Texts adopted
Thursday, 20 January 2011 - Strasbourg
EU-Libya Framework Agreement
 Situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion
 Situation in Belarus
 Report on competition policy 2009
 A sustainable EU policy for the High North
 An EU Strategy for the Black Sea
 Pakistan: murder of the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer
 Brazil: extradition of Cesare Battisti
 Iran, in particular the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh

EU-Libya Framework Agreement
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European Parliament recommendation of 20 January 2011 to the Council on the negotiations on the EU-Libya Framework Agreement (2010/2268(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the proposal for a recommendation to the Council by Ana Gomes on behalf of the S&D Group on the ongoing negotiations on the EU-Libya Framework Agreement (B7-0615/2010),

–  having regard to the General Affairs and External Relations Council conclusions of 15 October 2007 on opening discussions for a Framework Agreement between the EU and Libya, as well as the European Council conclusions of 18-19 June and 29-30 October 2009 on migration-related policies,

–  having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding jointly signed by Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner and European Affairs Secretary El Obeidi on 23 July 2007,

–  having regard to the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Libya on a Framework Agreement,

–  having regard to the HIV Action Plan for Benghazi, launched in November 2004,

–  having regard to the current EU-Libya practical cooperation on migration and to the Migration Cooperation Agenda signed by the Commission and Libya on 4 October 2010,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948,

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

–  having regard to several human rights instruments that Libya has signed, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1970), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1970), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1968), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1989), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1989), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1993) and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (2004),

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 62/149 of 18 December 2007 calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and UNGA Resolution 63/168 of 18 December 2008 calling for the implementation of the 2007 General Assembly resolution 62/149,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and its protocol on the establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights, ratified by Libya on 26 March 1987 and 19 November 2003 respectively,

–  having regard to the African Union Convention governing the specific aspects of refugees in Africa of September 1969, to which Libya has been a party since 17 July 1981,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 18 January 2007 on the death sentence imposed on medical personnel in Libya(1) and of 17 June 2010 on executions in Libya(2),

–  having regard to Rule 121(3) and Rule 97 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0368/2010),

A.  whereas, despite the persisting authoritarian rule and the systematic violation of international conventions on fundamental rights and freedoms, Libya has expanding commercial and political relations with EU Member States and plays a role as a partner for the EU in the Mediterranean region and in Africa, across a wide range of issues with an impact on security and stability, notably migration, public health, development, trade and economic relations, climate change, energy and cultural heritage,

B.  whereas several EU Member States have close relations with Libya, with national companies and banks serving as a vehicle for Libyan financial investment in Europe, and whereas on 30 August 2008 Italy signed a Friendship Agreement with Libya governing relations in various fields, including cooperation on managing migration and financial reparations for war and colonial rule; whereas on 9 November 2010 the Italian Parliament asked the Government to revise this Treaty,

C.   whereas the EU-Libya Framework Agreement currently under negotiation covers a wide range of areas, from strengthening political dialogue to managing migration, developing trade and economic relations, energy security and improving cooperation in different sectors; whereas the Framework Agreement is expected to provide an opportunity to step up political dialogue between Libya and the EU,

D.  whereas respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, as well as opposition to the death penalty, are fundamental EU principles; whereas Parliament is strongly committed to the universal abolition of the death penalty and repeatedly urged the revocation of the death sentences and release from prison of the five Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor who were imprisoned in Libya for several years, besides condemning executions of Libyan and non-Libyan citizens which have taken place in Libya,

E.   whereas Libya has ratified the African Union Convention governing specific aspects of refugee problems in Africa, Article 8 of which underlines that this Convention shall be an effective complement in Africa of the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and that its Members should cooperate with the UNHCR; whereas, however, Libya has not ratified the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, which is the only international convention which provides a comprehensive definition of refugees, to be accompanied by binding protection measures and a specific mechanism for monitoring by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees,

F.  whereas there is substantial evidence of Libya's practice of widespread discrimination against migrant workers on the basis of their national or ethnic origin, particularly its racial persecution of African migrant workers, and whereas the European Parliament is deeply concerned about reported acts of sexual violence against women,

G.   whereas Article 19(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU bans any removal, expulsion or extradition to a state of persons who are at a serious risk of being subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

H.   whereas Libya was elected to the UN Human Rights Council on 13 May 2010 and has ratified several human rights instruments and whereas, as a consequence, Libya has specific international legal obligations to respect human rights, but has failed so far to take concrete measures to improve its human rights record and to launch genuine cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies; whereas human rights are indivisible and yet, despite enjoyment of some economic and welfare benefits due to the State's distribution of the national income, Libyans and foreigners in Libya do not enjoy most civil and political rights, namely freedom of expression, assembly and association, the right to a fair trial, labour rights, women's rights and free elections, and whereas cases of arbitrary detention, torture, involuntary disappearances and discrimination often occur, notably affecting migrants,

I.   whereas the exercise of State power in Libya is not anchored in the rule of law or in democratic accountability and has led to arbitrary and unpredictable behaviour regarding foreign persons and interests, such as recently occurred with Swiss businessmen, and foreigners executed for common criminality, whose identity was not disclosed,

1.  Addresses, in the context of the ongoing Framework Agreement negotiations, the following recommendations to the Council:

   (a) Notes the recent Council decision to finally allow a limited number of Members of Parliament to read the mandate given to the Commission to negotiate a Framework Agreement between the EU and Libya; regrets however the delay in this decision and calls for the EP to be granted access to the mandates of all international agreements under negotiation, in accordance with Article 218(10) TFEU, which states that Parliament shall be immediately and fully informed at all stages of the procedure;
   (b) Welcomes the opening of negotiations between the EU and Libya, as a step to develop a new relationship for the EU in the Mediterranean region and in Africa; considers cooperation with Libya useful in addressing issues such as security and stability, migration, public health, development, trade, climate change, energy and culture;
   (c) Urges the Council and the Commission to strongly recommend that Libya ratify and implement the Geneva Convention on Refugees of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol, including full cooperation with UNHCR so as to guarantee adequate protection and rights for migrants, and adopt asylum legislation that recognises refugees' status and rights accordingly, notably the prohibition of collective expulsion and the principle of ‘non-refoulement’;
   (d) Reminds the Council and the Commission of their obligations to ensure full compliance of the EU's external policy with the Charter of Fundamental Rights, particularly its Article 19, which prohibits collective expulsion and grants the principle of ‘non-refoulement’;
   (e) Urges the Council and the Commission to request that the Libyan authorities sign a Memorandum of Understanding granting UNHCR a legal presence in the country, with a mandate to exercise its full range of access and protection activities;
   (f) Urges the Council and the Commission to ensure that a readmission agreement with Libya could only be envisaged for irregular immigrants, excluding therefore those who declare themselves asylum-seekers, refugees or persons in need of protection, and reiterates that the principle of ‘non-refoulement’ applies to any persons who are at risk of the death penalty, inhumane treatment or torture;
   (g) Calls on the Council to offer resettlement to recognised refugees identified by UNHCR in Libya according to the agreed Migration Cooperation Agenda of 4 October 2010;
   (h) Calls on the Council and the Commission to strengthen their support for UNHCR activities while promoting towards the Libyan authorities respect for international humanitarian standards for undocumented migrants in the country, including the systematic access of the UNHCR to detention centres;
   (i) Calls on the Council and the Commission to propose assistance to Libya, involving UNHCR, IOM, ICMPD and other expert agencies, aimed at addressing the problem of trafficking of human beings in the region, with special attention to the protection of women and children, including assistance to integrate legal migrants and to improve conditions for migrants found illegally in the country; to this effect welcomes the agreement on a migration cooperation agenda signed between Commissioners Mälmstrom and Füle and the Libyan authorities in October 2010;
   (j) Urges the Commission to disclose to Parliament all detailed information related to the financial external instruments used for the EU-Libya Partnership Agreement;
   (k) Urges the Council to encourage Libya to commit to a moratorium on the death penalty, in compliance with the UNGA resolutions adopted on 18 December 2007 and 18 December 2008, with a view to abolishing the death penalty, and to release statistics on all persons executed in Libya since 2008 and divulge the identity of the persons concerned and the charges on which they were convicted; calls on the HR/VP to demonstrate the political priority which the EU assigns to abolition of the death penalty by systematically raising this issue with Libyan authorities;
   (l) Calls on the Council to insist on the inclusion in the Framework Agreement of a clause on the International Criminal Court, leading Libya to consider ratifying the Rome Statute;
   (m) Calls on the Council to propose to Libya cooperation on programmes to strengthen regional synergies on sustainable development and environmental matters, such as climate change, water scarcity and desertification;
   (n) Calls on the Council and the Commission to encourage, during the negotiations on the Framework Agreement, Libya's participation in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the activities and main projects of the Union for the Mediterranean;
   (o) Calls on the Commission to fully respect its obligation under Article 218 TFEU by duly informing Parliament on what is being sought by the EU on ‘nuclear cooperation’ with Libya under the ‘Energy’ chapter in the Framework Agreement negotiations, including all political and security implications;
   (p) Congratulates Libyan health authorities and professionals on the remarkable improvement in medical and scientific capacities to deal with HIV-AIDS, which was achieved through the Benghazi Action Plan, jointly implemented by the EU and Libya, and supports the requested extension of such cooperation to other infectious diseases and other medical centres in Libya; calls on EU Member States to extend specialised healthcare to Libyan patients, including facilitating temporary treatment in specialised institutions in Europe;
   (q) Considers that the Framework Agreement should include assistance on institutional capacity building, as a means to strengthen civil society, support modernisation, encourage democratic reforms, independent media and an independent judiciary, and encourage other efforts to open up space for business, academia, NGOs and other Libyan stakeholders;
   (r) Calls on the Council and Commission to ensure that the programmes designed for trade focus on provision of actual support to enterprises, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, in order to maximise their export potential;
   (s) Calls on the Council and Commission to encourage Libya to fully respect its pledges given when acceding to the UNHRC and thus urges Libya to issue standing invitations to those appointed under UN special procedures such as the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on torture, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance as well as the Working Group on enforced and involuntary disappearances and the Working Group on arbitrary detentions, as requested in the recent Universal Periodic Review on Libya; calls in the same spirit for unfettered access to the country for independent scrutiny of the overall human rights situation;
   (t) Calls on the Council to ensure that Schengen visas for Libyans are issued without unnecessary delays, to examine other facilitation procedures and to persuade Libyan authorities to facilitate visas for Europeans residing or conducting professional activities in Libya;
   (u) Recommends the establishment of an EU Delegation in Tripoli as soon as possible;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this recommendation to the Council and, for information, to the Commission and the Governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 244 E, 18.10.2007, p. 208.
(2) Texts Adopted, P7_TA(2010)0246.

Situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on the situation of Christians in the context of freedom of religion

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions, and in particular that of 15 November 2007 on serious events which compromise Christian communities' existence and those of other religious communities(1), that of 21 January 2010 on attacks on Christian communities(2), that of 6 May 2010 on the mass atrocities in Jos, Nigeria(3), that of 20 May 2010 on religious freedom in Pakistan(4) and that of 25 November 2010 on Iraq: the death penalty (notably the case of Tariq Aziz) and attacks against Christian communities(5),

–  having regard to the annual reports on the situation of human rights in the world, and in particular to its resolution of 16 December 2010 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2009 and the European Union's policy on that matter(6),

–  having regard to Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief of 1981,

–  having regard to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief and in particular her reports of 29 December 2009, 16 February 2010 and 29 July 2010,

–  having regard to Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights of 1950,

–  having regard to Article 10 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to Article 17 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the statement by the spokesperson of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission, following the attack against worshippers at a Coptic Church in Alexandria, Egypt, on 1 January 2011,

–  having regard to the statement of the President of the European Parliament Jerzy Buzek on the deadly blast at an Egyptian church on 1 January 2011,

–  having regard to Rule 110(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the European Union has repeatedly expressed its commitment to freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom of thought, and has stressed that governments have a duty to guarantee these freedoms all over the world; whereas the development of human rights, democracy and civil liberties is the common base on which the European Union builds its relations with third countries and has been provided for by the democracy clause in the agreements between the EU and third countries,

B.  whereas Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights declares that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; whereas this right includes the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of one's own choice, and the freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest this religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching,

C.  whereas freedom of thought, conscience and religion applies to adherents of religions, but also to atheists, agnostics and people without beliefs,

D.  whereas the number of attacks on Christian communities has risen worldwide in 2010 as well as the number of trials and sentences to death for blasphemy, which often affect women; whereas statistics on religious freedom in recent years show that the majority of acts of religious violence are perpetrated against Christians, as indicated in the 2009 Report on Religious Freedom in the World prepared by the organisation ‘Aid to the Church in Need’; whereas in some cases the situation facing Christian communities is such as to endanger their future existence, and if they were to disappear, this would entail the loss of a significant part of the religious heritage of the countries concerned,

E.  whereas once again innocent lives were being cut short in atrocious attacks designed to strike the Christian community in Nigeria on 11 January 2011; whereas on 24 December 2010 there were attacks against several churches in Maiduguri and on 25 December 2010 there were bomb attacks in the Nigerian city of Jos, which led to the killing of 38 civilians while dozens of others were wounded; whereas on 21 December 2010 men armed with swords and machetes assaulted a group of local Christian villagers, killing three and leaving two wounded, in Turu, Nigeria; whereas on 3 December 2010 seven Christians, including women and children, were found dead, whilst four others were left wounded in a attack in the city of Jos, Nigeria,

F.  whereas the assassination of Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Punjab, on 4 January 2011 as well as the case of Asia Noreen in Pakistan provoked protests by the international community,

G.  whereas a terrorist attack on Coptic Christians killed and injured innocent civilians in Alexandria on 1 January 2011,

H.  whereas on 25 December 2010 a priest and a 9-year-old girl were among the total number of 11 wounded when a bomb was set off inside a chapel on Christmas Day, in Sulu, Philippines,

I.  whereas the celebration of Christmas Mass in the villages of Rizokarpaso and Ayia Triada in the northern part of Cyprus was interrupted by force on 25 December 2010,

J.  whereas on 30 December 2010 jihadi terrorist attacks against Assyrian Christian families left at least two dead and 14 wounded in a series of coordinated bomb attacks on Christian homes in Baghdad, Iraq; whereas on 27 December 2010 a roadside bomb killed an Assyrian Christian woman and wounded her husband in Dujail, Iraq; whereas two Iraqi Christians were killed in Mosul on 22 November 2010; whereas a series of attacks targeting Christian areas killed innocent civilians in Baghdad on 10 November 2010; whereas 52 people died, amongst them women and children, in the massacre of 1 November 2010 at the Syrian Catholic Church of Our Lady of Deliverance in Baghdad,

K.  whereas the Iranian Government has stepped up its campaign against Christians in the Islamic Republic, with more than 100 arrested in the past month, forcing many to flee the country or face criminal charges and a possible death sentence,

L.  whereas in Vietnam too, the activities of the Catholic Church and of other religious communities have been severely repressed, as is demonstrated by the serious situation facing the communities of Vietnamese ‘montagnards’; whereas, however, the change of heart by the Vietnamese regime concerning the case of Father Nguyen Van Ly, resulting in his release, can be welcomed,

M.  whereas attacks by violent Islamist extremists are also attacks on the current regime of the states concerned, aiming to create unrest and to start civil war between the different religious groups,

N.  whereas Europe, like other parts of the world, is not exempt from cases of violation of freedom of religion, attacks on members of religious minorities on the basis of their beliefs, and religiously motivated discrimination,

O.  whereas inter-community dialogue is crucial to promoting peace and mutual understanding between peoples,

1.  Condemns the recent attacks on Christian communities in various countries and expresses its solidarity with the families of the victims; expresses its deep concerns about the proliferation of episodes of intolerance, repression and violent events directed against Christian communities, particularly in the countries of Africa, Asia and the Middle East;

2.  Welcomes the efforts made by the authorities of the countries concerned to identify the authors and perpetrators of the attacks on Christian communities; urges the governments to ensure that perpetrators of these crimes and all persons responsible for the attacks, as well as for other violent acts against Christians or other religious or other minorities, are brought to justice and tried by due process;

3.  Strongly condemns all acts of violence against Christians and other religious communities as well as all kinds of discrimination and intolerance based on religion and belief against religious people, apostates and non-believers; stresses once again that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental human right;

4.  Is concerned about the exodus of Christians from various countries, especially Middle Eastern countries, in recent years;

5.  Expresses its concerns about the fact that the Pakistani blasphemy law, which was publicly opposed by the late Governor Salman Taseer, is still used to persecute religious denominations, including Christians such as Asia Noreen, a Christian mother of five sentenced to death, and that the murderer of Governor Salman Taseer is treated by large sections of Pakistani society as a hero;

6.  Welcomes the Egyptian public opinion reaction which vigorously condemned the terrorist act and rapidly grasped that the attack was plotted to undermine the deep rooted traditional bonds between Christians and Muslims in Egypt; welcomes the joint demonstrations by Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt to protest against the attack; welcomes also the public condemnation of the attack by the President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Grand Mufti of Egypt;

7.  Condemns the interruption by force of the Christmas Mass celebrated on Christmas Day by the remaining 300 Christians in the northern part of Cyprus by the Turkish authorities;

8.  Expresses its grave concerns about the abuse of religion by the perpetrators of terrorist acts in several areas of the world; denounces the instrumentalisation of religion in various political conflicts;

9.  Urges the authorities of states with alarmingly high levels of attacks against religious denominations to take responsibility in ensuring normal and public religious practices for all religious denominations, to step up their efforts to provide reliable and efficient protection for the religious denominations in their countries and to ensure the personal safety and physical integrity of members of religious denominations in the country, thereby complying with the obligations to which they have already committed themselves within the international arena;

10.  Stresses once again that respect for human rights and civil liberties, including freedom of religion or belief, are fundamental principles and aims of the European Union and constitute a common ground in its relations with third countries;

11.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission to pay increased attention to the subject of freedom of religion or belief and to the situation of religious communities, including Christians, in agreements and cooperation with third countries as well as in human rights reports;

12.  Invites the forthcoming External Affairs Council on 31 January 2011 to discuss the question of the persecution of Christians and respect for religious freedom or belief, which discussion should give rise to concrete results, especially as regards the instruments that can be used to provide security and protection for Christian communities under threat, wherever in the world they may be;

13.  Calls on the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission to develop as a matter of urgency an EU strategy on the enforcement of the human right to freedom of religion, including a list of measures against states who knowingly fail to protect religious denominations;

14.  Asks the High Representative, in light of recent events and the increasing necessity for analysing and understanding the evolution of cultural and religious developments in international relations and contemporary societies, to develop a permanent capacity within the human rights directorate of the European External Action Service to monitor the situation of governmental and societal restrictions on religious freedom and related rights, and to report annually to Parliament;

15.  Calls for the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission and Parliament to include a chapter on religious freedom in their Annual Human Rights report;

16.  Urges EU institutions to comply with the obligation under Article 17 of the TFEU to maintain an open, transparent and regular dialogue with churches and religious, philosophical and non-confessional organisations, in order to ensure that the issue of the persecution of Christians and other religious communities is a priority issue which is discussed on a systematic basis;

17.  Calls on the leadership of all religious communities in Europe to condemn attacks on Christian communities and other faith groups on the basis of equal respect for each denomination;

18.  Reiterates its support for all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect between religious and other communities; calls on all religious authorities to promote tolerance and to take initiatives against hatred and violent and extremist radicalisation;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the parliament and government of Egypt, the parliament and government of Iran, the parliament and government of Iraq, the parliament and government of Nigeria, the parliament and government of Pakistan, the parliament and government of the Philippines, the parliament and government of Vietnam, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

(1) OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 474.
(2) OJ C 305 E, 11.11.2010, p. 7.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0157.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0194.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0448.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0489.

Situation in Belarus
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on the situation in Belarus

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Belarus, in particular that of 17 December 2009 on Belarus(1),

–  having regard to Council decision 2010/639/CFSP of 25 October 2010 concerning restrictive measures against certain officials of Belarus(2), extending both the restrictive measures and suspension until 31 October 2011,

–  having regard to the Conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council of 25 October 2010,

–  having regard to the Statement of the preliminary findings and conclusions on the presidential election in Belarus by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA) as of 20 December 2010,

–  having regard to Rule 110 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Prague Declaration of the Eastern Partnership Summit reaffirms the commitments, inter alia of Belarus, to the principles of international law and to fundamental values, including democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,

B.  whereas the Council, on 25 October 2010, ‘called on the Belarusian authorities to ensure that the (presidential) elections are conducted in line with international norms and standards for democratic elections and Belarus's commitments in the OSCE and the UN’,

C.  whereas Belarus has committed itself to consider the recommendations made by the OSCE and its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) regarding improvements to its electoral law in order to bring it into line with international standards for democratic elections and to consult about the proposed amendments with the OSCE; whereas the National Assembly of Belarus passed a reform of the Electoral Code without prior consultation of the OSCE,

D.  whereas the Council ‘reaffirmed its readiness to deepen its relations with Belarus depending on developments in Belarus towards democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as its readiness to assist the country in attaining these objectives. Subject to progress in Belarus in these areas, it stood ready to take steps towards upgrading contractual relations with Belarus’,

E.  whereas the Council, after evaluating developments in Belarus, has decided to extend the restrictive measures against certain Belarusian officials but to suspend the application of the restrictions on travelling to the EU, both until 31 October 2011,

F.  whereas according to the OSCE PA and OSCE/ODIHR ‘Statement of the preliminary findings and conclusions on the presidential election in Belarus’ some improvements took place in the run-up to the elections but they were overshadowed by the serious irregularities on the voting day and the violence that erupted on the night of 19 December 2010,

G.  whereas over 700 persons were detained for their participation in the demonstration on 19 December 2010 in Minsk, most of whom have been released after serving short administrative sentences while 24 opposition activists and journalists, including 6 presidential candidates, have been charged for ‘organising mass disorder’ accompanied by violent attacks and armed resistance that could carry prison sentences of up to 15 years; whereas a further 14 persons may soon be charged,

H.  whereas the police crackdown on the demonstration of 19 December 2010 and further measures taken by the law enforcement agencies against democratic opposition, free media and civil society activists were condemned by the President of the European Parliament, the EU High Representative and the UN General Secretary,

I.  whereas the lawyers representing protesters, the political opposition or their families are faced with the threat of losing their licence/being debarred,

1.  Considers, in line with the findings of the Preliminary Conclusions of the OSCE PA and OSCE/ODIHR, that the Presidential elections of 19 December 2010 failed to meet international standards of free, fair and transparent elections; considers this vote as yet another missed opportunity for a democratic transition in Belarus and calls, in the light of numerous and serious irregularities reported by OSCE/ODIHR, that new elections be held on the free and democratic conditions according to the OSCE standards;

2.  Condemns the use of brutal force by the police and KGB services against the protesters on Election Day, in particular expresses its indignation over a brutal attack on Mr Niakliayeu, both examples of the severe violation of basic democratic principles, such as freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, as well as of human rights, and expresses its concern at the attempts of the Belarusian authorities to take into state custody Danil Sannikov, three-year-old son of the Presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, and Irina Khalip, an investigative journalist, who have both been jailed since the 19 December 2010 election; is particularly concerned about the health of Mikalay Statkevich, who has been on hunger strike for the last 31 days;

3.  Strongly condemns the arrest and detention of peaceful protesters and most of the presidential candidates (e.g. Uladzimir Niakliayeu, Andrei Sannikov, Mikalay Statkevich and Aleksey Michalevich); the leaders of the democratic opposition (e.g. Pavel Sevyarynets and Anatoly Lebedko), as well as great number of civil society activists, journalists, teachers and students facing sentences up to 15 year prison; calls for an independent and impartial international investigation into the events under the auspices of the OSCE; calls for politically motivated charges to be immediately dropped;

4.  Condemns the repressions and urges the Belarusian authorities to stop immediately all forms of harassment, intimidation or threats against civil society activists including raids, searches and confiscation of materials in private apartments, outlets of independent media and offices of civil society organisations as well as expulsions from universities and workplaces;

5.  Demands an immediate and unconditional release of all those detained during Election Day and in its aftermath including the prisoners of conscience recognised by Amnesty International; calls on the Belarusian authorities to provide unhindered access for the detainees to relatives, legal assistance and medical care;

6.  Regrets the decision of the Belarusian authorities to terminate the mission of the OSCE Office in Belarus and calls on the Belarusian authorities to withdraw this decision;

7.  Condemns the blockage of a number of major Internet websites, including networking channels and opposition websites, on Election Day in Belarus; underlines that current media legislation in Belarus does not comply with the international standards and therefore calls on the Belarusian authorities to revise and amend it;

8.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the EU High Representative to review EU policy towards Belarus including consideration of targeted economic sanctions and the freezing of all the macrofinancial aid provided via IMF loans as well as lending operations by the EIB and EBRD programmes; underlines that the orientation of the ENP and national assistance for Belarus should be redirected in order to ensure appropriate support for civil society; reiterates the importance of the effective use of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights;

9.  Calls on the Commission to support, with all financial and political means, the efforts of Belarusian civil society, independent media (including TV Belsat, European Radio for Belarus, Radio Racja and others) and non-governmental organisations in Belarus to promote democracy and oppose the regime; sees the necessity to step up and facilitate the relations of Belarusian NGOs| with the international NGO community; at the same time calls on the Commission to halt ongoing cooperation and to withdraw its assistance provided to the state-owned media in Belarus; at the same time, the Commission should finance the reprinting and distribution of poetry books by Uladzimir Niakliayeu which were recently confiscated and thrown into fire by the Belarusian authorities;

10.  Calls on the European Commission to develop a mechanism of registration of NGOs that are denied registration in Belarus for political reasons, in order to enable them to benefit from the EU programmes;

11.  Urges the Commission to continue and increase financial aid to the European Humanities University (EHU) based in Vilnius, Lithuania, to increase the number of scholarships for Belarusian students, repressed for their civic activities and expelled from universities and to contribute to the ‘Solidarity with Belarus’ donors' conference in Warsaw (2/02/2011) and the following conference in Vilnius (3-4/02/2011);

12.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the EU High Representative to immediately re-apply the visa ban on the Belarusian leading authorities expanding it to the state officials, members of judiciary and security officers who can be considered responsible for the vote-rigging and post-election brutal repressions and arrests of the members of the opposition and to freeze their assets; points out the sanctions should remain in force minimum until all political prisoners and detainees are released and exempted from charges; welcomes the good example of the Polish Government which imposed its own travel restrictions to the representatives of the Minsk regime and at the same time simplified access to the European Union for the Belarusian citizens;

13.  Calls on the Council to consider the possibility of suspending Belarusian participation in the Eastern Partnership activities no later than at the Eastern Partnership summit in Budapest if it there is not an acceptable explanation and considerable improvement of the situation in Belarus; this suspension not apply to NGOs and civil society;

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to intensify work on the negotiations directives for the readmission agreement an for visa facilitation, which include affordable visa fees order to enhance people-to-people contacts;

15.  Expects EU Member Countries not to weaken the EU action with bilateral initiatives with the Belarusian regime that undermine the credibility and effectiveness of the European foreign policy;

16.  Expresses its opinion that sport events, like the World Ice Hockey Championships in 2014, should not be held in Belarus while there are political prisoners in that country;

17.  Regrets the move on the part of the Russian Federation in recognising the elections and description of the repression as an ‘internal affair’; recommends that the European Commission engage in dialogue, consultations and political coordination with the non-EU neighbours of Belarus, who traditionally have special relations with that country and are also partners of the EU, namely Russia and Ukraine, in order to maximise the efficiency of EU policy towards Belarus and to cooperate in properly balancing the reaction against the democratic deficit and human rights violations in Belarus with the need to avoid the latter's international isolation;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, EU HR, EU Member States, the President, Government and Parliament of Belarus and the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

(1) OJ C 286 E, 22.10.2010, p. 16.
(2) OJ L 280, 26.10.2010, p. 18.

Report on competition policy 2009
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on the Report on Competition Policy 2009 (2010/2137(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission Report on Competition Policy 2009 (COM(2010)0282) and the Commission Staff Working Document accompanying the Commission Report on Competition Policy 2009 (SEC(2010)0666),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 of 16 December 2002 on the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty(1),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (EC Merger Regulation)(2),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 October 2008 on the application of State aid rules to measures taken in relation to financial institutions in the context of the current global financial crisis(3) (the Banking Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 5 December 2008 on the recapitalisation of financial institutions in the current financial crisis: limitation of aid to the minimum necessary and safeguards against undue distortions of competition(4) (the Recapitalisation Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 25 February 2009 on the treatment of impaired assets in the Community banking sector(5) (the Impaired Assets Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 23 July 2009 on the return to viability and the assessment of restructuring measures in the financial sector in the current crisis under the State aid rules(6) (the Restructuring Communication), these four last Communications hereinafter mentioned together as ‘the four Communications for the financial sector’,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 17 December 2008 on a temporary Community framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis(7) (the Temporary Framework),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 9 February 2009 entitled ‘Guidance on the Commission's enforcement priorities in applying Article 82 of the EC Treaty to abusive exclusionary conduct by dominant undertakings’(8),

–  having regard to the Commission Notice on a Best Practices Code on the conduct of State aid control proceedings(9), the Commission Notice on a simplified procedure for the treatment of certain types of State aid(10) and the Commission Notice on the enforcement of State aid law by national courts(11) (Simplification Package),

–  having regard to the Commission Guidelines on State aid for environmental protection(12),

–  having regard to the State Aid Scoreboards for Spring 2009 (COM(2009)0164), Autumn 2009 (COM(2009)0661) and Spring 2010 (COM(2010)0255),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 10 March 2009 on the Reports on Competition Policy 2006 and 2007(13) and of 9 March 2010 on the Report on Competition Policy 2008(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 March 2009 on food prices in Europe(15),

–  having regard to Parliament's declaration of 19 February 2008 on investigating and remedying abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the European Union(16),

–  having regard to Rules 48 of its Rules of Procedures,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0374/2010),

A.  whereas the exceptional circumstances of the last two years' financial and economic crisis have called for exceptional measures; whereas the Commission's efforts have helped to stabilise financial markets while at the same time protecting the integrity of the Single Market,

B.  whereas in times of crisis it is essential to ensure financial stability, re-establish credit flows and reform the financial system in order for markets to function well, and whereas competition rules should therefore be applied flexibly but strictly,

C.  whereas protectionism and non-enforcement of competition rules would only deepen and prolong the crisis,

D.  whereas competition policy is an essential tool to enable the EU to have a dynamic, efficient and innovative internal market and to be competitive on the global stage, as well as to overcome the financial crisis,

E.  whereas the growing budget deficits and increased levels of public debt in many Member States may slow down economic recovery and economic growth for years to come,

F.  whereas Member States' governments, as a response to the financial crisis, have granted a sizable amount of State aid in the form, for example, of guarantee schemes, recapitalisation schemes and complementary forms of liquidity support on bank funding; whereas these measures have provided banks with a significant source of funding and insurance against the risks usually faced by the financial sector,

G.  whereas empirical analyses suggest that this State aid has generated a number of effects and distortions, such as a reduction of the spread of private bonds, which need to be taken into account when considering extending the aid or prolonging the exceptional rules currently in force,

H.  whereas tax governance is an important factor in maintaining favourable conditions for competition and in enhancing the functioning of the internal market,

I.  whereas competition is still imperfect in the energy sector, agricultural production and other sectors,

J.  whereas the successful development of SMEs under conditions of free competition is one of the most essential preconditions for overcoming the financial crisis effectively,

General remarks

1.  Welcomes the Report on Competition Policy 2009;

2.  Is pleased to note that the Commission was quick to react to the crisis; congratulates the Commission on its effective use of competition policy measures in exceptional circumstances;

3.  Continues to support a more active role for Parliament in the shaping of competition policy through the introduction of a co-legislative role; asks for Parliament to be informed regularly of any initiatives in this field;

4.  Calls once again on the Commission, as the sole EU-wide competent competition authority, to report to Parliament in detail and annually about the follow-up to Parliament's recommendations and to explain any departure from Parliament's recommendations; notes that the response by the Commission to Parliament's 2008 Competition Report is a mere summary of actions taken and does not provide any insight into the effectiveness of the measures;

5.  Stresses that an EU competition policy based on the principles of open markets and a level playing field in all sectors is a cornerstone of a successful internal market and a precondition for the creation of sustainable and knowledge-based jobs;

6.  Underlines its calls for consistency between all EU policies and the priorities set out in the EU 2020 strategy for growth and jobs; underscores that this is of special importance as regards competition policy;

7.  Stresses the importance of services of general interest in meeting the basic needs of the public; requests the Commission to consider the framework provided by the Lisbon Treaty when concluding its work on applying EU competition rules on services of general economic interest and asks to be closely involved in the Commission's follow-up to the open consultation on State aid rules on Services of general economic interest;

8.  Stresses the need to draft clear competition rules that are helpful and useful for SMEs;

9.  Points out that SMEs are particularly important for the whole European economy; stresses, furthermore, the major innovation potential of SMEs and reiterates its previous request to the Commission to include a dedicated chapter with a focus on fair and non-discriminatory competition conditions for SMEs;

10.  Calls on the Commission to make use of independent, reliable expertise for the evaluations and studies required for the development of competition policy; urges it to publish the results;

11.  Asks the Commission to ensure that Article 12 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which stipulates that ‘consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities’, is implemented under future internal market legislation;

12.  Calls on the Commission, in its annual report on competition policy, to give greater emphasis to the advantages of competition for consumers;

13.  Welcomes with interest the Report on the functioning of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 submitted by the Commission five years after its entry into force and, while agreeing that it constitutes a keystone in the process of modernising competition rules and coordinating action by the EU and national authorities, notes the need to overcome differences of opinion concerning the establishment of priorities, important aspects of the development of competition policy and the functioning of cooperation systems in order to ensure more effective implementation;

14.  Stresses the need for developing synergies between competition and consumer protection policies, including creating a European form of collective redress for individual victims of competition law violations, based on the opt-in principle and taking into account the criteria laid down in Parliament's resolution of 26 March 2009, stipulating that compensation should be paid to the identified group of people or their nominee only for the damage actually suffered; calls on the Commission to consider the ways in which such a mechanism could be incorporated into existing national legal systems;

15.  Recalls its resolution of 25 April 2007 on the Green Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules(17) and stresses that the pending legislative proposal in relation thereto should include the content of Parliament's resolution of 26 March 2009 on the White Paper on damages actions for breach of the EC antitrust rules(18); stresses the need for the Commission to propose legislation, without watering it down unnecessarily, to facilitate individual and class-action claims for effective compensation for damages resulting from breaches of EU antitrust law; such legalisation must be cross-cutting in nature, avoid the excesses of the North American system and be adopted using the ordinary legislative procedure (codecision);

16.  Underlines that it has supported the Commission's request for more resources to be allocated to Commission staff in the area of competition in the 2011 budget; asks to be informed about how the additional resources have been used; recalls its request to reassign current Commission staff to the core competences of the Commission;

17.  Stresses that the implementation of a successful competition policy and the unrestricted functioning of the internal market are essential preconditions for sustainable economic growth in the European Union;

18.  Underlines that the current drive for fiscal consolidation and sustainable recovery should be used by Member States in order to progress towards a more level fiscal playing field;

19.  Considers that competition policy should contribute to promoting and enforcing open standards and interoperability in order to prevent technological lock-in of consumers and clients by a minority of market players;

Focus Chapter: Competition Policy and the Financial and Economic Crisis

20.  Welcomes the temporary State aid rules established in response to the financial and economic crisis, namely the four Communications for the financial sector and the Temporary Framework directed at the other sectors; notes the extension for one additional year of the application of the temporary State aid measures;

21.  Is concerned that these measures, which are temporary in nature, might ultimately not be that temporary; emphasises the need to discontinue temporary measures and exemptions as soon as possible, particularly in the automotive sector; urges the Commission to provide clarity on the phasing out criteria that will be used to decide on their possible extension;

22.  Calls on the Commission to reconsider whether the existing temporary framework is making an effective contribution to ensuring a level playing field throughout the Union and whether discretionary application of the framework produces an optimal outcome in this respect;

23.  Urges the Commission to prepare a detailed evaluation of decisions adopted within the framework of the application of the temporary State aid measures in response to the economic and financial crisis, taking into account the scope, degree of transparency and consistency of the different measures which are based on the framework, and to annex that evaluation to its next annual competition report;

24.  Reiterates its request to the Commission to publish, during the course of 2010, a comprehensive report on the effectiveness of State aid granted for ‘green recovery’ and State aid for environmental protection;

25.  Stresses the need to restore the competitive position of financial institutions which did not have recourse to the temporary rules on State aid;

26.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that banks reimburse State aid as soon as the financial sector has recovered, ensuring fair competition within the internal market and a level playing field with regard to exit conditions;

27.  Urges the Commission to clarify the binding restructuring measures related to potential distortive effects resulting in differences in repayment conditions between Member States;

28.  Stresses, however, that the ongoing consolidation in the banking sector has actually increased the market share of several major financial institutions and therefore urges the Commission to maintain a close watch on the sector in order to enhance competition in European banking markets, including restructuring plans that require the separation of banking activities in cases where retail deposits have been used to cross-subsidise riskier investment banking activities;

Review of temporary State aid rules adopted in response to the crisis

29.  Urges the Commission to produce a study which demonstrates the impact of the State aid measures on the economy;

30.  Urges the Commission to provide Parliament with a thorough analysis of the impacts on competition of State aid during the crisis;

31.  Urges the Commission, following such a comprehensive impact assessment, to implement corrective measures whenever required in order to ensure a level playing field within the single market;

32.  Calls on the Commission to undertake a thorough analysis of the consequences of the revised State aid mechanisms adopted in response to the crisis, as regards competition and maintaining a level playing field in the EU, financial reform and job creation;

33.  Calls on the Member States to cooperate actively with the Commission in developing and evaluating the temporary rules established in response to the financial and economic crisis by providing timely, detailed reports on their implementation and effectiveness; urges the Commission to conduct an assessment of how they work and to draw up a study on the impact of measures taken by third countries on the European Union;

34.  Calls on the Commission to ensure maximum transparency and adhere strictly to the non-discrimination principle in approving State aid and prescribing divestment measures;

35.  Asks the Commission to produce a study looking into ECB liquidity support's possible impact in terms of distortion of competition;

36.  Calls on the Commission to closely monitor the M3 money supply with regard to State aid that has been approved in order to prevent an unintended overcapitalisation of companies which would subsequently distort competition;

State aid control

37.  Notes that State aid policy is an integral part of competition policy and that State aid control reflects the need to maintain a level playing field for all undertakings carrying out activities in the single market;

38.  Stresses that it is important for the Commission to monitor the use of State aid carefully in order to ensure that these support arrangements are not used to protect national industries in a manner detrimental to the internal market and European consumers;

39.  Considers it essential, when assessing whether State aid is compatible with the Treaty, to find the right balance between the negative effects of State aid on competition and public finances and its positive effects in terms of common interests;

40.  Calls for the establishment of clear criteria for divestments, taking into account the medium-term impact of divestments on the firms involved, namely on growth, innovation and employment as well as in terms of the reduction of those firms' role in the global market;

41.  Urges the Commission to carefully inspect fiscal State aid regimes in force in certain Member States to check their non-discriminatory and transparent nature;

42.  Calls on the Commission to re-establish and enhance its fiscal State aid unit;

43.  Considers that in order to enable the Commission to better identify harmful tax competition regimes, it is essential that the decision on automatic notification of tax rulings taken by the EU code of conduct for business taxation working group in 2002 (Council doc. 11077/02) is fully implemented by Member States;

44.  Notes with concern that the recovery of illegal State aid remains a lengthy and cumbersome process; encourages the Commission to tighten up procedures further and to keep up the pressure on Member States, in particular on repeat offenders;

45.  Urges the Commission to examine the extent to which a too generous allocation of free EUA (European Union Allowances) permits in certain sectors may distort competition, given that these permits, whose efficiency has diminished since the slowdown of economic activity, have generated windfall profits for certain companies while reducing their incentives to play their part in the transition to an eco-efficient economy;

46.  Underlines that State aid should be channelled primarily into promoting common-interest projects within the Union, such as the deployment of broadband and energy infrastructures;

47.  Welcomes the adoption of the Guidelines for broadband networks which cover State aid for basic broadband networks (ADSL, cable, mobile, wireless or satellite broadband services) and support for very high speed NGA networks (fibre-based or advanced upgraded cable networks at the current stage), and asks the Commission and Member States to disseminate and promote best practices and increase competition;

48.  Calls on the Commission – bearing in mind that completion of the internal market for all transport modes is needed – to publish a report with an overview of all State aid offered to the public transport sector;

49.  Reiterates its support for the Commission guidelines on State aid for environmental protection in the field of transport, with a view to bolstering sustainability in the European transport sector; encourages the Commission to enhance the incentive-based nature of the State aid authorised in the field of transport;


50.  Welcomes the firm stance the Commission has taken on anti-competitive behaviour in recent years;

51.  Welcomes the extension of the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation, since this ensures a balance between manufacturers and distributors; points out, however that the Commission has failed to take sufficient account of the specific circumstances relating to online sales, particularly with regard to the Digital Agenda and in view of its current efforts to complete the internal market for e-commerce;

52.  Points out in particular that, in the light of the market monitoring measures currently being followed by the Commission, the admissibility under antitrust legislation of joint purchases by large distributors operating at international level is debatable;

53.  Points out, however, that non-compliance with the binding duration of competition clauses is in fact not at all uncommon, and calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to such inadmissible practices;

54.  Invites the Commission to consider, within the integrated regulatory framework on the protection of intellectual property rights, the use of competition legislation as a tool for preventing any abuse of IPRs;

55.  Urges the Commission, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and the uniform application of competition rules in the EU, to take due notice of the rulings of the national courts in the application of competition law and to this end to adopt any measures necessary to achieve this objective;

56.  Recalls that cartels represent some of the most serious violations of competition law; believes that such infringements of competition law run counter to the interests of EU citizens since they do not allow consumers to benefit from lower prices;

57.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to improve coordination between the competition law approach and the consumer law approach in its initiatives;

58.  Calls on the Commission to evaluate the impact of behavioural measures on competition and the consequences of these measures for customers and consumers;

59.  Urges the Commission to take a closer look at trickle-down economics when analysing possible abuses of dominant positions, when it discovers that the dominant position has not been abused;

60.  Believes that the use of ever higher fines as the sole antitrust instrument may be too blunt, not least in view of the job losses that may result from an inability to make payments, and calls for the development of a wider range of more sophisticated instruments covering such issues as individual responsibility, transparency and accountability of firms, shorter procedures, the right of defence and due process, mechanisms to ensure the effective operation of leniency applications (in particular to overcome the interference caused by discovery processes in the US), corporate compliance programmes and the development of European standards; favours a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach with penalties that serve as an effective deterrent, in particular for repeat offenders, while encouraging compliance;

61.  Calls on the Commission once more, if appropriate, to incorporate the basis for calculating fines and the new fining principles into Regulation (EC) No 1/2003;

62.  Invites the Commission to launch a general investigation into the pricing of iron ore;

Merger control

63.  Stresses, more than five years after the entry into force of Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings, the importance of identifying areas where red tape can be reduced and where further convergence between the applicable national and EU rules can be achieved;

64.  Emphasises that the current economic crisis does not justify a relaxation of EU merger control policies;

65.  Underlines that the application of competition rules to mergers must be evaluated from the perspective of the entire internal market;

Sector developments

66.  Calls for the Commission to monitor developments in commodity-related markets following the conclusions of the European Council of June 2008 (paragraph 40) and, where appropriate, to tackle speculation;

67.  Recognises that high market concentration and a lack of transparency in commodity markets can significantly hamper competition and adversely affect European industry; calls on the Commission therefore to analyse commodity markets, such as those for iron ore and particularly for the 14 critical raw materials identified by the Commission, with a view to establishing to what extent these markets require more transparency and competition, since some of these commodities are of paramount importance for the deployment of eco-efficient technologies (such as photovoltaic panels and lithium-ion batteries);

68.  Affirms that transparency is an essential prerequisite for financial markets to work properly; calls on the Commission to go to great lengths to ensure that data on financial markets is disclosed in full compliance with the provisions of EU competition law and, in this regard, welcomes the initiatives to prevent abuse of ISIN and RIC securities identifier codes;

69.  Urges the Commission to supervise SEPA (the Single Euro Payments Area) so as to ensure that the payment system is accessible, non-discriminatory, transparent and efficient and in no way hinders competition; calls for the close monitoring of the aspects of the system affecting EU competition policy;

70.  Asks the Commission to continue efforts to ensure effective competition on the payment cards markets, in accordance with the principles of SEPA, with a view to facilitating cross-border payments and maximising the potential of the internal market; calls for the systematic monitoring of developments on these markets and for the annual competition reports to include progress indicators in this regard;

71.  Believes that breaches of competition law on the payment cards market affect consumers in a negative way; supports the Commission in its efforts to fight against unusually high cross-border multilateral interchange fees, which result in higher product prices for consumers;

72.  Regrets that energy consumers in the EU continue to suffer from a distorted energy market; stresses that effective competition in energy markets leads to greater innovation, a more secure and more affordable energy supply and less environmental impact; observes that persistent obstacles in the energy sector include insufficient interconnection, lack of transparency in the transmission system through which operators allocate power to producers, and different definitions of service recipient categories among Member States;

73.  Invites the Commission to monitor closely the implementation of the third energy liberalisation package by Member States and to assess its effectiveness in creating a functioning internal market; encourages the Commission to initiate a further inquiry into the energy sector if the assessment comes to a negative conclusion;

74.  Highlights the particular importance of information and communications technology for innovation, maximising the potential of the digital economy and developing the knowledge society; considers it to be of the highest importance to ensure interoperability, facilitate the development of networks and keep markets open in order for economic operators to compete on the merits of their products;

75.  Recalls that digital convergence and the growing importance of interoperability and standards are key issues for ICT in the increasingly inter-connected global environment; underlines, furthermore, the importance of continuously ensuring free competition in the field of ICT as new digital products and services appear on the market; calls, therefore, on the Commission to address these issues in the upcoming guidelines on horizontal cooperation agreements;

76.  Supports the Commission's measures encouraging the provision of adequate broadband coverage at affordable prices to all European citizens and calls on it to redouble its efforts to keep cross-border roaming charges for electronic communication under control and to include details of progress towards that end in its annual competition reports;

77.  Stresses the new and important role of competition policy in the digital economy; asks the Commission closely to follow technological developments in the digital market and to react swiftly where necessary in order to keep digital platforms as open as possible by strictly applying competition rules;

78.  Underlines the importance of promoting an internal digital market; emphasises in this regard the importance of promoting consumer trust in and access to online services, in particular by improving consumer rights and the protection of private information and by removing any remaining obstacles to online cross-border trade and transactions;

79.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that NRAs in the telecommunications sector follow its recommendation on call termination rates, in to eliminate distortion of competition; urges the Commission to consider further measures if the expected results – i.e. lower consumer prices – are not forthcoming;

80.  Notes Regulation (EC) No 544/2009 on intra-Community roaming fees, which entered into force on 1 July 2010, thereby bringing consumers benefits from reductions in the prices for voice and SMS roaming services; points out, however, that competition in the roaming markets has not yet developed sufficiently and that structural problems persist; asks the Commission to envisage in its 2011 review the option of totally abolishing intra-EU roaming fees;

81.  Regrets the instances of non-transparent auctioning of new, fourth-generation mobile frequencies in some Member States; encourages the Commission to continue monitoring very closely the activities of Member States in this regard and requiring Member States to carry out a thorough analysis of the impact of spectrum decisions on competition and to take appropriate measures to prevent anti-competitive outcomes in line with the amended GSM Directive, thereby ensuring a level playing field for market participants and new entrants;

82.  Acknowledges the revised Broadcasting Communication of July 2009, which reaffirms the competence of the Member States to define the remit, funding and organisation of public service broadcasting while acknowledging the Commission's responsibility to control manifest errors, and calls on Member States to maintain a balance amongst the digital media services on offer and ensure fair competition, and thus to preserve a vibrant media landscape in the online environment;

83.  Invites the Commission to report on, and speed up progress on its investigations into, the application of State aid rules to the postal sector;

84.  Stresses the need for closer cooperation between the Commission and national competition authorities with a view to adopting a joint approach to competition issues on the food market based on an ongoing exchange of information, rapid problem diagnosis and effective sharing of responsibility between the members of the European Competition Network (ECN), given that food markets tend to have a more national dimension, operating under different legal, economic and cultural conditions;

85.  Stresses that the purpose of this closer cooperation should be a consistent approach to the defence, monitoring and implementation of competition rules and action to ensure equal terms of competition on the food markets and an optimally efficient food supply chain for the benefit of consumers;

86.  Takes the view that, in the context of current market monitoring, the Commission should subject joint purchasing operations at international level to close scrutiny, given that the price concessions secured through the purchasing power thus gained are clearly not being passed on to consumers in the form of lower retail prices;

87.  Recalls that the High Level Group set up in October 2009 in the wake of the crisis that shook milk producers has submitted its recommendations, which notably concern contractual relations and the producers' bargaining power; urges the Commission to act immediately to foster progress in a manner in keeping with the provisions of EU competition law;

88.  Urges the Commission, in cooperation with national competition authorities, to look in greater detail at competition in the agro-industrial sector in terms of transparency and consumer price evolution; requests the Commission to produce a study focusing in particular on the effects of the market power that major food suppliers and wholesale distributors have which allows them to influence the functioning of the food market;

89.  Reiterates in this context its earlier calls for sector inquiries into online advertising, search engines and the food industries; calls for an inquiry into media concentrations, including all channels for the distribution of content, such as print, television and radio and the internet; requests that the Commission present an analysis of competition in the telecoms and car sectors;

90.  Considers that competition in agricultural production is a precondition for lower prices for consumers in European countries, and urges the Commission to look in greater detail at competition in the agro-industrial sector in terms of support, transparency and consumer price evolution;

91.  Regrets the lack of progress in improving competition in the pharmaceutical sector and asks the Commission to expedite the completion of the internal market in medicines, for example by giving a greater role to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) with regard to central certification of medicines; asks the Commission to fight against abuses that may arise from the systematic practice of patent clusters that delay the market entry of generic medicines and restrict patients' access to affordable medicines; urges the Commission to take punitive measures in response to any misleading information campaigns against generic medicines;

92.  Is of the opinion that competition in the health sector could improve the quality of health care services to the benefit of European patients; calls on the Commission to monitor the health sector and, in particular, competition between public and private hospitals; asks the Commission to look in more depth into cases where private hospitals complain about cross-subsidies for public hospitals in those countries that have liberalised the sector;

93.  Stresses the need to create and monitor fair competition within and between transport modes in order to generate transparent and straightforward pricing structures and pricing policies;

94.  Calls on the Commission to analyse the effects on competition between the different transport modes of the substantial assistance given in recent years to, among other sectors, the automotive industry;

95.  Calls on the Commission to ensure transparency regarding the allocation and effective use of slots, in order to guarantee that real competition exists in the aviation sector;

96.  Invites the Commission to provide an overview of cases where low-cost air carriers have been benefiting from State support vis-à-vis other carriers through special conditions granted to them when using certain airports, beyond the three-year period prescribed for start-up aid for airline companies;

97.  Underlines the need to limit, as appropriate, the market share of maritime consortia of container lines and to share operational advantages – for both maritime and hinterland services – in accordance with the general EU rules on fair competition and subject to the conditions laid down in Regulation (EC) No 906/2009 concerning the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; stresses, furthermore, the need to ensure operational cooperation with a view to the joint provision of liner shipping services by shipping companies, in order to safeguard the efficiency and quality of shipping services;

98.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to secure completion of the internal market for transport, and fair competition in the transport field, while showing due regard for other European Union policy objectives, such as properly functioning transport and mobility services, policy objectives in the areas of public services, safety and environmental protection, and the EU 2020 targets on CO2 emissions reduction and oil dependency;

99.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee a level playing field, both for the various modes of transport and for publicly and privately owned companies within a given mode;

100.  Calls on the Commission to ensure greater transparency in the relationship between the state and publicly owned railway companies, including their road transport subsidiaries, as well as in the transfer of funds;

101.  Invites the Commission to provide an overview of taxation, levies, infrastructure financing and charging and VAT systems for different transport modes and for the individual Member States, and of their effects on competition within and between transport modes, and to set out, in that overview, the effect of obligatory and unlimited charges for rail use in comparison to non-obligatory and limited charges for the use of road infrastructure;

102.  Calls on the Commission, when reviewing legislation on passenger rights and reimbursement for delays, to guarantee fair and equal compensation schemes for delays across all transport modes, as well as the setting-up of independent bodies to arbitrate between operators and clients;

103.  Stresses the need to avoid unfair competition within the liberalised road transport sector by guaranteeing that social, safety and environmental rules are properly applied, paying special attention both to the opening up of this market to cabotage and to dumping practices;

104.  Asks the Commission to seek the completion of the single railway market through the opening of national passenger transport markets; calls on the Member States and the Commission, during the transitional period, to propose reciprocity clauses for Member States which decide to open up their own markets in advance;

105.  Draws the Commission's attention to the indirect obstacles to competition arising from disparities, in the transport sector, in rules on safety, interoperability and type-approval;

106.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to take care to ensure, through the decisions taken at both EU and national level, cohesive and harmonised implementation of the competition rules in the railway sector; emphasises, in particular, the need for cohesion between the railway supervisory authorities (regulators) and the national and European competition authorities;

107.  Supports firmly the creation of an EU patent and an EU-wide patent dispute settlement mechanism to tackle competition distortions caused by the current provisions on patents;

108.  Stresses that scientific and technical innovation, patents and the cultural industries contribute immensely to the competitiveness of the European economy; urges the Member States, therefore, to speedily find a solution to the outstanding issues regarding the EU single patent system; for that reason welcomes, as laid out in the Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union, the objective of the first EU patents being delivered in 2014;

109.  Reiterates that the competitiveness of the EU is very much dependent on innovation capacity, on research and development facilities, and on the linkage between innovation and manufacturing process;

110.  Stresses the key role played by research in improving European competitiveness; calls, therefore, on the Commission and on Member States to ensure that the 3% target for investments in research and development is reached;

o   o

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

(1) OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 270, 25.10.2008, p. 8.
(4) OJ C 10, 15.1.2009, p. 2.
(5) OJ C 72, 26.3.2009, p. 1.
(6) OJ C 195, 19.8.2009, p. 9.
(7) OJ C 16, 22.1.2009, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 45, 24.2.2009, p. 7.
(9) OJ C 136, 16.6.2009, p. 13.
(10) OJ C 136, 16.6.2009, p. 3.
(11) OJ C 85, 9.4.2009, p. 1.
(12) OJ C 82, 1.4.2008, p. 1.
(13) OJ C 87 E, 1.4.2010, p. 43.
(14) OJ C 349 E, 22.12.2010, p. 16.
(15) OJ C 117 E, 6.5.2010, p. 180.
(16) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 23.
(17) OJ C 74 E, 20.3.2008, p. 653.
(18) OJ C 117 E, 6.5.2010, p. 161.

A sustainable EU policy for the High North
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on a sustainable EU policy for the High North (2009/2214(INI))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), concluded on 10 December 1982 and in force since 16 November 1994,

–  having regard to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf,

–  having regard to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD),

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 13 September 2007,

–  having regard to the Declaration on the Establishment of the Arctic Council (AC), signed on 19 September 1996,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in particular to Part Four thereof and to the European Economic Area (EEA) Agreement,

–  having regard to the Declaration on the Cooperation in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, signed in Kirkenes on 11 January 1993,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 20 November 2008 on the European Union and the Arctic Region (COM(2008)0763),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 October 2008 on Arctic governance(1),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Arctic issues of 8 December 2009(2) and on the European Union and the Arctic region of 8 December 2008(3),

–  having regard to the Ilulissat Declaration adopted on 28 May 2008 at the Arctic Ocean Conference,

–  having regard to the Treaty between Norway, the United States of America, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, the British Overseas Dominions and Sweden concerning Spitsbergen/Svalbard of 9 February 1920,

–  having regard to the Northern Dimension policy and its Partnerships as well as the EU-Russia Common Spaces,

–  having regard to the EU-Greenland Partnership Agreement, 2007-2012,

–  having regard to the EU's Fifth, Sixth and Seventh Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development,

–  having regard to International Labour Organisation Convention 169 adopted on 27 June 1989,

–  having regard to the Nordic Sami Convention of November 2005,

–  having regard to United Nations General Assembly Declaration 61/295 of 13 September 2007on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,

–  having regard to the United Nations Human Rights Council resolutions 6/12 of 28 September 2007, 6/36 of 14 December 2007, 9/7 of 24 September 2008, 12/13 of 1 October 2009 and 15/7 of 5 October 2010,

–  having regard to Finland's strategy for the Arctic Region adopted on 4 June 2010,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Swedish Parliament on Commission Communication COM(2008)0763(4),

–  having regard to the joint Danish and Greenlandic strategy for the Arctic at a time of transition of May 2008,

–  having regard to the Norwegian Government's Strategy for the High North of 2007, and its follow-up of March 2009,

–  having regard to the Nordregio Report 2009:2, ‘Strong, Specific and Promising – Towards a Vision for the Northern Sparsely Populated Areas in 2020’,

–  having regard to the Nordic Council of Ministers' Arctic Cooperation Programme 2009-2011, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) programme and the AC Chairmanship programme,

–  having regard to the Canadian Northern Strategy of August 2009 and the follow-up statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy of 20 August 2010,

–  having regard to the Canadian Act to amend the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act of August 2009,

–  having regard to the ‘Basics of the state policy of the Russian Federation in the Arctic for the period till 2020 and for a further perspective’ adopted on 18 September 2008 and the Russian national security strategy until 2020 of May 2009,

–  having regard to the American National Security Presidential Directive and Homeland Security Presidential Directive of 9 January 2009,

–  having regard to the USA's Responsible Arctic Energy Development Act of 2010,

–  having regard to the USA's Arctic Oil Spill Research and Prevention Act of 2009,

–  having regard to the USA's Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment Implementation Act of 2009,

–  having regard to the Monaco Declaration of November 2008,

–  having regard to the final statement adopted at the First Northern Dimension Parliamentary Forum in Brussels on 26 September 2009,

–  having regard to the Conference Statement of the Ninth Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region of 15 September 2010,

–  having regard to NATO's new Strategic Concept, approved by Heads of State and Government at the Lisbon Summit in November 2010, and its implications vis-à-vis the security prospects in the Arctic region, particularly the military aspects of the High North,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0377/2010),

A.  whereas the Commission communication constitutes a formal first step towards responding to the European Parliament's call for the formulation of an EU Arctic policy; whereas the Council Conclusions on Arctic Issues should be recognised as a further step in the definition of an EU policy on the Arctic,

B.  whereas the European Parliament has been an active participant in the work of the Standing Committee of Arctic Parliamentarians through its Delegation for relations with Switzerland, Iceland and Norway for a period of some two decades, culminating in the hosting of the full Conference of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic in Brussels in September 2010,

C.  whereas Denmark, Finland and Sweden are Arctic countries and both Finland and Sweden are partially located within the Arctic Circle; whereas the EU's only indigenous people, the Sami people, live in the Arctic regions of Finland and Sweden as well as Norway and Russia,

D.  whereas Iceland's application to join the EU will increase the need for the EU to take account of the Arctic region in its geopolitical perspective,

E.  whereas Norway, a reliable partner, is associated with the EU through the EEA Agreement,

F.  whereas there has been a longstanding engagement of the EU in the Arctic by way of its involvement in the Common Northern Dimension Policy with Russia, Norway and Iceland, including its Arctic Window, in the Barents cooperation and particularly in the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the implications of the strategic partnerships with Canada, the United States and Russia and its participation as an active ad hoc observer in the AC,

G.  whereas the gradual formulation of an EU policy on the Arctic should be based on the recognition of the existing international, multilateral and bilateral legal frameworks such as the comprehensive set of rules laid down in UNCLOS and several sectoral, bilateral and multilateral agreements which already regulate certain issues of importance to the Arctic,

H.  whereas the EU and its Member States make a major contribution to research in the Arctic and whereas EU programmes, including the current Seventh Framework Programme, support major research projects in the region,

I.  whereas it is estimated that about a fifth of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbon resources are located in the Arctic region, although more extensive research is needed to establish more accurately how much gas and oil there is in the region and how economically viable it would be to exploit these reserves,

J.  whereas there is also strong global interest in other Arctic renewable and non-renewable resources such as minerals, forests, fish and pristine landscapes for tourism,

K.  whereas the growing interest in the Arctic region of other non-Arctic actors such as China, illustrated by China's commissioning of a first icebreaker, their allocation of funding to polar research and not least the applications by South Korea, China, Italy, the EU, Japan and Singapore for status as permanent observers at the AC, indicates a different geopolitical appreciation of the Arctic on a larger scale,

L.  whereas the recently established self-government in Greenland with regard to relevant policy areas including environmental legislation and resources and the recent update of the EU-Greenland Partnership Agreement has led to an increased interest in the exploration and exploitation of resources in Greenland and on its Continental shelf,

M.  whereas the effects of climate change mainly originating from outside the Arctic and the globalisation of the world economy will impact the region; whereas in particular the retreat of the sea ice, as well as the potential for resources and the possible use of new technologies, is likely to produce unforeseeable environmental effects and repercussions in other parts of the planet as well as an increase in shipping in particular between Europe, Asia and North America, in exploration and exploitation of natural resources, namely gas, oil and other minerals but also natural resources such as fish, and exploitation of marine genetic resources, increased mining and logging activities and increased tourism and research activities; whereas those effects will produce new challenges but also new opportunities in the Arctic and elsewhere,

N.  whereas climate change is managed by monitoring, mitigation and adaptation methods; whereas the promotion of sustainable development in using natural resources and in building new infrastructures is managed by strategic planning processes,

The EU and the Arctic

1.  Recalls that three EU Member States – Denmark, Finland and Sweden – are Arctic States; acknowledges that the EU has no Arctic Ocean coastline so far; reaffirms the legitimate interest of the EU and other third countries as stakeholders by virtue of their rights and obligations under international law, its commitment to environmental, climate and other policies and its funding, research activities and economic interests, including shipping and exploitation of natural resources; moreover recalls that the EU has large Arctic land areas in Finland and Sweden that are inhabited by the only indigenous population group in Europe, the Sami;

2.  Takes into account that through its Northern Member States and candidate countries the EU is affected by Arctic policies and likewise has an impact on Arctic policies, and recognises the ongoing work in the several partnerships of the Northern Dimension, a common policy of the EU with Russia, Norway and Iceland;

3.  Underlines that certain policies that are relevant to the Arctic are exclusive Union competences, such as the conservation of marine biological resources under the common fisheries policy, others partly shared with Member States;

4.  Highlights that the EU is committed to devising its policy responses in the Arctic on the basis of the best available scientific knowledge and understanding of the processes affecting the Arctic, and is accordingly already devoting sizeable research efforts to generating sound scientific evidence to support policy-making;

5.  Conscious of the need to protect the fragile environment of the Arctic, underlines the importance of overall stability and peace in the region; stresses that the EU should pursue policies that ensure that measures to address environmental concerns take into account the interests of the inhabitants of the Arctic region, including its indigenous peoples, in protecting and developing the region; stresses the similarity in approach, analysis and priorities between the Commission Communication and policy documents in the Arctic States; stresses the need to engage in policies that respect the interest in sustainable management and use of the land-based and marine, non-renewable and renewable natural resources of the Arctic region, which in turn provide important resources for Europe and are a major source of income to the inhabitants of the region;

6.  Highlights the fact that a future accession of Iceland to the EU would transform the Union into an Arctic coastal entity, while noting that Iceland's status as a candidate country for accession to the EU underlines the need for a coordinated Arctic policy at EU level and represents a strategic opportunity for the EU to assume a more active role and contribute to multilateral governance in the Arctic region; considers that Iceland's accession to the EU would further consolidate the EU's presence in the Arctic Council;

7.  Emphasises the importance of interacting with Arctic communities and supporting capacity-building programmes in order to improve the quality of life of indigenous and local communities in the region and gain more understanding of the living conditions and cultures of these communities; calls on the EU to promote a stronger dialogue with the indigenous peoples and the Arctic local inhabitants;

8.Stresses the need for a united, coordinated EU policy on the Arctic region, in which both the EU's priorities and the potential challenges and a strategy are clearly defined;
New world transport routes

9.  Underlines the major importance of the safety and security of new world trade routes through the sea in the Arctic, in particular for the EU and its Member States' economies, these countries controlling 40% of world commercial shipping; welcomes the work in the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) on a mandatory Polar Code for shipping and the work in the Working Groups of the AC, particularly the Taskforce on Search and Rescue (SAR); underlines that the EU and its Member States should actively uphold the freedom of the seas and the right to free passage through international waterways;

10.  Stresses the importance of developing new railway and transport corridors in the Barents Euro-Arctic Transport Area (Beata) to facilitate the growing need for international trade, mining and other economic development, as well as aviation connections in the High North; draws attention in this regard to the new Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics;

11.  Suggests that important non-Arctic shipping nations using the Arctic Ocean should be included in the results of the Search and Rescue Work Initiative of the AC; therefore recommends that the Commission and the Council, together with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), coordinate EU and Member States' policies in that particular field in the IMO, the AC and other organisations;

12.  Points out that in spite of the efforts on a mandatory Polar Code for shipping a faster solution to the issue of safety of Arctic shipping might be found through coordination and harmonisation of national legislation and calls on EMSA to concern itself to the maximum with Arctic shipping;

13.  Welcomes other cooperation initiatives on secure and safe shipping in the Arctic and on better access to the various Northern sea routes; emphasises that this concerns not only commercial traffic but also a large and increasing volume of tourist shipping carrying EU citizens; calls for more research on the effect that climate change has on Arctic navigation and shipping routes; equally calls for assessments of the impact of the increase in navigation and commercial activities, including offshore activities, on the Arctic environment and its inhabitants;

14.  Calls on the States in the region to ensure that any current transport routes – and those that may emerge in the future – are open to international shipping and to refrain from introducing any unilateral arbitrary burdens, be they financial or administrative, that could hinder shipping in the Arctic, other than internationally agreed measures aimed at increasing security or protection of the environment;

Natural resources

15.  Is conscious of the need for resources for a growing world population and recognises the increase in interest in them as well as the sovereign rights under international law of the Arctic States; recommends any party involved to take steps to ensure the highest possible safety, social and environmental standards in exploration and exploitation of the natural resources;

16.  Highlights the fact that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) as well as strategic and social impact assessment processes will be central tools in the management of concrete projects and programmes in the Arctic; draws attention to Directive 2001/42/EC(5) on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and to the fact that Finland, Sweden and Norway have ratified the UNECE Convention on EIA in a Transboundary Context (Espoo Convention), which will provide a good basis for the active promotion of impact assessment procedures in the Arctic; refers in this regard also to the Bergen Statement issued by the Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Commission of 23 and 24 September 2010;

17.  Calls on the States in the region to resolve any current or future conflicts over access to natural resources in the Arctic in the way of constructive dialogue, possibly within the AC, which constitutes a good forum for such discussion; underlines the role of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in finding solutions for conflicts between Arctic States over delimitation of their exclusive economic zones;

18.  Points in particular to the responsibility of the Arctic States to ensure that oil companies that plan to engage in offshore oil drilling within their respective maritime borders have the necessary safety technology and expertise in place and are financially prepared to prevent and respond to oil rig disasters and oil spills; notes that the extreme weather conditions and the high ecological fragility of the Arctic region render it necessary for relevant oil companies to develop special expertise in preventing and handling oil spills in the region;

19.  Welcomes the new delimitation agreement(6) between Norway and Russia, in particular the expressed will to engage in closer cooperation regarding the joint management of resources, and the continued joint management of fish stocks, in the Barents Sea, including in terms of sustainability; regards in particular the bilateral cooperation between Norway and Russia as a showcase for joint application of the highest available technical standards in the field of environmental protection while prospecting for oil and gas in the Barents Sea; points out in particular the importance of the contentious development of new technologies especially developed for the Arctic environment, such as sub-seabed installation technology;

20.  Is conscious of the different interpretations of the Svalbard/Spitsbergen Treaty with regard to its applicability to the continental shelf and the maritime zones of Svalbard/Spitsbergen, and, given the relatively good accessibility of resources in the continental shelf, would welcome an agreement on the legal status of the shelf acknowledging the legal rights and duties of the costal shelf states; is confident that any disputes which may arise will be dealt with in a constructive way;

21.  Recalls the position of the EU as a main consumer of Arctic natural resources, as well as the involvement of European economic actors; requests the Commission to further engage in fostering cooperation and technology transfer to ensure the highest standards and adequate administrative procedures, to establish a sound scientific basis for future trends and governance needs for Arctic resources, such as fisheries, mining, forestry and tourism, and to make full use of the EU competences to regulate in this regard; as economic activities in the Arctic will increase, calls upon the EU to promote the principles of sustainable development therein;

22.  Insists that before any new commercial fisheries are opened in the Arctic region, reliable and precautionary scientific stock assessments must be conducted in order to determine levels of fishing that will conserve the targeted fish stocks and not lead to depletion of other species or to serious damage to the marine environment, and that any fishing on the high seas must be regulated by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation that respects scientific advice and has a robust control and surveillance programme to ensure compliance with management measures, while fishing within Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) must meet the same standards;

23.  Considers that the creation and enforcement of marine protected areas of sufficient size and diversity are an important tool in the conservation of the marine environment;

Climate change and pollution effects on the Arctic

24.  Acknowledges that the EU, like other developed areas of the world, contributes substantially to climate change and hence bears special responsibility and must play a leading role in combating climate change;

25.  Acknowledges that the best protection for the Arctic is a long-term and ambitious global climate agreement, but realises that the rapid warming of the Arctic makes it necessary, in addition, to work on possible further short-term measures to limit Arctic warming;

26.  Regards the Arctic as a sensitive region where the effects of climate change are especially visible, having serious repercussions on other regions in the world; supports therefore the Council Conclusions on increased cooperation with the UNFCCC and the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) and the efforts to realise the Svalbard Integrated Observation System (SIOS) and the Arctic components of the European Multidisciplinary Seafloor Observatory (EMSO), since those initiatives ensure a unique European contribution to understanding climate and environment change in the Arctic region;

27.  Recognises the disproportionately large Arctic warming impact caused by black carbon emissions from the EU and other regions in the northern hemisphere, and stresses the need for inclusion of black carbon emissions in the relevant UNECE and EU regulatory framework, such as the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution and the National Emissions Ceilings Directive;

28.  Welcomes the ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil on vessels operating in the Antarctic Area, approved by the IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), which is due to enter into force on 1 August 2011; stresses that a similar ban might be appropriate in Arctic waters to reduce risks to the environment in case of accidents;

29.  Supports increased cooperation with Arctic and non-Arctic states on developing the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON) and encourages the European Environmental Agency to continue its valuable work and to promote cooporation through the European Environment Information and Observation Network (Eionet) using the guiding principles of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS);

30.  Stresses the important role the EU and the circumpolar nations have to play in the reduction of pollution in the Arctic region caused by long-range transport, e.g. shipping; highlights in this respect the importance of the implementation of European legislation such as Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006(7); points out that the climatic changes in the Arctic will have a major impact on coastal regions in Europe and elsewhere and on climate-dependent sectors in Europe such as agriculture and fisheries, renewable energy, reindeer herding, hunting, tourism and transport;

Sustainable socioeconomic development

31.  Recognises that the effects of the melting ice and milder temperatures are not only displacing indigenous populations and thereby threatening the indigenous way of life but also creating opportunities for economic development in the Arctic region; acknowledges the wish of the inhabitants and governments of the Arctic region with sovereign rights and responsibilities to continue to pursue sustainable economic development while at the same time protecting traditional sources of the indigenous peoples' livelihood and the very sensitive nature of the Arctic ecosystems, taking into account their experience in using and developing the various resources of the region in a sustainable way; recommends applying ecosystem-based management principles to consolidate ecological scientific knowledge with social values and needs;

32.  Underlines that it is important for the EU together with representatives of the regions in the area to discuss the importance of the Structural Funds for development and cooperation in order to face the future global challenges with a view to progress and to be able to seize the development potential of the area;

33.  Is of the opinion that in order to identify the specific potential of each locality and to develop adequate settlement strategies with respect to regional differences, an inclusive process with the assistance of the national and EU levels is needed; believes that partnerships and dialogue between the levels of authority concerned ensures that the policies can be implemented at the most effective level;

34.  Notes the special position and recognises the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic and points in particular to the legal and political situation of the indigenous peoples in the Arctic States and in their representation in the Arctic Council; calls for greater involvement of indigenous people in policy-making; stresses the need to adopt special measures to safeguard the culture, language and land rights of indigenous peoples in the way defined in ILO Convention 169; calls for a regular dialogue between the indigenous peoples' representatives and the EU institutions and further calls on the EU to take into account the special needs of sparsely populated peripheral areas in terms of regional development, livelihoods and education; underlines the importance of supporting activities promoting the culture, language and customs of indigenous peoples;

35.  Notes that the economies of the indigenous peoples rely to a high extent on sustainable use of natural resources and therefore that the reduction of climate change and its effects and the right of the indigenous peoples to an unpolluted natural environment are also questions of human rights;

36.  Welcomes the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people and that of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;

37.  Welcomes the successful completion by the Expert Mechanism of its progress report on the study on indigenous peoples and the right to participate in decision-making;

38.  Encourages the Arctic Member States to engage in negotiations leading to a new ratified Nordic Sami Convention;

39.  Urges the EU to promote actively the culture and language rights of Finno-Ugric people living in Northern Russia;

40.  Takes note of the recent legal developments regarding the EU's ban on seal products, in particular the action brought for annulment of Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009(8) (Case T-18/10, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami v Parliament and the Council) pending before the General Court; notes the consultation procedure under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) requested by Canada and Norway; expresses its hope that disagreements between the parties can be overcome following the rulings of the ECJ and the result of the WTO procedures;

41.  Is aware of the increasing interest in the exploitation of resources; in that regard points out the need for broad all-encompassing ecosystem-based approaches as most likely to be capable of dealing with the multiple challenges facing the Arctic related to climate change, shipping, environmental hazards and contaminants, fisheries and other human activities, along the lines of the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy or Norway's Integrated Management Plan for the Barents Sea and the sea areas of the Lofoten Islands; recommends the Member States to endorse the revised Arctic Council Offshore Oil and Gas Guidelines of 2009;


42.  Recognises the institutions and the broad framework of international law and agreements that govern areas of importance to the Arctic such as UNCLOS (including the basic principles of freedom of navigation and innocent passage), the IMO, the OSPAR Convention(9), the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), CITES(10) and the Stockholm Convention as well as the existing numerous bilateral agreements and frameworks, in addition to the national regulations in place in the Arctic States; thus concludes that the Arctic region is not to be regarded as a legal vacuum, but as an area with well developed tools for governance; nevertheless points out that, due to the challenges of climate change and increasing economic development, those existing rules need to be further developed, strengthened and implemented by all parties concerned;

43.  Emphasises that, although States play a key role in governance in the Arctic, other players – such as international organisations, indigenous and local people and sub-state authorities – also have important roles; points out that it is important to increase trust among those with legitimate interests in the region by taking a participative approach and using dialogue as a way of developing a shared vision for the Arctic;

44.  Believes that the impression given by some observers of a so-called scramble for the Arctic does not contribute to fostering a constructive understanding and cooperation in the region; points out that the Arctic States have on several occasions declared their commitment to resolve and in some cases have worked towards resolving possible conflicts of interests according to the principles of international law;

45.  Recognises the important role of the AC as the foremost regional forum for cooperation for the whole Arctic region; recalls that, apart from the Member States Denmark, Sweden and Finland and the candidate country Iceland which are members of the Arctic Council, the Member States Germany, France, the UK, Netherlands, Spain and Poland are active permanent observers; affirms its commitment not to support any arrangements which exclude any of the Arctic EU Member States, candidate countries or Arctic EEA/ EFTA states; acknowledges the concrete work done in the working groups of the AC with the involvement of the observers and calls on the Commission and EU agencies to continue to actively engage in all relevant working groups whenever possible; favours strengthening the legal and economic base of the AC;

46.  Recognises that the challenges facing the Arctic are global and should therefore include all relevant actors;

47.  Welcomes the results of major reports which the AC working groups have produced in recent years on Arctic oil and gas, the impacts of warming and emergency response needs;

48.  Welcomes the degree of political organisation of indigenous interests in the Sami Parliaments and then Sami Council in Northern Europe and the cooperation among several indigenous organisations on a circumpolar basis and acknowledges the unique role of the AC with regard to the involvement of indigenous people; recognises the rights of the indigenous peoples of the Arctic as set out in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and encourages the Commission to make use of the EIDHR for the benefit of Arctic indigenous people empowerment;

49.  Welcomes the broad cooperation on issues such as the protection of the Arctic marine environment (PAME Working Group), not only on a regional level but bilaterally and internationally; interprets in this respect the work done on SAR in the AC as a first step towards mechanisms also to take binding decisions;

50.  Welcomes the continuous AC assessment of the scope and structure of its work and is confident that it will continue to broaden the basis for decision-shaping processes to include non-AC actors;

51.  Expresses its hope that the AC will further develop its important work and broaden the basis for decision-shaping processes to include other Arctic actors who are upgrading their presence in the Arctic region, and thus involve their knowledge and capacities and take into account their legitimate interests under international law, while at the same time the significantly greater importance of the interests of the Arctic States should be stressed; welcomes the internal procedure within the AC regarding a review of the status of observers and of the possible future scope of the tasks of the AC;

52.  Is of the opinion that a strengthened AC should play a leading role in cooperation on the Arctic and would therefore welcome politically and administratively improved capacities of the AC, e.g. the permanent secretariat currently under discussion, more equal sharing of costs, more frequent ministerial meetings and an Annual Arctic Summit on the Highest Level, as proposed by the Foreign Minister of the EU Member State Finland, which is also a Member of the Arctic Council; would further welcome greater involvement of the Parliamentarians of the Arctic to underline the parliamentary dimension and be sure to include relevant non-Arctic players; furthermore insists that continued high-level meetings of an inner exclusive core of States will merely undermine the status and role of the AC as a whole; wishes the AC to maintain its open and inclusive approach and thus to remain open to all stakeholders;

53.  Regards the Northern Dimension as a focal point for regional cooperation in Northern Europe; notes that the four partners, namely the EU, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation, as well as the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, the Nordic Council of Ministers, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and the World Bank (IBRD), are participants in the Northern Dimension and that both Canada and the United States hold observer status in the Northern Dimension; stresses the need for close alignment between the Northern Dimension policy and the EU's evolving Arctic policy; notes the Northern Dimension's Arctic Window; highlights the valuable experience of the Northern Dimension partnerships, particularly the new Northern Dimension Partnership on Transport and Logistics and its benefits for cooperation in the Arctic;

54.  Confirms its support for permanent observer status for the EU in the AC; recognises that EU Member States are involved in AC work through various international organisations (such as the IMO, OSPAR, NEAFC and the Stockholm Convention) and highlights the need for coherence in all EU policies towards the Arctic; asks the Commission to keep Parliament duly informed about meetings and work in the AC and its Working Groups; stresses meanwhile that the EU and its Member States are already present as members or observers in other international organisations with relevance to the Arctic such as the IMO, OSPAR, NEAFC and the Stockholm Convention and therefore should more coherently focus on the work in these organisations; underlines in this regard in particular the need for coherence in all EU policies towards the Arctic; encourages the AC to involve civil society and non-governmental organisations more closely as ad-hoc observers;

55.  Regards the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) as an important hub for cooperation between Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the European Commission; notes the work of the BEAC in the fields of health and social issues, education and research, energy, culture and tourism; notes the advisory role of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples (WGIP) within the BEAC;

Conclusions and requests

56.  Requests the Commission to develop the existing Inter-Service Group into a permanent inter-service structure to ensure a coherent, coordinated and integrated policy approach across key policy areas relevant to the Arctic, such as the environment, energy, transport and fisheries; recommends assigning the co-lead of this structure to the EEAS and DG MARE, the latter acting as a cross-sectoral coordinator within the Commission; further recommends creating an Arctic unit in the EEAS accordingly;

57.  Calls on the Commission, in negotiating bilateral agreements, to take account of the fact that the sensitive Arctic ecosystem must be protected, the interests of the Arctic population, including its indigenous population groups, must be safeguarded and the natural resources of the Arctic must be used sustainably, and calls on the Commission to be guided by these principles in relation to all activities;

58.  Notes that scientific data clearly demonstrates that the Arctic ecosystem is currently going trough massive climate-related changes and that this situation requires that a precautionary and scientifically robust approach be taken to any future development in the Arctic; calls for further scientific studies within the framework of a multilateral agreement to be completed in order to inform international understanding of the Arctic eco-system and decision-making thereon before any further major development goes ahead;

59.  Underlines the fact that the EU and its Member States are main contributors to Arctic-relevant research, regional cooperation and the development of technology relevant to the region and beyond, and requests the Commission to examine the possibilities of developing circumpolar co-funding and co-programming initiatives to enable smoother and more effective cooperation between experts from the countries involved; requests the EU to promote cooperation activities with the USA, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and Russia in the field of multidisciplinary Arctic research, thereby establishing coordinated funding mechanisms; further requests the Commission to create a means to work directly with Arctic Member States, indigenous organisations and Arctic research institutes in order to help inform the EU about relevant issues, important research topics and matters that concern those living and working in the Arctic to help establish future research activities;

60.  Is of the opinion that the EU should develop further its capacities and calls on the Commission to explore and report on the establishment as well as on the continuation of EU activities in the Arctic such as a circumpolar joint multilateral research funding programme providing for easier and less bureaucratic cooperation and joint projects of the research community; requests the Commission to explore as a key priority the establishment of an EU Arctic Information Centre as a joint, networked undertaking, taking into account suitable proposals; notes the proposal by the University of Lapland in this respect; considers that such a centre needs to be capable both of organising permanent EU outreach to the major actors relevant to the Arctic and of channelling Arctic information and services towards the EU's Institutions and stakeholders;

61.  Emphasises that, in order to objectively determine the nature and rate of the changes occurring in the natural environment of the Arctic, it is vital that international teams of scientists be given full access to carry out research in this particularly sensitive area of our planet; points out that the EU is stepping up its presence and involvement, particularly in the European sector of the Arctic, by building joint infrastructure for research and increasing the number of research programmes carried out in the Arctic; supports in particular research teams made up of scientists from many different fields and representing all the countries involved; welcomes the often good and open cooperation in research and takes the view that this research should be open, which would be in the interests of, and make it available for use by, the international community as a whole;

62.  Emphasises the contribution of the EU's European Territorial Cooperation objective, as a clear European added value, in particular the cross-border cooperation programmes of Kolartic and Karelia as well as the CBC Baltic Sea Basin programme, which includes the Barents region; requests the Commission to explore how a suitably enhanced Northern Periphery Programme could have a similar impact on an Arctic Strategy in the next programming period;

63.  Asks the Commission to support efforts to quickly and efficiently realise the SIOS and EMSO observatories as unique contributions to better understanding and protecting the Arctic environment;

64.  Requests the Commission to put forward proposals as to how the Galileo Project or projects like Global Monitoring for Environment and Security that could have an impact on the Arctic could be developed to enable safer and faster navigation in Arctic waters, thus investing in the safety and accessibility of the North-East Passage in particular, to contribute to better predictability of ice movements, better mapping of the Arctic seabed and an understanding of the main geodynamic processes in the area, which are of major importance for the geodynamics of the Earth and for the water cycle in polar regions and in order to enhance our knowledge of unique ecosystems;

65.  Calls for all governments in the Arctic region, especially that of Russia, to adopt and endorse the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples adopted by the General Assembly on 13 September 2007;

66.  Urges Member States to ratify all the key agreements regarding the rights of indigenous peoples, such as ILO Convention 169;

67.  Requests the EU and its Member States to propose, as part of the ongoing IMO work on a mandatory Polar Code for shipping, that soot emissions and heavy fuel oil be regulated specifically; in the event that such negotiations do not bear fruits, requests the Commission to put forward proposals on rules for vessels calling at EU ports subsequent to, or prior to, journeys through Arctic waters, with a view to imposing a strict regime limiting soot emissions and the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil;

o   o

68.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the governments and parliaments of the Arctic region states.

(1) OJ C 9 E, 15.1.2010, p. 41.
(2) 2985th Foreign Affairs Council meeting.
(3) 2914th Council meeting.
(4) 2009/10:UU4.
(5) OJ L 197, 21.7.2001, p. 30.
(6) Signed on 15 September 2010.
(7) OJ L 136, 29.5.2007, p. 3.
(8) OJ L 286, 31.10.2009, p. 36.
(9) Convention for the Protection of the Maritime Environment of the North-East Atlantic.
(10) Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

An EU Strategy for the Black Sea
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on an EU Strategy for the Black Sea (2010/2087(INI))

The European Parliament,

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

–  having regard to the Council Conclusions on the Black Sea Synergy Initiative of 14 May 2007,

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2008 on a Black Sea Regional Policy Approach(1),

–  having regard to the Joint Statement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the countries of the European Union and of the wider Black Sea area, adopted in Kiev on 14 February 2008,

–  having regard to the Commission's ‘Report on the first year of implementation of the Black Sea Synergy’, adopted on 19 June 2008 (COM(2008)0391),

–  having regard to the Joint Statement launching the Black Sea Synergy Environment Partnership (Brussels, 16 March 2010),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy (COM(2006)0726) and the Commission's intention to present the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2011,

–  having regard to the Association Partnership with Turkey,

–  having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements concluded with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, and to the ongoing negotiations on new Association Agreements, as well as to the respective ENPAction Plans,

–  having regard to the ENP Progress Reports on Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine adopted by the Commission on 12 May 2010,

–  having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement concluded with the Russian Federation, and to the ongoing negotiations on a new EU-Russia Agreement,

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 3 December 2008 entitled ‘Eastern Partnership’ (COM(2008)0823),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the Prague Eastern Partnership Summit of 7 May 2009,

–  having regard to the recent progress in the visa-facilitation dialogue with countries from the region,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2007 on strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy(2),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Turkey, Ukraine and the South Caucasus countries, as well as on the Integrated Maritime Policy,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0378/2010),

A.  whereas the Black Sea region is a strategic bridge connecting Europe with the Caspian Sea area, Central Asia and the Middle East and, further, with south-east Asia and China, and it is characterised by close ties and great potential, but also by diversities and rivalries; whereas the region comprises the EU Member States Bulgaria, Greece and Romania, the candidate country Turkey and the ENP partners Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, as well as the Russian Federation as a strategic partner,

B.  whereas the Black Sea region is of strategic importance for the EU; whereas the Black Sea is partially internal to the EU and geographically mostly a European sea, which results in shared challenges and opportunities for the EU and the countries of the region, as well as in a common need to ensure that there is an area of peace, democracy, security, stability, regional cooperation and sustainable prosperity around the Black Sea; whereas a more cohesive, sustainable and strategic approach is necessary in the Black Sea region,

C.  whereas the Black Sea region is a socially, culturally and religiously rich environment where intercultural and inter-faith dialogue should play a central role,

D.  whereas the Black Sea Synergy (BSS) has had the merit of recognising the Black Sea region as strategic for the EU, together with the need for strengthened EU involvement in the area; whereas BSS results have so far been rather limited and no clear and comprehensive picture exists of the current implementation results of the BSS, exposing the EU to criticism that it lacks a strategic vision for the region and that it is applying a fragmented approach to implementation,

E.  whereas no action plan has been drawn up setting out concrete objectives and benchmarks, and reporting, monitoring, evaluation and follow-up mechanisms, as asked for in Parliament's very first resolution on the Black Sea region,

F.  whereas only one progress report has been issued, in 2008, which was not followed up with any regular reporting mechanism; whereas not many projects have been carried out and only a Partnership on the Environment has been launched to date,

G.  whereas no ministerial conference has been held since 2008, highlighting the lack of visibility of, and strategic vision and political guidance for, the BSS,

H.  whereas the efforts so far, while commendable, have been severely hampered by poor administrative organisation, a lack of institutional and political commitment, and a lack of human and dedicated financial resources,

I.  whereas many developments have taken place in the Black Sea region since 2008, and while regional cooperation seems to be advancing in some technical fields, such as environment, education, research and technology, as well as in normative approximation, a number of challenges, such as protracted conflicts in the Caucasus and Transnistria, maritime security and search and rescue operations, militarisation, displaced populations and the deterioration of democratic rule, persist and have even gained in intensity,

J.  whereas the French Presidency's mission, together with action by the Member States, demonstrated the EU's commitment to containing and resolving the conflict in Georgia,

K.  whereas the Black Sea region is of geo-strategic importance for the energy security of the EU, with regard, in particular, to the diversification of energy supplies,

L.  whereas other EU initiatives involving the countries of the Black Sea region should not be seen as competing with, but rather as complementary to, the BSS,

M.  whereas the Commission has been asked to develop an EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which should take into account its close interconnection with the Black Sea region,

1.  Considers that, given the strategic importance of the Black Sea region for the EU and the rather limited results of the BSS, a strategy should be launched to enhance the coherence and visibility of EU action in the region and that the EU Black Sea Strategy should be an integral part of the EU's broader foreign and security policy vision;

2.  Calls on the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) to draw up a strategy for the Black Sea region in parallel with the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy, thus defining an integrated and comprehensive EU approach to address the challenges and opportunities of the region, with a detailed action plan, clear objectives, flagship initiatives and benchmarks; believes that the strategy will make for effective coordination of activities and division of tasks;

3.  Reiterates its call on the Commission and the EEAS to carry out regular reviews of the implementation of the strategy by establishing concrete monitoring, evaluation, follow-up and reporting mechanisms; urges that the relevant European Parliament committees be consulted at key stages of this process;

4.  Recommends that consistency between EU-level policy and the national strategies of the EU Member States in the Black Sea region needs to be ensured;

5.  Stresses that the EU Member States must agree on clear priorities in order that a realistic and financially sound action plan can subsequently be drawn up, together with a corresponding system for assessing its effectiveness;

6.  Stresses that adequate human resources must be devoted to the task of achieving the objectives of the new strategy, particularly by taking visible account of that strategy in the organisational structure and staffing of the EEAS;

7.  Welcomes the launch of the Joint Operational Programme for Cross-Border Cooperation in the Black Sea Basin under ENPI and believes that the large number of applications received reflects a high degree of interest in joint cooperation projects in the Black Sea region; applauds the approval of 16 new projects by the Joint Monitoring Committee in November 2010; believes, however, that the slow pace of the programme's functioning reflects the shortcomings of the current funding mechanisms; points, in particular, to the legal difficulties relating to the need to fund participants from different financial instruments, and calls on the Commission to devise solutions to eliminate such obstacles; takes the view that investment projects could also be covered by the programme;

8.  Calls for a Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme to be drawn up for the next programming period in order fully to address and continue the efforts to achieve all the objectives stated in the ENPI CBC Strategy Paper 2007-2013; emphasises that uniform terms governing applications should be laid down, thereby giving any legal entity in any participating state in the programme area the possibility to apply as lead participant; considers that all countries in Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme should be involved and encouraged actively to participate in the next programming period;

9.  Is convinced, therefore, that the success of the strategy depends on the provision of appropriate and identifiable funding; calls for the creation of a specific budget line for the Black Sea Strategy, and for the development of efficient disbursement methods, tailored to the specific characteristics of the region, and controls on the use of the funds; encourages priority financing of small-scale development projects; calls on the Commission and regions to promote people-to-people projects in the framework of cross-border cooperation and to provide for and enhance the financing instrument of the Small Project Fund;

10.  Stresses the need for a project-based approach with a view to including local authorities, business communities, NGOs or other civil society organisations (CSOs) in designing, joint ownership and implementation of Black Sea Strategy activities; emphasises the importance of monitoring Black Sea Strategy activities through the definition of benchmarks or other appropriate indicators;

11.  Encourages the development of synergies between the various Union policies that come into play in the Strategy, particularly the Structural Funds, the Research and Development Framework Programme and the Trans-European Transport Networks, in order to ensure the sustainability of the actions financed; in that way opportunities created by one economic development initiative can be taken up by another, complementary initiative;

12.  Regards inclusiveness and regional ownership as important principles of the EU approach towards the region and sees Turkey and Russia as partners which should ideally be properly involved in Black Sea regional cooperation; believes that the dual role of Bulgaria, Romania and Greece as both riparian states and EU Member States is essential to the success of EU policy in the Black Sea region;

13.  Considers that in order to provide visibility, strategic guidance and high-level coordination, ministerial meetings between the EU and the wider Black Sea region countries should be organised on a regular basis and include all actors and countries in the region, including the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea against Pollution, the EBRD and the EIB; is convinced that an institutional dialogue bringing together the EU and the BSEC could constitute a step towards creating a genuine partnership in the region; notes, however, that the BSEC seems currently to be facing structural difficulties and to be in need of rejuvenation and reform in order to become an efficient regional partner;

14.  Deplores the fact that the Black Sea Forum for Dialogue and Partnership has been adversely affected by regional tensions and, as a result, has not yet been established; considers that such a Forum could play a role in generating ideas and fostering dialogue among regional actors;

15.  Believes that the Black Sea Strategy should be developed at all levels of regional cooperation; welcomes the parliamentary cooperation established between the EU and the Black Sea countries;

16.  Recognises the importance of regional and local authorities and stakeholders for the planning and implementation of the strategy, given their close links with the territory and with local people; calls, therefore, for their needs to be identified and for them to be fully involved in the strategy;

17.  Welcomes the creation of the Black Sea Civil Society Forum and encourages strengthened cooperation between local authorities, civil society and business; calls on the Commission to provide enhanced support for civil society, including CSO networks; underlines the role of the non-governmental sector in ensuring both the effective implementation of Black Sea Strategy activities and the success of confidence-building measures;

18.  Stresses the complementary nature of the BSS and the Eastern Partnership, and calls on the Commission to make positive use of the differing approaches of the two initiatives and to clarify, at all levels, how this substantial degree of complementarity is to be exploited; calls on the Vice-President/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to ensure that the EEAS effectively coordinates the various initiatives and instruments deployed by the EU in the wider Black Sea region;

19.  Welcomes the development of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, which is to be completed by the end of this year, and calls for it to be endorsed and for a start to be made on its implementation in the first part of 2011; emphasises the need to extend the EU Strategy for the Danube Region towards the Black Sea region; points out that the sustainable development of the Danube region will further enhance the geostrategic importance of the Black Sea region; consequently, while acknowledging the differing nature of the regions and the distinct geographical focus of the two strategies, considers that they should be complementary and mutually reinforcing;

20.  Stresses that the main objective pursued by the EU and the Member States in the EU Strategy for the Black Sea Region should be to establish an area of peace, democracy, prosperity and stability, founded on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and providing for EU energy security; considers that good governance, the rule of law, promotion of respect of human rights, migration management, energy, transport, the environment, and economic and social development should constitute priority actions;

Security and good governance

21.  Recalls that the Black Sea region needs active policies and long-lasting solutions to cope with the considerable regional and transnational challenges facing it, such as protracted conflicts, displaced populations, bilateral disputes, closed borders and strategic rivalries leading to militarisation and proliferation of arms, weak institutions and governance and the deterioration of democratic rule, cross-border crime and trafficking, border and movement management, and poor maritime security and safety;

22.  Stresses the vital importance of establishing, encouraging and developing good- neighbourly relations between the Black Sea countries as a premise for successful cooperation, and regards it as unacceptable that the region should still be facing the problem of closed borders between neighbours;

23.  Believes that the EU can and should play a more active role in shaping the Black Sea security environment; calls for enhanced EU involvement in regional strategic dialogue, and EU cooperation with its strategic partners on security issues and on conflict prevention and resolution, in accordance with international law; stresses that the full development of the Black Sea Strategy is also linked to concrete progress towards the peaceful resolution of unresolved conflicts; calls therefore, on the EU for more direct engagement and to take a leading role in the negotiations and peace-making processes, to step up confidence-building measures and assistance programmes with a view to establishing the basis for lasting, comprehensive settlements, and to alleviate the consequences of conflicts for local people; applauds the work of EUBAM and EUMM;

24.  Calls on the Vice-President/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to step up efforts to encourage Russia to comply with the six-point Sarkozy Plan to stabilise and resolve the conflict in Georgia;

25.  Points to the need to strengthen monitoring systems and invites the EU to develop an early-warning system as a conflict-prevention and confidence-building tool in the Black Sea region, to avoid destabilisation and conflict-escalation; calls for the focus to be on concrete cases rather than general expressions of concern; calls for consideration to be given to confidence-building measures such as public disclosure of arms sales and naval military activities; expresses particular concern at the extension of the port agreement for Russia's Black Sea Fleet in Crimea and its possible impact on stability in the region;

26.  Calls on the EU to take steps to establish a regional legal framework and mechanisms to deal with the proliferation of arms in the Black Sea region;

27.  Calls for cross-border crime and trafficking, in particular in drugs and human beings, and illegal migration to be tackled in the Black Sea Strategy, also calls for a further strengthening of cooperation on border and movement management;

28.  Stresses the need for better management of migration in and from the Black Sea region through the enhancement of the political, economic and social integration of immigrants, on the basis of the principles of the EU's Global Approach to Migration;

29.  Notes the increase in the number of accidents at sea in recent years, involving human casualties and environmental damage, and the inability of the riparian states to carry out coordinated and successful rescue operations; in that connection, calls on the EU to use the Integrated Maritime Policy to coordinate search-and-rescue and accident-prevention activities in the Black Sea region; calls for the establishment of a Black Sea surveillance strategy;

30.  Believes that a security strategy for the Black Sea region should also incorporate the objectives of improving governance, democratic rule, respect for human rights and state capabilities; calls on the Commission and the EEAS to mainstream initiatives on institution-building and democratic governance, which are indispensible for any state wishing to develop successfully; emphasises that the objective of improving governance, the rule of law and state structures in the former Soviet states of the region is in itself a security strategy, since total or partial state failure and political stagnation create the conditions for external interference and transnational threats;

31.  Stresses that the EU strategy for the Black Sea region must place major emphasis on defending human rights and enhancing democracy throughout the region, which should include promoting successful cooperation among its non-governmental organisations and human rights defenders;

32.  Notes that increasing respect for human rights and democracy around the world is among the EU's priorities; points out that human rights violations are a daily occurrence in occupied South Ossetia and Abkhazia; calls on the EU, and particularly the EEAS, therefore, to respond actively to all kinds of human rights violations in the Black Sea region;

33.  Emphasises the important role that the OSCE plays in the region and regards it as essential that the EU should cooperate with the OSCE in the areas of institution-building, the rule of law, election observation, media freedom and democracy and human rights;

Energy, transport and the environment

34.  Considers, on the one hand, the Black Sea region to be of strategic importance for EU energy security and the diversification of the EU's energy supply and, in that connection, reiterates the pressing importance of a coherent strategy for the Black Sea region; on the other hand, considers cooperation in the areas of energy, transport and the environment to be crucial to the harmonious and sustainable development of the region; welcomes the launch of the Environment Partnership, while eagerly awaiting the launch of the two other partnerships, on transport and energy; calls for their swift and efficient implementation; takes the view that the development of a common legal framework at regional level would be of great benefit in terms of more effective cooperation and synergies on these issues; believes that the establishment of, and support for, professional and institutional networks could enhance the capacity for cooperative and efficient decision-making;

35.  Emphasises the need to strengthen multilateral energy cooperation in the Black Sea region, for which the WTO and the Energy Charter Treaty provide the key principles; supports full market and regulatory integration on the basis of EU energy and environment legislation and encourages the participation of countries in the wider Black Sea region in the Energy Community Treaty and EU, EIB and EBRD assistance for the modernisation of energy infrastructure in the Black Sea region;

36.  Emphasises the importance of Member States taking a common approach towards the Black Sea region, with a view to achieving the EU's long-term objective of security of energy supply and stability in its neighbourhood;

37.  Recalls the need for more vigorous action by the Commission in support of measures to diversify gas supply and for a common normative framework to promote a transparent, competitive and rules-based gas market; calls on the EU, at the same time, actively to develop cooperation with States in the Black Sea region and offer them greater opportunities to support energy projects of interest to the EU; welcomes, in that connection, the accession of the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine to the Energy Community;

38.  Emphasises the urgency of establishing the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, which will contribute to the achievement of the goals of the Eastern Partnership and will thus have a positive impact on issues relating to energy security;

39.  Recalls the EUs aim of diversifying routes and sources of supply, as well as the drafting of an EU common energy policy; reiterates the importance of the Southern Corridor projects, in particular the fundamental importance to Europe's energy security of the EU strategic priority project Nabucco and of its swift realisation; takes note of the South Stream project; stresses, further, the significance of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) transportation to Europe, in the form of the AGRI project and the development of LNG terminals in Black Sea ports, and of the Constanta-Trieste Pan-European Oil Pipeline;

40.  Urges the Commission to conclude agreements with the potential supplier countries for the Nabucco pipeline by the end of 2011;

41.  Considers that the Energy Infrastructure Package shortly to be put forward by the Commission must place great emphasis on the proposed energy projects in the Black Sea region; draws attention to the fact that the transit routes which cut across the states in the region can significantly improve the EU's security of supply;

42.  Emphasises the potential offered by renewable energy sources in the Black Sea region, which could make a major contribution to a secure energy future at global level and to sustainable economic growth, and calls on the Commission and the Black Sea riparian countries to unlock this potential;

43.  Calls for the EU-Black Sea region partnership to include transfer of knowledge and technology in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and technical support for grid design, and points out that energy saving is the key to increasing security of supply; supports research into alternative energy sources and, in particular, renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy savings, which are essential if we are to face the challenges of climate change and contribute to the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions;

44.  Supports the continued development of initiatives under the TRACECA and INOGATE programmes; calls on the EU to strengthen further its support for infrastructure projects in the region, directly and through the coordination of other contributors and investors;

45.  Considers that, for the purposes of international trade and the transport of hydrocarbons in the region, it is essential to develop the EU's Black Sea and maritime Danube ports, including oil and gas terminals and intermodal transport infrastructure; considers it necessary to modernise infrastructure in the Black Sea region and establish connections with European transport corridors; calls on the Commission and Member States to expedite the completion of priority trans-European transport projects along axes 7, 18, 21 and 22, as provided for in Annex II to Decision No 884/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 amending Decision No 1692/96/EC on Community guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network and their progressive assimilation with the TRACECA corridor, the central axis, the south-east axis and the international maritime transport routes, as defined in the communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament on ‘Extension of the major trans-European transport axes to the neighbouring countries – Guidelines for transport in Europe and the neighbouring regions’ (COM(2007)0032) and of Pan-European Transport Corridors 8 and 9;

46.  Calls on the Black Sea riparian states to conclude a memorandum of understanding on the development of Black Sea maritime corridors and asks the Commission to open a TEN-T budget line with funding for Black Sea maritime corridors similar to those which already exist for the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Mediterranean Sea maritime corridors;

47.  Welcomes the action taken to extend the EU Common Aviation Area to Black Sea countries; calls on the Commission to pursue the dialogue with the Republic of Moldova concerning the liberalisation of its air transport sector and swiftly to open negotiations for the Republic of Moldova's accession to the EU Common Aviation Area;

48.  Stresses the importance of the Black Sea as a natural resource and expresses great concern at the environmental situation in the region mphasises the need for a balance to be struck between economic development and environmental protection, and the need for a common approach to this challenge, and stresses, therefore, the need for full implementation of the Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution;

49.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise the requirements of energy efficiency and protection of the environment and climate when funding infrastructure projects, whichshould be based on a positive environmental assessment; recalls the challenges resulting from the effects of climate change for the Black Sea region, and therefore urges increased cooperation among the Black Sea riparian countries, especially in the field of emergency prevention;

50.  Calls on the EU to include the Black Sea region in the Integrated Maritime Policy and, in particular, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) on an equal footing with the other European basins; the EU should make all the necessary diplomatic efforts to persuade the Black Sea states outside the EU to comply as closely as possible with the principles of the CFP; emphasises the importance of creating a separate common stocks management body for the Black Sea and of applying the mechanism of multiannual management plans;

Economic, social and human development

51.  Believes that the economic, social and human development of the region as a whole should be promoted; attaches particular importance to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the region; points out that the region has extraordinary natural resources which can encourage rapid economic growth; stresses that the proper management of these resources is vital to the facilitation of such development;

52.  Stresses that further liberalisation of trade and the intensification of intra-regional trade are essential to the economic development of the region; stresses the importance for the local populace and for the region's trading partners of establishing an area of economic opportunity and prosperity in the Black Sea region; stresses the need to combat fraud and corruption so as to make the region more attractive to investors; emphasises the importance of cooperation in the field of tourism and of port and coastline development; supports the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy, whose aim is the socio-economic development of maritime regions, but views with regret the fact that its Black Sea dimension is poorly developed; welcomes the results achieved in the area of cooperation on education, research and technology; endorses once again the goal of promoting social development and a strong civil society; stresses that the EU should proceed further in its dialogue with the countries of the region on visa facilitation;

53.  Is convinced that the EU should play a greater role in the Black Sea region by offering the countries in the region more prospects for closer integration with EU policies; stresses that opportunities for trade liberalisation and the creation of a free trade area in accordance with WTO principles should be carefully considered, thoroughly examined and promoted;

54.  Draws attention to the longstanding EU-Russia strategic partnership and the two countries' common interest in enhancing bilateral trade and investment, in facilitating and liberalising trade in the global economy and in strengthening and developing competition, including in the Black Sea region;

55.  Recognises that the global financial crisis has hit the Black Sea region hard, bringing both a period of growth averaging 6% per annum and the inflow of foreign capital necessary for the further economic development of the Black Sea States to a sharp halt, and has put the region's financial system under extreme stress; emphasises that this needs to be addressed by strengthening financial and banking regulations, improving fiscal credibility and transparency, fighting tax fraud, tax evasion and corruption, intensifying regional cooperation and enhancing coordination among regional organisations such as the BSEC;

56.  Encourages the development, in the context of the Strategy, of an integrated approach and the use of the well-established principles of the EU's Cohesion Policy and Neighbourhood Policy, which can help deliver effective results while facilitating the capacity-building process for regions which are lagging behind; in particular, believes that cross-border cooperation between regions should be enhanced, in order to tackle common problems through coordinated action; points out that the European Grouping for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) offers a suitable cooperation framework for structured, multi-level governance; calls on the Commission to explore ways of better coordinating the various European instruments providing for cross-border cooperation at the Union's external borders;

57.  Points out that the exchange of best practices between regions is of pivotal importance for all areas of cooperation, in that regions with long experience of developing and implementing projects could help other regions to improve their performance;

58.  Regards the improvement of the administrative capacity of all local and regional stakeholders in the Black Sea region as vital in order to ensure the efficient implementation and sound financial management of EU projects, greater transparency and accountability, and balanced territorial development across the region;

59.  Emphasises the importance of visa facilitation and the mobility of persons in the region and urges the Commission to consider establishing preferential visa schemes for businessmen, academics, young people, local officials and other groups with a view to enhancing contacts across the whole region, in particular as far as confidence-building is concerned; encourages the development under aegis of the EU of joint projects relating to the promotion of cultural heritage and tourism in the region;

60.  Believes that programmes promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue need sustained encouragement in order to promote cooperation in the region, that joint initiatives in the field of education and media are much needed in order to create and consolidate meaningful links between the and the opinion-formers in the region, and that initiatives such as the Black Sea Universities Network provide good examples of how academic interaction can trigger positive synergies in the region; calls for the strengthening of academic and student networks, e-infrastructures and collaborative research projects; welcomes the initiative to establish and support a College of the Black Sea to foster the emergence of a regional elite which sees cooperation as a natural method of tackling common challenges;

61.  Acknowledges the results of the Black Sea Interconnection project to establish a regional research and education network in the wider Black Sea region and its link to GEANT, and calls on the Commission to continue to support research projects in the Black Sea region, such as HP-SEE, SEE-GRID, SCENE, CAREN and BSRN;

o   o

62.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and all the Black Sea countries.

(1) OJ C 41 E, 19.2.2009, p. 64.
(2) OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 443.

Pakistan: murder of the Governor of Punjab, Salmaan Taseer
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on Pakistan, in particular the murder of Governor Salmaan Taseer

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on human rights and democracy in Pakistan, in particular those of 20 May 2010(1) and 12 July 2007(2), 25 October 2007(3) and 15 November 2007(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2010 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World 2009 and the European Union's policy on the matter(5),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 November 2009 on freedom of religion or belief, in which the Council emphasises the strategic importance of this freedom and of countering religious intolerance,

–   having regard to the EU-Pakistan Joint Statement of 4 June 2010, in which both sides reaffirmed their determination jointly to address regional and global security issues, to promote respect for human rights, and to cooperate to strengthen Pakistan's democratic government and institutions further,

–   having regard to the declaration by its President of 19 November 2010 on the death sentence imposed on Asia Bibi,

–   having regard to the statement of 4 January 2011 by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, on the murder of Governor Salmaan Taseer and to her statement of 12 November 2010 on a death penalty case in Pakistan,

–   having regard to Article 18 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),

–  having regard to the 1981 UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion and Belief,

–  having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Salmaan Taseer, Governor of the province of Punjab, was one of the most vocal and visible critics of Pakistan's blasphemy laws and of their misuse by extremist groups in cases such as that involving Asia Bibi, the Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code,

B.  whereas on 4 January 2011 Salmaan Taseer was assassinated in Islamabad by one of his own security guards, Malik Mumtaz Hussein Qadri, who disagreed with Taseer's opposition to Pakistan's blasphemy laws,

C.  whereas none of the other security guards who witnessed Governor Taseer's assassination made any attempt to stop the murderer; whereas the murderer was cheered and supported by hundreds of lawyers when he appeared in court and tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in the streets of Karachi to show their approval of his actions; and whereas a leading Imam has reportedly issued a fatwa against Sherry Rehman, a former Pakistani minister, reformist politician and well-known journalist, identifying her as the next target for murder,

D.  whereas following the tragic event a broad alliance of the country's clergy, represented by Jamaate Ahle Sunnat Pakistan, an organisation that speaks on behalf of the moderate Barelvi sect, issued a statement condoning the murder of Governor Taseer and lionising his assassin, saying that ‘no Muslim should attend the funeral or even try to pray for Salmaan Taseer or even express any kind of regret or sympathy over the incident’ and demanding that no Muslim should offer funeral prayers, nor any religious cleric perform the funeral of the assassinated governor,

E.  whereas the ‘Fundamental Rights’ chapter of the 1973 Pakistan Constitution guarantees ‘freedom to profess religion and manage religious institutions’ (Article 20), equality of all citizens (Article 25) and the ‘legitimate rights and interests of minorities’ (Article 26),

F.  whereas on 25 December 2009 President Asif Ali Zardari reiterated the pledge made by the Pakistan People's Party to uphold the right of all minorities to be treated as equal citizens,

G.  whereas the legal provisions known as the ‘blasphemy laws’, introduced in 1982 and 1986, undermine the fundamental religious and minority rights granted by the Constitution, are misused by extremist groups and those wishing to settle personal scores, and have led to an increase in violence against members of religious minorities and against citizens who dare to raise their voices to criticise injustice,

H.  whereas the vast majority of people accused under the blasphemy laws are Muslim, but accusations against individuals from minority faiths can trigger disproportionate violence against their community as a whole,

I.  whereas on 30 December 2010 the Pakistan Government publicly reneged on its manifesto commitment to review discriminatory laws, announcing in a policy statement that it had no intention of repealing or amending the blasphemy laws,

J.  whereas the murder of Governor Taseer raises security concerns for judges who hear blasphemy cases, given that Pakistan's lower court judges have already been pressured by Muslim extremists and even higher court judges might be reluctant to hand down unbiased rulings in religious persecution cases for fear of terrorist attacks against their lives,

K.  whereas since Governor Taseer's assassination moderate voices, religious minorities and human rights defenders have felt increasingly insecure,

L.  whereas Article 3(5) of the Treaty on European Union states that the promotion of democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties are fundamental principles and aims of the European Union and constitute common ground for its relations with third countries; whereas EU trade and development assistance is conditional on respect for human rights and minority rights,

1.  Strongly condemns the brutal murder of Salmaan Taseer, Governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, on 4 January 2011 at a market in Islamabad, commends his courage and moral strength in taking a stance in favour of religious tolerance and humane treatment of the disempowered, despite the polarised political climate in Pakistan, and extends its condolences to the victim's family and to the people of Pakistan;

2.  Urges the Pakistan authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into all aspects of the murder and bring all the perpetrators of this crime rapidly to justice, in keeping with the strict rule of law;

3.  Notes that many human rights groups criticised the lack of support for Governor Taseer's courageous stands from Pakistan's leaders - whether politicians or members of the military - and expresses its consternation and great concern at the amount of popular support, even among the legal profession, for religious intolerance and outright murder manifested in the demonstrations and public backing for the killer; calls on the Pakistan Government not to allow moderate voices in the country to be silenced by extremists;

4.  Is deeply concerned that sections of the military, the judiciary and the political class would tacitly or even openly support the appeasement of political and religious extremists in Pakistan;

5.  Expresses its concern at the fact that the murderer of Governor Taseer in Islamabad was a policeman from the governor's own protection unit; calls on the Pakistan Government to rid the Pakistani security forces of Islamic extermist elements and to ensure that the security forces abide by the constitution and the rule of law;

6.  Expresses its support for all measures taken by the Pakistan Government in the fight against the spread of violent extremism;

7.  Is concerned that the Pakistani blasphemy laws, which were publicly opposed by the late Governor Taseer, are still being used to persecute religious denominations, including Christians such as Asia Bibi, the mother of five children, who has been sentenced to death;

8.  Calls on the Pakistani authorities immediately to release Asia Bibi and to take measures to guarantee the safety of her family, who have had to go into hiding; calls on President Zadari to use his constitutional authority to pardon her following conclusion of the appeal lodged on her behalf;

9.  Deplores the fact that the two largest religious political parties in Pakistan have declared that Salmaan Taseer deserved to be killed for his views, thus further inciting fear and appeasing both political and religious terrorism and crime;

10.  Is concerned that free speech, including on the Internet, may be curtailed in Pakistan following Governor Taseer's assassination, as religious scholars from the Jamaat e-Ahl e-Sunnat Pakistan are openly stating that ‘supporters are equally as guilty as one who committed blasphemy’, adding that ‘politicians, the media and others should learn a lesson from this exemplary death’;

11.  Welcomes the condemnation of the murder by significant sections of the Pakistani press and notes the action taken by the Pakistani media regulator against certain television stations in response to aspects of their coverage of the event;

12.  Supports the call from senior Pakistani journalists for an examination of the role of the media in providing a platform for fringe preachers and other extremists who had openly threatened Taseer and other like-minded public figures;

13.  Expresses its deep concern that the blasphemy laws – which can carry the death sentence in Pakistan and are often used to justify censorship, criminalisation, persecution and, in certain cases, the murder of members of political, racial and religious minorities – are open to forms of misuse that affect people of all faiths in Pakistan;

14.  Reiterates its call to the Pakistan Government to carry out a thoroughgoing review of the blasphemy laws and their current application, including the mandatory death penalty or life imprisonment prescribed by Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which prescribes a mandatory death penalty for anyone found guilty of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed, with a view to implementing amendments;

15.  Commends in particular the efforts of Shahbaz Bhatti, the Minister for Minorities, who has introduced a bill seeking the abolition of the death penalty for the crime of blasphemy; looks to the Pakistani authorities to do their utmost to protect the lives of all who are threatened by islamist radicals for their secular or divergent views, especially lawyers, judges and human rights activists defending the rule of law;

16.  Expects the Pakistan Government to take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety of all judges in Pakistan, allowing them to fulfil their constitutional role without fear of intimidation, violence or harassment;

17.  Views positively the signing by Pakistan of the instruments of ratification of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT); calls on the Pakistan Government to withdraw the reservations on these two agreements and to guarantee freedom of belief as enshrined in the UN Covenant, providing protection for their citizens in order to enable them to practise their faith freely;

18.  Calls on the Pakistan Government to guarantee the human rights of minorities as laid down in the Constitution and the UDHR, in particular Article 18 thereof, which stipulates that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’;

19.  Supports all initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue and mutual respect among communities; calls on the political and religious authorities in Pakistan to promote tolerance and to take initiatives against hatred and violent extremism;

20.  Urges the Pakistan Government to implement the proposed reforms of the education system and to regulate and inspect madrasas; invites the Pakistani authorities to remove all propaganda promoting hatred, religious superiority and defamation of religion from the textbooks approved by the national curriculum department of the Ministry of Education;

21.  Calls on the European External Action Service to include the issue of religious tolerance in society in its political dialogue with Pakistan, this matter being of central importance to the long-term fight against religious extremism;

22.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to continue to provide financial support for human rights organisations and defenders and to outline practical measures to support the civil-society movement in Pakistan against the blasphemy laws and other discriminatory legislation;

23.  Urges the European External Action Service to insist that the Pakistan Government uphold the democracy and human rights clause enshrined in the Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; calls on the Commission to present a report on the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement and the democracy and human rights clause;

24.  Calls on European External Action Service to support the Pakistan Government in developing its Ministry for Human Rights and in establishing a meaningful, independent and authoritative National Human Rights Commission;

25.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of Pakistan.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0194.
(2) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 583.
(3) OJ C 263 E, 16.10.2008, p. 666.
(4) OJ C 282 E, 6.11.2008, p. 434.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0489.

Brazil: extradition of Cesare Battisti
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on Brazil: extradition of Cesare Battisti

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2009 on the refusal to extradite Cesare Battisti from Brazil(1),

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 12 March 2009 on the European Union-Brazil Strategic Partnership(2), and in particular paragraph 1(n) thereof, which expressly mentions the mutual recognition of final judgements,

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

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, and the principles enshrined therein concerning democracy and the rule of law, on which the EU is founded,

–  having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the partnership between the EU and Brazil is built on mutual confidence and on respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights,

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

C.  whereas Cesare Battisti, an Italian citizen, was found guilty at seven trials and convicted in absentia, in final judgements handed down by the Italian courts, of four murders and of involvement in an armed group, robbery and possession of firearms, and sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment,

D.  whereas Cesare Battisti went into hiding until he was arrested in Brazil in March 2007,

E.  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,

F.  whereas the provisions and rules of the 1989 Extradition Treaty between Italy and the Federative Republic of Brazil seek to define cooperation arrangements between the authorities of the two states in the field of extradition, in full accordance with the guarantees provided for under their respective legal systems,

G.  whereas on 18 November 2009 the Brazilian Supreme Court decided to allow the extradition of Cesare Battisti and authorised the incumbent President of the Federative Republic of Brazil to release the prisoner to Italy, in accordance with the rules of the Extradition Treaty between Italy and Brazil,

H.  whereas on 31 December 2010 the then-incumbent President decided to refuse the extradition of Cesare Battisti,

I.  whereas that decision is being challenged by the Italian Government before the Brazilian Supreme Court,

J.  whereas Cesare Battisti's lawyers have formally applied to the same court for his immediate release,

K. whereas on 6 January 2011 the President of the Brazilian Supreme Court refused the immediate release of Cesare Battisti and officially reopened the case, which will be considered in February when the Court resumes work,

1.  Acknowledges that respect for the legality and independence of the judiciary, including fair treatment of those who have been convicted, is one of the basic values of the EU and of its Member States, as well as of Brazil;

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

3.  Expresses confidence that, in the light of such considerations, the competent Brazilian authorities will exercise their right – and fulfil their duty – to process the Italian Government's new request that the decision on the extradition of Cesare Battisti be reviewed, and explore ways of ensuring that the bilateral treaty on extradition is interpreted correctly;

4.  Calls on the European External Action Service to conduct a political dialogue with Brazil and to ensure that every decision taken complies fully with the EU's basic principles and is conducive to good relations with the Member States;

5.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, 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 Chair of the Delegation for relations with the Mercosur countries.

(1) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 146.
(2) OJ C 87 E, 1.4.2010, p. 168.

Iran, in particular the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh
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European Parliament resolution of 20 January 2011 on Iran – the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Iran, notably those concerning human rights, and in particular those of 10 February 2010(1) and 8 September 2010(2),

–  having regard to the declaration made by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navy Pillay, on 23 November 2010, expressing concern about the case of Nasrin Sotoudeh and stating that this was part of a much broader crackdown and that the situation of human rights defenders in Iran was growing more and more difficult,

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which the United Nations General Assembly adopted by consensus in 1998, stipulating that states ‘shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of human rights defenders against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actions’ as a consequence of their legitimate efforts to promote human rights,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a party,

–  having regard to the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 21 December 2010 on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran,

–  having regard to Rule 122(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Nasrin Sotoudeh, a prominent Iranian human rights lawyer, was sentenced to 11 years in jail on charges of ‘acting against national security’, ‘membership of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders’, not wearing hejab (Islamic dress) during a videotaped message, and ‘propaganda against the regime’; whereas she was also banned from practising law and travelling for 20 years after completion of her sentence,

B.  whereas Sotoudeh, a mother of two children, was arrested on 4 September 2010, held for long periods in solitary confinement, reportedly tortured and denied contact with her family and lawyer, and whereas she came close to death after a hunger strike to protest against her prison conditions and violations of due process,

C.  whereas Sotoudeh's husband, Reza Khandan, was summoned by the police on 15 January 2011 and detained overnight, released on a third-person guarantee and is under prosecution because of his advocacy on behalf of his wife,

D.  whereas Nasrin Sotoudeh has been the lawyer of the Dutch national Zahra Bahrami, who was arrested after the Ashura protests on 27 December 2009 and has been recently sentenced to death,

E.  whereas Sotoudeh's sentence is part of a systematic assault on human rights lawyers and activists in Iran, which includes the sentencing on 7 January 2011 of Shiva Nazarahari, co-founder of Committee of Human Rights Reporters and a prominent activist, to four years in prison and 74 lashes and the sentencing on 30 October 2010 of a prominent lawyer, Mohammad Seifzadeh, to nine years in prison and a ten-year ban from practising law; whereas human rights lawyer Mohammad Oliyafar is serving a one-year sentence for his advocacy on behalf of his clients; whereas other human rights defenders facing imminent prosecution in Iran are Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Abdolfattah Soltani and Houtan Kian,

F.  whereas, over one year after the Ashura demonstrations in December 2009, hundreds of Iranian citizens who were arrested still linger in prison and the authorities have continued to make arrests throughout the year, in particular on the occasion of Students' Day of 7 December 2010, and whereas according to reports by Amnesty International over 70 students are still detained,

G.  whereas journalists and bloggers also continue to be targeted, with reportedly over 30 journalists behind bars at the moment, and even acclaimed representatives of Iranian culture, such as film director Jafar Panahi, who in December 2010 was banned from film-making for 20 years as well as sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment, are denied freedom of expression,

H.  whereas forced confessions, torture and ill-treatment of prisoners, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, clandestine detention, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, physical abuse, including sexual violence, and impunity for State agents continue to be widespread in Iran, giving rise to serious doubts as to the fairness and transparency of the judicial process in that country,

I.  whereas, instead of extrajudicial killings being investigated, the mourning relatives of those who have been killed may face arrest, as in the case of Mahdi Ramazani, who was taken into custody at the grave site of his son in December 2010 and confronted with exorbitant bail conditions, which he is in no capacity to pay,

J.  whereas Iran has pledged to the international community that it will abide by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

1.  Calls on the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to immediately and unconditionally release Nasrin Sotoudeh and all other prisoners of conscience, and considers that Nasrin Sotoudeh's sentence is of a political nature, aimed at taking one of Iran's leading human rights defenders out of practice;

2.  Strongly condemns the extraordinarily harsh sentence against Nasrin Sotoudeh and the intimidation of her husband, and commends her for her courage and commitment;

3.  Calls on the Islamic Republic of Iran to adhere to the standards set forth by the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which states that lawyers must be allowed to carry out their work ‘without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference’ and recognises that lawyers are entitled to freedom of expression, including ‘the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights’;

4.  Deeply deplores the lack of fairness and transparency in the judicial process in Iran and calls on the Iranian authorities to uphold due process in law and practice; appeals to the head of the Iranian Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani, to establish an independent commission to examine the prosecution of human rights lawyers and to hold accountable all officials who have participated in illegal procedures;

5.  Calls on the authorities to combat the impunity of human rights violators within the security forces; reiterates its demand for an independent investigation into allegations of extrajudicial executions since the disputed June presidential elections and for alleged violators to be brought to justice;

6.  Calls on the Government of Iran to cooperate fully with all international human rights mechanisms, to continue exploring cooperation on human rights and justice reform with the United Nations and to fully implement the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review;

7.  Calls for the re-establishment of a UN mandate for a Special Rapporteur to investigate human rights abuses and encourage accountability for those perpetrating human rights violations in Iran;

8.  Calls on the Iranian authorities to grant the Red Crescent access to all prisoners and to allow international human rights organisations to monitor the situation in the country;

9.  Urges the Iranian authorities to reconsider the sentence imposed on Zahra Bahrami, and to grant her a fair trial and access to Dutch authorities, given her Dutch citizenship, in accordance with international standards;

10.  Calls on the European External Action Service to devise additional measures in the context of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, in order actively to protect Iranian human rights defenders, and encourages the Member States and local authorities to support initiatives such as the European Shelter City Programme and the International Cities of Refugee;

11.  Calls for the existing list of individuals and organisations subject to the EU travel ban and the freezing of assets to be extended to include Iranian officials who are responsible for violations of human rights, repression and curtailment of freedom in Iran;

12.  Calls on EU representatives and the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union of Foreign Affairs to re-engage in talks about human rights with the Islamic Republic of Iran;

13.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United Nations Human Rights Council, the President of the Iranian Supreme Court and the Government and Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

(1) OJ C 341 E, 16.12.2010, p. 9.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2010)0310.

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