regards sharing of information

21.  Regrets the failure of the new PNR agreement to define precisely which US authorities may access the PNR data;

22.  Is concerned at the envisaged transfer of analytical information flowing from PNR data from the US authorities to police and judicial authorities in the Member States, and possibly to Europol and Eurojust, outside the framework of specific judicial procedures or police investigations, as mentioned in the DHS letter, since this should only be allowed in accordance with the existing EU-US agreements on mutual legal assistance and extradition;

23.  Strongly opposes the provision that third countries in general may be given access to PNR data if adhering to DHS-specified conditions, and that third countries may exceptionally, in unspecified emergency cases, be given access to PNR data without assurances that the data will be handled according to the DHS level of data protection;

24.  Regrets the fact that the EU has accepted 'not to interfere' with regard to the protection of EU citizens' PNR data that may be shared by the US with third countries;

25.  Notes that the new PNR agreement allows the DHS to provide PNR data to other US domestic governmental authorities in relation to specific cases and in proportion to the nature of the case; regrets that the new PNR agreement lacks any indication as to which US authorities may access the PNR data and that the purposes set out in Article I of the DHS letter are very broad;

As regards a European PNR system

26.  Notes that the new PNR agreement makes reference to a possible future PNR system at the level of the EU or in one or more of its Member States, and the provision that any PNR data in such a system may be made available to the DHS;

27.  Demands that the Commission clarify the state of play with regard to an EU PNR system, including making available the feasibility study it has pledged to undertake;

28.  Repeats the concerns expressed by the Article 29 Working Party as regards the use of PNR data for law enforcement purposes, notably calling on the Commission to substantiate:

   a) the operational need and purpose of collecting PNR data at the point of entry into EU territory;
   b) the added value of collecting PNR data in the light of the already existing control measures at the point of entry into the EU for security purposes, such as the Schengen system, the Visa Information System, and the API system;
   c) the use that is envisaged for PNR data, in particular whether it is for identifying individuals in order to ensure air security, for identifying who enters the territory of the EU, or for general negative or positive profiling of passengers;

29.  Insists that Parliament be involved, pursuant to Articles 71(1)(c) and 251 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, in all relevant developments;

30.  Recalls that the new PNR agreement will eventually have to be reviewed in the light of future EU institutional reforms, as outlined in the conclusions of the European Council of June 2007 and in the mandate for the next IGC;

31.  Intends to seek a legal appraisal of the new PNR agreement for conformity with national and EU legislation, and invites the Article 29 Working Party and the European Data Protection Supervisor to present comprehensive opinions in this respect;

o   o

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

(1) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 250.
(2) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0039.
(3) OJ L 261, 6.8.2004, p. 24.

Eurozone (2007)
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the 2007 annual report on the eurozone (2007/2143(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication on the Annual Statement on the Euro Area 2007 (COM(2007)0231),

–   having regard to the Commission's spring economic forecasts of 7 May 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 April 2007 on Public Finances in the EMU 2006(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the Situation of the European economy: preparatory report on the broad economic policy guidelines for 2007(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the macro-economic impact of the increase in the price of energy(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on the enlargement of the euro zone(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2006 on the strategic review of the International Monetary Fund(5),

–   having regard to the 2006 Annual Report of the European Central Bank (ECB),

–   having regard to the ECB's reports on Financial Integration in Europe of March 2007,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0264/2007),

A.   whereas the GDP of the eurozone increased by 2,7 % in 2006, up from 1,4 % in 2005, which represents the best performance since 2000, whilst the inflation rate was 2,2 %, unchanged from 2005,

B.   whereas the fiscal deficit declined to 1,6 % of GDP in 2006 from 2,5 % of GDP in 2005,

C.   whereas the unemployment rate fell to 7,6 % by the end of 2006, its lowest level in 15 years,

D.   whereas membership of the eurozone strengthens the degree of economic interdependence between Member States and calls for a closer coordination of economic policies in order to correct structural weaknesses, to face future challenges and to assimilate the eurozone with an increasingly globalised economy,

E.   whereas the eurozone represents a core element of stability in the global economy,

Macroeconomic developments

1.  Welcomes the favourable economic developments achieved in 2006 in terms of growth and employment, resulting in the creation of 2 million new jobs and lower fiscal deficits; points out however that high unemployment levels and low participation in labour markets do not allow Europe to respond successfully to current and future challenges in a global economy;

2.  Recalls in this connection that Article 111 of the Treaty confers responsibility for exchange rate policy on the Council, without specifying the means by which this power should be exercised; calls on the Euro Group, the Council and the ECB to exercise their respective powers to the full;

3.  Notes that part of the recovery is driven by structural improvements and welcomes the fact that labour productivity is increasing at a higher rate; considers, however, that it is too early to draw firm conclusions as to whether the recovery is more cyclical or more structural in nature; calls for a cautious stance in this regard;

4.  Welcomes the fact that eurozone members have made a concerted effort to correct excessive budget deficits in accordance with the reformed Stability and Growth Pact; highlights the fact that the Commission considers that in the eurozone as a whole the quality of the adjustment has increased, with less reliance on one-off measures and a decrease in public expenditure; stresses, in particular, that the combination of consolidation efforts, notably in countries with excessive deficits, and improved economic developments have reduced the budget deficit of the eurozone to 1,6 % of GDP in 2006, down from 2,5 % of GDP in 2005;

5.  Insists that sound fiscal policy is a pre-condition for sustained growth and job creation since low budget deficits and government debt foster low and stable inflationary expectations and help maintain low interest rates; warns against repeating the policy mistakes of 1999-2001; calls, therefore, for the current upswing to be used in two ways in order to achieve the following: the elimination of deficits and the accumulation of surpluses, which would reduce debt levels, and the improvement of the quality of public finance by investing more in education, vocational training, infrastructure, and research and innovation, which would assist in helping to meet the challenges posed by an ageing population; welcomes in this respect the fact that on 20 April 2007 the Eurogroup adopted orientations for fiscal policies in eurozone Member States, recalling the commitment to actively consolidate public finances in good times and to use unexpected extra revenues for deficit and debt reduction;

6.  Stresses the risks posed by pro-cyclical policies in some Member States; takes note of the fiscal consolidation effort observed in the eurozone as a whole; insists, however, that the obligation to achieve the medium-term objective, as specified in the reformed Stability and Growth Pact, requires Member States to run surpluses during good times; believes that the consolidation effort needs to be strengthened in light of, inter alia, the demographic challenge to come; notes that the reformed Stability and Growth Pact explicitly requires fiscal consolidation over the economic cycle; notes that procedural or numerical fiscal rules and independent fiscal institutions support fiscal consolidation and help avoid pro-cyclical policies;

7.  Takes note of the ECB's decision in 2006 to further increase interest rates; observes that, although inflation remained contained despite a surge in energy prices, the growth rate of monetary aggregate M3 has systematically exceeded the reference value of 4,5 % by large margins ever since 2001 without accelerating inflation; calls on the ECB to explain better the reasons for this discrepancy and whether it is a symptom of growing liquidity with the potential to fuel inflation in future or a result of other factors, such as the deepening of financial markets, financial innovations and the increasingly international role of the euro;

8.  Observes that asset price increases are gaining pace, notably in the real estate sector, which may be the normal symptom of a healthy economy but also raises the likelihood of violent adjustments; considers that these accelerating asset price increases reinforce the need for a cautious fiscal policy in Member States experiencing such developments, as well as national structural policies aimed at preventing such imbalances, including enhanced prudential regulation; invites national legislators and regulators to evaluate carefully the development of the real estate market; points to a differentiated approach which takes into account Member States' specific situations as regards growth and budget;

9.  Observes that the nominal appreciation of the euro exchange rate by 11,4 % against the US dollar, 12,4 % against the yen, and 8 % against the Chinese renminbi led only to a minor appreciation of the real effective exchange rate of 3,5 % in 2006, and has not been detrimental to exports and growth at the eurozone level so far; observes, however, that the effects differ among Member States depending on their economic structures and the elasticity of their real sector response to changes in the exchange rate; calls on the Member States to take steps to increase their adjustment capabilities; emphasises the need to take into account the effects that future increases of interest rates may have on the euro exchange rate and the competitiveness of the European economy;

Functioning of the EMU

10.  Considers that diverging trends in growth, inflation, real exchange rates and employment among Member States may reflect different developments, e.g. demographic trends, different rates of progress as regards the structural reforms, varying growth potentials and catching-up processes; underlines however that the large current account deficit in some Member States is a symptom of diverging trends in competitiveness and that the different approaches to economic policy among Members States are key to explaining such differences;

11.  Observes that differences in the level of international competitiveness of eurozone economies are partly caused by diverging trends in unit labour costs which reflect different developments in productivity and wage dynamics; notes that in recent years wage growth has remained below productivity growth levels; stresses the need for a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth; calls on shareholders and corporate executives to maintain a responsible policy towards remuneration packages and bonuses at the top corporate levels, which tend to grow disproportionately compared to ordinary salary levels, and thus give the wrong signals and discourage support for a responsible wage policy; notes that low inflation rates are also an important influencing factor as regards the favourable development of unit labour costs;

12.  Calls in this connection for a further integration of the market in goods and services in order to overcome the existing fragmentation of the EMU market into national markets and to achieve a higher level of synchronisation between the economic cycles of the participant economies;

13.  Notes that the euro can only retain its long-term strength and credibility on the international financial markets if there is a further rapprochement between the Member States of the eurozone in all areas relevant to monetary stability; urges the Member States of the eurozone, and the social partners in particular, to make greater efforts in this respect, as well as to improve trends in productivity, a factor which is also important in achieving the Lisbon Strategy objectives;

14.  Recalls that ECB monetary policy can never be perfectly attuned to the situation of any particular Member State; observes that in fast-growing countries inflation is structurally higher and real interest rates are lower, even possibly negative; deems such situations inherent in a single monetary union and calls for sound fiscal policies in order to maintain stability, especially as regards the need for precaution against demographic risks;

15.  Observes that loose fiscal policies combined with restrictive monetary policy driven by interest rate increases and exchange rate appreciation result in a suboptimal policy mix which may entail excessive macroeconomic costs of stabilisation; considers that more fiscal tightening would reduce pressure on monetary policy and allow for a better policy mix that would ensure faster economic growth under a given inflation rate;

Structural reforms and the internal market

16.  Recalls that an integrated European financial market is essential to ensuring the smooth functioning of the EMU; emphasises, therefore, on the need to complete financial market integration and to remove the remaining obstacles to financial integration in order to create an efficient financial system and improve the eurozone's capability to deal with economic shocks; draws attention to the fact that financial integration may also pose a risk to financial stability if the procedures for crisis prevention, management and resolution remain segmented at national level, making area-wide responses more difficult; reasserts, therefore, in this context the need for an integrated European system of cooperating supervisors as one key element as regards the completion of financial market integration;

17.  Considers that the pace of structural reforms in product, services, labour and financial markets should be accelerated and that the completion of the internal market is crucial to fostering economic growth and job creation;

18.  Observes that services account for about 70 % of eurozone GDP and offer the greatest opportunity for employment growth; notes that services inflation makes a persistent contribution to core inflation; points out therefore that more competition in services would result in lower inflation; calls, therefore, for a fully operational internal market for services and a swift implementation of Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(6);

19.  Believes that the effective and full implementation of the Lisbon Strategy is key to achieving higher growth potential; regrets that the performance of the eurozone in the field of innovation, as in the case of business expenditure on R&D, is lower than that of the USA and Japan; deplores also that total R&D spending of the public and private sector in the eurozone has been stagnating at around 2 % of GDP, which is well short of the objective of the Barcelona European Council of 15 and 16 March 2002, which was to reach 3 % of GDP by 2010; calls, therefore, for a consistent policy which fosters innovation-based growth; recalls that such a policy requires more investment in infrastructure, research, innovation, lifelong learning and education, more competition on product and services markets, more developed financial sectors and more flexible labour markets while ensuring the required level of social security (flexicurity) in accordance with the renewed Lisbon Strategy, as well as complementary policies aimed at correcting excessive inequalities caused by the reforms;

Enlargement of the eurozone

20.  Welcomes the entry of Slovenia to the eurozone on 1 January 2007 and the smooth changeover from the tolar to the euro;

21.  Encourages other new Member States to continue efforts to prepare themselves for entry into the eurozone; highlights the benefits stemming from the convergence process and the final adoption of the euro, both for the new Member States and for the eurozone as a whole; considers that issues relating to the eurozone should not be focused exclusively on the new Member States and points to the issue of opt outs;

22.  Emphasises the need for an agreement between Parliament, the Council and the Commission on a clear roadmap for the eurozone application procedure in order to ensure a sufficient period of assessment and preparation for all institutions involved, which would increase the confidence of citizens and Member States in the changeover process;

23.  Acknowledges that the definition of price stability used for assessing the convergence criteria is not identical to the price stability definition adopted by the ECB in its monetary policy, as the convergence criteria mainly assess measured past performance whilst the ECB's definition is an aim set for future performance; regrets that the inflation criterion as set in the Treaty is measured against all Member States instead of concentrating on those which are now part of the eurozone;

24.  Calls for more effective action to tackle money laundering and fraud and notes the lack of information in the Commission's regular reports on offshore companies or on their role and importance and requests information on this subject;

25.  Considers that the new Member States may face challenges in joining the eurozone especially with regard to the price stability criterion, since inflation may be part of the catching-up process; therefore calls on the Council and the Commission to examine the convergence criteria through further analysis of and policy debate on the application of the convergence criteria to prospective new members of the eurozone and in the light of the new reality and differences in economic development; emphasises that the convergence criteria must be applied according to the Treaty and in any case the competitiveness of the eurozone should not be questioned;

26.  Recalls the need to engage in extensive citizen information campaigns in applicant Member States at an early stage, generating confidence in the changeover process, and to ensure that the changeover phase is managed in a fair manner by all involved, with a view to making the euro a success; judges that the information deficit of citizens needs to be reduced and that the use of the media for information campaigns needs to be organised at an early stage;


27.  Considers that it is crucial to achieve a better coordination of budgetary policies among Member States over the cycle, notably based on a common calendar and macroeconomic assumptions; calls for the strict and effective implementation of the Stability and Growth Pact;

28.  Considers that the specific eurozone dimension of structural surveillance associated with the Lisbon Strategy should be strengthened by including measures that are needed to improve the functioning of the EMU; welcomes as a first step in this direction the focus on the eurozone in the Commission's annual progress report on the state of implementation of the Lisbon Strategy;

29.  Stresses the need to strengthen governance and the process of European integration, in particular within the eurozone, as this is the only way to tackle global economic challenges; calls, therefore, on the Council and the Commission to ensure, in the future, that the annual report on the eurozone delivers a set of policy recommendations providing instruments for a detailed dialogue between the various Community bodies that are involved in strengthening the economic governance of the Union;

30.  Recalls the need to increase the effectiveness of the Lisbon Strategy by consolidating the content and timing of economic policy instruments that are still deployed separately, the goal being an intelligent growth strategy that further concentrates the reporting and assessment work in the area of the national reform programmes, but at the same time also involves the national stability and convergence programmes;

31.  Believes that the Eurogroup should agree on a roadmap on what should be achieved in the next two years in the eurozone; believes in the interest of stronger economic coordination that the Eurogroup should move away from an informal to a more formal institutional framework, which includes proper infrastructures;

External representation

32.  Emphasises that the euro has emerged as the second most important international currency behind the US dollar; in particular, considers that the wide use of the euro in international bond markets is a key feature of the euro's international role; regrets that the Eurogroup, the Commission and the ECB continue to be represented to very different extents in the various international institutions and fora; observes with interest that the Eurogroup and the ECOFIN Council have considered proposals to strengthen the external representation of the eurozone and to improve internal coordination in the external scene; considers that further steps are needed before the external representation of the eurozone is commensurate with its growing importance in the global economy; considers that a prerequisite for common external representation is the existence of a genuine common economic policy within the eurozone; reasserts that the best option for representation of the eurozone in the major international financial fora and institutions remains the creation of a single eurozone chair;

o   o

33.  33 Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the Eurogroup, the Council, the Commission and the European Central Bank.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0168.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0051.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0054.
(4) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 249.
(5) OJ C 291 E, 30.11.2006, p. 118.
(6) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.

European Central Bank (2006)
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the ECB annual report for 2006 (2007/2142(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Annual Report 2006 of the European Central Bank (ECB),

–   having regard to Article 113 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 15 of the Protocol on the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank annexed to the Treaty,

–   having regard to its resolution of 2 April 1998 on democratic accountability in the third phase of EMU(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2006 on the strategic review of the International Monetary Fund(2),

–   having regard to its resolutions of 6 July 2006 on the interception of bank transfer data from the SWIFT system by the US secret services(3) and of 14 February 2007 on SWIFT, the PNR agreement and the transatlantic dialogue on these issues(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the situation of the European economy: preparatory report on the broad economic policy guidelines for 2007(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 April 2007 on public finances in the EMU 2006(6),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission on Five years of euro banknotes and coins (COM(2006)0862),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission on the Annual Statement on the Euro area 2007 (COM(2007)0231),

–   having regard to the ECB's Financial Stability Review December 2006 and its report on Financial Integration in Europe of March 2007,

–   having regard to the Commission's spring economic forecasts of 7 May 2007,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0266/2007),

A.   whereas the GDP of the eurozone increased by 2,7% in 2006, up from 1,4% in 2005, which leaves no room for complacency, although it was the best performance since 2000, whilst the inflation rate was 2,2%, unchanged compared with 2005,

B.   whereas internal demand, notably investment, was the main driving force behind the increase in growth in the eurozone,

C.   whereas the increase in energy prices which started in 2005 did not give rise to internal inflationary pressure, since wage increases remained moderate and no second-round effects were observed,

D.   whereas the recommendations put forward in Parliament's previous resolutions on the ECB annual reports concerning transparency of voting and publication of summary minutes have not yet been taken into account,

E.   whereas Parliament wishes to help strengthen the role and international authority of the ECB and the eurozone on the international stage,

F.   whereas there have been many applicants for appointment to senior positions at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organisation and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, quite apart from those at the World Bank,

G.   whereas the ECB continued to adjust interest rates in 2006, interest rates having been raised eight times since December 2005, by 200 basis points up to the current 4%,

H.   whereas growth is expected to slow down somewhat to 2,6 % in 2007 reflecting the withdrawal of monetary accommodation, with a decline in inflation to 1,9 %,

I.   whereas the US current account deficit continued to rise up to 6,5 % of GDP in 2006 and the Eurosystem continued to stress the risks and uncertainties related to the continuation of large global current account imbalances,

J.   whereas large global imbalances continue to represent a risk for exchange rate developments and worldwide economic growth and whereas it is imperative that these risks be addressed,

K.   whereas in 2006 the exchange rate of the euro appreciated by 11,4 % against the US dollar, 12,4 % against the Japanese yen and 8 % against the Chinese renminbi,

Monetary and economic developments

1.  Notes that economic recovery in the eurozone has become a self-sustaining process with domestic demand acting as the main driver; observes that 2 million jobs were created in 2006 and that unemployment fell from 8,4 % to 7,6 %; but notes that structural impediments, in particular the paucity of public and private investment in certain key sectors such as research, education and training, continue to contribute to this unacceptably high level of unemployment and participation in the labour market is still low by international standards;

2.  Emphasises that, against the background of the recent recovery, any further raising of interest rates should be undertaken with caution in order not to endanger economic growth; points out that in order to support the economic recovery, Member States must implement both the necessary structural reforms and investment activities;

3.  Considers that it is still too early to distinguish the cyclical dimension from the structural one in this recovery; considers, however, that some structural reforms, larger than usually estimated, may have already fed through into growth; deems that such recovery should be taken as an incentive to pursue national reforms adapted to each country, notably in the domain of research, innovation and education, in order to increase the potential for growth of the eurozone;

4.  Notes the low growth in labour productivity and considers that it is crucial that wages increase in line with developments in productivity in order to preserve competitiveness in Member States and to allow for job creation in a non-inflationary environment; stresses however the need for fairer distribution of the fruits of growth; notes that in recent years wage growth has remained below productivity growth levels; calls on shareholders and corporate executives to maintain a responsible policy of remuneration packages and bonuses at the top corporate levels, which tend to grow disproportionately compared to ordinary salary levels, and thus give the wrong signals and discourage support for a responsible wage policy;

5.  Notes that the ECB assesses wage development as an upside risk to price stability; recalls in this context that the Commission's Annual Report on the Euro Area 2007 (SEC(2007)0550) makes plain that wages in the eurozone have continued to grow moderately in spite of a sharp rise in oil prices;

6.  Emphasises that the Treaty explicitly distinguishes between the goals of price stability and support for general economic policies and that, therefore, the two goals cannot simply be treated as substitutable;

7.  Considers that fiscal consolidation is key and all the more necessary in good times in order to achieve long-term growth and must be carefully designed so as to enhance the quality of public expenditure; considers that the golden rule by which a fiscal deficit can be accounted for by investments only is a significant step in this direction;

8.  Observes that some economies in the eurozone have performed much better than others in terms of growth with, notably, Ireland, Luxembourg, Greece, Finland and Spain achieving a higher growth rate than the eurozone average; notes that higher growth has also applied to several European countries outside the eurozone; considers that useful lessons could be drawn from such developments and that a specific study by the ECB of the reasons underlying these trends would be useful;

9.  Notes that the economic cycles followed by the economies of the Member States in the eurozpme are at very different stages; calls on the ECB to examine whether such widely divergent behaviour in a single monetary area could pose a problem in future in terms of stability and economic growth;

10.  Expresses concerns about the ongoing appreciation of the euro against most major foreign currencies; points out in this connection that Article 111 of the Treaty assigns responsibility for exchange rate policy to the Council, but without specifying how this responsibility should be exercised; calls on the Eurogroup, the Council and the ECB to exercise their respective competences in full; observes that such appreciation has not been harmful to exports on the eurozone level so far, but that the effects vary among Member States; underlines the risks associated with large global current account imbalances which could result in additional increases in the euro exchange rate; notes that there is now a broad consensus among policy makers on how to tackle the problem of global imbalances; notes that the efforts made by the international community and international financial institutions have been far from adequate; hopes that the implementation of measures to reduce the budget deficit and promote private savings in the USA and to achieve greater exchange rate flexibility in a number of surplus countries in emerging Asia, in particular China, which is to be monitored by the IMF, will make a significant contribution to the gradual resolution of global imbalances;

11.  Observes that throughout the eurozone real estate prices have experienced stark increases for about 10 years now with few exceptions, most notably in Germany; notes that, although there are some signs that this development is slowing down, credit granted to households for the acquisition of property is still rising by around 10 % per year; observes that there has been a decline in US housing prices and a recent deterioration in the mortgage credit market which could have an impact on the real economy; considers that such a development should be taken as a warning for what could take place in the eurozone; calls for the ECB to monitor closely these developments which have the potential to have consequences for the real economy; requests the ECB to present ways forward with their respective advantages such as including real estate in the harmonised index of consumer prices, or devising a specific type of indicator, or to suggest specific measures to be taken at national level due to heterogeneities among national markets;

12.  Is concerned that interest rates on loans to households for consumption purposes showed the highest level of dispersion; notes in particular that interest rates on overdrafts vary considerably within the eurozone, from less than 7 % to 13,5 % or more, and recommends further ECB research on the reasons for this;


13.  Notes that the ECB and its Executive Board are independent; stresses the necessity of respecting the constitutional principle set out in Article 112(2)(b) of the Treaty; reiterates its support for the independence of the ECB and for sustaining the aim of maintaining price stability and protecting its anti-inflation credentials;

14.  Takes the view that the degree of maturity achieved by all the players in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism should facilitate the emergence of a policy mix to accompany the effective implementation of the requisite structural adjustments on which any increase in the potential for growth in the eurozone depends; advocates a more active macroeconomic dialogue between the Council, the Commission, the ECB, the Parliament and the European social partners and supports the Eurogroup's efforts to bring about such dialogue;

Financial stability and integration

15.  Welcomes the publication of a new ECB annual report on financial integration in Europe as a useful contribution for advancing European financial integration;

16.  Fully supports the ECB's efforts to foster financial integration in the eurozone, notably by acting as a catalyst for private sector initiatives such as the single European payments area (SEPA) and Short-Term European Paper (STEP); recognises the importance of further financial integration to help protect the European Union from external economic shocks;

17.  Considers that ECB services can foster European financial integration and notes in this respect that Target has been instrumental in achieving a high integration of the money markets and the repo market; considers that the Target 2 Securities project might have the potential to foster the integration, the efficiency and the safety of the clearing and settlement infrastructure which currently offers an insufficient degree of integration and interoperability; however, emphasises that this will make the ECB an active market operator, so requiring appropriate scrutiny of the ECB outside its area of responsibility in monetary policy; recalls that the presentation of an appropriate governance framework is overdue; therefore notes with interest the Target 2 Securities project and will continue to closely monitor developments in this project; deems it essential that an appropriate governance framework be put in place;

18.  Is fully aware of the rapid rise of alternative investment vehicles (hedge funds and private equity), recognises that they provide liquidity and diversification in the market and create an opportunity to improve efficiency of corporates, but shares also the concerns of some central banks and supervisors that they may  give rise to systemic risk, and to high levels of exposure of other financial institutions; welcomes the Commission's recent studies on hedge funds and private equity, but regrets that these studies have so far focused only on barriers to the growth of such funds; invites the Commission to monitor any potential  policy gaps, and asks for a broader and more critical approach with regard to the extent to which hedge funds pose a risk to financial stability and to the risk management of the level of leverage and diversification; urges the Commission to assess the quality of supervision in offshore locations and to step up cooperation with the supervisors in these jurisdictions;

19.  Observes that non-bank lenders (private equity) are playing an increasing role in the leveraged sector in the European Union and are prepared in many cases to take on a higher risk than traditional banking institutions; furthermore, notes that non-bank lenders have made a significant contribution to greater employment and growth in the companies in their sector; considers that this could raise problems when the credit cycle next turns and could lead to a much more complex cycle of large corporate debt restructuring; requests the ECB and other bodies involved to assess the adequacy of current debt restructuring processes in this new context;

20.  Takes note of the strong position taken by the ECB against detailed plans for a public bail-out of a failing bank within the European Union; deems that more work on improving cooperation and planning of stress tests is required, but that it is right that moral hazard should be minimised by a firm commitment to the primacy of private sector solutions in crisis management in order not to encourage banks to take ill-considered risks;

21.  Reiterates its call on the Council and the ECB in the context of data transfers by SWIFT to the US authorities to reflect together on the way to improve the system of supervision of SWIFT, as well as its call on the ECB for action in its role regarding SWIFT as an overseer, a user and a policymaker;

External role of the euro

22.  Notes that the euro has undergone a successful phase of development towards a reserve and reference currency in worldwide use; points out that further steps are necessary in order to continue the positive development of cash usage of the euro (e.g. the billing of aerospace products and commodities in euro);

23.  Repeats its request for moves to unify representation of the eurozone within international financial institutions so as to defend its interests with a force consistent with its economic weight;

24.  Calls on the ECB to closely monitor developments in the use of the euro as a reserve currency for central banks and, in the context of its annual report on the international role of the euro, to quantify and analyse the effects of this, particularly as regards exchange rates;

Democratic scrutiny

25.  Considers, regarding the procedure for appointing the members of the Executive Board of the ECB, that ex ante democratic accountability and transparency would improve if the Council evaluated several potential candidates and if the candidate proposed by the Council were then subject to a vote of approval by the Parliament; stresses its willingness to join the other institutions in exploring possible improvements in the procedure of appointment before the Executive Board next comes up for renewal in 2010;

26.  Emphasises that the credibility of the ECB is also dependent on a high degree of transparency in its decision-making process; therefore reiterates its call that, shortly after meetings of the Governing Council of the ECB, summary minutes of these meetings be published containing a clear statement of the arguments in favour and against the decisions taken and whether or not these decisions were taken unanimously;

27.  Points out that it rejected as too complex the system of rotating voting rights applicable to decisions of the Governing Council as adopted in 2003; considers, with a view to future enlargements of the eurozone, that a system should be introduced which combines fairness and effectiveness;

28.  Invites the ECB to give greater weight in its communication strategy to the hearings of its President by the Parliament committee responsible for economic and monetary affairs;

29.  Asks the ECB to provide the European Parliament and the public with an annual summary of measures taken to improve its performance in line with this resolution;

Five years of euro banknotes and coins

30.  Notes that the value of the euro banknotes in circulation has continued to increase quickly, with a rise of 11,2 % in 2006; notes that this steady increase continued to be mainly accounted for by large denomination notes, in particular EUR 500 banknotes, the number of these in circulation having increased by 13,2 %; reiterates its call to the ECB to examine the reasons for this substantial increase and to analyse the type of transactions carried out with these notes and the breakdown in demand by country, with a view to identifying any attendant risks;

o   o

31.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the President of the Eurogroup and the European Central Bank.

(1) OJ C 138, 4.5.1998, p. 177.
(2) OJ C 291 E, 30.11.2006, p. 118.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0317.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0039.
(5) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0051.
(6) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0168.

The Middle East
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the Middle East

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the Middle East, in particular those of 7 September 2006 on the situation in the Middle East(1), 16 November 2006 on the situation in the Gaza Strip(2) and 21 June 2007 on the MEDA programme and financial support to Palestine: evaluation, implementation and control(3),

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), 1559 (2004), 1701 (2006) and 1757 (2007),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the External Relations Council meeting of 18 June 2007,

–   having regard to the statements of 16 June 2007 and 27 June 2007 by the Quartet,

–   having regard to the outcomes of the Sharm El Sheik Summit of 25 June 2007,

–   having regard to the End of Mission Report of May 2007 by Alvaro de Soto, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Personal Representative of the Secretary General to the PLO and the Palestinian Authority,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war, which resulted in the occupation by Israel of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the Golan Heights, the Middle East is racked by several conflicts and no results have been achieved in the efforts to arrive at a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and between Israel and the Arab countries,

B.   whereas Hamas has decided to take power in Gaza by military means and carried out the killing of Fatah and Palestinian Authority security force members despite the recent formation by the Palestinian Legislative Council and Presidency – both democratically elected bodies - of a unity government, on the basis of the Mecca Declaration,

C.   whereas this dramatic development is mainly due to political instability and growing divisions on the Palestinian side, and also to a lack of prospects of a genuine peace process for the Palestinian people, who are still under occupation, partly as a consequence of the Quartet's approach,

D.   whereas the people living in the Palestinian Territories, and notably in Gaza, are facing a crisis of unprecedented proportions as far as poverty, unemployment, access to health care, education, security and freedom of movement are concerned,

E.   whereas the restrictions on the movement of people and goods, the withholding of tax and customs revenues and the decision to suspend direct aid to the Palestinian Authority have contributed to the deepening of the crisis, in spite of the Temporary International Mechanism and increased project aid provided by the EU,

F.   whereas the Council has declared that the European Union would resume normal relations with the Palestinian Authority immediately and would develop the conditions for urgent practical and financial assistance, including direct financial support to the government, support to the Palestinian Civilian Police through the resumption of EUPOL COPPS and the resumption of the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah,

G.   whereas it is becoming ever more urgent to take forward a credible peace process which can give the Palestinian people the prospect of an independent, democratic and viable state living side by side with Israel within secure and internationally recognised borders, and bring peace and stability to the Middle East,

H.   whereas the re-launching of the Arab Peace Initiative at the Riyadh summit of the Arab League of 29 March 2007 offers a new and credible opportunity for a comprehensive settlement in the region,

I.   whereas UN Security Council Resolution 1757 (2007) sets up an international tribunal to try the persons responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and for other political assassinations in Lebanon,

J.   having regard to the worrying deterioration in the situation in Lebanon, illustrated by the attack on the Spanish contingent of UNIFIL, which left six people dead, the assassination of Member of Parliament Walid Eido and confrontations in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el Bared,

1.  Expresses its deep concern about the possible grave consequences of the current crisis in the Middle East, including further military and terrorist attacks, and increased radicalisation undermining the fragile political situation in the region;

2.  Is extremely concerned about the latest events in the Gaza Strip; condemns Hamas's seizure of military control over the Gaza Strip; calls for the resumption of the internal political dialogue between Palestinians, in a spirit of reconciliation and national unity, in order to prevent the geographical and political division of the West Bank and Gaza;

3.  Expresses its understanding and support for President Abbas's extraordinary decisions, given the serious circumstances, and stresses that the support of the international community for President Abbas must be accompanied by a concrete and realistic political plan leading to a permanent status agreement; believes that the current crisis is not an excuse to undermine the prospect of peace and may provide a new basis for re-launching a clear agenda to reach a comprehensive agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority based on the existence of two democratic, sovereign and viable states whose people live peacefully side by side within secure and internationally recognised borders in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions;

4.  Welcomes the Council decision of 18 June 2007 to resume normal relations with the Palestinian Authority immediately and, to this end, to develop the conditions for urgent practical and financial assistance including direct financial support to the new government, as well as to ensure the provision of emergency and humanitarian assistance to the population of Gaza; stresses that the isolation of Gaza has dramatic humanitarian and political consequences;

5.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to involve the Palestinian authorities and all sides in efforts to facilitate emergency humanitarian aid and enable it to reach people living in the Gaza Strip;

6.  Condemns the multiple attacks using Qassam missiles fired indiscriminately from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory and calls on the Palestinian Government as well as all Palestinian leaders to do their utmost to put an end to these attacks, most of whose targets are civilians;

7.  Welcomes the decision of the Israeli Government to partially restart the transfer of the withheld tax and customs revenues; calls for the complete and proper transfer of these revenues; condemns the latest military intervention by the Israeli army; calls on the Israeli Government to immediately stop the military operations against the Palestinian people;

8.  Stresses that a series of confidence-building measures should be taken by both Israelis and Palestinians with the assistance of the international community, including the immediate release of all imprisoned Palestinian former ministers, legislators and mayors and the Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit; welcomes the release of the BBC journalist Alan Johnston and appreciates it as a positive step forward;

9.  Calls on the Israeli Government to remove the roadblocks installed since September 2000 and to stop the extension of the settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the building of the wall beyond the 1967 borders;

10.  Welcomes the decision by the Israeli Government to release 250 Palestinian prisoners; calls for the release of more prisoners, as thousands of Palestinians are still detained, especially including minors;

11.  Calls on the EU, Israel and Egypt to take all the necessary immediate measures to reopen the Rafah border crossing, particularly as 6 000 Palestinians are stranded there in appalling conditions, and to facilitate the movement of people and goods between Gaza and Israel;

12.  Welcomes the UN Security Council resolution setting up the international tribunal to try those responsible for the assassination of the former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and other politically motivated assassinations in Lebanon; calls on the Council and the Commission to provide all necessary means to enable this Tribunal to work effectively and carry out its mandate; urges all Lebanese parties to support the international tribunal and urges Syria to fully cooperate in its work;

13.  Strongly condemns the terrorist attack on the Spanish contingent of UNIFIL, which killed 6 soldiers and injured others, and calls upon the Lebanese authorities to do their utmost to undertake a clear and prompt investigation in order to prosecute those responsible; expresses its solidarity with members of the families of the victims of this attack;

14.  Stresses that political stability in Lebanon can be built neither on violence nor on external influence; calls, in this regard, for a re-launch of the dialogue for national unity in order to reconcile differences and prevent a governmental vacuum in the run-up to the presidential elections scheduled for autumn this year; reiterates, in this context, the important role of UNIFIL;

15.  Urges the Lebanese Government to make every effort to put an end to all discrimination against Palestinian refugees; welcomes the prompt reaction of the Commission, which has decided to allocate EUR 370 000 to the provision of humanitarian support to them in order to help meet vital needs; stresses that this emergency further highlights the need to find a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian refugee problem;

16.  Calls for a sign of life from the two abducted Israeli soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, to be given by their kidnappers, and calls for their immediate release;

17.  Considers the regional dimension and approach to be the proper basis of all efforts to secure lasting peace in the Middle East, bearing in mind that neither preconditions nor unilateralism help these efforts; considers, in this context, the role of, and the dialogue with, Syria one of the key factors;

18.  Recalls in this context the valuable contribution of the Arab Peace Initiative, which constitutes a genuine opportunity for comprehensive and lasting peace in the region; calls upon the Israeli Government to recognise the window of opportunity offered by this initiative; stresses the importance of the forthcoming unprecedented Arab League mission in Israel as announced; calls for greater cooperation between the Quartet and the contact group of the Arab League;

19.  Considers that the possibility of deploying an international civilian, police and military force, under the aegis of the UN, based on an agreed peace plan whose parties would include Israelis and Palestinians, and on an inter-Palestinian agreement, could be examined;

20.  Urges the Council to ensure that the EU finds its voice, also in the framework of the Quartet, in the efforts aimed at restarting genuine negotiations on the various tracks of the peace process in the Middle East; stresses that these tracks are not necessarily dealt with simultaneously but are closely linked; stresses that, in this political context, moving towards an international peace conference for the Middle East should become a viable prospect; calls on the Council to move in this direction in the framework of the Quartet;

21.  Expresses its support for future intensified actions to be taken by the Quartet in the region; considers the letter of the Foreign Ministers of Mediterranean EU Member States of 6 July 2007, addressed to the recently appointed Quartet representative Tony Blair, an encouraging message and support for his mission;

22.  Takes note of the current negotiations on confidence-building measures between Palestinian Prime Minister Sallam Fayyad and the Government of the State of Israel concerning three-track talks on political, economic and security issues, as well as the renewal of security cooperation between them;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative for the CFSP, the President of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Legislative Council, the Knesset and the Israeli Government, the Parliament and Government of Lebanon, the Parliament and Government of Syria, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

(1) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 236.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2006)0492.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0277.

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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on Pakistan

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Co-operation Agreement between the European Community and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on Partnership and Development of 24 November 2001, (also referred to as the third-generation Co-operation Agreement), in particular Article 1 of the agreement, which stipulates that 'respect for human rights and democratic principles...constitutes an essential element of this agreement'(1),

–   having regard to the EU/Pakistan Joint Declaration following the ministerial meeting on 8 February 2007 in Berlin and the first meeting of the Pakistan-EC Joint Commission under the Pakistan-EC Cooperation Agreement on 24 May 2007 in Islamabad, where both parties undertook to develop a broad, formalised political dialogue and confirmed their close cooperation on a wide range of regional and international issues,

–   having regard to the fact that parliamentary, provincial and presidential elections are due to be held later this year,

–   having regard to the Parliament's SAARC delegation visit to Pakistan in December 2006 and the meeting held with President Musharraf in Lahore,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on human rights and democracy in Pakistan, in particular those of 10 February 2004(2) and 22 April 2004(3),

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the storming of the Red Mosque in Islamabad has resulted in a high death toll;

B.   whereas the clashes in and around the Mosque were a clear demonstration of dangers posed by the radical Islamist movement, against which President Musharraf may have failed to react quickly or decisively enough;

C.   whereas a series of constitutional amendments under the Musharraf administration have substantially altered the political system in Pakistan and succeeded in transforming the system of governance from a parliamentary to a presidential one, where the President has the power to overrule or to dismiss parliament,

D.   whereas the military and the secret services continue to exert an undue influence in politics, government and the economy of Pakistan, a situation which runs contrary to the principle of the roadmap for the restoration of democracy, which envisaged that power would be transferred from the military back to a civilian administration,

E.   whereas recent events, including the suspension of the Chief Justice, Mr. Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, on 9 March 2007 on as yet unproven charges of misconduct, and the continuing popular protests that have been sparked by this action, have increased the urgency of addressing the issue of democracy and the rule of law in Pakistan;

F.   whereas the United States Government has increased its pressure on Pakistan over its failure to clamp down on terrorism;

G.   whereas the European Union provides significant funding to Pakistan for poverty alleviation, and health and State education;

1.  Expresses its solidarity with the people of Pakistan who are victims of the violence perpetrated by armed extremists; is deeply concerned about reports that some people were possibly held as hostages in the Red Mosque; recognises the challenges the siege posed to the Government of Pakistan; expresses its grave concern about the still unknown number of victims and supports efforts to bring those responsible to justice;

2.  Urges the Government of Pakistan to return to democratic government by holding free, fair and democratic elections by the end of the year and warns against the imposition of emergency rule or other measures to suppress freedom of speech, association, assembly or movement;

3.  Encourages President Musharraf to respect the existing Constitution by allowing the new assemblies to hold presidential elections and by relinquishing his post of army chief, which he had previously agreed to do in an undertaking to the EU;

4.  Urges the armed forces of Pakistan to allow free and fair elections, including the possibility for exiled political leaders to return to Pakistan and stand for office; calls for measures to be taken to limit the influence of the military and other armed groups on the political and democratic processes;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the EU will monitor the parliamentary elections in Pakistan and that Parliament will participate in the observer mission; is concerned however, about a number of aspects in the run-up to these elections, in particular:

   the neutrality of the caretaker government, which will be formed three months before the elections and will be appointed by President Musharraf;
   the fact that an academic qualification is requested as a precondition for candidature, which will exclude 70% of Pakistani women from standing for election; therefore urges the removal of this restriction;
   the lack of legitimacy of the future President of Pakistan if he or she is to be elected by the outgoing Assembly;

6.  Calls upon the Council and the Commission to deliver a clear message to President Musharraf that a transition to civilian rule by strengthening democratic institutions and processes is the only acceptable way out of the current crisis;

7.  Urges the Council and the Commission to take a firm stand on upholding all the principles enshrined in the Cooperation Agreement, in particular the democracy and human rights clause; welcomes the ministerial meeting of 8 February 2007 and the meeting of the Pakistan-EC Joint Commission of 24 May 2007 as positive steps in strengthening the relations between the EU and Pakistan; stresses that the relationship between the EU and Pakistan is based on the principles enshrined in the Cooperation Agreement: a commitment to democracy, peace and stability, development, the enhancement of trade links, including in South Asia through regional cooperation, and respect for human rights; calls for an intensive political dialogue on these matters;

8.  Deplores the suspension of Chief Justice Chaudhry of the Supreme Court on alleged charges of misconduct, which was widely regarded as an attempt by the Government of Pakistan to maintain control over the judiciary in an election year; calls for the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law to be respected, urges the Government of Pakistan to take appropriate steps to reverse the current negative trend in relation to this and to refrain from any political interference in the case currently being heard in the Supreme Court; notes the strong solidarity shown by the entire legal profession of Pakistan with the Chief Justice;

9.  Greatly regrets the deaths of 41 civilians during political demonstrations in Karachi on 12 May 2007 and condemns the use of violence to achieve political ends, whether perpetrated by government allied forces or by members of opposition political parties;

10.  Is equally concerned about reports that three Chinese workers have been shot dead by suspected Islamic militants in Peshawar in a possible link to the Red Mosque siege;

11.  Condemns all attempts by the Government of Pakistan to control media freedom by introducing amendments to broadcasting licences, restricting the live broadcasting of outside events and issuing government directives to media and broadcasting associations; condemns all forms of threat, coercion and intimidation of journalists and broadcasters;

12.  Is concerned by the numerous well-documented cases of 'disappearances' which have involved terrorist suspects, journalists, students, members of Baloch nationalist movements and other political activists and strongly emphasises that abductions, extra-judicial killings and imprisonment without trial are contrary to fundamental principles of international law including the right to life and rights of due process;

13.  Welcomes the European consensus on development(4) and the EU's clear commitment to addressing countries affected by conflict or state fragility and its equally clear commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, including education policy; calls on the Government of Pakistan to significantly increase financial support establish and develop a state education system with a broad-based curriculum throughout the country, including the tribal areas; calls on the Pakistani Government to fulfil its commitments to enforce genuine control over the madrasas currently under the control of extremists;

14.  Notes with concern the continuing reports of repression against religious minorities and the use of the blasphemy laws against religious minorities;

15.  Is concerned that while President Musharraf has pledged his commitment to tackling terrorism and extremism at an international level, the domestic political alliances that exist between the government, the military and religious fundamentalists may hamper the ability of the government to address the issue of extremism and fundamentalism; urges the Pakistani Government to take immediate and effective steps to prevent any political or armed force from using its territory as a sanctuary and as a base for operations in Afghanistan;

16.  Is concerned by the increasing instability and proliferation of insurgency-related violence in the tribal areas and particularly in Waziristan, noting in particular the occurrence of a number of suicide bombings including the attempt on the life of the Interior Minister in Peshawar on 28 April 2007; calls on the Government of Pakistan to reverse the situation by fostering the rule of law and the extension of civil and political rights to the area;

17.  Calls for increased dialogue with provincial and local leaders on the possibility of greater provincial autonomy or for increased representation of the interests of the provinces at national level; condemns the Pakistani Government's repressive policies in Balochistan, where there are continuing demands for greater provincial autonomy and increased regional control over the substantial natural resources of this area;

18.  Calls on the Pakistani Government to implement the recommendations of Pakistan's Supreme Court and to extend basic rights and political freedoms to the Northern Areas;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.

(1) OJ C 17, 22.01.1999, p. 7.
(2) OJ C 97 E, 22.04.2004, p. 112.
(3) OJ C 104 E, 30.04.2004, p. 1040.
(4) Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy: 'The European Consensus' (OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1).

2006 Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the 2006 Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2006/2289(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of 19-20 June 2003, at which the promise was made to all Western Balkan states that they would in the long term join the European Union,

–   having regard to the European Council decision of 16 December 2005 to grant the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia the status of candidate country for EU membership and the Presidency Conclusions of the European Councils of 15-16 June 2006 and of 14-15 December 2006,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Second Meeting of the EU-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Stabilisation and Association Council of 18 July 2005 and the conclusions of the Third Meeting of the EU-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Stabilisation and Association Council of 11 December 2006,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2006/57/EC of 30 January 2006 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the European Partnership with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and repealing Decision 2004/518/EC(1),

–   having regard to the Commission's 2006 Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (SEC(2006)1387),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2006 on the Commission's Communication on the Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2006–2007(2),

–   having regard to the recommendations of the EU-Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Joint Parliamentary Committee of 29-30 January 2007,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A6-0214/2007),

A.   whereas further enlargement of the European Union is not an end in itself, whereas strict compliance with the Copenhagen criteria is required of Member States and whereas every candidate country will be judged on its own merits,

B.   whereas the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has been successfully involved in negotiations relating inter alia to relations with the European Union, such as the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA), the efforts of the European Union regarding peaceful resolution of internal differences of opinion in 2001 and the preparations for adopting the EU acquis in the period leading up to 2011,

C.   whereas, since the recognition of the status of candidate country by the EU on 16 December 2005, accession negotiations have not yet started with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

D.   whereas, whilst the principles underlying the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 13 August 2001 have now been embedded in the constitutional and legal framework of the country, a sustained effort is needed to fully implement its provisions, in particular as regards the continuation of the decentralisation process and the equitable representation of non-majority communities at national and local level,

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

F.   whereas ultimate success in fostering economic reforms will not be guaranteed unless political consensus and inter-ethnic trust can first be achieved,

G.   whereas the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 14-15 December 2006 stated that the EU keeps its commitments towards countries that are in the enlargement process and reiterated that each country's progress towards the European Union depends on its individual efforts to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and the conditionality of the Stabilisation and Association Process,

H.   whereas the EU/Western Balkans Salzburg Declaration of 11 March 2006, unanimously adopted by all Foreign Ministers of the European Union and the Foreign Ministers of the Western Balkan countries, reaffirms the importance of good neighbourly relations and the need to find mutually acceptable solutions regarding outstanding issues with neighbouring countries,

1.  Welcomes the progress made by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, since its application to become a Member of the European Union, in meeting the Copenhagen political criteria and in implementing the recommendations of the 2004 European Partnership, the provisions of the SAA and the requirements of the Stabilisation and Association Process; points out that the reform momentum must be maintained and that the adopted legislation must now be properly and promptly implemented, especially in the fields of the police, the judiciary, public administration and the fight against corruption, in order to establish a true market economy, to stimulate economic growth and employment and to improve the business climate;

2.  Emphasises that the commencement of accession negotiations will depend on the progress being made in this respect; encourages all stakeholders to keep up the momentum and stresses the need for both the government and opposition political forces to continue the implementation of reforms necessary for the country's integration into the EU;

3.  Commends the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for its cooperation in the field of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), notably its participation in the EU mission ALTHEA and its willingness to contribute to the development of the ESDP capabilities and future EU-led civilian and military crisis management missions;

4.  Notes with satisfaction that following the internal conflict of 2001, in close cooperation with the EU, solutions have been found through the Ohrid Framework agreement to enable all citizens, regardless of their ethnic background, to live together in equality and peace, by strengthening the use of minority languages in public administration and education, through municipal reorganisation and by means of the application of the double majority principle (the Badinter principle) that protects the position of non-majority communities in parliamentary decision-making; notes that in 2007 agreement has been reached on the national holidays of the different ethnic and religious groups;

5.  Emphasises that the Ohrid Framework Agreement has transformed the country by taking full account of its multi-ethnic and multicultural character, thus representing a core part of the Copenhagen political criteria for EU membership; points out that respecting the letter and spirit of the Agreement will remain crucial for the country's European journey towards accession to the EU; stresses once more that the Badinter principle must be fully respected and that all parties need to respect and work within the democratic institutions which the country has made such efforts to set up;

6.  Points out that the Badinter principle, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, is intended as a means to dialogue and consensus in a multi-ethnic state; regrets that early in 2007, as a result of dissatisfaction with the application of the Badinter principle, the largest Albanian opposition party ceased all parliamentary activity; welcomes the fact that the consultations between government and the opposition resulted in an agreement covering the list of laws to be adopted by applying the Badinter principle, the use of the Albanian language in public institutions, the social security situation of former Albanian guerrilla fighters and the composition of the Committee on Inter-Ethnic Relations, thus enabling all elected members to resume their parliamentary duties and to show political responsibility; calls on this basis, following the implementation of the agreement, for the status of EU candidate country that was granted in 2005 to be accompanied as soon as possible by the actual start of accession negotiations; finally, invites all parties to maintain and consolidate this spirit of dialogue in settling their divergences and to pursue jointly the reform agenda which is essential for the country's European prospects;

7.  Regrets the practice of boycotting parliamentary activity and points out that such practices are incompatible with functioning parliamentary institutions, which all candidate countries or those aspiring to join the EU are expected to have;

8.  Recalls that consistent application of the Badinter principle ensures continued inter-ethnic cooperation and a relationship of trust between all parties; regrets in this respect the recent example of the vote on the amendments to the Broadcasting Law, whereby, although the law itself was adopted in accordance with the Badinter principle, the amendments were only adopted by a simple majority; calls urgently for maintenance and consistent application of the independence of public broadcasting established in the Law of November 2005, which – unlike the previous situation of political interference – complies with European media standards;

9.  Recommends that the country should learn from European best practices in public administration and education that take account of ethnic and linguistic differences; calls for further agreement on the way in which the two largest ethnic communities and the different minorities can live with one another on an equal and harmonious basis; calls in this respect for the effective implementation of the constitutional provisions designed to guarantee equitable representation of non-majority communities in the public administration;

10.  Draws attention to the fact that specific and urgent measures need to be taken to improve the situation of the Roma by using the National Strategy on Roma, involving well-developed Roma civil society as the main partner; considers that matching government funds with funds from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance(3) and institutionally recognising the Roma Advisory Group should be a way towards improving the social inclusion of the Roma in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia;

11.  Points out that there are a number of countries in Europe whose name coincides with that of part of the territory of a neighbouring state, and that each state chooses its name in freedom; welcomes the fact that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has changed its national flag and has made constitutional amendments to confirm the absence of territorial claims against neighbouring countries; regrets the recent name change of the national airport to "Alexander the Great";

12.  Regrets that since the admission of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the UN in 1993, when in order to obtain international recognition the provisional name "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" was employed, and since the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995 no agreement has been reached with the neighbouring country of Greece; urges the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece to bring talks under the aegis of the UN on this issue to a successful conclusion as soon as possible; calls on the Council to facilitate such negotiations;

13.  Points out, in this respect, that a number of countries, including the United States, the Russian Federation and China, as well as certain EU Member States, have already recognised the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name;recalls that some of those countries have repeatedly stated that they will accept the possible outcome of negotiations regarding the name issue under the aegis of the UN; takes the view that, pursuant to the provisions of the Interim Accord of 1995, the name issue is not an obstacle to the opening of negotiations for EU accession and that, as is the case for all other candidate countries, its integration into the EU will depend exclusively on fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria, the conditions of the stabilisation and association framework, and the EU´s capacity to integrate new Member States;

14.  Notes that the United Nations' Special Envoy, Matthew Nimitz, has openly declared that he will shortly resume efforts to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue as soon as possible and has called for clear support for his efforts;

15.  Notes that the Interim Accord of 1995 led to a significant improvement in bilateral relations between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece and that it contains obligations and rights for both parties, including provisions on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's membership of international, multilateral and regional organisations and institutions;

16.  Notes, furthermore, that, since the conclusion of the Interim Accord of 1995, the scope of economic relations between the two countries has significantly increased, inasmuch as Greece constitutes the largest foreign investor in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, while their trade relations have also been considerably boosted;

17.  Welcomes the constructive position of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the future status of Kosovo; regrets that in anticipation of the future status of Kosovo it has not been possible for any further frontier demarcation to take place; trusts that agreement will be reached on this technical issue with all speed and welcomes the fact that the farmers concerned are able to go on using parts of their land that happen to lie on the other side of the frontier;

18.  Draws attention to the desirability of adopting measures to facilitate easy frontier traffic with Kosovo, thus enhancing cooperation in the areas of education, culture and employment, as well as maintaining family ties;

19.  Urges the authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to promote regional cooperation and the development of good neighbourly relations;

20.  Welcomes in this respect the role of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the field of regional cooperation, its commitment to the development of bilateral relations and its active role in regional cooperation processes such as the establishment of the Regional Co-operation Council, CEFTA, the Energy Community Treaty and the European Common Aviation Area;

21.  Points to the need to protect water quality in the River Vardar, which drains most of the country and continues on Greek territory as the River Axiós, from the pollution caused by industry and urban residential areas;

22.  Calls urgently for improvement and maintenance of the water quality and water level in the frontier lakes of Ohridsko Ezero, Prespansko Ezero and Dojransko Ezero, and for effective agreements on this aspect with the neighbouring countries of Albania and Greece;

23.  Draws attention to the need to improve the overall attitude towards the environment, inter alia by eliminating illegal rubbish dumps along roads, river banks and on the edge of woodlands by introducing a waste collection system that is separate as far as possible;

24.  Calls on the authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue approximating EU environmental legislation and standards and to implement and enforce adopted legislation;

25.  Recalls that all EU Member States guarantee freedom of religion as well as freedom of religious organisation;

26.  Emphasises that special attention must be paid to the trafficking of human beings and that strengthening regional cooperation, inter alia through the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, is becoming a necessity in the fight against international organised crime networks;

27.  Expresses serious concern over the fact that unemployment remains extremely high and calls on the Government, in view of the enormous challenges in this field, to devise efficient policies to combat poverty and social inequalities; underlines the need for different trade union federations to be able to coexist on an equal basis, and points out that the present requirement on trade unions to organise 33% of the relevant workforce before they can become contractual partners means that their current membership figures are constantly being called into question by interested parties;

28.  Recommends that the distribution of state resources as well as EU funds should take into consideration existing regional and ethnic disparities; considers that the existing regional and ethnic differences should be reduced through the application of the principles of solidarity and cohesion so as to bring about the accelerated development of underdeveloped regions;

29.  Takes it for granted that the authorisation of foreign banks should be founded on equal criteria for all, such as compliance with legal requirements in the area of foreign currency dealings, taxation and consumer protection, and rejects the favouring of certain companies or of the countries in which they have their registered office;

30.  Recalls that a major incentive and guarantee for the stability and prosperity of the entire region of South-East Europe is the building-up of a modern cross-border infrastructure, and therefore draws attention to the importance of maintaining and improving the railway network, domestic rail traffic and the transit function between Greece and many other EU Member States; welcomes the restoration of the rail link with Kosovo, regrets the lack of progress on the planned direct rail link with Bulgaria and looks forward to further progress relating to European transport corridors VIII and X;

31.  Considers it undesirable that civil servants should lose their jobs or be encouraged to leave with changes of government, and in particular expects civil servants who are specially trained to meet the needs of the EU acquis to continue their work;

32.  Points out again that the authorities are expected to investigate the circumstances in which a German citizen, Khaled El-Masri, was abducted to Afghanistan in 2003 and to make public the results of the investigation; urges the national parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to set up a committee of inquiry as soon as possible to deal with this case and to cooperate fully with the ongoing inquiry of the German Parliament in order to ascertain the truth;

33.  Welcomes the initialling of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements with the EU as a transitional step towards a mutual visa-free travel regime, and to this end calls on the Commission to set out a roadmap to increase mobility, including greater participation in life-long learning and cultural exchange projects, and on the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to continue its commitment to fulfil the required European standards in the fields of justice, freedom and security; welcomes the introduction of the new passports with biometric security features by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia; takes note of the difficulties faced by the citizens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia due to the non-recognition by one Member State of the EU of its passports; recalls that this issue has been raised and examined in detail during negotiations on the visa facilitation agreement; points out that a Joint Declaration has been adopted and annexed to the initialled text; calls on all parties concerned to act promptly on that Declaration, as soon as the conditions for its implementation are met;

34.  Draws attention to the advantage of the experience of previous negotiations with Slovenia and Croatia, which have inherited the same community laws and practical experience from the former Yugoslavia; underlines the clear prospect of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia becoming a member of the EU and calls for negotiations to start as soon as possible;

35.  Calls on the new Member States to play an active role in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's move towards the European Union, allowing it to benefit from their experience of reforms;

36.  Regrets the signing by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia of the Bilateral Immunity Agreement with the USA, which excludes American citizens and military personnel from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC); points out that the International Criminal Court is a cornerstone of international law and that the Rome Statute has been firmly supported by the EU; calls in this regard on the Government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to find ways to terminate that bilateral agreement, which undermines the full effectiveness of the ICC;

37.  Reiterates the goal of clear European membership for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as well as for all Western Balkan countries, in line with the Thessaloniki Agenda; believes that the prospect of EU accession has to be respected in order to consolidate stability and peace in the region;

38.  Considers that the education and training system, investment in human capital and the population's access to the internet must be improved in order to respond to the needs of society;

39.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the government and parliament of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the other candidate countries, and the UN Secretary-General.

(1) OJ L 35, 7.2.2006, p. 57.
(2) Texts adopted of that date, P6_TA(2006)0568.
(3) Council Regulation (EC) No 1085/2006 of 17 July 2006 establishing an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) (OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 82).

TRIPS Agreement and access to medicines
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the TRIPS Agreement and access to medicines

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 20 June 2007 on the Millennium Development Goals – the midway point(1), of 23 May 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements(2), and of 30 November 2006 on AIDS(3),

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision accepting, on behalf of the European Community, of the Protocol amending the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), done at Geneva on 6 December 2005 (COM(2006)0175),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 816/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on compulsory licensing of patents relating to the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for export to countries with public health problems(4),

–   having regard to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ("TRIPS Agreement") adopted in Marrakesh on 15 April 1994,

–   having regard to the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health adopted on 14 November 2001 by the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ("Doha Declaration")(5),

–   having regard to the Decision of the WTO General Council of 30 August 2003 ("WTO Decision") adopted pursuant to Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health,

–   having regard to the Protocol amending the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), done at Geneva on 6 December 2005 ("Protocol",

–   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas over 95% of the 39.5 million people in the world suffering from HIV/AIDS live in developing countries, mostly in Africa; whereas there are an estimated 15 million HIV/AIDS orphans globally, 12.3 million of them living in Sub-Saharan Africa,

B.   whereas before the entry into force in 1994 of the TRIPS Agreement, the ability of some middle-income developing countries to produce low-cost generic medicines increased, and even very poor States started to become able to obtain certain low-cost generic medicines on the world market, regardless of whether such products were still patent-protected or not,

C.   whereas the Doha Declaration reconfirmed the so-called flexibilities built into the TRIPS Agreement and amplified them further by establishing legal machinery to enable countries lacking the capacity to manufacture generic substitutes for costly patented medicines under domestically issued compulsory licences to obtain imports from countries able and willing to assist them without interference from the relevant patent holders,

D.   whereas this solution, initially embodied in a waiver known as the WTO Decision, could be rendered permanent in the form of a Protocol to the TRIPS Agreement whose acceptance is currently under consideration by Parliament,

E.   whereas Article 30 of the TRIPS Agreement allows members to "provide limited exceptions to the exclusive rights conferred by a patent, provided that such exceptions do not unreasonably conflict with a normal exploitation of the patent and do not unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the patent owner, taking account of the legitimate interests of third parties"; whereas, because the assisting country would export needed medicines to the importing country, there should be no significant economic impact on the local market of the exporting country,

F.   whereas no country has so far made an official notification to the Council for TRIPS of its intention to use the mechanism created by the WTO Decision to import cheaper medicines,

G.   whereas the procedural and substantive requirements that govern the issuance of compulsory licences by importing (where applicable) and exporting countries, as well as the conditions and notifications connected with that licensing, constitute the principal potential obstacles to the effective use of the WTO Decision,

H.   whereas the Member States have already transposed the WTO Decision into internal law, and consequently delaying acceptance of the Protocol until after 1 December 2007 would not create a legal vacuum,

I.   whereas the EU should expressly endorse full implementation in the developing countries of the flexibilities in the TRIPS Agreement as recognized in the Doha Declaration "to promote access to medicines for all",

J.   whereas the implementing Regulation for the WTO Decision pays scant attention to issues of technology transfer and capacity-building,

K.   whereas through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations and other bilateral or regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), the EU proposes to impose new intellectual property "WTO+" obligations on the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP) and other poor developing countries and the least developed countries (LDCs), including adherence to or acceptance of the obligations of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) and the Patent Law Treaty (PLT), and the incorporation of the terms of Directive 2004/48/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 29 April 2004 on the enforcement of intellectual property rights(6); whereas the EU also sets conditions on the way in which parties can determine their regime of exhaustion,

1.  S tresses that access to affordable pharmaceutical products in poor developing countries and LDCs is essential to attain the proposed EU development goals and would contribute to poverty reduction, increase human security, and promote human rights and sustainable development;

2.  Believes that EU policy should aim at maximizing the availability of pharmaceutical products at affordable prices in the developing world;

3.  Calls on the Council to recognise that the EU must take additional measures as a matter of urgency with a view to encouraging the transfer of technology, research, capacity strengthening, regional supply systems and help with registration, in order to facilitate and increase the production of pharmaceutical products by the developing countries themselves;

4.  Asks the Commission and the Member States to provide concrete financial support for pharmaceutical-related transfer of technology and capacity-building for developing countries and local production of pharmaceuticals in all developing countries, especially LDCs, in discharging the obligations established by Article 66.2 of the TRIPS Agreement;

5.  Asks the Council to commit to a specified level of funding to upgrade or construct pharmaceutical production facilities owned by local persons in developing countries (including LDCs), and increase the EU's aggregate funding to Public-Private Partnerships pursuing research and development of medicines of special relevance to developing countries;

6.  Asks the Commission to grant funding for research and development on poverty-related, tropical and neglected diseases across a broad spectrum of locations, including Public-Private Partnerships and other possible funding ventures, and to support research institutes willing to cooperate with public health initiatives dedicated to these efforts;

7.  Asks the Council to support the idea that the mechanism created by the WTO Decision and the Protocol to the TRIPS Agreement represents just a part of the solution to the problem of access to medicines and public health and that other measures to improve health care and infrastructure are equally indispensable;

8.  Asks the Council to support the developing countries which use the so-called flexibilities built into the TRIPS Agreement and recognized by the Doha Declaration in order to be able to provide essential medicines at affordable prices under their domestic public health programmes;

9.  Encourages the developing countries to use all means available to them under the TRIPS Agreement, such as compulsory licences and the mechanism provided by Article 30 thereof;

10.  Calls on the Council to adopt a Joint Policy Statement with Parliament to the effect that the Member States remain free to use all exceptions from the TRIPS Agreement under their domestic patent laws to authorise production and export "to address public health needs in importing Members" and asks the Council to ensure that the Commission refrains from taking action to interfere with these proceedings;

11.  Calls on the Council to meet its commitments to the Doha Declaration and to restrict the Commission's mandate so as to prevent it from negotiating pharmaceutical-related TRIPS-plus provisions affecting public health and access to medicines, such as data exclusivity, patent extensions and limitation of grounds of compulsory licences, within the framework of the EPA negotiations with the ACP countries and other future bilateral and regional agreements with developing countries;

12.  Asks the Commission to support disclosure by patent applicants of the source and origin of inventions deriving from biological resources and associated traditional knowledge found in developing countries with a view to promoting the equitable sharing of the benefits and technology derived from those resources by supplying countries;

13.  Calls on the Commission to support "pool procurement strategies" under Article 31(b) of the TRIPS Agreement and other strategies which could be used by countries or groups of countries to provide greater buying power and economies of scale in the production of generic medicines at affordable prices and stimulate direct investment in local production facilities within a region;

14.  Asks the Council to mandate the Commission to proactively support the work of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG) at the World Health Organization and to report regularly to the European Parliament on its work;

15.  Encourages pharmaceutical companies to pursue pricing alternatives involving a high-volume, low-margin approach, which could enhance access to medicines;

16.  Recalls that counterfeiting of medicines is not a patent issue as such; stresses that measures to tackle counterfeiting need to be taken in the area of criminal enforcement (penal sanctions) and drug regulation by reinforcing the regulatory capacity of the national authorities and not by increasing levels of intellectual property protection;

17.  Calls on LDCs and other poor countries to take the necessary measures to prevent medicines covered by compulsory licensing from leaving the country and ensuring that the medicines go to the local population in need;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments of the Member States and ACP countries, the WTO and the heads of The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

(1) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0274.
(2) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0204.
(3) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2006)0526.
(4) OJ L 157, 9.6.2006, p. 1.
(5) WT/MIN(01)/DEC/W/2, 14 November 2001.
(6) OJ L 157, 30.4.2004, p. 45. Corrected by OJ L 195, 2.6.2004, p.16.

Democratic scrutiny under the DCI
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the democratic scrutiny of the implementation of the financing instrument for development cooperation (DCI)

The European Parliament,

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

A.   whereas Parliament has launched a process of democratic scrutiny of the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation(1) (DCI),

B.   whereas, according to Article 2(1) of the DCI, the overarching objective of cooperation under that instrument shall be "the eradication of poverty in partner countries", including "pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals"(MDGs),

C.   whereas Parliament adopted three resolutions(2) pursuant to Rule 81 of its Rules of Procedure, signalling to the Commission that in Parliament's view it had exceeded its implementing powers in a number of draft Commission decisions establishing strategy papers,

D.   whereas the conclusions of Parliament's scrutiny of the Commission's draft country, regional and thematic strategy papers were sent to the Commission in the form of a cover letter(3), highlighting Parliament's main horizontal concerns and with more than 150 pages summarising Parliament's assessment of the individual strategy papers and requesting the Commission to supply specific information on individual cases,

E.   whereas the Commission's reply was received in the form of a letter of 26 March 2007 from Commissioners Ferrero-Waldner and Michel to the Committee on Development, to be considered as a "consolidated response to both […] the letter and the resolution"(4),

F.   whereas the Commissioners state that the MDGs cannot be achieved by a focus on basic services alone, at the same time reaffirming their commitment to achieving the objective of 20% of assistance under DCI country programmes being allocated by 2009 to basic and secondary education and basic health,

G.   whereas the Commission further affirms that cooperation in the field of higher education will in itself contribute to forming a national professional cadre capable of managing and generating the necessary policies for poverty eradication and sustainable development,

H.   whereas the Commission states that it is considering how to improve the process of consultation with the different stakeholders and points out that in the drawing up of the annual action programmes a gender impact assessment will be made of the measures proposed when relevant,

I.   whereas mainstreaming of cross-cutting issues – promotion of human rights, gender equality, democracy, good governance, the rights of the child, of disabled people and of indigenous people, environmental sustainability and combating HIV/AIDS – must be undertaken in all programmes,

J.   whereas Article 25(1)b of the DCI states that the financing may take the form of budget support "if the partner country's management of public spending is sufficiently transparent", and that the Commission shall "support efforts of partner countries to develop parliamentary control and audit capacities",

1.  Appreciates the letter of 26 March 2007 from Commissioners Ferrero-Waldner and Michel to the Committee on Development but regrets that it does not give a concrete response to the specific questions raised in Parliament's own letter and that so far no response has been received to the specific questions contained in Parliament's conclusions on individual strategy papers;

2.  Urges the Commission to pursue poverty eradication and the achievement of the MDGs, in particular by a strong focus on basic health and basic education; stresses that, for countries where these are not included as focal sectors, the Commission must provide detailed information on other donors" activities, showing how the partner country is on its way to achieving the MDGs by 2015;

3.  Regrets that the country strategy papers do not allocate a sufficient part of the resources to the DCI's overarching goal of poverty eradication and the achievement of the MDGs; regrets in particular that it is totally unclear how the EU will reach the "benchmark of 20% of its allocated assistance under country programmes covered by the DCI [to] be dedicated to basic and secondary education and basic health" by 2009; urges the Commission to indicate in detail how it is honouring this commitment and whether in this respect instructions have been issued to desk officers and delegations and a specific statistical basis established;

4.  Recognises the importance of certain non-development activities such as enhancing the EU's visibility abroad, and aspects of higher education, regional integration, trade and civil aviation, as they can have positive effects on relations between the EU and its partner countries, but recalls that the DCI is a specific instrument for development with a legal requirement for all funding under its geographical programmes and at least 90% of the funding under its thematic programmes to be eligible as Official Development Assistance (ODA) according to the criteria of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; notes that non-ODA activities should be financed from other sources;

5.  Calls on the Commission to provide detailed information on the MDG impact of all activities planned under the DCI; requests the Commission to indicate, in order of priority, which criteria it used for the allocation of funds between the DCI geographical programmes, as well as the criteria for establishing strategy papers for some countries and regions and not for others;

6.  Values and supports the Commission's efforts on division of labour and donor coordination, but notes the need for an overall view of all donors" activities and therefore calls on the Commission to provide Parliament with a detailed and up-to-date "donor matrix" for each country and region;

7.  Requests the Commission to inform Parliament of how it is planning to ensure proper and effective consultation with all stakeholders at all stages of the programming process, in particular when it intends to introduce new activities;

8.  Regrets that cross-cutting issues are not clearly mainstreamed in the strategy papers and indicative programmes and therefore urges the Commission to include them in a truly horizontal way in its annual action programmes and to provide clear mainstreaming benchmarks and/or impact indicators on the planned activities;

9.  Urges the Commission strictly to apply the eligibility criteria for budget support, particularly refraining from such actions in countries where transparency in public spending cannot be assured; requests the Commission also to provide supplementary information to Parliament, particularly on how, in all countries benefiting from budget support, it is implementing the legal requirement under Article 25(1)(b) of the DCI to "support efforts of partner countries to develop parliamentary control and audit capacities";

10.  Calls on the Commission to send Parliament all information on the geographic and thematic programmes, along with the full list of the members of the DCI committee; requests the Commission to forward systematically and immediately to the members of the DCI committee all the conclusions of Parliament's scrutiny in their full versions;

11.  Expects the Commission to address Parliament's concerns, expressed in the conclusions of its scrutiny of the Strategy Papers, and to fully implement Parliament's recommendations and requests in the annual action plans;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States and the members of the DCI committee.

(1) OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41.
(2) Resolution of 15 February 2007 on the draft Commission decisions establishing Country Strategy Papers and Indicative Programmes for Malaysia, Brazil and Pakistan (P6_TA(2007)0045); Resolution of 7 June 2007 on the draft Commission decision establishing Regional Strategy Papers and Regional Indicative Programmes for Mercosur and Latin America (P6_TA(2007)0233); Resolution of 21 June 2007 on the draft Commission decision establishing a Regional Strategy Document 2007-2013 and a Multiannual Indicative Programme for Asia (P6_TA(2007)0280).
(3) Letter D (2007) 303749 of 5 March 2007 from the Chair of the Committee on Development, Josep Borrell Fontelles, to Commissioners Ferrero-Waldner and Michel (registered as comitology document no. CMT-2007-1709 - annex registered as comitology document no. CMT-2007-1709-2).
(4) Letter A (2007) 5238 of 26 March 2007 from Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner to the Chair of the Committee on Development, Josep Borrell Fontelles (registered as comitology document no. CMT-2007-1709-3).

Negotiation mandate: enhanced EC-Ukraine agreement
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European Parliament recommendation of 12 July 2007 to the Council on a negotiation mandate for a new enhanced agreement between the European Community and its Member States of the one part and Ukraine of the other part (2007/2015(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Michał Tomasz Kamiński on behalf of the UEN Group on the negotiating mandate for a new enhanced agreement between the European Community and its Member States, of the one part, and Ukraine, of the other part (B6-0022/2007),

–   having regard to the Council decision of 22 January 2007 to open negotiations with Ukraine on a new enhanced agreement,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Ukraine, particularly that of 13 January 2005 on the results of the presidential elections(1), that of 6 April 2006 on the parliamentary elections(2) and that of 19 January 2006 on the European Neighbourhood Policy(3),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 12 May 2004 on the European Neighbourhood Policy (COM(2004)0373) and the recent Communication from the Commission of 4 December 2006 on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy (COM(2006)0726),

–   having regard to the EU-Ukraine Action Plan jointly adopted on 21 February 2005 and to the recent Commission ENP Progress Report of 4 December 2006 on Ukraine (SEC(2006)1505/2),

–   having regard to the EU-Ukraine Summit Joint Statement of 1 December 2005 and the EU-Ukraine Summit Joint Statement of 27 October 2006,

–   having regard to the assistance to Ukraine to be provided under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument(4) to support Ukraine's reform agenda,

–   having regard to Article 49 of the EU Treaty,

–   having regard to the signature on 18 June 2007 of the agreements between the European Union and Ukraine on the facilitation of issuance of visas and on readmission of illegal immigrants,

–   having regard to Rule 114(3) and Rule 83(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A6-0217/2007),

A.   whereas Ukraine has strong historical, cultural and economic links to the European Union and whereas it is one of the EU's key partners in its Eastern neighbourhood, exerting an important influence on the security, stability and prosperity of the whole continent,

B.   whereas Ukraine adopted an important package of laws and legal amendments necessary for it to become a member of the World Trade Organization,

C.   whereas in its above-mentioned 2006 ENP Progress Report the Commission acknowledged the considerable steps taken by Ukraine towards consolidating respect for human rights and the rule of law, but stated that reform efforts need to be stepped up,

D.   whereas Ukraine has declared its will to pursue the path of European integration and to become a Member State of the EU, and whereas this aim continues to be supported by a consensus of all actors on its political stage,

E.   whereas Parliament has called on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to consider giving Ukraine a clear European perspective,

F.   whereas the European Union acknowledged Ukraine's European aspirations and welcomed Ukraine's European choice in the Council conclusions of 21 February 2005 and in the EU-Ukraine Action Plan, which does not exclude, in the future, a clear European perspective,

G.   whereas in its decision on the negotiation mandate the Council envisaged the construction of an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine; whereas, however, it would have been desirable for it to include a tangible perspective and to specify the form of relationship the agreement will establish,

H.   whereas the new agreement should motivate Ukraine to realise further political, economic and social reforms, and reinforce cooperation between both partners,

1.  Welcomes the Council's decision to open negotiations on a new agreement aimed at deepening political cooperation and at achieving the gradual economic integration of Ukraine into the EU's internal market;

2.  Expresses its disquietude with regard to the current political tensions, and calls upon all actors involved to stick to the agreement reached on 27 May 2007 and to devise a comprehensive and sustainable political solution involving all parties, whilst keeping Ukraine on the path towards European integration;

3.  Calls on the Ukrainian leadership, as well as the Council and the Commission, to take all possible steps to ensure that the negotiations started in March 2007 can continue; believes, however, that before the negotiations are concluded and a new, closer relationship between the EU and Ukraine is established, the current crisis has to be peacefully resolved, the system of checks and balances restored and enforcement of the rule of law ensured;

4.  Recognises that Ukraine and the EU have successfully performed the tasks envisaged in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) and have availed themselves of the possibilities afforded by that format; is convinced that the level of cooperation between Ukraine and the EU and the role that is Ukraine's in contemporary European affairs require a new format of relations going far beyond the PCA commitments;

5.  Conscious of the essential importance of symbols and perspectives in securing public support for the implementation of an ambitious reform agenda, believes that the negotiations should lead to the conclusion of an Association Agreement that contributes efficiently and credibly to the European perspective of Ukraine and opens the corresponding process, including the possibility of membership;

6.  Is of the view that the speed and depth of this common European process must correspond closely to the ability to bring about reform in Ukraine and the EU;

7.  Takes the view that the conclusion of the new agreement should be based on Article 310 of the EC Treaty;

8.  Is of the view that the agreement should envisage development of the relationship in progressive stages, laying down concrete conditions and timetables to be met; demands that a review of the agreement be provided for, in order to take into account dynamic developments in Ukraine and in the bilateral relationship;

9.  Calls on the political leadership of Ukraine to commit itself to vigorous implementation of reforms, and appeals to all actors on the political stage and in civil society in Ukraine to strive to establish a broad political consensus in favour of a stable constitutional settlement and of reforms that must underpin the European aspirations of their country; recommends the adoption and implementation of the new Ukrainian legislation on political parties and political campaign financing in line with EU practice, as well as clear legislation that separates business from power and regulates conflicts of interests;

10.  Encourages Ukrainian leaders to remain faithful to their commitment to the principles of liberty, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as defended by the Ukrainian people in December 2004;

11.  Calls on the Government of Ukraine to emphasise the importance of intensifying the fight against corruption and of the need to continue to reform the civil service on the basis of European standards, in order to promote transparency and increase the accountability of the state administration bodies by adopting the relevant legislative framework;

12.  Stresses, with regard to the challenges Ukraine will face when implementing its commitments arising from the agreement, that advantage should be taken of the review of the 2007-2013 financial perspective and of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument planned for 2008-2009, in such a way as to increase the EU's financial assistance to Ukraine, which is currently fairly modest in per capita terms; encourages Ukraine to participate more efficiently in European projects;

13.  Emphasises the importance of multilateral cooperation in the Black Sea region; calls for the setting-up of an EU-Black Sea Community, along the lines of the Northern Dimension, to enhance and encourage more dialogue with a view to establishing a more stable, secure and democratic neighbourhood, and recognises the vital role that Ukraine should play in such initiatives, especially in the fields of economic cooperation, energy security, migration and the environment;

14.  Welcomes the decision by UEFA to entrust Poland and Ukraine with the joint organisation of the European Football Championship in 2012; sees this as a strong expression of confidence in Ukraine as a valuable member of the European democratic community, and believes that it will provide the Ukrainian leadership with a further impetus to pursue reforms;

15.  Highlights the important role played by the EU-Ukraine Parliamentary Cooperation Committee in fostering cooperation between the EU and Ukraine, and urges further strengthening of the parliamentary dimension of EU-Ukraine relations; calls upon the various EU institutions to improve the coordination of their policies towards Ukraine;

16.  Addresses the following recommendations to the Council and asks it to instruct the Commission to take them into account when pursuing the negotiations:

   a) draw the attention of its Ukrainian partners to the need to further consolidate the footings of liberal democracy, in particular as far as a stable constitutional system, the protection of human rights and individual freedoms, including the rights of minorities, strengthening democratic control mechanisms, including a strong civil society, and stable anchoring of the rule of law are concerned; recall in this regard the recommendations contained in the opinions of the Venice Commission relating to Ukraine, many of which still remain to be implemented;
   b) call on the Ukrainian authorities to fulfil their obligations under international human rights law and to exercise due diligence in securing women's rights to equality, life, liberty and security, and zero tolerance in relation to discrimination, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
   c) point out that the key to the stabilisation of Ukraine lies in unravelling political from economic powers, weeding out corruption, bringing transparency to public procurement procedures and ensuring an independent judiciary; urge that Ukraine implement and enforce anti-corruption measures; stress the need to ensure legal certainty and the prevention of competing legal jurisdictions within Ukrainian law; support the adoption and implementation of a comprehensive administrative reform; emphasise the need for effective implementation of the revised Action Plan in the fields of justice and home affairs;
   d) express its concern at the allegations of ill-treatment and torture by the police of detainees with the aim of extracting confessions, and call on the Ukrainian authorities to fully implement the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
   e) deepen the regular political dialogue on bilateral, regional and international issues in line with the commitments entered into by Ukraine at regional and international level; provide for Ukraine's close involvement in the Common Foreign and Security Policy, as well as in the development of regional cooperation in the Black Sea area; aim at strengthening its role in the East European region and encourage it to continue its activities focused on the promotion of stability, security and democracy, as well as of sustainable development, in the common neighbourhood, with particular emphasis on the settlement of frozen conflicts in that region; draw on the experience of Ukraine's cooperation with the EU Border Assistance Mission on its border with Moldova, bearing in mind that Parliament approves the initiative to extend the mandate of the mission for a further two years;
   f) support free enterprise and the consolidation of the Ukrainian market economy, and work upon approximation of legislation towards the Community acquis in order to improve its investment climate, with particular reference to Directive 2004/17/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 coordinating the procurement procedures of entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors(5) and to Directive 2004/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 31 March 2004 on the coordination of procedures for the award of public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service contracts(6), and by adopting legislation on project financing, and contribute to its growth potential; highlight that the key to attracting foreign investment to Ukraine is the establishment of a sound, stable and predictable investment climate, and urge the Government of Ukraine to pursue the implementation of its planned legal and judicial reforms and to address outstanding problems relating to VAT reimbursement and export controls as a matter of priority; call on Member States having experienced civil servants with appropriate language skills to engage in twinning arrangements, with a view to better advising their Ukrainian counterparts on the EU acquis communautaire;
   g) point out the need to set up a stable regulatory framework which would ensure the creation of a competitive market economy based on the principle of property rights, as a factor inextricably linked to Ukraine's European perspective;
   h) welcome the establishment of the Interagency Commission on Combating Illegal Acquisitions and Seizures of Enterprises; encourage the Government to take concrete action, through the requisite reforms of corporate legislation and of the judiciary, to eliminate the threat of illegal acquisitions and seizures of enterprises;
   i) lay down a concrete plan for the gradual establishment of a deep and comprehensive Free Trade Area, to be grounded on a common regulatory basis and to cover almost all trade in goods, services and capital between the EU and Ukraine; call on all parties to include agricultural products as far as possible; emphasise in this respect the importance of making further progress with the process of regulatory reform, especially in the areas of competition policy, state subsidies, public procurement, taxation and intellectual property rights;
   j) take fully into account Ukraine's critical role in ensuring the energy security of the EU and give due attention to the fact that Ukraine's full control over its energy security is directly connected to its political stability and prosperity;
   k) urge, therefore, that the energy sector of Ukraine fully comply with principles of market economy and transparency, in particular as far as prices, network access and efficiency are concerned; support rapid integration of Ukraine into the European Energy Community; note the importance of Ukraine's signing up to the Energy Community Treaty; in this regard, urge the speeding-up of the procedure for nuclear safety evaluation of all operating nuclear power plants in Ukraine, in accordance with the work programme of the Joint Working Group on Nuclear Safety; assist diversification of Ukraine's resources, e.g. by accessing direct supplies from Central Asia; strengthen its strategic role as a transit country for supplying the EU with oil and gas, e.g. by backing a reversal of the Odessa-Brody pipeline and advocating its extension into the EU; emphasise the need to involve Ukraine in the development of the Nabucco gas pipeline project, to complete the Caspian Sea-Black Sea-EU energy corridor and to join Ukraine's electricity grid to the UCTE network; press for a strengthening of energy cooperation within the framework of the Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova alliance (GUAM);
   l) stress the importance of a sustainable energy strategy for Ukraine; point out that, following the experience of the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl, and facing the problems of growing import dependence and the challenge of climate change, Ukraine has to make major efforts in respect of energy saving, energy efficiency and renewable energy; point out that Ukraine is one of the most energy-inefficient countries in the world and that achieving average efficiency standards would allow the country to satisfy its internal energy demand; call for technical cooperation in this sphere between the EU and Ukraine, and for such cooperation to be included in the new enhanced agreement;
   m) strengthen Ukraine's potential as a key partner in management of migration flows and borders; envisage further joint steps in the fight against organised crime including the eventual conferment on Ukraine of "privileged status" in relation to Europol; ensure effective implementation of visa facilitation and readmission agreements; envisage the objective of and necessary steps towards the introduction of a visa-free travel regime;
   n) deepen cooperation between the EU and Ukraine on environmental issues and strengthen Ukraine's capacity to tackle matters relating to air and water quality, waste management, nature protection and radiation contamination, some of which have strong cross-border implications; provide technical and financial assistance to Ukraine in the process of gradual approximation to the EU environmental acquis and environmental standards based on international environmental law, including the 1991 Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context and the 1979 Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats; envisage the setting-up of a fully operational and sustainable mechanism to promote environmental awareness and protection by providing a forum for cooperation between governments, civil society/NGOs and the private sector in the EU's eastern neighbourhood;
   o) call on the political leadership of Ukraine to implement the relevant provisions of the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially bearing in mind the significant possibilities open to Ukraine to use flexible mechanisms under that Protocol; support joint action by the EU and Ukraine on the future of the Kyoto Protocol;
   p) provide for Ukraine's participation in Community agencies and programmes in order to increase the access of its policy-makers and experts to European networks; increase and widen opportunities for people-to-people contacts, in particular for civil society actors, students and researchers; enhance cooperation in the context of the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development and continue the work on the establishment/development of a structured EU-Ukraine dialogue on science, technology and space research;
   q) point out that the Member States who joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 should play an active role in Ukraine's move towards the European Union, allowing Ukraine to benefit from their experience of reforms;

17.  Asks the Council and the Commission to keep its bodies responsible regularly and thoroughly informed of the progress of negotiations;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Government and the President of Ukraine.

(1) OJ C 247 E, 6.10.2005, p. 155.
(2) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 307.
(3) OJ C 287 E, 24.11.2006, p. 312.
(4) Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (OJ L 310, 9.11.2006, p. 1).
(5) OJ L 134, 30.4.2004, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 134, 30.4.2004, p. 114.

Reducing disparities in the poorest regions of the EU
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the role and effectiveness of cohesion policy in reducing disparities in the poorest regions of the EU (2006/2176(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 16, 87(3), 137, 141, 158 and 299(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund(1),

–   having regard to Council Decision 2006/702/EC of 6 October 2006 on Community strategic guidelines on cohesion(2),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the European Council meetings of 23 and 24 March 2000 in Lisbon and 15 and 16 June 2001 in Göteborg,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 30 May 2007 entitled 'Fourth Report on Economic and Social Cohesion' (COM(2007)0273),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 12 June 2006 entitled 'The Growth and Jobs Strategy and the Reform of European cohesion policy: Fourth progress report on cohesion' (COM(2006)0281),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 1 March 2006 entitled 'A Roadmap for equality between women and men, 2006-2010' (COM(2006)0092),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 5 July 2005 entitled 'Cohesion Policy in Support of Growth and Jobs: Community Strategic Guidelines, 2007-2013' (COM(2005)0299),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 17 May 2005 entitled 'Third progress report on cohesion: Towards a new partnership for growth, jobs and cohesion' (COM(2005)0192),

–   having regard the Commission Communication of 26 May 2004 entitled 'A stronger partnership for the outermost regions' (COM(2004)0343),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 21 February 1996 entitled 'Incorporating equal opportunities for women and men into all Community policies and activities' (COM(1996)0067),

–   having regard to Court of Auditors Special Report No 10/2006 on ex post evaluations of Objectives 1 and 3 programmes 1994 to 1999 (Structural Funds)(3),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Regional Development (A6-0241/2007),

A.   whereas Article 158 of the EC Treaty implies that the Community's goal is to promote harmonious development and reduce disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions by strengthening economic growth,

B.   whereas the poorest EU regions are regions coming under the cohesion policy convergence objective whose per capita GDP is less than 75% of average per capita GDP for the EU as a whole,

C.   whereas the concept of cohesion has not been clearly defined and covers various activities fostering harmonious economic, social and territorial development in the EU regions,

D.   whereas the conclusions of its resolution of 24 April 2007 on the consequences of future enlargements on the effectiveness of cohesion policy(4) mention that the present structure of cohesion policy financing is to be reviewed in view of future enlargements; whereas they also propose that the financing of regional competitiveness and territorial cooperation has to be more focused on the integration of regional economies and infrastructure of European importance and on helping regions to cope with globalisation and demographic change,

E.   whereas one of the fundamental principle of the EU is the principle of solidarity, which serves to reduce disparities in the Union's regional development,

F.   whereas, to date, EU cohesion policy has made an effective contribution to the development of many regions of the former cohesion countries (Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Spain), even though some regions are still significantly underdeveloped and whereas its impact in terms of the convergence of the poorest regions has helped to increase the prosperity of the EU as a whole,

G.   whereas the aim of cohesion policy is to render Member States and regions economically viable and thus independent from external aid, although the receipt of Structural Funds is not subject to time limitations,

H.   whereas there is a lack of detailed information and comparative studies with rankings on the advancement of regions that profit from Structural Funds,

I.   whereas, after enlargement to 27 Member States, the EU now has a population that has risen to nearly 493 million(5), approximately 30%(6) of whom live in the current 100 convergence objective regions, and whereas the disparities between regions in GDP terms in EU-27 are currently significantly larger than they were in EU-15, with average per capita GDP ranging from 24% (south-eastern Romania) to 303% (Inner London) of average EU GDP,

J.   whereas in EU-27 the poorest convergence objective regions are located principally in the new Member States, where the implementation of cohesion policy only recently began, and thus it is impossible to evaluate its success in reducing disparities,

K.   whereas in the poorest Member States economic growth is unevenly distributed and tends to be concentrated around urban areas, while in these countries a substantial part of the population lives in rural areas,

L.   whereas regions suffering from economic poverty resulting from a lack of basic infrastructure, restricted access to public services and high unemployment are becoming depopulated at a faster rate than other regions and whereas this, in turn, undermines their ability to secure genuine development,

M.   whereas Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty requires the Community to adjust its policies and to apply special and specific measures to the outermost regions, given the specific situation of these regions, most of which are among the poorest regions of the EU, a factor which severely handicaps their development because of the combined and lasting effects of structural and geographic disadvantages,

N.   whereas in some of the new Member States the uptake of funding in the poorest regions coming under cohesion policy was low during the period 2004 to 2006,

O.   whereas, if structural funding is to be successfully implemented, which it must be in order to ensure substantial economic growth for the poorest regions such as will enable them gradually to catch up with the more developed regions in terms of per capita GDP, close coordination is required between authorities at local, regional, national and Community levels,

P.   whereas the fact that funding has been granted does not guarantee per se that it will be put to good use, and whereas authorities in poor regions often lack the appropriate skills and experience and the essential matching funds to be able to make full use of the cohesion funding to which they are entitled,

Q.   whereas there are a number of reasons for the economic backwardness of individual regions and whereas the poorest EU regions above all lack the basic infrastructure that is essential for balanced sustainable development and further investment, as well as adequate human resources and adequate incentives for education, lifelong learning and innovation,

R.   whereas private equity, venture capital, rotating funds and micro-credits for start-ups play an essential role as a driving force for entrepreneurship, innovation and job creation,

S.   whereas social exclusion and extremely high long-term unemployment rates are particularly prevalent in the poorest regions, especially among women and the elderly, disabled persons and vulnerable ethnic groups,

T.   whereas fundamental citizens' rights include equal access for men and women to all utilities, equal opportunities on the labour market and equal access to education, culture and health and social services,

1.  Urges that resolute action be taken to reduce the most acute development shortfalls in the poorest EU regions, and notes in particular that the new Member States, which have come under cohesion policy since 2004, require special support owing to their ongoing institutional, administrative and economic difficulties;

2.  Stresses the importance of analysing historical developments in the cohesion countries of EU-15; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States concerned, their regions, local authorities and other interested parties, to clearly highlight on one hand growth generating measures in successful regions (such as Ireland) and on the other hand the main obstacles in the regions lagging behind, so that the impediments do not arise again in the regions of the new Member States;

3.  Draws the attention of the Commission and the Member States to the situation of regions which, despite being the poorest in EU-15 and despite the lack of improvement in their development data, are no longer considered the poorest regions of EU-27 for purely statistical reasons; recommends that consideration be given to the specific situation of those regions;

4.  Takes the view that funding uptake difficulties are a major and pressing concern, particularly for the new Member States, which are finding it difficult to satisfy complicated cohesion policy requirements and often lack sufficient own contribution (private or public) capital to pre-finance Community grants, because of the procedural difficulties and time restrictions involved in implementing projects, as a result of which potential beneficiaries are unable to obtain or even claim funds which they could put to good use;

5.  Is concerned that in some regions Community assistance is poorly targeted, with the result that the situation in those regions fails to improve despite many years of funding and that Community resources are squandered;

6.  Suggests that EU cohesion policy should take due account of the diversity of the needs of the poorest regions, with aid being tailored to their specific features and conditions and their potential being exploited, so as to implement projects that produce lasting results and genuine development on the basis of multiannual development plans taking due account of spatial development plans and of other Community policies;

7.  Recommends that EU cohesion policy be adapted to the outermost regions, as referred to in Article 299(2) through special, specific measures; supports the strategy deployed by the EU to help its outermost regions, and calls on the Commission rapidly to give details of the substance of the "stronger partnership" that it has announced, particularly with regard to improving the competitiveness of the outermost regions and its action plan for the wider neighbourhood;

8.  Recommends that, with a view to speeding up economic growth, further investment and balanced sustainable development in the poorest regions, regions and Member States give priority to projects designed to make regions more accessible by providing them with basic infrastructure, particularly in the transport and ITC fields, having due regard for the social and environmental impact of such projects;

9.  Calls on the Member States and regional and local authorities to take due account of the need for balanced development within individual regions when planning future regional development programmes; believes it particularly important for account to be taken of the specific needs of urban areas, with an appropriate urban policy including a housing policy for 'poor neighbourhoods', and for an appropriate rural policy to be pursued;

10.  Believes it is particularly important to attribute more competences in cohesion policy to cities so that they can react in partnership to the specific needs of urban areas; in this context calls on the Commission and Member States to fully exploit the potential of integrated development plans where cohesion policy can directly be linked with town planning;

11.  Encourages Member States to make the poorest regions more attractive to investors by drawing on those regions' natural and cultural assets in order to develop traditional forms of economic activity, while promoting balanced urban-rural development; accordingly urges the Commission to concentrate more on identifying and supporting measures to conserve the specific skills and customs still surviving in isolated regions of Europe which are lagging behind;

12.  Welcomes the focus on using cohesion policy to enhance the Community's innovation capacity over the period 2007 to 2013; notes that this objective should also apply to the poorest regions; places particular emphasis on the need to reduce the technology gap within and between regions and Member States by bolstering technological cooperation networks;

13.  Reminds the Commission and the Member States that any assessment of cohesion policy should lead to improved, innovative cohesion policy in any enlarged Union of the future; recalls the need to focus on new concepts of territorial development and more specific ideas for supporting the development of regional critical mass surrounding urban areas and other regional clusters; also recalls the need to use a differentiated approach to the use of Structural Funds specific to the needs of all regions;

14.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to support projects that increase regional capacity to generate and absorb new technologies, particularly those relating to environmental protection and the development of natural resources and involving the dissemination of models based on lower energy consumption and the use of renewable energies, so that the regions can develop a lead in eco-innovation without having to endure negative non-sustainable development aspects experienced by other regions in their development cycle;

15.  Stresses the importance of territorial cooperation (cross-border, transnational and interregional) in the context of the EU's cohesion policy in order to promote balanced development; encourages in this regard the setting up of regional and sectoral cooperation networks, involving, especially the poorest regions;

16.  Encourages the Commission, Member States and local authorities to promote entrepreneurship in the poorest regions by means of an integrated system of economic and social incentives for investors, and draws attention to the need for significant simplification of administrative procedures, particularly in relation to the setting up of new, and expansion of existing, economic activities;

17.  Encourages the Member States to promote entrepreneurship in schools and to support training schemes for future entrepreneurs, aimed in particular at young people, women, elderly persons and minorities exposed to social exclusion;

18.  Welcomes new instruments such as the Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) and Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) initiatives; nevertheless points to the fact that these instruments came late to be fully utilised and that awareness of the possibilities they offer at local and regional level is still very low; notes the pressing need for such instruments to be publicised and applied as widely as possible in the Member States, and applied in accordance with the actual situation in those States, with account being taken of the real needs of the potential beneficiaries and their capacity in practical terms to make use of these instruments;

19.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts to provide technical assistance to Member States and regions by setting up an appropriate training programme; welcomes the Joint Assistance in Supporting Projects in European Regions (JASPERS) initiative to provide assistance in implementing large projects;

20.  Welcomes the recently introduced 'Regions for economic change' initiative and the commitment expressed therein to disseminating best practices that, in the past, have had a clearly positive impact and have contributed to regional economic growth; calls, accordingly, on the Commission to ensure that the poorest EU regions are included in the best-practice exchange network, while also describing such practices on a public website in all official EU languages;

21.  Encourages Member States to set up public-private partnerships (PPPs) as an effective means of involving private capital in the funding of regional projects; suggests, in this connection, that simple and transparent rules governing the setting up of such partnerships should be laid down given their long-term impact on public finances;

22.  Calls on the Commission to step up its effort to make directives, rules and guidelines easier to understand, with a view to preventing misinterpretation and to facilitating programme implementation;

23.  Encourages the Member States and the Community institutions further to simplify procedures with a view to ensuring that funds are allocated in a transparent and efficient manner and delivered swiftly to final beneficiaries; in this context also suggests that the concept of single contact points be fully exploited and that control procedures on the use of funds be strengthened; also encourages Member States to comply with the European Transparency Initiative and the responsibility of the managing authority for organising the publication, electronically or otherwise, of the list of beneficiaries, the names of the operations and the amount of public funding allocated to operations, as laid down in Article 7(2)(d) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1828/2006(7), which implements Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006;

24.  Calls on the Member States to ensure effective political, technical and administrative coordination and effective compliance with the partnership principle aimed at the sound management of funds; expresses concern at the lack of properly functioning coordination and partnership mechanisms in the poorest regions;

25.  Draws the attention of the Commission and the Member States to the fact that, with a view to securing balanced development, synergies need to be established between economic, social and environmental aspects, drawing on an analysis of the reasons for economic backwardness, with particular reference to unemployment and its underlying structures, especially in the poorest regions;

26.  Stresses that the unemployment rate in some of the poorest EU regions is higher than 20%; expresses concern at the fact that unemployment is a problem that affects the poorest regions in particular and remains higher among women and minorities exposed to social exclusion; calls on the Member States to provide support for women on the labour market and to even out pay disparities between women and men; calls furthermore for attention to be given to the very specific situation of the Roma, for whom the problem of long-term unemployment is critical;

27.  Stresses the need for the European Social Fund to be put to good use, investing in human capital in the poorest regions by ensuring better education provision and steadily increasing qualification levels, particularly among young people, women and the elderly, and minorities exposed to social exclusion, and by investing in accompanying actions and relevant support and community and care services that improve employment opportunities;

28.  Stresses that equal opportunities for women and men should be promoted at all stages of the formulation and implementation of projects coming within the sphere of EU cohesion policy;

29.  Notes that 2007 has been designated European Year of Equal Opportunities for All and calls on the Commission and Member States to promote projects to raise awareness of gender mainstreaming in all Community programmes, particularly those with an impact on economic and social cohesion;

30.  Calls on the Commission to keep Parliament continually supplied with reliable statistical analyses of the specific situation of women and men in the poorest EU regions, in order to enable the impact that cohesion policy is having in terms of improving living conditions for all social groups to be properly monitored;

31.  Calls on the Commission to improve the system used to assess cohesion policy, and to devise a new means of measuring regional development, based not just on GDP but also on other indicators such as unemployment rates and other quantitative and qualitative indicators, whilst improving the methodology for the calculation of Power Purchasing Parities, namely through the development of regional rather than national indicators;

32.  Calls on the Commission to provide it, on a regular basis, with up-to-date, reliable and comparable statistics enabling it to accurately assess progress in the development of the poorest EU regions;

33.  Calls on the Commission to analyse the impact of cohesion policy and look into the causes of any undesirable outcomes arising from Community policies in its 2009 mid-term review of the Community budget and in the next report on economic and social cohesion, with a view to ensuring that cohesion policy is as effective as possible throughout the 2007-2013 programming period;

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

(1) OJ L 210, 31.7.2006, p. 25. Corrigendum published OJ L 239, 1.9.2006, p. 248.
(2) OJ L 291, 21.10.2006, p. 11.
(3) OJ C 302, 12.12.2006, p 1.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0130.
(5) 492 852 386. Source: Eurostat/US Census Bureau.
(6) Source: Eurostat, Statistics in Focus – Economy and Finance 17/2006.
(7) OJ L 371, 27.12.2006, p. 1. Corrigendum published in OJ L 45, 15.2.2007, p. 3.

The humanitarian situation of Iraqi refugees
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on the humanitarian situation of Iraqi refugees

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the rights of people in need of international protection,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Iraq and in particular its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the humanitarian situation of refugees from Iraq(1),

–   having regard to the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 (the Refugee Convention) and to the UN Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967,

–   having regard to the urgent appeals by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) of 7 February 2007 to increase international support for those countries hosting refugees fleeing Iraq, the international conference on Iraq of 17-18 April 2007 in Geneva aimed at raising awareness of the scale of humanitarian needs in Iraq and in the region, the UNHCR call of 5 June 2007 for all borders to remain open to those in need of protection, as well as to the UNHCR Return Advisory and Position on International Protection Needs of Iraqis outside Iraq of 18 December 2006 and the UNHCR 'Supplementary Appeal – Iraq Situation Response' of 8 January 2007,

–   having regard to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement issued by the UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Internally Displaced Persons on 11 February 1998,

–   having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third-country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted(2) (the Qualification Directive),

–   having regard to the decisions adopted by the European Community and its Member States in the area of asylum and immigration,

–   whereas the number of applications from Iraqi asylum-seekers has doubled in the first half of 2007 in comparison to the same period the previous year,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the general humanitarian and human rights situation is deteriorating in Iraq, as reflected by the regular reports of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and other UN agencies in the country, that show that an average of 100 people are killed and 200 are wounded per day, that 50% of the population is living on less than USD 1 per day, that unemployment affects more than 80% of the population, that 70% lack access to adequate water supply and 81% to effective sanitation, that 3 million people will be food insecure if food distribution fails and that the system has already ceased to function in some areas, that 80% of doctors have left hospitals, that 75% of children are not in school and that depending on the region 30% to 70% of the schools are closed,

B.   whereas in the current post-war situation criminal activities include armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom, harassment, the killing of persons involved in the political process or reconstruction activities, sabotage attacks against civilian infrastructure such as electricity or oil pipelines and full-scale attacks involving indiscriminate use of bombs and/or other explosives against civilians and as a result many Iraqis continue to flee, primarily to Jordan and Syria but also to Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran and further afield,

C.   whereas more than 2 million people are now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs); whereas since February 2006, 822,000 people have been newly displaced, with a further 2000 believed to be displaced each day; and whereas for the end of 2007, UNHCR estimates the number of IDPs as likely to reach 2,3 to 2,5 million,

D.   whereas in addition to the internally displaced, there are approximately 42 000 non-Iraqi refugees within Iraq (including around 15 000 Palestinians who are at particular risk, as well as Sudanese, Turkish Kurds, Iranians and others),

E.   whereas many governorates in Iraq restrict access to new IDPs, which means drastic limitations on the chances of finding a temporary safe place inside the country,

F.   whereas IDPs are denied registration for food distribution, which increases the risk of a humanitarian crisis,

G.   whereas an estimated 2 million Iraqis are refugees in neighbouring states without any formal protected status provided by these host states: Syria hosting 1.2 to 1.5 million, Jordan 500 000 to 750 000 Iraqis, representing a high proportion of the population, Egypt (over 80 000), Lebanon (estimated 20 000), Iran (over 50 000), the Gulf region (over 200 000) and Turkey (estimated 5 100),

H.   whereas 560 000 of the refugees in the neighbouring countries are children of school age, and whereas access to public education or subsidised health care in many areas is very difficult or barred by law,

I.   whereas, under customary international law, there is a legal obligation not to return refugees to persecution or serious harm, and to allow asylum seekers fleeing widespread human rights abuses and generalised violence to enter the relevant country, at least temporarily, in order to be screened for refugee status,

J.   whereas the attitude of most Member States and the US to recognising the protection needs of Iraqi refugees has been largely restrictive,

K.   whereas great disparities have been determined in the way Iraqi asylum claims are being assessed in the Member States, illustrating the lack of progress made in the development of a Common European Asylum System that is based on high common standards and is able to give protection to those in need,

L.   whereas neighbouring countries have considerably restricted access for refugees, forcing many to return to Iraq or remain trapped at the borders, as well as imposing restrictive stay requirements, such as reducing periods of stay and/or making the renewal of their visas so difficult that most Iraqis quickly lose their legal status,

M.   whereas the government of Brazil is one of the few countries to have offered to resettle a number of Palestinian refugees who formerly lived in Iraq under the solidarity resettlement programmes,

N.   whereas UNHCR is finalising a request to increase the Supplementary Budget for the Iraq situation from USD 60 m to USD 115 m,

O.   whereas Jews, Mandeans and Christians (including Assyrians, Armenian, Greek orthodox and other Christian minorities) are increasingly experiencing discrimination with regard to access to the labour market or basic social services and many are afraid of persecution by insurgent groups as well as Islamist militias, which have gained de facto control over entire neighbourhoods in various cities and villages in Iraq; whereas as part of increasing tensions between Sunnis and Shiite, individuals may also be solely targeted on the basis of their membership of ethnic or religious minorities,

1.  Welcomes the solidarity shown by Iraq's neighbouring countries with Iraqi refugees and invites these countries to inform the international community about the support they need to cope with the situation;

2.  Recognises the improvements in terms of contribution of the regional Kurdish authorities in assisting non-Muslim communities who are internally displaced;

3.  Joins with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in calling for a sustained, comprehensive and coordinated international response to ease the plight of millions of people uprooted by the humanitarian crisis that can no longer be ignored; considers the support of the international comunity vital in easing the suffering of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) or those fleeing the country, as well as increased encouragement and assistance to countries like Syria and Jordan, which together host an important number of Iraqi refugees;

4.  Recognises also the efforts made by non-border countries of the region such as Egypt to assist Iraqi refugees; asks these countries to pursue their efforts in favour of the Iraqi refugees by keeping their borders open and improving conditions for them, respecting their fundamental rights and ensuring their access to basic services such as health and education with the support of the international community;

5.  Deplores that neighbouring states kept their borders closed, with rare and limited exceptions, to Palestinians fleeing violence and threats against them in Iraq, condemns the call of the Iraqi Minister of Displacement and Migration to expel all Palestinians from Iraq; condemns the Iraqi government's decision to impose onerous registration requirements on Palestinians making it difficult for them to stay legally in Iraq;

6.  Calls on the Iraqi Government, as well as local regional and religious authorities and the Multi-National Coalition Forces in Iraq to take immediate steps to improve security for all the refugees and IDPs in Iraq and end discriminatory practices;

7.  Strongly rejects the threats of expulsion and cutting off supplies of fuel and drinking water made by some senior officials in the Iraqi Government against 4 000 members of the Iranian opposition who have been political refugees in Iraq for the past 20 years and have the legal status of " Protected persons under the Fourth Geneva Convention" and calls on the Iraqi Government to respect their rights under international law;

8.  Calls on the Member States to overcome their position of non-action regarding the situation of the Iraqi refugees and to fulfil their obligations under international and Community law to give Iraqis in Member States the opportunity to lodge asylum applications and have them processed with minimum delay, respecting procedural safeguards, and grant refugee status or subsidiary or temporary protection to those who have a well-founded fear of persecution or serious harm;

9.  Urges Member States not to transfer people to another State under the Dublin II Regulation(3) if it is known that that country does not properly consider Iraqi asylum claims; points out that Member States may invoke Article 3(2) of the Dublin II Regulation for this purpose;

10.  Encourages the Member States to grant Iraqis who do not qualify for a protection status but cannot be returned, a legal status (temporary or permanent depending on their circumstances) and to ensure adequate conditions and basic rights;

11.  Notes with concern that 400 to 500 forced returns to Iraq were registered in 2005 and 2006 and asks the Member States to suspend temporarily all forced returns to any part of Iraq;

12.  Urges the Member States and the international community, as a demonstration of international responsibility-sharing, to contribute in a significant manner to the resettlement of Iraqi refugees and stateless persons as well as the Palestinian refugees currently in Iraq or having fled from Iraq and now stranded in the region, giving priority to the most vulnerable cases in accordance with UNHCR guidelines on resettlement of Iraqi refugees; asks the European Union and its Member States to set up a mechanism to organise this responsibility-sharing and support the Member States accordingly;

13.  Supports the UNHCR recommendation to favourably consider Iraqi asylum seekers from southern and central Iraq as refugees under the Refugee Convention and, where they are not recognised as refugees, to grant them a complementary form of protection unless the individual comes within the exclusion criteria in the Refugee Convention;

14.  Calls on the European Commission to urgently explore further possibilities to bring humanitarian support to the IDPs in Iraq, exercising appropriate flexibility in interpreting the relevant rules, and to assist the neighbouring countries in their efforts to host the refugee population;

15.  Welcomes the first steps undertaken by the Commission's Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid (ECHO); regrets, however, the very lengthy procedures necessitated by the particular constraints on the country;

16.  Invites the Commission to prepare urgently for the creation of post traumatic centres for Iraqi refugees and IDPs, as well as to develop "occupational" projects in particular for IDPs in the agricultural sector in those parts of Iraq where this is possible;

17.  Urges the Commission to inform Parliament, and in particular its Committee on Budgetary Control at its meeting of 16 July 2007, about the use of the funds allocated to Iraq, in particular via the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI), and reminds the Commission of the priorities of its Communication of 7 June 2006 (COM(2006)0283), which included (1) support to a democratic government, (2) security reinforcement on the basis of the rule of law and the promotion of a culture of respect for human rights; recalls that it considers it as an extreme emergency, and urged in its abovementioned resolution of 15 February 2007, that a significant part of the EU budget earmarked for programmes with Iraq be allocated for the refugees; this presentation should include an exact breakdown by activity type and budgeted, committed and paid activities identifying also clearly programmes dedicated to Iraqi refugees and IDPs;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the governments and parliaments of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Palestine and the Arab League.

(1) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0056.
(2) OJ L 304, 30.9.2004, p. 12.
(3) Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national (OJ L 50, 25.2.2003, p. 1).

Human rights violations in the Republic of Moldova
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on human rights violations in Transnistria (Republic of Moldova)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in the Republic of Moldova, and in Transnistria in particular(1),

–   having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union, which entered into force on 1 July 1998,

–   having regard to the Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova adopted by the seventh EU-Moldova Cooperation Council meeting on 22 February 2005,

–   having regard to the interim resolution adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 1 March 2006 concerning the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 8 July 2004 in the case of Ilaşcu and others against Moldova and Russia,

–   having regard to the Declarations of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at the 1999 Summit in Istanbul and the 2002 Ministerial Council meeting in Porto,

–   having regard to the Geneva Conventions for the protection of war victims of 12 August 1949,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the 1992 war in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova led to the establishment of a separatist, illegitimate and authoritarian regime in the region; the situation of the frozen conflict persists and human rights violations continue to be gross and widespread;

B.   whereas no final solution has yet been found to the Transnistrian conflict despite the above-mentioned international decisions, which leads to the continued deterioration of respect for human rights in the region;

C.   whereas the latest example of human rights violations in Transnistria is the case of Tudor Popa and Andrei Ivanţoc, who were subjected to degrading treatment and were prohibited from returning to their homes;

D.   whereas the arrest and detention on charges of terrorism of all the members of the so-called Ilascu group represented an illegal act of the Transnistrian separatist regime, and did not meet international standards in relation to principles of a fair trial, the rule of law, respect for the rights of prisoners and prevention of torture and inhuman treatment;

E.   whereas the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) of 8 July 2004 in the case of Ilaşcu and others against Moldova and Russia has not yet been implemented and has been completely ignored by the Transnistrian separatist regime;

F.   whereas the serious violations of human rights in Transnistria continue, particularly leading to the denial of the rights of Romanians with the closure of Romanian-language schools and the profanation of a Romanian cemetery in Transnistria, as well as the violation of the political rights and liberties of the entire population living in the area, resulting in widespread trafficking in human beings and organised crime;

G.   whereas the decisions of the OSCE Summit in Istanbul of 1999 and the OSCE Ministerial Council in Oporto 2002 have still not been implemented;

H.   whereas the European Union took important steps to enhance its engagement with the Republic of Moldova and the search for a resolution of the Transnistrian conflict by opening a permanent European Commission delegation in Chisinau, appointing an EU Special Representative (EUSR) for the Republic of Moldova with a mandate to contribute to a sustainable settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and establishing an EU Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM) to the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine,

I.   whereas negotiations concerning Transnistria, a region of the Republic of Moldova, have been ongoing since 1992, in the so called '5+2' Format, in which the Republic of Moldova, the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the OSCE have participated; whereas the EU and the United States of America became observers in 2005; whereas in April 2006 the negotiations broke down,

J.   having regard to the Republic of Moldova's European aspirations and the fact that the situation in Transnistria is taking place in the immediate neighbourhood of the EU; recognising the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova and calling on all parties to work as a political priority for the reunification of the State;

1.  Strongly deplores the lack of respect for human rights and human dignity in Transnistria, as reflected by the trial and detention of the Ilaşcu Group, the denial of the liberties of the population living in that area, ignoring the right to access to information and education, resulting in widespread trafficking in human beings and organised crime;

2.  Welcomes the release of Andrei Ivanţoc and Tudor Popa, but deplores the fact that their release by the separatist regime of Tiraspol was declared as resulting from the expiry of their term of imprisonment, and not due to the implementation of the decision of the ECHR; condemns the fact that Andrei Ivanţoc was subjected to violence and attacks on his human dignity upon his release, as film footage taken by witnesses to his release testifies;

3.  Condemns the continued repression, harassment and intimidation of representatives of the independent media, NGOs and civil society by the Transnistrian separatist regime;

4.  Demands the cessation of deprivation of freedom of persons for political activity; in this respect condemns the arrest on 2 June 2007 and subsequent treatment of Valentin Besleag, a mayoral candidate in legitimate local elections in Corjova;

5.  Calls for a rapid and final settlement to the frozen conflict in Transnistria, which will secure democracy and respect for human rights throughout the entire territory of the Republic of Moldova, in accordance with international principles;

6.  Emphasises the EU's firm commitment to the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova; points out that the illegitimate regime of Tiraspol has no authority to stop citizens of the Republic of Moldova from entering the territory of the left bank of the Nistru river and has no authority to issue 'persona non-grata' decisions;

7.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to envisage measures of greater and comprehensive involvement in the process of negotiation and of solving the above-mentioned conflict; notes the successful joint EU border mission with Ukraine based in Odessa and calls on the Government of Ukraine to continue its support for the mission;

8.  Calls for a greater involvement of the EU in solving this conflict in its immediate neighbourhood, including the enhancement of the EU's status to that of a negotiating partner;

9.  Reminds all parties that the separatist regime of Transnistria allows organised crime, including trafficking in arms and in human beings, smuggling and money laundering activities to flourish; points out that this constitutes a considerable risk to the stability of the region;

10.  Calls for the immediate and full implementation of the conclusions of the OSCE Summit in Istanbul of 1999 and the OSCE Ministerial Council in Porto 2002 and the judgment of the ECHR of 8 July 2004 in the case of Ilaşcu and others against Moldova and Russia; calls on the EU to raise the issue of the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Transnistria within the framework of EU-Russia relations;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the government and parliament of the Republic of Moldova, the government and parliament of Russia and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe.

(1) See, for instance, Parliament's resolutions of 23 October 2006, P6_TA(2006)0455, and of 16 March 2006, OJ C 291 E, 30.11.2006, p. 414.

Human rights in Vietnam
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European Parliament resolution of 12 July 2007 on human rights in Vietnam

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Vietnam,

–   having regard to the Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the sentencing of human rights defenders in Vietnam of 15 May 2007,

–  – having regard to the Cooperation Agreement of 1995 between the European Union and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,

–  – having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Vietnam in 1982,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas, since March 2007, more than 15 dissidents have been sentenced to lengthy periods in prison or to house arrest,

B.   whereas this repression comes one year on from the political opening up of Vietnam in 2006, which saw the birth of independent and democratic parties, and many Vietnamese (intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, artists, priests and individuals) have expressed an interest in the democratic cause and there have been numerous calls for democracy,

C.   whereas the internet petition calling for greater democracy, launched by the pro-democracy and reform group Bloc 8406 and signed by 118 campaigners, marks the beginning of a true online democracy movement,

D.   whereas the Vietnamese regime's tolerance of this spreading of democratic dissidence aroused great hope and enabled the Socialist Republic of Vietnam to join the World Trade Organisation, to be removed from the United States' list of countries that violate religious freedom (the CPC list, or list of countries of particular concern) and to be accorded permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) by the US Congress,

E.   whereas, in spite of constant and repeated appeals from the international community, the Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Huyen Quang (87 years old), and his deputy, Thich Quang Do (79 years old), winner of the 2006 Rafto Prize for human rights work, have been imprisoned without trial in their monastery since 1982 for the sole reason of being ardent supporters of religious freedom, human rights and democracy; whereas members of the provincial committees set up by the Church in 20 poorer provinces for the purpose of assisting the most deprived are subjected to harassment, interrogation, intimidation and ongoing threats, simply because of their connections with the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam,

F.   whereas recognition of religious movements by means of registration remains at a minimum and subject to inequalities, for example, 50 Protestant 'house churches' have been recognised out of the 4 000 that have applied for recognition, and the registration of these congregations must be renewed every year,

G.   whereas, in February 2007, a demonstration by 200 Khmer Krom Buddhist leaders in support of religious freedom was suppressed by force in the province of Soc Trang; whereas five of these leaders were sentenced on 10 May 2007 to between two and four years' imprisonment for 'public order offences' and the religious persecution suffered by the Khmer Krom is accompanied by forced assimilation,

H.   whereas the ethnic minorities of the Northern and Central Highlands are still subjected to discrimination, confiscation of their land and violation of their religious freedom, and only 38 religious groups have been recognised in the north-east; whereas neither independent NGOs nor journalists have free access to the Highlands in order to assess the real situation of the Montagnards repatriated from Cambodia,

I.   whereas all dissidents detained since March 2007 have been arrested for breaches of 'national security' legislation, for 'propaganda against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam' (Article 88 of the Penal Code) or for attempts to 'overthrow the government' (Article 79); whereas the charges on the grounds of 'national security offences' have been deemed incompatible with international law by the UN Human Rights Committee, by the Special Rapporteur on religious intolerance and by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, all of whom have called for those charges to be withdrawn or revised,

J.   whereas Vietnam receives financial assistance from the European Union and its Member States under the Legal System Development Strategy and the Judicial Reform Strategy,

K.   whereas Vietnam continues to hold trials with no respect for the presumption of innocence, the rights of the defendant or the independence of judges, as shown by the trials of the Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly (30 March 2007), and of the lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi Cong Nhan (11 May 2007),

L.   whereas the repeal of Decree 31/CP of 1997 on administrative detention cannot mask the continued application of Ordinance 44/2002/PL-UBTVQH10 on Sanctions against Administrative Violations, which extends the powers to detain dissidents without trial and resumes the old and sinister practice of placing dissidents in psychiatric hospitals, a fate that has befallen the lawyer Bui Thi Kim Thanh, who has been held since November 2006 for having helped defend the rights of peasants who had been unfairly treated,

M.   whereas the European Union is Vietnam's main trading partner and Vietnam already benefits from the Union's system of generalised preferences (SGP),

N.   whereas, in March 2007, the Commission decided to increase aid to Vietnam by 30% for the 2007-2013 period (EUR 304 000 000), which is largely earmarked for governance and human rights actions,

1.  Voices its deep concern at the new wave of persecution of dissidents in Vietnam;

2.  Calls, therefore, for the immediate and unconditional release of all individuals imprisoned for the sole reason of having peacefully and legitimately exercised their right to freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of religion, including the Catholic priest Nguyen Van Ly (sentenced to eight years' imprisonment), Nguyen Phong (six years), Nguyen Binh Thanh (five years), the lawyer Nguyen Van Dai (five years) (all members of the pro-democracy and reform group Bloc 8406) and the lawyer Le Thi Cong Nhan, spokeswoman for the Progression Party, (four years), Tran Quoc Hien, representative of the Workers-Farmers Organisation, (five years), Le Nguyen Sang, leader of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), (five years), Nguyen Bac Truyen (four years), Huynh Nguyen Dao (three years), the Hoa Hao Buddhists Duong Thi Tron (six years), Le Van Soc (six years) and Nguyen Van Thuy (five years), Nguyen Van Tho (four years), Thich Huyen Quang, Patriarch of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam, Thich Quang Do and Bui Thi Kim Thanh;

3.  Calls on the Vietnamese Government to put an end to all forms of repression of people exercising their right to freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom of assembly, in line with international law on human rights; repeats its call to the authorities to reform, as a matter of urgency, national security provisions, either by revoking them or by bringing them into line with international law;

4.  Calls on Vietnam to carry out political and institutional reforms in order to establish democracy and the genuine rule of law, beginning with the introduction of a multi-party system, a free press and free trade unions;

5.  Calls on the Vietnamese Government to respect religious freedom and to restore the legal status of all religious communities, including the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam;

6.  Asks the Vietnamese Government to put an end to discrimination against the Montagnard community;

7.  Welcomes the repeal of Decree 31/CP as a first step in the process of judicial reform and calls on the Vietnamese Government to abolish all forms of imprisonment imposed without judicial safeguards, in particular Ordinance 44 of 2002;

8.  Calls on the Vietnamese authorities to implement the UN recommendations, in particular those of the Human Rights Committee in its conclusions of 2002, by repealing all legislation in breach of human rights and by genuinely guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the Vietnamese people, in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

9.  Stresses that human rights dialogue between the European Union and Vietnam must lead to tangible improvements in Vietnam; asks the Council and the Commission to reassess the policy of cooperation with Vietnam, bearing in mind Article 1 of the Cooperation Agreement of 1995, which states that cooperation is based on respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the member countries of ASEAN, the United Nations Secretary-General, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Government and Parliament of Vietnam.

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