Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 - Strasbourg
Macro-financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic ***I
 Energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment ***I
 Completing the digital single market
 Financing SME trade and investment
 A digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy
 Transitional arrangements for bilateral investment agreements between Member States and third countries ***II
 Macro-financial assistance for Georgia ***II
 European Maritime Safety Agency ***II
 Creation of unitary patent protection ***I
 Unitary patent protection *
 Jurisdictional system for patent disputes
 Implementation of the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the EU-Central America association agreement ***I
 EU-Central America association agreement
 EU-Central America association agreement ***
 Implementation of the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the EU-Colombia/Peru trade agreement ***I
 EU-Colombia/Peru trade agreement ***
 Prevention of age-related diseases of women
 Rising threats from antimicrobial resistance
 Voting in the event that the seat of a full member of a committee falls vacant (interpretation of Rule 187(1))

Macro-financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic ***I
PDF 226kWORD 30k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing macro-financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic (COM(2011)0925 – C7-0521/2011 – 2011/0458(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0466A7-0208/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0925),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 209 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0521/2011),

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0208/2012),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 December 2012 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council providing macro-financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic

P7_TC1-COD(2011)0458


THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 209 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,

After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,

Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure(1),

Whereas:

(1)  Cooperation with the EU is based on a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) that entered into force in 1999. The EU grants Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) treatment to the Kyrgyz Republic.

(2)  Kyrgyz economy has been affected by the international financial crisis in 2009 and by the ethnic violence of June 2010, which disrupted economic activities, creating substantial public expenditure needs for reconstruction and social assistance, and resulted in important external and budgetary financial gaps.

(3)  At the High Level Donors Meeting held in July 2010, the international community pledged USD 1,1 billion in emergency support to assist in the recovery of the Kyrgyz Republic. The EU announced that it would provide up to EUR 117,9 million as financial assistance at this High Level Donors Meeting.

(4)  The EU Foreign Affairs Council, in its conclusions on the Kyrgyz Republic of 26 July 2010, welcomed the efforts of the new Kyrgyz government to establish a democratic institutional framework and invited the Commission to ‘continue providing assistance, including new assistance programmes, to the Kyrgyz authorities in the implementation of their reform programme and to contribute to sustainable economic and social development of the country’.

(5)  EU political and economic support to the Kyrgyz Republic’s incipient parliamentary democracy will provide a political signal of strong EU support to democratic reforms in Central Asia, consistent with the EU policy towards the region spelled out in the Strategy for Central Asia for 2007-2013 and with statements by EU leaders.

(6)  The economic adjustment and reform process of the Kyrgyz Republic is supported by financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In June 2011, the Kyrgyz authorities agreed with the three-year IMF Extended Credit Facility of SDR 66,6 million in support of the country.

(7)  The EU intends to provide sectoral budget support to the Kyrgyz Republic under the Development Cooperation Instrument for a total of EUR 33 million over the period 2011 – 2013 to support reforms in social protection, education and public financial management.

(8)  The Kyrgyz Republic requested in 2010 EU macro-financial assistance in view of the worsening economic situation and outlook.

(9)  Given that, after taking into account macroeconomic support from the IMF and the World Bank, there is still a residual financing gap in the balance of payments, and given the vulnerability of the external position to exogenous shocks which requires maintaining an appropriate level of the foreign exchange reserves, macro-financial assistance is considered an appropriate response to the Kyrgyz Republic's request under the current exceptional circumstances. The EU's macro-financial assistance programme to the Kyrgyz Republic (hereinafter ‘the Union's macro-financial assistance’) would support the country's economic stabilisation and the structural reform agenda, supplementing the resources being made available under the IMF's financial arrangement.

(10)  The Union's macro-financial assistance should not merely supplement programmes and resources from the IMF and the World Bank, but should also ensure the added value of Union's involvement.

(11)  The Commission should ensure that the Union's macro-financial assistance is legally and substantially in line with the measures taken within the different areas of external action and other relevant Union policies.

(12)  The specific objectives of the Union's macro-financial assistance should strengthen efficiency, transparency and accountability of the public finance management in the Kyrgyz Republic. These objectives should be regularly monitored by the Commission.

(13)  The conditions underlying the provision of the Union's macro-financial assistance should reflect the key principles and objectives of the Union’s policy towards the Kyrgyz Republic.

(14)  In order to ensure efficient protection of the EU’s financial interests linked to this macro-financial assistance, it is necessary that the Kyrgyz Republic adopt appropriate measures relating to the prevention of, and the fight against, fraud, corruption and any other irregularities linked to this assistance. It is also necessary that the Commission provide for appropriate controls and that the Court of Auditors provide for appropriate audits.

(15)  The release of the EU's financial assistance is without prejudice to the powers of the budgetary authority.

(16)  The assistance should be managed by the Commission. In order to ensure that the European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee are able to follow the implementation of this Decision, the Commission should regularly inform them of developments relating to the assistance and provide them with relevant documents.

(17)  In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of this Decision, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers(2).

(18)  Economic policy conditions, to be laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding, will be attached to the Union's macro-financial assistance. In order to ensure uniform conditions of implementation and for reasons of efficiency, the Commission should be empowered to negotiate such conditions with the Kyrgyz authorities under the supervision of the Committee of the Member States foreseen by Regulation (EU) No 182/2011. The fact that the assistance is of a limited maximum amount provides for the due justification required by the second sentence of Article 2(3) of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 to subject the adoption of the Memorandum of Understanding to the advisory procedure. [Am. 1]

(19)  According to the International Monetary Fund, the Kyrgyz Republic falls under the category of ‘emerging and developing economies’; according to the World Bank, the Kyrgyz Republic is part of the group of ‘low-income economies’ and ‘IDA countries’; according to the UN-OHRLLS(3), the Kyrgyz Republic falls under the category of ‘landlocked-developing country’; according to the OECD/Development Assistance Committee, the Kyrgyz Republic is in the list of ‘other low income countries’. Therefore, the Kyrgyz Republic should be considered as being a developing country in the sense of Article 208 TFEU, which justifies the choice of Article 209 TFEU as a legal basis for this Decision,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DECISION:

Article 1

1.  The European Union shall make macro-financial assistance available to the Kyrgyz Republic for a maximum amount of EUR 30 million, with a view to supporting the country's economic stabilisation and covering its balance of payments needs as identified in the current IMF programme. Of this amount, up to EUR 15 million shall be provided in the form of loans and up to EUR 15 million in the form of grants. The release of the proposed macro-financial assistance is subject to the approval of the 2013 Budget by the budgetary authority. The Commission is empowered to borrow the necessary resources on behalf of the European Union in order to finance the loan component of the Union's macro-financial assistance. The loan shall have a maximum maturity of 15 years.

2.  The release of the Union's financial assistance shall be managed by the Commission in a manner consistent with the agreements or understandings reached between the IMF and the Kyrgyz Republic and with the key principles and objectives of economic reforms set out in the the EU-Kyrgyz Republic Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and in the Strategy for Central Asia for 2007-2013. The Commission shall regularly inform the European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee of developments in the management of the assistance and provide them with relevant documents.

3.  The European Union financial assistance shall be made available for two years starting from the first day after the entry into force of the Memorandum of Understanding referred to in Article 2(1).

Article 2

1.  The Commission, acting in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 6(2), shall be empowered to agree with the authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic on the economic policy and financial conditions attached to the European Union macro-financial assistance, to be laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding which shall include a timeframe for their fulfilment (hereafter the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’). The economic policy and financial conditions set out in the Memorandum of Understanding shall be consistent with the agreements or understandings referred to in Article 1(2). These conditions will aim, in particular, at strengthening the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the assistance, including public finance management systems in the Kyrgyz Republic. Progress in attaining these objectives shall be regularly monitored by the Commission. The detailed financial terms of the assistance shall be laid down in the Grant Agreement and the Loan Agreement to be agreed between the Commission and the authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic.

2.  During the implementation of the European Union financial assistance, the Commission shall monitor the soundness of the Kyrgyz Republic's financial arrangements, the administrative procedures and the internal and external control mechanisms which are relevant to such assistance and the adherence to the agreed timeframe.

3.  The Commission shall verify at regular intervals that the economic policies of the Kyrgyz Republic are in accordance with the objectives of the Union's macro-financial assistance and that the agreed economic policy conditions are being satisfactorily fulfilled. In doing so, the Commission shall coordinate closely with the IMF and the World Bank, and, when required, with the Economic and Financial Committee.

Article 3

1.  Subject to the conditions of paragraph 2, the European Union financial assistance shall be made available by the Commission to the Kyrgyz Republic in two instalments, each of them consisting of a loan and a grant element. The size of each instalment shall be laid down in the Memorandum of Understanding.

2.  The Commission shall decide on the release of the instalments subject to a satisfactory implementation of the economic policy conditions agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding. The disbursement of the second instalment shall not take place earlier than three months after the release of the first instalment.

3.  The European Union funds shall be paid to the National Bank of the Kyrgyz Republic. Subject to provisions to be agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding, including a confirmation of residual budgetary financing needs, the Union funds may be transferred to the Treasury of the Kyrgyz Republic as the final beneficiary.

Article 4

1.  The borrowing and lending operations related to the loan component of the European Union assistance shall be carried out in euro using the same value date and shall not involve the European Union in the transformation of maturities, in any exchange or interest rate risks, or in any other commercial risk.

2.  The Commission shall take the necessary steps, if the Kyrgyz Republic so requests, to ensure that an early repayment clause is included in the loan terms and conditions and that it is matched by a corresponding clause in the terms and conditions of the borrowing operations.

3.  At the request of the Kyrgyz Republic and where circumstances permit an improvement of the interest rate of the loan, the Commission may refinance all or part of its initial loan or restructure the corresponding financial conditions. Refinancing or restructuring operations shall be carried out in accordance with the conditions set out in paragraph 1 and shall not have the effect of extending the average maturity of the loan concerned or increasing the amount of capital outstanding at the date of the refinancing or restructuring.

4.  All costs incurred by the European Union which are related to the borrowing and lending operations under this Decision shall be borne by the Kyrgyz Republic.

5.  The European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee shall be kept informed of developments in the operations referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3.

Article 5

The European Union financial assistance shall be implemented in accordance with the provisions of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(4) and its implementing rules. In particular, the Memorandum of Understanding, the Loan Agreement and the Grant Agreement to be agreed with the authorities of the Kyrgyz Republic shall provide for appropriate measures in relation to the prevention of, and the fight against, fraud, corruption and other irregularities affecting the assistance. In order to ensure greater transparency in the management and disbursement of funds, the Memorandum of Understanding, the Loan Agreement and the Grant Agreement shall also provide for controls, including on-the-spot checks and inspections, to be carried out by the Commission, including the European Anti-Fraud Office. Those documents shall, in addition, provide for audits, including where appropriate on-the-spot audits, by the Court of Auditors.

Article 6

1.  The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.

2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 shall apply.

Article 7

1.  By 30 June of each year, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on the implementation of this Decision in the preceding year, including an evaluation thereof. The report shall indicate the connection between the economic policy conditions as laid down in the Memorandum of Understanding, the Kyrgyz Republic’s on-going economic and fiscal performance and the Commission’s decisions to release the instalments of the assistance.

2.  No later than two years after the expiry of the availability period referred to in Article 1(3), the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council an ex post evaluation report.

Article 8

This Decision shall enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Done at

For the European Parliament

The President

For the Council

The President

(1) Position of the European Parliament of 11 December 2012.
(2) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(3) UN Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States.
(4) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.


Energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a European Union energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment amending Regulation (EC) No 106/2008 on a Community energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment (COM(2012)0109 – C7-0077/2012 – 2012/0049(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0467A7-0382/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2012)0109),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 194(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0077/2012),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 25 April 2012(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 26 October 2012 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0382/2012),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 December 2012 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 106/2008 on a Community energy-efficiency labelling programme for office equipment

P7_TC1-COD(2012)0049


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 174/2013.)

(1) OJ C 191, 29.6.2012, p. 142.


Completing the digital single market
PDF 215kWORD 54k
European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on completing the Digital Single Market (2012/2030(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0468A7-0341/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2012 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Single Market Act II’ (COM(2012)0573),

–  having regard to the proposal of 4 June 2012 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market (COM(2012)0238),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 May 2012 entitled ‘Consumer Scoreboard shows where consumer conditions are best in Europe - Seventh edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard’ (SWD(2012)0165),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2012 on a strategy for strengthening the rights of vulnerable consumers(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 May 2012 on the Internal Market Scoreboard(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 May 2012 to the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘A European Consumer Agenda - Boosting confidence and growth’ (COM(2012)0225),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 22 May 2012 entitled ‘Report on Consumer Policy (July 2010 - December 2011)’ (SWD(2012)0132), accompanying the communication ’A European Consumer Agenda - Boosting confidence and growth’ (COM(2012)0225),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 May 2012 entitled ‘European Strategy for a Better Internet for Children’ (COM(2012)0196),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 April 2012 entitled ‘A strategy for e-procurement’ (COM(2012)0179),

–  having regard to the proposal of 25 January 2012 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (General Data Protection Regulation) (COM(2012)0011),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 January 2012 entitled ‘A Coherent framework for building trust in the Digital Single Market for e-commerce and online services’ (COM(2011)0942),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2011 on a new strategy for consumer policy(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2011 on online gambling in the internal market,(4)

–  having regard to Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2011 on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(5),

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a consumer programme 2014-2020 (COM(2011)0707) and the related documents (SEC(2011)1320 and SEC(2011)1321),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020(6),

–  having regard to the proposal of 19 October 2011 for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the Connecting Europe Facility (COM(2011)0665),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 October 2011 entitled ‘Making markets work for consumers – Sixth edition of the Consumer Markets Scoreboard’ (SEC(2011)1271),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2011 on a more efficient and fairer retail market(7),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Paper of 7 April 2011 entitled ‘Consumer Empowerment in the EU’ (SEC(2011)0469),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 4 March 2011 entitled ‘Consumers at home in the single market - Fifth Edition of the Consumer Conditions Scoreboard’ (SEC(2011)0299),

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

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2010 on the impact of advertising on consumer behaviour(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 September 2010 on completing the internal market for e-commerce(9),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2010/45/EU of 13 July 2010 amending Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax as regards the rules on invoicing(10),

–  having regard to the ECJ judgments on Google (Joined Cases C-236/08 to C-238/08, judgment of 23 March 2010) and BergSpechte (Case C-278/08, judgment of 25 March 2010), which define the notion of the ‘normally informed and reasonably attentive internet user’ as being the standard internet consumer,

–  having regard to Directive 2010/13/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 March 2010 on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive)(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2010 on consumer protection(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of people with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020 (13),

–  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 Monti report of 9 May 2010 on a new strategy for the single market,

–  having regard to the analytical report entitled ‘Attitudes towards cross-border sales and consumer protection’ published by the Commission in March 2010 (Flash Eurobarometer 282),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 October 2009 on cross-border business to consumer e-commerce in the EU (COM(2009)0557),

–  having regard to the ‘Mystery shopping evaluation of cross-border e-commerce in the EU’, a study conducted on behalf of the Commission’s DG SANCO by YouGovPsychonomics and published on 20 October 2009,

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 22 September 2009 on the follow up in retail financial services to the Consumer Markets Scoreboard (SEC(2009)1251),

–  having regard to the communication of 7 July 2009 from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a harmonised methodology for classifying and reporting consumer complaints and enquiries (COM(2009)0346), and to the accompanying draft Commission recommendation (SEC(2009)0949),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 2 July 2009 on the enforcement of the consumer acquis (COM(2009)0330),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 2 July 2009 on the application of Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the consumer protection cooperation regulation) (COM(2009)0336),

–  having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document of 5 March 2009 entitled ‘Report on cross-border e-commerce in the EU’ (SEC(2009)0283),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2009 on international trade and the internet,(14)

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 January 2009 on the transposition, implementation and enforcement of Directive 2005/29/EC concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market and Directive 2006/114/EC concerning misleading and comparative advertising(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 September 2008 on how marketing and advertising affect equality between women and men(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 June 2007 on consumer confidence in the digital environment(17),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the consumer protection cooperation regulation)(18),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/114/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 concerning misleading and comparative advertising(19),

–  having regard to Article 20(2) of Directive 2006/123/EC of 12 December 2006 on services in the internal market(20),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 23 March 2006 on European contract law and the revision of the acquis: the way forward(21) and of 7 September 2006 on European contract law(22),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on the review of the EU regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (COM(2006)0334),

–  having regard to Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market(23),

–  having regard to Directive 2004/113/EC of the Council of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(24),

–  having regard to Special Eurobarometer No 342 on consumer empowerment,

–  having regard to the UNCITRAL Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracting 2005, the UNCITRAL Model Law on electronic signatures (2001) and the UNCITRAL Model Law on electronic commerce (1996)(25),

–  having regard to the First Application Report of 21 November 2003 on the E-Commerce Directive (COM(2003)0702),

–  having regard to Directive 2002/65/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 concerning the distance marketing of consumer financial services and amending Council Directive 90/619/EEC and Directives 97/7/EC and 98/27/EC(26),

–  having regard to Directive 2002/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector(27),

–  having regard to Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market(28),

–  having regard to Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data(29),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, as incorporated into the Treaties by Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and in particular its Articles 7 (respect for private and family life), 21 (non-discrimination), 24 (the rights of the child), 25 (the rights of the elderly), 26 (integration of persons with disabilities) and 38 (consumer protection),

–  having regard to Article 9 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘in defining and implementing its policies and activities, the Union shall take into account requirements linked to the promotion of a high level of employment, the guarantee of adequate social protection, the fight against social exclusion, and a high level of education, training and protection of human health’,

–  having regard to Article 11 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of the Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development’,

–  having regard to Article 12 TFEU, which stipulates that ‘consumer protection requirements shall be taken into account in defining and implementing other Union policies and activities’,

–  having regard to Article 14 TFEU and Protocol 26 thereto on services of general (economic) interest,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, the Committee on Development, the Committee on Culture and Education and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0341/2012),

A.  whereas completing the Digital Single Market is a key factor in making the EU the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world;

B.  whereas e-commerce and online services are a vital force of the internet and are crucial to the aims of the EU 2020 strategy for the internal market, benefiting both citizens and businesses through intelligent, sustainable and inclusive growth;

C.  whereas 99 % of all European businesses are SMEs, providing 85 % of employment, and SMEs are thus the driving force in the European economy, having the prime responsibility for wealth creation, employment and growth, as well as innovation and R&D;

D.  whereas e-commerce has become an essential part of commerce and an important driver of consumer choice, competition and technological innovation, given that consumers and businesses differentiate less and less between online and offline in their daily life;

E.  Recalls that a Digital Single Market where services can flow freely within a market of 500 million consumers is a crucial driver for competitiveness and economic growth, providing highly-qualified jobs and facilitating the EU’s convergence into a knowledge-driven economy;

F.  Emphasises that broadband and the internet are important drivers for economic growth, the knowledge society, job creation, innovation and European competitiveness, as well as boosting online commerce and services; stresses that consumers and businesses need broadband access to take full advantage of the internet;

G.  Emphasises the importance of ‘one-stop-shops’ for VAT in order to facilitate crossborder e-commerce for SMEs and promote e-invoicing; points out, however, that such ’one-stop shops’ should be created only within the framework of existing institutions, without increasing the burden on the taxpayer;

H.  whereas companies which have developed their internet economy have progressed far more than others, and in the current economic and financial crisis with the generation of employment practically depending on SMEs, it is essential to remove barriers to online commerce so that they can benefit from all its advantages;

I.  whereas online markets need to be as flexible as possible in order to create better business and development opportunities in this sector;

J.  whereas e-commerce is an important complement to offline trade, providing opportunities for small companies to grow and offering greater access to goods and services, including in remote areas and in the countryside and for people with disabilities and reduced mobility;

K.  whereas, in some G-8 countries the internet has accounted for 20 % of economic growth and 25 % of jobs created in the last five years;

L.  whereas the benefits of globalisation can be more evenly distributed among consumers and SMEs thanks to the internet and e-commerce;

M.  whereas achieving an effective functioning internal market would be an important step towards fulfilling the Lisbon agenda goals of increasing growth, employment and competitiveness to serve the 500 million consumers in the EU;

N.  whereas the Digital Single Market offers a wider choice at more competitive prices to consumers, especially to those living in less accessible, remote or outlying areas, as well as those with reduced mobility who would otherwise not have access to a wide choice of goods; whereas the internet allows new businesses, in particular SMEs, to start up and enables existing companies to flourish by finding new market niches;

O.  whereas there are 75 million persons with disabilities in Europe, and these persons should also have full access to the internal market, paying particular attention to the challenges of digital interfaces in the case of people with visual impairments;

P.  whereas the internet and technology constitute tools enabling the internationalisation of SMEs and their increased engagement in international markets and trade; calls for an integrated European market for card, internet and mobile payments; calls, at the same time, for a facilitated framework for e-invoicing; stresses in both these regards the importance of interoperability and open standards so as to facilitate maximum market potential and competition;

Q.  whereas consumers benefit from e-commerce in terms of lower prices and wider choice, allied to the convenience of being able to shop without leaving their homes; whereas this is particularly beneficial for disabled consumers and consumers in rural or remote areas;

R.  whereas a well-functioning digital economy is imperative for a well-functioning EU economy; whereas, however, the free movement of digital services is currently severely hindered by fragmented rules at national level, owing to which businesses face numerous barriers to selling across borders in the EU, mainly because of the different rules applying at Member State level in such areas as consumer protection, VAT, product-specific regulations and payment transactions; whereas it is necessary to call on the EU institutions to reinforce their commitment to removing the key regulatory obstacles to crossborder online transactions by 2015, and to call on the Commission to continue to propose targeted legislative action in order to address key impediments;

S.  whereas e-commerce allows consumers to benefit from lower prices and a wider choice, but 60 % of websites are currently unsuitable for crossborder online shoppers, and consumer and business confidence in the digital environment is still low;

T.  whereas access to reliable information and transparency should be enhanced, allowing consumers to compare not only prices but also quality and sustainability of goods and services online;

U.  whereas the fragmentation of the EU digital market endangers rights under the acquis communautaire, as consumers and businesses have little legal certainty as regards crossborder e-commerce, thanks to the existence of too many legal provisions setting divergent requirements, a circumstance which does not allow business operators, authorities or consumers to benefit from clear and enforceable rules;

V.  whereas most disputes are actually resolved out of court and the time periods conceded to ADR can be too short - an effective ODR system is required;

W.  whereas it is vital to overcome the legal fragmentation now existing in a number of areas, in order to achieve a complete and real Digital Single Market;

X.  whereas e-commerce and online services encourage the development of a sustainable single market, through the use of low-carbon and environment-friendly technologies, standards, labels, products and services;

A Digital Single Market for growth and employment

1.  Stresses that in times of economic and financial crisis it is essential to take measures to stimulate growth and create employment, and emphasises that completing the Digital Single Market would be a crucial step forward in terms of achieving this goal; calls on the Commission, therefore, to implement its plan for the launching and completion of the Digital Single Market; highlights the fact that the digital single market is the easiest way for businesses and citizens to reap the benefits of the single market;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s new communication on e-commerce and online services, published on 11 January 2012, which aims to develop a coherent framework for e-commerce via the building of trust and the extension of e-commerce and online services to the B2B, B2C, C2C and G2G sectors; calls on the Commission to report by the end of 2012 on the progress made on the 16 ‘Main Actions’ as set out under the five priority areas of the communication;

3.  Welcomes the Commission’s new communication on ‘a Single Market Act II’, which includes key actions to support the development of a European digital economy; emphasises the need to fully reap the benefits of the Digital Single Market;

4.  Calls on the Commission to implement, develop, and effectively follow up its action plan for facilitating crossborder access to online products and content, and, to this end, to supply a roadmap for the implementation of a transversal plan ensuring the development of the Digital Single Market and the promotion of long-term growth, competitiveness and job creation while adapting the European economy to the challenges of today’s global economy;

5.  Stresses that fragmentation and lack of legal certainty are primary concerns in the Digital Single Market, and that inconsistent enforcement of rules in Member States needs to be dealt with in order to increase choice for consumers; considers that fragmentation is also partly due to the poor or late transposition of directives by Member States, a factor which should be subject to more rigorous scrutiny by the EU institutions;

6.  Stresses that all relevant new single market legislation should be submitted to a Digital Single Market Test; invites the Commission to examine the viability of implementing such a test within its impact assessment framework, so as to ensure that it neither hinders the development of the Digital Single Market nor gives rise to additional obstacles or fragmentation for offline and online commerce;

7.  Welcomes the Commission’s announcement of a new notice and action scheme, and recalls in this context that under the e-commerce directive, information society service providers have a duty to act under certain circumstances with a view to preventing or stopping illegal activities online;

8.  Agrees with the Commission that the current legal framework provided by the e-commerce directive requires no review; underlines, however, the need for further clarification with a view to the implementation of notice-and-action procedures to deal with illegal content;

9.  Highlights the need to modernise and facilitate the procedures for recognition of professional qualifications, and to extend the scope for automatic recognition beyond the professions currently covered, targeting in particular the new professions needed by green and digital industries; notes that this will facilitate the mobility of highly skilled workers;

10.  Emphasises the importance of developing a European cloud computing strategy, given its potential for EU competitiveness, growth and job creation; stresses that cloud computing, since it involves minimal entry costs and low infrastructure requirements, represents an opportunity for the European IT industry, and, especially, for SMEs, to develop and become leaders in areas such as outsourcing, new digital services and data centres;

11.  Notes the importance of the link between the e-commerce directive and the Internal Market Information System;

SMEs

12.  Stresses that SMEs form the backbone of the European economy, and that it is therefore vital to develop an action plan for their integration into the Digital Single Market; also stresses the urgent need for all European SMEs to have broadband access; emphasises that taking advantage of the possibilities of the digital economy and the Digital Single Market through innovation and the smart use of ICT would be of great help in enabling SMEs to exit the present crisis and create growth and employment;

13.  Supports the Commission’s determination to strengthen and facilitate the development of ICT infrastructure in order to bridge the digital divide; recalls that the development of ICT infrastructure impacts positively on social cohesion, economic growth and competitiveness in the EU, as well as on communication, creativeness and citizens’ access to education and information; welcomes the initiatives within the framework of the programmes for regional and rural development, as well as the initiatives of the EIB for improving the integration of rural areas into ICT infrastructures;

14.  Underlines the fact that eliminating remaining legal barriers to e-commerce, providing businesses with the necessary information and skills, and offering them the necessary tools to develop their business online more easily and effectively are crucial to achieving the goal of creating growth and employment;

15.  Stresses that achieving a fully operational Digital Single Market requires a coordinated effort to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their age, location, education or gender, have access to the internet and the necessary skills to use it;

16.  Insists that digital competences are crucial for the development of a competitive Digital Single Market, and that all Europeans should be empowered with the appropriate digital skills; stresses the crucial nature of the commitment to reducing digital literacy and competence gaps by half by 2015;

17.  Calls, accordingly, on the Commission and the Member States to develop such an action plan, to be based on promoting of the integration of SMEs into the digital value chains by taking measures and initiatives encouraging the smart use of ICT for innovation and competitiveness and the development of e-skills, as well as making more information available on the advantages and potential of the internet economy, e.g. via the European e-Business Support Network (eBSN), while also providing financial support for innovative SMEs, among other actions;

18.  Stresses the importance of developing a strategy to boost digital entrepreneurship in Europe, promote training for online traders and encourage SME development programmes focusing on innovative and dynamic SMEs from all sectors so as to ensure high growth potential and innovation and create new jobs in Europe, while also enhancing consumer trust, as well as developing new niche markets for SMEs which would not otherwise exist;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement the existing legislation in order to tackle barriers which hinder the growth of SMEs, such as high market entry costs, cost of building brand awareness in multiple countries, and IT system limitations;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce measures aimed at offering financial support to innovative SMEs, through existing programmes such as the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP), the new Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME), and the Research and Innovation Programme ‘Horizon 2020’, or through the creation of specific programmes, as well as the proposed regulation on venture capital funds;

21.  Considers that, alongside consistent deployment of ICT, it is essential for the development of the Digital Single Market to promote ICT research excellence and foster public and private investment in high-risk, collaborative ICT research and innovation; stresses that Europe should be at the cutting edge in the development of internet technologies and standards; proposes that under the upcoming financial perspective and the Horizon 2020 programme there should be a substantial increase in the EU’s ICT research budget;

Overcoming the remaining barriers in the Digital Single Market

22.  Supports the possibility of collaborating with research centres; welcomes the Commission’s plans to promote public and private investment in telecommunications networks as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), and underlines the importance of the sustained launch of the trans-European digital network for economic growth and competitiveness in the EU;

23.  Notes that the rapid deployment of ultra-fast broadband is crucial for Europe’s global competitiveness, the development of European productivity and the emergence of new and small enterprises that can be leaders in different sectors, for example healthcare, manufacturing and the services industry;

24.  Calls for specific measures to be taken to ensure that SMEs can fully enjoy the potential of broadband in the fields of e-commerce and e-procurement; calls on the Commission to support Member States’ initiatives to develop e-skills in SMEs and to stimulate innovative, internet-based business models through the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and its future successor, the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME);

25.  Calls on the Commission to identify the existing barriers to crossborder delivery services, and to take appropriate actions to address them, taking account of the findings of the new study that has been conducted and in a way that will allow both businesses and consumers to fully benefit from the Digital Single Market; stresses that such factors as accessibility, reliability, speed of delivery, friendly service, an efficient and transparent returns system, and lower prices of crossborder delivery services are best promoted by free and fair competition, so as not to hinder crossborder trade and to increase consumer trust; considers that crossborder delivery services should not just be based on physical borders, but, where feasible, should also take account of the distance from the consumer; considers it essential to ensure innovative forms of delivery allowing greater flexibility in terms of choosing a time or place of collection or a possible pick-up point with no additional costs attached; believes it is crucial to consider measures guaranteeing reasonably priced delivery to more remote or outlying areas;

26.  Recalls the need for an integrated policy approach regarding the completion of the single market in transport for all modes (including road cabotage, rail freight, etc) and environmental legislation, in order to avoid inefficiencies in the supply chain or unnecessary cost increases for both distance sellers and e-commerce customers;

27.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to reduce administrative burdens by making it possible to use the system either of the country of the seller or the country of the buyer, in order to avoid duplication of procedures and confusion as to which rules apply, for both online retailers and online consumers;

28.  Calls on the Commission to find solutions to the difficulties experienced by SMEs in relation to handling returns and shipping infrastructure problems, and to reduce the costs involved in the crossborder resolution of complaints and conflicts;

29.  Stresses that, as website content can be roughly machine-translated quite easily, an added advantage of the digital world is that it can help break down language barriers in the single market;

30.  Stresses the importance to consumers of efficient delivery, better feedback on delivery, and receiving products on time, all of which factors are identified as top concerns of consumers in the latest Consumer Conditions Scoreboard;

31.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine the possibilities of simplifying and standardising VAT rules in the context of crossborder online transactions; points out that the existing European VAT framework is a barrier to the development of new digital services, and that encouraging companies to develop and offer new Europe-wide online services should be a priority in the revision of the VAT rules; considers that digitally distributed cultural, journalistic or creative content should be subject to the same VAT rate as the equivalent product in a physical format or offered offline, in order to avoid market distortion; calls on the Commission and the Member States to seize the opportunity offered by the 2015 changes to the VAT rules in order to create and extend a ‘European One-Stop Shop’ for e-commerce, at least for SMEs;

32.  Calls on the Commission to propose a revision of Directive 2006/112/EC in order to introduce a new category of electronically provided cultural content services which would benefit from a reduced rate of VAT; suggests that cultural works and services sold online - such as digital books - should benefit from the same preferential treatment as comparable products in traditional form such as paperbacks, and should therefore be subject to a reduced VAT rate; considers, in this context, that the application of the reduced VAT rate for digital publications could encourage the development of legal offers and significantly boost the attractiveness of digital platforms;

33.  Calls on the Commission, in its review of VAT legislation, to address the anomaly of the possible application of reduced VAT rates to printed books and other cultural content but not to identical goods available in electronic format;

34.  Welcomes the Commission’s green paper on card, internet and mobile payments; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and implement appropriate measures with a view to achieving a fully and effectively integrated, competitive, innovative, neutral and safe EU regulatory framework for online and mobile payments;

35.  Emphasises the importance of addressing micropayments and the high administrative costs often incurred when paying small amounts; notes the increasingly widespread use of payment via mobile phones, smartphones and tablets, and believes this calls for new responses;

36.  Stresses that micropayments are increasingly used to pay for media and cultural content online, and considers this a useful tool in ensuring that rights holders are remunerated;

37.  Points out that domestic and crossborder multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) vary significantly between Member States; believes that both domestic and crossborder multilateral interchange fees in the SEPA should be harmonised in order to allow consumers to benefit from the single market; calls on the Commission to conduct an impact assessment, by the end of 2012, on setting a cap for MIFs and progressively reducing it; calls on the Commission to propose a regulation harmonising MIFs and progressively decreasing them so that they are aligned with real costs by the end of 2015; believes that surcharges, rebates and other steering practices should also be phased out, thus paving the way for a more transparent European single market for payments;

38.  Emphasises that privacy and data security are major concerns among consumers and tend to discourage them from buying online; considers it necessary to adapt the existing data protection legislation to new challenges and innovations in the area of present and future technological developments, e.g. cloud computing;

39.  Recognises the economic and social potential which cloud computing has demonstrated thus far, and calls on the Commission to adopt initiatives in this area in order to reap the benefits of such technology once it is more fully developed; acknowledges, however, the many technical and legal challenges arising from the development of cloud computing;

40.  Recognises the major potential of cloud computing, and calls on the Commission to propose without delay a European strategy on the matter;

41.  Calls on the Commission to enforce the Data Breach Notification provisions in the telecoms package, and to make those provisions available for all consumers in Member States;

42.  Recalls the provisions in the Universal Service and Users’ Rights Directive under which telecoms operators should oblige internet service providers to deliver public service messages to all their customers; calls on the Commission to monitor the issue of how many telecoms regulators are complying with these rules, and to report back to Parliament on the matter;

43.  Welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s proposed new data protection regulation, highlights the need to give citizens better control over the processing of their personal data, and stresses the need to approve and implement a new regulation on the subject in a form that, while protecting privacy and safeguarding fundamental rights, guarantees legal certainty, and allows sufficient flexibility to companies to enable them to develop their business without taking on huge costs while also offering them a simplification and reduction of administrative burdens whilst maintaining strong commitments to adhering to the obligations already in place;

44.  Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a legal framework for the collective management of copyright and related rights with a view to ensuring better accountability, transparency and governance of collective rights management societies, establishing efficient dispute resolution mechanisms, and clarifying and simplifying licensing; believes it essential that internet users are provided with clear and understandable information about which personal data are to be gathered, for what purpose, and for how long, with a view to strengthening users’ rights and bolstering their confidence in the internet; emphasises that legal certainty and clarity and a very high level of data protection must be assured when reviewing the data protection acquis; welcomes the announcement of a general European strategy on the issue of cloud computing for 2012 and, in particular, expects matters of jurisdiction, data protection and areas of responsibility to be clarified in this regard;

45.  Believes firmly that the protection of privacy not only constitutes a core value of the European Union but, in addition, plays a central role in promoting the necessary user confidence in the digital environment that will enable full development of the Digital Single Market; welcomes, therefore, the Commission’s proposals for adapting the Data Protection Directive to the current digital environment, thereby promoting the innovative character of the online environment and boosting the development of promising new technologies such as cloud computing;

46.  Reiterates that a global approach is essential when addressing challenges such as data protection and piracy; encourages, in this regard, close cooperation between the EU and the Internet Governance Forum;

47.  Requests clarification regarding the obligation of internet service providers to act in compliance with the EU legislation on data protection and competition, with intellectual property rights protection and with e-Commerce Directive(30) and the Telecoms Package(31) when dealing with and/or gathering data within the EU, irrespective of where these data are stored and/or processed; considers that a higher level of transparency regarding the identification of internet service providers should play a key role in fostering consumer confidence, and will also encourage best practice in this area and constitute a key criterion for the creation of a European trustmark;

48.  Recalls that under Article 5 of Directive 2000/31/EC, providers of online services are obliged to clearly indicate their identity, and that compliance with this requirement is vital to ensuring consumer confidence in e-commerce;

49.  Calls on the Commission to modernise the legal framework for intellectual property rights in the context of completion of the Digital Single Market, and to propose and rapidly implement the European Strategy for Intellectual Property Rights with a view to adaptation to the online reality of the 21st century; looks forward to the Commission’s proposals for legal tools in this area, such as legislation to simplify the collective management of copyright in Europe and a directive on Enforcement of IPR and Fight Against Counterfeiting and Piracy; further believes that innovative business models and different licensing structures need to be considered and further developed, in order to increase availability while also maintaining copyright and ensure rightholders’ remuneration;

50.  Emphasises the importance of a harmonised approach to exceptions and limitations in the field of copyright, as well as harmonised statutory exceptions in the area of trademarks and patents - for the benefit, in many cases, of researchers and developers - given that the aim is to facilitate the development, deployment and consumer uptake of new and innovative services and ensure the legal certainty for research teams, innovators, artists and users that is required if a flourishing European digital environment is to emerge;

51.  Points to the need to continue working on the regulatory harmonisation of intellectual property rights, whilst respecting citizens’ rights and freedoms, in order to facilitate the completion of the Digital Single Market;

52.  Calls on the Commission to propose agreed sector-specific solutions that respect copyright, ensure fair remuneration for authors, and promote public access to a wide range of lawful cultural products;

53.  Urges the Commission to accelerate its preparatory work on a legislative proposal regarding ‘collective rights management’, with a view to ensuring better accountability, transparency and governance of collective rights management societies, establishing efficient dispute resolution mechanisms, and clarifying and simplifying licensing systems in the music sector;

54.  Stresses that micropayments are becoming increasingly important in terms of paying for media and cultural content online, but that there is still scope to further optimise ease of use, and sees this as a useful tool in ensuring that creators are remunerated since they make legal content accessible to the public in an affordable way; considers, therefore, micropayments to be an effective means of combating illegal content; emphasises, however, that problems associated with online payment systems, such as lack of interoperability and high costs of micropayments for consumers, need to be tackled with a view to developing simple, innovative and cost-effective solutions that are of benefit to consumers and digital platforms; emphasises that expanding the legal range of online cultural content at affordable prices will succeed in reducing illegal platforms in the long term;

55.  Emphasises that new and expanding internet technologies and online services have increased demand for audiovisual and other cultural and creative digital content, and provide new and innovative ways of customising and enriching supply, particularly among young people; notes, however, that there is currently insufficient legal supply to meet this demand, which circumstance motivates users to access illegal content; believes that innovative business models and different licensing structures need to be considered in order to increase availability; calls for better exploitation of digital technologies, which should constitute a springboard for both differentiation and multiplication of legitimate offers, thereby maintaining consumer confidence and growth whilst ensuring that artists are remunerated fairly and proportionately;

56.  Strongly supports measures both at Member State and European level to prevent product counterfeiting and product piracy on the internet;

57.  Welcomes the proposals for increasing availability and developing legal online content services, but highlights the need for a modernised and more harmonised EU copyright at Union level; emphasises, therefore, the need for a copyright law which provides the appropriate incentives, ensures balance and keeps abreast with modern technology; considers that the encouragement, promotion and sustainability of multiterritorial licensing in the digital single market should, above all, be facilitated by market-driven initiatives in response to consumer demand; calls on the Commission, accordingly, to implement the IPR strategy initiatives without delay;

58.  Condemns strongly all discrimination against customers on grounds of nationality and residence, recalling Article 20(2) of the services Directive 2006/123/EC, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the full implementation of that directive;

Building confidence and trust in the Digital Single Market

59.  Stresses that the consumer rights directive marked an important step forward in terms of increasing legal certainty for consumers and businesses in online transactions, and today constitutes the main consumer protection instrument for online services; calls on the Member States to ensure its effective and rapid implementation; calls for a code of good practice for online businesses, and supports the proposals for model contracts in this regard; believes that implementation of the CRD would form an important part of model contracts, while existing retail practices would also need to be respected; furthermore, calls on the Member States to decide whether - in the long run - they favour the full harmonisation of single market legislation or a second national regime; in the latter case, encourages the Member States to step up their efforts to constructively advance dossiers such as the Common European Sales Law, with a view to facilitating crossborder trade in the EU to the benefit of consumers and businesses alike;

60.  Believes that the recently proposed regulation on a Common European Sales Law, which could be agreed on by contracting parties as an alternative to national sales law regulations, has great potential for countering the fragmentation of the single market and making internet business more accessible and legally reliable for consumers and businesses alike;

61.  Recalls that Member States also have a role to play in terms of ensuring the rapid and non-bureaucratic implementation of the EU rules, in order to make consumers’ rights a reality;

62.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop and give adequate resources to effective instruments such as the Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network, in order to ensure that online traders apply the EU rules on transparency and unfair commercial practices, thus affording a high level of consumer protection;

63.  Stresses the need for initiatives in the Member States to improve e-skills among the general public; notes the importance of equipping EU citizens with digital skills in order to help them take full advantage of the benefits of being online and participating in the digital society;

64.  Calls on the Commission to include a consumer accessibility element in terms of implementing a barrier-free environment and a full range of accessible services for people with disabilities in all Digital Single Market policies, in order to ensure that all citizens’ groups have access to and can fully benefit from the Digital Single Market;

65.  Stresses the need for initiatives in the Member States to improve e-skills among the general public, especially among the socially disadvantaged and also with particular attention being given to older people in order to promote the notion of active ageing;

66.  Recognises the importance of a European charter of users’ rights that would clarify the rights and obligations of citizens in the information society;

67.  Stresses the importance of fomenting the creation of transparent and trustworthy price comparison websites which can be accessed in various languages, as a means of increasing consumer trust in crossborder trade;

68.  Stresses the need to create a European Trustmark, which would guarantee that a business operating online fully respects EU law; it should be simple and well-structured, and should be rich with content that provides added value for e-commerce, thus boosting confidence and transparency, as well as legal certainty for both consumers and businesses, and should provide information in a form compliant with the existing, non-legally binding W3C standards, in the interests of people with disabilities;

69 Stresses, furthermore, the need for an integrated approach in order to improve consumer confidence as regards accessing legal crossborder online services;

70.  Stresses the urgent need for the EU to provide business and consumers with confidence and the means to trade online in order to increase crossborder trade; calls, therefore, for the simplification of licensing systems and the creation of an efficient framework for copyright;

71.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiative addressing the obstacles to the completion of the digital single market, most importantly the barriers inhibiting the development of legal crossborder online services; stresses, furthermore, the need to improve consumer confidence as regards accessing legal crossborder services; emphasises that the Digital Single Market will allow citizens to have access, throughout the EU, to all forms of digital content and services (musical, audiovisual, video games);

72.  Shares the Commission’s view that the online single market is being hampered in reaching its full potential largely because of the existence of a patchwork of different legal provisions and barely ‘interoperable’ standards and practices;

73.  Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposals on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR), and underlines the importance of their effective adoption to help resolve complaints and conflicts cross-border; also stresses the need for these mechanisms to be made widely known to consumers and traders so that they can reach the desired level of practical effectiveness; recalls the importance of an effective redress mechanism as a means of ensuring that consumers can pursue their rights, while stressing that citizens should be better informed of the details of such a mechanism and other problem-solving tools; believes this should enhance crossborder purchases of goods and services and contribute to the removal of the remaining bottlenecks that are hampering growth and innovation, particularly within the Digital Market, and which are currently holding the single market back from realising its full potential; stresses that the existence of the online dispute resolution platform for domestic and crossborder e-commerce will increase consumers’ trust in the Digital Single Market;

74.  Recognises the need to create ways of enhancing citizens’ trust and confidence in the online environment and to guarantee the protection of personal data and privacy and freedom of expression and information, including the removal of the geographical, technical and organisational barriers now affecting redress mechanisms; views the speedy and cost-effective settlement of disputes, particularly in relation to online transactions, as a central requirement for user confidence; therefore welcomes the Commission’s proposals in relation to the extrajudicial settlement and online settlement of disputes under consumer law and the announced legislative initiative for the settlement of disputes between businesses;

75.  Notes the Commission’s proposals for measures for cooperation with payment services to combat unauthorised or illegal content; stresses that any cooperation with private parties should be firmly grounded in a legal framework characterised by respect for data privacy, consumer protection, right of redress and access to justice for all parties; emphasises that the first step must be the effective implementation of ‘notice action’ measures ensuring respect for the fundamental right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal established by law, unequivocally and for all; stresses that all operators, including payment providers and advertisers, have a role to play in the fight against unauthorised and illegal content;

76.  Strongly welcomes the new Commission communication on a ‘Strategy for a Better Internet for Children’; encourages the Commission, the Member States and the industry to promote the use of new technological developments for education and for the protection for minors, and to cooperate closely and efficiently in order to deliver a safe internet for minors; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support projects for literacy and familiarisation as regards digital technologies, to be targeted on adults responsible for education and training and for the future of new generations, so as to make them aware of the opportunities and risks that ITC represents for children and minors while also helping reduce the technological divide between generations; calls on the Commission and Member States to develop information technology training programmes regarding consumer rights, obligations and risks in connection with the internal digital market;

77.  Urges stakeholders to commit to responsible advertising towards minors, in particular by refraining from aggressive and misleading TV and online advertising and by respecting and fully implementing existing codes of conduct and similar initiatives;

78.  Considers it necessary to support the digitisation of educational and cultural works in as many official EU languages as possible, in order to offer valuable and useful content to the public;

79.  Stresses the importance of establishing clear principles for regulating relations with third countries’ digital markets, especially as regards Union-level projects such as the digitisation of the world cultural heritage;

80.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the rules on selective distribution are properly applied, in order to avoid abuses and discrimination;

81.  Calls on the Commission to propose legislation to ensure net neutrality;

82.  Points out that more competition and transparency with regard to traffic management and quality of service, as well as ease of switching, are among the minimum necessary conditions to ensure net neutrality; reiterates its support for an open internet where content and individual commercial services cannot be blocked; recalls the recent findings of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), and considers that additional measures are needed to ensure net neutrality;

83.  Re-emphasises the potential challenges arising from departures from network neutrality, such as anti-competitive behaviour, blockage of innovation, restriction of freedom of expression, lack of consumer awareness and infringement of privacy, as well as the fact that lack of net neutrality hurts businesses, consumers and society as a whole;

84.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure free and fair competition online, by taking action against unfair B2B commercial practices, such as online restrictions, price controls and quotas;

85.  Regards the further expansion of the broadband network and, in particular, the connection of rural, isolated and outermost areas to electronic communication networks, as a central priority; calls on the Commission, therefore, to check continuously and, if necessary, ensure by means of regulatory intervention that network neutrality is maintained and that internet providers are not hampered or hindered in accessing network infrastructure;

Setting up the basis for a more competitive and inclusive Europe

86.  Calls on the Member States to strengthen and facilitate the development of information and communications infrastructures, since, while all Member States have a national broadband strategy, only a few have a fully-fledged operational plan which includes the targets required to fully realise the flagship initiative for a digital agenda for Europe as laid down in the Europe 2020 strategy; welcomes the new ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ initiative, since it will be crucial for the effective implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe targets set for 2020 promising broadband access for all, and the intermediate objective of every EU citizen having access to a basic internet connection by 2013;

87.  Stresses that internet services are offered on a crossborder scale, and that, accordingly, they require concerted action in line with the Digital Agenda for Europe; points out that a European market with nearly 500 million people connected to high-speed broadband would act as a spearhead for the development of the internal market; stresses the need to connect the digital agenda with the provision of new services such as e-trade, e-health, e-learning, e-banking and e-government services;

88.  Stresses the importance for the development of the European Digital Single Market of continuing efforts aimed at providing ubiquitous and high-speed access for all consumers, through the promotion of fixed and mobile internet access and the deployment of next-generation infrastructures; emphasises that this requires policies that promote access on competitive terms; urges the Commission and the Member States to provide new impetus to the European fast and ultra-fast broadband strategy by updating the relevant targets;

89.  Emphasises the potential value for consumers and businesses of the digital switchover of public services, and calls on Member States to develop national plans to that effect, which should include targets and measures for making all public services accessible online by 2015; recognises that high-speed networks are a prerequisite for the development of online services and for economic growth; calls on the Commission to develop world-leading digital agenda targets in order to ensure that Europe becomes the global leader in internet speed and connectivity; invites the Member States to further develop national broadband plans and adopt operational plans with concrete measures to implement the ambitious broadband targets, and underlines the strategic and crucial importance of the instruments proposed by the Commission in the Connecting Europe Facility;

90.  Regrets that the EU is lagging behind with regard to fibre-based internet connections; calls on the Member States and the Commission, therefore, to accelerate the spread and adoption of ultra-high-speed broadband, and calls for a European strategy for the large-scale deployment of FTTx (‘fibre to the x’);

91.  Calls on the Member States to draw up cyberincident contingency plans in order to cope with cyberdisruptions or cyberattacks having crossborder implications, including critical information infrastructure plans at both European and national level, and also to develop strategies for a more resilient and reliable infrastructure; stresses that international cooperation in this area should be intensified; recalls that network and information security is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including users at home, service providers and product developers; recommends encouraging cybersecurity-related training and education for both citizens and professionals;

92.  Emphasises that the internet is increasingly being used on mobile devices, and calls for action to ensure increased radio spectrum availability for the mobile internet and improve the quality of the e-services provided on those mobile devices; stresses that the future allocation of radio spectrum must pave the way for European leadership in wireless applications and new services, in order to boost Europe’s growth and global competitiveness;

93.  Notes that both fixed and mobile data traffic are growing exponentially and that a number of actions, such as further harmonised spectrum allocations for wireless broadband, increased spectrum efficiency and the rapid rollout of next-generation access networks, will be crucial for managing this increase;

94.  Notes that assessing the need to open up the 700 MHz band for mobile data traffic is a necessary first step towards meeting future capacity requirements;

95.  Welcomes the new Commission communication on e-procurement, published on 20 April 2012; stresses that e-procurement will simplify the way procurement is conducted, provide transparency, reduce burdens and costs, increase the participation of SMEs, and deliver better quality and lower prices;

96.  Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal for a regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market, which will strengthen trust and convenience in the context of a secure digital environment, and, by covering the mutual recognition and acceptance at EU level of notified electronic identification schemes, has the potential to enable secure and seamless electronic interactions between businesses, citizens and public authorities, thereby increasing the effectiveness of public and private online services, e-business and electronic commerce in the EU; stresses the importance of e-signatures and the mutual recognition of eIDs at the European level, so as to ensure legal certainty for European consumers and businesses; underlines the importance of simultaneously ensuring both EU-wide interoperability and the protection of personal data

97.  Points out that the public sector’s use of information and communication technologies is the cornerstone for the development of the digital and knowledge society, and therefore urges the Commission and the Member States to further develop secure and effective e-services; notes, particularly where e-identification and e-signatures are concerned, that crossborder interoperability is a prerequisite for the adoption of crossborder e-invoicing solutions;

98.  Recalls that in its resolution of 20 April 2012 on ‘a competitive digital single market – e-government as a spearhead’, Parliament stressed the importance for the facilitation of mass adoption of factors including legal certainty, a clear technical environment, and open and interoperable e-invoicing solutions based on common legal requirements, business processes and technical standards; calls on the Commission to assess the need for uniform, open Union-wide standards for e-identification and e-signatures; notes that the major obstacles to crossborder access to the electronic services provided by public administrations are linked to the use of electronic signatures and identification and to the problem of non-compatibility of e-government systems at EU level; welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a regulation on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions in the internal market;

o
o   o

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

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0209.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0211.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0491.
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0492.
(5) OJ L 304, 22.11.2011, p. 64.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0453.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0307.
(8) OJ C 169 E, 15.6.2012, p. 58.
(9) OJ C 50 E, 21.2.2012, p. 1.
(10) OJ L 189, 22.7.2010, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 95, 15.4.2010, p. 1.
(12) OJ C 349 E, 22.12.2010, p. 1.
(13) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0453.
(14) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 112.
(15) OJ C 46 E, 24.2.2010, p. 26.
(16) OJ C 295 E, 4.12.2009, p. 43.
(17) OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 370.
(18) OJ L 364, 9.12.2004, p. 1.
(19) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 21.
(20) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.
(21) OJ C 292 E, 1.12.2006, p. 109.
(22) OJ C 305 E, 14.12.2006, p. 247.
(23) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(24) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(25) http://www.un.or.at/unictral
(26) OJ L 271, 9.10.2002, p. 16.
(27) OJ L 201, 31.7.2002, p. 37.
(28) OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1.
(29) OJ L 281, 23.11.1995, p. 31.
(30) Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 June 2000 on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce in the internal market (OJ L 178, 17.7.2000, p. 1).
(31) Directive 2009/136/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 (OJ L 337, 18.12.2009, p. 11) and Directive 2009/140/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2009 (OJ L 337, 18.12.2009, p. 37).


Financing SME trade and investment
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European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on financing EU SMEs’ trade and investment: facilitated access to credit in support of internationalisation (2012/2114(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0469A7-0367/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Global Europe: Competing in the World – A contribution to the EU’s Growth and Jobs Strategy’(COM(2006)0567),

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

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Trade, Growth and World Affairs – Trade Policy as a core component of the EU’s 2020 Strategy’ (COM(2010)0612),

–  having regard to the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement) adopted in 1994 as part of the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations under the GATT(1),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 3286/94 of 22 December 1994 laying down Community procedures in the field of the common commercial policy in order to ensure the exercise of the Community’s rights under international trade rules, in particular those established under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation(2) (Trade Barriers Regulation, TBR),

–  having regard to the UNCTAD 2011 Report on World Investments,

–  having regard to the OECD/WTO/UNCTAD reports on G20 trade and investment measures (mid-October 2010 to April 2011),

–  having regard to the OECD Policy Framework for Investment (PFI),

–  having regard to its position of 13 September 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the application of certain guidelines in the field of officially supported export credits(3),

–  having regard to its earlier resolutions, in particular the resolution of 13 October 2005 on prospects for trade relations between the EU and China(4), the resolution of 1 June 2006 on EU-US transatlantic economic relations(5), the resolution of 28 September 2006 on the EU’s economic and trade relations with India(6), the resolution of 12 October 2006 on economic and trade relations between the EU and Mercosur with a view to the conclusion of an Interregional Association Agreement(7), the resolution of 22 May 2007 on ‘Global Europe - external aspects of competitiveness’(8), the resolution of 19 June 2007 on EU economic and trade relations with Russia(9), the resolution of 19 February 2008 on the EU’s Strategy to deliver market access for European companies(10), the resolution of 24 April 2008 on ’Towards a reform of the World Trade Organisation’(11), the resolution of 5 February 2009 on trade and economic relations with China(12), the resolution of 26 March 2009 on an EU-India Free Trade Agreement(13), the resolution of 21 October 2010 on the European Union’s trade relations with Latin America(14), the resolution of 17 February 2011 on the Free Trade Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Korea(15), the resolution of 6 April 2011 on European international investment policy(16), the legislative resolution of 10 May 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing transitional arrangements for bilateral investment agreements between Member States and third countries(17), the resolution of 11 May 2011 on the state of play in the EU-India free trade agreement negotiations(18), the resolution of 11 May 2011 on EU-Japan trade relations(19), the resolution of 8 June 2011 on EU-Canada trade relations(20), and the resolution of 27 September 2011 on a New Trade Policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 Strategy(21),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Council entitled ‘Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2011 – Engaging our strategic economic partners on improved market access: Priorities for action on breaking down barriers to trade’ (COM(2011)0114),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2011 on trade and investment barriers(22),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions entitled ‘Small Business, Big World - a new partnership to help SMEs seize global opportunities’ (COM(2011)0702),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on an action plan to improve access to finance for SMEs (COM(2011)0870),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Council entitled ‘Trade and Investment Barriers Report 2012’ (COM(2012)0070),

–  having regard to the IFC/World Bank Report ‘Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World’(hereinafter ’Doing Business 2012 index’),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 July 2012 on the attractiveness of investing in Europe(23),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0367/2012),

A.  whereas since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, the common commercial policy (CCP) has, pursuant to Article 207 TFEU, included foreign direct investment (FDI), and falls under the exclusive competence of the EU; whereas Member States may negotiate and conclude bilateral investment agreements only when empowered to do so by the Union; whereas Parliament’s assent is required for all trade and investment agreements negotiated by the Commission on behalf of the Union;

B.  whereas according to the UNCTAD report for 2011, the EU remains a key destination that attracts FDI; whereas, in contrast, Eurostat figures show that total EU-27 FDI outflows fell by 30 % in 2008, by a further 28 % in 2009 and by an additional 62 % in 2010;

C.  whereas, according to the Doing Business 2012 index, Member States represent only 40 % (and eurozone members just 26 %) of the top 35 countries in terms of entrepreneurship at global level;

D.  whereas the Commission estimates that 99 % of all enterprises in the EU are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and whereas 92 % of these SMEs are micro-firms employing one to nine employees, 6,7 % are small firms employing 10 to 49 employees and 1,1 % are medium-sized firms employing 50 to 249 employees; whereas SMEs number 23 million and form the backbone of the Union’s economy, providing two-thirds of private-sector jobs;

E.  whereas micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), are diverse in nature and have different needs stemming from the specific nature of the industrial or services sector they operate in, the Member State or even region they operate from, their size, their business model, the entrepreneurial culture and business environment, whether it be internationally or within the single market; whereas they face disparate challenges across their respective business cycles;

F.  whereas lack of finance, alongside a weaker entrepreneurial spirit than in other industrialised economies, remains one of the main challenges to EU enterprises’ competitiveness and entrepreneurship, and whereas persistent regulatory fragmentation and red tape continue to limit SMEs’ capacity, especially that of small and microenterprises, to adapt to an energy- and resource-efficient economy and expand into markets beyond their home country, both within the single market and worldwide;

G.  whereas 44 % of SMEs have reported a lack of adequate information as an important barrier to internationalisation;

H.  whereas the reluctance of European SMEs to develop their international activities is mainly due to the lack of analysis or pre-analysis of their export opportunities;

I.  whereas a considerable number of European SMEs are engaged in international export activities (25 % of the total), and whereas only 13 % of European SMEs conduct activities in markets outside the EU and only 4 % of internationally inactive SMEs have specific plans to start up international activities in the foreseeable future; whereas certain SMEs are incapable of internationalisation due to their business profiles and size;

J.  whereas only 10 % of micro firms make use of the 300+ public support programmes that are already available, and whereas the large number of support programmes makes it difficult for SMEs to identify and make use of the assistance that is actually available;

K.  whereas European SMEs have been particularly affected by the worldwide economic and financial crisis and whereas their internationalisation beyond the single market should also be promoted;

L.  whereas consistently over the last two years almost a third of SMEs which applied for a bank loan did not obtain any credit, or obtained less than they applied for; and whereas the highest rejection rate was among microenterprises;

M.  whereas the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP) enabled financial institutions to provide EUR 30 billion in new finance to more than 315 000 SMEs in the period of 2007-2013; and whereas the European Investment Bank (EIB) provided around EUR 40 billion in lending to SMEs, which benefitted more than 210 000 SMEs in the period 2008-2011;

N.  whereas the Commission’s proposed new Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME) will provide enterprises and SMEs with a Loan Guarantee Facility, offering guarantees for debt financing via ordinary loans, subordinated and participating loans or leasing to reduce the particular difficulties SMEs face in accessing finance for their growth, will offer securitisation of SME debt finance portfolios, aimed at mobilising additional debt financing for SMEs, and will run from 2014 to 2020, with a planned budget of EUR 2,5 billion;

O.  whereas the experience gained by Member States from policies supporting the internationalisation of SMEs and microenterprises, plus that of civil society institutions (chambers of commerce, employers’ associations, etc.), constitutes a formidable pool of lessons learned with a view to designing efficient and successful new policies in this field;

P.  whereas any SME support policy undertaken at European level should be subsidiary, supplementary and complementary to the existing policy, provide European added value, avoid duplication and overlap with existing national, regional and local programmes and optimise planning and operational coordination;

Q.  whereas the Commission’s Trade and Investment Barriers reports list examples of how the EU’s market access to different countries around the world, including industrialised economies and major emerging economies in the WTO, is being constrained more by various non-tariff barriers (NTBs) than by trade tariffs, the latter tending to be waived substantially as globalisation progresses; whereas WTO rules prohibit unjustified NTBs;

R.  whereas the EU, whenever necessary, needs to support and actively defend its industries and companies, including SMEs, against violations of agreed rules, WTO standards and principles by its trading partners, using all appropriate and proportionate means; whereas using multilateral and bilateral dispute settlement mechanisms, and in particular WTO-compatible trade defence instruments (TDIs), should be a measure of last resort;

S.  whereas legal insecurity of investment is a key disincentive for SMEs to internationalise and whereas a legal framework with our trade partners which guarantees legal security is absolutely essential; whereas the EU must defend the interests of European companies, especially SMEs, against violations of the legal security of investments in non-EU countries;

1.  Urges the Commission, and where appropriate the Member States, to foster the participation of SMEs, and where relevant microenterprises, in global markets by implementing appropriate measures for their internationalisation and in particular their further integration into the EU single market, including easier access to capital and regularly updated information on business opportunities abroad, as well as efficient TDIs aimed at ensuring their rightful protection against unfair dumping and subsidies in order to safeguard fair competition with third countries, while ensuring that human, labour and social rights and the environment in third countries are protected;

2.  Notes that SMEs are also facing difficulties as a result of the decline in domestic demand due to the economic crisis;

I.Access to information

3.  Stresses the need to improve enterprise-level data collection in order to raise awareness of the needs of MSMEs, share best practice and provide them with better targeted support at both national and EU level; calls also for regular cost-benefit analyses to assess the effectiveness of such support, with a focus on increasing MSMEs’ innovativeness and competitiveness, both in the single market and globally;

4.  Stresses the need, first of all, for a mapping exercise to identify existing and missing support programmes at national and EU level in order to avoid overlaps or gaps, incorporating existing service providers and support strategies in cooperation with national agencies; encourages Member States’ authorities to create similar single online databases of national and regional sources of finance;

5.  Stresses the need to evaluate the available market for growing internationalisation and further promote SME development within the internal market, and consider the development of SMEs within the internal market to be equally important as the development of SMEs abroad;

6.  Considers it essential for the EU’s competitiveness and growth to create a network, as part of a digital platform, bringing together national SME helpdesks, chambers of commerce, Export Credit Agencies (ECAs), business associations and the Commission, in order to provide enterprises in the EU, especially exporters and importers, with precise, timely and reader-friendly information on a one-stop-shop basis, so that they can fully benefit from the Union’s new common commercial policy;

II.  Access to capital

7.  Stresses that recurrent difficulties in accessing capital are one of the key reasons preventing SMEs’ internationalisation; calls on the national governments to support SMEs by means of officially supported export credits, without distorting intra-EU competition, and also to earmark sufficient funding for SMEs (e.g. special loans, cofinancing and venture capital), so as to help overcome disinvestment and deleveraging by banks; stresses that such funding should be provided to SMEs that are already exporting and which can present a viable business plan for improving or consolidating their existing market share and creating jobs, especially for young people;

8.  Considers that, in order to bolster the EU economy, support for start-ups offering innovative goods and services and for SMEs in need of initial or further investment should not be overlooked, either when they are operating within the single market or when they want to grow through internationalisation;

9.  Calls, therefore, on the national governments to help SMEs by exploring the possibility of creating, among other things, investment funds for SMEs in which any European citizen could invest savings;

10.  Calls for officially supported export credits to comply with OECD guidelines and foster projects that comply with international labour and environmental standards;

11.  Calls for the support made available to SMEs for accessing capital to be modulated in accordance with respective and specific SME demands, in order to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach; notes, in this regard, that industry in the EU displays a wide range of business profiles and necessities reflecting SMEs’ size, structure, sector of activity and geographic location;

12.  Considers that a holistic strategy for trade finance, aimed at fostering internationalisation of SMEs, is urgently needed; believes that the EU should promote and support incentives to develop SMEs in strategic sectors in a proactive fashion, especially in the case of high-value-added manufacturing activities that offer a competitive edge over emerging economies as well as high-quality jobs for European citizens; stresses the need, therefore, to identify promising niche markets and foster their development;

13.  Calls on the Commission to study the European business angel market and similar markets worldwide in order to learn from and build up the capacity of business angel network managers in the EU; encourages banks and other financial institutions to provide their SME clients with regularly updated information on available financial instruments, including SME support networks and business angels; calls also on the Commission to provide relevant information in this respect;

14.  Recognises the existence of well-established and experienced systems of SME support at the national level offering access to export credits through ECAs, and considers it reasonable to continue this support; takes the position, however, that in the medium term the establishment of systematic support for export credits at EU level, with the establishment of an SME export/import facility to disburse additional support to SMEs via ECAs on the basis of national best practice, requires further discussion; notes that this additional support could possibly involve soft and fixed-interest-rate loans, short-term working capital and refinancing, equity funding and business insurance solutions;

15.  Draws attention to the regulatory and legal steps that need to be taken in order to improve SMEs’ access to collateral, i.e.:

   reducing barriers to property registration (e.g. by establishing credit bureaux);
   lowering enforcement costs for lenders and raising the overall quality of financial information concerning SMEs, in order to enhance their creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders;

16.  Highlights the need to provide SMEs with financial and technical assistance focused on market research, project and export finance advice, legal counselling (e.g. on escape clauses or penalties for late payment or default), customs and tax obligations, the fight against counterfeiting, and company presentations at trade fairs and business networking events (e.g. to find distributors in a third country);

17.  Insists that it is also necessary to focus on closing the credit gap for microenterprises; stresses the beneficial role of small loans in enabling such enterprises to establish themselves; reiterates that even where a niche market is concerned, small amounts of FDI can also spur grassroots business initiatives in terms of generating growth and sustainable development at local level (e.g. developing craftsmanship);

18.  Calls for increased public-private partnerships in the provision of seed money and venture capital to MSMEs in the EU, while sharing the entrepreneurial risk; points, in this regard, to the positive role that both micro-finance institutions and social entrepreneurship funds can play in developing business opportunities that also have strong social, ethical and environmental goals;

III.  Recommendations for concrete actions

19.  Calls for endeavours at national and EU level to simplify the business environment for SMEs, in close consultation with EU SME associations and chambers of commerce and industry, as well as other relevant stakeholders, in support of both cutting red tape and internationalising SMEs;

20.  Urges the Member States to adopt single enterprise helpdesks at the local level, run in cooperation with EU businesses, so that SMEs can receive information, in their own language and for immediate use, regarding export/import opportunities, existing barriers to trade (both tariffs and NTBs), investment protection, dispute settlement provisions and competitors, and gain a knowledge and understanding of cultural and human practices in third markets;

21.  Calls for a network to be set up between SMEs and large European companies to enable SMEs to reap the benefits of these companies’ expertise and export and innovation capacities;

22.  Calls on the Commission to promote exchanges between the heads of EU and third-country SMEs along the lines of the ‘Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs’ programme that currently exists at European Union level;

23.  Stresses the need to foster cooperation between European SMEs and third-country enterprises in order to facilitate market entry as well as integration into third-country markets;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to make European SMEs more aware of trade agreements that are being negotiated and international investment opportunities open to SMEs;

25.  Encourages EU businesses and exporters to actively use TDIs, such as TBR complaints or the complaints register in the Market Access Database, in order to report to the Commission material injuries resulting from trade barriers and enable, where appropriate, ex officio initiation of anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duties (CVD) investigations by the Commission, in close collaboration with industry, so as to minimise the risk of retaliation;

26.  Considers that the effective protection of SMEs against unfair trading practices by EU partner states is just as important as helping SMEs wishing to internationalise; considers internationalisation and protection to be two sides of the same coin in the globalisation process;

27.  Calls on the Commission to pay due consideration to improved SME access to anti-dumping and anti-subsidy procedures when reforming the EU’s Trade Defence Instruments;

28.  Calls on the Commission to involve SMEs in the establishment of international standards (e.g. ISO), since changes in regulatory regimes directly impact their profitability; insists that tackling unjustified NTBs must be regarded as one of the Commission’s top priorities, in particular through the harmonisation of technical rules based on relevant global standards;

29.  Calls on the Commission to address these widespread and persistent issues in all multilateral and bilateral trade agreements, and especially in free trade agreements with both industrialised and emerging economies, and to ensure that in the WTO, NTBs receive, at the very least, as much attention as is currently paid to tariff elimination;

30.  Regrets the lack of specific means available to European businesses, and particularly SMEs, to counter intellectual property rights (IPR) infringements effectively; welcomes the Commission’s decision to propose a review of the directive on the enforcement of IPR; calls on the Commission and the Member States to improve the defence of IPR in all relevant multilateral organisations (WTO, World Health Organisation, World Intellectual Property Organisation);

31.  Points out that SMEs are vulnerable to price fluctuations; calls, therefore, on the Commission to work actively at EU level and in international forums such as the G20 to tackle harmful financial speculation on food and raw materials;

32.  Calls on the Union to fully exploit the investment opportunities for EU SMEs stemming from the European Neighbourhood Policy, with particular focus on cross-border investment in the countries of the Eastern and Southern Mediterranean partnerships; points out that investment opportunities in those areas should contribute substantially towards meeting the socioeconomic needs of the populations of the countries concerned and promoting sustainable economic development, deeper regional cooperation and regional stability;

33.  Considers that the Commission and the European External Action Service should develop synergies in order to further enhance the Union’s commercial diplomacy worldwide;

34.  Calls on the EU to develop an ambitious common industrial policy based on fostering research and innovation that benefits from innovative financing arrangements, such as project bonds, and supports the development of SMEs, via access to public procurement, in order to maintain its competitiveness vis-à-vis major players in industry and research;

o
o   o

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

(1) http://www.wto.org/english/docs_e/legal_e/17-tbt.pdf
(2) OJ L 349, 31.12.1994, p. 71.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0363.
(4) OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 103.
(5) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 235.
(6) OJ C 306 E, 15.12.2006, p. 400.
(7) OJ C 308 E, 16.12.2006, p. 182.
(8) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 128.
(9) OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 95.
(10) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 16.
(11) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 77.
(12) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 132.
(13) OJ C 117 E, 6.5.2010, p. 166.
(14) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 79.
(15) OJ C 188 E, 28.6.2012, p. 113.
(16) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 34.
(17) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 203.
(18) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 13.
(19) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 19.
(20) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0257.
(21) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0412.
(22) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0565.
(23) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0275.


A digital freedom strategy in EU foreign policy
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European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU Foreign Policy (2012/2094(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0470A7-0374/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council of 5 July 2012 entitled ‘The promotion, protection and enjoyment of human rights on the Internet’, which recognises the importance of human rights protection and the free flow of information online,(1)

–  having regard to the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur Frank La Rue, of 16 May 2011 (A/HRC/17/27) and 10 August 2011 (A/66/290), on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, which underline the applicability of international human rights norms and standards regarding the right to freedom of opinion and expression on the internet, seen as a communications medium,

–  having regard to the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council of 28 March 2008 (7/36) establishing the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression,

–  having regard to the UN report of 16 June 2011 entitled ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ’Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework’ (reflecting the work of UN Special Representative John Ruggie),

–  having regard to the resolution adopted by the Inter-Parliamentary Union Governing Council on 19 October 2011(2),

–  having regard to the Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy, adopted by the Council on 25 June 2012,(3)

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 13 June 2012 concerning the EU Special Representative for Human Rights(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 June 2012 entitled ‘Critical information infrastructure protection – achievements and next steps: towards global cyber-security’(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 April 2012 entitled ‘A competitive digital single market – eGovernment as a spearhead’(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 April 2012 on the Annual Report on Human Rights in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, including implications for the EU’s strategic human rights policy(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 February 2012 on access by blind people to books and other printed products(8),

–  having regard to the 2012 General Budget of 29 February 2012, in particular the call for creating a ‘Global Internet Freedom Fund’(9),

–  having regard to the communication of 12 December 2011 by the Commissioner for the Digital Agenda on the ‘No Disconnect Strategy’,

–  having regard to the joint communication of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human Rights and Democracy at the Heart of EU External Action – Towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886)),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 November 2011 on the open internet and net neutrality in Europe(10),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 October 2011 entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681),

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2011 on an effective raw materials strategy for Europe(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2011 on EU external policies in favour of democratisation(12),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commission of 25 May 2011 entitled ‘A new response to a changing Neighbourhood’ (COM(2011)0303),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on the cultural dimensions of the EU’s external actions(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2010 entitled ‘Internet governance: the next steps’(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 June 2010 on the Internet of Things(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2006 on the human rights and democracy clause in European Union agreements(17),

–  having regard to its resolutions on urgent cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, where they raise concerns regarding digital freedoms,

–  having regard to its position of 27 September 2011 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1334/2000 setting up a Community regime for the control of exports of dual-use items and technology(18),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria and repealing Regulation (EU) No 442/2011 of 18 January 2012 and introducing export restrictions on ICTs and monitoring tools(19),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) No 264/2012 of 23 March 2012 amending Regulation (EU) No 359/2011 concerning restrictive measures directed against certain persons, entities and bodies in view of the situation in Iran and introducing export restrictions on ICTs and monitoring tools(20),

–  having regard to Articles 3 and 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the European Union’s Guidelines on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all relevant international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

–  having regard to the UN Convention of 17 April 2003 for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage(21),

–  having regard to the United Nations Charter,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights and the ongoing negotiations on the EU’s accession to the Convention,

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0374/2012),

A.  whereas technological developments enable individuals all over the world to use new information and communication technologies (ICTs) and to connect to the internet, thus fostering revolutionary changes in societies, the functioning of democracy, governance, the economy, business, media, development and trade;

B.  whereas the internet is a key enabler of access to information, freedom of expression, freedom of press, freedom of assembly, and economic, social, political and cultural development;

C.   whereas there is a global consensus, reflected in international law, that restrictions on fundamental rights must be foreseen by law;

D.  whereas human rights need to be protected and promoted by the EU, both offline and online;

E.  whereas inclusion, the fostering of e-skills and bridging digital divides are key in harnessing the empowering potential of the internet and ICTs;

F.  whereas ICTs, while they have been key instruments in organising social movements and protests in various countries, notably with regard to the Arab Spring, are also used as tools of repression through (mass) censorship, surveillance and tracing and tracking of information and individuals;

G.  whereas ICTs may also play the role of a useful tool for terrorist organisations to prepare and perform attacks;

H.  whereas the context in which technologies are used determines, to a great extent, the impact they can have as a force for positive developments or for repression instead;

I.   whereas these changes create new contexts which call for the adapted application of existing laws, on the basis of a strategy to mainstream the internet and ICTs in all EU external action;

J.   whereas the internet has flourished and developed organically as a platform of huge public value; whereas, however, the misuse of the new opportunities and instruments made available by the internet also creates new risks and dangers;

K.   whereas the internet has also become a factor in the development of international trade which demands continuing vigilance, particularly in relation to consumer protection;

L.   whereas restrictions should only exist in cases of use of the internet for illegal activities, such as incitement to hatred, violence and racist attitudes, totalitarian propaganda, and children's access to pornography or their sexual exploitation;

M.  whereas the global and borderless nature of the internet requires new forms of international cooperation and governance with multiple stakeholders;

N.   whereas Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union states: ‘The Union shall ensure consistency between the different areas of its external action and between these and its other policies. The Council and the Commission, assisted by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, shall ensure that consistency and shall cooperate to that effect’;

O.  whereas net neutrality is an essential principle for the open internet, ensuring competition and transparency;

P.  whereas digital security and digital freedom are both essential and cannot replace one another;

Q.  whereas the EU only leads by example on digital freedoms when these are safeguarded in the EU;

Human rights and development

1.  Recognises that uncensored access to the open internet, mobile phones and ICTs have impacted on human rights and fundamental freedoms, exerting an enabling effect, by expanding the scope of freedom of expression, access to information, the right to privacy and freedom of assembly across the world;

2.  Recognises the vast enabling, creating and catalysing potential of the open internet and ICTs for community-building, civil society, and global economic, social, scientific, cultural and political development, contributing as such to the progress of humankind as a whole; is aware, nevertheless, of the new risks and dangers for human rights arising from the misuse of ICTs;

3.  Recognises that the internet and social media enable governments to engage in direct diplomacy and the facilitation of increased people-to-people contact around the world; stresses that open debates on ideas can help refute extremism and improve intercultural engagement and understanding;

4.  Considers culture to be a facilitator of access and contact where political relations are blocked or troubled; recognises that freedom and culture are closely intertwined and that digital cultural diplomacy is of strategic interest to the EU;

5.  Recognises the role of artistic freedom, and the freedom to imitate and reuse, as cornerstones for creativity and freedom of expression and ideas; is aware of the significant presence of exceptions and limitations in the copyright ecosystem, especially in the areas of journalism, quotation, satire, archives, libraries and ensuring access to and usability of the cultural heritage;

6.  Calls on the Commission to duly address the fact that there are countries practising the repression and control of citizens, civil society organisations and activists, while business in some countries involves a growing technological component in terms of the blocking of content and the monitoring and identification of human rights defenders, journalists, activists and dissidents; further calls on the Commission to act against the criminalisation of legitimate expression online and the adoption of restrictive legislation to justify such measures; reaffirms, therefore, that such practices are contrary to the Copenhagen criteria;

7.  Stresses that the recognition and implementation of the principles of Corporate Social Responsibility by internet service providers, software developers, hardware producers, social networking services/media, etc., is necessary to guarantee the freedom of action and safety of human rights defenders as well as freedom of expression;

8.  Stresses that the promotion and protection of digital freedoms should be mainstreamed and annually reviewed so as to ensure accountability and continuity, in all the EU’s external actions, financing and aid policies and instruments, under the leadership of the High Representative and the EEAS; calls for a proactive approach in this regard, and for action to ensure that there is horizontal cooperation and coordination between and within the relevant EU institutions and agencies;

9.  Endorses the Commission’s recognition that safe access to the internet is part of the Copenhagen criteria and that limitations on freedom of expression, including on the internet, should be justified by a pressing social need and, in particular, should be proportionate to the legitimate aim pursued;

10.  Is aware of the concerns over the protection and promotion of human rights and freedoms online which exist in all countries, while recognising the critical distinctions affecting the context within which ICTs are used, as in the cases of the existence of the rule of law and the right of redress;

11.  Calls on the Commission to ensure coherence between the EU's external actions and its own internal strategies when defending strictly necessary and proportionate restrictions on fundamental rights, and particularly when upholding basic principles of international law, such as that restrictions must be based on law and not introduced in an ad hoc manner by the industry;

12.  Encourages the EU Special Representative for Human Rights to name digital freedoms and the ‘No Disconnect Strategy’ among his key priorities;

13.  Stresses that effective EU development and human rights policies require mainstreaming ICTs and bridging the digital divide, by providing basic technological infrastructures and facilitating access to knowledge and information and promoting digital literacy all over the world;

14.  Considers ICTs to be enablers of transparency and good governance, literacy, education, sexual and reproductive healthcare, effective election monitoring and disaster relief, especially in remote areas and developing societies;

15.  Stresses that EU development and human rights programmes should include aid programmes fostering digital freedoms, above all in societies in non-democratic countries, as well as in countries going through post-conflict or political transitions; believes that EU regulatory experts are essential interlocutors for purposes of training counterparts and embedding basic rights and principles in new (media) regulation and legislation in third countries; stresses that aid in the form of building ICT infrastructures should be made conditional on the implementation and preservation of open access to the internet and information online; as well as on digital freedom more broadly;

16.  Draws attention to the importance of developing ICTs in conflict areas to promote peace-building activities at civil society level, with a view to providing secure communications between parties involved in peaceful resolution of conflicts, thereby actively overcoming physical hindrances and risks affecting bilateral contacts for people and organisations in such areas;

17.  Hopes that the appropriate use of new communications technologies, and in particular social media, will help to reinforce direct democracy among citizens of the EU and of third countries by creating social platforms for formulating legislation;

18.  Stresses that the digital collection and dissemination of evidence of human rights violations can contribute to the global fight against impunity; considers that these materials should be admissible under international (criminal) law as evidence in court proceedings;

19.  Emphasises the need to ensure that rare earth materials used in the production of ICTs are obtained under conditions of respect for human, labour and environmental rights, and are not subject to monopolistic practices or to limitations on trade access introduced on purely political grounds; believes that a multilateral approach to ensuring access to rare earth materials in humane circumstances is a requisite for achieving these goals;

Trade

20.  Recognises that the internet has become a part of the public space where new forms of crossborder trade are realised, along with innovative market development and social and cultural interaction; believes that digital freedoms and crossborder trade should go hand in hand in order to create and optimise business opportunities for European companies in the global digital economy;

21.  Is aware that there is concern that some people increasingly hear the word ‘copyright’ and hate what lies behind it; acknowledges the important role that foreign trade policy has played in shaping copyright enforcement mechanisms;

22.  Deplores the fact that EU-made technologies and services are sometimes used in third countries to violate human rights through censorship of information, mass surveillance, monitoring, and the tracing and tracking of citizens and their activities on (mobile) telephone networks and the internet; urges the Commission to take all necessary steps to stop this ‘digital arms trade’;

23.  Calls for a ban on exports of repressive technologies and services to authoritarian regimes; believes that such a ban should set a precedent for structural restrictive measures; considers it prudent, however, to specify that any such bans must be decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account specifics when dealing with conflict zones or authoritarian regimes;

24.  Regards certain targeted jamming, surveillance, monitoring and interception technology products and services as ‘single-use’ items, and therefore calls for the establishment of a list, to be regularly updated, of countries which are violating freedom of expression in the context of human rights and to which the export of the above ’single-use’ items should be banned;

25.  Stresses the need to implement and monitor EU sanctions relating to technologies at Union level, so as to ensure that Member States comply equally and the level playing field is preserved;

26.  Stresses that the Commission should be able to provide companies that are in doubt as to whether to apply for an export licence with real-time information on the legality or potentially harmful effects of trade deals; this should also apply to EU or EU-based companies entering into contractual relations with third-country governments, whether in order to win operating licenses or negotiate standstill clauses or by accepting public involvement in business operations or public use of networks and services;

27.  Stresses the importance of the protection of consumers' rights in the context of international agreements concerning ICTs;

28.  Urges the Commission to submit, during 2013 at the latest, proposals requiring increased transparency and accountability on the part of EU-based companies, as well as the disclosure of human rights impact assessment policies, with a view to improving the monitoring of exports of ICTs, products and services aimed at blocking websites, mass surveillance, tracking and monitoring of individuals, breaking into private (email) conversations or the filtering of search results;

29.  Calls on the Commission to submit proposals for an EU legal framework that would oblige companies engaging in public procurement in Member States to perform human rights impact assessments on the relevant ICTs, starting at the R&D phase, and ensure non-complicity in possible human rights violations in third countries;

30.  Believes companies should design and implement business practices aimed at monitoring the possible impact of new ICT products on human rights, including at the research and development phase, and ensuring non-complicity in possible human rights violations in third countries; calls on the Commission to provide EU businesses with a wide range of information so that they can strike the right balance between business interests and corporate social responsibility;

31.  Deplores, in this respect, the active involvement of European companies and international companies operating in the EU in countries deploying repressive government policies against human rights activists and political dissidents with regard to digital rights, internet access and ICTs; urges the Commission to exclude companies engaging in such activities from EU procurement procedures and calls for tender;

32.  Calls on the Commission to provide EU businesses with a wide range of information and guidance, based on the UN’s ‘Ruggie principles’, so as to ensure compliance with both business interests and corporate social responsibility;

33.  Stresses the need to consider the effect of technological standard-setting for ICT and telecom products and services in the EU, where such goods and services are exported to third countries where concepts such as ‘lawful interception’ have different implications, for example where the rule of law does not exist;

34.  Recognises that the internet has become a public space as well as a marketplace, for which the free flow of information and access to ICTs are indispensable; therefore takes the stance that digital freedoms and free trade must be promoted and protected simultaneously in order to encourage and support the free exchange of ideas, as well as increased business opportunities for EU citizens in an increasingly digital global economy;

35.  Calls for the inclusion of conditionality clauses in EU FTAs, stipulating transparent safeguards, preserving unrestricted access to the internet, and ensuring the free flow of information;

36.  Calls on the Commission and Council to ensure that mandates for multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations, as well as the conduct of the negotiations themselves, are effectively conducive to the achievement of important objectives of the EU, in particular the promotion of its values of democracy and the rule of law, the completion of a true digital single market and respect for development cooperation policy;

37.  Calls on the EU to provide political backing to European companies which are faced with requests to remove user-generated content or provide personal information in ways that breach fundamental rights and curtail the freedom to conduct business;

38.  Calls on the EU to challenge and minimise the extraterritorial impact of third-country legislation on EU citizens and businesses online;

39.  Notes that e-commerce has developed outside of traditional trade regulatory frameworks; stresses the importance of increased international cooperation in the WTO and WIPO in order to protect and ensure the development of the global digital market; calls for the revision and updating of the current Information Technology Agreement (ITA) in the WTO and for the EU to explore the possibilities of an International Digital Economy Agreement (IDEA);

40.  Calls on the Commission not to transfer enforcement and copyright claims to economic operators in future trade agreements, and also to ensure that actions that interfere with internet freedom in law may only be carried out under the rule of law and judicial authority;

41.  Considers that restrictions on access for EU businesses and online consumers to (digital) markets arising through mass censorship in third countries constitute protectionist measures and trade barriers; calls on the Commission to present a strategy to challenge measures by third countries that restrict access for EU businesses to their online markets;

42.  Calls on the EU to strive to ensure that regulation of the internet and ICTs is kept at a justified and adequate level and is undertaken only when the EU deems it necessary;

43.  Calls for the inclusion of targeted repression technologies in the Wassenaar Arrangement;

44.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service to provide political backing to EU companies operating in third countries where they face requests to remove user-generated content, curtail the freedom to provide services or provide personal information in ways that breach fundamental rights; points out that digital enterprises often operate without borders, and that third-country legislation may negatively affect European users and consumers; also calls, therefore, on the Council and the Commission to ensure that the impact of third-country legislation on natural or legal persons operating in the EU is minimised;

45.  Notes that increased governmental involvement and regulation hampers the open and unrestricted nature of the internet, thereby limiting the potential for increased e-commerce and constraining EU businesses operating in the digital economy; believes that a multi-stakeholder approach is the best means of striking a balance between public and private interests on the internet and in the global marketplace; calls for an international effort to build the necessary infrastructure to allow the expansion of the digital economy, including liberal regulatory regimes, and calls on developing countries to increase mutual benefits in line with the trade-for-change principle;

46.  Considers that the restriction of EU businesses’ access to digital markets and online consumers through, among other things, mass state censorship or restricted market access for European online service providers in third countries constitutes a trade barrier; calls on the Commission and Council to include a safeguard mechanism in all future trade agreements, especially those which contain provisions affecting online services and online communities of users who share information, in order to ensure that EU ICT companies are not required by third parties to restrict website access, remove user-generated content or provide personal information, such as personal IP addresses, in ways that contravene fundamental rights and freedoms; calls, additionally, on the Council and Commission to develop a strategy for challenging measures by third countries which restrict EU companies’ access to global online markets;

47.  Urges the Commission to present a new draft regulatory framework on dual-use exports, addressing potentially harmful exports of ICT products and services to third countries and providing for a coordinating and monitoring role for the Commission;

Internet governance

48.  Considers transparent and collaborative decision-making to be essential in order to ensure respect for the open and participatory nature of the internet; considers that any debate on regulations concerning the internet should be open and involve all stakeholders, especially those specialised in fundamental rights protection, as well as everyday internet users; believes the EU should play a leading role in the development of digital freedom groundrules and norms of behaviour in cyberspace, including dispute settlement mechanisms and taking account of conflicting jurisdictions;

49.  Notes that the structure of the internet is currently relatively unregulated and is governed through a multi-stakeholder approach; stresses the need for the EU to ensure that the multi-stakeholder model is inclusive and that small businesses as well as civil society actors and users are not overruled by a few large business and government players;

50.  Considers that cooperation between governments and private actors on ICT issues should not be based on placing direct and indirect obligations on ISPs to adopt devolved law enforcement roles by policing and regulating the internet;

51.  Stresses the importance of an overall EU strategy for internet governance, as also for issues related to telecom regulation, recalling that the sector is internationally governed through the International Telecom Union, in which EU Member States each have one vote;

52.  Is concerned at the proposals by coalitions of governments and business seeking to introduce regulatory oversight and increased governmental and private control over the internet and telecom operations;

53.  Calls on the EU to address and resist the extraterritorial impact of third-country laws, notably IPR laws of the United States, on EU citizens, consumers and businesses; in this context, calls on the Commission to swiftly present its EU-wide Cloud Computing Strategy, as highlighted in the Digital Agenda for Europe:

54.  Recalls that the internet, data connection and storage and ICTs are essential parts of the EU’s critical infrastructure;

55.  Regrets the push in the EU for more powers to block websites, given that this should always be a measure of last resort;

56.  Strongly supports the principle of net neutrality, namely that internet service providers do not block, discriminate against, impair or degrade, including through price, the ability of any person to use a service to access, use, send, post, receive or offer any content, application or service of their choice, irrespective of source or target;

57.  Considers that more global cooperation is needed in order to uphold and modernise intellectual property rights in the future, this being vital to ensure innovation, employment and open world trade;

58.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to develop IPR policy in order to continue to allow those who wish to create their own content and share it without acquiring IPRs to do so;

59.  Calls on the Commission to propose a new regulatory framework for crossborder online trade, an evaluation and revision of the Information Society Directive 2001/29/EC to ensure predictability and flexibility in the EU copyright regime, and a revision of the Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), which would balance the need for relevant copyright reform and protection with the need to protect fundamental rights online and preserve the open internet, and would serve as a basis for IPR provisions and commitments in future FTAs;

A digital freedom strategy

60.  Recognises that human rights must also be protected online, and believes that ICTs should be mainstreamed in all EU programmes, especially in the European Neighbourhood Policy and the strategic partnerships, in order to advance this effort;

61.  Calls for the recognition by the EU of digital freedoms as fundamental rights and as indispensable prerequisites for enjoying universal human rights such as privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and access to information and ensuring transparency and accountability in public life;

62.  Calls on the Commission and Council to support, train and empower human rights defenders, civil society activists and independent journalists using ICTs in their activities and to assert the related fundamental rights of privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association online;

63.  Asks Member States not to use the exception of public order as a restrictive measure to limit civil society organisations' fundamental rights of assembly and demonstration, and recalls that any such exception must be motivated and proportional;

64.  Calls for political and diplomatic support for digital freedoms in recipient countries of EU aid, in addition to assistance programmes;

65.  Considers that the restriction of digital freedoms should be taken into full consideration in the EU's relations with third countries, while those receiving EU assistance and aid, other than countries in acute conflict, suffering from disasters or in immediate post-conflict and post-disaster situations, should be required to use ICTs in ways that increase transparency and accountability;

66.  Urges the Council and Commission to include, in accession negotiations and negotiations of framework agreements with third countries, human rights dialogues, trade negotiations and all forms of contact relating to human rights, conditionality clauses stipulating the need to guarantee and respect unrestricted access to the internet and digital freedoms;

67.  Calls on the Commission and Council to promote and preserve high standards of digital freedom in the EU, in particular by codifying the principle of net neutrality by means of appropriate regulation, so as to strengthen the Union’s credibility in terms of promoting and defending digital freedoms around the world;

68.  Considers that synergising the EU’s trade, security and foreign policies and aligning its values and interests are indispensable if the Union is to fully leverage its economic power and act as a global player in defending digital freedoms;

69.  Considers coordination and joint diplomatic initiatives with other OECD countries in developing and executing a digital freedom strategy to be essential for efficient and agile action;

70.  Calls on the Commission and Council to adopt a Digital Freedom Strategy in EU foreign policy as soon as possible;

o
o   o

71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission, and the EEAS.

(1) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session20/Pages/ResDecStat.aspx
(2) Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 189th session (Berne, 19 October 2011) -http://www.ipu.org/english/issues/hrdocs/189/is01.htm
(3) http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/un_geneva/press_corner/focus/events/2012/20120625_en.htm
(4) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0250.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0237.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0140.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0126.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0059..
(9) OJ L 56, 29.2.2012, p.1.
(10) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0511.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0364.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0334.
(13) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 135.
(14) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, pp. 101.
(15) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, pp. 33.
(16) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, pp. 24.
(17) OJ C 290 E, 29.11.2006, pp. 107.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0406.
(19) OJ L 16, 19.1.2012, p.1.
(20) OJ L 87, 24.3.2012, p. 26.
(21) http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001325/132540e.pdf


Transitional arrangements for bilateral investment agreements between Member States and third countries ***II
PDF 197kWORD 20k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing transitional arrangements for bilateral investment agreements between Member States and third countries (11917/1/2012 – C7–0328/2012 – 2010/0197(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0471A7-0389/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (11917/1/2012 – C7–0328/2012),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0344),

–  having regard to the letter of the Chair of the Committee on International Trade of 31 May 2012 undertaking to recommend to the plenary to approve Council's position at first reading,

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0389/2012),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

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

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

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

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

ANNEX
TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Statement by the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission

The fact that this Regulation, including recitals 17, 18 and 19, provides for the use of the procedures referred to in Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 does not constitute a precedent as to future regulations allowing the Union to empower the Member States under Article 2(1) TFEU to legislate and adopt legally binding acts in areas of Union exclusive competence. Furthermore, in this Regulation, the use of the advisory as opposed to the examination procedure shall not be considered as setting a precedent for future regulations establishing the framework for the common commercial policy.

(1) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 203.


Macro-financial assistance for Georgia ***II
PDF 224kWORD 30k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia (05682/1/2012 – C7-0221/2012 – 2010/0390(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0472A7-0363/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (05682/1/2012 – C7-0221/2012),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0804),

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

–  having regard to Rule 66 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on International Trade (A7-0363/2012),

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at second reading on 11 December 2012 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on providing further macro-financial assistance to Georgia

P7_TC2-COD(2010)0390


THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 212(2) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,

After transmission of the draft legislative act to the national parliaments,

Acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure(2),

Whereas:

(1)  Relations between Georgia and the European Union are developing within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In 2006, the Community and Georgia agreed on a European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan identifying medium-term priorities in EU-Georgia relations. In 2010, the Union and Georgia launched the negotiations of an Association Agreement that is expected to replace the existing Partnership and Cooperation Agreement(3). The framework of EU-Georgia relations is further enhanced by the newly launched Eastern Partnership.

(2)  The extraordinary European Council meeting on 1 September 2008 confirmed the Union's willingness to strengthen EU-Georgia relations in the aftermath of the armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia and the Russian Federation.

(3)  The Georgian economy has been affected by the international financial crisis since the third quarter of 2008, with declining output, falling fiscal revenues and rising external financing needs.

(4)  At the International Donors' Conference held on 22 October 2008, the international community pledged support to Georgia's economic recovery in line with the Joint Needs Assessment carried out by the United Nations and the World Bank.

(5)  The Union announced that it would provide up to EUR 500 million as financial assistance to Georgia.

(6)  Georgian economic adjustment and recovery is supported by financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In September 2008, the Georgian authorities agreed with the IMF on a Stand-By Arrangement of USD 750 million to support the Georgian economy in making the necessary adjustments in the light of the financial crisis.

(7)  Following a further deterioration of Georgia's economic situation and a necessary revision of the underlying economic assumptions of the IMF programme, as well as Georgia's greater external financing needs, an agreement was reached between Georgia and the IMF for a loan increase of USD 424 million under the Stand-By Arrangement, which was approved in August 2009 by the IMF Board.

(8)  The Union intends to provide, in 2010-2012, under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), budget support grants to Georgia of EUR 37 million per year.

(9)  Georgia has requested Union macro-financial assistance in view of Georgia's deteriorating economic situation and outlook.

(10)  Given that there is still a residual financing gap in Georgia's balance of payments, macro-financial assistance is considered an appropriate response to Georgia's request under the current exceptional circumstances to support economic stabilisation in conjunction with the current IMF programme.

(11)  The Union macro-financial assistance to be provided to Georgia (‘the Union's macro-financial assistance’) should not merely supplement programmes and resources from the IMF and the World Bank, but should ensure the added value of Union involvement.

(12)  The Commission should ensure that the Union's macro-financial assistance is legally and substantially in line with the measures taken within the different areas of external action and other relevant Union policies.

(13)  The specific objectives of the Union's macro-financial assistance should strengthen efficiency, transparency and accountability. Those objectives should be regularly monitored by the Commission.

(14)  The conditions underlying the provision of the Union's macro-financial assistance should reflect the key principles and objectives of Union policy towards Georgia.

(15)  In order to ensure efficient protection of the Union's financial interests linked to the Union's macro-financial assistance, it is necessary that Georgia adopt appropriate measures relating to the prevention of, and the fight against, fraud, corruption and any other irregularities linked to that assistance. It is also necessary that the Commission provide for appropriate controls and that the Court of Auditors provide for appropriate audits.

(16)  The release of the Union's macro-financial assistance is without prejudice to the powers of the budgetary authority.

(17)  The Union's macro-financial assistance should be managed by the Commission. In order to ensure that the European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee are able to follow the implementation of this Decision, the Commission should regularly inform them of developments relating to the assistance and provide them with relevant documents.

(18)  In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of this Decision, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers(4),

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DECISION:

Article 1

1.  The Union shall make macro-financial assistance available to Georgia (‘the Union's macro-financial assistance’) of a maximum amount of EUR 46 million, with a view to supporting Georgia's economic stabilisation and covering its balance of payments needs, as identified in the current IMF programme. Of that maximum amount, up to EUR 23 million shall be provided in the form of grants and up to EUR 23 million in the form of loans. The release of the Union's macro-financial assistance shall be subject to the approval of the 2013 Union budget by the budgetary authority.

2.  The Commission shall be empowered to borrow the necessary resources on behalf of the Union in order to finance the loan component of the Union's macro-financial assistance. The loan shall have a maximum maturity of 15 years.

3.  The release of the Union's macro-financial assistance shall be managed by the Commission in a manner consistent with the agreements or understandings reached between the IMF and Georgia and with the key principles and objectives of economic reform set out in the EU-Georgia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The Commission shall regularly inform the European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee of developments in the management of the Union's macro-financial assistance and provide them with relevant documents.

4.  The Union's macro-financial assistance shall be made available for two years and six months starting from the first day after the entry into force of the Memorandum of Understanding referred to in Article 2(1).

Article 2

1.  The Commission shall, in accordance with the advisory procedure referred to in Article 6(2), adopt a Memorandum of Understanding containing the economic policy and financial conditions to which the Union's macro-financial assistance is subject, including a time-frame for meeting those conditions. The economic policy and financial conditions set out in the Memorandum of Understanding shall be consistent with the agreements or understandings referred to in Article 1(3). Those conditions shall aim, in particular, at strengthening the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the Union's macro-financial assistance, including public finance management systems in Georgia. Progress in attaining those objectives shall be regularly monitored by the Commission. The detailed financial terms of the Union's macro-financial assistance shall be laid down in the Grant Agreement and the Loan Agreement to be agreed between the Commission and the Georgian authorities.

2.  During the implementation of the Union's macro-financial assistance, the Commission shall monitor the soundness of Georgia's financial arrangements, the administrative procedures and the internal and external control mechanisms which are relevant to such assistance, as well as Georgia's adherence to the agreed timeframe.

3.  The Commission shall verify at regular intervals that Georgia's economic policies are in accordance with the objectives of the Union's macro-financial assistance and that the agreed economic policy conditions are being satisfactorily fulfilled. To that end, the Commission shall coordinate closely with the IMF and the World Bank, and, where required, with the Economic and Financial Committee.

Article 3

1.  Subject to the conditions set out in paragraph 2, the Union's macro-financial assistance shall be made available by the Commission in two instalments, each of them consisting of a grant and a loan element. The size of each instalment shall be laid down in the Memorandum of Understanding.

2.  The Commission shall decide on the release of the instalments subject to satisfactory implementation of the economic policy and financial conditions agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding. The disbursement of the second instalment shall take place no earlier than three months after the release of the first instalment.

3.  The Union's funds shall be paid to the National Bank of Georgia. Subject to provisions to be agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding, including a confirmation of residual budgetary financing needs, the Union's funds may be transferred to the Treasury of Georgia as the final beneficiary.

Article 4

1.  The borrowing and lending operations relating to the loan component of the Union's macro-financial assistance shall be carried out in euro using the same value date and shall not involve the Union in the transformation of maturities, in any exchange or interest rate risks, or in any other commercial risk.

2.  The Commission shall take the necessary steps, if Georgia so requests, to ensure that an early repayment clause is included in the loan terms and conditions and that it is matched by a corresponding clause in the terms and conditions of the Commission's borrowing operations.

3.  Upon request by Georgia, and where circumstances permit an improvement of the interest rate of the loan, the Commission may refinance all or part of its initial loan or restructure the corresponding financial conditions. Refinancing or restructuring operations shall be carried out in accordance with the conditions set out in paragraph 1 and shall not have the effect of extending the average maturity of the loan concerned or increasing the amount of capital outstanding at the date of the refinancing or restructuring.

4.  All costs incurred by the Union which are related to the borrowing and lending operations under this Decision shall be borne by Georgia.

5.  The Commission shall keep the European Parliament and the Economic and Financial Committee informed of developments in the operations referred to in paragraphs 2 and 3.

Article 5

The Union's macro-financial assistance shall be implemented in accordance with Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities(5) and its implementing rules(6). In particular, the Memorandum of Understanding, the Loan Agreement and the Grant Agreement to be agreed with the Georgian authorities shall provide for specific measures in relation to the prevention of, and the fight against, fraud, corruption and any other irregularities affecting the Union's macro-financial assistance. In order to ensure greater transparency in the management and disbursement of funds, the Memorandum of Understanding, the Loan Agreement and the Grant Agreement shall also provide for controls, including on-the-spot checks and inspections, to be carried out by the Commission, including the European Anti-Fraud Office. Those documents shall also provide for audits, including where appropriate on-the-spot audits, by the Court of Auditors.

Article 6

1.  The Commission shall be assisted by a committee. That committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.

2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 shall apply. Where the committee delivers no opinion, the Commission shall not adopt the draft implementing act and the third subparagraph of Article 5(4) of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 shall apply.

Article 7

1.  By 30 June of each year, the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council a report on the implementation of this Decision in the preceding year, including an evaluation thereof. The report shall indicate the connection between the economic policy and financial conditions laid down in the Memorandum of Understanding, Georgia's on-going economic and fiscal performance and the Commission's decisions to release the instalments of the Union's macro-financial assistance.

2.  No later than two years after the expiry of the availability period referred to in Article 1(4), the Commission shall submit to the European Parliament and to the Council an ex post evaluation report.

Article 8

This Decision shall enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Done at…,

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

[Am. 1]

(1) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 211.
(2) Position of the European Parliament of 10 May 2011 (OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 211) and position of the Council at first reading of 10 May 2012 (OJ C 291 E, 27.9.2012, p. 1). Position of the European Parliament of 11 December 2012.
(3) Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and Georgia, of the other part (OJ L 205, 4.8.1999, p. 3).
(4) OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13.
(5) OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1.
(6) Commission Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2342/2002 of 23 December 2002 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (OJ L 357, 31.12.2002, p. 1).


European Maritime Safety Agency ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No 1406/2002 establishing a European Maritime Safety Agency (10090/2/2012 – C7-0329/2012 – 2010/0303(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0473A7-0387/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (10090/2/2012 – C7-0329/2012),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 February 2011(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2010)0611),

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

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

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A7-0387/2012),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

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

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

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

(1) OJ C 107, 6.4.2011, p. 68.
(2) Texts adopted of 15.12.2011, P7_TA(2011)0581.


Creation of unitary patent protection ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection (COM(2011)0215 – C7-0099/2011 – 2011/0093(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0474A7-0001/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0215),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and the first paragraph of Article 118 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0099/2011),

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

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Spanish Congress of Deputies and the Spanish Senate and by the Italian Chamber of Deputies, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 19 November 2012 to approve Parliament's position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A7-0001/2012),

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

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 December 2012 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection

P7_TC1-COD(2011)0093


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 1257/2012.)


Unitary patent protection *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the proposal for a Council regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements (COM(2011)0216 – C7-0145/2011 – 2011/0094(CNS))
P7_TA(2012)0475A7-0002/2012

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2011)0216),

–  having regard to the second paragraph of Article 118 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C7-0145/2011),

–  having regard to the reasoned opinions submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Spanish Congress of Deputies and the Spanish Senate and by the Italian Chamber of Deputies, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A7-0002/2012),

1.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

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

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

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

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 6
(6)  Since the European Patent Office is responsible for the grant of European patents, the translation arrangements for the European patent with unitary effect should be built on the current procedure in the European Patent Office. Those arrangements should aim at achieving the necessary balance between the interests of economic operators and the public interest in terms of the cost of proceedings and the availability of technical information.
(6)  Since the European Patent Office is responsible for the grant of European patents, the translation arrangements for the European patent with unitary effect should be built on the current procedure in the European Patent Office. Those arrangements should aim at achieving the necessary balance between the interests of economic operators, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises, and the public interest in terms of the cost of proceedings and the availability of technical information.
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 9
(9)  In order to facilitate access to European patents with unitary effect, in particular for small and medium-size enterprises, applicants who do not have a language in common with one of the official languages of the European Patent Office should be able to file their patent applications at the European Patent Office in any other official language of the Union. As a complementary measure, for applicants obtaining European patents with unitary effect and having their residence or principal place of business within a Member State of the Union which has as an official language a language other than one of the official languages of the European Patent Office, a system of additional reimbursements of the costs related to the translation from that language into the language of the proceedings of the European Patent Office, beyond what is currently already in place at the European Patent Office, should be administered by the European Patent Office in accordance with Article 12 of Regulation xx/xx [substantive provisions].
(9)  In order to facilitate access to European patents with unitary effect, in particular for small and medium-sized enterprises, applicants who do not have a language in common with one of the official languages of the European Patent Office should be able to file their patent applications at the European Patent Office in any other official language of the Union. As a complementary measure, small and medium-sized enterprises, natural persons and non-profit organisations obtaining European patents with unitary effect and having their residence or principal place of business within a Member State of the Union which has as an official language a language other than one of the official languages of the European Patent Office should benefit from a system of additional reimbursements of the costs related to the translation from that language into the language of the proceedings of the European Patent Office, beyond what is currently already in place at the European Patent Office. The system of additional reimbursements should be administered by the European Patent Office in accordance with Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No [.../2012] of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection.
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 9 a (new)
(9a)  The modalities and the level of reimbursement of the additional translation costs should be conceived in a way which, in principle, ensures full compensation of the translation costs; a ceiling per page is necessary in order to reflect the normal average market price for translation and to avoid abuse.
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 10
(10)  In order to promote the availability of patent information and the dissemination of technological knowledge, machine translations of patent applications and specifications into all official languages of the Union should be available as soon as possible. Machine translations are being developed by the European Patent Office and are a very important tool seeking to improve access to patent information and to disseminate widely the technological knowledge. The timely availability of high quality machine translations of European patent applications and specifications into all official languages of the Union would benefit all the users of the European patent system. Machine translations are a key feature of European Union policy. Such machine translations should serve for information purposes only and should not have any legal effect.
(10)  In order to promote the availability of patent information and the dissemination of technological knowledge, machine translations of patent applications and specifications into all official languages of the Union should be available as soon as possible. Machine translations are being developed by the European Patent Office and are a very important tool seeking to improve access to patent information and to disseminate widely the technological knowledge. The timely availability of high quality machine translations of European patent applications and specifications into all official languages of the Union would benefit all the users of the European patent system. Machine translations are a key feature of European Union policy. Such machine translations should serve for information purposes only and should not have any legal effect. They should be made available online and free of charge on publication of the patent application and of the granted patent.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11 a (new)
(11a)  After the end of the transitional period, the European Patent Office should continue to publish an additional translation into English of the specification of the European patent provided voluntarily by the applicant. This would provide further international publicity and limit the possibility of an infringer arguing that it had acted in good faith.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1
This Regulation implements the enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection authorised by Council Decision No 2011/167/EU with regard to the applicable translation arrangements.

1.  This Regulation implements the enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection authorised by Council Decision 2011/167/EU with regard to the applicable translation arrangements. It regulates the translation arrangements applicable to European patents to the extent that they have unitary effect.
1a.  This Regulation is without prejudice to the rules governing the languages of the institutions of the Union established in accordance with Article 342 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and to Council Regulation No 1/1958.
1b.  This Regulation is based on the linguistic regime of the European Patent Office and should not be regarded as creating a specific linguistic regime for the Union, or as creating a precedent for a limited language regime in any future legal instrument of the Union.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 2 a (new)
2a.  Once available, the machine translations of patent applications and specifications into all languages of the Union as referred to in Article 6(3) shall be made available online and free of charge on publication of the patent application and of the granted patent.
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Article 3 – paragraph 2 b (new)
2b.  After the end of the transitional period referred to in Article 6 and in accordance with Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No [.../2012] of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, the participating Member States shall, pursuant to Article 143 of the EPC, give the European Patent Office the task of publishing an additional full translation of the specification into English, if such additional translation has been provided voluntarily by the applicant. Such translation shall not be carried out by automated means.
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Article 4 – paragraph 1
1.  In the case of a dispute relating to a European patent with unitary effect, the patent proprietor shall provide at the request and the choice of an alleged infringer, a full translation of the patent into an official language of the participating Member State in which either the alleged infringement took place or in which the alleged infringer is domiciled.
1.  In the case of a dispute relating to a European patent with unitary effect, the patent proprietor shall provide at the request and the choice of an alleged infringer, a full translation of the patent into an official language of the participating Member State in which either the alleged infringement took place or in which the alleged infringer is domiciled. Such translation shall not be carried out by automated means.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Article 4 – paragraph 2
2.  In the case of a dispute relating to a European patent with unitary effect, the patent proprietor shall provide in the course of legal proceedings, at the request of a court competent in the territories of the participating Member States for disputes concerning European patents with unitary effect, a full translation of the patent into the language of the proceedings of that court.
2.  In the case of a dispute relating to a European patent with unitary effect, the patent proprietor shall provide in the course of legal proceedings, at the request of a court competent in the territories of the participating Member States for disputes concerning European patents with unitary effect, a full translation of the patent into the language of the proceedings of that court. Such translation shall not be carried out by automated means.
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Article 4 – paragraph 4
4.  In the case of a dispute concerning a claim for damages, the court hearing the dispute shall take into consideration that the alleged infringer may have acted without knowing or having reasonable grounds to know that he was infringing the patent before having been provided with the translation referred to in paragraph 1.
4.  In the case of a dispute concerning a claim for damages, the court hearing the dispute shall take into consideration whether, in particular if it is a small or medium-sized enterprise, a natural person, a non-profit organisation, a university or a public research organisation, the alleged infringer has acted without knowing or having reasonable grounds to know that he was infringing the patent before having been provided with the translation referred to in paragraph 1.
Amendments 12 and 13
Proposal for a regulation
Article 5
Given the fact that European patent applications may be filed in any language under Article 14(2) of the EPC, in accordance with Article 12 of Regulation xx/xx [substantive provisions], the participating Member States, shall give, within the meaning of Article 143 of the EPC, the European Patent Office the task of administering a compensation scheme of reimbursing all translation costs up to a ceiling, from the fees referred to in Article 13 of that Regulation, for applicants filing patent applications at the European Patent Office in one of the official languages of the Union that is not an official language of the European Patent Office.

1.  Given the fact that European patent applications may be filed in any language under Article 14(2) of the EPC, in accordance with Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No [.../2012] of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, the participating Member States, shall give, within the meaning of Article 143 of the EPC, the European Patent Office the task of administering a compensation scheme of reimbursing all translation costs up to a ceiling, from the fees referred to in Article 10 of that Regulation, for applicants filing patent applications at the European Patent Office in one of the official languages of the Union that is not an official language of the European Patent Office.
1a.  The compensation scheme referred to in paragraph 1 shall be funded through the fees referred to in Article 10 of Regulation (EU) No [.../2012] of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection and shall be available only for small and medium-sized enterprises, natural persons, non profit organisations, universities and public research organisations having their residence or principal place of business within a Member State of the Union.
1b.  The compensation scheme referred to in paragraph 1 shall ensure full reimbursement of the translation costs up to a ceiling set in such a way as to reflect the average market price for translations and to avoid abuse.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Article 6 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 a (new)
Such translations shall not be carried out by automated means.

Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 2
2.  It shall apply from [a specific date will be set and it will coincide with the date of application of Regulation xx/xx on the implementation of enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection].
2.  It shall apply from 1 January 2014 or from the date of entry into force of the Agreement on a Unified Patent Court, whichever is the later.

Jurisdictional system for patent disputes
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European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on jurisdictional system for patent disputes (2011/2176(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0476A7-0009/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council Decision 2011/167/EU of 10 March 2011 authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection(1),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection (COM(2011)0215),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Council Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements (COM(2011)0216),

–  having regard to Opinion 1/09 of the Court of Justice of 8 March 2011(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the Committee on Constitutional Affairs(A7-0009/2012),

A.  whereas an efficient patent system in Europe is a necessary prerequisite for boosting growth through innovation and to help European business, in particular small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), to face the economic crisis and global competition;

B.  whereas pursuant to Council Decision 2011/167/EU authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, the Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom were authorised to establish enhanced cooperation between themselves in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, by applying the relevant provisions of the Treaties;

C.  whereas on 13 April 2011, on the basis of the Council’s authorising Decision, the Commission adopted a proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection, and a proposal for a Council Regulation implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection with regard to the applicable translation arrangements;

D.  whereas on 8 March 2011 the Court of Justice gave its opinion on the European and Community Patents Court proposal raising the point of its incompatibility with Union law;

E.  whereas effective unitary patent protection can only be ensured through a functioning patent litigation system;

F.  whereas, following the opinion of the Court of Justice, the Member States participating in the enhanced cooperation engaged in the creation of a Unified Patent Litigation Court by means of an international agreement;

G.  whereas, in this context, there is a substantial difference between ordinary international agreements and the founding treaties of the European Union, the latter having established a new legal order, possessing its own institutions, for the benefit of which the States have limited their sovereign rights in ever wider fields, to which not only Member States but also their nationals are subject, with the guardians of that legal order being the Court of Justice of the European Union and the ordinary courts and tribunals of the Member States;

H.  whereas the Unified Patent Court must fully respect and apply Union law, in cooperation with the Court of Justice of the European Union as is the case for any national court;

I.  whereas the Unified Patent Court should rely on the case-law of the Court of Justice by requesting preliminary rulings in accordance with Article 267 TFEU;

J.  whereas respect for the primacy and proper application of Union law should be ensured on the basis of Articles 258, 259 and 260 TFEU;

K.  whereas the Unified Patent Court should be part of the judicial systems of the Contracting Member States, with exclusive competence for European patents with unitary effect and for European patents designating one or more Contracting Member States;

L.  whereas an efficient court system needs a decentralised first instance;

M.  whereas the efficiency of the litigation system depends on the quality and experience of the judges;

N.  whereas there should be one set of procedural rules applicable to proceedings before all divisions and instances of the court;

O.  whereas the Unified Patent Court should strive to provide high quality decisions without undue procedural delays, and should help, in particular, SMEs to protect their rights or to defend themselves against unsubstantiated claims or patents which merit revocation;

1.  Calls for the establishment of the Unified Patent Litigation System, as a fragmented market for patents and disparities in law enforcement hamper innovation and progress in the internal market, complicate the use of the patent system, are costly and prevent the effective protection of patent rights, particularly those of SMEs;

2.  Encourages Member States to conclude the negotiations and to ratify the international agreement (‘the Agreement’) between these Member States (’Contracting Member States’) creating a Unified Patent Court (‘the Court’) without undue delays, and encourages Spain and Italy to consider joining in the enhanced cooperation procedure;

3.  Insists that the Court of Justice, as guardian of Union law, must ensure uniformity of the Union legal order and the primacy of European law in this context;

4.  Considers that the Member States which have not yet decided to participate in the enhanced cooperation in the area of the creation of unitary patent protection may participate in the Unified Patent Litigation System in respect of European patents valid on their territories;

5.  Stresses that the Unified Patent Court’s priority should be to enhance legal certainty and to improve the enforcement of patents while striking a fair balance between the interests of right holders and parties concerned;

6.  Stresses the need for a cost-efficient litigation system which is financed in such a way as to secure access to justice for all patent holders, particularly for SMEs, individuals and not-for-profit organisations;

General approach

7.  Acknowledges that the establishment of a coherent patent litigation system in the Member States taking part in the enhanced cooperation should be accomplished by the Agreement ;

8.  Accordingly stresses that:

   (i) the Contracting Member States can only be Member States of the European Union;
   (ii) the Agreement should come into force when a minimum of thirteen Contracting Member States, including the three Member States in which the highest number of European patents was in force in the year preceding the year in which the Diplomatic Conference for the signature of the Agreement takes place, have ratified the Agreement;
   (iii) the Court should be a Court common to the Contracting Member States and subject to the same obligations as any national court with regard to compliance with Union law; thus, for example, the Court shall cooperate with the Court of Justice by applying Article 267 TFEU;
   (iv) the Court should act in line with the body of Union law and respect its primacy; in the event that the Court of Appeal infringes Union law, Contracting Member States should be jointly liable for damages incurred by the parties to the respective procedure; infringement proceedings pursuant to Articles 258, 259 and 260 TFEU against all Contracting Member States should apply;

9.  Welcomes the establishment of a mediation and arbitration centre within the framework of the Agreement;

Structure of the Patent Litigation System

10.  Considers that an efficient court and litigation system needs to be decentralised and is of the opinion that:

   (i) the litigation system of the Court should consist of a first instance (‘Court of First Instance’) and an instance for appeal (’Court of Appeal’); in order to avoid inefficiencies and lengthy proceedings, no further instances should be added;
   (ii) a decentralised first instance should consist, in addition to a central division, also of local and regional divisions;
   (iii) additional local divisions of the first instance should be set up in a Contracting Member State upon its request when more than 100 cases per calendar year have been commenced in that Contracting Member State during three successive years prior to or subsequent to the date of entry into force of the Agreement; further proposes that the number of divisions in one Contracting Member State should not exceed four;
   (iv) a regional division should be set up for two or more Contracting Member States upon their request;

Composition of the Court and qualification of the Judges

11.  Underlines that the efficiency of the litigation system depends most of all on the quality and experience of the judges;

12.  To that extent:

   (i) acknowledges that the composition of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance should be multinational; considers as regards their composition that account should be taken of the existing court structures, while bearing in mind that the overriding objective is to ensure that the new court is genuinely unified; proposes, therefore, that the composition of the local divisions should become multinational as soon as possible but that reasoned exceptions to this general principle may be made after approval from the Administrative Committee during a transitional period of no more than five years, while it has to be ensured that the standard of quality and efficiency of the existing structures is not reduced; considers that the period of five years should be used for intensive training and preparation for the judges;
   (ii) believes that the Court should be composed of both legally qualified and technically qualified judges; the judges should ensure the highest standards of competence and proven capacity in the field of patent litigation and antitrust law; this qualification should be proven inter alia by relevant work experience and professional training; legally qualified judges should possess the qualifications required for judicial offices in a Contracting Member State; technically qualified judges should have a university degree and expertise in a field of technology as well as knowledge of civil and civil procedural law;
   (iii) proposes that the provisions of the Agreement on the composition of the Court, once in force, should not be amended unless the objectives of the litigation system, i.e. highest quality and efficiency, are not fulfilled because of these provisions; proposes that decisions regarding the composition of the Court should be taken by the competent body acting unanimously;
   (iv) is of the opinion that the Agreement should contain safeguards ensuring that judges are only eligible if their neutrality is not in question, especially if they have served as Members of boards of appeal of a national patent office or the EPO;

Procedure

13.  Considers, with regard to the procedural issues, that:

   (i) one set of procedural rules should be applicable to proceedings before all divisions and instances of the Court;
   (ii) the proceedings before the Court, consisting of a written, interim and oral procedure, shall incorporate the appropriate elements of flexibility, taking into account the objectives of speed and efficiency of proceedings;
   (iii) the language of proceedings before any local or regional division should be the official language of the Contracting Member State hosting the division or the official language designated by the Contracting Member States sharing a regional division; the parties should be free to chose the language in which the patent was granted as language of proceedings subject to the approval of the competent division; the language of proceedings before the central division should be the language in which the patent concerned was granted; the language of proceedings before the Court of Appeal should be the language of proceedings before the Court of First Instance;
   (iv) the Court should have the power to grant preliminary injunctions to prevent any impending infringement and to forbid the continuation of the alleged infringement; such power must, however, not lead to inequitable forum shopping; and
   (v) the parties should be represented only by lawyers authorised to practise before a court in any of the Contracting Member States; the representatives of the parties might be assisted by patent attorneys who should be allowed to speak at hearings before the Court;

Jurisdiction and effect of the Court decisions

14.  Underlines that:

   (i) the Court should have exclusive jurisdiction in respect of European patents with unitary effect and European patents designating one or more Contracting Member States; this will necessitate the amendment of Regulation (EC) No 44/2001(3);
   (ii) the plaintiff should bring the action before the local division hosted by a Contracting Member State where the infringement has occurred or may occur, or where the defendant is domiciled or established, or to the regional division in which this Contracting Member State participates; if the Contracting Member State concerned does not host a local division and does not participate in a regional division, the plaintiff shall bring the action before the central division; the parties should be free to agree before which division of the Court of First Instance (local, regional or central) an action may be brought;
   (iii) in the event of a counterclaim for revocation, the local or regional division should have the discretion to proceed with the infringement proceeding independently of whether the division proceeds as well with the counterclaim or whether it refers the counterclaim to the central division;
   (iv) rules on the jurisdiction of the Court, once in force, should not be amended unless the objectives of the litigation system, i.e. highest quality and efficiency, are not fulfilled because of these rules on jurisdiction; proposes that decisions regarding the jurisdiction of the Court should be taken by the competent body acting unanimously;
   (v) decisions of all divisions of the Court of First Instance as well as decisions of the Court of Appeal should be enforceable in any Contracting Member State without the need for a declaration of enforceability;
   (vi) the relationship between the Agreement and Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 should be clarified in the Agreement;

Substantive law

15.  Is of the opinion that the Court should base its decisions on Union law, the Agreement, the European Patent Convention (EPC) and national law having been adopted in accordance with the EPC, provisions of international agreements applicable to patents and binding on all the Contracting Member States and national law of the Contracting Member States in the light of applicable Union law;

16.  Stresses that a European Patent with unitary effect should confer on its proprietor the right to prevent direct and indirect use of the invention by any third party not having the proprietor’s consent in the territories of the Contracting Member States, that the proprietor should be entitled to compensation for damages in case of an unlawful use of the invention and that the proprietor should be entitled to recover either the profit lost due to the infringement and other losses, an appropriate licence fee or the profit resulting from the unlawful use of the invention;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 76, 22.3.2011, p. 53.
(2) OJ C 211, 16.7.2011, p. 2.
(3) Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (OJ L 12, 16.1.2001, p. 1).


Implementation of the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the EU-Central America association agreement ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States on the one hand, and Central America on the other (COM(2011)0599 – C7-0306/2011 – 2011/0263(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0477A7-0237/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0599),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0306/2011),

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

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 31 October 2012 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A7-0237/2012),

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

2.  Takes note of the Commission statement annexed to this resolution;

3.  Approves the joint declaration by Parliament and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 December 2012 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America on the other

P7_TC1-COD(2011)0263


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 20/2013.)

ANNEXES TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

COMMISSION STATEMENT

The Commission welcomes the first reading agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on Regulation (EU) No 20/2013(2).

As envisaged in Regulation (EU) No 20/2013, the Commission will submit an annual report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of Part IV of the Agreement and will be ready to discuss with the responsible committee of the European Parliament any issues arising from the implementation of Part IV of the Agreement.

The Commission will attach particular importance to the effective implementation of commitments on trade and sustainable development in the Agreement, taking into account the specific information provided by the relevant monitoring bodies of the fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation and the multilateral environmental agreements listed in Title VIII of Part IV of the Agreement. In this context, the Commission will also seek the views of the relevant civil society advisory groups.

After the expiry of the Banana Stabilisation Mechanism on 31 December 2019, the Commission will assess the situation of the Union market for bananas and the state of Union banana producers. The Commission will report its findings to the European Parliament and the Council and would include a preliminary assessment of the functioning of the ‘Programme d'Options Spécifiques à l'Éloignement et l'Insularité’ (POSEI) in preserving the banana production in the Union.

JOINT DECLARATION

The European Parliament and the Commission agree on the importance of close cooperation in monitoring the implementation of Part IV of the Agreement and Regulation (EU) No 20/2013(3). To that end they agree on the following:

‐ Upon request by the responsible committee of the European Parliament, the Commission shall report to it on any specific concerns relating to the implementation by Central American countries of their commitments on trade and sustainable development.

‐ If the European Parliament adopts a recommendation to initiate a safeguard investigation, the Commission will carefully examine whether the conditions under Regulation (EU) No 20/2013 for ex-officio initiation are fulfilled. If the Commission considers that the conditions are not fulfilled, it will present a report to the responsible committee of the European Parliament including an explanation of all the factors relevant to the initiation of such an investigation.

(1) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 13 September 2012 (Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0348).
(2) OJ L 17, 19.1.2013, p. 13.
(3) OJ L 17, 19.1.2013, p. 13.


EU-Central America association agreement
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European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America, on the other (16395/1/2011 – C7-0182/2012 – 2011/0303(NLE))
P7_TA(2012)0478A7-0360/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (16395/1/2011),

–  having regard to the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America, on the other (16396/2011),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 217 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0182/2012),

  having regard to the trade chapter of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America, on the other,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 15 November 2001 on a global partnership and a common strategy for relations between the European Union and Latin America(1), of 27 April 2006 on a stronger partnership between the European Union and Latin America(2), and of 24 April 2008 on the Fifth Latin America and Caribbean-European Union Summit in Lima(3),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 1 June 2006 on trade and poverty: designing trade policies to maximise trade’s contribution to poverty relief(4), of 23 May 2007 on the EU’s Aid for Trade(5), of 21 October 2010 on the European Union’s trade relations with Latin America(6), and of 12 June 2012 on defining a new development cooperation with Latin America(7),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 5 February 2009 on enhancing the role of European SMEs in international trade(8), of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(9), of 25 November 2010 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(10), and of 27 September 2011 on a new trade policy for Europe under the Europe 2020 strategy(11),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 5 May 2010 on the EU strategy for relations with Latin America(12) and of 5 July 2011 on increasing the impact of EU development policy(13),

–  having regard to the resolutions of the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat), and specifically the resolutions adopted at the Fifth Ordinary Plenary Session held on 18 and 19 May 2011 in Montevideo, Uruguay, on the prospects for trade relations between the European Union and Latin America, on employment protection and creation strategies, especially for women and young people, and on relations between the European Union and Latin America in the field of security and defence,

–  having regard to its recommendation of 15 March 2007 to the Council on the negotiating mandate for an association agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the countries of Central America, of the other part(14),

–  having regard to the statements of the six Summits of Heads of State or Government of Latin America and the Caribbean and the EU that were held in Rio de Janeiro (28 and 29 June 1999), Madrid (17 and 18 May 2002), Guadalajara (28 and 29 May 2004), Vienna (12 and 13 May 2006), Lima (16 and 17 May 2008) and Madrid (17 and 18 May 2010),

–  having regard to Rule 81(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the interim report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Development (A7-0360/2012),

A.  whereas the Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Central America (CA) sets a major precedent by being the first bi-regional AA signed by the EU since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon,

B.  whereas the key objectives of the Bi-regional Strategic Partnership between the EU and Latin America are regional, social, economic and cultural integration underpinned by the conclusion of subregional and bilateral AAs,

C.   whereas in order for the development of EU-Latin America partnership relations to be of mutual benefit and to bring advantages for both parties, it is essential that respect for democracy, the rule of law and full human rights for all members of society be seen as key elements of political dialogue,

D.  whereas the Madrid Summit held in May 2010 led to the resumption of all the trade negotiations with Latin America that had been on ice for the last few years, concluding the negotiations on this AA,

E.  whereas the development of relations with Latin America is of mutual benefit and brings advantages to all EU Member States,

F.  whereas Parliament has expressed its concern with regard to violence against women in its resolution of 11 October 2007 on the murder of women (feminicide) in Mexico and Central America and the role of the European Union in fighting the phenomenon(15),

G.  whereas the EU is the main investor and the second largest trading partner in CA as well as the main donor of development aid,

H.  whereas respect for democracy, the rule of law and the human, civil and political rights of the people of both regions are fundamental elements of the Agreement,

I.  whereas the Agreement includes a human rights clause which reciprocally requires the signatory parties to properly monitor human rights and to ensure that its practical enforceability is guaranteed,

J.  whereas the Central American region is characterised by conditions of severe poverty, social exclusion and socio-environmental vulnerability,

K.   whereas the AA implies a political and economic association between the EU and the region as formed by its different countries, taking into account the asymmetries and inequalities which exist between the two regions and among the various Central American countries,

L.  whereas the aim of the AA should be to promote, inter alia, sustainable development, social cohesion and regional integration,

M.  whereas the EU could contribute through cooperation to finding solutions aimed at ensuring security in the region – a matter of great concern in Central America,

N.  whereas the AA meets the Union’s objective of promoting regional integration through trade, as laid down in the Commission Communication (COM(2010)0612) entitled ‘Trade, Growth and World Affairs’ and, in line with the Europe 2020 strategy, uses trade as an engine for competitiveness, development and job creation,

O.  whereas the magnitude of the trade part of the AA will qualitatively and quantitatively extend the range of goods and services that will benefit from a free trade area and will establish a framework for legal security and certainty that will stimulate the flow of goods, services and investments,

P.  whereas it is anticipated that the trade part of the AA will facilitate, on a sector-by-sector basis, immediate or gradual reductions in tariffs on an asymmetrical basis with the objective of creating a bi-regional free trade area subject to a stable and predictable regime that will encourage productive investment, greater penetration of the Central American region in world trade, efficient resource management and increased competitiveness,

Q.  whereas one of the AA’s main objectives of contributing to greater regional integration and stability in CA will be achieved provided that the countries party to it (including Panama) show a clear political will and make a commitment to overcoming difficulties and achieving further dynamic integration, by adopting effective, equivalent and appropriate measures in order to generate mutually beneficial synergies and strengthen the provisions of the AA, thereby contributing to economic, political and social development,

R.  whereas the establishment of a framework for strengthening legal certainty will bring positive effects for both parties, encouraging an increase in trade and investment flows and sectoral and geographical diversification; whereas the most significant effect for the Union will be the savings resulting from the staggered reduction or elimination of tariffs and trade facilitation, and investment in a framework of stability and mutual trust, stressing the commitment of both regions to respect and adhere to international standards, especially those of the World Trade Organization and the International Labour Organization; whereas for CA it will imply a greater international presence, a strategic partnership with an established market and an opportunity for diversification and for attracting long-term productive investments,

S.  whereas there is asymmetry in the trade part of the AA, indicated inter alia by the graduation and the establishment of different transitional periods for both regions, enabling productive structures to be adapted to new economic and commercial realities resulting from its implementation,

T.  whereas, among its principles, respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights and the rule of law will strengthen the domestic and international policies of both parties; whereas the importance is stressed of including a specific heading on ‘Trade and Sustainable Development’ with references to international standards and agreements on labour, the environment and governance, consistent with the objective of sustainable and balanced development that reduces disparities between and within the parties, thereby setting an important precedent for future negotiations; whereas it is anticipated that trade will foster economic development, green growth and social cohesion; whereas the inclusion of institutional and monitoring mechanisms such as the Committee on Trade and Sustainable Development and the Civil Society Dialogue Forum is welcomed,

U.  whereas the commitment of both regions in respect of geographical indications and intellectual property in accordance with international standards is emphasised,

V.  whereas all states in CA benefit from the Generalised System of Preferences Plus scheme (GSP+), which will cease to apply on 31 December 2013; whereas the new GSP scheme will exclude, without exception, all the countries defined as upper-middle income countries by the World Bank, meaning that Costa Rica and Panama would lose their right to benefit from this system; whereas the GSP is unilateral, temporary and revisable, covers a smaller range of products and excludes most agricultural products; whereas the AA will improve the trading position of all CA states by establishing a new, more comprehensive, secure and mutually beneficial legal framework; whereas the fact that this new scheme will enable progressive liberalisation in the exchange of goods and services, public procurement and the promotion of investment is welcomed,

1.  Requests the Council and the Commission to take into account the following recommendations:

Introduction

Political dialogue, a key element in developing the bi-regional partnership

Effective cooperation in the fight against poverty and the fostering of social cohesion

Conclusions

o
o   o

   (a) stresses that the processing, conclusion and ratification of the AA should be facilitated;
   (b) points out that at the European Union-Latin America and Caribbean Summit held in Vienna in May 2006, the Heads of State and Government of the European Union and of certain Central American Republics decided to open negotiations on an AA between the two regions, and that such negotiations officially opened in October 2007;
   (c) points out that Panama, which had followed the negotiations as an observer, asked to join them in January 2010, and that its inclusion was formally accepted by the European Union on 10 March 2010;
   (d) points out that negotiations were successfully concluded in May 2010 and that, after a legal review phase, the text of the AA was initialled on 22 March 2011 and signed in Tegucigalpa on 28 June 2012;
   (e) recalls that the AA, concluded in May 2010, contains three main pillars: political dialogue, cooperation and trade;
   (f) stresses that this is the first comprehensive partnership between regions, and the result of the EU’s unbending political will. This partnership marks a decisive step forward in the integration of CA and goes far beyond mere questions of free trade;
   (g) highlights the fact that the AA with CA is the logical conclusion of the EU’s policy of supporting the peace process, stability and democracy in the region, launched in the 1980s with a substantial political commitment expressed through the various peace accords and the Contadora Process;
   (h) welcomes the extraordinary new impetus that the political dialogue enshrined in the AA brings to the bi-regional relationship in terms of dialogue between governments, parliament and civil society – a qualitative leap forward with regard to the old San José dialogue process begun in 1984;
   (i) stresses the parliamentary dimension of the AA, with the establishment of a Parliamentary Association Committee, made up of Members of the European Parliament and Central American parliamentarians, which is to be kept informed of decisions taken by the Association Council and may make recommendations and gather information on how the agreement is being implemented;
   (j) underlines that optimal implementation of the AA should be ensured, by paying particular attention to the points highlighted by Parliament in this resolution and the provisions of regulations implementing the AA, and calls for the activities of the Parliamentary Association Committee to be supported;
   (k) stresses that the AA reached with CA contains a number of important elements which help to secure the goals of the EU's external action as enshrined in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union, including in particular the development and consolidation of human rights and democracy, a sustainable economy and social and environmental development;
   (l) points out that Article 1 of the AA refers to respect for democratic principles, fundamental human rights and the principle of the rule of law as ‘essential elements’ of the agreement, so that failure to observe them by any of the parties would result in the adoption of measures which could eventually lead to the suspension of the agreement; considers, none the less, that specific mechanisms should be created to guarantee respect for and compliance with the human rights clause contained in the AA;
   (m) proposes that the Commission carry out an annual report for the European Parliament, to monitor the AA in its entirety, including aspects relating to democratic principles and human rights;
   (n) stresses that the AA with CA should be seen as an ideal framework for joining forces, as equal partners, to combat social inequality and poverty, to foster inclusive development and to address the remaining social, economic and political challenges;
   (o) welcomes the commitment to multilateralism underpinned by the unstinting defence of common values, principles and objectives and the promise to successfully address global challenges;
   (p) notes that the new AA opens up new and interesting possibilities for dialogue on the fight against drug trafficking and organised crime, in line with the Regional Security Strategy endorsed by the Central American presidents; welcomes the various commitments to coordinate efforts to combat drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorist financing, organised crime and corruption;
   (q) considers it important to promote proper participation by civil society in both the EU and CA, by encouraging participation in sectoral fora, committees and subcommittees; welcomes, to this end, the establishment of the EU-Central American Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee;
   (r) stresses that social cohesion is a priority objective of regional cooperation policy; insists that social cohesion can only be achieved by reducing poverty, inequality, social exclusion and all forms of discrimination through proper education, including vocational training; stresses that social inequality has not been sufficiently reduced in recent years and that public safety is a matter of great concern in Central America;
   (s) highlights the opportunities that this AA offers in terms of improving social cohesion and sustainable development, which are key elements in consolidating economic growth, social stability and democratic engagement;
   (t) points out that commitments have been made to cooperate in modernising the state and public authorities, improving systems for tax collection and transparency, combating corruption and impunity, strengthening the legal system and encouraging the involvement of civil society in public life;
   (u) stresses the agreement between the two regions on the environment, the aims of which include the improvement of environmental quality, sustainable development, cooperation in efforts to address natural disasters, the combating of climate change, deforestation and desertification and the conservation of biodiversity;
   (v) stresses the need to contribute to the revitalisation and strengthening of economic and trade relations and the integration of the productive fabric of both regions in order to achieve maximum benefits from the implementation of the AA, thus promoting balanced and sustainable growth giving rise to new economic, trade and investment opportunities that enable greater integration of CA ad intra and ad extra in the international trade structure;
   (w) underlines that compliance with the conditions defined in the AA needs to be ensured, seeking greater synergies between both regions but without sacrificing general interests, including geographical indications and intellectual property rights as well as EU economic and trade priorities;
   (x) further highlights the need to promote cooperation with appropriate technical and financial resources in strategic sectors for both regions, particularly on trade and sustainable development, and scientific and technical cooperation in areas such as institutional capacity-building, harmonisation of standards, customs procedures and statistics, intellectual property, provision of services, government procurement, electronic commerce, industrial development, sustainable resource management, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, support to SMEs and diversification; calls for the recognition of the importance of modernisation and technological innovation and recommends that this AA be used as an instrument with which to achieve them;
   (y) calls for the bi-regional Civil Society Dialogue Forum to be organised and facilitated on an annual basis; recommends that the private sector and civil society be invited to engage by means of a corporate social responsibility policy that enables them to have a smooth relationship and brings about greater sustainable economic development in CA;
   (z) recommends that action be promoted to raise awareness of the AA among stakeholders in both regions and encourage the organisation of trade fairs in both regions in order to provide opportunities for contacts to be forged and cooperation agreements to be concluded, particularly among SMEs;
   (aa) stresses the need to support the establishment of competitive value-added production facilities in CA; further recommends that the establishment be proposed of regional trade academies both in Latin American regions and across EU Member States, aimed at building capacity among SMEs by providing training sessions on the preconditions for trading agricultural products, goods and services with the partner region;
   (ab) highlights the fact that the AA helps to achieve the goals of the EU's external action, as enshrined in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union; points out that respect for democratic principles, fundamental human rights and the rule of law are essential elements of the agreement;
   (ac) stresses that the current trade provisions, which are of a provisional nature and based on a unilateral system of generalised preferences, will gradually give way to a reciprocal, negotiated structure for the gradual liberalisation of trade in goods and services and of public procurement, as well as for action to encourage investment, and that this will lead to a predictable framework of legal security and certainty, able to inspire mutual trust, which is essential to building trade and investment;
   (ad) stresses that social cohesion is a priority objective of regional cooperation policy, and that the overriding aim is the reduction of poverty, inequality, social exclusion and any form of discrimination;
   (ae) points out that the AA with CA makes a meaningful contribution to regional, social and political integration efforts and to achieving the ultimate objective of the bi-regional Strategic Partnership between the EU and Latin America;
   (af) urges the Association Council to carry out an overall evaluation of the AA five years after its implementation and to conduct, if necessary, a review of the AA on the basis of the findings and the impact noted in the abovementioned evaluation;

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

(1) OJ C 140 E, 13.6.2002, p.569
(2) OJ C 296 E, 6.12.2006, p.123.
(3) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 64.
(4) OJ C 298 E, 8.12.2006, p. 261.
(5) OJ C 102 E, 24.4.2008, p. 291.
(6) OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 79.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0235.
(8) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p.101.
(9) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 31.
(10) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(11) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0412.
(12) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 54.
(13) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0320.
(14) OJ C 301 E, 13.12.2007, p. 233.
(15) OJ C 227 E, 4.9.2008, p. 140.


EU-Central America association agreement ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America, on the other (16395/1/2011 – C7-0182/2012 – 2011/0303(NLE))
P7_TA(2012)0479A7-0362/2012

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (16395/1/2011),

–  having regard to the draft Association Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America, on the other (16396/2011),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 217 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0182/2012),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2012 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Agreement establishing an Association between the European Union and its Member States, on the one hand, and Central America, on the other(1),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Development (A7-0362/2012),

1.  Consents to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the countries of Central America.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0478.


Implementation of the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the EU-Colombia/Peru trade agreement ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Trade Agreement between the European Union and Colombia and Peru (COM(2011)0600 – C7-0307/2011 – 2011/0262(COD))
P7_TA(2012)0480A7-0249/2012

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2011)0600),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7-0307/2011),

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

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 31 October 2012 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A7-0249/2012),

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

2.  Takes note of the Commission statement annexed to this resolution;

3.  Approves the joint declaration by Parliament and the Commission annexed to this resolution;

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

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 11 December 2012 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) No .../2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on implementing the bilateral safeguard clause and the stabilisation mechanism for bananas of the Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part

P7_TC1-COD(2011)0262


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) No 19/2013.)

ANNEXES TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

COMMISSION STATEMENT

The Commission welcomes the first reading agreement between the European Parliament and the Council on Regulation (EU) No 19/2013(2).

As envisaged in Regulation (EU) No 19/2013, the Commission will submit an annual report to the European Parliament and to the Council on the implementation of the Agreement and will be ready to discuss with the responsible committee of the European Parliament any issues arising from the implementation of the Agreement.

The Commission will attach particular importance to the effective implementation of commitments on trade and sustainable development in the Agreement, taking into account the specific information provided by the relevant monitoring bodies of the fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation and the multilateral environmental agreements listed in Title IX of the Agreement. In this context, the Commission will also seek the views of the relevant civil society advisory groups.

After the expiry of the stabilisation mechanism for bananas on 31 December 2019, the Commission will assess the situation of the Union market for bananas and the state of Union banana producers. The Commission will report its findings to the European Parliament and to the Council and will include a preliminary assessment of the functioning of the ‘Programme d'Options Spécifiques à l'Éloignement et l'Insularité’ (POSEI) in preserving the banana production in the Union.

JOINT DECLARATION

The European Parliament and the Commission agree on the importance of close cooperation in monitoring the implementation of the Agreement and Regulation (EU) No 19/2013(3). To that end they agree on the following:

‐ Upon request by the responsible committee of the European Parliament, the Commission shall report to it on any specific concerns relating to the implementation by Colombia or Peru of their commitments on trade and sustainable development.

‐ If the European Parliament adopts a recommendation to initiate a safeguard investigation, the Commission will carefully examine whether the conditions under Regulation (EU) No 19/2013 for ex-officio initiation are fulfilled. If the Commission considers that the conditions are not fulfilled, it will present a report to the responsible committee of the European Parliament including an explanation of all the factors relevant to the initiation of such an investigation.

(1) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 13 September 2012 (Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0347).
(2) OJ L 17, 19.1.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 17, 19.1.2013, p. 1.


EU-Colombia/Peru trade agreement ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 11 December 2012 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part (14762/1/2011 – C7-0287/2012 – 2011/0249(NLE))
P7_TA(2012)0481A7-0388/2012

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14762/1/2011),

–  having regard to the draft Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part (14764/2011),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 91, Article 100(2), Article 207(4), first subparagraph and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C7-0287/2012),

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

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development (A7-0388/2012),

1.  Consents to conclusion of the Agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of Colombia and Peru.


Prevention of age-related diseases of women
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European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on prevention of age-related diseases of women (2012/2129(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0482A7-0340/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 168 of the TFEU,

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

–  having regard to the White Paper entitled ‘Together for Health: A Strategic Approach for the EU 2008-2013’ (COM(2007)0630),

–  having regard to the White Paper on ‘A Strategy for Europe on Nutrition, Overweight and Obesity related health issues’ (COM(2007)0279),

–  having regard to the Commission report on the state of women’s health in the European Union,

–  having regard to the Commission Communication on telemedicine for the benefit of patients, healthcare systems and society (COM(2008)0689),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Dealing with the impact of an ageing population in the EU’ (COM(2009)0180),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Solidarity in health: reducing health inequalities in the EU’ (COM(2009)0567),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Action Against Cancer: European Partnership’ (COM(2009)0291),

–  having regard to the report entitled ‘Empower Women – Combating Tobacco Industry Marketing in the WHO European Region’ (WHO, 2010),

–  having regard to the Commission report ‘The 2012 Ageing Report: Underlying Assumptions and Projection Methodologies’ (European Economy 4/11. Commission, 2011),

–  having regard to Decision No 1350/2007/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 establishing a second programme of community action in the field of health (2008-2013)(1),

–  having regard to Decision No 940/2011/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 September 2011 on the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations (2),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions ‘Innovative approaches for chronic diseases in public health and healthcare systems’ of 7 December 2010,

–  having regard to the Belgian Presidency’s report of 23 November 2010 on the gender pay gap,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the UN Summit of 19-20 September 2011 on Non-communicable Diseases,

–  having regard to the ‘Horizon 2020’ research and innovation framework programme (COM(2011)0808),

–  having regard to the Eurostat report entitled ‘Active ageing and solidarity between generations – A statistical portrait of the European Union 2012’,

–  having regard to the Eurobarometer survey on ‘Active Ageing’ (2012),

–  having regard to the Commission Communication entitled ‘Taking forward the Strategic Implementation Plan of the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing’ (COM(2012)0083),

–  having regard to the White Paper on ‘An Agenda for Adequate, Safe and Sustainable Pensions’ (COM(2012)0055),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 October 2006 on breast cancer in the enlarged European Union(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 1 February 2007 on promoting healthy diets and physical activity: a European dimension for the prevention of overweight, obesity and chronic diseases(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on action to tackle cardiovascular disease(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 February 2009 on mental health(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2009 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 November 2009 on joint programming of research to combat neurodegenerative diseases, in particular Alzheimer’s disease(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2011 on a European initiative on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2010 on the Commission communication on ‘Action Against Cancer: European Partnership’(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2010 on the role of women in an ageing society(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2010 on the demographic challenge and solidarity between generations(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the face of female poverty in the European Union(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2011 on the situation of women approaching retirement age(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2011 on the European Union position and commitment to the UN high-level meeting on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2012 on addressing the EU diabetes epidemic(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2012 on equality between women and men(18),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A7-0340/2012),

General context

A.  whereas the European Union promotes human dignity and recognises that every person is entitled to have access to preventive health care and medical treatment and Article 168(7) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union clearly states that Member States are responsible for the organisation, management and delivery of health services and medical care, including the allocation of resources. It is vital that older people have the right to live a decent, independent life and play their part in culture and society;

B.  whereas population ageing is one of the main challenges facing Europe; whereas there are more than 87 million people aged over 65 in the EU (17,4 % of the total population) and whereas, according to projections, their number in 2060 will exceed 150 million (roughly 30 %);

C.  whereas, despite a substantial increase in life expectancy accompanied by steadily rising living standards in the industrialised countries, enabling the elderly of today to be far more active than in previous decades, negative stereotyping and prejudices with regard to the elderly are continuing to form major obstacles to their social integration, resulting in social exclusion directly impacting on their quality of life and mental health;

D.  whereas women have a longer life expectancy at birth than men (82,4 years for women as opposed to 76,4 years for men); whereas the gap in healthy life expectancy is more narrow being 61,7 years for men and 62,6 years for women;

E.  whereas in 2010 the employment rate among women for the age group 55-64 was 38,6 %, compared with 54,5 % for men in that age group; whereas following EU targets 75 % of the population in the age group 20-64 should to be employed by 2020;

F.  whereas women earn less than men (the average gender pay gap in the EU is 17,5 %); whereas the gender pay gap for the age group 55-64 is more than 30 % in some Member States and is as high as 48 % for over-65s; whereas the gender pay gap leads to a pension pay gap which often results in correspondingly lower pensions and women finding themselves below the poverty line;

G.  whereas, in order to achieve work-life balance, women choose flexible home-based, part-time, temporary or atypical employment, thereby compromising their career advancement, with major consequences in terms of their pension contributions, making them particularly vulnerable to situations of insecurity and poverty;

H.  whereas the generation of women aged fifty plus often described as the ‘sandwich generation’ or as ‛working daughters and working mothers’, tend to have fewer possibilities to take care of their own health as they often take care of their parents and their grandchildren;

I.  whereas in Europe 23,9 % of the population in the age group 50-64 are at risk of poverty, the exact percentages being 25,9 % for women compared with 21,7% of men; whereas figures in the European Union range from 39 % to 49 % depending on the country and is as high as 51 % in one EU country,

J.  whereas not least as a result of divorce, separation, or widowhood, 75,8 % of women aged over 65 live alone and whereas on average three in ten households in the European Union are single-person households, the majority of them comprising women living alone, particularly elderly women, and this percentage is rising; whereas single-person or single-income households in most Member States are treated unfavourably, both in absolute and relative terms, with regard to taxation, social security, housing, health care, insurance and pensions; whereas public policies should not penalise people for – voluntarily or involuntarily – living alone;

K.  whereas in 2009, 7,6 % of women aged over 65 suffered severe material hardship, compared with 5,5 % of men in the same age group;

L.  whereas older women as a disadvantaged group often face multiple discrimination (e.g. their age, gender or ethnic background); whereas older women, who often have low socio-economic status and encounter numerous difficulties, would benefit from social protection measures and access to national health care systems;

M.  whereas in rural areas health care is harder to come by than in urban areas, particularly in view of the shortage of health care professionals and hospital facilities, including emergency medical services;

N.  whereas elderly women, particularly those living in isolation, frequently find themselves in difficult social and economic situations affecting their quality of life and state of physical and mental health;

O.  whereas, to meet the needs of elderly women properly, a better understanding of the illnesses affecting them is necessary;

P.  whereas all these factors, including isolation, affect older women's ability to create and/or maintain social networks and thus lead active lives;

Age-related diseases

Q.  whereas, due to longer life expectance and gender sensitivity of certain diseases, women are affected to a greater extent by chronic and disabling diseases and are correspondingly more vulnerable to deterioration in their quality of life;

R.  whereas there are differences between men and women regarding the impact, progression and consequences of many disorders;

S.  whereas according to the most recent figures available (IARC), the most frequent types of tumour diagnosed in women are breast cancer (29,7 %), colorectal cancer (13,5 %), and lung cancer (7,4 %);

T.  whereas cardiovascular diseases kill more than two million people a year in the Member States, accounting for 42 % of all deaths in the EU and are the cause of 45 % of deaths among women compared with 38 % among men;

U.  whereas diabetes, one of the most common non-communicable diseases, affects more than 33 million citizens in the EU, a figure that is likely to rise to 38 million by 2030; whereas in 2010 approximately 9 % of adults (aged between 20 and 79) in the EU population were diabetic;

V.  whereas age is a risk factor for the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (the most common form of dementia); whereas neurodegenerative diseases are more frequent in the over-65s (they affect about 1 person in 20 over 65, 1 in 5 over 80 and 1 in 3 over 90); whereas over 7,3 million people in Europe suffer from dementia; whereas studies show that the Alzheimer’s disease rate among women over 90 is 81,7 % (compared with 24 % for men);whereas stigma and lack of awareness about neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia leads to delayed diagnosis and a poor treatment outcome;

W.  whereas dementia is more common in the over-65s, it affects about 1 person in 20 over 65, 1 in 5 over 80, and 1 in 3 over 90; whereas generally, prevalence is higher among old women than among old men;

X.  whereas women are at greater risk of developing diseases of the bones and joints (e.g. osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, and brittle bones); whereas about 75 % of hip fractures caused by osteoporosis occur in women;

Y.  whereas the main risk factors involved in cardiovascular diseases, tumours, diabetes, obesity, and chronic obstructive diseases are smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, alcohol abuse, and environmental pollution;

Z.  whereas depression and anxiety are serious forms of mental disorders that affect women to a greater extent than men; whereas for women the WHO estimates that its incidence in Europe ranges between 2 % and 15 % in the over-65 age group;

AA.  whereas hearing impartment and eye disorders also contribute heavily to the burden of years lived with functional limitations, timely and adequate diagnosis, quality treatment and access to quality medical devices can prevent further decline or partially restore functioning;

AB.  whereas around 600 000 Europeans suffer from multiple sclerosis, most of them women; whereas this is the most common form of neurodegenerative disorder and one of the main causes of non-traumatic disability among elderly women;

Access to health services

AC.  whereas equal access to health for women and men must be guaranteed and the quality of health care needs to be improved with more attention being paid to the particular situation of women in rural areas, many of whom live alone; while respecting Article 168(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

AD.  whereas the economic situation of elderly women affected by gender-based inequalities with regard to earnings, pensions and other forms of income leaves them particularly vulnerable with regard to situations of insecurity and poverty and with less to spend on the health care and medical treatments which they need;

AE.  whereas telemedicine can improve access to medical assistance unavailable in inaccessible areas and may improve the quality and frequency of the specialist medical care required by certain elderly people, given their particular state of health;

Research and prevention

AF.  whereas investments in research and innovation are essential to maintain a high quality of life making it possible to meet the major challenge of growing old;

AG.  whereas prevention and early detection result in the improvement of the physical and mental health of men and women which could lengthen the expectancy of life in good health and reduce health care expenditure, thus making for sustainability in the long-term;

AH.  whereas preventive measures need to be a priority in health care, with special attention being paid to disadvantaged groups;

AI.  whereas health literacy is necessary to enable the public to navigate complex health systems and gain a better understanding of what they themselves can do throughout their lives to prevent age-related disorders;

AJ.  whereas gender sensitivity of diseases and medicines is currently not sufficiently studied because clinical trials focus mostly on young men;

AK.  whereas, according to the IARC, if the mammography coverage rate were above 70 %, breast cancer deaths among women aged over 50 could be reduced by 20 % to 30 %;

AL.  whereas women make greater use of medicines and herbal remedies, the impacts of which need more research in order to minimise the risks of interaction;

AM.  whereas during their lives women undergo many hormonal changes and take pharmaceuticals specifically related to their age in terms of fertility and the menopause;

AN.  whereas 9 % of women take antidepressants frequently, compared with 5 % of men;

AO.  whereas according to the World Health Organization (WHO),4-6% of older people have experienced some form of abuse in their own homes, ranging from physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, to financial exploitation, neglect, and abandonment;

General context

1.  Recognises that, although women live longer than men, they do not enjoy more years of good health, that is to say, without being impeded in their activities or suffering from any major incapacity (women: 62,6 years; men: 61,7 years);

2.  Notes that elderly women need sufficient access to health care and home help to enable them to enjoy equal rights and live independent lives;

3.  Calls on the Commission to publish a new report on the state of women’s health, focusing in particular on the over-65 age group and active ageing indicators;

4.  Maintains that policies aimed at promoting work-life balance and social participation put women in a better position to perform active and healthy ageing, and therefore calls on the Member States to intensify their efforts in that direction;

5.  Calls on the Member States to encourage full integration, greater involvement and active participation of older women in social life;

6.  Stresses the importance of cultural and educational facilities for the elderly;

7.  Calls for concrete and effective measures, such as the adoption of the directive on equal treatment, to tackle the multi-discrimination often faced by older women;

8.  Supports initiatives to achieve more effective prevention of illnesses and improvement of health among the elderly and to help them remain independent;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to publish a report on the measures taken by Member States in support of active ageing and on their impact with a view to identifying best practice and determining what action might be taken in the future at European level;

10.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create a more positive attitude towards ageing as well as raising EU citizens’ awareness of ageing issues and its real effects, something which has been one of the main messages of the year 2012 as a year of active ageing and intergenerational solidarity;

11.  Sees adopting a life course approach, in which the interconnections of ageing and gender are taken into account, as the way forward in ageing policies;

12.  Notes that public spending on health accounts for 7,8 % of EU GDP and that, because of population ageing, expenditure on long- and short-term assistance is predicted to rise by 3 % by 2060;

13.  Calls on Member States to devote attention to older women immigrants, who suffer from harsh economic and social conditions and often encounter difficulties in gaining access to social protection measures and health care services; considers that particular attention should be devoted to individual women, widows and separated women whose quality of life and health have been affected as a result;

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to fully recognise the gender dimension in health as an essential part in EU health policies and national health policies;

15.  Calls upon the Member States to strike a fine balance between implementing drastic measures to fight the financial and economic crisis and providing sufficient and adequate funding for health and social care to help manage the demographic trend of an ageing population;

16.  Calls on the Commission to publish an assessment of the impact of the economic and financial crisis on elderly women, focusing on access to preventive health care and treatment;

17.  Notes that comprehensive and in-depth strategies in the health sector require the cooperation of governments, healthcare professionals, non-governmental organisations, public health organisations, organisations representing patients, the mass media and other parties concerned with healthy ageing;

18.  Reiterates the need to build and promote a European Union more sensitive to the needs and interests of elderly women and men and for gender mainstreaming with regard to all information and awareness measures and policies in order to ensure active and healthy ageing for all;

Age-related diseases

19.  Points out that many disorders are often underestimated where women are concerned for example heart diseases which are considered to be a male problem; regrets that many women’s heart attacks go undiagnosed because the symptoms are generally different from those occurring in men; stresses also that treatment should take into account specific gender-related biological differences;

20.  Calls on the Member States to carry out public information campaigns targeted at women and aimed at raising awareness of the risk factors involved in cardiovascular diseases and to implement specialised in-service training programmes for health professionals;

21.  Regrets the lack of attention being given to the problem of increased alcohol consumption among older women in Europe and calls on the Commission and Member States to launch studies to tackle this problem and its impact on their physical and mental health;

22.  Notes with anxiety that the number of female smokers is rising, resulting in a greater risk of women developing lung cancer and heart and circulatory disorders; calls on the Member States and the Commission to adopt programmes to discourage smoking, aimed especially at young women (the WHO estimates that the percentage of female smokers in Europe will increase from the present 12 % to roughly 20 % by 2025);

23 Calls on the Commission to encourage initiatives to promote better health, not least with the aid of the necessary information on the risks associated with smoking and drinking and on the benefits of a proper diet and sufficient exercise, these being ways to prevent obesity, high blood pressure, and the related complications;

24.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to launch information campaigns targeted at pre-menopausal or menopausal women;

25.  Calls on Member States to increase public awareness of diseases of the bones and joints by organising public information and education campaigns on their prevention and cure;

26.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an EU action plan on non-communicable diseases as a follow-up to the outcomes of the UN Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases in September 2011 and the public consultation process launched by the Commission in March-April 2012;

27.  Urges the Commission to focus on young people in particular regarding the forthcoming review of Directive 2001/37/EC on the approximation of the laws regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning the manufacture, presentation and sale of tobacco products;

28.  Calls on the Commission to draw up and implement a specific EU strategy in the form of a Council recommendation on the prevention, diagnosis and management of diabetes, also covering information and research, including a cross-cutting gender approach and equality between men and women; while respecting Article 168(7) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

29.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt a holistic and gender sensitive approach to Alzheimer's disease and other dementias in order to improve the quality of life and dignity of patients and their families;

30.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to formulate public information campaigns regarding Alzheimer’s disease (that is to say the disease itself and possibilities of treatment and care) in cooperation with national and European Alzheimer associations;

31.  Calls for the Member States to urgently create national plans and strategies for Alzheimer's diseases if they haven't yet done so;

32.  Notes with concern that the suicide rate in the EU is highest among the over-65s and the numbers of suicide attempts are higher for women than for men and are increasing because of the economic downturn’s aggravated impact on elderly women; urges the Commission to publish a study on the link between these statistics and the economic crisis’ disproportionate impact on older women;

33.  Calls on the Member States, working in collaboration with the Commission and Eurostat, to improve data collection, with a view to obtaining breakdowns by sex and age, and to produce more accurate information about mental health and the relationship between mental health and a healthy lifetime;

34.  Calls on the Member States to organise specific training courses for general practitioners and mental health professionals, including doctors, psychologists, and nurses, on the prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and depressive disorders, paying specific attention to the additional challenges faced by older women;

35.  Calls on the Member States to prioritise actions in the field of memory disabling diseases, such as dementia, and increase their efforts in medical and social research in order to increase the quality of life of people with the disease and that of their carers, and ensure the sustainability of the health and care services and boost growth at European level;

36.  Calls on Member States to ensure that public and private sector staff providing care for the elderly take part in ongoing training programmes and undergo regular assessment;

37.  Calls on Member States to encourage specialist medical studies in gerontology at public universities;

Access to health services

38.  Calls on the Member States to support the initiatives needed to help older women access medical and health services, including women living far from larger centres and in areas difficult to access, regardless of their personal, economic and social circumstances, laying emphasis on individualised assistance, including the longest possible period of care at home, on specific forms of support and assistance for caregivers and telemedicine, in so far as it can improve the quality of life of those suffering from chronic diseases and help cut waiting lists;

39.  Calls on Member States, when planning health service budgets, also to analyse, monitor and guarantee the gender dimension;

40 Calls on the Member States to further develop eHealth services and gender sensitive ambient-assisted living solutions in order to promote independent living at home, and to make health services more efficient and accessible for older women who are isolated for reasons of mobility and who are more often excluded from the benefits of these facilities, and to establish a 24-hour telephone advice network;;

41.  Calls for a rights-based approach to be taken in order to enable older people to play an active role when decisions are made on the choice and the design of the care and social services provided for them;

42.  Calls on Member States to ensure that welfare protection schemes, including health insurance, takes account of unemployment and social difficulties affecting women so that they are not left unprotected;

43.  Considers it is important to support and facilitate access to medical, healthcare and other forms of assistance for women who, notwithstanding their own health problems, are required to care for dependants;

44.Urges that public and private institutions providing health care for the elderly and run along hospital lines to be reorganised in a manner more congenial to inmates, not only providing them with medical care but also giving priority to any form of independent or creative activity in order to prevent them becoming institutionalised;

45.  Firmly believes that elderly inmates in public or private residential care must be consulted on the running of these institutions;

46.  Maintains that the increasing amount of medical and paramedical personnel have to be highly trained and prepared to adopt an approach which, given the gender- and age-specific factors involved, should allow for the special psychological, interpersonal, and information needs of older women;

47.  Calls for medical studies to include wider training in listening skills and psychology; calls for social workers also to be more closely involved in this policy of prevention;

48.Encourages associations and telephone help-lines providing care, protection and psychological support for the elderly;

49.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to collect data and exchange good practices, taking care to include gender-related elements, serving to identify good practice regarding access to health services, in particular avoiding cumbersome administrative procedures and formulating specific measures and policies improving the quality of life for elderly women and also to advise governments on creating an environment conducive to spreading awareness of age-related illnesses in the Member States;

50.  Encourages Member States to strengthen preventive healthcare for older women by providing, for example, accessible and regular mammograms and cervical smear tests, to erase age limits in access to health prevention such as breast cancer screening, and to raise awareness of the importance of screening;

51.  Calls on the Commission to intensify its efforts to disseminate an EU-wide culture of prevention and on Member States to step up information and awareness campaigns aimed at schools, universities, workplaces and centres for the elderly, drawing on the cooperation of professionals, local authorities, and NGOs;

Research and prevention

52.  Notes with concern EU research results published in April 2011 showing that some 28 % of women aged 60 years or older have been mistreated in the last 12 month; Takes the view that priority must be given to the protection of the elderly from abuse, mistreatment, neglect and exploitation, whether intentional and deliberate or resulting from carelessness; calls on the Member States to strengthen their actions to prevent elder abuse at home and in institutions;

53.  It is important to adopt an approach to medical research which takes account of problems specifically relating to men and women respectively;

54.Points out that the strategy for equality between men and women (2010-2015) recognises that women and men are subject to specific illnesses and health risks which must be suitably taken into account with regard to medical research and health services;

55.  Calls for the development in the context of Horizon 2020 of a strategic plan of research into health care for women over the next decade and the creation of a women's health research institute to ensure implementation thereof;

56.  It is important to ensure the presence of female experts on national consultative technology and science committees for the assessment of pharmaceuticals;

57.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to include elder abuse as a research topic in the Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Diseases to measure its prevalence and impact on people with dementia;

58.Supports the European innovation partnership on active and healthy ageing as a pilot initiative seeking to achieve a two-year increase in expectancy of life in good health for EU citizens by 2020 and resolves to achieve three objectives for Europe in terms of improving standards of health and quality of life for the elderly and the sustainability and effectiveness of care arrangements;

59.  Welcomes projects and initiatives nutrition and lifestyle (EATWELL project, EU Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health Salt Reduction Framework), and the European partnership for action against cancer;

60.  Stresses that all objectives and actions under the second EU programme of action regarding health should help increase understanding and acceptance of the different needs of men and women and corresponding approaches to health issues;

61.  Welcomes the Commission proposal concerning a cohesion policy package (2014-2020) identifying active and healthy ageing and innovation amongst its investment priorities;

62.  Regrets the fact that 97 % of health budgets is earmarked for the treatment of non-communicable diseases and only 3 % for investment in prevention at a time when the cost of treating and managing non-communicable diseases is increasing dramatically owing to the wider availability of diagnostics and treatments; calls in this respect on Member States to increase their health budget to include prevention activities;

63.  Calls on the Commission to place more emphasis on tackling the causes of illnesses and, to that end, to promote prevention across sectors and at all levels of society; calls on the Commission to promote health through the timely diagnosis of illnesses, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, adequate healthcare, and ensuring that older workers enjoy suitable working conditions;

64.  Calls on the Member States to put more focus on osteoporosis awareness campaigns and to provide clearer information about osteoporosis screening to prevent fractures, including bone densitometry scans, which should be made more widely available;

65.  Endorses the WHO ‛gender challenge’, implying as it does a need for better assessment of the risk factors affecting women’s health; welcomes in this context recommendations by the WHO to build age-friendly environments and increase opportunities for older women to contribute productively to society including intersectoral collaboration to identify and promote actions outside the health sector that can enhance health outcomes for women;

66.  Calls on the Member States, as far as the training of medical and paramedical personnel is concerned, to highlight the differences in the clinical signs and symptoms of cardiovascular diseases occurring in women, stressing the benefits of prompt intervention;

67.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to encourage within the framework of Horizon 2020 closer scientific collaboration and comparative research on multiple sclerosis within the European Union so as to make it easier to provide suitable treatment for the prevention of this disease, which causes serious disruption of motor functions particularly in elderly women;

68.  Calls on the Commission to continue to support awareness campaigns targeting elderly women more specifically and focusing on gender and age sensitive recommendations concerning correct nutrition and the importance of physical exercise, given that these can play a role in fall prevention and help reduce the incidence of heart and circulatory disorders, osteoporosis, and some types of cancer;

69.  Calls for action to be taken accordingly, in the form of information and education at school and through health messages, regarding the importance of ensuring correct nutrition and the health risks of the failure to do so;

70.  Calls on the Commission to consult with the Council with a view to reactivating, and giving proper effect to, the recommendation on cancer screening; focused on sections of the population who are disadvantaged in social and economic terms, with a view to reducing health disparities; calls on Member States which have not yet done so to implement the recommendation in accordance with the European quality assurance guidelines;

71.Calls on the Commission and the Council to adapt the limit for screening programmes, at least in countries with a higher incidence of disease and in cases where patients’ family history puts them particularly at risk, and also to include older women in such programmes, bearing in mind their longer life expectancy;

72.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to promote women’s rights with a view to combating all forms of age- and gender-based violence and discrimination, for example through awareness and information campaigns targeted at the entire European populace from a very early age;

73.  Calls on the Member States to intensify clinical research on women and believes that the recent proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning clinical trials on medicinal products for human use repealing Directive 2001/20/EC could be revised with that end in view;

74.  Calls on the Member States to develop innovative solutions directly through cooperation with patients in order to meet the needs of older people more effectively;

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

(1) OJ L 301, 20.11.2007, p. 3.
(2) OJ L 246, 23.9.2011, p. 5.
(3) OJ C 313 E, 20.12.2006, p. 273.
(4) OJ C 250 E, 25.10.2007, p. 93.
(5) OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 561.
(6) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2010, p. 24.
(7) OJ C 212 E, 5.8.2010, p. 23.
(8) OJ C 271 E, 7.10.2010, p. 7.
(9) OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 35.
(10) OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 95.
(11) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 49.
(12) OJ C 74 E, 13.3.2012, p. 19.
(13) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 77.
(14) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0360.
(15) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0390.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0082.
(17) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0225.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0069.


Rising threats from antimicrobial resistance
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European Parliament resolution of 11 December 2012 on the Microbial Challenge – Rising threats from Antimicrobial Resistance (2012/2041(INI))
P7_TA(2012)0483A7-0373/2012

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 22 June 2012 on ‘The impact of antimicrobial resistance in the human health sector and in the veterinary sector – a ’One Health‘ perspective’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 November 2011 on an action plan against the rising threats from antimicrobial resistance (COM(2011)0748),

–  having regard to the Commission recommendation of 27 October 2011 on the research Joint Programming Initiative ‘The Microbial Challenge – An Emerging Threat to Human Health’ (C(2011)7660),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 October 2011 on the public health threat of antimicrobial resistance,(1)

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 May 2011 on antibiotic resistance,(2)

–  having regard to the staff working paper of the Commission’s services of 18 November 2009 on antimicrobial resistance (SANCO/6876/2009r6),

–  having regard to the Joint Technical Report by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) of 17 September 2009 on ‘The bacterial challenge: time to react – A call to narrow the gap between multidrug-resistant bacteria in the EU and the development of new antibacterial agents’(3),

–  having regard to the second joint report of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) of 14 March 2012 on antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria affecting humans, animals and food,(4)

–  having regard to the 2876th Council Conclusions of 10 June 2008 concerning Antimicrobial resistance,

–  having regard to the 2980th Council Conclusions of 1 December 2009 concerning innovative incentives for effective antibiotics,

–  having regard to the Council recommendation of 9 June 2009 on patient safety, including the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections,(5)

–  having regard to the third revision of the World Health Organisation (WHO) list of critically important antimicrobials for human medicine (Report of the third meeting of the WHO Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance in Oslo, Norway, on 14-17 June 2011, and to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) List of Antimicrobial Agents of Veterinary Importance (OIE List, May 2007) and subsequent refinements to this list,

–  having regard to the second report from the Commission to the Council of 9 April 2010 on the basis of Member States’ reports on the implementation of the Council recommendation (2002/77/EC) on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine (COM(2010)0141), and to the Commission staff working document accompanying that report (SEC(2010)0399),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on additives for use in animal nutrition prohibiting the use of antibiotic growth promoters(6),

–  having regard to Council Recommendation (2002/77/EC) of 15 November 2001 on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine(7) and to the European Parliament resolution of 23 October 2001 on the proposal for that recommendation(8),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 June 2001 on a Community strategy against antimicrobial resistance (COM(2001)0333),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on evaluation and assessment of the Animal Welfare Action Plan 2006-2010,(9)

–  having regard to the recommendations for future collaboration between the US and EU of the Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR),(10)

–  having regard to the CODEX Alimentarius Guidelines for Risk Analysis of Foodborne Antimicrobial Resistance,(11)

  having regard to the CODEX Code of practice to minimise and contain antimicrobial resistance (CAC/RCP 61-2005),

–  having regard to the preparatory action ‘Antimicrobial resistance (AMR): Research on the causes of high and improper antibiotic usage’ approved by Parliament in the framework of the EU Budget for the financial year 2012, which aims at studying the issue of inappropriate use and sales of antimicrobial agents, with or without prescription, throughout the chain – from the doctor and the pharmacist to the patient – in terms of the behaviour of all actors involved,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A7-0373/2012),

A.  whereas the development of drug resistance is a natural and unavoidable consequence of antimicrobial treatment; whereas this process can be accelerated by inordinate and indiscriminate use in human and veterinary medicine, which, combined with insufficient hygiene and infection control, can compromise the effective use of an already limited number of existing antimicrobials;

B.  whereas resistance to antibiotics for certain bacteria is as high as 25 % or more in several Member States;

C.  whereas much of the antimicrobial resistance problem stems from the misuse – in particular excessive use – of antibiotics;

D.   whereas many Member States do not have a solid legal and regulatory framework to mandate and support the rational use of medicines;

E.  whereas in the EU, Iceland and Norway alone antimicrobial resistant bacteria cause some 400 000 infections and 25 000 deaths annually, with at least EUR 1.5 billion spent on extra healthcare costs and productivity losses;

F.  whereas the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a complex issue of cross-border nature driven by a variety of interconnected factors; whereas numerous intervention measures at various levels are necessary that require a strong collaboration between countries and sectors;

G.  whereas there is a growing gap between rising AMR and the development of new antimicrobials; whereas since the 1970s only three new systemically-administered antibiotics for multidrug-resistant Gram-positive bacteria(12) have been developed; whereas two-thirds of antimicrobial resistance-related deaths in the Union are due to Gram-negative bacteria, with no new agents planned to enter the market soon;

H.  whereas, given the lack of new antibacterial drug development, it is of paramount importance that the effective exploitation of existing antimicrobials is maintained for as long as possible via prudent use, preventive measures to contain infection, vaccinations, alternative treatments and controlled antimicrobial dosage;

I.   whereas, the only tuberculosis (TB) vaccine currently available (BCG), was developed over 90 years ago, and whereas it does not offer protection against the most common form of TB – pulmonary TB;

J.  whereas, treatment of tuberculosis relies on antibiotics developed decades ago, many of which have serious toxic side effects;

K.  whereas AMR affects both humans and animals and has dangerous implications for human and animal health; whereas there is a link between the use of antimicrobials in animals and the spread of resistance in humans which requires further research as well as a coordinated, multisectoral policy approach to AMR, based on the 'One Health' principle, targeting both practitioners and users in each sector;

L.  whereas there is still a lack of sufficiently detailed and comparable data at European level for purposes of comprehensive cross-country monitoring and analysis linking antimicrobial use and resistance;

M.  whereas, despite farmers' primary objective to keep their livestock healthy and productive through good agricultural practices (hygiene, proper feed, appropriate husbandry and good animal management), animals can still become ill, and appropriate therapy and veterinary medicines should be available for treatment of disease;

N.  whereas no standard definition of ‘preventive treatment’ has been adopted to date and different interpretations of the term are giving rise to constant disagreement;

O.  whereas there is a need to educate and raise awareness among those involved in antimicrobial use, including policy-makers, health professionals and the general public, in order to bring about necessary changes in the behaviour of prescribers, dispensers and citizens;

P.  whereas antibiotics are still available without prescription in certain Member States, and whereas this practice aggravates the problem of antimicrobial resistance;

Q.  whereas failure to respect basic rules of hygiene in human environments such as homes, and not only in hospitals, causes further spread of antimicrobial pathogens;

R.  whereas diagnostics have a vital role to play in combating AMR by encouraging more targeted approaches to treatment;

1.  Considers that, while almost all Member States have developed national AMR strategies in accordance with the Council Recommendation on prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine, progress with regard to meeting set objectives has been slow and uneven; calls for firm governmental commitment to full and timely implementation at national level;

2.  Welcomes the Commission's five-year strategic Action Plan on tackling AMR, but expresses concern that many of the action points reiterate measures prescribed over a decade earlier in Council Recommendation of 15 November 2001 on the prudent use of antimicrobial agents in human medicine;

3.  Notes that, although the Commission’s Action Plan goes in the right direction, it does not go far enough to contain the rising global threat from antimicrobial resistance; considers that the measures recommended in the Action Plan need to be implemented as soon as possible; calls, therefore, on the Commission for an integrated roadmap outlining relevant policy responses, including possible legislative action;

4.  Underlines that the Action Plan should cover all animals under the EU animal welfare strategy, including, for instance, companion animals and animals used for sports, and should emphasise the logical connection between animal health and the use of antimicrobials, as well as the link between animal health and human health;

Prudent use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine

5.  Underlines that the key objective of any AMR strategy is to maintain the efficiency of existing antimicrobials by using them responsibly at the correct therapeutic level only when strictly necessary and prescribed over a specific time at the appropriate dosage, and reducing the use of antimicrobials in general and especially of Critically-Important Antimicrobials (CIAs)(13) in human and veterinary medicine, thereby also taking into account the OIE List ; underlines the absolute need for an active holistic approach, based on a 'One Health' perspective, in order to achieve better and more efficient coordination between the human health sector and the veterinary sector; calls for enhanced surveillance of the use of antimicrobials in babies and young children, as well as in clinical treatment, where there is a need to control and measure antimicrobial use;

6.  Points out that the use of antimicrobials in sub-therapeutic levels is prohibited in the EU;

7.  Stresses that more efforts are needed to control the use of antimicrobials in human and veterinary medicine; strongly disapproves of the regular prophylactic use of antimicrobials in animal husbandry; endorses the Council conclusions of 22 June 2012 which call on the Member States to limit the prophylactic use of antimicrobials to cases with defined clinical needs and to limit the prescription and use of antimicrobials for herd treatment of animals to cases where a veterinarian has assessed that there is a clear clinical and, where appropriate, epidemiological justification to treat all animals; stresses that livestock farming and aquaculture should focus on disease prevention through good hygiene, housing and animal husbandry, as well as through strict bio-security measures, rather than through the prophylactic use of antimicrobials; believes that controls on food imports from non-Member States should be enhanced, in particular in light of the risk that such imports contain irregular traces of antimicrobials;

8.  Points out that AMR in animals differs between species and between different forms of animal husbandry;

9.  Calls on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to give special attention to the task of monitoring and analysing the situation as regards AMR in livestock across the EU;

10.  Calls for prudent and responsible use of antimicrobials in animals, and for more information to veterinarians and farmers that helps them minimise the development of antimicrobial resistance; calls for the exchange of best practices for combating the development of antimicrobial resistance, such as guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials;

11.  Calls on the Member States to use electronic recording systems to ensure that usage patterns on individual farms are appropriate, thus ensuring responsible and minimal use;

12.  Stresses the need to review provisions pertaining to farm animal welfare measures to improve animal health, with the aim of reducing the use of veterinary pharmaceuticals; calls on the Commission to re-evaluate current provisions on maximum animal density in livestock farming, as herd sizes today often present obstacles to the treatment of individual or smaller groups of animals, providing incentives for the prophylactic use of antimicrobials; believes that focusing on livestock strains that are resistant to disease could help ensure that fewer veterinary pharmaceuticals will be needed for rearing purposes but considers that this should not replace sound farm management and animal husbandry;

13.  Agrees with the Commission that the regulatory framework for veterinary medicines and medicated feed needs to be strengthened, and demands that consistency be maintained in the formulation and maintenance of EU rules;

14.  Calls for the introduction of reliable approaches to rearing animals for effecting a significant decrease in AMR; notes that particular attention should be paid to the rearing of young animals, as they often come from different breeders and are therefore exposed to risks of infection when brought together;

15.  Calls on the Commission to come up with a legislative proposal for the veterinary sector to limit the use of third- and fourth-generation CIAs for humans; stresses that any such proposal must be founded on evidence-based European guidelines on the prudent use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine;

16.  Considers that the pending revision of Directive 2001/82/EC offers an important opportunity to take effective measures to reduce AMR through strengthening the provisions for veterinary medicines, such as:

   limiting the right to prescribe antimicrobials to professionally qualified veterinarians only;
   separating the right to prescribe from the right to sell antimicrobials, thereby eradicating economic incentives to prescribe;

17.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on its AMR Action Plan with concrete initiatives to implement the 12 actions and to publish its progress report on implementation of the AMR Action Plan by the end of 2013, stressing that the report should include an overview of the reductions in the use of veterinary antimicrobials achieved in each Member State;

18.  Stresses that there are substantial differences amongst Member States in how antibiotics are used and distributed; calls on the Commission to assess and monitor the Member States' implementation of relevant EU legislation on antimicrobials, in particular with regard to the prescription-only use of antibiotics in the human health and veterinary sectors, and the ban on antimicrobials as growth promoters in animal feed;

19.  Calls on the Commission to examine the condition for prescription and sale of antimicrobials in order to ascertain whether practices in human and animal healthcare may lead to over-prescription, overuse or misuse of antimicrobials;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage efforts to ensure that hospital epidemiologist are employed at all hospitals;

21.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the use of nanosilver in consumer products as it may increase the resistance of micro-organisms to silver, including nanosilver and silver-based compounds, which in turn can limit the usefulness of nanosilver in medical devices and other medical applications;

22.  Underlines that in order to allow a reduction in the use of antimicrobials, the accuracy of diagnoses needs to be improved and, therefore, the use of diagnostics must be increased;

23.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage efforts, maintained on a routine basis, to study hospital outbreaks and the possible role that the spread of drug-resistant clones plays in these outbreaks;

Prevention

24.  With a view to limiting inappropriate use and uncontrolled access to antimicrobial agents, including through increasing illegal internet sales, welcomes Member States' initiatives to review the legal status of all oral, inhaled and parenteral antimicrobials (including antimalarial, antiviral and antifungal drugs) that remain available to patients without a prescription; stresses that antimicrobials should not be freely available without a prescription as this encourages self-treatment, often based on inaccurate assumptions; calls on the Member States to raise awareness against over-the-counter and illegal sales of antimicrobials in both the human health and the veterinary sector;

25.  Notes the important role of vaccines in limiting the development of AMR by reducing the amounts of antimicrobial agents required to treat infections in both humans and animals, but believes that, with respect to the veterinary sector, this should not replace sound farm management and animal husbandry; calls on the Commission to examine what further preventive measures could be taken so as to reduce the spread of infections and diseases in livestock farming;

26.  Proposes that measures be taken to promote sustainable livestock systems, based on good management practices, that maximise the efficient use of resources and reduce farmers’ dependency on costly and unsustainable inputs that pose a high risk to the environment and to public health;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in cooperation with the competent EU Agencies, to devise and promote prudent use guidelines aimed at reducing non-essential and inappropriate exposure to antimicrobials as part of a holistic approach to human and veterinary medicine, livestock farming, agriculture, aquaculture and horticulture;

28.  Calls on the Commission to classify, in the forthcoming review of the European veterinary pharmaceuticals legislation, medicated feeding stuffs as ‘pharmaceuticals’ and not as ’feeding stuffs’, in order to ensure that, in future, the sensitive area of medicated foodstuffs is monitored under pharmaceuticals legislation and that official inspections are carried out accordingly, while ensuring that medicated foodstuffs fall into the ‘prescription only’ category;

29.  Underlines that infection prevention and control is a vital cornerstone in the fight against AMR; calls on the Member States to improve infection control, and to raise and promote good standards of hygiene – especially hand hygiene, particularly in sensitive environments, such as healthcare institutions – in order to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the need for antibiotics; calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase the exchange of best practices for preventing and reducing healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and to broaden research into the epidemiology of HAIs due to MRSA, C. difficile and other emerging multidrug-resistant organisms;

Development of new antimicrobials or alternatives for treatment

30.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage efforts to develop new and innovative public-private partnership (PPP) business models that delink investment in R&D for new antibiotics and diagnostic tools from sales transactions, in order to promote greater access and affordability and limit the unnecessary use of antimicrobials;

31.  Calls for more and better-coordinated research on new antimicrobials, on other alternatives (vaccination, biosecurity, breeding for resistance) and on evidence-based strategies to avoid and control infectious diseases in animals;

32.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to accelerate R&D activities in order to provide new tools to fight tuberculosis and drug-resistant tuberculosis;

33.  Calls on the Commission to invest in R&D aimed at alternatives for antimicrobial use in livestock production and to support innovation in agriculture practices, in line with the goals of the future European Innovation Partnership on Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability;

34.  Highlights the need to be restrictive with the use of CIAs and newly developed antimicrobial agents and technologies for use in human and veterinary medicine; stresses the importance of appropriately targeting the use of CIAs to specific cases;

35.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine new regulatory approaches, including transferable intellectual property rights and patent term extensions, with a view to encouraging private-sector investment in antimicrobial development;

36.  Notes the importance of access to rapid, reliable and affordable diagnostic tools in the development of new treatment strategies;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine new regulatory approaches oriented towards subsidising research for the development of new antimicrobials which can have a fiscally beneficial result for both the public and the private sector;

38.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to strengthen incentives for public and private sector cooperation to reinvigorate antimicrobial R&D; believes that sharing knowledge and pooling resources through innovative public-private partnerships (PPPs) will be critical to ensuring the clinical efficacy and availability of existing antimicrobials;

39.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that, as part of the EU 2020 strategy, farmers across all EU Member States can have access to smart, effective and alternative tools to cure their animals, including for minor uses and minor species (MUMS), which currently face a substantial lack of veterinary medicines;

40.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the development and availability of more on-farm tools for early, rapid diagnosis and control of diseases, as well as for a broad and effective diagnostic system at Member State level which can ensure the timely delivery of results in case bacteriological examinations are performed;

Monitoring and reporting

41.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to seek greater cooperation and coordination on early detection, alert and coordinated response procedures regarding pathogenic antimicrobial resistant bacteria in humans, animals, fish and foodstuffs in order to continuously monitor the extent and growth of AMR; urges the Member States in this context, to set up national databanks, conforming to uniform standards, in which dealers, veterinary surgeons and farmers are required to document the administration and use of antibiotics;

42.  Stresses that sound information on the use of antimicrobials in some Member States is still lacking; emphasises the importance of establishing an effective European network of national surveillance systems in the human health and veterinary sectors, based on uniform standards for all Member States, in order to compile clear, comparable, transparent and timely reference data on antimicrobial drug usage; believes this should be based on the existing monitoring networks operated by EFSA, the ECDC European Surveillance of Antimicrobial Consumption Network (ESAC-net), the ECDC European Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Network (EARS-net), the ECDC Food- and Waterborne Disease Network (FWD-Net), and the EMA European Surveillance of Veterinary Antimicrobial Consumption (ESVAC);

43.  Is of the view that data gathered on the use of antibiotics should be made accessible only to the experts, authorities and decision-makers concerned.

44.  Recalls that, in its resolution of 12 May 2011 on antibiotic resistance, it stressed the need to get a full picture of when, where, how and on which animals antimicrobials are used; believes that such data should be collected, analysed and made public by the Commission without delay, and that the data collected should be harmonised and made comparable in order to allow proper analysis and effective, co-ordinated, species-specific action, tailored to different types of animal husbandry, in order to combat AMR on both EU and Member State level;

45.  Calls on the Commission to include in its progress report on the implementation of the AMR action plan an overview of the reductions achieved by each Member State in the use of veterinary antimicrobials;

46.  Calls on the Commission to oblige the Member States to monitor the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry more efficiently, and in an integrated way, through the use of databases; points out that registering the use of antibiotics on farms is obligatory;

47.  Calls on the Member States to ensure separate monitoring and control of resistance among livestock, domestic animals, racing animals, etc., and to do so without causing additional financial or administrative burdens for farmers, breeders or veterinarians;

48.  Calls on the Member States to promote closer inter-sectoral collaboration between relevant authorities and sectors, in order to encourage a more integrated veterinary-human health approach, and to monitor the implementation of national AMR strategies;

49.  Emphasises the need to support sustainable food production systems which, in contrast to 'factory farming', are potentially less exposed to AMR;

50.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that future measuring and reporting on the use of antimicrobials in both the human and veterinary sectors will be broadened out, showing not only the total amount of antimicrobials used but also the types of antimicrobials, the treatment times, etc.;

Communication, education and training

51.  Notes that the encouragement of appropriate antimicrobial use depends on a change of attitude, practice and education among patients, farmers, pharmacists, medical doctors, veterinarians and other practitioners in the spheres of human and veterinary medicine; considers that more effective and continuous educational and training measures, as well as comprehensive information in schools, starting generally at an early age, should be taken at both national and European levels to raise awareness of the consequences of the improper consumption of antimicrobials;

52.  Notes that one of the most common uses for antibiotics is as treatment against the common cold, and that much would be gained if the public could be made aware of the fact that the common cold is a viral infection whereas antibiotics only provide protection against bacterial infections;

53.  Welcomes the annual European Antibiotic Awareness Day (18 November) instituted to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials; considers, however, that its visibility and potential could be more effectively maximised through strengthened political support at national and European levels, a broader approach which covers also animals, and coordinated, innovative and high-impact campaigns based on the experience derived from successful European and international initiatives; calls on the Commission to provide year-round information on the correct dosages of prescribed antibiotics;

54.  Calls on the Commission – in recognition of the fact that sharing information among citizens, and not just among health and veterinarian professionals, is key to better awareness and hence prevention – to compile a best practice list with regard to the implementation of effective communication campaigns and professional training courses aimed at raising AMR awareness, such as the work of the multi-stakeholder European Platform for the Responsible Use of Medicines in Animals(EPRUMA), with a view to supporting the effective implementation of such awareness campaigns;

55.  Takes the view that effective information and awareness campaigns must be developed with a view to heightening awareness of the dangers of the unintentional spread of antimicrobial pathogens in hospitals and in the home, and awareness of the means of avoiding this;

56.  Calls on the Commission to examine, in the study on the improvement of the package leaflet and the drug fact box, the idea of providing patients with better information about the antibiotic in question, for example by ensuring that it contains a warning such as: ‘Please take this antibiotic medicine only if it is prescribed by a doctor to you and take it as prescribed. Improper use of antibiotics can create resistance which harms yourself and other people.’;

International cooperation

57.  Highlights that burgeoning international travel and, more significantly, global food and feed trade could increase the crossborder spread of AMR; believes that concerted and timely international action that avoids overlap and builds critical mass is the only way forward in minimising the threat to public health that AMR poses globally;

58.  Acknowledges the importance of adopted international initiatives by WHO, OIE, FAO and other relevant global organisations; stresses, however, the importance of global adherence to adopted international standards and guidelines; calls on the Commission, in its evaluation of the implementation of the current AMR Action Plan, to report on Member States’ progress on key international AMR commitments;

59.  Welcomes the establishment of the Transatlantic Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR) and the set of recommendations, adopted in September 2011, for future EU-US cooperation; stresses, in particular, the importance of specific actions for:

   comparable data collection and data sharing for human and veterinary antimicrobials;
   the development of common blueprints based on best practice for the management of healthcare-associated infections;
   enhanced cooperation between the US Food and Drug Administration and EMA on coordinated approaches facilitating antibacterial drug development and regulation, specifically with regard to the clinical trials stage;

60.  Calls on the Commission to build on the work of the TATFAR and to promote similar multilateral and bilateral commitments for the prevention and control of AMR with other global partners;

61.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to encourage and promote global risk management initiatives, such as the WHO list of CIAs for human medicine and the OIE List of Antimicrobials of Veterinary Importance;

62.  Supports an international approach to the control of counterfeit antimicrobials in line with the WHO guidelines;

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o   o

63.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Member States.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2011)0473.
(2) OJ C 377 E, 7.12.2012, p. 131.
(3) http://www.ema.europa.eu/docs/en_GB/document_library/Report/2009/11/WC500008770.pdf
(4) http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/2598.htm EFSA Journal 2012;10(3):2598 [233 pp.].
(5) OJ C 151, 3.7.2009, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 29.
(7) OJ L 34, 5.2.2002, p. 13
(8) OJ C 112, 9.5.2002, p. 106.
(9) OJ C 81, 15.3.2011, p. 25.
(10) http://ecdc.europa.eu/en/activities/diseaseprogrammes/TATFAR/Documents/210911_TATFAR_Report.pdf
(11) CAC/GL 77- 2011.
(12) Refers to the retention or rejection of the violet colour of the stain used in Gram’s method of staining micro-organisms; the staining property is a common method of classifying bacteria.
(13) Report of the 3rd meeting of the WHO Advisory Group on Integrated Surveillance of Antimicrobial Resistance, 14-17 June 2011, Oslo, Norway.


Voting in the event that the seat of a full member of a committee falls vacant (interpretation of Rule 187(1))
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European Parliament decision of 11 December 2012 concerning voting in the event that the seat of a full member of a committee falls vacant (interpretation of Rule 187(1)) (2012/2254(REG))
P7_TA(2012)0484

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the letter of 27 November 2012 from the Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs,

–  having regard to Rule 211 of its Rules of Procedure,

1.  Decides to append the following interpretation to Rule 187(1):"

In the event that the seat of a full member of a committee falls vacant, a permanent substitute from the same political group shall be entitled to vote in place of the full member, on a temporary basis pending the provisional replacement of the full member in accordance with Rule 186(5), or, in the absence of such provisional replacement, pending the appointment of a new full member. Such entitlement is based on Parliament's decision concerning the numerical composition of the committee, and aims at ensuring that the number of members of the political group concerned who can take part in the vote is equal to the number entitled to do so before the seat fell vacant.

"

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and the Commission, for information.

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