Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 13 October 2011 - BrusselsFinal edition
EU-Cape Verde agreement on certain aspects of air services ***
 Insurance guarantee schemes
 The future of VAT
 Appointment of a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank
 EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and loan guarantees for projects outside the EU ***II
 Subscription to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ***I
 Implementation of Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and establishing export authorisation, import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition ***I
 Exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the EU's Stabilisation and Association process ***I
 Preparation for the European Council meeting (23 October 2011)
 Accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen
 Dog population management in the European Union

EU-Cape Verde agreement on certain aspects of air services ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 October 2011 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde on certain aspects of air services (09114/2011 – C7-0123/2011 – 2010/0296 (NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0434A7-0307/2011

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (09114/2011),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde on certain aspects of air services (16459/2010 + COR1 + COR2),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 100(2), Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), and 218(8), first subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0123/2011),

–  having regard to Rules 81 and 90(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0307/2011),

1.  Consents to conclusion of the Agreement;

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


Insurance guarantee schemes
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European Parliament resolution of 13 October 2011 on Insurance Guarantee Schemes (2011/2010(INI))
P7_TA(2011)0435A7-0243/2011

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 12 July 2010, entitled ‘White Paper on Insurance Guarantee Schemes’ (COM(2010)0370),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/138/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance (Solvency II)(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1094/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 November 2010 establishing a European Supervisory Authority (European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority)(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 July 2006 on the crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society(3),

  having regard to the final report of 23 May 2007 of its Committee of Inquiry into the crisis of the Equitable Life Assurance Society (A6-0203/2007),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A7-0243/2011),

A.  whereas the financial crisis has demonstrated that consumer confidence in the financial system can be quickly undermined in the absence of adequate compensation processes for consumer losses incurred as a result of the failure of financial institutions,

B.  whereas Insurance Guarantee Schemes (IGSs) can be a valuable tool in reducing the risks facing policy-holders or, where appropriate, beneficiaries in the event of the failure of an insurance entity,

C.  whereas the necessity, function and structure of IGSs are not analogous with those of either deposit guarantee schemes or investor compensation schemes, on account of the different business model used by insurers and the different degree to which consumers are exposed to risk in the event of the failure of an insurer,

D.  whereas a wide range of IGSs exist in the Member States, offering varying degrees of consumer protection across various product lines on the basis of various funding models,

E.  whereas there have been no notable insurance policy-holder or, where appropriate, beneficiary losses as a result of the financial crisis, and whereas the European insurance industry has emerged from the crisis comparatively unscathed,

F.  whereas Solvency II introduces a ladder of supervisory intervention minimising the likelihood of an insurer going bankrupt and the disruption to policyholders or, where appropriate, beneficiaries resulting from such an event,

G.  whereas the introduction of Solvency II and IGSs will contribute to the establishment of a level playing field on the European insurance market and help to bring about the completion of the internal market,

H.  whereas under Solvency II policy-holder or, where appropriate, beneficiary claims are secure when an insurer enters into insolvency (when the insurer breaches its Solvency Capital Requirement), and only become at risk if the insurer goes bankrupt (when its assets are insufficient to cover its liabilities),

I.  whereas cross-border provision of insurance in the EU is low but likely to grow as a result of the introduction of Solvency II, owing to the capital benefits offered by a branch-based pan-European structure,

J.  whereas the lack of harmonised IGSs at European level and the diversity of regimes in Member States have led to ineffective and uneven protection for insurance policy-holders and have slowed down the functioning of the insurance market by distorting cross-border competition,

K.  whereas consumer trust in the functioning of the internal market in financial services can only be assured by a consistent level of consumer protection regardless of the origin of the service provider, primarily through the consistent application of sound prudential rules and effective supervision by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and, where appropriate, national competent authorities,

L.  whereas taxpayers' exposure to the failure of financial institutions must be kept at a minimum through effective and proportionate oversight by national and European supervisors,

1.  Recognises that the new supervisory regime and the forthcoming Solvency II framework will further enhance consumer protection;

2.  Calls on the Commission, with regard to the rules and definitions set out in Solvency II and the new supervisory framework, to come forward with proposals for a cross-border standardisation directive establishing a coherent and consistent cross-border framework for IGSs across Member States, providing only last-resort protection to consumers when insurance undertakings are unable to fulfil their contractual commitments owing to insolvency;

3.  Calls on the Commission rapidly to put forward the proposal for a directive on Insurance Guarantee Schemes to complement Deposit Guarantee Schemes, Investor Compensation Schemes and Solvency II;

4.  Acknowledges that the potential for an uneven playing field could cause regulatory arbitrage, which would affect IGSs; calls on the Commission to examine the interplay between harmonisation and the application of schemes from across the EU and the home state principle to clarify whether or not a significant distortion of the market occurs; considers that this review should be conducted three years after the full implementation of Solvency II;

5.  Agrees that the Solvency II Directive does not create a zero-failure environment for insurance companies and does not protect consumer losses in the event of the failure of insurance undertakings; calls, therefore, on the Commission to ensure that the common IGS to be adopted is consistent and coherent with the Solvency II Directive;

6.  Supports the adoption of the ‘home’ country principle – whereby policies written by an insurer, regardless of location of sale, are covered by the ‘home’ IGS – recognising (a) that under Solvency II the cross-border provision of insurance services will increase, and (b) that the failure of an insurer will be linked to the inadequacy of supervision by the ‘home’ supervisor, so that the burden of responsibility for failure should be borne by the ‘home’ IGS, which should provide last-resort protection to consumers only when insurance undertakings are unable to fulfil their contractual commitments owing to insolvency; calls on the Commission to conduct an impact assessment and public consultation with stakeholders on the inclusion of life insurance as a matter of priority and on the practicality of including non-life insurance in a cross-border IGS to ensure an appropriate level of consumer protection and a level playing field between Member States; believes that a rationale should be established by the Commission and the EIOPA in order to ensure that the additional costs of an IGS are weighed against the objective of consumer protection; notes that the current EU regulation on deposit guarantee schemes and investor protection schemes covers only savings products;

7.  Insists that the funding model for national IGSs should be covered by the subsidiarity principle, reflecting the ‘home’ country principle of supervision and the diversity of models used by existing IGSs; urges the Commission not to advocate a uniquely ex-ante approach to funding, given the absence of compelling arguments in favour of such an approach and the disruption it could cause;

8.  Insists that Member States should ensure that tests are carried out on their IGSs and that they are informed should the competent authorities detect problems in an insurance company that are likely to give rise to intervention under the relevant scheme; suggests that such tests should take place at least every three years, or when circumstances so require; considers, further, that the EIOPA should periodically conduct peer reviews to examine the long-term financial sustainability of schemes and call for improvements wherever necessary;

9.  Acknowledges that the application of the subsidiarity principle in relation to the choice of ex-ante or ex-post funding models may result in competitive distortions between Member States; believes that such distortions have an equal bearing on both consumer and taxpayer protection and that the Commission should take a cautious, long-term approach to addressing such distortions;

10.  Recognises that there are different ways of ensuring consumer protection:

recommends that both approaches should be permitted under the future IGS framework, taking into account the differences between national markets in terms of size, concentration, product design and range of insurance products offered;

   compensation: losses faced by policy-holders or beneficiaries in the event of the insolvency of an insurer are directly compensated following an orderly claims-settlement process;
   continuity: the continuity of insurance contracts is secured through portfolio transfers to the remaining insurers in the market or to a special entity created for this purpose;

11.  Insists that the information available to consumers in the event of an insurer's insolvency should be easily accessible, comprehensive and easy to follow, with clear indications as to which authority the consumer should approach when making claims or enquiries; is convinced that setting up a single point of contact for all financial guarantee or compensation schemes would ensure that the existing legislation genuinely benefited consumers, especially as regards the provision of information and the facilitation of cross-border contact and payments;

12.  Stresses that the ‘home’ country approach to IGSs can only be credible from a consumer perspective if there is consistency of consumer experience for both IGS functions (portfolio transfer and policy-holder compensation claims); calls on the Commission to stipulate a single own-language process and point of contact for consumers within their national supervisor for all insurance-guarantee compensation claims, regardless of the location of the ‘home’ IGS; recommends that EIOPA develop a harmonised and transparent approach based on simplicity and best practice, and, where necessary, through binding technical standards;

13.  Stresses that consumers' knowledge and awareness of financial services and associated risks should be improved; suggests, therefore, that a mechanism similar to the European Standardised Information Sheet (ESIS) should be introduced for insurance policies, which would include clear, mandatory risk warnings on complex insurance-linked investment products and on the existence of an IGS linked to a specific national authority in order to make it easier for policy-holders to understand insurance products and gain access to all relevant information;

14.  Believes that ‘home’ and ‘host’ supervisors should cooperate fully with the IGS concerned and the European supervisory framework in order to minimise disruption for policy-holders or, where appropriate, beneficiaries in a ‘host’ country in the event of the failure of an insurer, acting through the college of supervisors with the participation and oversight of EIOPA to ensure consistency of approach between schemes;

15.  Calls on the Commission to clarify the role played by IGSs in relation to intermediaries;

16.  Argues that, in order to ensure comprehensive and continuous protection for policy-holders and beneficiaries, the Commission should retain and take into account other protection mechanisms and legislative provisions that are already in place; believes that IGSs should be activated when other protection mechanisms have failed;

17.  Insists that new EU legislation should not serve to water down the protection offered by existing IGSs in Member States, and that consumers should not face any losses as a result of regulatory failure to adequately supervise insurers; calls, therefore, on the Commission to ensure that a European framework for IGSs functions as a last resort by providing policy-holders (or, where appropriate, beneficiaries) who are eligible with compensation for losses to the fullest possible extent or the possibility of portfolio transfer within a reasonable period of time should an undertaking declare insolvency;

18.  Recognises that insurance undertakings are responsible for their employees' conduct and that intermediaries are obliged to hold professional indemnity insurance; notes that fraud is covered by criminal and tort law; recognises that IGS rules covering mis-selling and fraud could make supervisors less vigilant and less willing to use supervisory powers, thus creating moral hazard;

19.  Notes that in the absence of a legally binding EU definition of what constitutes a small or micro-undertaking, and given the changing nature of such entities over time, the scope of the proposal for a directive on IGSs should be limited to natural persons and that natural persons directly linked to the failed insurer, such as directors, senior managers or voting board members whose area of professional responsibility is connected to the causes of the insolvency, should be excluded from the body of consumers; calls on the Commission to re-evaluate the case for including select legal persons once a legally binding definition has been agreed; stresses that, in keeping with the subsidiarity principle, individual Member States may choose to include legal persons within the scope of their national IGSs;

20.  Recognises that market concentration issues could place strains on the ability of an IGS to absorb all policy-holder or, where appropriate, beneficiary claims resulting from the bankruptcy of one or more insurers; believes that rules on IGSs that could impose further strains on concentrated markets must be avoided;

21.  Foresees an oversight role for EIOPA in coordinating market-specific stress testing by national authorities and in conducting Europe-wide stress testing of IGSs, issuing recommendations where appropriate, and in conducting regular peer reviews to ensure that approaches based on best practice are shared;

22.  Notes that in small and concentrated markets the setting-up of an IGS with inappropriate funding mechanisms could give rise to systemic risks by increasing the degree of interconnectedness between insurers, which would create a non-level playing field between smaller and larger markets, since smaller markets would have greater difficulties in coping with the costs; notes that these difficulties need to be taken into account in order to avoid imposing further strains on concentrated markets; calls on the Commission to leave the Member States free to adapt the rules on funding and other IGS design features to the specific needs of national markets;

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

(1) OJ L 335, 17.12.2009, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 331, 15.12.2010, p. 48.
(3) OJ C 303 E, 13.12.2006, p. 108.


The future of VAT
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European Parliament resolution of 13 October 2011 on the future of VAT (2011/2082(INI))
P7_TA(2011)0436A7-0318/2011

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Commission's Green Paper on the Future of VAT (COM(2010)0695),

–  having regard to the European Commission's Staff Working Document (SEC(2010)1455),

  having regard to the ‘Small Business Act’ for Europe (COM(2008)0394),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Digital Agenda for Europe’ (COM(2010)0245),

–  having regard to the PWC Study on the feasibility of alternative methods for improving and simplifying the collection of VAT through the means of modern technologies and/or financial intermediaries,

–  having regard to Council Directive 2006/112/EC of 28 November 2006 on the common system of value added tax(1),

–  having regard to the OECD Guidelines on the Neutrality of VAT,

–  having regard to the EC publication ‘Taxation Trends in the EU’ (2010 Edition),

–  having regard to the OECD Consumption Tax Trends 2010,

–  having regard to the European Parliament report on a coordinated strategy to improve the fight against fiscal fraud from 2008,

–  having regard to Court of Auditors Special Report No 8/2007 concerning administrative cooperation in the field of value added tax, together with the Commission's replies(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgetary Control, the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0318/2011),

A.  whereas the current VAT system in the EU, which has been in place for 17 years, has been described as provisional with an expectation to move to a new system in due course; whereas the new initiative of the Commission's Green Paper is only the beginning of a procedure which is likely to be long, difficult and complex, and whose success will depend on real determination by Member States to develop a ‘simpler, more robust and efficient’ system that is more transparent and is based on close cooperation and exchange of best practices between Member States whilst respecting the principle of subsidiarity,

B.  whereas the aim of a common VAT system is to enhance the efficient functioning of the Internal Market, a crucial tool for the EU to remain competitive,

C.  whereas 99% of all businesses in the European Union are SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises),

D.  whereas the European Union is seeking, by means of the ‘Small Business Act’, to help SMEs to grow by taking advantage of the opportunities and benefits offered by the single market,

E.  whereas the VAT exemption threshold for SMEs varies from Member State to Member State and applies at national level only,

F.  whereas the OECD recognises the presence of a global trend indicating a shift from direct to indirect taxation, with an increasing role for VAT systems; whereas Parliament also recognises this trend but at the same time stresses the importance of direct taxation for the progressivity of the tax system; whereas the OECD also notes a broad variation in VAT efficiency in OECD countries, indicating a broad scope for increasing VAT efficiency; whereas, however, any measures aimed at increasing VAT efficiency should also be accompanied by measures to tackle fraud and to consider ending the VAT exemption on financial transactions following an analysis of the implications involved, while taking into consideration the proposal for a Council Directive (2007/0267(CNS)),

General considerations

1.  Welcomes the Commission's Green paper on overhauling and reforming the current VAT system, and agrees that a comprehensive VAT system should reduce operational costs for users and administrative charges for authorities while combating fraud, which is a considerable burden on public finances and on consumers;

2.  Emphasises that rendering the VAT system fraud-proof must be a key priority, given the massive losses incurred by Member States, possibly amounting to EUR 100 billion; particular attention needs to be paid to ‘carousel’ fraud; recalls the detailed suggestions contained in its resolution of 2 September 2008 on a coordinated strategy to improve the fight against fiscal fraud(3) which are still valid and should be implemented without delay;

3.  Notes that definitions such as ‘social wellbeing’ or ‘principles of social reasons’ which define services that are eligible for exemption or reductions of the VAT rate, are very vague due to the fact that they are determined by national courts in the light of Member States' law and therefore harbour the risk of a permanent distortion of competition;

4.  Considers that Member States in the current VAT system find themselves in a prisoner's dilemma: the abolishment of fiscal border controls in 1993 has not been replaced by a sufficient degree of cooperation between Member States; notes that, as a result, they have lost a significant amount of potential income from VAT and other tax revenues because some legitimate businesses may refrain from entering the Single Market and because fraudsters exploit the existing fragmented VAT system;

5.  Calls therefore upon Member States to continue to build relationships based on trust, transparency and cooperation between national tax administrations, and to build ‘tax partnerships’ with businesses as the ‘unpaid tax collectors’ for tax authorities;

6.  Urges the Commission to develop a coordinated strategy to improve the fight against fiscal fraud, as VAT fraud affects the financial interests of the Community;

VAT design, exemptions and reduced rates

7.  Calls upon Member States to move towards a ‘broad based’ VAT system; also stresses that the current financial climate presents important challenges and that a shift from direct to indirect taxation alone is not sufficient to ensure economic stability; therefore calls also for fair alternative sources of income to be sought;

8.  Stresses the importance of looking closely into the consequences for regional autonomy within the Member States when discussing a shift from direct taxation to indirect taxation;

9.  Recalls that one of the key features of VAT is the principle of neutrality and therefore that businesses should, as far as is possible, not be made to bear the burden of VAT collection; points out that Member States should ensure that in principle all commercial transactions are taxed as far as possible and that any exemptions are construed narrowly, whilst also ensuring that similar goods and services are subject to the same VAT treatments; underlines, for example, that all books, newspapers and magazines regardless of format should be treated in exactly the same way, which means that downloadable and streamed books, newspapers and magazines should be subject to the same VAT treatment as books, newspapers and magazines on physical means of support and that different cross-border transport services should be given identical VAT treatments irrespective of the mode of transport used; notes that when exemptions present no obstacle to the proper functioning of the internal market Member States should retain the right to grant exemptions based on narrowly construed social and cultural criteria;

10.  Calls for a harmonised standard or reduced VAT rate for all intra-EU cross-border travel regardless of the mode of transport, and for harmonised rules on VAT deductability;

11.  Takes the view that the VAT rates for cultural goods should be the same, regardless of the method of selling them (online or offline); considers that such an alignment would contribute to the development of e-commerce and would provide the same cultural and educational benefits for consumers by promoting the development of the booming digital sector;

12.  Notes that the transport sector is experiencing market distortions, since some modes of transport such as bus and train are subjected VAT while others are exempted; this creates an uneven playing field since all modes of transport are competing for the same cross-border

13.  Calls for a Green VAT strategy to be devised, centred on reduced rates for energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products and services, counterbalancing unfair competition which results from externalities not reflected in the price of a good or service;

14.  Emphasises that in order to ensure neutrality, VAT on goods and services that are used for taxed economic activities must be deductible; notes that at present the rules on input tax deduction are complex and cause problems for businesses as a result of issues arising from the nature of their activities (scope), type of service (exemptions) or nature of services (deductibility);

15.  Notes, with regard to cross-border intra-Community transactions, that the current VAT system has moved away from the initial commitment by Member States to implement the origin principle, due to a lack of political support among Member States to cooperate in order to apply that principle;

16.  Agrees therefore with the Commission's proposal to recognise the status quo and move towards a destination principle; considers that a VAT system based on the place of consumption, for both goods and services, appears to be a promising route that should be further analysed and needs to be accompanied by the introduction of well-functioning one-stop shops (OSS) by Member States; emphasises that the introduction of VAT OSS by 1 January 2015 should continue to be a key priority for the EU;

17.  In the light of the converging trend of VAT standard rates, calls upon Member States to further narrow the standard-rate band; acknowledges that Member States must be afforded the flexibility to set their own VAT rate in the light of VAT's importance as a budgetary instrument;

18.  Calls on the Commission to come up with a proposal by the end of December 2012 on simplifying cross-border taxation;

19.  Underlines that non-profit-making organisations play a vital and very beneficial role in furthering democracy, growth and prosperity in Europe; calls on the Commission to propose a mechanism allowing Member States wishing to strengthen civil society to generally exempt from VAT all or most of the activities and transactions carried out by these organisations; stresses that at least the smaller non-profit-making organisations should be covered by such a mechanism;

20.  Calls on the Member States to agree by January 2012 on a list of common goods and services that should benefit from tax exemptions or a reduction in the VAT rate;

21.  Invites the Member States to work closely with the VAT committee to reach an agreement on a common interpretation of the legal terms that are relevant in this context, whereby in reverse this would mean that all other goods and services on a European level would be excluded from such entitlements;

22.  Calls on the Commission to submit by the end of 2013 a report to the European Parliament and the Council comprising a binding list of common goods and services, on the basis of the findings of the Member States and the VAT committee, that are eligible for a reduced VAT rate or an exemption under the VAT Directive;

Reducing Red Tape

23.  Calls upon Member States to better coordinate and converge administrative practices by focusing on exchanging best practices and to implement the measures proposed by the Commission in 2009 to reduce the administrative burdens from EU legislation in the area of VAT, notably by reducing the frequency of the periodic VAT returns, simplifying the proof required for the VAT export exemption, abolishing ‘nil’ intra-EU sales listings, increasing the use of e-government solutions in line with the Digital Agenda for Europe – in particular for the electronic submission of VAT returns and lists, abolishing interest and penalty payments on VAT related to errors of form if the individual legal entity has not caused the Member State in question to suffer any shortfall in VAT revenue, and considering the introduction of a single VAT reimbursement procedure, VAT identification number and an electronic storage system for VAT for the whole of the EU;

24.  Welcomes the Digital Internal Market study; calls on the Commission to improve interoperability of electronic signatures, so as to create a legal framework for recognition of secure e-certification systems, and to consider a revision and extension of the Electronic Signature directive in order to reduce the administrative burden for enterprises, especially SMEs; emphasises the need for mutual recognition of e-identification and e-authentication across the EU;

25.  Welcomes the fact that since 2010 a new electronic VAT refund system has been in place within the EU; calls on the Commission to report to Parliament no later than July 2012 on the results, strengths and weaknesses of the new system; stresses that the new rules must always be reviewed in order to ensure that they provide appropriate protection against attempted fraud;

26.  Calls on the Commission to present, within a reasonable period of time, a proposal for a Standard European Invoice (paper and electronic) based on a linguistically neutral template that could include information such as full name and address, date of registration and closure of a VAT number and group VAT information, so as to facilitate cross-border transactions and reduce costs for business;

27.  Calls upon Member States and the Commission, working with businesses, to take a critical look at the Commission's Action Plan in order to ensure that the primary objective of the ‘Better Regulation’ agenda – to reduce administrative burdens by 25 % by 2012 – is met; it is clear that the measures in the Commission Action Plan for VAT with the biggest potential impacts have already either been adopted by the Council or are currently under discussion. The remaining measures may reduce some business administrative burdens in the EU, but the benefits may not be universal across the EU;

28.  Underlines the importance of increasing and supporting the use of e-government solutions, in particular for the electronic submission of VAT returns and lists;

29.  Calls upon Member States to agree at EU level in the short/medium term on a maximum set of standardised VAT obligations that may be imposed on businesses by Member States; calls upon Member States, working with businesses, to examine VAT obligations and administrative practices and identify key business irritants in the current VAT system and to share ideas and ‘best practice’ approaches in order to simplify it, improve clarity and reduce administrative burdens and trade barriers;

30.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to consider introducing a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for SMEs, with a view to cutting red tape and costs and facilitating access to the internal market;

31.  Calls on the Commission to look carefully into the issue of further reducing VAT red tape for non-profit-making organisations; underlines that there should be a higher degree of flexibility in the VAT system for Member States wishing to take ambitious measures in order to ease the VAT administration burden for these organisations;

Efficiency of VAT collection

32.  Agrees with the Commission that the efficiency of VAT collection needs to be improved in order to reduce the VAT gap and limit the possibility of fraud, as well as to protect bona fide traders against VAT fraud; stresses that combating tax fraud in the European Union is a priority, and calls for closer cooperation between the Member States, Europol, Eurojust and OLAF in this area, also calls for clarification of terms and definitions, such as ‘country of consumption’ and ‘country of establishment’;

33.  Underlines the need to improve cross-border prosecution of intra-Community VAT fraud in the Member States and to increase accountability and risk awareness in this area;

34.  In order to establish effective cross-border investigations on, and juridical persecution of, such fraud, stresses the importance of having a comprehensive and uniform definition in EU legislation of a VAT-fraudulent scheme or VAT carousel, the most widely used form of VAT fraud, as well as harmonised administrative penalties;

35.  Notes that accurate estimates of the extent of VAT-carousel fraud are unavailable; urges the development of an accurate valuation tool for VAT fraud, which would also enable relevant comparisons to be made in this area between the EU Member States;

36.  Stresses the importance of more intensive and rapid cooperation between Member States, better monitoring of exchanges of information and more direct contacts between local tax offices by means of a common online information portal, so as to ensure that Member States provide efficient assistance to each other; urges that cooperation between the judicial authorities of the Member States, Eurojust, Europol and OLAF be enhanced;

37.  Calls on the Commission to propose a simplification and consolidation of Community anti-fraud legislation, and to address the weaknesses in cooperation between the Commission and the Member States in the framework of this process;

38.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the recently established (November 2010) EUROFISC functions as a practical added value to Member States' cross-border VAT fraud investigations, to report regularly to Parliament on its functioning and to make these reports public;

39.  Stresses that opportunities for VAT fraud can be significantly reduced by increased use of new technologies and innovative solutions; urges the Commission to further strengthen the Value Added Information Exchange System (VIES) by shortening the timescale for collecting and capturing data and by granting broader direct access to data;

40.  Considers, however, that the discussion of VAT collection methods is secondary to solving the underlying shortcomings and problems inherent in the current rules and procedures, and that at this stage the highest priority should be given to addressing the lack of harmonisation and the need to standardise procedures and reduce linguistic barriers, while reducing the system's vulnerability to fraud;

41.  Points out the need for a clear European interpretation body where Member States can get binding answers with a view to a common tax methodology and equal application of the VAT rules;

42.  Recalls that while international operators are often equipped to cope with problems that arise from conducting business on a global basis, tax administrations often do not have the same level of expertise; highlights the fact, therefore, that cooperation has to be designed in a way that helps to sort out the honest from the fraudsters and to make the system understandable to both sides;

43.  Considers that the limited Data Warehouse Model (with a Standard Audit File(4)), combined with the Certified Taxable Person model, are the most promising of the VAT collection models currently being examined by the Commission study, as they are already successfully implemented in some Member States and have proven to increase the efficiency of VAT collection;

Legal Process

44.  Considers that the business community requires clear VAT rules that increase legal certainty and the likelihood of uniform interpretation by Member States; considers also that current Council Directives contain unclear provisions that increase the possibility of multiple interpretations, while the resulting complex VAT system hinders cross-border activities and leads to unnecessary administrative burdens; takes the view that VAT rules should not undermine EU policies in other areas, such as sustainability;

45.  Calls therefore upon Member States to increase the level of harmonisation by:

   using Regulations instead of Directives, as far as possible, as they create immediate harmonisation and legal certainty;
   alternatively, allowing the Commission to issue a ‘Common EU VAT Rulebook’ in the form of Implementing Decisions with the consent of the majority of Member States(5), changing the role of the VAT Committee;
   setting up a process of streamlining and coordinating the national implementation process at EU level, giving a stronger role to the Commission;
   generally involving stakeholders and businesses in the drafting and implementation process for VAT legislation both at EU and national level, and in particular involving external experts in the work of the VAT Committee at EU level;

46.  Considers that businesses need clear and unambiguous EU VAT rules to support cross-border activities and minimise administrative burdens and therefore costs for business; calls upon Member States and the Commission to increase quality and clarity by:

o
o   o

   producing comprehensive and high-quality impact assessments, with EU businesses involved as part of that process, to support legislative proposals;
   keeping in touch with businesses at the national level during the negotiations and in the implementation phases;
   using Council Regulations to support Council Directives in areas where this would provide additional clarity;
   providing excellent, timely and accessible information and guidance on national rules, including at EU level, particularly in areas where treatment is not uniform;
   looking to opportunities to use technology to disseminate information on an EU-wide basis; sharing ‘best practice’ ideas and approaches in the EU Forum or VAT Committee;
   involving business, possibly in the role of external experts, in support of aspects of the work of the VAT Committee at EU level;
   in general terms, increasing the involvement of businesses in the processes, thereby utilising the knowledge they have gained by operating as unpaid tax-collectors and dealing with intra-community transactions on a daily basis;

47.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 347, 11.12.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ C 20, 25.1.2008, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 295 E, 4.12.2009, p. 13.
(4) As defined/ recommended by the OECD Guidelines.
(5) As proposed by the European Commission in COM(1997)0325 of 25.6.1997.


Appointment of a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank
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European Parliament decision of 13 October 2011 on the Council recommendation for appointment of a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (14862/2011 – C7-0312/2011 – 2011/0806(NLE))
P7_TA(2011)0437A7-0337/2011

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council's recommendation of 4 October 2011 (14862/2011),

–  having regard to Article 283(2), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the European Council consulted Parliament (C7-0312/2011),

–  having regard to Rule 109 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A7-0337/2011),

A.  whereas, by letter of 4 October 2011, the European Council consulted the European Parliament on the appointment of Jörg Asmussen as Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank for a term of office of eight years;

B.  whereas Parliament's Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs then proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 283(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in the light of the need for full independence of the European Central Bank pursuant to Article 130 TFEU, and whereas in carrying out this evaluation, the committee received a curriculum vitae from the candidate as well as his replies to the written questionnaire that was sent out to him,

C.  whereas the committee subsequently held a one-and-a-half-hour hearing with the nominee on 10 October 2011, at which he made an opening statement and then responded to questions from the members of the committee,

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council recommendation to appoint Jörg Asmussen as Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the European Council, the Council and the governments of the Member States.


EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and loan guarantees for projects outside the EU ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 October 2011 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under loans and loan guarantees for projects outside the Union and repealing Decision No 633/2009/EC (12443/1/2011 – C7-0270/2011 – 2010/0101(COD))
P7_TA(2011)0438A7-0327/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (12443/1/2011 – C7-0270/2011),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0174),

–  having regard to Article 294(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 72 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Budgets (A7-0327/2011),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

3.  Instructs its President to sign the act with the President of the Council, in accordance with Article 297(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

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

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

(1) Texts adopted of 17.2.2011, P7_TA(2011)0062.


Subscription to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 October 2011 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the subscription by the European Union to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as a result of the decision to increase this capital (COM(2011)0034 – C7-0038/2011 – 2011/0014(COD))
P7_TA(2011)0439A7-0227/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0034),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 212 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0038/2011),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 14 September 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A7-0227/2011),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 13 October 2011 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the subscription by the European Union to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as a result of the decision to increase this capital

P7_TC1-COD(2011)0014


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision No 1219/2011/EU.)


Implementation of Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and establishing export authorisation, import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 October 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing Article 10 of the United Nations' Firearms Protocol and establishing export authorisation, and import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition (COM(2010)0273 – C7-0138/2010 – 2010/0147(COD))
P7_TA(2011)0440A7-0157/2011

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0273),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0138/2010),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 14 September 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A7-0157/2011),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 13 October 2011 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing Article 10 of the United Nations' Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (UN Firearms Protocol), and establishing export authorisation, and import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition

P7_TC1-COD(2010)0147


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 258/2012.)


Exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the EU's Stabilisation and Association process ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 October 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process (COM(2010)0054 – C7-0042/2010 – 2010/0036(COD))
P7_TA(2011)0441A7-0243/2010

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0054),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0042/2010),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 July 2011 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 55 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0243/2010),

1.  Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out(1);

2.  Approves the joint declaration by Parliament, the Council and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 13 October 2011 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process

P7_TC1-COD(2010)0036


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 1336/2011.)

ANNEX

Joint Declaration by the European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission concerning the choice of procedures for the adoption of implementing acts

The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission declare that the choice of procedures for the adoption of implementing acts as regards this proposal is without prejudice to, and does not set a precedent for, the choice of procedures in future proposals.

(1) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 11 May 2011 (Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0219).


Preparation for the European Council meeting (23 October 2011)
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European Parliament resolution of 13 October 2011 on preparation for the European Council meeting (23 October 2011)
P7_TA(2011)0442B7-0534/2011

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the State of the Union speech of 28 September 2011,

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Believes that the forthcoming European Council is of great importance and must finally and decisively show the way forward;

2.  Calls on the President of the Commission to table a comprehensive plan with a clear roadmap setting out distinct phases for its implementation;

3.  Insists that such a plan be based entirely on the Community method and provide for the use of the existing EU institutional arrangements;

4.  Emphasises the need for such a plan to have a clear time frame in order to restore confidence and show the way forward;

5.  Considers that such a plan should include as a minimum the following elements:

   an EU plan for the recapitalisation of European banks,
   the communitisation of the EFSF and the future ESM, and an assessment of whether the available and envisaged means will suffice to bring the sovereign debt crisis under control,
   a meaningful European growth, investment and jobs plan that also includes project bonds,
   ways of improving Member States' efforts to coordinate and harmonise elements of their tax systems, including measures against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance,
   a proposal for a faster and stronger mechanism which allows the Commission to enforce the Single Market acquis in Member States,
   an economic government for the euro area based on the Community method,
   proposals to complete the overhaul of financial market regulation to make the EU economy more resilient to future crises,
   a report on the setting-up of a system of common issuance of European sovereign bonds (eurosecurities) on the basis of joint and several liability before the end of 2011; these eurosecurities would serve to strengthen fiscal discipline and increase stability in the euro area through the markets, and, by taking advantage of the increase in liquidity, ensure that Member States enjoying the highest credit ratings would not be penalised by higher interest rates;

6.  Emphasises that the democratic legitimacy and accountability of such a plan and any related measure need to be ensured through the involvement of the European Parliament, particularly with regard to the setting-up of an economic government;

7.  Will assess the outcome of the European Council meeting in the light of the above;

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


Accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen
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European Parliament resolution of 13 October 2011 on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen
P7_TA(2011)0443B7-0532/2011

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its position of 8 June 2011 on the draft Council decision on the full application of the provisions of the Schengen acquis in the Republic of Bulgaria and Romania(1),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Justice and Home Affairs Council held in Luxembourg on 9 and 10 June 2011,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 24 and 25 June 2011,

–  having regard to the questions of 29 September 2011 to the Council and the Commission on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen (O-000224/2011 – B7-0440/2011, O-000225/2011 – B7-0621/2011, O-000223/2011 – B7-0439/2011),

–  having regard to Rules 115(5) and 110(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU citizens by the Treaties;

B.  whereas the creation of the Schengen area and the integration of the Schengen acquis into the EU framework is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process;

C.  whereas Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled all the criteria for successful conclusion of the Schengen evaluation process;

D.  whereas both countries' preparedness for joining the Schengen area was certified by Parliament in its resolution of 8 June 2011 and by the Council in its conclusions of 9 June 2011;

E.  whereas, during the European Council of 24 June 2011, the heads of state and government agreed that the decision concerning the accession of Bulgaria and Romania should be taken no later than September 2011;

F.  whereas the decision on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria has been postponed following the Council's failure to vote during its meeting of 22 September 2011;

1.  Points out that both countries have fundamentally redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems by investing substantially in their law enforcement authorities, including the provision of training and the latest technology, and have visibly reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks, a fact which is acknowledged in all the Schengen evaluation reports;

2.  Notes the constant support and solidarity shown by Bulgaria and Romania as reliable partners in south-eastern Europe, along with their continual contribution to border security in this part of the EU;

3.  Underlines that both countries have fully implemented the Schengen acquis, which –according to their Accession Treaty and the existing EU legal framework – is the only prerequisite for their accession to the Schengen area;

4.  Urges all Member States to take the decision on enlarging the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures; believes that additional criteria cannot be imposed on Member States which are already in the process of joining the Schengen area;

5.  Reiterates Parliament's support for enlarging the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania, and calls on the European Council to proceed in accordance with the EU Treaty and to take the necessary measures to enable Romania and Bulgaria to accede to the Schengen area;

6.  Calls on all Member States to honour their commitments under the EU legal framework as regards the Schengen accession criteria, and not to give priority to national populism;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0254.


Dog population management in the European Union
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Declaration of the European Parliament of 13 October 2011 on dog population management in the European Union
P7_TA(2011)0444P7_DCL(2011)0026

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 13 TFEU,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Action Plan 2006-2010(1),

–  having regard to Rule 123 of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas, according to the Treaty, animals are sentient beings and the EU and Member States must pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals,

B.  whereas in some Member States, stray animals pose a threat to public health and safety,

C.  whereas some Member States are taking extreme measures against stray animals,

1.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the principle mentioned in Article 13 TFEU is respected by the Member States;

2.  Calls on the Member States to adopt comprehensive dog population management strategies which include measures such as dog control and anti-cruelty laws, support for veterinary procedures including rabies vaccination and sterilisation as necessary to control the number of unwanted dogs, and the promotion of responsible pet ownership;

3.  Ask the Commission to encourage the Member States to introduce the mandatory identification and registration of every dog, by means of EU-wide compatible systems, in order to avoid the spread of diseases;

4.  Instructs its President to forward this declaration, together with the names of the signatories(2), to the Commission and the governments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 25.
(2) The list of signatories is published in Annex 1 to the Minutes of 13 October 2011 (P7_PV(2011)10-13(ANN1)).

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