Texts adopted
Thursday, 19 June 2008 - Strasbourg
Inland transport of dangerous goods ***II
 Road infrastructure safety ***I
 European Union's disaster response capacity
 Fortieth anniversary of the Customs Union
 Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers
 Imports of poultry carcasses
 Crisis in the fisheries sector
 EU-Russia Summit 26-27 June 2008
 Future of the sheep/lamb and goat sector in Europe
 Towards Europe-wide Safer, Cleaner and Efficient Mobility: The First Intelligent Car Report

Inland transport of dangerous goods ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 June 2008 on the common position adopted by the Council with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the inland transport of dangerous goods (6920/3/2008 – C6-0160/2008 – 2006/0278(COD))

(Codecision procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Council common position (6920/3/2008 – C6-0160/2008)(1),

–   having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2006)0852),

–   having regard to Article 251(2) of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Rule 67 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0227/2008),

1.  Approves the common position;

2.  Notes that the act is adopted in accordance with the common position;

3.  Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council pursuant to Article 254(1) of the EC Treaty;

4.  Instructs its Secretary-General to sign the act, once it has been verified that all the procedures have been duly completed, and, in agreement with the Secretary-General of the Council, to have it published in the Official Journal of the European Union;

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

(1) OJ C 117 E, 14.5.2008, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, 5.9.2007, P6_TA(2007)0370.

Road infrastructure safety ***I
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 19 June 2008 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on road infrastructure safety management (COM(2006)0569 – C6-0331/2006 – 2006/0182(COD))

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2006)0569),

–   having regard to Articles 251(2) and 71(1) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0331/2006),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0050/2008),

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 the Commission.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 19 June 2008 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2008/.../EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on road infrastructure safety management


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position at first reading corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive 2008/96/EC.)

European Union's disaster response capacity
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on stepping up the Union's disaster response capacity

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 174 of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on reinforcing the Union's disaster response capacity (COM(2008)0130),

–   having regard to the report by Michel Barnier, of 9 May 2006, entitled 'For a European civil protection force: europe aid',

–   having regard to point 12 of the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 15 and 16 June 2006 concerning the Union's responsiveness to emergencies, crises and disasters,

–   having regard to the Council Conclusions of December 2007 on the development and the establishment of early-warning systems in general and an early-warning system in particular for tsunamis in the North-East Atlantic and the Mediterranean region,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on natural and man-made disasters both within and outside the European Union, which called on the Commission and the Member States to work towards closer cooperation on civil protection measures in the event of natural disasters with a view to preventing and minimising their devastating impact, in particular by making available additional civil protection resources,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the European Union Solidarity Fund (COM(2005)0108), and to Parliament's position at first reading of 18 May 2006(1),

–   having regard to the European Consensus on humanitarian aid jointly adopted by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on 18 December 2007(2),

–   having regard to the Guidelines on the use of military and civil defence assets in the event of disaster (Oslo Guidelines), as revised on 27 November 2006,

–   having regard to the March 2003 Guidelines on the use of military and civil defence assets to support United Nations humanitarian activities in complex emergencies (MCDA Guidelines),

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

A.   whereas natural and man-made disasters, such as floods, causing significant human, economic, environmental and cultural harm are on the increase, making it necessary to step up not only the EU-level response, but also prevention and recovery measures,

B.   whereas problems with forest fires and droughts will become increasingly acute, with extremely dry summers growing more and more common, and whereas previous years' and recent experience highlights the need to step up Community civil protection prevention, preparedness and response capability in connection with forest fires and other wildfires,

C.   whereas no guidelines for prevention of forest fires exist today at EU level,

D.   whereas Member States remain responsible for maintaining land use policies that do not give perverse incentives for human induced forest fires in order to change land status,

E.   whereas the Commission Green Paper on adapting to climate change in Europe (COM(2007)0354) stresses that climate change will bring about an increase in extreme weather events in Europe, which will lead to increased risks of harm to people, infrastructure and the environment,

F.   whereas stepping up the Union's capacity to deal with disasters requires an approach encompassing disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery at national, European and international levels,

G.  G whereas the high number of fires in southern Europe in 2007, as well as their extent, is the result of a number of factors, including climate change, an inadequate definition and inadequate care of forests and a combination of natural causes and human negligence, but also of criminal activities, and whereas a number of forest fires in the spring of 2008 should raise the alarm that similar incidents could be repeated in the coming summer,

H.   whereas there is a need for improved coordination between the Council, the Commission and the Member States regarding not only preventative action, but the full disaster cycle up to the final stages of recovery, in close association with Parliament,

I.   whereas today's disasters are often of a cross-border nature and require multilateral and coordinated responses; taking into consideration at the same time the damaging economic and social consequences of natural disasters for regional economies, productive activity and tourism,

J.   whereas, in a world of more frequent and severe natural disasters, with the severest impacts on the poorest people, EU actors must work together to ensure effective delivery of humanitarian aid to victims and to reduce vulnerability,

K.   whereas the lack of common alert signals and protocols is also a major concern in view of the growing mobility of citizens across the EU and third countries,

L.   whereas the EU needs to acknowledge the specific nature of natural disasters occurring in the form of Mediterranean droughts and fires and to adapt its prevention, research, risk management, civil defence and solidarity tools accordingly,

1.  Welcomes the above-mentioned Commission Communication on reinforcing the Union's disaster response capacity as well as the overall objective of greater coherence, effectiveness and visibility of the EU disaster response;

2.  Considers that stepping up its disaster prevention and response capacity is a high-priority policy objective for the Union and that all means should be mobilised to achieve this objective, especially with regard to the heavy floods experienced in recent years;

3.  Stresses that the Commission's approach to natural and man-made disasters occurring in the EU or in third countries should be entirely coherent and consistent with its Communication on Europe's climate change opportunity (COM(2008)0030) and its proposal on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community's greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020; emphasises that climate change is a key factor in the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters, and that environmental policy and climate change legislation must be pillars of the Union's disaster response capacity in order to prevent further damage to people, infrastructure and the environment;

4.  4 Considers that coherence and coordination between different policy areas and institutions at local, regional, national and EU level will lead to more effective, integrated and visible EU disaster management;

5.  5 Considers that cooperation with the candidate countries and potential candidate countries with a view to improving their capacity for preventing and coping with disasters and support to regional cooperation are in the mutual interest of the EU and the countries concerned, and should therefore be developed and strengthened in a way that ensures complementarity and avoids duplication with existing bilateral, regional and international initiatives;

6.  Stresses that work planned by the Commission to develop a knowledge base on disaster scenarios, capacities needed and available, and the impacts of various options to fill any identified gaps should not be used to delay important proposals for the protection of people, property and the environment from disasters;

7.  Stresses that the Commission's approach should cover the full disaster cycle from prevention to recovery, and natural disasters, including extreme droughts, and man-made disasters occurring in the Union or in third countries, and that further work is needed in the areas covered in the above-mentioned Commission communication;

8.  8 Welcomes the Commission's presentation of an action plan for the implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, as an important contribution to efficient, well-coordinated and reinforced European humanitarian aid;

9.  Stresses the importance of strengthening the global response capacity, and therefore acknowledges the role of key humanitarian actors such as the UN, the Red Cross movement and NGOs in third-country disaster-prone areas;

10.  Recalls that the use in third countries of civil protection resources and military assets in response to humanitarian situations must be in line with existing international guidelines such as the Oslo and MCDA Guidelines, in particular to safeguard compliance with the humanitarian principles of neutrality, humanity, impartiality and independence; underlines that, where deployed in a humanitarian crisis, the use of civil protection resources should be needs-driven and complementary to and coherent with humanitarian aid;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address not only risk-based approaches to prepare for extreme events, but also to address ways of reducing vulnerability at EU policy level through appropriate planning and risk reduction measures in due time, taking due account, where appropriate, of environmental and climate change policies and legislation;

12.  Reiterates that the sole aim of Community humanitarian aid and civil protection assistance provided to third countries is to prevent or relieve human suffering and should always be based on the needs of victims alone and in accordance with the fundamental humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality and non-discrimination;

13.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals as a matter of urgency, and no later than the end of 2008, regarding disaster prevention within the Union, together with an EU strategy for disaster risk reduction in developing countries;

14.  Draws attention to the fact that the EU will support preparatory activities conducted at local level in the context of humanitarian operations and will incorporate disaster risk reduction into its development policy;

15.  Regrets that the proposal made by former Commissioner Michel Barnier to create a European civil protection force remains a dead letter and highlights the need, in this context, to pursue the development of a rapid response capacity on the basis of the civil protection modules of Member States, in accordance with the mandate issued by the European Council meeting of 15 and 16 June 2006, and calls on the Commission to develop a specific proposal to that end;

16.  Deplores the fact that the Council appears to have reached a decision not to proceed with the adoption of the new EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) regulation, despite the strong support of Parliament for the revision of the existing instrument; reminds the Council that Parliament adopted its position by an overwhelming majority at first reading in May 2006, and that the relevant dossier has been blocked in the Council for more than two years; reiterates its conviction that the new EUSF regulation, which – among other measures – lowers the thresholds for the mobilisation of the Fund, will put the Union in a better position to address damage caused by disasters in a more effective, flexible and timely manner; strongly urges the European Council to take a decision not to reject this regulation and to request the immediate revision of the current EUSF;

17.  Calls on the Commission to mobilise, when appropriate, the current EUSF in the most flexible manner possible and without delay; considers that, in the event of a natural disaster, it is of paramount importance that the necessary EUSF resources be made available immediately for the purpose of relieving the suffering and satisfying the needs of victims and their immediate families;

18.  Calls on the Commission to carry out more research geared to improving forest fire prevention and forest fire-fighting methods and materials and to review planning and land use; urges the Member States, therefore, to take strong action to improve and implement their forest protection legislative framework and to abstain from commercialisation, reclassification and privatisation activities, thus limiting intrusion and speculation; considers that all available EU know-how, including satellite systems, should be used to this end;

19.  Urges the Commission to submit a package of legally binding instruments (e.g. a framework directive) with a view to filling in gaps in existing EU legislation, policies and programmes as regards disaster prevention and response;

20.  Recommends that such a comprehensive framework should comprise three pillars regarding prevention, with a view to stepping up prevention under existing EU mechanisms and Member State approaches, developing a new framework approach on disaster prevention and supporting further development of prevention knowledge and technology through EU research and development programmes;

21.  Recommends that the proposals regarding stepping up the overall EU response capacity include the setting-up of key resources that have a guaranteed availability for participating in European civil protection operations at any time; states that this should be based primarily on national capacities and, where necessary, include arrangements with other parties;

22.  Calls on the Commission to make the best use of the 2008 pilot project on forest fires and of preparatory action on a rapid reaction capability to experiment with operational arrangements with the Member States and other parties that make response capacities available at all times for European civil protection operations, and considers that this will provide important experience for future legislative proposals;

23.  Supports activities aimed at enhancing Member States' civil protection preparedness, notably through exchange of experts and best practices, exercises and preparedness projects;

24.  Reiterates the call made to the Commission in its resolution of 18 May 2006 on natural disasters (fires, droughts and floods)(3) to put forward a directive on preventing and managing fires, to include the regular collection of data, preparation of maps and identification of areas at risk, preparation of fire risk management plans, identification by the Member States of the resources allocated and facilities available, coordination of the various administrations, minimum requirements for training crews, establishment of environmental responsibility and penalties;

25.  Urges the Council without further delay to adopt a decision on the proposed regulation establishing the EU Solidarity Fund in order to provide a better definition of the criteria and of the eligible events, including droughts, and hence enable damage caused by natural disasters to be countered more effectively, flexibly, and swiftly, bearing in mind also that Parliament adopted its position as long ago as May 2006;

26.  Considers that, in order to ensure the necessary integration of prevention and disaster risk reduction into the Structural and Cohesion Funds programmes, existing guidelines should be strengthened and new guidelines should be developed; calls, in particular, for conditionality in the contribution from Community financial instruments and repayment of Community aid in the event of improper use such as non-fulfilment of reforestation plans and/or other compulsory conditions; calls, furthermore, for prevention awareness-raising and education measures to be financed under Community programmes;

27.  Believes that the Commission's proposals to step up the EU's disaster response capacity should make full use of expertise relating to the geographical location of outermost regions and overseas countries and territories;

28.  Urges the Member States, and particularly those most affected by natural disasters, to make optimal use of the funding opportunities provided under the Structural Funds and other Community funds in the current programming period 2007-2013 and to integrate, when appropriate, prevention activities and projects as priority actions within the relevant Operational Programmes;

29.  Believes that the procedures for mobilisation of the Solidarity Fund need to be reviewed in order to speed up payment of aid; considers, in particular, that to that end a system of advance payments based on initial estimates of direct damage could be developed, whereby further payments depend on the definite calculations of total direct damage and evidence of prevention measures taken as a result of the disaster;

30.  Emphasises the urgency of strengthening the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) with the human and material resources necessary to enable it actively to support the operations launched by the Member States under the Community Civil Protection Mechanism;

31.  Urges the Commission to assess a wide range of options for setting up a sustainable European disaster response training network, covering all phases of disaster management, and to present proposals for such a structure as soon as possible; calls, moreover, for further enhancement both of the preparedness of civil protection services and of the capacity of teams and modules from different Member States to work together;

32.  Recalls the Council Conclusions of December 2007 on the development and establishment of Early Warning Systems in the EU and on the establishment of an Early Warning System for tsunamis in the North East Atlantic and the Mediterranean region, and reaffirms the need for the Member States and the Commission to take forward initiatives to improve early warning systems and alert signals for disasters;

33.  Asks the Commission to include the issue of adequate EU funding for disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery in its proposals for the budgetary review 2008/2009;

34.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the efficiency of the single European emergency number 112;

35.  Calls for the specific nature of natural disasters occurring in the Mediterranean, such as drought and forest fires, to be acknowledged at Community level and for Community prevention, research, risk-management, civil-defence and solidarity tools to be adapted accordingly so as to improve the response to this type of disaster in each Member State;

36.  Urges that due recognition be given to the need for more Community funding for prevention measures;

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

(1) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 331.
(2) OJ C 25, 30.1.2008, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 375.

Fortieth anniversary of the Customs Union
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the fortieth anniversary of the Customs Union

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the recent adoption of Regulation (EC) No 450/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 laying down the Community Customs Code (Modernised Customs Code)(1),

–   having regard to Decision No 70/2008/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 on a paperless environment for customs and trade(2),

–   having regard to Decision No 624/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 May 2007 establishing an action programme for customs in the Community (Customs 2013)(3),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission entitled 'Strategy for the evolution of the Customs Union' (COM(2008)0169),

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 June 2008 on implementing trade policy through efficient import and export rules and procedures(4),

–   having regard to the report of its Committee of Inquiry into the Community Transit System (January 1996 - March 1997),

   having regard to the Agreement between the European Community and the United States of America on customs cooperation and mutual assistance in customs matters(5), signed on 28 May 1997,

–   having regard the proposal for a Council decision on the accession of the European Communities to the World Customs Organisation and the exercise of rights and obligations akin to membership ad interim (COM(2007)0252),

–   having regard the Council conclusions of 14 May 2008 on the strategy for the evolution of the Customs Union,

–   having regard the report on Community customs activities on counterfeit and piracy, published by the Commission on 19 May 2008,

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

A.   whereas the Customs Union has since 1968 played a crucial role in preserving and developing the Single Market and creating prosperity by facilitating legitimate and competitive trade with and within the Union, while protecting its citizens,

B.   whereas the existence of a customs union means the absence of customs duties at internal borders between Member States, common customs duties on imports from third countries, common rules of origin for third-country products and a common definition of customs value,

C.   whereas the development of Community law has been aimed at guaranteeing that the same rules apply to all products imported into the EU,

D.   whereas the EU customs authorities have a dual role to play, namely to levy import duties and taxes and to act as guardian of the health and safety of citizens at the EU's external borders,

E.   whereas its first Committee of Inquiry focused on customs issues and concluded at point 17.3.1. of its above-mentioned report that "in order to provide economic operators and the public at large with the necessary confidence that the Single Market trading environment is adequately protected, ... the creation of a single EU framework for customs services must be a long-term objective of the EU",

F.   whereas globalisation has resulted in a huge increase in international trade and in the development of new production and consumer patterns, but has also introduced new threats such as global terrorism, climate change and illicit trade,

G.   whereas reducing compliance and administrative costs has become a key issue for efficient and effective administration within the EU,

Evolution of the Customs Union

1.  Considers that 40 years of the Customs Union represents a substantial achievement and provided benefits for EU business and citizens;

2.  Affirms that customs authorities, who are mainly responsible for supervising the EU's international trade, thus contribute to guaranteeing open and fair trade, implementing the external dimension of the internal market, the common commercial policy and other EU common policies, and ensuring the security of the supply chain as a whole;

3.  Recognises that the measures taken by the customs authorities are aimed at protecting the financial interests of the EU and its Member States, and at protecting the EU against unfair and unlawful commercial practices;

4.  Recognises also that the measures are aimed at guaranteeing the safety and security of the EU and its residents while protecting the environment, and at maintaining a fair balance between the need to conduct customs controls and to facilitate legitimate trade with a view to improving European competitiveness;

5.  Congratulates customs officials, in this connection, on their effective work to combat counterfeiting, which led to the seizure of 79 million counterfeit and pirated articles relating to 43 000 cases recorded in 2007; in view of the exponential increase in seizures of counterfeit products, supports practical customs measures to combat counterfeiting and piracy, such as increasing the number of specialised customs officers devoted to this work at the Commission and in the Member States, and the reflection on establishing a European Counterfeiting Observatory (ECO);

6.  Welcomes, therefore, the above-mentioned Commission Communication, which seeks to set out a clear orientation for customs for the period 2013 to 2019;

7.  Underlines that EU customs authorities need to continuously anticipate the challenges ahead and to develop and use 'state of the art' skills, technologies and methods to facilitate and control trade in the most efficient and effective manner;

8.  Emphasises the importance of candidate countries aligning with EU standards in customs, and acknowledges the technical assistance to candidate countries provided by the Commission and the Member States;

Closer cooperation

9.  Welcomes the major conclusions of the various seminars organised as part of the Customs 2013 Programme, namely to improve the cooperation network between customs and market surveillance authorities, and to improve risk management and share experiences, knowledge and best practice with regard to cooperation and control;

10.  Considers that cooperation is essential to ensure the effectiveness of EU customs services in the face of the many threats which they have to combat;

11.  Calls, therefore, on the Member States to reinforce administrative cooperation between their customs authorities and between customs and other governmental agencies, such as veterinary authorities and bodies responsible for product safety, in order to ensure that the administration of the external borders of the EU is a joint responsibility, and to guarantee the security and safety of EU citizens;

12.  Calls on the Commission to enhance cooperation with trading partners via existing and future customs cooperation programmes in order to facilitate trade for reliable traders and to ensure supply chain security;

13.  Stresses the importance of ensuring that all economic stakeholders are represented in the Customs Code Committee;

14.  Endorses the signing of the various agreements by the European Community with its main trade partners around the world;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to reinforce international cooperation in the framework of international organisations (World Trade Organisation and World Customs Organisation) and with third countries in the area of customs; points out that this is aimed at achieving more effective customs control and promoting EU standards, while allowing trade to benefit the EU and its trading partners; points out also that this will enable, in particular, joint operations and pilot projects to be set up to strengthen cooperation on the ground between EU and third-country customs officials;

Security issues

16.  Calls on the Member States to further strengthen the role of customs in fighting the particular dangers inherent in fake products, in particular fake medicines and toys;

17.  Calls on the Commission to maintain its opposition to the recent US legislation on 100% scanning of maritime container cargo in foreign ports; points out that it has not been demonstrated that this unilateral decision by the US is needed and is effective in economic and security terms;

18.  Considers that Regulation (EC) No 648/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 April 2005 amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code(6) ('security amendment') already meets the expectations of the US authorities as regards security control in Europe;

Enhancing efficiency, effectiveness and delivery for the Internal Market

19.  Welcomes the two initiatives which Community customs authorities plan to develop over the next ten years to serve EU citizens as best possible, namely the electronic customs proposal, already approved by Parliament, and the establishment of a European customs laboratories' network with a view to uniform interpretation of new EU technical standards, and supports any other initiative serving the same purpose;

20.  Recognises that this modernisation will make it possible to step up the fight against dangerous products and to strengthen consumer protection;

21.  Calls on the Member States to develop new working methods and technology in a synchronised and harmonised way and to ensure a coordinated and common implementation of customs legislation; calls on the Commission to monitor closely the uniform application of customs legislation in the Member States and to report back to Parliament;

22.  Calls on the Member States to provide customs authorities with sufficient resources and (technological and human) investment to enable them to carry out their tasks, implement new paperless systems and train their staff;

23.  Calls on the Member States to ensure a high level of cooperation between customs authorities and the business community in order to enhance compliance and reduce red tape, in particular by using a more risk-management oriented approach and developing 'Single Window/One Stop Shop' services;

24.  Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the problems encountered by small and medium-sized enterprises, specifically by facilitating the process of adapting their IT systems to those employed by customs administrations, at the lowest possible cost, and by simplifying the procedures for securing 'authorised economic operator' status;

o   o

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

(1) OJ L 145, 4.6.2008, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 23, 26.1.2008, p. 21.
(3) OJ L 154, 14.6.2007, p. 25.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0247.
(5) OJ L 222, 12.8.1997, p. 17.
(6) OJ L 117, 4.5.2005, p. 13.

Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers (2008/2006(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/54/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (COM(2007)0528),

–   having regard to the Commission proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/55/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas (COM(2007)0529),

–   having regard to the Council conclusions of 15 February 2007 on an Energy Policy for Europe (6271/2007),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "An Energy Policy for Europe" (COM(2007)0001),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled "Inquiry pursuant to Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 into the European gas and electricity sectors" (COM(2006)0851),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled "Prospects for the internal gas and electricity market – Implementation Report" (SEC(2006)1709), accompanying document to the Commission Communication (COM(2006)0841),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled "EU energy policy data" (SEC(2007)0012),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2004/67/EC of 26 April 2004 concerning measures to safeguard security of natural gas supply(1),

–   having regard to the Annual Report of the European Energy Regulators for the period 1 January 2006 to 31 December 2006 to all members of the Council of European Energy Regulators and the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas, the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, made under Article 3(8) of Commission Decision 2003/796/EC of 11 November 2003 on establishing the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas(2),

–   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council of 8-9 March 2007, concerning the European Council's endorsement of a "European Council Action Plan (2007-2009) – Energy Policy for Europe" (7224/2007),

–   having regard to Commission Communication entitled "Towards a European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers" (COM(2007)0386),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A6-0202/2008),

A.   whereas the principles of social inclusion, equal opportunities for all and fair access to knowledge in the digital era mean that it is essential for every citizen of the Union to have affordable access to energy,

B.   whereas consumers – especially individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – have limited tools at their disposal and opportunities to represent their interests in an effective way,

C.   whereas adequate energy provision constitutes one of the key elements towards achieving citizens' successful participation in social and economic life,

D.   whereas the European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers (the Charter) constitutes an appeal to and stimulus for governments, energy regulators and the industry, represented by all social partners, to contribute in a concrete way to ensuring that energy consumers' interest are being taken into account in a social, environmental and competitive EU energy market,

E.   whereas given that in markets with imperfect competition, such as the energy sector, market mechanisms alone do not always fully ensure consumers' best interests, general customer protection, in addition to energy market-specific public service obligations, must be addressed and enforced,

F.   whereas the available data suggest that Member States have made only limited use of targeted public service obligations to address the needs of vulnerable customers,

G.   whereas there should be a strong focus on the role conferred on the National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs), which shall be independent from any public or private interest and have the competence to monitor energy markets, including prices and all their components, and to intervene and to sanction if needed,

H.   whereas consumer dispute resolution in the field of energy is not sufficiently covered by legislation, and whereas the resolution of such disputes is dealt with by a number of different authorities, and consumers do not know whom to approach,

I.   whereas the EU targets regarding renewable energy should be integrated into the European Charter on the Rights of Energy Consumers in order to allow consumers to choose energy sources that are coherent with these targets,

Nature of the Charter

1.  Stresses the fact that energy supply is a key element for the successful participation of citizens in social and economic life;

2.  Recalls that, although the rights of consumers are already protected by the Community legislation in force, they are often not respected; emphasises that the reinforcement of consumer protection measures can best be achieved by more effective implementation of the existing legislation;

3.  Points out that adoption of the package of proposals concerning the electricity and natural gas markets (the 'Third Package' proposals) which Parliament is currently debating would further reinforce the legal framework for the protection of energy consumers;

4.  Considers that the future protection of energy consumers must continue to be based on joint action by the European Union and Member States; individual consumer protection practices in the energy market might have different effects in different Member States; consistent application of the principle of subsidiarity is therefore vital;

5.  Stresses the absolute need to strengthen consumer protection on energy issues and to use the Charter as a guiding tool for European and national authorities, as well as private entities, in order to ensure and enforce consumer rights effectively;

6.  Points to Article 3 of, and Annex A to, Directives 2003/54/EC(3) and 2003/55/EC(4), as will be amended by the 'Third Package' proposals; emphasises the need for better enforcement at national level;

7.  Considers the Charter as an information document collecting, clarifying and consolidating the energy rights of consumers as already adopted in the existing EU legislation; welcomes, therefore, the Commission's plan to devise an internet tool on consumer rights in energy, but highlights the need for a broader communication strategy for consumers who do not have internet access or for whom the internet is an unsuitable communication medium;

8.  Points out that the Charter must also meet the needs of small professional users, who often face the same problems as ordinary energy consumers;

Access to transmission and distribution grids and supply

9.  Recalls that the European energy market continues to be characterised by a large number of monopolies; this restricts freedom of choice and the possibility of changing supplier quickly and free of charge, increases the lack of information and, as a result, heightens the vulnerability of consumers; it is important to ensure that efforts are made to create a single, competitive energy market and to protect, in particular, vulnerable customers;

10.  Stresses that European electricity and gas consumers have the right to be connected to the networks and to be supplied with electricity and gas, at reasonable, transparent, non- discriminatory and clearly comparable tariffs and prices, including adjusted prices and tariffs resulting from their respective indexation mechanisms; non-discrimination should include a prohibition on discriminatory charges on certain methods of payment, in particular for those – often vulnerable – consumers charged by means of a prepayment meter;

11.  Underlines that special attention must be paid to consumer protection and that safeguards must be put in place in order to prevent grid disconnection; Member States have to appoint a supplier of last resort and inform the consumers thereof; such a mechanism must be set up by national legislation;

12.  Stresses that disconnection from the network should be considered only as a last resort solution in cases of arrears of payments on the part of consumers, especially as far as vulnerable consumers and holiday periods are concerned; providers ought to apply the principle of proportionality, as well as make an individual notification to the consumer, before proceeding with such an action;

13.  Stresses the need to ensure the protection of universal rights, especially as regards access to energy for different social, economic and regional groups through stability and security of supply, as well as the effectiveness of networks, by promoting cooperation at regional level between Member States and neighbouring countries with a European perspective;

14.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that the consumer is able to switch easily, and within a period that does not exceed one month, to a new supplier, free of charge;

Tariffs, prices

15.  Stresses that European electricity and gas prices must be reasonable, easily and clearly comparable, and transparent as well as based on actual energy consumption; published prices, tariffs, indexation mechanisms and conditions must be easily accessible to the consumer by means of a comprehensive and easily understandable set of information tools; furthermore, they should be communicated beforehand to, and monitored or approved by, the independent national regulator;

16.  Underlines that it is a customary contractual obligation on providers to carry out a calculation, on a regular basis and on predetermined dates, so as to ensure that consumers are charged according to the actual quantity of energy that they have used; if providers are unable to comply with such an obligation for, for example, technical reasons, the consumption of energy ought to be calculated on the basis of reasonable and transparent criteria, which are clearly stated in the contract;

17.  Highlights in this regard the development of market actors specialising in publishing comparable information regarding suppliers' prices, tariffs and conditions, as well as providing support in switching providers;

18.  Calls on the Member States to promote 'smart meters', which provide consumers with a clear view of their actual energy consumption and therefore contribute to better energy efficiency; recalls the requirements of Article 13 of Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services(5) on the provision of smart meters; calls urgently on the Commission and Member States to implement and enforce the requirements on metering and billing set out in that Directive, in the interests of consumer information and energy;

19.  Considers that the Member States should be required to ensure that the roll-out of smart meters is completed with minimum disruption to consumers within 10 years of the entry into force of the 'Third Package' proposals (amending Directives 2003/54/EC and 2003/55/EC) and should be the responsibility of energy distribution or supply companies; NRAs should be made responsible for monitoring the process of such development and for laying down common standards for that purpose; Member States should be required to ensure that standards establishing the minimum technical design and operational requirements for meters address interoperability issues to provide maximum benefit at minimum cost to consumers;


20.  To safeguard transparency, underlines the need to develop a model for standard invoices based on best practice; in order to ensure comparability; underlines the need for the development of standard pre-contractual and contractual information, including information on the consumer's right under the Charter;

21.  Calls on Member States to put in place a physical single entry point for any consumer information request, for example through national energy regulators, thus facilitating consumer access to information and at the same time ensuring that information is available as close to consumers as possible in terms of place, time, tools and thoroughness;

22.  Underlines the need for the Commission to develop, in cooperation with the NRAs, quality criteria to be applied to consumer-related services, including call centres;

23.  Is of the opinion that tariff simulators must be available on the websites of suppliers and of the independent national regulator; underlines that consumers must, on a regular basis, be informed about their energy consumption;

24.  Underlines the need to oblige suppliers to inform consumers of the promulgation of the Charter;

Social measures

25.  Deplores the fact that vulnerable energy consumers have serious problems that need to be explicitly addressed in national social security systems or other equivalent measures;

26.  Calls on Member States to invest as a priority in comprehensive energy efficiency measures for low-income households, thereby addressing in a strategic manner both the problem of fuel poverty and the "20% by 2020" energy efficiency target adopted at the 2007 Spring European Council;

27.  Calls on the Commission to provide guidance on a common definition of public service obligations and to oversee the implementation by the Member States of the obligations as laid down in Article 3 of and Annex A to Directives 2003/54/EC and 2003/55/EC;

28.  Calls on the Commission to define the notion of energy poverty;

29.  Calls on Member States to set up National Energy Action Plans addressing energy poverty and to communicate such measures to the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators; calls on the Agency to monitor these measures in cooperation with the national authorities and to communicate successful measures; stresses that an appraisal should be made of the extent to which the individual national social security or tax systems take account of the risks associated with energy poverty;

Environmental measures

30.  Underlines that providers and network operators ought to act in an environmentally responsible manner, making every possible effort to keep CO2 emissions, as well as the production of radioactive waste, at the lowest possible levels provided for under the applicable law;

31.  Considers that priority should be given to renewable energy sources, combined heat and power and other embedded generation, and that the right of consumers to make an informed choice in favour of renewable energies should be recognised in the Charter; considers, therefore, that all consumers should be informed in an objective, transparent and non-discriminatory way about the sources of energy available to them;

32.  Stresses, therefore, the need to implement in practice Article 3(6) of Directive 2003/54/EC, according to which Member States shall ensure that consumers receive reliable information about the energy mix of the electricity supplier and the environmental impact resulting from the electricity produced by the supplier's energy mix;

National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs)

33.  Underlines the existence of NRAs in the Member States, but deplores their limited power today; is of the opinion that Member States should ensure that NRAs have sufficient statutory powers and resources, and that they are willing to use them;

34.  Expresses its conviction that national regulators should play a central role in consumer protection; believes, for this reason, that proposals aimed at reinforcing the powers and independence of regulators, including the right to impose sanctions on suppliers who do not comply with Community law relating to this issue, should be supported;

35.  Is of the opinion that NRAs must be independent from any public or private interest and have at least the competence to:

   approve the principles for determining network charges or the actual grid tariffs, and possibly their indexation mechanisms;
   monitor prices and all their components, including their indexation mechanisms;
   monitor, control and enforce consumer information provided by the suppliers for at least the first five years after the market has been fully liberalised and until such time as it has been demonstrated that suppliers have and will continue to provide consumers with relevant, transparent and impartial information;
   protect consumers against unfair commercial practices and cooperate, in this respect, with the competent competition authorities;

36.  Considers that Member States should ensure that NRAs have the necessary powers in order to monitor the electricity and gas offers available on the market; therefore, they shall have access to all decisive elements determining the prices, including at least, gas and electricity contractual terms and conditions and index formulas;

37.  Stresses the need to ensure that the competences of the NRA are incorporated into the proposed Article 22c of Directive 2003/54/EC and the proposed Article 24c of Directive 2003/55/EC;

38.  Underlines the need for an integrated European approach of the activities of the NRAs to be coordinated by the European Agency;


39.  Calls on Member States to put in place as close to consumers as possible a common entry point for any type of consumer complaints and to encourage the resolution of such complaints through alternative methods of dispute resolution;

40.  Stresses that all consumers should have the right to service delivery, complaint handling and alternative dispute resolution by their energy service provider in line with international standards including ISO 10001, ISO 10002 and ISO 10003 and further ISO standards developed in this field;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that ombudsmen are empowered to treat complaints effectively as well as to provide information on energy issues to consumers;

Consumer organisations

42.  Acknowledges the important role of consumer organisations in ensuring the maximum is done to achieve a high level of energy consumer rights throughout the EU; all Member States should ensure that consumer organisations have sufficient resources to deal with essential services, including gas and electricity;

43.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the sustainable development of energy services; emphasises the important role of consumer organisations and NRAs in promoting sustainable consumption by means of drawing the attention of both consumers and companies to, in particular, the energy mix, climate change and the influence of consumers on the development of the sector;

44.  Recommends that Member States provide financial support to consumer organisations in order for them to be able to train their staff and thus be in a better position to provide assistance in the legislative process, in informing and educating consumers and in consumer dispute resolution;

o   o

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

(1) OJ L 127, 294.2004, p. 92.
(2) OJ L 296, 14.11.2003, p. 34.
(3) Directive 2003/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity (OJ L 176, 15.7.2003, p. 37).
(4) Directive 2003/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas (OJ L 176, 15.7.2003, p. 57).
(5) OJ L 114, 27.4.2006, p. 64.

Imports of poultry carcasses
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on imports of poultry carcasses

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin(1),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 of 22 October 2007 establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets and on specific provisions for certain agricultural products (Single CMO Regulation)(2),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the control of salmonella and other specified food-borne zoonotic agents(3),

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on official controls performed to ensure the verification of compliance with feed and food law, animal health and animal welfare rules(4),

–   having regard to Council Directive 91/271/EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste-water treatment(5),

–   having regard to Council Directive 98/24/EC of 7 April 1998 on the protection of the health and safety of workers from the risks related to chemical agents at work(6),

–   having regard to the decision of the College of Commissioners of 28 May 2008 approving a draft regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 853/2004, aimed at authorising the use of certain anti-microbial substances to remove surface contamination from poultry carcasses,

–   having regard to the assessment of the possible effect of the four anti-microbial treatment substances on the emergence of anti-microbial resistance, adopted by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) on 6 March 2008 at the request of the Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumers,

–   having regard to the oral question by its Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety to the Commission which was discussed on 28 May 2008,

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

A.   whereas the Commission proposal to amend Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 establishing a common organisation of agricultural markets as regards the rules on the marketing of poultry meat (COM(2008)0336) seeks, by redefining poultry meat, to authorise the marketing of poultry meat that has undergone anti-microbial treatment for the purpose of human consumption,

B.   whereas the above mentioned decision of the College of Commissioners seeks to authorise the use of four anti-microbial substances in the treatment of poultry carcasses for human consumption in the European Union,

C.   whereas this Commission proposal follows on from the request by the United States for imports into the European Union of US-produced poultry treated with chemicals or anti-microbial substances to be authorised,

D.   whereas the United States may already export poultry meat to the European Union under the current rules, provided that such meat has not undergone anti-microbial treatment,

E.   whereas the precautionary principle was expressly laid down in the Treaty in 1992 and whereas the Court of Justice of the European Communities has, on numerous occasions, clarified the substance and scope of this principle of Community law as one of the foundations of Community protection policy in the environment and health spheres(7),

F.   whereas the authorisation of anti-microbial treatment, either only for imported products or also within the EU, would in both cases mean double standards, as the European sector has been forced to invest heavily in a whole chain approach, while the US is applying only a cheap 'end of pipe' solution,

G.   whereas the Commission acknowledges the lack of scientific data on the environmental and health impact of using the four anti-microbial substances whose authorisation is now being proposed,

H.   whereas consumers could be misled, as the chlorination procedure might alter the appearance of meat to make it look fresher than it is,

I.   having regard to the long process of adopting and consolidating Community food safety and hygiene rules and standards, which has served to reduce the number of infections caused by various specified food-borne zoonotic agents,

J.   whereas, according to the findings of an assessment conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the use of anti-microbial substances in the United States has not reduced the number of infections caused by listeria, salmonella and other bacteria,

K.   whereas the Agriculture and Fisheries Council has already discussed the topic twice and whereas the general reaction of the Member States to the Commission plans to authorise the anti-microbial treatment of poultry carcases has been negative,

L.   whereas at its meeting of 2 June 2008 the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health rejected the above Commission proposal by 316 votes to nil, with 29 abstentions, thus sending out a clear and forceful message prior to the EU-US Summit in Brdo, Slovenia,

M.   whereas the Commission is obliged to forward its proposal to the Council following its rejection by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health,

1.  Voices its disapproval of the Commission proposal;

2.  Calls on the Council to reject the proposal;

3.  Is strongly of the opinion that this issue should be dealt with by the Agriculture and Fisheries Council and not by other Council configurations;

4.  Requests to be consulted and fully informed by the Commission before any further decisions in preparation for the next Transatlantic Economic Council meeting, which takes place in October 2008;

5.  Stresses that authorisation of the four anti-microbial substances for the treatment of poultry carcasses intended for human consumption would pose a serious threat to Community rules and standards and would constitute a setback for the efforts and adjustments made by poultry professionals with a view to reducing the incidence of bacterial infection in the European Union; points out that it would also represent a serious and extremely damaging reversal of Community policy in this area and a blow to the credibility of Community efforts to promote high food safety and hygiene standards at international level;

6.  Draws attention to the considerable investments made in this area by European poultry professionals, in accordance with Community legislation, with a view to reducing pathogen contamination by implementing a total food chain approach;

7.  Considers the total food chain approach, as used within the European Union, to be a more sustainable means of reducing pathogen levels in poultry meat than decontamination using anti-microbial substances at the end of the food production process;

8.  Voices its concern at the fact that authorisation of imports of such poultry meat could undermine European standards;

9.  Stresses that the proposal is out of step with both the European public's food safety and hygiene expectations and the demand for production models – both within and outside Europe – which ensure that high hygiene standards are maintained throughout the production and distribution process; stresses that it would be likely to undermine European consumer confidence in foodstuffs sold within the European Union, which remains fragile following the food safety problems that have arisen within the Union over recent years;

10.  Acknowledges the need for suitable scientific advice taking due account of the need for consumer protection and information; considers that the arrangements ultimately adopted, whatever they may be, should not result in any distortion of competition;

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

(1) OJ L 139 of 30.4.2004, p. 55.
(2) OJ L 299 of 16.11.2007, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 325 of 12.12.2003, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 165 of 30.4.2004, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 135 of 30.5.1991, p. 40.
(6) OJ L 131 of 5.5.1998, p. 11.
(7) Judgment of 23 September 2003 in Case C-192/01 Commission v Denmark [2003] ECR I-9693; judgment of 7 September 2004 in Case C-127/02 Landelijke Vereniging tot Behoud van de Waddenzee, Nederlandse Vereniging tot Bescherming van Vogels v Staatssecretaris van Landbouw, Natuurbeheer en Visserij [2004] ECR I-7405.

Crisis in the fisheries sector
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the crisis in the fisheries sector caused by rising fuel prices

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006 of 27 July 2006 on the European Fisheries Fund(1),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on improving the economic situation in the fishing industry (COM(2006)0103),

–   having regard to the conference organised by the Commission and held in Brussels on 10-11 May 2006 on new technologies in the field of fisheries,

–   having regard to its resolutions of 28 September 2006 on improving the economic situation in the fishing industry(2) and of 12 December 2007 on the common organisation of the market in the fisheries and aquaculture products sector(3),

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

A.   whereas the current crisis facing the Community fishing industry is due to the constant rise in the price of fuel, which has risen by more than 300% in the last five years and by more than 40% since January 2008,

B.   whereas prices of fisheries products are similar to those of twenty years ago, and whereas in the case of some species a considerable reduction of up to 25% has occurred since the beginning of the year owing to mass imports from illegal fishing,

C.   whereas in the fisheries sector, unlike other sectors of the economy, the price of fuel cannot affect the price of first sale of products, since in the current situation fishermen cannot set prices,

D.   whereas the rise in fuel prices is having direct and indirect repercussions on the incomes of crews, owing to the link between wages and income from the first sale of catches,

E.   whereas EU fishermen's incomes have fallen this year, despite the fact that the fishermen have incurred rising costs,

F.   whereas, in spite of the restructuring plans in force and successive business readjustments, the continual worsening of this crisis has made many companies financially unviable and other fishing enterprises have been left in high-risk situations, leading to protest demonstrations in many Member States,

G.   whereas there needs to be major investment, at both European and national level, in new technologies to increase energy efficiency in fishing vessels and in ways to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels,

H.   whereas certain Member States have initiated schemes aimed at reducing fuel consumption by their fleets and whereas such innovations are to be supported,

I.   whereas the EU has committed itself to a considerable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions under the Climate and Energy Package, and whereas the fisheries sector can contribute to this effort,

J.   whereas a solution to the current problems facing the fisheries sector can only be found if strong measures are taken at both national and European level in the short, medium and long term,

1.  Expresses its solidarity with the EU fishermen and calls on the Commission and the Council to envisage measures in order to resolve the present crisis in the fisheries sector;

2.  Calls on the Member States to speed up procedures to enable the payment of aid under Commission Regulation (EC) No 875/2007 of 24 July 2007 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the EC Treaty to de minimis aid in the fisheries sector(4);

3.  Reiterates in this context its call to the Commission to revise the above-mentioned Regulation so as to increase the aid to EUR 100 000 per vessel instead of per undertaking, so that the level of aid is brought closer to that in other economic sectors;

4.  Draws the attention of the Member States to the new Community Guidelines for the examination of State aid to fisheries and aquaculture(5), which allow tax relief and reductions in social costs for Community vessels that operate outside Community waters, and asks for these measures to be applied to those vessels that request it;

5.  Recalls that, together with the rising price of oil, one of the most recurrent claims of the EU fishing fleet with regard to the fall in the price of its products relates to massive imports of fishing products at low prices from illegal fishing, and therefore insists that:

   a) the Council act responsibly by adopting the future directive against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, so that controls on imports from IUU fishing are strengthened and improved;
   b) controls on fisheries products from third countries be intensified and improved so as to guarantee that the same standards are applied to imported products as to Community products;
   c) information on the origin of fisheries products be improved and expanded and, above all, that the compulsory use of an informative label be guaranteed and controlled in all cases, and that fraud in the labelling of products be appropriately tackled;

6.  Reiterates its call to the Commission to submit, as soon as possible, its proposal for the revision of the common organisation of the market in fishery and aquaculture products, taking account of the proposals of the European Parliament, with a view to allowing fishermen to have more responsibility in the setting of prices, thus guaranteeing incomes in the sector, ensuring market stability, improving the marketing of fisheries products and increasing the value added generated;

7.  Asks for the fishing fleet adjustment plans to be brought into force in all the Member States and for the financial means necessary for a voluntary restructuring of the fleets to be provided; to this end:

   a) calls on the Commission to establish priority criteria for the segments of the fleet that have been most affected by this crisis;
   b) considers it essential that national Operational Programmes under the European Fisheries Fund be reviewed to allow for more targeted spending;
   c) calls for assistance with a one-off change in fishing gear to produce less fuel-intensive fishing methods;
   d) encourages the purchase of equipment to improve fuel efficiency;

8.  Asks the Commission to submit proposals for a seven-year compensation scheme for CO2 reduction in the fisheries sector, based on the current price of EUR 25 per tonne of CO2;

9.  Asks the Commission to support the creation of a specific fisheries-oriented research and development fund, within the existing Seventh Research and Development Framework Programme, to help finance projects aimed at investigating alternative energy sources and improving energy efficiency in the fisheries sector;

10.  Considers that conversion and diversification of fishing gear can contribute to a reduction in the fisheries sector's energy dependence;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to consult widely with the fishing sector and other interested parties to solicit their ideas on the best ways to achieve such an objective, recognising that the situation and therefore the solutions will not necessarily be the same in all fisheries or regions;

12.  Urges the Commission to formulate specific proposals to alleviate the situation in the areas most dependent on fisheries;

13.  Calls for the establishment of a tripartite dialogue at European level between all the players (public administrations, trade unions and fishermen) to deal with the structural problems of the sector, which are not merely a reflection of the oil price crisis, giving priority to fishermen's working conditions;

14.  Requests that at the next Fisheries Ministers Council, due to take place in June 2008, this matter be discussed as a priority and that the necessary measures to resolve the crisis be adopted;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the representatives of the European fisheries sector organisations.

(1) OJ L 223, 15.8.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 417.
(3) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2007)0606.
(4) OJ L 193, 25.7.2007, p. 6.
(5) OJ C 84, 3.4.2008, p.10.

EU-Russia Summit 26-27 June 2008
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the EU-Russia Summit of 26-27 June 2008 in Khanty-Mansiysk

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) 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 decisions of the General Affairs Council of 26 May 2008 approving the negotiating directives for an agreement that will provide a new comprehensive framework for the EU's relations with Russia,

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

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on EU relations with Russia, and in particular its resolution of 14 November 2007 on the EU-Russia Summit(2) held in Mafra, Portugal, on 26 October 2007),

–   having regard to the EU-Russia human rights consultations, and in particular their seventh round on 17 April 2008 covering freedom of the media, expression and assembly, especially in the light of the recent parliamentary and presidential elections, the functioning of civil society, the rights of persons belonging to minorities, combating racism and xenophobia, and the rights of children,

–   having regard to the 2007 progress report on the implementation of the EU-Russia Common Spaces, prepared by the Commission and published in March 2008,

–   having regard to the outcome of the eighth meeting of the EU-Russia Permanent Partnership Council on Freedom, Security and Justice held in St Petersburg on 24-25 April 2008,

–   having regard to the statement by the chair of the EP delegation to the EU-Russia Partnership and Cooperation Council following the EU-Russia working group's visit to Moscow on 17-18 March 2008,

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

A.   whereas relations between the EU and Russia have been steadily developing over the past decade, leading to deep and comprehensive economic integration and interdependence, which is bound to increase even more in the near future,

B.   whereas the EU and Russia, which is a member of the UN Security Council, share a responsibility for global stability and security and whereas enhanced cooperation and good-neighbourly relations between the EU and Russia are of particular importance to the stability, security and prosperity of Europe,

C.   whereas the conclusion of a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) between the EU and the Russian Federation remains of the utmost importance for the further development and intensification of cooperation between the two partners,

D.   whereas the negotiations on such a new SPA should be started as soon as possible on the basis of the progress already achieved on the road to the establishment of the four common spaces, with a common economic space, a space of freedom, security and justice, a space of external security and a space of research, education and culture; whereas the rapid implementation of these four common spaces should be at the heart of the negotiations on the new SPA,

E.   whereas after considerable progress as regards the Russian embargo on imports of meat and other agricultural products from Poland and assurances as regards the closure of the Druzhba pipeline, regarded by Lithuania as a political retaliatory measure, an agreement was eventually reached between the Member States on the finalisation of a new negotiating mandate for a new agreement replacing the present PCA, which expired at the end of last year,

F.   whereas on 7 May 2008 Dmitry Medvedev was formally sworn in as President of the Russian Federation; whereas the new President appointed as Prime Minister former President Vladimir Putin, who was overwhelmingly confirmed in that post by the Duma,

G.   whereas the changes in the Russian leadership following last year's Duma elections and the Presidential elections earlier this year may impart new impetus to EU-Russia relations, to improvements in Russia's relations with some of its close neighbours and to the development of democracy and the rule of law in Russia,

H.   whereas the new Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, confirmed in his inauguration speech his commitment to the establishment of a mature and effective legal system as an essential condition for economic and social development in Russia as well as for increasing Russia's influence in the international community and for making Russia more open to the world and facilitating dialogue as equals with other peoples; whereas President Medvedev has as a first step decreed the creation of an Anti-Corruption Council, which he himself will chair,

I.   whereas the accession of the Russian Federation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) would make a substantial contribution to the further improvement of economic relations between Russia and the EU, subject to a binding commitment to full compliance with and implementation of WTO commitments and obligations,

J.   whereas security of energy supply is one of the biggest challenges for Europe and one of the major fields of cooperation with Russia; whereas joint efforts must be made to make full and efficient use of energy transmission systems, both those already existing and those to be further developed; whereas the EU's heavy dependence on fossil fuels undermines the development of a balanced, coherent and value-driven European approach to Russia,

K.   whereas Russia has recently included some of the EU's largest energy companies in a strategic partnership in several major energy projects or has allowed EU companies to buy certain limited strategic stakes in Russian companies; whereas the upholding of legal certainty and property rights is essential in order to maintain the current level of foreign investment in Russia,

L.   whereas disputes about the conditions of supply and transmission of energy should be resolved in a negotiated, non-discriminatory and transparent way and must never be used as an instrument to bring political pressure to bear on the EU Member States and on the countries in the common neighbourhood,

M.   whereas a future agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation should therefore include the principles of the Energy Charter Treaty,

N.   whereas the EU and the Russian Federation could and should together play an active role in establishing peace and stability on the European continent, in particular in the common neighbourhood, and in other parts of the world,

O.   whereas the EU and the Russian Federation should in particular work together to definitively resolve the issue of the international status of Kosovo and to achieve a peaceful settlement of the persistently dangerous conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh and Transnistria,

P.   whereas after the decision by the Russian authorities to establish legal links with the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia the situation in those Georgian regions is further deteriorating, calling into question the role of the Russian forces as neutral peace-keepers and undermining the territorial integrity of Georgia,

Q.   whereas Russia has suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE Treaty), stating that it will halt inspections and verifications of its military sites by NATO countries and will no longer limit the number of its conventional weapons,

R.   whereas after his meeting with the EU ministerial troika on Tuesday, 29 April 2008 in Luxembourg, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed Russia's participation in the EU military operation in Chad and in Central African Republic (Operation EUFOR Tchad/RCA, launched on 28 January 2008(3)),

S.   whereas there remains serious concern about developments in the Russian Federation with regard to respect for, and the protection of, human rights and respect for commonly agreed democratic principles, rules and procedures; whereas the Russian Federation is a full member of the Council of Europe and of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and has therefore committed itself to the principles of democracy and respect for basic human rights,

T.   whereas it is important that the EU speak with one voice, show solidarity and display unity in its relations with the Russian Federation, and base those relations on mutual interests and common values,

1.  Underlines that the forthcoming Summit will be the first EU-Russia Summit attended by Russia's newly elected President Dmitry Medvedev, and expresses its hopes that this meeting will mark an improvement in relations between the EU and Russia;

2.  Reaffirms its conviction that Russia remains an important partner for the purpose of building strategic cooperation, and that the EU shares with Russia not only economic and trade interests but also the objective of cooperating closely in the international arena as well as in the common neighbourhood;

3.  Stresses the importance of unity among the EU Member States in their relations with Russia and calls on the Member States to give priority to the long-term benefits of a joint position in negotiations with the Russian Federation over the possible short-term advantages of bilateral deals on single issues;

4.  Expresses its support for the idea of developing future relations with Russia in a more engaged way, with a continuing focus on areas covered by the four common spaces and on the need for a new PCA, and by focusing on practical cooperation, joint projects and implementation of commitments and agreements made so far;

5.  Expresses its satisfaction that it has finally been possible to overcome the obstacles to reaching an agreement on the mandate for negotiations with the Russian Federation on a new PCA;

6.  Urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States – together with the Government of the Russian Federation – to use the 21st EU-Russia Summit in Khanty-Mansiysk as a real new starting-point for the further intensification of EU-Russia relations by making a start on the negotiations on a new PCA and by thus creating the basis for further concrete results in the near future;

7.  Welcomes the importance attached to civil rights by Mr Medvedev during his inauguration speech and the reiteration by him in that speech of his public support for championing the rule of law and the importance of human rights; expects that these words will be followed up by deeds and that Russia will undertake the necessary reforms that will pave the way for a fully-fledged democratic system;

8.  Expresses its deep concern at the continuing reports from Russian and international human rights organisations about the use of torture and inhumane and degrading acts in prisons, police stations and secret detention centres in Chechnya; furthermore expresses its deep concern over the increasingly frequent attacks on ethnic, racial and religious minorities in Russia;

9.  Reiterates its call for the EU-Russia Human Rights Consultation to be stepped up so as to make it more effective and results-oriented, with the participation of Russian ministries other than the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with the full involvement of the European Parliament at all levels; takes the view, in this regard, that the briefings organised by the Commission with civil-society actors prior to the official consultation are an important tool that should be duly reinforced and taken into account by the Russian authorities with a view to transforming them into a fully-fledged legal seminar involving academics, representatives of civil society and officials from both sides;

10.  Stresses that a strong and independent civil society is a fundamental and irreplaceable element of a real and mature democracy; is deeply concerned, in this regard, about the deteriorating situation of human rights defenders and difficulties faced by NGOs active in the promotion of human rights and in environmental protection and ecological issues with regard to their registration and in carrying out their activities; is deeply concerned about the newly amended legislation on extremism, which could have an effect on the free flow of information and could lead the Russian authorities to further restrict the right to free expression of independent journalists and political opponents;

11.  Calls on the Russian Federation to show its commitment to common values by ratifying Additional Protocol 14 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, thereby allowing important reforms to go ahead at the European Court of Human Rights, which is burdened with a backlog of tens of thousands of cases; calls on the Russian authorities to comply with all the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights;

12.  Welcomes the fact that the EU-Russia Summit will take place in the administrative centre of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous District; calls on the Presidency-in-Office to use the opportunity presented by the Summit, followed by the 5th World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples, to discuss the difficulties faced by Finno-Ugric minorities in Russia as regards political representation as well as the protection and development of their cultural and linguistic identities;

13.  Reiterates, moreover, the importance of setting up the common economic space (CES) and further developing the objectives agreed upon in the CES Road Map, especially as regards the creation of an open and integrated market between the EU and Russia;

14.  Welcomes the progress made since the last EU-Russia Summit in Mafra as regards Russia's accession to the WTO, which will create a level playing-field for the business communities on both sides and greatly help Russian efforts to build a modern, diversified, high-technology economy; calls on Russia to take the necessary steps to remove the remaining obstacles to the accession process, especially in the field of export taxes and duties, and to be able to comply in full with and implement WTO membership commitments and obligations, following which the EU should start to discuss the conclusion of a free trade agreement with the Russian Federation;

15.  Insists, furthermore, that an agreement be reached soon on the level of duties payable on exports of raw timber from the Russian Federation to the EU; regrets that Russia did not honour its commitment to phase out Siberian overflight payments, and calls on Russia to sign the agreement reached on this issue at the summit in Samara;

16.  Stresses the importance of improving the climate for European investment in Russia, which can only be achieved by promoting and facilitating non-discriminatory and transparent business conditions, less bureaucracy and two-way investment; is concerned about the lack of predictability in the application of rules by authorities;

17.  Welcomes the intensified EU-Russia dialogue on energy issues and on environmental protection; underlines the importance of energy imports for European economies, representing as they do a potential opportunity for further trade and economic cooperation between the EU and Russia; stresses that such cooperation should be based on the principles of interdependence and transparency, together with equal access to markets, infrastructure and investment; welcomes Russia's accession to the Kyoto Protocol and stresses the need for full support from Russia for binding post-Kyoto climate change targets; calls on the Council and the Commission to ensure that the principles of the Energy Charter Treaty, the Transit Protocol annexed thereto and the G8 conclusions are included in a new PCA between the EU and Russia, including further cooperation on energy efficiency, carbon emission reductions and renewable energy, and also including the use of bio-energy; points out that these principles should be applied to major energy infrastructure projects; calls for the EU to speak to Russia with one voice on these sensitive energy matters; calls upon the partners in the EU-Russia energy dialogue to examine the possibility of using the euro as a future basis for paying for energy supplies in order to become more independent from third countries' currencies;

18.  Expresses its concerns regarding the security of the nuclear sector in the Russian Federation, its plans to export nuclear technology and material to other countries and the associated nuclear security and proliferation threats that they present;

19.  Calls on the Russian Federation to support the development of its renewable energy industry in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way; calls on the Russian Federation to guarantee state-of-the-art environmental standards for all the oil and gas projects which are in progress or planned on its territory;

20.  Welcomes the progress which the EU and Russia have made in implementing their common space of freedom, security and justice, which so far has focused primarily on implementation of the visa facilitation and readmission agreements, the latter having proved to be a significant step towards visa-free travel as a long-term prospect; calls for further cooperation on illegal immigration, improved checks on identity documents and better information exchange on terrorism and organised crime; emphasises that the Council and the Commission must ensure that Russia complies with all the conditions set in any negotiated agreement on the elimination of visas between the two sides, so as to prevent any breach of security in Europe;

21.  Points out that Russia, which last year changed its visa rules and ceased issuing one-year multiple-entry business visas that many European workers had previously used, could face an exodus of EU managers and workers unless it changes the new rules and reduces the onerous red tape required to obtain visas and work permits;

22.  Welcomes the stepping-up of EU-Russia cooperation in space within the framework of the Tripartite Space Dialogue set up in March 2006 between the Commission, the European Space Agency and Roscosmos (the Russian Federal Space Agency), encompassing space applications (satellite navigation, earth observation and satellite communications), access to space (launchers and future space transportation systems), space science and space technology development; notes that, within the common economic space, cooperation in space has been identified as a priority sector;

23.  Calls for participation by the Russian Federation in the process of building European research infrastructures supported within the European Community Framework Programmes; considers that such an incentive would permit efficient utilisation and further development of substantial Russian human and financial resources in the area of research, development and innovation, and would thus be beneficial for both Europe and Russia;

24.  Appeals to the Governments of Russia and the United States to intensify the discussions on defence and security issues directly or indirectly involving the EU Member States; urges the governments of both states fully to involve the EU and its Member States in those discussions and to refrain from any steps or decisions which might be seen as a threat to peace and stability on the European continent;

25.  Calls on the Russian Government – together with the European Union and the other members of the Contact Group for Kosovo – to make a positive contribution to finding a sustainable political solution for the future of Kosovo and to the further enhancement of the stability of the Western Balkans;

26.  Calls on Russia not to oppose the deployment of the EU Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX KOSOVO(4)), as well as to fully support the OSCE and confirm its mandate in order to allow for the full implementation of all the guarantees provided for in the Kosovo Constitution and the commitments by the Kosovo authorities as regards the institutional decentralisation and protection of the non-majority communities and of the cultural and architectural heritage;

27.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to pursue joint initiatives with the Russian Government aimed at strengthening security and stability in the common neighbourhood, in particular by means of enhanced dialogue on the establishment of democracy in Belarus and by joint efforts to finally resolve the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Nagorno Karabakh and Transnistria;

28.  Expresses its serious concern over Russia's decision to establish enhanced links with the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and reiterates its full support for the territorial integrity of Georgia; calls on Russia to refrain from any further action which could aggravate the tension and to take measures to improve relations with Georgia; hopes that the recent meeting in St Petersburg between President Medvedev and President Saakashvili will lead to an improvement in Russo-Georgian relations;

29.  Calls on the Presidency-in-Office to raise during the EU-Russia Summit the issue of the shooting-down of a Georgian drone by a Russian aircraft, as well as the recent substantial increase in the number of Russian troops in Abkhazia, and to offer greater EU involvement in the conflict resolution process;

30.  Calls on the EU and on Russia, as a member of the UN Security Council and the Quartet, to continue their efforts to achieve progress in the Middle East; also stresses the need for further cooperation with Russia to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and calls on both sides to assume their responsibility in particular for the North Korean and Iranian nuclear issues;

31.  Calls on Russia to reconsider its unilateral suspension of compliance with the CFE Treaty and to use negotiations as a means of protecting its legitimate interests and avoiding any erosion of the CFE Treaty; calls on the NATO members to ratify the version of the CFE Treaty as amended in 1999;

32.  Welcomes Russia's decision to assist the EU in carrying out its peace-keeping operation in Chad and the Central African Republic, and supports the statement by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the EU High Representative Javier Solana stipulating that cooperation between Russia and the EU on crisis management would not be limited to Russia's participation in the above-mentioned EUFOR Tchad/RCA operation and that both parties are ready to sign a framework agreement on this subject based on 'equitable partnership and cooperation';

33.  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, the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

(1) OJ L 327, 28.11.1997, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0528.
(3) Council Joint Action 2007/677/CFSP of 15 October 2007 (OJ L 279, 23.10.2007, p. 21) and Council Decision 2008/101/CFSP of 28 January 2008 (OJ L 34, 8.2.2008, p. 39).
(4) Council Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP of 4 February 2008 (OJ L 42, 16.2.2008, p. 92).

Future of the sheep/lamb and goat sector in Europe
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the future of the sheep/lamb and goat sector in Europe (2007/2192(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the study it commissioned on "The future of the sheep-meat and goat-meat sectors in Europe",

–   having regard to its position of 13 December 2007 on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 21/2004 as regards the date of introduction of electronic identification for ovine and caprine animals(1),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6-0196/2008),

A.   whereas the sheep and goat sectors in the EU are made up of important traditional farming enterprises that support the livelihood of thousands of producers and supply products of exceptional quality with specific characteristics, as well as by-products, thereby serving to underline its socio-economic contribution in rural areas of the EU,

B.   whereas sheep and goat farming, including the farming of traditional breeds, play a key environmental role that includes the upkeep naturally of less fertile areas and the preservation of landscapes and sensitive ecosystems; whereas natural spaces of the pastureland type have been preserved for centuries thanks to sheep and goat farming; whereas, in addition, the eating patterns concerned, in which grazing plays a major role, help maintain the biodiversity of the flora, protect wild fauna, and clean up the natural spaces by removing dry vegetable material, a key factor for fire prevention in Mediterranean countries,

C.   whereas the sheep and goat sectors in the EU, which are concentrated in less favoured areas, are witnessing a critical decline in production and an exodus of producers, as well as a total failure to attract young sheep and goat farmers to the sector,

D.   whereas the current bluetongue epizootic in Europe is very serious because of its duration and propagation, the spread of different serotypes in areas hitherto free from the disease and the serious social and economic consequences of the restrictions on the movement of animals and on trade,

E.   whereas the sheep and goat sectors in the EU are characterised by low producer incomes, falling domestic production and declining consumption, especially by the younger generations, and are exposed to increasing international competition on the internal market,

F.   whereas the rise in the prices of animal feed and production inputs in general constitutes a particular threat to sheep and goat farming, increasing costs and bringing further pressure to bear on a sector which is already at the limit of its competitiveness,

G.   whereas the current economic situation and the expected trends in world demand and the prices of agricultural produce and food make it imperative for the EU to avoid, as far as possible, dependence on imported livestock-farming products and animal feed and to secure a better balance between those products and, in particular, the traditional, protected products of sheep and goat farming, with which the European market was well supplied,

H.   whereas the scale of sheep and goat production in northern and southern Europe are significantly different,

I.   whereas sheep farming, which has always been exposed to a number of well-known diseases, is now also being affected by emerging diseases such as bluetongue,

J.   whereas EU lamb does not have meaningful access to the Community budget for the promotion of agricultural produce and is in need of a sustained promotional campaign to develop consumer preference,

K.   whereas the upcoming Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) "Health Check" provides the opportunity to address the relevant policy instruments and CAP support for the sheep and goat sectors,

1.  Acknowledges the urgent need for action to be taken by the Council of Agriculture Ministers and the Commission to ensure a profitable and sustainable future for sheep-meat and goat-meat and sheep and goat milk production in the EU, to encourage the consumption of such products once more, and to retain and attract young sheep and goat farmers to the sector, and advocates the maintenance of these traditional, eco-friendly farming enterprises with their role in supplying the Community market and in providing a Community supply base of EU sheep and goat farming products;

2.  Notes the Commission's intention to review policy instruments since it has been demonstrated that there has been a negative impact; welcomes the further reference to this specific issue in the context of the recently published European Commission communication – Preparing for the "Health Check" of the CAP reform (COM(2007)0722);

3.  Calls on the Council of Agriculture Ministers and the Commission to direct additional financial support as a matter of urgency to EU sheep and goat meat and milk producers in order to develop a vibrant, self-sufficient, market-led and consumer-orientated sheep and goat sector in the EU; calls on the Council of Agriculture Ministers and the Commission to examine the future of these sectors as part of the CAP "Health Check" through the implementation of a variety of measures, giving each Member State the flexibility of choosing from the following possible options, while not overlooking the need to avoid distortion of competition on the internal market:

   - introduction of a new Environmental Sheep Maintenance Scheme per ewe to be either a) financed directly by EU funding or b) co-financed by EU and National Governments to arrest the decline in production, linked to the positive environmental attributes associated with the maintenance of sheep production as well as achieving improvements in technical and quality areas of production,
   - analysis of the availability and utilisation of unused funds under Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 of the Common Agricultural Policy, with a view to redirecting that support to the sheep and goat sectors,
   - amendment of Article 69 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 of 29 September 2003 establishing common rules for direct support schemes under the common agricultural policy and establishing certain support schemes for farmers(2) in the framework of the CAP "Health Check" so the Member States can allocate up to 12 % of their national payments to measures to support sectors in difficulty and to maintain agriculture in less favoured areas,
   - inclusion of measures in support of sheep and goat producers among the new challenges arising from the CAP "Health Check" under the second pillar, with the possibility of using modulation support funds;

4.  Calls on the Commission to introduce an additional payment for farmers in mountain regions and other areas facing particular difficulties who are engaged in farming with rare traditional and regional breeds of sheep and goat in order to maintain biodiversity in agriculture and to preserve sheep in sensitive areas;

5.  Calls on the Commission, as part of the simplification process in the review of the CAP "Health Check", to allow 14 days" notice to livestock farmers for on-farm cross-compliance inspections;

6.  Notes that the return to the producer for sheep-meat products as a percentage of the retail price is insufficient and draws attention to its declaration on investigating and remedying abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the European Union(3); welcomes the fact that the Commission has established a High Level Group on the Competitiveness of the Agro-Food Industry which will examine the situation regarding market power in distribution, and counts on representatives from Parliament being fully involved in its work;

7.  Calls on the Commission to investigate the sheep-meat and goat-meat supply chain to ensure that farmers receive a fair return from the marketplace;

8.  Calls on the Commission to foster a climate of direct sales by producers and producer organisations in order to limit artificial increases in price;

9.  Notes that sheep and goat milk production should be encouraged on the same footing as sheep and goat meat production, particularly in order to guarantee the survival of the whole milk-processing and cheese-production chains where the typical character and quality of their products are widely recognised;

10.  Calls on the Council of Agriculture Ministers and the Commission to consider the possibility of introducing Community financing for the application throughout the European Union of the system – intended for 31 December 2009 – of electronic identification for sheep, because, even if this system will improve traceability, flock management and measures against fraud, it will create new administrative burdens and high costs for this sector, which is in crisis;

11.  Calls on the Commission to improve its ability to respond to outbreaks of animal diseases as serious as the current outbreak of bluetongue by means of a new EU animal health strategy, research funding, compensation for losses, advances on payments, etc.;

12.  Calls on the EU negotiating team at the World Trade Organization talks to reduce the scale of the proposed tariff cuts on sheep-meat and to ensure that the option of sensitive product status for sheep-meat products is available to the EU;

13.  Calls on the Commission to reassess existing import quota management regimes to ensure that EU-produced lamb is not exposed to unfair competition;

14.  Calls on the Commission to introduce a mandatory EU labelling regulation system for sheep-meat products, which would have an EU-wide logo, to allow consumers to distinguish between EU products and those from third countries, which would be underwritten by a number of criteria including a farm assurance scheme and a country of origin indication, to ensure that consumers are fully aware as to the place of origin of the product; considers that the system must be designed in such a way as to avoid undermining existing promotional labelling schemes at Member State and regional level;

15.  Underlines that the most effective and sustainable means of helping the sector lie in developing the market, communicating with consumers, highlighting the nutritional and health benefits of the products concerned and boosting consumption;

16.  Calls on the Commission to increase the current annual EU Food Promotion Budget, which is valued at EUR 45 million for 2008, to ring-fence funding for EU sheep-meat and to change, simplify and streamline the practical rules governing the operation of the budget so that lamb products can be given meaningful access to the budget;

17.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to give a higher profile to the essential role played by sheep farming in terms of contributing to the economy and the sustainability of areas that face the most difficulties and in terms of managing the countryside and, as a priority, to make it easier for young farmers to start up in that sector;

18.  Calls on the Commission to co-ordinate promotional campaigns for PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) sheep-meat and goat-meat products, and to target the Member States concerned in order to maximise consumption;

19.  Calls on the Commission to undertake, in general terms and at EU level, a communication campaign targeted at consumers as a whole and backed up by innovative actions (from making different consumer preparations available at the various sales outlets to campaigns spearheaded by celebrated European chefs), stressing the quality of the product and disseminating awareness of its culinary potential;

20.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to initiate programmes to encourage producers to set up producer and marketing groups, engage in direct marketing and to produce and label special qualities of sheep-meat and goat-meat products and ewe-milk and goat-milk products (for example organic products or regional specialities);

21.  Calls on the Commission to provide assistance in opening export markets for EU sheep-meat and offal in countries where unnecessary restrictions currently apply;

22.  Calls on the Commission to include the sheep and goat sector in the "second programme of Community action in the field of health (2008-13)"(4) in order to promote the health and protein benefits of sheep-meat and goat-meat to consumers, particularly to young people, who only consume small amounts of sheep and goat products, and to conduct an active information campaign in the Member States on sheep-meat and goat-meat and products derived therefrom;

23.  Calls on the Commission to support research and development in the "small ruminant" industry, concentrating on both technical innovation for farms and product innovation with regard to lamb, cheese and by-products such as wool and pelts, known as the "fifth quarter", where the financial return is almost negligible at present;

24.  Warns that the occupations of sheep farmer, shepherd, milker and shearer may disappear, and calls on the Commission to include in the strategy for the sector measures relating to communication with the public and exchanges of instructors between teaching centres, as well as mobility programmes between Member States for agricultural instructors and students;

25.  Stresses the need to improve the availability of medicinal and veterinary products for the sheep and goat sectors at a EU level through support for pharmaceutical research and the simplification of marketing authorisations;

26.  Calls on the Commission, bearing in mind, inter alia, bluetongue, to accelerate the pace of research into causes and methods of control when an outbreak of an animal disease occurs, formulate an efficient control strategy, coordinate the measures taken by Member States, promote the development of vaccines, develop an efficient vaccination strategy and provide financial support for the vaccination of livestock; calls for measures taken which are required by law in order to keep an animal disease under control, but which over time have proven to be inefficient, to be deleted from the catalogue of measures as quickly as possible;

27.  Calls on the Commission to bring forward proposals on price transparency in the sector in order to provide information to consumers and producers on product prices;

28.  Calls on the Presidency of the Council and the Commission to monitor closely the sheep and goat sectors in the EU and to ensure regular reporting to Parliament on the policy changes that are enacted;

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

(1) Texts adopted P6_TA(2007)0619.
(2) OJ L 270 of 21.10.2003, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No. 470/2008 (OJ L 140, 30.5.2008, p. 1).
(3) Texts adopted of 19.2.2008, P6_TA(2008)0054.
(4) Decision No 1350/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 establishing a second programme of Community action in the field of health (2008-13) (OJ L 301, 20.11.2007, p. 3).

Towards Europe-wide Safer, Cleaner and Efficient Mobility: The First Intelligent Car Report
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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: Towards Europe-wide Safer, Cleaner and Efficient Mobility: The First Intelligent Car Report (2007/2259(INI))

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission on the Intelligent Car Initiative – "Raising Awareness of ICT for Smarter, Safer and Cleaner Vehicles" (COM(2006)0059) ("Intelligent Car Initiative"),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission entitled "Bringing eCall back on track – Action Plan (3rd eSafety Communication)" (COM(2006)0723),

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

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission entitled "i2010 – Annual Information Society Report 2007" (COM(2007)0146),

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission entitled "Towards Europe-wide Safer, Cleaner and Efficient Mobility: The First Intelligent Car Report " (COM(2007)0541),

–   having regard to the Commission recommendation 2007/78/EC of 22 December 2006 on safe and efficient in-vehicle information and communication systems: update of the European Statement of Principles on human machine interface(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 February 2003 on the Commission White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide"(2),

–   having regard to its resolution of 27 April 2006 on Road safety: bringing eCall to citizens(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 January 2007 on European Road Safety Action Programme – Mid-term review(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on keeping Europe moving – sustainable mobility for our continent(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 October 2007 on the Community Strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from passenger cars and light-commercial vehicles(6),

–   having regard its resolution of 15 January 2008 on CARS 21: A Competitive Automotive Regulatory Framework(7),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A6-0169/2008),

A.   whereas the environmental costs of transport have been estimated at 1,1% of Europe's GDP,

B.   whereas transport is responsible for 30% of total energy consumption in the EU and road transport accounts for 60% of this figure,

C.   whereas car usage currently accounts for approximately 12% of overall EU emissions of CO2,

D.   whereas the European Council of 8-9 March 2007 set a firm target of a 20% reduction in the EU's greenhouse gas emissions by 2020,

E.   whereas the Commission's objective is to reach average CO2 emissions of 120 g/km for new passenger cars and light-duty vehicles by 2012,

F.   whereas the EU has not yet met the above-mentioned White Paper on European Transport Policy's goal of reducing European road accident fatalities by 50% by 2010 in comparison to the 2001 level,

G.   whereas the Commission has estimated that eCall, the EU-wide in-vehicle emergency call system, could save up to 2 500 lives every year in the European Union if fully deployed,

H.   whereas research by the University of Cologne has indicated that 4 000 lives could be saved and 100 000 injuries avoided on Europe's roads each year if all cars had electronic stability control,

I.   whereas the market for portable navigation devices grew from 3,8 million devices sold in 2005 to over 9 million in 2006,

J.   whereas technological safety systems often promote a greater sense of safety and may thus result in drivers driving in a less responsible fashion; it is therefore necessary to stress the primary importance of also properly educating drivers and promoting more intelligent driving,

1.  Welcomes the Intelligent Car Initiative and the progress achieved in its three pillars: co-ordination of relevant stakeholders, research and technological development, and awareness raising;

2.  Believes that intelligent vehicle systems can help to reduce congestion, pollution and the number and seriousness of road accidents, but that their market penetration rate is still too low;

3.  Believes that Member States should promote and get involved more actively in eSafety initiatives through Joint Technology Initiatives and that other incentives for private investments in the field of research and development should be envisaged;

4.  Is encouraged by the fact that 13 Member States and 3 non-EU countries have thus far signed the eCall Memorandum of Understanding, and reaffirms its support for this measure;

5.  Calls on the Member States to urge institutions working in the area of road safety to provide accident simulation training, since the number of road accident fatalities can be reduced above all by actively employing accident prevention techniques and the administration of first aid; believes that training bodies should teach correct responses to emergency situations;

6.  Urges the remaining Member States to sign the memorandum as soon as possible, preferably before the middle of 2008, in order to encourage the rapid introduction of this potentially life-saving feature and stresses the need for the Commission to further develop the regulatory framework for the full harmonisation of the standard emergency call (112) as well as for the eCall (E112) EU-wide;

7.  Asks the Commission to assess the validity of the transmission methods already used by carmakers for this feature;

8.  Reaffirms its support for the Galileo programme and its many potential features which could ensure greater reliability of information related to these initiatives;

9.  Recalls that the Commission's stated aim is to achieve a 100% take-up of electronic stability control for all new vehicles from 2012 onwards;

10.  Recalls that there is potential for reducing CO2 emissions through simple measures that have been known about for a long time, such as reduced-weight seats or tyres, engine heat accumulators or brake energy regeneration, but that many vehicles do not incorporate these features; therefore calls on the Member States and the Commission to insist on incorporation of these technically simpler measures in every car;

11.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to assess the importance of developing new systems for accident avoidance, including new materials and automatic interconnections through active sensors, vehicle to vehicle as well as vehicle to road;

12.  Stresses the importance of the timely and widespread market implementation of intelligent vehicle systems, given that such systems stand out, inter alia, thanks to their ability to interact with intelligent infrastructures; recalls that electronic systems require regular technical maintenance;

13.  Therefore calls on Member States and the Commission to develop guidelines in order to encourage Member States to introduce incentives for both ecological and vehicle safety features;

14.  Urges stakeholders to take appropriate measures which ensure the affordability of these new features, thus increasing consumer demand;

15.  Calls, therefore, on the Member States and the Commission to continue their efforts to devise tax incentives for the purchase of vehicles which are environmentally adapted and are equipped with intelligent safety devices, in parallel to the existing incentives for purchasing less polluting cars;

16.  Calls on Member States, the Commission and the car industry to provide brief, clear and comprehensible information as part of awareness-raising campaigns in order to reach the largest audience possible, including car dealerships and driving schools, and inform them about intelligent vehicle systems;

17.  Calls for the incentives introduced to be combined with prevention and road safety training measures for drivers;

18.  Believes that road safety will benefit from better interaction between intelligent on-board apparatuses and communicators with devices integrated within the infrastructure;

19.  Suggests that the Commission pay special attention to Member States where the availability of intelligent systems is still very low;

20.  Is aware of the fact that the introduction of new technologies should be done progressively;

21.  Underlines the fact that the Intelligent Car Initiative cannot be fully accomplished if separated from "Smart roads" initiatives;

22.  Therefore welcomes the commitment by the Commission to launch, from 2008 onwards, a programme to prepare transport infrastructure for the integration of co-operative systems, as well as the Commission's cooperation with the Radio Spectrum Committee in allocating and harmonising the Intelligent Transport Systems spectrum for co-operative systems;

23.  Stresses the need for coherent inter-sectoral strategies at EU level as well as the need to enhance policy frameworks for the automotive industry, the telecommunications sector, the emergency services, public safety and security, public works and infrastructure, research institutes and universities, which could provide incentives for developing further preventive safety applications and technologies;

24.  Urges stakeholders to create an appropriate "intelligent environment" on roads and within infrastructure so that new intelligent features can work properly and can be fully exploited, including better road capacity management and intelligent road monitoring systems (real-time monitoring);

25.  Urges the car industry to take into account fresh car safety features when designing new vehicles and to provide for devices to measure and display energy consumption and environmental data such as real CO2 and particulate emissions;

26.  Recalls that information and communication technology (ICT) based systems can contribute to reducing pollutant emissions through more efficient traffic management, reduced fuel consumption and by facilitating eco-driving;

27.  Invites the Commission to develop methodology for measuring the impact of ICTs on CO2 emissions or to coordinate and disseminate existing findings;

28.  Notes that the use and availability of portable or nomadic ICT-based device systems has increased and that the market for said devices continues to grow steadily;

29.  Calls on stakeholders to work on measures to ensure the safe use and fixing of such devices, and to facilitate human-machine interaction;

30.  Recalls that data privacy should be properly addressed and looks forward to the publication of the eSafety Forum's forthcoming data privacy code of practice;

31.  Stresses the need for a definition by the European Telecommunications Standardisation Institute of an open standard for introducing eCall services at European level;

32.  Welcomes the negotiations on the voluntary agreement on the inclusion of eCall as a standard option in all new vehicles from 2010 onwards;

33.  Welcomes the negotiations on an international agreement for a global technical regulation which would include the technical specifications for the electronic stability control system, and calls on the Commission to draw up a report on the state of those negotiations and the measures agreed on the matter;

34.  Looks forward to future reports on the development of the Safer, Cleaner, Efficient and Intelligent Car Initiative;

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

(1) OJ L 32, 6.2.2007, p. 200.
(2) OJ C 43 E, 19.2.2004, p. 250.
(3) OJ C 296 E, 6.12.2006, p. 268.
(4) OJ C 244 E, 18.10.2007, p. 220.
(5) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0345.
(6) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0469.
(7) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0007.

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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the continued detention of political prisoners in Burma

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma, in particular those of 24 April 2008(1) and 27 September 2007(2),

–   having regard to the Council's conclusions on Burma/Myanmar of 29 April 2008, adopted at the General Affairs and External Relations Council, in Luxembourg and the Council Common Position 2006/318/CFSP of 27 April 2006 renewing restrictive measures against Burma/Myanmar(3),

–   having regard to the report of 3 June 2008 by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur Tomás Ojea Quintana on the situation of human rights in Burma on the implementation of UN Human Rights Council resolutions S-5/1 and 6/33,

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

A.   whereas Aung San Suu Kyi, the General Secretary of the National League for Democracy (NLD), has spent thirteen of the last eighteen years as a political prisoner under house arrest; whereas a further 1 900 individuals have been imprisoned in atrocious conditions merely for expressing the wish to bring democracy to Burma or for protesting against the constitutional referendum, and whereas it is still unclear what happened to dozens of participants in the monk-led protests of September 2007 who remain missing,

B.   whereas, by extending Aung San Suu Kyi's house arrest, the junta is infringing its own law (the State Protection Law of 1975) which stipulates that no one may be detained without charge or trial for more than five years, and whereas the regime continues to resist international demands for the release of political prisoners unjustly held in Burmese gaols,

C.   whereas, far from heeding the UN Secretary-General's call for the release of prisoners, on 10 June 2008 the Burmese regime actually arrested a further 16 individuals, victims of Cyclone Nargis, for the crime of presenting themselves at the offices of the UN Development Programme and asking for humanitarian assistance,

D.  D whereas on 11 June 2008 official newspapers of the Burmese military junta, including the regime's mouthpiece, The New Light of Myanmar, called for the public flogging of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and whereas the military junta has refused to distance itself from this disgraceful suggestion,

E.   whereas in the early hours of 3 May 2008, after smoke caused panic among the inmates when Cyclone Nargis hit Insein prison in Rangoon, soldiers and riot police opened fire on prisoners, unlawfully and unnecessarily killing an estimated 36 and injuring a further 70,,

F.   whereas the UN human rights expert for Burma has demanded that the ruling junta investigate reports that its soldiers shot dead a number of prison inmates during Cyclone Nargis, and whereas the regime has refused to sanction any such investigation,

G.   whereas human rights groups report that, since 20 May 2008, the Burmese authorities have stepped up their efforts to remove survivors of the cyclone from temporary shelters such as schools and monasteries and to force them to go back to their homes, even if they are no longer standing,

1.  Strongly condemns the decision by the Burmese authorities to extend the house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi;

2.  Also deplores the detention of the group of political activists demanding the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and urges the Burmese authorities to free all political prisoners without further delay;

3.  Denounces the prospect of the flogging of Aung San Suu Kyi as a crime against humanity,

4.  Calls for a judicial investigation to be carried out under UN auspices into reports that the Burmese army murdered political prisoners in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis;

5.  Deplores the ongoing imprisonment by the Burmese authorities of victims of Cyclone Nargis who attempted to seek aid from international aid organisations in Burma;

6.  Views as deeply regrettable the holding by the Burmese junta of a referendum on the constitution only days after a devastating cyclone had hit the country, and regards the results of the referendum as wholly lacking credibility;

7.  Calls on the Burmese authorities to lift all restrictions on peaceful political activities in the country and to progress towards an inclusive process of national reconciliation and the restoration of democracy, the rule of law and full respect for human rights;

8.  Calls on the regime also to provide explanations regarding the individuals still missing after September 2007 crackdown on protests by Buddhist monks and democracy activists;

9.  Calls on the military government of Burma to uphold the agreement reached with the UN Secretary-General to allow international humanitarian workers and supplies unhindered access to the areas affected by Cyclone Nargis and to cooperate fully with the international community in assessing assistance needs; calls on the Burmese authorities to stop official interference in the delivery of aid and to cooperate fully with humanitarian organisations;

10.  Reiterates its calls to the Burmese authorities to engage in dialogue with all sectors of society in Burma in order to achieve genuine national reconciliation, democratisation and full respect for human rights and the rule of law;

11.  Appreciates the latest report by the UN Special Rapporteur, which compiles important evidence of continuing violations of human rights in the country; notes with great concern the conclusion of the report that almost no improvement has been made in the human rights situation in Burma since 26 March 2008;

12.  Urges the Burmese authorities to enter into close dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur and to accept his request to visit Burma;

13.  Calls on countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) with which Burma enjoys close economic and political relations to put heavy pressure on the Burmese authorities to bring about democratic change;

14.  Is of the opinion that the EU's clearly defined and targeted sanctions against the Burmese junta, although broadened after the September 2007 events with the introduction of an embargo on further sectors of the economy, are still having only a limited effect on the regime, thus falling short of the objectives sought; reiterates, therefore, its call on the Council to take further steps and effectively prevent the Burmese junta from accessing EU funding; calls on the Council and the Member States to monitor closely, and ensure the effective application of, the targeted sanctions;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the EU Special Envoy for Burma, the Burmese State Peace and Development Council, the governments of the ASEAN and the member states of the Asia-Europe Meeting, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Myanmar Caucus, Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD, the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Human Rights Commission Special Rapporteur for Burma.

(1) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0178.
(2) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2007)0420.
(3) OJ L 116, 29.4.2006, p. 77.

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European Parliament resolution of 19 June 2008 on the routine killing of civilians in Somalia

The European Parliament,

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

–   having regard to statements made by the EU Council Presidency on the recent Djibouti peace agreement,

–   having regard to reports from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing concern about the persisting humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia,

–   having regard to the African Union (AU) initiatives and statements vis-à-vis the situation in Somalia,

–   having regard to the plan for national reconciliation put forward in UN Security Council Resolution 1744 (2007), adopted on 20 February 2007, in the aftermath of the victory by Ethiopia over the Union of Islamic Courts,

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

A.   concerned by the prolonged civil war in Somalia and its implications for the peace and reconciliation process in that country, as well as for the security and stability of the Horn of Africa as a whole,

B.   whereas an estimated 100 people have been killed and thousands have fled their homes in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in recent days, following renewed fighting between troops of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and insurgents, as a result of the rejection by some Islamist leaders of the UN-brokered, three-month ceasefire deal signed in Djibouti by the TFG and the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS),

C.   whereas members of civil society in Somalia, in particular the media, have been singled out for attack and assassination, and deploring the brutal, targeted murder of Nasteh Dahir Farah, Vice-President of the National Union of Somali Journalists, who was gunned down in the southern town of Kismayu (Somalia) on Saturday, 7 June 2008,

D.   whereas 15 aid workers have been killed since early 2008, including a prominent Somali aid worker, the head of the local Woman and Child Care aid agency, Mohamed Mahdi, who was shot in Mogadishu by unidentified gunmen,

E.   whereas the UN Secretary-General has expressed concern at the increase in the recruitment of child soldiers, particularly in Mogadishu, and the widespread use of children in almost all fighting forces in Somalia,

F.   whereas widespread human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict, specifically torture and other ill-treatment, rape, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, and attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, continue to take place in Somalia,

G.   whereas the continuing conflict and political instability in Somalia have given rise to acts of piracy and armed robbery,

H.   whereas, since February 2007, some 856 970 Somalis have fled fighting in Mogadishu, and 2.6 million Somalis - about 35% of the population - are in need of humanitarian assistance, a figure which could rise to 3.5 million by the end of the year,

I.   whereas the UN Secretary-General urged the Ethiopian forces to refrain from indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects, including attacks on schools and hospitals, and called on the Ethiopian authorities to investigate allegations of grave violations against children by their forces,

1.  Strongly condemns the continued fighting, targeted killings and other serious violations of human rights committed by all parties to the conflict, which has caused the loss of life of numerous Somali civilians and a humanitarian catastrophe;

2.  Calls on all sides to the conflict immediately to halt all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, stop attacks targeting civilians, cease all use of death threats, rape, unlawful arrest, kidnapping, intimidation and looting of civilians, and fully abide by the provisions of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions;

3.  Calls for the liberation of the two Italian members and one Somali member of the agricultural NGO Cooperazione Italiana Nord Sud , Jolanda Occhipinti, Giuliano Paganini and Abdirahaman Yussuf Harale, kidnapped on 21 May 2008 around 60 km south of Mogadishu, for whom a ransom of USD 1 000 000 has been demanded;

4.  Calls for investigations into all cases of human rights violations, including grave violations of children's rights; urges the TFG to end the detention of children and to control the proliferation of small arms;

5.  Urges all sides to the conflict to take all the necessary steps to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access and assistance to affected populations in the country, and to take effective measures to ensure the safety of local and international humanitarian workers;

6.  Welcomes the peace deal reached between the TFG and ARS at the inter-Somali talks in Djibouti on 9 June 2008, facilitated by the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the AU and other regional organisations and international partners; urges the TFG to engage in a genuine reconciliation process with all parties to the conflict within the country to create the conditions for peace, security and stability;

7.  Calls for the strengthening of the role of civil society, particularly that of women and children, in the process of national reconciliation;

8.  Calls on the TFG, in collaboration with the UN and the AU, to use all available means to prevent, deter and suppress piracy and armed robbery committed from the Somali coast against vessels, especially those carrying humanitarian aid;

9.  Calls on the EU to urge the Kenyan Government to allow Somali refugees asylum and uphold their rights to assistance, and calls on the Kenyan Government to allow unimpeded humanitarian access through the El Wak crossing;

10.  Calls on all donors, and the EU in particular, to increase the provision of humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons and to guarantee effective development aid to the Somali population;

11.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that EU aid is not being misappropriated to re-empower warlords who have been absorbed into transnational federal institutions, and to take steps to rectify this if necessary;

12.  Calls on the UN Security Council to strengthen the UN arms embargo on Somalia and take more determined action to ensure that the embargo is fully respected by states in the region; calls on the UN Security Council to investigate and impose targeted sanctions, including possible referral to the International Criminal Court, on all individuals accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Somalia;

13.  Welcomes UN Security Council Resolution 1814 (2008), adopted unanimously on 15 May 2008, calling for the possible deployment of a 28 500-strong UN peacekeeping force, pending an improvement in political and security conditions on the ground; notes that the proposed UN force would replace a small contingent of AU peacekeepers deployed in Somalia since March 2007;

14.  Strongly urges that the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and any subsequent UN peacekeeping mission be mandated to protect civilians, including women, children and internally displaced persons, and include a strong human rights component, with the capacity to monitor, investigate and report human rights violations;

15.  Reiterates its support for the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, in his efforts to coordinate the action of the international community and to facilitate inter-Somali political dialogue, as well as in stabilising the situation in Somalia through the deployment of AMISOM;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Secretaries-General of the AU, the UN and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the President of the TFG, the Government of Ethiopia and the Pan-African Parliament.

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European Parliament resolution on Iran

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Iran, notably those concerning human rights,

–   having regard to the EU Presidency statements of 4 June 2008 and 10 June 2008 on the imminent execution of juvenile offenders in Iran,

–   having regard to the Declaration of 13 June 2008 by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the execution of Mohammad Hassanzadeh,

–   having regard to the resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, and, in particular, resolution 62/168 of 18 December 2007 on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty,

–   having regard to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to all of which Iran is a party,

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

A.   whereas the general human rights situation in Iran has continued to deteriorate since 2005, and whereas executions alone almost doubled in 2007,

B.   whereas Iran and a few other countries still execute minors; whereas Iran is known to have executed more juvenile offenders than any other country in the world, and according to reports more than 100 individuals are on death row in Iran for crimes allegedly committed when under the age of 18,

C.   whereas Mohammad Hassanzadeh, a juvenile offender who was executed on 10 June 2008, was under the age of 18 at the time of execution,

D.   whereas at least four other juvenile offenders, Behnoud Shojaee, Mohammad Fedaei, Saeed Jazee and Behnam Zaare, face imminent risk of execution, however, the Iranian authorities have ordered a stay of execution of one month for two of these juvenile offenders, Behnoud Shojaee and Mohammad Fedaei,

E.   whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights reminded the Iranian authorities on 10 June 2008 of the absolute prohibition on the application of the death penalty to juvenile offenders under international law,

F.   whereas Iranian juvenile offenders include people accused of having same-sex relations, which is subject to capital punishment in Iran,

1.  Strongly condemns the death sentences and executions in Iran, in particular those imposed or carried out on juvenile offenders and minors, and urges the Iranian authorities to respect internationally recognised legal safeguards with regard to minors;

2.  Stresses that juvenile death sentences are in direct contravention of the international obligations and commitments to which the Islamic Republic of Iran is a signatory, specifically as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, both clearly prohibiting the execution of minors or people who have been convicted of crimes committed when they were minors;

3.  Condemns in the strongest possible terms the execution of Mohammad Hassanzadeh, who was under the age of 18 when he was executed;

4.  Urges the Iranian authorities to halt the execution of Behnoud Shojaee, Mohammad Fedaei, Saeed Jazee, Behnam Zaare and all other juvenile offenders sentenced to death;

5.  Calls on the members of the newly elected Majlis (the Iranian Parliament) speedily to pass the pending reform of the Iranian penal code, with the aim, notably, of abolishing stoning and executions of child offenders, to move towards a moratorium on the death penalty and to bring Iranian legislation into line with international human rights obligations;

6.  Calls for the decriminalisation of same-sex relations in Iran;

7.  Urges Member States to suspend the expulsion to Iran of persons who are threatened with execution or torture;

8.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Secretary-General, the UN Human Rights Council, the Head of the Judiciary of Iran, and the Government and Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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