Index 
Texts adopted
Friday, 20 April 2012 - Strasbourg
Draft amending budget No 1/2012: financing of ITER
 Modernising Europe's higher education systems
 A competititive digital single market - eGovernment as a spearhead
 Situation in Mali
 Situation in Burma/Myanmar
 Legal security of European investments outside the European Union
 Devolution of the Commission's management of external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations
 Women and climate change
 Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020
 Review of the 6th Environment Action Progamme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme

Draft amending budget No 1/2012: financing of ITER
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on the Council position on Draft amending budget No 1/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012, Section III – Commission (08136/2012 – C7-0088/2012 – 2012/2011(BUD))
P7_TA(2012)0138A7-0097/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and in particular Article 314 thereof and to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, and in particular Article 106a thereof,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(1), and in particular Articles 37 and 38 thereof,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2012, as definitively adopted on 1 December 2011(2),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 17 May 2006 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management(3),

–  having regard to Draft amending budget No 1/2012 of the European Union for the financial year 2012, which the Commission presented on 27 January 2012 (COM(2012)0031),

–  having regard to the Council position on Draft amending budget No 1/2012, which the Council established on 26 March 2012 (08136/2012 – C7-0088/2012),

–  having regard to Rules 75b and 75e of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A7-0097/2012),

A.  whereas the purpose of Draft amending budget No 1/2012 is to incorporate in the 2012 budget the amount of EUR 650 million in commitment appropriations into Article 08 20 02 Euratom – European Joint Undertaking for ITER – Fusion for Energy (F4E),

B.  whereas this budgetary adjustment is fully in line with the agreement reached between Parliament and the Council in December 2011 in order to accommodate the EUR 1 300 million additional cost of the ITER project in 2012-2013,

1.  Takes note of Draft amending budget No 1/2012;

2.  Approves, without amendment, the Council position on Draft amending budget No 1/2012 and instructs its President to declare that Amending budget No 1/2012 has been definitively adopted and to arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

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

(1) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 56, 29.2.2012.
(3) OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p.1.


Modernising Europe's higher education systems
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on modernising Europe's higher education systems (2011/2294(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0139A7-0057/2012

The European Parliament,

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

–   having regard to Articles 2 and 3 of the Treaty on European Union,

–  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) and the accompanying staff working document on recent developments in European high education systems (SEC(2011)1063),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 29 June 2011 entitled ‘A Budget for Europe 2020’ (COM(2011)0500),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 6 October 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020 Flagship Initiative Innovation Union’ (COM(2010)0546),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication of 15 September 2010 entitled ‘Youth on the Move – An initiative to unleash the potential of young people to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the European Union’ (COM(2010)0477),

–  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 10 May 2006 entitled ‘Delivering on the Modernisation Agenda for Universities: Education, Research and Innovation’ (COM(2006)0208),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 28 November 2011 on the modernisation of higher education(1),

–  having regard to the Council Recommendation of 28 June 2011 on promoting the learning mobility of young people(2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 14 February 2011 on the role of education and training in the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy(3),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 11 May 2010 on the social dimension of education and training(4),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 11 May 2010 on the internationalisation of higher education(5),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 May 2009 on a strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’)(6),

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Council of 17 June 2010, in particular the part entitled ‘A new European strategy for jobs and growth’(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2011 on the agenda for new skills and jobs(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on ‘Youth on the Move: - a framework for improving Europe's education and training systems’(9),

–   having regard to its resolution of 18 May 2010 on ‘An EU Strategy for Youth – Investing and Empowering’(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(11),

–   having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2011 on the EU strategy on Roma inclusion(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2010 on university-business dialogue: a new partnership for the modernisation of Europe's universities(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 September 2008 on the Bologna Process and student mobility(14),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on the contribution of the European institutions to the consolidation and progress of the Bologna process(15)

–  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 Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0057/2012),

A.  whereas the economic crisis – and its consequences in terms of the imposition of austerity measures and budget cutbacks –, demographic changes, rapid technological change and the resulting demand for new skills pose serious challenges to, and call for far-reaching reforms in, Europe's higher education systems, which must not have a detrimental effect on the quality of education;

B.  whereas, in a knowledge-based society, the future hinges on education, research and innovation;

C.  whereas individuals must be supported in re-thinking their careers and need to widen as well as update their skills and knowledge at an ever faster rate in order to meet the challenges of the labour market, bearing in mind that there is a difference between vocational study programmes, where European harmonisation is feasible and desirable, and humanities courses, where there should continue to be substantial freedom and autonomy in study and research programmes with regard both to the historical and cultural differences among the Member States of the European Union and to the diversity of higher education institutions in terms of teaching and of their specific missions;

D.  whereas the Europe 2020 Strategy states that, by 2020, 40 % of 30-34-year-olds in Europe should complete higher education or equivalent studies, given the estimate that 35 % of all jobs in the EU will require such qualifications; notes, however, that in 2010 only 26 % of the workforce in the EU had attained this qualification level;

E.  whereas more than 21 % of young people in the EU are unemployed;

F.  whereas in the EU in 2010, 16,5 % of young people were not in education or the labour market;

G.  whereas in the EU in 2010, unemployment of tertiary education graduates stood at 5,4 % compared with more than 15 % among those with only lower secondary education; whereas, on the other hand, it is taking longer and longer for the majority of those graduates to find secure employment;

H.  whereas over 60 % of university graduates are women, but the majority of senior positions in universities (e.g. postdoctoral positions and professorships) are still held by men;

I.  whereas only 13 % of institutions in the higher education sector are headed by women and only 9 % of universities have a female head of staff, and whereas women therefore have considerably less influence with regard to research decision-making;

J.  whereas 75 of the top 200 universities worldwide are to be found in the EU Member States;

K.  whereas only 200 of Europe's 4 000 higher education institutions rank among the top 500 in the world;

L.  whereas universities have been an important resource in Europe for almost a millennium, whereas the importance of their role in the progress of society should not be reduced to their contribution to the economy, and whereas their development should not depend solely on their ability to adapt to the economic needs of the current economic model;

M.  whereas equal access for all young people to higher education and training should be encouraged;

N.  whereas universities encourage individual autonomy and creativity and play a very important role in the promotion of knowledge, and whereas the Member States should therefore make every effort to ensure that higher education is widely accessible without discrimination, particularly on social, economic, cultural, racial or political grounds;

O.  whereas education, especially higher and tertiary education, is responsible for shaping the attitudes and values that underlie civil society;

P.  whereas the national legislation of the respective Member States considers higher education to be a fundamental tool for determining the future of EU citizens;

Q.  whereas education is the responsibility of the Member States, and whereas it is important to ensure that higher education institutions receive financial support, first and foremost through the provision of adequate public funding;

R.  whereas the creation of a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) is a significant development that could contribute to European integration while respecting the diversity of education in the various EU Member States and the goals of higher education in relation to society;

S.  whereas the European Union has an important role to play in strengthening this area while drawing on the efforts and cooperation of the Member States in this regard;

The changing role of higher education institutions

1.  Calls on higher education institutions to integrate lifelong learning into their curricula, with the help of economic assistance and different study programmes, and to adapt to a student base that includes adults, elderly people, non-traditional learners, full-time students who have to work while studying and people with disabilities, and therefore calls on higher education institutions to implement programmes aimed at removing existing obstacles and barriers;

2.  Invites higher education institutions to take into account the needs of professionals who need, as lifelong learners, to update and broaden their skills at regular intervals, including through the organisation and fine-tuning of update courses which are accessible to all social groups, close cooperation with employers and the development of courses which meet the needs of the labour market and which could facilitate a return to education for unemployed workers;

3.  Calls on higher education institutions to uphold the spirit of autonomy in teaching and research while providing specific study programmes with the aim of meeting the needs of professionals who wish to update their skills;

4.  Reiterates that higher education has the potential to promote social inclusion, social advancement and upward social mobility; calls, with respect for the principle of subsidiarity, on Member States, regional and local governments and higher education institutions to strengthen – inter alia through the development of adequate financial support schemes – their efforts to widen equitable access to studies for all, from early childhood to higher education, irrespective of sex, ethnicity, language, religion, disability or social background, and to fight all forms of discrimination, recognising multiculturalism and multilingualism, including sign languages, as fundamental values of the EU that need to be fostered;

5.  Calls on the Member States to pay increased attention to, and to support higher education institutions serving traditional national, ethnic or linguistic minorities, with a special focus on endangered cultures and languages;

6.  Invites higher education institutions to encourage student participation in sports;

7.  Underlines the complementary role of state, private and religious forms of higher education across Europe;

8.  Emphasises the importance of promoting democratic values, while stressing the need to acquire a sound knowledge of European integration and ensuring that Europe's former totalitarian regimes are understood as part of its common history;

9.  Also emphasises the need to continue traditional education in an academic spirit and not to permit the education system to be totally subordinated to the labour market, in view of the need to shape ethical and moral values among students at the same time as caring about academic progress;

10.  Calls on the Member States and higher education institutions to establish a general framework – covering rules, responsibilities, political and educational objectives and the quality of, and priority given to, training and research – in which to promote best practices and respond to the challenges of the communication society;

11.  Emphasises that academic staff and students, as well as their organisations and associations, need to be involved in the modernisation of higher education institutions; stresses that both excellence in research, in the broad sense of the term, and excellence in teaching and scientific achievement need to be rewarded, without thereby penalising those higher education institutions – for example humanities faculties – that do not fit into evaluation and performance criteria linked solely to the skills demanded by the market economy;

Information about higher education institutions

12.  Stresses that the quality and relevance of higher education are a core condition for taking full advantage of Europe's intellectual capital;

13.  Proposes the introduction of clear and uniform criteria for the creation of pan-European rankings of higher education institutions, thereby allowing prospective students to make an informed choice of university and providing comprehensive information about the respective universities;

14.  Encourages the Commission's initiative to launch, in cooperation with all the institutions, students and other stakeholders involved, a multi-dimensional tool for the differentiated classification and ranking of higher education institutions based on characteristics such as a long tradition of providing higher education in Europe, the quality of teaching, student support (i.e. scholarships, counselling, housing), physical and info-communication accessibility, regional engagement and knowledge transfer; opposes, on the other hand, the establishment of a classification of higher education institutions on the basis of non-homogeneous performance indicators which do not take into account the diversity of educational pathways, programmes and linguistic diversity in European universities;

15.  Also emphasises that this tool should not solely involve compiling conventional ranking tables and that specific characteristics of the relevant institutions should be afforded due attention in the results;

16.  Suggests that consideration be given to instituting a unified mechanism for the monitoring and evaluation of compliance with academic standards by higher education institutions, both public and private;

Funding higher education systems

17.  Stresses that higher education is a public good that fosters culture, diversity, democratic values and personal development and prepares students to become active citizens who will support European cohesion;

18.  Insists once again that Member States should reach the target of investing 2 % of GDP in education;

19.  Points out that mainly public and also private funding is of primary importance for the modernisation of higher education systems; emphasises that investment in higher education in Europe is crucial to overcoming the current economic crisis; calls on the Member States and higher education institutions to expand scholarship and funding programmes for those institutions and to develop innovative methods of funding mechanisms which can contribute to more efficient functioning of higher education institutions, complement public funding without increasing the pressure on households and make higher education accessible to all; expresses regret at the significant cutbacks to education budgets in several Member States, as well as the constant increase in education fees, which is leading to a significant increase in the number of vulnerable students;

20.  Calls for the EU budget for 2014-2020 under the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund to include spending on higher education related to investments in university infrastructure and academic staff;

The transition from higher education to the labour market

21.  Calls on higher education institutions to adapt to new challenges by creating new fields of study that reflect the needs of the labour market, taking into account the development of science and technology by maintaining an appropriate balance between theoretical knowledge and practical skills;

22.  Calls for the promotion of best practices that help higher education institutions to strengthen teaching and research in all subject areas through the inclusion of students and to provide additional key qualifications for the labour market, in order to facilitate young people's transition from higher education to the labour market;

23.  Calls for higher education institutions to be opened up both to offer continuing vocational training and to create appropriate courses for workers who have not attained an upper secondary educational qualification, so as to tap into additional potential to achieve the quota of graduates;

24.  Urges the Commission to present its proposal for a quality framework for traineeships, and emphasises the success of the ‘Erasmus placements’ that give students the opportunity to gain work experience abroad, and insists that this action be continued under the new programme and strengthened by means of suitable funding;

25.  Calls on higher education institutions and institutions responsible for the education sector at regional, national and European level to monitor trends in labour market requirements in order to reflect more accurately future needs in terms of learning opportunities;

26.  Highlights the need to track graduates' employment outcomes to measure how well higher education responds to labour market demands; welcomes, therefore, the Commission's commitment to improving the availability of such data, with the principal aim of providing students with the necessary information to guide their study choices, while at the same time giving higher education and research institutions the necessary information to identify and, subsequently, develop programmes of study covering both general knowledge and specific professional skills through lifelong learning, in ongoing dialogue with those involved in the production of knowledge but also with society as a whole and with the state;

27.  Urges Member States to collect and publish statistical data regarding the correlation between different higher education degrees and employment opportunities;

28.  Calls for the development of an international databank, similar to AlmaLaurea, which helps graduates to identify suitable job, training, study and research opportunities, removing economic obstacles through bursaries and student loans in order to ensure real equality among students, and thereby encouraging mobility and the matching of skills and jobs; reiterates the importance of proper communication in ensuring that this information is easily accessible to students, recent graduates, the unemployed, jobseekers and employers;

29.  Considers youth guarantee schemes to be a valuable tool facilitating the transition from higher education to jobs, and calls on the Member States to incorporate such schemes into their national transition strategies;

30.  Recalls the important role that the structural funds can play in this regard; welcomes the commitment made in the ‘Youth Opportunities Initiative’ communication (COM(2011)0933) to the full deployment of the resources available, and calls on higher education institutions and local authorities to use this opportunity in order to increase the provision of support and guidance for students entering the labour market;

Gender balance in higher education

31.  Notes that there are still gender disparities in European education systems even though almost all countries have now implemented policies to combat them, and that such disparities influence both performance at school and study and career choices, and have a negative effect on economic growth and on the welfare state;

32.  Highlights the fact that many female students attending vocational or secondary schools still choose careers which reflect traditional gender roles; notes, therefore, that better vocational guidance is needed in order to combat persistent stereotypes;

33.  Points out that, because their higher education qualifications are not marketable enough, women are more often overqualified and underpaid for their jobs and often end up unemployed or in casual jobs, a situation which further disadvantages them on the labour market at the start of their careers, fuelling the cycle of pay inequality;

34.  Recalls that, across the Member States, there are still very few initiatives in place to provide information about gender equality and promote gender equality in education; suggests that teachers should receive specific training on equality between men and women;

35.  Points out that the sharing of domestic and family responsibilities between women and men is a sine qua non for the advancement and achievement of equality between women and men; calls on universities and higher education institutions to recognise that women learners may have specific additional responsibilities outside of learning, such as caring for young children or elderly relatives; stresses the need for universities to supply parents – especially women – with a sufficient quantity of high-quality, affordable and accessible childcare, including community centres, so as to facilitate their equal participation in studies and research; also encourages the introduction of a greater variety of study modes, such as part-time and distance learning, and, in this connection, reminds the Member States and the EU institutions to increase the level of financial support for lifelong learning in order to enable women to continue their studies, to re-enter the workforce and to balance their professional and personal responsibilities;

Engaged higher education institutions

36.  Encourages higher education institutions to engage more intensively with their regions and establish dynamic collaborative actions with regional governments, local councils, public bodies, non-governmental organisations and small and medium-sized enterprises to enhance regional development; points out that this should also strengthen interaction between higher education institutions and employers;

37.  Calls on the Member States and their central and regional authorities to include and support higher education institutions in cross-border cooperation;

38.  Encourages the Member States to intensify the interaction between the sides of the knowledge triangle (education, research, innovation) as a key element for growth and job creation;

39.  Points out that the development of higher education curricula and research programmes should remain a task for universities, taking into account the needs of the labour market as regards employability;

40.  Welcomes the Commission's support for ‘Knowledge Alliances’ and ‘Sector Skills Alliances’ in which higher education institutions exchange information with businesses while developing curricula to address skills shortages; calls upon businesses and entrepreneurs, including small and medium-sized enterprises, actively to develop partnerships with higher education institutions by providing high-quality internships for students and lecturers and capitalising on lecturers' general transferable skills; reiterates, however, that higher education institutions produce cultural content which translates not only into vocational skills but also into general knowledge, in terms of intellectual experience of reality and of the common values by which people live;

41.  Calls for a commitment to more flexible and innovative learning approaches and to delivery methods which are always centred on students' needs;

42.  Notes the need for cross-border higher education institutions and enterprises to cooperate in practical programmes and in shaping students' future careers by identifying the specific development pathways, expectations and challenges that will await them in the labour market;

43.  Emphasises the usefulness of developing mechanisms and management strategies that facilitate the transfer of innovative ideas and research results into society and business and allow society and businesses to provide input to higher education regarding current and expected needs for skills and innovations, taking into account best practices from all over the world; points out that such a connection is likely to favour financially only those research and higher education institutions that specialise in innovation and technology at the expense of education linked purely to the humanities;

44.  Reaffirms the value of democratic governance as a fundamental way to ensure academic freedom and promote active participation by all actors in the life of a higher education institution;

45.  Emphasises that transparency, equal distribution of rights and obligations between the relevant cooperation partners and higher education institutions, and a balanced principle of representation must be observed in the context of cooperation, so as to ensure that higher education institutions are enabled to organise and develop themselves independently as public amenities in accordance with academic principles;

46.  Also emphasises that the principle of democracy and self-governance among higher education institutions and their staff and students should be respected and maintained in all collaborative projects;

47.  Demands, therefore, that higher education institutions and their various bodies be required to disclose cooperative agreements with third parties;

48.  Emphasises the importance of cooperation between higher education institutions and NGOs and the European voluntary sector, in order to promote active citizenship and involve students in active participation through working for the NGO sector;

49.  Underlines the importance of sport in the education process; calls on Member States to support and encourage sport among students and to increase support for grassroots sport programmes;

50.  Points out that the extent and intensity of collaboration between higher education institutions and their partners in business and society vary strongly across Member States, institutions and academic disciplines;

51.  Stresses that continuous investment in the link between education, culture, research and innovation is necessary; stresses the importance of further supporting and developing the European Institute for Innovation and Technology with its knowledge and innovation communities;

52.  Emphasises the importance of culture in higher education and calls for the inclusion of special criteria for the humanities in both innovation and research;

53.  Emphasises the need to engage higher education institutions and provide support for student initiatives, as well as assisting in the coordination of such activities among other higher education institutions, enterprises and local authorities from various Member States;

Mutual recognition of qualifications

54.  Acknowledges the richness inherent in the wide variety of higher education institutions in Europe; calls on the Member States and these institutions to develop clear, integrated pathways that allow learners to progress from other types of education into higher education and to change between different tracks and types of institutions;

55.  Emphasises, however, the need to maintain the diversity of educational pathways and programmes, teaching methods and university systems in the EU; takes the view that it is consequently necessary to develop a national qualification framework, while at the same time promoting the mutual recognition of degrees and qualifications across all Member States;

56.  Urges all EU countries to implement the national qualification frameworks linked to the EHEA Qualifications Framework and to develop, and provide financial support for, mutual recognition;

57.  Points out that student mobility, and above all study at other universities under the Erasmus Programme, contributes to the exchange of good practice and thus to the modernisation of higher education; notes, therefore, the need for the home university to recognise qualifications acquired while studying at other universities;

58.  Supports the Commission's proposal to improve recognition of study undertaken abroad, by consolidating the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS); calls for additional efforts on the part of the EU and its Member States to ensure more effective recognition and greater harmonisation of academic qualifications as well;

Enhancing mobility in the EHEA and beyond

59.  Reiterates that higher education is a common European public good and that Member States, regional governments, local authorities and the EU share a common responsibility in developing and strengthening the EHEA, the European Research Area (ERA) and the Bologna Process;

60.  Stresses that greater coordination among Member States in the field of higher education – including through strong financial and political support for agreements on common core curricula and well-defined learning outcomes – is a prerequisite for achieving the goals of employability and growth in Europe; calls on the Member States to step up cooperation between their relevant ministries in order to update existing curricula to meet the needs of the labour market;

61.  Points out the need for collaboration between the EHEA and the ERA as a means to support university research programmes in both science and the humanities;

62.  Demands that the attractiveness of the EHEA and the ERA for students and researchers from all over the world be promoted and that collaboration with non-EU countries in educational matters and issues relating to mobility at staff and student level be strengthened, in particular with the countries which are covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) or which directly border the EU, in order to turn the EHEA into a magnet for training and knowledge that is both macroregional and global, particularly in relation to exchange and professional training programmes;

63.  Asks the Commission to propose the creation of Euro-Mediterranean Erasmus and Leonardi da Vinci programmes, aimed at promoting transnational mobility among students from both sides of the Mediterranean;

64.  Calls for the opening of mobility, exchange, research and work experience programmes to students from countries affiliated to the Eastern Partnership;

65.  Recalls the importance of mobility among both students and teachers and, in this connection, invites the Commission to make progress on the EU Visa Code;

66.  Recalls the target whereby 20 % of Europe's graduates should be mobile by 2020, and emphasises the importance of language skills as a prerequisite for increased mobility within the EHEA and employability;

67.  Supports the reinforcement of language and sign language teaching – and of the teaching and development of local and regional languages – within the EHEA as a prerequisite for the development of true European citizenship based on multiculturalism and linguistic pluralism;

68.  Emphasises the need for the higher education system in each Member State to provide higher-quality teaching so that increased mobility opportunities for students do not go hand in hand with a worsening of the ‘brain drain’, which is now a genuine social problem in some Member States;

69.  Points out that the persistent disparities between western and central-eastern European higher education systems must be addressed through real integration measures, with a view to encouraging and supporting cross-border collaboration between higher education institutions; calls on the Commission, therefore, to develop a strategy and draw up a professional financial action plan for reducing these significant regional disparities;

70.  Calls on the Member States, the EU and European higher education systems to evaluate the possibility of promoting, within the study cycle, a compulsory training period at a university in a Member State other than the one to which the student is affiliated;

71.  Reiterates the principle that loan schemes cannot substitute the grant systems put in place to support access to education for all students regardless of their social background;

72.  Asks the Commission for further clarification of the proposal to create a financial instrument to help students secure funding for a Masters degree outside their home Member State, regardless of their social background and financial situation; demands fair and transparent access to the scheme throughout the Member States;

73.  Endorses the Commission's proposal to increase the EU budget available for education, training, research and youth in the next multiannual financial framework, thereby complementing the action taken by the Member States , given that investment in education, training and research is key to attaining the Europe 2020 targets and achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in Europe;

o
o   o

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

(1) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/en/educ/126375.pdf.
(2) OJ C 199, 7.7.2011, p. 1.
(3) OJ C 70, 4.3.2011, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 135, 26.5.2010, p. 2.
(5) OJ C 135, 26.5.2010, p. 12.
(6) OJ C 119, 28.5.2009, p. 2.
(7) http://ec.europa.eu/eu2020/pdf/council_conclusion_17_june_en.pdf.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0466.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0230.
(10) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 21.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0453.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0092.
(13) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 95.
(14) OJ C 8 E, 14.1.2010, p. 18.
(15) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0072.


A competititive digital single market - eGovernment as a spearhead
PDF 251kWORD 85k
European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on a competitive digital single market – eGovernment as a spearhead (2011/2178(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0140A7-0083/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Community acquis in the field of the internal market and the information society,

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

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on a new Digital Agenda for Europe: 2015.eu(1),

–   having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce(2),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 31 May 2010 on a Digital Agenda for Europe,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 17 June 2010 on the Europe 2020 strategy, including the Digital Agenda (point 7),

–  having regard to the Guide for the procurement of standards-based ICT – Elements of Good Practice, published by the Commission on 23 December 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Reaping the benefits of electronic invoicing for Europe’ (COM(2010)0712),

–  having regard to Decision No 922/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 September 2009 on interoperability solutions for European public administrations (ISA)(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘The European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015 – Harnessing ICT to promote smart, sustainable & innovative Government’ (COM(2010)0743),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Towards interoperability for European public services – European Interoperability Strategy (EIS) for European public services (Annex 1) and European Interoperability Framework (EIF) for European public services (Annex 2)’ (COM(2010)0744),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘i2010 eGovernment Action Plan – Accelerating eGovernment in Europe for the Benefit of All’ (COM(2006)0173),

–  having regard to the Commission communication 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 Commission communication of 31 March 2011 on ‘Critical Information Infrastructure Protection – Achievements and next steps: towards global cyber-security’ (COM(2011)0163),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 March 2009 on ‘Critical Information Infrastructure Protection – Protecting Europe from large-scale cyber-attacks and disruptions: enhancing preparedness, security and resilience’ (COM(2009)0149),

–  having regard to the Commission's Open Data Package, published in December 2011, consisting of: the Commission communication ‘Open data – An engine for innovation, growth and transparent governance’, the Commission proposal for a directive amending Directive 2003/98/EC on reuse of public sector information (COM(2011)0877), and the Commission decision 2011/833/EU of 12 December 2011 on the reuse of Commission documents,

–  having regard to the study regarding the economic impact of public sector information conducted by the Commission in 2011 (Vickery study),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a Common European Sales Law (COM(2011)0635),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce and online services’ (COM(2011)0942),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Green Paper – towards an integrated European market for card, Internet and mobile payment’ (COM(2011)0941),

–  having regard to the Digital Agenda for Europe Annual Progress Report 2011, published on 22 December 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Europe's Digital Competitiveness Report – Main achievements of the i2010 strategy 2005-2009’ (COM(2009)0390),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2011 on European Broadband: investing in digitally driven growth(4),

–  having regard to the Study on the Social Impact of ICT – SMART 2007/0068, published on 30 April 2010,

–  having regard to the Economic Impact of ICT Report – SMART 2007/0020, published in January 2010,

–  having regard to the report prepared for the Commission entitled ‘i2010 eGovernment Action Plan – Progress Study (SMART 2008/0042)’, published in November 2009,

–  having regard to the Swedish Presidency's conclusions of 10 November 2009 from the Visby conference on creating impact for an eUnion 2015,

–  having regard to the Swedish Presidency's report ‘A Green Knowledge Society – An ICT policy agenda to 2015 for Europe's future knowledge society’, published in September 2009,

–  having regard to the Commission report ‘Cloud Computing: Public Consultation Report’, published on 5 December 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Action Plan on e-signatures and e-identification to facilitate the provision of cross-border public services in the Single Market’ (COM(2008)0798),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(5),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0083/2012),

A.  whereas information and communications technology (ICT) has a profound direct and indirect impact on the political, economic, social, cultural and everyday life of EU citizens; whereas a competitive digital single market that would eliminate all barriers for cross-border e-services and be free of distortions of competition would benefit EU citizens considerably;

B.  whereas eGovernment brings all technology and use relating to online information, guidance and administrative procedures under one umbrella;

C.  whereas the ICT sector is directly responsible for 5 % of EU GDP, with a market value of EUR 660 billion annually, but contributes far more to overall productivity growth (20 % directly from the ICT sector and 30 % from ICT investment);

D.  whereas there are no uniform rules on electronic invoicing, and for the most part its benefits remain untapped;

E.  whereas ICT can make a significant contribution to the EU 2020 Strategy, particularly with regard to employment, sustainable economic and productivity growth, citizen empowerment, R&D, energy, innovation and the environment, and to tackling the grand societal challenges;

F.  whereas SMEs play a particularly important role in the digital market;

G.  whereas cloud computing is an economic and ecological tool that improves the IT performance of public and private concerns, cuts processing costs and limits storage costs, all of which are clearly benefits, but the connection between user and server is insufficiently secure and the user experiences a certain loss of control;

H.  whereas the Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2011 shows progress, but 26 % of EU citizens have never used the internet and only 48 % of people belonging to disadvantaged groups use it;

I.  whereas the digital divide, whether seen as an internet access divide or an e-skills/digital literacy divide, directly affects eGovernment adoption and is detrimental to citizens' participation in public life and democracy;

J.  whereas a competitive digital single market needs to ensure the successful deployment of ultrafast broadband and telecommunications networks across all EU regions and eliminate disparities between levels of infrastructure development in and between Member States, in order to ensure the demographic sustainability of sparsely populated regions;

1.  Is aware of the major contribution made by the ICT sector to the EU's industrial policy, innovation, growth, competitiveness and the trade balance;

2.  Underlines that users are the key for the digital strategy and that there is a pressing need in the EU to strengthen users' awareness, role, involvement, perspective and trust in relation to security, safety and privacy in the information society, and to develop ICT-related human capital;

3.  Reaffirms that eGovernment empowers European citizens and helps reform and modernise public administration, by making it more transparent and accountable and reducing the costs of public services;

4.  Stresses that the barriers to eGovernment adoption are not necessarily only technological, but also organisational, political, legal and cultural, and that successful solutions and practices are usually highly dependent on local conditions;

5.  Underlines that the creation of a European eGovernment Area has the potential to be an essential part of the Horizon 2020 agenda, boosting the promotion of economic and social growth, stimulating innovation and human capital development, and helping meet the societal and political challenges faced by the EU;

6.  Stresses the need to take account of and combat the digital divide;

7.  Notes that cloud computing enables access to a shared hub of IT resources that can be quickly relayed with a minimum of management effort and service provider interaction, and that the cloud's effectiveness lies in its flexibility, the productivity gains it brings and its role in protecting the environment, but that first and foremost it needs to be technically reliable and robust;

eGovernment Action Plan

8.  Welcomes the adoption of the European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015, the European Interoperability Strategy (EIS) and the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) for European public services (EPS); calls on the Member States to take rapid action to align their national strategies to these overarching policies;

9.  Supports the overall targets for increased use of eGovernment services in 2015, i.e. 50 % of citizens (up from 41 %) and 80 % of businesses (up from 75 %), but calls on the Commission and Member States to consider these targets as minimum thresholds;

10.  Calls for special programmes and eGovernment platforms to be developed with the aim of protecting and promoting local, regional, ethnic and linguistic diversity;

11.  Regrets the fact that, according to the Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2011, only 50 % of eGovernment users filled in forms online;

12.  Notes the correlation between GDP and availability of eGovernment services, and calls for appropriate funding for the development of eGovernment, both at national and European level;

13.  Underlines that the internet is increasingly used on mobile devices by both citizens and enterprises, and calls for action to ensure that eGovernment services are accessible and adapted to multiple channels of delivery, including call centres and the mobile internet (m-government);

14.  Points out that successful eGovernment calls for comprehensive integration and optimisation of administrative processes, taking account of the right to local self-government at and across all levels;

15.  Highlights that eGovernment is particularly beneficial for EU citizens and entrepreneurs, particularly SMEs, who now often face insurmountable barriers when operating cross-border within the EU, as it brings reduced administrative costs and burdens, increased productivity, efficiency, competitiveness, transparency, openness, policy effectiveness, accessibility and streamlining of procedures, and as it should facilitate the building of synergies and sharing of resources and capabilities between firms and allow a more collaborative professional environment for SMEs;

16.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to publish publicly funded data in machine-readable form (and in real time) under open licences, in order to allow the innovative reuse of public-sector information by both academia, including students, and the general public, and for research and business development, thus also enhancing transparency;

17.  Points out that there is still no clear definition of the term ‘public administrative data’ and that, with a view to clarifying its precise meaning, a common understanding must be reached by means of public discussion;

18.  Calls on the Commission to do everything possible to ensure that educational institutions and cultural establishments remain outside the scope of Directive 2003/98/EC;

19.  Notes that the main barriers to crossborder access to e-services of public administrations are related to the use of eIdentification and eSignatures, and that there is a lack of interoperability at EU level;

20.  Considers that in order to ensure effective EU-wide crossborder eGovernment services providing two-way and/or automated interaction between administrations and citizens and/or businesses, there needs to be a clear and coherent EU legal framework for the mutual recognition of eAuthentication, eIdentification and eSignatures;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continuously inform citizens about the existing EU portals, such as SOLVIT and Your Europe, as the current lack of information is delaying further development of the business environment and consumer protection arrangements, especially in crossborder areas;

22.  Calls on the Commission to keep track of all existing online problem-solving tools and information portals provided by itself and the Member States, and to interlink or consolidate them where possible; recommends that new online portals be developed only when integration into existing solutions is not feasible;

23.  Welcomes the adoption and contribution of the Action Plan on eSignatures and eIdentification as well as of the STORK pilot project, in terms of interoperability of crossborder public services; calls on the Commission to revise the eSignature Directive, and calls for a decision that will ensure the mutual recognition of eIdentification and eAuthentication;

24.  Emphasises that wherever data processing procedures are employed in educational institutions and cultural establishments, personal data must be covered by individual access rights in order to protect them against unauthorised use;

25.  Considers that eSignature interoperability from the eGovernment perspective has legal aspects (eSignature use in the public sector – Article 3.7 of the eSignature Directive; the relationship signature/authentication; the supervision/accreditation dilemma; the national perspective; security levels; signature qualifications) as well as technical aspects (identifiers in certificates; signature type; signature format; signature validation); is of the opinion that for the evolution of applications with a view to a fully interoperable European eSignature service for signature validation purposes, the most significant recommendation should be to set up a Federation of Validation Authorities (FVA) to coordinate Member States' National Validation Authorities (NVAs)(6);

26.  Notes that the Commission has mandated CEN, CENELEC and ETSI to update and rationalise the European eSignature standardisation framework; calls on the Commission to submit a yearly progress report to Parliament, based on the reports submitted twice a year by the European standardisation bodies;

27.  Calls on the Member States to develop open educational software at European educational institutions, to exchange best practice, and to develop online platforms for collaboration on educational materials and resources that are free for students and take due account of data protection and copyright rules;

28.  Underlines that eGovernment applications should be reviewed and, if necessary, modified to ensure they are also open to non-resident users; stresses that interoperability is needed at local, regional and national level and at EU level;

29.  Considers that the interoperability of eGovernment applications requires the interoperability of national Private Key Infrastructures (PKI) through a European Validation Service (European Bridge);

30.  Welcomes the public consultation launched on the subject of draft guidelines on links between ICT standardisation and public procurement, and calls for a proposal on the matter;

31.  Invites the Member States to develop national eGovernment strategies, in line with the objectives and targets of the eGovernment Action Plan and the Digital Agenda, as a means towards developing the European digital single market and the European eGovernance Area;

32.  Points out that, as the European eGovernment Action Plan and infrastructure and services develop, security requirements must be met at all levels and that the best achievable protection of privacy and personal and financial data must be ensured in order to prevent unauthorised monitoring of the latter in any form;

33.  Calls on the Member States to make use of ICT tools to improve transparency, accountability and citizen involvement, increase efficiency and competitiveness, reduce administrative burdens, time and costs, improve administrative processes, reduce carbon emissions, save public resources, and contribute to a more participatory democracy while building up trust and confidence;

34.  Encourages the Member States to oblige public entities to make data available by maintaining repositories and catalogues of public data and ensuring that rules for disclosure and reuse are established, taking due account of copyright law and the law on the protection of databases;

35.  Calls on the Member States to implement ‘one-stop shops’ and make use of intermediary actors, with a view to providing a seamless, integrated and easily accessible system of contact points for users, for both domestic and crossborder eGovernment services;

36.  Underlines that eGovernment can enhance the quality of our democracy and can play an important role in increasing the active participation of citizens - especially the young generations – and businesses alike in public and political life and democratic processes; notes that in this regard, pilot consultations or referendums, particularly at local level, should be encouraged;

37.  Welcomes the launch of OCS (Online Collection Software), developed on the Commission's initiative within the framework of the ISA programme and intended to allow signatories to submit, from 1 April 2012, their support for a proposed citizens' initiative by online means, as well as to be used by the organisers of a petition for managing the collection, storing and submission of signatures; therefore wishes to see the e-government strategies implemented as soon as possible;

38.  Underlines that interoperable crossborder eGovernment services should benefit from innovative architecture and technologies (public cloud services, Service-Oriented Architecture), and calls for the upgrading of IPv6-relevant eGovernment infrastructure and online services of public interest;

39.  Recognises the major potential of cloud computing, for businesses and private citizens alike; however, stresses that with the increased use of cloud services, supervision of the relocation of IT resources and strict control of access to servers and data are required, inter alia in order to prevent unauthorised commercial use by other parties, and that as a consequence these issues should be dealt with in the reform of the EU data protection rules as proposed by the Commission (COM(2012)0011), COM(2012)0010));

40.  Stresses that a secure crossborder eGovernment system is an integral part of the European Critical Infrastructure Protection programme; calls for adequate measures to be put in place to ensure data and privacy protection and minimise vulnerability to cyber-attacks; recognises the important role of ENISA in assisting the EU and the Member States in their efforts to provide secure and robust eGovernment services; calls for the introduction of truly democratic forms of monitoring of data use and of the methods employed;

41.  Welcomes the contribution of the IDA, IDABCD and ISA programmes and CIP large-scale pilots, as well as of the ePractice forum in designing and implementing crossborder interoperable solutions; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the long-term sustainability of these actions;

42.  Welcomes and supports the ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ (CEF) proposal, which allocates almost EUR 9,2 billion to support investment in fast and ultrafast broadband networks and pan-European digital services; CEF will provide grants for building the infrastructure needed to roll out e-ID, e-identification, eGovernment, e-procurement, e-health, e-justice and customs-related services, and will serve to ensure interoperability and meet the costs of running the infrastructure at European level, linking up Member States' infrastructures;

43.  Considers that the Europe 2020 Project Bond Initiative will mobilise private financing for targeted investment in the future key EU infrastructures, such as roads, railways, energy grids and pipelines and broadband networks;

44.  Reiterates the importance of future high-speed services that will help deliver the EU's energy efficiency and safety objectives and other communications capabilities (e.g. efficient and intelligent transport systems, person-to-machine communication systems);

45.  Welcomes the adoption of the Open Data Package, and calls on the Member States to support the reuse of public sector information in innovative ways (non-personal information); calls for the better involvement of local and regional authorities as regards access to public-sector information in order to improve the provision of information to the public, business and institutions, and to facilitate the creation of new jobs while boosting development at local and regional level;

46.  Underlines the importance of measurement methodologies (qualitative and quantitative), focused on efficiency and effectiveness in terms of eGovernment and democracy and using SMART(7) targets, which should be in active use across governments;

47.  Regrets that the list of all key crossborder public services to be made available online by 2015 has not yet been agreed by the Member States; calls on the Commission to step up its efforts towards achieving this goal;

48.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and put in place specific ICT tools to facilitate eParticipation - such as common ePetitioning schemes - with the aim of giving EU citizens and representative associations the practical means of exercising their rights under the citizens' initiative provisions laid down in Article 11 TEU;

49.  Recalls the key commitment to reduce both digital literacy gaps and competence gaps by half by 2015, and, in this sense, welcomes the proposals to enhance digital literacy, skills and eInclusion, and especially the proposal to make digital literacy and related components a priority for the European Social Fund regulation (2014-2020); reiterates the need for a ‘no citizen left behind - inclusion by design’ approach, and stresses the need for a user- and citizen-centred design of eGovernment services;

50.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to launch digital training programmes to promote the full use of eGovernment services, reinforce digital literacy and overcome the e-barriers affecting SMEs and disadvantaged sectors of the population such as older people, persons with disabilities, minorities, immigrants, the unemployed and those living in remote areas of the Union; to this extent, e-learning should be incorporated into national education and training policies, including the definition of programmes, the assessment of training outcomes and the professional development of teachers and trainers;

51.  Regrets the delay affecting the legislative proposal aiming to ensure that public-sector websites are fully accessible by 2015; welcomes the Roadmap for digital inclusion, and calls for implementation of the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), including Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) for eGovernment portals, as well as available and affordable customised terminals tailored to the needs of disabled persons;

52.  Recommends, with a view to ensuring quality in the provision of these services, that they be brought into line with the international standards, norms and guidelines concerning good practice, such as ISO 27001 on information security or ISO 20000 on quality in IT service management processes;

eProcurement

53.  Stresses that eProcurement enables EU public procurement and maximum choice for public authorities, resulting in the efficient spending of money, transparency, accountability, public trust, and the strengthening of the internal market and competition;

54.  Emphasises that in the EU-27 public expenditure represents 16 % of GDP, and urges the use of eProcurement for all public procurement by 2015; calls for the use of eProcurement also for concessions;

55.  Regrets the fact that in 2010 only 13 % of EU enterprises used the internet to submit a proposal to public authorities through a public electronic tender system; calls on the Member States to encourage the participation of SMEs in eProcurement;

56.  Stresses that eProcurement consists of two phases: pre-awarding(8) and post-awarding(9); calls on the Member States to fully implement and integrate both phases on their eProcurement portals by 2015;

57.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote the qualitative level of ICT projects in public administrations, so as to ensure that administrations' strategic objectives for innovation are pursued and that general standards are raised as regards the quality, duration and cost of tenders;

58.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to promote, in central and local public administrations, the pre-commercial procurement (PCP) model, which enables public procurers to share with suppliers the risks and benefits of designing, prototyping and testing new products and services, pool the efforts of several procurers, create the optimum conditions for wide commercialisation and take-up of R&D results, and help keep such projects within the operating budget assigned to them;

59.  Underlines the successful activities of the PEPPOL and e-CERTIS eProcurement large-scale pilot projects;

60.  Stresses that national eProcurement systems need to become more advanced, in order to facilitate crossborder services and fully implement the Services Directive;

61.  Urges the Commission to submit the White Paper on interconnecting eProcurement capacity in the EU – ‘A strategy for eProcurement’;

62.  Calls on the Commission to introduce an implementation monitoring mechanism to review progress, barriers, corrective action, etc, in the context of the introduction of eProcurement in the Member States;

63.  Considers that the Commission, as a leader, should set an example to all by implementing the eProcurement system in all its organs;

eInvoicing

64.  Welcomes the eInvoicing Initiative, which aims to make eInvoicing the predominant method of invoicing in the EU by 2020, and the Commission decision setting up the European Multi-Stakeholder Forum on eInvoicing (EMSFEI);

65.  Underlines the substantial benefits offered by eInvoicing as a tool for the more efficient and less burdensome management of all customer-supplier relationships, in both public and private spheres, by means of shorter payment times, fewer errors, better collection of VAT, reduced printing and postage costs and business process integration; notes also that such a tool allows greater transparency of the information flows and exchanges involved in issuing invoices;

66.  Is aware of market fragmentation due to national rules on eInvoicing; regrets that only 22 % of SMEs receive or send eInvoices;

67.  Welcomes the new VAT rules(10) as regards eInvoicing, which introduce equal treatment as between paper and eInvoices;

68.  Underlines the importance of ‘one-stop-shops’ for VAT in order to facilitate crossborder e-commerce for SMEs and promote e-invoicing;

69.  Stresses the importance of legal certainty, a clear technical environment and open and interoperable eInvoicing solutions, based on common legal requirements, business processes and technical standards in order to facilitate mass adoption;

70.  Invites industry and the European standardisation organisations to continue their efforts to promote convergence towards a common eInvoice data model;

71.  Appreciates the initiatives of Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and Sweden to make eInvoicing mandatory for public authorities, and calls for eInvoicing to be made mandatory for all public procurement by 2016;

72.  Notes that eSignature crossborder interoperability problems are slowing down the adoption of crossborder eInvoicing solutions;

73.  Invites the Commission to use the EMSFEI to look into the legal aspects and to coordinate national initiatives; calls on the Commission to report on a yearly basis, and to invite MEPs to participate in the meetings of the EMSFEI;

74.  Encourages Member States to set up National Forums on eInvoicing, with a balanced representation of stakeholders;

75.  Considers that consumers with limited access to the internet or none at all should not be left behind, and that consumers should always be allowed to receive paper invoices;

General remarks

76.  Recognises the added value represented by the 132 projects within the CIP-ICT-PSP strategic priorities, and underlines the importance of R&D and innovation in developing and improving crossborder services; calls for support for ‘light and fast’ access to EU R&D funds for ICT, as well as for an increase in the financial allocations for crossborder eGovernment services and infrastructure for 2014-2020;

77.  Recognises the contribution and overarching role of the ISA programme in defining, promoting and supporting the implementation of interoperability solutions and frameworks for European public administrations, achieving synergies and promoting the reuse of infrastructure, digital services and software solutions, as well as translating public administrations' interoperability requirements into specifications and standards for digital services, and calls for an increase in the financial allocations for interoperability solutions between EU public administrations (ISA programme) for 2014-2020;

78.  Stresses that the European eGovernment Action Plan 2011-2015 represents a unique opportunity to modernise and reduce the costs of European and national public administrations, enabling them to fully exploit the potential of further European integration and foster growth, innovation and mobility for citizens and professional opportunities for businesses, especially SMEs, as well as public participation in policy-making; underlines the importance of public-private partnerships and the role of the private sector in providing innovative solutions, applications and services for the development of interoperable e-Government infrastructure in the EU and in leveraging the available resources;

79.  Calls on the Commission to undertake an annual assessment of the goals of the Digital Agenda, especially those related to the eGovernment Action Plan, and to report to Parliament on a yearly basis;

80.  Welcomes the priority given by the Swedish, Spanish, Polish and Danish Council presidencies to eGovernment and digital market issues, and underlines the positive contribution of the Malmo, Poznan and Madrid eGovernment conferences; considers that 2012-2013 is a crucial period for the crossborder interoperability of eGovernment services, and therefore looks forward with interest to the proceedings and conclusions of the Copenhagen eGovernment Conference, to be held in March 2012;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 45.
(2) OJ C 50 E, 21.2.2012, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 260, 3.10.2009, p. 20.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0322.
(5) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(6) IDABC- Preliminary Study on Mutual Recognition of eSignatures for eGovernment applications, 2007.
(7) SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed.
(8) e-Notice, e-Tendering, e-Submission, acceptance of e-Signatures.
(9) e-Ordering, e-Invoicing, e-Payments, use of e-Signatures.
(10) Directive 2010/45/EU.


Situation in Mali
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on the situation in Mali (2012/2603(RSP))
P7_TA(2012)0141RC-B7-0201/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel, adopted in March 2011,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council statements on Mali of 22 March(1), 26 March(2), 4 April(3) and 9 April(4) 2012,

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President/High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy of 22 March, 26 March and 7 April 2012 regarding the situation in Mali,

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement signed on 6 April 2012 between the military junta and ECOWAS,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 22 and 23 March 2012 on the Sahel region,

–  having regard to the Algiers Agreements of 2006 on development and peace in northern Mali,

–  having regard to the statement made on 12 April 2012 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay(5),

–  having regard to the statement by the Commission's humanitarian aid department on preventing a humanitarian crisis in Mali,

–  having regard to the call by the various UN agencies – UNICEF, UNHCR and the WHO – of 10 April 2012 for additional funding for the millions of people affected by food insecurity in the Sahel region,

–  having regard to UNICEF's appeal for USD 26 million for Mali to enable it to meet the health and nutritional needs of children until the end of the year,

–  having regard to the call by the United Nations Refugee Agency of 23 February 2012 for USD 35,6 million to tackle the growing humanitarian crisis in Mali,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on West Africa,

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas during the night of 21-22 March 2012 the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Touré, was overthrown in a coup which put an end to a long democratic process which had begun more than two decades previously;

B.  whereas in the days following the coup international pressure and mediation efforts, especially on the part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), led to the conclusion of a framework agreement on 6 April 2012 between the Comité national pour le redressement et la démocratie (CNRDE) and ECOWAS, enabling Dioncounda Traore to be installed as interim president and instructed to organise national elections within 40 days;

C.  whereas, in accordance with the 1992 Constitution, the President of the National Assembly has been appointed Interim President;

D.  having regard to the wave of arrests on 16 and 17 April 2012, without any judicial procedure being followed, of political leaders, including two candidates in the presidential elections, and of senior military officers who are being held prisoner in the military camp of those responsible for the coup;

E.  whereas the country is also dealing with renewed fighting in the north between government forces and rebels, which has displaced more than 200 000 people since January; whereas the estimated number of internally displaced persons exceeds 100 000, and whereas around 136 000 refugees have fled to neighbouring countries (Algeria, Mauritania, Niger and Burkina Faso), where the severe drought has already caused significant food shortages in recent years;

F.  whereas Tuareg rebels, belonging mainly to the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), swept through northern Mali after the military coup, pushed government forces out of the three northern regions of Mali (Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu) and unilaterally proclaimed the independence of the new ‘Azawad’ state on 6 April 2012;

G.  whereas an Islamist group called Ansar Dine, which has close links with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (ACMI), claims to have control of Timbuktu and is seeking to impose Sharia law in Mali;

H.  whereas the proliferation of arms emanating from Libya, drug trafficking, high unemployment and poverty are contributing to the destabilisation of the region as a whole;

I.  whereas avowed links exist between terrorist groups in the Sahel and Sahara region and traffickers in drugs, arms, cigarettes and human beings, particularly involving the taking of hostages for ransom;

J.  whereas various other extremist movements also exist in northern Mali, such as AQMI (al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) and Boko Haram, based in Nigeria;

K.  whereas there were several uprisings of Tuaregs in Mali, in 1963, 1990 and 2006, in an attempt to secure an improvement in their living conditions, and whereas certain unfulfilled promises made to the Tuaregs, particularly at the time of the ‘National Pact’ of 1992, have helped to create a sense of frustration;

L.  whereas the enormous size and sparse population of Mali's territory and its long, ill-defined borders necessitate good regional coordination of information and action;

M.  whereas the EU has a vital interest in the security, stability and development of the whole Sahel region, particularly at a time of serious food shortages which are affecting millions of people there; whereas the recent violence will further exacerbate the food emergency both in northern Mali and in neighbouring countries, where refugees are moving into areas suffering from acute food insecurity; whereas there is an EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel; whereas the Sahel is facing its worst humanitarian crisis in the past 20 years;

N.  whereas terrorism in the Sahel needs to be fought partly by means of an active policy to promote development, social justice, the rule of law and integration; whereas it is necessary to hold out to local population groups economic prospects which provide an alternative to the criminal economy;

O.  whereas on 16 April 2012 the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, expressed her grave concern over reports of recruitment of child soldiers;

P.  whereas there are reports of serious violations of the human rights of the population of Mali, especially in rebel-held northern areas;

Q.  whereas many Malians are trapped in the northern regions and have limited access to food and other basic necessities, while aid operations remain largely suspended on account of the lack of security and the fact that in many cases aid agencies have had their equipment, vehicles and supplies stolen;

R.  whereas displaced persons are living in conditions of extreme poverty such that their basic human needs are not being met and social tensions are increasing; whereas more than 50 % of those displaced are women deprived of any form of protection, who constitute a particularly vulnerable group;

S.  whereas, because of the looting of their facilities and stores, most humanitarian organisations have left the northern region;

T.  whereas the EU has released an additional EUR 9 million in financial aid for the 1,4 million Malians estimated to be in need of food aid;

U.  whereas between 175 000 and 220 000 children will suffer from serious malnutrition this year and whereas access to northern Mali and to the areas where refugees are living beyond the borders is increasingly problematic;

1.  Condemns the military coup in Mali and the suspension of its republican institutions;

2.  Welcomes the signing of the framework agreement providing for a series of steps aimed at restoring constitutional order; urges all the Malian stakeholders concerned to implement this agreement immediately;

3.  Commends the actions taken by ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations and neighbouring countries with a view to facilitating Mali's rapid return to constitutional order and initiating concrete measures designed to protect its sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity; takes note of the outcome of the conference held in Ouagadougou on 14 and 15 April 2012 under the auspices of Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré, the mediator appointed by ECOWAS, and hopes that the timetable and detailed arrangements for the transition will swiftly be clarified further;

4.  Reaffirms the need to uphold and respect the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Mali; calls on the Malian authorities and the Tuareg liberation movement to reach a peaceful and lasting solution through constructive dialogue;

5.  Calls on all parties to maintain restraint with a view to restoring the authority of the elected representatives and to cooperate to ensure the early holding of elections under international supervision, together with a quick return to democracy;

6.  Takes the view that there is no military solution to the conflict in the north and that a solution must be found by means of negotiation;

7.  Calls on the EU and its Member States actively to support the next steps in the transition process, including by sending an election observation mission to monitor the elections; urges the Vice-President/High Representative to speed up the implementation of the various components of the EU Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel;

8.  Calls for the immediate release of the people being arbitrarily detained by the military personnel responsible for the coup;

9.  Calls for the immediate release of all abductees and the immediate cessation of all violence, and renews its call for all parties in Mali to seek a peaceful solution through appropriate political dialogue;

10.  Expresses deep concern at the increased terrorist threat in the north of Mali owing to the presence among the rebels of members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and of extremist elements; condemns, in this regard, all violence and looting, including against humanitarian workers, and the abduction in Gao of Algerian diplomatic personnel;

11.  Condemns the acts of violence perpetrated by armed groups;

12.  Condemns in particular the atrocities committed against the civilian population, which have been directed against women more than other victims, and particularly condemns the use of abduction and rape as weapons of war; calls for an inquiry into the atrocities committed in Mali in recent months;

13.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to pay particular attention to the situation of women and girls in the Sahel region and to take all the necessary measures to ensure their protection from every type of violence and from violations of their human rights;

14.  Calls on the Malian authorities to combat all Mafia-style trafficking vigorously;

15.  Condemns looting and despoiling of the cultural heritage;

16.  Calls on the European Union and its Member States to support regional coordination in the efforts that they make;

17.  Calls on the European Union and its Member States to support efforts to increase the capacities of the States in the region and to mobilise all available resources to protect the people and promote security and development in the region in cooperation with the States in the region and the inter-State organisations ECOWAS and WAEMU;

18.  Calls for consideration of the possibility of a European ESDP mission with a mandate from the UN Security Council to provide logistic support to the Malian Army if the Government of Mali requests it and for a possible ECOWAS force or a joint ECOWAS/African Union/United Nations force to secure the areas of Mali not occupied by illegal armed groups;

19.  Hopes that the ESDP mission will help the countries in the subregion to control their borders more effectively and particularly to combat trafficking in arms, drugs and human beings;

20.  Also condemns the abduction on 24-25 November 2011 of two French nationals, a Swede, a Dutchman and a South African holding a British passport, along with the killing of a German citizen who resisted the kidnappers; notes that this brings the number of EU hostages in the Sahel area to 12, with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb still holding two Spanish nationals and an Italian national abducted in western Algeria in October 2011 and four French nationals abducted in Niger in September 2010; and, on 15 April 2012, a Swiss Christian missionary abducted in Timbuktu;

21.  Reiterates its serious concern over the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and food crisis and calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase and speed up the delivery of humanitarian supplies to the populations in need; notes that the Commission is giving an additional EUR 9 million in response to the new humanitarian needs in northern Mali; points out that urgent efforts are needed in order to open up the humanitarian space and allow food and medical supplies to reach northern Mali; is concerned that, unless such measures are taken rapidly, a major humanitarian crisis may develop which could also have a negative impact on neighbouring countries;

22.  Calls for the opening of a humanitarian corridor in order to help tens of thousands of people displaced by the fighting in Mali, many of whom have sought refuge in neighbouring countries such as Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso; also calls for a comprehensive and rapid response to the Sahel humanitarian crisis as a whole;

23.  Points out that the current crisis in Mali originates from the country's economic and social problems and that the needs of the people with regard to access to employment, health, housing and public services urgently need to be met, in which connection everybody must be treated equally, guaranteeing basic human rights, including minority rights;

24.  Calls on the European Union to step up its action to assist the people of the region by helping to give them better access to water and public education and health services, as well as better infrastructure in order to improve access to the region;

25.  Calls for a detailed assessment of the European Union's support to the region;

26.  Is convinced that a lasting solution in the region should aim to strengthen state institutions, promote active public participation in decision-making and lay the ground for sustainable and equitable economic development;

27.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the institutions of ECOWAS and the African Union, the Interim President of Mali and the UN Security Council.

(1) SC/10590.
(2) SC/10592.
(3) SC/10600.
(4) SC/10603.
(5) http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4e9bd7382.html


Situation in Burma/Myanmar
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on the situation in Burma/Myanmar (2012/2604(RSP))
P7_TA(2012)0142RC-B7-0202/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 18 to 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948,

–  having regard to Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

–  having regard to the EU Presidency statement of 23 February 2009 calling for all-inclusive dialogue between the authorities and the democratic forces in Burma/Myanmar,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Burma/Myanmar, in particular those of 25 November 2010(1) and 20 May 2010(2),

–  having regard to the European Union's set of restrictive measures, as set out in Council Decision 2010/232/CFSP of 26 April 2010 and as most recently amended by Council Regulation (EU) No 1083/2011 of 27 October 2011,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 12 April 2011 on lifting the suspension of high-level meetings and suspending the visa ban for civilian members of the government (Council Decision 2011/239/CFSP),

–  having regard to the declaration by the High Representative of 28 April 2011,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma/Myanmar of 12 March 2012,

–  having regard to the UN Secretary-General's statement of 2 April 2012 on the elections in Burma/Myanmar,

–  having regard to the decision taken at the ASEAN Summit in November 2011 to confer the ASEAN Presidency on Burma/Myanmar in 2014,

–  having regard to the statement made by the President of the European Council on 30 January 2012 on the path of reform in Burma/Myanmar,

–  having regard to the High Representative's declarations of 28 April 2011 and 14 October 2011 on the alignment of certain third countries with Council Decisions 2011/239/CFSP and 2011/504/CFSP on restrictive measures against Burma/Myanmar,

–  having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions of 23 January 2012 on Burma/Myanmar,

–  having regard to Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs' visit to Burma/Myanmar on 12-14 February 2012,

–  having regard to the results of the First EU-Burma/Myanmar Inter-Parliamentary Meeting of 26 February-2 March 2012,

–  having regard to the statements by the High Representative, in particular those of 13 November 2010 on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, of 13 January 2011 and 12 October 2011 on the release of political prisoners, and of 2 April 2012 on the conduct of by-elections,

–  having regard to the ASEAN Summit statement of 3 April 2012 concerning the outcome of the 1 April 2012 by-elections and calling for sanctions to be lifted,

–  having regard to the various meetings between President U Thein Sein of Burma/Myanmar and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi since August 2011,

–  having regard to the State of the Union speech given by President Thein Sein on the occasion of the first anniversary of his government on 1 March 2012, in which he acknowledged that, despite the efforts made, there is still ‘much more to do’,

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas, on 1 April 2012, Burma held by-elections for over 40 seats in its lower house of parliament (Pyithu Hluttaw), in which Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party (NLD) was able to fully participate; whereas these by-elections, which were broadly deemed to be free and fair by the international community, are an indication that Burma/Myanmar is on the path to democratic change;

B.  whereas, during its first year in office, the government of President Thein Sein has made more progress towards democracy and peace than was made in the last decades;

C.  whereas the opposition currently holds only 6,6 % of seats in the parliament (42 out of 659) while a large majority of seats is controlled by the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), including the 25 % of seats reserved for military officers;

D.  whereas the next general elections, scheduled for 2015, when 75 % of seats will be contested, will be the real test of the Burmese authorities' will to democratise the country;

E.  whereas the conduct of the 1 April 2012 by-elections and the invitation to, and presence of, foreign observers and journalists, including a European Parliament representative, is proof of the willingness of the Government of Burma/Myanmar to continue its process of reforms, which should be sustainable and irreversible;

F.  whereas these ongoing changes create important opportunities for developing a much improved relationship between the European Union and Burma/Myanmar;

G.  whereas there is a need for caution, bearing in mind that, according to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Burma/Myanmar, serious human rights concerns remain, hundreds of political prisoners are still in prison and many of those who are no longer detained have only been released conditionally;

H.  whereas the government is addressing the legacy of decades of civil war and armed unrest, resulting in a series of ceasefire arrangements with the majority of armed ethnic groups, the Kachin situation being the exception, while humanitarian aid to tens of thousands of displaced civilians is blocked and the policy of discrimination against the Rohingya minority continues unabated;

I..  whereas the government has indicated that it is pursuing a three-step process of peace building: firstly a ceasefire, secondly socio-economic, cultural and political processes and finally an all-encompassing agreement – involving changes to the constitution – on ethnic issues, including demobilisation and integration of ex-combatants, resource sharing and greater autonomy;

J.  whereas there is a gap between the political decisions at the highest level and the limited institutional and technical capacities on the ground, and whereas changes are slow to impact on the life of the majority of Burmese citizens, who continue to face great poverty, high levels of indebtedness, lack of employment and an absence of social services;

K.  whereas in the past many sectors of economic activity in Burma/Myanmar, such as mining, timber, oil, gas and dam construction, have been directly linked to serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction and have, at the same time, been the military's main source of government revenue;

L.  whereas the government has taken steps to expand civil liberties in the country, with greater freedom of information and expression, the lifting of the ban against many sites and publications, freedom of assembly, the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission and the planned abolition of the censorship board before the end of 2012;

M.  whereas Baroness Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will visit Burma/Myanmar shortly after the Council meeting on 23 April 2012;

N.  whereas an independent and impartial judiciary is essential if there is to be respect for the rule of law and justice in Burma/Myanmar; calls on the Government of Burma/Myanmar also to initiate legal reforms in order to ensure a truly independent and impartial judiciary;

O.  whereas the government is at last taking note of people's concerns regarding projects that may be environmentally and socially disruptive;

P.  whereas the EU restrictive measures against Burma /Myanmar will come up for revision at the next General Council meeting on 23 April 2012;

1.  Welcomes the transparent and credible conduct of the by-elections of 1 April 2012, deemed to be free by international observers, while noting the reported irregularities in the run-up to the poll; trusts that the newly elected parliamentarians will take up their duties as soon as possible; supports the authorities in their efforts to guarantee that the reform process is sustainable and irreversible;

2.  Expresses its great respect for the long struggle over decades of opposition leader and Sakharov Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, congratulates her on her party's victory in the April by-elections and applauds her courage and tenacity as an example of selfless courage and struggle for freedom and democracy in the face of tyranny;

3.  Recognises the steps taken by President Thein Sein and other reformers in the Burmese regime to implement democratic reforms over the past year, and encourages them to continue this process as a matter of urgency, so that change becomes irreversible;

4.  Warmly welcomes the efforts by the government, the parliament and the leadership of the armed forces to seek an end to internal armed conflicts waged over decades, and urges the rapid finalisation of peace negotiations with the Kachins;

5.  Urges the Burmese Government to introduce amendments to the 2008 constitution, prior to the 2015 elections, that would remove the military's role in civilian politics, notably its seats in both houses of parliament;

6.  Welcomes the mutual rapprochement between President U Thein Sein and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the dialogue between the government and opposition;

7.  Welcomes the high-level international efforts to encourage democratic change in Burma/Myanmar, notes the visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron, following the April by-elections, and welcomes the fruitful discussions he held with Burma's President Thein Sein and with Aung San Suu Kyi;

8.  Welcomes the release of significant numbers of political detainees and the much improved media and internet freedom, while expressing concern at continuing censorship and restrictions; welcomes the new legislation on freedom of assembly and the reported progress on changes in law and practice to eliminate the use of forced labour;

9.  Calls on the Government of Burma/Myanmar to release all remaining political prisoners without delay and conditions, allowing free access for the ICRC and international human rights bodies to Myanmar's prisons; calls also on the National Human Rights Commission to intensify its work of promoting and safeguarding the fundamental rights of citizens;

10.  Calls for changes to the 1982 law on citizenship to ensure due recognition of the right to citizenship of the Rohingya ethnic minority;

11.  Calls on the Burma/Myanmar authorities to guarantee free and independent media and ensure that the new media law allows for unrestricted access to communication and information technology;

12.  Calls on the Government of Burma/Myanmar to initiate legal reforms in order to ensure a truly independent and impartial judiciary and to establish a process of justice and accountability for past human rights abuses;

13.  Welcomes the outcome of the 19th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which extended the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma/Myanmar for another year;

14.  Calls on President Thein Sein to investigate allegations of sexual violence by the Burmese army and to prosecute those soldiers who have engaged in such acts; urges the Government of Burma/Myanmar to put an immediate end to the recruitment and use of child soldiers, to intensify measures to ensure the protection of children from armed conflict and to pursue its collaboration with the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict;

15.  Calls on President Thein Sein to consult the local communities affected by the planned dam projects and to carry out independent environmental impact assessments;

16.  Welcomes the EU's positive gestures in support of the beginning of the political transition in the country, including the pledging of EUR 150 million for humanitarian assistance, aimed in particular at developing the country's health and education facilities and assisting the displaced persons;

17.  Welcomes the measures taken by the Burmese authorities with regard to the Burmese currency's exchange rate;

18.  Calls on the Council to suspend the restrictive measures currently in place, with the exception of the arms embargo, for an initial period of one year, and closely to monitor the situation in the country;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to set clear timelines and benchmarks regarding the evaluation of the ongoing political and economic reform process in Burma/Myanmar;

20.  Acknowledges that responsible and sustainable trade and investment – including with and from the European Union – will support Burma/Myanmar's efforts to fight poverty and to ensure that measures benefit broader sections of the population, and calls on the Council and the Commission to consider allowing Burma/Myanmar to have privileged market access to the European Union;

21.  Welcomes the EU's commitment to increasing aid to conflict-afflicted populations and calls on the Government of Burma/Myanmar to allow aid agencies and the United Nations access to ethnic states, or to ensure that local community-based and cross-border aid is provided in order to reach these vulnerable populations;

22.  Welcomes the forthcoming official visit by Baroness Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and her decision to establish a diplomatic presence in the country and to inaugurate the EU Office in Yangon on that occasion;

23.  Recalls the invitation to the Sakharov Prize winner, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, to visit the European Parliament in order to be officially presented with the Sakharov Prize which she was awarded in 1991 for all she has done to promote democracy and freedom in Burma/Myanmar;

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the Parliament and Government of Burma/Myanmar.

(1) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 120.
(2) OJ C 161 E, 31.5.2011, p. 154.


Legal security of European investments outside the European Union
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on the legal security of European investments outside the European Union (2012/2619(RSP))
P7_TA(2012)0143RC-B7-0214/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 April 2011 on the future European international investment policy(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 October 2010 on the European Union's trade relations with Latin America(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2011 on trade and investment barriers(3),

–  having regard to the Commission's proposal for a regulation establishing transitional arrangements for bilateral investment agreements between Member States and third countries (grandfathering regulation) (COM(2010)0344),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 July 2010 entitled ‘Towards a comprehensive European international investment policy’ (COM(2010)0343),

–  having regard to the Eurolat resolution of 19 May 2011 on the prospects for trade relations between the European Union and Latin America(4),

–  having regard to the WTO Joint Statement of 30 March 2012 on Argentina's Import Restricting Policies and Practices(5),

–  having regard to the G20 declarations at Washington (15 November 2008), London (2 April 2009), Pittsburgh (25 September 2009), Toronto (26 June 2010), Seoul (12 November 2010) and Cannes (4 November 2011), which include commitments to fight protectionism,

–  having regard to the Agreements on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments signed between Argentina and Spain and a number of other EU Member States,

–  having regard to the negotiations on an inter-regional Association Agreement between the EU and Mercosur, and in particular the Free Trade Agreement (FTA),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on the EU strategy for relations with Latin America(6) ,

–  having regard to Rule 110(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Article 207 of the TFEU establishes that European investments in third countries are a fundamental element of the Common Trade Policy of the European Union and are consequently an intrinsic part of its external action policy and whereas under the Treaty of Lisbon foreign direct investment (FDI) is an exclusive EU competence, as enshrined in Articles 3(1)(e), 206 and 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

B.  whereas the Union has begun to exercise this competence with ongoing negotiations for investment agreements with India, Singapore and Canada, and proposals for negotiating mandates with Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt;

C.  whereas investment will be the central theme of the next EU-LAC summit to be held in Santiago de Chile in January 2013;

D.  whereas EU investments in Argentina are protected by Member State bilateral investment agreements, where they exist, and whereas18 Member States currently have agreements in force with Argentina;

E.  whereas the government of the Argentine Republic announced its decision to send a draft law to its Congress in order to validate the expropriation of 51 % of the shares of the YPF hydrocarbons corporation, which is majority-owned by a European company, and the majority of whose shares are specifically the object of the proposed expropriation;

F.  whereas the abovementioned announcement was accompanied by the immediate takeover of the company's main offices by the Argentine federal government authorities, evicting the legitimate management and designated personnel of the abovementioned enterprise from the premises;

G.  whereas over the last few months, the company has been the target of a public harassment campaign that, together with many decisions taken by the administrative authorities, has resulted in the loss in value of its shares with repercussions for all its shareholders and companies associated with it;

H.  whereas, prior to this announcement, the Spanish Government and YPF-Repsol had tried to find a negotiated solution, but this was not pursued by the Argentine Government;

I.  whereas other European companies may be affected by similar actions or by political interference in the free market by the Argentine authorities;

J.  whereas the Republic of Argentina, as a full member of Mercosur, is currently negotiating an Association Agreement with the EU;

K.  whereas, in spite of these negotiations, the Commission has noted in its Trade and Investment Barrier Reports that Argentina has adopted a number of protectionist measures which have caused deterioration in the business climate for EU investors in Argentina;

L.  whereas the European Commission has expressed its concern on many occasions to the WTO with regard to the nature and application of the restrictive measures applied to imports by the Argentine Government which have affected an ever-increasing number of countries that are part of the World Trade Organisation;

M.  whereas the Republic of Argentina has traditionally benefited from the generalised system of preferences (GSP) unilaterally granted by the EU;

N.  whereas Argentina, as a member of the G20, has committed itself at each G20 summit to fighting protectionism and keeping markets open to trade and investment;

1.  Deplores the decision taken by the Argentine Government, disregarding a negotiated solution, to proceed with the expropriation of the majority of shares of a European company; maintains that this represents a unilateral and arbitrary decision which entails an attack on the exercise of free enterprise and the principle of legal certainty, thus causing the investment environment for EU businesses in Argentina to deteriorate;

2.  Notes that this decision affects only one undertaking in the sector and only part of its shares, which could be considered discriminatory;

3.  Expresses its deep concerns regarding the situation as it represents the non-fulfilment of obligations under international agreements; warns about the negative effects that such measures might have, such as international disinvestment and adverse consequences for Argentina in the international community;

4.  Recalls that the objective of the ongoing negotiations on the Association Agreement between the EU and Mercosur is to introduce a framework for economic integration and political dialogue between the two blocks in order to achieve the highest degree of progress and prosperity for both regions, and believes that for such negotiations to be successful both sides have to approach the talks in a spirit of openness and mutual trust; points out also that decisions such as that taken by the Argentine authorities can put a strain on the climate of understanding and friendship needed to reach such an agreement;

5.  Regrets that Argentina has not respected this principle and has introduced several restrictive trade and investment measures, such as non-tariff barriers, which have hampered EU businesses and global trade with Argentina;

6.  Calls on the Commission to respond to these restrictions using all the appropriate dispute settlement tools available at the World Trade Organisation and the G20 to cooperate with other countries facing similar discriminatory barriers to trade and investment;

7.  Calls on the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission and the High Representative for CFSP to make every effort with the Argentine authorities to defend the Community interest and to safeguard the principle of legal certainty which guarantees Europe's presence and investment in this South American country, by returning to the path of dialogue;

8.  Urges the European Commission and the Council to explore and adopt any measures required to safeguard European interests in order to avoid such situations arising again, including the possible partial suspension of the unilateral tariff preferences under the GSP scheme;

9.  Recalls the deep friendship between the EU and the Republic of Argentina, with which the EU shares common values and principles, and urges the Argentine authorities to return to the path of dialogue and negotiation as the most appropriate means of resolving possible differences between trading partners and countries that are traditionally friends;

10.  Welcomes the statement by High Representative Ashton condemning the action of the Argentine Government and the cancellation of the meeting of the EU-Argentina Joint Cooperation Committee; urges Commissioner De Gucht and High Representative Ashton to use all diplomatic avenues available to solve this situation with their Argentine counterparts; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work closely with their colleagues in international fora such as the G20 and the WTO to achieve a consensus opposing the actions of the Argentine Government;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Argentine Republic and the members of the Mercosur Council.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0141.
(2) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 79.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0565.
(4) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/intcoop/eurolat/assembly/plenary_sessions/montevideo_2011/resolutions/trade_en.pdf
(5) http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/wto/documents/press_corner/2012_03_30_joint_statement_argentina.pdf
(6) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 54.


Devolution of the Commission's management of external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on the impact of devolution of the Commission's management of external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations on aid delivery (2011/2192(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0144A7-0056/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which stipulates that ‘Union development cooperation policy shall have as its primary objective the reduction and, in the long term, the eradication of poverty. The Union shall take account of the objectives of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries’,

–  having regard to the 2000 UN Millennium Declaration, with particular reference to the eighth Millennium Development Goal,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working paper entitled ‘Evaluation of the Devolution Process: Final Report’ (SEC(2004)0561),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Increasing the impact of the EU Development Policy: an Agenda for Change’ (COM(2011)0637),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 30 June 2005 on devolution(1),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 28 June 2011 on Special Report No 1/2011: Has the devolution of the Commission's management of external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations led to improved aid delivery?(2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the EU Common Position for the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4, Busan, 29 November – 1 December 2011),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors (ECA) Special Report No1/2011 entitled ‘Has the devolution of the Commission's management of external assistance from its headquarters to its delegations led to improved aid delivery?’,

–  having regard to paragraphs 122 and 123 of the European Consensus for Development, on the progress of reforms relating to the management of EU external aid,

–  having regard to the EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour in Development Policies,

–  having regard to the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action and the 2011 Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation ,

–  having regard to the 2007 OECD Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) European Community Peer Review,

–  having regard to the 2008 OECD/DAC report entitled ‘Effective Aid Management: Twelve lessons from DAC Peer Reviews’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Budgetary Control (A7-0056/2012),

A.  whereas a decentralised approach to aid delivery brings decision-making closer to delivery realities and to where more operationally efficient donor coordination and harmonisation take place, while taking due account of the need for local ownership;

B.  whereas the ultimate objective of devolution and the wider reform of external assistance managed by the Commission is to enhance speed, thoroughness of financial management procedures and the quality of aid in partner countries;

C.  whereas the ECA report's overall conclusion is that devolution has contributed to better aid delivery and that speed of aid delivery has improved, as has the thoroughness of financial procedures, but there is still considerable room for improvement;

D.  whereas with three years remaining until the MDG deadline, a substantial increase in EU capacity to deliver aid as well as in recipient countries' take-up capacity will be required;

E.  whereas 74% of EU external assistance from the EU budget and the European Development Fund (EDF) is managed directly through 136 EU delegations;

F.  whereas the Agenda for Change acknowledged the need to enhance coordination among the EU, Member States and partner countries, as well as to coordinate and harmonise development activities and increase their efficiency and effectiveness;

G.  whereas the recent reorganisation within the Commission and the creation of the EEAS following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty have not yet generated the expected increase in the overall efficiency and coherence of EU development assistance;

H.  whereas, with the creation of the EEAS, delegations have been forced to take on additional competencies such as diplomacy, information/communication and freedom, security and justice policies, while still having to deal with the existing challenges of coordination, coherence and resource shortages;

I.  whereas the aid managed by individual delegations continues to cover a wide range of areas, which puts further pressure on the resources located at delegation level;

J.  whereas cumbersome regulations and procedures can undermine the use of country systems and joint programming, and whereas the use of multiannual programming frameworks would be advisable in international development cooperation;

K.  whereas general and sectoral budget support is the aid modality best suited to reducing transaction costs for partner countries, since it places the focus more firmly on the quality of the aid, the nature of partnerships, and the partner countries' needs;

L.  whereas the process of devolution should be coupled with a mechanism at Member State level to provide all relevant information on where agencies are planning to spend their budgets, therefore making aid more targeted and allowing resource gaps and funding opportunities in individual countries to be identified;

M.  whereas the reform of EU external aid should be used to showcase how the impact of aid is improving the lives of poor people, both in response to the European public's growing support for official development aid as a means of eradicating poverty and achieving the MDGs and in light of the facts, which refute scepticism about the effectiveness of aid;

N.  whereas peer review field visits by the OECD/DAC regularly show that local staff can feel underutilised or not fully integrated into the local donor team;

1.  Welcomes the general conclusions of the ECA's report and calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to increase the effectiveness of aid delivery;

2.  Welcomes the very comprehensive and analytical report prepared by the European Court of Auditors, as well as the excellent timing of the assessment of the results of the devolution process;

3.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that its headquarters have sufficient capacity and human resources to provide adequate support to delegations through the Quality Operations Directorate;

4.  Notes that, according to the Court's report, further efforts are necessary on the part of the Commission in order improve the manner in which it evaluates the quality and the results of its interventions; takes the view that this will result in better accountability for the EU's financial interventions and will ensure increased visibility for its actions;

5.  Encourages the Commission to complement the criteria and strengthen the procedures for assessing the quality of the projects financed, in order to increase the quality of aid and further to decrease the number of non-performing projects; notes that the impact of aid expenditure is of paramount importance for Parliament;

6.  Is concerned that over the period 2005 to 2008 the composition of delegation staffing shifted towards more political and trade-oriented functions, and calls on the Commission to strike an appropriate balance in delegations' staffing between aid management and other functions;

7.  Considers the high turnover rate of staff in delegations to be unacceptable (40% of Commission staff are contract agents), as this weakens the institutional memory and negatively affects the efficiency of operations;

8.  Notes that 6% of the commitments under the budget available for 2006 were not contracted by 2009 and were therefore lost under the D+3 rule; calls for this percentage to be brought down, and would like to be informed of the relevant percentages and amounts for 2010 and 2011;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to address specifically the areas identified by the audit, in particular the workload within delegations, the adequacy of staffing levels among delegations and the balance of delegations' staffing between aid management and other functions;

10.  Calls on the Commission to consider promoting local consultation, where possible, when deciding on aid projects and monitoring their progress;

11.  Believes that, in order to make EU development policy more coherent and more effective, the Commission services within the EU delegations should contribute to development aid policy-making and be in the lead for its implementation; repeats its call on the Commission to appoint Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) focal points in each delegation to monitor the impact of EU policy at partner-country level; 

12.  Points out that consideration should be given to using local expertise and that the existing staff of the EU delegations should strive towards greater involvement in the local societies, in order to bridge the knowledge gap and to ensure an accurate understanding of the local environment in which they operate;

13.  Calls on the Commission to offer and provide in a more systematic manner legal and financial training for local staff, with a view to optimising the management of EU aid and ensuring good governance in the medium term at local authority level;

14.  Believes that both the mandate and the competences of the EEAS in development cooperation are still unclear, and calls on the Council and the Commission to take the necessary steps to resolve this situation; notes with concern, in this connection, that the separation between the EEAS's political and administrative tasks and the Commission's aid management tasks might be a source of possible inconsistencies in the implementation of the principles of the Paris Declaration;

15.  Emphasises, in line with the decision establishing the EEAS, that all of the staff working in a delegation come under the authority of the head of delegation, since this is the only way to ensure the coherence of EU external action in a given country in line with the Lisbon Treaty;

16.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to continue to advocate a reduction in the number of areas of intervention, in line with the EU Code of Conduct on Complementarity and Division of Labour and the Agenda for Change;

17.  Believes that the relevant EU financial instruments and the European Development Fund (EDF) need to be more poverty-focused and more flexible with regard to their approach and operation, and that more accountability and transparency and better value for money in terms of achieving clear results should also be encouraged;

18.  Expects the Commission to take all the necessary measures to overcome the weaknesses of the supervisory and control systems, notably at delegation level, as indicated by the Court; asks the Commission to inform Parliament's competent committees by the end of 2012 at the latest as to the measures it has taken;

19.  Notes the Court of Auditors' criticism(3) of the working relationship between the Commission's headquarters and its delegations for the management of external aid; calls for the processes in question to be reviewed and simplified with a view to reducing internal bureaucracy, and for a report on the action taken to be submitted to Parliament;

20.  Encourages the Commission to require the delegations systematically to carry out technical and financial monitoring visits to projects and to focus the internal reporting system more on the results achieved by the aid interventions;

21.  Calls on the Commission, with the active participation of the delegations, to analyse and identify possibilities for leveraging the aid programmes in the partner countries with the involvement of the EIB and of European national and international institutions that finance development;

22.  Calls on the Commission to show how further devolution of financial and human-resource responsibilities from Commission headquarters to delegations would add value by improving dialogue and the coordination and programming of EU aid on the ground;

23.  Stresses that neither the Commission nor the Member States should use the current economic and financial crisis to justify a ‘doing more with less’ approach involving containing or reducing staffing levels in bilateral aid agencies;

24.  Stresses the importance of ensuring the highest professional standards amongst staff working on development cooperation, both at the Commission and at the EU delegations and the bilateral aid agencies;

25.  Believes that, in the interests of smooth implementation of the EU budget, heads of delegation should be able to delegate the management of a delegation's administrative expenditure to their deputies, and that the Financial Regulation should if necessary be revised accordingly;

26.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to make greater efforts to improve links between EU delegations and bilateral agencies and partner governments and other development groups such as think tanks, universities, foundations, NGOs and sub-national authorities, since closer ties will maximise the comparative advantages of the devolution process and of the different actors within the national context, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort;

27.  Calls for it to be ensured, during the process of devolving the management of EU external aid from centralised services to delegations, that Parliament keeps its powers of oversight and scrutiny;

28.  Welcomes the Court of Auditors' remark that the role of the EEAS in the area of consular protection should be further explored;

29.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS.

(1) Doc. 10749/2005.
(2) Doc. 12255/2011.
(3) See ECA Special Report No 1/2011, Figure 1.


Women and climate change
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on women and climate change (2011/2197(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0145A7-0049/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2 and 3(3), second subparagraph, of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) and Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in September 1995, the Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted in Beijing and the subsequent outcome documents adopted at the United Nations Beijing +5, +10 and +15 Special Sessions on further actions and initiatives to implement the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action adopted respectively on 9 June 2000, 11 March 2005 and 2 March 2010,

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

–  having regard to the UNFCCC Decision 36/CP.7 on Improving the participation of women in the representation of Parties in bodies established under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol of 9 November 2001,

–  having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 18 September 2000,

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2011 on gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2011 on the climate change conference in Durban (COP 17)(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2011 on developing a common EU position ahead of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2009 on ‘2050: The future begins today – Recommendations for the EU's future integrated policy on climate change’(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2008 on Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment in Development Cooperation(5),

–  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 and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A7-0049/2012),

A.  whereas climate change is not gender-neutral and does have gender-differentiated effects;

B.   whereas consumption and lifestyle patterns have a significant impact on climate change;

C.   whereas women represent approximately 50 % of the world's population and whereas they still have relatively more responsibility for everyday consumption choices, childcare and household activities; whereas consumption patterns differ between women and men, as women consume more sustainably than men and show greater willingness to act to preserve the environment by making sustainable consumption choices;

D.  whereas due to gendered roles, women's impact on the environment is not the same as men's, and their access to resources and ways to cope and adapt is severely affected by discrimination in terms of income, access to resources, political power, education and household responsibility;

E.  whereas climate change will amplify inequalities and there is a risk that climate change policies will also have a negative impact on gender balance and women's rights if they do not take gender discrimination into account from the very start;

F.   whereas there will not be any climate justice without true gender equality, and whereas the elimination of inequalities and the fight against climate change should not be seen as contradictory;

G.   whereas democracy, respect for human rights and equality of opportunity between men and women contribute to sustainable development and environmental protection;

H.  whereas sources of discrimination and vulnerability other than gender (such as poverty, geography, traditional and institutional discrimination, race, etc.) all combine to obstruct access to resources and to means to cope with dramatic changes such as climate change;

I.   whereas in some regions, almost 70 % of all employed women work in agriculture(6) and produce up to 90 % of some crops(7), yet they are virtually absent from budget deliberations and climate change activities;

J.   whereas, while 70 % of poor people living on less than USD 1 per day are women, women own less than 1 % of the world's property; whereas, compared with men, women in developing countries reinvest considerably more of their income in their families;

K.   whereas family planning can significantly improve maternity health and control over family size and ultimately increase the independence and reduce the workload of women who are still seen as primarily responsible for childcare, increasing the resilience of women and their families to climate change impacts, as indicated in the 20-year plan adopted by the International Conference on Population and Development;

L.   whereas environmental problems – caused and exacerbated by climate change – are currently responsible for the growth of forced migration, and whereas there is therefore an increasing link between asylum-seekers and areas of environmental decline; whereas there is a need for better protection and resettlement of ‘climate refugees’, and for special attention to be given to women who are most vulnerable;

M.  whereas between 75 and 80 % of the world's 27 million refugees are women and children(8); whereas migrations induced by climate change will affect men and women differently and women often more severely; whereas special provisions regarding health, security and independence are necessary to reduce the vulnerability of women in these cases of forced or voluntary migration;

N.  whereas the proportion of women in political decision-making and especially in climate change negotiations is still unsatisfactory and little to no progress has been made; whereas women account for only 12 to 15 % of heads of delegation and around 30 % of the delegates;

O.  whereas two thirds of the world's illiterate persons are women(9) and access to information and training via appropriate communication channels is therefore critical to ensuring their independence and inclusion, in particular in cases of emergency such as natural disasters;

P.  whereas natural disasters have a major medium- and long-term effect on education, health, structural poverty and population displacement, and whereas children make up a group particularly vulnerable to the effects of natural disasters; whereas there is a clear link between the occurrence of disasters and reductions in the level of school attendance, and whereas disasters exacerbate considerably the gender gap at school level;

Q.   whereas droughts and water shortages resulting from climate change force women to work more in order to provide water, food and energy, and whereas young people frequently abandon school to help their mothers in these tasks;

R.   whereas women are also powerful agents of change and are globally more active in civil society activities, and their full participation in every aspect of the fight against climate change would ensure fairer and more comprehensive and effective policies to tackle climate change, with regard to both adaptation and mitigation aspects;

S.   whereas, on account of their responsibilities when it comes to managing scarce natural resources, women acquire important knowledge regarding the need for a more sustainable environment, giving them a potential role to play – which should not be disregarded – in improving adaptation and attenuation strategies for climate change;

T.   whereas mechanisms or financing for disaster prevention, adaptation and mitigation will remain insufficient unless they incorporate women's full participation in design processes, decision making and implementation; whereas good practices from, for example, Tunisia, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras have demonstrated that women's knowledge and participation save lives through disaster management, boost biodiversity, improve water management, enhance food security, prevent desertification, protect forests and support public health;

General provisions

1.  Recognising that climate change exacerbates gender discrimination in addition to its other catastrophic effects, emphasises that averting dangerous climate change must be the highest priority of the EU both in domestic and external policy;

2.  Calls on the Commission and the Council, in order to ensure that climate action does not increase gender inequalities but results in co-benefits to the situation of women, to mainstream and integrate gender in every step of climate policies, from conception to financing, implementation and evaluation;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to include – at all levels of decision-making – gender equality and gender justice objectives in policies, action plans and other measures relating to sustainable development, disaster risk and climate change, by carrying out systematic gender analyses, establishing gender-sensitive indicators and benchmarks and developing practical tools; underlines that the climate change negotiation process must take into account the principles of gender equality at all stages, from research and analysis to design and implementation and the development of mitigation and adaptation strategies;

4.  Recalls that, in its 4th Assessment Report of 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed that the impact of climate change varies according to gender, age and class, with the poor being most likely to suffer the most; takes the view that achieving gender equality is key to human development and is a fundamental objective in the fight against poverty; demands that a gender-based approach be applied across the board in the drawing-up of development, human rights and climate change policies; calls for steps to be taken to ensure that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) acts in accordance with human rights frameworks and with national and international agreements on gender equality and equity, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);

5.  Highlights the fact that climate change and its negative impacts should also be regarded as a development issue with gender implications that is relevant to all sectors (social, cultural, economic and political), from the local to the global level, and that concerted efforts are required by all stakeholders to ensure that climate change and disaster risk reduction measures are gender-responsive, sensitive to indigenous people and respectful of human rights;

6.  Welcomes the growing awareness of the gender aspect of climate change in the high-level climate talks, and interventions by high-level actors; stresses however the need to see concrete action to include more women ,in EU climate diplomacy, at all levels of decision-making and especially in climate change negotiations, by means of measures such as introducing 40 %+ quotas in the delegations;

7.  Reminds the Commission and the Member States of its resolution on the climate change conference in Durban (COP 17), and urges them to act on its commitment to ‘strive for female representation of at least 40 % in all relevant bodies’ for climate financing; underlines the need to apply this principle to technology transfer and adaptation bodies as well;

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to collect country-specific and gender-disaggregated data when planning, implementing and evaluating climate change policies, programmes and projects, in order effectively to assess and address the differing effects of climate change on each gender and to produce a guide on adapting to climate change, outlining policies that can protect women and empower them to cope with the effects of climate change;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to mainstream gender-sensitive statistics in all environment-related policy areas, in order to improve the measurement of the general situation of women and men with regard to climate change;

10.  Recalls that the inclusion in EU foreign policy of issues relating to the promotion of gender equality and the elimination of discrimination should continue to contribute to women playing a central role in decision-making, policy formation, the management, conservation and monitoring of natural resources and of the environment, and efforts to combat climate change;

11.  Calls for a ‘climate-friendly’ indicator (as an alternative to GNP) to monitor how growth, consumption and lifestyle patterns influence climate change;

12.  Calls on the EU and the Member States to assess to what extent climate-related policies take account of women's needs, and urges them to apply a gender-based perspective when formulating gender-sensitive sustainable development policy;

Adaptation

13.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to set up easy-to-use tools for gender impact assessments of projects throughout project life-cycles, such as the tools used for development projects;

14.  Calls for inclusive local solutions and projects, including built-in awareness of existing vulnerabilities and capacities to cope, such as the traditional experiences and knowledge of indigenous people, and in particular women;

15.  Points out that women are globally very active at civil society level, and therefore calls on the Commission to facilitate and support the networking of women's organisations and civil-society actors;

16.  Calls on the Commission to envisage programmes whereby the transfer of modern technologies and know-how can help developing communities and regions adapt to climate change;

17.  Points out that women play a crucial role in water abstraction and management in developing countries, as they are often the ones collecting, using and distributing water, not just in the home but also in farming; calls on the Commission to provide development aid for accessible programmes to sink wells using renewable energy sources and simple, easy-to-maintain water treatment systems;

18.  Calls for the integration of gender-aware capacity-building and training into adaptation solutions, which must be compatible with the special needs of women and take into account the specific obstacles, but also capabilities and experiences, of women;

19.  Highlights the importance of relying on the knowledge of women and encouraging local solutions that have very concrete influence on people's daily lives, such as the project ‘Girls in Risk Reduction Leadership’ in South Africa, or several projects to help women's groups install drinking water facilities and toilets in Indian slums;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to integrate the gender issue into strategies for preventing and managing the risks associated with natural disasters, and to promote women's empowerment and awareness through capacity-building before, during and after climate-related disasters, along with their active involvement in disaster anticipation, early warning systems and risk prevention as part of their role in resilience-building;

21.  Notes that in many communities around the world, women's responsibilities in the family make them more vulnerable to environmental change, which is exacerbated by the impact of climate change; points out that they are being affected in their multiple roles as food producers and providers, caregivers and economic actors;

22.  Calls for an increase in transparency and inclusiveness of existing mechanisms and planning processes, such as National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPAs) and future National Adaptation Plans, and for these principles to be promoted in future climate-related treaties, mechanisms and bilateral cooperation efforts;

23.  Emphasises that there is strong evidence that the impact on health of climate-sensitive conditions, such as malnutrition, and the incidence of infectious diseases, such as malaria, varies according to gender; notes with concern the high female mortality rate in disaster situations; takes the view that more gender-specific research into the impact of climate change on women's health would help to achieve a more targeted response; calls on all governments to make more efforts to ensure better prevention, treatment and access to medicine and drugs – especially for women, as they are a vulnerable group, particularly in their capacity as care providers –, to commit to a series of actions aimed at addressing the health risks associated with climate change, and to provide a framework for gender-based health risk assessments and adaptation/mitigation measures in relation to climate change;

24.  Underlines that 70 % of the world's poorest are women, who carry out two-thirds of all work done but own less than 1 % of all goods; notes that they are denied equal access to and control over resources, technology, services, land rights, credit and insurance systems and decision-making powers and are thus disproportionately vulnerable to, and affected by, climate change and have fewer opportunities to adapt; underlines that 85 % of people who die as a result of climate-induced natural disasters are women, that 75 % of environmental refugees are women, and that women are also more likely to be the unseen victims of resource wars and violence resulting from climate change;

25.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to develop a principle of ‘climate justice’; insists that the greatest injustice of our failure to tackle climate change effectively would be the detrimental effects on poor countries and populations, and on women in particular;

Mitigation

26.  Calls on the Commission and the upcoming Presidencies of the Council of the European Union to launch a study focusing specifically on the gender dimension of mitigation policies;

27.  Emphasises that targeted policies are needed to avoid gender-segregation and discrimination in the green economy, where new technology and science jobs are already almost exclusively male-dominated; stresses, in this connection, the importance of entrepreneurship in terms of opening up the green economy to both women and men;

28.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage women to pursue technical and scientific training and careers in the environmental and energy technology sectors, since the need for expertise in this area will guarantee women secure jobs with a stable future and ensure greater awareness of women's needs when it comes to defining climate change policies;

29.  Calls on the Commission to support a reform of existing mechanisms and funds to make them more transparent, inclusive and reflective of the contributions to emissions reductions by local communities and particularly women and to promote these principles in future climate-related treaties, mechanisms and bilateral cooperation efforts, with a view to developing better ways to ensure the economic empowerment of women;

30.  Recognises that population growth has a climate impact, and highlights the need to respond adequately where the contraceptive needs of women and men in any society remain unmet;

31.  Recalls that avoiding dangerous climate change and limiting the increase in average temperatures to 2° C, or 1,5° C if possible, compared with pre-industrial levels, is necessary and absolutely critical in order to avoid dramatic negative consequences for women and other vulnerable groups;

32.  Calls on the Commission to set up a toolkit to encourage inclusive decision-making, as was done in the transport and energy sectors in Malmö (Sweden) and in the Vollsmose area (Denmark)(10);

33.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop indicators to evaluate the gender impact of projects and programmes and to promote gender budgeting in climate-related policies, whether these policies are conducted at international, national, regional or local levels;

34.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop tools and guidance for the gender analysis of mitigation policies and programmes, and related research programmes and activities;

35.  Stresses the important role played by women in implementing mitigation measures in daily life, e.g. through energy- and water-saving practices, recycling measures and the use of eco-friendly and organic products, as they are still seen as the primary managers of these resources in the home; calls on the Commission to launch awareness-raising campaigns at the grassroots level, focusing on everyday consumption choices related to household and childcare activities;

36.  Acknowledges, therefore, the significant contribution women can make to successful innovation through their capacity to educate others, both in business and in household management;

37.  Underlines, in this connection, the importance of strengthening the active participation of women in innovation for sustainable development as a means of tackling the serious challenges posed by climate change;

38.  Points out that climate change will inevitably lead to migration from regions affected by calamities such as droughts or floods, and that the EU must keep in mind the need to protect women in any camps set up for internally displaced persons and refugees;

39.  Notes that the impact of environmental change on migration and displacement will increase in the future and that, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 80 % of the world's refugees are women and children; reiterates the importance of identifying gender-sensitive strategies for responding to the environmental and humanitarian crises caused by climate change; takes the view, therefore, that urgent research is required on how to manage environmental migration in a gender-sensitive manner – this includes recognising and responding to gender roles and responsibilities in the area of natural resources and may include ensuring that scarce resources are available to communities in need and that water is provided for refugees;

Financing

40.  Calls on the EU delegations to respect the principle set out in its aforementioned resolution on the climate change conference in Durban (COP 17), to ensure that gender balance in all climate finance decision-making bodies is guaranteed, including the Green Climate Fund Board and possible sub-boards for individual funding windows;

41.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation programmes and strategies that use gender analysis to improve the welfare of women and girls and take into account gender inequalities in access to credit, information, technology, land, natural resources, sustainable energy and reproductive health information and services; calls for such programmes and strategies to include innovative financing solutions such as micro-credit schemes, in particular in emergency cases such as those of climate refugees;

42.  Stresses the need for financing mechanisms to reflect women's priorities and needs, and for the active involvement of organisations that promote gender equality in the development of funding criteria and the allocation of resources for climate change initiatives, particularly at local level and in the activities of the Green Climate Fund;

43.  Calls for the integration of gender equality as a cross-cutting issue in all climate funds and instruments; stresses that this integration requires gender expertise and should extend to the mission, governance and operational modalities of such financing mechanisms, and that operational modalities and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms should ensure that women and local communities benefit from adequate funding;

44.  Calls on the Commission and the EU delegations to support scaled-up, new and additional funding particularly for adaptation actions which directly benefit women, who are often disproportionally vulnerable to climate change impacts; calls for the provision of such adaptation funding to be exclusively in the form of grants;

45.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the development of renewable energy sources in developing countries, through transfers of technology and knowledge which involve the balanced participation of women, with a view to contributing simultaneously to both equal opportunities and climate change mitigation;

46.  Points out with concern the negative impact climate change may have on the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals, in particular those linked to the condition and protection of women;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0515.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0504.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0430.
(4) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 44.
(5) OJ C 66 E, 20.3.2009, p. 57.
(6) FAO, The State of Food and Agriculture 2010-11:Women in Agriculture – Closing the gender gap for development, http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i2050e/i2050e.pdf.
(7) World Economic Forum, Women's Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap‘, 2005, https://members.weforum.org/pdf/Global_Competitiveness_Reports/Reports/gender_gap.pdf.
(8) UN, Ecosoc, ‘Women at a glance’, http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/women/women96.htm.
(9) UNICEF, Progress for Children, 2005, http://www.unicef.org/progressforchildren/2005n2/PFC05n2en.pdf.
(10) Gender mainstreaming in the public transportation policy in Malmö: http://www.nikk.no/A+gender+equal+and+sustainable+public+transport+system.b7C_wljSYQ.ips; and the project to train ethnic minority women to be environmental ambassadors in Vollsmose: http://www.nikk.no/Women+are+everyday+climate+experts.b7C_wljQ1e.ips.


Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 (2011/2307(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0146A7-0101/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled ‘Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ (COM(2011)0244),

–  having regard to the 2050 vision and the 2020 headline target adopted by the EU Heads of State and Government in March 2010,

–  having regard to the Environment Council conclusions of 21 June and 19 December 2011 on the ‘EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020’,

  having particular regard to the outcome of the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP 10) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in particular the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi targets, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation, and the strategy to mobilise resources for global biodiversity,

–  having regard to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled ‘The CAP towards 2020: Meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future’ (COM(2010)0672), and to the Commission's proposals for CAP reform after 2013,

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission to Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘A Budget for Europe 2020’ (COM(2011)0500), together with the supporting documents,

–  having regard to the Strategic Financial Framework 2014-2020,

–  having regard to the ‘Composite Report on the Conservation Status of Habitat Types and Species as required under Article 17 of the Habitats Directive’ (COM(2009)0358),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on the implementation of EU legislation aiming at the conservation of biodiversity(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2010 on the future of the Common Agricultural Policy after 2013(2) and its resolution of 23 June 2011 on ‘the CAP towards 2020: meeting the food, natural resources and territorial challenges of the future’(3),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working paper entitled ‘Financing Natura 2000 – Investing in Natura 2000: Delivering benefits for nature and people’ (SEC(2011)1573),

–  having regard to the study entitled ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)’(4),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Regional Development, the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the Committee on Fisheries (A7-0101/2012),

A.  whereas the EU failed to achieve its 2010 biodiversity target;

B.  whereas the United Nations has declared 2010-2020 the Decade on Biodiversity;

C.  whereas biodiversity is essential to the existence of human life and the well-being of societies, both directly and indirectly through the ecosystem services it provides – for example, the benefits generated by the European Union's Natura 2000 network of protected areas alone are estimated to be worth EUR 200-300 billion, with a total of about 4.5 to 8 million full-time equivalent jobs being supported directly from visitor expenditure in and around these sites;

D.  whereas biodiversity loss is currently reducing global GDP by 3 % each year;

E.  whereas nearly 65 % of the habitat types and 52 % of the species listed in the Annexes to the Habitats Directive have an unfavourable conservation status;

F.  whereas 88 % of fish stocks have been fished beyond their maximum sustainable yield;

G.  whereas the EU's borders have already been breached by more than 11 000 alien species, at least 15 % of which are invasive and detrimental to biodiversity;

H.  whereas farmers play a vital role in achieving the EU's biodiversity objectives; whereas in 1992 initial impetus was given to incorporating biodiversity protection into the common agricultural policy (CAP), and whereas the 2003 reform subsequently introduced measures such as cross-compliance, the single farm payment (decoupling) and rural development, which have benefits for biodiversity;

I.  whereas payment for ecosystem services (PES) is a promising, innovative financial tool for biodiversity conservation;

J.  whereas habitats and species are threatened by climate change; whereas nature conservation and biodiversity are crucial to the mitigation of, and adaptation to, climate change;

General remarks

1.  Deplores the fact that the EU failed to meet its 2010 biodiversity target;

2.  Welcomes and supports the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, including all its targets and actions; takes the view, nevertheless, that some actions may have to be strengthened and specified more clearly, and that more concrete measures should be deployed in order to ensure effective implementation of the strategy;

3.  Stresses the urgent need for action, and the need to give higher political priority to biodiversity in order to meet the EU's 2020 headline target for biodiversity and global biodiversity commitments; emphasises that, with adequate financial resources and political will, the tools exist to halt the loss of biodiversity; emphasises that the preservation of biodiversity is a collective challenge that should be addressed with the commitment and participation of numerous interested parties:

4.  Welcomes the Commission communication on Biodiversity 2020, and Notes that climate change, biodiversity loss, threats from invasive species and overconsumption of natural resources are transnational and transregional challenges which affect every EU citizen, whether living in an urban or a rural area, and that urgent action is needed at every level of government – local, regional and national – in order to mitigate these effects;

5.  Invites the Member States, therefore, to integrate the strategy into their plans, programmes and/or national strategies;

6.  Takes the view that the biodiversity safeguards contained in existing EU law must not be weakened;

7.  Stresses that the new strategy must not fail as well; calls on the Commission, therefore, to provide Parliament with two-yearly progress reports in which the Council and Commission elaborate on the state of play;

8.  Emphasises that the real test of the EU's commitment to achieving the biodiversity target – and the real key to this issue – is not the new strategy, but rather the forthcoming reforms of the common agricultural and fisheries policies and the Multiannual Financial Framework; points out, further, that the inadequate degree to which biodiversity protection was integrated into other EU policies caused the failure of the first strategy;

9.  Takes the view that the difficulties encountered in meeting the target set for 2010 call for an in-depth review of the methods applied to date; maintains that strategic studies covering all the factors that may affect protected areas must be carried out, and that these studies should be incorporated into urban planning and be accompanied by educational and information campaigns on the importance of local natural resources and their conservation;

10.  Stresses that biodiversity loss refers not only to species and habitats but also to genetic diversity; calls on the Commission to develop a strategy for the conservation of genetic diversity;

11.  Notes that our natural heritage is a major ecological asset which is fundamental to human well-being; takes the view that all Member States should cooperate and coordinate their efforts in order to ensure more effective use of natural resources and avoid net losses in terms of biodiversity and ecosystem services in both rural and urbanised areas;

Targets – mainstreaming biodiversity in all EU policies

12.  Highlights the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity protection and conservation in the development, implementation and funding of all other EU policies – including those on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, regional development and cohesion, energy, industry, transport, tourism, development cooperation, research and innovation – in order to make the EU's sectoral and budgetary policies more coherent and ensure that it honours its binding commitments on biodiversity protection;

13.  Underlines that the EU Biodiversity Strategy should be fully integrated into the strategies for the mitigation of, and adaption to, climate change;

14.  Recalls that the precautionary principle constitutes a legal basis to be applied in all legislation and decisions affecting biodiversity;

15.  Stresses that protecting, valuing, mapping and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services is essential in order to meet the goals of the Roadmap to a Resource-Efficient Europe, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider, as part of specific measures, presenting a timetable for mapping and assessing ecosystem services in the EU which will enable targeted and efficient measures to be taken to halt the degradation of biodiversity and ecosystem services;

16.  Emphasises that the loss of biodiversity has devastating economic costs for society which until now have not been integrated sufficiently into economic and other policies; urges the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to value ecosystem services and to integrate these values into accounting systems as a basis for more sustainable policies; takes the view that any economic model that disregards the proper preservation of biodiversity is not viable; also stresses that actions to restore ecosystems and biodiversity have significant potential to create new skills, jobs and business opportunities;

17.  Stresses the need to carry out a thorough assessment of the negative impact on biodiversity of different sectors of the economy;

18.  Emphasises that the biodiversity strategy is part of the Resource-Efficient Europe flagship initiative, and recalls that regional policy plays an essential role in ensuring sustainable growth through the actions it supports to tackle climate, energy and environmental issues;

19.  Maintains that a significant number of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic (transmissible among wildlife, domestic animals and humans), and recognises that trade in wildlife and changes in land use and management may lead to new or modified interfaces among humans, domestic animals and wildlife that could favour disease transmission and loss of biodiversity; stresses that integrating biodiversity strategies into animal health, animal welfare and trade policies is paramount;

20.  Takes the view, however, that thorough environmental, economic and social impact assessments may be needed in cases where data are lacking;

Conserving and restoring nature

21.  Emphasises the need to halt the deterioration in the status of all species and habitats covered by EU nature conservation legislation and achieve a significant and measurable improvement in their status at EU level; stresses that this should take the form of an improvement in at least one of the parameters for conservation status defined in Article 1 of the Habitats Directive, without any deterioration in the other parameters;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to undertake to adopt integrated strategies in order to identify each geographical area's natural values and the features of its cultural heritage, as well as the conditions necessary for maintaining them;

23.  Emphasises that biodiversity objectives need to be implemented through concrete action in order to be effective; regrets that, in spite of the action taken to combat biodiversity loss, in the EU only 17 % of habitats and species and 11 % of key ecosystems protected under EU legislation are in a favourable state; calls on the Commission to analyse, as a matter of urgency, why current efforts have not yet succeeded and to consider whether other, potentially more effective instruments are available;

24.  Stresses that, in order to establish a clear pathway to achieving the 2050 vision, at least 40 % of all habitats and species must have a favourable conservation status by 2020; recalls that, by 2050, 100 % (or almost 100 %) of habitats and species must have a favourable conservation status;

25.  Expresses concern at the increasing deterioration of essential habitats, such as wetlands, which should be treated as a priority and addressed by means of urgent measures that actually correspond to the special protection status granted to them by the EU;

26.  Recognises that infrastructure-building, urbanisation, industrialisation and physical intervention in the landscape in general are among the most significant drivers of the fragmentation of ecosystems and habitats; calls on local, regional and national governments, in the context of their planning regulations and implementation measures and within the framework of their competences, to consider these factors – which pose a threat to ecosystems and habitats – in their planning and development projects on both a large and a small scale; recognises the pressures and need at local and regional level to provide substantial economic development, and recommends that local and regional authorities be mindful of striking a balance between development and the need to protect biodiversity and natural habitats; supports further reform and use of regional and local development policies in order to deliver biodiversity benefits and halt further loss of habitats, especially in times of economic and financial crisis;

27.  Supports stepping up the use of environmental impact assessments (EIAs), sustainability impact assessments (SIAs), strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) and other instruments in order to take account of biodiversity loss and the effects of climate change in regional and local decision-making; points out that all regions will benefit from projects that promote climate change mitigation and the protection of biodiversity loss, including less developed regions;

28.  Urges the Member States to ensure that the process of designating Natura 2000 sites is finalised by 2012 in line with Aichi Target 11; deplores greatly the delay in designating marine sites; is concerned about the reintroduction of hunting in the Danube Delta and its possible negative impact on biodiversity; calls on the Commission to verify that Member States are implementing Article 7 of the Birds Directive (2009/147/EC(5)), particularly with respect to hunting;

29.  Highlights the urgent need to step up efforts to protect oceans and marine environments, both through EU action and by improving international governance of oceans and areas beyond national jurisdiction;

30.  Urges the Member States to meet the legal deadline for the development of management plans or equivalent instruments for all Natura 2000 sites, as stipulated in Articles 4 and 6 of the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC(6));

31.  Believes that better cross-border cooperation could have significant benefits when it comes to meeting the Natura 2000 objectives; highlights the need for closer cooperation between European, national, regional and local authorities with regard to protecting biodiversity and natural resources; underlines, in this connection, the opportunities offered by cross-border, interregional and transnational cooperation with a view to tackling biodiversity loss, and believes that making better use of the potential of territorial cooperation and of exchanges of information, experience and good practice would contribute significantly to achieving that aim; points out that the inclusion of biodiversity-related priorities in regional macrostrategies is an important step towards restoring and preserving biodiversity;

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure proper conservation of the Natura 2000 network through adequate funding for those sites; calls, in particular, on the Member States to develop binding national instruments in cooperation with the different stakeholders, through which they define priority conservation measures and state the relevant planned source of financing (whether from EU funds or Member States' own budgets);

33.  Takes the view that the enforcement of EU legislation, in particular on the environment, must be improved;

34.  Invites the Commission, in view of the vast differences between Member States with regard to the implementation of the Natura 2000 legislation, to provide further clarification or guidance where necessary, based on best practices; also asks the Commission to provide guidance or share best practices for the management of areas adjoining Natura 2000 sites;

35.  Calls on the Commission to increase its capacity to process and investigate effectively complaints and infringements connected with the proper implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives, and to develop adequate guidance for the Member States with regard to monitoring on-the-ground implementation of those directives; calls on the Commission, furthermore, to incorporate measures to enhance the implementation and joint enforcement of the Birds and Habitats Directives into its current work on improving the implementation and inspection of environmental legislation; considers it essential, in the light of its resolution of 20 November 2008 on the review of Recommendation 2001/331/EC providing for minimum criteria for environmental inspections in the Member States(7), to strengthen the EU Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL), and urges the Commission to report on possible ways of doing so, including the feasibility of establishing an EU environmental inspection force, and to present a proposal for a directive on environmental inspections;

36.  Supports the Commission initiative regarding training programmes for judges and prosecutors; stresses, however, that the Commission and the Member States should ensure that such training programmes are also available to professionals dealing with Natura 2000 sites, e.g. regional and local authorities responsible for law enforcement and other administrative bodies responsible for implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directives;

37.  Considers it necessary to have digitised, accessible maps containing accurate information about the principal natural resources, protected areas, land uses, water bodies and areas at risk, in order to facilitate compliance by regional and local authorities with environmental legislation, especially that relating to biodiversity;

38.  Notes the limited public awareness in the EU of the importance of biodiversity conservation and the severe environmental and socio-economic costs associated with its loss; stresses the need for a more comprehensive communication strategy in line with Aichi Target 1;

39.  Welcomes the intention of the Commission and the Member States to launch a major communication campaign for Natura 2000 by 2013, to improve the application of EU environmental protection provisions and to foster the coexistence of environmental protection, sustainable economic growth and social development as equal, non-contradictory principles; calls, to this end, for the promotion of successful projects and the dissemination of information to the public on the feasibility of environmentally benign economic development in important natural and cultural heritage areas such as those belonging to the Natura 2000 network;

40.  Stresses the need to organise biodiversity awareness and information campaigns for all ages and social categories, on the understanding that awareness campaigns for children and adolescents who are deeply concerned about this topic should be organised first and foremost in the school setting; takes the view that education and professional training, particularly in farming, forestry and related sectors, should concentrate more on the role of biodiversity;

41.  Recognises that NGOs have an important role to play in biodiversity protection by contributing to the decision-making process, taking action on the ground and raising public awareness;

42.  Recommends extending governance to the mobilisation of citizens, and also to non-profit organisations and economic actors, with the emphasis, in the case of the latter, being on integrating biodiversity into company strategies; recognises the value and knowledge of, and the work done by, the voluntary and community sector in protecting biodiversity, and asks regional and local governments to involve such groups in planning and consultation for projects, by establishing partnerships between authorities, the private sector and non-governmental organisations;

43.  Recognises the great importance of maintaining a close relationship with local actors and the direct managers of the land in question, and therefore encourages the Commission to make greater efforts in this regard, paying attention to the experience and special knowledge that these actors can contribute when drafting legislation, with a view to ensuring the good condition of the habitats that are home to the biodiversity we wish to preserve in the EU;

44.  Maintains that one reason we have failed to reverse the continuing trend of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation globally is our incomplete understanding of the complexity of biodiversity and the interactions of its components with one another and with the living environment, including the value of biodiversity for current and future human generations; reiterates that biodiversity science is the necessary backbone for any kind of policy implementation;

45.  Stresses, therefore, the need to invest more in research on biodiversity, including in relation to one or more of the relevant ‘societal challenges’ addressed by Horizon 2020, so as to avoid fragmentation of research policy; takes the view that such an increase in funds for biodiversity research could be achieved within the overall existing means, given the low take-up; believes, on the one hand, that research could give us a better understanding of biodiversity and its importance for all aspects of human activities, and, on the other, that it will contribute, through innovative concepts, to new and improved policies and management and development strategies;

46.  Stresses the need for a multidisciplinary and transboundary research approach when it comes to biodiversity, which is inherently connected to fields such as ecology, genetics, epidemiology, climate science, economics, social anthropology and theoretical modelling; emphasises the need for science-based policies in the sustainable management of ecosystems and natural resources, especially in the economically and socially vital sectors of agriculture, fisheries and forestry;

47.  Considers it essential that available scientific data on biodiversity, examples of best practices for halting biodiversity loss and restoring biodiversity, and information on nature-based innovation and development potential be more widely known and shared among policy-makers and key stakeholders, and that the relevant ICTs play a crucial role in delivering new opportunities and tools; welcomes, therefore, the fact that the Commission has set up the EU Business and Biodiversity Platform, and encourages it to develop the Platform further and promote greater cooperation between administrations and businesses in the EU, including SMEs;

48.  Calls for the Biodiversity Information System for Europe (BISE) web portal to be made available in all the official EU languages, so as to contribute to data and information sharing;

Maintain and restore ecosystems and their services

49.  Notes the requirement under the CBD to restore 15 % of degraded ecosystems by 2020; regards this as a minimum, however, and wishes the EU to set a considerably higher restoration target reflecting its own more ambitious headline target and its 2050 vision, taking into account country-specific natural conditions; urges the Commission to define clearly what is meant by ‘degraded ecosystems’ and to set a baseline against which progress can be measured;

50.  Urges the Commission to adopt a specific Green Infrastructure Strategy by 2012 at the latest, with biodiversity protection as a primary objective; underlines that this strategy should address objectives relating to urban as well as rural areas, inter alia in order better to fulfil the provisions of Article 10 of the Habitats Directive;

51.  Deplores the fact that the development of the Commission's Green Infrastructure Strategy is planned only for 2012, while energy and transport corridors have already been identified in the European Infrastructure Package proposal; calls on the Commission, therefore, to accelerate work on the Green Infrastructure Strategy and to ensure that the proposed Target No 2 is achieved; agrees that synergies between energy, transport and ICT projects should be maximised in order to limit the negative impact on biodiversity, and that only actions which comply with EU law and are in line with the relevant Union policies should receive EU funding;

52.  Emphasises that the creation of natural environments should not be limited to designated areas alone, but should also be encouraged in different places – for instance in cities, along highways and railroads and at industrial sites – in order to develop a truly green infrastructure;

53.  Urges the Commission to develop an effective regulatory framework based on the ‘No Net Loss’ initiative, taking into account the past experience of the Member States while also utilising the standards applied by the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Programme; notes, in this connection, the importance of applying such an approach to all EU habitats and species not covered by EU legislation;

54.  Calls on the Commission to devote particular attention to species and habitats whose ‘functions’ are of priceless economic value, since efforts to preserve biodiversity in the future will be directed at those areas that will produce economic benefits over a short period of time, or be expected to do so;

55.  Recognises that biodiversity and ecosystem services provide significant non-monetised benefits to industries and other economic actors; invites organisations representing the private sector to put forward proposals on how best to preserve and restore biodiversity on a meaningful scale;

56.  Recognises the need to promote green infrastructure, eco-innovation and the adoption of innovative technologies in order to create a greener economy, and calls on the Commission to draw up good practice guides in this area; urges the Commission, the Member States and local and regional authorities to take account of the recommendations made in the TEEB study, which is intended as a useful advisory tool for local and regional policy-makers, administrators and managers; underlines the need to expand and intensify training for beneficiaries of the Structural and Cohesion Funds, and for local, regional and national governments, in dealing with the complex European and national legislation aimed at protecting nature and increasing awareness of the importance of biodiversity loss; invites the Commission to put in place technical assistance mechanisms designed to promote knowledge at regional and local level with regard to implementation-related problems;

Agriculture

57.  Recalls that over half of the EU's territory is managed by farmers, that farmland delivers important ecosystem services and has considerable socio-economic value, and that funding for the CAP represents a significant part of the EU budget; stresses that the CAP is not confined to the aim of food provision and rural development, but is a crucial tool for biodiversity, conservation, mitigation of climate change, and maintenance of ecosystem services; notes that the CAP already includes measures aimed at environmental protection, such as decoupling, cross-compliance and agri-environment measures; considers it regrettable, however, that these measures have so far failed to halt the overall decline in biodiversity in the EU and that farmland biodiversity is in continued decline; calls, therefore, for a reorientation of the CAP towards the provision of compensation to farmers for the delivery of public goods, since the market is currently failing to integrate the economic value of the important public goods agriculture can deliver;

58.  Emphasises the connection between water management and biodiversity as an essential component for sustaining life and for sustainable development;

59.  Stresses the need to move from a means-based approach to a results-based approach in order to assess the effectiveness of the instruments applied;

60.  Calls for the greening of Pillar I of the CAP in order to ensure the conservation of biodiversity in the wider farmed landscape, improve connectivity and adapt to the effects of climate change; welcomes the Commission's CAP reform proposal, which provides for a ‘greening’ of the CAP through the allocation of Pillar I payments to a package of basic good practices applied at farm level, including crop rotation and diversification, permanent pasture and a minimum ‘ecological focus area’; underlines that such greening measures need to be workable and must not create unnecessary bureaucracy; reiterates its call for area-based support for the Natura 2000 network under the direct payment scheme; believes that resource-efficient, environment- and climate-friendly agricultural practices will ensure both the sustainability of agricultural businesses and long-term food security, and recognises that the CAP should play a significant role in achieving this;

61.  Calls for ‘greening’ practices to be geared to agricultural diversity in the various Member States, taking into account, for example, the specific situation of Mediterranean countries, which is not addressed by the proposed thresholds in relation to the diversification of crops and land of ecological importance; notes that assembled crops, permanent crops (olive groves, vineyards, apple orchards) and rice crops are some examples of practices that should be compatible with ‘greening’, given the high ecological and conservation value of some of these agricultural systems;

62.  Maintains that assistance to public and private actors working to protect forest biodiversity in terms of species, habitats and ecosystem services must be increased under the new CAP, and eligibility extended to areas connecting Natura 2000 sites;

63.  Calls for all CAP payments, including those made from 2014, to be underpinned by robust cross-compliance rules which help to preserve biodiversity and ecosystem services, covering the Birds and Habitats Directives (without watering down the current standards applicable from 2007 to 2013), pesticides and biocides legislation and the Water Framework Directive(8); calls for simple and transparent rules for those affected;

64.  Calls for a strengthening of Pillar II and for drastic improvements in all Member States to the environmental focus of that pillar and to the effectiveness of its agri-environmental measures, including through minimum mandatory spending on environmental measures – such as agri-environmental measures, Natura 2000 and forest environment measures – and support for High Nature Value and organic farming; underlines that the environmental measures under the two pillars should be mutually reinforcing;

65.  Acknowledges the critical report of the European Court of Auditors on agri-environment schemes; notes that very limited environmental objectives have been met with the EUR 22,2 billion available for 2007-2013; urges the Commission to ensure that future agri-environmental subsidies are approved only under strict environmental criteria;

66.  Draws attention to the fact that the increase in demand for agricultural fuels and the consequent intensification of pressure for their production in developing countries are threatening biodiversity, particularly in developing countries, owing to the degradation and conversion of habitats and ecosystems such as wetlands and forests, among others;

67.  Takes the view that the inspection of agricultural practices should be strengthened in order to prevent biodiversity loss; maintains, in particular, that discharges of slurry should be controlled and even prohibited in the most sensitive areas in order to preserve ecosystems;

68.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to explore the phenomenon of land abandonment in some parts of Europe, supporting the targeted maintenance of biodiversity and avoiding desertification whilst providing new socio-economic opportunities for rural development; stresses, however, the need to respect existing land ownership; also underlines that European farmers play an important role as ‘guardians’ of the landscape;

69.  Warns that various species and habitats which are highly valued from a conservation perspective, including those protected by EU legislation, are dependent on agri-environmental systems in which the presence of human beings is a key factor; highlights, in this connection, the importance of halting and reversing land abandonment; advocates increased support for small and medium-scale farming, family-based farming and extensive farming, which promote proper conservation of natural resources;

70.  Calls on the Commission, in the context of the new CAP reform, to step up its efforts in support of agricultural sectors which make a proven contribution to preserving biodiversity, and in particular the bee-keeping sector; points out that wild and domesticated insects such as bees account for 80 % of the pollination of flowering plants, and that the decline with which they are threatened represents an enormous challenge for our societies, whose agricultural production, and therefore food, depends in large part on the pollination of flowering plants; stresses, therefore, that particular attention should be paid to apiculture in the measures to be taken to protect biodiversity;

71.  Emphasises the importance of halting and reversing the reduction in species diversity and crop varieties, which leads to an erosion of the genetic basis on which human and animal nutrition depends; advocates the need to promote the use of traditional agricultural varieties specific to certain regions; calls for appropriate legislation and incentives for the maintenance and further development of diversity in farm genetic resources, e.g. locally adapted breeds and varieties;

72.  Stresses the need for more effective cooperation at European level in the field of scientific and applied research regarding the diversity of animal and plant genetic resources in order to ensure their conservation, improve their ability to adapt to climate change, and promote their effective take-up in genetic improvement programmes;

Forestry

73.  Calls for specific action with a view to achieving Aichi Target 5 , whereby the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, should be at least halved by 2020 and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation significantly reduced;

74.  Calls on the Commission, once the study on the impact of European consumption on deforestation has been completed, to follow up its findings with new policy initiatives addressing the types of impact identified;

75.  Calls on the Member States to adopt and implement forest management plans taking account of appropriate public consultation, including effective measures for the conservation and recovery of protected species and habitats and related ecosystem services;

76.  Urges the Member States and the Commission to encourage the adoption of forest management plans, inter alia through rural development measures and the LIFE+ programme; stresses the need for forest management plans to include special biodiversity measures, notably specific measures for the conservation of protected species and natural habitats in order to improve their status, both within and beyond Natura 2000 areas;

77.  Urges the Member States to design their forestry policies in such a way as to take full account of the importance of forests in protecting biodiversity, in preventing soil erosion, in carbon sequestration and air purification and in maintaining the water cycle;

78.  Urges the Member States to ensure that forest fire prevention schemes in their forest management plans include ecosystem-based measures designed to make forests more resilient to fires;

Fisheries

79.  Welcomes the Commission's proposals for the reform of the CFP, which should guarantee the implementation of the ecosystem approach and the application of updated scientific information serving as the basis for long-term management plans for all commercially exploited fish species; emphasises that only by securing the long-term sustainability of fish stocks can we ensure the economic and social viability of the European fisheries sector;

80.  Stresses that no one country can deal with the problem of biodiversity loss, particularly in marine ecosystems, and that the Member State governments must cooperate and coordinate their efforts more effectively in order to address this global issue; emphasises that strong implementation of biodiversity policy benefits both society and the economy;

81.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement marine protected areas in which economic activities, including fishing, are subject to strengthened ecosystem-based management, making it possible to reconcile preservation of the environment with the practice of sustainable fishing;

82.  Stresses that there are still large gaps in knowledge regarding the state of marine ecosystems and fisheries resources, and calls for increased EU efforts in the area of marine research;

83.  Requests the Commission and the Member States to consolidate their efforts in collecting scientific data on fish populations, where these are deficient, with the aim of offering more reliable scientific advice;

84.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to cooperate with a view to establishing a ‘European coastguard’ in order to boost common monitoring and inspection capacity and ensure enforcement;

85.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts to ensure that catches fall below Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels by 2015, and to take ecological considerations into account when defining MSYs; stresses, therefore, that a lack of adequate scientific data should not be used as an excuse for inaction, and that in such circumstances fishing mortality rates should be decreased on a precautionary basis; recalls the legal obligation – as set out in the Marine Framework Strategy Directive (MFSD)(9) – to ensure that all commercially exploited fish stocks are within safe biological limits by 2020;

86.  Points out that the commitment to maintain or restore fish stocks, by 2015, to levels above those able to produce the MSY, as provided for in the CFP reform package proposed by the Commission, was endorsed by heads of state and government at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002;

87.  Underlines that fisheries management should contribute to achieving favourable conservation status pursuant to the Birds and Habitats Directives and achieving the objective of Good Environmental Status (GES) under the MFSD; stresses that long-term management plans should be based on multiple species rather than single species, taking account of all aspects of fish populations – in particular size, age and reproductive status – in order better to reflect an ecosystem-based approach, and that strict timelines for their development should be set;

88.  Stresses that the new CFP and all subsequent measures adopted by Member States must be in full compliance with Directives 92/43/EEC, 2009/147/EC and 2008/56/EC;

89.  Stresses that the aim of eliminating discards of less valuable target species and by-catches of protected non-target species, including cetaceans, sea turtles and sea birds, should be incorporated into the CFP and implemented as a matter of urgency; stresses, moreover, that the new CFP should include a clear obligation to release non-target species with a high chance of survival;

90.  Points out that measures aimed at eliminating discards of juvenile and under-sized fish or catches beyond quota should be designed in such a way as to avoid providing any perverse incentives for the landing and commercialisation of discards;

91.  Underlines that targets and timelines should be set for the reduction of overcapacity so that a net reduction in fleet capacity can be pursued;

92.  Notes that the biodiversity of the marine environment is being seriously jeopardised by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing) and stresses that cooperation between the Member States and third countries should be strengthened in order to combat such IUU fishing;

93.  Notes that the establishment of fisheries reserves (areas in which fishing activities may be banned or restricted) is a particularly effective and cost-efficient measure with a view to achieving the long-term conservation of fish stocks; calls on the Member States and the Council, in this connection, to designate fisheries reserves and stipulate the management rules to be established therein, with a particular focus on nursery grounds or spawning grounds for fish stocks;

94.  Calls on the Commission to develop reliable indicators of environmental sustainability, including marine and coastal sustainability, in order to assess the degree of progress towards the overall goal of protecting biodiversity;

Invasive alien species

95.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that measures are taken to prevent both the entry of new invasive alien species into the EU and the spread of currently established invasive alien species to new areas; calls, in particular, for clear guidelines under the CAP Rural Development Regulation in order to ensure that afforestation does not harm biodiversity and to prevent the provision of financial support for the planting of invasive alien species; underlines the need for ambitious strategies and up-to-date inventories both at the EU level and in the Member States; takes the view that these strategies should not focus solely on those species considered to be a ‘priority’, as suggested in Target 5 of the Biodiversity Strategy; encourages the Commission, with a view to enhancing the knowledge base, to support similar activities to those supported under the DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe) project;

96.  Urges the Commission to come forward in 2012 with a legislative proposal which takes a holistic approach to the problem of invasive alien plant and animal species in order to establish a common EU policy on the prevention, monitoring, eradication and management of these species and on rapid alert systems in this area;

97.  Recognises that prevention is more cost-effective and environmentally desirable than measures taken once an invasive alien species has already been introduced and become established; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to give priority to preventing the introduction of invasive alien species, as supported by the hierarchical approach to such species adopted in the CBD;

98.  Underlines the need to ensure that trade in threatened species – included in the Red List drawn up by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – is subject to increased restrictions and, in particular, strict regulation; calls, furthermore, on the Commission and the Member States to monitor and report regularly on imports of exotic and non-native species and to ensure full implementation of the Zoos Directive(10); requests the Commission to assess and make proposals for a ban on wild-caught animals for the pet trade;

99.  Calls on the Commission to take note of existing national strategies and action plans and ensure that island habitats receive proportionate consideration in the upcoming Invasive Alien Species Regulation;

Climate change

100.  Recalls the inter-linkages between biodiversity and the climate system; is mindful of the significant negative impact of climate change on biodiversity, and underlines the fact that biodiversity loss inherently exacerbates climate change on account of the degradation of the carbon sink provided by the natural environment; emphasises the urgency of biodiversity protection, inter alia as a means of mitigating climate change and preserving natural carbon sinks;

International dimension

101.  Urges the Commission to propose legislation to implement the Nagoya Protocol so that the Union can ratify the Protocol as soon as possible;

102.  Underlines that, given the global nature of biodiversity and ecosystem services and their crucial role in meeting global sustainable development objectives, the EU strategy must also step up EU efforts to avert biodiversity loss and thereby contribute more effectively to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015;

103.  Takes the view that marine biodiversity conservation needs to be addressed at the highest level at the Rio+20 summit to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012;

104.  Welcomes the UN General Assembly resolution of 6 December 2011 aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the world's fisheries(11), which stresses that urgent efforts are needed to achieve sustainable use of the world's oceans and seas;

105.  Welcomes the plan – presented in November 2011 – developed by four UN agencies (UNESCO, FAO, UNDP and IMO) to encourage countries to renew their commitment to limiting the degradation of the oceans and dealing with threats such as overexploitation of fisheries, pollution and biodiversity decline;

106.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to continue promoting a common approach to nature conservation throughout the EU, welcomes the Commission's acceptance that it needs to cooperate with the Member States to ensure the effective protection of biodiversity in the EU's outermost regions and overseas countries and territories, which host more endemic species than the entire European continent; wishes to see the strengthening of the specific instruments for safeguarding and protecting biodiversity there, particularly the BEST (Voluntary scheme for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Territories of the EU Outermost Regions and Overseas Countries and Territories) preparatory action supported by Parliament since 2011 and providing proper financing for the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU's outermost regions and overseas countries and territories;

107.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States strictly to implement and enforce multilateral environmental agreements, including (but not limited to) the CITES Convention and the CMS;

108.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States effectively to mainstream environmental sustainability in their relations with third countries and as part of global processes such as the Millennium Development Goals;

109.  Urges the Commission to enhance the contribution of EU trade policy to conserving biodiversity, and therefore supports its proposal to include a chapter on sustainable development in all new trade agreements which lays down substantial environmental provisions relevant to the trade context, including biodiversity goals;

110.  Recognises the increase in illegal international trafficking of species covered by the CITES Convention; calls, therefore, on the Commission and the Member States to work to increase the capacity of Interpol in this respect and to prioritise the issue of illegal wildlife trade in bilateral discussions with third countries;

111.  Recognises that the EU is a top importer of wildlife and that it influences biodiversity conservation in other parts of the world through its policies and commercial activities; calls on the EU to take measures to reduce the negative impact of EU consumption patterns on biodiversity by incorporating initiatives relating to sustainable agriculture and wildlife trade in all trade agreements;

112.  Calls on the Rio+20 Earth Summit to make concrete progress on innovative and independent sources of finance for biodiversity protection in developing countries, and insists that the EU and its Member States be proactive in achieving results in this regard;

113.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ‘biodiversity proof’ EU development cooperation in order to prevent biodiversity loss, taking into account the fact that people on the lowest incomes are the most dependent on ecosystem services;

114.  Acknowledges that it is necessary to achieve an economy based on sustainable energy sources in a cost-effective way without compromising biodiversity objectives, and that such an economy could contribute towards achieving these objectives; deems it necessary, in this context, to introduce further safeguards regarding the sources, efficiency and quantity of biomass used for energy; calls on the Commission, also in this context, to clarify as soon as possible what effect biofuels have on biodiversity, including the impact of indirect land use, and calls for the establishment of effective sustainability criteria for the production and use of all biofuels, including solid biomass;

Financing

115.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to identify all existing environmentally harmful subsidies, according to objective criteria, and calls on the Commission to publish, by the end of 2012, an action plan (including a timetable) on how to phase such subsidies out by 2020 in line with the Nagoya commitments;

116.  Emphasises the importance of mobilising both EU and national financial support from all possible sources, including the creation of a specific instrument to finance biodiversity, and of developing innovative financial mechanisms – in particular habitat banking in conjunction with offsetting – in order to reach the targets set in the area of biodiversity;

117.  Stresses the need to increase the budget for research focusing on the environment and biodiversity under the next Research Framework Programme, in a manner proportionate to the huge needs and challenges associated with tackling both biodiversity loss and climate change, in order to help close identified knowledge gaps and support policy;

118.  Calls on the Commission to review whether the current regulatory regime adequately incentivises strategies to enhance biodiversity, and to propose cost-effective solutions to shift spending on biodiversity from bureaucracy towards protection and enhancement;

119.  Agrees that well-designed, market-based instruments aimed at internalising the external costs of consumption and production activities to the environment can contribute to achieving the objective of halting biodiversity loss if combined with incentives for green investment within the sectors concerned;

120.  Welcomes the Commission's launch of the Business and Biodiversity Platform with a view to engaging the private sector in the biodiversity agenda;

121.  Urges the Commission to report to Parliament and the Council on options for the introduction of payments for ecosystem services, taking into account the role of biodiversity conservation;

122.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States fully to implement and fund the new Strategy for Biodiversity to 2020 by ensuring that every EU funding measure is consistent with biodiversity and water protection laws;

123.  Stresses the imperative need to ensure that the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2014-2020) supports efforts to achieve the six targets set out in the Biodiversity Strategy, and that funding for the LIFE programme is stepped up; emphasises the need to focus on corporate social responsibility projects which promote biodiversity;

124.  Notes, furthermore, that the enormous economic value of biodiversity offers a worthwhile return on the investment in its conservation; calls, therefore, for an increase in funding for nature conservation measures;

125.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, with a view to ensuring adequate financing of the Natura 2000 network, to ensure that at least EUR 5,8 billion per year is provided through EU and Member State funding; calls, furthermore, on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that adequate funding is made available through various EU funds (for example the CAP funds, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the cohesion funds and a strengthened LIFE+ fund), with better coordination and coherence between these funds, inter alia through the concept of integrated projects, thereby improving transparency for the different regions in receipt of EU funding; calls for the EIB to be involved in developing innovative financial instruments and technical and advisory services for co-financing projects relating to biodiversity;

126.  Expresses its disappointment with the proposed allocation for the new LIFE programme, which, despite its remarkable success over two decades, continues to receive an insignificant share of the EU budget; takes the view that the challenges addressed in the biodiversity and nature conservation plan call for a substantial increase in the funds allocated to the LIFE programme;

127.  Notes with concern that the number of projects financed under the LIFE+ programme each year is below the indicative allocation in various Member States; invites the Commission to assess the reasons for this under-implementation and where necessary to propose changes to the rules governing the programme, particularly as regards co-financing levels;

128.  Recognises the importance of green public procurement, and believes that more attention should be focused on its use, especially by public authorities in receipt of EU funding; recommends that the authorities responsible for the management and control systems created in the Member States to manage structural and cohesion funding should support projects which provide for such procedures;

129.  Welcomes the Commission's proposal to invest in the protection and restoration of biodiversity under the Cohesion Fund in the 2014-2020 funding period; also recommends considering the potential of Natura 2000 for local economies and labour markets;

130.  Recognises that the ‘green economy’ is a means of generating skills and employment, and calls for it to be supported with funding which will help build capacity at a local level and build on local and traditional knowledge in the fight to protect biodiversity; highlights the fact that approximately 30 % of the total allocations for cohesion policy for 2007-2013 are available for activities with a particular impact on sustainable growth; encourages the Member States, and especially local and regional authorities, in the context of halting biodiversity loss, to be more active and step up their efforts to invest in natural capital, and to use regional policy funding for natural risk prevention as an element in the preservation of natural resources and in adaptation to climate change, particularly with a view to the 2014-2020 programming period;

131.  Encourages the Member States to make full use of the possibility of realigning current operational programmes to the Europe 2020 sustainable growth objectives by reconsidering investment priorities for projects, and urges them to deploy the available resources more effectively;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 50 E, 21.2.2012, p. 19.
(2) OJ C 351 E, 2.12.2011, p. 103.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0297.
(4) http://www.teebweb.org
(5) OJ L 20, 26.1.2010, p. 7.
(6) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.
(7) OJ C 16 E, 22.1.2010, p. 67.
(8) Directive 2000/60/EC, (OJ L 327, 22.12.2000, p. 1).
(9) Directive 2008/56/EC, (OJ L 164, 25.6.2008, p. 19).
(10) Directive 1999/22/EC, (OJ L 94, 9.4.1999, p. 24).
(11) A/RES/66/68.


Review of the 6th Environment Action Progamme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme
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European Parliament resolution of 20 April 2012 on the review of the 6th Environment Action Programme and the setting of priorities for the 7th Environment Action Programme – A better environment for a better life (2011/2194(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0147A7-0048/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission entitled ‘The sixth Community Environment Action Programme – Final assessment’ (COM(2011)0531),

–  having regard to Articles 191 and 192 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, relating to preserving, protecting and improving the quality of human health and the environment,

–  having regard to the Environment Council conclusions of 10 October 2011 on the Assessment of the sixth community environment action programme and the way forward: Towards a 7th EU environment action programme,

–  having regard to the EEA report ‘The European Environment – State and Outlook 2010’ (SOER2010),

–  having regard to EEA Technical report No 15/2011 ‘Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe’

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission ‘Europe 2020 – A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission ‘Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ (COM(2011)0244),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission ‘A Roadmap for moving to a competitive low carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission ‘Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ (COM(2011)0571),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for the next multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 (COM(2011)0398),

–  having regard to the Commission proposals on the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and of the Cohesion Policy,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Regional Development (A7-0048/2012),

A.  whereas the current 6th EAP will expire on 22 July 2012;

B.  whereas for a decade the 6th EAP has provided an overarching framework for environment policy, during which time environmental legislation has been consolidated and substantially completed, and whereas its adoption by codecision has increased its legitimacy and has helped create a sense of ownership; whereas, however, Member States and the Commission have not always acted in accordance with this programme, and whereas it had some shortcomings which have to be addressed;

C.  whereas progress towards the objectives set out in the 6th EAP has been variable, with some objectives having been achieved (climate change, waste) and others not having been achieved (air, urban environment, natural resources), while the attainment of others depends on future implementation efforts (chemicals, pesticides, water), and whereas a number of challenges remain and additional efforts are required;

D.  whereas the 6th EAP has been compromised by a lack of implementation of the environmental acquis in the areas of air pollution control, water and waste water treatment, waste and nature conservation;

E whereas the goal of halting the decline of biodiversity by 2010 has not been reached due to a lack of political and financial commitments;

F.  whereas ‘The European Environment – State and Outlook 2010’ (SOER 2010) points out that major environmental challenges remain which will have significant consequences if left unaddressed;

G.   whereas certain aspects of environmental legislation should be reviewed, in particular by strengthening the independence of environmental impact assessments in the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive;

H.  whereas environmental degradation – air pollution, noise, chemicals, poor water quality and ecosystem degradation – is an important factor in the rise of chronic diseases; whereas an ambitious EU environmental protection agenda is therefore a key component for effective prevention of disease and ill-health;

I.  whereas major differences remain between Member States as regards environmental quality and public health;

1.  Underlines the urgency of adopting as soon as possible a 7th EAP, in order to address the environmental challenges lying ahead; calls therefore on the Commission to present a proposal for a 7th EAP without delay;

2.  Considers that the new 7th EAP needs to describe in an unambivalent manner the environmental challenges the EU is faced with, including accelerating climate change, deterioration of our ecosystem and increasing overuse of natural resources;

3.  Emphasises, in light of the current sustainability challenges that face the EU, that the Environmental Action Programmes, as overarching instruments, contribute to ensuring the necessary coordination among the various Community policie; considers, specifically, that in the coming decade, it will be even more crucial to address environmental issues with a more coherent and integrated approach that takes into account the links between them and that fills the remaining gaps, as otherwise irreversible damage may be caused;

4.  Considers that the 7th EAP should provide a positive narrative on the benefits of stringent environmental policy to strengthen public support and political will to act; 

5.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should set concrete targets for 2020 as well as setting out a clear ambitious vision for the environment in 2050 aimed at providing a high quality of life and well-being for all within safe environmental limits;

6.  Considers that the timeline for the 7th EAP should be aligned with the post-2013 Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) and the Europe 2020 strategy; stresses, however, that key decisions in other policy areas with a strong impact on the environment are likely to be taken before the adoption of the 7th EAP.

7.  Stresses that the 7th EAP should provide the right framework to ensure adequate funding, including for innovation, research and development and that financing environmental objectives, in synergy with LIFE, and fully integrating protection of the environment should be an important part of the next Multiannual Financial Framework, of the reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), of the Cohesion Policy and of Horizon 2020; considers, in particular, that the EU should allow new sources of financing to be created for the EAP, for instance through the mobilisation of market instruments and payments for ecosystem services;

8.  Considers that the 7th EAP should be an overarching framework that makes it possible to deal with both persistent and emerging environmental and sustainability challenges, with due regard for existing and planned measures;

9.  Considers that, for the coming decade, the 7th EAP should ensure that the EU's environmental choices are sufficiently clear and predictable for national and local administrations, citizens, businesses and investors; is of the opinion that this overarching EU programme should send a strong political signal to the rest of the world and contribute to establishing international environmental governance;

10.  Invites the Commission to base its future proposal for the 7th EAP on the following 3 ‘i's priorities:

   Implementation and strengthening
   Integration
   International dimension;

11.  Believes that many of the goals contained in the 6th Environment Action Programme are well formulated, but is also aware that many are far from having been met; would therefore like to see more of these objectives being transferred to the 7th Environment Action Programme;

12.  Wishes to emphasise the importance of allowing the precautionary principle to govern the EU's environment policy;

Implementation and strengthening

13.  Notes with concern that implementation of the environmental acquis is still insufficient; considers that full implementation and enforcement at all levels, and further strengthening, of key environmental and related policy priorities – climate change, biodiversity, resources, environment and health, as well as social and employment policies, energy, sustainable transport, sustainable agriculture and rural development – are crucial; emphasises, therefore, the need for clear, consistent environmental legislation, based on public policy evaluations and feedback;

14.  Highlights the fact that full compliance with EU environmental law is a genuine Treaty obligation and a criterion for the use of EU funds in Member States;

15.  Underscores the fundamental importance of informing citizens about our environmental policies in order to involve them in the success of such policies; requests, therefore, that a greater effort in this respect be made in the future Action Programme, bearing in mind that a better environment for a better life cannot be created unilaterally from within the Institutions without the support of society itself;

Climate change

16.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should ensure full implementation of the climate and energy package and provide for a strengthening of it;

17.  Considers that the 7th EAP should reflect the need for binding targets for energy efficiency and/or energy savings as this will contribute to combating climate change and to environmental protection; stresses the importance of a flexible Community framework, in order to ensure that the proposed energy efficiency measures take due account of the specificities in each Member State;

18.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should also take the debate beyond 2020 and consider mid-term targets for emissions reductions, energy efficiency and renewables for 2030;

19.  Considers that the 7th EAP should also address maritime and non-CO2 emissions;

20.  Considers that adaptation to climate change should be properly addressed by the 7th EAP, taking into account the different necessities of the regions, on the basis of the upcoming EU Adaptation Strategy; invites the Commission to put forward an ambitious proposal for reforming EU plant health legislation in order to effectively combat the proliferation of invasive species and pests, some of which are the result of climate change;

21.  Acknowledges the additional benefits of a growing renewable energy production in terms of pollution reduction and health impacts, provided that it effectively reduces non-renewable energy production;

22.  Recommends increasing support for regional low-carbon, climate-resilient strategies and small-scale climate projects by SMEs, NGOs and local authorities under the Climate Action sub-programme included in the new LIFE programme proposed by the Commission;

Efficient and Sustainable Use of Resources

23.  Recalls that an absolute reduction of resource use is urgently needed; asks the Commission to interpret the term ‘resource efficiency’ broadly so that all resources are covered; points out that these include, for example, natural energy and non-energy resources, such as water, ecosystems and biological diversity; asks the Commission also to integrate sustainable materials management and sustainability in production and consumption into the area of resource efficiency;

24.  Considers that the 7th EAP should be instrumental in achieving a long-term target, namely reducing the Ecological Footprint by 50% within the next 20 years; points out that the EU's excessive ecological footprint is undermining regional and global prospectss for natural ecosystems that can sufficiently support humankind;

25.  Considers that the objectives of the Roadmap towards a resource-efficient Europe should be fully included in the 7th EAP;

26.  Invites the Commission to already use – and improve – existing resource efficiency indicators where available and set targets without any delay in close cooperation with the Member States and all other interested parties, and to develop as soon as possible new indicators and targets where needed, as requested in the Roadmap; calls on the Commission, in view of the limitations of the flagship indicator on resource productivity, to define an indicator for material consumption, using a lifecycle-based approach that integrates hidden flows, i.e. the potential for environmental pressures to be transferred outside the EU, and movements of shortfalls and dependencies, without delay;

27.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should provide for the development of a legislative framework for mainstreaming into relevant policies, especially that of sustainable production, the notion of cascading use of resources, ensuring that our scarce raw materials are used to their full potential;

28.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should include objectives on how to deal with the urban environment, where the majority of European citizens live, where more than two thirds of CO2 emissions are produced, and which has a considerable impact on the environment, and that it should provide guidance on how to promote integrated environmental planning, sustainable mobility, quality of life and human health in cities, taking into account the principle of subsidiarity;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, with a view to implementing pollution reduction strategies in the urban environment, to examine the possibility of creating a European support framework for the progressive implementation of urban mobility plans in European cities, establishing procedures and financial support mechanisms at European level for preparing urban mobility audits as well as urban mobility plans, and setting up a European Urban Mobility Scoreboard;

30.  Considers that the 7th EAP should provide for full attainment of the goals for sustainable and ecological consumption and production set out in the Roadmap, for example as regards Green and Sustainable Public Procurement in compliance with the principles of transparency and fair competition; calls for the development of product policy, addressing the whole product lifecycle and including animal welfare friendly methods of production; calls on the Commission, once the harmonised European method for calculating a product's environmental footprint has been finalised, to ensure that additional information for consumers about the environmental impact of products, beyond existing schemes (eco-label, energy label, organic certification, etc.), is included; calls on the Commission to extend the scope of the Ecodesign Directive and review the implementation thereof;

31.  Considers that the 7th EAP should encourage the creation of incentive schemes to promote demand for recycled materials, particularly when incorporated in finished products;

32.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should provide for full implementation of waste legislation, including compliance with the waste treatment hierarchy while ensuring coherence with other EU policies; considers that it should set more ambitious prevention, re-use and recycling targets, including a net decrease in waste generation, no incineration of waste that is suitable for recycling or composting with respect to the hierarchy of the Waste Framework Directive, and a strict ban on the dumping of selectively collected waste in landfill,s as well as sectoral objectives for resource efficiency and process efficiency benchmarks; recalls that waste is also a resource and can often also be reutilised, in which case we can ensure the efficient use of resources; invites the Commission to investigate how to make collecting waste from consumer products more efficient both by extending the principle of extended producer responsibility and through guidelines on managing recovery, collection and recycling systems; emphasises the need to invest in the recycling of raw materials and rare earths, since mining, refining and recycling rare earths can have serious consequences for the environment unless managed appropriately;

33.  Believes that targets that have already been set in several directives regarding the collection and separation of waste should be further elaborated and set for the highest and most qualitative recovery of materials in each of the phases of recycling, namely collection, dismantling, pre-processing and recycling/refinery;

34.  Considers that the 7th EAP should take into account the provisions of the forthcoming Blueprint on EU Water Policy and stresses the value of a better coordinated approach to water pricing; calls on the Commission, therefore, to facilitate access to solutions to water shortages, water recovery and developing alternative irrigation techniques and to encourage the optimisation of the successive uses of water extracted from the water cycle, including recycling water used for agricultural and industrial purposes where appropriate, and recovering the nutrients and energy contained in waste water;

35.  Calls on Member States to ensure the full and effective implementation of water legislation and takes the view that, to ensure compliance with the Water Framework Directive and the Directive on the assessment and management of flood risks, measures must be developed to recover the natural banks of rivers and reforest the adjacent areas; 

36.  Urges the Commission to involve all relevant stakeholders in the formulation of targets which should ensure sustainability of land use in the 7th EAP; calls on the Commission to define critical land-use issues such as the loss of semi-natural habitats and the displacement of high-value land uses by bioenergy crops; emphasises, in this connection, the need for sustainability criteria for biomass and biofuels which also address the issue of indirect land-use change;

37.  Considers that the 7th EAP needs to address the impacts of European policies outside the EU, and asks the Commission, therefore, to take forward the issue of reducing the EU's land footprint in third countries, in particular by addressing indirect land use change due to biofuels and biomass for energy, and to include the objective that no land of high environmental value will be converted to new uses in order to produce crops for the EU;

Biodiversity and Forestry

38.  Underlines the importance of acting now, in order to set the EU on the right track to fully meet its own biodiversity 2020 headline target, as well as its global commitments on protecting biodiversity, as we cannot afford to fail again, and of planning sufficient resources for the conservation of the Natura 2000 Network; considers that the difficulties encountered in meeting the target set for 2010 indicate the need for an in-depth review of the methods applied to date; believes that integrated strategic studies, including studies of the elements that could influence protected areas, must be carried out; considers that these studies should be incorporated into urban planning and be accompanied by educational and information campaigns about the importance of local resources and their conservation;

39.  Considers that the objectives of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, including its targets and actions, should be fully included in the 7th EAP as a means to ensure its full implementation; considers that certain actions need to be reinforced in the short term so that biodiversity is more clearly addressed in all policy areas, and that additional actions are necessary (e.g. action to restore degraded eco-systems) to effectively achieve the 2020 target; stresses that the 7th EAP will provide a powerful framework to support the adoption of the necessary legal and financial instruments, starting with guaranteed funding for Natura 2000;

40.  Emphasises the importance of mobilising both EU and national financial support from all possible sources, as well as developing innovative financial mechanisms, to ensure an adequate level of support for biodiversity;

41.  Invites the Commission to publish a communication on the new European Forestry Strategy by the end of 2012, to propose effective measures to improve cooperation between Member States on forestry issues and to encourage a rational use of forestry resources and sustainable forest management;

42.  Recommends including a stronger focus on forests in the new Common Agricultural Policy by promoting agroforestry and a rural development policy based on sustainable landscapes;

43.  Calls for the introduction of a new Community regulation on preventing fires or, at the very least, proposes to strengthen cooperation between Member States in this area;

Environmental quality and health

44.  Takes the view, given that poor environmental conditions have a substantial impact on health, involving high costs, that the 7th EAP should notably:

   continue to include the 6th EAP's objective that by 2020 chemicals will only be produced and used in ways that do not have a significant negative impact on health and the environment;
   address air quality – including indoor air quality – and its impact on health;
   address noise and its impact on health;
   provide for the development of specific measures relating to emerging human and animal health threats, currently not sufficiently addressed, to examine the effects of new developments on human and animal health, such as nanomaterials, endocrine disruptors and the combination effects of chemicals, on the basis of scientific studies and commonly accepted definitions, where available;
   include action to protect children's health from environmental pollution, on the basis of the WHO Europe Parma Declaration on Environment and Health, of March 2010;
   tie in with the second Environmental Health Action Plan;

45.  Underlines that the 7th EAP should set specific goals to ensure that by 2020 the health of European citizens is no longer undermined by pollution and hazardous substances;

46.  Considers that full regard should be paid to the methods used for the risk assessment of chemicals, prioritising alternatives to animal tests; considers also that the 7th EAP should provide for the adoption of an EU-wide strategy to reduce the number of animals used in safety testing, while guaranteeing a high quality of life for humans and animals in the EU;

47.  Believes that there is a need for a holistic approach to health and the environment, which focuses on precaution and the prevention of risks, and in particular takes account of vulnerable groups such as foetuses, children and young people;

48.  Considers that efforts should be made to focus on prevention, precaution and promotion of environment-friendly activities at EU level, in the field of research, innovation and development, with the goal of reducing the environmental burden of disease;

49.  Considers that the 7th EAP should address the transport issue by promoting more investment in environment-friendly transport systems and proposing solutions to tackle congestion, CO2 emissions and micro-particles;

50.  Considers it important that the 7th Environment Action Programme pay special attention to the continued phasing out of mercury, both within and outside the EU;

Enforcement

51.  Calls on the Member States to see to the full and proper implementation of EU environmental legislation and adopted policies and strategies, and to ensure adequate capacity and finances for full implementation, including in times of austerity, as non-implementation or incomplete implementation of EU environmental legislation is not only unlawful, but also far more costly to society in the long run;

52.  Considers it essential to strengthen the European Union Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) and urges the Commission to report on possible ways of doing so;

53.  Calls on the Commission to systematically apply ex-ante controls of compliance with all relevant Community laws, particularly in the area of Cohesion Policy, before granting any funding;

54.  Considers it important to view the 7th EAP as a means of communication with European citizens, so that it can mobilise these citizens, not least for the purposes of enforcing agreed policies on the ground;

55.  Calls on the Commission to step up its role as the ‘guardian of the Treaties’ in order to ensure correct transposition, implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation by all Member States; recommends greater local authority participation throughout the process of defining environmental policy so as to improve implementation of the legislation across the board, including setting up teams to transpose environmental law at regional and local level; calls on the Commission, therefore, to explore what role the European Environment Agency could play in relation to transposition and implementation;

Integration

56.  Takes the view that environmental considerations are gaining increasing importance in other sectoral policies and that, accordingly, environment policy should be further integrated into other policy areas;

57.  Invites the Commission to develop indicators in order to be able to measure improvement of integration;

58.  Takes the view that the objectives of Roadmap 2050 can only be achieved if complementary strategies are implemented, including assessment of agriculture, reforestation and the introduction of policy incentives for innovation and rapid implementation of solar, geothermal and marine energy;

59.  Urges the Commission to include in its 7th EAP proposal an aggregated list of all the existing environment-related targets for the different policy areas, notably climate change, biodiversity, transport, energy, agriculture, fisheries and cohesion policy, and examine them in conjunction with each other, so as to allow for an appropriate comparison and to ensure that objectives are coherent;

60.  Urges the Commission, when reviewing the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and Directive 2001/42/EC, to ensure that they contribute to a sustainable use of land as a critical resource in the EU and also to extend the scope of environmental impact assessments to cover not only large projects, while tightening and expanding the criteria of such assessments but also to include the notion of cascading use of resources and full life-cycle analysis;

61.  Calls on the Commission to propose a procedure ensuring the impartiality and independence of environmental impact assessments, first of all by eliminating the direct relationship between project developers and the assessors;

62.  Recommends that an equitable balance be found between the need to combat climate change and to halt or mitigate biodiversity loss and the Seventh Environment Action Programme, so that the European Union can achieve the EU 2020 targets and avoid unnecessary costs resulting from climate change and biodiversity loss; stresses in this context the importance of cohesion policy post-2013; also emphasises, with prevention policy in mind, the need to see costs as investments for the future and for new jobs and to launch information, awareness and other campaigns so as to allow best practice to be exchanged at all levels; underlines the need for better use of technical assistance at national, regional and local levels in order to increase administrative capacity where needed; considers it necessary to efficiently match research and innovation objectives with local and regional development needs;

63.  Takes the view that the objectives of Roadmap 2050 can only be achieved if complementary strategies are implemented, including assessment of agriculture, reforestation and the introduction of policy incentives for innovation and rapid implementation of solar, geothermal and marine energy;

64.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should include a strict and detailed plan both at European and national level for the phasing-out of all environmentally harmful subsidies by 2020, for example those affecting biodiversity, in order to respect the Nagoya commitments;

65.  Considers that the 7th EAP should provide for the inclusion of environmental considerations beyond the current climate change and energy headline indicators in the European Semester; calls on the Commission, in particular, to integrate resource efficiency policies as set out in the Resource Efficiency Roadmap, and to monitor through the European Semester Member States' follow-up to country-specific recommendations accordingly;

66.  Underlines the important role of regional and local authorities, non-governmental organisations, academia as well as civil society and the private sector, in the promotion and implementation of effective environment policy across the EU;

67.  Considers that, in order to achieve meaningful results, implementation of the programmes at regional and local level must be ensured, and the process must be inclusive of all interested parties; calls for attention to be paid to the situation of regions and territories with special geographical features, such as islands, mountain regions and sparsely populated regions; welcomes the Commission's proposal to strengthen the use of Environmental Impact Assessments and Strategic Environmental Impact Assessments in local and regional decision-making;

68.  Underlines that the 7th EAP should provide for the full implementation of the Aarhus Convention, in particular regarding access to justice; stresses, in this connection, the urgent need to adopt the directive on access to justice; calls on the Council to respect its obligations resulting from the Arhus Convention and to adopt a common position on the corresponding Commission proposal before the end of 2012;

69.  Takes the view that the 7th EAP should aim at supporting the development of alternative models to measure growth and welfare ‘beyond GDP’;

70.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote the ‘green economy’ globally, integrating environmental, social and economic aspects such as poverty reduction;

71.  Underlines the importance of demonstrating to EU citizens, especially in the current economic climate, that environmental protection is not contradictory to sustainable economic and social development; advocates, to this end, the promotion of successful projects and the dissemination of information to the public on the feasibility of environmentally benign economic development in important natural and cultural heritage areas like the Natura 2000 network;

72.  Recalls that the 7th EAP should provide for the right framework to ensure adequate funding, including funding for innovation, research and development;

73.  Takes the view that the LIFE+ programme should be managed by the Commission, with the emphasis being placed on projects of innovation and excellence, promoting SMEs and R&D institutions and prioritising the maintenance of biodiversity with a systematic and integral approach and agricultural technologies compatible with the preservation of the soil and the food chain of animals' ecosystems; believes that the EU's LIFE+ programme should be more widely promoted in all regions of Europe in order to encourage innovative practices at local level and enhance the impact and awareness of the ‘Environmental Policy and Management’ section of this programme;

74.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop within the next Research Framework Programme a research and innovation programme targeting new materials and resources which could in the future replace existing raw materials that are in short supply;

International dimension

75.  Considers that the 7th EAP should have as a goal to integrate environmental considerations into all EU external relations, in particular into development aid and trade agreements, in order to promote environmental protection in third countries; urges the EU to promote joint programming of environmental research activities with its neighbours;

76.  Invites the Commission to include in its proposal a goal for the EU to fully support the work on environmental accounting done by the UN, the World Bank and European Environment Agency, in order to equip the world with a harmonised environmental accounting system; welcomes the commitments made in the EU Biodiversity Strategy to improving knowledge of ecosystems and their services in the EU (as in the case of forests); encourages Member States to share information about their experiences and to compare notes on methodologies relating to ecosystem accounting;

77.  Considers that the 7th EAP should provide for timely implementation of EU international commitments, in particular in the framework of the UNFCCC and the CBD;

78.  Urges the Commission to integrate in the 7th EAP the outcome of the Rio+20 conference on the Green Economy and on strengthening International Environment Governance;

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

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