Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 13 December 2007 - Strasbourg
Draft general budget 2008, modified by the Council (all sections)
 EC-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Agreement ***
 Cooperation between the Fundamental Rights Agency and the Council of Europe *
 Electronic identification for ovine and caprine animals *
 Maintenance obligations *
 10th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Convention)
 EU-China Summit - EU/China human rights dialogue
 Combating the rise of extremism in Europe
 Montenegro
 Shipping disasters in the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea
 Deposit-guarantee schemes
 Asset Management II
 Textile imports
 Economic and trade relations with Korea
 Eastern Chad
 Women's rights in Saudi Arabia
 Comfort women

Draft general budget 2008, modified by the Council (all sections)
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Resolution
Annex
Annex
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008 as modified by the Council (all sections) (15717/2007 – C6-0436/2007 – 2007/2019(BUD) - 2007/2019B(BUD)) and Letters of amendment Nos 1/2008 (13659/2007 - C6-0341/2007) and 2/2008 (15716/2007 - C6-0435/2007) to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008
P6_TA(2007)0616A6-0492/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 272 of the EC Treaty and Article 177 of the Euratom Treaty,

–   having regard to Council Decision 2000/597/EC, Euratom of 29 September 2000 on the system of the European Communities' own resources(1),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(2),

–   having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 April 2007 on the Commission's annual policy strategy for the 2008 budget procedure(4),

–   having regard to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008, which the Council established on 13 July 2007 (C6-0287/2007 - C6-0288/2007),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2007 on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008, Section III – Commission (C6-0287/2007) and Letter of amendment No 1/2008 (13659/2007 – C6-0341/2007) to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2007 on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008, Section I – European Parliament, Section II – Council, Section IV – Court of Justice, Section V – Court of Auditors, Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee, Section VII – Committee of the Regions, Section VIII – European Ombudsman, Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor (C6-0288/2007)(6),

–   having regard to Letter of amendment No 2/2008 (15716/2007 - C6-0435/2007)_to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2008,

–   having regard to its amendments and proposed modifications of 25 October 2007 to the draft general budget(7),

–   having regard to the Council's modifications to the amendments and proposed modifications adopted by Parliament to the draft general budget (15717/2007 – C6-0436/2007),

–   having regard to the results of the budget conciliation meeting of 23 November 2007,

–   having regard to the statement by the Council on the outcome of its deliberations on the amendments and proposed modifications adopted by Parliament to the draft general budget,

–   having regard to Rule 69 of and Annex IV to its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A6-0492/2007),

Key issues - Overall figures, MFF revision proposal, Letters of amendment No 1 and No 2

1.  Recalls that its political priorities for the 2008 budget were set out in its abovementioned APS resolution of 24 April 2007, building on the approaches taken in the preparation of budget 2007 and the negotiations leading to the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) of 17 May 2006; underlines that the "budget for results" approach endorsed in that resolution is built on the pillars of transparent presentation, clear objectives and accurate implementation, such that the Commission is judged not on the basis of bureaucratic process but on the results it delivers towards politically agreed objectives; will continue to emphasise these elements in its further work on the 2008 budget;

2.  On overall figures, sets the final level of commitment appropriations at EUR 129 149 million; ensures that multi-annual programme envelopes that have only recently been agreed between Parliament and Council are respected, contrary to the cuts proposed by Council, in particular in heading 1a; sets the overall level of payments at EUR 120 346,76 million, equivalent to 0,96% of EU GNI; notes that this leaves a very significant margin of EUR 9 411 241 388 million beneath the payments ceiling of the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) for 2008; underlines the importance of effective budget implementation and reducing unpaid commitments (reste à liquider - RALs), in light of the modest overall level of payments;

3.  Welcomes the outcome of the 23 November 2007 conciliation with the Council, in particular as regards the financing of Galileo, via a revision of the 2007 - 2013 MFF and use of the flexibility instrument, and the European Institute of Innovative Technology from the margin of heading 1a; underlines that this financing solution is fully in line with the approach advocated by the European Parliament, in particular as it does not reduce planned appropriations for multi-annual financial programmes in heading 1a, as the Council had previously advocated; notes the joint statements, annexed to this resolution as Annex 2, which set out the detailed arrangements for financing Galileo and EIT;

4.  Supports letter of amendment No 1/2008 to the preliminary draft budget (PDB) 2008 adopted by the Commission on 17 September 2007 and in particular the increases in commitment appropriations proposed for Kosovo (EUR 120 million) and Palestine (EUR 142 million) totalling EUR 262 million over the PDB figures; agrees, in the context of the 23 November 2007 conciliation, to appropriations of EUR 285 million for CFSP in the 2008 budget, notably in light of the forthcoming needs in Kosovo; demands that the Commission keeps the Parliament fully involved and informed in the implementation; supports letter of amendment No 2/2008 in its entirety, as part of the outcome of the 23 November 2007 conciliation;

5.  Has authorised the "Global" transfer request DEC 36/2007 in its entirety and welcomes the lower amount of transferred appropriations in 2007, compared to the 2006 and 2005 global transfers; recognises that the current under-implementation of certain lines in 2007 might be a consequence of the late adoption of legal bases in the first year of the MFF; points out that further significant payments decreases of EUR 1,7 billion in 2007 are being proposed in Amending Budget 7/2007 and "global" transfer; insists on closely monitoring the implementation of the 2008 Budget through the different tools such as the regular Budget Forecast Alert and Monitoring Groups; invites its specialised committees to give an early input about the funds needed and possible problems of implementation as regards multi-annual programmes; underlines that there will certainly be a need for a higher amount in payments in the 2008 budget, and expects the best use of this moderate increase in payments by 5,9% compared to 2007; with reference to the Council's joint statement on this issue, expects the Commission to propose higher payments where appropriate during 2008, if necessary via an amending budget;

6.  Awaits with interest the results of the consultation process initiated by the Commission on "reforming the budget, changing Europe" (SEC(2007)1188); calls for full involvement of Parliament in both the review of EU spending and the review of the EU own resources system, as foreseen by Declaration No 3 on the review of the Financial Framework of the IIA of 17 May 2006;

Delivering a budget for results - building on the first reading conciliation

7.  Refers to the agreement of five joint statements, annexed to its abovementioned resolution of 25 October 2007 on the draft general budget for the financial year 2008, Section III - Commission, between the European Parliament and Council at the first reading conciliation on the 2008 budget of 13 July 2007; has reinforced the political importance of these statements by taking them into account in the preparation of the 2008 budget in line with the "budget for results" approach; takes note of the Commission's executability letter and expects to see solutions for the implementation of the suggested amendments;

8.  Welcomes the developments in approval of operational programmes by the Commission in structural funds, cohesion fund and rural development but, in line with the joint statement agreed with the Council on 13 July 2007, wishes to see significantly more progress so that operational money can be spent; regrets that over 50 % of ERDF programmes and over 67 % of ESF and EAFRD programmes are still not approved although the first year of the programming period has nearly ended; maintains certain administrative costs of the Commission in reserve; underlines that no operational funds are placed in reserve; will release the reserves on administrative costs in line with an improved rate of approval of operational programmes;

9.  Notes the descriptive report provided by the Commission on activity-based management (ABM) in advance of its second reading; on the basis of a firm commitment provided by the Commission to produce a study, including some proposals for improvements to be presented at a hearing foreseen in Spring 2008 in Parliament's Committee on Budgets, agrees to place only EUR 5 million in reserve; expresses its intention to produce an own initiative report on improving the implementation of ABM;

10.  Recalls that the study on ABM implementation should include the following information for the budgetary authority:

and requests:

   how can the different components of the SPP-ABM cycle (APS, CLWP, AMP ...) be better integrated with each other?
   how can the integration of the SPP-ABM cycle with other cycles (HR cycle, risk management, evaluation, etc.) be improved, possibly via an integrated IT system?
   the communication of a list of clear pre-determined performance indicators to be used throughout the whole cycle in order to improve performance management;
   a commitment from the Commission to present a follow-up to its report "on planning and optimising Commission human resources to serve EU priorities" by 30 April 2008 which will include in particular a detailed breakdown of staff per category, and by Directorate General, and the evolution foreseen for the coming years,
   - a communication from the Commission on the current situation and the state of play concerning the implementation of Point 44 of the IIA of 17 May 2006;

11.  Further asks the Commission:

   - for an action plan with detailed measures to reorganise every sector examined in the screening (Human Resources, IT, Document Management/Logistics/Security, Internal Auditing, Evaluation, ABM, Interinstitutional Relations, Communication/Information/Publication, Policy coordination); calls for the staff of the executive agencies also to be included in these figures; asks the Commission to inform Parliament by January 2009 about the state of play and the results of these ongoing procedures; asks the Commission to integrate the results of this follow-up in its Communication on policy for the accommodation of Commission services in Brussels and Luxembourg (COM(2007)0501) and revise the space needs mentioned therein accordingly;
   - to commit itself more seriously to interinstitutional cooperation and put it into practice in a more tangible way; supports the demands formulated in the European Court of Auditors' special report 2/2007 on the Institutions' expenditure on buildings, and calls for more concrete steps towards common arrangements; asks the Commission to report in a more detailed way to Parliament on the factors that led it to conclude in its abovementioned Communication COM(2007)0501 that the European Quarter should remain the centre of the Commission's activities; asks the Commission to develop and to present in a comparable way alternative scenarios of the Commission's presence in Brussels outside the European Quarter;

12.  On assigned revenues, insists on improved transparency; proposes changes to the assigned revenues instrument for decentralised agencies with a view to a closer matching of assigned revenues to specific agencies; expresses its concern that the use of assigned revenue within the sugar restructuring fund has created a de facto "budget within a budget" that is difficult to reconcile with the budgetary principle of universality enshrined in the Financial Regulation; expresses its openness to revise the Financial Regulation as regards assigned revenue;

13.  On decentralised agencies, restores PDB levels with the exception of Frontex for which an increase of EUR 30 million is adopted and with the exception of the European Environment Agency with a slight increase under Title 3; welcomes the progress made by the newest agencies in expanding their activities in an effective and efficient manner; requests greater clarity in the future regarding work-plans and medium-term staffing needs;

14.  Stresses that in order to establish the Joint Undertakings, as well as the announced new decentralised Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, the procedure provided for in Point 47 of the IIA of 17 May 2006 must be opened;

15.  On executive agencies, recalls the obligations of the Commission set by the "Code of Conduct on the setting up of an Executive Agency"(8); considers that executive agencies must not, either now or in the future, lead to an increase in the share of administrative cost; underlines that any proposal for the creation of a new executive agency, and the expansion of existing executive agencies, must be based on a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis and that lines of accountability and responsibility should be clearly set out in the proposal; welcomes its agreement with the Commission on revised working arrangements on executive agencies of 16 October 2007 annexed to this resolution as Annex 1;

16.  Demands that the activity statements and Annual Activity Reports deliver an improved focus on objectives and indicators of results rather than long descriptions of administrative process; notes, however, that there remains a significant gap between Commission Directorates-General as regards the quality of Activity Statements and Annual Activity Reports; expects further improvements in future years;

17.  Considers that ex-ante and ex-post performance indicators are integral tools in implementing activity based management (ABM) and activity-based budgeting (ABB); requests that performance indicators should play a stronger role in ex post performance evaluation; is of the opinion that the data provided in activity statements should be better integrated with the annual activity reports of each Directorate-General in order to better evaluate the efficiency and results of management; considers that this would assist the Budgetary Authority in monitoring the extent to which additional resources requested lead to the delivery of results and not simply to the creation of additional bureaucracy;

18.  Welcomes the monitoring group exercise conducted by its Committee on Budgets in the course of 2007; hopes that this exercise can continue to contribute to an enhanced level of budgetary monitoring; continues to support the Budget Forecast Alert (BFA) system as a contribution to improving budget implementation; requests that the second BFA document be presented in September, and not October, 2008 so that Parliament may take this document into account in preparing its first reading on the 2009 draft budget;

   19. Recalls that, in accordance with Article 53b of the Financial Regulation and Point 44 of the IIA of 17 May 2006, which aim at ensuring effective and integrated internal control of Community funds and national management declarations as a final goal, the Member States have committed themselves to "produce an annual summary at the appropriate national level of the available audits and declarations"; notes that, according to information received from the Commission, only a limited number of Member States have complied with the provisions of the IIA so far; regrets that none of the concrete proposals on national (management) declarations put forward by the European Parliament in its 2003, 2004 and 2005 discharge resolutions are incorporated in the Commission's Audit Strategy and requests the Commission to keep the Parliament informed; reminds the Member States of their obligation to comply with the provisions of the revised Financial Regulation, to which they only recently agreed; reiterates that Member States are further obliged to fulfil the conditions set out in Point 44 of the IIA as well as being obliged under Article 274 TEC to cooperate fully with the Commission according to the principles of sound financial management;
   20. Reiterates the importance of improving budget implementation in line with the declaration adopted at the November 2006 budget conciliation; requests the Commission to provide information on the actions undertaken or foreseen in order to apply this declaration; recalls that this information should be presented regularly at the trialogue meetings;
   21. Urges the Commission to apply in full Council Regulation No 1/1958 of 15 April 1958 determining the languages to be used by the European Economic Community and dismisses financial grounds for derogations as invalid, since they have not been advanced during the budgetary procedure;

Specific issues - main elements by budget heading, pilot projects, preparatory actions

22.  On heading 1a, "Competitiveness for growth and employment", rejects the cuts in commitment and payment appropriations made by the Council in its first reading, especially where these cover multi-annual programmes recently co-decided with Parliament that aim to deliver on the Lisbon Strategy; notes that this approach was facilitated by the agreement to finance Galileo on the basis of a revision of the MFF and through use of the flexibility instrument; proposes a number of pilot projects and preparatory actions in line with its budgetary prerogatives; underlines the importance of reducing the stigma of business failure and the importance of financial support for the Oslo Agenda for Entrepreneurship Education in the context of the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP); places amounts in reserve for the CIP programme pending improvements in implementation;

23.  On heading 1b, "Cohesion for growth and employment", regrets the delays in execution and underlines that also time is money;

24.  Recalls the decision to establish the EU Long Range Identification and Tracking Data Centre (LRIT) operated by the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) by 31 December 2008 (EP Position of 25 April 2007(9) and Council resolution of 2 October 2007); acknowledges the need for additional financing in 2008 for EMSA in order to cover this new function;

25.  Welcomes the documentation and explanations provided by the Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) concerning the Risk Sharing Finance Facilities (RSFF); is of the opinion that the reserve on these lines can be taken out of the budget; asks however to be informed and for the relevant documents to be forwarded to it when the guidelines are adopted for the second component of CIP, the venture capital instruments, and asks to be informed on the outcome of the negotiations between EIB and Commission on the joint cooperation for the Loan guarantee instrument for TEN-Transport (LGTT);

26.  On heading 2, "Preservation of natural resources", demands clearer presentation of the figures for market measures and direct aids in future budgetary procedures; is concerned by the slow rate of adoption of operational programmes as regards the rural development pillar of the CAP, a long-standing priority of Parliament; expects to see rapid improvements in this regard;

27.  Emphasises the need to speed up the procedure regarding the drawing-up of special national programmes for the recovery of crops and animal production in the areas affected by fires and other forms of natural disasters; stresses that those programmes should be financed from the EAFRD (European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development) by internal transfers or subsidies within a Member State;

28.   Rejects the Council's attempt to re-classify a small number of lines as compulsory expenditure in heading 2, in particular lines 17 04 05 01 and 17 04 05 02 which concern the Plant Variety Office;

29.  Acknowledges the need for additional financing of the funds for school milk (to extend the product line by adding new, innovative products); reiterates the importance of proper support for the restructuring process in the milk sector (by the setting up of a Milk Fund restructuring scheme);

30.  Re-emphasises its strong commitment to the proper budgetary endowment of funds for school fruit and vegetables and school milk (and other dairy products); regrets the Commission's lack of progress in presenting proposals due to slow execution of the required impact assessments; expresses its astonishment that the Council did not implement their political commitments concerning these issues by creating a new line and a reserve in the budget, pending establishment of the legal base; calls on the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal in this connection, as laid down in the June 2007 Agriculture Council conclusions;

31.  On heading 3a, "Freedom, security and justice", underlines the importance of the work of the Frontex agency; considers that the Frontex agency must play a more effective role in strengthening the EU's external borders, notably in alleviating the burden currently faced by Member States in connection with illegal immigration; calls on the Agency to present regularly to Parliament's competent committee the state of play and the scheduled forthcoming operations; urges the Member States to deliver on their promises and support the Agency's missions so that the Agency can perform its tasks more effectively; takes note of Council´s agreement to increase funding for Frontex by EUR 30 million, albeit with a different breakdown for administrative and operational expenditure; modifies this breakdown in a way it considers most appropriate to ensure maximum added value; invites the Commission to present an amending budget should the establishment plan need modification as well.

32.  On heading 3b, "Citizenship", restores the PDB for multi-annual programme envelopes and proposes appropriations for a number of new and ongoing pilot projects and preparatory actions in this regard; draws attention to the fact that funding for the information and prevention campaign HELP comes to an end in the budget for 2008 and expects the Commission to submit a follow-up initiative; supports, additionally, within the Civil Protection Financial Instrument, the provision of a complementary capability in the form of a stand-by force for handling natural or man-made disasters as well as in cases of acts of terrorism or environmental accidents;

33.  Calls on the Commission to give repeated backing for investment in infrastructure to improve accommodation for refugees;

34.  Seeks to encourage a stronger voice for less well represented groups in civil society, combating all forms of discrimination and strengthening the rights of women, children, disabled and older persons;

35.  Calls on the Commission to use the appropriations earmarked for information to provide diverse information, which, inter alia, caters for the public information needs of parliamentary minorities;

36.  On heading 4, "EU as a global partner", is concerned by the chronic under-financing of this heading in the 2007-2013 MFF; supports the increases, including for Kosovo and Palestine, in the Commission's letter of amendment No 1/2008 to the PDB of 17 September 2007; welcomes the use of the flexibility instrument to fund EUR 70 million of the increase for CFSP; adjusts its first reading for heading 4 in line with its priorities in light of the outcome of the 23 November 2007 conciliation;

37.  Points out that, following developments at the recent Annapolis conference, estimates for the EU contribution for Palestine may well increase and invites the Commission to come forward with an amending budget when necessary;

38.  Is of the opinion that respect for human rights and democratic values should be one of the conditions of allocation of EU funds to neighbouring and developing countries;

39.  Reminds the Council that the regular joint committee meetings on CFSP should promote a real, ex ante political dialogue, instead of being used merely to inform Parliament in an ex post manner;

40.  Welcomes the Commission's commitment to enter into a regular political dialogue three times a year, as per the declaration attached to this resolution as Annex 3, with the European Parliament on democratic scrutiny and coherence of external actions in implementation of Declarations Nos 4 and 5 of the IIA of 17 May 2006;

41.  Asks the Commission to provide the European Parliament with all the necessary information related to the establishment of the new Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF), in particular the written mandates given to the European Investment Fund, so as to enable the European Parliament to assess the full budgetary and financial implications of this fund;

42.  Believes that the EU should better coordinate its various and laudable initiatives to fight and eradicate poverty-related diseases in neighbouring and developing countries; proposes to allocate adequate budget resources to provide these countries with the necessary technical assistance instruments; has decided to create a separate budget line for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in order to improve transparency and guarantee the necessary funding for both the Global Fund and the other health priorities;

43.  On heading 5, "Administration", considers that clear lines of responsibility and accountability are an essential component of continuing the process of modernising the EU's administration; recalls that clear political objectives and individual responsibility for carrying them out against indicators to be laid down when the data from the various studies requested by its Committee on Budgets on the subject are submitted should be the direction of future reforms of the system;

44.  In this context, deplores the inefficiencies inherent in a competition system that can leave "approved candidates" languishing on a reserve list for years with no guarantee of being offered a position; considers that maintaining this approach would contribute to lowering the average standard of new EU officials as the best candidates will seek employment in more dynamic sectors of the EU economy; requests a serious commitment from the Commission to look again at this issue in the context of follow-up work to the screening exercise and provide further information with a more detailed breakdown of staff per category and by Directorate General and the evolution foreseen for the coming years;

45.  Restores the PDB for the cuts made by Council to appropriations and establishment plans in heading 5; wishes to maintain and develop a constructive inter-institutional dialogue regarding ongoing efforts to improve administrative practices in the EU institutions; underlines the importance of adequate recruitment from "EU 12" Member States; takes the view that, in connection with enlargement, documents of relevance to discussions and decisions, such as, for example, impact assessments, should be made available in all languages necessary, since those documents are tools for better lawmaking; recalls in this connection that its Committee on Budgets has launched, via two studies, a process to analyse the objectives of the administrative reform of the Commission, focusing on the introduction of ABB and ABM, the introduction of the strategic planning cycle and allocation of the related administrative expenditure;

46.  Asks the Commission to monitor the impact on the real estate sector of the implementation of the new methodology designed to improve existing procedures when signing buildings contracts and to compare it to the current situation, to pursue its efforts to reinforce interinstitutional cooperation in this matter and to keep Parliament regularly informed;

47.  Calls on the Commission to present a report on benchmarks with staff in other international organisations as a follow-up to its report on planning and optimising human resources; further calls on the Commission to present guidelines to facilitate the financing of public infrastructure under public-private partnerships (PPP);

48.  On pilot projects, proposes a range of innovative projects that respond to current policy challenges in the EU;

49.  On preparatory actions, proposes a range of initiatives that should pave the way for future actions that enhance the European Union's capacity to deal with the real needs of its citizens;

Other sections of the 2008 budget

50.  Draws attention to Article 29 of the Statute for Members of the European Parliament, which states "each Member State may adopt, for the Members elected in it, rules different from the provisions of this Statute as regards the salary, transitional allowance and pensions for a transitional period which may not exceed the length of two European Parliament parliamentary terms"; in view of the entry into force of the Statute at the start of the parliamentary term following the 2009 European elections, mandates the Quaestors to invite the Member States to inform Parliament in due time, and in particular in time for the drawing up of its budgetary forecasts for 2009, as to whether they intend to have recourse to the options provided for under Article 29 and Article 12(3) and (4) of the abovementioned Statute;

51.  Recalls that its first reading was based on the examination of the specific requests and needs of each institution; was consequently expecting to reach a common position with the Council when deciding its second reading;

52.  Takes note of the fact that the Council has endorsed its position as regards the budget of the European Economic and Social Committee; considers however that the other institutions have made substantial proposals to reduce their estimates by prioritising their requests; wishes to encourage them to pursue this approach in the future and decides to retain its original position taken in first reading and thus restore the cut made by the Council;

53.  Notes that despite signals given to the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, the renewal of the cooperation agreement is still not signed; recalls that 10% of the appropriations of the Joint Service are entered in the reserve pending renewal of the agreement which is expected by no later than December 2007; considers that new governance could come from the new cooperation agreement which could be beneficial for both committees;

o
o   o

54.  Instructs its President to declare that the budget has been finally adopted and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

55.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the Annexes to the Council, the Commission, the Court of Justice, the Court of Auditors, the European Economic and Social Committee, the Committee of the Regions, the European Ombudsman, the European Data Protection Supervisor, and the other bodies concerned.

ANNEX 1

Revised working arrangements on Executive Agencies

1.  In accordance with article 3(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of 19 December 2002 laying down the statute for executive agencies to be entrusted with certain tasks in the management of Community programmes and with article 54 (2) of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities, the Commission shall state its intention to set-up an executive agency in the explanatory memorandum of its proposal for a legal act of the programme itself.

2.  The Commission shall decide on the establishment of a new, or the modification of scope and competences of an existing, Executive Agency on the basis of its assessment of the criteria laid down in Article 3 of Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003.

3.  The creation of executive agencies can constitute a contribution to the efficiency of the methods used by the Commission to implement EU policies and programmes, but only if this method fully respects the principle of sound financial management and total transparency. This means that such executive agencies must not, either now or in the future, lead to an increase in the share of administrative cost. Therefore, the principle of freezing of posts as defined in Council Regulation (EC) No. 58/2003, as a result of such a reorganisation of tasks, must be adhered to rigorously. The Commission shall submit complete and detailed information on staffing levels and their utilisation to enable the budgetary authority to assess whether the share of administrative cost for implementing a programme has indeed not been increased.

Any proposal for the creation of a new Executive Agency should be based on a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. Lines of accountability and responsibility should be clearly set out in the proposal.

4.  The budgetary authority shall be informed of the results of the cost-benefit analysis and related cost at least six weeks before the Commission takes the final decision to set up the Executive Agency. In the event of duly justified reasons being raised within this period by either branch of the budgetary authority to the setting up of the Executive Agency, the Commission will review its proposal.

5.  When the Commission contemplates setting up a new, or modifying scope and competences of an existing, Executive Agency, it informs the budgetary authority in accordance with the budgetary procedure and respecting the principle of transparency. There should be a specific financial statement for the Executive Agency. It should include quantified elements where the Commission justifies the reasons why it considers appropriate to set up an Agency to assist it in the implementation of the programme concerned.

6.  The budgetary authority must be in possession of all the requisite information enabling it to monitor closely the implementation of the principle of sound financial management and total transparency both currently and in the future. The information in the specific financial statement for the executive agency should therefore cover:

   a. the resources in terms of appropriations and staff required to run the Executive Agency, showing a breakdown of staff expenditure (seconded officials, temporary staff recruited directly by the Executive Agency and contractual staff) and other administrative expenditure;
   b. the planned secondments of officials from the Commission to the Executive Agency;
   c. administrative resources freed by transferring tasks from the Commission departments to the executive agency, and the re-allocation of the human resources; in particular the number of staff (including external staff) assigned to each relevant task within the Commission, the number of this staff to be transferred to a proposed new or enlarged Executive Agency, the number of Commission posts to be frozen as a consequence and the number of Commission staff to be proposed to be redeployed to other tasks;
   d. consecutive redeployment within the Commission's establishment plan;
   e. the impact of the creation of the Agency under the relevant headings of the multiannual financial framework;
   f. the advantages of delegating implementing tasks to an Executive Agency versus direct management by the Commission services: any comparison of a "Direct management by the Commission services"-scenario to an "Executive Agency"-scenario shall be based on the resources used to implement the existing programme(s) in its (their) current form in order to have a sound and factual basis for comparison; for new and expanding programmes the evolution of the related financial envelope to be managed by the Executive Agency will also be taken into consideration;
   g. a draft establishment plan per grade and per category as well as a well-founded estimate of the number of contractual staff planned and provisionally budgeted;
   h. a clear breakdown of all actors involved in the implementation of the programme including the remaining share of the operational programme envelope for the implementation of which they are responsible (Commission, Executive Agencies, remaining Technical Assistance Offices, Member States, national agencies, etc.);
   i. a clear breakdown of the total overall cost of implementing the Community programme indicating the share per actor involved (Commission, Executive Agencies, national agencies) and a comparison of the estimates of all administrative, staff and infrastructure expenditure linked to the implementation of the programme in question and charged to the EU budget, regardless of which heading of the financial framework, with the remaining share of the operational programme envelope.

7.  The global administrative cost of the programme including internal and management expenditure for the Executive Agency (chapter 01) should be examined case by case and according to the tasks provided for in the programme concerned.

8.  The Commission proposes, as part of the annual budget procedure, the annual subsidy to the Agency's operating budget. This subsidy is entered in the general budget of the European Union. The item in the budget may be accompanied by budget remarks, such as the references of the basic act and all appropriate explanations concerning the nature and purpose of the appropriations in accordance with Article 29 of Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002 of 23 December 2002 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities.

In accordance with Article 12 par. 1 of Council Regulation (EC) No 58/2003, the establishment plan of the Executive Agency during the financial year concerned shall be approved by the budgetary authority and published in an annex to Section III – Commission – of the general budget of the European Union together with an estimate of the number of contractual agents planned and provisionally budgeted for the financial year concerned.

9.  The Commission indicates regularly its forecasts (APS, PDB) for new Executive Agencies.

10.  The Commission should provide the budgetary authority with the Executive Agency's draft operating budget and annual activity report as well as with an assessment report after 3 years.

11.  These working arrangements can in no way affect the Commission's executive powers, as laid down in particular in the Treaty and in the Regulation (EC) No 58/2003 of the Council. They cannot prejudge the Commission's competence to assess the opportunity to create an executive agency and to adopt the relevant decisions in accordance with the procedural requirements. The final decision on staffing remains a matter for the budgetary authority.

ANNEX 2

Joint statement on the financing of the European GNSS programmes (EGNOS-GALILEO) and on the financing of the European Institute of Technology

The European Parliament and the Council

   - have taken note of the proposal made by the Commission(10) to amend the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 as regards the Multiannual Financial Framework in order to provide the additional public funding required for the European GNSS programmes (EUR 2 400 million) and for the European Institute of Technology (EUR 309 million);
   - confirm that the total estimated amount for Full Operational Capability of the GNSS project Galileo is EUR 3 400 million for the period 2007-2013;
   - declare that this amount should not be exceeded for the duration of the financial framework 2007-2013.

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agree to provide this financing by a revision of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2007–2013 in accordance with Points 21, 22 and 23 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006, as follows:

-  EUR 400 million will be made available within the transport related research activities financed under the 7th Research Framework Programme;

-  EUR 200 million will be redeployed within sub-Heading 1a on the following basis:

(EUR million)

Line

Definition

2009-2013

02 03 04

Standardisation and approximation of legislation

28.0

08 20

08 21

Euratom

50.0

26 02 01

Procedures for awarding and advertising public supply, works and service contracts

46.0

26 03 01

Pan-European eGovernment services to public administrations, enterprises and citizens (IDABC)

15.9

31 02 01

Conference Interpreter Training for Europe "CITE"

10.1

Decentralised Agencies (linear cut)

50.0

TOTAL

200.0

-  EUR 300 million will be made available from the margin available under sub-Heading 1a for the years 2008-2013.

-  The ceilings for commitment appropriations under sub-Heading 1a for the years 2008 to 2013 will be increased by an amount of EUR 1 600 million. This increase will be offset by decreasing the ceiling for commitment appropriations under Heading 2 for the year 2007 by the same amount.

-  The ceiling for total payment appropriations will be adjusted to maintain an appropriate relationship between commitments and payments. The adjustment will be neutral.

-  The revision of the financial framework will be formalised by a Decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management as regards the Multiannual Financial Framework.

-  The redeployments agreed within sub-Heading 1a will be incorporated by the Commission into the financial programming by January 2008.

–  The impact of the above for the budget of the year 2008 will be as follows:

-  Galileo: - c/a: EUR 940 million (EUR 151 million already included in the PDB 2008), of which EUR 50 million from transport related research activities accompanied by a mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument for this purpose for an amount of EUR 200 million;

- p/a: EUR 300 million (EUR 100 million already included in the PDB 2008).

-  EIT: -c/a: EUR 2.9 million;

- p/a: EUR 2.9 million.

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission:

   - affirm that the use of the Financial Framework revision and the use of funds from the margin of the previous year is an exceptional measure and will in no way set a precedent for future revisions;
   - affirm the principle of the commitment to robust and fair competition in the programme to help ensure cost control, mitigation of risk from single supply, value for money and improved efficiency. All work packages for Galileo should be open to the maximum possible competition, in line with EU procurement principles, and to ensure procurement in space programmes are more widely open to new entrants and SMEs. This should be without prejudice to the details elaborated in the Transport Council;
   - affirm that any further call on resources concerning Galileo can only be considered if accommodated within the ceilings of the agreed Multiannual Financial Framework and without reverting to the use of Points 21-23 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 on budgetary discipline and sound financial management.

The Commission confirms that:

   - the margin for agriculture (Heading 2) in 2007, available after closure of the agriculture financial year and after the adoption of Amending Budget No. 7/2007, is sufficient to cover the entire additional financing from that Heading required for Galileo. Therefore, the revision will have no impact on the financial framework ceilings for agriculture or on the budget provision for agriculture, including direct payments, in future years;
   - the use of any of the agriculture (Heading 2) margin in 2007 does not constitute a precedent for future years.

________________________

Joint statement on transfer of appropriations No. DEC50/2007

"The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission:

   - reiterate the importance of the Galileo programme as a priority for the European Union;
   - recognise that the amount initially allocated for Galileo in 2007 (EUR 100 million) will not be used, pending uncertainty on the adoption of the legal basis before the end of this year, which would make impossible the recourse to carryover, as foreseen by Article 9 of the Financial Regulation;
   - agree that, in order to safeguard the funds already entered in the 2007 budget for Galileo and on the basis of the information forwarded by the Commission on 31 October 2007, taking into account the unforeseen circumstances and without prejudice to the principle of annuality, the amount of EUR 100 million will be temporarily transferred, with the intention of returning these appropriations to the Galileo programme in 2009.
   - welcome therefore the Commission's commitment to present a proposal for a transfer of an equivalent amount of EUR 100 million back to the Galileo programme in 2009, in full accordance with the multiannual financial allocations."

________________________

Joint statement on Joint Undertakings

"The European Parliament and the Council acknowledged the Community contribution to the ARTEMIS, the Clean Sky, the ENIAC and the IMI Joint Undertakings, stemming from the 7th Framework Programme (EUR 2 666 million) for the period 2008-2013 as a maximum) as proposed by the Commission with the corresponding amount for the current Multiannual Financial Framework period foreseen in the financial programming.

The European Parliament and the Council note, however, that any future financing of the ARTEMIS, the Clean Sky, the ENIAC and the IMI Joint Undertakings will be part of the discussions in the next financial framework and that no financial commitments can be made for the time after 2013."

________________________

Joint statement on the procedure to implement the agreement reached on 23 November 2007

"The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agree that the global agreement reached at the Conciliation of 23 November 2007 will be implemented only if there is an agreement on the legal basis of Galileo.

In case the agreement does not fall in time to be considered by the European Parliament at the December Plenary, the European Parliament will vote a second reading in Plenary in the full respect of the ceilings set by the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006.

The European Parliament and the Council commit to an accelerated procedure to incorporate the agreement into the 2008 budget on the basis of a proposal from the Commission as early as possible in 2008."

ANNEX 3

Declaration

on the implementation of Declarations 4 and 5

on

the regular political dialogue on democratic scrutiny and coherence of external actions

The Parliament and the Commission agree that the regular political dialogue referred to in declarations 4 and 5 of the IIA should take place at least annually and up to three times per year.

The participation in these meetings should be as follows:

   the Chairman and Members of the relevant committees (AFET/DEVE/BUDG)
   The competent Commissioner.

(1) OJ L 253, 7.10.2000, p. 42.
(2) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1. Regulation as amended by Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1995/2006 (OJ L 390, 30.12.2006, p. 1).
(3) OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1.
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0131.
(5) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0473.
(6) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0474.
(7) Texts adopted of that date, Annex.
(8) "Code of Conduct on the setting up of an Executive Agency" as agreed by the Commission in its letter of 20 April 2004 (Annex to the European Parliament resolution of 22 April 2004 on Draft amending budget No 6 of the European Union for the financial year 2004 (OJ C 104 E, 30.4.2004, p. 951)).
(9) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0146.
(10) COM(2007)0549 final/2 of 4 October 2007.


EC-Montenegro Stabilisation and Association Agreement ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 December 2007 on the proposal for a Council and Commission decision on the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Montenegro, of the other part (COM(2007)0350 – C6-0463/2007 – 2007/0123(AVC))
P6_TA(2007)0617A6-0498/2007

(Assent procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council and Commission decision (COM(2007)0350),

–   having regard to the request for assent submitted by the Council pursuant to Article 300(3), second subparagraph, in conjunction with Article 300(2), first subparagraph, second sentence and Article 310 of the EC Treaty (C6-0463/2007),

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

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A6-0498/2007),

1.  Gives its assent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


Cooperation between the Fundamental Rights Agency and the Council of Europe *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 December 2007 on the proposal for a Council decision relating to the conclusion of an Agreement between the European Community and the Council of Europe on cooperation between the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and the Council of Europe (COM(2007)0478 – C6-0311/2007 – 2007/0173(CNS))
P6_TA(2007)0618A6-0443/2007

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2007)0478),

–   having regard to Article 308 in conjunction with Article 300(2), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0311/2007),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A6-0443/2007),

1.  Approves the conclusion of the Agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission and, for information, to the Council of Europe and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.


Electronic identification for ovine and caprine animals *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 December 2007 on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 as regards the date of introduction of electronic identification for ovine and caprine animals (COM(2007)0710 – C6-0448/2007 – 2007/0244(CNS))
P6_TA(2007)0619A6-0501/2007

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2007)0710),

–   having regard to Article 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0448/2007),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6-0501/2007),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 6
RECITAL 5 A (new)
(5a)  The Commission should investigate in the framework of the Health Check of the CAP Reform the possibility of helping farmers to cope with the high costs of procuring the required equipment, by creating the possibility for Member States to incorporate such measures within their rural development programmes.
Amendment 1
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1
Article 9, paragraph 3, subparagraph 1 (Regulation (EC) No 21/2004)
"3. As from a date to be established in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 13(2), electronic identification according to the guidelines referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, and in accordance with the relevant provisions of Section A of the Annex, shall be obligatory for all animals born after that date. That date:
"3. As from 31 December 2009, electronic identification according to the guidelines referred to in paragraph 1 of this Article, and in accordance with the relevant provisions of Section A of the Annex, shall be obligatory for all animals born after that date."
(a) shall be established on the basis of the assessment of the technical implications, of the costs and of the overall impact of the use of electronic identification;
(b) must be established no later than 12 months before the date the use of electronic identification becomes obligatory."
Amendment 2
ARTICLE 1, POINT 2 A (NEW)
Article 9, paragraph 4 a (new) (Regulation (EC) No 21/2004)
(2a)  In Article 9, the following paragraph shall be added:
"4a. The Commission shall submit a report to the European Parliament and the Council by 31 December 2009 on the justification for individual electronic identification systems, and other traceability systems in terms of disease control and on how such systems might be further simplified for farmers and administrative authorities. The report shall be accompanied by appropriate legislative proposals."

Maintenance obligations *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 December 2007 on the proposal for a Council regulation on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations (COM(2005)0649 – C6-0079/2006 – 2005/0259(CNS))
P6_TA(2007)0620A6-0468/2007

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2005)0649),

–   having regard to Article 61(c) and Article 67(2) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0079/2006),

–   having regard to the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs on the proposed legal basis,

–   having regard to Rules 51 and 35 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0468/2007),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendments by Parliament
Amendment 1
Citation 1
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 61 c) and Article 67 (2) thereof,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 61(c) thereof,
Amendment 2
Citation 3
Having regard to the opinion of the European Parliament,
deleted
Amendment 3
Citation 4 a (new)
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty,
Amendment 4
Recital 9
(9)  The scope of the Regulation should cover all maintenance obligations arising from family relationships or from relations which have comparable effects, in order to guarantee an equal treatment of maintenance creditors.
(9)  The scope of this Regulation should cover all maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity or from relations which have comparable effects under the applicable national law, in order to guarantee equal treatment of maintenance creditors. Such obligations should be construed in the widest possible sense as covering, in particular, all orders relating to periodic payments, payments of lump sums, transfer of ownership in property and property adjustment, fixed on the basis of the parties" respective needs and resources and being in the nature of maintenance.
Amendment 5
Recital 10
(10)  The rules on jurisdiction differ somewhat from those which are currently applicable, such as they result from Regulation (EC) 44/2001. In order to ensure as much as possible the protection of the interests of maintenance creditors and to encourage a proper administration of justice within the European Union, these rules should be clarified and cover now all the cases in which there is a sufficient link between the parties and a Member State. The fact that the defendant is habitually resident in a non-member State of the European Union should no longer be a reason for non-application of Community rules and for reference to national law.
(10)  The rules on jurisdiction differ somewhat from those which are currently applicable, such as they result from Regulation (EC) No 44/2001. In order to ensure as much as possible the protection of the interests of maintenance creditors and to encourage a proper administration of justice within the European Union, these rules should be clarified and cover now all the cases in which there is a sufficient link between the parties and a Member State.
Amendment 6
Recital 11
(11)  The parties should be able to agree on the competent court, except for maintenance obligations in respect of a minor child, in order to protect the "weaker party".
(11)  The parties should be able to agree on the competent court, except for maintenance obligations in respect of a minor child or an adult lacking legal capacity, in order to protect the "weaker party".
Amendment 7
Recital 14
(14)  The law of the country of the habitual residence of the maintenance creditor should remain predominant, as in the existing international instruments, but the law of the forum should come in second rank, because it often allows, in this specific area, to resolve disputes in a simpler, faster and less expensive manner.
(14)  The law of the country of the habitual residence of the maintenance creditor should be dominant, as in the existing international instruments, although the law of the forum may be applied even where it is not the law of the creditor's habitual residence, where it allows disputes in this area to be equitably resolved in a simpler, faster and less expensive manner and there is no evidence of forum shopping.
Amendment 8
Recital 15
(15)  Where none of the laws referred to above enables the creditor to obtain maintenance from the debtor, it should remain possible to apply the law of another country with which the maintenance obligation is closely linked. It can be, in particular, but exclusively the country of the common nationality of the parties.
(15)  Where the law of the country of the maintenance creditor's habitual residence or the law of the court seised does not enable the maintenance creditor to obtain maintenance from the debtor or where it would be inequitable or inappropriate to apply that law, it should remain possible to apply the law of another country with which the maintenance obligation is closely connected, in particular, but not exclusively, that of the country of the parties" common nationality.
Amendment 9
Recital 16
(16)  Parties should be authorized, under certain conditions, to choose applicable law. They should be able to choose the law of the forum for the purposes of particular proceedings. Moreover, they should be entitled to agree on the applicable law prior to any dispute, but only when maintenance obligations involved are other than those in respect of children or vulnerable adults; furthermore, any such choice should be limited to the designation of certain laws only.
(16)  Parties should be allowed, under certain conditions, to choose the applicable law. They should be able to choose the law of the forum for the purposes of particular proceedings. Moreover, they should be entitled to agree on the applicable law prior to any dispute, but only when the maintenance obligations involved are other than those in respect of children or vulnerable adults; furthermore, any such choice should be limited to the designation of certain laws only. The court seised must be satisfied that any choice of law has been agreed after obtaining independent legal advice. All choice-of-law agreements should be in writing.
Amendment 10
Recital 17
(17)  The debtor should be protected from the application of the law designated where the family relationship on which the maintenance obligation is based is not universally considered as being worthy to be honoured. It should be the case, in particular, for relations between persons related collaterally or by affinity, descendants" maintenance obligations with regard to their ascendants, or maintenance after the dissolution of marriage.
deleted
Amendment 11
Recital 18 a (new)
(18a)  Special categories of data concerning racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, political party or trade union membership, sexual orientation or health should be processed only if absolutely necessary and proportionate for the purpose of a specific case and in compliance with specific safeguards.
Amendment 12
Recital 19
(19)  Once a maintenance decision has been given in a Member State, it should be enforced quickly and effectively in any other Member State. The maintenance creditors should benefit, in particular, from direct deductions from wages and bank accounts of the debtors.
(19)  The aim of this Regulation is to introduce procedures which produce results and are accessible, prompt, efficient, cost-effective, responsive and fair. Once a maintenance decision has been given in a Member State, it should be enforced quickly and effectively in any other Member State. Maintenance creditors should benefit, in particular, from direct deductions from wages and bank accounts of the debtors. Novel and effective means of enforcement of maintenance decisions should be encouraged.
Amendment 13
Recital 22
(22)  This Regulation respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Specifically, it seeks to ensure full respect for private and family life, personal data protection, the rights of the child and the guarantees of effective remedy before an independent and impartial court, in accordance with Articles 7, 8 24 and 47 of the Charter.
(22)  This Regulation respects the fundamental rights and observes the principles recognised in particular by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Specifically, it seeks to ensure full respect for private and family life, personal data protection, the rights of the child and the guarantees of effective remedy before an independent and impartial court, in accordance with Articles 7, 8, 24 and 47 of the Charter. In applying this Regulation, regard should be had to Articles 3 and 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989, which provide that:
- in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration,
- every child has the right to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development,
- the parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child's development, and
-  States should take all appropriate measures, including the conclusion of international agreements, to secure the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parent(s) or other responsible persons, in particular where such persons live in a State different from that of the child.
Amendment 14
Recital 23
(23)  In accordance with Article 2 of Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission1, measures for the implementation of this Regulation should be adopted by use of the advisory procedure provided for in Article 3 of that Decision.
(23)  The measures necessary for the implementation of this Regulation should be adopted in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission1.
_______________________
1 OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.
_______________________
1 OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23. Decision as last amended by Decision 2006/512/EC (OJ L 200, 22.7.2006, p. 11).
Amendment 15
Recital 24
(24)  This Regulation should replace the Community instruments adopted previously and covering the same field. It shall prevail, in addition, over other applicable international instruments applicable between the Member States in the same matters, in order to unify and simplify the legal rules in force.
(24)  This Regulation should replace the Community instruments adopted previously and covering the same field. It should prevail, in addition, over other applicable international instruments applicable between the Member States in the same matters, in order to unify and simplify the legal rules in force. It should take account of the Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance.
Amendment 16
Article 1, paragraph 1
1.  This Regulation shall apply to maintenance obligations arising from family relationships or relationships deemed by the law applicable to such relationships as having comparable effects.
1.  This Regulation shall apply to maintenance obligations arising from a family relationship, parentage, marriage or affinity or relationships deemed by the law applicable to such relationships as having comparable effects.
Amendment 17
Article 2, point (-1) (new)
(-1) the term 'maintenance obligation' shall mean a duty laid down by law – including in cases where the extent of the obligation and means of complying with it are established by a judicial decision or contract – to provide any form of maintenance or at least means of subsistence in respect of a person currently or previously linked to the debtor by a family relationship. Such obligations shall be construed in the widest possible sense as covering, in particular, all orders, decisions or judgments of a competent court relating to periodic payments, payments of lump sums, transfer of ownership in property and property adjustment, fixed on the basis of the parties" respective needs and resources and being in the nature of maintenance.
Amendment 18
Article 2, point 2
(2) the term "judge" shall mean the judge or an official having powers equivalent to those of a judge in matters relating to maintenance obligations;
deleted
Amendment 19
Article 2, point (9)
(9) the term "debtor" shall mean any natural person who owes or who is alleged to owe maintenance.
(9) the term "debtor" shall mean any natural person who owes or who is alleged to owe maintenance or a public body which has taken over the obligation of the debtor to maintain the creditor,
Amendment 20
Article 2, point (9 a) (new)
(9a) the term "proceedings concerning the status of a person" shall mean any proceedings relating to divorce, legal separation, marriage annulment or affiliation.
Amendment 21
Article 2 a (new)
Article 2a
Application to public bodies
1.  Subject to paragraphs 2 and 3, this Regulation shall also apply to a public body which seeks reimbursement of maintenance benefits it has provided in lieu of the debtor, provided that the law to which it is subject provides for such reimbursement.
2.  Article 3(b), (c) and (d) and Article 6 shall not apply to proceedings brought by a public body.
3.  A public body seeking the enforcement of a decision shall submit, together with the application under Chapter VIII, any document necessary to prove that it fulfils the conditions laid down in paragraph 1 and that benefits have been provided for the creditor.
Amendment 22
Article 3, point (c)
c) the court which has jurisdiction to entertain proceedings concerning the status of a person if the matter relating to maintenance is ancillary to those proceedings, unless that jurisdiction is based solely on the nationality of one of the parties;
c) the court which has jurisdiction to entertain proceedings concerning the status of a person if the matter relating to maintenance is ancillary to those proceedings;
Amendment 23
Article 3, point (d)
d) the court which has jurisdiction to entertain proceedings concerning parental responsibility, under the Regulation (EC) 2201/2003, if the matter relating to maintenance is ancillary to those proceedings.
d) the court which has jurisdiction to entertain proceedings concerning parental responsibility, under Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003, if the matter relating to maintenance is ancillary to those proceedings and parental-responsibility proceedings are already pending before that court or are brought before that court at the same time as an application for maintenance;
Amendment 24
Article 3, point (d a) (new)
(da) the court for the place where the family relationship or the relationship having comparable effects has been officially established.
Amendment 25
Article 4, paragraph 2
2.  An agreement conferring jurisdiction shall be in writing. Any communication by electronic means which provides a durable record of the agreement shall be equivalent to "writing".
2.  An agreement conferring jurisdiction shall be in writing.
Amendment 26
Article 4, paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.  The court seised must be satisfied that any prorogation of jurisdiction has been freely agreed after obtaining independent legal advice and that it takes account of the situation of the parties at the time of the proceedings.
Amendment 27
Article 4, paragraph 4
4.  This article shall not apply to a dispute relating to a maintenance obligation towards a child below the age of 18.
4.  This Article shall not apply if the creditor is a child below the age of 18 or an adult lacking legal capacity.
Amendment 28
Article 6, point (b)
b) in the case of maintenance obligations between spouses or ex-spouses, the courts of the Member State of was the last common habitual residence of the spouses provided such habitual residence had still existed at least one year before the institution of the proceedings.
b) in the case of maintenance obligations between spouses or ex-spouses, the courts of the Member State in whose territory the last common habitual residence of the spouses was situated, provided that such habitual residence still existed at least one year before the institution of the proceedings.
Amendment 29
Article 7, paragraph 1
1.  Where proceedings involving the same maintenance obligation are brought in the courts of different Member States, any court other than the court first seised shall of its own motion stay its proceedings until such time as the jurisdiction of the court first seised is established.
1.  In proceedings involving lis pendens and related proceedings, and in the case of provisional – including protective – measures, Articles 27, 28, 30 and 31 of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 shall apply.
Amendment 30
Article 7, paragraph 2
2.  Where the jurisdiction of the court first seised is established, any court other than the court first seised shall decline jurisdiction in favour of that court.
deleted
Amendment 31
Article 8
Article 8
Related actions
1.  Where related actions are pending in the courts of different Member States, any court other than the court first seised may stay its proceedings.
2.  Where these actions are pending at first instance, any court other than the court first seised may also, on the application of one of the parties, decline jurisdiction if the court first seised has jurisdiction over the actions in question and its law permits the consolidation thereof.
3.  For the purposes of this Article, actions are deemed to be related where they are so closely connected that it is expedient to hear and determine them together to avoid the risk of irreconcilable judgments resulting from separate proceedings.
deleted
Amendment 32
Article 9
Article 9
Seising of a court
For the purposes of this Chapter, a court shall be deemed to be seised:
(a) at the time when the document instituting the proceedings or an equivalent document is lodged with the court, provided that the plaintiff has not subsequently failed to take the steps he was required to take to have service effected on the defendant, or
(b) if the document has to be served before being lodged with the court, at the time when it is received by the authority responsible for service, provided that the plaintiff has not subsequently failed to take the steps he was required to take to have the document lodged with the court.
deleted
Amendment 33
Article 10
Article 10
Provisional, including protective, measures
Application may be made to the courts of a Member State for such provisional, including protective, measures as may be available under the law of that State, even if, under this Regulation, the courts of another Member State have jurisdiction as to the substance of the matter.
deleted
Amendment 34
Article 10, paragraph 1 a (new)
Where maintenance proceedings have been brought by way of application for interim relief, Articles 7 and 8 shall not operate so as to cause the law applicable to the application for interim relief necessarily to apply to any subsequent application for maintenance or variation of maintenance lodged in connection with substantive proceedings for divorce, annulment of marriage or civil partnership or legal separation.
Amendment 35
Article 11
Article 11
Examination as to jurisdiction
Where a court of a Member State is seised of a case over which it has no jurisdiction under this Regulation, it shall declare of its own motion that it has no jurisdiction.
deleted
Amendment 36
Article 13
1.  The maintenance obligations shall be governed by the law of the country in whose territory the creditor is habitually resident.
1.  Maintenance obligations shall be governed by the law of the country in whose territory the creditor is habitually resident.
2.  The law of the forum shall apply:
2.  The law of the forum shall apply:
a) if the creditor is unable, by virtue of the law designated in accordance with paragraph 1, to obtain maintenance from the debtor, or
(a) where it is the law of the country of the creditor's habitual residence, or
b) where the creditor so requests and this law is the law of the country on whose territory the debtor is habitually resident.
(b) where the creditor is unable to obtain maintenance from the debtor by virtue of the law of the country of the creditor's habitual residence, or
(c) unless the creditor requests otherwise and the court is satisfied that he or she has obtained independent legal advice on the question, where it is the law of the country of the debtor's habitual residence.
3.   The laws designated in accordance with the previous paragraphs shall be disregarded when, by virtue of those laws, the creditor is unable to obtain maintenance, and if it appears from the circumstances as a whole that the maintenance obligation has a close connection with another country, in particular the country of the common nationality of the creditor and the debtor; in such a case, the law of the country with which the maintenance obligation has a close connection shall apply.
3.  Notwithstanding paragraph 1, the law of the forum may be applied, even where it is not the law of the country of the creditor's habitual residence, where it allows maintenance disputes to be equitably resolved in a simpler, faster and less expensive manner and there is no evidence of forum shopping.
4.  Alternatively, where the law of the country of the creditor's habitual residence or the law of the forum does not enable the creditor to obtain maintenance from the debtor or where it would be inequitable or inappropriate to apply that law, the maintenance obligations shall be governed by the law of another country with which the maintenance obligation is closely connected, in particular, but not exclusively, that of the country of the common nationality of the creditor and the debtor.
Amendment 37
Article 14, point (a)
(a) at the time the court is seised, designate expressly or otherwise in an unequivocal manner the law of the forum for as the law applicable to the maintenance obligation, for the purpose of these proceedings;
(a) at the time the court is seised, provide an agreement in writing designating the law of the forum in an unequivocal manner;
Amendment 39
Article 14, point (b) (ii a) (new)
(iia) the law of the place where the family relationship or the relationship having comparable effects has been officially established;
Amendment 38
Article 14, paragraph 1 a (new)
Paragraph 1 is subject to the proviso that the court seised is satisfied that any choice of court or choice of law has been freely agreed.
Amendment 40
Article 15
Article 15
Non-application of the designated law at the request of the debtor
1.  In the case of maintenance obligations other than those in respect of children and vulnerable adults and between spouses or ex-spouses, the debtor may oppose a claim by the creditor on the ground that there is no such obligation under the law of their common nationality or, in the absence of a common nationality, under the law of the country in which the debtor is habitually resident.
deleted
2.  In the case of maintenance obligations between spouses or ex-spouses, the debtor may oppose a claim by the creditor on the ground that there is no such obligation under the law of the country with which the marriage has the closest connection.
Amendment 41
Article 17
1.  The law applicable to a maintenance obligation shall determine in particular:
1.  The law applicable to a maintenance obligation shall determine in particular:
(a) whether, to what extent and from whom a creditor may claim maintenance;
(a) whether, for what period and in what amount and from whom a creditor may claim maintenance;
(b) the extent to which the creditor may claim retroactive maintenance;
(b) for what period and in what amount the creditor may claim retroactive maintenance;
(c) the calculation and indexation of the maintenance obligation;
(c) the calculation and indexation of the maintenance obligation;
(d) limitation periods and time limits on the institution of proceedings;
(d) limitation periods and time limits on the institution of proceedings;
(e) the right of a public body which has provided benefits for a creditor to obtain reimbursement of those benefits and the extent of the obligation of the debtor.
(e) the right of a public body which has provided benefits for a creditor to obtain reimbursement of those benefits and the extent of the obligation of the debtor.
2.  Whatever the contents of the applicable law, the needs of the creditor and the resources of the debtor shall be taken into account in determining the amount of maintenance.
2.  Notwithstanding paragraph 1, in determining the amount of maintenance, the court seised shall take as its basis the actual and present needs of the creditor and the actual and present resources of the debtor, taking account of the latter's reasonable needs and any other maintenance obligations to which he or she may be subject.
Amendment 42
Article 20
The application of a provision of the law designated by this Regulation may be refused only if such application is manifestly incompatible with the public policy ("ordre public") of the forum. However, the application of a provision of the law of a Member State designated by this Regulation shall not be refused on such a ground.
The application of a provision of the law designated by this Regulation may be refused only if such application is manifestly incompatible with the public policy ("ordre public") of the forum.
Amendment 43
Article 21
Where a State comprises several territorial units each of which has its own rules on maintenance obligations, each territorial unit is regarded as a country for the purposes of the determination of the applicable law according to this Regulation.
A State within which different territorial units have their own rules of law in respect of maintenance obligations shall not be bound to apply this Regulation to conflicts solely between the laws of such units.
Amendment 44
Article 22
1.  In proceedings before a court, the document instituting the proceedings or an equivalent document shall be served on the defendant by one of the following methods:
Service of documents shall be governed by the provisions of Regulation (EC) No XXX/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters.
a) personal service attested by an acknowledgement of receipt, including the date of receipt, which is signed by the addressee;
b) personal service attested by a document signed by the competent person who effected the service stating that the addressee has received the document or refused to receive it without any legal justification, and the date of the service;
c) postal service attested by an acknowledgement of receipt including the date of receipt, which is signed and returned by the addressee;
d) service by electronic means such as fax or e-mail, attested by an acknowledgement of receipt including the date of receipt, which is signed and returned by the addressee.
2.  The defendant shall have at least 30 days for the preparation of his or her defence following the day of receipt of the document served in accordance with paragraph 1.
3.  The Member States shall inform the Commission within six months following the entry into force of this Regulation of the methods of service which are applicable. They shall communicate to the Commission any changes to this information.
The Commission shall make this information publicly available.
Amendment 45
Article 29
An applicant, who, in the Member State of origin has benefited from complete or partial legal aid or exemption from costs or expenses, shall be entitled, in the procedure for enforcement, to benefit from the most favourable legal aid or the most extensive exemption from costs or expenses provided for by the law of the Member State of enforcement.
An applicant who, in the Member State of origin, has benefited from complete or partial legal aid or exemption from costs or expenses shall be entitled, in the procedure for enforcement, to benefit from legal aid in accordance with the provisions of Council Directive 2003/8/EC of 27 January 2003 to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes1 or the most extensive exemption from costs or expenses provided for by the law of the Member State of enforcement.
_______________________________
1 OJ L 26, 31.1.2003, p. 41.
Amendments 61 and 46
Article 33
The partial or total refusal or suspension of the enforcement of the decision of the court of origin may at the request of the debtor be granted only in the following cases:
The partial or total refusal or suspension of the enforcement of the decision of the court of origin may at the request of the debtor be granted only in the following cases:
(a) the debtor asserts new circumstances or circumstances which were unknown to the court of origin when its decision was given;
(a) when the debtor asserts new significant relevant circumstances or such circumstances as were not known to the court of origin when its decision was given;
(b) the debtor has applied for the review of the decision of the court of origin in accordance with Article 24 and no new decision has yet been given;
(b) when the debtor has applied for a review of the decision of the court of origin in accordance with Article 24 and no new decision has yet been given;
(c) the debtor has already satisfied his or her debt;
(c) the debtor has already satisfied his or her debt;
(d) the claim is totally or partially extinguished by the effect of prescription or the limitation of actions;
(d) the claim is totally or partially extinguished by the effect of prescription or the limitation of actions;
(e) the decision of the court of origin is irreconcilable with a decision given in the Member State of enforcement or which fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in the Member State of enforcement.
(e) the decision of the court of origin is irreconcilable with a decision given in the Member State of enforcement or which fulfils the conditions necessary for its recognition in the Member State of enforcement.
Amendment 47
Article 34, paragraph 2
2.  An order for monthly direct payment may only be given if the decision has been served to the debtor by one of the methods referred to in Article 22.
2.  An order for monthly direct payment may only be given if the decision has been served to the debtor in accordance with the provisions of Regulation (EC) No XXX/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters.
Amendment 48
Article 35, paragraph 1
1.  A creditor may ask the court seised as to the substance to deliver an order for temporary freezing of a bank account which is to be addressed to the bank in another Member State in which the debtor has an account. The application and the order for temporary freezing of a bank account shall be in conformity with the standard form set out in the annex IV to this Regulation.
1.  A creditor may ask the court seised as to the substance to deliver an order for temporary freezing of a bank account in the amount needed for the maintenance obligation to be met; which is to be addressed to the bank in another Member State in which the debtor has an account. The application and the order for temporary freezing of a bank account shall be in conformity with the standard form set out in the annex IV to this Regulation.
Amendment 49
Article 35 a (new)
Article 35a
Other enforcement orders
The court seised may order all such other enforcement measures as are provided for in its national law which it considers appropriate.
Amendment 50
Article 38, paragraph 1
1.  Provisions of Chapter VI shall apply as appropriate to the recognition and enforcement of authentic instruments and agreements between the parties that are enforceable. The competent authority of a Member State in which an authentic instrument or an agreement between the parties is enforceable shall issue, at the request of any interested party, an extract of act using the standard form in Annex II of this Regulation.
1.  The provisions of Chapter VI shall apply as appropriate to the recognition and enforcement of authentic instruments and agreements between the parties that are enforceable. The competent authority of a Member State in which an authentic instrument or an agreement between the parties is enforceable shall issue automatically to the parties an extract of act using the standard form in Annex II of this Regulation.
Amendments 51 to 56
Article 44
1.  The central authorities shall give access to the information which can facilitate the recovery of maintenance claims under the conditions laid down in this Chapter. This information is provided in order to achieve the following objectives:
1.  The central authorities shall give access to the information which can facilitate in a specific case the recovery of maintenance claims under the conditions laid down in this Chapter. This information is provided in order to achieve the following objectives:
a) to locate the debtor;
b) to evaluate the debtor's assets, in particular the amount and the nature of his or her income;
c) to identify the debtor's employer;
d) to identify the bank accounts of the debtor.
a) to locate the address of the debtor;
b) to evaluate the debtor's assets, in particular the amount and the nature of his or her income;
c) to identify the debtor's employer;
d) to identify the bank accounts of the debtor.
1a.  In accordance with the proportionality principle, the determination of which personal data should be processed should be made on a case-by-case basis on the basis of the available information and should only be allowed if necessary to facilitate the enforcement of maintenance obligations.
1b.  Biometrics data such as fingerprints or DNA data shall not be processed.
1c.  Special categories of data concerning racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, party or trade union membership, sexual orientation or health shall be processed only if absolutely necessary and proportionate for the purpose of a specific case and in compliance with specific safeguards.
2.  The information referred to in paragraph 1 shall include at least the information held by the administrations and authorities which are responsible in the Member States for the following areas:
a) taxes and duties,
b) social security, including the social security contributions of employers,
c) population registers,
d) land registers,
e) registration of the motor vehicles,
f) central banks.
2.  The information referred to in paragraph 1 shall include at least the information held by the administrations and authorities which are responsible in the Member States for the following areas:
a) taxes and duties,
b) social security, including the social security contributions of employers,
c) population registers,
d) land registers,
e) registration of the motor vehicles,
f) central banks.
2a.  Requests for information other than that listed in paragraph 2 should be proportionate and necessary to attain the objectives listed in paragraph 1.
3.  Access to the information referred to in this Article shall in no circumstances entail the creation of new records in a Member State.
3.  Access to the information referred to in this Article shall in no circumstances entail the creation of new records in a Member State.
Amendment 57
Article 46, paragraph 3
3.  A court shall not store information communicated in accordance with this Regulation for a longer period than the one necessary to facilitate the recovery of a maintenance claim. This period shall not exceed one year.
3.  A court shall not store information communicated in accordance with this Regulation for a longer period than the one necessary to facilitate the recovery of a maintenance claim.
Amendment 58
Article 48, paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.  This Regulation complies with Directive 95/46/EC and requires Member States to protect the rights and freedoms of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data, and in particular their right to privacy, in order to ensure the free flow of personal data in the Community.
Amendment 59
Article 50
Any amendment to the Annexes of this Regulation shall be adopted in accordance with the consultative procedure set out in Article 51(2).
Any amendment to the Annexes of this Regulation shall be adopted in accordance with the advisory procedure set out in Article 51(2).
Amendment 60
Article 51
1.  The Commission shall be assisted by a committee, composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the representatives of the Commission.
1.  The Commission shall be assisted by the committee provided for by Article 75 of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001.
2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, the advisory procedure laid down in Articles 3 of Decision 1999/468/EC shall apply, in compliance with Article 7 (3) thereof.
2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Articles 3 and 7 of Decision 1999/468/EC shall apply, having regard to the provisions of Article 8 thereof.

10th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty (Ottawa Convention)
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the 10th anniversary of the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction
P6_TA(2007)0621RC-B6-0518/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on landmines, and in particular that of 7 July 2005 on a mine-free world(1),

–   having regard to the 1997 Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction,

–   having regard to the Nairobi-Action Plan, adopted in December 2004,

–   having regard to the Eighth Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention, held in Jordan in November 2007, the Ninth Meeting of the States Parties, to be held in 2008, and the Second Review Conference, to be held in 2009,

–   having regard to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which operates in over 70 countries all over the world,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1724/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council(2) and Council regulation (EC) No 1725/2001(3),

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

A.   whereas, as of November 2007, there were 156 States Parties to the Ottawa Convention,

B.   whereas a series of national parliaments and the European Parliament have launched initiatives to promote the further development of actions to control and ban landmines,

C.   whereas only a few countries still produce anti-personnel mines (APM) and APM trade has virtually come to a halt; whereas, since 1999, around 41,8 million APMs have been destroyed by States Parties to the Ottawa Convention,

D.   whereas, between 1999 and 2004, 4 million APMs and 1 million anti-vehicle mines (AVMs) were cleared and over 2 000 km (equivalent to the area of Luxembourg) of contaminated land were cleared of landmines,

E.   whereas nevertheless it is estimated that over 200 000 km² worldwide (equivalent to the area of Senegal) are contaminated with mines and unexploded ordnance,

F.   whereas this means that more than 90 countries are still burdened with mines and unexploded ordnance,

G.   whereas the number of reported casualties has fallen from 11 700 (2002) to 5 751 (2006),

H.   whereas nevertheless the estimated number of unreported victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance is still 15 000 to 20 000 per year,

I.   whereas, for the first time, more mines are being destroyed and cleared than laid,

J.   whereas government use of anti-personnel mines has declined further, with only Myanmar/Burma and Russia continuing to lay new mines, and whereas armed non-state actors have decreased their use of anti-personnel mines or improvised explosive devices, although they still use them in at least eight states,

K.   whereas, as of December 2007, 35 armed non-state actors have committed to a total ban on anti-personnel mines through the Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action,

L.   whereas it is estimated that 78 countries still have some 250 million landmines stockpiled and that13 states not party to the Ottawa Convention still produce or retain the right to produce anti-personnel mines,

M.   whereas stockpiles of APMs must be destroyed as soon as possible, and no later than the end of the four-year limit stipulated by the Ottawa Convention,

N.   whereas nine States Parties to the Ottawa Convention have yet to destroy their stockpiles within four years of acceding to the Convention,

O.   whereas extra support must be given to the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention in order to encourage the maximum number of States Parties to fulfil their obligations to clear all mines within 10 years of acceding to the Convention,

P.   whereas, since the beginning of the 1990s, the international community has allocated over USD 3,4 billion to mine action programmes (mine clearance and victim aid) and the European Union has spent nearly EUR 335 million,

Q.   whereas nevertheless expenditure on such programmes worldwide sank to EUR 250 million in 2005, and although it increased to EUR 316 million in 2006, the process is far too slow,

R.   whereas the European Union is committed to long-term leadership on and funding of mine action in order to achieve full universalisation and implementation of the Convention,

S.   whereas in 2007 the Commission committed a total of EUR 33 million to mine action in ten countries (Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Cyprus, Ethiopia, Guinea-Bissau, Jordan, Lebanon, Senegal and Sudan),

T.   whereas the Strategy Paper 2005-2007 highlights the benefits of a specific anti-personnel landmines (APL) budget line in order to provide the capacity to 'respond to acute and unplanned needs', 'to reinforce and strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of mine actions undertaken within long-term humanitarian and socioeconomic development programmes' in cases where 'the CSP (Country Strategy Paper), NIP (National Indicative Programme) or corresponding instruments cannot legally support APL-related activities or in cases of political sensitivity or interest for the EC', and to support non-governmental organisations,

U.   whereas nevertheless the APL budget line of the Commission was repealed by the Instrument for Stability at the end of 2006, the EC Mine Action Strategy and Programming comes to an end in 2007 and programming will be almost entirely carried out by EC delegations on the basis of guidelines to be drafted by the Commission and by integrating mine action into Country and Regional Strategy Papers; whereas furthermore it will be up to the EC's mine-affected partners to decide the degree of importance to be assigned to mine action in their overall lists of assistance priorities in their financial assistance requests to the Commission,

V.   whereas, although the Commission states that it remains firmly committed to supporting the Ottawa Convention, concern can be and has been expressed about future financial levels of EC mine action,

W.   whereas victim aid and socioeconomic inclusion of mine victims as called for in Article 6 of the Ottawa Convention must be improved; whereas there are an estimated 450 000 to 500 000 survivors in the world and the number of people who have survived a landmine or unexploded ordnance accident and need care and rehabilitation is growing; whereas three quarters of recorded casualties were civilians and 34% of civilian casualties were children,

X.   whereas it is necessary to strengthen international humanitarian law as it applies to mines other than anti-personnel mines through the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), taking into account that anti-vehicle mines which are equipped with sensitive fuses and anti-handling devices that can be triggered by the unintentional act of a person are already banned by the Ottawa Convention as they form a deadly threat to vulnerable communities and humanitarian aid workers as well as mine-clearance personnel,

Y.   whereas time is running short for 29 countries with treaty-mandated clearance deadlines in 2009 or 2010 and whereas in particular one EU Member State has failed to even begin clearance operations despite the treaty obligation to complete all clearing operations by 2009, and another Member State only began operations in October 2007,

Z.   whereas funding for survivor assistance comprises only 1% of total mine action funding and progress toward meeting the needs and respecting the rights of survivors has to be regarded as insufficient; whereas at least 13 countries are in urgent need of new or additional mine risk education programs,

1.  Urges all states to sign and ratify the Ottawa Convention in order to universalise the Convention so as to attain the common goal of a mine-free world;

2.  Underlines in particular the importance of the accession of USA, Russia, China, Pakistan and India to the Ottawa Convention;

3.  Encourages the two EU Member States which have not yet acceded to the Convention or completed the ratification process to do so before the next Ottawa Convention Review Conference in 2009;

4.  Urges all armed non-state actors to show their respect for the humanitarian norm established by the Ottawa Convention by stopping the production and use of anti-personnel landmines and to sign the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment;

5.  Calls on the Council and the EU Member States and candidate countries to immediately start the preparation of the 2009 Ottawa Convention Review Conference and to make a proposal for planned joint action in this context;

6.  Calls on all States Parties to fully and rapidly implement all their obligations under the Ottawa Convention;

7.  Encourages all Member States, candidate countries and States Parties to the Ottawa Convention to pay close attention to the possible impact of the widely recognised opinion of the International Committee of the Red Cross that any mine which is likely to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a person is an anti-personnel mine prohibited by the Convention; notes that, specifically, this would mean that tripwires, break-wires, tilt-rods, low-pressure fuses, anti-handling devices and similar fuses would be prohibited for States Parties to the Convention;

8.  Requests the Member States and candidate countries to take immediate measures to ensure that anti-vehicle mines which are likely to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a person are destroyed in accordance with the provisions of the Ottawa Convention;

9.  Calls on the Commission to fully maintain its determination and continuity of effort to financially assist communities and individuals affected by landmines through all available instruments, including in territories under the control or influence of armed non-state actors, and calls on it to appear before Parliament early in 2008 to clarify its action in this context;

10.  Calls on the Commission to reinstate a specific anti-personnel mine budget line for the financing of mine action, victim assistance, and stockpile destruction required of States Parties that cannot be funded through the new funding instruments; urges the Commission to ensure that sufficient resources are made available after 2007;

11.  Calls on the Commission to maintain sufficient staff posts to ensure the effective implementation of its policy on banning anti-personnel mines, including by ensuring that mine action is explicitly included in mine-affected States Parties" Country Strategy Papers and National Indicative Programmes and by keeping track of total funding for mine action through the different funding instruments;

12.  Calls on States Parties to the Convention, particularly EU Member States and candidate countries, to ensure that their funding for mine clearance contributes to the development of a national mine clearance capacity so as to ensure that mine clearance activities are continued until all areas known to contain, or suspected of containing, mines are cleared;

13.  Urges the Council and the Commission to continue to support the efforts to commit armed non-state actors to a landmine ban, which does not imply support for, or recognition of the legitimacy of, armed non-state actors or their activities;

14.  Calls on mine-affected countries and international donors to give greater priority to the physical and economic rehabilitation of survivors, as their needs are not being adequately addressed;

15.  Calls on its competent committees closely to monitor and participate in CCW meetings, to report on Member State initiatives on landmines and to report on other international measures concerning such weapons;

16.  Recalls that each State Party to the Ottawa Convention undertakes never under any circumstances to assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under the Convention;

17.  Calls on State Parties to ensure that they do not allow the financial institutions active on their territory and/or subject to their legislation to invest in companies involved in anti-personnel landmine production, stockpiling or transfers;

18.  Calls on the EU, the Member States and candidate countries to ban any kind of direct or indirect financial support by private or public financial institutions active on their territory and/or subject to their legislation to companies involved in the production, stockpiling or transfer of anti-personnel landmines; considers that this ban should be incorporated in EU and national legislation;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and candidate countries, the UN Secretary-General, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines , Geneva Call, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Governments of the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, Pakistan and India and the President-Designate of the Ninth Meeting of the States Parties to the Ottawa Convention and of the Second Review Conference.

(1) OJ C 157 E, 6.7.2006, p. 473.
(2) OJ L 234, 1.9.2001, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 234, 1.9.2001, p. 6.


EU-China Summit - EU/China human rights dialogue
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the EU-China Summit and the EU/China human rights dialogue
P6_TA(2007)0622RC-B6-0543/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Joint Statement of the 10th China-EU Summit held in Beijing on 28 November 2007,

–   having regard to the public hearing held on 26 November 2007 by its Subcommittee on Human Rights on 'Human Rights in China in the run-up to the Olympics',

–   having regard to the rounds of the EU-China Dialogue on Human Rights held in Beijing on 17 October 2007 and in Berlin on 15-16 May 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 September 2007 on the functioning of the human rights dialogues and consultations on human rights with third countries(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 February 2007 on the dialogue between the Chinese government and the envoys of the Dalai Lama(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2006 on EU-China relations(3) and to its previous resolutions on China,

–   having regard to the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Dialogues, adopted on 13 December 2001, and to the evaluation of the implementation of these guidelines, adopted on 9 December 2004,

–   having regard to its previous annual resolutions on human rights in the world,

–   having regard to the UN Olympics Truce, as passed by the UN General Assembly on 31 October 2007 (A/RES/62/4), inviting UN member states to observe and promote peace during the Olympic Games,

–   having regard to the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

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

A.   whereas since the setting-up of the EU-China Summit mechanism in 1998, China-EU relations have developed strongly, both politically and economically,

B.   whereas any decision to initiate a human rights dialogue is taken on the basis of certain criteria adopted by the Council, which notably take into consideration the major concerns on the part of the EU about the human rights situation in the country concerned, a genuine commitment on the part of the authorities of the country concerned, with regard to such dialogue, to improving the human rights situation on the ground, and the positive impact which a human rights dialogue may have on the human rights situation,

C.   whereas the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games should constitute an ideal opportunity for focusing world attention on the human rights situation in China,

D.   whereas the EU is based upon and defined by its adherence to the principles of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law; whereas the EU considers that adherence to these principles constitutes the prerequisite for peace and stability in any society,

E.   whereas the EU-China strategic partnership is of great importance for relations between the EU and China and whereas a genuine partnership must be based on shared common values,

F.   whereas the strengthening and deepening of EU-China relations could help to develop convergent views regarding actions to tackle global challenges such as climate change, security, terrorism and non-proliferation of arms,

G.   whereas there are continually disturbing reports of political repression, particularly of journalists, human rights activists and members of religious and ethnic minorities, allegations of torture, widespread use of forced labour, frequent use of the death penalty and systematic repression of freedom of religion, speech and the media including the Internet, and the strict controls exercised by the Chinese Government over information about and access to the Tibetan areas of China; whereas it is therefore difficult to determine accurately the scope of human rights abuses,

H.   whereas China's engagement and influence in the world have increased considerably over the last decade; whereas credibility, democratic values and responsibility should constitute the fundamental basis of the relationship between the EU and China,

EU-China Summit

1.  Welcomes the Joint Statement of the 10th EU-China Summit in which both sides reaffirm their commitment to developing a comprehensive strategic partnership to meet global challenges, as well as the further development of EU-China relations and their closer cooperation in order to deal with a wide range of issues;

2.  Regrets the fact that once again the Council and Commission have failed to raise in a firm manner human rights issues at the EU-China Summit in order to give more political weight to human rights concerns, and that the EU did not take the opportunity of the approach of the Olympics to address serious human rights concerns in China;

3.  Calls on China and the EU to ensure a more balanced trade and economic partnership which should lead to sustainable growth and social development, in particular in the areas of climate change, environment and energy;

4.  Considers that the pirating and counterfeiting of European products and brands by Chinese industries constitutes a serious violation of international trade rules; urges the Chinese authorities to considerably improve the protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR);

5.  Calls at the same time for greater coherence and consistency between human rights on the one hand and trade and security on the other; urges therefore the EU to ensure that an improved trading relationship with China is contingent upon human rights reforms, and calls on the Council, in this regard, to make a comprehensive evaluation of the human rights situation before finalising any new Partnership and Cooperation Framework Agreement (PCFA);

6.  Welcomes, therefore, the launch and start of negotiations on a PCFA, which will cover the full scope of the EU-China bilateral relationship, including an effective and operational human rights clause, as well as strengthened and enhanced cooperation on political matters; reiterates its demand concerning inclusion of the European Parliament in all future bilateral relations between the parties, taking into account that, without Parliament's formal assent, there can be no PCFA;

7.  Insists that the EU arms embargo on China following the Tiananmen events must remain intact until substantial progress is made on human rights issues; reminds the EU Member States that the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports includes as a criterion respect for human rights in the country of final destination of such exports;

8.  Is concerned that, despite repeated assertions by the Chinese government of intentions to ratify the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratification is still pending; urges China therefore to ratify and implement the Covenant without further delay;

EU-China human rights dialogue

9.  Regrets that China's human rights record remains a matter of serious concern; emphasises, therefore, the need to considerably strengthen and improve the EU-China human rights dialogue; calls on the Council to provide a more detailed briefing to Parliament; considers it relevant to continue to organise the EU-China legal seminar on human rights, which used to precede the dialogue, with the participation of academic and civil society representatives, and in this regard welcomes the establishment of an EU-China Human Rights Academic Network under Objective 3 of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) ; calls on the Commission to ensure that this network will effectively function in cooperation with Parliament;

10.  Considers that the matters discussed in the successive rounds of dialogue with China, such as ratification of the ICCPR, reform of the criminal justice system, including the death penalty and the system of re-education through work, freedom of expression, particularly on the Internet, freedom of the press, freedom of access to information, freedom of conscience, thought and religion, the situation of minorities in Tibet, the release of detainees following the events in Tiananmen Square, and workers' and other rights, must continue to be raised in the context of the dialogue, in particular with regard to the application of the recommendations resulting from previous dialogues mutually agreed upon by both parties and the seminars on legal affairs; to this end, calls on the Council to consider extending the time period of the dialogue and to allow more time for discussion of the issues raised; calls, furthermore, on the Council and Commission to pay special attention to compliance with International Labour Organisation conventions with regard, in particular, to independent trade unions and child labour;

11.  Notes China's commitment to supporting the UN Human Rights Council in performing its function of addressing human rights issues in a credible, objective and non-selective manner, and calls for strengthened cooperation in the UN system as well as cooperation with the UN human rights mechanisms and the international human rights standards provided for in the relevant international human rights instruments, including the rights of minorities;

12.  Draws attention to the need for China to allow the free expression and practice of religion and thought; affirms the need, particularly in the light of the discussions among Chinese officials about the definition of 'religion' and especially 'legal religion', for a comprehensive law on religion meeting international standards and guaranteeing genuine religious freedom; deplores the contradiction between the constitutional freedom of belief (enshrined in Article 36 of the Chinese Constitution) and the ongoing interference of the state in the affairs of religious communities, in particular as regards the training, selection, appointment and political indoctrination of ministers of religion;

13.  Regrets that the sixth Sino-Tibetan round of talks has brought about no results; calls on the parties to make every effort in order to continue the dialogue and calls on the Chinese government to engage in substantive negotiations taking into due consideration the demands of the Dalai Lama for autonomy for Tibet; calls on China to refrain from exerting pressure on states that have friendly relations with the Dalai Lama;

14.  Reiterates its concern over the reports of continuing human rights violations in Tibet and in the other provinces inhabited by Tibetan people, including torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, repression of religious freedom, arbitrary restrictions on free movement, and rehabilitation through labour camps; deplores the intensification of the so-called 'patriotic education' campaign since October 2005 in Tibet's monasteries and nunneries, forcing Tibetans to sign declarations denouncing the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist; calls on China to allow an independent body to have access to Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Panchen Lama of Tibet, and his parents, as requested by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child;

15.  Calls on China, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, to implement the recommendations of the UN special rapporteur on torture and to issue a standing invitation to China to UN experts;

16.  Is of the opinion that human rights concerns should receive much more focus in the build-up to the Beijing Olympic Games; reiterates the need for "respect for universal fundamental ethical principles" and the promotion of a peaceful society concerned "with the preservation of human dignity" as enshrined in Articles 1 and 2 of the Olympic Charter;

17.  Requests the International Olympic Committee to publish its own assessment of China's compliance with the undertakings given in 2001 before the Games were awarded to Beijing; stresses the responsibility of the EU to take note of such an assessment and to work with its Olympic Network to create a basis for responsible behaviour in preparation for, during and after the Olympics;

18.  Is strongly concerned at the recent increase of political persecution related to the Olympics of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers, petitioners, civil society activists, ethnic groups such as the Uighurs, and religious people of all beliefs, especially Falun Gong practitioners; calls on the Chinese authorities to release these people immediately and to put an end to these human rights violations, as well as to the demolition of substantial numbers of houses without compensation to make way for the Olympic infrastructures;

19.  Is equally concerned about the surveillance and censorship of information on the Internet, and calls on the Chinese authorities to end the blocking of thousands of websites, including European media websites; calls on the Chinese authorities to release writer Yang Maodong and the other 50 cyber-dissidents and web users imprisoned in China;

20.  Calls on China to make concrete steps to grant freedom of expression, and to respect freedom of the press, both for Chinese and foreign journalists; is particularly concerned about the lack of implementation of the new regulation on international journalists active in China, and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately stop censoring and blocking - especially with the help of multinational companies - thousands of news and information websites based abroad; calls for the release of all journalists, Internet users and cyber-dissidents detained in China for exercising their right to information; reiterates its call on the Chinese authorities to establish a moratorium on executions during the Olympic Games in 2008, and to withdraw the list of 42 banned categories of people;

21.  Draws attention to the conclusions of the 17th Chinese Communist Party National Congress, held in mid-October 2007, at which different perspectives and degrees of openness arose over the implementation of higher international human rights benchmarks in China;

22.  Urges China to stop its ongoing support for the regime in Myanmar and the situation in Darfur;

o
o   o

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of the People's Republic of China, the Chinese National People's Congress, the UN Secretary-General, and the Board of the International Olympic Committee.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0381
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0055.
(3) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 219.


Combating the rise of extremism in Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on combating the rise of extremism in Europe
P6_TA(2007)0623RC-B6-0512/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on racism, xenophobia and extremism, particularly that of 20 February 1997 on racism, xenophobia and the extreme right(1), that of 15 June 2006 on the increase in racist and homophobic violence in Europe(2) and its position of 29 November 2007 on the proposal for a Council Framework Decision on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 27 January 2005 on the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and racism(4),

–   having regard to Articles 6, 7 and 29 of the EU Treaty and Article 13 of the EC Treaty, which commit the EU and its Member States to upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms and which provide it with the means to fight racism, xenophobia and discrimination, to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the Charter of Fundamental Rights) and to the Council Regulation (EC) No 168/2007 of 15 February 2007 establishing the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency(5) (the Fundamental Rights Agency),

–   having regard to the international human rights instruments which prohibit discrimination based on racial and ethnic origin, notably the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), both signed by all the Member States and a large number of other States,

–   having regard to European Union activities to fight racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and homophobia, in particular the two anti-discrimination directives (Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment of persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin(6) and Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(7)), as well as to the above-mentioned Framework Decision on combating racism and xenophobia,

–   having regard to Resolution 1344 of 29 September 2003 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the threat posed to democracy by extremist parties and movements in Europe,

–   having regard to the Report on Racism and Xenophobia in the Member States of the EU published in 2007 by the Fundamental Rights Agency,

–   having regard to the report by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) entitled 'Challenges and Responses to Hate-Motivated Incidents in the OSCE Region' of October 2006,

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

A.   seriously concerned at the resurgence in Europe of extremist movements and paramilitary groups and parties, some of which even have governmental responsibilities, which base their ideology, political discourse, practices and conduct on discrimination, including racism, intolerance, incitement to religious hatred, exclusion, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Gypsyism, homophobia, misogyny and ultra-nationalism, and whereas several European countries have recently experienced hatred, violent events and killings,

B.   seriously alarmed at the Islamic fundamentalist recruitment and violent propaganda campaign with terrorist attacks within the European Union, based on the hatred of European values and anti-semitism,

C.   whereas these extremist ideologies are incompatible with the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law as set out in Article 6 of the EU Treaty, which reflect the values of diversity and equality on which the European Union is based,

D.   whereas no Member State is immune from the intrinsic threats that extremism poses to democracy and, therefore combating the spread of xenophobic attitudes and extremist political movements is a European challenge that requires a joint and coordinated approach,

E.   whereas some political parties and movements, including those currently in power in a number of countries or represented at local, national or European level, have deliberately placed intolerance and/or violence based on race, ethnic origin, nationality, religion and sexual orientation at the heart of their agenda,

F.   whereas neo-Nazi, paramilitary and other extremisms are directing their violent attacks against a wide variety of vulnerable population groups, including migrants, the Roma, homosexuals, anti-racist activists and the homeless,

G.   whereas the existence of public and easily accessible websites which incite to hatred raises serious concerns as to how to counteract the problem without violating freedom of expression,

1.  Strongly condemns all racist and hate attacks, and calls on all authorities to do everything in their power to punish those responsible; expresses its solidarity with all victims of such attacks and their families;

2.  Points out that fighting extremism must not have any negative effects on the permanent obligation to respect fundamental rights and fundamental legal principles, including freedom of expression and association, as enshrined in Article 6 of the EU Treaty;

3.  Deplores the fact that some mainstream parties have seen fit to give credibility and acceptance to extremist parties by entering into coalition agreements, thereby sacrificing their moral integrity for the sake of short-term political gain and expediency;

4.  Notes that the increasing number of extremist organisations, which often contain neo-fascist elements, can exacerbate fears in society that can lead to manifestations of racism in a broad range of areas, including employment, housing, education, health, policing, access to goods and services and the media;

5.  Urges the Commission and Council to lead the search for appropriate political and legal responses, especially at the preventive stage with reference to young people's education and public information, teaching against totalitarianism and disseminating the principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms in order to keep alive the memory of European history; calls upon the Member States to develop policies of education for democratic citizenship based on citizens' rights and responsibilities;

6.  Urges the Commission to monitor the full application of the existing legislation designed to prohibit incitement to political and religious violence, racism and xenophobia; calls on Member States to monitor the strict implementation and constant improvement of anti-racist laws, information and awareness-raising campaigns in the media and educational establishments;

7.  Urges all democratic political forces, regardless of ideology, to avoid any support for extremist parties of a racist or xenophobic character, whether explicit or implicit, and hence also any alliance whatsoever with their elected representatives;

8.  Warns, looking ahead to the 2009 European elections, of the possibility that extremist parties may secure representation in the European Parliament and calls on the political groups to take the appropriate measures in order to ensure that a democratic institution is not used as a platform for financing and echoing anti-democratic messages;

9.  Calls on the EU institutions to give a clear mandate to the Fundamental Rights Agency to investigate the structures of extremist groups in order to assess whether some of them coordinate their work within their groups across the European Union or at regional level;

10.  Reiterates its belief that public personalities should refrain from statements that encourage or incite to hatred or stigmatisation of groups of people on the basis of their race, ethnic origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or nationality; believes that if public personalities incite to hatred, the fact that they have a high public profile should be considered an aggravating circumstance; condemns, in particular, the worrying prevalence of anti-semitism;

11.  Calls on the media to inform the public about the dangers of hate speech and to help promote the principles and values of democracy, equality and tolerance;

12.  Requests all Member States to at least provide for the possibility - after a court ruling - of withdrawing public funding from political parties that do not condemn violence and terrorism and do not respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law as set out in the ECHR and the Charter of Fundamental Rights; and calls on those that already have this possibility to do so without delay; also calls on the Commission to ensure that no EU funding is available to media which are used as a platform to widely promote racist, xenophobic and homophobic ideas;

13.  Calls on the Commission to support NGOs and civil society organisations devoted to promoting democratic values, human dignity, solidarity, social inclusion, inter-cultural dialogue and social awareness of the dangers of radicalisation and violent extremism, and which are devoted to fighting all forms of discrimination;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and the Council of Europe.

(1) OJ C 85, 17.3.1997, p. 150.
(2) OJ C 300 E, 9.12.2006, p. 491.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0552.
(4) OJ C 253 E, 13.10.2005, p. 37.
(5) OJ L 53, 22.2.2007, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.
(7) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.


Montenegro
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Montenegro, of the other part
P6_TA(2007)0624B6-0494/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Council's decision of 3 October 2005 to open negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro with a view to the conclusion of a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA),

–   having regard to the adoption by the Council on 24 July 2006, following the Montenegrin Parliament's declaration of independence, of a new negotiating brief specifically for Montenegro,

–   having regard to the conclusion of the negotiations on the SAA on 1 December 2006 and the signing of the agreement on 15 March 2007,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision on the signing of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States and the Republic of Montenegro on behalf of the European Community (COM(2007)0350),

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council and Commission decision on the conclusion of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Montenegro, of the other part (COM(2007)0350),

–   having regard to the signature on 18 September 2007 of the EU-Montenegro agreements on the simplification of short-stay visas and readmission(1),

–   having regard to the Commission's 2007 progress report on Montenegro (SEC(2007)1434),

–   having regard to the indicative multiannual financial programming document for Montenegro under the Pre-Accession Instrument (2007-2009),

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

A.   whereas Montenegro is a co-signatory of the Energy Community Treaty,

B.   whereas Montenegro confirmed the ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 23 October 2006,

C.   whereas the future of Montenegro lies in the European Union,

D.   whereas Montenegro is a signatory of the Central European Free Trade Association (CEFTA); whereas Montenegro's accession to the WTO may be concluded in 2008,

E.   whereas at its meeting of 19 and 20 June 2003 in Thessaloniki the European Council recognised that Montenegro's future lay in the European Union, and whereas this has been confirmed on several occasions by the Council and by Parliament,

F.   whereas the SAA establishes a contractual relationship between the European Communities and Montenegro in vital areas of the country's institutional, social and economic life,

G.   whereas the environmental dimension is important in the economic and social life of Montenegro, something which is acknowledged by the country's Constitution, which declares Montenegro to be an ecological state, and whereas it must be stressed that such declarations of intent need to be backed up by practical measures and effective structures,

H.   whereas an independent, competent and accountable judiciary which is free from corruption plays an essential role in the life of a democratic country,

I.   whereas Community assistance to Montenegro must be commensurate with the contractual commitments stemming from the SAA,

J.   whereas, following an agreement between the governing coalition and important sections of the opposition, the Montenegrin Parliament adopted on 19 October 2007, by the required two-thirds majority, a new Constitution of Montenegro,

K.   whereas in 2007 the Montenegrin economy is experiencing strong growth (nearly 8%) and a growing volume of foreign direct investment (EUR 707 000 000); whereas the unemployment rate is currently at a low level and for the first time has fallen below 12%; whereas, however, concerns remain regarding the deficit on the current account of the balance of payments,

L.   whereas corruption remains a serious problem in Montenegro, and whereas on Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index, Montenegro has an average score of 3.3 (on a scale from 0 'highly corrupt' to 10 'completely clean'),

1.  Congratulates the Montenegrin Government on the speedy conclusion of the negotiations concerning the SAA and on the recent signature of this important document;

2.  Considers the SAA to be a first, but important, step by Montenegro towards accession to the European Union and believes that the agreement provides a further example of the positive changes in the Western Balkans which prospects of EU membership can achieve; points out to the Montenegrin authorities, however, that the prospects for accession need to be assessed in a realistic manner, on the basis not merely of the transposition into national law of Community rules and standards but also of the country's real administrative and judicial capacities and the allocation of sufficient resources, which are essential for the development of a sound legislative framework in Montenegro and its effective implementation and are a fundamental precondition for the country's democratic and economic development;

3.  Suggests that the Commission take account of the unique transition-related reform experiences of the Member States which have joined the EU in the 21 century, so as to build on the new mechanisms at work which may be beneficial to Montenegro;

4.  Recommends strengthening the role of the Parliament of Montenegro, as the centrepiece of parliamentary democracy, and observes that it should thus particularly act as a scrutinising body, for example in the field of public finance;

5.  Calls on the Parliament of Montenegro, in accordance with its conception of its own role, to contribute actively to the process of rapprochement with the EU; reminds the Government that it must involve the Montenegrin Parliament actively in opinion-forming processes;

6.  Urges the Government and Parliament of Montenegro to give practical effect to the objectives listed in Article 80 of the SAA by introducing the laws and regulations required in order to guarantee the full independence and accountability of the judiciary; considers, in this connection, that the new constitutional provisions regarding responsibility for appointing judges reduce the Montenegrin Parliament discretionary powers and increase the autonomy of the judicial self-regulatory body; recalls that it is essential that an independent, efficient and corruption-free judiciary be in place to manage the full and irreversible implementation of the rule of law;

7.  Urges the Montenegrin Government and the judicial authorities to provide all necessary assistance and cooperation to the Italian judicial authorities as regards the conclusion of the inquiry into organised crime and the smuggling of cigarettes which involves prominent Montenegrin politicians and could be followed up with an international arrest warrant;

8.  Is pleased to record Montenegro's continued cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and emphasises that this is closely linked with Montenegro's progress towards EU membership; urges the Montenegrin authorities to complete their investigation of Sreten Glendza, commander of the Ulcinj police district, and of five other former police officers accused of committing war crimes in 1992; welcomes the signature on 6 December 2007 of an agreement with the ICTY on providing technical assistance, as well as other steps taken by the same authorities in view of the 2008 deadline for completion of all trials at the ICTY;

9.  Welcomes the arrest earlier in 2007 on the territory of Montenegro of fugitive war crimes indictee Vlastimir Đorđević and calls on the Montenegrin authorities further to cooperate with Serbia and other neighbouring countries in locating and arresting the remaining war crimes suspects, in particular Ratko Mladić and Radovan Karadžić;

10.  Urges the Montenegrin authorities to adopt and implement proactive policies against corruption, with a view to improving the efficiency of public administration, the combating of organised crime and the fight against trafficking in human beings, arms, cigarettes and drugs, since these are preconditions for further integration into the European Union; recalls the importance of establishing a climate of security for Montenegrin citizens, tourists and foreign investors and calls in this context for the independent bodies which monitor corruption to be strengthened;

11.  Welcomes the signing of the Visa Facilitation Agreement and Readmission Agreement with Montenegro on 18 September 2007 as a first step towards a completely 'visa-free' regime, and calls on the Council and the Commission to establish a concrete roadmap in this respect and to adopt measures designed to increase travel opportunities for a larger proportion of citizens, particularly young people and students;

12.  Welcomes in this context the opening of the EU Common Visa Application Centre in Podgorica in order to facilitate the procedures for issuing short-term visas, and calls on the Member States to take part in this Common Visa Application Centre project in order to enable the citizens of Montenegro to benefit fully from the agreement signed in that regard;

13.  Calls on the Montenegrin authorities to seize the signing of the agreement as an opportunity to pursue vigorously reforms in areas such as the rule of law, fighting organised crime and corruption, strengthening border controls and increasing Montenegro's administrative capacity;

14.  Emphasises the importance of Article 114 of the SAA, which contains a commitment to 'the development of an efficient and accountable public administration in Montenegro', and urges the Government to adopt the provisions required to ensure transparent recruitment and career management within the public administration and to make full use, with the Commission's support, of the Community assistance and twinning instruments for public bodies;

15.  Regrets the signature of an agreement between the United States and Montenegro under which the Montenegrins pledge not to hand over US personnel to the ICC, in return for which the US will provide military aid to Montenegro (the so-called "Article 98 agreement"); recalls that the EU opposes such accords as they undermine the ICC's authority; expects Montenegro to take into account the EU stance on this matter and adopt appropriate measures;

16.  Stresses that the development of environmentally sustainable tourism is of capital importance to Montenegro's economic future; insists on the need to adopt a coherent environmental legislative framework and a master plan for coastal protection, and urges the Government to make operational the independent bodies responsible for ensuring respect for the delicate ecological balance in coastal areas in particular, but also in the national parks in the interior of the country, and deplores the fact that Article 96 of the SAA does not contain any clear undertakings in this connection;

17.  Regrets ongoing speculation in property and real estate and its negative impact on the sustainable development of the country, mainly due to weak or insufficient control by state and local authorities;

18.  Notes that Montenegro de facto uses the euro as an official currency; points out that the present use of the euro, decided by the Montenegrin authorities in exceptional circumstances, is entirely distinct from euro zone membership; recalls that in order for a country to join the euro zone all the criteria defined in the Treaty must be fulfilled and that these comprise the achievement of a high degree of sustainable convergence;

19.  Urges the Montenegrin Government and Parliament to implement at the earliest opportunity the national law for the protection of the countryside – particularly in coastal areas – and of waters and the marine environment, and to implement the master plans for integrated waste management and the treatment of waste water, focusing in particular on promoting differentiated waste collection in coastal tourist resorts and providing for the construction of heat recovery plants; draws attention in particular to the delicate ecological balance in Kotor Bay and the urgent need for concerted action to preserve this exceptionally beautiful natural and architectural heritage;

20.  Recommends that the Montenegrin authorities give practical effect to the objectives set out in Article 109 of the SAA by constructing at the earliest opportunity plants using renewable energy sources; urges the Commission to assist the Montenegrin Government in finding the public or public/private funding required to build such plants; notes that the United Nations Development Programme's Draft Montenegro Energy Strategy 2025 provides the opportunity to make Montenegro's energy sector more environmentally friendly, and stresses its importance for the country's development;

21.  Notes that foreign direct investment in Montenegro is dominated by investment in immovable property; welcomes the adoption of the spatial plan by the government of Montenegro, and calls for its full implementation in order to protect the coast against becoming built up; observes, at the same time, that building inspections play an important part in this and that, in sensitive areas, moratoriums on building should be considered;

22.  Is concerned about the lack of transparency and the culture of monopolies within both political and economic structures, which are hindering Montenegro's development as a democratic free market society;

23.  Takes the view that formulating and implementing a comprehensive long-term economic development planning as well as tackling Montenegro's sizeable 'shadow economy' are essential for the successful implementation of the SAA; calls on the Montenegrin authorities, therefore, to make a firmer commitment to employment, one of the most severe economic and social problems facing Montenegrin society, and to pursue economic policies aimed at creating an openly competitive and transparent business climate;

24.  Points to the importance of developing an intermodal transport network that is not geared solely to road transport; considers that this objective may be pursued by means of partnerships with the private sector and through the issue of government bonds; recommends continuing the renewal of railways and reconstructing the partially disused tracks from Podgorica to the town of Nikšić and to the Albanian border town of Shkoder;

25.  Calls on the Government of Montenegro to find long-term solutions with regard to the housing and the nationality of refugees from neighbouring Kosovo, on the basis of the 1997 European Convention on Nationality and the newly adopted Council of Europe Convention on the Avoidance of Statelessness in relation to State Succession;

26.  Urges the Montenegrin authorities to coordinate even more efficiently Montenegro's involvement in Community programmes, particularly in the field of education and training; points out that such programmes may be an effective means of enhancing the quality of the education and training on offer and of providing new opportunities for study, including periods abroad, to young people in Montenegro; considers that thought should be given, in conjunction with the Commission, to how best to promote twinning and partnership arrangements between Montenegrin establishments and their counterparts in EU Member States; considers that visa liberalisation would facilitate the involvement of Montenegrins in Community programmes;

27.  Calls on the Montenegrin Government to implement reforms in the media laws, in particular the Law on Media Transparency and Prevention of Media Concentration, in order to allow for greater transparency and prevent media monopolies in both the printed and electronic media; calls on the Parliament of Montenegro to ensure the independence of the Broadcasting Council from Radio Television of Montenegro (RTCG), including genuine representation of all sections of society, thereby facilitating the full transformation of RTCG into a professional public broadcasting service;

28.  Observes that it is essential to strengthen and maintain independent media with balanced reporting;

29.  Strongly regrets that there has been no resolution to the case involving the murdered journalist Duško Jovanović, who at the time of his murder was in the process of publishing a series of articles on cigarette smuggling and other forms of organised crime in Montenegro;

30.  Urges the Montenegrin Government to guarantee press freedom, and requests an investigation of the aggression suffered in Podgorica on 1 September 2007 by Željko Ivanović, editor of the independent daily newspaper 'Vijesti';

31.  Highlights the important role which civil society can play in developing democracy and the rule of law by drawing attention to social problems and to sensitive political issues; calls in this context for stronger safeguards and better conditions for civil society actors;

32.  Notes the Montenegrin Government's undertaking to promote cultural cooperation, and calls for civil society to be more involved in the cultural sector, inter alia through the provision of incentives for various forms of association and by promoting contact among people;

33.  Welcomes the initiatives to provide Montenegrin students with study opportunities in the EU; calls on EU Member States to seek new forms of interaction with Montenegrin people;

34.  Deplores the delays in the opening of the Commission delegation office in Montenegro; draws attention to the importance of a visible EU presence in Montenegro, particularly with a view to the entry into force of the SAA; welcomes the fact that the Commission has launched the procedures for the recruitment of staff for the delegation office in Podgorica and trusts that these will be completed as soon as possible;

35.  Welcomes the inauguration of the new border crossing in Šćepan Polje on 1 October 2007 and in relation to this the announcement of the construction of further new border crossings; welcomes in this regard the development of good-neighbourly relations;

36.  Notes that a permanent agreement on the Croatian-Montenegrin border will have to replace the interim agreement concluded between Croatia and the then State Union of Serbia and Montenegro; takes the view that the current interim arrangement put in place on the Prevlaka Peninsula has proved to be an excellent basis for the new permanent agreement;

37.  Welcomes the adoption by the Parliament of Montenegro of a new constitutional text; believes that the new Constitution introduces a clearer separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary and establishes sufficient safeguards for national minorities;

38.  Takes the view that the new constitutional text is a step in the right direction which provides further evidence of Montenegro's willingness to integrate fully into the EU; is of the opinion, however, that, once appropriate steps have been taken to improve the accountability of judges and eradicate the endemic corruption which tarnishes the image of the Montenegrin judiciary, the provisions concerning the appointment and dismissal of judicial authorities should be improved with a view to better safeguarding the independence of the judiciary;

39.  Considers that regional cooperation among Western Balkan countries may be an effective instrument for solving their political, economic and social problems; welcomes Montenegro's accession to the CEFTA agreement, which will significantly contribute to the economic development of the country; urges the Commission to assist the Montenegrin authorities in strengthening cooperation with neighbouring countries in the field of energy, the environment and transport; stresses the importance of regional cooperation for the integration of Montenegro into the European Union;

40.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government of Montenegro.

(1) cf. Parliament's positions of 24 October 2007 on those agreements (texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0451 and P6_TA(2007)0452).


Shipping disasters in the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the shipping disasters in the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea and the subsequent oil pollution
P6_TA(2007)0625B6-0503/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on maritime safety, in particular its resolution of 21 November 2002 on the Prestige oil tanker disaster off the coast of Galicia(1) and its resolution of 23 September 2003 on improving safety at sea in response to the Prestige accident(2),

–   having regard to the first and second maritime safety packages "Erika I" and "Erika II",

–   having regard to the seven legislative proposals on maritime safety (the third maritime safety package) submitted to it by the Commission in November 2005 (COM(2005)0586 to 0593),

–   having regard to its positions adopted at first reading on 29 March 2007(3) and 25 April 2007(4) on the third maritime safety package,

–   having regard to the set of priority measures established in 2005 by the High Level Transport Group, focusing on the five major trans-national axes connecting the EU with the neighbouring countries to the north, east and south-east, as well as around the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions,

–   having regard to the shipping disaster in the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea which occurred on 11 November 2007,

–   having regard to Articles 71, 80 and 251 of the EC Treaty,

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

A.   whereas 10 vessels (tankers and cargo carriers), including the Volganeft-139, which was not designed to withstand severe weather at sea, sank or ran aground in the Kerch Strait and the northern Black Sea region during a severe storm,

B.   whereas, according to provisional information, six seafarers died and more than 2 000 tonnes of fuel oil and sulphur were spilt into the sea, causing an environmental disaster and killing over 15 000 birds,

C.   whereas violent storms dispersed oil pollutants, affecting communities in the region as well as the environment, and whereas the oil and sulphur pollution, in addition to causing human casualties, also directly affected fauna and flora, with possible long-term impacts on the ecological quality of the natural habitats affected,

D.   whereas the Black Sea is becoming one of the main routes for the increasing oil exports in the region,

E.   whereas the human loss and ecological disaster in the Black Sea highlights the need to speed up deliberations in the Council on the remaining legislative acts in the third maritime safety package,

F.   whereas, with the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, the EU has become a major player in the Black Sea region, which is of geo-strategic importance in terms of energy security and the diversification of EU energy supply routes, given its proximity to the Caspian Sea, the Middle East and Central Asia;

1.  Expresses its solidarity and reiterates its support for the victims of the disaster;

2.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to monitor closely the situation in the Black Sea and to take concrete action to help to reduce the ecological impact of the disaster;

3.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the rigorous application of existing Community legislation, especially legislation on ship standards, for example Port State Control;

4.  Notes that several measures, such as a temporary ban on river-to-sea vessels from the high seas, have been taken by the Russian authorities as a result of the recent series of shipwrecks in the Kerch Strait and underlines the fact that these measures should only be lifted after in-depth investigations and a situation assessment;

5.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to promote the principles of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union in the Black Sea region, as proposed in the communication from the Commission thereon (COM(2007)0575);

6.  Stresses that the strictest observation of maritime navigation rules is an essential feature of maritime safety and urges the Member States and the neighbouring countries of the EU to ensure that vessel crews and maritime administrations ignore alerts or storm warnings under no circumstances;

7.  Underlines the fact that the Black Sea disaster should draw the attention of the neighbouring countries of the EU - principally Russia, which has announced plans for a several-fold increase in its oil transhipment and export capacities on the Black Sea coast - to the issues of modernising maritime fleets and banning the use of obsolete single-hull tankers;

8.  Acknowledges the proactive role played by the Commission as long ago as November 2005, when it presented the third maritime safety package to strengthen European maritime safety legislation, without waiting for another maritime accident, and to prevent further environmental disasters and marine pollution;

9.  Points out that it completed its first reading of the seven proposals in the third maritime safety package in April 2007, and considers that the seven legislative proposals are closely interrelated and therefore need to be approved as a package;

10.  Stresses that accidents such as that which occurred in the Black Sea region should speed up the Council's deliberations and calls on it to adopt common positions on all seven legislative proposals immediately;

11.  Stresses the importance of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding and of the Black Sea Memorandum of Understanding and calls on the Council and the Commission to reinforce cooperation with non-EU coastal states as regards the implementation of measures to lessen the threat of environmental pollution from shipping accidents, including through action taken in the context of the International Maritime Organisation and the Paris Memorandum of Understanding;

12.  Highlights the key role that regional organisations, in particular the Organisation for Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), can play in ensuring better management of and cooperation in seafaring on the Black Sea;

13.  Points to the fact that environmental pollution, as caused by the recent oil spill, is an increasing problem in the Black Sea region, which can be tackled only through joint efforts by all states in the region; calls, therefore, upon the states in the region to foster existing models of cooperation and to come up with new cooperation mechanisms, such as cooperation with a view to cleaning up after events like the recent oil spill;

14.  Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to utilise to the maximum possible extent the new European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument as a tool for addressing Black Sea environmental problems and to utilise the new Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance to address environmental issues in the states in the Black Sea region;

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

(1) OJ C 25 E, 29.1.2004, p. 415.
(2) OJ C 77 E, 26.3.2004, p. 76.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0093 and 0094.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0146 to 0150.


Deposit-guarantee schemes
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on deposit-guarantee schemes (2007/2199(INI))
P6_TA(2007)0626A6-0448/2007

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to the Commission communication concerning the review of Directive 94/19/EC on Deposit Guarantee Schemes (COM(2006)0729),

-   having regard to Commission Recommendation 87/63/EEC of 22 December 1986 concerning the introduction of deposit-guarantee schemes in the Community(1),

-   having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee on the proposal for a Council Directive on the Co-ordination of Laws, Regulations and Administrative Provisions relating to deposit-guarantee schemes of 22 September 1992(2),

-   having regard to its positions of 10 March 1993 at first reading(3) and of 9 March 1994 at second reading(4) on the Commission's proposal for a Council directive on deposit-guarantee schemes,

-   having regard to Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit-guarantee schemes(5),

-   having regard to the Commission report on the application of the export prohibition clause, Article 4(1) of the Directive on deposit-guarantee schemes (94/19/EC) (COM(1999)0722),

-   having regard to the Commission report on the operation of the "topping-up" provision, Article 4, paragraphs 2-5 of the Directive on Deposit Guarantee Schemes (94/19/EC) (COM(2001)0595),

-   having regard to the Committee of European Banking Supervisors' technical advice on a review of aspects related to deposit guarantee schemes of 30 September 2005 (CEBS/05/81),

-   having regard to the report of the Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) entitled 'Scenario Analysis: Estimating the effects of changing the funding mechanisms of EU Deposit Guarantee Schemes' of February 2007,

-   having regard to the Commission report on the minimum guarantee level of Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive 94/19/EC,

-   having regard to the Commission White Paper on Financial Services Policy 2005-2010 (COM(2005)0629) and Parliament's resolution of 11 July 2007 thereon(6),

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

-   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0448/2007),

A.   whereas deposit-guarantee schemes are an important part of the safety net,

B.   whereas deposit-guarantee schemes serve to protect individuals and functions and guarantee fair conditions of competition,

C.   whereas the current situation in the banking sector triggered by the subprime crisis in the United States and its repercussions on financial markets has demonstrated the relevance of the issue of deposit-guarantee schemes,

D.   whereas the differences between the structure of deposit-guarantee schemes at national level are a consequence of differences between the institutional conditions in individual Member States,

E.   whereas confidence in safeguarding the stability of financial markets and fair conditions for competition are important foundations of the internal market as a whole,

F.   whereas the latest research points to the conclusion that an increasing number of EU citizens are turning their attention to purchasing financial products abroad,

G.   whereas, as a result of the increasing cross-border activity of credit institutions and changes in the structure of European banking supervision, new questions concerning cooperation, coordination and burden-sharing in crisis situations between home and host countries are arising,

H.   whereas because of the increasingly integrated financial market, the safety net must fulfil its purpose in cross-border crisis situations,

1.  Appreciates the importance of deposit-guarantee schemes and the benefits of Directive 94/19/EC for users and the stability of the financial market; stresses, at the same time, the importance of eliminating possible market distortions if these are verified by analysis;

2.  Agrees with the Commission that legislative amendments to Directive 94/19/EC should be undertaken only after the results of further research, particularly in the field of cross-border risk and crisis management, have become available; considers it important to tackle serious distortions of competition if these are verified by analysis;

3.  Considers that the minimum stipulated protection should be harmonised at a higher level, but that any increase should be closely linked to corresponding economic development, particularly as some countries still remain, as a result of their macroeconomic conditions, below the minimum level of protection provided in Directive 94/19/EC; makes it clear in this context, however, that a further decrease in guarantee protection, which is due to inflation, should be stopped no later than when the directive is next amended;

4.  Supports the assessment of the Commission that the operation of deposit-guarantee schemes might be improved through self-regulatory, particularly cross-border, measures;

5.  Welcomes, in this respect, the cooperation with the European Forum of Deposit Insurers (EFDI) and the JRC, which was initiated by the Commission, and the wide-ranging dialogue aimed at drawing up self-regulatory measures, which was instigated by the Commission; asks the Commission to inform Parliament of its timetable and results achieved in this respect;

6.  Is of the opinion that more information needs to be provided to customers to enable them to make informed choices regarding the intermediaries to whom they are to entrust their savings, and that the approach should seek constantly to enhance the ability of intermediaries to operate on a cross-border basis and to promote market integration; believes that self-regulation and, in particular, the potential contribution of the EFDI could have an important role to play in this connection;

7.  Considers that the various existing ways in which the deposit-guarantee schemes are financed should be examined in the context of possible distortions of competition, including equal treatment of customers and the ensuing costs, and, in particular, of the effects on operation in the event of a cross-border crisis;

8.  Highlights the fact that ex-post deposit-guarantee scheme systems should provide as much safety and security for the consumers as ex-ante deposit-guarantee scheme systems;

9.  Believes that the separation of supervision and deposit-guarantee scheme between countries creates regulatory problems; asks the Commission to analyse the possible adverse effects of such a situation;

10.  Considers that the waiting period before depositors are reimbursed in a crisis situation could be substantially reduced because of the considerable innovations in communication technologies which have taken place since the adoption of Directive 94/19/EC; considers that improvements should primarily be achieved through non-legislative means such as agreements, best practices, improvements in data quality, and a clear allocation of responsibility for data processing and commitment on the part of banks;

11.  Considers it necessary, where reimbursement emanates from two deposit guarantee schemes, that the waiting period before depositors are reimbursed must be no longer for home country schemes than for host country schemes;

12.  Endorses the approach whereby the decision relating to any refund or transfer of contributions made to the guarantee schemes by a credit institution should, in the event of a member leaving a deposit-guarantee scheme, be made by Member States;

13.  Supports the assessment of the Commission that new provisions for the transfer or refund of contributions to the guarantee schemes must neither weaken the functioning of the fund nor result in an inadmissible accumulation of risk;

14.  Is of the opinion that, in the long run, the question of harmonisation of deposit-guarantee schemes as regards their financing and competence and the role of the supervisory authority needs to be addressed through a common proactive approach if the requested analyses show distortions of competition, unequal treatment of customers or negative consequences for cross-border risk management;

15.  Welcomes the establishment of working groups from the Economic and Finance Committee and the Financial Services Committee to review and develop EU arrangements aimed at ensuring the stability of financial markets and to regulate supervision;

16.  Clearly states that the trend towards replacing subsidiaries with branch structures in the banking sector is also linked to new requirements for cooperation between the authorities in the Member States concerned in crisis situations;

17.  Believes it necessary for the Commission, together with the finance ministers of Member States, the central banks, and the EFDI, to analyse the potential advantages and disadvantages of burden sharing before and after potential crisis situations arise, and to inform Parliament of the results;

18.  Considers it necessary for the procedures and interaction between all parties concerned in a potential cross-border crisis situation to be determined in advance, and for the Commission, together with representatives of the Member States, the central banks and the EFDI, to plan and determine procedures and cooperation and to inform Parliament accordingly;

19.  Calls on the Commission to draw up standards to improve early-risk detection by the deposit-guarantee systems; sees an opportunity to use the early detection system to set risk-based contributions;

20.  Considers it advisable to embark on a more exhaustive study necessary in order to determine a common risk assessment method;

21.  Clearly states that the principal responsibility for risk limitation lies with the banks;

22.  Considers it necessary to develop principles for cross-border risk and crisis management in order to reduce the free rider problem and the risk of moral hazard;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission.

(1) OJ L 33, 4.2.1987, p. 16.
(2) OJ C 332, 16.12.1992, p. 13.
(3) OJ C 115, 26.4.1993, p. 91.
(4) OJ C 91, 28.3.1994, p. 85.
(5) OJ L 135, 31.5.1994, p. 5. Directive, as last amended by Directive 2005/1/EC.
(6) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0338.


Asset Management II
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on Asset Management II (2007/2200(INI))
P6_TA(2007)0627A6-0460/2007

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to the Commission White Paper on enhancing the single market framework for investment funds (COM(2006)0686),

-   having regard to Directives 2001/107/EC(1) and 2001/108/EC(2), both amending Directive 85/611/EEC(3) on undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS), respectively, with a view to regulating management companies and simplified prospectuses and with regard to investments of UCITS (UCITS III),

-   having regard to Directive 2004/39/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on markets in financial instruments(4) (MiFID),

-   having regard to Directive 2005/1/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2005 establishing a new organisational structure for financial services committees,

-   having regard to Directive 2003/41/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 June 2003 on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision(5) (the Pension Funds Directive),

-   having regard to Directive 2002/92/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 December 2002 on insurance mediation(6) (Insurance Mediation Directive) and Directive 2002/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 November 2002 concerning life assurance(7),

-   having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2004 on the future of hedge funds and derivatives(8),

-   having regard to the Asset Management Expert Group report of 7 May 2004, Expert Group reports of July 2006, and Parliament's resolution of 27 April 2006 on asset management(9),

-   having regard to the Committee of European Securities Regulators (CESR)' Advice to the European Commission on Clarification of Definitions concerning Eligible Assets for Investments of UCITS of 26 January 2006 (CESR/06-005),

-   having regard to the International Monetary Fund's Global Financial Stability Report: Market Developments and Issues of April 2007,

-   having regard to the European Central Bank's Annual Report 2006, Chapter IV: Financial Stability and Integration,

-   having regard to Commission Directive 2006/73/EC of 10 August 2006 implementing Directive 2004/39/EC of the European Parliament and the Council as regards organisational requirements and operating conditions for investment firms and defined terms for the purposes of that Directive(10) (the MiFID Implementing Directive),

-   having regard to the CESR Level 3 Recommendations on Inducements under MiFID of 29 May 2007 (CESR/07-228b),

-   having regard to Directive 2003/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 on prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading(11) (the Prospectus Directive),

-   having regard to the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance (COM(2007)0361) (the impending Solvency II directive),

-   having regard to the ECOFIN Council conclusions of 8 May 2007,

-   having regard to the Commission Green Paper on the enhancement of the EU framework for investment funds (COM(2005)0314),

-   having regard to Council Directive 90/434/EEC of 23 July 1990 on the common system of taxation applicable to mergers, divisions, transfers of assets and exchanges of shares concerning companies of different Member States(12) and Directive 2005/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on cross-border mergers of limited liability companies(13),

-   having regard to the update of the Financial Stability Forum Report on Highly Leveraged Institutions of 19 May 2007,

-   having regard to the report of the OECD Steering Group on Corporate Governance entitled "The role of private pools of capital in corporate governance: about the role of private equity firms and "activist" hedge funds" of 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 (A6-0460/2007),

A.   whereas this resolution is not intended to address the five legislative measures foreseen in the UCITS III revision package, namely the facilitation of the notification procedure, the establishment of a management company passport, the revision of the simplified prospectus and the creation of a framework for fund mergers and a framework for pooling, or discuss modifications of supervisory cooperation foreseen in those five areas,

B.   whereas Parliament intends to play a full role in designing a more integrated European market for investment funds going beyond the forthcoming limited revision of UCITS III,

C.   whereas open-ended real estate funds (OREF) and funds of hedge funds (FoHF) as well as other non-harmonised retail funds currently remain outside the UCITS framework and hence do not benefit from a European passport, which limits the diversity of investment products available to retail investors as well as the investment strategy of UCITS,

D.   whereas different national private placement regimes (PPR) and practices present an obstacle to the cross-border placement of investment products to sophisticated investors,

E.   whereas diverging disclosure requirements for UCITS and other competing investment products, different national taxation rules on cross-border fund mergers, barriers to fund processing and diverging responsibilities of depositaries present an obstacle to a level playing field, enhanced competitiveness and consolidation of the European fund market,

F.   whereas there has been much misconception over different vehicles of alternative investment and whereas instruments such as hedge funds and private equity differ as regards their fund raising, investment policy objectives and management control,

Non-harmonised retail funds

1.  Welcomes the establishment of an expert group on OREF, but regrets the fact that the Commission has not given equal priority to the question of FoHF; looks forward to receiving both the expert group report on OREF and the results of the Commission study on non-harmonised retail funds aiming at the establishment of a internal market for these products;

2.  Calls on the Commission to examine a future extension of the scope of Article 19(1) of UCITS III to cover OREF and FoHF bearing in mind that hedge fund indices (HFI) are already considered as eligible assets; highlights the need for a full impact assessment of the risks and benefits of such a change, thus paying particular attention to the protection of the UCITS brand; underlines that such an examination must not interrupt the revision of UCITS III;

3.  Considers that, after taking into account the conclusions of the above-mentioned expert group report and Commission study, consideration should be given to the establishment of a internal market framework for OREF, FoHF and other non-harmonised retail funds as regulated products at EU-level underpinned by an impact assessment and taking full account of diversification, liquidity and valuation issues; underlines that such consideration must not interrupt the revision of UCITS III;

Private Placement Regime

4.  Calls for a harmonised framework for private placement at EU-level in order to enhance internal market integration based on a thorough impact assessment; underlines that such a regime must provide for the necessary legal certainty for its players but should not over-regulate and hence over-burden private placement activities between sophisticated and well-informed players by means of requirements that are overly detailed or prescriptive; reiterates that national gold plating should not be possible;

5.  Believes that a PPR should apply to all open-ended investment funds, including EU-regulated funds, nationally regulated funds as well as funds regulated in third countries; is, nevertheless, convinced that progress on the question of reciprocal market access where appropriate is essential; calls on the Commission, therefore, to negotiate such agreements with third countries, in particular with the United States, and requests the Commission to address this issue within the Transatlantic Economic Council;

6.  Is convinced that a definition of who is eligible to invest is crucial; suggests that existing investor categories in MiFID and the Prospectus Directive should be taken into account; supports a broad definition of a sophisticated investor; highlights, however, that, despite existing legislation, several issues remain to be addressed, such as the criteria of annual income as well as the need to establish transfer restrictions forbidding the sophisticated investor, eligible for investment under such a PPR, to sell the product to retail investors directly or indirectly, for example by bundling it with other retail products;

7.  Suggests that, as a first step, a waiver from the notification process for UCITS should be introduced in the revised UCITS III, that waiver being restricted to a small number of highly sophisticated investors such as the MiFID professional client;

8.  Believes that, as a second step, the PPR should be extended to other products, to a more broadly defined type of sophisticated investor, and should contain a general waiver from local marketing provisions; asks the Commission to determine, by summer 2008, whether legislative measures are needed or CESR guidance is sufficient;

9.  Is convinced that a European PPR framework should apply only to cross-border private placement and in that case override existing national rules, but should not replace national rules that apply to domestic private placement; favours, at least as a first step, a regime based on CESR guidance, but highlights that, in order to achieve more legal certainty, the need for European legislative measures should be examined;

10.  Calls on the Commission to examine and reduce the tax barriers to the cross-border placement of those products;

Distribution, disclosure and financial literacy

11.  Believes that the use of commission payments is an acceptable means of remuneration; points out, at the same time, that investor information including fee and spread disclosure is crucial to empowering investors to take more informed decisions and to increase competition; welcomes the MiFID provisions on fee disclosure, but recalls that MiFID does not apply to all competing investment products;

Competing products

12.  Believes that cost and fee disclosure requirements at the point of sale as well as information requirements on risk and performance on an ongoing basis should apply not only to UCITS but equally to all competing products (i.e. certificates, notes, unit-linked life insurance); recognises, however, that it is not possible to provide for complete comparability between different types of investment products;

13.  Requests, in this context, a review of the legislative framework on marketing, advice and the sale of all retail investment products by the end of 2008 at the latest, in particular the impending Solvency II directive, the Insurance Mediation Directive and UCITS III, in order to achieve a level playing field and a coherent approach to investor protection; invites the Commission to ask the Level 3 Committees for technical advice in this area while taking into account the diversity of products and distribution channels;

14.  Asks the Commission to examine whether an industry-driven code of conduct might be helpful to increase fee transparency, taking into account the positive and negative impact linked to the code of conduct in the post-trading sector;

15.  Welcomes the recommendation by the CESR that a payment or non-monetary benefit provided to or made by a legal entity within the same group which offers only its own products (in-house funds) should be treated in exactly the same way as one provided to or made by any other legal entity in the context of open architecture firms (third-party funds);

16.  Notes that under Article 26 of the MiFID Implementing Directive, provisions on inducements apply to payments or non-monetary benefits made between two separate legal entities whereas products that are produced and distributed by the same legal entity do not fall within the scope of Article 26; calls on the Commission to examine the practical impact of Article 26 on the distribution of competing products and hence on open architecture;

17.  Acknowledges that tracking of commissions, in particular retrocession fees, is a time-consuming and costly process expected to intensify with increasingly open architecture; therefore calls on the industry to examine whether common standards across the European Union for appropriate position keeping are necessary such as standards for identifying distributors or providing data, such as data file formats, data transmission protocols, reporting frequency;

18.  Calls on CESR to report on the impact of Article 26 of the MiFID Implementing Directive on current softing and bundling arrangements in 2008 and to examine, taking into account already existing as well as possible future self-regulatory initiatives by the industry, whether a common supervisory approach across the EU would benefit investors;

19.  Shares the concern expressed by the Commission in its Green Paper on the enhancement of the EU framework for investment funds regarding the emergence of guaranteed funds, misleadingly defined as such, when not backed by capital adequacy requirements; thus calls on the Commission to propose how the appropriate provisions, such as capital requirements for those funds at the EU level, can be achieved in order to ensure effective consumer protection; observes in this context that supervision requirements must be coherent and equally stringent both qualitatively, in terms of risk management standards, and quantitatively, as regards the resulting capital requirements;

UCITS-MiFID interaction

20.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to solve possible conflicts between the provisions of UCITS III and MiFID on distribution, inducements and conduct of business rules in its vade-mecum; regrets, however, that the Commission has not published that guidance before the implementation of MiFID by the Member States; calls on the Commission to take account of Member States' implementing laws and regulations and clarify the legal status of the vade-mecum and its relation to CESR Level 3 measures as well as to the Commission's Questions and Answers on MiFID;

Financial Literacy

21.  Points out that equivalent disclosure requirements of competing products at the point of sale on costs, risk and performance help the investor to make an informed decision only if he has a sound knowledge and basic understanding of the functioning of different investment products; highlights, therefore, the need for financial literacy;

Taxation of cross-border fund mergers

22.  Notes with regret that in many jurisdictions cross-border mergers remain subject to taxation while domestic mergers do not constitute taxable events; believes that since investors cannot influence such events and should be treated equally, cross-border and domestic mergers should be taxed neutrally;

23.  Calls on the Commission to propose a directive relating to the taxation of fund mergers in 2008, following the principle of tax neutrality set out in Directives 90/434/EEC and 2005/56/EC; stresses that the objective is not to harmonise tax but to determine that domestic and cross-border mergers should be tax-neutral if the investor keeps its investment in the fund before and after the merger or withdraws its investment as a result of the intended merger, before the merger takes place;

24.  Believes that for practical reasons, tax neutrality should first be applied only to UCITS mergers and later to all other funds;

25.  Underlines the paramount importance of supervisory coordination of UCITS and non-UCITS products, and calls for continued efforts to exchange information and practical cooperation among the financial authorities;

Investment Policy and Risk Management

26.  Regrets that the current design of investment policies has resulted in assets such as FoHF and OREF to remain outside the scope of eligible assets under UCITS III, while fairly volatile and less transparent assets such as HFI are considered eligible by CESR;

27.  Believes that defining eligible assets and setting investment limits does not guarantee the quality of investment management and could even give retail investors a false sense of security; suggests, therefore, that a shift from a prescriptive to a principle-based approach on the basis of asset-liability management as a more sophisticated form of risk diversification should be considered in the medium term; underlines that the revision of UCITS III should not be delayed by opening a fundamental discussion of such a change at this stage; underlines the need to analyse carefully the impact of such a change on the performance of UCITS and the UCITS brand;

28.  Believes that introducing principle-based provisions on risk management systems at Level 1 will help ensure financial stability and convergence in supervisory practices; expects the Commission therefore, once the legislative work on the evised UCITS III is completed, to draw up a list of principle-based criteria for the use of risk management systems, bearing in mind that such systems should correspond to the individual risk profile of each fund; calls on the Commission to examine whether management companies should be obliged to explain the appropriateness of a certain system and whether a general requirement for pre-authorisation of risk management systems through the supervisor or a clearer role of the depositary in the investment activity oversight are necessary; calls on CESR to complete its work on the harmonisation of risk measurement systems and to begin looking at liquidity management;

29.  Considers it necessary, in order to bolster investor confidence, for all management companies established as joint stock companies and all distribution companies listed on a stock exchange to be subject to the national corporate governance regulations applicable in their country of registration as well as the provisions of Community law on corporate governance;

Fund processing

30.  Welcomes initiatives such as those of the Fund Processing Standardization Group of the European Fund and Asset Management Association, Eurofi and other initiatives at national level to increase the efficiency of fund processing; notes, however, that the progress made so far is unsatisfactory; believes that the Commission should take action if the industry does not substantially progress in greater use of electronic and standardised fund processing by the end of 2009;

31.  Draws attention to the difficulties of small and medium-sized distributors and distributors with limited cross-border activity when switching to automated and standardised solutions;

32.  Notes the idea that standardised settlement deadlines could provide an incentive for more automation, simplify and clarify the processing of orders and reduce error rates;

33.  Notes the idea of setting up a standardised process to facilitate access to reliable and standardised data on cross-border funds, for example, if appropriate, supported by a European funds reference database on static data such as prospectus and processing data; highlights the need for oversight to guarantee that the data is up-to-date and reliable;

Depositary

34.  Regrets that not all Member States allow branches of EU credit institutions to act as depositary even though they are regulated at the EU level in accordance with EU financial services legislation; calls on the Commission, therefore, to take the necessary legislative steps in the course of the revision of UCITS III in order to allow such credit institution branches to act as depositary and to clarify ways for effective supervisory cooperation;

35.  Believes that a harmonised definition of depositary functions could contribute to a better understanding and better cooperation between regulators and ensure a consistent level of investor protection across Europe; recognises, however, the difficulty of overcoming national differences, in particular with regard to property law, terms of liability and insolvency protection rules; calls for further analysis of the legal barriers that would have to be removed in order to achieve harmonisation of depositary functions, taking into account existing research on the different roles and responsibilities of depositaries across Member States;

36.  Highlights that a depositary passport should only be introduced after complete harmonisation of the role and responsibilities of the depositary are achieved; underlines that, before taking a decision, the interaction between a depositary passport, the management company passport, the fund and the regulator must be carefully examined;

37.  Requests that the Commission should examine the impact the wide use of highly complex products, such as derivatives, including credit derivatives and indices, including hedge fund indices, has on the effectiveness of the depositary's oversight function;

Lamfalussy process

38.  Highlights the importance of ensuring the choice of implementing instruments on the basis of the content and objectives of the underlying Level 1 legislation; calls on the Commission to propose a legal basis at Level 1 for the use of both implementing directives and implementing regulations at Level 2; points out that the new regulatory procedure with scrutiny must be applied to all Level 2 measures;

Hedge Funds

39.  Points to the evidence showing that alternative investments such as hedge fund activities, while still inadequately understood in terms of their potential systemic impact, often result in higher market liquidity, dispersion of risk, in particular for traditional portfolios, and enhanced competition among market makers and intermediaries as well as in beneficial propriety research contributing to more information and more efficient pricing;

40.  Considers transparency and disclosure for investors and supervisors of utmost importance and expects the forthcoming proposals of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) to bring more clarity in this respect, urges the industry to agree on a code of conduct for portfolio valuation, risk management systems, transparency of fee structures and enhanced insight in investment strategies; asks the Commission to play a more active role in that discussion (for example, within the remit of the G8);

41.  Is convinced that access of retail investors to hedge funds should not be prohibited per se; points out, however, that given the often light regulation of hedge funds and their activities, retail access must be subject to strict conditions; highlights that clear criteria for the eligibility of investors as well as regulation of the counterparties' exposure are crucial; underlines, at the same time, that entities regulated by MiFID are subject to suitability and appropriateness tests for distribution as provisions against mis-selling;

42.  Considers that financial stability issues need to be addressed at the global level through enhanced cooperation of supervisory authorities and central banks in international bodies such as IOSCO as well as through a regular dialogue between governments and legislators; urges the Commission, the European Central Bank and CESR to take an active role in stimulating that dialogue and proposing appropriate measures where necessary;

43.  Believes that hedge funds could help strengthening corporate governance practices by increasing the number of investors that make active and informed use of their shareholder rights; is concerned, however, that some hedge funds might boost their voting power at low costs through a variety of different mechanisms such as stock lending and borrowing; recognises that the latter is not only undertaken by hedge funds; suggests that the Commission should examine the feasibility and practicability of a provision that stipulates that where stock is held for the account of investors, a stock lending agreement must contain the right for the lender promptly to recall his shares and that if no recall takes place, the borrower should be allowed only to exercise the voting rights in accordance with instructions from the lender;

Private Equity

44.  Considers private equity as an important source of start-up, growth and restructuring capital, not only for large listed companies, but also for small and medium-sized enterprises;, is also aware, however, of cases in which an increased level of indebtness brought considerable risks for companies and their employees when their management was no longer in the position to fulfil the repayment obligations;

45.  Stresses the importance of transparency towards the investors as well as towards supervisory authorities concerning fees and raising funds, especially when resulting in the leverage of the financial position of the company taken private, as well as their management objectives, in particular when restructuring large companies;

46.  Believes that the regulation of counterparties' exposure as well as clear criteria of the eligibility of investors to limit retail investors' exposure to private equity are crucial;

47.  Recognises that employment effects are often a public concern; notes that available data contradict each other as regards the aggregate effect of private equity on the overall level of employment; invites the Commission to provide a better analysis;

48.  Is convinced that a more in-depth analysis is needed better to understand the impact of alternative investments such as hedge funds and private equity on financial stability, corporate governance, consumer choice and protection as well as employment; looks forward to examining that impact in its forthcoming parliamentary reports on hedge funds and private equity, based on the outcome of the studies commissioned in August 2007; suggests that those reports should examine, inter alia:

–   whether an industry-driven code of conduct is sufficient to enhance financial stability and investor protection or there is a need for more action by the legislator and supervisory authorities in terms of disclosure requirements through minimum reporting standards and the regulation of relevant players;

–   whether there is an interest in or even a need for a European label for alternative investment instruments and, if so, what could be the criteria to distinguish different asset classes that would be covered by such an EU framework; and

–   under which conditions retail access to those asset classes could be permitted;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 41, 13.2.2002, p. 20.
(2) OJ L 41, 13.2.2002, p. 35.
(3) OJ L 375, 31.12.1985, p. 3, Directive as last amended by Directive 2005/1/EC (OJ L 79, 24.3.2005, p. 9).
(4) OJ L 145, 30.4.2004, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 2007/44/EC (OJ L 247, 21.9.2007, p. 1).
(5) OJ L 235, 23.9.2003, p. 10.
(6) OJ L 9, 15.1.2003, p. 3.
(7) OJ L 345, 19.12.2002, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 92 E, 16.4.2004, p. 407.
(9) OJ C 296 E, 6.12.2006, p. 257.
(10) OJ L 241, 2.9.2006, p. 26.
(11) OJ L 345, 31.12.2003, p. 64.
(12) OJ L 225, 20.8.1990, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 2006/98/EC (OJ L 363, 20.12.2006, p. 129).
(13) OJ L 310, 25.11.2005, p. 1.


Textile imports
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the future of the textile sector after 2007
P6_TA(2007)0628RC-B6-0495/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Commission and the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China on the Export of Certain Chinese Textiles and Clothing Products to the European Union, signed on 10 June 2005,

–   having regard to the decision taken in October 2007 by the Commission and the Chinese Government on a system of joint import surveillance,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on this matter, and in particular that of 6 September 2005 on textiles and clothing after 2005(1),

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

A.   whereas the abolition of quotas in the textiles and clothing sector has been leading to serious social consequences, primarily for regions where the highest numbers of firms and workers – mainly women – are concentrated and wages are chronically low,

B.   whereas China is the world's leading producer and biggest exporter of textile and clothing to the European Union,

C.   whereas, following the expiry of the Multi-fibre Arrangement on 1 January 2005, the Commission and China concluded the above-mentioned Memorandum of Understanding imposing restrictions on Chinese imports of certain textile categories for a transitional period, which will expire on 1 January 2008,

D.   whereas the European Union and the Chinese Government agreed on a system of joint import surveillance for the year 2008,

E.   whereas 70% of all counterfeit goods entering the European market come from China, and half of all European customs procedures against counterfeiting relate to textiles and clothing,

F.  F whereas, following the accession of China to the WTO, WTO members were permitted to adopt special safeguard measures in the form of quantitative restrictions on Chinese exports until the end of 2008 if the market were to be disrupted,

G.   whereas the European Union is the world's second largest exporter of textiles and clothing,

H.   whereas in the European Union the textiles and clothing sector is mainly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and whereas parts of the sector are concentrated in regions strongly affected by economic restructuring,

1.  Is aware that the lifting of the quota system is the result of a legally-binding agreement made when China joined the WTO, but recalls that the Protocol on the accession of China to the WTO enables all WTO members, including the European Community, to apply safeguard measures against imports from China until the end of 2008, if necessary;

2.  Maintains that the double-checking surveillance system will serve no purpose unless it prevents any repetition of the situation that occurred in 2005, when imports into the EU grew at an accelerating rate; stresses that new safeguard measures need to be enforced, covering, among other things, categories of products to be specified by Member States, so as to enable employment in, and the business of, this sector to be safeguarded and promoted in the EU;

External competitiveness of the EU-based textile sector

3.  Expresses its concern over high tariffs and non-tariff barriers in many third countries; stresses that the Commission, in its bilateral, regional and multilateral agreements with third countries, should secure better market-access conditions in such countries, as this is vital for the future of the EU-based textile and clothing industry, especially SMEs;

4.  Asks the Commission to take the opportunity presented by the negotiation of trade agreements to promote and strengthen environmental and social standards, such as decent work, in third countries, in order to guarantee fair competition;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively promote the modernisation of the EU-based textile industry by supporting technological innovation, research and development through the Seventh Framework Programme, as well as vocational training, particularly for SMEs; in this respect, calls on the Commission to conduct a proper and global investigation into this serious issue;

6.  Considers that binding rules on origin marking for textiles imported from third countries should be applied and, in this respect, calls on the Council to adopt the pending proposal for a regulation on the 'made in' indication; notes that this regulation would help to provide better consumer protection and would support a European industry based on research, innovation and quality;

EU textile industry and workers

7.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that a substantial part of the Globalisation Adjustment Fund will be used for the restructuring and retraining of the textile sector, in particular SMEs heavily affected by the liberalisation of the market;

8.  Repeats its proposal that a Community programme – backed by the appropriate means of support – should be drawn up for the textile and clothing sector, and especially for the more disadvantaged regions that depend on it, with a view to promoting research, innovation, vocational training, and SMEs, and should go hand in hand with a Community programme to help create new markets and boost external promotion of the sector's products, for instance at international trade fairs;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to assist the textile and clothing sector's workers with social measures and plans for companies facing restructuring;

Unfair trade and counterfeiting

10.  Recalls that trade defence instruments (anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard measures) are fundamental regulating mechanisms and legitimate tools to proactively address both legal and illegal imports from third countries, especially in the textile and clothing sector, which is now an open market without quota protection;

11.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the Chinese authorities to align their currency exchange rates and to review their euro/dollar foreign exchange balance, which are now facilitating a massive flow of Chinese textile and clothing imports;

12.  Expresses its concern over systematic violations of intellectual property rights; urges the Commission to combat these violations, in particular counterfeiting, at multilateral, regional and bilateral level, including every form of unfair trade;

Import surveillance

13.  Welcomes a system of joint import surveillance that will ensure double checking of Chinese exports to the EU of eight textile and apparel products; however, expresses its deep concern about the manner in which the system is to be set up; calls on the Commission to guarantee proper implementation of this double checking and to evaluate its effectiveness, so as to ensure a smooth transition to free trade in textiles;

14.  Stresses that a double checking system cannot be implemented in 2008 alone and that an effective surveillance system should be guaranteed for a longer period of time;

15.  Considers that the High-Level Group should ensure oversight of a surveillance system for textile and clothing imports into the European Union;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the US to engage in consultations on the issue of textile imports from China;

17.  Calls on the Commission to set up a monitoring system and to evaluate the results before the end of the first quarter of 2008 in order to ensure that the disruptive effects of a surge in textile imports are duly and promptly taken into account, and asks the Commission to report to Parliament on its findings;

Security and consumer protection

18.  Urges the Commission to use its powers to ban unsafe products from the EU market, also in the textile and clothing sector;

19.  Calls on the Commission to guarantee that imported textile products entering the EU market, particularly those imported from China, are subject to security and consumer protection requirements identical to those for textile products manufactured inside the EU;

20.  Asks the Commission to conduct a proper evaluation and study of the question of the alleged pass-through of price reductions to EU consumers;

Developing countries and the EU's Mediterranean partners

21.  Calls on the Commission to support the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean production area in the textile sector, taking advantage of the geographical proximity of the EU and its Mediterranean partners' markets in order to create an internationally competitive area capable of ensuring that present levels of industrial output and employment are maintained;

22.  Emphasises that the termination of import restrictions on textiles will not only bring about radical changes in import trends on the EU market, but also risks having an impact on clothing and textile sectors in developing countries, including the EU's Mediterranean partners;

23.  Calls on the Commission to study the impact of the full liberalisation of the textile and clothing sector on the least developed countries (LDCs); is particularly concerned about the disregard of basic social and labour rights by some LDCs in order to remain competitive; calls on the Commission to evaluate how Aid-for-Trade and similar programmes can help LDCs engage in socially and environmentally sustainable sectoral programs;

24.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the usefulness of supply-side management tools for the clothing sector, in order to level off global competition and prevent a lowest-common-denominator approach to social and environmental standards;

Informing Parliament

25.  Requests that the Commission provide Parliament with full information on any significant developments in the framework of international trade in textiles;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 193 E, 17.8.2006, p. 110.


Economic and trade relations with Korea
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on the trade and economic relations with Korea (2007/2186(INI))
P6_TA(2007)0629A6-0463/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Framework Agreement for Trade and Cooperation between the European Community and its Member States, on the one hand, and the Republic of Korea, on the other hand(1),

–   having regard to the study entitled 'Economic Impact of a Potential Free Trade Agreement Between the European Union and South Korea' by Copenhagen Economics & Prof. J. F. Francois,

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

–   having regard to its resolutions of 13 October 2005 on prospects for trade relations between the EU and China(2) and of 28 September 2006 on the EU's economic and trade relations with India(3),

–   having regard to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy,

–   having regard to the OECD Employment Statistics 2007,

–   having regard to the Declaration on the Advancement of South-North Korean Relations, Peace and Prosperity, adopted on 4 October 2007 by the Republic of Korea (subsequently referred to as "Korea") and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (subsequently referred to as "North Korea"),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0463/2007),

A.   whereas the rule-based multilateral trading system, established through the World Trade Organisation (WTO), continues to represent the most suitable framework for regulating and promoting fair and equitable trade by developing appropriate rules and ensuring compliance with those rules,

B.   whereas the EU should continue to give priority to the achievement of a balanced outcome of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA), which would assist developing countries to play a full part in the international trading system,

C.   whereas bilateral and inter-regional trade agreements can nevertheless complement the WTO rule book by covering issues such as social and environmental standards where it is currently difficult to find multilateral agreement,

D.   whereas the agreement with Korea can also address questions of investment and trade in services, but should do so in a way which ensures that market opening does not compromise either European or Korean rules on the protection of public services and cultural diversity or the policy space needed to unilaterally enact sustainable social, economic and environmental policies in the EU as well as in Korea,

E.   whereas Korea is one of the world's leading economies with an income per head that is equivalent to a middle-ranking EU Member State,

F.   whereas poverty remains an unresolved and deepening problem in Korea which, according to OECD statistics, ranks among the three OECD members that have the biggest income gap and which are experiencing the greatest widening of the income gap; whereas Korea ranks last among OECD countries with less than 5 percent of tax income being spent on social security, compared to an OECD average of 43 percent,

G.   whereas Korea is the EU's fourth largest trading partner outside Europe, and the EU was the largest foreign investor in Korea in 2006,

H.   whereas Korea has signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with the United States and a number of other leading trading partners and is currently negotiating additional agreements,

I.   whereas market access is being increasingly hampered by various types of non-tariff barrier (NTB), including a failure to adopt international norms and standards, that are partially responsible for the structural EU deficit in bilateral trade relations,

J.   whereas studies show that an EU-Korea agreement could produce substantial economic gains for both parties, but that, in any of the scenarios considered, Korea would receive two thirds of the benefits,

General issues

1.  Considers that a successful outcome of the DDA remains the EU's trade priority and would be concerned if bilateral negotiations with Korea or other partners were to distract from the achievement of this objective;

2.  Believes that bilateral negotiations with major trading partners or regions can usefully supplement the multilateral rule book provided they produce ambitious, high quality agreements that go well beyond tariff reductions;

3.  Considers that the size and rapid growth of the Korean economy makes it a suitable candidate for such an agreement but draws attention to the significant problems – including substantial NTBs – that will need to be addressed in order to reach a satisfactory agreement;

4.  Believes that an agreement limited to tariff reductions would merely produce short-term benefits and therefore demands the dismantling of NTBs as well as the opening of the services sector in Korea;

5.  Considers that any FTA with Korea should take account of the four so-called Singapore Issues (trade and investment, trade and competition policy, transparency in government procurement, and trade facilitation);

6.  Concludes that the mutually beneficial content of the agreement is far more important than a rapid timetable and would therefore be concerned if artificial deadlines were to lead to an agreement that was not wide ranging, ambitious and well balanced;

Sustainable development

7.  Considers that environmentally-friendly products should have their tariffs reduced more quickly and more sharply than other goods; calls on the Commission and the Korean negotiators to produce a clear definition of such products; strongly recommends that, in such a definition, the environmental conditions under which goods are produced be duly taken into account;

8.  Regrets that a Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) has not been undertaken at an earlier stage given the planned negotiating timetable; considers it of the utmost importance that the results of the SIA be published well ahead of the signing of an agreement and that sufficient time be allowed for full public consultation so that the SIA's results can influence the outcome of the negotiations; calls on the Commission to consult Parliament, the Council and civil society if the SIA study suggests that there are mitigation requirements and to negotiate the final FTA accordingly;

9.  Believes that the Commission's level of ambition with regard to increasing market access should be balanced by an equally ambitious approach to sustainable development; also insists that there must be no exceptions to the rule that access to the internal European market is conditional on compliance with environmental protection standards;

10.  Welcomes the introduction of stronger social and environmental clauses in the recently concluded US-Korea FTA as the result of pressure from the US Congress;

11.  Considers that EU negotiators must see this as a base from which further progress can be made, particularly with regard to the ratification and enforcement of core ILO standards, Korea's involvement in a post-2012 regime for combating climate change and the recognition of existing EU environmental standards and legislation;

12.  Calls for any trade agreement with Korea to incorporate binding social and environmental clauses;

13.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission, during the bilateral negotiations with Korea, to support and promote the OECD Principles of Corporate Governance and Corporate Social Responsibility, both for Korean enterprises operating in Europe and European enterprises established in Korea;

14.  Considers an ambitious sustainable development chapter to be an essential part of any agreement but recalls that the ultimate objective is the enforcement of agreed standards; takes the view that this requires the chapter to be subject to the standard dispute settlement mechanism;

15.  Believes that a Trade and Sustainable Development Forum, made up of representatives of workers" and employers" organisations and of NGOs, could play a valuable role in ensuring that greater market opening is accompanied by rising environmental and social standards;

16.  Proposes that a mechanism be established whereby recognised EU or Korean workers" and employers" organisations should be able to submit requests for action which would be treated within a specified time period and could result in ongoing follow-up and review provisions, in order to maintain pressure on those who violate workers' rights;

Sectoral issues

17.  Calls for the conclusion of an FTA with Korea that covers trade in goods and services, makes scientific and technical cooperation and intellectual property an essential element of bilateral agreements, promotes cooperation on energy efficiency, seeks to combat climate change and includes provisions on other external aspects of energy policy, nuclear and renewable energy sources and the Galileo programme;

18.  Considers that Korea's divergence from international norms and labelling requirements constitute major NTBs which present particular problems for the automotive, pharmaceutical, cosmetics and electronics industries; calls on the Korean Government to provide satisfactory explanations for such divergences or, otherwise, to commit during the FTA negotiations to remove them;

19.  Supports the Commission's objective of assisting EU exporters of pharmaceutical products and medical devices by ensuring greater transparency in the Korean healthcare system but insists that the Agreement should not create any legal or practical obstacles to Korean firms using the flexibilities set out in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the Declaration on the TRIPs agreement and public health, adopted by the WTO Ministerial Conference on 14 November 2001 in Doha, to promote access to medicines in developing countries;

20.  Emphasises that a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) should be incorporated in the EU-Korea FTA in order to further eliminate trade obstacles caused by unnecessary duplicate procedures carried out by Korean authorities which pose obstacles for EU companies within various industries wanting to sell their products to Korea;

21.  Regrets that Korea's failure to follow international norms leads to animals being subject to unnecessary, duplicative tests; considers that the Agreement should seek to ensure that scientifically validated alternatives to animal testing that have been approved by one party should be presumed acceptable to the other party;

22.  Is concerned that the EU-Korea FTA could have a severe negative impact on the European automotive industry; requests therefore that the Commission considers a strategy of phasing out EU import tariffs with safeguards; recommends that this phasing out should be connected to the lifting of major NTBs on the Korean side;

23.  Notes, with regard to the automotive industry, that Korea has signed and ratified the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Agreement concerning the Establishing of Global Technical Regulations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which can be fitted and/or be used on Wheeled Vehicles, and has thus committed itself to implementing the standard regulations; calls on the Commission to insist on their rapid implementation; at the same time, calls on the Commission to insist that EU automobiles complying with UNECE standards can be imported into Korea without testing or homologation; opposes provisions exempting Korean vehicles from anti-pollution emission standards;

24.  Considers that, in the light of the EU's problematic experiences with the Korean shipbuilding industry, special attention should be given to this sector in the negotiations;

25.  Considers that during the negotiations the Commission should also take into account the concerns of both the Korean and European agricultural sectors, particularly as regards the possible adverse effects of the FTA on the sensitive products concerned;

26.  Regards the tariff peak and excessive labelling requirements faced by the distilled spirits industry to be a priority for the negotiations; calls for measures to be taken immediately to combat the NTBs affecting fruit and vegetables and the excessively high tariffs applied to canned fruit; considers the achievement of a satisfactory outcome with respect to Geographical Indicators to be of the utmost importance;

27.  Is concerned about the difficulties that foreign firms face in gaining access to the Korean market for services including banking, insurance and legal advice;

28.  Attaches high priority to the effective enforcement of intellectual property rights including through the introduction of adequate penalties for counterfeiting and piracy; considers that special mechanisms of quick and efficient dispute settlement, in the context of existing WTO rules, should be included so that these and other unfair trade competitive practices can be dealt with adequately; states that the current negotiations with Korea on the protection of intellectual property rights should not undermine legitimate policy goals such as access to medicines by going beyond the TRIPs Agreement obligations, but that it should instead encourage the use of TRIPs' flexibilities;

29.  Urges Korea to introduce public performance rights for producers of sound recordings in line with the International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations (Rome Convention) of 1961, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT) of 1996 and Directive 2006/115/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on rental right and lending right and on certain rights related to copyright in the field of intellectual property(4);

30.  Calls on Korea to fully comply with the WIPO "Internet Treaties" (the WIPO Copyright Treaty (WCT) of 1996 and the WPPT) including: full legal back-up for technological protection measures used by copyright owners, including a prohibition against circumvention; the provision of exclusive rights over all forms of Internet dissemination to sound recording producers; the establishment of an effective notice and takedown procedure; the recognition of protection for temporary copies and a narrowing of the private copying exception in the digital realm;

31.  Urges Korea to strengthen the fight against Internet piracy by: improving incentives for cooperation by network providers in the fight against piracy; encouraging the Copyright Protection Centre to ensure that foreign right holders are protected against online piracy of their work; investigating and prosecuting entities involved with illegal Internet sites, servers, storage services and file sharing services;

32.  Emphasises that any FTA with Korea should ensure the following:

   an improvement and simplification of Community rules on origin,
   broader harmonisation of existing international norms and standards instead of the introduction of new standards,
   more stringent disclosure requirements and the promotion of best practices in regulation,
   the transparency of national support mechanisms and the dismantling of existing NTBs;

North Korea and Kaesong

33.  Welcomes the role of the Kaesong Industrial Complex in contributing to regional peace and security; believes, nevertheless that the inclusion of goods from the Kaesong Industrial Complex in an FTA raises serious legal and technical problems;

34.  Recommends that the Commission seriously examine the extent to which trade relations between North and South Korea could be assisted through an FTA with the EU;

35.  Emphasises that any agreement should include an undertaking not to lower labour standards in order to attract foreign investment in any part of the territory of the parties including export processing zones;

Other issues

36.  Believes that, in order to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to multilateral negotiations, Korea should be ready to offer duty-free, quota-free access to Least Developed Countries (LDCs), following the example of the EU's Everything But Arms (EBA) scheme, under conditions that uphold equivalent labour and environmental standards;

Parliament's role

37.  Considers that the legitimacy and public acceptability of an agreement requires that Parliament be closely involved in each stage of the negotiations and be given the chance to express its view on the acceptability of the negotiated text; expects the Commission and the Council to seek to present the agreement in a form that would require the assent of the Parliament under Article 300(3), second subparagraph, of the EC Treaty;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 90, 30.3.2001, p. 46.
(2) OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 103.
(3) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 400.
(4) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 28.


Eastern Chad
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on eastern Chad
P6_TA(2007)0630RC-B6-0527/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on human rights in Chad,

–   having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2007 on the ESDP operation in Chad and the Central African Republic(1),

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1778 (2007) of 25 September 2007, which provides for the deployment of a multidimensional international presence in eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic (CAR) including the ESDP mission EUFOR TCHAD/RCA,

–   having regard to the Council joint action 2007/677/CFSP of 15 October 2007 on the European Union military operation in the Republic of Chad and in the Central African Republic(2) (EUFOR TCHAD/RCA),

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1769 (2007) of 31 July 2007 establishing, for an initial period of 12 months an African Union/United Nations (AU/UN) hybrid operation in Darfur (UNAMID),

–   having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 on women, peace and security,

–   having regard to Rule 115 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas on 26 November 2007 hundreds of Chadian rebel fighters were killed along Chad's eastern border by the Chadian army, and on 3 December 2007 the Chadian army launched another offensive against Chadian rebel forces,

B.   whereas the armed struggle between the Chadian army and the rebels of the Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) and Rally of Forces for Change (RFC) has resumed after the fragile peace deal which unravelled at the end of November 2007; whereas the rebel groups, government officials and foreign observers all confirm that the battles which have taken place since 26 November 2007 have been the harshest in Chad since President Idriss Deby Itno took power in December 1990,

C.   whereas about 238 000 refugees from Sudan, 44 600 refugees from the CAR and 170 000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are hosted in twelve camps along Chad's eastern border with Sudan,

D.   whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) issued a warning on 4 December 2007 that the surge in fighting in eastern Chad between government forces and rebels over the past ten days has limited UN access to camps that are home to hundreds of thousands of refugees and IDPs and has heightened tensions in the area,

E.   whereas the fighting is hampering the operations of the World Food Programme (WFP) in eastern Chad, denying it access to some refugee camps and delaying food dispatches to others; whereas the fighting near Farchana, where three refugee camps are located, has made humanitarian operations particularly difficult; whereas on at least one occasion a WFP-contracted truck loaded with WFP food was attacked by armed bandits;

F.   whereas the fighting has been concentrated mainly in the Farchana, Iriba, Biltine and Guereda areas, located to the north and east of the major town of Abeché, the main operational base for at least twelve refugee camps; whereas the areas near refugee camps to the south of Abeché such as Goz Beida have also become less secure,

G.   whereas according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), humanitarian aid activities are being threatened mostly by armed robbery and banditry in the region, and military offensives are exacerbating crime; whereas the increasing incidence of banditry in eastern Chad is forcing humanitarian agencies to reduce staff and movements in key towns, further restricting their ability to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance,

H.   whereas the Chadian President very recently sacked the United Front for Change's leader Mahamat Nour Abdelkerim as defence minister, indicating tensions and fallout at governmental level,

I.   whereas on 15 October 2007 the Council adopted the above mentioned joint action on the operation EUFOR TCHAD/RCA, designed to contribute to protecting civilians in danger, particularly refugees and displaced persons, to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the free movement of humanitarian personnel by helping to improve security in the area of operations, and to contribute to protecting UN personnel, facilities, installations and equipment and ensuring the security and freedom of movement for its staff and UN-associated personnel,

J.   whereas the calendar for the deployment of EUFOR TCHAD/RCA, which should have been launched before the end of November 2007, is gradually being put back; whereas it was presupposed that, once the rainy season subsided at the end of October 2007, the rebel groups would once again be more mobile and active in the region; whereas the Chadian intelligence chief has accused Sudan of arming the rebels,

K.   whereas any domestic instability in Chad - together with the insecurity of the border region of eastern Chad, Darfur and the CAR - will also have a negative effect and impact on the EUFOR TCHAD/RCA operation once it is deployed,

L.   whereas international concerns over the conflict have heightened since the UFDD threatened to attack the French or any other foreign force deployed in the EUFOR TCHAD/RCA mission,

M.   whereas the war crime of sexual violence, including rape being used as a tool of war, is prevalent in refugee camps and elsewhere in the conflict region, with women and girls being most vulnerable to attack,

1.  Emphasises that the recent violence and unrest in Chad demonstrate the urgent need for the deployment of EUFOR TCHAD/RCA without further delay; underlines that the EU Member States and the UN have a 'responsibility to protect' refugees and internally displaced persons in the region; stresses that these forces must have and use all means necessary, in full compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law, to protect civilians at risk;

2.  Regrets, however, the fact that this mission still lacks equipment vital for enabling troops to carry out their duties, such as helicopters and medical supplies;

3.  Calls on the institutions of the EU and its Member States to honour the political decision made and to provide the mission with more troops and appropriate financial, logistic and air support, including the necessary number of helicopters, as soon as possible; underscores that the EU's credibility in its foreign policy on the world stage is at stake if it cannot mobilise sufficient troops and equipment to make this mission operational;

4.  Calls on the Council and Commission to update it on current initiatives (such as those within the European Defence Agency) to address capability gaps in key areas and specifically on helicopters and medical support units, and to put forward joint proposals for short-term and longer-term solutions for guaranteed access to such capabilities for both humanitarian as well as ESDP purposes;

5.  Emphasises the regional dimension of the Darfur crisis and the urgent need to address itsdestabilising impact on the humanitarian and security situation in neighbouring countries, and reiterates its willingness to carry out the EU military bridging operation in support of a multidimensional UN presence;

6.  Recalls its above mentioned resolution of 27 September 2007 endorsing the launch of an ESDP operation in eastern Chad and the northern CAR, and urges the Council and Commission to speed up the decision-making process for the launching of this operation in order to ensure that the first deployment of soldiers starts before the end of 2007 and the mission reaches its full potential by February or early March 2008;

7.  Welcomes the Commission funding of over EUR 50 million for the mission, including EUR 10 million from the Instrument for Stability for the UN police training component of the peace-keeping operation; observes that this is evidence of a coherent interinstitutional EU approach to European security and defence policy;

8.  Deplores the President of Sudan's insistence that the UNAMID force, which EUFOR TCHAD/RCA is due to bolster, should be exclusively African in nature, contrary to the relevant resolution of the UN Security Council; emphasises the need to speed up the deployment of the UN-AU peacekeeping force for Darfur; urges the government of Sudan to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC), and suggests the inclusion in the mandate of hybrid powers to search and arrest those against whom the ICC has issued arrest warrants;

9.  Notes an escalation of deliberate and targeted attacks on the civilian population by Janjaweed militia crossing over from Sudan and by local Chadian Arab and some non- Arab groups; notes the extent of gender-based violence, harassment, intimidation and rape which is occurring in this region with complete impunity; calls on the Chadian authorities to investigate the reports of rape and other serious human rights violations and abuses and bring the perpetrators to justice;

10.  Emphasises the particular issue of sexual exploitation in this conflict region and underlines the importance of Member States which contribute forces to UNAMID and EUFOR TCHAD/RCA being made aware of this abuse and adopting a gender-sensitive approach at all stages of response to sexual violence in conflict, including training to address the particular needs of victims; emphasises that it is the responsibility of countries contributing troops and police to peacekeeping operations to ensure that strong codes of conduct and proper training are implemented and that there is accountability for sexual violence; notes that increasing the deployment of women in peacekeeping has been shown to contribute not only to better relations with host communities, but also to better conduct by peacekeepers;

11.  Is highly concerned by aid workers' reports that both rebels and the government have visited refugee camps to recruit children to their forces;

12.  Urges the EU to press for a comprehensive peace process, using pressure and incentives to encourage all parties to return to the negotiating table, and for talks to address all levels of conflict currently taking place in Chad, including tensions between government and rebels and interethnic conflict;

13.  Urges Chad, in cooperation with Sudan and Libya, to create the necessary conditions for a lasting political solution in implementation of the Sirte peace accord, and urges the governments of Sudan and Chad to fulfil their obligations under the Tripoli and Sirte agreements;

14.  Expresses its concern over the increase in illegal sales and smuggling of weapons, notably illicit small arms and light weapons;

15.  Recalls that no peacekeeping mission in the eastern part of Chad and the northern part of the CAR can be successful without a genuine political reconciliation process;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the African Union, the UN Secretary-General, the Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Presidents, Governments and Parliaments of Chad, the Central African Republic and Sudan.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0419.
(2) OJ L 279, 23.10.2007, p. 21.


Women's rights in Saudi Arabia
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on women's rights in Saudi Arabia
P6_TA(2007)0631RC-B6-0526/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the ratification by Saudi Arabia of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on 7 September 2000,

–   having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was ratified by Saudi Arabia on 23 September 1997,

–   having regard to the fact that Saudi Arabia has been a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child since 26 January 1996,

–   having regard to the fact that Saudi Arabia was elected to a seat on the new UN Human Rights Council in May 2006,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Saudi Arabia, of 18 January 1996(1) and 10 March 2005(2),

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas women in Saudi Arabia continue to face many forms of discrimination in private and in public life, are frequently victims of sexual violence and often face enormous obstacles in the criminal justice system,

B.   whereas in October 2006 a 19-year-old woman, known as 'the Qatif Girl', was sentenced to 90 lashes following an incident in which she was alone in a car talking with a man who was not a close relative when she was attacked and gang-raped,

C.   deeply concerned by the fact that the General Court of Qatif (Saudi Arabia) reviewed the sentence in November 2007 and condemned her to six months in prison and 200 lashes,

D.   whereas an official at the General Court of Qatif has declared that the Court increased the woman's sentence, following direction from the Supreme Council of the Judiciary, because of her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media,

E.   whereas the victim's lawyer, Abdul Rahman Al-Lahem, has been banned from the courtroom and from any future representation of his client after attempts to take legal action against the Ministry of Justice for failing to provide him with a copy of the verdict concerning his client so that he could prepare an appeal; whereas Mr Al-Lahem now faces a disciplinary hearing at the Ministry of Justice, where sanctions can include suspension for three years and disbarment;

F.   whereas Mr Al-Lahem also defended the case of the couple Fatima and Mansour Al-Timani, parents of two children, who were forcibly divorced in July 2007 on the request of the wife's brother, based on the argument that Fatima's tribal lineage was superior to that of her husband; whereas both were incarcerated for days, indeed months, together with their children for refusing to accept the divorce, and whereas since then Fatima has been obliged to live in a shelter because she refuses to return to her family,

G.   particularly concerned that the criminalisation of any close contact between unmarried individuals of the opposite sex in Saudi Arabia severely impedes the ability of rape victims to seek justice, and that a court may view a woman's charge of rape as an admission of extramarital sexual relations unless she can prove, by strict evidence, that this contact was non-consensual,

H.   whereas approximately two million women migrant workers are employed as domestic workers in Saudi Arabia, who are frequently subjected to abuses by state authorities and private employers, including physical and psychological ill-treatment and non-payment of salaries, detention without charge or trial and even capital punishment after unfair law proceedings,

I.   drawing particular attention to the cases of Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan domestic worker who was sentenced to capital punishment in June 2007 for the death of an infant in her custody when she was only 17 years old, and of the Indonesian domestic workers Siti Tarwiyah Slamet and Susmiyati Abdul Fulan, who were beaten to death by their employing family in August 2007 while two others were critically wounded,

J.   noting that States Parties to international human rights conventions (such as the CEDAW) have an obligation to ensure the equal rights of men and women,

1.  Insists that the Saudi Arabian Government take further steps aimed at lifting restrictions on women's rights, including their freedom of movement, on the driving prohibition, on their employment opportunities, on their legal personality and on their representation in judicial processes, eliminate all forms of discrimination against women in private and public life and promote their participation in the economic, social and political spheres;

2.  Deplores the abovementioned decision taken by the General Court of Qatif to punish the rape victim; calls on the Saudi Arabian authorities to quash the sentence and drop all charges against the victim of the rape;

3.  Notes that, on 3 October 2007, King Abdullah announced a judicial reform, promising the setting-up of new specialised courts and improved training for judges and lawyers; recalls that, in May 2007, it was reported that King Abdullah had ordered that a new court be established which would specialise in hearing domestic violence cases;

4.  Considers that a campaign to promote awareness regarding violence against women in Saudi Arabia, especially domestic violence, would be a most welcome initiative, which should be introduced as a matter of urgency;

5.  Urges the authorities to revise and enforce national labour laws in order to provide the same protection for domestic workers as exists for workers of other branches and to ensure prosecution of employers responsible for sexual or physical abuse, and labour rights abuses that violate existing national laws;

6.  Calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to review all cases of child offenders who have been condemned to death, to suspend the death sentence for child offenders and to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment;

7.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to raise these issues at the next Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting between the EU and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the UN General-Secretary, the Saudi Arabian Government, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the Secretary-General of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.

(1) OJ C 32, 5.2.1996, p. 98.
(2) OJ C 320 E, 15.12.2005, p. 281.


Comfort women
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European Parliament resolution of 13 December 2007 on Justice for the 'Comfort Women' (sex slaves in Asia before and during World War II)
P6_TA(2007)0632RC-B6-0525/2007

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade in 2007,

–   having regard to the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (1921), to which Japan is a signatory,

–   having regard to ILO Convention No. 29 on Forced Labour (1930), ratified by Japan,

–   having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women and Peace and Security,

–   having regard to the report by Gay McDougall, UN Special Rapporteur on Systematic Rape, Sexual Slavery and Slave-like Practices during Armed Conflict (22 June 1998),

–   having regard to the conclusions and recommendations of the 38th session of the UN Committee Against Torture (9-10 May 2007),

–   having regard to the Report of a Study of Dutch Government Documents on the Forced Prostitution of Dutch Women in the Dutch East Indies During the Japanese Occupation, The Hague (2004),

–   having regard to the resolutions on the comfort women adopted by the US Congress on 30 July 2007, and by the Canadian Parliament on 29 November 2007,

–   having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the government of Japan, during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s until the end of World War II, officially ordered the acquisition of young women, who became known to the world as ianfu or "comfort women", for the sole purpose of sexual servitude to its Imperial Armed Forces,

B.   whereas the "comfort women" system included gang rape, forced abortions, humiliation, and sexual violence resulting in mutilation, death or eventual suicide, in one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century,

C.   whereas the dozens of "comfort women" cases brought before Japanese courts have all ended in the dismissal of plaintiffs" claims for compensation, despite court judgments acknowledging the Imperial Armed Forces" direct and indirect involvement, and the State's responsibility,

D.   whereas most of the victims of the "comfort women" system have passed away, and the remaining survivors are 80 or more years of age;

E.   whereas over the past years numerous high-ranking members and officials of the Japanese Government have made apologetic statements on the "comfort women" system, while some Japanese officials have recently expressed a regrettable desire to dilute or rescind those statements,

F.   whereas the full extent of the sexual slavery system has never been fully disclosed by the government of Japan and some new required readings used in Japanese schools try to minimise the tragedy of the "comfort women" and other Japanese war crimes during World War II,

G.   whereas the mandate of the Asian Women's Fund, a government-initiated private foundation whose aim was the implementation of programmes and projects to compensate for the abuse and suffering of the "comfort women", came to an end on 31 March 2007,

1.  Welcomes the excellent relationship between the European Union and Japan based on the mutually shared values of a multi-party democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights;

2.  Expresses its solidarity with the women who were victims of the "comfort women" system for the duration of World War II;

3.  Welcomes the statements by Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in 1993 and by the then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama in 1995 on the "comfort women", as well as the resolutions of the Japanese parliament (the Diet) of 1995 and 2005 expressing apologies for wartime victims, including victims of the "comfort women" system;

4.  Welcomes the Japanese Government's initiative to establish, in 1995, the now-dissolved Asian Women's Fund, a largely government-funded private foundation, which distributed some "atonement money" to several hundred "comfort women", but considers that this humanitarian initiative cannot satisfy the victims" claims of legal recognition and reparation under public international law, as stated by the UN Special Rapporteur Gay McDougall in her above-mentioned report of 1998;

5.  Calls on the Japanese Government formally to acknowledge, apologise, and accept historical and legal responsibility, in a clear and unequivocal manner, for its Imperial Armed Forces' coercion of young women into sexual slavery, known to the world as "comfort women", during its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s until the end of World War II;

6.  Calls on the Japanese Government to implement effective administrative mechanisms to provide reparations to all surviving victims of the "comfort women" system and the families of its deceased victims;

7.  Calls on the Japanese parliament (the Diet) to take legal measures to remove existing obstacles to obtaining reparations before Japanese courts; in particular, the right of individuals to claim reparations from the government should be expressly recognised in national law, and cases for reparations for the survivors of sexual slavery, as a crime under international law, should be prioritised, taking into account the age of the survivors;

8.  Calls on the government of Japan to refute publicly any claims that the subjugation and enslavement of "comfort women" never occurred;

9.  Encourages the Japanese people and government to take further steps to recognise the full history of their nation, as is the moral duty of all countries, and to foster awareness in Japan of its actions in the 1930s and 1940s, including in relation to "comfort women"; calls on the government of Japan to educate current and future generations about those events;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, to the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Japanese Government and Parliament, the UN Human Rights Council, the governments of the ASEAN States, to the governments of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Timor-Leste.

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