Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 13 March 2012 - Strasbourg
Agreement between the EU, Iceland and Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters ***
 Request for waiver of immunity of Krisztina Morvai
 Jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession ***I
 Equality between women and men in the European Union - 2011
 Women in political decision-making
 Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees
 Bologna process
 European Statistics

Agreement between the EU, Iceland and Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2012 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol thereto (05306/2010 – C7-0030/2010 – 2009/0189(NLE))
P7_TA(2012)0066A7-0020/2012

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (05306/2010),

–  having regard to the draft agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Iceland and the Kingdom of Norway on the application of certain provisions of the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union and the 2001 Protocol thereto (14938/2003),‘,

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 82(1), point (d) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0030/2010),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A7-0020/2012),

1.  Consents to the 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, of the Republic of Iceland and of the Kingdom of Norway.


Request for waiver of immunity of Krisztina Morvai
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European Parliament decision of 13 March 2012 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Krisztina Morvai (2010/2285(IMM))
P7_TA(2012)0067A7-0050/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Krisztina Morvai, forwarded on 13 October 2010 by the Pest Central District Court in Budapest (Hungary) in connection with proceedings pending before that court and announced in plenary on 24 November 2010,

–  having heard Krisztina Morvai, in accordance with Rule 7(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the written submissions from the Pest Central District Court of 19 December 2011 in reply to the request of the Committee on Legal Affairs under Rule 7(3) for further information and explanations,

–  having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of the Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, annexed to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010 and 6 September 2011(1),

–  having regard to Rules 6(2) and 7 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0050/2012),

A.  whereas the Pest Central District Court has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Krisztina Morvai, in connection with proceedings before it;

B.  whereas the request by the Court relates to criminal proceedings relating to the criminal offence of public defamation in connection with statements made by Krisztina Morvai concerning a private individual in Hungary;

C.  whereas, according to Article 8 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

D.  whereas the facts of the case, as manifested in the submissions from the Court to the Committee on Legal Affairs, indicate that the statements were made at a time when Krisztina Morvai was not a Member of the European Parliament;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Krisztina Morvai;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its competent committee immediately to the competent authority of Hungary and to Krisztina Morvai.

(1) Case 101/63 Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier [1964] ECR 195, Case 149/85 Wybot v Faure and Others [1986] ECR 2391, Case T-345/05 Mote v Parliament [2008] ECR II-2849, Joined Cases C-200/07 and C-201/07 Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente [2008] ECR I-7929, Case T-42/06 Gollnisch v Parliament (not yet published in the ECR) and Case C-163/10 Patriciello (not yet published in the ECR).


Jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 13 March 2012 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and authentic instruments in matters of succession and the creation of a European Certificate of Succession (COM(2009)0154 – C7-0236/2009 – 2009/0157(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0068A7-0045/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2009)0154),

–  having regard to Article 251(2) and Article 61(c) and the second indent of Article 67(5) of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0236/2009),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication to Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Consequences of the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon for ongoing interinstitutional decision-making procedures’ (COM(2009)0665),

–  having regard to Article 294(3) and Article 81(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 14 July 2010(1),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0045/2012),

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 March 2012 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and acceptance and enforcement of authentic instruments in matters of succession and on the creation of a European Certificate of Succession

P7_TC1-COD(2009)0157


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 650/2012.)

(1) OJ C 44, 11.2.2011, p. 148.


Equality between women and men in the European Union - 2011
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2012 on equality between women and men in the European Union - 2011 (2011/2244(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0069A7-0041/2012

The European Parliament,

–   having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 8 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–   having regard to Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

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

–   having regard to European Parliament and Council Directive 2011/36/EU of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(1),

–   having regard to the 1949 UN Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others,

–  having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995 and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing+5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005) and Beijing +15 (2010) special sessions,

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the European Council in March 2011(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 5 March 2010 entitled ‘A Strengthened Commitment to Equality between Women and Men: A Women's Charter’ (COM(2010)0078),

–   having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 11 February 2011 entitled ‘Report on the progress on equality between women and men in 2010’ (SEC(2011)0193),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 September 2010 entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

–   having regard to the Fundamental Rights Agency's Report on Homophobia, Transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity (2010),

–   having regard to the EU Victims' Package comprising the Commission communications of 18 May 2011 entitled ‘Strengthening victims’ rights in the EU' (COM(2011)0274), ‘Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime’ (COM(2011)0275) and ‘Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters’ (COM(2011)0276),

–   having regard to the Commission communication ‘EU 2020: a European strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–   having regard to the Commission report of 3 October 2008 entitled ‘Implementation of the Barcelona objectives concerning childcare facilities for pre-school-age children’ (COM(2008)0638),

–   having regard to Directive 2004/113/EC on implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services and the related judgment of 1 March 2011 of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the Test-Achats case (C-236/09)(3),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 October 2005 on women and poverty in the European Union(4),

–   having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2009 on non-discrimination based on sex and inter-generational solidarity(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2010 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009(6) and of 8 March 2011 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2010(7),

–   having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2011 on women and business leadership(8),

–   having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2011 on priorities and outline of a new EU policy framework to fight violence against women(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the face of female poverty in the European Union(10),

–   having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis,(11)

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0041/2012),

A.  whereas equality between men and women is a fundamental principle of the European Union, enshrined in the Treaty on European Union, and whereas the Union has set itself the specific task of mainstreaming gender equality in all its activities and whereas, despite the gradual progress in this area, many inequalities between women and men still remain;

B.  whereas at times of economic crisis, strengthening women's position in the labour market and economic independence is not only a moral imperative, but also an economic necessity; whereas the EU 2020 Strategy includes the headline target of aiming to raise to 75 % the employment rate for women and men aged 20-64;

C.  whereas Europe's future economic competitiveness and prosperity depends crucially on its ability to fully utilise its labour resources, including increased participation by women in the labour market; whereas one of the Europe 2020 priorities is to get more women to work in order to reach a 75% employment rate for women by 2020; whereas comparatively more women than men work in part-time jobs or on temporary contracts and will therefore be more easily made redundant in crisis periods and there is a risk that the current recession will delay advances, or even reverse progress towards gender equality; whereas, however, part-time work opportunities in some cases and for a certain period can have a positive effect for women and men in order to reconcile work family and private life;

D.  whereas the objective of gender equality entails better political representation of women; whereas women's representation in political decision making has not sustained any linear improvement in recent years - the gender balance in national parliaments across the EU has remained unchanged at 24 % women and 76 % men and the percentage of female members of parliament in certain Member States does not exceed 15%, with women accounting for only 23 % of ministers overall; whereas the number of female vice-presidents of the European Parliament has decreased in the second half of the parliamentary term 2009-2014;

E.  whereas initially the economic crisis mainly hit male employment, but cuts in public spending are expected to have a disproportionate impact on female employment and wage difference, as many more women than men are employed in the public sector; whereas the particularly critical sectors dominated by women are health, education and social care; whereas it is important to pay attention not only to employment rates, but also to equal employment conditions and employment quality, including career opportunities and wages;

F.  whereas violence against women including psychological violence is a prime obstacle to equality between women and men, is a violation of the fundamental rights of women and remains the most widespread violation of human rights within the EU despite measures taken by politicians to counter it; whereas economic recession creates conditions associated with increased violence in intimate relationships, and austerity measures affecting support services leave women victims of violence even more vulnerable than usual;

G.  whereas economists and demographers (World Bank, OECD, IMF) use economic and mathematical models to highlight the economic value of household production – carried out mainly by women – and whereas women's contribution to GDP would be even higher if their unpaid work were factored in, which proves the discrimination that exists against women's work;

H.  whereas budget cuts in social services, such as childcare, further hinder women's participation in the labour market;

I.  whereas access to services providing care for children, elderly and dependent persons is essential for achieving equal participation of women and men in the labour market and in education and training; whereas home caregivers remain discriminated against in terms of the failure to count their years of work towards pensions and entitlements;

J.  whereas 2012 is the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations and it is important to stress that more women than men in their later years live in single households due to longer life expectancy;

K.  whereas the European Parliament adopted in October 2011 its position on the proposal for a new Directive on Maternity Leave, extending maternity leave to 20 weeks with full pay and also establishing paid paternity leave of at least 2 weeks;

L.  whereas access to capital is severely limited by the banking crisis, a problem that is likely to hit women entrepreneurs disproportionately, as women increasingly work in a self-employed capacity so as to better combine work and family life;

M.  whereas the collection and analysis of gender-disaggregated data are paramount in implementing equality between women and men in the European Union;

N.  whereas progress in achieving gender equality has been excruciatingly slow, in particular economic equality; whereas political leaders must do more than pay lip service to it, rather making it a priority in their economic strategies;

O.  whereas disparities in the pay received by women and men are still very high (in some cases exceeding 25%), and whereas despite the efforts and progress made the pay gap is not becoming smaller but rather stagnating;

P.  whereas employment rates are lower in rural areas and, moreover, a large number of women do not figure in the official labour market and are therefore not registered as unemployed or included in unemployment statistics, causing specific financial and legal problems in connection with maternity and sick leave entitlements, the acquisition of pension rights and access to social security, as well as problems in the event of divorce; whereas rural areas are disadvantaged by the lack of high-quality employment opportunities;

Q.  whereas on average 3 in 10 households in the European Union are single-person households, the majority of them comprising women living alone, particularly elderly women, and the percentage is rising; whereas these households are more vulnerable and more at risk of poverty, in particular at times of economic adversity; whereas single-person or single-income households in most Member States are treated unfavourably, both in absolute and relative terms, with regard to taxation, social security, housing, health care, insurance and pensions; whereas public policies should not penalise people for – voluntarily or involuntarily – living alone;

R.  whereas women's sexual and reproductive health and rights are human rights and should be guaranteed for all women, regardless of their social status, age, sexual orientation or ethnicity;

S.  whereas many women such as disabled women, women caring for children, elderly and disabled women, women from ethnic minorities and especially Roma women and immigrant women suffer from multiple and intersectional discrimination and are more vulnerable to social exclusion, poverty and extreme human rights violations;

T.  whereas families in the European Union are diverse and comprise married, unmarried and partnered parents, different-sex and same-sex parents, single parents and foster parents who deserve equal protection under national and European Union law;

U.  whereas the ECJ judgement in the Test-Achats case demonstrates the need for precise, clear and unambiguous provisions in gender equality legislation;

V.  whereas the gender gap is smaller before family formation and increases when individuals form a couple; whereas a drop in the employment rate occurs for women at first childbirth and the labour market disadvantages accumulate in the earlier stages of their life cycle, connected to child-care, which at a later stage changes into care of elderly people, which often flows into in-work poverty;

W.  whereas positive actions aimed at women have proved to be fundamental for their full incorporation in the labour market and in society in general;

X.  whereas women in rural areas suffer from even greater discrimination and gender stereotypes than women in urban areas and the employment rate of those women is much lower than of those in the cities;

Y.  whereas victims of human trafficking are mostly women and girls;

Equal economic independence

1.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that their marriage and divorce and matrimonial property laws do not directly or indirectly constitute a financial ‘trap’ for the spouses, in particular women, and to ensure that couples who seek marriage are fully informed in a suitable time-frame of the legal and financial implications of marriage and divorce;

2.  Calls on Member States to invest in affordable, high-quality facilities for the care of children, the sick, the disabled, the elderly and other dependent persons, making sure that they have flexible times and are accessible so that as many people as possible can combine professional and private life; calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure that men and women caring for children or the elderly receive recognition by giving them individual social security and pension rights; invites the social partners to present specific initiatives to validate the skills acquired during a care-related leave period;

3.  Calls on the Member States to move towards individualised systems of social security, in order to increase women's individual autonomy and position in society;

4.  Emphasises the importance of developing the legal concept of shared ownership - in order to ensure full recognition of women's rights in the agricultural sector, appropriate protection in the field of social security and recognition of women's work - and the need to amend the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) Regulation, so as to make it possible, as is the case under the European Social Fund (ESF), to take positive action for women in the future 2014-2020 programming period, bearing in mind that this was feasible in earlier periods but cannot be done in the current one and that such measures will have very beneficial effects on female employment in rural areas;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to elaborate proposals for the mutual recognition of civil unions and of same-sex families across Europe between those countries which already have the relevant legislation in place, so as to ensure equal treatment with regard to work, free movement, taxation and social security, protecting the incomes of families and children;

6.  Welcomes the adoption of Directive 2010/41/EU on the application of the principle of equal treatment between men and women engaged in an activity in a self-employed capacity and calls on the Member States to ensure its full and timely implementation;

7.  Regrets the implementation by some Member States of restrictive definitions of ‘family’ in order to deny legal protection to same-sex couples and their children; recalls that EU law applies without discrimination on the basis of sex or sexual orientation, in accordance with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

8.  Stresses that fiscal consolidation without consideration for gender equality risks leading to increased gender segregation in the labour market, increased precarious work among women, a wider gender pay gap, increased feminisation of poverty and more difficulties in combining caring and working;

9.  Calls on the Council to move forward on the European Parliament's position concerning the amendment of the Maternity Leave Directive, particularly with regard to pay for women who have recently given birth, so as to ensure continuity of women's economic independence during this period.

10.  Calls on Member States to actively promote and closely monitor the implementation of the Social Partners' Framework Agreement on Parental Leave, particularly with regard to the non-transferable period, and to ensure that all barriers are removed so as to increase men's take-up rate;

11.  Stresses that income and high-quality gainful employment for women are the key to their economic independence and to greater equality between men and women in society as a whole;

12.  Calls on the Member States and the social partners to include especially female workers in training and vocational training in ‘green jobs’ which are regarded by the EU Commission as a ‘key growth segment’ of the European labour market;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to analyse and eliminate the barriers to (re-)entering the labour market and self-employment for Roma women, and furthermore to place proper emphasis on the role of women in the economic empowerment of marginalised Roma and in launching businesses;

14.  Calls for action to be taken at national and European level to promote women's entrepreneurship, by setting up training and careers and legal advice services and facilitating access to public and private funding;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to assess the gender impact of the economic and financial crisis through gender impact assessments and subsequent gender budgeting measures;

16.  Calls on the Member States to invest current Structural Funds spending for the period 2007-2013 in the development of care services to enable both women and men to combine professional and private life;

Equal pay for equal work and work of equal value

17.  Notes that, despite countless campaigns, targets and measures in recent years, the gender pay gap remains stubbornly wide, women across the EU earn 17.5% less on average than men and there has only been a marginal reduction of the gender pay gap in the last few years; calls on the Member States to redouble their efforts to put European measures in place with the aim of closing this gap;

18.  Calls for a multifaceted strategy from European institutions, Member States and the Social Partners to tackle the full range of causes of the persistent gender pay, including a European equal pay target to reduce the pay gap by 10% in each Member State to ensure equal payment for women and men for the same work and for the same qualifications, and welcomes the Commission's initiative of launching a European Equal Pay Day (EEPD); regrets that no legislative proposal has been put forward by the Commission since the adoption of the European Parliament resolution of 18 November 2008 and its recommendations;

19.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to take appropriate measures to reduce the gender pension gap as a direct consequence of the gender pay gap and to assess the impact of the new pension systems on various categories of women, paying special attention to part-time and atypical contracts;

20.  Calls on the Member States to take targeted actions in order to provide a better and fairer financial status for social employment; takes the view that jobs in education and care must be placed on an equal financial footing with other jobs, and that there must be no financial disadvantages arising from the fact that men and women choose social occupations;

21.  Expresses concern that the economic crisis and budget cuts will exacerbate the problem, as women will be disproportionately affected, and calls on Member States' governments as well as on social partners to devise an action plan and concrete, ambitious targets;

22.  Calls on the Member States to make better of use the skills of highly qualified female migrants and to provide access to education and training including language courses in order to avoid de-skilling and to ensure equal job opportunities and promote the integration of migrants; calls on the Member States to give attention to the adoption of measures for migrant women and encourages the consultation of NGOs and migrant women's organisations on policies and measures geared towards their social integration;

23.  Is concerned about the legislation in some Member States which does not expressly prohibit the handing of pre-signed resignation letters to employers when women are recruited, which has the effect of enabling maternity laws to be circumvented;

Equality in decision-making

24.  Considers that active participation and full inclusion of women in the European labour market not only has a positive effect on business but also benefits the economy and society as a whole and is an issue that concerns fundamental rights and democracy: women represent 60% of new university graduates, but continue to be under-represented in economic decision-making posts;

25.  Regrets that economic recovery projects still focus mainly on male-dominated employment; calls on the Member States and the Commission to address gender equality in a consistent manner when implementing the EU2020 Strategy and National Reform Programmes, and to give high priority to addressing barriers to women's participation in the labour market with particular emphasis on women with disabilities, migrant and ethnic minority women, women in the age group 54-65 years and Roma women; points out that women and men must have access to flexible forms of employment, including teleworking, in order to achieve a good balance between work and family life and become financially independent; notes that women are under-represented in sectors that are likely to expand such as the renewable sector, science and technology-intensive jobs, and therefore invites the Council, the Commission and the Member States to formulate job creation policies concerning the balanced representation of men and women in these new sectors;

26.  Calls for support to be given to initiatives and campaigns which break down stereotypes about the low effectiveness of female employees and their lack of management skills; calls also for women to be supported in their career development and efforts to reach managerial positions;

27.  Regrets the lack of progress towards increasing the number of women on company boards as demonstrated in the European Commission's 2012 report on women in economic decision-making; notes that, within the EU, on average only 13% of the executives of the major listed companies are women, with only 3% female chairs;

28.  Calls on the Commission to present, as soon as possible, comprehensive current data on female representation within all types of companies in the EU and on the compulsory and non-compulsory measures taken by the business sector as well as those recently adopted by the Member States with a view to increasing such representation; notes that, according to the Commission's report on women in economic decision making, steps taken by companies and the Member States are found to be inadequate; welcomes the announced consultation on measures to enhance gender balance in economic decision making; is disappointed, however, that the Commission is refraining from taking immediate legislative measures, as it had committed to do should the targets not be met; believes the meagre progress made in 2011 merits more concrete measures than a mere consultation; reiterates, therefore, its call from 2011 for legislation, including quotas, to be proposed by 2012 to increase female representation in corporate management bodies to 30% by 2015 and to 40% by 2020, while taking account of the Member States' responsibilities and of their economic, structural (i.e. company-size related), legal and regional specificities;

29.  Stresses the need for Member States to adopt measures, in particular through legislative means, to set binding targets to ensure the balanced presence of women and men in positions of responsibility in business, public administration and political bodies; refers to the successful examples of Norway, Spain, Germany, Italy and France;

30.  Recalls that the European Elections in 2014, followed by the appointment of the next Commission and the nominations for the senior administrative positions within the European institutions, are a chance to move towards parity democracy at EU level;

31.  Calls on the Member States to support parity by proposing a woman and a man as their candidates for the office of Commissioner; calls on the nominated President of the Commission to aim at parity when forming the Commission; calls on the present Commission to publicly support this procedure;

32.  Points out that the use of electoral quotas has positive effects on women's representation and welcomes the legislated parity systems and gender quotas introduced in France, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, Portugal and Poland; calls on the Member States with particularly low representation of women in political assemblies to consider introducing equivalent measures;

33.  Welcomes the significant increase in the numbers of female chairs of parliamentary committees and the number of female MEPs in the legislative term 2009-2014 but regrets the decrease of female EP vice-presidents in the second half of the term; therefore proposes measures for absolute gender balance regarding the vice-presidents' posts;

34.  Calls on the Member States to promote female entrepreneurship and to provide financial support, vocational guidance and training to encourage women setting up their own companies;

Dignity, integrity and an end to gender-based violence

35.  Urges the Commission to include homophobic and transphobic violence and harassment in its action programmes against gender-based violence;

36.  Welcomes efforts, both at Community and national levels, to combat violence against women, men and children such as the European Protection Order, the Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and the legislative package to strengthen the rights of victims in the EU, but stresses that this phenomenon remains a major unresolved problem; calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt and implement policies to combat all forms of violence against women including all sexual, physical and psychological abuse, domestic violence, harassment and the need to include the fight against gender-based violence in EU external and development cooperation policies; stresses the need to ascertain the real extent of the problem of gender-based violence in the EU; notes the important work to be done in this area by the European Observatory on Gender-Based Violence and calls therefore, for the Observatory to be made operational as soon as possible;

37.  Reiterates the need for the Commission to present an EU-wide strategy to end violence against women including a legislative criminal-law instrument to combat gender-based violence as requested by Parliament in several resolutions; calls on the Commission to establish 2015 as the EU Year to End Violence against Women;

38.  Encourages Member States to establish information programmes concerning harassment and mobbing at work, so that women who are subjected to such treatment can take effective counter-measures;

39.  Defines domestic violence as including all sexual, physical and psychological abuse; points out that gender violence claims many lives across the EU each year; thus calls for adequate measures to be taken so that gender-based violence is treated as a public security issue rather than as a private, domestic issue and as a violation of fundamental rights, by ensuring, amongst other things, access to forms of prevention, legal protection and assistance, including with regard to stalking;

40.  Expresses satisfaction with the recent adoption of the European Protection Order Directive - which aims to protect among others the victims of gender violence - and invites the Member States to transpose it into national law at an early date in order to allow for the proper functioning of the European Protection Order;

41.  Notes in this context the EU Victims' Package; calls on Member States to include in this package specific actions and resources to combat all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, sexual violence, harassment, so called honour killings, Female Genital Mutilation, forced marriages and other forms of violence and violation of individual rights;

42.  Calls on Members States to introduce rehabilitation and psychological programmes for perpetrators of physical abuse, which would reduce the incidence of such abuse; draws attention, furthermore, to the increase in aggressive behaviour among girls;

43.  Calls on the Commission to implement its commitment to mainstream gender equality in the Common European Asylum System.

44.  Stresses the need for Member States and regional and local authorities to take measures, via instruments such as the ESF or the PROGRESS programme, to help women who have been victims of gender violence to get back into the labour market;

45.  Points out that the enhancement of social and economic independence as well as sexual and reproductive health autonomy and the freedom to choose a partner are important preconditions for fighting against violence;

46.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to recognise the gender dimension in health as an essential part of EU health policies and further step up their efforts to adopt a dual strategy with gender and age mainstreaming and specific gender-related actions in EU and national health policies;

47.  Reiterates its position on sexual and reproductive health rights, as stated in its resolutions of 10 February 2010 and 8 March 2011 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009 and 2010; expresses concern in this respect about recent funding cuts to family planning and sexual education and also restrictions on access to sexual and reproductive health services in some Member States, in particular pregnancy and maternity protection and safe and legal abortion; stresses that all women must have control over their sexual and reproductive rights including by having access to affordable high-quality contraception;

48.  Expresses concern over the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible diseases, in particular amongst women; points out that 45% of young women and girls who are newly infected with HIV are between the ages of 15 and 24 years old; urges the Commission therefore to place increased emphasis on prevention in their strategy for the fight against HIV/AIDS, to increase general awareness about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases through the inclusion of sex education, free access to condoms and HIV tests, and to reduce the number of new HIV infections;

49.  Calls for a debate at European and Member State level on how to combat stereotypes relating to the respective roles of women and men; stresses, in this regard, the importance of promoting the representation of the female image in a way that respects women's dignity, and of combating persistent gender stereotypes, in particular the prevalence of degrading images, whilst fully respecting freedom of expression and freedom of the press;

50.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to integrate into all their policies, as part of the gender mainstreaming requirement, a specific focus on women with specific needs.

51.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to pay special attention to vulnerable groups of women: disabled women, women of advanced age, women with little or no training, women with dependent persons in their charge, female immigrants and women belonging to minorities, all of whom constitute specific groups on whose behalf measures adapted to their circumstances must be taken;

52.  Calls on national, regional and local bodies responsible for ensuring equality to introduce integrated approaches to improve their response to, and management of, cases of multiple discrimination; stresses, furthermore, that these bodies should offer training to judges, lawyers and staff in general to allow them to identify, prevent and manage cases of multiple discrimination;

Gender equality beyond the Union

53.  Calls for human rights for women and the ability to use them effectively to be given the highest priority in the EU's external policies; calls also for the implementation of Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims;

54.  Expresses its concern - while welcoming the moves towards more democracy and freedom in countries of the Southern Mediterranean - that women's rights may actually emerge weakened from the Arab Spring; calls on the Commission to develop specific support measures for gender equality in those countries;

55.  Deplores the fact that rape is still used in certain regions of the world as a weapon; calls on the European Union, in the form of the European External Action Service, to include this phenomenon as a priority on its political agenda;

56.  Notes that this year the world population has reached 7 billion; expresses its conviction that family planning should be at the top of the political agenda;

57.  Expresses its concern about the slow progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in particular towards MDG5: Improve Maternal Health, and about the fact that progress towards a three-quarters reduction of the maternal mortality rate is lagging far behind and that the aim of achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015 is still far from being achieved; notes that about 1000 women still die each day from entirely avoidable pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications;

58.  Urges political and religious leaders to publicly throw their weight behind MDG5 and support modern sexual and reproductive health services;

59.  Calls on Member States to uphold their political and financial support for the MDGs, and even step up efforts to achieve MDG5, despite times of economic downturn;

60.  Welcomes the recent decision of the United Nations to create an International Day of the Girl Child on 11 October, which is a powerful way to highlight the particular needs and rights of girls, and to advocate greater action and investment to enable girls to reach their full potential in line with international human rights standards and obligations, including the Millennium Development Goals;

61.  Reminds the Commission and the Member States of their commitment to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and urges the provision of EU humanitarian aid to be made effectively independent from the restrictions on humanitarian aid imposed by the USA, in particular by ensuring access to abortion for women and girls who are victims of rape in armed conflicts;

Governance

62.  Calls on the incoming Council to unblock the Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation with a view to adoption during the Danish Presidency;

63.  Requests the Commission to deliver on the European Parliament's resolution on the Stockholm Action Plan;

64.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the implications of the Test-Achats case in future legislation in order to improve legal certainty, notably and urgently in relation to Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services;

65.  Calls on the Council, within the on-going negotiations on the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020, to introduce gender-responsive budgeting in the EU budgetary process and to guarantee predictability and no reduction in the level of EU funding for activities on women's rights and gender equality - including combating violence against women - as related to both internal and external policies;

66.  Regrets the lack of progress by Member States on plans to modernise legislation on maternity and paternity leave and calls for a balanced compromise with the future Danish Presidency of the EU, with a view to adoption in the first half of 2012, to respond to the needs of European families and of the European economy; calls on the Commission to put forward proposals for leave arrangements for care for elderly or sick relatives;

67.  Calls on the Commission to put forward a comprehensive communication on the situation of single-person households in the EU, with policy proposals to achieve fair treatment in areas like taxation, social security, housing, healthcare, insurance and pensions, based on the principle of policy neutrality with regard to household composition;

68.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect, analyse and publish reliable gender-disaggregated data and qualitative gender indicators so as to be able to properly evaluate and update the Commission's Strategy for equality between Women and Men (2010-2015) as well as to monitor the cross-cutting nature of gender equality in all policies;

69.  Reiterates its call on the Commission for a Road Map on Equality for LGBTI people, analogous to the Gender Equality Road Map;

70.  Expresses its deep concern about media reports on victims of human trafficking being treated as criminals instead of getting support, and calls on the Commission to investigate the treatment of victims of human trafficking, sexual slavery and forced prostitution in the Member States;

71.  Calls for attention to be given to the situation of institutional mechanisms involving gender equality in the Member States, so that the economic downturn, ongoing reforms and other restructurings do not have a particularly negative effect on these mechanisms, without which the horizontal priority of male and female equality with its management specificity is unlikely to be effective;

72.  Stresses the need to improve arrangements for the cooperation and involvement of women's organisations, and civil society as a whole, in gender mainstreaming processes;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(2) Annex to Council Conclusions of 7 March 2011.
(3) OJ C 130, 30.4.2011, p. 4.
(4) OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 130.
(5) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 31.
(6) OJ C 341 E, 16.12.2010, p. 35.
(7) Texts adopted P7_TA(2011)0085.
(8) Texts adopted P7_TA(2011)0330.
(9) Texts adopted P7_TA(2011)0127.
(10) Texts adopted P7_TA(2011)0086.
(11) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 79.


Women in political decision-making
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2012 on women in political decision-making – quality and equality (2011/2295(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0070A7-0029/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on European Union, in particular Articles 2 and 3(3) thereof,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular Articles 21 and 23 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),

–  having regard to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women on 15 September 1995 and to the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing+5 (2000), Beijing +10 (2005) and Beijing +15 (2010) special sessions,

–  having regard to the Agreed Conclusions of the Commission on the Status of Women of 2006 on ‘Equal participation of women and men in decision-making processes at all levels’,

–  having regard to the Commission on the Status of Women Agreed Conclusions 1997/2 on the Critical Areas of Concern of the Beijing Platform for Action 1996-1999,

–  having regard to UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/58/142 on women and political participation and to UN General Assembly Resolution III women and political participation, approved on 18 November 2011; Resolution A/C.3/66/L.20/Rev.1,

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the European Council in March 2011(1),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ (COM(2010)0491),

–  having regard to the Commission Decision of 19 June 2000 relating to gender balance within the committees and expert groups established by it(2),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation 96/694/EC of 2 December 1996 on the balanced participation of women and men in the decision-making process(3),

–  having regard to the Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Rec (2003)3 on balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making, adopted on 12 March 2003, and the results of the two rounds of monitoring of the progress made in the implementation of this Recommendation Rec (2003)3, based on a questionnaire on gender-segregated data on the participation of women and men in political and public decision-making, completed in 2005 and 2008 respectively,

–  having regard to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Resolution (PACE) 1079 (1996), on the increased representation of women in the PACE, Recommendation 1413 (1999) on equal representation in political life, Resolution 1348 (2003) on gender-balanced representation in the PACE, Recommendation 1665 (2004), on women's participation in elections and Resolution 303 (2010) on achieving sustainable gender equality in local and regional political life,

–  having regard to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe Resolution 85 (1999), Recommendation 68 (1999) on women's participation in political life in the regions of Europe and Recommendation 111 (2002) on women's individual voting rights and democratic requirements,

–  having regard to the Declaration on Women's participation in elections adopted by the European Commission for Democracy through Law (‘Venice Commission’),

–  having regard to the handbook ‘Gender budgeting: practical implementation’ prepared by the Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe (April 2009),

–  having regard to Recommendation 1899(2010) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on increasing women's representation in politics through the electoral system, adopted on 27 January 2010,

–  having regard to its resolution of 2 March 2000 on women in decision-making(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0029/2012),

A.  whereas there is an imbalance in participation by women and men in political and public decision-making and clear under-representation of women in elected and nominated political positions at the level of the European Union and in its Member States; whereas there is an alarming under-representation of women in the mid-term elections within the European Parliament;

B.  whereas the participation of women in political decision-making and the methods, strategies and cultural attitudes and tools to combat discrepancies vary greatly at national level within the EU and among its Member States, political parties and social partners;

C.  whereas women's representation in the European Parliament has increased to 35% but has not yet reached parity; whereas women are even more under-represented in leading positions in committees and political groups; whereas the representation of women in the European Commission is stagnating at one third, and the Commission has never been chaired by a woman;

D.  whereas, according to statistics and despite the numerous actions undertaken, an absence of parity prevails, and women's representation in political decision-making has stagnated in recent years instead of displaying linear improvement, the gender balance in national parliaments across the EU remaining unchanged at 24 % women and 76 % men, with women accounting for only 23 % of ministers overall(5);

E.  whereas today an informal system of quotas is de facto in play, where men are privileged over women and where men choose men for decision-making positions, which is not a formalised system but nevertheless a systematic and very real deep-rooted culture of positive treatment of men;

F.  whereas equal representation of women and men in political decision-making is a matter of human rights and social justice and a vital requirement for the functioning of a democratic society; whereas the persistent under-representation of women is a democratic deficit that undermines the legitimacy of decision-making at both EU and national level;

G.  whereas decision-making is based on administrative preparations and thus the number of women in administrative positions, especially in leadership, is a matter of equality and ensures that gender aspects are taken into account in the preparation of all policies;

H.  whereas the European elections to be held in 2014, followed by the appointment of the next European Commission and the nominations for the EU ‘Top Jobs’, is a chance to move toward parity-based democracy at the EU level and for the EU to be a role model in this area; 

I.  whereas the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women states, inter alia, that State parties should take all appropriate measures, including positive measures, to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life;

J.  whereas the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe encourages:

   reforms in electoral systems to make them more favourable to women's representation;
   gender-based anti-discrimination provisions in constitutions and electoral laws, with the necessary exception of allowing positive discrimination measures for the under-represented sex;
   gender-sensitive civic education and elimination of gender stereotypes and ‘built-in’ bias against women candidates, especially within political parties but also in the media;

K.  whereas the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on women in power and decision-making underlines the fact that equal participation is a necessary condition for women's interests to be taken into account and is needed in order to strengthen democracy and promote its proper functioning; whereas it reaffirms also that the active participation of women, on equal terms with men, at all levels of decision-making is essential to the achievement of equality, sustainable development, peace and democracy;

L.  whereas owing to persisting gender stereotypes there is still a severe segregation in key political decision-making positions, with care and distributive tasks such as health, social welfare and the environment being entrusted more to women, while men are assigned powerful, resource-related tasks such as economic and monetary affairs, trade, budget, defence and foreign affairs, which distorts the power structure and resource allocation;

M.  whereas political parties, which bear responsibility for selecting, ranking and nominating candidates for leading positions, have a central role in guaranteeing the equal representation of women and men in politics and should therefore endorse good practices such as voluntary party quotas for elections, which have already been introduced by some political parties in 13 EU Member States;

N.  whereas the World Bank's 1999 study on ‘Corruption and Women in Government’ concludes that lower levels of government corruption are found where there are higher levels of female participation, because, according to the findings of this research, women have higher ethical behaviour standards and show themselves to be more concerned with the ‘common good’;

O.  whereas comprehensive multifaceted strategies are needed, consisting of non-binding measures such as targets and voluntary party quotas, enabling measures such as gender education, mentoring and awareness-raising campaigns and legally binding measures such as electoral gender quotas, bearing in mind that legally binding measures, which are compatible with the institutional and electoral system and which entail rank-order rules, monitoring and effective sanctions for non-compliance, have proved most effective in achieving gender balance in politics;

P.  whereas women's access to electoral campaign funding is often more restricted, owing to discrimination within political parties, women's exclusion from moneyed networks and their lower income and savings;

Q.  whereas procedures in electoral systems, political institutions and political parties play a decisive role and have a serious impact on the effectiveness of strategies applied and on the extent to which gender balance is achieved in politics;

R.  whereas women's participation and leadership in political decision-making is still affected by various obstacles such as the absence of enabling supportive environments in political institutions and in society's welfare structures, the persistence of gender-based stereotypes and the consequences of the recent economic crisis and its negative repercussions on gender equality issues;

S.  whereas the low level of participation of women in decision-making and governance is highly attributable to problems in reconciling work and family life, the unequal distribution of family responsibilities, which lie heavily on women's shoulders, and the persisting discrimination at work and in occupational training;

Women's representation in elected positions

1.  Invites the Council, the Commission and the Member States to design and implement effective gender equality policies and multifaceted strategies for achieving parity in participation in political decision-making and leadership at all levels, especially in the areas of macro-economic policy, trade, labour, budgets, defence and foreign affairs, assessing the impact and making it available to the public by means of appropriate equality indicators, ensuring quantified targets, clear action plans and regular monitoring mechanisms followed up with binding corrective actions and their monitoring where the set targets are not met by the deadlines;

2.  Welcomes the parity systems/gender quotas for elections introduced by legislation in some Member States; calls on the Member States to consider introducing legislative measures, such as positive action measures, to make progress toward parity and ensure the efficiency of these measures, when compatible with the electoral system and when the political parties are in charge of the composition of the electoral list, through zipper systems, monitoring and effective sanctions in order to facilitate more balanced participation of women and men in political decision-making;

3.  Invites, moreover, the Council, the Commission and the Member States to enforce parity at all levels by sending clear anti-discrimination messages, by providing appropriate resources, by using specific tools and by promoting necessary training for civil servants responsible for preparing budgets in gender budgeting;

4.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to pay special attention to gender educational programmes aimed at civil society and young people in particular, starting from an early age, acknowledging that women's rights are human rights and parity is essential in political life; 

5.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to launch a pledge to be endorsed by all political parties at European, national and regional level to take measures to encourage women's active participation and involvement in political life and in elections, to achieve real parity in their internal decision-making, in their nominations for elected office and in party electoral lists through the introduction of quotas and, when compatible with the electoral system and when the political parties are in charge of the composition of the electoral list, to pay attention to the position of women candidates on these lists;

6.  Acknowledges the role of political parties as key factors in the promotion of gender parity; calls in consequence for the Member States to require national parties, when compatible with the electoral system and when the political parties are in charge of the composition of the electoral list, to set up and implement quota systems and other types of positive action, to apply rank-ordering rules to electoral candidate lists for regional, national and EU elections, and to define and enforce effective sanctions for non-compliance; calls on the Member States to link and set targets based on parity between sexes for the political parties as a prerequisite for funding;

7.  Calls on political parties across Europe to introduce a quota system for candidate lists for party organs and elections, when compatible with the electoral system and when the political parties are in charge of the composition of the electoral list, especially as regards the lists for the 2014 European elections; regards the procedure for drawing up electoral lists whereby women candidates alternate with men at the top of the list as the best way of improving women's participation in politics;

8.  Emphasises the need for concrete steps designed to achieve parity in elected offices in the national parliaments and the European Parliament (such as those of the President, Vice-Presidents, Chairs and Vice-Chairs), for instance by setting a target of 50 % representation of men and women in each of those offices;

9.  Welcomes the Commission's intention of encouraging participation of women in the next European Parliament elections through the financial programmes ‘Fundamental Rights and Citizenship’ and ‘Europe for Citizens’; calls on the Commission to ensure in its relevant annual work programmes that enough funding is available in 2013-2014 for financing, inter alia, appropriate awareness-raising campaigns in the media to encourage the election of women and to ensure that this funding is easily accessible to national parties and to civil society organisations for project initiatives aimed at increasing women's participation in decision-making;

10.  Calls on the Commission to encourage and fund actions related to promoting parity in decision-making positions and political activities when programming the next funding period, 2014-2020, for the abovementioned programmes or their successors, as well as when planning actions for the planned European Year of Citizens 2013;

11.  Calls on the Commission to launch parity-targeting campaigns for the electoral lists for the European Parliament at least two years ahead of each election announcement and to encourage Member States to carry out similar actions in their local and regional elections;

Women's representation in nominated positions

12.  Calls on the Member States to support parity by proposing a woman and a man as their candidates for the office of European Commissioner; calls on the President of the Commission to achieve parity when forming the Commission; calls on the Commission to publicly support this procedure; recalls that Parliament should have particular regard to gender balance in this procedure and reiterates the importance of taking the equal representation of women and men into account when giving its consent to the new Commission, in accordance with Rule 106;

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to commit to meeting the target of parity in all their decision-making bodies, by establishing and implementing quota systems and other types of positive action when recruiting high-level officials; calls on the national governments to nominate both women and men to high-level positions at EU level;

14.  Takes note of the Commission commitment expressed in its Strategy for Equality between Women and Men – 2010-2015 to monitor progress towards the aim of 40 % of members of one sex in its committees and expert groups, and calls on the EU institutions, bodies and agencies to take concrete action and set up strategies with the aim of achieving balanced participation in their decision-making processes;

15.  Calls on the Member States to promote positive action measures, including binding legislative measures, with a view to ensuring parity in all governing bodies and public appointments and to develop tools for gender monitoring of nominations and elections;

Measures to promote women's participation in political life

16.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to implement positive action measures, such as preferential treatment, when a gender is under-represented;

17.  Calls on the Member States to make the selection procedures for nominating men and women for appointment to decision-making bodies transparent, including by publicly requesting curricula vitae and basing selection on merit, competence and representativeness;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase measures supporting women's organisations, including by providing them with adequate funding and creating platforms for cooperation and gender campaigning in elections;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate women's networks and to promote mentoring, adequate training and exchange of good practices and programmes, with a special emphasis on women policy-makers in their early careers;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that women have access, if necessary by preferential treatment, to leadership training and positions of leadership as part of career promotion in order to enhance women's leadership skills and experience;

21.  Acknowledges the other actors as a relevant part of the wider democratic process and thus invites the Council, the Commission and the Member States to promote and welcome the efforts of employers' organisations and trade unions, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and all organisations that normally form part of advisory councils related to government to achieve equality of women and men in their ranks, including equal participation in decision-making;

22.  Calls on the Council, Commission and Member States to enable women and men to take an active part in political decision-making by promoting reconciliation and a balance between family life and working life by means of measures such as sharing the costs of parenthood equally between both parents' employers and ensuring accessible and adequate services for e.g. child and elderly care and calls on the Commission to support equal access to services, minimum income and freedom from gender-based violence by appropriate legislative proposals in the form of directives;

23.  Recalls the importance of preferential treatment and special measures in promoting the representation of people from different backgrounds and disadvantaged groups, such as people with disabilities, migrant women and members of ethnic and sexual minorities, in decision-making positions;

24.  Takes note of the importance of media and education in promoting women's participation in politics and in reforming societal attitudes; underlines the importance of raising the awareness of the media, and of public broadcasters in particular, of the need to ensure fair and balanced coverage of men and women candidates during elections and of monitoring the media to identify gender bias and means to address it and thus to promote efforts to eliminate stereotypes and encourage the portrayal of positive images of women as leaders, including women politicians as role models, at national, regional and European level;

25.  Urges the Member States, the Council and the Commission, by strengthening the role and resources of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and by facilitating cooperation with women's non-governmental organisations, to promote and exchange good practices that contribute to achieving gender balance in decision-making positions;

26.  Invites the Member States and the Commission, especially through the involvement of the EIGE where appropriate, to collect, analyse and disseminate data broken down by sex for the purpose of monitoring gender equality in decision-making in all sectors (public and private) and at all hierarchical levels and as a basis for further measures if the set targets are not met; calls on the Commission to continue to collect and disseminate comparable data at EU level through the use of its database on women and men in decision-making positions and to develop this observatory towards a European map of gender balance that includes the annual variations experienced at EU, state and regional levels with regard to gender balance, on the basis of common indicators; considers that this map should include, at least:

   the objectives for promotion of gender balance, expressed as a percentage of representation, that are incorporated in the legislation of Member States and of European regions with legislative powers to regulate their electoral processes;
   the percentages of representation of each sex in the European, state and regional parliaments and in local institutions;
   the percentage of representation of each sex in the executive bodies elected or controlled by the above-mentioned legislative institutions;

27.  Calls on the Commission to submit a yearly report to the European Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality on the progress of gender equality in decision-making in the European Union;

28.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to assess the impact of the various electoral systems at national, local and European levels, and also of the measures and good practice implemented at the various levels, on the balance of women's representation;

Promotion of gender-balanced representation in politics in external relations

29.  Recalls its demand for gender parity at all levels in the appointment of staff of the European External Action Service (EEAS); calls on the EEAS to promote women's participation in decision-making in the external relations of the European Union and to ensure that all delegations representing the EU respect the principle of gender parity as regards their composition and that there is balance in speaking time allocated to women and men in these contexts; points out the need to increase the number of women serving as mediators and chief negotiators in processes to observe the situation with regard to human rights and prevention of corruption and in peace building as well as in other negotiation processes such as international trade and environment negotiations;

30.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that adequate financial and technical assistance is provided for special programmes focusing on enhancing women's participation in electoral processes through training, civic education and media mobilisation and the involvement of local NGOs, in addition to funding general education programmes promoting gender-sensitive civic awareness, elimination of gender stereotypes and ‘built-in’ bias against women;

31.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to take measures to promote balanced representation of women at all levels in political life in multinational organisations such as the UN, in governments and in national parliaments as well as at regional and local level and in local authorities and to increase cooperation with other actors at the international level, such as UN WOMEN and the Inter-parliamentary Union, in order to promote these goals;

32.  Calls on its policy departments to ensure that briefing notes for delegations always include a gender perspective and highlight issues of importance for gender equality;

o
o   o

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

(1) Annex to Council Conclusions of 7 March 2011.
(2) OJ L 154, 27.6.2000, p.34.
(3) OJ L 319, 10.12.1996, p. 11.
(4) OJ C 346, 4.12.2000, p.82.
(5) See the quarterly update of the European Commission's database on women and men in decision-making.


Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2012 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees (2011/2116(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0071A7-0432/2011

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 4, 54, 151 to 154 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to ILO Recommendation 193 of 3 June 2002 concerning the promotion of cooperatives,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 2157/2001 of 8 October 2001 on the Statute for a European company(1),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 of 22 July 2003 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society (SCE)(2),

–  having regard to the Council Directive 2001/86/EC of 8 October 2001 supplementing the Statute for a European company with regard to the involvement of employees(3),

–  having regard to the Council Directive 2003/72/EC of 22 July 2003 supplementing the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees(4),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 23 February 2004 on the promotion of cooperative societies in Europe (COM(2004)0018),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 - A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 27 October 2010 entitled ‘Towards a Single Market Act - For a highly competitive social market economy - 50 proposals for improving our work, business and exchanges with one another’ (COM(2010)0608),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 16 December 2010 entitled ‘The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion: A European framework for social and territorial cohesion’ (COM(2010)0758),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 13 April 2011 entitled ‘Single Market Act - Twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence - Working together to create new growth’ (COM(2011)0206,

–  having regard to the Synthesis Report on Directive 2003/72/EC supplementing the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees(5),

–  having regard to the Study on the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 on the Statute for European Cooperative Society (SCE)(6),

–  having regard to the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives 2012(7),

–  having regard to the ILO report entitled ‘Resilience of the Cooperative Business Model in Times of Crisis’(8),

–  having regard to the Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘Diverse forms of enterprise’(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on Social Economy(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on the implementation of Directive 2002/14/EC establishing a general framework for informing and consulting employees in the European Community(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 June 2003 on a framework for the promotion of employee financial participation(12),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 16 September 2010 on the review of Council Directive 2003/72/EC of 22 July 2003 supplementing the Statute for a European Cooperative Society with regard to the involvement of employees (COM(2010)0481),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0432/2011),

A.  whereas cooperative enterprises promote the interests of their members and users as well as solutions to societal challenges, and seek both to maximise benefits to members and ensure their livelihood by means of a long-term and sustainable business policy and to put the well-being of clients, employees and members in the entire region at the centre of business strategy;

B.  whereas cooperative enterprises, by their nature, are structurally linked to the area in which they are based and therefore play an important part in accelerating local development, which is a decisive factor in generating genuine social, economic and territorial cohesion; whereas, in cooperative societies, the financing of continuing training in the fields of social responsibility and entrepreneurship, which are two areas not fully covered by other instruments of social participation, is of fundamental importance;

C.  whereas, in cooperative enterprises, the participation of the enterprise's members has to take precedence and be reflected in the governance and ownership structure of the cooperative;

D.  whereas cooperatives are an important pillar of the European economy and a key driver for social innovation, and thus in particular preserve infrastructure and local services specifically in rural areas and conurbations, and whereas Europe has 160 000 cooperatives, owned by more than a quarter of all Europeans, which provide work for around 5.4 million employees;

E.  whereas cooperatives compete with investor-driven companies in many economic areas, whereas cooperative enterprises have considerable economic power on globalised markets and even multinational cooperatives often remain linked to local needs;

F.  whereas cooperative banks have shown high levels of sustainability and resilience during the financial crisis, thanks to their cooperative business model; whereas thanks to their cooperative business model they increased turnover and growth during the crisis with less bankruptcies and redundancies; whereas cooperative enterprises also provide high-quality, inclusive and crisis-resilient employment, often with high ratios of female and migrant employment and contribute towards the sustainable economic and social development of an area by providing local, non relocatable jobs; whereas cooperatives can be seen as a successful and contemporary approach to the social economy and can contribute to providing secure employment prospects and allow employees to plan their life flexibly at their place of origin, especially in rural areas;

G.  whereas the financial and economic crisis has shown that the issue of the attractiveness of a legal form cannot be answered from the sole point of view of the shareholders; whereas it should be noted that, as a social organisation, an enterprise has responsibilities towards shareholders, employees, creditors and society and this fact should be taken into account in such evaluations;

H.  whereas legislation regarding cooperatives and employee participation varies substantially across the EU;

I.  whereas the statute for a European Cooperative Society (SCE) is so far the only social economy legal form available at EU level, following the withdrawal of the Commission proposals for a European Association and a European Mutual Society in 2003 and given that the statute for a European Foundation is still under development;

J.  whereas the establishment of an SCE statute aims at encouraging the development of the internal market by facilitating the activity of this type of company at EU level;

K.  whereas the introduction of the statute for an SCE is a milestone in the recognition of the cooperative business model at EU level, also in those Member States where the concept of cooperatives has been discredited for historical reasons;

L.  whereas, in SCEs, the transnational involvement of employees, including their right to participate on administrative boards, is an asset;

M.  whereas the EU 2020 strategy calls for an economy based on high levels of employment, delivering economic, social and territorial cohesion, whereas this includes a strong social economy;

N.  whereas the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives 2012 provides an excellent opportunity to promote the cooperative business model;

Cooperatives in the EU context

1.  Recalls that cooperatives and other social economy enterprises are part of the European social model and the single market and therefore deserve strong recognition and support, as provided for in the constitutions of some Member States and various EU key documents;

2.  Recalls that cooperatives could constitute another step in the completion of the EU internal market and aim to reduce existing cross-border obstacles and enhance its competitiveness;

3.  Points out that Council Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 of 22 July 2003 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society (SCE) (hereinafter the Statute) and Directive 2003/72/EC supplementing the Statute for a cooperative society with regard to the involvement of employees (hereinafter the Directive) are closely interlinked;

4.  Welcomes Commission communication COM(2012)0072; welcomes the Commission's intention to simplify the Statute while strengthening the cooperative-specific elements, and the fact that this will be accompanied by a stakeholder consultation; asks for Parliament's position on the SCE to be taken into account in this process;

5.  Views with regret the fact that the SCE is not yet a success given its scarce use - until 2010 only 17 SCEs had been established, with a total of 32 employees(13);emphasises that these stark figures show the Statute to be poorly suited to the specific circumstances of cooperative societies in Europe even though entrepreneurs have expressed an interest in setting up an SCE ; welcomes that an in depth assessment of the Statute has been conducted in order to ascertain why it has proven unattractive, has had such little impact and what can be done to overcome lack of experience in implementation and other obstacles;

6.  Notes that the use of the SCE is often restricted to second-degree cooperatives consisting of legal persons only, by mutual societies, which lack a European statute but wish to use a legal status associated with the social economy, and by large companies; notes that it remains difficult for small cooperative societies, - which constitute a major part of cooperative movement in Europe - to access the SCE;

Employee participation in SCEs

7.  Welcomes the fact that employee participation provisions are considered a core element in the SCE; points out, however, that they should provide for the requirements linked to the special nature of cooperatives;

8.  Points out that several Member States have not transposed articles of the directive concerning employees' rights, including the gender specific provisions, and that this has led to a number of gaps regarding the monitoring and the implementation of worker participation procedures and stresses the need to remedy this so as to prevent abuse of SCE arrangements; views with regret the fact that the standard rules on the participation of workers in administrative bodies do not make worker participation a requirement;

9.  Is satisfied, however, that some Member States have not only correctly transposed the Directive, but have in fact gone further than the Directive's requirements;

10.  Nevertheless, calls on the Commission to monitor closely the application of Directive 2003/72/EC in order to prevent its misuse for purposes of depriving employees of their rights; urges the Commission to adopt the measures necessary to ensure the correct transposition of Article 13 of the Directive;

11.  Notes that Article 17 of the Directive requires the Commission to assess its implementation and, if needed, revise it; stresses that the modest use of the Statute impedes proper evaluation of the Directive;

12.  Notes that the Directive should not be revised before the Statute, asks to consider the insertion of the provisions on employee participation directly in the Statute for the sake of simplification and smarter regulation;

13.  Stresses that a revision of the Directive should address the specific needs of employees in cooperatives, including the option to be both owner and employee of the same enterprise; calls on the Commission to develop instruments to facilitate employee and user ownership of cooperatives; aims for employee participation in enterprises to be taken for granted in all Member States of the European Union; advocates greater employee participation in cross-border forms of enterprise rather than remaining at the level of the lowest common denominator;

14.  Welcomes the conclusions of the study on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1435/2003 on the Statute for a European Cooperative Society (SCE)(14), particularly as regards the measures proposed to promote the SCE by increasing awareness of it through educational programmes addressed to advisors in cooperative law and social actors, and by promoting cooperation between cooperative societies at cross-border level;

15.  Calls on the Commission and on the Member States to encourage cooperatives to increase the participation of women in the SNB and to implement diversity policies in order to guarantee gender equality in professional and private life and, in particular, increase women participation in senior management positions; calls on the Commission to take into account the gender perspective when monitoring the correct implementation of the Directive, as well as in the future revision of the SCE regulation;

16.  Urges the Commission to include SCEs in the possible European regulations in order to guarantee that women are better represented at senior management levels and on the boards of public and listed companies, in the event that companies do not voluntarily achieve the targets of 30% by 2015 and 40% by 2020;

The future of the Statute

17.  Stresses that, owing to its complexity, the Statute only partially meets the needs of cooperatives and that it should be simplified and made intelligible to all to make it more user-friendly, easily understood and better applicable, thus ensuring the rights of information, consultation and participation of all employees without losing quality;

18.  Draws attention to the diversity of traditions and laws on cooperatives across the EU; stresses that the Statute should provide for an autonomous legal framework for SCEs alongside existing national law on cooperatives and that direct harmonisation is thus not taking place;

19.  Emphasises that the Statute for a European Cooperative Society should not be made more attractive by reducing standards; is of the opinion that the review of the Statute must facilitate a furthering of the recognition of this type of society in the EU; emphasises that the economic weight of cooperative societies, their crisis resilience and the values on which they are based clearly show them to be relevant in the EU of today and justify a revision of the Statute; stresses that future European SCE initiatives and measures must be centred on transparency, protection of stakeholders' rights and respect for national customs and traditions; points out that for certain national cooperatives the incentive to use the Statute is unfortunately limited, because of their existing holding structure; stresses that the option of merging national cooperatives from different Member States should be strengthened;

20.  Insists on the involvement of all stakeholders in the revision process, especially social actors involved in the cooperative and trade union movement, while also highlighting the need to complete the process in a timely manner;

Increasing employment in cooperatives and SCEs and strengthening cooperatives as core elements of the social economy

21.  Expects from the Commission to take appropriate measures in order to ensure a full implementation of the directive;

22.  Deplores the fact that Parliament's recommendations on cooperatives were largely ignored by the Commission; recalls that the resolution(15) called for:

   the specificities of social economy enterprises to be recognised and taken into account in European policies,
   steps to be taken to ensure that the European Observatory of SMEs includes social economy enterprises in its surveys,
   the dialogue with social economy enterprises to be stepped up,
   the legal framework for such enterprises in the Member States to be improved;

23.  Recalls that in COM(2004)0018 the Commission committed itself to twelve actions, including:

   supporting stakeholders and organising a structured exchange of information,
   disseminating best practice to improve national legislation,
   collecting European statistics on cooperatives,
   simplifying and revising European legislation on cooperatives,
   initiating tailored education programmes and including references to cooperatives in EIF financial instruments;

24.  Deplores the fact that, of this list of commitments, only three have been put into practice, with no significant results; stresses that such shortcomings limit the development potential of cooperatives;

25.  Points out that a lack of resources leads to a lack of results; stresses the need for urgent improvements within the Commission in terms of organisation and the resources devoted to the social economy, given the current dispersion of competences and staff resources working on social economy inside the Commission;

26.  Stresses that EU policies in all areas need to recognise the specificities and added value of social economy enterprises, including cooperative enterprises, through adapting legislation on public procurement, State aid and financial regulation accordingly;

27.  Calls on the Member States to foster more favourable conditions for cooperatives, such as access to credit and tax incentives;

28.  Calls on the Commission to take the financial structure of cooperatives into account in connection with capital requirements legislation and accounting and reporting standards; points out that all cooperatives, and cooperative banks in particular, are affected by legislation concerning the redemption of cooperative shares and indivisible reserves;

29.  Points to the specific challenges created by the digital revolution which face the media sector, and particularly publishers operating as cooperatives;

30.  Urges the Commission to come up with an open method of coordination for the social economy including cooperative enterprises, which are key players in this sector, involving both the Member States and stakeholders in order to encourage exchanges of best practices and bring about for a gradual improvement in the Member States' taking account of the nature of cooperatives, in particular in the areas of taxation, loans, administrative burdens and business-support measures;

31.  Welcomes the fact that the Single Market Act recognises the need to promote the social economy, and urges the Commission to launch the much anticipated ‘Social Business Initiative’ based on cooperative principles(16);

32.  Calls on the Commission to consider a European Year of Social Economy;

33.  Supports business-support measures, in particular business-consultancy and employee training, and access to funding for cooperatives, especially for employee or customer buy-outs, as they are an underrated tool for saving enterprises at times of crisis and for the transfer of family enterprises;

34.  Stresses the growing importance of cooperatives in the area of social services and public goods; stresses the need to ensure decent working conditions and to address the health and safety related issues in this sector regardless of the status of the employer;

35.  Stresses the need to ensure cooperatives' input in the social dialogue at the EU level;

36.  Highlights the potential of the SCE for promoting gender equality through the implementation of policies and programmes at various levels, paying particular attention to education, vocational training, action to promote entrepreneurship and ongoing training programmes; notes that gender equality in decision-making at various levels is economically beneficial and also creates favourable conditions enabling skilled and talented people to carry out management and supervisory duties; stresses, further, that some aspects of cooperative work provide flexibility that makes it easier to reconcile family and professional life; calls on the Commission to design a mechanism for the exchange of best gender equality practices between the Member States;

37.  Stresses that the SCE can respond to women's needs, improving their standard of living through access to decent work opportunities, savings and loan institutions, housing and social services, education and training;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 294, 10.11.2001, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 207, 18.8.2003, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 294, 10.11.2001, p. 22.
(4) OJ L 207, 18.8.2003, p. 25.
(5) Carried out by Fernando Valdés Dal-Ré, Prof. Labour Law, Labour Asociados Consultores, 2008.
(6) Carried out by Cooperatives Europe, European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Enterprises, EKAI Center, 2010.
(7) United Nations, A/RES/64/136.
(8) Johnston Birchall and Lou Hammond Ketilson, International Labour Organisation, 2009.
(9) OJ C 318, 23.12.2009, p. 22.
(10) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 16.
(11) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 11.
(12) OJ C 68 E, 18.3.2004, p. 429.
(13) COM(2010)0481.
(14) Contract No SI2.ACPROCE029211200 of 8 October 2009.
(15) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 16.
(16) http://www.ica.coop/coop/principles.html.


Bologna process
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2012 on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna Process (2011/2180(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0072A7-0035/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 165 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in particular Article 26 thereof,

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and in particular Article 14 thereof,

–  having regard to the Sorbonne Joint Declaration, signed on 25 May 1998 in Paris, on harmonisation of the architecture of the European higher education system, by the four Ministers in charge for France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom (Sorbonne Declaration)(1),

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration signed in Bologna on 19 June 1999 by the Ministers of Education from 29 European countries (Bologna Declaration)(2),

–  having regard to the Communiqué issued by the Conference of European Ministers responsible for Higher Education on 28-29 April 2009 in Leuven and Louvain-la-Neuve(3),

–  having regard to the Budapest-Vienna Declaration of 12 March 2010 adopted by the Education Ministers from 47 countries, which officially launched the European Higher Education Area (EHEA)(4),

–  having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(5),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 September 2005 to facilitate the issue by the Member States of uniform short-stay visas for researchers from third countries travelling within the Community for the purpose of carrying out scientific research(6),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 on further European cooperation in quality assurance in higher education(7),

–  having regard to the recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2008 on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning(8) (EQF-LLL),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(9),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the Council and of the Representatives of the Governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, of 26 November 2009 on developing the role of education in a fully-functioning knowledge triangle(10),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 11 May 2010 on the internationalisation of higher education(11),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 June 2011 on policies to reduce early school leaving(12),

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 28 June 2011 entitled ‘Youth on the Move – Promoting the learning mobility of young people’(13),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 May 2006 entitled ‘Delivering on the modernisation agenda for universities: education, research and innovation’ (COM(2006)0208),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘EUROPE 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 August 2010 on a Digital Agenda for Europe (COM(2010)0245),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘Supporting growth and jobs – an agenda for the modernisation of Europe's higher education systems’ (COM(2011)0567),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Higher Education in Europe 2009: Developments in the Bologna Process’ (Eurydice, European Commission, 2009)(14),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Focus on Higher Education in Europe 2010: The Impact of the Bologna Process’ (Eurydice, European Commission, 2010)(15),

–  having regard to the 2007 Eurobarometer survey on higher education reform among teaching professionals(16),

–  having regard to the 2009 Eurobarometer survey on higher education reform among students(17),

–  having regard to the Eurostat publication of 16 April 2009 entitled ‘The Bologna Process in Higher Education in Europe – Key indicators on the social dimension and mobility’(18),

–  having regard to the Final report of the International Conference on Funding of Higher Education held in Yerevan, Armenia, 8-9 September 2011(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 on the Bologna Process and student mobility(20),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Culture and Education and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A7-0035/2012),

A.  whereas the goals of the Bologna Process – to enable compatible systems of higher education in Europe and to do away with the barriers which still prevent people from moving to another country in order to study or work and make higher education in Europe attractive to as many people as possible, including young people from third countries – are still valid and the continuation of the process, through a dialogue between the different levels of the educational system in order to develop curricula to be built on each preliminary level, is serving the goals of growth based on knowledge and innovation within the Europe 2020 strategy, particularly in the current economic crisis; whereas an assessment is needed in order to establish the evolution of the Process and to take account of the success stories, problems, lack of understanding and opposition encountered;

B.  whereas the role of higher education is to provide a learning environment, open to everyone without discrimination, promoting autonomy, creativity, access to quality education and the broadening of knowledge, and to this end it is essential to guarantee the involvement of the academic community as a whole, particularly students, teachers and researchers, in developing the various stages of university education;

C.  whereas, in view of their threefold function (education, research and innovation), universities have a vital part to play in the future of the Union and the education of its citizens;

D.  whereas the university is a major aspect of European heritage, now almost a thousand years old, whose significance as a force for progress in society cannot be reduced to its contribution to the economy and whose development cannot be made solely contingent on economic needs;

E.  whereas the three-degree structure is applied – in some cases successfully – in most of the Bologna countries, despite the difficulties encountered;

F.  whereas the commitment to push forward the reform should not be pursued via fragmented action and without adequate financial support; whereas the cuts in public spending on education being made in certain Member States are not helping to promote the necessary reforms;

G.  whereas mobility must be available to all and is the cornerstone of the higher education reform; whereas student mobility may ultimately help to foster professional mobility; whereas, however, accessibility for all must also be kept in mind throughout the process;

H.  whereas the Member States need to make further efforts to guarantee the mutual recognition of diplomas, which is crucial for the success of the process;

I.  whereas the social dimension must be strengthened as a necessary condition for the development of the Bologna Process, with the goal of making the right to study economically accessible to all students – especially those from vulnerable groups – in order to create fair access for all and better job opportunities;

J.  whereas universities, public administrations and enterprises must be strongly committed to the issue of employability; whereas the university should provide individuals with the tools and skills required to ensure the full development of their human potential; whereas academic learning should also take into account the needs of the labour market, with the goal of providing students with the skills they need to find a stable, well paid job;

K.  whereas access to education – a fundamental Union value – is a public responsibility of the Member States, the EU institutions and other key actors and the European Union has a key role to play in the establishment of the European Higher Education Area by supporting the Member States' efforts and cooperation in this field; whereas greater coordination of education and degrees – while respecting the principle of subsidiarity – is a precondition for the achievement of the goals of employability and growth in Europe;

L.  whereas the Bologna Process shall not have retroactive effects on students who already started their degree following the pre-Bologna plan;

Relevance of the process

1.  Stresses the importance of education as a key area for cooperation with Member States in order to achieve essential EU2020 jobs and growth targets and much needed economic recovery;

2.  Calls for a strengthening at EU level of support for the Bologna Process, in particular as regards the mutual recognition of academic qualifications, the harmonisation of academic standards, the promotion of mobility, the social dimension and employability, active democratic participation, the analysis of implementation of the Bologna principles, and the elimination of administrative obstacles; calls on Member States to reiterate their commitment to the Process by strengthening the system of funding in order to achieve the growth targets set in the Europe 2020 Strategy;

3.  Notes that the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is a major achievement from the point of view of creating and fostering genuine European citizenship; considers that it must translate into enhancement of the EHEA through the use of appropriate tools and procedures;

4.  Highlights that the Bologna Process and EHEA play a key role in the Europe 2020 strategy and points out that the alliance between teaching and research is crucial inasmuch as it is a distinctive feature of European higher education;

5.  Highlights the fact that the priorities set up within the Bologna Process – mobility, recognition, employability – represent the conditions necessary to guarantee that every student enrolled in a European university has the right to quality education, to graduate and to see his qualification recognised in any EU country;

Governance

6.  Calls for the development of an effective, bottom-up approach, fully involving all key actors such as universities, trade unions, professional organisations, research institutions, the business sector and, first and foremost, teachers, students, student organisations and university staff;

7.  Notes that some European Universities are reluctant to make sufficient efforts to achieve a consolidated EHEA, while being part of the EHEA is the only way for some of them to enhance the competitiveness and quality of the knowledge they produce;

8.  Calls for a commitment on the part of universities to new teaching and new professional and lifelong training strategies – making optimum use of new technologies and recognising the importance of complementary forms of learning such as non-formal education – that are focused on the pillars of a learning-centred, student-centred and research-centred university system able to provide critical thinking, creative skills, continuous professional development as well as theoretical and practical knowledge which students will need in their working lives; calls for Member States and the EU to financially support universities in their efforts to change and develop their education practices;

9.  Urges that teacher training programmes should be strengthened and expanded, taking account of the possibilities offered by lifelong learning and new technologies;

10.  Stresses that the opening of European universities to the needs of the global economy and the further consolidation of the EHEA should be considered as efforts by European universities to help Europe overcome the period of general economic insecurity and to put Europe back on the path of sustainable development and growth;

11.  Calls for the development of the universities' ‘third mission’ to society, which should also be considered in connection with the multidimensional criteria to be devised for the purposes of classification and the recognition of excellence;

12.  Calls for increased public investment in higher education, especially aimed at countering the economic crisis with growth based on enhanced skills and knowledge and at responding to higher student demand with improved quality of and access to education and services, particularly scholarships; believes that budget reductions have a negative impact on attempts to strengthen the social dimension of education, which is the principle on which the Bologna Process is founded; calls therefore on the Member States and the EU institutions to develop new, targeted and flexible funding mechanisms – and to promote European-wide grants – with a view to supporting growth, excellence and the particular and diverse vocations of universities; stresses the need to develop a multi-fund approach, defined by clear and effective rules, aimed at coping with the future EU financing model and ensuring the independence of universities;

Consolidation

13.  Points out that the Bologna Process and the Erasmus programme have boosted student mobility and have the potential to contribute to enhanced labour mobility; regrets, however, that mobility rates still remain relatively low;

14.  Calls on the EU, the Member States and universities to establish mechanisms for providing information and financial and administrative support for all students, academics and staff in order to foster structured mobility flows; welcomes the introduction of the Erasmus programme for postgraduate students and calls for a strengthening of the services of Erasmus as a whole and the new generation of educational programmes through enhanced funding, based on social criteria, the opening of the programme to a larger number of students, genuine and effective credit recognition, enhanced possibilities for including terms abroad as part of the training and greater flexibility of the time frame allowed; insists, nevertheless, that in no case must mobility create discrimination against students with limited financial resources;

15.  Takes the view that mobility among university lecturers broadens the education and experience of not only the lecturers themselves, but also, indirectly, of their students, and that it enables them to collaborate in the preparation of study materials;

16.  Calls on Member States to fulfil the commitment to full portability of loans and grants, and significantly improve financial support for mobile students that matches the increases in new EU programmes; asks the EU to consider how existing legislation on the rights to freedom of movement can be enhanced through guaranteeing portability of loans and grants;

17.  Calls on the EU to take immigration from Africa, Asia, and Latin America more fully into account for the purpose of laying down rules providing for recognition of school qualifications obtained in countries of origin;

18.  Asks the EU, in order to guarantee mutual trust and facilitate recognition of academic qualifications through the implementation of EQF in each Member State, to consolidate a system of quality assurance at both European and Member State level; asks Member States to implement their national quality assurance systems according to the European Standards and Guidelines on Quality Assurance, while respecting the diversity of courses and approaches among universities in terms of content and modes of learning; encourages QA agencies to apply to the European Quality Assurance Register and support their European cooperation and exchange of best practices also through the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA);

19.  Draws attention to the different grading scales in the Member States and to the need for appropriate conversion of ECTS points into grades;

20.  Urges all the Bologna countries to implement national qualification frameworks linked to the Qualifications Framework of the EHEA and to develop and financially support mutual recognition;

21.  Calls for strong financial support for agreements on common core curricula, which guarantee well defined learning outcomes, inter alia by exploring the methodology approach developed by Tuning and through the experience of the ‘Tuning Academy’; calls for particular attention to be paid to the specific nature of humanities curricula, as a stronghold for democracy and a vehicle for the achievement of European cohesion, in order to determine which specific knowledge and skills should be covered by degree courses so as to encourage learning in a form combining measurable general skills (reflected in the ability to use knowledge) and teaching and research as original critical analysis; maintains that, as well as knowledge of the basic material, every programme in every subject should provide cross-cutting key competences such as critical thinking, communication, and entrepreneurial skills;

22.  Asks for further support for national and European measures to guarantee equitable inclusion, fair access to study, successful progression and a sustainable support system (e.g. housing, transport expenses, etc.) for all students, as well as targeted support in particular for those who belong to under-represented groups, socially disadvantaged backgrounds and those experiencing financial difficulties, in order to reduce the drop-out rate and ensure that education and training are independent of socio-economic factors which cause disadvantages and that teaching meets individual learning needs; recommends that the process of creating careers advisory centres offering free services to students be accelerated;

23.  Highlights the importance of the 2007 London communiqué(21), which made the social dimension of education one of the goals of the Bologna Process, the aim being to ensure equitable access to education regardless of background; regrets the fact that insufficient progress has been made towards achieving this goal, and encourages the Commission to facilitate such progress;

24.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to encourage mutual recognition by eliminating the administrative obstacles to this;

25.  Draws attention to the particular needs of the Bachelor's degree, its curricula, its access paths to Masters programmes, and its employability; stresses in this respect the need for specific actions, such as the development of theory/practice curricula, and for more effective cooperation between universities, Member States and economic and social actors in order to enhance the prospects for future graduates of finding a stable, well-paid job corresponding to their level of qualification; calls, therefore, on universities to develop their provision of apprenticeships and to improve the integration of traineeships in university courses;

26.  Emphasises that measures to promote employability, such as lifelong learning, and the development of a broader range of skills suitable for the labour market must be top priorities in order to achieve sustainable growth and prosperity goals; in that connection, strongly supports exchanges of university teachers and students, the university-business dialogue, apprenticeships and the skills passport;

27.  Considers that modernisation of the Professional Qualifications Directive (2005/36/EC) will assist professional mobility in Europe and facilitate student mobility by providing assurances that qualifications gained in another Member State will be recognised across the EU;

28.  Asks the Member States and the EU institutions to support the transition from the ‘mono-disciplinary’ methodological concept of science that still prevails in European universities towards the ‘inter-disciplinary’ and ‘trans-disciplinary’ concepts;

29.  Calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to promote the university-business dialogue and cooperation as a common goal of the consolidated EHEA in order to increase the employability of European university graduates;

30.  Points to the need for specific actions and for more effective cooperation between universities and the labour market with a view to developing more relevant curricula, bringing greater consistency to education, and enhancing employability by establishing similar criteria for admission to professions;

31.  Stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of a sufficient number of traineeships for students, so as to further facilitate their joining the job market;

32.  Calls on national governments and the Commission to develop a system of structured cooperation in order to deliver joint degrees, within clusters of disciplines, with recognition across the EU by improving the performance of, and financial support for, Erasmus Mundus and the future education and training programme and by promoting the creation of a European accreditation scheme of joint programmes;

33.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal with reference to an Erasmus Masters Degree Mobility Scheme;

34.  Regards academic PhD degrees, including those carried out in collaboration with enterprises, as a key link between higher education and research, and recalls their potential as a key component in the creation of knowledge-based innovation and economic growth; recognises the importance of carrying out PhD degrees in enterprises in terms of integrating individuals with higher degrees into the labour market; welcomes the Commission's commitment to developing a European Industrial PhD Scheme within the Marie Curie actions;

35.  Believes that better cooperation between the EHEA and the European Research Area is a potential source for enhancing Europe's innovativeness and development;

36.  Highlights the contribution of the 7th EU Framework Programme for Research, the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme and the European Research Area to facilitating the mobility of EU researchers and unleashing the innovation and competitiveness potential of the EU;

37.  Calls for an effective strategy to be set up to support lifelong learning programmes in Europe and for sustainable initiatives that are fully integrated into the institution and promote a lifelong learning culture; calls, likewise, for company-based lifelong learning to be encouraged so that workers have the opportunity to expand their training and skills; calls on higher education institutions and universities to offer more flexibility in programs based on learning outcomes, the recognition of non formal and informal learning, and services to support learning pathways by promoting partnerships among universities, enterprises, and higher vocational training establishments in order to enhance and fill the gap in scientific, humanistic and technical skills;

38.  Draws attention to the need to establish the status of pre-Bologna Process students in those countries in which they are disadvantaged in terms of enrolling in Master's programmes;

39.  Notes that the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) must be more transparent and offer more accurate comparisons between qualifications and diplomas; encourages the Commission and Member States to utilise an improved ECTS tool in order to facilitate mobility for students and professionals;

European action

40.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal to increase significantly the funds devoted to European education and training programmes; calls on the Commission to devote a significant proportion of these funds to supporting the modernisation of higher education and the modernisation of university infrastructures in accordance with the objectives of the Bologna Process and the EU modernisation agenda; encourages the Commission to find solutions that enable access to these programmes also for students experiencing financial difficulties;

41.  Calls on the Member States and the EU to determine whether courses of study could include a compulsory training period to be completed at a university in a Member State other than the student's home country;

42.  Draws attention to the strong link between the Bologna Process and the Professional Qualifications Directive, and stresses the need for coordination by the Commission in a manner entirely consistent with the Bologna Process; argues that the link can be further strengthened by providing students with all the relevant practical information concerning the recognition of diplomas obtained abroad and the job opportunities which training abroad opens up;

43.  Calls, as part of the revision of the Professional Qualifications Directive and in order to make progress towards a real European Higher Education Area, for a comparison of national minimum training requirements and for more regular exchanges between the Member States, competent authorities and professional bodies;

44.  Proposes that the recognition of credits obtained under the Erasmus Programme by partner universities should be a compulsory element for all institutions participating in student exchanges supported by EU funding in order to strengthen the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System;

45.  Draws attention to the importance of consistent implementation of the ECTS system; calls on the Commission, Member States and higher education institutions to develop a comparative table that would indicate the number of ECTS credits awarded for courses, in order to enhance consistency and facilitate student and professional mobility; notes the barriers that students face when transferring credits between universities, and believes that these obstacles can discourage students from participating in academic exchanges;

46.  Calls for development of an effective strategy for the full harmonisation of academic titles throughout the European Union with possible reverse recognition (including older academic titles) since the establishment of the Bologna Process;

47.  Calls on the EU Member States to adopt a final and clear decision on the full mutual recognition of qualifications and diplomas or to establish a roadmap for when this decision will finally be possible;

48.  Calls for cooperation among universities to be organised more systematically and strengthened so as to increase the impact on higher education institutions and systems for the benefit of students and staff;

49.  Proposes that universities in the signatory states recognise practical traineeships completed as part of the mobility programmes supported by the European Commission;

50.  Calls for enhanced transparency of the information provided to students before the beginning of a given exchange regarding the number of credits to be awarded, and invites Member States and higher education institutions to cooperate when assessing the number of credits to be awarded for courses; encourages the development of common platforms in order to provide a core of knowledge and skills defined by professionals and higher education institutions, with the possible goal of achieving the approximation of some diplomas, while safeguarding allowing national specificities, taking the system of automatic recognition of professional qualifications in the EU(22) as an example;

51.  Calls for improved networking, coordination and communication between EU universities in order to speed up the recognition of new diplomas, to facilitate the transfer of credits, to improve knowledge and understanding of different systems of education and training and enable students to better understand the diversity of European programmes;

52.  Invites the European Commission, within the new education and training programme, to encourage cooperation, including through financial incentives, on transnational curricula, joint degrees and mutual recognition; advocates increasing the number of ERASMUS placement partnerships in practice;

53.  Draws attention to the existence of numerous institutions dealing with European higher education and research; calls on the European Union to promote ways to co-ordinate them under the same umbrella;

54.  Believes that initiatives should be put in place to help students transfer records from one university to another during their degrees;

55.  Calls on the Member States and the EU to provide updated and comparable data – inter alia on the proportionate representation of vulnerable groups – on the basis of which to monitor the implementation of the EHEA and, to that end, to remove the obstacles and resolve the problems associated with the implementation of the process, and not to penalise those institutions which have not yet implemented the planned reforms; believes that these data should be published every year on a country-by-country and university-by-university basis, making it easier to understand where progress is required;

56.  Encourages universities to harmonise their academic standards by forming partnerships for the exchange of good practices;

57.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen cooperation and research programmes, and to develop new ones, based on mutual interests with third-country universities, particularly those in conflict zones, in order to allow access to higher education and training for students from these countries, without any discrimination;

58.  Considers the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) created by the Bologna Process to be progressive; calls therefore for a Euro-Mediterranean Higher Education Area to be incorporated into this existing structure and for progress towards the establishment of an effective Higher Education Area for the countries involved in Eastern Partnership cooperation as well as in other inter-state areas inside the EU; calls on the Commission to remove obstacles to the movement of students and teachers, to support the networking of Euro-Mediterranean universities, including EMUNI, and to continue the good practices of the Tempus and Erasmus Mundus programmes;

59.  Points to the need to provide better information about the Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by means of a comprehensive, effective and European-wide communication policy aimed at making universities more attractive within and outside Europe;

60.  Calls on the European Commission and the Member States to guarantee the transferability of loans and grants, in particular merit and needs-based scholarships, between all European countries, in order to ensure equal access to mobility opportunities;

61.  Promotes the creation of unified university brands at regional level in order to strengthen university prestige at international level in accordance with the aims of the Bologna Process;

62.  Calls on the EU institutions to set in place mechanisms to support Member States and higher education institutions in implementing Bologna goals, which could be done by regular reporting and by a targeted use of EU programmes, including those involving cooperation with the non-EU countries in the EHEA;

63.  Asks the EU to support the implementation of its Bologna commitments in its policy cooperation with relevant non-EU countries; calls on the Commission and on the European Parliament to play a strong role in leading these efforts;

64.  Trusts that the stocktaking exercise at next year's ministerial meeting in Bucharest will result in a clear roadmap for establishing a fully-functioning European Higher Education Area by the 2020 deadline; insists that cross-sectoral proposals concerning ICT training, vocational and lifelong learning and work placements must be put forward and that these should actively promote both inclusion and smart and sustainable growth, giving the EU a competitive edge in the post-crisis world in terms of job creation, human capital, research, innovation, entrepreneurship and the wider knowledge economy;

65.  Calls on the Commission and EU education ministers to fully utilise the opportunities of their joint participation in the EHEA to take a leading role in achieving the Bologna goals, and on Ministers to underpin their commitments in the Bologna Process with joint commitments at EU level in the Council, supported by the Commission, so that this mutually supportive process continues with an harmonious implementation;

66.  Points out that the 2012 Biannual Ministerial Meeting in Bucharest must take into account the fact that the creation of the EHEA enables the EU and the Member States to make a strong and unified contribution to the Bologna Process on the basis of their shared responsibilities on the issue of higher education, their joint participation in the process, and their shared commitment to action, supported by policy statements by the EU institutions;

o
o   o

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

(1) http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/Declarations/SORBONNE_DECLARATION1.pdf
(2) http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/Declarations/BOLOGNA_DECLARATION1.pdf
(3) http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/Declarations/Leuven_Louvain-la-Neuve_Communiqu%C3%A9_April_2009.pdf
(4) http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/Declarations/Budapest-Vienna_Declaration.pdf
(5) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.
(6) OJ L 289, 3.11.2005, p. 23.
(7) OJ L 64, 4.3.2006, p. 60.
(8) OJ C 111, 6.5.2008, p. 1.
(9) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(10) OJ C 302, 12.12.2009, p. 3.
(11) OJ C 135, 26.5.2010, p. 12.
(12) OJ C 191, 1.7.2011, p. 1.
(13) OJ C 199, 7.7.2011, p. 1.
(14) http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/099EN.pdf
(15) http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/education/eurydice/documents/thematic_reports/122EN.pdf
(16) http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl198_en.pdf
(17) http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/flash/fl_260_en.pdf
(18) http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_OFFPUB/KS-78-09-653/EN/KS-78-09-653-EN.PDF
(19) http://www.ehea.info/news-details.aspx?ArticleId=253
(20) OJ C 8 E, 14.1.2010, p. 18.
(21) http://www.ehea.info/Uploads/Declarations/London_Communique18May2007.pdf
(22) Annex V, on recognition on the basis of coordination of the minimum requirements, to Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications.


European Statistics
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European Parliament resolution of 13 March 2012 on quality management for European statistics (2011/2289(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0073A7-0037/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Towards robust quality management for European Statistics’ (COM(2011)0211),

–  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 opinion of the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0037/2012),

A.  whereas Eurostat has existed since 1953 and the need for safeguarding its independence is widely recognised;

B.  whereas reliable and accurate statistics are essential to allow effective economic and budgetary policy making by Member States and at Union level;

C.  whereas the success of the Europe 2020 Strategy for Growth and Jobs and the economic governance package, including the European Semester, demands high-quality independent statistics;

D.  whereas users of statistics should be supplied with relevant, timely and accurate data which are collected and compiled by national agencies in accordance with the principles of impartiality, objectivity and professional independence;

E.  whereas statistics should be publicly accessible, easily understandable to both policy-makers and citizens and suitable for comparison on a year-to-year basis;

F.  whereas the quality of European statistics is dependent on the integrity of the entire production process; whereas the ongoing modernisation of statistical production methods represents a vital public investment in streamlining the entire production chain, and requires continued commitment at EU and national level;

G.  whereas the debt crisis in the eurozone has highlighted the dangers of statistical inaccuracy and statistical fraud arising from weaknesses in both the quality of upstream public-accounting data and the current statistical governance arrangement;

H.  whereas statistical offices should not only be statutorily independent, but should also have mechanisms and ‘firewalls’ in place to ensure that statistical offices are separated from the political process and thus avoid systemic failures; at the same time, however, it is to be emphasised that the State is responsible for the correctness and authenticity of statistical data;

I.  whereas the relation between Eurostat and the national courts of auditors should be strengthened;

J.  whereas national statistical institutes should be reformed in the Member States to comply with the new European legislation as soon as possible;

K.  whereas the approximately 350 statistical regulations applying to all Member States impose a proportionately higher statistical compliance burden on the smaller Member States;

L.  whereas Eurostat will provide the economic indicators required for the surveillance of fiscal policies and for the scoreboard on macro-economic imbalances, together with new enforcement mechanisms; whereas recent legal reforms, most notably the economic governance ‘six pack’, have placed robust and reliable statistics at the core of economic governance at EU level;

1.  Takes the view that a systemic approach to quality needs to be taken, which may require a reform of the method of producing European statistics and a gradual transition from a corrective approach to a preventive approach to the quality management of European statistics in general and public finance statistics in particular; welcomes the binding nature of the rules regarding  production, and verification of the accuracy, of European  statistics; considers that having independent statistical bodies is essential to maintaining the credibility of statistical data;

2.  Calls on the Commission to provide assistance and expertise to Member States to help them tackle research constraints and major methodological obstacles, with a view to ensuring compliance and provision of high-quality data;

3.  Supports the Commission's intention of proposing amendments to Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 (Statistical Regulation) in order to establish a proactive approach to monitoring and assessing public finance data at an early upstream stage in order to allow for corrective action at the earliest possible point; seconds the proposal to establish a legal framework aimed at reinforcing the governance framework, especially as regards the professional independence of national statistical authorities and Eurostat, and requiring all Member States to formally adopt a commitment to take all necessary measures at national level to maintain confidence in statistics and to allow for more rigorous enforcement of the European Statistics Code of Practice;

4.  Urges the Commission to propose to the European Parliament and the Council proposals for legislation aimed at introducing elements of the revised European Statistics Code of Practice into EU law, with a view to distinguishing clearly between the responsibilities and competences of national statistical agencies and those of Member State governments and ensure more transparent and coordinated accountability for data quality;

5.  Urges Eurostat to pursue, in liaison with key data providers and data users, its efforts to modernise the European statistics production methods in order to maintain cost-effectiveness;

6.  Calls on Eurostat to ensure that public accounting systems are established in all Member States in a standardised manner and that they are strengthened with both internal and external audit mechanisms, including the application of the recently revised legal framework of Regulation (EC) No 479/2009, as well as further legislative proposals as deemed appropriate; welcomes the European Commission's intention to give Eurostat greater investigative powers;

7.  Emphasises that all Members States should make sure that statistics are accurate across all levels of government; encourages Eurostat to disclose publicly whether it has doubts concerning such accuracy across all types of statistics;

8.  Considers that the recently adopted economic governance package requires standards regarding granular data on public-sector exposures related to guarantees and contingent liabilities, for example through public-sector guarantees and exposures to public-private partnerships (PPPs); these should be developed promptly and disclosed by Eurostat, taking all levels of government into account;

9.  Welcomes the action of the European Statistical Governance Advisory Board (ESGAB) in delivering independent supervision of Eurostat and the European Statistical System; calls on Eurostat and other statistical offices to implement the recommendations the ESGAB put forward in its 2011 annual report;

10.  Emphasises the need for Eurostat to ensure transparency with regards to its own staff by publishing information regarding its officials (who are civil servants) and contract agents, and to provide information about the way in which national experts are deployed;

11.  Emphasises that the independence of the statistical services must be safeguarded at both national and European level from the threat of possible political interventions;

12.  Notes that the quality management system will require close coordination between Eurostat and national bodies responsible for verifying upstream public finance data; calls on the Commission to present proposals ensuring greater independence and greater coherence in the competences of the national courts of auditors in verifying the quality of the sources used to establish national debt and deficit figures and strengthening the coordinating role of the European Court of Auditors;

13.  Underlines the fact that quality management of government financial statistics and other national statistical data, as well as precision and timely reporting of the data, is a prerequisite for the European Semester to function properly;

14.  Recognises that providing accurate statistics can in many cases involve collecting and collating data from numerous sources; notes, therefore, that shortening timetables for publication of statistics may, in some cases, reduce the reliability or accuracy of statistics or increase the cost of data collection; recommends that, when considering best practice in this area, the balance between timeliness, reliability and cost of preparation be carefully considered;

15.  Urges Eurostat to look at ways to make its publications, particularly those online, more user-friendly to the average citizen and non-professionals especially with regard to the use of graphs; believes that Eurostat's website should allow easier access to complete long-term data series and include intuitive comparative graphs in order to give more added value to citizens; adds, furthermore, that its periodic updates should provide, where possible, information on each Member State and offer year-on-year and month-on-month series and, where possible and useful, long-term data series;

16.  Emphasises that the provision of accurate, relevant, high-quality statistics is of key importance to sustainable and balanced regional development; notes that precise, accurate data constitute a basis for obtaining detailed information on individual areas such as demographics, the economy and the environment, and that they therefore play a key role in the regional development decision-making process, in particular in the context of Europe 2020 Strategy implementation;

17.  Calls on the Commission to continue to address the need for reliable statistical information that enables European policies to better respond to economic, social and territorial realities at regional level;

18.  Supports Eurostat's intention of establishing a legal framework for ‘Commitments on Confidence in Statistics’; stresses that compliance with the data confidentiality rule within the ESS (European Statistical System), as well as with the principle of subsidiarity, will help to increase trust in statistical agencies;

19.  Notes that it is essential to improve the way that public accounting systems work; asks the Commission, nevertheless, to clarify whether standardising the public accounting systems in all the Member States is necessary and possible; calls on the Commission to draw up a common methodology and implement effective, suitable, proven solutions;

20.  Stresses the need to develop a coherent system for research into socio-economic processes in cross-border areas, including those in the regions located on the external borders of the European Union, together with statistics for macro-regions, in order to obtain a reliable, complete and accurate picture of the economy in terms of regional and macro-regional development, covering both the urban dimension and rural areas; believes that the research mechanisms connected with the balance of payments should be improved; notes, furthermore, that regional and national accounts should be closely monitored as part of a robust system of quality management for European statistics;

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

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