Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 13 March 2008 - Strasbourg
Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund
 The challenge of EU Development Cooperation Policy for the new Member States
 Enhancing the quality of life of older people ***I
 Taxation of unleaded petrol and gas oil *
 The European Union's role in Iraq
 European Code of Conduct on Arms Exports
 The particular situation of women in prison and the impact of the imprisonment of parents on social and family life
 Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation
 Armenia
 Russia
 Afghan journalist Perwiz Kambakhsh
 The case of the Iranian citizen Seyed Mehdi Kazemi

Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund
PDF 138kWORD 47k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (2007/2188(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0096A6-0006/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled Mobilising public and private finance towards global access to climate-friendly, affordable and secure energy services: The Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (COM(2006)0583),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 8 and 9 March 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 September 2007 on the Road Map for renewable energy in Europe(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on energy efficiency or doing more with less − Green Paper(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2006 on a strategy for biomass and biofuels(3),

–   having regard its resolution of 29 September 2005 on the share of renewable energy in the EU and proposals for concrete actions(4),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Development and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A6-0006/2008),

A.   whereas, in the context of limiting the increase in average world temperatures to a maximum of 2oC, renewable energies and energy efficiency must be boosted so that, after peaking in 2015, global emissions will diminish,

B.   whereas the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (October 2006) and reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicate that the poorest countries and people will suffer earliest and most from the effects of climate change,

C.   whereas renewable sources of energy and energy savings are key elements in sustainable access to energy services, contributing to:

   a) lower CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions,
   b) increased energy supply independence,
   c) the development of new innovative technologies,
   d) employment and regional development opportunities,
   e) reductions in deficits in the balance of payments,
   f) business opportunities for SMEs,
   g) cost savings,

D.   whereas global leaders agreed at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development to halve the number of people currently deprived of basic energy services, which currently stands at 1,6 billion; whereas, if current trends persist, this target will never be reached,

E.   whereas sustainable solutions to the energy challenges facing developing countries should be achieved through increased use of renewable energy sources, greater improvements in energy efficiency and energy savings,

F.   whereas transparency and accountability towards public and private investors will be of key importance in assessing and, possibly, further increasing the support offered by the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund, and whereas scrutiny will be intense, especially in the first years of implementation of this fund,

1.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal for a Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF);

2.  Believes that sustainable development, in particular in developing countries and emerging economies, with low greenhouse gas emissions, clean air and a sustainable energy supply, can only be achieved through ensuring the deployment of renewable technologies tapping into local energy resources and improving access to energy by favouring investment in remote and decentralised supply;

3.  Believes that key objectives of the fund should be the promotion of energy efficiency, energy saving and renewable energies, the reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases and of other risks, the improvement of access to energy services in the poorest countries and the diversification of energy sources in the developing world;

4.  Particularly welcomes the fund's focus on leveraging private investment by providing risk capital, since this will be critical for the successful development of sustainable energy projects in the developing world in the long term;

5.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that all support for projects and choice of technology is conditional on the fulfilment of comprehensive sustainability criteria and on a contribution being made to sustainable development as well as on geographical characteristics and available regional resources;

6.  Urges the Commission to focus, when implementing the fund, on small-scale projects in which it is the most difficult to attract private sector investment; believes that the Commission should keep under regular review its upper limit on investments of EUR 10 million for individual projects, while earmarking at least one third of the funds available for small-scale projects requiring less than EUR 1 million;

7.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that support for all biomass projects, including projects involving water and sewerage treatment, in developing countries is subject to the fulfilment of rigorous sustainability criteria that ensure that only the most sustainable technologies are supported, taking into account the full lifecycle effects of biomass on greenhouse gas emissions, air quality, rural management, socio-economic conditions and biodiversity, including the preservation of natural forests and securing food supply to all by improving best local agricultural practices;

8.  Urges the Commission to ensure that the GEEREF supports photovoltaic projects and calls on it to support the development of intelligent grid technologies; encourages in particular investment suitable to the rural poor, such as electrification through renewable energy (including hydro, solar and wind power and biomass), solar heaters, solar pasteurisers, solar cookers, wind pumps and improved cooking stoves, as well as support to micro-credit schemes to enhance local participation in energy projects;

9.  Insists that the GEEREF must not support large projects requiring more than EUR 1 million for conventional energy sources and for the co-firing of biomass in existing or new coal power stations, the small scale use of fossil fuels (for example in diesel generators) or large agrofuel production; urges the Commission to ensure that investments from the sub-funds supported by the GEEREF do not support these types of technology; calls, therefore, on the Commission to ensure that relevant management contracts and the criteria for project selection exclude the selection of these projects;

10.  Believes that, where possible, support should be focussed on projects which combine renewable energy technologies with improved energy efficiency, for example projects for improving the building stock, lighting and the refrigeration chain;

11.  Calls for full coordination between the GEEREF and future work under the platform for International Cooperation on Energy Efficiency proposed by the Commission, so as to improve collaboration on research and development and benchmarking;

12.  Urges the Commission to ensure that the fund supports the development of local markets, manufacturing and capacity in the developing world, for example by supporting local SMEs so that they can take on responsibility for merchandising new technologies in a particular region;

13.  Believes that the fund should also be used to create opportunities, in particular, for SMEs from Member States to contribute their technical know-how to the development and use of sustainable energy technologies in developing countries;

14.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the fund will be coherent with and supplement other Member State and EU development policies and energy initiatives targeted at developing countries;

15.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the fund complements and works effectively alongside the many other international initiatives and funds that currently support sustainable energy projects in the developing world, including those led by the World Bank and regional development banks as well as those launched at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development;

16.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the fund contributes to reducing barriers to the use of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) in certain countries, in particular the least developed countries, and that it further encourages CDM projects that have real added value, have a positive sustainable development impact and fulfil the Gold Standard criteria;

17.  Invites the Commission to explore ways of enlarging the fund in the future context of a post-2012 regime under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking into account that sustainable energy in developing countries will be crucial to achieving the objective of this Convention;

18.  Regrets the fact that the suggested minimum funding target of EUR 100 million − with a contribution of only EUR 15 million for each of the years 2007 and 2008 − is woefully inadequate as the GEEREF's contribution when the goal is to "boost the share of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects and substantially contribute to sustainable development", and that, as yet, only a few countries have chosen to participate financially in the fund; therefore urges the Commission to increase its contribution while at the same time encouraging Member States as well as multilateral financial institutions to join forces in order to significantly increase the size of the fund; calls for many more Members States to offer financial support;

19.  Considers that a key aim in the first years of the GEEREF, which is an open-ended fund, should be the development of exemplars that can inspire further contributions, increasing the flow of investments in renewable energies and energy efficiency to developing countries and transition economies and sparing far more people than the anticipated 1 to 3 million people from energy poverty;

20.  Stresses that the GEEREF must give priority to serving the specific needs of the Least Developed Countries and to interventions that have demonstrated strong linkages to poverty reduction; notes that the scope of the GEEREF is to support regional subfunds for Sub-Saharan Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Island States, the countries of the European Neighbourhood (including North Africa and non-EU Eastern Europe), Latin America and Asia; calls, however, for special emphasis on serving the needs of the ACP countries; calls on the Commission to ensure that funding is not allocated to only one or two subfunds when appropriations are distributed; strongly recommends that any subfunds for China and Russia, if included in the portfolio, do not absorb all the available resources and that they should be of particular interest as pilot-projects;

21.  Recognises however that, as currently envisaged, the GEEREF may have difficulty in complying with the criteria for Official Development Assistance established by the OECD Development Assistance Committee , as investment will be steered by prospects for financial returns rather than development needs; recognises the risk that poverty reduction, mentioned as a specific objective of the GEEREF, might become only a secondary priority of the fund; stresses, therefore, that, in addition to developing clear development criteria to screen projects eligible for GEEREF funding, the Commission must also significantly increase grant-based development aid in order to provide sustainable energy services to the poorest;

22.  Calls on the Commission to report regularly on progress in implementing the fund and on projects supported, and specifically to provide an annual progress report to Parliament;

23.  Calls on the Commission to propose ways of facilitating intensive communication and the exchange of experience relating to the various projects, their specific results and their contribution to sustainable development;

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

(1). Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0406.
(2). OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 273.
(3). OJ C 317 E, 23.12.2006, p. 890.
(4). OJ C 227 E, 21.9.2006, p. 599.


The challenge of EU Development Cooperation Policy for the new Member States
PDF 159kWORD 90k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on the Challenge of EU Development Cooperation Policy for the New Member States (2007/2140(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0097A6-0036/2008

The European Parliament, Development cooperation legislation

–   having regard to Articles 177 to 181 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States of the one part, and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(1), as amended by the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement signed in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005(2),

–   having regard to the Millennium Declaration endorsed by the United Nations in 2000, the 2005 UN Report entitled 'Investing in Development' and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),

–   having regard to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness adopted on 2 March 2005,

–   having regard to the 2002 Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development,

–   having regard to the Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on European Union Development Policy: 'The European Consensus' (the European Consensus on Development)(3),

–   having regard to the joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission: 'The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid'(4),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Council and of the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council of 15 May 2007 on an EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policy,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Policy Coherence for Development: Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals' (COM(2005)0134),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Accelerating progress towards attaining the Millennium Development Goals - Financing for Development and Aid Effectiveness' (COM(2005)0133),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'EU Aid: Delivering more, better and faster' (COM(2006)0087) and the conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 11 April 2006 based thereon,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Annual Report 2006 on the European Community's Development Policy and the Implementation of External Assistance' (COM(2006)0326),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation(5) (DCI),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Governance in the European Consensus on Development: Towards a harmonised approach within European Union' (COM(2006)0421),

–   having regard to the international development cooperation policy of the Czech Republic, including the Plan for Bilateral Development Cooperation 2007 and the country strategy papers for Angola and Zambia,

–   having regard to the international development cooperation policy of Hungary,

–   having regard to the development cooperation policy programme of Latvia for the period 2006 to 2010,

–   having regard to the development cooperation policy of Lithuania for the period 2006 to 2010,

–   having regard to the development cooperation and humanitarian aid strategy of Estonia for the period 2006 to 2010,

–   having regard to the strategy for Poland's development cooperation issued in 2003 and the Polish aid programme 2007,

–   having regard to the national strategy of international development cooperation of Romania,

–   having regard to the medium-term strategy for the Official Development Assistance (ODA) of Slovakia for the period 2003 to 2008 and the 2006 ODA national programme of Slovakia,

–   having regard to Slovenian development cooperation for 2002 to 2004,

–   having regard to the 2007 Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) Aid Watch report entitled 'Hold the Applause! EU governments risk breaking aid promises' by the European NGO confederation for relief and development (CONCORD), which includes an NGO assessment of each Member State's performance in terms of ODA,

–   having regard to the EU strategy for Central Asia (Strategy for a New Partnership) 2007 to 2013,

–   having regard to 'The European Consensus on Development: the Contribution of Development Education and Awareness Raising', a strategy framework drawn up by representatives of the EU institutions, the Member States, civil society and other stakeholders, and presented at the European Development Days in Lisbon in November 2007,

–   having regard to the European Consensus on NGO Communication held from 7 to 9 November 2006,

–   having regard to the Council (Development) resolution of 8 November 2001 on development education and raising European public awareness of development cooperation,

–   having regard to the Maastricht Declaration by the Europe-wide Global Education Congress of 15 to 17 November 2002 representing parliamentarians, local and regional authorities and civil society organisations from the member states of the Council of Europe on a European Strategy Framework for Improving and Increasing Global Education in Europe to the Year 2015,

–   having regard to the Palermo Process of 2003, which was launched with a view to creating an informal forum in which players could debate major developments and issues in European development aid in order to complement, informally, the Commission's official consultation procedures,

–   having regard to the European Conference on Awareness-Raising and Development Education for North-South Solidarity held in Brussels on 19 and 20 May 2005,

–   having regard to the Helsinki Conference on European Development Education held on 3-4 July 2006,

–   having regard to the 18-month programme on development policy of the German, Portuguese and Slovenian Presidencies,

–   having regard to Article 49 of the EU Treaty,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Wider Europe - Neighbourhood: A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours' (COM(2003)0104) and Parliament's resolution of 20 November 2003 on Wider Europe - Neighbourhood: A New Framework for Relations with our Eastern and Southern Neighbours(6),

–   having regard to 'A Secure Europe In A Better World - The European Security Strategy' approved by the European Council in Brussels on 12 December 2003,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'European Neighbourhood Policy - Strategy Paper' (COM(2004)0373),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'On the Commission Proposal for Action Plans Under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP)' (COM(2004)0795),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'European Neighbourhood Policy - Recommendations for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and for Egypt and Lebanon' (COM(2005)0072),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'On Strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy' (COM(2006)0726),

–   having regard to the Action Plan for the South Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) adopted by the Commission on 14 November 2006,

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document accompanying its above-mentioned communication entitled 'On Strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy' (SEC(2006)1504),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document (SEC(2007)0840) annexed to its Communication entitled 'Annual Report 2007 on the European Community's Development Policy and the Implementation of External Assistance in 2006' (COM(2007)0349),

–   having regard to the ENP progress reports on Ukraine (SEC(2006)1505) and Moldova (SEC(2006)1506),

–   having regard to the Commission publication of 24 November 2005 entitled 'European Neighbourhood Policy: A Year of Progress' (IP/05/1467),

–   having regard to the communication to the College from Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner entitled 'Implementing and Promoting the European Neighbourhood Policy' (SEC(2005)1521),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument(7) (ENPI),

–   having regard to Council Decision 2006/62/EC of 23 January 2006 enabling countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as Russia, to benefit from the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) Programme(8),

–   having regard to Council Decision 2005/47/EC of 22 December 2004 amending Decision 2000/24/EC to take into account the enlargement of the European Union and the European Neighbourhood Policy(9),

–   having regard to the report entitled 'European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument' Belarus/Moldova/Ukraine/Armenia/Azerbaijan/Georgia (separately): Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 and National Indicative Programme 2007-2010',

–   having regard to EC-ENPI Eastern Regional Strategy Paper (RSP) 2007-2013, which complements the Country Strategy Papers adopted by the Commission,

–   having regard to the ENPI Eastern Regional Indicative Programme 2007-2010, which defines in more detail the focus of intervention under the Eastern regional envelope of the new ENPI,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Black Sea Synergy-A New Regional Cooperation Initiative' (COM(2007)0160),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'On the General Approach to Enable ENP Partner Countries to Participate in Community Agencies and Community Programmes' (COM(2006)0724),

–   having regard to the paper of June 2006, part of the Occasional Papers series of the Directorate-General for Economic and Financial Affairs , entitled 'European Neighbourhood Policy: Economic Review of ENP Countries',

–   having regard to Capacity Building Scheme II to support the new Member States and candidate countries in the area of development cooperation, launched by the Commission in July 2007,

–   having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2006 on the European Neighbourhood Policy(10),

–   having regard to partnership and cooperation agreements,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A6-0036/2008),

General comments

A.   whereas in 2006 the EU provided ODA of EUR 47 524 million, which accounts for 57 % of ODA worldwide, a figure which is expected to rise to EUR 78 626 million by 2010,

B.   whereas the new Member States have committed themselves to achieving an ODA target of 0.17 % of gross national income (GNI) by 2010 and of 0.33% by 2015, with future contributions to strengthen the EU's role in international development cooperation,

C.   whereas the development aid of the new Member States concerns European development cooperation policy as well as the European Neighbourhood Policy,

D.   whereas the priority countries targeted by the development cooperation of the new Member States are the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries and the countries in the Western Balkans, as well as a few countries which are members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States,

E.   whereas the institutional framework remains one of the most important challenges of efficient development cooperation for the new Member States,

F.   whereas one of the major challenges facing the new Member States is the need to build up cross-party political and public support for development co-operation, including support for the least developed countries of the world,

G.   whereas awareness of development co-operation topics needs further improvement in most of the Member States,

H.   whereas the right of Member States to pursue development strategies as shaped by their nationally determined priorities is a fully legitimate expression of their sovereignty and should always be acknowledged and respected as such,

Priority countries for the new Member States

I.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Estonia and Latvia is targeted at CIS countries, especially Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and Afghanistan; whereas Estonia's ODA spending in 2005 was 0.08% and Latvia's ODA spending in 2005 was 0.07%,

J.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Lithuania is targeted at Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, the countries of the South Caucasus, Afghanistan (Ghor province) and Iraq, and only one ACP country, Mauritania, and in 2005 Lithuania spent 0.06% on ODA,

K.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Poland is targeted at Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, and Poland's ODA in 2005 amounted to 0.07%,

L.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Hungary is targeted at the Western Balkans (Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina), and in 2005 Hungary's ODA spending was 0.11%,

M.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Romania is targeted at Moldova, Serbia and Georgia, and Romania's ODA amounted to 0.04% in 2006,

N.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Slovenia is targeted at the Western Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Albania) and Moldova, and in 2005 Slovenia spent 0.11% on ODA,

O.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of Slovakia is targeted at Serbia, Montenegro, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus, and Slovakia's ODA spending in 2005 was 0.12%,

P.   whereas the major part of the bilateral ODA of the Czech Republic is targeted at Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Mongolia, Serbia, Montenegro and Vietnam, and in 2005 the Czech Republic spent 0.11% on ODA,

Q.   whereas Bulgaria adopted its national strategy for development cooperation only at the end of 2007, and its priorities lie with Albania, FYROM, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ukraine and Moldova, and its ODA spending for 2005 is estimated to be around 0.04%, which equals Bulgaria's contribution to multilateral institutions,

Relationship between the new Member States and the ACP countries

R.   whereas Estonia, Latvia and Romania do not target any ACP countries under European development cooperation policy; although Estonia has not ruled out that in future it will establish bilateral co-operation with one least-developed sub-Saharan African state,

S.   whereas Bulgaria intends to target African countries with which it had bilateral agreements before 1989, such as Ghana,

T.   whereas the Czech Republic targets Angola and Zambia, with Angola receiving 8% (EUR 956 000 in 2007) and Zambia 4% (EUR 775 000 in 2007) of allocated funds; whereas in Angola it funds programmes in the sectors of agriculture and rural development and education and cross-cutting programmes such as mine-clearance, strengthening public sector capacity and promoting civil society and gender equality, as well as the environment; whereas in Zambia it funds programmes in the health sector aimed at achieving MDGs such as reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases, targeting the Western province, which has a particularly hostile natural environment,

U.   whereas Hungary targets Ethiopia, and Poland targets mainly Angola and Tanzania,

V.   whereas Slovakia targets Kenya, Sudan and Mozambique, the business and health sectors in Kenya, and offers support for the use of renewable resources; whereas its development cooperation with Sudan involves debt-reduction and targets technical infrastructure such as water management, and the social sector, especially fostering primary education and basic healthcare,

W.   whereas Slovenia intends to target Madagascar, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Malawi through Slovenian non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) and to assist local communities in sectors such as infrastructure, education, water, sanitation and sustainable energy supply,

X.   whereas in 2006 Lithuania initiated its first bilateral project in Mauritania (assistance with the development of natural resources),

Y.  Y whereas in all the new Member States, a considerable share of development aid is channelled through multilateral channels including the EU, and thus all those countries contribute indirectly to the development of ACP countries,

Relationship between the new Member States and their neighbours

Z.   whereas the ENP is one of the top priorities of the EU's external relations, with the aim of promoting good governance and economic development in its vicinity and thus decreasing political, economic and social differences between the Member States and their neighbours,

AA.   whereas the ENP Action Plans for the three South Caucasus States (Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan) were released on 14 November 2006, despite the fact that the inclusion of the South Caucasus countries in the ENP had initially been rejected in a footnote in the above-mentioned Commission Communication on a wider Europe,

AB.   whereas the Action Plans are supposed to be tailor-made for each country,

AC.   whereas the EU traditionally favours a regional approach in its external relations,

AD.   whereas the Georgian government expresses the hope that Georgia will be included in the Black Sea region, with Ukraine and Moldova, rather than in the South Caucasus region, which has also been acknowledged in the Action Plan,

AE.   whereas the EU-Georgia Action Plan shows that EU is ready to offer some increased political support to Georgia in the area of conflict resolution, which it had refused up until now,

AF.   whereas the new Member States were involved in developing the ENP before their membership of the EU,

AG.   whereas the new Member States did not have any influence on the Action Plans, nor were they involved in decision-making and procedure before membership,

AH.   whereas in order to sign up to the ENP, neighbouring countries have to have a contractual relationship in force, such as a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement or an Association Agreement; thus Belarus, Libya and Syria are excluded from the ENP because they do not have any contractual relationship in force,

AI.   whereas the EU aims at a balanced bilateral and regional approach towards Central Asia,

AJ.   whereas the relationship between Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and the EU is based upon Partnership and Cooperation Agreements and cooperation frameworks such as the BAKU initiative, as well as a variety of Common Security and Foreign Policy instruments,

AK.   whereas all the EU's neighbours, irrespective of the issue of possible membership, have an equal opportunity to establish privileged relationships with the EU that are founded on both common interests and common values, according to their own aspirations,

AL.   whereas the main advantage of the Action Plans is to help the country in question to identify priorities and to guide the EU's support for its efforts,

AM.   whereas Bulgaria and Romania are already included in cross-border cooperation with relevant ENP partners,

AN.   whereas the new Member States' role in sharing the transition experience will be harnessed and will contribute to expertise within the old Member States through the TAIEX and twinning programmes,

Raising public awareness

AO.   whereas the current level of expenditure in most countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for raising public awareness of development issues totals approximately EUR 190 million, or 0.25% of total ODA,

AP.   whereas all the new Member States, with the exception of Poland and Malta, regard development education as a priority for their NGDO national platforms,

AQ.   whereas none of the new Member States has a national strategy for development education as yet,

AR.   whereas only 12 % of OECD citizens have actually heard of the MDGs, 62 % of those who have heard of the MDGs are not aware of what they mean, 17% of European citizens do not know, in the light of corruption and the perception that aid does not benefit the poor, whether aid makes a difference (a figure which rises to 34% in Portugal, 24% in Italy, 23% in Ireland and 22% in Spain),

AS.   whereas only 29 % of European citizens think that a reduction in extreme poverty and hunger will be achieved by 2015, the most frequently cited obstacles being lack of money or resources (18 %), lack of will (18 %) and the magnitude of the task ahead (14 %),

AT.   whereas a United Nations Development Programme report has proposed that the Commission and the Member States move towards or beyond a figure of 3% of ODA as a minimum target for public awareness raising and development education expenditure,

1.  Stresses that development policy is entirely part of the acquis communautaire and recalls the international commitments of the new Member States in this field; underlines that the EU needs to support the new Member States so as to assist them in integrating the acquis communautaire;

2.  Considers that the ten new Member States subscribed to the European Consensus on Development within a year of their accession, agreeing to implement an ambitious development paradigm and to work towards achieving the MDGs within the set time-frame;

3.  Expresses its concern that many of the new Member States are not on course to meet the target of 0.17% of GNI to be spent on ODA by 2010, though some may see ODA fall in line with overall budget cuts due to the need to reduce government debt;

4.  Stresses the experience of the new Member States, in particular during the transition process, and considers that good governance and the promotion of democracy must be the priorities for the EU in development cooperation matters ; calls on the EU institutions to put to good use, in order to enrich its development policy, the experience accumulated in the field by the new Member States;

5.  Considers that, due to an active cooperation policy, the new Member States will contribute to the promotion of respect for fundamental rights and solidarity with the new generations in third countries within the scope of the ENP;

6.  Stresses the concrete benefit for the new Member States of participating in development cooperation policy, in particular in the areas of economic development and trade;

7.  Welcomes the Commission's new approach of going beyond traditional development policies and creating new partnership relations with developing countries;

8.  Welcomes the fact that the international community is willing to accept the principle of 'common responsibility' in the case of humanitarian urgency;

9.  Suggests that the new and old Member States should work together more proactively within the EU to ensure that the situation in particular countries included in the ENP is monitored in a more timely fashion so that the EU can react with greater flexibility in its policy towards these countries;

10.  Stresses the link between development and migration, which is a major challenge for most of the new Member States which are at the external borders of the EU;

11.  Recognises the progress made by the new Member States in their evolution from being aid recipient countries to becoming donor countries, and acknowledges the challenges that lie ahead;

12.  Notes that the priorities of the new Member States after the transition period are determined by their historical relations and ties with their neighbours, and that the major part of the development cooperation budget of the new Member States targets their immediate neighbours and the CIS countries; calls on the EU to seize the occasion of the accession of the new Member States to reinforce its strategic presence in eastern Europe, central Asia and the Caucasus as regions of the world hitherto less concerned by European aid but which are nonetheless facing numerous development challenges;

13.  Stresses that effective action in the promotion of democracy and the rule of law, key fields of intervention for the new Member States, is also a means of acting in the long term for poverty reduction, which is a priority objective of EU development policy as fixed by the DCI;

14.  Recalls the Eastern dimension of EU external relations and considers that a new assembly of EU and neighbouring countries (similar to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (Euromed) and the Parliamentary Assembly for EU-Latin America (Eurolat)) could build on historical experience, boost the input of the new Member States in EU politics and help to co-shape the ENP and to make neighbouring countries aware of new political fields;

15.  Recognises that most Member States have departments within their Ministries of Foreign Affairs dealing specifically with development cooperation, but nonetheless recommends that they strengthen coordination both within their own ministries and between each other and with other Member States to the extent approved by national parliaments and local authorities in the decision-making process;

16.  Recognises that building the relevant institutions and implementing policies is a time-consuming process;

17.  Recognises that the biggest challenges for the new Member States in the coming years will be the increase in budgets and awareness-raising activities;

18.  Welcomes the above-mentioned strategy framework 'The European Consensus on Development: The Contribution of Development Education and Awareness Raising' and stresses that Parliament has an important role to play in highlighting the actual and potential role of development education and awareness in both formal and informal education in the new Member States;

19.  Considers that long-term projects which target partners and sectors where the new Member States have a comparative advantage and can transfer experience are of optimal utility in the global poverty eradication process;

20.  Calls for a division of labour between the Member States with regard to the added-value of each actor's input and with the objective of working together effectively;

21.  Believes that a large majority of the new Member States could give greater priority to their development policy and furthermore ensure an approach to strategy planning with greater internal coordination (with the exception of Lithuania, where the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the lead ministry for ODA planning and management);

22.  States that the objective of the EU with regard to the new Member States is not only to capitalise on their experience but also to help them strengthen their role as new donors; encourages, therefore, the old and new Member States to decide jointly on a realistic calendar with a view to bringing the new Member States into line with the EU's development aid objectives, while taking due account of both the potential and the limits of the partnership between new and old Member States;

23.  Stresses that the new Member States need to be fully included in the sharing of experience and in specific training in fields related to the programming, implementation and evaluation of development cooperation policy; recalls the different CBS (Capacity Building Scheme) experiences and calls for further improvements, to put an end for instance to the turnover of civil servants;

24.  Recalls the importance of a permanent dialogue with officials responsible for the new Member States and acceding or candidate countries; underlines the importance of EuropeAid's technical assistance in the organisation of training courses, seminars, conferences and specific technical assistance to meet the needs expressed by these countries; stresses the importance of the activities funded by the Directorate-General Development of the Commission in this regard;

25.  Regrets the fact that the special working party on strengthening the new Member States' capacities held no further meetings in 2007, even though the new Member States have a pressing need to increase their development-cooperation capacities and the EU enlargement process is still under way;

26.  Calls for that working party to be reactivated and for representatives of Parliament's Committee on Development (or its secretariat) and of TRIALOG (a project conducted in close cooperation with European development NGOs) to be also involved in the working party's activities, and for the working party's remit to be enlarged to include the new Member States' specific development-cooperation problems;

27.  Stresses the importance of projects on "twinning" and "light twinning" in training the personnel of new Member States through quality technical assistance, funds which only Hungary and Slovakia have called for;

28.  Calls for bi-annual inter-parliamentary meetings between Parliament and the parliaments of the new Member States focused on development and cooperation issues and the creation of a specific network in this regard;

29.  Believes that the participation of the new Member States in the European Development Fund committee would bring an additional dimension to the debates and further help to build their technical capacities;

30.  Notes the lack of public recognition of development cooperation priorities in some of the new Member States and calls for an overall communication and education strategy to remedy this deficit; stresses the importance of raising awareness of development issues in school curricula, as well as the role of the media in creating public awareness and developing an international volunteer tradition;

31.  Takes a positive view of the importance of a report on development education awareness raising and its role in the implementation of the European Consensus on Development, highlighting the actual and potential role of development education and awareness raising in formal and informal education in Europe, especially in the new Member States;

32.  Considers that the public in the new Member States is already aware of humanitarian aid issues, as was demonstrated by their large-scale mobilisation over the 2004 tsunami - a starting-point for making people aware of the need for specific longer-term commitments within an effective development policy;

33.  Calls on the Commission to launch a specific awareness-raising campaign focusing on the comparative advantages and added value of the new Member States with regard to cooperation and development issues;

34.  Calls for greater coordination among the relevant national stakeholders and an appropriate involvement on the part of NGOs and local authorities in national policy-making processes;

35.  Calls on the Commission to actively involve the new Member States in the preparation and negotiation of Action Plans, and in monitoring their implementation;

36.  Notes that, by fully untying their development aid, the new Member States could be a positive example for all Member States;

37.  Notes that all Member States should set deadlines to untie their development aid, since in the long term tied development aid neither serves good governance nor the efficient allocation of resources, nor does it contribute to the goals of development cooperation;

38.  Notes that the links between the private sector and development cooperation constitute a promising new avenue for the new Member States, and that a more active participation on the part of private undertakings from those Member States in the procurement of development cooperation projects at EU level could raise awareness of development cooperation;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3. Agreement last amended by Decision No 1/2006 of the ACP-EC Council of Ministers (OJ L 247, 9.9.2006, p. 22).
(2) OJ L 209, 11.8.2005, p. 27
(3) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(4) The Statement on the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid was approved by Council on 19 November and by the European Parliament on 29 November and was signed by the Presidents of the Commission, Council and the European Parliament on 18 December 2007.
(5) OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41.
(6) OJ C 87 E, 7.4.2004, p. 506.
(7) OJ L 310, 9.11.2006, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 32, 4.2.2006, p. 80.
(9) OJ L 21, 25.1.2005, p. 9.
(10) OJ C 287 E, 24.11.2006, p. 312.


Enhancing the quality of life of older people ***I
PDF 193kWORD 35k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2008 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the participation by the Community in a research and development programme aimed at enhancing the quality of life of older people through the use of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), undertaken by several Member States (COM(2007)0329 – C6-0178/2007 – 2007/0116(COD))
P6_TA(2008)0098A6-0027/2008

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2007)0329),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) and Articles 169 and 172(2) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0178/2007),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinion of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0027/2008),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 13 March 2008 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Community's participation in a research and development programme undertaken by several Member States aimed at enhancing the quality of life of older people through the use of new Information and Communication Technologies

P6_TC1-COD(2007)0116


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position at first reading corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision No .../2008/EC.)


Taxation of unleaded petrol and gas oil *
PDF 417kWORD 104k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2008 on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2003/96/EC as regards the adjustment of special tax arrangements for gas oil used as motor fuel for commercial purposes and the coordination of taxation of unleaded petrol and gas oil used as motor fuel (COM(2007)0052 – C6-0109/2007 – 2007/0023(CNS))
P6_TA(2008)0099A6-0030/2008

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2007)0052),

–   having regard to Article 93 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0109/2007),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A6-0030/2008),

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
RECITAL 4
(4)  While fuel represents a large proportion of the running costs of a road haulage business, wide divergences in the level of taxation applied to gas oil by the Member States can be observed. These divergences lead to fuel tourism and distortions of competition. Enhanced approximation at Community level of the level of taxation applicable to commercial gas oil would address the issue of unfair competition in an efficient manner and would eventually result in better functioning of the internal market and a reduction of damage to the environment.
(4)  While fuel represents a large proportion of the running costs of a road haulage business, wide divergences in the level of taxation applied to gas oil by the Member States can be observed. These divergences may lead to fuel tourism and distortions of competition in border regions. Enhanced approximation at Community level of the level of taxation applicable to commercial gas oil would address the issue of unfair competition in an efficient manner and would eventually result in better functioning of the internal market and a reduction of damage to the environment. The approximation of excise duty rates should also take into consideration inflationary effects and the need to strengthen the competitiveness of the European Union. The harmonisation of excise duty rates on unleaded petrol and gas oil should not lead to disproportionate requirements for those Member States that otherwise have a tight fiscal policy and a high commitment to fight inflation.
Amendment 28
RECITAL 5
(5)  The impact assessment carried out by the Commission showed that the best way to implement enhanced approximation of the levels of taxation of commercial gas oil consists in an increase of the minimum level for commercial gas oil, given that it combines the reduction of distortions of competition and resulting fuel tourism as well as of overall consumption. It is therefore appropriate to provide that from 2012 the minimum level of taxation for gas oil should equal the minimum level of taxation applicable to unleaded petrol, which reflects the fact that these two fuels are similarly detrimental to the environment. From 2014 the minimum level of taxation should be € 380 per 1000 l, in order to contribute to maintain the minimum level constant in real terms and to reduce further distortions of competition and environmental damage.
(5)  The impact assessment carried out by the Commission showed that the best way to implement enhanced approximation of the levels of taxation of commercial gas oil consists in an increase of the minimum level for commercial gas oil, given that it combines the reduction of distortions of competition and resulting fuel tourism as well as of overall consumption. It is therefore appropriate to provide that from 2012 the minimum level of taxation for gas oil should equal the minimum level of taxation applicable to unleaded petrol, which reflects the fact that these two fuels are similarly detrimental to the environment. From 2015 the minimum level of taxation should be EUR 359 per 1000 l, in order to contribute to maintain the minimum level constant in real terms and to reduce further distortions of competition and environmental damage.
Amendment 2
RECITAL 6
(6)  From an environmental point of view, it appears appropriate, at this stage, to set the minimum levels of taxation for unleaded petrol and for gas oil. There are no valid reasons to fix national levels of taxation for non-commercial gas oil and unleaded petrol below the national level applicable to commercial gas oil. For Member States, which differentiate between commercial and non-commercial use of gas oil, used as propellant it should therefore be clarified that the national level of taxation for non-commercial gas oil used as propellant shall not be less than the national level applied by that Member State to commercial gas oil. The same should apply between unleaded petrol and commercial gas oil used as propellant.
(6)  From an environmental point of view, it appears appropriate, at this stage, to set the minimum levels of taxation for unleaded petrol and for gas oil. There are no valid reasons to fix national levels of taxation for non-commercial gas oil and unleaded petrol below the national level applicable to commercial gas oil. For Member States, which differentiate between commercial and non-commercial use of gas oil, used as propellant it should therefore be clarified that the national level of taxation for non-commercial gas oil used as propellant shall not be less than the national level applied by that Member State to commercial gas oil, without adversely affecting users of non-commercial gas oil. The same should apply between unleaded petrol and commercial gas oil used as propellant.
Amendment 3
RECITAL 6 A (new)
(6a)  Member States that avail themselves of the transitional periods tend, regrettably, not to take steps to catch up with the minimum excise duty standards, contrary to the commitments that they have made. Any automatic prolongation of the transitional period is, therefore, wholly unacceptable. The Commission should report in 2010 on the extent to which those Member States that are approaching the end of the transitional period have fulfilled their obligations.
Amendment 4
RECITAL 6 B (new)
(6b)  In order to ensure the coherence of Directive 2003/96/EC with the common transport policy and avoid potential distortions of competition within the haulage markets, the definition of gas oil used as propellant should be modified. The definition of commercial use concerns the transport of goods by road carried out by vehicles with a maximum permissible gross laden weight of no less than 3,5 tonnes.
Amendment 5
RECITAL 7
(7)  Certain Member States have been granted transitional periods in order to smoothly adapt to the levels of taxation set out in Directive 2003/96/CE. For the same reasons, these transitional periods should be supplemented with regard to this Directive.
(7)  Certain Member States have been granted transitional periods in order to smoothly adapt to the levels of taxation set out in Directive 2003/96/EC. For some of those Member States, these transitional periods should be supplemented with regard to this Directive.
Amendment 6
RECITAL 10
(10)  The possibility for Member States to fix a reduced rate on gas oil for commercial purposes below the national level in force on 1 January 2003, when introducing or applying a system of road user charges which results in a broadly equivalent overall tax burden, should be extended. To this end and in the light of experience, it is appropriate to no longer maintain the requirement whereby the national level of taxation in force on 1 January 2003 for gas oil used as propellant must be at least twice as high as the minimum level of taxation applicable on 1 January 2004.
(10)  The possibility for Member States to fix a reduced rate on gas oil for commercial purposes when introducing or applying a system of road user charges which results in a broadly equivalent overall tax burden, should be extended. Member States should also be able to promote the use of non-fossil and low-carbon based propellants through both tax incentives and schemes aimed at guaranteeing a certain level of consumption of those propellants. To this end and in the light of experience, it is appropriate to no longer maintain the requirement whereby the national level of taxation in force on 1 January 2003 for gas oil used as propellant must be at least twice as high as the minimum level of taxation applicable on 1 January 2004.
Amendment 7
RECITAL 10 A (new)
(10a)  While regard should be had to the principle of subsidiarity, Member States that obtain additional revenue through the implementation of this Directive should be encouraged to reinvest them primarily in infrastructure, biofuel and new environmental measures aimed at reducing CO2 emissions.
Amendment 8
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1, POINT (A)
Article 7, paragraph 1 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
1.  As from 1 January 2004, 1 January 2010, 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2014 the minimum levels of taxation applicable to motor fuels shall be fixed as set out in Annex I Table A.
1.  As from 1 January 2004, 1 January 2010, 1 January 2012 and 1 January 2015 the minimum levels of taxation applicable to motor fuels shall be fixed as set out in Annex I Table A.
Amendment 9
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1, POINT (A)
Article 7, paragraph 2, subparagraph 1 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
2.  Member States may differentiate between commercial and non-commercial use of gas oil used as propellant, provided that the Community minimum levels are observed, and the rate for commercial gas oil used as propellant does not fall below the national level of taxation in force on 1 January 2003.
2.  Member States may differentiate between commercial and non-commercial use of gas oil used as propellant, provided that the Community minimum levels are observed.
Amendment 10
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1, POINT (AA) (new)
Article 7, paragraph 3, point (a) (Directive 2003/96/EC)
(aa)  Paragraph 3(a) shall be replaced by the following:
"(a) the carriage of goods for hire or reward, or on own account, by motor vehicles or articulated vehicle combinations intended exclusively for the carriage of goods by road and with a maximum permissible gross laden weight of not less than 3,5 tonnes;"
Amendment 11
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1, POINT (B)
Article 7, paragraph 4 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
4.  Member States which apply or introduce a system of road user charges to motor vehicles using commercial gas oil as defined in paragraph 3, may apply a reduced rate to such gas oil that goes below the national level of taxation in force on 1 January 2003, as long as the overall tax burden remains broadly equivalent, and provided that the Community minimum level applicable to gas oil is observed.
4.  Member States may apply or introduce a system of road user charges to motor vehicles using commercial gas oil as defined in paragraph 3, provided that the Community minimum level applicable to gas oil is observed.
Amendment 12
ARTICLE 1, POINT 1, POINT (C)
Article 7, paragraph 5, subparagraph 2 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
The Commission shall establish common rules as to the mechanisms referred to in the first subparagraph, in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 27(2).
No later than ...*, the Commission shall establish common rules as to the mechanisms referred to in the first subparagraph, in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 27(2).
_____________
* six months after the entry into force of this Directive.
Amendment 13
ARTICLE 1, POINT 2
Article 18 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
(2)  Article 18 is amended as follows:
(2)  Article 18 shall be amended as follows:
(a)  In paragraph 3, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(a)  In paragraph 3, the first sentence shall be deleted.
"The Kingdom of Spain may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2007 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
(b)  In paragraph 4, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(b)  In paragraph 4, the first sentence shall be deleted.
"The Republic of Austria may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2007 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
(c)  In paragraph 5, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(c)  In paragraph 5, the first sentence shall be deleted.
"The Kingdom of Belgium may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2007 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
(d)  In paragraph 6, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(d)  In paragraph 6, the first sentence shall be deleted.
"The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2009 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
(e)  In paragraph 7, in the second sub-paragraph, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(e)  In paragraph 7, in the second sub-paragraph, the first sentence shall be deleted.
"The Portuguese Republic may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2009 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
(f)  In paragraph 8, in the third sub-paragraph, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(f)  In paragraph 8, in the third sub-paragraph, the first sentence shall be deleted.
"The Hellenic Republic may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2010 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
Amendment 14
ARTICLE 1, POINT 3, POINT (A)
Article 18a, paragraph 5, subparagraph 1 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
(a)  In paragraph 5, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(a)  In paragraph 5, the first subparagraph is replaced by the following:
"The Republic of Latvia may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2011 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil and kerosene used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302 per 1000 l, until 1 January 2013 to reach EUR 330 and, for gas oil used as propellant, until 1 January 2015 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2017 to reach EUR 380."
"5. The Republic of Latvia may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2012 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil and kerosene used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302 per 1000 l, until 1 January 2013 to reach EUR 330 and, for gas oil used as propellant, until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 359. However, the level of taxation on gas oil and kerosene shall be no less than EUR 245 per 1 000 l as from 1 May 2004 and no less than EUR 274 per 1 000 l as from 1 January 2008."
Amendment 15
ARTICLE 1, POINT 3, POINT (B)
Article 18a, paragraph 6, subparagraph 1 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
(b)  In paragraph 6, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(b)  In paragraph 6, the first subparagraph is replaced by the following:
"The Republic of Lithuania may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2011 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil and kerosene used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302 per 1000 l, until 1 January 2013 to reach EUR 330 and, for gas oil used as propellant, until 1 January 2015 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2017 to reach EUR 380."
"6. The Republic of Lithuania may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2012 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil and kerosene used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302 per 1000 l, until 1 January 2013 to reach EUR 330 and, for gas oil used as propellant, until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 359. However, the level of taxation on gas oil and kerosene shall be no less than EUR 245 per 1 000 l as from 1 May 2004 and no less than EUR 274 per 1 000 l as from 1 January 2008."
Amendment 16
ARTICLE 1, POINT 3, POINT (C)
Article 18a, paragraph 9, subparagraph 2 (Directive 2003/96/EC)
(c)  In paragraph 9, the second sub-paragraph, the first sentence is replaced by the following:
(c)  In paragraph 9, the second subparagraph is replaced by the following:
"The Republic of Poland may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2010 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302 per 1000 l, until 1 January 2012 to reach EUR 330, until 1 January 2014 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 380."
"The Republic of Poland may apply a transitional period until 1 January 2012 to adjust its national level of taxation on gas oil used as propellant to the new minimum level of EUR 302 per 1000 l, until 1 January 2013 to reach EUR 330 and until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 359. However, the level of taxation on gas oil shall be no less than EUR 245 per 1 000 l as from 1 May 2004 and no less than EUR 274 per 1 000 l as from 1 January 2008."
Amendment 17
ARTICLE 1, POINT 4
Article 18c (Directive 2003/96/EC)
Without prejudice to the derogations from Article 7 laid down in the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union. Those Member States may apply a further transitional period for gas oil used as propellant until 1 January 2015 to reach EUR 359 and until 1 January 2017 to reach EUR 380.
Without prejudice to the derogations from Article 7 laid down in the Treaty concerning the accession of the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union, those Member States may apply a further transitional period for gas oil used as propellant until 1 January 2016 to reach EUR 359.
Amendment 18
ARTICLE 1, POINT 5
Annex I, Table A (Directive 2003/96/EC)
Text proposed by the Commission

1 January 2004

1 January 2010

1 January 2012

1 January 2014

Unleaded petrol

(in euros per

1 000 l)

CN Codes 2710 11 31, 2710 11 41, 2710 11 45 and 2710 11 49

359

359

359

380

Gas oil

(in euros per

1 000 l)

CN codes 2710 19 41 to 2710 19 49

302

330

359

380

Amendment by Parliament

1 January 2004

1 January 2010

1 January 2012

1 January 2015

Unleaded petrol

(in euros per

1 000 l)

CN Codes 2710 11 31, 2710 11 41, 2710 11 45 and 2710 11 49

359

359

359

359

Gas oil

(in euros per

1 000 l)

CN codes 2710 19 41 to 2710 19 49

302

330

340

359

Amendment 19
ARTICLE 1, POINT 5
Annex I, Table A, Note (new) (Directive 2003/96/EC)
Without prejudice to the time periods laid down in Article 18a(5), (6) and (9) and Article 18c, the following provisions will apply:
· excise duty rates on both unleaded petrol and gas oil must be no less than EUR 359 per 1 000 litres before 1 January 2015;
· Member States that are required under Community law to increase the excise duty rate on gas oil to EUR 340 per 1 000 litres by 1 January 2012 must impose a rate of at least EUR 359 per 1 000 litres by 1 January 2015;
· Member States in which the excise duty rate on gas oil exceeded EUR 400 per 1 000 litres on 1 January 2008 must increase that rate no further until 1 January 2015;
· Member States in which the excise duty rate on unleaded petrol exceeded EUR 500 per 1 000 litres on 1 January 2008 must increase that rate no further until 1 January 2015.
Amendment 20
ARTICLE 1, POINT 5 A (new)
Article 29a (new) (Directive 2003/96/EC)
(5a)  The following Article 29a shall be inserted:
"Article 29a
The Commission shall report on the fulfilment of the obligations of those Member States in which a transitional period expires in 2010."

The European Union's role in Iraq
PDF 147kWORD 71k
European Parliament recommendation to the Council of 13 March 2008 on the European Union's role in Iraq (2007/2181(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0100A6-0052/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Ana Maria Gomes on behalf of the PSE Group on the European Union's role in Iraq (B6-0328/2007),

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Iraq, most recently that of 25 October 2007(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on the humanitarian situation of Iraqi refugees(2),

–   having regard to the decisions of its Conference of Presidents of 15 November and 6 December 2007 on the composition and the remit of an 'ad hoc delegation for relations with Iraq',

–   having regard to the General Affairs and External Relations Council conclusions on EU involvement in Iraq of 23-24 April, 15-16 October and 19-20 November 2007,

–   having regard to the Commission's Communication of 7 June 2006 entitled 'Recommendations for renewed European Union engagement with Iraq' (COM(2006)0283),

–   having regard to the International Compact with Iraq, launched in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, on 3 May 2007,

–   having regard to Resolutions 1546 (2004) of 8 June 2004, 1770 (2007) of 10 August 2007 and 1790 (2007) of 18 December 2007, particularly Annexes I and II thereto, of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC),

–   having regard to Council Joint Action 2005/190/CFSP of 7 March 2005 on the European Union Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq, EUJUST LEX(3), established under the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), and to subsequent Joint Actions amending it and extending the mandate for the mission,

–   having regard to the European Security Strategy on 'A secure Europe in a better world' of 12 December 2003,

–   having regard to the European Consensus on Development of 22 November 2005,

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on women in armed conflicts and their role in post-conflict reconstruction(4),

–   having regard to the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949, together with Additional Protocols I and II thereto, and particularly concerned at the violence suffered by humanitarian, medical and religious personnel in the performance of their duties,

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries(5),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A6-0052/2008),

A.   whereas since 2005 the Republic of Iraq has held two multiparty elections, has adopted a constitution by referendum, has created the basis for a federal state and has embarked on a difficult process of building democratic institutions,

B.   whereas both Iraqi society and its political leadership are divided and whereas the security situation in some parts of the country remains extremely dangerous,

C.   whereas Iraq suffers from sectarian conflict and insurgency, and is also affected by a general absence of the rule of law,

D.   whereas there has been an improvement in the security situation in the Republic of Iraq, but whereas the Iraqi forces remain faced with the challenge of sustaining and consolidating this improvement, with international assistance, and whereas serious efforts to secure reconstruction and sustainable development, and the EU's ability to help the people of Iraq, depend on continuing improvement of the political and security situation,

E.   whereas during decades of dictatorial rule Iraq's public administration was directed towards control of the population rather than towards public service, and whereas the years of strictly centralised administration by the Ba'ath Party led to serious shortcomings in the capacity of Iraqis to manage the budget and handle financial resources in an appropriate way, with the result that the public sector today is fragile and weakened, and lacks a fully developed culture of prioritising the delivery of public services to the people of Iraq,

F.   whereas neighbouring countries must refrain from any interference in Iraq's internal affairs and respect its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and the desire of the Iraqi people to build the country's constitutional and political system by their own efforts,

G.   whereas the conflict has so far caused the displacement of 2.4 million persons within Iraq and 2.28 million refugees in neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan,

H.   whereas the Kurdish region is a region of Iraq where a degree of peace and stability is guaranteed and where international development cooperation and private investment are growing,

I.   whereas the EU as a global player should assume its responsibilities for building up a new democratic Iraq, and whereas the EU's policy towards Iraq should be seen in the broader context of the EU's strategic partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East,

J.   whereas the EU needs to be more strategic in supporting Iraq in its progress towards becoming a democratic federal state; whereas the EU recognises that, in order for it to be able to provide effective assistance, there must be a solid partnership with the people of Iraq, an ongoing commitment on the part of the Government of Iraq to ensure security, reconciliation, a willingness to cooperate, efforts to achieve capacity- and democracy-building, and efforts to fight corruption and ensure transparency and effectiveness as fundamental preconditions for an increased role of the European Union in Iraq; whereas the key challenges of reconstruction lie on the institutional and social fronts, namely the capacity-building of institutions and administration, consolidation of the rule of law, law enforcement and respect for human rights,

K.   whereas the EU has identified the need for a multi-annual planning of operations that goes beyond the current yearly planning based on special measures, in order to improve the effectiveness of its assistance,

L.   whereas the EU needs to adapt the use of its resources according to the specific internal, regional and humanitarian challenges that Iraq faces; whereas effectiveness, transparency and visibility are fundamental preconditions for an increased role of the EU in Iraq,

M.   whereas Iraq has regressed from being a middle-income country in the 1970s, and whereas the EU needs to adapt the use of its resources accordingly,

N.   whereas the Commission has had a small delegation in Baghdad since December 2005, with its operational section based in Amman, and finds it very difficult to operate in some areas, especially Baghdad, as a result of military arrangements and the security situation,

O.   whereas the Commission has since 2003 provided over EUR 800 million to assist Iraq (mostly through the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq (IRFFI)), and whereas the EU has been directly involved in improving the rule of law in the country since 2005 through its ESDP EUJUST LEX mission; whereas the mandate of EUJUST LEX has been extended one last time,

P.   whereas the Government of Iraq, together with the World Bank and the United Nations, agreed the International Compact with Iraq on 3 May 2007 as the vision of the Iraqi government for the next 5 years and as the main reference for the involvement of the international community in the country, with the full endorsement of the European Union as one of the main donors,

Q.   whereas the above-mentioned UNSC Resolution 1770 (2007) has recently significantly expanded the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Iraq,

R.   whereas the years of the Ba'ath regime and decades of war have left behind a society traumatised by war, repression, ethnic cleansing (including by chemical attack, as in Halabja) and international indifference to these crimes; whereas the international community, and particularly those states that have supported the intervention, have a legal and moral duty, and also a security interest, to support the people of Iraq, and whereas the European Union, in coordination with other international donors, must rapidly and creatively mobilise all the relevant instruments at its disposal to do its part,

S.   whereas the European Parliament is determined to develop further its relationship with the Iraqi Council of Representatives, including through formal links,

1.  Addresses the following recommendations to the Council:

   a) to adopt, together with the Commission, a new strategy that will step up, both in quantitative and – especially – in qualitative terms, EU support for UN efforts to help build a safe, stable, unified, prosperous, federal and democratic Iraq that upholds human rights, protects its minorities and promotes inter-ethnic tolerance so as to pave the way towards regional stability and security; and to respond to UNSC Resolution 1770 (2007), which significantly increases the role of the UN in Iraq;
   b) to channel the EU's support for democratic governance towards three goals in particular: enhancing coordination between the Government and the Council of Representatives of Iraq in order to minimise blockages in the legislative process; strengthening electoral procedures at the local level in order to ensure that provincial councils are fully representative of all local populations; and reinforcing local democracy with consultative mechanisms to draw the local people into the decision-making process on a regular and frequent basis;
   c) to focus EU aid in Iraq generally on relevant technical assistance and capacity-building in the fields of the rule of law, justice, human rights, good governance, financial and budget management, gender equality, health and education, and on the strengthening of federal, regional and local government institutions;
  d) to urge the Commission to ensure the transparency and efficiency of EU assistance for Iraq, by:
   following up on the concerns already expressed in 2005 in the opinion on the General Budget 2006 submitted by Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, by providing complete, regular and transparent information on the actual disbursement and implementation of EU assistance, especially the funds being channelled through the IRFFI;
   operating directly on the ground if and where the security situation permits, namely in the Southern Marshlands, with its particularly neglected population, and the Kurdish region;
   encouraging UN agencies and other international organisations to do the same;
   ensuring the full support of local stakeholders – including civil society and government authorities – in the design, implementation and sustainability of projects and programmes;
   ensuring that EU-funded projects do not overlap with, but complement, the work of other international donors;
   increasing the proportion of EU funding for bilateral technical assistance and capacity building, and improving direct EC control of funding;
   switching the main focus of EU support to bilateral projects focussed on technical assistance and capacity-building in the fields of the rule of law, financial management, democratic governance and human rights;
   ensuring that substantive EU assistance is directed towards improving public finance management and budgetary control with the aim of ensuring that the Iraqi Government is better able to disburse the substantial and increasing public funds now available to it;
   using its experience from assistance programmes to its ENP partners in order to find ways of ensuring a more effective involvement in Iraq;
   e) to consider the possibility of the adoption by the Commission of a multi-annual Country Strategy Paper for Iraq;
   f) to foster the renewal of bilateral political, diplomatic, cultural and economic relations and exchanges between Member States and Iraq;
  g) to include the following elements in a new strategy for proactive involvement on the part of the EU and its Member States in Iraq, to be implemented as circumstances – namely the security situation – permit, and in close consultation with the Iraqi authorities and other partners, such as the UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs):
   increase the size, responsibilities and resources of the Commission's delegation in Baghdad, acquire its own new premises and ensure that employees are able to live and work in safety; encourage EU Member States not represented in Baghdad to come back and share those premises and related security costs;
   ensure EU/EC visibility in Erbil, Nasiriyah, Basra and other areas of Iraq where the security situation permits;
   enhance support for the rule of law and justice by continuing to focus especially on judicial institutions and non-governmental bodies in the following areas: strengthening the Judicial Training Institute, supporting the establishment of major crime investigation offices, strengthening the High Judicial Council, supporting the establishment of a pilot court in Basra, strengthening the Iraqi Bar Association and supporting the establishment of Legal Aid Centres;
   build on the positive experience of EUJUST LEX and prepare the follow-up to the mission, on the basis of lessons learned and on the basis of a thorough external evaluation, including inside Iraq, of the impact of the mission, with a view to further strengthening the Iraqi police and criminal justice system by making use of both ESDP and Community instruments;
   provide support for public finance management reform and accountability;
   continue to provide technical assistance for the organisation of free and fair elections;
   support the reconciliation process, namely on Kirkuk and other internally disputed territories, including the Assyrian areas known as the Nineveh Plains with their Christian minorities; support UN initiatives to facilitate regional dialogue, namely by finding ways and means to improve operational capacity, including air transport;
   take advantage of the specific nature of the Stability Instrument(6) to provide substantial assistance, crucial for development in a situation of crisis or emerging crisis such as that prevailing in Iraq: support the development of democratic, non-sectarian, pluralistic, federal, regional and local institutions, with particular emphasis being placed on the Council of Representatives and its ability to manage the legislative process, to control the executive branch and to ensure a stronger role for women in Iraqi society; promote respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law, with particular emphasis being placed on the rights of women, minorities and children; support measures to strengthen the development and organisation of civil society and its participation in the political process, and to promote independent, pluralist and professional media; support de-mining activities; provide advice and support to the Kurdish region and its government in the efforts to fight drug trafficking;
   continue to concentrate the resources of the Instrument for Development Cooperation(7) (DCI) going to Iraq on the Millennium Development Goals, so as to guarantee as a matter of the highest priority universal access to vital public health care where institution- and capacity-building are urgently needed to correct the acute structural deficit, take priority action to avoid further deterioration of the education system, including implementation of practical measures to ensure that girls are fully able to participate in education at all levels, and support the revitalisation of the ecological and social system of the Marshlands and protection of the unique heritage of the Marsh Arabs; use the DCI to provide technical expertise and capacity-building in support of Iraqi initiatives to identify and reverse ecological damage and the effects of climate change;
   encourage European NGOs to engage with their Iraqi counterparts – which are already particularly active in the Kurdish Region – and make extensive use of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (8) in providing technical and financial assistance to civil society organisations, in order to address the following issues: the equal participation of women and men in political, economic and social life; violence directed against women, namely forced marriages, 'honour' crimes, trafficking and genital mutilation; the rights of indigenous peoples and of persons belonging to minorities and ethnic groups, including the Assyrians (Chaldeans, Syriacs and other Christian communities), the Yazidi and the Turkmen; the rights of the child, especially in the context of the fight against child labour, child prostitution and child trafficking; fighting arbitrary detention and torture; and the abolition of the death penalty;
   encourage and assist the Government of Iraq as a matter of exceptional urgency to put emergency legislation in place to provide financial support for over one million destitute female heads of households and their dependants;
   enlarge the financial envelope of the Erasmus Mundus programme for Iraq; support ongoing and new activities aimed at the creation of networks between Iraqi and foreign academic institutions, individual academics, intellectuals and student organisations in order to revive the academic environment;
   strengthen the capacity of the Iraqi authorities to exercise effective border controls, which should inter alia reduce the inflow of weapons and arms into the country; help to put an end to the illegal flow of small arms and light weapons to Iraq, including by making the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports legally binding, by improving European Union Force (EUFOR) Althea's oversight of stockpiles in Bosnia-Herzegovina, by accelerating the destruction of stockpiles in the Balkans, and by helping the Iraqi authorities to "mop up" surplus small arms and light weapons through large-scale disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration, making use of both ESDP and Community instruments;
   continue the welcome and productive negotiations concerning the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Iraq, while emphasising the importance of respect for human rights as an element affecting the EU's contractual relations with any third country, including in the fight against terrorism;
   provide administrative and technical support, and promote local capacity-building, in order to help the Iraqi Government to implement its recent micro-loan programme and share best practices on the positive role that micro-credit can play in empowering women in their communities, especially the over one million destitute widows;
   urge the Commission to alleviate the plight of Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria and in other countries in the region affected by the Iraqi refugee crisis, and to significantly increase the transparency and efficiency of EU assistance to Iraqi refugees in those countries;
   increase EU support – namely through the Commision's Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid (DG ECHO) – for NGOs and international organisations in their efforts to alleviate the plight of Iraqi refugees in neighbouring countries, as well as internally displaced persons (IDPs), including the 4 000 Assyrian families who have principally sought refuge in the Nineveh Plains; urge the Iraqi authorities to live up to their responsibility to provide financial and other support for the reintegration of refugees and IDPs;
   improve the possibilities for Iraqi refugees to find refuge in EU Member States through resettlement programmes agreed with the UNHCR (25 000 cases) or through individual asylum requests, end the current arbitrary criteria for the granting of protection and prevent any forced return to any part of Iraq; urgently address the plight of Palestinian refugees stranded in the border region between Iraq and Syria;
   call on the Iraqi government and international authorities to recover antiquities taken from the Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad and locations in other parts of Iraq following the 2003 intervention, in order to preserve Iraqi history and culture for future generations;
   h) to build on the valuable experience which the EU and its Member States have gained from successful Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) operations in Afghanistan, and to consider taking part in the PRT efforts in Iraq, primarily in the provision of essential services and infrastructure;
   i) to encourage European firms to invest in the reconstruction of Iraq in the context of tenders financed both by the governments of the Member States and the Iraqi government and/or on the basis of close cooperation between them;
   j) to encourage and help European firms to bid for contracts to rebuild Iraq, to be present on the ground, and to draw upon previous experience gained in Iraq, both in the pre-war period and in the reconstruction period;
   k) to welcome Iraq's observer status in the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a key step towards the reintegration of Iraq into the international economy which helps to complement positively the negotiations between the EU and Iraq on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement; to look forward to its full accession to the WTO at an appropriate time in the future;
   l) to conduct negotiations on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Iraq in a manner that facilitates and encourages internal reforms in Iraq and that brings the Iraqi trade regime closer to rules and disciplines of multilateral systems; to regularly inform Parliament of the stage reached in the negotiations between the EU and Iraq on the Trade and Cooperation Agreement;
   m) to encourage the Iraqi government to use the revenue from the sale of petroleum in such a way as to ensure that it is reinvested in Iraq and that it is managed by public procurement bodies under the final authority of the Iraqi government; to recommend that this approach be an essential precondition of EU support for the reconstruction and development of the Iraqi economy;
   n) to call on the Multi-National Force - Iraq (MNF-I) to engage with the Government of Iraq and account for the situation of the over 24 000 detainees held in MNF-I custody, so as to ensure respect for due process and their basic human rights;
   o) to engage in a dialogue with the USA and seek enhanced multilateralisation of the role played by the international community in the country, by using the UN framework; to support the efforts of Iraq to increase the frequency and depth of discussions with its neighbours, namely Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, about the future of Iraq, without prejudice to any other issue of concern; to urge Turkey to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq and not to react to terrorist actions through military actions on Iraqi territory; to urge the Iraqi authorities not to allow Iraqi territory to be used as a base for terrorist actions against Turkey;
   p) to disclose information on which private military companies (PMCs) and private security companies (PSCs) are providing security to EU staff in Iraq; to adopt a concept for the employment of PMCs/PSCs during ESDP operations, and establish clear guidelines for the use of private military and security companies by EU institutions;

2.  Stresses Parliament's commitment to the principles and the practice of parliamentary democracy; recalls, therefore, its initiative in the 2008 Budget to support democracy-building with parliaments in third countries, its commitment to support actively the Iraqi Council of Representatives by offering assistance for capacity-building, and its work through the ad hoc delegation for Iraq in order to promote bilateral relations; resolves, therefore, to assist the further development of the Iraqi Council of Representatives by:

   a) developing initiatives that strengthen the capacity of elected Iraqi representatives to fulfil their constitutional role in society through good parliamentary practice, effective relations with the executive and constituency outreach;
   b) increasing the transfer of experience in effective administration, the training of professional staff, the development of a fully functional committee structure and comprehensive rules of procedures, and institutional transparency and accountability;
   c) providing the expertise in drafting legislation that is essential for the effective implementation of the federal state structure;

3.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and, for information, to the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the Government and the Council of Representatives of the Republic of Iraq.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0481.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0357.
(3) OJ L 62, 9.3.2005, p. 37.
(4) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 287.
(5) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 171.
(6) See Regulation (EC) No 1717/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an Instrument for Stability (OJ L 327, 24.11.2006, p. 1).
(7) See Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation (OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41).
(8) See Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide (OJ L 386, 29.12.2006, p. 1).


European Code of Conduct on Arms Exports
PDF 196kWORD 34k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports – failure of the Council to adopt the Common Position and transform the Code into a legally binding instrument
P6_TA(2008)0101RC-B6-0063/2008

The European Parliament,

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

A.   whereas in 2008 the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports ("the Code") will celebrate its tenth anniversary,

B.   whereas more than two years ago, on 30 June 2005, COREPER agreed at the technical level the text of a Common Position as the result of a thorough process of revision of the Code, with the aim of transforming the Code into an efficient instrument to control arms exports from EU territory and by EU companies,

C.   whereas the adoption of this Common Position will make the Code a legally binding arms export control instrument for all Member States,

D.   whereas Parliament has strongly welcomed this Common Position on several occasions, inter alia in its resolution of 18 January 2007 on the Council's Seventh and Eighth Annual Reports according to Operative Provision 8 of the European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports(1),

E.   whereas, nevertheless, the Council has since 2005 failed to adopt this Common Position at the political level,

F.   whereas the reasons for this have never been officially explained but are evidently linked to the wish of some Member States to lift the current EU embargo on arms exports to the People's Republic of China,

G.   whereas this issue has acquired a new sense of urgency due to the following developments:

   i) the signing of the Lisbon Treaty, which commits the EU to being a globally responsible actor,
   ii) the evolving European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), in which EU external military and civilian missions are being increasingly deployed and in the pursuit of which EU personnel might be threatened with arms previously supplied by Member States,
   iii) recent announcements by Member States indicating a willingness to increase arms exports as a tool to promote economic interests,
   iv) several initiatives to harmonise national arms procurement policies and intra-Community arms transfers and sales,

H.   whereas the positive efforts by COARM (Council Working Group on Arms) to further improve the Code and its application are being undermined by arms exports from Member States to countries which are in a situation of conflict, instability or failure to respect human rights, and which are regarded as 'irresponsible destinations' under the Code,

I.   whereas the lack of political will to turn the Code into a Common Position runs counter to the leading role played by the European Union and its Member States in promoting legal instruments aimed at controlling all international public and private arms transfers, notably the Arms Trade Treaty,

1.  Deplores the current political impasse on the adoption of this Common Position, in the light of the tenth anniversary of the Code;

2.  Calls on the Slovenian Presidency to make the adoption of the Common Position a permanent item on the agenda of each General Affairs Council meeting until such time as the issue has been resolved;

3.  Urges those EU Member States that are opposed to a legally binding Code to reconsider their position;

4.  Believes that the EU's contribution to an internationally binding Arms Trade Treaty will gain in credibility as soon as its own arms control regime becomes legally binding;

5.  Is convinced also that, in parallel with the adoption of the Common Position, action should be taken, inter alia, to:

   a) prevent irresponsible arms transfers by strict application of the Code's criteria to both companies and national armed forces;
   b) improve and apply brokering controls, and prevent illegal arms trafficking by air and sea;
   c) ensure prompt investigation of recent allegations of violations of arms embargoes;
   d) prevent the selling-off to private brokers of arms collected in the course of ESDP and SSR operations and other EU initiatives and their subsequent transfer;
   e) improve the transparency and quality of data submitted by Member States in the context of the Annual Report on the Code;

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

(1) OJ C 244 E, 18.10.2007, p. 210.


The particular situation of women in prison and the impact of the imprisonment of parents on social and family life
PDF 146kWORD 61k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on the particular situation of women in prison and the impact of the imprisonment of parents on social and family life (2007/2116(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0102A6-0033/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Articles 6 and 7 of the EU Treaty and Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, signed on 12 December 2007(1), which concern the protection of human rights,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Article 5 thereof, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular Article 7 thereof, the 1987 European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture) and the Optional Protocol to that Convention on the establishment of a system of regular visits by international and national bodies to places of detention,

–   having regard to Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, its protocols and the case law of the European Court of Human Rights,

–   having regard to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, which established the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhumane and Degrading Treatment, and the Committee's reports,

–   having regard to the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners of 1957, and the declarations and principles adopted in this regard by the United Nations General Assembly,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 20 November 1989,

–   having regard to the resolutions and recommendations adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, and in particular Resolution (73)5 on Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, Recommendation R(87)3 on the European Prison Rules and Recommendation R(2006)2 on the European Prison Rules,

–   having regard to the recommendations adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and in particular Recommendation R(2006)1747 on a European prisons charter and Recommendation R(2000)1469 on Mothers and Babies in Prison,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 May 1989 on women and children in prison(2), its resolution of 18 January 1996 on poor conditions in prisons in the European Union(3), its resolution of 17 December 1998 on prison conditions in the European Union: improvements and alternative penalties(4) and its recommendation to the Council of 9 March 2004 on the rights of prisoners in the European Union(5),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0033/2008),

A.   whereas under international and European conventions(6), anyone imprisoned should be treated with respect for their human rights, and prison conditions should be in line with the principles of human dignity, non-discrimination and respect for privacy and family life and be subject to regular evaluations by independent bodies,

B.   whereas the specific needs and circumstances of women in prison should be taken into account in judicial rulings and criminal law and by Member States' penal institutions,

C.   whereas visible measures adapted to the specific needs of women should be put in place, including the application of alternative sentences,

D.   whereas pregnant women in prison should be able to receive the required support and information and essentials for a healthy pregnancy and motherhood, in particular a balanced diet, appropriate sanitary conditions, fresh air, exercise and antenatal and postnatal care,

E.   whereas all prisoners, male and female, should have equal access to health care, but prison policies should be particularly attentive to the prevention, monitoring and treatment of physical and mental health problems specific to women,

F.   whereas a mother's mental and physical health is linked to that of her child,

G.   whereas a large number of women in prison suffer or have suffered from addiction to drugs or other substances that may be the cause of mental or behavioural disorders and require medical treatment as well as appropriate social and psychological support, as part of a comprehensive prison health policy,

H.   whereas it is known today that a large number of women prisoners have been the victims of violence, sexual abuse or mistreatment by their family or partner and suffered a state of deep economic and psychological dependence, and that this has contributed directly to their criminal record and brought physical and psychological consequences, such as post-traumatic stress,

I.   whereas prison staff should be adequately trained and have sufficient awareness as regards equal opportunities and the specific needs and circumstances of women prisoners; whereas particular attention should be paid to the most vulnerable, i.e. minors and those with disabilities,

J.   whereas the maintenance of family ties is an essential means of preventing repeat offences and aiding social reintegration and is the right of all prisoners, their children and other family members, and the exercise of this right is often complicated for women in particular by the scarceness and, therefore, potential geographical remoteness of women's detention centres,

K.   whereas the best interests of children should always be a consideration in decisions on whether to separate them or keep them with an imprisoned parent, bearing in mind that, in all cases, the enjoyment of parental rights by the other parent should be guaranteed, along with appropriate procedures for ensuring that emotional ties are maintained with the original family circle (siblings, grandparents and other family members),

L.   whereas, by signing the above-mentioned Convention on the Rights of the Child (and other international instruments), the States Parties undertook to guarantee all children, without discrimination and regardless of the legal status of their parents, the enjoyment of all rights provided for under the Convention, including the right to adequate health care, leisure and education, and this commitment should also apply to children living with the imprisoned parent,

M.   whereas the role of penal institutions, beyond the punishment of illegal activities, should be to aid social and professional reintegration, bearing in mind the situations of social exclusion and poverty that many prisoners, male and female, have often experienced,

N.   whereas many women who are imprisoned are, at that point, involved in ongoing legal proceedings (abandonment, the fostering or adoption of children, divorce or separation, eviction etc.), which remain unresolved, placing them in a position of defencelessness and a permanent state of uncertainty and stress,

O.   whereas prisoners are often unaware of the social resources available to them, and, in many cases, the lack, loss or invalidity of their administrative documents (identity papers, health card, family record card, etc.) prevents them, in practice, from exercising the rights enjoyed by nationals of each Member State,

P.   whereas equal access for male and female prisoners to employment, vocational training and leisure activities during their imprisonment is fundamental to their psychological wellbeing and their reintegration into society and the world of work,

Q.   whereas the educational, training, employment, leisure and personal development opportunities available to male and female prisoners, however extensive, are not sufficient by themselves, and mentoring programmes should be drawn up to facilitate prisoners" involvement in the planning and development of their journey towards reintegration,

R.   whereas women in prison should have access, without encountering discrimination of any kind, to employment, voluntary work and varied vocational training and civic education measures designed to facilitate their reintegration once the sentence has been served and adapted to job market requirements,

S.   whereas the successful social reintegration of male and female prisoners and the prevention of repeat offences depend on the quality of supervision given during the sentence and, in particular, on the partnerships established with businesses and social assistance organisations, as well as on the monitoring and social and professional assistance provided after the sentence has been served,

T.   whereas there is a serious need for gender-disaggregated, comprehensive, comparable and updated data and statistics,

Prison conditions

1.  Encourages Member States to invest sufficient resources in modernising and adapting their prison infrastructures and to implement the above-mentioned Recommendation R(2006)2 of the Council of Europe so that prison conditions ensure respect for human dignity and fundamental rights, in particular as regards accommodation, health, hygiene, diet, ventilation and light;

2.  Repeats its call for the Commission and Council to adopt a framework decision, on the basis of Article 6 of the EU Treaty, on minimum standards to protect the rights of prisoners (as recommended, moreover, by the Council of Europe in its above-mentioned Recommendation R(2006)2), and asks the Council to circulate and promote the application of the Council of Europe's prison rules for the greater harmonisation of prison conditions in Europe, including the consideration of the distinct needs of women, and to set out clearly the rights and obligations of male and female prisoners;

3.  Asks the Commission to include in its annual human rights report an evaluation of respect for male and female prisoners" fundamental rights and of special prison conditions for women;

4.  Urges Member States and candidate countries to ratify the Optional Protocol to the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture on the establishment of a system of regular visits by international and national bodies to places of detention and asks the Council and Commission to encourage the ratification of this convention and its protocol as part of the external policy of the European Union;

5.  Underlines that compliance with national and international legal standards in the running of detention centres should be verified by regular inspections by the competent authorities;

6.  Asks Member States to adopt the necessary measures to ensure the smooth running of penal institutions and the safety of staff and all prisoners by putting a stop to the situations of violence and abuse to which women and people from ethnic and social minorities are particularly vulnerable;

7.  Calls on each Member State to facilitate access for women prisoners to prevention campaigns targeting the general public, dealing with issues such as the early detection of breast cancer and cervical cancer, and to ensure that they have the same access to national programmes concerning family planning;

8.  Recalls the "specific nature" of women's prisons and insists that security and reintegration arrangements aimed at women should be put in place; recalls further that for women who have been abused, exploited and excluded resettlement arrangements in a supportive environment responsive to their individual needs is important;

9.  Asks Member States to incorporate gender equality into their prison policies and detention centres and to take greater account of women's specific circumstances and the often traumatic past of women prisoners, in particular through awareness-raising and appropriate training for medical and prison staff and the re-education of women in fundamental values by:

   a) incorporating gender mainstreaming into data collection wherever possible to render visible the problems and needs of women;
   b) setting up, in each Member State, an investigatory committee and permanent monitoring systems for an effective assessment of prison conditions, in order to be able to detect and remedy any aspects of discrimination still affecting women in the prison system;
   c) highlighting in local, regional and national debates the needs of women prisoners and former prisoners to encourage the adoption of positive measures in relation to social resources, housing and training, etc.;
   d) having a predominance of female staff and women medical staff where women are detained;

10.  Calls on Member States to guarantee women equal, non-discriminatory access to health care of all kinds, which should be at a standard equivalent to that provided for the rest of the population in order effectively to prevent and treat illnesses specific to women;

11.  Recalls the need to take measures to ensure that the distinct needs of women prisoners in terms of hygiene in penal institutions and the provision of the necessary hygiene facilities are better taken into account;

12.  Asks Member States to adopt a comprehensive prison health policy that allows the identification and treatment of physical and mental disorders occurring following imprisonment and to provide medical and psychological assistance to all prisoners, male and female, suffering from addictions, with respect, however, for the specific circumstances of women;

13.  Asks Member States to take all measures necessary to provide psychological support to all women prisoners and, in particular, those that have been the victims of violence or mistreatment, mothers raising children alone and juvenile offenders, in order to assure them better protection and improve their family and social relations and, therefore, their chances with regard to social reintegration; recommends that prison staff should receive training on and be made aware of the particular vulnerability of these prisoners;

14.  Recommends that the imprisonment of pregnant women and mothers with young children should only be considered as a last resort and that, in this extreme case, they should be entitled to a more spacious cell, and an individual cell if possible, and should be given particular attention, especially in terms of diet and hygiene; considers, furthermore, that pregnant women should receive antenatal and postnatal care and parenting classes of a standard equivalent to those provided outside the prison environment;

15.  Draws attention to the fact that when women give birth without complications in prison, the child is usually separated from the mother within 24 to 72 hours after birth, and welcomes any alternative solution from the Commission and the Member States;

16.  Stresses the need for the judicial system to ensure that children's rights are respected in the consideration of matters relating to the imprisonment of mothers;

17.  Calls on Member States to respect fully the development of sexual orientation and the different forms of family life, provided they are in conformity with the law;

18.  Stresses the needs to end the detention of girls and boys aged 18 and under in adult prisons;

Maintaining family ties and social relations

19.  Recommends that alternative penalties to imprisonment, such as community-based sentences, should be favoured to a greater extent, particularly for mothers, provided that the sentence imposed is short and the risk to public safety low, where their imprisonment could result in serious disruptions to family life, in particular if they are single parents or have young children, or are responsible for looking after dependent or incapacitated persons; underlines that the judicial authorities should take account of these factors, in particular the best interests of the accused parent's child, when deciding on the sentence; recommends, likewise, considering the possibility of adopting similar measures to those established for mothers for male prisoners with custody of children or who have other family responsibilities;

20.  Underlines that the repercussions of isolation and distress for the health of pregnant women prisoners could also have, in turn, harmful, or even dangerous, consequences for the child, and that these consequences should be considered very carefully in handing down a prison sentence;

21.  Insists, moreover, on the need for the judiciary to ascertain whether there are children to consider before taking a decision to remand a defendant in custody, and when handing down the sentence, and to ensure that measures are taken to guarantee their rights in full;

22.  Asks Member States to increase the number of women's detention centres and to spread them more evenly across their territory so that it is easier for women prisoners to maintain family ties and friendships and to take part in religious services;

23.  Recommends that Member States should encourage penal institutions to adopt flexible rules concerning arrangements for the frequency, duration and scheduling of the visits that family members, friends and others should be entitled to make;

24.  Asks Member States to make it easier for families to stay in touch, in particular imprisoned parents and their children, unless this is counter to the child's best interests, by creating a visiting environment with an atmosphere distinct from that of prison that allows joint activities and the appropriate emotional contact;

25.  Urges Member States to fulfil their international obligations by ensuring equal rights and treatment for children residing with the imprisoned parent and to create living conditions adapted to their needs through the provision of separate cells removed, where possible, from the ordinary prison environment, through their attendance at local nurseries or schools and through flexible and generous arrangements for outings with other family members or with child protection officials, enabling their healthy physical, mental, emotional and social development, and with suitable facilities and qualified staff to assist prisoners who are mothers with their parental responsibilities and the necessary care; recommends also that, in the case of minors residing in prison, the other parent should be able to exercise his or her parental authority;

26.  Notes with regret that many women in prison are single mothers who lose contact with their children, sometimes forever; asks the Commission and the Member States to deliver and implement alternative policies in order to avoid total separation;

27.  Urges Member States to guarantee free legal assistance for all prisoners on matters relating to imprisonment, which, in the case of women prisoners, should be specifically geared to family law in order to address issues relating to fostering, adoption, legal separation and gender violence, etc.

28.  Recommends the development of awareness and information campaigns concerning local social services, as well as ongoing procedures to update personal and family administrative documents and those pertaining to health care, so that women prisoners can exercise their full rights as citizens;

29.  Asks Member States to provide psycho-social treatment to ensure the best possible preparation for the separation of women prisoners from their children and to lessen its negative impact;

Social and professional reintegration

30.  Recommends that Member States should adopt the measures necessary to ensure that all prisoners, male and female, are offered the chance of adequately paid and varied work that will permit their personal development, without any segregation on the basis of gender or any other form of discrimination, and recommends that Member States should, to this end, set up partnerships with companies;

31.  Asks Member States to invest more resources, including through the application of Community financial instruments such as the European Social Fund and PROGRESS, in the development in prisons of lifelong literacy and education programmes and vocational training adapted to job market requirements and possibly leading to a qualification;

32.  Stresses that these programmes should include language courses, including the teaching of the national language in question (or at least one of them) for the benefit of foreign prisoners, information technology courses and courses in social and professional behaviour;

33.  Underlines the fundamental role of non-governmental organisations in the social and professional reintegration of prisoners, in particular women, and therefore asks Member States to encourage the development of these organisations" activities in the prison environment, including by increasing the funding allocated to them, making the conditions for access to prison by their members less rigid, and raising the awareness of prison staff as regards the need for good cooperation with these organisations;

34.  Considers that, except in cases of high risk to public safety and long sentences, greater use of semi-custodial arrangements allowing male and female prisoners to work or take vocational training outside prison walls could aid their social and professional reintegration;

35.  Stresses that working conditions for male and female prisoners, in particular pregnant women and women who have just given birth, should be in conformity with national and Community legislation, and regularly monitored by the competent authorities;

36.  Underlines the need to encourage the involvement of male and female prisoners in a programme aimed at professional development and social reintegration, in particular by means of a personal report and by ensuring that these efforts are assessed annually;

37.  Considers it a matter of priority to ensure that, in each detention centre, male and female prisoners who so wish have access to personal guidance and mentoring for the definition, implementation and completion of their plans for personal development and social reintegration, which should continue following their release from prison;

38.  Recalls the need to apply social assistance measures, during imprisonment and afterwards, aimed at preparing prisoners for and helping them with reintegration, in particular as regards finding accommodation and employment, so as to prevent social exclusion and repeat offences;

39.  Underlines the importance of maintaining and promoting male and female prisoners' contact with the outside world, including through access to the written press and to the media and through communication with social assistance bodies, NGOs and cultural, artistic and other organisations approved by the prison authorities;

40.  Stresses that regular access for all prisoners to sports and recreational activities, and to artistic and cultural education opportunities, is crucial to maintaining their psychological well-being and improving their chances with regard to social reintegration;

41.  Asks the Commission to pay particular attention to the prison population in its action programme to combat social exclusion;

42.  Recommends that Member States should pay special attention to male and female prisoners of foreign nationality, in particular as regards linguistic and cultural differences, help these prisoners remain in contact with their relatives and grant them access to contact with their consulates, to prison resources and programmes, and to comprehensible information; also recommends that they should take into account the specificity of foreign women in the planning of prison activities, train agents for working in a multicultural context, both in and out of prison, and provide mediation services, both in and out of prison;

43.  Asks Member States, in the context of social and professional reintegration, to take all measures necessary to incorporate into their national legislation provisions favouring the recruitment of female former prisoners, in particular mothers raising children alone and juvenile offenders, in both the public and private sector;

44.  Encourages Member States to exchange information and best practice in relation to prison conditions, in particular those for women, and in relation to the effectiveness of vocational training and social reintegration measures; considers it important, therefore, to encourage and finance the involvement of the authorities and actors on the ground in the creation of innovative programmes and best practices, as well as in national and international conferences and debates, as a means of providing motivation and generating positive cooperation;

45.  Asks the Commission, together with the Member States, to promote the carrying-out of prison-related research from a gender point of view and to fund studies on the causes of crime, the context in which offending behaviour occurs and the effectiveness of penal systems, with a view to improving the participation of prisoners, male and female, in social, family and working life;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 303, 14.12.2007, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 158, 26.6.1989, p. 511.
(3) OJ C 32, 5.2.1996, p. 102.
(4) OJ C 98, 9.4.1999, p. 299.
(5) OJ C 102 E, 28.4.2004, p. 154.
(6) Articles 1, 3, 5 and 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the first Basic Principle for the Treatment of Prisoners annexed to Resolution 45/111 of the United Nations General Assembly of 14 December 1990.


Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation
PDF 254kWORD 89k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation (2007/2182(INI))
P6_TA(2008)0103A6-0035/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 8 March 2007 on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation (COM(2007)0100),

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council and the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, adopted on 14 May 2007 on "Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation",

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 806/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on promoting gender equality in development cooperation(1),

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

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union proclaimed in 2000(2) and, in particular, Article 23,

–   having regard to the United Nations Convention of 18 December 1979 on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–   having regard to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995, the Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing as well as the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing +5 and Beijing +10 Special Sessions on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted respectively on 9 June 2000 and on 11 March 2005,

–   having regard to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in September 2000, and in particular the MDG on promoting gender equality and empowering women as a prerequisite for overcoming hunger, poverty and disease, reaching equality at all levels of education and in all areas of work, equal control over resources and equal representation in public and political life,

–   having regard to the Commission Report on the "Millennium Development Goals 2000–2004" (SEC(2004)1379),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 16 and 17 December 2004, confirming the full commitment of the European Union to the MDGs and to policy coherence,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 12 April 2005 on the role of the European Union in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)(3) and of 20 June 2007 on the Millennium Development Goals – the midway point(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2005 on a development strategy for Africa(5), and of 25 October 2007 on the state of play of EU-Africa relations(6),

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 November 2007 on "Advancing African Agriculture"(7),

–   having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 adopted on 31 October 2000, on women, peace and security (UNSCR 1325 (2000)), in particular paragraph 1, which urges Member States "to ensure increased representation of women at all decision-making levels in national, regional and international institutions [...]",

–   having regard to the Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission on European Union Development Policy: "The European Consensus" (The European Consensus on Development) signed on 20 December 2005(8) and the European consensus on Humanitarian Aid of December 2007(9),

–   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, of the one part, and the Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(10) as amended by the Agreement amending the Partnership Agreement signed in Luxembourg on 25 June 2005(11)(the Cotonou Agreement),

–   having regard to the Rome Declaration on Harmonization, adopted on 25 February 2003 following the High Level Forum on Harmonization, and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, endorsed on 2 March 2005,

–   having regard to the International Conference on Development Funding held in Monterrey in March 2002, and to the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg in September 2002,

–   having regard to the final report adopted in March 2005 at the 49th session of the UN General Assembly Commission on the Status of Women,

–   having regard to the UN Development Programme report entitled "En Route to Equality" dating from 2006,

–   having regard to the reports of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the State of World Population of 2005 and 2006, entitled "The Promise of Equality: Gender Equity, Reproductive Health and the Millennium Development Goals" and "A Passage to Hope: Women and International Migration" respectively,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 18 December 2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation(12) (DCI),

–   having regard to the statistics based on the reporting by Members of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the Gender Equality Policy Marker 2004 - 2005 , published in June 2007 and to the OECD 2006 Gender Equality and Aid Delivery Report,

–   having regard to the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs of March 2000,

–   having regard to the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, also known as the "Maputo Protocol", which came into force on 26 October 2005,

–   having regard to the Council Conclusions of 5 and 6 December 2007 on the review of the implementation by the Member States and the EU institutions of the Beijing Platform for Action and, in particular, the accompanying report drawn up by the Portuguese Presidency containing indicators on women and poverty;

–   having regard to the UN International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in Cairo in September 1994, the Programme of Action adopted in Cairo, as well as the subsequent outcome documents adopted in 1999 at the UN Cairo+5 special session on further actions to implement the Programme for Action,

–   having regard to the Brussels Call to Action to Address Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond (June 2006),

–   having regard to the Maputo Plan of Action for the Operationalisation of the Continental Policy Framework for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights 2007-2010, adopted at the special session of the African Union in September 2006,

–   having regard to the Brussels Framework for Action and Recommendations on Health for Sustainable Development, adopted by the health ministers of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States in Brussels in October 2007,

–   having regard to the Declaration on "Gender equality: a core issue in a changing society" and the corresponding Action Programme adopted at the 5th European Ministerial Council,

–   having regard to the Ministerial Declaration of the Conference of Ministers of Gender Equality held in Luxembourg on 4 February 2005,

–   having regard to Decision 14/04 of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), adopted on 7 December 2004 in Sofia, on the 2004 OSCE Action Plan for the Promotion of Gender Equality,

–   having regard to the Commonwealth Plan of Action for Gender Equality 2005-2015,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinion of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0035/2008),

A.   whereas the Vienna Declaration, adopted on 25 June 1993 by the UN World Conference on Human Rights, states that "The human rights of women and of the girl-child are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights",

B.   whereas the European Consensus on Development identifies gender equality as a common principle, stating that "the EU will include a strong gender component in all its policies and practices in its relations with developing countries" (Part I - Article19), and the Cotonou Agreement clearly underlines the value of gender equality, affirming that "cooperation shall help improve the access of women to all resources required for the full exercise of their fundamental rights" (Article 31),

C.   whereas the UN General Assembly has included universal access to reproductive health by 2015 as a sub-goal in the list of MDGs,

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

E.   whereas approximately two thirds of the world's work is undertaken by women and girls, with a return of less than 5% of the income; whereas women's labour produces half of the world's food and almost 74% of non-employed women are primarily engaged in housework and family care at home, compared with 27% of unemployed men,

F.   whereas 70% of the 1,3 billion people living in absolute poverty are women and poverty is not only a symptom but also a cause of the unequal distribution of income, property, resources, market power and power of disposal over property; whereas the EU is promoting gender equality and women's rights in its development cooperation through the twin-track approach of gender mainstreaming and specific actions targeting the promotion of women's rights and the empowerment of women,

G.   whereas economic growth is essential to combating poverty, but is not in itself sufficient, because it does not generate enough new opportunities to establish businesses and create jobs,

H.   whereas gender inequalities tend to lead to further inequalities, with negative consequences for women's well-being, their families, their communities and their personal development potential,

I.   whereas, in most countries, gender-related actions are not regarded as a high priority, gender being seen as a subsidiary issue and cultural, religious and socio-economic practices being used as excuses for obstructing progress in the area of gender equality and women's rights,

J.   whereas it has been proved that empowering women accelerates the meeting of all the other MDGs in reducing poverty and improving demographic, social and economic indicators,

K.   whereas gender mainstreaming can help societies to become more fair and democratic, where women and men are considered equal in all aspects of life, but does not replace specific equality policies and positive actions as part of a dual approach to achieving the goal of gender equality,

L.   whereas early education and training for girls and women (including comprehensive sex education) are crucial in the fight to eradicate poverty and widespread disease, ensuring that women increase their knowledge, skills and confidence in order to fully participate in society and politics,

M.   whereas women's full enjoyment of their sexual and reproductive health and rights is a prerequisite for achieving gender equality, as the ability of women to control their own fertility is fundamental to their empowerment and because women who can plan their families can also plan the rest of their lives, as healthy women can be more productive and because the protection of reproductive rights ― such as planning their family in terms of birth timing and spacing and decision-making regarding reproduction free of discrimination, coercion and violence ― provides the freedom to participate more fully and equally in society,

N.   whereas it is crucial to provide financial and technical support to women's organisations in order to promote programmes for the most vulnerable members of the population, including migrant, internally displaced and refugee women, in particular the supply of equipment and appropriate technology for food processing and workload alleviation, the facilitation of women's access to land, and improving girls" access to and attendance at schools,

O.   whereas women are vulnerable to marital discrimination and to discrimination in terms of access to immovable property and land ownership as well as access to, and control over, resources,

P.   whereas many women are denied access to basic health care services, education at all levels, economic independence, careers and participation in decision-making processes,

Q.   whereas, in certain cultures, traditional and religious prejudices still exist, restricting and discriminating girls" and young women's access to education,

R.   whereas at least 130 million women have been forced to undergo female genital mutilation or other violent traditional practices and another 2 million are at risk each year from these grave violations of their physical integrity and their human rights,

S.   whereas women migrants are more exposed to forced labour and sexual exploitation than men and are also more likely to accept precarious working conditions,

T.   whereas, in post-conflict countries undergoing processes of reconstruction and reintegration, institutional mechanisms and commitments to gender equality are effective first steps toward protecting and promoting women's rights; whereas the involvement of all relevant actors, such as governments and political representatives, NGOs, civil society groups and academics, as well as the direct participation of women's groups and networks, is the essential pre-condition for achieving shared and sustainable development,

U.   whereas, in sub-Saharan Africa, 57 per cent of adults with HIV/AIDS are women, and young women aged 15 to 24 are more than three times as likely to be infected as young men,

V.   whereas there is an information gap between men and women on the ways of transmitting HIV/AIDS and on preventive measures that is reinforced by a climate of discrimination and gender-based violence; whereas sexual and reproductive health education and information and access to reproductive health services are the best guarantees for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases,

W.   whereas each year there are still 536 000 maternal deaths (95% of which occur in Africa and Asia) and for every woman who dies 20 or more experience serious complications, ranging from chronic infections to disabling injuries such as obstetric fistula, which could be easily avoided if there were universal access to basic and emergency obstetric care and reproductive health services,

X.   whereas, according to a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, there is a clear link between the nutritional situation of children and the degree of authority exercised by women in the household, and women whose status is low and who have no say in family affairs are more likely to be malnourished themselves; whereas better nutrition could prevent a large proportion of child deaths and would help to attain the MDG of reducing child mortality rates,

Y.   whereas the efficiency of some projects hitherto implemented has been hampered by weaknesses specific to various countries: fragile local and national administrative authorities, corrupt governments and a lack of expertise and trained personnel to deal with the problems relating to women's empowerment and gender equality,

Z.   whereas an increased risk of natural disasters and local and/or regional resource degradation processes has a disproportionately severe impact on disadvantaged population groups,

1.  Welcomes the above-mentioned Commission Communication on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation which it regards as a further step in the Programme of Action for the Mainstreaming of Gender Equality in Community Development Cooperation for the period 2001 to 2006;

2.  Deplores the fact that, since the Council, in its resolution of 20 December 1995, first declared consideration of the gender perspective in development cooperation to be a principle underpinning the development policy of the Community and the Member States, not enough has been done in practice;

3.  Points out that people's understanding of the role of women in post-war societies and of their contributions to post-war reconstruction must go beyond the universalistic narrative of "women's experience of war" and that the specificity and diversity of women's experiences must be acknowledged;

4.  Deplores the fact that most DCI Country Strategy Papers refer to gender as a cross-cutting area, without indicating any specific gender-related targets or activities; strongly calls for gender-specific targets and activities to be included in future strategies;

5.  Welcomes the Commission's call for the EU to support third countries in complying with and implementing international obligations, such as CEDAW, the Cairo Programme of Action, the Beijing Platform for Action , and UN Millennium Declaration;

6.  Endorses the Commission's view that the funding made available to support the integration of gender equality issues into development cooperation is insignificant when compared with the resources earmarked for other horizontal measures; regrets that only 5% of the DCI funds for the thematic programme 'Investing in People' (2007-2013) are allocated to gender equality and that regional and country strategy papers do not give an overview of budget allocation to gender equality since gender is only mentioned as a cross-cutting issue and thus no financial details are provided;

7.  Expresses concern regarding the Commission's new aid architecture, which gives preference to budget support, since this can bring additional difficulties in the assessment of gender equality progress;

8.  Commends the general approach of the Commission as a good basis on which the EU and the Member States could factor gender issues into their development cooperation programmes in order to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women as the main instrument for enhancing human rights and combating poverty, but notes that there is room for improvement, especially in the analysis of data, so that measures which could harm the position of women can be avoided;

9.  Believes that the effectiveness of gender mainstreaming in development cooperation policies depends on sensitivity to gender issues on the part of the Member States and EU institutions involved; believes that this implies that achieving the goals in the Roadmap for equality between women and men 2006-2010 (COM(2006)0092) within the EU is a necessary pre-condition for efficient gender mainstreaming in development cooperation;

10.  Stresses the need to focus not only on women, but also on gender relations, especially social relations between men and women that generate and perpetuate gender inequalities; believes that as a consequence, projects should target men as well as women;

11.  Emphasises that globalisation processes should offer poor countries new opportunities and take into account women's specific needs, as women are often unskilled workers and therefore socially disadvantaged;

12.  Calls on the Commission to put forward practical proposals as to how, in the context of an increasingly globalised world, jobs and livelihoods can be created for the large numbers of unskilled women in developing countries;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take action in development cooperation with concrete and measurable effects on gender relations, amending laws, institutions and existing patriarchal patterns, increasing budgetary resources and improving social and economic conditions for women;

14.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission, as employers in developing countries, to take account of the principle of work consistent with human dignity by increasing wages in accordance with Recommendation 135 of the International Labour Organization,of 22 June 1970, concerning minimum wage fixing, with special reference to developing countries;

15.  Welcomes the proposals to promote the protection of the labour and civil rights of casual workers and to promote the participation of women in trade union movements in order to better mitigate the difficulties women face at work;

16.  Urges the Commission, when drawing up development cooperation policies, to support measures to strengthen the legal status of women, further promoting equal access to decent work as well as fundamental human and social rights, and paying particular attention to the increasing number of migrant women and their increasing vulnerability, so that women do not become the new exploited class of society;

17.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the potential effect of Economic Partnership Agreements from the gender perspective;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure coherence between development cooperation policy and other Community policies (such as trade policy and agriculture policy) in order to prevent adverse inter-policy interference, especially as regards measures designed to empower women;

19.  Points out that the ability of women to influence the development of their own lives is contingent on their education; emphasises the importance of gender-sensitive education programmes targeting both women and men;

20.  Calls on the Commission to undertake a gender analysis at every stage of policy design, implementation and evaluation so as to ensure that all forms of gender-based discrimination are eliminated and so as to protect and promote women's human rights;

21.  Calls on the Commission to carry out an assessment of the consequences that the new aid modalities have had on the situation of women, taking into account the fact that the focus on women and gender equality has lessened, partly as a result of this new development trend;

22.  Welcomes the Commission's call for gender-sensitive performance indicators to be developed and calls for the inclusion of such indicators in all DCI and European Development Fund Country Strategy Papers as well as in the assessment of outcomes during mid-term and final reviews of such strategies; calls on the Commission to develop low cost, transparent and readily interpretable parameters in the form of quantitatively measurable and qualitative indicators so that it can assess progress towards equality and the empowerment for women regularly and effectively; invites the Commission, in dialogues with third countries, to raise awareness of the importance of gender-aggregated and comparable data; supports the gender disaggregated indicators in the Annex (part VII) (SEC(2007)0332) to the above-mentioned Commission Communication on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation as a good basis to develop a comprehensive instruments to measure results;

23.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission's strategy takes into account the phenomenon of gender-based violence;

24.  Stresses that violence against women is not only a women's issue and that it needs an approach that focuses on men as well as on women; while welcoming programmes addressing female victims, urges the Commission and the Member States to develop programmes addressing male abusers, thus addressing the causes and not merely the effects of this phenomenon;

25.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative of raising awareness of violence against women by means of increased media coverage of the issue and the training of military, law-enforcement and judicial personnel; urges, however, that more attention be paid to measures targeting trafficking in human beings, torture and harmful traditional practices, with an emphasis on female genital mutilation, honour crimes and early and forced marriage, and insists on increasing the number of female personnel in institutions which directly assist victims of these practices;

26.  Welcomes the fact that the above-mentioned Commission Communication on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation highlights the increasing rate of HIV/AIDS infection among women ; believes that an express call to the Members States to meet the financial commitments they have made in this field should have been issued;

27.  Invites the Commission and the Member States to develop specific, time-limited and measurable commitments ― backed by the allocation of adequate resources ― to achieve universal access to HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support for all women and girls by 2010;

28.  Welcomes the strong reaffirmation of the linkage between HIV/AIDS policies and programmes and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) policies and services in the above-mentioned Commission Communication on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation;

29.  Calls on the Commission to strengthen its political leadership role in SRHR policies and to increase funding for SRHR, in order to help countries to achieve the MDGs, in particular the goal of universal access to reproductive health under the MDG on improving maternal health (MDG 5), and to address currently neglected women's SRHR issues, such as obstetric and traumatic fistula;

30.  Points out that the discrimination suffered by women and girls increases their risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, since their low social status makes it difficult for them to take their own decisions on matters relating to sexuality;

31.  Deplores in the strongest possible terms the virtual chattel status of women trapped under Sharia law, and regards this oppression as representing the diametric opposite of every principle which Parliament holds to be of paramount importance;

32.  Welcomes the fact that the above-mentioned Annex to the Commission Communication on Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in Development Cooperation recognises the importance of supporting research into microbicides and vaccines (which are the most promising technologies for women) and calls on the EU to further ensure the inclusion of HIV/AIDS vaccines and microbicides research and development within the broader development and gender equality agendas;

33.  Considers that empowering women by ensuring full access to sexual and reproductive health information, services and supplies puts them in a better position to negotiate safe sex and protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS; supports the measures proposed by the Commission to protect women from STDs, especially the financial support for the development of microbicides and vaccines and the measures proposed relating to reproductive health and rights;

34.  Encourages the Member States to promote the inclusion of prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) within the package of comprehensive approaches to combating HIV/AIDS;

35.  Emphasises the importance of putting women at the centre of water supply, sanitation and hygiene policy,and emphasises, therefore, the importance of increasing access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation and water for productive uses;

36.  Strongly criticises the fact that measures to combat traditional practices involving violence against women are not part of the Commission's strategy; condemns any legal, cultural and religious practices that discriminate against women, exclude them from political and public life and segregate them in their daily lives, as well as those that condone rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, unequal rights in divorce proceedings, honour killings, any obligation on women to observe specific dress codes against their will, harassment for not conforming to gender-related norms or rules, trafficking and forced labour; urges the Commission and the Member States to combat these practices in development cooperation policies; calls on the Commission to make strenuous efforts to support information and advocacy programmes that raise public awareness and change the climate of public opinion in country programming and to make the measures that are taken to fight against all forms of violence against women, including traditional harmful practices, a criterion of good governance of partner countries;

37.  Notes with alarm the Report of the UNFPA on the State of the World Population last year, according to which there is a global deficit of 60 000 000 women in the world, and that these "missing" females have been prenatally sex-selected, aborted, and infanticised out of existence;

38.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement the Brussels Call for Action to Address Sexual Violence in Conflict and Beyond;

39.  Urges the Commission to make SRHR in crises and conflict areas, including the fight against sexual violence, a priority in the humanitarian phase as well as in post-war reconstruction;

40.  Stresses the need to complement the image of women as vulnerable victims with an image of women as a highly differentiated group of social actors, who possess valuable resources and capacities and who have their own agendas; women influence the course of events, and they must shape the development process;

41.  Considers that the participation of women in decision-making processes at all levels is a necessary condition for good governance and welcomes all kinds of support measures, such as incentives to meet quotas, support for women's movements and organisations and the active promotion of women's rights in the Country Strategy Papers; reiterates the need to increase the role of women in political decision-making and to ensure the full participation and involvement of women in all efforts for the promotion of peace and conflict resolution; furthermore, supports the recommendations of UNSCR 1325 (2000);

42.  Calls on the EU to increase efforts aimed at implementing UNSCR 1325 (2000), which calls for an increased participation of women at all decision-making levels in conflict resolution and peace processes;

43.  Stresses that rape has been used as a weapon of war and that this phenomenon needs to be addressed through support programmes for victims;

44.  Calls on the Commission to make strenuous efforts to take full account of gender equality in country programming; stresses that considerable work is still needed to incorporate gender equality as a horizontal task into the day-to-day practice of EU development cooperation; calls on the Commission to pursue gender balance within Commission delegations by appointing more women, including in top positions such as Head of Delegation;

45.  Emphasises the potential of micro-credit as a tool that development cooperation policies can use to promote the development of local communities and women's empowerment;

46.  Calls on the Commission to develop policies that encourage women to form self help groups and set up on their own and, in collaboration with international organisations (such as Finance PlaNet), to expand the micro-finance network so that more women can take out loans in order to improve their economic status;

47.  Calls on the Commission to provide clear information on available mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the present strategy, including monitoring the financial and human resources that will be allocated to ensure its effective implementation;

48.  Points out that at national level, gender equality is more likely to be achieved if there are sufficient financial resources and qualified gender-equality specialists, especially local specialists, as part of project teams;

49.  Urges the Commission to give their staff members working in development countries training in gender issues;

50.  Welcomes the measures proposed by the Commission in the field of education, considering that women's empowerment through an increased level of education improves the situation of both women and their children;

51.  Stresses the need to further promote access to education and vocational training at all levels for girls, in order to prevent early 'dropout', and to support education policies that are equitable and of a high standard, by providing teachers with training in gender issues and supporting reform of the curriculum to include gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and women's empowerment issues, as in a majority of developing countries girls continue to face discrimination with regard to access to education;

52.  Points out that the strategy in the area of EU actions at international and regional level regrettably fails to include an EU stance on the reform of the UN in the area of gender equality;

53.  Welcomes the establishment of the EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace(13), stresses its interest in being informed and involved in the work of this Partnership;

54.  Emphasises the importance of encouraging donor coordination for gender mainstreaming and improving dialogue and communication to achieve a common understanding of gender concepts and appropriate methodology;

55.  Calls on the Council to appoint a European Envoy for Women's Rights who would strengthen the EU`s commitment to the empowerment of women in foreign and development policy, and who would promote the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by focusing on equality between men and women worldwide, on reducing maternal mortality and on fighting poverty;

56.  Welcomes the Commission's intention to link the disbursement of budget support funds to performance criteria assessed on the basis of gender-disaggregated outcome indicators; insists, however, that decisions penalising incompetent administrative authorities must be carefully taken in order not to affect adversely the ultimate beneficiaries of aid, namely women;

57.  Emphasises that participation alone does not serve to reduce women's inequality, but that only targeted, effective efforts on the ground can overcome all the obstacles to women's participation;

58.  Points out that good governance includes respect for fundamental freedoms and treating women's rights and gender equality as basic fundamental rights, and that these are central to achieving the MDGs and other development goals,

59.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ L 143, 30.4.2004, p. 40.
(2) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 33 E, 9.2.2006, p. 311.
(4) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0274.
(5) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p. 475.
(6) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0483.
(7) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0577.
(8) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(9) The Statement on the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid was approved by Council on 19 November and by the European Parliament on 29 November and was signed by the Presidents of the Commission, Council and European Parliament on 18 December 2007.
(10) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(11) OJ L 209, 11.8.2005, p. 27.
(12) OJ L 378, 27.12.2006, p. 41
(13) The "EC/UN Partnership on Gender Equality for Development and Peace" is an initiative that involves the European Commission (EC), the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (ITCILO). It is a follow-up to the "Owning Development. Promoting Gender Equality in New Aid Modalities and Partnerships" conference that was jointly organized by the European Commission and UNIFEM in November 2005.


Armenia
PDF 120kWORD 39k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on Armenia
P6_TA(2008)0104RC-B6-0110/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its past resolutions on Armenia and the South Caucasus, particularly that of 17 January 2008 on a more effective EU policy for the South Caucasus: from promises to actions(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2008 on a Black Sea Regional Policy Approach(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2007 on the European Neighbourhood Policy(3)(ENP),

–   having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Armenia, of the other part(4), which entered into force on 1 July 1999,

–   having regard to the ENP Action Plan endorsed by the EU-Armenia Cooperation Council on 14 November 2006, which allows a whole package of reforms to be implemented with EU assistance,

–   having regard to the statement of the preliminary findings and conclusions of the International Election Observation Mission of 20 February 2008, as well as to the post-election interim report of 3 March 2008,

–   having regard to the Declaration of 5 March 2008 by the Presidency on behalf of the EU on the situation after the presidential elections in Armenia on 1st March 2008, as well as to the Declaration of 25 February 2008 by the Presidency on behalf of the EU on the presidential election in Armenia, 19 February 2008,

–   having regard to the statement of 2 March 2008 by Javier Solana, the EU High Representative for the CFSP, and to the statements of 21 February 2008 and 4 March 2008 by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner,

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

A.   whereas the European Union remains committed to further developing its relations with Armenia and to supporting the country in its efforts to introduce the necessary political and economic reforms, as well as measures to establish solid and efficient democratic institutions, and to tackle corruption; whereas the ENP Action Plan provides Armenia with the opportunity to become closer to the EU and to embrace and share its founding values,

B.   whereas the above-mentioned International Election Observation Mission stated that the presidential elections of 19 February 2008 were "administered mostly in line with OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and standards", but also identified a number of concerns, in particular concerning the media's commitment to providing impartial information,

C.   whereas there were deemed to be further requirements in order to address remaining problems (such as the absence of a clear separation between State and party functions, ensuring equal treatment of election candidates and the conduct of the count) and to restore public confidence in the electoral process,

D.   whereas the official results of the presidential elections in Armenia on 19 February 2008 showed a first-round victory for Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian but were contested by one of the opposition leaders, Levon Ter-Petrosian, as being fraudulent; whereas the Constitutional Court examined the applications made by the opposition and concluded that, although irregularities had occurred, there was not enough evidence to justify calling the outcome of the election into question,

E.   whereas opposition supporters began peaceful rallies on 20 February 2008 in Yerevan to protest against the election result and demand a rerun; whereas on the evening of 1 March 2008, after eleven days of protest by opposition supporters, violence erupted when police moved into Freedom Square in central Yerevan to disperse the protesters camped out in tents, leaving eight people dead, including one police officer, and dozens injured; whereas a state of emergency was declared on 1 March 2008, which imposed restrictions on the freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and political parties,

F.   whereas the television stations controlled by the government have virtually ignored the rallies; whereas, under the state of emergency, local journalists are barred from disseminating any information that comes from a source other than the government; whereas, as a consequence, seven leading newspapers, some independent and some linked to the opposition, have refused to operate under such restrictions and suspended publication; whereas the internet and satellite connections of some independent papers have been blocked,

G.   whereas many people have been arrested and a number of them charged with instigating and participating in mass disorder and attempting to seize power by force; whereas on 4 March 2008 the Armenian Parliament waived the immunity of four of its Members facing criminal charges,

H.   whereas the Armenian economy and regional stability are still being harmed by the border closure with Turkey,

I.   whereas the Republic of Armenia is involved in an unresolved conflict with the Republic of Azerbaijan over the status of Nagorno-Karabakh,

1.  Expresses its concern at recent developments in Armenia, with the violent police crackdown on opposition demonstrations, leading to the death of eight citizens, including one police officer, with over a hundred injured, and calls on all parties to show openness and restraint, to tone down their statements and to engage in a constructive and fruitful dialogue aimed at supporting and consolidating the country's democratic institutions;

2.  Calls for a prompt, thorough, transparent, independent and impartial investigation of the events of 1 March 2008, including an independent investigation of the police intervention during the dispersal of the demonstration, and for all those responsible to be brought to justice and punished for misconduct and criminal acts of violence; calls on the Council and the Commission to offer EU assistance to the Armenian authorities with such an investigation;

3.  Calls on the Armenian authorities to lift the state of emergency, which was mitigated by a presidential decree on 10 March 2008, to restore media freedom and take all the measures necessary to ensure a return to normality; urges them, furthermore, to take into account and address the shortcomings pointed out in the official report released by the Republic of Armenia's Ombudsman;

4.  Calls on the Armenian authorities to release citizens detained for having exercised their right of peaceful assembly;

5.  Stresses that Priority Area 1 of the ENP Action Plan deals with the strengthening of democratic structures and the rule of law; urges the Commission in this context to focus its assistance to Armenia on the independence of the judiciary and the training of police and security forces, and calls on the Armenian authorities to implement swiftly all the remaining recommendations made by the International Election Observation Mission;

6.  Supports the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby, in his role of facilitating dialogue between the political groupings and investigating possible ways of resolving the political crisis in Armenia, and welcomes the mediation by the OSCE's Special Envoy, Ambassador Heikki Talvitie, who has a great deal of experience of the South Caucasus region, and urges the Armenian authorities to cooperate fully with the international community in finding an agreed solution;

7.  Deplores the recent loss of life on the "line of control" during fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces; calls on both sides to refrain from further violence and to return to the negotiating table;

8.  Reiterates the clear EU commitment to building closer ties with Armenia and the South Caucasus countries, notably by further developing and strengthening the ENP; emphasises, however, that closer cooperation with the EU must be based on real and tangible progress and reforms and a full commitment to democracy and the rule of law; calls on the Commission to further support efforts aimed at improving the political culture in Armenia, strengthening dialogue and defusing the high level of tension between governing parties and opposition;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the President and Parliament of Armenia, the OSCE and the Council of Europe.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0016.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0017
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0538
(4) OJ L 239, 9.9.1999, p. 3.


Russia
PDF 123kWORD 43k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on Russia
P6_TA(2008)0105B6-0124/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the objectives of consolidating democracy and political freedoms in the Russian Federation, as laid down in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Russian Federation, of the other part(1), which entered into force in 1997 and expired in 2007,

–   having regard to the EU-Russia human rights consultation,

–   having regard to the objective of the EU and Russia, set out in the joint statement issued following the 11th EU-Russia Summit held in St Petersburg on 31 May 2003, of setting up a common economic space, a common space of freedom, security and justice, a common space of cooperation in the field of external security and a common space of research and education, including cultural aspects,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia, and in particular to that of 25 October 2006 on the murder of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya(2), that of 26 April 2007(3), that of 14 November 2007 on the EU-Russia Summit(4) and that of 13 December 2006 on the EU-Russia Summit in Helsinki on 24 November 2006(5),

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

A.   whereas enhanced cooperation and good-neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia are of key importance to the stability, security and prosperity of the whole of Europe; whereas the conclusion of a Strategic Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation remains of the utmost importance for a further development and intensification of cooperation between the two partners, in particular with regard to matters of political, security, economic and energy cooperation, but also with regard to respect for the rule of law, democratic principles and procedures and basic human rights,

B.   whereas alongside its membership of the United Nations, Russia is a full member of the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and has therefore committed itself to the principles of democracy and democratic elections as well as respect for freedom of speech and assembly laid down by those organisations; whereas those principles and values are also the basis for the strategic partnership between the EU and Russia,

C.   whereas the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), in its capacity as an international election standards watchdog, had to cancel its planned mission to monitor the elections in Russia because of the severe restrictions placed on its observers by the Russian Government;

D.   whereas the head of the observers from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe declared that there has been no improvement in the conditions of access of candidates to the media, calling into question the fairness of the election;

E.   whereas Mikhail Kasyanov, the former Prime Minister and current leader of the People's Democratic Union, registered as a candidate on 14 December 2007, but was later disqualified by the Central Electoral Commission of Russia, which stated that too many of the 2 million signatures of support were forged; whereas Mikhail Kasyanov appealed against that decision to the Supreme Court, which rejected the appeal on 6 February 2008,

F.   whereas according to reports by leading opposition forces, the Russian authorities, in the run-up to the parliamentary and presidential elections, put increased pressure on opposition groups and non-governmental organisations to refrain from any activities directed against the president and the government, preventing the media from reporting on any such activities,

G.   whereas democracy has been weakened in Russia, in particular by the government control of all major TV stations and most radio stations, the spread of self-censorship among the print media, new restrictions on the right to organise public demonstrations and a worsening climate for non-governmental organisations ,

H.   whereas on 3 March 2008 "Other Russia", a coalition of opposition parties, organised a "March of Dissent" to protest against the presidential elections in Russia of 2 March 2008; whereas the city authorities refused to authorise the protest, claiming that the pro-Kremlin "Young Russia" youth group had already planned gatherings at every large meeting point in the capital; whereas "Other Russia" decided to go ahead with the march and said it would appeal against the city's decision,

I.   whereas several opposition protesters were arrested as riot police and militias wearing helmets and carrying riot shields crushed the rally in Turgenevskaya Square in central Moscow; whereas Nikita Belykh, the leader of the Union of Right Forces party, was among those detained; whereas the leader of the Yabloko party in St Petersburg, Maksim Reznik, was also arrested;

1.  Condemns the disproportionate use of force by police and riot police and militias against the demonstrators on 3 March 2008, and calls on the authorities to investigate the incidents and to bring those responsible to justice;

2.  Calls for the immediate release of all those demonstrators who are still detained;

3.  Deplores in particular the fact that the run-up to the presidential election was marked by the illegal treatment of opposition candidates; regrets the failure to use the recent election to strengthen democracy and the rule of law in Russia;

4.  Regrets that the Russian authorities regarded the intended monitoring mission of the OSCE/ODIHR as an intrusion into internal affairs; voices its strong support for the important work of this mission and reminds Russia of its commitments and responsibilities as a member of the OSCE and of the Council of Europe, including the right of association and the right to peaceful demonstrations;

5.  Welcomes the stated commitment by the newly elected President of Russia to guarantee the rule of law and democracy, and expresses the hope that he will give priority to the deepening of relations with the European Union;

6.  Calls on the newly elected President of Russia to review the treatment of imprisoned public figures (among them Mihail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev), whose imprisonment has been assessed by most observers as having been politically motivated; underlines that this would strengthen the credibility of the Russian authorities and enhance an even closer partnership between Russia and the EU;

7.  Urges the Council and Member States to make Russia's full compliance with European Court of Human Rights judgments a key priority at all levels of dialogue with Russia;

8.  Calls on the new Russian President and Government to create together with the European Union the necessary conditions for a rapid start of the negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Russia; stresses once more, in this regard, that respect for the rule of law, democracy and human rights must be an important part of any future agreement with Russia;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Russian Federation, as well as to the President of the Russian Federation, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

(1) OJ L 327, 28.11.1997, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 313 E, 20.12.2006, p. 271.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0169.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0528.
(5) OJ C 317 E, 23.12.2006, p. 474.


Afghan journalist Perwiz Kambakhsh
PDF 111kWORD 34k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on the case of the Afghan journalist Perwiz Kambakhsh
P6_TA(2008)0106RC-B6-0112/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Afghanistan,

–   having regard to the Afghan Constitution adopted in 2004,

–   having regard to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution of 18 December 2007 calling for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty (A/RES/62/149),

–   having regard to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

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

A.   whereas on 22 January 2008, a regional court in the northern Afghan province of Balkh sentenced to death the 23-year-old Afghan journalist Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh for circulating an article about women's rights in Islam, which he had downloaded from the Internet; whereas the court ruled that the article constituted blasphemy and sentenced Mr Kambakhsh to death,

B.   whereas Mr Kambakhsh was denied legal representation and sentenced without a proper hearing; whereas he was allegedly beaten and threatened with execution until he signed a confession,

C.   whereas on 6 February 2008, a delegation from the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA) met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, providing him with details of the case and asking him to intervene on Mr Kambakhsh's behalf,

D.   whereas Article 34 of Afghan Constitution clearly defends the right to freedom of expression in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provides: 'freedom of expression shall be inviolable; every Afghan shall have the right to express thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations as well as other means in accordance with provisions of this Constitution',

E.   whereas journalists in Afghanistan, especially women, are increasingly faced with intimidation, death threats, abduction and violence,

F.   whereas the death sentence against Mr Kambakhsh was delivered in the face of the UN General Assembly's adoption of the above-mentioned resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the use of the death penalty and at a time when a total of 135 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice,

1.  Reaffirms its unconditional opposition to the death penalty and its commitment to respect for the rule of law;

2.  Condemns the arrest of Mr Kambakhsh and the decision by the primary court of Balkh province to sentence him to death on charges of blasphemy; calls for Mr Kambakhsh to be released;

3.  Urgently calls on the Afghan authorities to show their commitment to human and democratic rights by doing everything in their power to prevent his execution and to secure a review of his case; calls on President Hamid Karzai, in the event that the court of appeal should uphold the death sentence, to exercise his power to pardon Mr Kambakhsh;

4.  Recalls President Karzai's assurances concerning the safety of Mr Kambakhsh, which he gave to a delegation from the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association on 6 February 2008;

5.  Expresses its solidarity with all those fighting for independent journalism in Afghanistan;

6.  Calls on the President and Parliament of Afghanistan to take appropriate steps to speed up the development of a functional penal and judicial system based on international standards and best practices; welcomes the announcement by the Commissioner for External Relations at the Rome conference on 'The rule of law in Afghanistan' in July 2007 of immediate financial support to help Afghanistan strengthen the rule of law and reform its judiciary;

7.  Calls on the Afghan Government to respect the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the full and to ensure that freedom of expression is guaranteed and upheld for all citizens in Afghanistan;

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


The case of the Iranian citizen Seyed Mehdi Kazemi
PDF 113kWORD 41k
European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2008 on the case of the Iranian citizen Sayyed Mehdi Kazemi
P6_TA(2008)0107RC-B6-0111/2008

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular to Article 3 thereof, which prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular to Articles 18 and 19 thereof on the right to asylum and on protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition respectively,

–   having regard to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees,

–   having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC of 29 April 2004 on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualification Directive)(1) and to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms to determine the Member State responsible for assessing asylum applications (Dublin Regulation)(2), as well as to other EU asylum instruments,

–   having regard to the letter of 10 September 2007 from its President to the UK Prime Minister on the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who risked being sent back to Iran after her request for asylum was refused,

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

A.   whereas Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old homosexual Iranian citizen, requested asylum in the United Kingdom and had his application rejected; whereas, fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum; whereas Dutch authorities, after examining his request, have decided to send him back to the UK,

B.   whereas UK authorities are now left with the final decision on his asylum application and possible deportation to Iran,

C.   whereas Iranian authorities routinely detain, torture and execute persons, notably homosexuals; whereas Mr Kazemi's former partner has already been executed and his father has threatened him with death,

D.   whereas, in the similar case of Pegah Emambakhsh, the UK authorities decided, following international pressure, not to deport her back to Iran, although it is still not clear what her fate will be,

E.   whereas the UK Prime Minister's spokesperson, while not commenting on the case of Mehdi Kazemi, has given general assurances as to the conformity of UK asylum procedures with international commitments and to the possibility of appealing against asylum decisions to an independent judge, as well as to the fact that the authorities would not remove anyone who would be at risk on his or her return,

F.   whereas more attention should be devoted to the proper application of EU asylum law in Member States in cases involving sexual orientation,

1.  Expresses its serious concern regarding the fate of Mehdi Kazemi;

2.  Asks for the proper and full application of the Qualifications Directive, which recognises persecution for sexual orientation as a ground for granting asylum and requires Member States to consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin, including laws and regulations and the manner in which they are applied;

3.  Believes that the EU and its Member States cannot apply EU and national laws and procedures in such a way as would result in the expulsion of persons to a third country where they would risk persecution, torture and death, as this would amount to a violation of European and international human rights obligations;

4.  Appeals to the Member States involved to find a common solution to ensure that Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum or protection on EU soil and not sent back to Iran, where he would most certainly be executed, thus ensuring that Article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected by all European authorities and notably, in this case, by the UK; asks the Commission and the Council to fully cooperate with the Member States on this case;

5.  Calls on the EU institutions and Member States to take action to prevent similar situations in the future, through cooperation and the application of EU guidelines to find solutions in similar cases; asks the Commission to monitor and assess the application of EU asylum law in the Member States, and in particular in cases involving sexual orientation, and to report to the European Parliament; underlines the fact that the Commission has announced, for 2008, amendments to the Dublin Regulation and the Qualifications Directive which will address the issues raised in this resolution;

6.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Mehdi Kazemi.

(1) OJ L 304, 30.9.2004, p. 12.
(2) OJ L 50, 25.2.2003, p. 1.

Legal notice - Privacy policy