Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 5 February 2009 - Strasbourg
Information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products *
 Implementation in the EU of Directive 2003/9/EC on the minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers: visits by the Committee on Civil Liberties 2005-2008
 Enhancing the role of European SMEs in international trade
 International Trade and the Internet
 The placing on the market and the use of feed for animals ***I
 Development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
 Kosovo
 Trade and economic relations with China
 Situation in Sri Lanka
 Situation of Burmese refugees in Thailand
 The refusal to extradite Cesare Battisti from Brazil

Information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products *
PDF 208kWORD 49k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 5 February 2009 on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 3/2008 on information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products on the internal market and in third countries (COM(2008)0431 – C6-0313/2008 – 2008/0131(CNS))
P6_TA(2009)0046A6-0004/2009

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2008)0431),

–   having regard to Articles 36 and 37 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0313/2008),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6-0004/2009),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

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

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 1
Regulation (EC) No 3/2008
Article 9 – paragraph 1
1.  In the absence of programmes to be carried out on the internal market for one or more of the information measures referred to in Article 2(1)(b) submitted in accordance with Article 6(1), each interested Member State shall draw up, on the basis of the guidelines referred to in Article 5(1), a programme and its specification and shall select through a public call for tenders the implementing body for the programme it undertakes to co-finance.
1.  In the absence of programmes to be carried out on the internal market for one or more of the information measures referred to in Article 2(1)(b) submitted in accordance with Article 6(1), each interested Member State shall draw up, on the basis of the guidelines referred to in Article 5(1), following an assessment of the need for, and the desirability of, those programmes in the Member State(s) in question, and on the basis of consultations with trade associations and organisations operating in the sector concerned, a programme and its specification and shall select through a public call for tenders the implementing body for the programme it undertakes to co-finance.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 1
Regulation (EC) No 3/2008
Article 9 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1
2.  In the absence of programmes to be carried out in third countries for one or more of the information measures referred to in Article 2(1)(a), (b) and (c), submitted in accordance with Article 6(1), each interested Member State shall draw up, on the basis of the guidelines referred to in Article 5(2), a programme and its specification and shall select through a public call for tenders the implementing body for the programme it undertakes to co-finance.
2.  In the absence of programmes to be carried out in third countries for one or more of the information measures referred to in Article 2(1)(a), (b) and (c), submitted in accordance with Article 6(1), each interested Member State shall draw up, on the basis of the guidelines referred to in Article 5(2), following an assessment of the need for, and the desirability of, those programmes in the Member State(s) in question, and on the basis of consultations with trade associations and organisations operating in the sector concerned, a programme and its specification and shall select through a public call for tenders the implementing body for the programme it undertakes to co-finance.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 1
Regulation (EC) No 3/2008
Article 9 – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 2
The implementing body for the programme eventually selected by the Member State(s) concerned may be an international organisation, in particular when the programme regards the promotion for the olive oil and table olive sector in third countries.
The implementing body for the programme eventually selected by the Member State(s) concerned may be an international organisation, in particular when the programme concerns the promotion for the olive oil and table olive sector, or for wines with protected designation of origin and protected geographical indication, in third countries.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 1
Regulation (EC) No 3/2008
Article 9 – paragraph 3 – point c
(c) an assessment of the programme's value for money;
(c) an assessment of the programme's cost effectiveness;
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation – amending act
Article 1 a (new)
Regulation (EC) No 3/2008
Article 13 – paragraph 2 – subparagraphs 1 and 2
Article 1a
The first and second subparagraphs of Article 13(2) of Regulation (EC) No 3/2008 shall be replaced by the following:
"2. The Community's financial participation in the programmes selected under Articles 8 and 9 shall not exceed 60 % of the actual cost of these programmes. Where information and promotion programmes have a duration of two or three years, the participation for each year of implementation shall not exceed this ceiling.
The percentage referred to in the first subparagraph shall be 70 % for measures for the promotion of fruit and vegetables intended specifically for children in schools of the Community."

Implementation in the EU of Directive 2003/9/EC on the minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers: visits by the Committee on Civil Liberties 2005-2008
PDF 141kWORD 61k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on the implementation in the European Union of Directive 2003/9/EC laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers and refugees: visits by the Committee on Civil Liberties 2005-2008 (2008/2235(INI))
P6_TA(2009)0047A6-0024/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Council Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers(1) ("Reception Directive"),

–   having regard to Council Directive 2005/85/EC of 1 December 2005 on minimum standards on procedures in Member States for granting and withdrawing refugee status(2) ("Procedures Directive"),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 of 18 February 2003 establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national(3) ("Dublin II Regulation"),

–   having regard to the Commission report of 26 November 2007 on the application of Directive 2003/9/EC of 27 January 2003 laying down minimum standards for the reception of asylum seekers (COM(2007)0745),

–   having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), and in particular to Articles 5 and 8 thereof,

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

–   having regard to the reports by the delegations of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs to Italy (Lampedusa), Spain (Ceuta and Melilla, Canary Islands), France (Paris), Malta, Greece, Belgium, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark and Cyprus,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 April 2005 on Lampedusa(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 April 2006 on the situation with refugee camps in Malta(5),

–   having regard to the proposal for the recasting of the Reception Directive (COM(2008)0815) ( "the recasting proposal") and the proposal for the revision of the Dublin II Regulation (COM (2008)0820), submitted together by the Commission on 3 December 2008,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A6-0024/2009),

A.   whereas the Reception Directive is one of the building blocks of the first phase of the Common European Asylum System,

B.   whereas the Reception Directive applies to asylum seekers and refugees,

C.   whereas fundamental rights, such as the right to live in dignity, the protection of family life, access to health care and the right of appeal, must be guaranteed at all times,

D.   whereas the Reception and Procedures Directives require Member States to provide asylum seekers with information in writing concerning their rights and the organisations providing assistance; and whereas it is essential - in view of the complexity of procedures and short deadlines, particularly in accelerated procedure cases - that asylum seekers receive appropriate legal advice, have access to an interpreter when necessary and receive decisions concerning them in a language which they can be reasonably expected to understand,

E.   whereas it is important to ensure that asylum procedures are clear (in particular the criteria for accepting or rejecting an application for asylum), fair, effective and proportionate, in order to guarantee effective access to asylum,

F.   whereas Article 7 of the Reception Directive grants asylum seekers the right to move freely within the Member State in which they have applied for asylum, but whereas Member States may restrict that right,

G.   whereas the Reception Directive applies to asylum seekers and refugees, but whereas in many of the centres visited asylum seekers and irregular migrants are held on the same premises,

H.   whereas the Convention on the Rights of the Child protects the rights of all minors, including those outside their country of origin, and whereas the Reception Directive requires Member States to take into account the particular situation of minors and grants them specific rights, such as the right to education,

I.   whereas not all Member States use reception centres for all or many asylum seekers, preferring alternatives based in the community and whereas the Committee on Civil Liberties has not yet investigated that aspect of Member State practice,

J.   whereas for the purpose of this resolution "detention" means an administrative procedure of a temporary character,

K.   whereas detention is a temporary administrative measure that differs from penal detention,

L.   whereas, during some of their visits, the Members noted on several occasions, where this was necessary owing to the poor conditions in a particular centre, that the detention conditions in some centres were intolerable from the point of view of hygiene, overcrowding and the equipment available, and whereas the people detained were not systematically informed of the reasons for their detention, of their rights and of the progress in their case,

General comments and asylum procedures

1.  Regrets that some visits revealed that the existing directives were being poorly applied, or were not being applied at all, by some Member States; calls on the Commission to take the necessary measures to ensure that the directives are transposed and complied with more than just formally;

2.  Stresses that the principles of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the ECHR, such as the right to live in dignity, the protection of family life, access to health care and the right of effective recourse against detention, should be applied at all times and regardless of the status of the third-country national involved; therefore cannot accept that a person is not treated accordingly for the sole reason that he or she is an irregular immigrant;

3.  Deplores the number of deficiencies regarding the level of reception conditions which mainly results from the fact that the Reception Directive currently allows Member States a wide margin of discretion concerning the establishment of reception conditions at national level; therefore welcomes the above-mentioned recasting proposal;

4.  Expresses its satisfaction with the Commission's recasting proposal, and welcomes the fact that the stated objective is to ensure higher standards of treatment for asylum seekers in order to ensure a decent standard of living and to permit greater harmonisation of the national rules governing reception conditions;

5.  Expresses its satisfaction with the Commission's proposal to expand the scope of the Reception Directive to cover subsidiary protection in order to ensure that the same level of rights attaches to all forms of international protection;

6.  Calls on the Member States to show more solidarity - not limited to technical and/or financial solidarity - with the countries most affected by the challenges of immigration; calls on the Commission to study the possibility of proposing an EU solidarity instrument aimed at relieving the burden posed by the high number of refugees received by Member States with external borders, which would be based on the principle of respect for the wishes of asylum seekers and would afford a high level of protection;

7.  Calls on the Commission to establish, in cooperation with Parliament, a permanent system of visits and inspections; hopes that the Committee on Civil Liberties can continue its visits with a view to ensuring that Community law concerning reception conditions and return procedures is complied with and that an annual debate is held on the outcome of these visits at a plenary Parliamentary sitting;

Reception

8.  Regrets that the open accommodation centres set up by certain Member States have low capacity and do not appear to meet migrants" needs;

9.  Calls for priority to be given to the reception of asylum seekers and immigrants in open reception centres, along the lines of those which already exist in certain Member States, rather than in closed units;

10.  Reminds the Member States of their obligation to guarantee access to asylum application procedures;

11.  Urges the Member States to apply the Reception Directive to all asylum seekers from the moment when they express their wish to request protection in a Member State, even if the asylum claim has not been formally lodged;

12.  Urges the Commission to remind Member States that withdrawal or reduction of reception conditions on grounds not included in the Reception Directive is or should be strictly prohibited;

13.  Considers that basic reception conditions, such as food, housing and emergency heath care should never be withheld, since their withdrawal may violate the fundamental rights of asylum seekers;

14.  Considers it necessary to strike a fair balance between speedy procedures, reducing the backlog and fair treatment of each individual case, particularly in accelerated procedure cases;

Access to information and right to interpretation

15.  Notes that the information about procedures is largely in writing and that the deadlines are very short, which poses a problem of understanding and constitutes an obstacle to asylum seekers effectively exercising their rights when they submit an application; calls for brochures explaining all the rights of asylum seekers to be made available to them in the main international languages and in the languages spoken by a significant number of asylum seekers and immigrants in the Member State concerned; calls on the Member States also to provide information by other means, including orally, on television and via the Internet;

16.  Expresses its concern over the frequent lack of adequately trained interpreters in some of the centres visited, including at official interviews; urges the Member States to provide a public interpreting service free of charge, if necessary by telephone or via the Internet;

17.  Encourages the Member States to make use of financial assistance under the European Refugee Fund in order to improve access to information and, in particular, to increase the number of languages, or media, in which the information is made available; calls on the Commission to send the Member States information on the financial instruments available for that purpose and on the current best practices relating to their use;

Legal assistance

18.  Regrets that access to free legal aid appears limited for asylum seekers and detained irregular immigrants and amounts sometimes to no more than a list of lawyers" names, resulting in people without sufficient funds being left without assistance;

19.  Notes that it is particularly difficult for people in detention to find appropriate legal assistance given the difficulties of external communication and the specific nature of the relevant legislation;

20.  Notes that continuity of access to legal assistance is made more difficult when people in detention are moved between different reception or administrative detention centres;

21.  Appreciates the legal assistance provided by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but believes that this cannot be a substitute for the responsibilities of the Member States;

22.  Urges the Member States to ensure access to legal assistance and/or representation free of charge in all cases where the asylum seeker cannot afford the costs involved;

Access to health care

23.  Regrets that in most of the detention centres visited, asylum seekers and migrants complained systematically about insufficient and inadequate medical care, the difficulties of consulting or communicating with doctors and the lack of specific care (in particular, for pregnant women and victims of torture) and of appropriate medicines;

24.  Calls on the Member States to extend the medical cover currently offered to asylum seekers and migrants so that it is not limited solely to emergency care, and to also provide psychological counselling and mental health care; points out that the right to health and medical treatment are among the most fundamental human rights;

Access to employment

25.  Welcomes the Commission proposal to tackle the obstacles to access to the labour market and to allow access to employment after a period of six months from the lodging of an application for international protection;

26.  Calls on the Member States not to impose legal or administrative constraints amounting to obstacles to employment access;

Assistance provided by NGOs

27.  Recognises the considerable work done by various associations in providing assistance to asylum seekers and irregular migrants;

28.  Calls on Member States to learn from the good practice developed within the asylum seeker strand of EQUAL concerning effective preparation for the labour market;

29.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that asylum seekers and irregular migrants have access to aid – from players independent of the national authorities – in defending their rights, including during detention; calls on the Member States to guarantee civil society a legal right of access to places of detention for foreign nationals without any legal or administrative constraints;

30.  Calls on Member States not to resort to the detention of asylum seekers under any circumstances, since they are per se vulnerable people in need of protection;

Detention

31.  Regrets that a number of Member States are making increasing use of detention; stresses that a person should not in any event be held in detention for the sole reason that he/she is seeking international protection; stresses that detention must be a measure of last resort, proportionate, for the shortest period possible and only in cases where other less coercive measures cannot be applied, and on the basis of an individual assessment of each case;

32.  Points out that the right to contest a deprivation of liberty is laid down in Article 5 of the ECHR; calls for all third-country nationals placed in detention to be able to exercise that right;

33.  Is concerned at the prison conditions in which irregular migrants and asylum seekers are detained even though they have committed no crime; calls for such persons to be detained in separate, preferably open, buildings in order to ensure their protection and provision of assistance;

34.  Is concerned by the dilapidated state of, and lack of hygiene in, certain detention centres; points out that the obligation to provide a decent reception also applies to people in detention; calls for all centres not complying with standards to be closed as soon as possible;

35.  Notes that access to health care, and particularly to psychological care, is often made difficult, since some detention centres are located in prison establishments; calls on the Member States to provide appropriate medical attention in detention centres, including psychological care, round-the-clock;

36.  Calls on the Member States to improve contact between persons in detention and the outside world, including by allowing regular visits, increasing telephone access and making free internet access (under certain conditions) and mass media access available in all the centres;

37.  Calls on the Member States to publish an annual report on the number and location of closed detention centres, on their operation and on the number of persons held there;

38.  Calls on the Member States to ensure the regular inspection of closed detention centres and of the conditions in which people are held there by creating a national detention centres ombudsman;

Unaccompanied minors and families

39.  Points out that all decisions and measures taken with regard to a minor must be based on the best interests of the child, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child; stresses the need to take the measures and adopt the means required to protect unaccompanied minors, whether or not they are refugees;

40.  Calls on Member States to consider setting up independent official bodies to monitor standards and conditions in closed centres as well as implementing an official inspection system which will publish its reports;

41.  Calls for the detention of minors to be prohibited in principle, and for the detention of minors with their parents to be exceptional and having the objective of ensuring that the best interests of the child are served;

42.  Calls on those Member States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify without reservations the Convention on the Rights of the Child;

43.  Calls on the Member States to enforce General Comment No 8(2006) of 2 March 2007 of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on children's rights to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment, including within the family, especially when minors are in detention;

44.  Points out that all minors have the right to education, whether or not they are in their country of origin; calls on the Member States to guarantee that right, including when minors are in detention; calls for access to education to be provided directly in the community, in an appropriate manner corresponding to the assessment of the level of the child's knowledge, while at the same time developing transitional models allowing the acquisition of the necessary linguistic competences for a normal education, so as to ensure the best possible integration of children and their families;

45.  Points out that minors have the right to leisure activities appropriate to their age, and calls on the Member States to guarantee that right even when children are in detention;

46.  Calls on the Member States to guarantee that unaccompanied minors and families are housed in separate accommodation even in detention, so as to guarantee adequate private and family life as provided for by Article 8 of the ECHR, as well as a protective environment for children;

47.  Expects everyone working with minors and unaccompanied minors to receive specialist training appropriate to the children's situation; considers that NGOs specialising in that field could make a major contribution to it;

Unaccompanied minors

48.  Calls for an independent legal guardian to be appointed for each unaccompanied minor to ensure his or her protection both in waiting areas such as airports, railway stations and throughout the territory of the Member States; calls for the powers and role of the legal guardian to be clearly defined;

49.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce a proactive duty to trace family members, including for organisations such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent;

50.  Is concerned at the phenomenon of unaccompanied minors disappearing; calls on the Member States to gather data and statistics pursuant to Article 4(3)(a) of Regulation (EC) No 862/2007/EC(6) concerning the identification of, and provision of assistance to, unaccompanied minors in order to combat this phenomenon; believes that the best way to discourage the disappearance of minors is to provide suitable reception facilities for them, where they may also receive an education appropriate to their age (schooling, vocational training, etc.);

51.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place a harmonised and reliable mechanism for identifying unaccompanied minors – by making use of the latest technologies such as the use of biometric data – and common rules concerning age disputes; points out, in this regard, that during an age dispute procedure the person concerned must, as a precaution, be considered a minor until the end of the procedure and therefore treated as such, and that whenever there is reasonable doubt as to the age of the minor, this must be to the benefit of the minor;

Families

52.  Calls on the Member States to consider alternative measures to detention and, where appropriate and before detaining families which include minors, to demonstrate that the alternatives considered are not effective;

53.  Calls for families seeking asylum to have access to family services, child services and medical consultations by child protection specialists;

Vulnerable persons

54.  Calls on the Commission to lay down mandatory common standards for identifying vulnerable persons, particularly victims of torture or human trafficking, people requiring special medical treatment, pregnant women and minors;

55.  Considers that no vulnerable person, given their particular circumstances, should be placed in detention as that would have serious repercussions for their wellbeing;

56.  Urges the Member States to provide specialist assistance to vulnerable persons and victims of torture and trafficking, particularly psychological assistance, to ensure their protection; calls for all staff having contact with vulnerable persons, including the officials responsible for asylum applications and the police, to receive specialist training;

Dublin System

57.  Is concerned at the increased number of people detained under the Dublin System and at the near-routine use of detention measures by certain Member States; expects people not to be placed in detention if the Member State has not demonstrated a risk of their absconding;

58.  Regrets that certain Member States limit the access of persons under the Dublin System to reception standards; calls on the Commission to establish clearly that the Reception Directive also applies to such persons, in order to ensure that they are able to exercise their full rights;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 31, 6.2.2003, p. 18.
(2) OJ L 326, 13.12.2005, p. 13.
(3) OJ L 50, 25.2.2003, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 33 E, 9.2.2006, p. 598.
(5) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 301.
(6) Regulation (EC) No 862/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007 on Community statistics on migration and international protection (OJ L 199, 31.7.2007, p. 23).


Enhancing the role of European SMEs in international trade
PDF 156kWORD 75k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on enhancing the role of European SMEs in international trade (2008/2205(INI))
P6_TA(2009)0048A6-0001/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the European Charter for Small Enterprises, adopted by the European Council at its meeting in Santa Maria da Feira on 19 and 20 June 2000,

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions on the Lisbon Strategy adopted by the European Council in Lisbon on 23 and 24 March 2000,

–   having regard to Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC of 6 May 2003 concerning the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises(1),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 21 January 2003 entitled 'Thinking small in an enlarging Europe' (COM(2003)0026),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 10 November 2005 entitled 'Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme – Modern SME policy for growth and employment' (COM(2005)0551),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2006 entitled 'Global Europe: Competing in the world – A contribution to the EU's growth and jobs strategy' (COM(2006)0567),

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2007 on Global Europe – external aspects of competitiveness(2),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 4 October 2007 entitled 'Small and medium-sized enterprises – Key for delivering more growth and jobs. A mid-term review of modern SME policy' (COM(2007)0592),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 18 April 2007 entitled 'Global Europe: A stronger partnership to deliver market access for European exporters' (COM(2007)0183),

–   having regard to the report on the public consultation on the EU market access strategy, presented by the Commission (DG Trade) on 28 February 2007,

–   having regard to the Final Report of the Expert Group on Supporting the Internationalisation of SMEs, published by the Commission (DG Enterprise and Industry, Promotion of SME competitiveness) in December 2007(3),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 25 June 2008 entitled 'Think Small First – Small Business Act for Europe' (COM(2008)0394),

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 6 December 2006 entitled 'Global Europe: Europe's trade defence instruments in a changing global economy – A Green Paper for public consultation' (COM(2006)0763),

–   having regard to its resolution of 28 September 2006 on the EU's economic and trade relations with India(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2006 on the annual report from the Commission to the European Parliament on third country anti-dumping, anti-subsidy and safeguard action against the Community (2004)(5),

–   having regard to its resolution of 4 April 2006 on the assessment of the Doha Round following the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong(6),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 October 2006 on economic and trade relations between the EU and Mercosur with a view to the conclusion of an Interregional Association Agreement(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 June 2006 on EU-US transatlantic economic relations(8),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 October 2005 on prospects for trade relations between the EU and China(9),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 September 2005 on textiles and clothing after 2005(10),

–   having regard to the Commission staff working document of 14 November 2006 – Accompanying document to the Communication from the Commission – Economic reforms and competitiveness: key messages from the European Competitiveness Report 2006 (SEC(2006)1467),

–   having regard to the Presidency conclusions adopted by the European Council in Brussels on 23 and 24 March 2006 (7775/1/2006),

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2006 on the input to the Spring 2006 European Council in relation to the Lisbon Strategy(11),

–   having regard to the declaration adopted by consensus on 2 December 2006 at the annual session of the Parliamentary Conference on the WTO,

–   having regard to its resolution of 24 April 2008 entitled 'Towards a reform of the World Trade Organisation'(12),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2006 on origin marking(13),

–   having regard to the General Affairs and External Relations Council conclusions of 12 February 2007 concerning the WTO's Agreement on Government Procurement and SMEs,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0001/2009),

A.   whereas the EU SMEs, defined as enterprises with fewer than 250 employees and a turnover not exceeding EUR 50 million, account for 23 million enterprises (99% of the total) and 75 million jobs (70%) in the European Union,

B.   whereas more than 96 % of SMEs in the European Union have fewer than 50 employees and less than EUR 10 million in annual turnover which limits their ability to export goods and services outside their national borders, due to the high fixed costs linked to international trade;

C.   whereas their international performance is therefore structurally weak, although 8% of SMEs in the European Union export goods outside their national borders and almost 3% of SMEs view the export of goods outside the European Union as a priority; whereas by contrast the top ten EU companies account for 96% of EU exports and foreign direct investment,

D.   whereas the forecasted economic growth in third countries is expected to be higher than in the internal market, which will create new opportunities for exporting SMEs,

E.   whereas SMEs will face more intense competition inside the European Union by competitors from third countries,

F.   whereas the best means of ensuring opportunities for SMEs in the globalised economy is through open markets and fair competition,

G.   whereas internationalised companies have demonstrated a greater capacity for innovation; whereas internationalisation and innovation are key drivers of competitiveness and growth, which are crucial for the achievement of the Lisbon Strategy goals as regards growth and jobs,

H.   whereas internationalisation generates growth and competitiveness, helping businesses expand and thus increasing employment, and whereas SMEs create 80% of new jobs in the European Union,

I.   whereas SMEs have to cope with specific problems when embarking on the process of internationalisation, such as their lack of international experience, the difficulty of gaining access to finance, the shortage of experienced human resources, and a very complex international normative framework and these burdens dissuade them from making the necessary structural changes in order to be able to benefit from internationalisation,

J.   whereas SMEs engaged in international trade have a role to play in reshaping the EU economic landscape so as to become the next-generation of large companies that the European Union needs in order to achieve the objective of 3% of GDP being spent on Research and Development,

K.   whereas EU SMEs have a key interest in markets that are closest geographically and culturally, namely in regions bordering the European Union such as the Mediterranean and the Western Balkans,

L.   whereas competitiveness also depends on the ability to guarantee SMEs adequate protection against unfair trading practices; whereas manufacturing production in the European Union is an important sector for economic growth and employment,

The multilateral framework and the WTO

1.  Stresses the need for the WTO system to ensure that it takes greater account of the role of SMEs and their interests; points out that SMEs need a clear and functional international normative framework;

2.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of the WTO negotiations, to provide for specific simplified rules for SMEs within free trade areas and for special clauses relating to the requirements of SMEs;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to review their priorities at multilateral level by promoting the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers and to foster international trade through appropriate measures to simplify and harmonise standards;

4.  Considers that the international trade system should be made less onerous for SMEs and that consideration should be given to setting up a rapid and low-cost system of international arbitration courts to enable SMEs to avoid the delays and problems which a legal dispute with customs or trade authorities would entail in certain third countries;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to endeavour actively to reach a multilateral global agreement on 'trade facilitation', inter alia, to enable EU SMEs to benefit fully from globalisation and the opening of third country markets;

6.  Supports, in particular, the adoption of a firm stance in the negotiations on trade facilitation procedures, in order to lower the costs of customs procedures which can account for up to 15% of the value of the goods traded, through transparent and simplified procedures, harmonised international standards, effective recording of the origin of goods, and updated customs controls;

7.  Emphasises the importance of the conclusion of the negotiations on all chapters of the Doha Development Round to SMEs;

The Global Europe communication

8.  Supports the Commission's efforts to provide the European Union with a global strategy covering all external aspects of European competitiveness and helping to ensure that the Lisbon strategy objectives are fully achieved, but notes with regret the absence of any specific initiatives in favour of SMEs, which provide two thirds of employment in the European Union; calls on the Commission and the Council to remedy this shortcoming without delay and to set ambitious and, at the same time, realistic objectives to safeguard the interests of SMEs and make the necessary means and resources available; notes the importance of an effective Trade Barriers Regulation as a complementary instrument to that end;

9.  Considers that reciprocal trade liberalisation is necessary for SMEs and, in view of that, feels that the Commission should come up with an explicit response to the export difficulties faced by EU SMEs, explaining which national or European instruments the European Union could use to help SMEs improve their performance in global markets;

Reform of trade defence instruments (TDIs)

10.  Welcomes the Commission's decision to withdraw the proposals for reform of the TDIs contained in the above-mentioned Green Paper for public consultation;

11.  Takes the view that the Commission's reforms would not only have failed to enhance the external competitiveness of EU industry but would have caused further serious damage to those EU industrial sectors jeopardised by foreign products illegally subsidised or unduly favoured by dumping practices; stresses that the Trade Defence Instrument system (TDI system) must continue to be a quasi-judicial procedure, based on objective and factual assessments, in order to provide for predictability and legal certainty;

12.  Considers that in the absence of internationally recognised rules on competition, the European TDI system is the best response to ensure a level playing field for all actors and takes the view that EU companies, especially SMEs, need an effective mechanism to combat unfair commercial practices;

13.  Emphasises that the TDI system serves to protect the interests of producers and employees against impairment caused by dumping or illegal subsidies; given the importance of TDIs, calls on the Commission to increase the transparency, predictability and accessibility of the investigations in particular for SMEs, and to accelerate and simplify procedures;

14.  Recommends that the Commission and Member States introduce information and training measures for SMEs in order to encourage them to make use of TDIs; considers that the Commission, whilst adopting a neutral position, should provide targeted assistance to SMEs throughout all the different stages of trade defence investigations; in this respect considers it necessary to improve the services offered by the SME TDI helpdesk;

15.  Regrets that only a limited number of investigations have concerned industrial sectors with a high concentration of SMEs; calls on the Commission to take every possible step, without delay, to rectify the current practice with a view to upholding the rights of SMEs more effectively and guaranteeing them easier access to safeguards under TDIs;

16.  Considers, in this connection, that the "proportion of total Community production" concept in the Trade Barriers Regulation(14) already offers possibilities for SMEs to initiate complaints, but nonetheless asks the Commission to ensure that professional associations with a high SME representation should be allowed to validly represent them before the Commission without changing the current threshold;

17.  Calls on the Commission to react quickly and in an appropriate manner to third countries that make arbitrary use of TDIs, particularly when these measures affect EU SMEs;

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and origin markings

18.  Emphasises that SMEs need effective IPR protection as a precondition for developing new technologies, in order to enable them to undertake international activities; points out, therefore, that a simple and efficient IPR system is a key tool for promoting the internationalisation of SMEs;

19.  Draws attention to the significant increase in recent years in infringements of IPR affecting EU SMEs, and to the fact that counterfeiting does not just affect large industrial companies but also SMEs that have managed to create high quality competitive products and suffer severe consequences from counterfeiting that in some cases can threaten their very existence;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to commit themselves with renewed vigour to preventing and combating counterfeiting by means of appropriate internal policies and international initiatives, at both multilateral (e.g. the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) and bilateral (new economic cooperation agreements with third countries) level, taking due account of the impact of counterfeiting on SMEs; underlines that for SMEs the protection of geographical indications and of patent rights is equally if not more important than the protection of trademarks and copyrights; asks the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the high standards of data protection in the European Union are not violated by these measures;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage SMEs to make use of instruments, such as patents, in order to secure their know-how and protect themselves against copying and counterfeiting;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States also to monitor and react in the event of IPR infringements and to call on their own trading partners to comply more strictly with the TRIPS agreement and their national intellectual property protection standards;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the control of imports by the customs authorities in order to ensure a more effective level of protection against products which infringe IPR held by EU companies;

24.  Regrets the delayed introduction of the Community origin marking system for certain products from non-European countries (such as textiles and footwear)(15) and expresses concern at this clear infringement of the rights of EU consumers; calls on the Commission and the Member States to remove as a matter of urgency the obstacles which have so far stood in the way of the entry into force of this legislation and to promote the European origin of such products, often seen by consumers as a guarantee of quality, safety and respect for high production standards;

Third-country market access strategy

25.  Points out that facilitating access to international markets for SMEs can contribute to creating new jobs, protecting and adding value to existing jobs, safeguarding and exchanging know how and specific features of EU industry and giving Member States a guarantee of solid and lasting economic growth;

26.  Welcomes the Commission's current efforts to provide access for SME's to third country markets; calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure the successful functioning of EU Market Access Teams in third countries, especially in the emerging economies, with the involvement of the relevant professional organisations;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the provision of information on third-country markets and to establish, among other things, sections devoted to SMEs, and to rationalise the Market Access Database thereby ensuring easier access especially for SME operators;

28.  Calls on the Commission to simplify the Market Access Database in order to make consultation thereof more accessible to SMEs; calls also on the Commission to initiate measures to publicise such databases;

29.  Considers that the Market Access Teams set up by the Commission third country delegations should be strengthened and that a desk specifically responsible for monitoring SME-related issues and made up of specialists on company matters should be set up within them;

30.  Supports the creation in the key Indian and Chinese markets of European Business Centres, which work together with national chambers of commerce and business representatives to help SMEs find partners with the relevant skills in order to be able to enter these local markets;

31.  Considers that the success of the market access strategy also requires support in terms of information and greater powers of influence for national chambers of commerce outside the European Union; supports the bilateral programmes promoting specific access for SMEs to third-country markets, given the success of Al Invest (Latin America), Medinvest (Mediterranean) and Proinvest (ACP countries);

32.  Points out that standardisation can lead to innovation and competitiveness by facilitating access to markets and by enabling interoperability; encourages the Commission to increase the promotion of European standards internationally;

European Small Business Act, competitiveness and international trade

33.  Welcomes the Commission's Small Business Act initiative as an important opportunity to gear all EU policies effectively towards SMEs; considers it necessary, in this connection, to fully involve the Member States and EU Institutions to ensure that the 'Think small first' principle is applied;

34.  Notes that there are very competitive EU SMEs, which are world leaders in highly specialised niche markets and are therefore a driving force in advancing the Lisbon Strategy;

35.  Considers that the internationalisation of SMEs is a primary objective of trade policy and should constitute a cornerstone of the European Small Business Act, which will act as a stable, homogeneous, binding and global framework for the Commission's policies for SMEs;

36.  Considers that, in order to foster their presence on third country markets, SMEs should have dedicated employees specifically dealing with internationalisation which is rarely the case; calls on the Commission and Member States, in order to overcome this obstacle, to promote the establishment of service consortia to support SMEs in the process of internationalisation;

37.  Encourages the strengthening of all SME innovation and start up policies; supports the creation of European centres of competitiveness open to SMEs that may reach a critical mass required to survive in the face of international competition; also supports the extension and the updating of programmes giving SMEs access to international development finance as well as all measures aimed at reducing their fixed operational costs; points out that the single European patent and the European Company Statute should be adopted as quickly as possible to promote the transition to extra-Community trade;

38.  Regards political and financial support to foster product and process innovation, improving access to finance and fiscal aspects, as well as research cooperation and technology transfer, as key elements in increasing the productivity of SMEs, which is at the base of any successful internationalisation strategy for SMEs;

39.  Considers that internal market policies should focus on improving the situation of EU SMEs by creating an SME-friendly business environment and by ensuring that SMEs can benefit fully from the opportunities offered by the internal market; considers further that, where relevant, these policies should also enhance the international role of SMEs;

40.  Calls on the Commission to consider how the internal market can further help EU businesses to compete internationally;

41.  Welcomes the contract awarded and signed by the Commission to carry out a study on the internationalisation of SMEs; is of the opinion that the study will provide a detailed overview of the state of internationalisation of EU SMEs; calls on the Commission to take effective measures to facilitate the performance of SMEs in the globalised world;

42.  Notes the importance of skilled and trained entrepreneurs in facing the challenges of international business; calls therefore on the Commission and the Member States to increase the provision of training programmes for entrepreneurs on the globalised business environment (such as the Enterprise Europe Network or "Gateway to China" scheme); calls for increased cooperation between SMEs and universities in order to improve research and innovation; calls on the Commission to consider the creation of a special EU exchange programme for young entrepreneurs based on the Erasmus / Leonardo da Vinci programmes;

43.  Welcomes the organisation of a "European SME Week" in May 2009 and proposes that this event be used to provide information for SMEs on how to develop their export activities outside the European Union;

Free-trade agreements

44.  Calls on the Commission to pay closer attention to assessing the impact which the new generation of free-trade agreements negotiated with third countries can have on EU SMEs and to take account of this assessment at the negotiation phase;

45.  Takes the view that the Commission should aim to conclude free-trade agreements or other trade agreements that are favourable to the European economy as a whole and to SMEs in particular or that provide for trade concessions at similar level, other than with regard to the least developed countries;

46.  Stresses the importance of promoting economic and trade relations between the European Union and third countries that are members of the Central European Free Trade Agreement and calls on the Commission to pay special attention to SMEs in its trade relations with such countries;

47.  Recommends that the Commission guarantees permanent monitoring of these agreements and intervenes without delay in the event of failure to comply with the obligations taken on by the partners;

48.  Stresses the importance of geographically closer markets for SMEs and calls on the Commission to pay special attention to SMEs in trade relations with such countries; welcomes, in this context, the reference to the Mediterranean Business Development Initiative contained in the Paris Summit Declaration of 13 July 2008 on the Union for the Mediterranean;

49.  Notes the important role of SMEs in climate change technology transfer and the importance of the active participation of SMEs in development aid;

Tenders

50.  Recalls that public tenders are one of the most promising economic sectors for the European economy and for SMEs in particular; expresses concern at the persisting restrictions in many third countries, which refuse to guarantee EU companies similar access to their tender procedures or which apply standards that, in many cases, lack transparency and fairness;

51.  Takes the view that EU SMEs should have the same level of advantages and possibilities as regards public tenders in the main industrialised countries (including the United States, Canada and Japan) as they enjoy inside the European Union; calls on the Commission therefore to guarantee that EU SMEs will have better access to public procurement markets in third countries and enjoy fair conditions of competition in the sectors concerned by the tenders, if necessary by applying the principle of reciprocity;

52.  Considers that informed and effective action needs to be taken by the European Union to secure equal rights for EU companies, and particularly SMEs;

53.  Calls on the Commission to submit realistic and constructive proposals with a view to future renegotiation and strengthening of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement;

54.  Considers that public procurement should be a key chapter in all bilateral and regional trade negotiations undertaken by the European Union, with a view to opening up public procurement markets on a balanced basis;

55.  Welcomes the Commission proposal contained in the Communication on Global Europe to apply targeted restrictions to European tenders for countries which do not offer access to their public markets; calls on the Commission to inform the Parliament of the results obtained to-date and the initiatives it intends to take to improve EU SMEs access to third country tenders;

Agricultural products and geographical indications

56.  Recalls the importance of access to agricultural markets for EU SMEs in the sector and calls on the Commission, in the context of the future multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations, not to give up the remaining tariff safeguards enjoyed by the sector and instead to guarantee that the most competitive and well-known European agricultural products are not unduly penalised by anti-competitive practices introduced by other WTO members; considers that substantial progress on geographical indications is indispensable for a balanced outcome on agriculture within the framework of the Doha Round negotiations;

57.  Supports Commission initiatives to establish a clearer and more balanced international reference framework on geographical indications; considers it unacceptable that the geographical designations and indications of many agri-foodstuffs are too often used to the detriment, in particular, of EU SMEs; urges the Commission and the Member States to take resolute action vis-à-vis countries which use such non-tariff barriers unduly to protect their own markets;

58.  Supports the establishment of an international multilateral register of geographical indications enabling SMEs to protect their own geographical indications in a simple and economical manner; considers that the list of protected geographical indications should be supplemented and extended to all EU products which, by their nature or place or method of production, provide EU SMEs with a "comparative advantage" over similar products from third countries;

59.  Urges the other WTO members to ensure full access for EU products protected by geographical indications and, where appropriate, to withdraw from the market any national products which use such designations without being entitled to do so or at least to allow full access for EU protected geographical indications and protected designations of origin already in use or which have become generic designations;

Supporting the internationalisation of SMEs

60.  Considers that national or regional support programmes for the internationalisation of SMEs are a very useful tool producing good results; asks that they continue to be co-financed using European Regional Development Fund funds and that more financial resources be allocated to transnational cooperation projects developed by sectoral associations, with the aim of supporting the export and internationalisation capability of SMEs, jointly opening up new markets and developing common marketing strategies in third countries;

61.  Stresses the need to improve access to finance, and especially to micro-credit, for SMEs; believes that Community instruments such as the European Investment Fund, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the 'Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises' (JEREMIE) can help develop a better framework for access to finance for SMEs with internationalisation plans;

62.  Considers that the creation of joint ventures or other partnership agreements between SMEs should be fostered as a strategy for penetrating new markets, developing direct investment projects in third countries and taking part in invitations to tender; calls on the Commission to mobilise resources, especially through the 'European territorial cooperation' objective, in order o promote transnational cooperation among SMEs in the European Union;

Final considerations

63.  Takes the view that the development and internationalisation of EU SMEs calls for special attention and support in the formulation of EU trade policy;

64.  Calls on the Commission and on Member States to fully support SMEs in the current financial crisis by ensuring that credit is continuously made available to them to enhance their development;

65.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to cooperate amongst themselves with a view to establishing a coherent and wide-ranging policy enabling EU SMEs to develop in a harmonious manner and at a higher growth rate and gain access to new markets and, more generally, to expand their export activities and internationalisation;

66.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the development of EU SMEs through appropriate political and financial support as regards their modernisation and training for their management and workers; stresses, in this connection, the importance of ongoing training for SME operators and the establishment of conditions conducive to pursuing such activities; considers it essential that the European Union takes on full responsibility for upholding this wealth of knowledge, tradition and know-how which SMEs have built up and put to good use;

67.  Considers that more effective coordination should be guaranteed within the Community and between the Commission, the Member States and other parties concerned; asks to be informed in good time of any future initiative relating to the external competitiveness of SMEs and to be closely involved in any future initiative which the European Union may undertake;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 124, 20.5.2003, p. 36.
(2) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 128.
(3) http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/entrepreneurship/support_measures/internationalisation/report_internat.pdf
(4) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 400.
(5) OJ C 313 E, 20.12.2006, p. 276.
(6) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 155.
(7) OJ C 308 E, 16.12.2006, p. 182.
(8) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 235.
(9) OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 103.
(10) OJ C 193 E, 17.8.2006, p. 110.
(11) OJ C 291 E, 30.11.2006, p. 321.
(12) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0180.
(13) OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p. 881.
(14) Council Regulation (EC) No 3286/94 of 22 December 1994 laying down Community procedures in the field of the common commercial policy in order to ensure the exercise of the Community's rights under international trade rules, in particular those established under the auspices of the World Trade Organization (OJ L 349, 31.12.1994, p. 71).
(15) Proposal for Council Regulation on the indication of the country of origin of certain products imported from third countries (COM(2005)0661).


International Trade and the Internet
PDF 160kWORD 69k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on International Trade and the Internet (2008/2204(INI))
P6_TA(2009)0049A6-0020/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to point 18 on Trade in Information Technology Products (also known as Information Technology Agreement (ITA)) of the Singapore Ministerial Declaration of the First Session of the Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), adopted on 13 December 1996,

–   having regard to the Geneva Ministerial Declaration on Global Electronic Commerce of the Second Session of the Ministerial Conference of the WTO, adopted on 20 May 1998,

–   having regard to the submission from the European Communities regarding the "Classification Issues and the Work Programme on Electronic Commerce" to the WTO of 9 May 2003,

–   having regard to point 46 on E-commerce of the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration on the Doha Work Programme of the Sixth Session of the Ministerial Conference of the WTO, adopted on 18 December 2005,

-   having regard to the proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2002/38/EC as regards the period of application of the value added tax arrangements applicable to radio and television broadcasting services and certain electronically supplied services and the report from the Commission to the Council on Council Directive 2002/38/EC of 7 May 2002 amending and amending temporarily Directive 77/388/EEC as regards the value added tax arrangements applicable to radio and television broadcasting services and certain electronically supplied services (COM(2006)0210),

–   having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market ('Directive on electronic commerce')(1),

-   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 792/2002 of 7 May 2002 amending temporarily Regulation (EEC) No 218/92 on administrative cooperation in the field of indirect taxation (VAT) as regards additional measures regarding electronic commerce(2),

-   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(3),

–   having regard to its position of 24 September 2008 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2002/21/EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services, Directive 2002/19/EC on access to, and interconnection of, electronic communications networks and associated facilities, and Directive 2002/20/EC on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services(4), Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications)(5) and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation)(6),

-   having regard to its resolution of 14 May 1998 on the communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a European Initiative in Electronic Commerce(7),

-   having regard to its resolution of 21 June 2007 on consumer confidence in the digital environment(8),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Culture and Education (A6-0020/2009),

A.   whereas more than half of EU citizens and nearly 1.5 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet; whereas one out of three EU citizens conducts online purchases, but only 30 million do cross-border shopping in the European Union,

B.   whereas according to the WTO, e-commerce is defined as "the production, advertising, sale and distribution of products via telecommunications networks",

C.   whereas a distinction may be drawn between the delivery of content on physical carrier media and content digitally-encoded and transmitted electronically over the Internet and thus independently from physical carrier media, over fixed and wireless networks,

D.   whereas e-commerce may be conducted either in the form of business to business, business to consumer or consumer to consumer transactions; whereas trading on Internet platforms has profoundly changed the manner in which people trade goods and services, creating new opportunities in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reach new customers across borders,

E.   whereas preserving the openness of the Internet is a precondition for its continuous growth, as well as that of the wider economy and global trade, which increasingly "run" on Internet technologies,

F.   whereas SMEs can derive particular benefit from e-commerce in terms of access to external markets; whereas, however, the full development of these new e-commerce methods still comes up against various obstacles as regards their practical application,

G.   whereas the free flow of information is essential in order to facilitate e-commerce and an open and secure network allowing dissemination of and access to the Internet as information is the foundation upon which the global economy of the 21st century is being built,

H.   whereas Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are now ubiquitous in the economy and new platforms and networks are being developed and rolled out; whereas there is a need for open standards which are important for innovation, competition and effective consumer choice,

I.   whereas the further development of the new "digitalised" commercial environment has already and will continue to provide new opportunities for traditional and modern trade transactions, to enhance the consumer's position in the commercial chain and to lead to entirely novel business models in consumer-producer relations,

J.   whereas the Internet offers consumers the possibility to make better informed decisions in terms of quality and price compared to traditional means of purchase, and whereas online advertising has become an important means to facilitate cross-border trade for businesses of all sizes, but in particular for SMEs in order to be able to reach new customers,

K.   whereas the increasing use of the Internet for trade brings with it significant opportunities, but also certain challenges,

L.   whereas companies delivering content services should be encouraged to engage in new and innovative business models embracing the opportunities offered by the Internet and e-commerce,

M.   whereas technology and economics will dictate legal solutions given that the current patchwork of legal frameworks is clearly inadequate,

N.   whereas e-commerce generally relies on intellectual property protection, and whereas a secure and predictable legal environment for intellectual property protection, as well as exceptions and limitations, is needed to promote technological innovation and the transfer/dissemination of technology,

O.   whereas it has been observed that according to the national law of important EU trading partners, a telecommunications licence has to be obtained first in order to be able to provide e-commerce services, creating thus an unnecessary obligation especially in view of the complex procedures which apply for granting these licences,

P.   whereas the role of e-commerce amongst members of the WTO has increased rapidly in areas such as banking, the telecommunications sector, the computer industry, the advertising industry, distribution and express mail services; whereas the number of countries not limiting cross-border access in such fields is already substantial; whereas ten years have passed since the launch of the WTO Work Programme on E-Commerce,

Q.   whereas the WTO fundamentals of non-discrimination, transparency and progressive liberalisation must be applied in a manner that takes account of the speed and interactivity of the Internet, the methods of electronic payment, disintermediation, the increased integration of business functions into the online system, the greater flexibility of business organisations as well as the greater fragmentation of businesses,

1.  Stresses the beneficial influence of the Internet over the different factors and stages in cross-border and international trading of goods and services during the last two decades; underlines that the inherently international character of e-commerce calls for universal understanding and cooperation;

2.  Acknowledges that online commercial innovation and creativity is fostering the development of new patterns of trading such as commerce between consumers; points out that online markets act as new intermediaries in order to facilitate exchanges, increase information access at very low cost, and generally expand the scope of business-to-business relationships;

3.  Believes that SMEs and young entrepreneurs who are partly or entirely engaged in online trading activities, are really finding a comparatively low administrative and commercial cost platform from which to promote, through customised online advertising, and sell their goods and services to a universally expanding clientele, thus bypassing some trade barriers, part of which are obsolete, and penetrating previously remote and closed markets;

4.  Acknowledges that problems with regard to the guarantee of product quality and safety due to the lack of the usual control practices at the distribution stage of online trading must be addressed in novel ways, such as consumer ratings of vendors and consumer-to-consumer peer review;

5.  Calls for a detailed analysis of the influence of online trade upon conventional trading patterns and activities, in order to be aware of and consequently avoid potential adverse effects;

6.  Notes with concern that consumers and vendors using ICT are often subject to discriminatory treatment in comparison to consumers and vendors operating in offline markets;

7.  Welcomes the fact that consumers are benefiting from access to a virtually unlimited range of goods and services due to the effective abolition of geographic, distance and space limitations as well as the possibility for transparent and unbiased information, the comparison of prices, the availability of customised online advertising, and the convenience of online "search and buy" twenty-four hours per day for anyone connected to the Internet at home, at work or elsewhere;

8.  Notes that the emerging digital market in intangible goods and services is already greater than traditional trading and provision and has, moreover, created a new range of trading concepts and economic values such as digital real estate (domain names) and access to information (search engines);

9.  Suggests that illegal behaviour such as counterfeiting, piracy, fraud, breach of transaction security and violation of citizens' private space should not be attributed to the nature of the medium but has to be considered as aspects of illegal commercial activities which pre-existed in the physical world and have been both facilitated and exacerbated due to the abundant technological possibilities provided, occurring mainly when the medium does not operate on a basis of compliance with the rules in force in order to benefit from a regime of managed responsibility; stresses the need to create mechanisms for the adoption and strengthening of the necessary and appropriate enforcement measures and of more effective and concerted coordination, which will permit the combating and elimination of existing illegal online commercial behaviour especially with regard to cases liable to involve major public health risks, such as bogus medicines, without affecting the development of international e-commerce;

10.  Supports the unconditional respect for the public morals and ethics of states and peoples, but regrets the increasingly abusive recourse to censorship in respect of online services and products which operates as a disguised trade barrier;

11.  Recognises the need for open standards and their importance for innovation, competition and effective consumer choice; proposes that trade agreements concluded by the European Community promote the broad and open use of the Internet for e-commerce, provided that consumers are able to access and use services and digital products of their choice unless prohibited by national law;

12.  Considers that the magnitude of the increase in cross-border transactions, the difficulty of identifying the nature, origin, and destination of transactions, and the lack of audit trails and leverage points bring into question the territorial nature of tax regimes; notes that opportunities exist for streamlining tax administration, for replacing paperwork with electronic data interchanges and for the electronic filling-out of tax returns as well as the automation of the tax collection process;

13.  Stresses the need to educate consumers and undertakings and the need to organise media information campaigns on the development prospects, rights and obligations of all parties involved in international trade on the Internet;

14.  Regrets the increasing number of incidents of online fraud and theft of both personal data and money; believes that lack of trust in the security and safety of transactions and payments constitutes the most important danger for the future of e-commerce; calls on the Commission to investigate the causes and to redouble its efforts to create mechanisms for strengthening businesses' and individuals' trust in international electronic payment systems, as well as establishing suitable means for resolving disputes related to illegal commercial practices;

15.  Highlights that the security and credibility of transactions related to cultural goods or services online are essential;

16.  Notes that confidence depends not only on simple, reliable and secure ways of using the Internet, but also inter alia on the quality of the goods and services and the availability of appropriate remedies;

17.  Stresses the need for international regulatory co-operation if international electronic trade is to grow to its full potential; considers that a new, modern approach to problematic areas of e-commerce is necessary in order to ensure consumers benefit from protection of their privacy and the lower costs and new opportunities for commerce that flow from the Internet;

18.  Considers that the discussion for the current and future challenges of global Internet trade should take place in a mutually supportive and structured cooperative framework based on systems of institutionalised rules amongst interdependent actors, thus enabling a modern and inclusive multi-stakeholder governance process as exemplified by the Internet Governance Forum; notes that the current modes of Internet governance are characterised by their hybrid nature lacking functional and regulatory hierarchical steering instruments;

19.  Regrets the absence of any progress under the WTO negotiations on the important issue of the classification of so-called "digitised products", the fact that the Doha Development Agenda does not mandate specific negotiations on e-commerce and that no progress has been made on the establishment of a permanent WTO Customs Duty Moratorium on Electronic Transmissions; notes that there is still uncertainty as to the proper customs valuation of digital products and there is still lack of agreement as to what rules and obligations (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) or Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) should apply to digitally-delivered products;

20.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal to the WTO to update and expand the above-mentioned Ministerial Declaration on ITA, setting a short time frame, in order to give an additional boost to trade in these products, to attract more participants, to address non-tariff barriers and to address the increasing challenges of technological development and convergence; regrets however the disparate interpretations of the ITA by the parties and calls on the Commission to fully implement the letter and the spirit of the current ITA and to support a modern and realistic approach for any future agreement in line with the demand for more information technology products, free of import duties;

21.  Welcomes the progress already achieved in the framework of GATS, World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Internet Treaties, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) model law, the extensive work by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the extensive policy framework adopted at the OECD Ministerial Meeting in Seoul in 2008, and the World Summit on the Information Society in Geneva in December 2003 and in Tunis in November 2005;

22.  Highlights the importance of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression as an essential instrument to guarantee that the cultural exemption in international trade transactions in goods and services of a cultural and creative nature is maintained within the international framework of the WTO; calls upon the Council and the Commission to implement quickly the Convention in the internal as well as the external policies of the European Union;

23.  Emphasises the fact that bilateral and regional free trade agreements cannot provide complete answers to far-reaching market access; nevertheless, calls on the European Union to include systematically in its bilateral and regional trade agreements explicit provisions covering broad and open use of the Internet for trade in goods and services and unfettered information flows, such as to refrain from imposing or maintaining unnecessary barriers to information flows across borders, and by applying the principles of non-discriminatory, transparent and least trade-restrictive regulation to Internet transactions; supports the efforts made by the EU to establish cooperation dialogue on regulatory issues as part of its bilateral agreements with third country trading partners; calls on the EU institutions and Member States, upon reaching these agreements, to be prepared to contribute to this cooperation dialogue;

24.  Calls on the Commission to review the applicability of trade instruments so as to harmonise and open the use of spectrum in order to promote mobile access to Internet services spurring innovation, growth and competition;

25.  Stresses that attention needs to be focused on the provision of online services including e-commerce not being subject to unnecessary domestic authorisation procedures, both in the EU and in our trading partners' countries, which would result in a de facto impediment to the provision of such services;

26.  Takes the view that in the context of international public procurement, where new technologies allow for cross-border e-commerce, new forms of, for example, combinatorial auctions for SME-consortia, online publication and advertising tenders allow for significant increases in procurement trade not only within the European Union but globally thus encouraging cross-border e-commerce;

27.  Recalls that the conclusion of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has to provide a balance between effective implementation of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and protection of the fundamental rights of consumers, and to contribute to further innovation, flow of information and use of legitimate services  in the online commercial environment;

28.  Calls on the Commission to run information and education campaigns using traditional and Internet-based tools in order to raise awareness among consumers of their rights with the aim of increasing their confidence in online trading;

29.  Deplores the fragmentation of the EU online market which is the result of regulatory provisions permitting or requiring geographic market partitioning, regulatory provisions preventing or impeding the online provision of goods or services, contractual restrictions on distributors, legal uncertainty, lack of consumer trust in the security of payment systems, high Internet access charges, and any limits on the availability of delivery options;

30.  Calls on the Commission to publish on its website information on consumer rights in dealing with international trade over the Internet focussing in particular on contractual issues, protection of consumers against unfair commercial practices, privacy and copyright;

31.  Believes that the regulatory deficiencies in the EU online market are hindering the development of a stable and strong European online industrial and commercial environment, which results in unsatisfactory levels of participation by European consumers in EU and international trade transactions and hinders creativity and innovation in commercial activity; regrets the fact that the number of EU based companies solely providing online services is extremely low;

32.  Notes the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on consumer rights (COM(2008)0614) that, it is to be hoped, will bring a greater degree of legal certainty, transparency and protection for the growing number of consumers buying over the Internet, particularly regarding delivery, the passing of risk, conformity with the contract and commercial guarantees;

33.  Recalls that confidence, in particular for consumers and SMEs, is vital for making full use of the possibilities offered by Internet trade, as emphasised in its above-mentioned resolution of 21 June 2007;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take every opportunity to contribute to strengthening confidence through action in the relevant international forums, such as the WTO, and to make efforts to arrive at global standards and norms which take into account European best practices;

35.  Calls on the Commission to improve the legal interoperability of Internet services through the development of model licences and other legal solutions compatible with jurisdictions where private law has not been harmonised, in particular for voluntary patent indemnification of international online standards, and to propagate existing European deliverables for legal interoperability as a means of reducing transaction costs and legal uncertainty for online providers;

36.  Calls on the Commission, if appropriate in conjunction with the OECD, to draw up a detailed study incorporating statistics on international e-commerce;

37.  Calls on the Commission to develop a comprehensive strategy for removing the barriers to using e-commerce still affecting SMEs (access to ICT, costs of developing and maintaining e-business systems, lack of trust, lack of information, legal uncertainty over transnational disputes, etc) and policy recommendations including offering incentives to SMEs for enhanced participation in online trading products and services; encourages, in this respect, the establishment of a database, designed to provide information support and management guidance to the new and inexperienced participants in online trading, and the conduct of a comparative economic analysis of the benefits of e-commerce and online advertising for SMEs, as well as case studies of successful EU SMEs trading online;

38.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage SMEs to 'go online' and to organise platforms for sharing information and exchanging best practices and recommends that the Commission and the Member States promote public procurement through electronic use, taking great care to ensure eAccessibility;

39.  Welcomes the Commission's initiative to open a public dialogue by way of its issues paper entitled "Opportunities in Online Goods and Services" and by establishing a group of advisers to collaborate in delivering a report on the relevant issues;

40.  Points out that the Internet has brought a new approach to the production, consumption and dissemination of cultural goods and services, which can contribute to cross-cultural understanding on the basis of free and fair access to new ICTs and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity;

41.  Stresses that cultural and artistic products and services have both an economic and cultural value, and that it is important to maintain this understanding in international trade negotiations and agreements, and through global networks by implementing the UNESCO Convention in a legally binding way;

42.  Urges the Council and the Commission to ensure that European cultural industries fully exploit the new opportunities brought about by online trading in particular the audiovisual, musical and publishing sectors, whilst at the same time offering effective protection against illicit trafficking and piracy; however, this must not affect the Community's policy, clearly stated in the negotiating mandate, to refrain from making offers or accepting liberalisation requests in the audiovisual and cultural sector;

43.  Considers that the Internet is becoming the most efficient medium for bridging the trade gap between North and South; considers that the Internet is opening new commercial channels connecting least developed and other developing countries with advanced and central commercial systems, increasing their export flows and bypassing the disadvantages of traditional commercial practices;

44.  Believes that the participation of the least developed and other developing countries in international trade through the Internet has to be supported through increased investment primarily in basic infrastructure such as telecommunication networks and access devices; underlines the need for low cost and better quality provision of Internet services; recognises that telecom liberalisation has led to increased investment in infrastructure, improved service and innovation;

45.  Recognises that in many countries, users access the Internet via mobile devices;

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

(1) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 128, 15.5.2002, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 23, 26.1.2008, p. 21.
(4) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0449.
(5) OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.
(6) OJ L 364, 9.12.2004, p. 1
(7) OJ C 167, 1.6.1998, p. 203.
(8) OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 370.


The placing on the market and the use of feed for animals ***I
PDF 260kWORD 79k
Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 5 February 2009 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the placing on the market and use of feed (COM(2008)0124 – C6-0128/2008 – 2008/0050(COD))
P6_TA(2009)0050A6-0407/2008

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2008)0124),

–   having regard to Article 251(2), Article 37 and Article 152(4)(b) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0128/2008),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6-0407/2008),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Takes note of the declarations of the Commission annexed hereto;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 5 February 2009 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No .../2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the placing on the market and use of feed, amending Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 and repealing Directives 79/373/EEC, 80/511/EEC, 82/471/EEC, 83/228/EEC, 93/74/EEC, 93/113/EC and 96/25/EC and Decision 2004/217/EC

P6_TC1-COD(2008)0050


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position at first reading corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EC) No .../2009.)

ANNEX

Commission's Declarations on the subject of:

1.  Revision of Annex IV:

In order to adapt Annex IV (on the tolerances for the compositional labelling of feed materials and compound feed) as provided for in Article 11 of the Regulation to scientific and technical development, the Commission and its services envisage to take up the examination of the above mentioned Annex IV. In this context the Commission will also consider certain feed materials with moister content greater than 50%.

2.  Labelling of additives:

The Commission will study whether the principles of information through labelling of feed could also apply to the additives and premixtures authorised under Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 on additives for use in animal nutrition.

3.  Interpretation of "any urgencies related to human and animal health and the environment" as addressed by Recital 21, Article 5 and Article 17

"The Commission understands that "any urgencies related to human and animal health and the environment" may include urgencies generated amongst others by negligence, intentional fraud and criminal acts."


Development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
PDF 138kWORD 56k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) (2008/2170(INI))
P6_TA(2009)0051A6-0513/2008

The European Parliament,

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

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 980/2005 of 27 June 2005 applying a scheme of generalised tariff preferences(2),

–   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 of 20 December 2007 applying the arrangements for products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States provided for in agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, Economic Partnership Agreements(3),

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council on the Economic Partnership Agreements of 10-11 April 2006 and on the Aid for Trade of 16 October 2006 and the Conclusions of the European Council of 15-16 June 2006,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 15 May 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements,

–   having regard to the Conclusions of the EU 2870th External Relations Council Meeting of 26 and 27 May 2008 on Economic Partnership Agreements,

–   having regard to the Resolution of the ACP-EU Council of Ministers adopted in Addis-Ababa on 13 June 2008,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 28 November 2006 entitled "Communication to modify the directives for the negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements with ACP countries and regions" (COM(2006)0673),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 June 2007 entitled "From Cairo to Lisbon – The EU-Africa Strategic Partnership work" (COM(2007)0357),

–   having regard to the Commission Communication of 23 October 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements (COM(2007)0635),

–   having regard to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), in particular Article XXIV thereof,

–   having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000, which sets out the Millennium Development Goals as criteria collectively established by the international community for the elimination of poverty,

–   having regard to the Declaration of the second Conference of African Ministers in Charge of Integration, adopted in Kigali, Rwanda, on 26-27 July 2007,

–   having regard to the report presented by Ms Christiane Taubira, Member of the French National Assembly, on 16 June 2008: "Les Accords de Partenariat Economique entre l'Union européenne et les pays ACP. Et si la Politique se mêlait enfin des affaires du monde ?",

–   having regard to the Resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 19 February 2004 on Economic Partnership Agreements: problems and prospects (4),

–   having regard to the Resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 23 November 2006 on the review of negotiations on Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)(5),

–   having regard to the Kigali Declaration for development-friendly Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) approved by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly on 20 November 2007(6),

–   having regard to the Declaration on EPAs by the ACP Heads of State adopted in Accra on 3 October 2008,

–   having regard to its resolution of 26 September 2002 containing its recommendation to the Commission concerning the negotiation of Economic Partnership Agreements with the ACP countries and regions(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2005 on a development strategy for Africa(8),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 March 2006 on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)(9),

–   having regard to its resolution of 28 September 2006 on more and better cooperation: the 2006 EU aid effectiveness package(10),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 May 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements(11),

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 May 2007 on the EU's Aid for Trade(12),

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 June 2007 on the Millennium Development Goals – the midway point(13),

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 November 2007 on Advancing African Agriculture - Proposal for agricultural development and food security in Africa(14),

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2007 on Economic Partnership Agreements(15),

–   having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2008 on the follow-up to the Paris Declaration of 2005 on Aid Effectiveness(16),

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A6-0513/2008),

A.   whereas Article 36(1) of the Cotonou Agreement contains the agreement of the European Union and the ACP States to conclude "WTO compatible trading arrangements, removing progressively barriers to trade between them and enhancing cooperation in all areas relevant to trade",

B.   whereas the Council adopted the negotiating directives for the EPAs with the ACP countries on 12 June 2002, and negotiations started the same year with the ACP Group of States on issues of general interest followed by separate negotiations with six EPA regions (Caribbean, West Africa, Central Africa, Eastern and Southern Africa, SADC minus, Pacific),

C.   whereas the 15 Member States of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (CARIFORUM) initialled an EPA with the EU and its Member States on 16 December 2007,

D.   having regard to Article 231 of the EPA concluded with CARIFORUM, which establishes a CARIFORUM-EC parliamentary committee,

E.   whereas 18 African countries, of which 8 are Least Developed Countries (LDCs), initialled "stepping stone" EPAs in November and December 2007, while 29 other African ACP countries, of which three are non-LDCs, did not initial any EPA, and whereas South Africa had already signed up to the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), a WTO-compatible trade regime with the EU,

F.   whereas Papua New Guinea and Fiji, two non-LDC ACP countries, initialled an interim EPA on 23 November 2007, while the remaining Pacific ACP countries (six LDCs and seven non-LDCs) did not initial an EPA,

G.   whereas the agreements initialled in 2007 had not been signed, but all were due to be signed before the end of 2008,

H.   whereas the EU has applied, as from 1 January 2008, the import arrangement to products originating in the ACP States which initialled EPAs or stepping stone EPAs, as provided for in these agreements(17),

I.   whereas the African and the Pacific regions are continuing negotiations with the Commission with a view to the conclusion of full EPAs,

J.   whereas it has been repeatedly confirmed by all parties, notably through European Parliament resolutions, but also through documents of the Council and Commission, that the EPAs must be instruments of development in order to promote sustainable development, regional integration, and a reduction of poverty in the ACP States,

K.   whereas the adjustment costs resulting from the EPAs will have a significant impact on the development of ACP countries, which, whilst difficult to predict, will consist of direct impact through the loss of customs duties and the costs of regulatory reform and enforcement to comply with the wide range of regulations stipulated in the EPA, and indirect impact through the costs necessary for adaptation or social support in the areas of employment, skills enhancement, production, export diversification and reform of public financial management,

L.   whereas 21 ACP countries have set out specific amounts for the accompanying measures to the EPAs in their National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) for the 10th European Development Fund (EDF), some of which have not yet signed an EPA,

M.   whereas the amounts specifically laid down for EPA-related measures in all NIPs constitute only 0,9 % of the total amount of the NIPs (A-envelopes); whereas in addition to this there are substantial indirect EPA supporting measures available such as regional integration and infrastructure as well as Aid for Trade,

N.   whereas the development impact of EPAs will result from their effects on

   the reduction of net customs revenues and its effect on the budgets of the ACP States,
   the improvement of the supply of ACP countries' economies and provision of customers with imported EU products,
   growing exports to the EU from ACP countries through improved Rules of Origin, which would lead to economic growth, more employment, and increased state revenue which could be used to fund social measures,
   regional integration in the ACP regions, which has the capacity to improve the framework for economic development and would therefore contribute to economic growth,
   the successful use of financing for Aid for Trade in connection with the EPAs,
   the implementation of reform measures in the ACP countries, in particular as regards public finance management, collection of customs duties and establishment of a new tax revenue system,

O.   whereas it is absolutely crucial to promote and support the trade inside and between ACP regions and between ACP countries and other developing countries (South-South), which will have important positive effects on the development of ACP countries and decrease their dependence,

P.   whereas the above-mentioned 26 - 27 May 2008 GAERC Conclusions underlined the need for a flexible approach while ensuring adequate progress and called on the Commission to use all WTO-compatible flexibility and asymmetry in order to take account of different needs and levels of development of the ACP countries and regions,

Q.   whereas the inhabitants of the ACP countries are the most affected by the global financial and food crisis, which is threatening to totally destroy the minimal progress achieved towards the Millennium Development Goals,

1.  Urges the Council, the Commission and the governments of the EU Member States and ACP countries to do their utmost to re-establish an atmosphere of confidence and constructive dialogue in so far as it has been damaged in the course of negotiations and to recognise the ACP states as equal partners in the negotiation and implementation process;

2.  Urges the Member States to respect their commitments to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA), even in this time of global financial crisis, which will enable an increase in Aid for Trade, and to establish accompanying measures in the form of regional Aid for Trade packages for the implementation of the EPAs contributing to the positive impact of the EPAs on development; stresses the fact that signing an EPA is not imposed as a precondition to receive Aid for Trade Funds;

3.  Insists that EPAs are an instrument to development which should reflect both the national and regional interest and the needs of the ACP countries in order to reduce poverty, achieve the MDGs and respect fundamental human rights such as the right to food or the right to access basic public services;

4.  Reminds the Council and the Commission that neither the conclusion nor the renunciation of an EPA should lead to a situation where an ACP country may find itself in a less favourable position than it was under the trade provisions of the Cotonou Agreement;

5.  Urges the Commission and the ACP countries to make best use of the funding available for Aid for Trade in order to support the reform process in areas essential for economic development; to improve infrastructure where it is necessary, as the opportunities offered by the EPAs can only be fully taken advantage of if strong accompanying measures are introduced for the ACP countries; to compensate the net loss of customs revenue and encourage tax reform so that public investments in social sectors are not reduced; to invest in the production chain in order to diversify export production; to produce more higher added-value export goods; and to invest in training and support for small producers and exporters to meet EU sanitary and phytosanitary criteria;

6.  Stresses that EPAs concluded with individual ACP countries, or with a group of countries not including all countries within one region, run the risk of undermining regional integration; calls upon the Commission to recalibrate its approach taking account of this risk, and ensure that concluding EPAs does not endanger regional integration;

7.  Stresses that the increases in ODA promised by the Member States should, as a priority, be used to redouble efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals in those ACP countries which are hardest hit by the consequences of the global financial and food crisis, which has threatened, and continues to threaten, the success achieved in attaining these goals;

8.  Also underlines that all agreements must respect the asymmetry in favour of the ACP countries regarding both the range of products targeted and the transition periods, and that the EPAs must provide firm guarantees of protection for those sectors which the ACP countries identify as sensitive;

9.  Stresses that support measures linked to the EPAs have to take into account the importance of regional integration and economic relations with other developing countries to the development of the ACP countries;

10.  Urges the Commission to give ACP negotiators sufficient time to evaluate the agreement and to make suggestions before adopting the relevant agreement, taking into consideration the WTO time schedules;

11.  Stresses that EPAs agreements should incorporate a revision clause for a revision 5 years after their signature, to which national parliaments, the European Parliament and civil society must be formally associated; stresses also that this period will enable a detailed evaluation of the impact of EPAs on the economies and regional integration of the ACP countries and appropriate reorientations to be carried out;

12.  Considers that any trade agreement between ACP and EU, affecting the livelihood of the population, should be the result of an open and public debate with full participation of ACP national parliaments;

13.  Urges the ACP governments to implement necessary reforms in order to realise good governance, in particular in the field of public administration, such as in public financial management, collection of customs duties, the tax revenue system, the fight against corruption and mismanagement;

14.  Underscores the need for stronger monitoring and evaluation provisions in the EPAs which will determine the impact of the EPA on country and regional development and poverty reduction objectives, not merely EPA compliance levels;

15.  Stresses that there is a need to increase transparency in the negotiations and their outcomes in order to allow for public scrutiny by policy makers, parliamentarians and civil society representatives;

16.  Considers that the EDF Regional Strategy Papers and Regional Indicative Programmes should contain important, systematic and well-considered support for EPA implementation, taking into account the necessary reform process that would make the EPA a success;

17.  Urges the Commission in partnership with the ACP countries to include development benchmarks in the EPA and interim EPAs to measure the socio-economic impact of the EPAs on key sectors, to be determined according to the priorities and for intervals decided by each region;

18.  Stresses that it is crucial that forests, biodiversity and indigenous people or forest-dependent people are not put at risk; in this regard, stresses that ACP countries should be allowed to implement rules that limit the export of timber and other unprocessed raw materials and be allowed to use these laws in order to protect forests, wildlife and domestic industries;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States and of the ACP countries, the ACP-EU Council and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(2) OJ L 169, 30.6.2005, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 348, 31.12.2007, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 120, 30.4.2004, p. 16.
(5) OJ C 330, 30.12.2006, p. 36.
(6) OJ C 58, 1.3.2008, p. 44.
(7) OJ C 273 E, 14.11.2003, p. 305.
(8) OJ C 280 E, 18.11.2006, p. 475.
(9) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 121.
(10) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 373.
(11) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 301.
(12) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 291.
(13) OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 232.
(14) OJ C 297 E, 20.11.2008, p. 201.
(15) OJ C 323 E, 18.12.2008, p. 361.
(16) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0237.
(17) Council Regulation (EC) No 1528/2007 of 20 December 2007 applying the arrangements for products originating in certain states which are part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States provided for in agreements establishing, or leading to the establishment of, Economic Partnership Agreements (OJ L 348, 31.12.2007, p. 1).


Kosovo
PDF 225kWORD 58k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on Kosovo and the role of the EU
P6_TA(2009)0052B6-0063/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the United Nations Charter, signed on 26 June 1945,

–   having regard to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 of 10 June 1999 (S/RES/1244(1999)),

–   having regard to the guiding principles for a settlement of the status of Kosovo adopted by the Contact Group on 7 October 2005,

–   having regard to its resolution of 29 March 2007 on the future of Kosovo and the role of the EU(1),

–   having regard to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) signed on 19 December 2006 in Bucharest,

–   having regard to the UN Special Envoy's final report on Kosovo's future status and the Comprehensive Status Proposal for the Kosovo Status Settlement of 26 March 2007,

–   having regard to Council Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP of 4 February 2008 on the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo, EULEX KOSOVO(2),

–   having regard to Council Joint Action 2008/123/CFSP of 4 February 2008 appointing a European Union Special Representative in Kosovo(3),

–   having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs and External Relations Council of 18 February 2008,

–   having regard to the letters sent by the UN Secretary-General to the President of Serbia and the President of Kosovo on 12 June 2008 concerning the reconfiguration of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK),

–   having regard to the UN Secretary-General's report to the Security Council of 12 June 2008 on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (S/2008/354),

–   having regard to the Kosovo Donors' Conference, which took place in Brussels on 11 July 2008,

–   having regard to the technical arrangement between UNMIK and EULEX on the handover of assets on 18 August 2008,

   having regard to Resolution 63/3 adopted by the UN General Assembly on 8 October 2008 (A/RES/63/3), by means of which it decided to request an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the question whether the unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo is in accordance with international law,

–   having regard to the UN Security Council Presidential Statement of 26 November 2008 (S/PRST/2008/44), by means of which the Security Council unanimously approved UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's report on UNMIK (S/2008/692) and thereby authorised the EULEX mission to deploy across the entire territory of Kosovo,

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

A.   whereas on 17 February 2008 the Assembly of Kosovo declared Kosovo's independence and committed itself to the Comprehensive Status Proposal (CSP) of UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari,

B.   whereas the Serbian Government has adopted a constructive approach and has engaged in proper negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement; whereas, despite the adverse circumstances, the Serbian Government has maintained a pro-European stance,

C.   whereas the CSP is enshrined in the Kosovo Constitution and other laws; whereas 25 countries have, at the request of Kosovo's leaders, formed the International Steering Group (ISG), whose primary purpose is the full implementation of the CSP; whereas the ISG has appointed an International Civilian Representative (ICR), supported by an International Civilian Office in Kosovo, in accordance with the CSP; whereas this implies that Kosovo is managing its own affairs, whilst being supervised in its implementation of, inter alia, measures to protect and promote minority rights,

D.   whereas thus far 54 countries, including 22 of the 27 EU Member States, have recognised Kosovo's independence,

E.   whereas the 27 EU Member States have dispatched a European Union Special Representative (EUSR) to Kosovo, Pieter Feith, who also serves as the ICR; whereas the ICR supervises the full implementation of the CSP and the EUSR offers the EU's support and advice in connection with the political process in Kosovo,

F.   whereas the regional stability of the Western Balkans is a priority for the European Union, which has for this reason launched the EULEX mission; whereas EULEX has already reached its initial operational capability throughout Kosovo and has, accordingly, assumed its responsibilities in the areas of the judiciary, the police, correctional services and customs, including some executive functions, with a view to monitoring, mentoring and advising the competent Kosovo institutions in all areas relating to the wider rule of law,

G.   whereas by also deploying in the territory of Kosovo north of the river Ibar EULEX is contributing to the objective, agreed on by all parties, of implementing the rule of law and creating a coherent justice system throughout Kosovo and guaranteeing all citizens equal access to justice,

The European role

1.  Welcomes the successful deployment of EULEX throughout the territory of Kosovo, including the part north of the river Ibar, in compliance with the UN Secretary-General's report and the subsequent UN Security Council Presidential Statement, of 26 November 2008, referred to above;

2.  Underlines the European Union's commitment to complying with international law and to playing a leading role in ensuring the stability of Kosovo and in the Western Balkans as a whole; recalls its willingness to assist the economic and political development of Kosovo by offering clear prospects for EU membership, as it has for the region as a whole;

3.  Encourages those EU Member States which have not already done so to recognise the independence of Kosovo;

4.  Recalls its above-mentioned resolution of 29 March 2007, which clearly rejects the possibility of the partitioning of Kosovo;

5.  Notes, in that connection, as announced by the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for UNMIK in Kosovo, Lamberto Zannier, that since 9 December 2008 UNMIK has no longer had any residual powers in the area of police and customs and will soon hand over to EULEX all its remaining powers in the area of justice, thus ensuring that Kosovo functions under a single rule of law;

6.  Calls on the international community to be fully supportive of EULEX and to facilitate the assumption by EULEX throughout Kosovo of all UNMIK's relevant tasks in the area of customs, the police and the judiciary;

7.  Expects EULEX to function in accordance with its EU mandate with a view to promoting the stable development of Kosovo and guaranteeing the rule of law for all communities throughout Kosovo; underlines in this regard that EULEX serves the interests of all ethnic minorities in Kosovo, since it will address, inter alia, complaints concerning ethnic discrimination, harassment and violence and the many outstanding property issues;

8.  Welcomes the Serbian Government's agreement to the deployment of EULEX, the most important of the ESDP (European Security and Defence Policy) missions to date, and its readiness to cooperate with it; encourages Serbia to continue to display this constructive attitude, which is consistent with the country's aspirations to join the EU;

9.  Welcomes in this regard the decision, adopted under the transitional arrangements agreed by the UN and the Serbian Government, to appoint a senior Kosovo Serb police officer, working within the Kosovo Police Service but reporting directly to EULEX, as a first step in the efforts to ensure adequate representation of all minorities in the Kosovo police;

10.  Considers that the transitional arrangements negotiated between the UN and the Serbian Government will need to be reviewed in the light of developments on the ground, once EULEX has reached full operational capability;

11.  Urges EULEX to address urgently the backlog of court cases under international supervision, giving priority to cases involving inter-ethnic violence, war crimes and high-level corruption, in order to contribute to strengthening the rule of law;

12.  Regards the establishment of a functioning witness-protection programme as essential for effective legal action against high-level offenders in Kosovo, in particular with regard to war crimes;

13.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to coordinate their activities so as to ensure coherent external action by the Union and the implementation of the above-mentioned Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP; calls, therefore, on the Head of the EULEX KOSOVO mission, Yves de Kermabon, and the EUSR to work hand in hand on a day-to-day basis; urges, moreover, the EU family to act collectively and in a coordinated fashion in making greater efforts to promote the participation of Kosovo Serbs in the political, economic and social life of Kosovo, and asks the EUSR to ensure that the Kosovo Government immediately takes tangible steps in this respect, including by means of specific economic development measures for the Mitrovica region, once the rule of law has been restored there;

14.  Invites the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy to show his clear support for the European mission in Kosovo (EULEX KOSOVO) and to visit the country as soon as possible;

15.  Welcomes the Commission's commitment to use all available Community instruments, in particular the Pre-Accession Instrument, to foster Kosovo's socio-economic development, increase transparency, efficiency and democracy in Kosovo's government and society and work towards peace and stability in Kosovo and across the region; welcomes in this respect the Commission's intention to present a feasibility study that will examine ways of strengthening the socio-economic and political development of Kosovo, and trusts that that study will be based on serious dialogue with the Kosovo authorities and matched by their renewed political commitment to pursue the necessary reforms;

16.  Believes that the Commission should pay urgent attention to promoting local projects which facilitate reconciliation between the various communities and promote greater mobility of people;

17.  Considers that projects aimed, for example, at restoring vandalised graveyards with the direct involvement of local actors would have considerable symbolic value for the communities in Kosovo and would contribute to a better inter-ethnic climate; calls on the Commission and the EUSR to ensure that such initiatives rank high on the Kosovo Government's agenda;

18.  Takes the view, further, that the establishment of a multi-ethnic European University College, in addition to the existing university centres in Pristina and Mitrovica, and of cultural, social and healthcare amenities catering specifically for the Serb community in central Kosovo would constitute a major incentive towards promoting the integration of the Serb community in Kosovo; calls on the Commission, therefore, in close cooperation with the Kosovo Government, to take immediate action with a view to implementing this project;

19.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to assist the Kosovo Government in resolving the acute staff shortages in key sectors of the public administration, to support the training of civil servants and to assist with the improvement of communications infrastructure, in order to secure the smooth running of the administration, and to strengthen links between the authorities and civil society;

Kosovo governance

20.  Welcomes the improved security situation in Kosovo; supports the efforts of the Kosovo police to achieve an ambitious level of professionalism and reliability; underlines in this regard the vital need for a multi-ethnic police force in all areas of Kosovo; welcomes, therefore, the return of some Serb officers to the Kosovo police force and urges the Kosovo authorities to support the reintegration of those police officers who have yet to return;

21.  Emphasises the need for decentralised governance, as stipulated in the CSP; underlines that decentralisation is not merely in the interest of the Serb community, but will work for the benefit of all Kosovo citizens, since it will make governance more transparent and bring it closer to citizens;

22.  Reiterates the importance of a strong civil society which would strengthen the democratic principles underpinning governance in Kosovo; urges the Kosovo Government, in this regard, to support peaceful movements of citizens and the development of free media without any political interference;

23.  Stresses the need to implement the minority protection provisions enshrined in the Kosovo Constitution and considers that full implementation of minority rights is fundamentally important for the stability of Kosovo and the region as a whole;

24.  Urges the Kosovo Government to continue to abide by its commitment to promote a spirit of peace, tolerance and intercultural and interreligious dialogue among all the communities in Kosovo, namely the Albanians, Serbs, Roma, Ashkali, Egyptians, Gorani, Turks and Bosnians, to create the right conditions for refugees to return to Kosovo, including through investment in job opportunities, infrastructure and the provision of basic services in relevant areas, and to ensure that minorities can benefit from the measures referred to above;

25.  Expresses concern at the criticism voiced by the UN Secretary-General in his above-mentioned report on UNMIK concerning the revision of the beneficiary selection criteria for return funding proposed by the Kosovo Ministry of Communities and Returns; reminds the Kosovo Government that, in the light of the sharp decline in the number of returns, the scarce funds available should continue to be targeted exclusively at facilitating the return of displaced persons to Kosovo;

26.  Urges the international and local authorities to settle the legal status of the stateless Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians living in Kosovo, including their rights of ownership; calls on the authorities to improve the situation of these communities by guaranteeing equal access to mainstream quality education and, where possible, to education in their mother tongue, by granting access to the labour market and to healthcare, by providing adequate sanitary and housing conditions and by ensuring participation in social and political life;

27.  Expresses grave concern at the acute ill-health of Roma families in the Osterode and Cesmin Lug refugee camps; believes that this is directly linked to the improper siting of those camps, which are located on the highly toxic tailing stands of the Trepça lead mines; welcomes the Commission's initial representations to the Kosovo Government and urges the Commission to continue to work to secure the relocation, as a matter of urgency, of the families concerned;

28.  Asks the Member States to take a measured, sensitive approach to the issue of the forced repatriation of members of ethnic minorities, above all Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Roma, who have been living in western Europe for many years and to implement at the same time measures to foster the socioeconomic integration of the persons concerned;

29.  Stresses that respect for cultural diversity is at the heart of the European project; emphasises that understanding the multi-ethnic dimension of religious and cultural heritage is a necessary condition for peace and stability in the region; urges, therefore, all the parties concerned to engage in a technical dialogue on the protection, conservation, rehabilitation and promotion of cultural and religious heritage and cultural identity in Kosovo;

30.  Notes the Constitution of Kosovo, in which equality between women and men is clearly recognised, but also the fact that women are not sufficiently involved in the political, economic and social development of Kosovo and that they are disadvantaged in terms of education and employment opportunities; calls, therefore, on the Kosovo Government to initiate and implement, with the support of the Commission, measures to ensure equal opportunities for women, their appropriate representation in Kosovo's institutions and their participation in the country's economic, social and political life; calls, furthermore, on the Kosovo Government to take effective measures to counter domestic violence against women;

31.  Insists that academic exchanges must be supported and promoted through programmes such as Erasmus Mundus in order to encourage citizens of Kosovo to obtain qualifications and experience within the EU, in the expectation that a broad education will help them contribute to the democratic development of the country;

32.  Urges Kosovo and Serbia to engage in constructive dialogue on matters of common interest and to contribute to regional cooperation;

33.  Emphasises the need for resolve and transparency in the privatisation process, in order to avoid any impression of nepotism and corruption;

34.  Expresses concern at the economic situation in Kosovo and the adverse influence which the slow pace of reforms, widespread corruption and organised crime are having on the economy and on the credibility of Kosovo's institutions; emphasises the need for the Kosovo Government to make genuine efforts to secure further transparency and accountability and to strengthen links between the political level and civil society; calls on the Kosovo Government to use both public and international donors' money in a transparent and accountable manner, and urges the Commission to help Kosovo move closer to European standards in the fields of public-sector accountability and economic transparency; regards this as essential for creating an attractive environment for investment and business development;

35.  Underlines the importance of full regional economic cooperation and the obligation to comply with and fully implement the provisions of the CEFTA;

36.  Advises the Kosovo authorities to invest in renewable energy and to seek to establish regional cooperation in that field;

37.  Expresses serious concern at the energy shortages in Kosovo and understands the need to tackle this problem; is nevertheless worried by the Government's plan to build a single large lignite power plant in a densely populated area; urges the Kosovo Government to take into account the impact of a new lignite plant on the environment, on public health and on the use of scarce resources, such as land and water, and to comply with European environmental standards and European policy on climate change;

38.  Requests the ICR to monitor the dissolution of the Kosovo Protection Corps and the establishment of the Kosovo Security Force (KSF) under the direct supervision of KFOR; urges the Kosovo Government to provide for complete civilian supervision of the KSF; believes that a revision of the Kumanovo Agreement between NATO and the Serbian Government cannot take place until full stability and security have been guaranteed and relations between Serbia and Kosovo have been clarified;

o
o   o

39.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Government of Kosovo, the Government of Serbia, the Head of Mission of UNMIK, the Head of Mission of EULEX KOSOVO, the European Union Special Representative, the members of the International Steering Group and the United Nations Security Council.

(1) OJ C 27 E, 31.1.2008, p. 207.
(2) OJ L 42, 16.2.2008, p. 92.
(3) OJ L 42, 16.2.2008, p. 88.


Trade and economic relations with China
PDF 155kWORD 76k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on Trade and economic relations with China (2008/2171(INI))
P6_TA(2009)0053A6-0021/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the EU-China High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue Mechanism (HLM) that met for the first time in Beijing on 25 April 2008,

–   having regard to the conclusions of the Tenth China-EU Summit held in Beijing on 28 November 2007,

–   having regard to the Communication from the Commission entitled "EU – China: Closer partners, growing responsibilities" (COM (2006)0631) and its accompanying working document entitled "A policy paper on EU-China trade and investment: Competition and Partnership" (COM(2006)0632),

–   having regard to the decision taken by the Fourth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) held in Doha, Qatar on 9-14 November 2001 on the admission of China to the WTO with effect from 11 November 2001 and Chinese Taipei with effect from 1 January 2002,

–   having regard to its resolutions on China, in particular its resolution of 7 September 2006 on EU-China relations(1) and of 13 October 2005 on prospects for trade relations between the EU and China(2),

–   having regard to the study of the Commission of 15 February 2007 entitled "Future Opportunities and challenges in EU-China Trade and Investment Relations 2006-2010",

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 July 2008 on the situation in China after the earthquake and before the Olympic Games(3),

–   having regard to the Eighth Annual Report "European Business in China Position Paper 2008/2009" of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China,

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

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0021/2009),

A.  Whereas EU-China trade has increased enormously since the year 2000 and whereas the European Union has been China's biggest trading partner since 2006 and China has been second largest trading partner of the European Union since 2007,

B.  Whereas increased development and WTO membership entail, besides substantial benefits, a greater responsibility for China to play a full and positive role in the global economic order, including in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group,

C.  Whereas, despite continued growth, bilateral trade between China and the EU, which has a trade deficit with China of over EUR 160 billion in 2007, remains imbalanced,

D.  Whereas financial and macro-economic imbalances and the drop in internal demand and exports are at the root of the current global financial and economic crisis which also affects China,

E.  Whereas access to the Chinese market is complicated due to state-led industrial policies, patent infringements and an ambiguous standards and compliance regime, resulting in technical and non tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade for EU companies,

F.  Whereas EU producers of goods and services are highly competitive on world markets, and whereas free and fair access to the Chinese market would allow EU companies to increase their exports and presence in such a market, and also increase quality and services for Chinese consumers,

G.  Whereas EU exports to China increased in 2007 by 18.7 percent with a value of EUR 231 billion,

H.  Whereas the scale of production of counterfeit and pirated goods inside China remains at an alarmingly high level and 60% of the counterfeit goods seized by the customs authorities of the European Union are produced in China; whereas production of these goods frequently takes place in facilities also producing goods for the regular market and in disregard of both labour rights and health and safety requirements, and pose a danger to consumers and, in the case of chemicals, to the wider environment,

General

1.  1 Stresses that EU - China trade has expanded enormously and is the single most important challenge to EU trade relations;

2.  Stresses that Europe's trade relations with China should be based on the principles of reciprocity and fair competition and trade, according to our common values and adherence to WTO rules, while taking into account sustainable development, respect for environmental limits and contribution to global goals in the prevention of climate change;

3.  Takes the view that China, as one of the engines of world growth, should play its full part in ensuring that the global economic order develops in a sustainable and balanced way;

4.  Calls on the Commission to continue the policy of engagement and dialogue with China; welcomes the trade-related technical assistance provided to China by the Commission; considers such assistance vital to support China's successful integration into the world economy and, in particular, in implementing its obligations and commitments in the WTO and improving social and environment conditions;

5.  Stresses that unprecedented cooperation is needed between the European Union and China in order to resolve the current financial and economic crisis; considers that it is a great opportunity for China and the European Union together to show a sense of responsibility and to play their part in helping to resolve this crisis;

6.  Takes the view that the development of trade relations with China must go hand in hand with the development of a genuine, fruitful and effective political dialogue, which covers a wide variety of topics; considers that human rights should be an essential and integral part of the relationship between the European Union and China; calls on the Commission to insist on the strengthening of the Human Rights Clause in negotiations with China about a renewed Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA);

7.  Believes that today's open trading system could stimulate economic activity between China and developing countries to the possible benefit of both sides and could be an unprecedented opportunity for economic growth and for their integration into the world economy, on the condition that trade policies are consistent with development objectives and that economic growth translates into poverty reduction;

8.  Encourages the Commission to pursue openness in EU trade with China; believes that the European Union and the Member States should continue to offer open and fair access to China's exports and anticipate the competitive challenge posed by China; considers that China should reciprocate by strengthening its commitment to economic openness and market reform;

9.  Urges China to play an active role in the WTO, commensurate with its economic and trading importance in order to foster the sound development of global trade within a strong and transparent framework of rules;

10.  Welcomes the participation of China at the G-20 Meeting held in Washington on 15 November 2008, which should pave the way for its definitive involvement in economic and financial world affairs with a subsequent taking up of major responsibilities at a global level;

11.  Underlines that protectionism cannot be Europe's response to the growth in EU-China trade relations; believes that the European Union and the Member States should strive more urgently to make further progress on the Lisbon reform agenda in order to develop and consolidate areas of comparative advantage in the global economy and to foster innovation and vocational training;

12.  Notes that a major Chinese recovery plan for growth and jobs has been presented to deal with the current economic crisis; emphasises that the support measures have to be temporary, should meet WTO rules and should not distort fair competition;

13.  Welcomes investments of China's sovereign wealth fund and state owned enterprises in the European Union, contributing to the creation of jobs and growth and to the mutual benefit and balance of investment flows; recalls however the intransparency of China's financial markets and stresses the importance of introducing at least a code of conduct to ensure the transparency of China's investment operations into the EU market; calls on the European Union and China to keep their respective markets equally open to investment but to introduce transparency provisions;

Market Access

14.  Welcomes the fact that since joining the WTO, a growing number of industrial sectors in China have been opened to foreign investors; however, is concerned that at the same time some sectors are restricted or prevented from accessing foreign investment and discriminatory measures against foreign firms were introduced -especially on cross-border mergers and acquisitions;

15.  Considers that in China protectionist practices, excessive bureaucracy, the undervaluing of the Renminbi, subsidies in various forms, and the lack of a proper and agreed level of enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPRs) hinder full market access for many EU companies;

16.  Calls on China to further open its markets for goods and services and to continue with economic reforms in order to establish a stable, predictable and transparent legal framework for EU companies, especially for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs);

17.  Calls on the Commission to discuss the draft Chinese Postal Law with the Chinese Government for as long as this draft contains a provision that would hamper foreign express services; believes that a balanced regulatory framework for postal and express services is required in order to continue China's policy of supporting foreign investment and fair competition in the express delivery sector;

18.  Acknowledges the steps taken by the Chinese authorities to reduce administrative burdens at national level and the progress in E-Government to make legislative acts available to the public, but notes that further progress is needed in order to secure free and equal access to the Chinese market for foreign companies;

19.  Emphasises that further opening in terms of Chinese market access will provide opportunities for EU companies in numerous areas such as, machinery manufacture, chemicals, the automotive sector, pharmaceuticals and Information and Communication Technologies, Clean Development Mechanism projects, agriculture, construction and in financial, insurance, telecommunications and retail services;

Barriers, standards

20.  Notes that NTBs represent a major obstacle for EU companies in China and for Chinese and non-EU companies in the European Union, particularly for SMEs;

21.  Calls on China to adopt international standards for products and services with a view to promoting further trade between China and other countries; welcomes the fact that China is increasing its participation in international standard-setting bodies and believes that this should be encouraged and reciprocated by EU participation in China's own standard-setting bodies; stresses the importance of Chinese imports complying with European standards for food and non-food products;

Raw materials

22.  Deplores the persistent use of trade-distorting export restrictions such as export taxes on raw materials by the Chinese Government; calls on the Commission to insist on the removal of all existing export restrictions in all bilateral negotiations with China; stresses that the removal of these export restrictions constitutes an essential element of fair trade between the European Union and China; underlines that it will evaluate all future trade agreements with China in this respect;

State aid

23.  Is concerned that continued state intervention in industrial policy and explicit discriminatory restrictions, such as unlimited state funds for export financing and limitations on the level of foreign ownership in certain sectors, distort the Chinese market for EU companies;

Public procurement

24.  Calls on China to join the Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA) as committed in 2001 and to engage constructively in negotiations on opening its public procurement markets and, pending the successful outcome of such negotiations, to apply transparent, predictable and fair procedures when awarding public contracts so that foreign companies can participate on an equal basis; calls on China to provide immediate access to EU companies established and operating in China;

Currency

25.  Welcomes a certain rise in the value of the Renminbi that has taken place in 2008; urges China to continue to let the Renminbi rise in value, so that its worth on international financial markets, in particular in relation to the Euro, more closely reflects China's economic position; urges the Chinese to hold more of their foreign exchange reserves in Euros;

EU presence/assistance

26.  Welcomes the progress made in establishing an EU Centre in Beijing, which will help SMEs, and in making permanent the budget line to fund the Centre, in order to secure its future; stresses the need to ensure that this Centre has a clear mandate, which avoids the creation of double structures and leads to synergies with existing public and private institutions from the Member States; welcomes the work done by the IPR SME Helpdesk to provide information and training to EU SMEs on protecting and enforcing IPRs in China;

27.  Stresses the importance of assisting in particular SMEs to overcome market access barriers; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the successful functioning of EU Market Access Teams in China;

Energy, sustainable energy

28.  Calls on the European Union and China to take steps to promote trade in environmentally friendly goods and services, the growth of investment in sustainable projects and infrastructure and to encourage the development of industry that contributes to a reduction in carbon emissions;

29.  Stresses the opportunities of China's emerging renewable energy sector for the European renewable energy business sector; calls on China to improve market access in this field;

30.  Calls for enhanced cooperation between the European Union and China to promote the transfer of low-carbon technology, in particular energy efficiency and renewables; stresses the critical importance of developing and deploying carbon capture and storage in China, given the importance of coal to its economy; calls on the Commission to examine ways of supporting further the exchange of best practice with China on the issue of sustainable development;

Financial services

31.  Expresses its concern that investment in China is still restricted for EU companies, especially in the banking and insurance sector, due to heavy and discriminatory licensing costs and rules requiring joint ventures with Chinese firms; calls on China to address urgently these issues;

32.  Believes that deep, liquid, open, transparent and well-regulated financial markets are capable of fostering economic growth, considers that Chinese securities, banking and insurance sectors are underdeveloped, and encourages China to participate fully in the global debate on improving the regulatory and supervisory framework for the financial markets;

33.  Stresses the importance of Chinese involvement and cooperation with the IMF regarding the development of a global code of conduct for sovereign wealth funds, which is likely to lead to a higher degree of transparency;

34.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate, as early as possible, the impact of the financial and economic crisis on relevant European industry and service sectors, which play a crucial role in defining the export-import relationship between the European Union and China; requests that this evaluation be sent to Parliament as soon as a clear trend is recognisable;

Free and Fair trade
Anti dumping/market economy status

35.  Considers that a permanent dialogue between trade authorities can be helpful to prevent and resolve trade disputes; notes, nevertheless that an effective and efficient use of trade defence instruments contributes to ensuring fair conditions of trade between China and the European Union given the rising number of anti-dumping cases filed against Chinese producers;

36.  Takes the view that in many areas China's economy still does not fulfil the criteria by which it could be considered a market economy; calls on the Commission to work with the Chinese Government to overcome barriers to market economy status and to grant this status to China only when it has fulfilled the criteria;

IPRs and counterfeiting

37.  Notes with concern that, although China has made progress in the streamlining of its intellectual property legislation, the effective enforcement of IPRs remains highly problematic;

38.  Calls on China to increase its efforts to address the lack of implementation and the enforcement of IPRs; stresses the importance of the harmonisation of central and regional trade policy and regulation in China and its unified implementation throughout the country;

39.  Is concerned about the scale of production of counterfeit and pirated goods inside China, which remains at an alarmingly high level; calls on the Commission, in cooperation with the Chinese authorities at national and regional level, to continue its fight against counterfeiting;

40.  Expresses great concern about the increasing number of utility model and design patents in China that are often copies or minor modifications of existing European technology and do not contribute to real innovation;

41.  Believes that, as China becomes more innovative, it is in its best interests to protect IPRs; believes, however, that regulations requiring the exclusive registration of innovations in China would heavily constrain business activities, prevent China benefiting from innovation and devalue the "Made in China" brand;

Customs

42.  Welcomes the signing of a joint IPR Customs Enforcement Action Plan, aimed at enhancing custom cooperation on seizures of counterfeit goods and implementing concrete measures to reduce counterfeit sales; calls on the Commission to negotiate with China on its conditions in order to take part in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA);

43.  Asks the Commission to intensify cooperation in the Customs Cooperation Agreement with the Chinese authorities aimed at trade facilitation;

44.  Asks the Commission, as a follow-up to the 2005 Memorandum of Understanding on textiles, to continue to discuss developments in the EU -China textile trade dialogue and in the High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue Mechanism (HLM); calls on the Commission to follow closely the textiles imports originating in China;

Social and environmental impact

45.  Expresses its serious concern about the high levels of pollution caused by China's industry and its growing consumption of natural resources, in particular those obtained from unsustainable sources; is aware of the shared European responsibility for the situation, given that a high share of Chinese industrial production is owned by European firms or ordered by European firms and retailers for consumption in Europe;

46.  Notes that the recent years of high economic growth in China have not benefited all segments of the Chinese population and that the social gap between the rich and the poor has never been as significant as now;

47.  Welcomes China's activities in the environmental sector in the context of the preparation of the 2008 Olympic Games; calls upon the Chinese Government to contribute actively to the success of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 15) to be held from 30 November to 11 December 2009 in Copenhagen by encouraging its financial sector to prepare itself for the introduction of an international emissions trading scheme;

48.  Urges China to participate in COP 15 and accept its responsibilities by taking up its global share for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting climate change;

49.  Urges the Chinese authorities to take concrete steps to adopt and encourage the use of technologies and practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; notes that promoting green business technologies will be essential if the Chinese Government wants to maintain economic growth while protecting its environment; recognises that China cannot be expected to ask its population to carry the burden of limiting greenhouse gas emissions without action by the West;

50.  Is concerned about child labour in China; asks the Commission to address this issue as soon as possible and asks the Chinese Government to maximise their efforts to remove the underlying causes in order to end this phenomenon;

51.  Urges China to ratify key International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions, in particular Convention No 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which China has signed but not yet ratified;

52.  Welcomes China's transposition of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) into domestic law; encourages China to continue adopting IFRS while ensuring its implementation in practice; request the Commission to monitor closely the adoption and implementation of IFRS in China;

53.  Calls on European businesses operating in China to apply the highest international standards and best practices in corporate social responsibility with regard to workers and the environment;

54.  Expresses its concern about working conditions and employees" rights in China; calls on China to improve working conditions in order to bring them up to the level of the core ILO standards;

55.  Calls on the European Union and China to cooperate on standards on cars, trucks, heavy vehicles, aviation and shipping, in order to lower greenhouse gas emissions and make the standards more climate-friendly;

56.  Calls for cooperation on the regulation, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (REACH) between the European Union and China;

57.  Is alarmed by the recent spate of incidents involving unsafe Chinese products and in particular by those involving children's toys, food and medicines; welcomes the Chinese Government's determination to tackle this problem; calls on the Commission to reinforce support and coordination with the Chinese authorities in this field;

58.  Strongly condemns the death sentences imposed by the Chinese authorities on some of those involved in the contamination of powdered infant formula with melamine;

59.  Welcomes the efforts the Commission has made in this area, thanks to the new system of quarterly reporting on Chinese enforcement actions to track down at source dangerous goods notified within the Rapex-China system, thus increasing European consumer safety;

60.  Underlines the importance of the trilateral contacts between the Commission and the US and Chinese administrations aimed at improving the global governance of product safety; in this area; considers that it would be extremely useful for concrete shape to be given as soon as possible to the Commission's proposal to establish a joint working party on product and import safety within the Transatlantic Economic Council;

Future Steps

61.  Notes that Chinese society has changed greatly during the last 30 years and that lasting progress can take place only slowly; believes that democracy requires an effective civil society, which is in turn strengthened by trade and economic relations with the European Union; therefore believes that "change through trade" is a way to aid China's transformation towards being an open and democratic society benefiting all sections of society; while regretting that the intensification of economic and trade relations between the European Union and China has not gone hand in hand with substantial progress with regard to the human rights dialogue; believes that further reforms, especially in the environmental and social areas, are needed in order to ensure overall and lasting progress;

62.  Regrets China's postponement of the EU-China summit which was to be held on 1 December 2008 in Lyon given the current financial and economic crisis and stresses the utmost importance of a constructive dialogue on climate change as well as mutual understanding on the main trade issues at such a critical moment for the world economy; hopes that such a summit will take place as soon as possible;

63.  Calls upon China to continue to fully contribute to efforts to speed up the negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda;

64.  Stresses that the new EU-China PCA should aim to establish free and fair trade based on the enforcement of clauses on human rights, environmental, sustainable development and social issues;

65.  Welcomes the establishment of the HLM as a forum for further developing EU-China relations at a strategic level and considers that an important element of this process is that the HLM results in the satisfactory resolution of trade irritants; calls on the Commission to put more ambition into the HLM by appointing one of its Vice -Presidents of the newly established Commission in 2009 as the coordinating Commissioner, leading the HLM- delegation;

66.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that all existing research and development (R & D) agreements work effectively with China to promote cooperation on R & D; recommends concentrating R & D efforts between the European Union and China more strategically and in a more relevant way in terms of technology breakthroughs, needs of society, environmental disasters and future economic developments; asks both parties to facilitate the transfer of technology and technical know-how by facilitating researchers" and academics" exchange programmes;

67.  Welcomes the rapprochement between China and Taiwan; considers Taiwan, which is the EU's 4th largest trade partner in Asia, as an economic and commercial entity; supports Taiwan's participation as an observer in relevant international organisations where this does not require statehood, for instance in the ILO;

68.  Calls for increased cooperation between European and Chinese universities and increased mobility for scientists, researchers and students between the EU and China;

69.  Supports the continued development of EU-China cooperation on space science, applications and technology; considers that close collaboration is essential for the coexistence of the Compass and Galileo programmes, in particular to ensure their compatibility in the interest of global users;

70.  Urges the Commission and the Chinese Government to explore together means of developing a parliamentary dimension to the work of the HLM, mandated to reach out to the broader stakeholder community and to give a voice to their concerns;

71.  Supports the efforts made by the Commission to establish an SME friendly business environment through the adoption of the Communication entitled "Think Small First - A on the Small Business Act for Europe" (COM(2008)0394), and in this regard welcomes the intention to launch a "Gateway to China" scheme, with particular focus on establishing an Executive Training Programme in China to promote European SMEs" access to the Chinese market by 2010;

72.  Calls on China to promote cooperation between Chinese universities and EU SMEs to enhance SME innovation in China, thus creating more jobs and increasing trade and economic output; calls also on China to promote cooperation between the two sides to improve and enhance climate-friendly techniques and to minimise greenhouse gas emissions caused by EU SMEs in China;

73.  Calls on the Commission to promote business-to-business cooperation, to raise awareness of the Market Access Database website and to improve dispute settlement mechanisms;

74.  Encourages programmes designed to increase China-EU trade participation, such as the Executive Training Programme; calls on the Commission to increase technical assistance to China in order to implement health and safety rules and to improve customs cooperation;

75.  Believes that the European Union and China are becoming more interdependent and that the complexities and importance of EU-China relations require greater coordination among the Member States and with the Commission; reminds China that it must fulfil its obligations arising from international agreements, is looking forward to an effective and outcome-oriented dialogue with China concerning global challenges; endorses the strategic partnership between the EU and China; urges the Commission to increase transparency in the negotiation of the PCA between the European Union and China;

76.  Considers that the EXPO 2010 in Shanghai, China, will be a great opportunity for the EU business sector in terms of its exposure, network and presentation to the Chinese public and the Chinese business sector; urges the Commission to ensure that the EU business sector will have a stand at EXPO 2010;

77.  Calls on the Commission to support the setting up of a China-EU Business Council, similar to the US-EU Business Council;

o
o   o

78.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and Commission, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and to the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Chinese National People's Congress.

(1) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.06, p. 219.
(2) OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 103.
(3) Texts adopted, P6_TA(2008)0362.


Situation in Sri Lanka
PDF 119kWORD 38k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on Sri Lanka
P6_TA(2009)0054RC-B6-0074/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Sri Lanka of 18 May 2000(1), 14 March 2002(2) and 20 November 2003(3), its resolution of 13 January 2005(4) on the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean and its resolution of 18 May 2006(5) on the situation in Sri Lanka,

–   having regard to the decision of the Council of the European Union of 29 May 2006(6) to formally proscribe the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE),

–   having regard to the statement of the Presidency of the European Union of 17 August 2006 on Sri Lanka,

–   having regard to the Tokyo Declaration on the Reconstruction and Development of Sri Lanka of 10 June 2003, which linked donor support to progress in the peace process,

–   having regard to the Ceasefire Agreement signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE which entered into force on 23 February 2002,

–   having regard to the Oslo Declaration of December 2002, in which the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE agreed to explore a solution based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka,

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

A.   whereas, since the beginning of the Government's military offensive in October 2008, the LTTE has retreated into the northern area, forcing civilians deeper into territory they control and leaving hundreds dead and some 250 000 civilians caught in deadly crossfire between the Sri Lankan army and the separatist LTTE in the Mullaitivu region,

B.   whereas Sri Lanka has been afflicted by the armed insurgency of the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and the Government's response for some 25 years, causing over 70 000 deaths,

C.   whereas the civilian population in the liberated areas is in need of humanitarian assistance and, while government agencies have now been able to respond to their needs, many thousands of civilians in the areas of continuing conflict are still exposed to great danger and remain deprived of the basic necessities of life,

D.   whereas there is great concern about the shelling of a hospital and a compound sheltering United Nations national staff inside a safety zone, which killed and wounded many civilians,

E.   whereas, according to Amnesty International, both government forces and the LTTE have been violating the laws of war by displacing civilians and preventing them from escaping to safety,

F.   whereas the International Press Freedom Mission to Sri Lanka notes three trends in connection with reporting on the conflict: lack of press access and independent information flow in the conflict zone, assaults on and intimidation of journalists covering the conflict, and self-censorship by the media,

G.   whereas since the beginning of 2009, the killing of a senior editor, Lasantha Wickramatunga, and the attack on the facilities of a popular independent TV channel have led to a paralysis of the media community,

H.   whereas at least 14 journalists have been killed and many more abducted or arrested since 2006 and whereas Reporters Without Borders ranked Sri Lanka 165th out of 173 countries in its 2008 press freedom index,

I.   whereas the primacy of respect for human rights and humanitarian norms by all parties to the conflict should be ensured, not only as an immediate response to the worsening situation but as a fundamental building block in a just and enduring resolution of the conflict,

J.   whereas the Tokyo Co-Chairs (Norway, Japan, the US and the EU) have called jointly on the LTTE to discuss with the Sri Lankan Government the modalities for ending hostilities, including the laying down of arms, renunciation of violence, acceptance of the Sri Lankan Government offer of an amnesty, and participation as a political party in a process to achieve a just and lasting political solution,

K.   whereas the Tokyo Co-Chairs have called jointly on the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE to declare a 'no-fire period' to allow for evacuation of the sick and wounded and provision of humanitarian aid to civilians,

1.  Believes that the recent development may constitute a turning point in the crisis in Sri Lanka, endorses the statement by the Tokyo Co-Chairs and hopes that peace and stability will soon prevail in the country;

2.  Believes that a military victory over the LTTE, as envisaged by the Sri Lankan Government, will not obviate the need to find a political solution in order to ensure a lasting peace;

3.  Calls on the government and the LTTE to abide by the rules of war, to minimise harm to civilians during military operations and immediately to allow the thousands of civilians trapped in the conflict zone safe passage and access to humanitarian aid;

4.  Welcomes the Sri Lankan Government's pledge to ensure full, open and transparent investigations into all alleged violations of media freedom in order also to address the culture of impunity and indifference over killings and attacks on journalists in Sri Lanka;

5.  Emphasises the need for international monitors to assess the humanitarian needs of a quarter of a million people trapped in the Wanni region and to ensure proper distribution of food and other humanitarian assistance, particularly as the fighting comes closer to the trapped civilian population;

6.  Reiterates its condemnation of the appalling abuse of children constituted by the recruitment of child soldiers, which is a war crime, and calls on all rebel groups to stop this practice, to release those whom they are holding and to make a declaration of principle that they will not recruit any children in the future;

7.  Urges the government to give urgent attention to the clearance of land-mines, the presence of which may present a serious obstacle to rehabilitation and economic regeneration; calls on the Sri Lankan Government in this connection to take the very positive step of acceding to the Ottawa Treaty (The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction);

8.  Welcomes the commitment of the Sri Lankan Government to substantive provincial devolution, which will enable predominantly Tamil, as well as other, areas to exercise greater control over their administration within a united country; calls on the government to bring about its rapid implementation, thus ensuring that all citizens of Sri Lanka have equal rights;

9.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the governments of the Member States to redouble their efforts to help bring a stable and just peace to Sri Lanka and to restore security and prosperity;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Government of Norway and the other Co-Chairs of the Tokyo Donor Conference, the President and Government of Sri Lanka, and the other parties to the conflict.

(1) OJ C 59, 23.2.2001, p. 278.
(2) OJ C 47 E, 27.2.2003, p. 613.
(3) OJ C 87 E, 7.4.2004, p. 527.
(4) OJ C 247 E, 6.10.2005, p. 147.
(5) OJ C 297 E, 7.12.2006, p. 384
(6) Council Decision 2006/379/EC of 29 May 2006 implementing Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001 on specific restrictive measures directed against certain persons and entities with a view to combating terrorism and repealing Decision 2005/930/EC (OJ L 144, 31.5.2006, p. 21).


Situation of Burmese refugees in Thailand
PDF 116kWORD 39k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on the situation of Burmese refugees in Thailand
P6_TA(2009)0055RC-B6-0073/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the 1967 Protocol thereto,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma,

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

A.   whereas it has been reported that around 1 000 Rohingya boat people from Burma were intercepted by the navy in Thai territorial waters between 18 and 30 December 2008 and were subsequently towed into international waters without navigational equipment or sufficient food and water; whereas many of those boat people are missing and feared drowned while some of them were rescued by Indonesian or Indian coastguards,

B.   whereas the Rohingya people, a mainly Muslim ethnic community in western Burma, are subjected to systematic, persistent and widespread human rights violations by the ruling military regime, including refusing them the status of citizenship, imposing severe restrictions on their freedom of movement, and subjecting them to arbitrary arrest,

C.   whereas in recent years thousands of Burmese have fled from their home country because of the repression and wide-spread hunger and risked their lives to arrive in Thailand and other south-east Asian countries; whereas Thailand is increasingly becoming a transit destination for Burmese refugees,

D.   whereas the Thai authorities have denied those accusations and Prime Thai Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has promised a full investigation,

E.   whereas the United Nations Refugee Agency has voiced its concern about the reports of mistreatment of the Burmese refugees and has gained access to some of the 126 Rohingya people who are still being held in custody by the Thai authorities,

F.   whereas the Thai authorities claim that migrants caught in Thai waters were illegal economic migrants,

1.  Deplores reports of inhumane treatment inflicted on the Rohingya refugees and urges the Government of Thailand, as a respected member of the international community well-known for its hospitality towards refugees, to take all necessary measures to ensure that the lives of Rohingya people are not at risk and that they are treated in accordance with humanitarian standards;

2.  Strongly condemns the continuous persecution of the Rohingya people by the Burmese Government, which holds prime responsibility for the plight of the refugees; demands the restoration of the Burmese citizenship of the Rohingya people, the immediate lifting of all restrictions on their freedom of movement and their right to be educated and marry, the cessation of religious persecution and the destruction of mosques and other places of worship, and an end to all human rights violations across the country as well as deliberate impoverishment, arbitrary taxation and land confiscation;

3.  Appeals to the Thai Government not to return the Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers, including the boat people, to Burma, where their lives will be in danger or where they may be subject to torture;

4.  Welcomes the statement by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva that the allegations of mistreatment of Rohingya asylum seekers by the military will be investigated, and requests that a thorough and impartial inquiry be carried out, with full transparency in order to establish the facts and take appropriate action against those responsible for mistreatment of Burmese refugees;

5.  Welcomes the Thai Government's cooperation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and calls for immediate and full access to all the detained Rohingya boat people in order to define thee level of their need for protection; calls, at the same time, on the Thai Government to sign the Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol thereto;

6.  Stresses that the phenomenon of boat people, which affects Thailand and other countries, is essentially a regional one; views positively the efforts of the Thai Government to increase cooperation among regional neighbours to address concerns about the Rohingya people; welcomes, in this respect, the meeting held on 23 January 2009 by the Thai Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Virasakdi Futrakul, with the Ambassadors of India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Burma; and appeals to the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), and, in particular, its Thai chair and relevant international organisations, to work on a permanent solution to this long-standing problem;

7.  Calls on the Member States to strengthen the EU Common Position, which is due for renewal in April 2009, in order to address the appalling discrimination against the Rohingya people;

8.  Considers that sending a Parliament delegation to Burma is of major importance in the present human rights situation, which continues to show no signs of improvement, and believes that international pressure on the regime should be reinforced;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand, the Government of Burma, the Secretary-General of the Association of South East Asian Nations, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.


The refusal to extradite Cesare Battisti from Brazil
PDF 114kWORD 34k
European Parliament resolution of 5 February 2009 on the refusal to extradite Cesare Battisti from Brazil
P6_TA(2009)0056RC-B6-0076/2009

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Véronique De Keyser on behalf of the PSE Group on the European Union-Brazil Strategic Partnership (B6-0449/2008),

–   having regard to the Framework Agreement for Cooperation between the European Community and the Federative Republic of Brazil,

–   having regard to the Commission communication of 30 May 2007 entitled 'Towards an EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership' (COM(2007)0281),

–   having regard to the case of the Italian citizen, Cesare Battisti, whose extradition from Brazil has been requested by Italy and is being refused by the Brazilian authorities,

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

A.   whereas Cesare Battisti was convicted in absentia, in final judgements handed down by the Italian courts, of four murders and of involvement in an armed group, robbery, possession of fire-arms and armed acts of violence,

B.   having regard to Cesare Battisti's flight to France in 1990 and the final decision of the French Council of State and Court of Cassation in 2004 to authorise his surrender to the Italian authorities,

C.   whereas following that decision Cesare Battisti went into hiding until he was arrested in Brazil in March 2007,

D.   whereas Cesare Battisti lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights in respect of his extradition to Italy, and whereas that application was declared inadmissible in December 2006,

E.   whereas on 17 January 2009 Cesare Battisti was declared a political refugee by the Brazilian Government, and whereas his extradition has therefore been refused on the grounds that the Italian justice system fails to provide sufficient guarantees in respect of prisoners' rights,

F.   whereas the granting of political refugee status must be in compliance with the provisions of international law,

G.   whereas this decision may be interpreted as a sign of mistrust towards the European Union, which is founded, inter alia, on respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law, which include the rights of prisoners, and whereas those principles are shared by all Member States,

H.   whereas economic, trade and political relations between Brazil and the European Union are excellent and buoyant and are founded, inter alia, on shared principles such as respect for human rights and the rule of law,

I.   whereas, with the full support of all EU Member States, Brazil is assuming a major role at international level, and whereas its participation in the G-20 meeting held in Washington in November 2008 and its future participation in such meetings are a sign of this increasing responsibility at global level,

1.  Takes note that legal proceedings have been brought, and that the final decision of the Brazilian authorities should be issued in the coming weeks;

2.  Trusts that the re-examination of the decision on the extradition of Cesare Battisti will take into account the judgment delivered by an EU Member State in full compliance with the principle of the rule of law in the European Union;

3.  Expresses the hope that, in the light of such considerations, the Brazilian authorities reach a decision founded on common principles shared by Brazil and the European Union;

4.  Points out that the partnership between the European Union and the Federative Republic of Brazil is based on the mutual understanding that both parties will uphold the rule of law and fundamental rights, including the right of defence and the right to a fair and equitable trial;

5.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Brazilian Government, the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the President of the Brazilian Congress and the President of the Mercosur Parliament.

Legal notice - Privacy policy