Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 10 March 2015 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2013/009 PL/Zachem - Poland
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund - application EGF/2014/014 DE/Aleo Solar - Germany
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2013/007 BE/Hainaut steel (Duferco-NLMK) – Belgium
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2014/012 BE/ArcelorMittal – Belgium
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar - Belgium
 Dimensions and weights of road vehicles circulating within the Community ***II
 European long-term investment funds ***I
 Interchange fees for card-based payment transactions ***I
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2013/011 BE/Saint- Gobain Sekurit – Belgium
 Progress on equality between women and men in the EU in 2013
 Annual report on EU competition policy
 European Central Bank annual report for 2013

Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2013/009 PL/Zachem - Poland
PDF 231kWORD 53k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2013/009 PL/Zachem, from Poland) (COM(2015)0013 – C8-0010/2015 – 2015/2016(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0041A8-0036/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0013 – C8‑0010/2015),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0036/2015),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas this application is among the last two to be treated under the 2006 EGF Regulation and the adoption of Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013(4) reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to increase the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Poland submitted application EGF/2013/009 PL/Zachem for a financial contribution from the EGF following 615 redundancies in Zaklady Chemiczne Zachem and 2 suppliers, linked to the discontinuation of production and corporate reorganisation of Zachem, operating in the NACE 2 Division 20 'Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products', located in the NUTS 2 Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province; whereas 404 persons out of the 615 redundant workers have registered as unemployed in the district employment office in Bydgoszcz; whereas the redundancies took place during the reference period from 31 March 2013 to 31 July 2013 and are linked to a decline in the Union's market share of the chemical industry;

E.  whereas the financial contribution requested from the EGF amounts to EUR 115 205 (50 % of the total budget);

F.  whereas the application fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down in the EGF Regulation;

1.  Notes that the conditions set out in Article 2(a) of the EGF Regulation are met, therefore agrees with the Commission that Poland is entitled to a financial contribution under that Regulation;

2.  Notes that the Polish authorities submitted the application for EGF financial contribution on 9 October 2013 under the EGF Regulation, which does not cap the time for instruction, and that its assessment was made available by the Commission on 21 January 2015;

3.  Expresses concerns about the length of the procedure from the date of the first redundancies until the assessment of the application; recalls that the goal of the EGF is to offer help to redundant workers as quickly as possible;

4.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Polish authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 4 March 2013, well ahead of the decision and even the application on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

5.  Notes that the Union’s share in the world market of chemicals drastically declined from 1992 to 2012, starting from 35,2 % in 1992 and reducing to 17,8 % in 2012(5); observes that the trend in recent years has evidenced the migration of chemical manufacturing towards Asia, and China in particular, where the manufacture of chemicals increased from an 8,7 % share in 2002 to a 30,5 % share in 2012, due to rising sales in the emerging markets and lower labour costs, access to markets, subsidies, taxes and regulation; consequently considers that the redundancies in Zachem and its 2 suppliers are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation;

6.  Underlines that Zachem was the biggest employer in the region and that in the given reference period, the workers dismissed directly or indirectly from Zachem amounted to 60 % of all newly registered unemployed persons in the district employment office in Bydgoszcz;

7.  Notes that the redundancies at Zachem and its suppliers are expected to have a negative impact on the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Province, which had the highest unemployment rate in the country, amounting to 17,4 % in July 2013, despite the economic expansion the region has benefited from;

8.  Notes that the measures supported by the EGF are targeted at the 50 workers in the most disadvantaged situation and includes the following 2 measures: hiring incentives and intervention works;

9.  Notes that the largest proportion of the costs for personalised services will be spent on hiring incentives targeted at 45 workers, which aim to provide an incentive to employers who decided to hire these workers for at least 24 months;

10.  Notes that a smaller-scale support is provided to 5 redundant workers over 50 years of age to cover their social security contributions; notes that this age group is at a higher risk of prolonged unemployment and exclusion from the labour market;

11.  Welcomes the complementarity of the EGF measures with the actions funded by Structural Funds; notes in particular that the coordinated package of personalised services is aimed at complementing the numerous ongoing measures available for the redundant workers in the framework of the Human Capital Operational Programme co-financed by the European Social Fund and the other measures undertaken by the employment offices in the region; points out the importance of ensuring that double financing in cases of such complementary actions is prevented;

12.  Notes that the personalised services are scheduled to be implemented until 30 September 2015 and that, according to the provisional data, 36 persons have found new employment due to participation in the services provided in the package so far; notes that the implementation of the planned budget amounted to 59 % at the end of the year 2014;

13.  Welcomes the fact that the Social Dialogue committee in the province discussed the possibilities of assistance to workers made redundant by Zachem and its suppliers and that the proposed package of personalised measures was discussed at a meeting of the Employment Council in Bydgoszcz, including trade unions, business and local and regional government representatives;

14.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career;

15.  Welcomes the fact that the principle of equality between women and men as well as of non-discrimination has been, and will continue to be, applied during the various stages of implementation of and access to the EGF measures;

16.  Stresses that EGF assistance can co-finance only active labour market measures which lead to durable, long-term employment; reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures restructuring companies or sectors;

17.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

18.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

19.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with Point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management

(application EGF/2013/009 PL/Zachem, from Poland)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/469.)

(1) OJ L 406, 30.12.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4)Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855).
(5)The European chemical industry. Facts & Figures 2013, CEFIC (http://www.cefic.org/Facts-and-Figures)


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund - application EGF/2014/014 DE/Aleo Solar - Germany
PDF 228kWORD 52k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2014/014 DE/Aleo Solar, from Germany) (COM(2014)0726 – C8-0012/2015 – 2015/2018(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0042A8-0030/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0726 – C8‑0012/2015),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0030/2015),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to increase Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Germany submitted application EGF/2014/014 DE/Aleo Solar for a financial contribution from the EGF, following 657 redundancies, 390 from Aleo Solar AG, a company operating in the NACE 2 Division 26 'Manufacturing of computer, electronic and optical products', and 267 from its two subsidiaries, with 476 persons expected to participate in the measures, during and after the reference period from 7 March 2014 to 7 July 2014, linked to a decline in the Union's market share in solar module companies;

E.  whereas the application fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down in the EGF Regulation;

1.  Notes that the conditions set out in Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation are met, therefore agrees with the Commission that Germany is entitled to a financial contribution under that Regulation;

2.  Notes that the German authorities submitted the application for EGF financial contribution on 29 July 2014, supplemented it by additional information up to 23 September 2014 and that its assessment was made available by the Commission on 16 December 2014;

3.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the German authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 11 April 2014, well ahead of the decision and even the application on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

4.  Considers that the redundancies in Aleo Solar AG are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, with the revenue share of China increasing from 11 % to 45 %, while that of Germany fell from 64 % to 21 % between 2005 and 2011; notes that due to huge Chinese overcapacities in solar modules, which neither its own consumers nor the world market can absorb, EU prices dropped by 40 % in 2011 compared to 2010 and thus below the production costs of Aleo Solar AG; notes that in 2013, the EU approved additional duties on solar modules originating in China, and a minimum price which is still, however, below the production costs of German producers;

5.  Notes that in 2010 Aleo Solar AG had a turnover of EUR 550 million and a profit of EUR 43 million and that this declined rapidly from 2011 and by 2013 had reached losses of EUR 92 million; stresses that various efforts to restructure and improve efficiency have been made, but that, unfortunately, it has not managed to return to profitability;

6.  Notes that this is the second EGF application with regard to the solar module manufacturing with several more to come;

7.   Notes that the redundancies at Aleo Solar AG are expected to have a negative impact on the Prenzlau/Brandenburg region, where per capita income is well below the national average and the unemployment rate the highest in Germany with 15,5 % and 16,4 % respectively; highlights that the inclusion of the redundancies from Aleo Solar AG would increase this rate by 0,9 %; regrets that there is no immediate prospect of the redundant workers finding any equivalent new jobs, due to a relatively low population density and lack of potential employers: the area has mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, and only 10 enterprises (0,3%) have more than 249 workers (Aleo Solar AG was one of these major employers);

8.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services to be co-funded includes the following measures for the reintegration of 476 redundant workers into employment: vocational training, careers advice and guidance, peer groups/workshops, entrepreneurship advice, inter-regional advice for mobility, job search by a professional job searcher, follow-up mentoring for workers who have found a new job but might need advice to secure this job or because it involves resettling, a training allowance of 60 % of the worker's previous net income in line with Article 7(1)(b) of the EGF Regulation;

9.  Notes that the authorities plan to utilise the maximum allowed 35 % of all costs on allowances and incentives in the form of training allowances (Transferkurzarbeitergeld) constituting 60 % or 67 % of a worker's previous net income – depending on the household situation of the beneficiary – which is in line with the practice where workers become unemployed in Germany; notes that the training allowance is not a substitute for passive social protection measures and is tied to strict conditions to undertake the training and other activities that have been organised;

10.  Welcomes the fact that the co-ordinated package of personalised services has been drawn up in consultation with the representatives of the targeted beneficiaries, taking into consideration the potential of the area and the business environment;

11.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career; expects the training on offer in the coordinated package to be adapted not only to the needs of the dismissed workers but also to the actual business environment;

12.  Notes that 164 of the Aleo Solar AG workers made redundant in Prenzlau were rehired by an Asian consortium, which bought the plant from the liquidator; notes that the reasoning of the German authorities for enabling these workers to benefit from the measures to be funded by the EGF is that the security of their new employment was not certain at that time;

13.  Notes that the 104 workers made redundant in the administrative centre in Oldenburg are not included in the measures to be funded by the EGF; notes that the employment situation in this region is much more promising;

14.  Regrets that the risk of long-term unemployment for the redundant workers is high and stresses therefore the importance of measures encouraging workers to look beyond the immediate area and take up job offers which can be found in other regions;

15.  Considers that workers in the 55-64 and 15-29 age groups are at a higher risk of prolonged unemployment and exclusion from the labour market; considers therefore that these workers have specific needs when it comes to providing them with personalised approach;

16.  Recalls that in line with Article 7 of the EGF Regulation, the design of the coordinated package of personalised services should anticipate future labour market perspectives and required skills and should be compatible with the shift towards a resource-efficient and sustainable economy;

17.  Stresses that EGF assistance can co-finance only active labour market measures which lead to durable, long-term employment; reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures restructuring companies or sectors;

18.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

19.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2014/014 DE/Aleo Solar, from Germany)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/473.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2013/007 BE/Hainaut steel (Duferco-NLMK) – Belgium
PDF 232kWORD 56k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2013/007 BE/Hainaut steel (Duferco-NLMK), from Belgium) (COM(2014)0725 – C8-0013/2015 – 2015/2019(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0043A8-0031/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0725 – C8‑0013/2015),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0031/2015),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas the adoption of Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013(4) reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to increase Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Belgium submitted application EGF/2013/007 BE/Hainaut steel for a financial contribution from the EGF following 708 redundancies in two companies, linked to the closure of Duferco and to staff reductions at NLMK, operating in the NACE 2 Division 24 'Manufacturing of basic metals', and both located in La Louvière in the Hainaut region; whereas the redundancies took place during the reference period from 22 January 2013 to 22 October 2013 and are linked to a decline of the Union's market share in the sector of steel production;

E.  whereas the financial contribution requested from the EGF amounts to EUR 981 956 (50 % of the total budget);

F.  whereas the application fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down in the EGF Regulation;

1.  Notes that the conditions set out in Article 2(b) of the EGF Regulation are met, therefore agrees with the Commission that Belgium is entitled to a financial contribution under that Regulation;

2.  Notes that the Belgian authorities submitted the application for EGF financial contribution on 27 September 2013 under EGF Regulation , which does not cap the time for instruction and that its assessment was made available by the Commission on 9 December 2014;

3.  Expresses concerns about the length of the procedure from the date of the first redundancies until the assessment of the application; recalls that the goal of EGF is to offer help to redundant workers as quickly as possible; emphasises that the EGF application was submitted on the 27th of September 2013 thus by the time it reached voting in the Budget Committee almost one year and a half had passed;

4.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Belgian authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 1 June 2013, well ahead of the decision and even the application on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

5.  Considers that the redundancies in Duferco and NLMK are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, given that the steel production sector has undergone serious economic disruption, in particular a rapid decline in the EU’s market share; furthermore, as a consequence of the economic crisis and a relative increase in production costs, world trade patterns were worsened by other factors such as a decline in demand for steel in the automotive and construction sector;

6.  Notes that, according to data referred to by the Belgian authorities(5), between 2006 and 2011, the production of crude steel in the EU-27 decreased from 206,9 million tonnes to 177,7 million tonnes (− 14,1 %; − 3,0 % annual growth(6)), whereas, at worldwide level, production increased from 1 249 million tonnes to 1 518,3 million tonnes (+ 21,6 %; + 4,0 % annual growth); understands that this has led to a decrease in the EU-27’s market share in the production of crude steel, measured in volume terms, from 16,6 % in 2006 to 11,7 % in 2011 (− 29,4 %; − 6,7 % annual growth) and points, by comparison, to the increase in the Chinese market share from 33,7 % to 45,0 % during the same period;

7.  Notes that this is the fifth EGF application in the steel sector, out of which three were based on globalisation and one on the global financial and economic crisis; stresses the need for an efficient and coordinated approach at Union level in order to fight unemployment in the steel sector;

8.  Notes that the redundancies at Duferco and NLMK are expected to have a negative impact on the Hainaut region, a former coal-mining and steelmaking area in which employment is strongly dependant on traditional heavy industry and on the public sector, where in 2012 the unemployment rate was 17,7 %, compared to 15,8 % on average in Wallonia and 11,2 % at national level(7) and peaked at 39 % for the persons aged from 18 to 25; highlights that the low level of qualification of jobseekers (51 % do not have higher secondary education, compared to 47 % in Wallonia) is an additional difficulty for the job search;

9.  Notes that, in the context of the economic situation and the number of redundancies in the metallurgic industry in the region, in order to find a new job in that region, the workers from Duferco and NLMK will have to retrain to find jobs in other occupations and other sectors;

10.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services to be co-funded includes following measures for the reintegration of 701 redundant workers into employment (grouped by category): (1) individual job-search assistance, case management and general information services, (2) training and retraining and (3) promotion of entrepreneurship;

11.  Welcomes the fact that the various social partners and organisations were involved in general coordination and implementation of the measures including: trade unions (FGTB,CSC), FOREM (the public employment and training service of the Walloon Region), the sectoral vocational and technological training centres active in the Walloon region,  the European Social Fund Agency of the French Community of Belgium and the Walloon Government; appreciates furthermore that trade unions are directly involved in the management of the two Redeployment Units specifically set up for each separate company;

12.  Welcomes the active labour market measures proposed to improve employability of redundant workers; recalls that allowances are not listed among the personalised services to be supported by EGF;

13.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career; expects the training on offer in the coordinated package to be adapted not only to the needs of the dismissed workers but also to the actual business environment, and the potential of the area.

14.  Notes that the proposed measures also target a group of managers of the companies concerned;

15.  Welcomes the fact that the principle of equality between women and men as well as of non-discrimination has been, and will continue to be, applied during the various stages of implementation of and access to the EGF measures;

16.  Stresses that EGF assistance can co-finance only active labour market measures which lead to durable, long-term employment; reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures restructuring companies or sectors;

17.  Notes that measures which are mandatory under collective redundancy procedures in Belgium and which are carried out as part of the standard activities of the Redeployment Units (e.g. outplacement support, training, job-search assistance and careers advice, etc.) are not included in this EGF application; notes that more than half of the total estimated costs are to be spent on redeployment services, namely support, guidance and integration measures;

18.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

19.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

20.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in accordance with Point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management

(application EGF/2013/007 BE/Hainaut steel (Duferco-NLMK), from Belgium)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/468.)

(1) OJ L 406, 30.12.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855).
(5)Source: World Steel Association, Steel Statistical Yearbook 2012.
(6)Compound annual growth rate.
(7)Source: Steunpunt WSE.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2014/012 BE/ArcelorMittal – Belgium
PDF 232kWORD 54k
Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2014/012 BE/ArcelorMittal, from Belgium) (COM(2014)0734 – C8-0014/2015 – 2015/2020(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0044A8-0035/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0734 – C8‑0014/2015),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0035/2015),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to increase the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Belgium submitted application EGF/2014/012 BE/ArcelorMittal for a financial contribution from the EGF, following 1 285 redundancies in ArcelorMittal Liège S.A., a company operating in the NACE 2 Division 24 'Manufacture of basic metals', with 910 persons expected to participate in the measures, during and after the reference period from 1 January 2014 to 1 May 2014, linked to a serious economic disruption, in particular a rapid decline in the Union’s market share;

E.  whereas the application fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down in the EGF Regulation;

1.  Notes that the conditions set out in Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation are met, therefore agrees with the Commission that Belgium is entitled to a financial contribution under that Regulation;

2.  Notes that the Belgian authorities submitted the application for EGF financial contribution on 22 July 2014, within 12 weeks of the date on which the intervention criteria set out were met, supplemented it by additional information up to 16 September 2014 and that its assessment was made available by the Commission on 9 December 2014;

3.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Belgian authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 1 January 2014, well ahead of the decision and even the application on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

4.  Considers that the redundancies in ArcelorMittal Liège S.A. are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, as between 2007 and 2013 the production of crude steel in the EU-27 decreased from 210,1 million tonnes to 166,2 million tonnes(4) (− 20,9 %; − 3,8 % annual growth rate(5)), whereas, at worldwide level, production increased from 1 348,1 million tonnes to 1 649,3 million tonnes (+ 22,3 %; + 3,4 % annual growth rate). Notes that the decrease in the Union's share of steel production from 16 % of global steel production in 2007 to 10 % in 2013 has been more significant than in the United States and Russia, while there is a very sharp increase in the share for Asia, going from 56 % to 67 % during the same period and, as a result, the metalworking sector in Liege has decreased in recent years, from 6 193 jobs in 40 enterprises in 2007 to 4 187 jobs in 35 enterprises in 2012, a reduction of 32 % in employment in the sector;

5.  Highlights that the effects of these changes in trade patterns have been worsened by other factors, such as a decrease in demand for steel in the automotive and construction sectors in the Union as a consequence of the economic crisis and a relative increase in production costs (raw materials, energy, environmental constraints, etc.). These factors have harmed the competitiveness of the Union’s steel industry and have led to a high number of job losses in the steel sector in recent years due to plant closures and restructuring by several steel manufacturers in Europe;

6.  Stresses the need for an efficient and coordinated approach at Union level in order to reverse the decrease in competitiveness of the Union’s steel sector; emphasises the need for proper and targeted investments with the aim of ensuring innovation as the main driver for global competitiveness of the Union’s steel sector and a guarantee of keeping the jobs in Europe;

7.  Notes the progress report on the implementation of the Commission Communication Action Plan for a competitive and sustainable steel industry in Europe of 11 June 2013 which concludes that half of the actions foreseen in the Communication have been implemented; stresses the need to ensure a proper implementation of the actions concerned in order to achieve tangible results which will lead to the relaunch of the Union’s steel sector;

8.  Notes that this is the fourth EGF application of the steel sector, with three of those applications linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation(6) and one to the global financial and economic crisis(7); urges the Commission to prevent further redundancies in this sector by developing and implementing preventive and simulative measures;

9.  Notes that the redundancies at ArcelorMittal Liège S.A. are expected to have huge negative impacts on the Liège region, a region highly dependent on the metalworking sector, where the impact of the downsizing of ArcelorMittal is all the more important as the share of ArcelorMittal in local employment is 78,9 % within the metal sector and 14,3 % within the manufacturing sector;

10.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services to be co-funded covers three main areas: redeployment, training and retraining, and the promotion of entrepreneurship; stresses the importance of ensuring that the retraining services are performed in accordance with the actual needs of the labour market in the region concerned;

11.  Advocates for the future use of provisions of the EGF Regulation to support young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in this region;

12.  Welcomes the fact that the coordinated package of personalised services has been drawn up in consultation with the targeted beneficiaries and the social partners;

13.  Notes that more than half of the total estimated costs are to be spent on redeployment services, namely support, guidance and integration measures; notes that these services will be provided by FOREM (the public employment and training service of the Walloon Region), which acts as an intermediary body in the implementation of this application;

14.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career; expects the training on offer in the coordinated package to be adapted not only to the needs of the dismissed workers but also to the actual business environment;

15.  Recalls that in line with Article 7 of the EGF Regulation, the design of the coordinated package of personalised services should anticipate future labour market perspectives and required skills and should be compatible with the shift towards a resource-efficient and sustainable economy;

16.  Stresses that EGF assistance can co-finance only active labour market measures which lead to durable, long-term employment; reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures restructuring companies or sectors;

17.  Notes that measures which are mandatory under collective redundancy procedures in Belgium and which are carried out as part of the standard activities of the Redeployment Units (e.g. outplacement support, training, job-search assistance and careers advice, etc.) are not included in this EGF application;

18.  Welcomes that financial support from the European Social Fund was in the past awarded to a project (EnTrain – En Transition-Reconversion-Accompagnement) which aimed to develop pedagogical methods for Redeployment Units in general and that the findings of this project are likely to prove useful in the implementation of the planned measures;

19.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

20.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund

(application EGF/2014/012 BE/ArcelorMittal, from Belgium)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/472.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4) Source: World Steel Association, Steel Statistical Yearbook 2014.
(5)Compound annual growth rate.
(6)Cases EGF/2009/022 BG/Kremikovtsi (application rejected by the Commission), EGF/2012/010 RO/Mechel (COM(2014)0255 of 7.5.2014), EGF/2013/007 BE/Hainaut steel (Duferco-NLMK) (COM(2014)0725 of 9.12.2014), EGF/2013/002 BE/Carsid (COM(2014)0553 of 5.9.2014).
(7)Case EGF/2010/007 AT/Steiermark-Niederösterreich. Decision 2011/652/EU of 27 September 2011 (OJ L 263, 7.10.2011, p. 9).


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar - Belgium
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar, from Belgium) (COM(2014)0735 – C8-0015/2015 – 2015/2021(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0045A8-0033/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0735 – C8‑0015/2015),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (2014-2020) and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006(1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0033/2015),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be dynamic and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas the adoption of the EGF Regulation reflects the agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council to reintroduce the crisis mobilisation criterion, to increase the Union financial contribution to 60 % of the total estimated cost of proposed measures, to increase efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

D.  whereas Belgium submitted application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar for a financial contribution from the EGF, following 1030 redundancies in Caterpillar Belgium S.A. a company operating in the NACE 2 Division 28 'Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c', with 630 persons expected to participate in the measures, during and after the reference period from 1 January 2014 to 30 April 2014, linked to a decline in demand in Europe;

E.  whereas the application fulfils the eligibility criteria laid down in the EGF Regulation;

1.  Notes that the conditions set out in Article 4(1)(a) of the EGF Regulation are met, therefore agrees with the Commission that Belgium is entitled to a financial contribution under that Regulation;

2.  Notes that the Belgian authorities submitted the application for EGF financial contribution on 22 July 2014, supplemented it by additional information up to 16 September 2014 and that its assessment was made available by the Commission on 9 December 2014;

3.  Notes that the total budget is EUR 2 038 090, of which EUR 73 378 is dedicated to implementation, and that the financial contribution of the EGF amounts to EUR 1 222 854, which represents 60 % of the total costs of the proposed measures;

4.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Belgian authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 1 April 2014, well ahead of the decision and even the application on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package; notes that these personalised services already offered will be eligible for EGF funding;

5.  Considers that the redundancies in Caterpillar Belgium S.A. are linked to major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation, where manufacturing and importing equipment from Asia into Europe has become cheaper for the company than producing in Europe for a declining market; notes that the Gosselies production site has suffered from negative upstream and downstream effects with steel and metal products in Europe hit by competition from emerging economies and the 2009 crisis weakening the European construction and mining sectors, which are Caterpillar's most important clients;

6.  Notes that demand for construction machinery suffered due to a decrease in private and public investment in infrastructure caused by poor performance of the global economy;

7.  Notes that this is the twelfth EGF application from the 'Manufacture of machinery and equipment n.e.c' sector, with previous applications distributed equally between the trade and economic crisis criteria;

8.  Regrets that many of the unemployed persons in the Charleroi region are low skilled (59 % do not have upper secondary education) and that 43 % have been unemployed for more than 2 years; regrets that the employment rate in Charleroi is among the lowest in the Wallonia region at 52,26 %; welcomes, therefore, that the authorities decided to apply for EGF funding in order to help dismissed workers;

9.  Notes that the redundancies at Caterpillar are expected to have huge negative impacts on the Charleroi region, which is facing a very difficult labour market situation due to its over-reliance on traditional industrial employment and lack of new industries; points out that the low qualification level of the workers made redundant makes it difficult for them to find a new job in an adverse economic context; recommends that the Commission carry out a survey in order to determine the entrepreneur success stories in the area and help the redundant people with project ideas inspired from the best cases;

10.  Notes that 18 % of the targeted redundant workers expected to participate in the measures are threatened by labour market exclusion as they are part of the 55-64 age group;

11.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services to be co-funded covers three main areas: redeployment, training and retraining and promotion of entrepreneurship;

12.  Notes that more than half of the total estimated costs are to be spent on redeployment services, namely support, guidance and integration measures; notes that these services will be provided by FOREM (the public employment and training service of the Walloon Region), which acts as an intermediary body in the implementation of this application;

13.  Welcomes the fact that the co-ordinated package of personalised services has been drawn up in consultation with the targeted beneficiaries and the social partners, taking into consideration the potential of the area and the business environment;

14.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career; expects the training on offer in the coordinated package to be adapted not only to the needs of the dismissed workers but also to the actual business environment;

15.  Advocates for the future use of the provisions of the EGF Regulation to support young people not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in this region;

16.  Recalls that, in line with Article 7 of the EGF Regulation, the design of the coordinated package of personalised services should anticipate future labour market perspectives and required skills and should be compatible with the shift towards a resource-efficient and sustainable economy;

17.  Stresses that EGF assistance can co-finance only active labour market measures which lead to durable, long-term employment; reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures restructuring companies or sectors;

18.  Welcomes that financial support from the European Social Fund was in the past awarded to a project (En Train – En Transition-Reconversion-Accompagnement) which aimed to develop pedagogical methods for Redeployment Units in general and that the findings of this project are likely to prove useful in the implementation of the planned measures;

19.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

20.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

21.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (application EGF/2014/011 BE/Caterpillar, from Belgium)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/471.)

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 855.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.


Dimensions and weights of road vehicles circulating within the Community ***II
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2015 on the Council position at first reading with view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 96/53/EC laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic (11296/3/2014 – C8-0294/2014 – 2013/0105(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0046A8-0032/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (11296/3/2014 – C8‑0294/2014),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 July 2013(1),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(2) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0195),

–  having regard to the undertakings given by the Commission at Parliament's plenary sitting to take over Parliament's position at second reading, and by the Council representative by letter of 18 December 2014 to approve that position, in accordance with Article 294(8)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to Rule 69 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0032/2015),

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

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

3.  Suggests that the act be cited as 'the Leichtfried-Lupi Directive on weights and dimensions of commercial vehicles'(3);

4.  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 10 March 2015 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2015/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 96/53/EC laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic

P8_TC2-COD(2013)0105


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2015/719.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

Statement by the Commission on revision of the type approval framework

The derogation on the maximum length for aerodynamic cabs and rear aerodynamic devices for heavy goods vehicles, as foreseen by the new Directive on maximum weights and dimensions of heavy goods vehicles (amendment of Directive 96/53/EC), requires amendments to the type approval legal framework (namely Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 and Regulation (EU) No 1230/2012).

The Commission is currently reviewing Regulation (EC) No 661/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, to improve the general safety of vehicles. As requested by Article 17 of this Regulation (EC) No 661/2009, the Commission will report in 2015 to the European Parliament and to the Council, including, where appropriate, proposals for amendment to this Regulation or other relevant Union legislation regarding the inclusion of further new safety features in particular for trucks. The Commission intends to propose the necessary amendments, following a stakeholders consultation and, where appropriate impact assessment, at the latest by 2016.

(1) OJ C 327, 12.11.2013, p. 133.
(2) Texts adopted of 15.4.2014, P7_TA(2014)0353.
(3) Jörg Leichtfried and Maurizio Lupi led the negotiations on the act on behalf of Parliament and the Council respectively.


European long-term investment funds ***I
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Resolution
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on European Long-term Investment Funds (COM(2013)0462 – C7-0209/2013 – 2013/0214(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0047A8-0021/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0462),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0209/2013),

–  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 16 October 2013(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 30 January 2014(2),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 10 December 2014 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rules 59 and 61(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A7‑0211/2014),

–  having regard to the amendments which it adopted at its sitting of 17 April 2014(3),

–  having regard to the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 18 September 2014 on unfinished business from the seventh parliamentary term,

–  having regard to the supplementary report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0021/2015),

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 10 March 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/... of the European Parliament and of the Council on European long-term investment funds

P8_TC1-COD(2013)0214


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2015/760.)

(1) OJ C 67, 6.3.2014, p. 71.
(2) OJ C 126, 26.4.2014, p. 8.
(3) Texts adopted of that date, P7_TA(2014)0448.


Interchange fees for card-based payment transactions ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions (COM(2013)0550 – C7-0241/2013 – 2013/0265(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0048A8-0022/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0550),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0241/2013),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Central Bank of 5 February 2014(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 December 2013(2),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 21 January 2015 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rules 59 and 61(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A7-0167/2014),

–  having regard to the amendments which it adopted at its sitting of 3 April 2014(3),

–  having regard to the Decision of the Conference of Presidents of 18 September 2014 on unfinished business from the seventh parliamentary term,

–  having regard to the supplementary report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0022/2015),

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 10 March 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions

P8_TC1-COD(2013)0265


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2015/751.)

(1) OJ C 193, 24.6.2014, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 170, 5.6.2014, p. 78.
(3) Texts adopted of that date, P7_TA(2014)0279.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund – application EGF/2013/011 BE/Saint- Gobain Sekurit – Belgium
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund, in accordance with point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management (application EGF/2013/011 BE/Saint-Gobain Sekurit, from Belgium) (COM(2015)0009 – C8-0011/2015 – 2015/2017(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0049A8-0034/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0009 – C8‑0011/2015),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1927/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund(1) (EGF Regulation),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(2), and in particular Article 12 thereof,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(3) (IIA of 2 December 2013), and in particular point 13 thereof,

–  having regard to the trilogue procedure provided for in point 13 of the IIA of 2 December 2013,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs,

–  having regard to the letter of the Committee on Regional Development,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0034/2015),

A.  whereas the Union has set up legislative and budgetary instruments to provide additional support to workers who are suffering from the consequences of major structural changes in world trade patterns, dramatically aggravated by the economic, financial and social crisis, and to assist their reintegration into the labour market;

B.  whereas the Union’s financial assistance to workers made redundant should be adequate and made available as quickly and efficiently as possible, in accordance with the Joint Declaration of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission adopted during the conciliation meeting on 17 July 2008, and having due regard to the IIA of 2 December 2013 in respect of the adoption of decisions to mobilise the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF);

C.  whereas this is the last application to be treated under the 2006 Regulation;

D.  welcomes the extension of the objectives and criteria of the EGF Regulation introduced in December 2013, in order to integrate and facilitate applications from regions and countries with a smaller demographic density;

E.  welcomes the increase in efficiency for the treatment of EGF applications in the Commission and by the Parliament and the Council by shortening the time for assessment and approval, to widen eligible actions and beneficiaries by introducing self-employed persons and young people and to finance incentives for setting up own businesses;

F.  whereas Belgium submitted application EGF/2013/011 BE/Saint-Gobain Sekurit for a financial contribution from the EGF following 257 redundancies linked to the closure of a plant of the Saint-Gobain Sekurit (SGS) group, located in Auvelais, which produced safety glass for the automotive industry; whereas the redundancies took place during and after the reference period from 31 August 2013 to 31 December 2013 and are linked to a decline in the production of automotive safety glass in the Union;

G.  whereas the financial contribution requested from the EGF amounts to EUR 1 339 928 (50 % of the total budget);

H.  whereas although the application does not fulfil the criteria laid down in Articles 2(a) and 2(b) of the EGF Regulation, it falls under the category of exceptional circumstances that nevertheless allow the mobilisation of the EGF;

1.  Agrees with the Commission decision that the application for EGF financial contribution on 19 December 2013 submitted by Belgium is entitled to a financial contribution under Article 2(c), which requires exceptional circumstances to be demonstrated, despite the fact that the conditions set out in Articles 2(a) and 2(b) of the EGF Regulation are not met; underlines however that invoking Article 2(c) should be assessed on a case-by-case situation and should not become a general method for the mobilisation of the EGF when basic conditions are not met;

2.  Stresses that the EGF is a special instrument that allows the Union to react to specified unforeseen circumstances and should maintain its main purpose, that is to provide support in case where, during a reference period, a large number of workers (minimum 500) are made redundant as a result of major structural changes in world trade patterns due to globalisation and global financial and economic crises; stresses that the EGF must not become a substitute for other European Structural and Investment Funds, such as the European Social Fund, and must be used to complement such funds; emphasises that the exceptional circumstances which allow for the mobilisation of the EGF must not divert from the above-mentioned scope;

3.  Notes that the Belgian authorities submitted the application for EGF financial contribution on 19 December 2013 under the EGF Regulation, which does not cap the time for instruction and that its assessment was made available by the Commission on 21 January 2014; regrets the insufficient information given in respect of the exceptional circumstances invoked; underlines that such exceptional circumstances must be duly assessed in order to obtain a derogation from the conditions set out in Articles 2(a) and 2(b) of the EGF Regulation;

4.  Expresses concerns about the length of the procedure from the date of the first redundancies until the assessment of the application; recalls that the goal of the EGF is to offer help to redundant workers as quickly as possible;

5.  Urges the Member States and all the institutions involved to make the necessary efforts to improve procedural and budgetary arrangements in order to accelerate the mobilisation of the EGF; notes in this sense, the improved procedure put in place by the Commission, following Parliament's request to accelerate the release of grants, aimed at presenting to the European Parliament and the Council the Commission's assessment on the eligibility of an EGF application together with the proposal to mobilise the EGF and takes note of the adoption of the new EGF Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1309/2013) which allows greater efficiency, transparency, accountability and visibility of the EGF;

6.  Urges the Member States to profit from the exchange of best practices and to learn particularly from those Member States and regional and local authorities that have already put in place national information networks on the EGF involving the social partners and stakeholders at local and regional level with a view to having a good structure for assistance in place once any situation which falls under the scope of the EGF might occur;

7.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Belgian authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 31 August 2013, well ahead of the decision and even the application on granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package;

8.  Notes that the sector of the manufacture of safety glass for the automotive industry has undergone serious economic disruption as a result of several factors, such as a decrease in the production of automotive safety glass in the Union, an increase in the market shares of competitors from non-Member States and an increase in imports of these products into the Union; notes that SGS Benelux's activities were closely linked to production trends in the automotive industry, which saw the production of passenger cars decrease from 21,9 million units to 19,5 million units between 2007 and 2012, whereas, in the rest of the world, it increased from 47,5 million units to 60,6 million units during the same period; observes moreover that there has been a general trend by manufacturers and suppliers in the automotive industry to transfer production within the Union, from Western Europe (in particular, France, Belgium and Spain) to Eastern Europe;

9.  Notes that while there have been no other EGF applications relating specifically to the automotive glass sector(4), there have been a series of applications relating to motor vehicle manufacturers or suppliers of automotive equipment(5);

10.  Notes that the redundancies at SGS mainly concern production-line workers (83 % of staff concerned have ‘ouvrier’ status); considers that in the context of the labour market situation in the affected region, the dismissed workers will have to be retrained to find jobs in other occupations and/or other sectors;

11.  Deplores that given the socioeconomic situation of the area concerned and of its neighbouring areas (Charleroi, Namur), the workers made redundant by SGS Benelux have limited employment possibilities in these areas as they are likely to be in competition with many other workers with similar qualifications and experience for a limited number of jobs in the glass sector; recalls that the region is characterised by a relatively high level of structural unemployment, with a relatively high proportion of long-term unemployment and low qualification levels and skills; highlights that the redundancies at SGS Benelux are therefore set against a difficult local socioeconomic context;

12.  Notes that the personalised services listed in the application consist of several measures aimed at promoting the workers’ return to the labour market and helping them with administrative procedures, most of which are expected to support all the dismissed workers;

13.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services to be co-funded includes the following measures for the reintegration of the 257 redundant workers into employment (grouped by category): (1) individual job-search assistance, case management and general information services, (2) training and retraining and (3) promotion of entrepreneurship;

14.  Welcomes the fact that various social partners and organisations were involved in the general coordination and implementation of the measures including: trade unions (FGTB,CSC), FOREM (the public employment and training service of the Walloon Region), the sectorial vocational and technological training centres active in the Walloon region, the European Social Fund Agency of the French Community of Belgium and the Walloon Government; appreciates furthermore that trade unions are directly involved in the management of the specifically set up two Redeployment Units for each separate company;

15.  Insists on the need to enhance and encourage assistance with autonomy and ease of access at regional level to implement a bottom up ethos, empowering local solutions at a regional level where any situation which falls under the scope of the EGF might occur;

16.  Takes note of the measures proposed to improve the employability of redundant workers; recalls that allowances are not listed among the personalised services to be supported by the EGF;

17.  Notes that measures which are mandatory under collective redundancy procedures under Belgian federal legislation and which are carried out as part of the standard activities of the Redeployment Units (e.g. outplacement support, training, job-search assistance and careers advice, etc.) are not included in this EGF application;

18.  Recalls the importance of improving the employability of all workers by means of adapted training and the recognition of skills and competences gained throughout a worker's professional career; expects the training on offer in the coordinated package to be adapted not only to the needs of the dismissed workers but also to the actual business environment;

19.  Welcomes the fact that the principle of equality between women and men as well as of non-discrimination has been, and will continue to be, applied during the various stages of implementation of and access to the EGF measures;

20.  Welcomes that the social partners were involved in the preparation of the social plan as well as in the implementation of the measures;

21.  Stresses that EGF assistance can co-finance only active labour market measures which lead to durable, long-term employment; reiterates that assistance from the EGF must not replace actions which are the responsibility of companies by virtue of national law or collective agreements nor measures restructuring companies or sectors;

22.  Approves the decision annexed to this resolution;

23.  Instructs its President to sign the decision with the President of the Council and arrange for its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union;

24.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, including its annex, to the Council and the Commission.

ANNEX

DECISION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

on the mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund in accordance with Point 13 of the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management

(application EGF/2013/011 BE/Saint-Gobain Sekurit, from Belgium)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/470.)

(1) OJ L 406, 30.12.2006, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(3) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(4)See EGF database, available at http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=582.
(5)See draft Commission proposals on cases EGF/2007/001 FR/Peugeot suppliers (Decision COM(2007)0415 of 12.7.2007), EGF/2007/010 PT/Lisboa-Alentejo (Decision COM(2008)0094 of 20.2.2008), EGF/2008/002 ES/Delphi (Decision COM(2008)0547 of 9.9.2008), EGF/2008/004 ES/Castilla y León / Aragón automoción (Decision COM(2009)0150 of 20.3.2009), EGF/2009/007 SE/Volvo and EGF/2009/009 AT/Steiermark (Decision COM(2009)0602 of 27.10.2009), EGF/2009/013 DE/Karmann (Decision COM(2010)0007 of 22.1.2010), EGF/2009/019 FR/Renault (Decision COM(2011)0420 of 11.7.2011), EGF/2010/002 ES/Cataluña automoción (Decision COM(2010)0453 of 2.9.2010), EGF/2010/004 PL/Wielkopolskie Automotive (Decision COM(2010)0616 of 29.10.2010), EGF/2010/031 BE/General Motors Belgium (Decision COM(2011)0212 of 14.4.2011), EGF/2011/003 DE/Arnsberg and Düsseldorf automotive (Decision COM(2011)0447 20.7.2011), EGF/2011/005 PT/Norte-Centro Automotive (Decision COM(2011)0664 of 13.10.2011), EGF/2012/004 ES/Grupo Santana (Decision COM(2014)0116 of 5.3.2014), EGF/2012/005 SE/Saab (Decision COM(2012)0622 of 19.10.2012), EGF/2013/006 PL/Fiat Auto Poland (Decision COM(2014)0699 of 10.11.2014), EGF/2013/012 BE/Ford Genk (Decision COM(2014)0532 of 22.8.2014).


Progress on equality between women and men in the EU in 2013
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European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013 (2014/2217(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0050A8-0015/2015

The European Parliament,

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

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

–  having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR),

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

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

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 606/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 June 2013 on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA(2),

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and in particular Article 6 thereof on women with disabilities, of 13 December 2006,

–  having regard to Directive 2011/99/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on the European protection order(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/36/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2011 on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2002/629/JHA(4),

–  having regard to the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (women on boards directive (COM(2012)0614)),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020) of 7 March 2011(5),

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

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

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

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 16 September 2013 entitled ‘Mid-term review of the Strategy for equality between women and men (2010‑2015)’ (SWD(2013)0339),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 8 May 2013 entitled ‘Report on Progress on equality between women and men in 2012’ (SWD(2013)0171),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 November 2013 entitled ‘Towards the elimination of female genital mutilation’ (COM(2013)0833),

–  having regard to the 2012 report by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) entitled ‘Review of the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action in the EU Member States: Violence against Women – Victim Support’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 5-6 June 2014 on preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls, including female genital mutilation,

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2014 on the elimination of female genital mutilation(6),

–  having regard to the EU directives from 1975 onwards on aspects of equal treatment for women and men (Directive 2010/41/EU(7), Directive 2010/18/EU(8), Directive 2006/54/EC(9), Directive 2004/113/EC(10), Directive 92/85/EEC(11), Directive 86/613/EEC(12), and Directive 79/7/EEC(13)),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on the application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on the impact of the economic crisis on gender equality and women’s rights(15),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 June 2013 on educational and occupational mobility of women in the EU(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on eliminating gender stereotypes in the EU(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 February 2013 on the 57th session on UN CSW: Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2012 on women’s working conditions in the service sector(19),

–  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(20),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 10 February 2010 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2009(21), 8 March 2011 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2010(22), and 13 March 2012 on equality between women and men in the European Union – 2011(23),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2011 on women and business leadership(24),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2011 on priorities and outline of a new EU policy framework to fight violence against women(25),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the face of female poverty in the European Union(26),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 June 2010 on gender aspects of the economic downturn and financial crisis(27),

–  having regard to its resolution of 3 February 2009 on non-discrimination based on sex and intergenerational solidarity(28),

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 February 2014 on sexual exploitation and prostitution and its impact on gender equality(29),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 October 2005 on women and poverty in the European Union(30),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 February 2014 on combating violence against women(31),

–  having regard to the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Directive 92/85/EEC on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding (maternity leave directive (COM(2008)0637)),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 20 May 2014 on gender equality in sport,

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(32),

–  having regard to the Commission progress report of 3 June 2013 on the Barcelona objectives entitled ‘The development of childcare facilities for young children in Europe with a view to sustainable and inclusive growth’,

–  having regard to the Commission report of September 2014 entitled ‘Statistical Data on Women Entrepreneurs in Europe’,

–  having regard to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) survey of March 2014 entitled ‘Violence against women: an EU-wide survey’ which, for the first time, has provided data concerning the extent, nature and consequences of various forms of violence against women, as well as victims’ responses to violent incidents and their rights awareness,

–  having regard to Article 168 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, concerning public health, and in particular to paragraph 7 thereof, which states that ‘Union action shall respect the responsibilities of the Member States for the definition of their health policy and for the organisation and delivery of health services and medical care’,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (A8-0015/2015),

A.  whereas equality between women and men is a fundamental right which enjoys recognition under the Treaties since the 1957 Treaty of Rome and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; whereas, despite the fact that the European Union has adopted numerous texts to ensure equal opportunities and treatment for men and women and to combat all forms of discrimination based on sex and that the Union has set itself the specific task of mainstreaming gender equality in all its activities, the progress made remains insufficient and many inequalities between men and women still persist;

B.  whereas the principle of equal treatment of women and men implies that there must be no discrimination whatsoever, be it direct or indirect, also with respect to motherhood, fatherhood and the sharing of family responsibilities;

C.  whereas it is crucial to take into account the multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination experienced by many women and girls in Europe (on the grounds of disability, a migrant background, ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, housing status, a low level of education, being victims of violence, etc.) and the fact that their conditions have worsened over recent years;

D.  whereas the Europe 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable, and inclusive economy entails ambitious targets, including the 75 % employment rate and the reduction of the number of persons suffering, or threatened with, poverty and social exclusion by at least 20 million by 2020, which will be impossible to meet unless Member States implement innovative policies to promote gender equality in the true sense;

E.  whereas the fiscal consolidation policies being pursued by Member States are primarily affecting the public sector, in which women are represented more strongly and of which they are the main beneficiaries, and are thus causing harm in two ways, and whereas these policies are making employment more insecure, not least because of the increase in the instance of part-time working (32 % among women compared with 8,2 % among men) and temporary contracts, and not to mention wage reductions;

F.  whereas there are more women than men living in poverty and exclusion, especially older women, whose average pension level is 39 % lower than that of men, and single mothers; whereas, for family reasons, it is more common for women rather than men to work part time or under fixed-term or temporary contracts, and whereas women’s poverty is due largely to the precariousness of their jobs;

G.  whereas combating poverty is one of the Commission’s five measurable targets proposed under the Europe 2020 strategy; whereas Integrated Guideline 10 of the Europe 2020 strategy (promoting social inclusion and combating poverty) could prompt the adoption of national policies to protect women, in particular, from the risk of poverty, ensuring income security for one-parent families and elderly women;

H.  whereas the falling birth rate in the EU has been exacerbated by the crisis, given that unemployment, precarious circumstances and uncertainty about the future and the economy are making couples, and younger women in particular, delay having children, thereby further reinforcing the EU-wide trend towards population ageing;

I.  whereas the existing taxation systems in certain Member States are predicated on a narrow view of the family to the extent that they are biased towards families in which only one of the two parents is working inasmuch as, in many cases, they deter women from working and fail to provide sufficient support to single-parent families, large families and families supporting dependent relatives;

J.  whereas although women account for almost 60 % of graduates in the EU, their representation in senior official and decision-making positions is disproportionately low, and the proportion of EU scientists and engineers who are female is less than 33 %, while women make up almost 80 % of the workforce in the health, education and welfare sectors;

K.  whereas there is a strong horizontal segregation or gender-specific division of labour, with almost half of women in employment being concentrated in 10 of the 130 occupations listed in the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO) drawn up by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), and only 16 % of workers holding jobs in sectors with an equal proportion of men and women;

L.  whereas the role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which account for 99 % of European companies and provide two out of three private-sector jobs, is crucial to the achievement of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth; whereas only 31 % of entrepreneurs in the EU are women; whereas the rate of entrepreneurship among women in the EU is 10 %, as compared with 19 % among men; whereas there is a need to promote and support the increase of entrepreneurship among women;

M.  whereas approximately 42 % of those regularly involved in agriculture in the EU are women, and 3 in 10 farms in Europe are run by women; whereas promoting equal opportunities for men and women and, at the same time, involving women to a greater extent in business and society, especially in agriculture, must be matters of ongoing concern in Europe;

N.  whereas the female employment rate is 63 %; whereas the gender gap in pay stands at 16,4 %; whereas 73 % of the members serving in national parliaments are men, and whereas women make up 17,8 % of the membership of large company boards and every week spend three times as long as men on household chores (e.g. caring for children, elderly people and people with disabilities and performing household tasks);

O.  whereas 37 % of the Members of the newly elected European Parliament, 9 out of the 28 new Commissioners and 7 out of the 28 judges at the Court of Justice of the European Union are women;

P.  whereas the female unemployment rate is underestimated given the fact that many women are not registered as unemployed, particularly those who live in rural or remote areas, along with many of those who devote themselves exclusively to household tasks and childcare; whereas this situation also creates a disparity in terms of access to public services (benefits, a pension, maternity leave, sick leave, access to social security, etc.);

Q.  whereas if the present trends continue, the target of 75 % of women in employment will not be reached until 2038 and equal pay will not become a reality before 2084; whereas equal representation in national parliaments, in the EU institutions and on European company boards could be achieved by 2034, but whereas it would take until 2054 before housework was shared equally;

R.  whereas the failure to promote policies providing for a work-life balance in general and the lack of affordable and high-quality childcare facilities and assistance services for the elderly and people requiring special care, in particular, pose a major obstacle to women’s economic independence and their rise to positions of responsibility, and to the equal participation of women and men in the labour market, including as a means of preventing and reducing poverty;

S.  whereas the sharing of family and domestic responsibilities between men and women, to be brought about not least through a greater uptake of parental leave and paternity leave, is essential in order to achieve gender equality; whereas a quarter of Member States do not offer paternity leave;

T.  whereas traditional gender roles and stereotypes continue to have a strong influence on the division of roles between women and men in the home, in the workplace and in society at large, thereby limiting women’s range of employment choices and their personal and professional development, thereby impeding them from realising their full potential as individuals and as economic players;

U.  whereas the media can play a role, on the one hand, in spreading stereotypes, degrading the image of women and over-sexualising young girls and, on the other hand, in overcoming gender stereotypes, encouraging women’s participation in decision making and promoting gender equality;

V.  whereas the Council has still not responded officially to two legislative resolutions adopted by Parliament on key aspects of gender equality, namely its resolutions of 20 October 2010 on the proposed maternity leave directive and 20 November 2013 on the proposal for a directive on gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures;

W.  whereas in its report of 6 December 2013 on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC, the Commission raised questions concerning 26 Member States on the conformity of their national legislation with the directive’s new provisions(33);

X.  whereas, according to the FRA survey of March 2014, one in three women in the EU has been physically and/or sexually assaulted, while one in five has suffered physical violence after the age of 15 and almost one in two has experienced psychological violence; whereas violence against women constitutes a breach of fundamental rights which bears potentially serious psychological consequences, affects all levels of society, regardless of age, education, income, social position and country of origin or residence, and is one of the least reported crimes; whereas violence against women is one of the main obstacles to true equality between women and men;

Y.  whereas violence against women and girls on the internet is on the rise, with the behaviour of minors on social networks proving to be exceptionally worrying in this regard;

Z.  whereas the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings will end in 2016; whereas, according to the 2014 Eurostat report on trafficking in human beings, the vast majority (80 %) of registered victims of trafficking in the EU are women and girls;

AA.  whereas six Member States have still not signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) and only eight have ratified it;

AB.  whereas gathering comparable accurate data, broken down by sex, is particularly important for public policy-making at national and EU level, especially where violence against women is concerned;

AC.  whereas women have specific health issues and are less often than men the subjects in clinical trials, and these differences have important implications for women’s health;

AD.  whereas girls and women, especially those aged between 15 and 24, are less involved than boys and men in physical activity, and whereas sport is a means of self-expression and fulfilment, as well as a force for citizenship and solidarity, and the regular practice of sport improves physical and mental health; whereas violence against women, stereotyping, differences in pay and barriers to women’s involvement in management can all be found in sport;

AE.  whereas sexual and reproductive rights are fundamental human rights and should be taken into account in the EU’s action programme in the field of health;

AF.  whereas the formulation and implementation of policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights is a competence of the Member States;

AG.  whereas the Commission’s annual report on gender equality is a vital tool for gauging developments in the situation of women in Europe;

Equality between women and men in the Europe 2020 framework

1.  Calls for the EU institutions and the Member States to mainstream the issues of gender, women’s rights and equal opportunities in their policy making, budget procedures and the implementation of EU programmes and activities, by means of pro‑active measures, especially in connection with stimulus packages, by carrying out gender impact analyses on a case-by-case basis;

2.  Deplores the fact that the ‘Strategy for equality between women and men 2010-2015’ will soon fail to hit its targets, especially as regards economic independence, in part because of the withdrawal of the proposal for a maternity leave directive; stresses, at the same time, that economic differences between men and women have been gradually increasing;

3.  Calls on the Council, the Commission and the Member States to integrate a gender pillar into the Europe 2020 strategy to measure progress on reducing the gender gap in employment and in order to bring about the transfer of policy measures in the Annual Growth Survey into the country‑specific recommendations (CSRs);

4.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop a general plan for investment into social infrastructure, as it has been estimated that with a gendered investment plan, European gross domestic product (GDP) would increase gradually, by 2,4 % more by 2018 than without such an investment plan;

5.  Notes that equal participation by women and men in the labour market could significantly increase the economic potential of the EU, while confirming its fair and inclusive nature; points out that, according to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projections, total convergence in participation rates would result in a 12,4 % increase in GDP per capita by 2030;

6.  Maintains that poverty among women, and older women and single mothers in particular, but also women who are victims of gender-based violence, women with disabilities, migrant women and women from minorities, needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency; calls on the Member States, therefore, to implement more effective inclusion strategies and make more efficient use of social policy resources, not least the European Social Fund and the Structural Funds;

7.  Finds it regrettable that the effectiveness of social policies in reducing poverty fell by almost 50 % in 2012 compared with 2005 in homes with just one adult, a situation which includes most widows and single mothers; is also concerned that the effectiveness of the social policies implemented in certain Member States amounts to only one third of the European average; calls, therefore, on Member States to strengthen social policies which target in particular the unemployed, in order to tackle rising poverty, especially among women;

8.  Calls on the Council and the Commission to address the gender dimension of poverty and social exclusion; finds it regrettable that the CSRs adopted so far as part of the annual European Semester cycles have not been sufficiently aligned with the Europe 2020 employment and social targets; calls for CSRs systemically to address the structural causes of female poverty;

9.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to allow for changes in the family unit when drawing up their taxation and compensation policies, in particular by providing support to one-parent families and older people in the form of tax credits or health care assistance;

10.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure that equality between men and women and the integration of the gender perspective be taken into account in cohesion policy funds and promoted throughout the preparation and implementation thereof and in its programmes, including as regards monitoring, reporting and evaluation;

11.  Considers it unfortunate that the annual report now ranks only as a working document annexed to the report on the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and urges the Commission to restore the full political legitimacy of the annual report by having it officially adopted in its own right;

Equality between women and men in employment and decision-making

12.  Points to the imperative need to reduce gender gaps in pay and pension also by addressing the persistent concentration of women in part-time, low-pay and precarious work and by securing care facilities of a sufficient quality for children and other dependents; deplores in the strongest possible terms the fact that more than a third of older women in the EU receive no form of pension; urges the Member States to give full effect to the rights provided for under Directive 2006/54/EC, including the principle of equal pay and pay transparency, and to revise their national laws on equal treatment with a view to the simplification and modernisation thereof; calls on the Commission to keep the transposition of gender equality directives under regular review and invites the Commission to propose a recast of Directive 2006/54/EC as soon as possible, in accordance with Article 32 thereof and on the basis of Article 157 TFEU, following the detailed recommendations set out in the annex to Parliament’s resolution of 24 May 2012;

13.  Deplores in the strongest possible terms the fact that women do not receive the same salary in cases where they hold the same jobs as men or jobs of equal value, and condemns, equally, both horizontal and vertical segregation; emphasises, furthermore, the fact that the vast majority of low salaries and almost all very low salaries are paid for part-time work and points out that about 80 % of the working poor are women; points out that according to the European Added Value Assessment conclusions, a decrease of one percentage point in the gender gap in pay would bring about an increase of 0,1 % in economic growth, which means that it is crucially important to close the gap that exists in the current economic downturn; calls, therefore, on the Member States, employers and trade union movements to draft and implement serviceable, specific job evaluation tools to help determine work of equal value and thus ensure equal pay between men and women;

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement proactive policies to promote good jobs for women in order to meet the Europe 2020 targets by combating stereotypes and vertical and horizontal occupational segregation, encouraging the transition from part- to full-time work, and focusing in particular on the not‑in‑education-employment-or-training (NEET) category; calls on the Member States to set specific employment targets in the framework of their national reform programmes to ensure that women have the same opportunities as men to access and stay in the labour market;

15.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to implement proactive policies to encourage women to embrace careers in science and to promote, through information and awareness-raising campaigns in particular, entry by women into sectors traditionally viewed as ʽmaleʼ, notably the sciences and new technologies, with a view to benefiting fully from the human capital represented by European women; stresses, in particular, that information and communications technology (ICT) offers new opportunities and calls upon the Commission to ensure that gender be fully mainstreamed in the priority accorded to the digital agenda in the next five years;

16.  Stresses that financial independence is a key means of securing equality and that entrepreneurship among women constitutes an underestimated and underexploited potential for growth and competitiveness in the EU; calls, therefore, on the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) to collect more and better data on entrepreneurship among women; calls on the Member States, the Commission, other relevant bodies, such as chambers of commerce, and industry to encourage, promote and support entrepreneurship among women by facilitating access to credit, cutting red tape and other obstacles to start-ups by women, mainstreaming a gender perspective in the relevant policies, promoting the creation of a single multilingual electronic data and exchange platform for women social entrepreneurs, and supporting regional and Europe-wide mentoring and peer-to-peer networks;

17.  Believes that helping women to return to the labour market requires a multidimensional policy (involving vocational training and lifelong learning, and the promotion of more stable employment and tailored working patterns) and draws attention to the increasing prevalence of flexible working hours; points out that demand for flexibility is greatest among part-time workers, the majority of whom are women; maintains, therefore, that collective bargaining is a right which must be protected inasmuch as it helps to combat discrimination and safeguard and enhance rights;

18.  Emphasises the fact that increased flexibility in working arrangements can increase women’s opportunities to participate actively in the labour market, but notes, at the same time, that this flexibility can have a negative impact on women’s wages and pensions; points, therefore, to the need for specific work-life balance proposals, and encourages men and women to share occupational, family, and social responsibilities more evenly, especially in cases where assistance to dependants and childcare are concerned;

19.  Asks the Member States to include strategies in rural development programmes to boost the number of jobs for women in rural areas, thereby assuring them of decent pensions, and policies which promote the presence of women on political, economic and social forums in said sector and which further the promotion of equal opportunities in rural areas in line with the multifunctionality of agriculture;

20.  Emphasises the growing consensus within the EU as regards the need to promote gender equality through, inter alia, the presence of women in economic and political decision making and, which is a question of fundamental rights and democracy, given that it currently reflects a democratic deficit; welcomes, therefore, the legislated parity systems and gender quotas introduced in some Member States and calls on the Council to state its position on the directive on gender balance among non-executive directors of listed companies so as to enable the legislative process to be continued as soon as possible; calls on the Council and the Commission to take the measures necessary to encourage the Member States to enable women and men to participate on an equal footing in the various spheres of decision-making; calls also for the EU institutions to do everything in their power to guarantee gender equality in the College of Commissioners and in high‑level positions in all EU institutions, agencies, institutes and bodies;

21.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to examine whether gender clauses may be included in public procurement tender notices in order to encourage businesses to strive towards gender equality in their ranks; acknowledges that EU legislation on competition must be complied with in developing this idea;

Reconciliation of professional and private life

22.  Congratulates Sweden, Belgium, France, Slovenia, Denmark and the United Kingdom on achieving the Barcelona objectives and calls on the other Member States to continue their efforts; calls on the Member States to go beyond the Barcelona objectives by adopting a more systematic and integrated approach, to be implemented jointly by national and local authorities, to education and preschool care services, in particular for very young children under the age of three; calls on the Commission to provide continuing financial support to Member States so that they can offer childcare systems – in particular by means of crèches – that parents can afford, including through the establishment of these facilities in the workplace; believes that the right balance can be struck between family plans, private life and professional ambitions only if the people concerned have genuine freedom of choice, in economic and social terms, and are supported by political and economic decisions at EU and national level without being penalised, and if the requisite infrastructure is in place; calls on the Member States to increase their child support budgets, specifically by expanding public networks of day care centres, nurseries and services which offer extracurricular activities for children; calls also on the Commission to address the lack of affordable childcare facilities in its CSRs;

23.  Deplores in the strongest possible terms the fact that, despite the level of EU funding available (EUR 3,2 billion from the structural funds for the 2007-2013 period was earmarked to assist Member States in developing childcare facilities and promoting employment for women), certain Member States have made budget cuts that are affecting the availability (e.g. as a result of nursery closures) and quality (e.g. as a result of staffing shortfalls) of childcare services and rendering them more expensive;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to establish paid paternity leave of at least ten working days and to promote measures, legislative and otherwise, enabling men, and fathers in particular, to exercise their right to achieve a work-life balance through, inter alia, the promotion of parental leave, to be taken by either the father or mother, but without swapping between them, until their child has reached a given age;

25.  Deplores the deadlock in the Council regarding the maternity leave directive; urges the Member States to resume the negotiations thereon and reiterates its willingness to cooperate;

26.  Calls on the Member States to establish affordable, flexible, high-quality and easily accessible services for the care of people who are unable to cope with everyday tasks by themselves due to fact that they do not possess the functional autonomy they need to strike a balance between their personal, family and working lives;

Combating violence against women

27.  Calls on the Commission to encourage ratification at national level and to initiate the procedure for EU accession to the Istanbul Convention as quickly as possible; notes that the immediate accession of all Member States to the Istanbul Convention would lead to the development of an integrated policy and the promotion of international cooperation in the fight against all forms of violence against women;

28.  Renews its call on the Commission to submit a proposal under Article 84 TFEU for a legislative act establishing measures to promote and support the action of Member States in the field of preventing violence against women and girls, by supporting a comprehensive and effective policy framework on gender-based violence, focusing on prevention, the prosecution of perpetrators, the protection of victims and appropriate and adequate service provision and teaching on equality, and by introducing penalties for discriminatory or violent behaviour towards women; calls, furthermore, on the Member States to work systematically on empowering women in reporting violence to authorities, and on the education and training of experts who deal with the victims;

29.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the effective and adequately resourced implementation of its communication on the elimination of female genital mutilation;

30.  Asks the Council to activate the passerelle clause and to adopt a unanimous decision identifying gender violence as an area of crime listed under Article 83(1) TFEU, which already covers trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of women and children;

31.  Calls on the Commission to better regulate the digital market with the aim of protecting women and girls against violence on the internet;

32.  Recommends that, in their national action plans to eliminate domestic violence, Member States lay down the obligation to support undocumented migrant women in exactly the same way as women staying legally, without any requirement for institutions to report such cases to the authorities;

33.  Recommends that the Member States strengthen their free public health services in order to support all women subjected to violence, including refugees, through, inter alia, increasing their capacity, with specialised assistance being provided to women of different nationalities and to women with disabilities;

34.  Renews its call on the Commission and the Member States to make 2016 the European year against violence against women by granting sufficient resources for awareness raising; stresses, to this end, that it is necessary to provide adequate training for the authorities and services involved, as well as for professionals, such as police officers, doctors, magistrates, lawyers, teachers and anyone who could, by virtue of their occupation, provide assistance to women who have been victims of violence;

35.  Asks the Commission to put together a European protection order register, in view of the fact that the Member States’ deadline for transposing Directive 2011/99/EU on the European protection order expired on 11 January 2015;

36.  Recognises that, in regions affected by war, violence against women represents a clear violation of women’s fundamental rights and manifests itself through the humiliating and degrading treatment of women; stresses that gender equality is essential for building peace, as it is an expression of the need to prevent and fight against phenomena such as these which affect women;

37.  Calls on the EIGE, the FRA and Eurostat to keep collecting comparable data, in particular harmonised data on violence, in order to provide Member States and the Commission with the tools needed for effective policy making; calls also on the Commission and the Member States to direct their attention to the situation in Member States as regards the institutional machinery in place to promote gender equality, the objective being to prevent this from being damaged in the future by the effects of the economic crisis and the reforms that it is entailing, bearing in mind that, without such institutional machinery, the cross-cutting priority assigned to gender equality in every policy sphere, and the specific means of addressing it, will not translate into results;

38.  Calls on the Commission to safeguard the Daphne programme – both in terms of its funding and visibility – in the Rights and Citizenship programme in order to ensure that associations working to stop violence against women may continue their work;

39.  Calls, once again, on the Commission to set up a European monitoring centre on gender violence (along the lines of the current European Institute for Gender Equality), to be led by a European coordinator for the prevention of violence against women and girls;

40.  Urges the Commission to strongly condemn media campaigns and other communications depicting victims of sexual violence as being responsible for these acts, as such assumptions go against all the basic principles of gender equality;

Combating gender-based stereotypes

41.  Points to the decisive role of education in combating gender stereotypes and ending gender-based discrimination; stresses that boys and men need to be included in promoting womenʼs rights and gender equality; calls, therefore, on the Commission to take decisive policy action to fight gender stereotypes and suggest to the Member States that they raise awareness of equal rights and equal opportunities for men and women in their educational systems;

42.  Asks the Council and the Commission to take steps to make sure that social media use language in a non-sexist way, ensure that women participate actively and are represented in a balanced way, and ensure that there are diverse images of both sexes, going beyond general concepts of beauty and sexist stereotypes of roles carried out in different areas of life, in particular where content aimed at children and young people is concerned;

43.  Calls on the Member States and their media regulators to consider the place accorded – in both quantitative and qualitative terms – to women in the media, and in particular on television, not least so as to avert insults to the dignity of women, to avoid conveying gender stereotypes and to curb any tendency to hypersexualise little girls;

44.  Asks the Member States, following the adoption of the Council conclusions on gender equality in sport, to make full use of the opportunities offered by sport to promote gender equality, notably by defining specific action plans to combat stereotypes and violence, favour equality among professional sportsmen and sportswomen, and promote sport for women;

Societal challenges

45.  Points out that various studies show that abortion rates in countries in which abortion is legal are similar to those in countries in which it is banned, and are often even higher in the latter (World Health Organisation, 2014);

46.  Notes that the formulation and implementation of policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights and on sexual education is a competence of the Member States; emphasises, nevertheless, that the EU can contribute to the promotion of best practice among Member States;

47.  Maintains that women must have control over their sexual and reproductive health and rights, not least by having ready access to contraception and abortion; supports, accordingly, measures and actions to improve women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services and inform them more fully about their rights and the services available; calls on the Member States and the Commission to implement measures and actions to make men aware of their responsibilities for sexual and reproductive matters;

48.  Emphasises the importance of active prevention, education and information policies aimed at teenagers, young people and adults to ensure that sexual and reproductive health among the public is good, thereby preventing sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies;

49.  Calls on the Member States, when applying Regulation (EU) No 536/2014 in clinical trials of medicinal products for human use, to ensure equality in the representation of men and women in clinical trials, paying special attention to transparency as regards the gender composition of participants; calls on the Commission, when considering the proper implementation of this regulation, specifically to monitor aspects of equality between women and men;

50.  Points out that the EU ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on 22 January 2011 and that, under this convention, States Parties must undertake to ensure and promote the full realisation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all persons with disabilities without discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability and to refrain from engaging in any act or practice that is inconsistent with the convention;

Equality between women and men in the EU’s external relations

51.  Calls on the Commission to vigorously promote gender equality in the context of the EU’s external relations with third countries, thereby strengthening its comprehensive strategic approach as regards equality; stresses, in this connection, the importance of stepping up cooperation with international and regional organisations with a view to promoting gender equality and improving awareness of women’s rights;

52.  Calls on the EU to put an end to policies establishing dependency between family members in the framework of family reunion, and calls for the EU and its Member States to grant migrant women autonomous residence status, especially in cases of domestic violence;

53.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that gender equality and womenʼs rights be included in all partnership agreements and in all negotiations with non-EU countries;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 181, 29.6.2013, p. 4.
(2) OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.
(3) OJ L 338, 21.12.2011, p. 2.
(4) OJ L 101, 15.4.2011, p. 1.
(5) Council conclusions of 7 March 2011.
(6) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0105.
(7) OJ L 180, 15.7.2010, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 68, 18.3.2010, p. 13.
(9) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(10) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(11) OJ L 348, 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(12) OJ L 359, 19.12.1986, p. 56.
(13) OJ L 6, 10.1.1979, p. 24.
(14) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0375.
(15) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0073.
(16) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0247.
(17) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0074.
(18) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0045.
(19) OJ C 353 E, 3.12.2013, p. 47.
(20) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 75.
(21) OJ C 341 E, 16.12.2010, p. 35.
(22) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 65.
(23)3 OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 1 .
(24) OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 134.
(25) OJ C 296 E, 2.10.2012, p. 26.
(26) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 77.
(27) OJ C 236 E, 12.8.2011, p. 79.
(28) OJ C 67 E, 18.3.2010, p. 31.
(29) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0162.
(30) OJ C 233 E, 28.9.2006, p. 130.
(31) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0126.
(32) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(33) Report on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation (recast) (COM(2013)0861).


Annual report on EU competition policy
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European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy (2014/2158(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0051A8-0019/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 6 May 2014 on Competition Policy 2013 (COM(2014)0249) and to the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2014)0148),

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 101-109 thereof,

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

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 169/2009 of 26 February 2009 applying rules of competition to transport by rail, road and inland waterway(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/104/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 November 2014 on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union(3),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 June 2013 on quantifying harm in actions for damages based on breaches of Article 101 or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union(4),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 4 February 2011 entitled ‘Public consultation: Towards a Coherent European Approach to Collective Redress’ (SEC(2011)0173),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 June 2013 entitled ‘Towards a European Horizontal Framework for Collective Redress’ (COM(2013)0401),

–  having regard to Commission recommendation 2013/396/EU of 11 June 2013 on common principles for injunctive and compensatory collective redress mechanisms in the Member States concerning violations of rights granted under Union Law(5),

–  having regard to the study published in June 2012 by the Policy Department of the Directorate-General for Internal Policies, entitled ‘Collective redress in Antitrust’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 11 June 2013 published pursuant to Article 27(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 in Case AT.39740 – Google(6),

–  having regard to the commitments offered to the Commission pursuant to Article 9 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 in Case COMP/39.398 – Visa MIF,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 139/2004 of 20 January 2004 on the control of concentrations between undertakings (the EC Merger Regulation)(7),

–  having regard to the Commission consultation of 27 March 2013 on EU merger control – draft revision of simplified procedure and merger implementing regulation,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 October 2008 on the application of State aid rules to measures taken in relation to financial institutions in the context of the current global financial crisis(8) (the Banking Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 5 December 2008 entitled ‘The recapitalisation of financial institutions in the current financial crisis: limitation of aid to the minimum necessary and safeguards against undue distortions of competition’(9) (the Recapitalisation Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 February 2009 on the treatment of impaired assets in the Community banking sector(10) (the Impaired Assets Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 July 2009 on the return to viability and the assessment of restructuring measures in the financial sector in the current crisis under the State aid rules(11) (the Restructuring Communication),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 17 December 2008 on a temporary Community framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis(12) (the original Temporary Framework),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 1 December 2010 entitled ‘Temporary Union framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis’(13) (the new Temporary Framework replacing the one which ended on 31 December 2010),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on the application, from 1 August 2013, of State aid rules to support measures in favour of banks in the context of the financial crisis (‘Banking Communication’)(14),

–  having regard to the issues paper from the Commission for the attention of the EFC on the revision of the State aid guidelines for the restructuring of banks,

–  having regard to the study of June 2011 by the Policy Department of the Directorate-General for Internal Policies, entitled ‘State aid – Crisis rules for the financial sector and the real economy’,

–  having regard to the Commission communication on the application of the European Union State aid rules to compensation granted for the provision of services of general economic interest(15),

–  having regard to Commission Decision 2012/21/EU of 20 December 2011 on the application of Article 106(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to State aid in the form of public service compensation granted to certain undertakings entrusted with the operation of services of general economic interest(16),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘European Union framework for State aid in the form of public service compensation (2011)’(17),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EU) No 360/2012 of 25 April 2012 on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid granted to undertakings providing services of general economic interest(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2011 on reform of the EU State aid rules on Services of General Economic Interest(19),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 February 2012 entitled ‘EU State Aid Modernisation (SAM)’ (COM(2012)0209),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2013 on State aid modernisation(20),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 30 July 2012 for a Council regulation amending Council Regulation (EC) No 994/98 of 7 May 1998 on the application of Articles 92 and 93 of the Treaty establishing the European Community to certain categories of horizontal State aid and Regulation (EC) No 1370/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2007 on public passenger transport services by rail and by road (COM(2012)0730),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal of 5 July 2012 for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 659/1999 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 93 of the EC Treaty (COM(2012)0725),

–  having regard to the Commission guidelines on state aid for railway undertakings(21),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 June 2013 on regional policy as a part of wider State support schemes(22),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement of 20 October 2010 on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission(23) (hereinafter ‘the Framework Agreement’), in particular paragraphs 9, 12, 15 and 16 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 22 February 2005 on the Commission’s 23rd Report on Competition Policy – 2003(24), of 4 April 2006 on the Commission Report on Competition Policy 2004(25), of 19 June 2007 on the Report on Competition Policy 2005(26), of 10 March 2009 on the Reports on competition policy 2006 and 2007(27), of 9 March 2010 on the Report on Competition Policy 2008(28), of 20 January 2011 on the Report on Competition Policy 2009(29), of 2 February 2012 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy(30), of 12 June 2013 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy(31) and of 11 December 2013 on the Annual Report on EU Competition Policy(32),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Staff Working Paper of 20 June 2013 entitled ‘Towards more effective merger control’,

–  having regard to the Commission’s White Paper of 9 July 2014 entitled ‘Towards more effective merger control’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2014 on EU cooperation agreements on competition policy enforcement – the way forward(33),

–  having regard to the statement of 6 November 2014 by the Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, on tax state aid investigations,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2014 Digital Scoreboard,

–  having regard to Rules 52 and 132(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A8-0019/2015),

A.  whereas some sectors within the single market remain divided by national borders and artificial barriers, and at the same time worrying practices such as social dumping or the misuse of structural funds raise concerns and should also be addressed within the framework of EU competition policy; whereas competition does not operate in an equally satisfactory manner in all Member States;

B.  whereas competition policy is in itself a means of safeguarding European democracy, in that it prevents the over-concentration of economic and financial power in the hands of a few, which would undermine the ability of Europe’s political authorities to act independently of major industrial and banking groups;

C.  whereas competition policy based on a level playing field in all sectors is a cornerstone of the European social market economy, and an essential tool to ensure the proper functioning of a dynamic, efficient, sustainable and innovative internal market, to drive economic growth and job creation, and to be competitive on the global stage; whereas the economic and financial crisis should therefore not be a pretext to relax the enforcement of competition rules;

D.  whereas each year losses of EUR 181-320 billion – approximately 3 % of EU GDP – accrue owing to the existence of cartels;

E.  whereas the equivalent of EUR 1,6 trillion was granted in State aid to banks in the EU in the period from 2008 up to the end of 2011;

F.  whereas tax evasion, tax fraud and tax havens are costing EU taxpayers an estimated EUR 1 trillion per year in lost revenue, distorting competition in the single market between those companies which pay taxes and those which do not;

G.  whereas European citizens want a high-quality and affordable provision of public services;

H.  whereas the strict application of the principles of competition law is primarily to the benefit of the consumer, whilst lack of competition results in misallocation of resources and lower productivity;

I.  whereas in terms of energy costs the European single market performs worse than the US, with a price dispersion of 31 % compared to 22 % in the US;

J.  whereas the creation of a ‘single market administration passport’ would reduce distortions of competition and the fragmentation of the single market, enhancing the growth potential of the European economy;

K.  whereas the successful development of SMEs under conditions of free competition is one of the most essential preconditions for job creation, sustainable growth, innovation and investment; whereas in many Member States a severe credit crunch is affecting SMEs, which account for 98 % of firms in the EU;

L.  whereas the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital is essential for growth; whereas protectionism can limit domestic industries’ long-term growth prospects;

M.  whereas uncovered cartels’ duration fluctuates between 6 to 14 years from their commencement, affecting the economy with a higher burden on customers and ultimately on consumers;

N.  whereas the EU unitary patent is a step forward for completion of the single market and all Member States should participate in it;

O.  whereas the publication of the so-called ‘LuxLeaks’ documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists points up the need for a thorough and independent investigation of Member States’ tax rulings practices and their compliance with EU state aid control rules; whereas the independence of DG Competition is of the utmost importance for achieving this as well as its other goals in a successful matter;

General remarks

1.  Welcomes the fact that the EU’s economic dimension in the Treaties is established as an ‘open market economy with free competition’; stresses that a reinforced focus on promoting competition is necessary for the achievement of the ambitious objectives for jobs, growth, investment and the global competitiveness of the European economy, as it is sustainable and effective competition that drives investment and end-user benefits and fuels the economy; highlights the essential role of competition policy enforcement in creating a level playing field that fosters innovation, productivity, job creation and investment by all players across the single market and across all business models, including SMEs, in full respect of national diversities; asks the Commission to enforce antitrust, state aid and merger control rules with a view to achieving a well-functioning internal market and social progress;

2.  Takes the view that ensuring a level playing field for companies in the internal market also depends on combating social dumping and on the implementation of European social and environmental law; calls on the Commission to consider the social and labour impacts of its interventions in the field of state aid, especially in those regions with high levels of unemployment, integrating that analysis in its decisions;

3.  Stresses the need to take appropriate competition and tax measures to help European industrial groups and SMEs cope with globalisation;

4.  Calls on the Commission to identify possible imbalances between Member States which could distort competition, as well as their causes and economic impact;

5.  Highlights the fact that competition policy plays a key role in reinforcing the holistic approach to the single market aimed at to addressing Europe’s economic, social and environmental challenges; calls on the Commission effectively to respect the needs of citizens, consumers and SMEs by placing their concerns at the centre of the decision-making process so that the competition policies proposed can provide added value for European citizens;

6.  Reiterates that the Commission should consider reallocation of resources from obsolete or underused budget lines to DG Competition; points out that the Commission must be provided with appropriate staff resources if it is to significantly widen and deepen its investigations into fiscal state aid such as tax rulings and tax avoidance so as to give competition policy a sufficient proactive stance; believes that the Commission must also have proficient legal resources to further identify gaps that we have been made aware of through the revelation of the targeted tax schemes practised by various Member States; recommends, in particular, the reinforcement of DG Competition’s fiscal state aid unit, in light of the LuxLeaks revelations;

7.  Awaits the imminent disclosure of the Commission’s stocktaking exercise following a decade of Regulation (EC) No 1/2003 on the implementation of the rules on competition law, and calls on the Commission to involve Parliament in any initiatives which ensue; calls on the Commission to take appropriate action to align the regulation with the new legal situation, particularly as a result of the adoption of the Directive on Damages Actions;

8.  Reminds the Commission that the independence of national competition authorities should be monitored closely;

9.  Stresses that competition policy instruments must not be misused as a means of implementing tax measures; urges the Commission to state clearly its concerns in the sphere of taxation;

10.  Takes the view that the fundamentals and key guidelines of competition policy should in future be drawn up and adopted in closer cooperation with Parliament in order to strengthen the democratic legitimation of the competition authority;

11.  Welcomes the common approach taken in the process of state aid modernisation, with a view to promoting greater effectiveness in public spending against a background of limited budget margins, especially in the Member States that have been the most severely affected by the crisis;

12.  Recognises that efficient implementation of competition policy requires coherent and consistent judicial interpretation;

13.  Notes that the Commission is relying increasingly on commitment decisions; believes, however, that more transparency on the substance of allegations and the establishment of a higher number of legal precedents are necessary; considers that this applies in particular to cases tackling antitrust issues in new areas, such as markets for digital goods, in which companies might find it difficult to assess whether a certain behaviour constitutes a violation of competition rules;

14.  Believes that in order to ensure greater transparency and mitigate some of the drawbacks of commitment decisions while retaining their main benefits, the full details of the objections addressed by the Commission to defendants should be published;

State aid and Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs)

15.  Notes that SGEIs represent a significant share of total service provision in Member States, and maintains that their more efficient provision (compared to other services) can deliver significant gains; reaffirms the importance of the SGEI designation for universally accessible services that are of vital significance to European citizens, from healthcare to social security to housing provision, while at the same time stressing the Commission’s responsibility to ensure that compensation granted to SGEIs is compatible with EU state aid rules;

16.  Reiterates that EU Structural Funds may not be used in a way that directly or indirectly supports the relocation of services or production to other Member States;

17.  Believes that further investigation should be made into sports clubs (particularly football clubs) which owe millions to the social security authorities without those sums being paid by them or reclaimed by government, as this may constitute de facto state aid;

18.  Stresses the advisability of assessing the cumulative effects of corporate taxation and state aid;

Antitrust and cartels

19.  Calls on the Commission to carefully monitor the implementation of this directive by the Member States and ensure that its provisions are applied uniformly throughout the EU;

20.  Reiterates its concern that the use of fines as the sole sanction available may not be effective enough; calls again for the development of more sophisticated instruments to increase the effectiveness of the penalty system; reiterates its call on the Commission to consider a general review of its 2006 Fining Guidelines, and calls for those guidelines to be integrated into Regulation (EC) No 1/2003; invites the Commission to assess the possibility of complementing cartel fines with individual sanctions such as individual fines and disqualification of directors; calls on the Commission to ensure that companies which break the law do not suffer negative repercussions which go beyond proportionate redress for the offence committed;

21.  Calls on the Commission to create special cross-DG task forces to monitor sectors in which structural features (such as high barriers to entry or high customer switching costs) make antitrust violations more likely;

22.  Calls on the Commission to help put in place an institutional mechanism which would ensure that whenever a national authority takes an antitrust decision there would be an automatic follow-up check, in which the Commission would examine whether similar issues affect different geographic markets throughout Europe where the sanctioned companies are also active;

23.  Supports the ongoing cooperation within the European Competition Network (ECN), which allows EU-wide coherence of public enforcement of competition rules, and encourages its further development;

24.  Calls on the Commission to set clear procedures for timetables and deadlines in order to speed up the investigation process and avoid unjustified extensions; calls for formal rights for all implicated victims and parties in antitrust and cartel cases, with due stress on the principle of the presumption of innocence;

25.  Calls on the Commission to provide a comprehensive legal and economic assessment of antitrust and cartels cases, particularly in fast-moving markets, in order to obtain a clear understanding of market structure and market trends, and to take appropriate measures to protect consumers;

26.  Notes that competition policy should be focused particularly on protecting consumers, improving consumer welfare, fostering innovation and stimulating economic growth;

27.  Calls, in that connection, for details to be provided of the conditions subject to which parent companies that exercise a degree of influence over their subsidiaries can be held severally liable for breaches of antitrust law by the latter even if they themselves were not directly involved;

28.  Reiterates, with regard to repeat offenders, the call for a clear link to be established between the breach of the law which is being investigated and past breaches committed by the undertaking concerned;

29.  Notes that the number of requests for fine reduction on account of inability to pay has increased, particularly from ‘mono-product’ undertakings and SMEs; emphasises the need to revise the guidelines on the setting of fines to take account of the particular circumstances of ‘mono-product’ undertakings and SMEs;

30.  Takes the view that market dominance achieved by means of expansion, innovation and success is not in itself a competition problem; regards the abuse of a dominant market position, conversely, as a serious competition problem; calls on the Commission, therefore, to continue to safeguard the impartiality and objectivity of competition-related proceedings;

31.  Calls on the Commission to address with determination all the matters brought to light in current anti-trust law investigations and to take any measures required to put an end to damaging practices and restore fair competition;

Merger control

32.  Agrees that effective merger control is an important instrument for competition enforcement since it contributes to the maintenance of competitive pressure on market participants;

33.  Calls on the Commission to be attentive to those cases where just after a merger is cleared, consumer prices rise or there is a relevant reduction of a product’s quality;

34.  Welcomes the Commission’s ‘merger simplification’ proposal of 5 December 2013 and the proposals set out in its latest White Paper(34), but calls for much clearer definitions to be drawn up of the concepts of market share, market power and definition;

35.  Emphasises the need for a review to determine whether current merger control practice takes account of the internationalisation of markets, in particular as regards the geographical definition of markets; considers that the Commission should take account of the findings of such a review when overhauling the rules on merger control;

36.  Calls on the Commission to check carefully whether there are in fact loopholes in its powers to scrutinise non-controlling minority shareholdings;

Sector developments

Energy and environment

37.  Stresses the importance of affordability, sustainability and security of energy supply for the European economy and its competitiveness; considers that competition policy must take this threefold objective into account when addressing the current fragmentation of the market, when ensuing correct and timely implementation of the third liberalisation package for gas and electricity, when encouraging the unbundling of wholesale from retail services in order to prevent anti-competitive practices, and when contributing to the provision of affordable energy for households and undertakings; acknowledges that the Commission’s new ‘Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy’ could restrict some Member States’ attempts to promote renewable energy; stresses that the regulation of state aid for sustainable energy sources must, to the greatest extent possible, be carried out in the same spirit as in any other sector, while taking into consideration the EU’s 2030 targets for climate and energy as well as national diversities;

38.  Stresses the importance of avoiding monopolistic practices in order to achieve a fully fair and competitive European energy market; calls, in this regard, for the elimination of monopolistic suppliers and discriminatory practices affecting users; considers that the European gas market should evolve towards an Energy Union with fair and stable prices by improving the diversification of its energy sources and enhancing access to strategic infrastructures;

39.  Calls on the Commission to undertake investigations and take the necessary steps to ensure that existing electricity interconnectors are made fully available for the power market by the transmission system operators (TSOs), in order to enhance the functioning of the internal electricity market and to support the fulfilment of the EU’s 2030 targets for climate and energy at the lowest possible socio-economic cost at Union level;

40.  Urges the Commission to provide for reporting of fossil fuel reserves and potential CO2 emissions on the part of listed companies and those applying for listing within the single market, as well as to carry out correct and reliable environmental reporting by aggregate and to publish the levels of reserves and emissions using appropriate accounting guidelines, as this is essential for ensuring a level playing field in the sustainable investment market;

41.  Calls on the Commission to examine the extent to which the concentration of critical raw materials suppliers may create an uneven playing field and be harmful to the activity of client sectors and unfavourable to a more eco-efficient economy; considers that some of these materials are of paramount importance for the deployment of eco-efficient technologies and innovations needed to achieve environmental goals;

42.  Reiterates that competition policy should contribute to promoting transparency, open standards and interoperability in order to prevent technological lock-in of consumers and clients by any of the market players in the energy sector; urges the Commission to closely monitor the level of competition, since the three largest players still represent about 75 % in the electricity market and above 60 % in the gas market, despite the gradual opening of markets since the mid-1990s; calls on the Commission to ensure proper competition in the energy market in order to improve state support for innovation and access to renewable energy sources;

43.  Asks the Commission to ensure that energy regulations and directives are transposed and applied correctly in all Member States; calls on the Commission to be particularly vigilant when prices rise above the EU average, as high prices distort competition and harm consumers;

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) and media

44.  Believes that the Digital Single Market must be kept at the heart of the EU’s efforts to achieve results in the objectives of job creation, growth and investment; recognises the role of competition policy in the pursuit of a Digital Single Market; believes that the EU's legislative framework needs to adjust rapidly to market developments; calls on the Commission to review existing competition law instruments in order to determine whether they meet the demands of the digital age; believes that the priorities set out in the report ‘Priorities towards a Digital Single Market in the Baltic Sea Region’ could become ambitions for the entire EU;

45.  Welcomes the announcement by the Commissioner for Competition of further investigations by the Commission into Google's practices in the mobile sector and in the digital market in general; regrets that, despite four years of investigation and three sets of commitment proposals, the Commission has achieved no demonstrable results in addressing the main competition concern in its antitrust case against Google, i.e. the preferential treatment by Google of its own services in displaying results of search queries; stresses the need for the Commission to urgently resolve the Google case in order to ensure a level playing field if its Digital Agenda strategy is to remain credible; urges the Commission to act decisively on all concerns that have been identified, to take strong measures based on the non-discrimination principle against competition infringements in fast-moving and dynamic digital markets such as the online search and advertising markets, and to find a long-term solution for a balanced, fair and open internet search structure;

46.  Asks the Commission to focus on mobilising competition policy tools and market expertise so that they contribute, as appropriate, to the jobs and growth agenda, including in the area of the digital single market; in this context, finds it important to keep developing an economic and a legal approach to the assessment of competition issues, and to further develop market monitoring in support of the broader activities of the Commission;

47.  Underlines that, in the next-generation broadband sector, the former monopolies have a staggering market share of over 80 %; recalls that effective competition is the best driver of efficient investment and provides maximum consumer benefit in terms of choice, price and quality; calls on the Commission, therefore, to enforce properly both ex post and ex ante competition rules in order to prevent excessive market concentration and abuse of dominance, as competitive pressure is key to ensuring that consumers can benefit the most from high-quality services at affordable prices;

48.  Stresses that limiting competition is unlikely to lead to more broadband investment, even in remote areas, as full coverage of basic broadband services has been achieved in Europe through a regulatory framework ensuring access to dominant operators’ networks;

49.  Believes that investment in next-generation broadband infrastructure is clearly core to achieving a digital economy and society, but that in order to maximise investments, telecoms policies should enable all players to make efficient investments by providing them with effective access to non-duplicable network assets and fit-for-purpose wholesale access products;

50.  Calls on the Commission to base its decisions and policy proposals on a thorough and impartial analysis of correct, relevant and independent datasets; highlights, in particular, doubts about the correctness of data presented on the EU’s under-performance in high- speed broadband including speeds received by end-users, infrastructure investments and the financial state of the sector in a global comparison;

51.  Recalls that net neutrality is of the utmost importance to ensure that there is no discrimination between internet services and competition is fully guaranteed;

52.  Stresses that tackling the fragmentation of the digital single market, including by investigating the nature of existing barriers to key sectors of that market, guaranteeing an open internet and enshrining net neutrality in EU law, so as to ensure that all internet traffic is treated equally, without discrimination, restriction or interference, are essential to foster competition and boost growth and competitiveness and consumer trust in the digital sector; is of the opinion that open standards and interoperability contribute to fair competition; highlights the need for competition policy to be future-proof and take into account new ways of selling online;

53.  Stresses that efforts to foster free and fair competition, including through the development of the digital single market, as well as other aspects of the services sector, should work in the interests of consumers and SMEs; reiterates that such efforts will enhance choice for consumers and develop an environment in which SMEs and micro-enterprises can display greater innovation and creativity; believes that swift action by regulators and enforcement authorities against misleading and unfair practices is essential in the implementation of competition policy;

Sharing economy

54.  Calls for the Commission to analyse how to accommodate the rise of the sharing economy in the European legislation; believes that such an adaptation is necessary in order to have a level playing field that ensures fair competition among all actors involved;

55.  Believes that companies related to the so-called sharing economy must pay taxes and comply with regulations in the same way as traditional businesses, as to do otherwise would not only constitute a distortion in competition but would also have negative fiscal consequences for the finances of Member States;

56.  Stresses that effective scrutiny of the behaviour of dominant firms and quick reaction in case of abuses are particularly important since illegal practices may cause the early exit from the market of small and innovative competitors;

57.  Notes that lack of regulation in the sharing economy gives some companies an unfair advantage, while at the same time decreasing incentives to investment in the sectors concerned;

Public procurement

58.  Calls on the Member States to implement the new EU public procurement rules in a timely manner, including the provisions on criteria linked to the subject-matter of the contract, including social, environmental and innovative characteristics, and on e-administration, e-procurement and division into lots, in order to boost fair competition and ensure best value for money for public authorities; urges the Commission to ensure their application to the fullest possible extent in order to tackle distortions of competition caused by bid rigging, abuses of dominant position, discrimination and lack of access for SMEs; calls on the Commission to set its action within a global framework by linking the Union’s competition policy within Europe to advocacy for the opening of public procurement markets outside the EU;

59.  Stresses the importance of detailed and clear guidance to businesses, particularly SMEs, and public authorities from the Commission to facilitate their understanding of the recently adopted public procurement legislation and, particularly, the new flexibilities it offers;

60.  Calls on the Commission to carefully monitor the centralisation of purchases in public procurement markets in order to avoid excessive concentration of purchasing power and collusion, and to preserve market access opportunities for SMEs in accordance with the Small Business Act for Europe;

61.  Calls on the Commission, when conducting public procurement procedures through its Directorates-General and agencies, to award more low-value contracts and contracts above EUR 193 000, rather than almost exclusively using framework contracts, which constitute a barrier to opening the public procurement market to European SMEs as they only benefit large companies and consortia located close to the decision-making centres;

Financial services

62.  Calls for the fourth consecutive time for a swift end to the state aid crisis regime for the banking sector; recognises that the Commission’s Banking Communication of August 2013 is not sufficient to protect European taxpayers and limit the amount of aid that banks may receive; emphasises that state aid to the banking system has neither increased credit nor restored confidence; urges the Commission to maintain a close watch on the banking sector in order to enhance competition in European banking markets, thereby maximising the benefits to Union citizens; stresses the importance of returning to the conventional application of state aid control as soon as this is viable for the banking sector;

63.  Highlights the contribution of cartel enforcement to a more transparent financial services sector;

64.  Considers it regrettable that no action was taken by the Commission to address the abuses committed in the restructuring of private banks, including those affecting small depositors and small owners of financial instruments such as preferred shares, which in many cases had been marketed without full compliance with EU legislation;

65.  Calls on the Commission to closely monitor the financial sector in order to enhance competition and investor and consumer protection in the European banking and investment market; notes that consolidation in the banking sector has increased the market share of several financial institutions so that it now exceeds pre-crisis levels, and that the financial investment industry has grown simultaneously without any gain for the real economy in the Union; believes that to maintain a fully functioning single market there must be a level playing field for actors in the financial industry and measures must be taken to avoid decreased transparency and the development of cartel-like constructions;

66.  Acknowledges the important role played by state aid control since the beginning of the crisis as a restructuring and resolution mechanism for distressed banks;

67.  Believes that state aid control during the crisis should focus both on stabilising the banking system and on tackling unfair segmentation of the credit conditions and discrimination affecting SMEs in the single market;

68.  Believes that the Commission should consider the possibility for state aid to banks to be linked to conditionality on credit to SMEs;

69.  Believes that banking regulations should take into account the fact that small institutions have less resources for ensuring compliance, and should therefore be as simple as possible in order to avoid creating distortions in favour of big banks;

70.  Urges the Commission to closely monitor those markets in the banking sector where concentration is high or growing, in particular as a result of restructuring in response to the crisis; recalls that oligopolistic markets are particularly prone to anti-competitive practices; fears that this concentration may ultimately harm consumers;

71.  Urges the Commission to make sure that before receiving any state aid banks sell their stakes in other companies, thereby reducing the burden for the taxpayer;

72.  Considers that special attention must be paid to the fragmentation of the electronic card payments market, including problems such as loss of service when consumers move to another Member State;

73.  Welcomes the CJEU ruling of 11 September 2014 on anti-competitive credit card fees, as well as the successful actions undertaken by the Commission to ensure that standardisation processes in the payments sector do not affect market entry and innovation; reiterates Parliament’s position that card payment fee caps should be introduced in order to reduce unnecessary costs for consumers; asks the Commission, in this context, to accelerate the process of mapping standardisation work for mobile payments, while ensuring that any action taken does not exclude new entrants or favour dominant players, and that the regulatory framework is technologically neutral in order to facilitate future technological developments;

74.  Believes that the externalities of developments in this sector should be carefully monitored; expresses its concern at the development of different standards among equal competitors as a consequence of the standardisation of financial regulations;

75.  Notes the considerable progress that has been made since 2008 in regulating the financial sector; stresses the need to further address the problem of financial institutions which are too big to fail and as a result continue to benefit from implicit subsidies; believes that a comprehensive analysis of the competitive aspects of new EU financial regulation should be included in the upcoming ECON report on the impact assessment and stocktaking of the financial services legislation, with a view to ensuring that EU banks are competitive with international financial institutions in all circumstances;

Fiscal state aid

76.  Expresses its concern over possible illegal corporate tax practices in Member States, and calls on the Commission to conclude its ongoing investigations into tax rulings as speedily as possible using all available evidence; calls for investigations into tax cuts, which may constitute a form of illegal state aid to be given priority; stresses that fairer tax competition is indispensable for the integrity of the internal market, the viability of public finances and equal competition conditions;

77.  Highlights the publication of the so-called ‘LuxLeaks’ documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; welcomes the commitment of the Commissioner for Competition to a thorough and independent investigation of Member States' tax rulings practices and their compliance with EU competition law; notes that the avoidance of taxes by some enterprises distorts competition in the single market; encourages the Commission to vigilantly enforce EU state aid control rules;

78.  Calls on the Commission President to ensure the independence of the ongoing and future investigations of Member States' tax ruling practices led by the Commissioner for Competition; insists that Parliament be kept informed of the broad progress of these investigations, with a view to ensuring that they are conducted in a transparent and independent manner; calls on the Commission to present a report on its findings as soon as possible; recalls the commitment made by the Commissioner for Competition to consider the wider implications for competition of aggressive tax avoidance practices undertaken by companies and encouraged by states and to extend the investigation should this be deemed necessary once the facts have been collected;

Agri-food industry

79.  Calls on the Commission, in its upcoming review of the CAP reform, to investigate cofinancing for transferred funds, calls for a simplification of EFA measures that focus on competitiveness, and for a competition-neutral review of EFA factors for catch crops and nitrogen-fixing crops;

80.  Calls on the Commission, following its recent review of the economic impact of modern retail on choice and innovation in the EU food sector, to consider the potential impact of large supermarkets dominating the market to such an extent that their collective buying power distorts competition among supply chains, in both Europe and the developing world;

Pharmaceutical and health services sector

81.  Notes that this sector is fragmented owing to national regulation; welcomes the contribution of EU competition policy in tackling artificial barriers to entry;

82.  Calls for special consideration to be given to innovative medicinal products and medical procedures when cases involving temporary price formation are assessed;

83.  Notes that competition policy may play a role in improving access to generic pharmaceuticals;

Transport and postal services

84.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure a level playing field which allows free but also fair competition in all transport modes; acknowledges, however, in that connection, that proper account must also be taken of a multitude of specific national transport law provisions; stresses that transport infrastructure is essential to the survival and wellbeing of natural and legal persons, especially in sparsely populated regions and peripheral islands;

85.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase their efforts to guarantee fair competition and better quality of services in the railway sector, as well as in the management of port and airport networks, particularly where their management is a central government monopoly; stresses that competition does not necessarily entail privatisation of the existing services; also calls on the Commission to ensure that carriers do not abuse their dominant position in certain airports;

86.  Believes that the Commission should further strengthen the links between competition policy and transport policy in order to improve the competitiveness of the European transport sector and continue to make progress towards completing the single market in transport;

87.  Urges the Commission to complete the implementation of the Single European Railway Area, ensure full transparency in flows of money between infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, and verify that each Member State has a strong and independent national regulator;

88.  Stresses that the single market in the rail freight sector is affected by incorrect or incomplete transposition of EU law by Member States and by bottlenecks to cross-border mobility that harm competition and growth; calls on the Commission to verify whether technical or market barriers that differ from one Member State to another, such as track gauges, energy supply and signalling systems, can be considered infringements of competition rules;

89.  Invites the Commission to provide a justified overview to ascertain which air carriers benefit from advantages over other service providers through special conditions or alleged abuses of their dominant position in certain airports;

90.  Expresses its concern at differing implementation and enforcement by Member States of regulations related to international road transport, e.g. the regulation of cabotage and resting times in road transport, as well as at potential social dumping practices within transport services in a broader sense, and believes that these problems must be addressed;

91.  Welcomes the initiative of the Commission directed at international car rental companies aimed at ending practices preventing consumers from accessing best available prices on the basis of their country of residence; stresses that consumers should not be prevented from making use of the best available rate when purchasing goods or services within the single market;

92.  Calls on the Commission to take action to reduce fragmentation in the car rental sector, as currently national regulations greatly increase the costs for trans-border movements, thus damaging the single market;

93.  Stresses that efforts to encourage a competitive EU must at all times work in the interests of the public; recognises the link between an effective EU competition policy and the need for large-scale investment in vital public services, including transport services;

Culture and sport

94.  Urges the Commission to look into the restrictive and abusive practices of international sport federations, such as denying their members the right to take part in alternative sport events that are not sanctioned by the respective federations and imposing life bans on athletes, officials and coaches on participation in competitions such as the Olympic Games and world championships in case of non-compliance;

International dimension

95.  Calls for the inclusion of a competition chapter, to include provisions covering antitrust, mergers, state-owned enterprises, subsidies and unequal market access, within the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement; calls for neutral media coverage of the measures contained in and problems and progress concerning such agreements;

96.  Recognises and supports the need of the Commission to reinforce the role of competition policy in international economic cooperation, including through cooperation with competition agencies globally; recalls that such regulatory and enforcement-linked cooperation helps ensure a level playing field for European companies active on global markets;

97.  Emphasises that international cooperation is essential to the effective application of competition law principles in the era of globalisation; calls on the Commission, therefore, to foster closer international cooperation on competition-related issues;

98.  Calls on the Commission to examine the scope for concluding competition agreements with more third countries that facilitate exchanges of information between investigating authorities; emphasises that in this regard the competition agreement recently concluded with Switzerland can serve as a model for future agreements of this kind;

Role of the European Parliament

99.  Highlights the provision made in the Framework Agreement for equal treatment of Parliament and the Council regarding access to meetings and the provision of information in the preparation of legislation or soft law in the field of competition policy;

100.  Highlights the essential role of the European Parliament in representing the interests of European consumers in the proper enforcement of competition rules;

101.  Welcomes Parliament’s role as co-legislator for the Directive on Antitrust Damages Actions, and considers the proceedings on this directive to be an example for future institutional collaboration in competition matters;

102.  Reiterates that in shaping competition policy the Commission must be fully accountable and must follow up Parliament’s resolutions;

103.  Calls on the Commissioner to commit to frequent meetings with the relevant committee(s) of Parliament, as well as with the Competition Working Group of Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs;

104.  Considers that the EP should have codecision powers in competition policy; regrets that Articles 103 and 109 TFEU provide only for the consultation of Parliament; believes that this democratic deficit cannot be tolerated; proposes that this deficit be overcome as soon as possible through interinstitutional arrangements in the field of competition policy and corrected in the next Treaty change;

Competition policy priorities of the Commission

105.  Emphasises the role of the Commissioner for Competition in promoting jobs and growth, as well as the digital single market, energy policy, financial services, industrial policy and the fight against tax evasion;

106.  Urges the Commission to develop guidelines and procedures within the framework of the ECN, ensuring efficient oversight of the compliance of Member States’ tax rulings with state aid rules;

107.  Welcomes the Commission’s commitment to an effective enforcement of competition rules in the areas of antitrust and cartels, mergers and state aid, maintaining competition instruments aligned with market developments while also promoting an innovative competition culture, both in the EU and globally;

108.  Calls on the Commission to assess its handling of recent antitrust cases and address the formalistic concerns which have been raised;

109.  Calls on the Commission to draw up coordinated proposals on tax competition and to submit them to the Council;

110.  Calls on the Commission to continue reporting to Parliament, on an annual basis, on developments and effects in the application of competition policy;

111.  Welcomes the commitments made by the Commissioner during her hearing, in particular as regards future cooperation and strengthening of relations with Parliament;

112.  Calls on the Commission to do more to promote an active competition policy as a pillar of the social market economy;

113.  Takes the view that a scoreboard in the form of a casebook should be made available promptly to consumers and undertakings;

114.  Notes the continuing lack of clarity in many Member States over whether funding for European Consumer Centres is regarded as illegal state aid; is concerned that funding for such centres is being jeopardised as a result; calls on the Commission to inform the Member States as soon as possible about the need to provide notification of such funding in order to guarantee the continued support operations of the European Consumer Centres;

115.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the authorities at all political levels undertake to comply to the letter with the rules on state aid;

116.  Calls for a joint body, bringing together representatives of Parliament, the Council and the Commission and academics, to be set up to analyse long-term trends in and the future development of competition policy in future-oriented sectors such as the digital economy or the energy sector;

117.  Calls for an uncompromising analysis of what constitutes responsible national tax policy, in particular as regards unfair tax policies and tax arrangements and exemptions which distort competition, so that effective action can be taken against such practices in the future;

o
o   o

118.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the national competition authorities.

(1) OJ L 1, 4.1.2003, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 61, 5.3.2009, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 349, 5.12.2014, p. 1.
(4) OJ C 167, 13.6.2013, p. 19.
(5) OJ L 201, 26.7.2013, p. 60.
(6) OJ C 120, 26.4.2013, p. 22.
(7) OJ L 24, 29.1.2004, p. 1.
(8) OJ C 270, 25.10.2008, p. 8.
(9) OJ C 10, 15.1.2009, p. 2.
(10) OJ C 72, 26.3.2009, p. 1.
(11) OJ C 195, 19.8.2009, p. 9.
(12) OJ C 16, 22.1.2009, p. 1.
(13) OJ C 6, 11.1.2011, p. 5.
(14) OJ C 216, 30.7.2013, p. 1.
(15) OJ C 8, 11.1.2012, p. 4.
(16) OJ L 7, 11.1.2012, p. 3.
(17) OJ C 8, 11.1.2012, p. 15.
(18) OJ L 114, 26.4.2012, p. 8.
(19) OJ C 153 E, 31.5.2013, p. 51.
(20) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0026.
(21) OJ C 184, 22.7.2008, p. 13.
(22) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0267.
(23) OJ L 304, 20.11.2010, p. 47.
(24) OJ C 304 E, 1.12.2005, p. 114.
(25) OJ C 293 E, 2.12.2006, p. 143.
(26) OJ C 146 E, 12.6.2008, p. 105.
(27) OJ C 87 E, 1.4.2010, p. 43.
(28) OJ C 349 E, 22.12.2010, p. 16.
(29) OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 60.
(30) OJ C 239 E, 20.8.2013, p. 97.
(31) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0268.
(32) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0576.
(33) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0079.
(34) COM(2014)0449, 9 July 2014.


European Central Bank annual report for 2013
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European Parliament resolution of 10 March 2015 on the European Central Bank Annual Report for 2013 (2014/2157(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0052A8-0011/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the 2013 Annual Report of the European Central Bank,

–   having regard to the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the European Central Bank, in particular Article 15 thereof,

–  having regard to Article 284(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rules 126 and 132(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0011/2015),

A.  whereas, according to the Commission services’ spring 2014 forecast, GDP in the euro area fell by 0,4 % in 2013 after a decline of 0,7 % in 2012, and whereas the Commission services expect a recovery, with GDP rising by 1,2 % in 2014 and by 1,7 % in 2015; whereas the Commission services‘ autumn 2014 forecast revised growth projections downward, with GDP expected to have risen by only 0,8 % in 2014 and by 1,1 % in 2015, with prevailing downside risks;

B.  whereas, according to the autumn forecast, unemployment in the euro area rose from 11,3 % at the end of 2012 to 11,9 % at the end of 2013, and remains at a high level in 2014;

C.  whereas there are major disparities among the unemployment rates in different Member States, with figures varying between 5 % and 26 %; whereas the even higher youth unemployment rates are as much as some 50 % in some Member States; whereas the differences in unemployment rates are causing further economic divergence among Member States;

D.  whereas the success of the announcement of the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme in lowering borrowing interest rates should not be used by Member States as an opportunity to avoid structural reforms aimed at enhancing growth potential and achieving fiscal sustainability in the medium term; whereas trends in respect of employment and poverty reduction are at risk of failing to reach the Europe 2020 national targets;

E.  whereas in 2013 the European Central Bank (ECB) lowered its key interest rates in May and again in November, reducing the rate on the main refinancing operations to 0,25 %; whereas, further to the additional monetary policy measures announced since the beginning of 2014, the main refinancing rate now stands at 0,05 % and the deposit facility rate at -0,20 %;

F.  whereas lowered real interest rates have not been translating into either increased credit for households and businesses or GDP growth and job creation;

G.  whereas the consolidated financial statement of the Eurosystem reached EUR 2,285 trillion at the end of 2013, representing a decrease of approximately 25 % over the course of 2013;

H.  whereas non-marketable assets represented the largest component of assets put forward as collateral to the Eurosystem in the course of 2013, amounting to around 25 % of the total; whereas non-marketable securities together with asset-backed securities represent around 40 % of the total assets put forward as collateral;

I.  whereas, according to the Commission services’ autumn 2014 forecast, the average inflation rate in the euro area was 1,4 % in 2013, down from 2,5 % in 2012; whereas inflation in the euro area has remained on a downward path since the beginning of 2014, with an estimated level of 0,5 % in 2014 and reaching a low of 0,3 % in September; whereas the overall Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) inflation rate in some Member States fell to 0 % and below in September 2014 and will stay below target in 2015;

J.  whereas low energy prices, particularly for oil, have been among the main contributors to the decrease in inflation rates in the euro area;

K.  whereas the level of public and private investment in the euro area has been stagnating at levels significantly below those recorded before the start of the crisis; whereas it has been common for large companies to use the environment of cheap money to undertake self-serving buybacks instead of new investments; whereas the relative share of investment as a proportion of GDP was declining steadily even before the crisis and needed to be boosted as a matter of urgency;

L.  whereas the annual growth rate of M3 has continued to slow down, from 3,5 % in December 2012 to 1 % in December 2013;

M.  whereas credit to the private sector has moved further into negative territory, with an annual rate of change of -2,3 % in December 2013, compared with -0,7 % in December 2012; whereas the lack of credit affecting SMEs in some Member States is one of the main problems delaying the economic recovery; whereas there was a drop in lending to SMEs of around 35 % between 2008 and 2013; whereas it is essential to facilitate the flow of credit to SMEs, as they employ 72 % of the euro area’s labour force and have higher gross job creation rates than large companies;

N.  whereas financial fragmentation is still a major problem, with SMEs facing much higher borrowing costs, in particular in euro area countries already affected by severe economic conditions, and this is creating distortions in the single market, slowing the recovery and amplifying the divergences between countries; whereas the results of the comprehensive assessment of European banks should have a positive impact on current monetary policies and on banks’ willingness to increase their lending activities, particularly to the real economy;

O.  whereas the size of the Eurosystem’s balance sheet declined steadily over the course of 2013, reflecting the reimbursement of long-term refinancing operation (LTRO) funds by banks;

P.  whereas the ECB Governing Council decided in July 2013 to provide forward guidance, stating that it expected the key interest rates to remain at prevailing or lower levels for an extended period of time;

Q.  whereas the effects of a possible quantitative easing in the euro area would probably be dampened by excessive credit intermediation in the banking sector;

R.  whereas Article 282 TFEU states that the primary objective of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) is to maintain price stability; whereas Article 127 TFEU states that, without prejudice to this primary objective, the ESCB must support the general economic policies in the Union; whereas Article 123 TFEU and Article 21 of the Statute of the European System of Central Banks and of the ECB prohibit the direct purchase by the national central banks or the ECB of debt instruments issued by EU or national public authorities or bodies; whereas this was a sine qua non for several Member States to enter the economic and monetary union; whereas such purchases are allowed in secondary markets;

Monetary policy

1.  Welcomes the ECB’s swift reaction in the face of a very challenging environment, and the fact that monetary policy has been aimed at reducing the level of stress in financial markets within the euro area, and at restoring investors’ confidence in the single currency; welcomes the ECB’s readiness to do whatever it takes to save the euro; notes the positive general reduction of long-term domestic yields – notably in the most indebted countries of the euro area – to unprecedented levels since the beginning of the crisis; notes that low yields have not resulted in job creation and growth, and that the lack thereof poses threats to financial stability;

2.  Notes that recourse to the main refinancing operations, to medium and long-term refinancing operations with full allotment at fixed rates, to the marginal lending facility, to emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) and to the deposit facility all remained at significantly high levels throughout 2013, signalling ongoing impairment of the monetary transmission mechanism and of the euro area interbank lending market, although the situation improved significantly in comparison with previous years, as evidenced by the stabilisation of spreads, the gradual normalisation of interbank markets and the reduction of Target II imbalances;

3.  Is encouraged by the stabilisation of the levels of Target II imbalances throughout 2013; emphasises that the Target II settlement system has played a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of the euro area financial system;

4.  Remains deeply concerned at the fact that economic activity continues to be sluggish, with the euro area posting negative GDP growth in 2013, for the second year in a row, with GDP growth being weak over the first three quarters of 2014, and with high unemployment rates in many euro area Member States, reaching levels that are threatening the stability of the euro area and undermining popular and political support for the European project;

5.  Stresses its concern regarding the continuous fall in the inflation rate in the euro area since 2011, with inflation differentials between Member States; stresses the significant gap currently observed between the ECB’s explicit target of keeping inflation rates below but close to 2 % in the medium term, and the current inflation rates, which are close to zero or even below zero in several euro area Member States; is worried that, as acknowledged by the ECB President, current deflationary trends could lead to the disanchoring of medium- to longer-term inflation expectations;

6.  Acknowledges that the ongoing process of balance sheet adjustment in the financial and non-financial sectors, combined with high unemployment rates, continued to dampen economic activity in the euro area in 2013;

7.  Is observing possible deflation risks attentively; recalls that an inflation rate of close to zero in the euro area hampers the effectiveness of monetary policy; understands that the ECB considers very low inflation to be the result of short-term effects, and hopes that the medium-term objective will be met without a deflationary phase; notes, however, that inflation forecasts for 2015 and 2016 were revised further downwards (by between 0,1 % and 0,2 %) by the ECB;

8.  Points out that the below-target level of inflation expected for the coming years will have an impact on the debt reduction programmes of several Member States;

9.  Points out that, given the perspective of further accommodative policies such as quantitative easing and having in mind the current legal challenges regarding the OMT programme, it is crucial to ensure legal clarity and certainty in order to allow these instruments to be effectively implemented, bearing in mind the opinion of Advocate General Pedro Cruz Villalón of the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered on 14 January 2015 in Case C-62/14;

10.  Stresses that low borrowing costs for Member States are running hand in hand with rising public debts, close to or beyond 100 % of GDP in many cases, and warns that a new crisis could lead to a reassessment of risk by financial markets;

11.  Points out that the ECB forecasts published in 2013 had not anticipated the present conjunction of flat growth with very low inflation and even deflationary signs; calls, against this background, for the current forecasts of stronger economic growth and higher inflation in 2015 and 2016 to be read with caution;

12.  Believes that poor balance sheets not only affect banks, but also have a negative knock-on effect on businesses and other private-sector actors, given that a lack of capital and finance inhibits a business’s ability to remain competitive, grow and ultimately maintain and create jobs;

13.  Considers it of the utmost importance to create conditions for a rebound in investment in the euro area, both public and private, taking into account that despite the ECB pursuing its actions in order to maintain favourable financing conditions, investment has not yet picked up; calls on Member States, in this context, to work on the underlying causes of the financial fragmentation such as diverging risk structures that make lending more costly in the respective countries; furthermore, asks Member States to put in place appropriate structural reforms in order to restore a favourable business environment, in particular by implementing the country-specific recommendations;

14.  Encourages the ECB to consider in its balance sheet expansion policy the buying of EIB project bonds, which fund some of the more productive investments in the euro area, particularly from those projects chosen by the Commission as having European added value after a cost-benefit analysis, especially TEN-T projects in energy and transport and projects related to the digital single market;

15.  Takes note that President Draghi, in his speech at the annual central bank symposium in Jackson Hole on 22 August 2014, stated that we need action on both sides of the economy, noting the following: that aggregate demand policies have to be accompanied by national structural reforms and policies; that on the demand side, monetary policy can and should play a central role, which currently means an accommodative monetary policy for an extended period of time; that there is scope for fiscal policy to play a greater role alongside monetary policy while sustainability of public debt needs to be taken into account; and that, while a revamp of public investment is needed to trigger further private investment and facilitate structural reforms, emphasis also needs to be laid on adequate fiscal policy measures;

16.  Agrees with President Draghi that the existing flexibility within the Stability and Growth Pact rules could be used to better address the weak recovery and to make room for the cost of needed structural reforms;

17.  Agrees with President Draghi that there is leeway to achieve a more growth-friendly composition of fiscal policies and to lower the tax burden in a budget-neutral way;

18.  Agrees with President Draghi that complementary action at the EU level would also seem to be necessary to ensure both an appropriate aggregate position and a large public investment programme;

19.  Notes that in addition to the lowering of its key interest rates and the increase in its refinancing operations, the ECB has adopted innovative instruments such as targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTROs) and new communicating strategies such as forward guidance;

20.  Considers that the transmission mechanism is not functioning properly, and that the monetary policy tools used by the ECB since the beginning of the crisis, while providing welcome relief in distressed financial markets, cannot on their own be effective in terms of fighting financial fragmentation, stimulating growth or improving the situation on the labour market; encourages the ECB to ensure that its policies are better attuned to the real economy, in particular with regard to SMEs;

21.  Considers that, because the monetary policy transmission mechanism is severely impaired, the benefits of decisions to reduce ECB key interest rates are limited; points out that very low interest rates lead in the long term to distortions in the business sector and might prove detrimental to private savings and pension plans;

22.  Welcomes the measures announced by the ECB in June 2014 aimed at enhancing the functioning of the monetary policy transmission mechanism; notices that the TLTRO introduces, for the first time, a link between loans to the non-financial private sector granted by banks and the amount of refinancing the banks can claim; hopes that the results in the Asset Quality Review (AQR) will enhance the use of the TLTRO by European banks, hence promoting the transfer of liquidity to the real economy;

23.  Notes that the ECB has announced that it will purchase asset-backed securities (ABS) and covered bonds in order to empower the credit-easing impact of the TLTROs; stresses that such interventions on the ABS market should be significant enough to have an effect on lending rates for SMEs and reduce fragmentation, and must be conducted in a transparent manner that does not create excessive risks for the ECB’s balance sheet;

24.  Stresses its concern regarding the considerable fragmentation of lending conditions for SMEs across the euro area countries, as well as the existing gap between financing rates granted to SMEs and those granted to bigger companies; insists that these long-standing problems are not appropriately addressed by the recent measures announced by the ECB to boost bank lending, and that the ECB should study the underlying factors hindering SMEs’ access to credit; calls on the ECB to investigate whether this gap has any correlation with concentration in the banking sector;

25.  Stresses that, with the measures announced in June and September 2014, the ECB balance sheet is expected to return towards the size it had at the beginning of 2012; notes that this projected increase calls for strong vigilance by the ECB with respect to the credit risks it ultimately bears;

26.  Is of the opinion that the overall amount of implicit subsidies provided so far should be gradually recovered for the benefit of taxpayers once normal economic conditions return;

27.  Notes that the ECB has repeatedly stated its readiness to use additional unconventional instruments within its mandate, and to alter the size or composition of its interventions, in the event of an excessively lengthy period of low inflation; remains open to the use of additional unconventional measures, but underlines that these measures will not be sufficient without the right mix of fiscal policy, investment and structural reforms;

28.  Stresses that the impact on the real economy of the unconventional monetary policy measures currently in place should not be overestimated; stresses that these measures are transitory in nature and aim at giving Member States time to consolidate their fiscal situation and implement the necessary structural reforms in order to stimulate economic growth and improvements in the labour market;

29.  Notes that conducting non-standard monetary policies for an extended period of time might exacerbate the distortions on the capital market; asks the ECB to strike the right balance between the risk of exiting its accommodative monetary policy prematurely and the risks and costs resulting from the distortions that such policies might carry; asks the ECB, therefore, to calibrate non-standard policies so as to limit such distortions;

30.  Recalls that monetary policy alone cannot stimulate aggregate demand unless it is complemented by adequate fiscal and structural reforms and policies at national level;

31.  Stresses, as is illustrated by the experience of the years prior to the crisis, that stable inflation rates, in line with the medium-term rate objective defined by the ECB, might be associated with unsustainable private debt dynamics, underlining the importance of managing asset bubbles and the growth of credit even when price stability is guaranteed;

32.  Recalls that the independence of the ECB in the conduct of its monetary policy, as enshrined in the Treaties, is indispensable to the objective of safeguarding price stability, i.e. keeping inflation close to but below 2 %; recalls that all governments and national public authorities should also refrain from asking the ECB to take actions;

33.  Recalls that all members of the ECB’s General Council are committed to the decisions taken, which remain confidential unless it has been decided to make them public;

34.  Calls on the ECB to take a step backwards in its role inside the Troika, in order to reinforce its independence from political decisions;

35.  Recalls that Article 127 TFEU states that the ECB, without prejudice to its primary objective, shall support the general economic policies in the Union, as further stated in Article 282 TFEU; underlines in this respect the importance of the monetary dialogue;

36.  Stresses that a clear separation between monetary and fiscal policy implies that the monetary authority should not provide subsidies to institutions benefiting from liquidity provision, as such subsidy provision amounts to fiscal policy;

37.  Deplores the fact that the ECB has exceeded its Treaty-based mandate, as illustrated in the letters sent by the former ECB President to the Spanish, Italian and Irish governments;

38.  Welcomes the step forward taken by the ECB in deciding to publish the summary minutes of its meetings, and welcomes the beginning of this practice in January 2015; welcomes the fact that this demand, made by Parliament in all its annual ECB reports, has been acted on by the ECB’s Governing Council;

39.  Believes that central banks worldwide should work actively to avoid any policy that would generate negative spillovers on to others; notes that some central banks call on other central banks to take on board potential negative spillovers of monetary policies long after they have unilaterally implemented their own policies;

40.  Believes that the recent information that has come to light underlines the importance of a prudent use of ELA in the future; stresses that it cannot be accepted again that a Member State’s banking sector indebts itself for a substantial percentage of its GDP in this way;

41.  Encourages the ECB to keep improving its gender policy in its appointments in order to eliminate the current gap; welcomes the appointment of Danièle Nouy to head the supervision of the European Banking sector, particularly in view of her high merits and strong CV;

42.  Believes that a greater focus on growth and public investment (such as the EUR 300 billion investment package proposed by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker) would serve to complement the ECB’s policy efforts to increase employment and growth in Europe;

Financial stability

43.  Welcomes the fact that the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), the first pillar of the Banking Union, became fully operational on 4 November 2014; notes that this major step in European financial integration was achieved thanks to the successful completion of the preparatory work, including the AQR; thanks the ECB for using its credibility to support the European Banking System; stresses that the supervisory and monetary policy functions of the ECB must not be mixed;

44.  Notes that the AQR and the stress test conducted by the European Banking Authority (EBA) in cooperation with the SSM have revealed continuing fragilities in the European Banking System; hopes that the results have adequately taken into account all risks, in order to avoid the ‘Japanification’ of European banking and the evergreening of loans impossible to repay;

45.  Considers that the ECB has a major responsibility in ensuring that future bank recapitalisations will be carried out through the bail-in scheme when access to markets is difficult or impossible;

46.  Calls the ECB to ensure in its daily practices that there is a complete ring-fencing between monetary policy and its role as banking supervisor;

47.  Emphasises that the SSM aims at ensuring confidence in the euro area banking sector, and thus financial stability; recalls that the democratic accountability of the new SSM before the European Parliament is crucial for ensuring the credibility of the new supervisory regime; stresses, therefore, the importance of the November 2013 interinstitutional agreement between Parliament and the ECB on the practical modalities of the exercise of democratic accountability over the SSM, and of its full implementation;

48.  Supports the idea that in order to make bail-in more credible and effective, the European legislation should advance towards separating the more risky investment activities from traditional banking;

49.  Is of the opinion that the latest stress tests deliver a clear-cut illustration of the limits of the current interinstitutional setting, since a scenario of deflation was not contemplated in those tests even though such deflation risks are far from being anecdotal;

50.  Notes that, despite relatively low profitability, euro area banks have steadily continued to strengthen their capital positions through a combination of capital increases and reductions in risk-weighted assets and also public support; acknowledges that in several cases capital increases were effected in the context of financial assistance programmes from the Member States;

51.  Is concerned at the continuing dependence on central bank funding in many banks of the euro area; considers it essential to create a well-regulated Capital Market Union in order to reduce the excessive dependence of the economies of the euro zone on the banking system;

52.  Points out that consolidation of good governance in banks enhances confidence in the banking sector, thereby also contributing to financial stability;

53.  Points out that activity on government securities continues to be a major source of profit for banks of the euro area, even though credit to the non-financial private sector remains sluggish; considers that technical and legislative work on risks linked to sovereign debt should be accelerated; calls on the ECB to warn those banks that keep increasing their holdings of government bonds while decreasing credit to the private sector;

54.  Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal on banking structural reform; notes that similar reforms have already been introduced in several Member States; invites the ECB to collaborate with the other relevant institutions with a view to sustainable structural reform at European level that will end subsidies to trading activities of large financial institutions and will level the playing field for financial services;

55.  Recalls that the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM), the second pillar of the Banking Union, will come into force by the beginning of 2015; stresses the need to continue developing the third pillar of the Banking Union;

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56.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European Central Bank.

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