Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 - Strasbourg
Arrangement with the Swiss Confederation on the modalities of its participation in the European Asylum Support Office ***
 EU-Dominica agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Vanuatu agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Trinidad and Tobago agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Samoa agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Grenada agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Timor-Leste agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Saint Lucia agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-Saint Vincent and the Grenadines agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 EU-United Arab Emirates agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
 Memorandum of Understanding between the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and Eurojust *
 Methods and procedure for making available the traditional, VAT and GNI-based own resources and the measures to meet cash requirements *
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Georgios Kyrtsos
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Stelios Kouloglou
 Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application from Finland - EGF/2015/005 FI/Computer Programming
 EU trade mark ***II
 Laws of Member States relating to trade marks ***II
 Scheme of control and enforcement applicable in the North-East Atlantic fisheries ***I
 Suspension of exceptional trade measures with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina ***I
 Strategic cooperation in the fight against serious crime and terrorism between the United Arab Emirates and Europol *
 Towards a European Energy Union
 Making Europe's electricity grid fit for 2020
 Implementation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility
 A new CFP: structure for technical measures and multiannual plans

Arrangement with the Swiss Confederation on the modalities of its participation in the European Asylum Support Office ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of the Arrangement between the European Union and the Swiss Confederation on the modalities of its participation in the European Asylum Support Office (18079/2013 – C8-0027/2014 – 2013/0422(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0424A8-0345/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (18079/2013),

–  having regard to the draft Arrangement between the European Union and the Swiss Confederation on the modalities of its participation in the European Asylum Support Office (18078/2013),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 74 and 78(1) and (2) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0027/2014),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2), and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0345/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to the conclusion of the Arrangement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission, the European Asylum Support Office and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Swiss Confederation.


EU-Dominica agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the Commonwealth of Dominica on the short-stay visa waiver (07189/2015 – C8-0143/2015 – 2015/0050(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0425A8-0322/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07189/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Commonwealth of Dominica on the short-stay visa waiver (07111/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0143/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0322/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


EU-Vanuatu agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Vanuatu on the short-stay visa waiver (07192/2015 – C8-0149/2015 – 2015/0052(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0426A8-0329/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07192/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Vanuatu on the short-stay visa waiver (07119/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0149/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0329/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


EU-Trinidad and Tobago agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on the short-stay visa waiver (07196/2015 – C8-0151/2015 – 2015/0054(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0427A8-0323/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07196/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago on the short-stay visa waiver (07129/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0151/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0323/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


EU-Samoa agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the Independent State of Samoa on the short-stay visa waiver (07195/2015 – C8-0146/2015 – 2015/0056(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0428A8-0320/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07195/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Independent State of Samoa on the short-stay visa waiver (07127/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0146/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0320/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the Independent State of Samoa.


EU-Grenada agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and Grenada on the short-stay visa waiver (07190/2015 – C8-0144/2015 – 2015/0057(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0429A8-0326/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07190/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and Grenada on the short-stay visa waiver (07113/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0144/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0326/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


EU-Timor-Leste agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on the short-stay visa waiver (07194/2015 – C8-0147/2015 – 2015/0058(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0430A8-0327/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07194/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on the short-stay visa waiver (07125/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0147/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0327/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of Timor-Leste.


EU-Saint Lucia agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and Saint Lucia on the short-stay visa waiver (07187/2015 – C8-0145/2015 – 2015/0060(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0431A8-0321/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07187/2015),

–  having regard to the draft agreement between the European Union and Saint Lucia on the short-stay visa waiver (07107/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0145/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0321/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

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


EU-Saint Vincent and the Grenadines agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on the short-stay visa waiver (07191/2015 – C8-0148/2015 – 2015/0061(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0432A8-0325/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07191/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on the short-stay visa waiver (07115/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0148/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0325/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.


EU-United Arab Emirates agreement on the short-stay visa waiver ***
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Agreement between the European Union and the United Arab Emirates on the short-stay visa waiver (07185/2015 – C8-0124/2015 – 2015/0062(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0433A8-0324/2015

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (07185/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Agreement between the European Union and the United Arab Emirates on the short-stay visa waiver (07103/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 77(2)(a) and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a)(v), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0124/2015),

–  having regard to Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, Rule 99(2) and Rule 108(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0324/2015),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the agreement;

2.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and of the United Arab Emirates.


Memorandum of Understanding between the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and Eurojust *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council implementing decision approving the conclusion by Eurojust of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market and Eurojust (11595/2015 – C8-0303/2015 – 2015/0811(CNS))
P8_TA(2015)0434A8-0353/2015

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (11595/2015),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0303/2015),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2002/187/JHA of 28 February 2002 setting up Eurojust with a view to reinforcing the fight against serious crime(1), and in particular Article 26(2) thereof,

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 16 April 2015(2),

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0353/2015),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

3.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the text approved by Parliament;

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

(1) OJ L 63, 6.3.2002, p. 1.
(2) Judgments of the Court of Justice of 16 April 2015 in Joined cases C-317/13 and C-679/13, Parliament v Council, ECLI:EU:C:2015:223, and in Case C-540/13, Parliament v Council, ECLI:EU:C:2015:224.


Methods and procedure for making available the traditional, VAT and GNI-based own resources and the measures to meet cash requirements *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the proposal for a Council regulation amending Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014 on the methods and procedure for making available the traditional, VAT and GNI-based own resources and on the measures to meet cash requirements (COM(2015)0447 – C8-0277/2015 – 2015/0204(NLE))
P8_TA(2015)0435A8-0357/2015

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2015)0447),

–  having regard to Article 322(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0277/2015),

—  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

—  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0357/2015),

A.  Whereas Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom(1) is expected to enter into force in early 2016;

B.  Whereas that Decision is accompanied by Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014(2), entering into force on the same day as the Decision;

C.  Whereas the corresponding legislation currently in force linked to Council Decision 2007/436/EC, Euratom(3) had to be revised in late 2014 due to exceptionally high amounts of VAT and GNI-based adjustments for certain Member States;

D.  Whereas Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014 also needs to be revised in light of the experiences of the 2014 adjustments;

E.  Whereas the provision and adjustment of Member States' contributions to the Union budget should not be subject to political bargaining but should be a technical process to meet cash requirements;

F.  Whereas, as a general rule, Member States have, so far, been paying the full amounts of their VAT and GNI-based contributions to the Union budget without significant delay, even in times of crisis and severe fiscal strain;

G.  Whereas, for the sake of transparency, a report on the calculations and underlying data for VAT and GNI balance adjustments should be presented to Parliament every year, as well as the dates and amounts of the contributions transferred by Member States to the Union budget;

H.  Whereas the Commission proposal furthermore contains modifications with regard to the interest rules, and a number of more technical issues and clarifications;

I.  Whereas Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014 should therefore be amended accordingly;

1.  Stresses the need for efficient rules on how Member States make their timely contributions to the Union budget available, to allow the Commission to effectively manage its treasury;

2.  Supports the option granted to the Commission to ask Member States for the payment of a third twelfth of VAT and GNI resource in the first half of the year, in order to allow the Commission to reduce a more important part of the previous year’s payment backlog in the European Agriculture Guarantee Fund and in the European Structural and Investment Funds, and to reduce default interest;

3.  Stresses in particular the need for the timely delivery of payments to beneficiaries of the Union budget; welcomes, in this context, the proposed amendment to the Article 12 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014, which aims not only at increasing the incentives to pay on time by making more expensive any late payment but also at ensuring proportionality, by capping the maximum increase of the interest rate at 20 percentage points;

4.  Underlines that the proposed modifications to the methods applicable to adjustments of contributions aim at avoiding that a similar incident as the one which occurred in 2014 could happen again;

5.  Stresses that those adjustments of contributions should be dealt with as automatically as possible to avoid political interference with the agreed ways of financing the Union budget and to limit the discretion left to Member States as to the timing of their additional contributions resulting from GNI adjustments to the Union budget to a minimum;

6.  Agrees therefore to the Commission proposal to shift the timing for the communication and especially the due date for making available the adjustments to the beginning of the year instead of on 1 December, which will make it easier for national treasuries to manage the financing of possible adjustments;

7.  Supports furthermore the Commission proposal that, in order to prevent any losses for the Union budget, each Member State ensures that the amounts it has credited to the own resources account is not reduced by any negative interest or other charges for the time it has to remain in the account;

8.  Notes the high degree of diversity as regards the way in which Member States handle their national accounting of contributions to the Union budget and calls on the Commission to study recommendations in this regard to allow for an easier comparison between Member States;

9.  Underlines the fact that the own resources system remains too complex and needs to be fundamentally reformed with the next Multiannual Financial Framework; stresses, against this background, the crucial role of the High Level Group on Own Resources in delivering proposals for overcoming the deficiencies of the current system;

10.  Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

11.  Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and Article 106a of the Euratom Treaty;

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

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

14.  Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – point 4
Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014
Article 10b – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 3
The Commission shall inform the Member States of the amounts resulting from this calculation before 1 February of the year following the year of supply of data for the adjustments. Each Member State shall enter the net amount in the account referred to in Article 9 on the first working day of June of that same year.
The Commission shall inform the Member States and the European Parliament of the amounts resulting from this calculation before 1 February of the year following the year of supply of data for the adjustments. Each Member State shall enter the net amount in the account referred to in Article 9 on the first working day of June of that same year.

(1) Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union (OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105).
(2) Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 609/2014 of 26 May 2014 on the methods and procedure for making available the traditional, VAT and GNI-based own resources and on the measures to meet cash requirements (OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 39).
(3) Council Decision 2007/436/EC, Euratom of 7 June 2007 on the system of European Communities' own resources (OJ L 163, 23.6.2007, p. 17).


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Georgios Kyrtsos
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European Parliament decision of 15 December 2015 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Georgios Kyrtsos (2015/2238(IMM))
P8_TA(2015)0436A8-0358/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Georgios Kyrtsos, forwarded on 21 July 2015 by the Prosecutor’s Office at the Supreme Court of Greece in connection with a complaint from the East Attica Labour Inspectorate for non-payment of wages(1) and announced in plenary on 9 September 2015,

–  having regard to the fact that Georgios Kyrtsos waived his right to a hearing in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(2),

–  having regard to Article 62 of the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic,

–  having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0358/2015),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor’s Office at the Supreme Court of Greece has requested the waiver of the immunity of Georgios Kyrtsos, Member of the European Parliament, in connection with possible legal action concerning an alleged offence;

B.  whereas Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of the parliament of that state;

C.  whereas Article 62 of the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic provides that, during their parliamentary term, members of parliament may not be prosecuted, arrested, imprisoned or otherwise confined without prior leave granted by parliament;

D.  whereas Georgios Kyrtsos is accused of non-payment of part of the salary of one of his former employees;

E.  whereas that accusation relates to part of the 2013 salary of a former employee of two newspaper publishing firms, of which Georgios Kyrtsos was the manager at the time, and is directed at Georgios Kyrtsos as the former manager of those firms;

F.  whereas the alleged offence clearly has nothing to do with the office of Georgios Kyrtsos as a Member of the European Parliament but is rather connected to his former position as manager of two newspaper firms;

G.  whereas the prosecution does not concern opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of the duties of the Member of the European Parliament in question for the purposes of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

H.  whereas there is no reason to suspect that the intention underlying criminal proceedings is to damage a Member’s political activity (fumus persecutionis), given that the prosecution was initiated a number of years before the Member took up his post;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Georgios Kyrtsos;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Greek authorities.

(1) Document reference ABM:IB2014/8927.
(2) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C-200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C-163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Stelios Kouloglou
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European Parliament decision of 15 December 2015 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Stelios Kouloglou (2015/2239(IMM))
P8_TA(2015)0437A8-0356/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Stelios Kouloglou, forwarded on 7 August 2015 by the Prosecutor’s Office at the Supreme Court of Greece in connection with charges of libel and defamation(1) and announced in plenary on 9 September 2015,

–  having regard to the fact that Stelios Kouloglou waived his right to a hearing in accordance with Rule 9(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(2),

–  having regard to Article 62 of the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic,

–  having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0356/2015),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor’s Office at the Supreme Court of Greece has requested the waiver of the immunity of Stelios Kouloglou, Member of the European Parliament, in connection with possible legal action concerning an alleged offence;

B.  whereas Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of the parliament of that state;

C.  whereas Article 62 of the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic provides that, during their parliamentary term, members of parliament may not be prosecuted, arrested, imprisoned or otherwise confined without prior leave granted by parliament;

D.  whereas Stelios Kouloglou is accused of libel and defamation of prison staff in Patras;

E.  whereas that accusation relates to statements which Stelios Kouloglou is claimed to have made to the press in 2010 about the probity of certain members of the prison staff in Patras, at a time when he was a journalist chiefly producing television reporting;

F.  whereas the alleged offence clearly has nothing to do with the office of Stelios Kouloglou as a Member of the European Parliament but is rather connected to his former position as a television reporter;

G.  whereas the prosecution does not concern opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of the duties of the Member of the European Parliament in question for the purposes of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

H.  whereas there is no reason to suspect that the intention underlying criminal proceedings is to damage a Member’s political activity (fumus persecutionis), given that the prosecution was initiated a number of years before the Member took up his post;

I.  whereas the Greek authorities requested a response from the European Parliament by 7 October 2015 at the latest, as the prosecution would otherwise be time-barred, but whereas Parliament’s procedural requirements do not allow a decision to be taken in such a short timeframe;

J.  whereas, however, it is the considered opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs that, in the light of Judgment No 1126/1994 of the Greek Supreme Court, the time bar is in any case suspended for up to three years while Stelios Kouloglou is a Member of the European Parliament;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Stelios Kouloglou;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Greek authorities.

(1) Document reference ABM:IΓ/2011/11882.
(2) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C-200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C-163/10, ECLI: EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.


Mobilisation of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund: application from Finland - EGF/2015/005 FI/Computer Programming
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Resolution
Annex
European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on 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/2015/005 - FI/Computer Programming, from Finland) (COM(2015)0553 – C8-0332/2015 – 2015/2298(BUD))
P8_TA(2015)0438A8-0362/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0553 – C8‑0332/2015),

–  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 (A8-0362/2015),

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 or of the global financial and economic crisis 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 set 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 Finland submitted application EGF/2015/005 FI/Computer Programming for a financial contribution from the EGF following 1 603 redundancies in 69 enterprises operating in the NACE Rev. 2 division 62 ('Computer programming, consultancy and related activities')(4) in several NUTS level 2 regions covering the whole of Finland, and whereas an estimated 1 200 redundant workers are expected to participate in the measures;

E.  whereas the application fulfils the eligibility criteria set down by the EGF Regulation;

1.  Agrees with the Commission that the conditions set out in point (b) of Article 4(1) of the EGF Regulation are met and that, therefore, Finland is entitled to a financial contribution of EUR 2 623 200 under that Regulation, which represents 60 % of the total cost of EUR 4 372 000 for the 1 603 workers made redundant;

2.  Notes that the Finnish authorities submitted the application for a financial contribution from the EGF on 12 June 2015, and that its assessment was finalised by the Commission on 6 November 2015 and notified to Parliament that day; welcomes the speedy evaluation period of less than five months;

3.  Notes that in recent years the distribution of ICT sector employment between the Union and other economies has developed to the detriment of the Union and underlines that while in 2008, the technology industry employed a total of 326 000 people in Finland, the number of people employed by such companies in 2014 was 276 000, which corresponds to an average decline per year of about 3 % (10 000 workers); points out that the events giving rise to these redundancies are the developments affecting Nokia in recent years, which have had a major impact on the ICT sector in Finland; whereas developing and designing operating systems for Nokia mobile phones used to employ thousands of Finnish people and these functions have now been transferred to countries outside Europe; points out that these redundancies will further aggravate the unemployment situation in the ICT sector in regions struggling with a high unemployment rate;

4.  Notes that redundancies in the ICT sector are affecting particularly the Oulu region in Northern Ostrobothnia where ICT sector has been a mainstay of the economy for years; regrets that in spring 2015, there were approximately 1 500 unemployed jobseekers in the ICT sector in Northern Ostrobothnia and that in many cases unemployment has become prolonged as one third of unemployed people with a higher education degree have been without work for more than a year;

5.  Notes that, to date, the NACE Revision 2 Division 62 ('Computer programming, consultancy and related activities') has been the subject of one other EGF application which was based on the global financial and economic crisis(5); notes that while the volume of this domain has been increasing globally, it has dropped in Europe as businesses and services are moved to China, India, Taiwan and other non-European destinations;

6.  Welcomes the fact that, in order to provide workers with speedy assistance, the Finnish authorities decided to initiate the implementation of the personalised services to the affected workers on 1 August 2014, well ahead of the decision on the granting the EGF support for the proposed coordinated package and that, therefore, those services that have already started to be provided will be eligible for EGF support;

7.  Notes that Finland is planning seven types of measures for redundant workers covered by this application: (i) coaching measures and other preparatory measures, (ii) employment and business services, (iii) training, (iv) pay subsidies, (v) start-up grants, (vi) steering towards entrepreneurship and services for new entrepreneurs, and (vii) allowances for travel, overnight and removal costs;

8.  Welcomes the measures supporting entrepreneurship, in the form of start-up grants and measures steering towards entrepreneurship and services for new entrepreneurs; considers that these measures will be more useful if they are provided in combination to the participants;

9.  Welcomes in particular the proposed measures which aim at creating new businesses and which will foster entrepreneurship and services for new entrepreneurs;

10.  Points out that a pay subsidy should preferably be provided to the dismissed workers only when the jobs offered to the participants comply with the adequate quality requirements in terms of skill level and duration of contract; advocates for emphasis to be put on matching the jobseeker's expertise with the subsidised position, when deciding about awarding pay subsidy and determining the percentage of the payroll costs to be covered by it;

11.  Welcomes that the Finnish authorities propose a large variety of measures to the dismissed workers;

12.  Notes that the coordinated package of personalised services has been drawn up in consultation with social partners and regional authorities;

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

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 the purpose of the funded measures should be to improve jobseekers' opportunities so that they can later be employed on the labour market;

16.  Notes that the authorities estimate that 18,31 % of the costs will be used for allowances and incentives, which remains much below the maximum allowed 35 % of all costs;

17.  Asks the Commission to further detail, in future proposals, the sectors in which the workers are likely to find employment and if the training on offer is aligned to the future economic prospects and labour market needs in the regions concerned by the dismissals;

18.  Expects the Commission to oversee and evaluate the use of the money granted and to use this information in future applications to further direct the use of EGF to align it with ideas of performance based budgeting;

19.  Notes that the Finnish authorities confirm that the eligible actions do not receive assistance from other Union financial instruments; reiterates its call to the Commission to present a comparative evaluation of those data in its annual reports in order to ensure full respect for existing regulations and that no duplication of Union-funded services can occur;

20.  Appreciates the improved procedure put in place by the Commission, following the Parliament's request for the accelerated release of grants; notes the time pressure that the new timetable implies and the potential impact on the effectiveness of case instruction;

21.  Asks the Commission to assure public access to all the documents related to EGF cases;

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

(application from Finland – EGF/2015/005 FI/Computer Programming)

(The text of this annex is not reproduced here since it corresponds to the final act, Decision (EU) 2015/2457.)

(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) Regulation (EC) No 1893/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 establishing the statistical classification of economic activities NACE Revision 2 and amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 3037/90 as well as certain EC regulations on specific statistical domains (OJ L 393, 30.12.2006, p. 1).
(5)EGF/2011/016 IT/Agile (COM(2013)0120).


EU trade mark ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 207/2009 on the Community trade mark and Commission Regulation (EC) No 2868/95 implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 40/94 on the Community trade mark, and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 2869/95 on the fees payable to the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (10373/1/2015 – C8-0351/2015 – 2013/0088(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0439A8-0354/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (10373/1/2015 – C8‑0351/2015),

–  having regard to its position at first reading(1) on the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0161),

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

–  having regard to Rule 76 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0354/2015),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

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

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

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

(1) Texts adopted of 25.2.2014, P7_TA(2014)0118.


Laws of Member States relating to trade marks ***II
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the Council position at first reading with a view to the adoption of a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council to approximate the laws of the Member States relating to trade marks (recast) (10374/1/2015 – C8-0352/2015 – 2013/0089(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0440A8-0355/2015
CORRIGENDA

(Ordinary legislative procedure: second reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council position at first reading (10374/1/2015 – C8‑0352/2015),

–  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)0162),

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

–  having regard to Rule 76 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation for second reading of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0355/2015),

1.  Approves the Council position at first reading;

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

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

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

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

(1) OJ C 372, 12.11.2013, p. 42.
(2) Texts adopted of 25.2.2014, P7_TA(2014)0119.


Scheme of control and enforcement applicable in the North-East Atlantic fisheries ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1236/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down a scheme of control and enforcement applicable in the area covered by the Convention on future multilateral cooperation in the North-East Atlantic fisheries (COM(2015)0121 – C8-0076/2015 – 2015/0063(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0441A8-0294/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2015)0121),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 43(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0076/2015),

–  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 27 May 2015(1),

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0294/2015),

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 15 December 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1236/2010 laying down a scheme of control and enforcement applicable in the area covered by the Convention on future multilateral cooperation in the North-East Atlantic fisheries

P8_TC1-COD(2015)0063


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2016/96.)

(1) OJ C 332, 8.10.2015, p. 81.


Suspension of exceptional trade measures with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina ***I
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Resolution
Text
Annex
European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process and suspending its application with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina (COM(2014)0386 – C8-0039/2014 – 2014/0197(COD))
P8_TA(2015)0442A8-0060/2015

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2014)0386),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 207(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0039/2014),

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

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 9 December 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 Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on International Trade and the opinion of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0060/2015),

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

2.  Takes note of the declarations of the Council and of the Commission annexed to this resolution;

3.  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;

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 15 December 2015 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2015/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union's Stabilisation and Association process and suspending its application with regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina

P8_TC1-COD(2014)0197


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2015/2423.)

ANNEX TO THE LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

COUNCIL DECLARATION

The Council agrees, on an exceptional basis, to delegate to the Commission the power to adopt a delegated act on suspension of assistance on the grounds set out in point (1) of Article 1 of this Regulation, so as to ensure a timely adoption of the measures in relation to the Western Balkans. Such agreement is without prejudice to future legislative proposals in the area of trade, as well as the area of external relations as a whole.

COMMISSION DECLARATION

In the context of this Regulation, the Commission recalls the commitment it has made in paragraph 15 of the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission to provide to the European Parliament full information and documentation on its meetings with national experts within the framework of its work on the preparation of delegated acts.

(1) This position replaces the amendments adopted on 30 April 2015 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0177).


Strategic cooperation in the fight against serious crime and terrorism between the United Arab Emirates and Europol *
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European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 December 2015 on the draft Council implementing decision approving the conclusion by the European Police Office (Europol) of the Agreement on Strategic Cooperation in the fight against serious crime and terrorism between the United Arab Emirates and Europol (10510/2015 – C8-0275/2015 – 2015/0809(CNS))
P8_TA(2015)0443A8-0351/2015

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Council draft (10510/2015),

–  having regard to Article 39(1) of the Treaty on European Union, as amended by the Treaty of Amsterdam, and Article 9 of Protocol No 36 on transitional provisions, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8-0275/2015),

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/371/JHA of 6 April 2009 establishing the European Police Office (Europol)(1), and in particular Article 23(2) thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/934/JHA of 30 November 2009 adopting the implementing rules governing Europol’s relations with partners, including the exchange of personal data and classified information(2), and in particular Articles 5 and 6 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2009/935/JHA of 30 November 2009 determining the list of third States and organisations with which Europol shall conclude agreements(3),

–  having regard to Rule 59 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (A8-0351/2015),

1.  Approves the Council draft;

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

3.  Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the text approved by Parliament;

4.  Calls on the Commission to assess, after the entry into force of the new Europol Regulation (2013/0091(COD)), the provisions contained in the cooperation agreement; calls on the Commission to inform the Parliament and the Council of the outcome of this assessment and, if appropriate, to submit a recommendation for an authorisation to open international renegotiation of the agreement;

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

(1) OJ L 121, 15.5.2009, p. 37.
(2) OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 6.
(3) OJ L 325, 11.12.2009, p. 12.


Towards a European Energy Union
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European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on Towards a European Energy Union (2015/2113(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0444A8-0341/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in particular Articles 191, 192 and 194 thereof,

–  having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’ (COM(2015)0080) and its annexes,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘European Energy Security Strategy’ and the accompanying working documents (COM(2014)0330),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Short term resilience of the European gas system. Preparedness for a possible disruption of supplies from the East during the autumn and winter of 2014/2015’ (COM(2014)0654),

–  having regard to the Commission communication on security of energy supply and international cooperation entitled ‘The EU Energy Policy: Engaging with Partners beyond Our Borders’ (COM(2011)0539),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee entitled ‘Implementation of the Communication on Security of Energy Supply and International Cooperation and of the Energy Council Conclusions of November 2011’ (COM(2013)0638),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 November 2008 entitled ‘Second Strategic Energy Review: an EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan’ (COM(2008)0781),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 26 November 2014 entitled ‘An Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM(2014)0903),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2012 entitled ‘A stronger European industry for growth and economic recovery’ (COM(2012)0582),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 November 2012 entitled ‘Making the internal energy market work’ (COM(2012)0663) and the accompanying working documents, and to Parliament’s resolution of 10 September 2013 on making the internal energy market work(1),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Progress towards completing the internal energy market’ (COM(2014)0634),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Energy infrastructure priorities for 2020 and beyond – a blueprint for an integrated European energy network’ (COM(2010)0677),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 January 2014 entitled ‘Energy prices and costs in Europe’ (COM(2014)0021),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 22 January 2014 entitled ‘For a European Industrial Renaissance’ (COM(2014)0014),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 14 November 2012 entitled ‘The state of the European carbon market in 2012’ (COM(2012)0652),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 20 September 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Resource Efficient Europe’ (COM(2011)0571), and to Parliament’s resolution of 24 May 2012 on a resource-efficient Europe(2),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Energy efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 framework for climate and energy policy’ (COM(2014)0520),

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

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 December 2011 entitled ‘Energy Roadmap 2050’ (COM(2011)0885), and to Parliament’s resolution of 14 March 2013 on the Energy Roadmap 2050, a future with energy(3),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document entitled ‘Exploiting the employment potential of green growth’ (SWD(2012)0092),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘The Future of Carbon Capture and Storage in Europe’ (COM(2013)0180),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030’ (COM(2014)0015),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 23-24 October 2014,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 19-20 March 2015,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 347/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2013 on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure and repealing Decision No 1364/2006/EC and amending Regulations (EC) No 713/2009, (EC) No 714/2009 and (EC) No 715/2009, and to the Commission communication of 14 October 2013 entitled ‘Long-term infrastructure vision for Europe and beyond’ (COM(2013)0711), which sets out the first Union-wide list of energy infrastructure projects of common interest (PCIs),

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

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 994/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 concerning measures to safeguard security of gas supply and repealing Council Directive 2004/67/EC,

–  having regard to the Third Energy Package,

–  having regard to Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC,

–  having regard to Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources and amending and subsequently repealing Directives 2001/77/EC and 2003/30/EC,

–  having regard to Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 May 2010 on the energy performance of buildings,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC,

–  having regard to Decision No 994/2012/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements between Member States and third countries in the field of energy,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 June 2012 on Engaging in energy policy cooperation with partners beyond our borders: A strategic approach to secure, sustainable and competitive energy supply(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 November 2012 on industrial, energy and other aspects of shale gas and oil(5),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 February 2011 on Europe 2020(6),

–  having regard to its study entitled ‘Mapping the Cost of Non-Europe, 2014 -19’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 February 2014 on a 2030 framework for climate and energy policies(7),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2015 on achieving the 10 % electricity interconnection target – Making Europe’s electricity grid fit for 2020(8),

–  having regard to the Energy Charter Treaty, in particular articles 7 and 20 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0341/2015),

A.  whereas according to article 194 TFEU, the European energy policy shall ensure the functioning of the energy market, ensure security of energy supply, promote energy efficiency and savings and the development of renewable energy and promote the interconnection of energy networks; whereas the definition of the energy mix of Member States remains a national competence, and therefore energy mixes remain highly diversified;

B.  whereas the creation of a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy should be based on a transition towards a sustainable, forward-looking energy system with energy efficiency, renewable energy, best use of Europe’s energy resources and smart infrastructure as major pillars; whereas a long-term stable regulatory framework is needed to create economic growth and jobs and ensure the EU’s leading role in these areas;

C.  whereas an energy security strategy must include cost-efficient actions to moderate energy demand and equally effective actions to overcome major and imminent disruptions, as well as solidarity and coordination mechanisms to protect and strengthen energy generation, smart transmission and distribution infrastructure and interconnectors; whereas this infrastructure must be capable of handling variable renewables, and be built into a fully integrated and well-functioning internal energy market as an essential part of an Energy Union with diversified external supplies and routes;

D.  whereas Parliament has twice called for binding 2030 climate and energy targets of at least 40 % reduction in CO2 emissions, at least 30 % for renewables and 40 % for energy efficiency, to be implemented by means of individual national targets; whereas binding national and EU targets for energy efficiency and renewables create growth and jobs and would help secure the EU’s technological leadership in these fields;

E.  whereas measures for developing the Energy Union and achieving its climate and energy targets must take full account of the impacts on energy prices and focus on synergies and further market integration which will help reduce overall costs and improve the competitiveness of the EU economy in order to get the necessary support from citizens and industry; whereas, in this context, all necessary impact assessments must take into full account the present and future hidden and sunk costs deriving from a business-as-usual energy policy;

F.  whereas the Energy Union should be a new energy model for Europe, based on strong cross-cutting legislative grounds and strong objectives; whereas governance of the Energy Union must be transparent; guaranteeing a stable framework and including Parliament in the decision making-process while promoting the role of local authorities and citizens;

G.  whereas it is fundamental that the EU and the Member States acknowledge the importance of including consumer-based initiatives such as cooperatives, community renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, and stresses the need to lift economic, regulatory and administrative barriers to allow citizens to participate actively in the energy system;

H.  whereas climate change, uncompetitive energy prices and an extremely high dependency on unreliable third country suppliers are threatening the sustainability of Europe’s energy system;

I.  whereas the goal of a resilient Energy Union with an ambitious climate policy at its core is to ensure the transition to a new energy model which empowers households and businesses to produce and consume secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy;

J.  whereas the issue of energy poverty needs to be tackled within the framework of the Energy Union by empowering vulnerable consumers, improving energy efficiency for the most vulnerable and developing curative measures making energy affordable for those in need;

K.  whereas energy poverty can be defined as the inability of a household to support an adequate level of energy supply, so as to guarantee basic levels of comfort and health, owing to a combination of low income, high energy prices and low-quality housing stock;

L.  whereas the future vision of the Energy Union must be one in which Member States recognise that they depend on each other to deliver secure, sustainable and affordable energy to their citizens, based on true solidarity and trust, and in which the European Union speaks with one voice in global affairs; whereas every Member State therefore has a duty to prioritise energy efficiency and energy demand reduction in order to safeguard the energy security of the EU and its Member States overall;

M.  whereas EU energy and climate policies must complement each other, and their objectives must reinforce one another; whereas the Energy Union should therefore complement European reindustrialisation and growth objectives, boost the transition to a sustainable economy largely based on energy efficiency and renewable energy, which will enhance the global competitiveness of the European economy while effectively avoiding carbon leakage;

N.  whereas the EU imports more than half of all the energy it consumes, its import dependency is particularly high for crude oil (more than 90 %), natural gas (66 %) and hard coal (72 %), and the total import bill is more than EUR 400 billion in 2013; whereas the EU building stock is responsible for approximately 40 % of final EU energy consumption and for the consumption of approximately 60 % of EU gas imports, therefore making the moderation of its energy demand an important factor towards achieving energy independence;

O.  whereas the global price of oil has fallen significantly, providing the EU with an opportunity to take major steps in transforming our energy landscape by investing in renewable energy production, grasping the energy efficiency potential of buildings and industry and developing smart infrastructure; whereas money spent on importing fossil fuels contributes little to investment, jobs or growth in the Union, and whereas redirecting this money to internal investments would stimulate growth and create high-quality, high-skilled local jobs;

P.  whereas many countries are heavily reliant on a single supplier, which could leave them vulnerable to supply disruptions;

Q.  whereas the EU is heavily dependent on energy imports from Russia, which has proven to be an unreliable partner and which uses its energy supplies as a political weapon;

R.  whereas it has become an important part of Russian foreign policy to develop and implement a strategy regarding strategic resources, in particular oil and natural gas, in order to put other countries under political pressure; notes that this has been the case for a number of its neighbouring countries and for several Member States of the European Union;

S.  whereas the use of oil and natural gas for reasons of foreign policy and for the destabilisation of other countries undermines economic growth and, even more dangerously, democratic stability in Europe and the independence of sovereign states;

T.  whereas European energy security must be developed in a way that defends both European security and the sovereignty of European countries, comprising both EU Member States and Eastern Partnership countries;

U.  whereas a policy for energy security must address the need for a stable supply from different energy sources, providing the European economy with the energy needed for transports, industry and housing in a way that supports competitiveness and climate policy, at the same time as it must minimise the dependence on those who deliberately want to use energy resources for their own political purposes in order to influence political developments in other countries;

V.  whereas no Member State should be subject to contract terms incompatible with EU law which exploit its weak position on the energy market based merely on geographical and historical determinants;

W.  whereas the 2006 and 2009 gas disputes between Russia and transit-country Ukraine left many EU countries with severe shortages; whereas the disruptions show that the measures taken so far have been insufficient to eliminate Europe’s reliance on Russian gas;

X.  whereas ex-post assessment and verification of all energy-related agreements as regards compliance with EU law is already possible through, inter alia, competition and energy regulations; whereas insufficient ex-ante compliance checks at national and EU level lead to severe market distortions; whereas the Commission has recognised these shortcomings and has undertaken to strengthen the ex-ante assessment provisions on commercial gas supply contracts;

Y.  whereas over EUR 1 trillion need to be invested in the EU energy sector by 2020 alone, and whereas for every euro not invested in the energy infrastructure before 2020, 4,3 euro would be needed after 2020 to achieve the same goals, which would put an undue burden on future generations;

Z.  whereas the EU must enable these investments to be funded by mobilising all existing resources, both public (the structural funds and the European Investment Bank (EIB)) and private, by encouraging the channelling of household savings and of the capacities of long-term investors (pension funds and insurance companies) and by creating a new financial capacity for the EU;

AA.  whereas EU industrial electricity prices, before taking account of tax or levy exemptions for energy-intensive industries, are more than twice as high as those in the USA and Russia, 20 % higher than those in China, but 20 % lower than those in Japan;

AB.  whereas European industry still suffers from a significant competitive disadvantage on gas prices, mostly because of the oil price index being included in long-term contracts with Russia;

AC.  whereas the price difference with other economies can have a negative impact on the competitiveness of our industry, in particular our energy-intensive industries;

AD.  whereas competitive energy prices are crucial to achieve the EU’s 20 % reindustrialisation targets by 2020;

AE.  whereas EU companies in the renewable energy sector, many of which are SMEs, employ 1,2 million people in Europe and have a share of 40 % of all world patents for renewable technologies, which makes the EU a global leader; whereas this leadership must be maintained in the future by means of a solid EU strategy for renewable energy;

AF.  whereas, notwithstanding its global dominance in investment in renewable energy, the World Energy Outlook 2014 predicts global energy demand to grow by 37 % and global coal demand by 15 % by 2040; whereas in the EU the increase is projected to be significantly lower owing to highly successful energy efficiency improvements;

AG.  whereas welfare loss owing to EU gas market inefficiency exceeds EUR 11 billion annually owing to, inter alia, a lack of infrastructure and a low level of market liquidity and transparency;

AH.  whereas a more economically and physically integrated single market in energy could result in significant efficiency gains;

AI.  whereas the EU energy retail market does not function properly, as in many Member States consumers have too little choice between suppliers; whereas issues of market concentration should be addressed by EU competition policy so as to enable consumers to switch suppliers and thereby increase competition and bring down prices; whereas attention should be paid to the risk that less-informed citizens, who are less likely to compare and switch providers, are left stranded with uncompetitive outdated tariffs;

AJ.  whereas the full implementation of an integrated European energy market for gas and electricity is of fundamental importance for energy security and for the steps to be taken towards an Energy Union; whereas the Commission has the responsibility to ensure that all Member States implement and respect all parts of the Third Energy Package, aiming for an integrated market for electricity and gas;

AK.  whereas meeting the 10 % interconnection target, and ensuring better cross-border transmission capacity for electricity and gas as well as additional reinforcements of the existing grid, will increase energy security, allow for a better integration of renewable generation and balance supply and demand between the Member States while fostering price convergence to the benefit of consumers;

AL.  whereas convergence and cost-optimisation is also expected from deepened regional cooperation between Member States;

AM.  whereas the Energy Community is an instrument to expand internal energy market to EU’s neighbourhood countries, thus contributing to the creation of a pan-European energy space based on common principles and the rule of law;

AN.  whereas the Energy Union reflects multiple calls by Parliament for the establishment of a true pan-European Energy Community, based on a strong common energy market, coordination of energy purchasing outside of the EU and common European funding of research and innovation in the area of new sustainable energy technologies;

AO.  whereas the external dimension of EU energy policy needs more coherence and has not yet tapped its full potential to contribute in terms of security of energy supply and the Union’s competitiveness;

AP.  whereas the 33 infrastructure projects identified in the European Energy Security Strategy should be complemented by a stronger focus on the modernisation of the electricity distribution network and on the shift from coal and gas to biomass with a view to improving the security of supply;

AQ.  whereas it is recognised that carbon capture and storage (CCS) can make a decisive contribution in the fight against climate change and, specifically, can help reduce the cost of the transition to a decarbonised energy market and a low carbon economy;

AR.  whereas diversification of supplies, the completion of the internal energy market, improvements in energy efficiency and savings, the further development of Europe’s energy resources, including renewable energy, and R&D activities are the key drivers of the Energy Union;

AS.  whereas the exploitation of indigenous conventional oil and gas resources in full compliance with EU acquis, both in traditional production areas (e.g. the North Sea) and in newly discovered areas (e.g. the eastern Mediterranean, the Black Sea), should be promoted and supported;

AT.  whereas indigenous energy resources must always be sustainable and secure;

AU.  whereas the EU’s aspiration is to raise the contribution of industry to its GDP to as much as 20 % by 2020, and energy at competitive price levels as well as increased energy productivity will be indispensable to achieving this ambition;

Dimensions of the Energy Union

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’; takes note of the five pillars of the Energy Union outlined by the Commission; insists that policies pursued under these pillars must always contribute to ensuring the security of energy supply, decarbonisation, the long-term sustainability of the economy and the delivery of affordable and competitive energy prices;

2.  Reiterates that energy is a public social good and that the EU should therefore focus closely on the issue of energy poverty and promote concrete measures to tackle this problem; insists, therefore, that the Energy Union should ensure equal access to energy for all, contribute to affordable energy prices for the benefit of consumers, promote connections and energy infrastructure that have a strategic role for the benefit of the people, and strengthen regulation;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that all legislative proposals forming part of the Energy Union follow the ordinary legislative procedure, thus fully involving Parliament and ensuring effective democratic oversight; expects the post-2020 governance framework for the Energy Union to be ambitious, reliable, transparent, democratic and fully inclusive of Parliament, and to ensure that the 2030 climate and energy targets are achieved, in particular through the full implementation, enforcement and updating of existing climate and energy legislation; asks the Commission, without prejudice to other reporting obligations, to present on an annual basis a report on the implementation of the Energy Union, including details of the implementation of energy legislation and progress made towards meeting the 2020 and 2030 targets, to develop and update a set of key indicators to be included in the report, and to allow assessment of progress with Energy Union; such indicators could include, but are not limited to, interconnection capacity, market integration, reduction of energy imports, levels of diversification, energy prices and costs, development of community and locally-owned generation, and levels of energy poverty and vulnerability; notes the Energy Council conclusions of 26 November 2015 on the governance system of the Energy Union, and asks the Commission to present swiftly to Parliament and the Council a legislative proposal taking into account the Council conclusions and Parliament’s views as expressed in this report; agrees with the Council conclusions that the National Energy and Climate Plans covering the period from 2021 to 2030 should not only be geared towards meeting the 2030 targets, but also reflect the longer-term perspective, specifically the agreed EU objective of reducing emissions by 80-95 % by 2050 compared to 1990 levels;

4.  Calls on the Member States to develop long-term energy strategies in the light of the long-term target of achieving an 80-95 % reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050 , which should be matched by similar efforts undertaken by the world’s biggest polluters;

5.  Recognises the inalienability of decisions taken by national referendums on energy affairs;

6.  Emphasises that the Energy Union should adopt a comprehensive approach focusing on dimensions such as achievement of a fully integrated internal energy market, security of supply, best use of EU’s energy resources, moderation of energy demand, greenhouse gas reduction based essentially on renewable energy sources and an EU-wide carbon market, as well as research and innovation aiming for energy technology leadership; stresses that citizens should be at the core of the Energy Union and be provided with secure, sustainable and affordable energy;

7.  Acknowledges the European Council’s weak 2030 targets for climate and energy, namely to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 %, to increase the share of renewables in the European energy mix to 27 % and to increase energy efficiency by 27 %; recalls that Parliament has repeatedly called for binding 2030 climate and energy targets of at least a 40 % domestic reduction in GHG emissions, at least 30 % for renewables and 40 % for energy efficiency, to be implemented by means of individual national targets;

Energy security, solidarity and trust

8.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively pursue more sustainable and competitive prices and costs of imported energy for European citizens and businesses through the diversification of supply (energy sources, suppliers and routes); to this end, calls on the Commission to promote the construction of the relevant energy infrastructure priority corridors, as specified in Annex I to the Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) Regulation and Part II of the Annex I to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Regulation, with a special focus on Member States with high dependency; calls on the Commission to prioritise the existing internal capacities, including Europe’s energy resources;

9.  Recognises that the projects currently included in the projects of common interest (PCI) list are not enough to reach the European interconnection target between the Iberian Peninsula and mainland Europe; urges the TEN-E Regional Group and the Commission to identify additional projects to be included in the upcoming PCI 2015 list in order to significantly increase the capacity between Spain and France;

10.  Underlines that well-developed and fully integrated infrastructure allowing for enhanced diversification of supplies and cross-border flows is vital for ensuring security of supply, both in normal and emergency conditions and for delivering energy from competitive sources to consumers across the European Union and the Energy Community;

11.  Stresses that significant gas reserves in the North African countries and recent discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean provide the Mediterranean region with an opportunity to emerge as a vibrant centre for a pipeline network transporting gas into Europe; calls for a Mediterranean Gas Hub with increased LNG capacities; underlines that the EU should take advantage of the opportunities that emerge from these gas reserves in order to enhance its energy security;

12.  Stresses that all EU infrastructure projects aimed at diversifying energy sources, suppliers and routes must be fully in line with EU climate and energy legislation and long-term objectives and priorities, including EU energy security, while ensuring a high and efficient utilization of the already existing energy infrastructure and transit routes to the EU; calls on the Commission to consider investments that moderate energy demand, e.g. in building stock, as eligible projects;

13.  Underlines that energy suppliers coming from third countries must be subject to the EU acquis, in particular EU competition and state aid legislation, while operating on the common market, and calls on the Commission to enforce EU law by all means available in order to allow energy to flow freely in the EU and prevent distortions in the internal market;

14.  Stresses that it is of upmost importance to the EU to end the isolation of Member States and regions from the internal energy market, as demonstrated by the gas stress tests carried out by the Commission; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to carry out such tests regularly; is of the opinion that the EU should help those most vulnerable countries to diversify their sources and supply routes, as a matter of priority; calls on the Member States and the Commission, in this regard, to implement without delay the recommendations of the gas system stress tests; recommends that the Commission consider carrying out ‘electricity stress tests’ in order to build an overview of the resilience of the entire energy market situation; highlights that such stress tests should identify, in particular, the status, capacity and durability of the entire national transmission network, as well as the level of interconnection and cross-border capacity, and that subsequent recommendations, based on such stress tests, must include full impact assessments of both national plans and Union objectives in addressing any action points arising from these;

15.  Notes that, in the context of the future Energy Union, quantitative and qualitative security of energy supply and competitiveness are amongst the most pressing issues requiring Member States to upgrade their coordination and cooperation at EU level with their neighbours when developing their energy policies; calls on the Commission, in this respect, to examine how the current architecture of national preventive and emergency response measures could be improved at both regional and EU level;

16.  Believes that national capacity mechanisms should only be used as a last resort, once all other options have been considered, including increased interconnection with neighbouring countries, demand-side response measures and other forms of regional market integration;

17.  Considers that the Energy Union entails negotiating with one voice with third countries; calls on the Commission to analyse the appropriateness and potential structure of a voluntary collective purchasing mechanism and its impact on the functioning of the internal gas market, the undertakings affected and its contribution to ensuring security of gas supply; notes that since there are several models of collective purchasing mechanisms, further work needs to be done to determine the best market-based model applicable for EU regions and suppliers concerned and for the conditions under which a voluntary collective purchasing mechanism could be launched; considers that the coordination of positions and the collective purchasing of gas should start at regional level; recommends, in the interim, that the Commission and the Energy Community Secretariat support those Member States and Energy Community Contracting Parties, respectively, that wish to negotiate energy contracts on a voluntary basis, in compliance with the EU internal market acquis and with EU competition and World Trade Organisation rules, and provide for protection of commercially sensitive information; underlines that energy contracts must be based upon market prices and competition;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Vice-President/High Representative (VP/HR) to set up a comprehensive framework for the external dimension of the Energy Union, with specific reference to the promotion of strategic partnerships with producing and transit third countries, in particular within the European neighbourhood and with regard to enlargement policies, based on shared common values and taking into account the current state of regional cooperation; previous and new strategic partnership should be considered and explored in order to enhance dialogue and cooperation on oil and natural gas, energy efficiency and renewable sources, trade and interconnections of the Energy Union with external energy infrastructure;

19.  Stresses that a genuine EU Common External Energy Policy should go hand in hand with its Common Foreign and Security Policy; urges in this context better coordination between the VP/HR and the relevant Commissioners with the goal of enhancing the coherence of EU external energy security policies; calls on the Commission, therefore, to create a stronger cluster under the leadership of the VP/HR with the position of an appointee responsible for the coordination of such policies;

20.  Calls on the Commission to create a high-level reflection group on energy security, foreign policy and the Energy Union, with strong representation and involvement from Parliament and of societal stakeholders, in order to develop credible long-term demand, supply and cooperation scenarios with external partners, especially in the field of capacity building and technology exchange on renewable energy and energy efficiency and the relation between energy and human rights;

21.  Expresses concern at the proposed doubling of capacity of the Nordstream pipeline and the effects this would have on energy security and diversification of supply and the principle of solidarity between Member States; highlights, in the context of the ongoing trilateral talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia, the need to ensure long-term energy supplies to and through the Ukraine;

22.  Stresses that improving energy efficiency in the EU would reduce the risk of dependency and thus reinforce the EU negotiating position in energy related matters;

23.  Stresses the need for greater transparency in energy-related agreements, which could be achieved by strengthening the role of the Commission in energy-related negotiations involving one or more Member States and third countries, in particular by making it a requirement for the Commission to participate in all negotiations as an observer in order to strengthen the position of individual Member States vis-à-vis a third-country supplier involved in the negotiations, so as to mitigate the risks of abuse of a dominant position by one supplier; notes, furthermore, that the Commission should carry out ex-ante and ex-post assessments, while fully respecting commercially sensitive information, and draw up both a positive and a negative list of agreement clauses, such as export ban, destination and take-or-pay clauses, the oil indexation of gas pricing or clauses forbidding a third party making energy supplies conditional on being granted preferential access to energy transport infrastructure in the EU; points out that, under Article 13(6)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 994/2010, when concluding new intergovernmental agreements with third countries which have an impact on the development of gas infrastructure and gas supplies, Member States are required to inform the Commission, in order to enable it to assess the situation regarding security of supply at EU level; calls on the Commission to include strong ex-ante assessment provisions on commercial gas supply contracts in the revision of the Security of Gas Supply Regulation;

24.  Stresses that the Commission shall be informed of all future intergovernmental energy agreements with non-EU parties in line with Decision No 994/2012/EU establishing an information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements between Member States and third countries in the field of energy ahead of signing in order to make sure that they comply with EU legislation, in particular with the Third Energy Package, and do not threaten EU security of energy supply; highlights that such discussion and consultation must serve as a tool for strengthening the negotiating power of EU Member States and companies, while fully respecting commercially sensitive information; considers that such discussion and consultation should not in any way prejudice the substance and content of agreements, but ensure that they are compliant with all relevant Union law and in the best interests of the companies and Member States concerned; calls on the Commission to revise Decision No 994/2012/EU so as to strengthen the information mechanism accordingly and boost the Commission’s role;

25.  Calls on the Commission to prepare draft contract templates and guidelines including an indicative list of abusive clauses in order to create a reference for competent authorities and companies in their contracting activities; calls on the Member States to increase their cooperation on the information exchange mechanism with regard to intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) with third countries in the field of energy, in order to increase transparency and leverage their negotiating power vis-à-vis third countries, thereby securing more affordable energy for European consumers; furthermore urges the Commission to continue publishing quarterly assessments of contractual conditions such as the average import prices;

26.  Stresses that in order to ensure a level playing field and strengthen the bargaining position of EU companies vis-à-vis external suppliers, key features of the contracts should be more transparent and aggregated and, on a regular basis, notified to the competent authorities so as to gather all the necessary information which can be utilised by both the competent authorities themselves and companies in their future negotiations, whilst protecting the confidentiality of sensitive information; believes that this would help ensure genuine competition in energy contracts, avoid the abuse of dominant positions by third countries and ensure compliance with EU competition law;

27.  Calls on the Commission to develop concrete actions for reducing energy import dependency, to monitor the degree of diversification in imports and to publish regular progress reports in this respect;

28.  Emphasises that it is essential to increase the participation of European industry and technology in the entire energy production chain, which includes not only raw materials but also generation, refinement, storage, transportation and distribution, since these are crucial elements for decreasing the EU’s dependence on energy imports;

29.  Believes that diversity in the energy mixes of Member States, based on their respective potential, environment, geographical location, experience, know-how and economic costs and needs, while contributing to the common goals on energy and climate strategy and policies, is an asset to the EU as a whole, since it strengthens its resilience to supply disruptions, enables it to make cost-optimal energy choices and allows different technologies to develop and compete on the market, thereby driving down the costs of energy; insists, however, that national diversity must not represent a barrier to the single market, and Member States must fully comply with state aid rules, make appropriate investments in their domestic transmission infrastructures and ensure high levels of interconnectedness and resilience in their national energy systems in order to deliver on the Union’s energy security and market objectives;

30.  Believes that the Union can increase its energy security and reduce its dependency on particular suppliers and fuels by increasing energy efficiency, as well as making the best use of Europe’s sources of energy, in line with the EU’s energy security, environmental, and climate goals as well as health and safety legislation, taking into account Member States’ specificities as regards their energy mixes and avoiding unnecessary regulatory burdens and respecting the principle of proportionality; stresses that no fuel or technology contributing to energy security and climate goals should be discriminated against as a matter of principle;

31.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate the effective use of all existing EU funding schemes, including the European Fund for Strategic Investments, so as to attract investment for key energy infrastructure projects, research and innovation in energy efficiency, renewables and the development of Europe’s internal capacities with a view to achieve the 2030 climate and energy objectives, based on a cost-benefit approach which is technology-neutral and which prioritises the internalisation of external costs;

32.  Calls for the rapid mobilisation of resources for the financing of PCIs in order to build the necessary infrastructure and provide for a smooth and reliable energy supply that is not subject to any form of political pressure from outside the EU;

33.  Stresses that the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) should function as a mechanism for turning infrastructure investment into a fully liquid asset class with bonds that can be pooled and traded on European and global markets; furthermore notes that institutional investors such as insurers or pension funds, which are naturally disposed to making long-term investments in real assets, would be attracted only by standardised investment products and a solid project pipeline that can guarantee sound business cases;

34.  Calls on the Commission, and in particular DG TRADE, to maintain the goal of dedicating a separate energy chapter in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), with a view to removing US tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade concerning both liquefied natural gas (LNG) and crude oil as well as eliminating unjustified protectionist measures which could contribute to developing a more competitive environment for European business by reducing the discrepancy in energy costs on both sides of the Atlantic; calls on the Commission, in this respect, to ensure that any such energy chapter also includes provisions to increase cooperation between EU and US governmentally funded energy research programmes, particularly the US ARPA-E programme;

35.  Points out that EU trade policy should aim to increase energy security in line with Article 194 TFEU, diversify the European energy mix and reduce import dependency from a single external supplier or single point of supply while respecting the relevant division of competences established in the Treaty;

36.  Calls on the Commission to ensure stricter monitoring of anti-competitive behaviour and anti-dumping measures to protect European energy industries against unfair imports from third countries;

37.  Deplores the fact that discussions on the modernisation of trade defence instruments are stalling in the Council despite the fact that Parliament has expressed strong support for tougher measures against unfair imports from third countries;

38.  Calls on the Council to move forward with the modernisation of trade defence instruments in order to ensure that European manufacturing industries that produce turbines, solar panels, high-quality steel and construction materials in particular, can take full advantage of the energy transition;

39.  Emphasises the importance of provisions in trade agreements related to technological cooperation and services in the field of energy efficiency and decentralised production of renewable energies, including maintenance and software development; points out that decarbonisation is a common goal of the EU and many partner countries, regions and cities;

40.  Calls on the Commission to encourage developing countries through international trade instruments to diversify their energy production, and to promote the production of solar energy in particular in the EU’s southern neighbourhood;

41.  Welcomes the negotiations for a Green Goods Initiative between the EU and 13 other WTO Members covering products, services and technologies that contribute to green growth, environmental protection, climate action and sustainable development, calls for the completion of talks by the end of 2015 at the WTO Ministerial in Nairobi;

42.  Stresses that the Environmental Goods Agreement negotiations must be based on a definition of environmental goods that is consistent with EU policies and should not contradict measures for helping developing countries adopted in the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC);

43.  Calls on the Commission to continue to press for the setting up of a system for energy exchange between the EU and the US, in light of the current and future developments in research, innovation and licensing of power line systems, such as high-voltage power connections, aimed at developing a global renewable energy sharing network;

44.  Stresses that a strengthened Energy Community should be the pivotal arm of the EU’s external energy policy and invites the Commission to come forward with concrete proposals based on the report of the High-Level Reflection Group for the reform of the Energy Community;

45.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to strengthen the Energy Community activities, notably in renewable energy and energy efficiency for increased security of supply, through, inter alia, better implementation and enforcement of EU law, such as the 2020 and 2030 targets, and in particular through better governance, streamlining of procedures and better use of IT tools aimed at reducing administrative burden, enhancing its institutions, including the establishment of an Energy Community Parliamentary Assembly, and implementing key infrastructure projects, such as cross-border bidirectional interconnectors, in order to ensure better integration with the EU energy market and security of supply mechanisms without resorting to the establishment of national capacity markets that undermine the effectiveness of the internal energy market;

46.  Emphasises the need to strengthen the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation on gas, electricity, energy efficiency and renewables; asks the Commission to speed up the setting up of the Euro-Med Gas Platform;

A fully integrated European energy market

47.  Believes that the future Energy Union must establish a free flow of energy across EU and Energy Community countries;

48.  Stresses that the backbone of the future Energy Union must be a fully functioning, interconnected internal energy market that delivers safe, secure, fairly distributed, socially and environmentally responsible, efficient, competitive, affordable and sustainable energy over fully functioning, secure and resilient transmission grids as well as energy demand reduction, in order to enable EU companies and consumers to access gas, electricity, and heating and cooling in the most sustainable, efficient, democratic and cost-effective way possible; considers, therefore, that the further expansion of existing market areas should be pursued; considers it fundamental to favour the integration of prosumers in the EU market and network; highlights the substantial deficiencies experienced within rural communities across the EU as a result of poor energy connectivity;

49.  Recognises that there is currently no single market for energy in Europe, and that the resulting fragmentation within the EU’s energy markets is deeply harmful to Europe’s competitiveness and energy security;

50.  Recalls that the energy markets distinguish themselves from the financial markets by the underlying physical assets, by which the systemic risk in the energy sector is eliminated; considers it necessary, in this regard, to implement financial regulation that also covers the energy sector in such a way that it does not distort the development of a well-functioning internal energy market;

51.  Stresses that, in order to assess real efficiency and cost effectiveness, it is necessary to consider direct and external costs of the different energy sources, as well as the impact of all sorts of public interventions on their relative competitive position;

52.  Believes that market-based mechanisms must be complemented by tangible and ambitious security of supply and solidarity mechanisms, such as more efficient regional and EU level crisis management, the adoption of ambitious energy saving measures and optimised use of LNG and gas storage infrastructure, primarily for the security of supply on regional scale, to be reflected in EU legislation, including the Security of Gas Supply Regulation, which must be reviewed as soon as possible;

53.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to ensure the full implementation and enforcement of existing EU state aid, energy, environment and climate legislation; calls in particular for an assessment of the implementation of the Third Energy Package and of the benefits generated for consumers; calls for the removal of derogations from the Third Energy Package and for a swift adoption and implementation of European network codes and guidelines;

54.  Calls on the Commission to allocate increased financial resources to the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER), and underlines that it should be authorised to recruit additional staff in order to enable the full and effective implementation of the monitoring of energy markets – to ensure integrity and transparency in energy trading and compliance with the Regulation on Energy Market Integrity and Transparency (REMIT) – as a precondition for the proper functioning of the EU internal energy market; notes that ACER’s competences should be strengthened vis-à-vis the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas (ENSTO-G) and other bodies with essential EU functions, to ensure that it can fulfil its tasks specified in the relevant EU legislation and believes that the Agency should engage with associations representing distribution system operators (DSOs), consumer organisations and other civil society groups;

55.  Reiterates the importance of ownership unbundling as put forward by the Third Energy Package; calls on the Commission to assess to which degree national regulatory authorities (NRAs) enforce the conditions described in the opinions given by the Commission on the certification of transmission system operators (TSOs);

56.  Regrets that ENTSO-E and ENTSO-G are too dependent on the budget allocation from national TSOs, which threatens their ability to act as European players;

57.  Calls on the Commission to increase their regulation and surveillance of power exchanges and gas hubs market activities;

58.  Highlights that in order to strengthen our emergency energy solidarity and resistance to supply disruptions, both gas and electrical energy must be exportable at all times; notes, in this regard, that current systems of cross border transmission are often hampered by decisions of national transmission operators; calls, therefore, on ACER to put more emphasis on this issue in its annual market monitoring report;

59.  Points out that a fully functioning internal energy market will not be completed whilst there are Member States with electricity systems dependent on a third country operator, and stresses the importance and necessity to ensure the Baltic States’ synchronous operation within the Continental European Networks by 2025;

60.  Stresses that a properly designed future model of the electricity market in the EU is urgently needed and must aim at promoting the necessary investment to guarantee supply in the long term and at a more market-based and – from the point of view of network security – optimised integration of renewable energy sources, while fully taking into account the changing nature of energy supply and demand, including the increased uptake of micro-generation, demand-response technology and the increasing share of renewable energy; notes, in this regard, the need for common standards for smart grids as a key element for ensuring a stable supply and free flow of energy across borders, thus contributing to energy security; furthermore highlights the role that developing smarter energy grids and new energy storage facilities can play in increasing the level of renewable energy sources (RES) on a European scale and ensuring that such infrastructure is developed in conjunction with regional RES hubs;

61.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission, as well as the Energy Community Contracting Parties and the Energy Community Secretariat, to concentrate their efforts on driving PCIs and projects of the Energy Community interest (PECIs) forward, with a view to achieving a pan-European electricity grid and gas network with the capacity to transmit power and gas across EU countries from multiple sources; believes that the electricity grid shall be capable of diverting energy from surplus to deficit areas, thereby allowing the market to respond instantly to shortages of supply wherever they occur, compensate circadian and seasonal cycles, integrate renewables, ensure security of supply and foster the European energy market; believes that it should be envisaged to speed up the process of approving and permitting projects and to foster the upgrade of existing lines; stresses, furthermore, that such efforts must focus particularly on resolving the problems arising from energy islands;

62.  Welcomes its resolution of 15 December 2015 on achieving the 10 % electricity interconnection target – Making Europe’s electricity grid fit for 2020;

63.  Reiterates its commitment to achieve the 10 % interconnectivity target in order to complete the Internal Energy Market in EU, and welcomes the European Council’s proposal for a minimum level of electricity interconnection between Member States of 15 % by 2030; acknowledges the importance of achieving a quantitative target of interconnectivity by ensuring the availability of existing national and cross-border infrastructure in order to ensure effective use of European energy sources and increased security of supply;

64.  Stresses the importance of ensuring a sound, stable and predictable regulatory framework, which will enable long-term commitments and which is necessary to deliver new investments in energy infrastructure; calls on the Commission to shorten the lead time allowing projects to qualify as PCIs; stresses that the deployment of smart distribution grids needs to be facilitated through accelerated permission procedures as well as through political support and adapted regulatory frameworks for network operators that recognise the changing needs for investments and incentivise investments in ICT and automation on an equal footing with traditional grid extension;

65.  Stresses that the Energy Union should also contribute towards an ‘Energy Investment Union’, ensuring that the more than EUR 1 trillion of investment required in the coming years to revitalise Europe’s economy comes from private and public investors; notes that such an ‘Energy Investment Union’ should provide opportunities for large investors as well as individual consumers and private citizens; notes that in order to create an environment which facilitates and makes the best use of private finance, investor certainty is key; insists that a stable framework can only be achieved through a strong governance system which guarantees a level playing field and stable regulatory conditions, and which fosters confidence in the private sector;

66.  Emphasises that implementation of strategic infrastructure projects shall contribute to medium- and long-term aspects of energy security and be in full compliance with EU long-term decarbonisation commitments and EU environmental and other relevant legislation;

67.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take investment in smaller-scale gas and electricity interconnectors linking neighbouring regions as seriously as investment in larger PCIs; calls on the Commission and the Member States to work closely together with regional authorities when developing these interconnectors;

68.  Notes the importance of integrating the planning of energy demand and supply at the level of the EU internal energy market, with priority given to demand reduction and decentralised solutions, in order to achieve cost-optimal security of supply and avoid unnecessary or over-dimensioned infrastructure investments and stranded costs;

69.  Believes that in view of the vast investment needs for ageing and inadequate distribution grids, and the majority of renewable energy sources being connected at distribution grid level, specific initiatives to foster DSO investments, including financial instruments, should be considered by the Commission and the Member States; strongly recommends that such investments be prioritised by Member States;

70.  Calls on the Commission to clarify how it intends to use the EUR 315 billion Investment Plan, mixed with the other existing funds, in order to maximise the leverage potential of the EFSI and to finance infrastructures and projects necessary to complete the Energy Union;

71.  Considers that strengthened regional cooperation and policies coordination is an essential step towards broader EU-wide energy market integration; supports, therefore, regional approaches, both among Member States and with the Energy Community Contracting Parties, in order to ensure security of supply and speed up market integration, including through further development of regional hubs to enhance market liquidity, primarily in the CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) region; stresses that such cooperation mechanisms could streamline political and energy market co-operation and facilitate joint decisions on essential gas infrastructure investment in the regions; believes that knowledge and information could be developed jointly on issues such as energy storage facilities, and tendering processes for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and interconnectors; recognises the important role of power exchanges in fostering liquid, transparent and secure energy trading; highlights the potential inherent within cross-border projects as a lever for EU wide solutions;

72.  Supports the integration of the energy systems of candidate and potential candidate countries through a regional approach within the future European Energy Union;

73.  Underlines that increased regional cooperation can contribute to enhancing energy security, improve infrastructure planning, ensure cost optimisation of integrating renewables and drive down costs for consumers;

74.  Welcomes the importance the Commission attaches to enhanced regional cooperation; calls on the Commission to examine and establish what the optimum scale of electricity and gas network (and market) cooperation in the EU is; points out that in some cases Member States themselves are best placed to determine what is necessary in their territories, while in others there is clearly added value in EU-directed cooperation; points out, however, that in certain cases it has been found that, through far-reaching regional-level cooperation on shared challenges, groups of Member States have achieved results more quickly, such as in the Pentalateral Energy Forum; agrees with the Commission that existing regional arrangements can be a model for the EU as a whole;

75.  Invites the Commission to come forward with a macro-regional market cooperation governance structure in which the European Parliament and national parliaments also have a role to play; notes that this regional governance should be built on existing regional geographical and market entities to achieve greatest cost optimisation, notably: (i) the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP); (ii) South East Europe coordination initiatives; (iii) an enlarged Pentalateral Forum; (iv) the North Sea Offshore Grid initiative; stresses that the role of ACER should be strengthened in this context;

76.  Calls on the Commission to realise cost-optimisation studies assessing and quantifying the benefits of regional cooperation in the aforementioned regions; believes that, based on such studies, the Commission and the Member States involved should jointly develop and implement blueprints for the establishment of these macro-regions;

77.  Calls on the Commission to encourage and support regional cooperation projects between operators of electricity and gas distribution networks, which are crucial in the interest of safe, competitive and sustainable energy, by enabling assistance for the local production of (particularly renewable) energy, and for coping with technological changes (smart networks, smart meters, etc.) and with new modes of production and consumption (e.g. electric vehicles);

78.  Calls on the Commission to encourage exchanges of views on energy projects between territorial entities in Europe (regions, local authorities, towns, etc.) with a view to informing and bringing together elected representatives and the general public;

79.  Calls for the development of well-integrated and competitive regional electricity and gas markets that ensure the adequacy and flexibility of the energy system covering all parts of the Union; demands that the Commission act decisively and transparently against all instances of protectionism, anti-competitive behaviour and barriers to market entry and exit; emphasises the importance of ensuring stable national regulatory frameworks, address administrative barriers and streamline national administrative procedures, also to guarantee a level playing field for citizen-based projects;

80.  Points out that in order to successfully balance the internal market, investment is needed not only in interconnectors but also in, inter alia, national grids, fossil fuel power plants fitted with carbon capture technology, new nuclear power plants (in those Member States that wish to have them) as a critical source of low-carbon base load power, storage capacity (such as LNG terminals), smart grids and flexible generation, in order to cope with enhanced renewable and distributed generation;

81.  Stresses the need to create a legislative framework that empowers consumers and makes them active participants in the market as investors, producers and stakeholders by developing dynamic pricing and by opening markets to supply- and demand-side sources; notes that citizens’ involvement can be strengthened through, inter alia: consumer financial participation; energy cooperatives and micro-generation and storage; self-consumption; decentralisation of energy supply; the introduction of smart-grid energy systems, including smart meters; enhanced competition in retail markets; full transparency; and flexibility of prices and consumer choices;

82.  Stresses that prosumers providing the grid with storage capacities should be rewarded and that they should be encouraged to consume their own green electricity production without being penalised; points out that such initiatives could contribute to a more competitive and well-functioning internal energy market, which, in turn, could help boost the resilience of local communities, create local jobs and prosperity, reduce overall consumer energy bills and help address serious social problems, such as energy poverty and vulnerable consumers; asks the Commission to gather impact assessments and best practices of measures taken at national level to fight energy poverty, and to make sure that those best practices are centralised and promoted by a dedicated European body; underlines that adequate measures have to be taken in order to guarantee data protection for consumers directly participating in the market;

83.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate further development and expansion of local and regional renewable energy sources, and of local and regional distribution networks and district heating networks, through policies that tackle existing barriers and help bring about market transformation; calls on the Commission to propose guidelines on energy self-consumption in order to promote its use and protect the rights of consumers;

84.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage self-consumption and micro-generation through renewable energy schemes targeted at the most vulnerable consumers;

85.  Calls on the Commission to integrate local actors into EU energy policy, and bring forward a proposal to establish decentralised advice and capacity building centres to equip and support local authorities to deal with energy providers on an equal footing, and to support the development of local energy production through cooperatives, locally established companies, and municipal authorities;

86.  Stresses the need to identify the best local practices and promote their dissemination throughout the Union, to improve coordination between local measures and European policies, and to work on issues affecting local acceptance of energy projects; proposes the establishment of a ‘European Territorial Forum’;

87.  Believes that all EU consumers should benefit in equal measure from a single gas and electricity market; underlines, in this sense, that the current price differentials between national markets resulting from the lack of market integration and interconnections must no longer be tolerated; urges the Commission to quickly propose measures to achieve greater price convergence and market integration across the Union;

88.  Underlines the positive impact that market integration has had on wholesale prices, and eventually retail prices, in the electricity sector; considers that the review of the electricity market design needs to better link wholesale and retail markets, and contributes to removing barriers in retail and wholesale markets and to providing choices between energy suppliers for consumers;

89.  Considers that, as part of any review of the retail energy markets, serious consideration should be given to further measures to protect consumers, such as encouraging and promoting collective switching schemes, requiring energy bills to include comparisons with competitors based on historical consumption patterns, requiring suppliers to automatically place their customers on the most advantageous tariff available, and ensuring a limited, easily comparable range of standardised tariffs;

90.  Calls on the Commission, when establishing its road map for the phasing-out regulated prices, to keep the possibility for price regulation and standardising tariff structures if they are meant to limit market disturbing monopoly rents or windfall profits, with a view to protecting vulnerable consumers or facilitating the comparison of tariffs of competing suppliers;

91.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the evolution of final energy prices in Europe, including taxes, levies, subsidies and any other hidden costs, with a view to identifying actions that may help reduce such prices;

Energy efficiency contributing to moderation of demand

92.  Recalls Parliament’s resolutions of 5 February 2014, 26 November 2014 and 14 October 2015, which call for three binding energy and climate targets for 2030, in particular the 40 % energy efficiency target; emphasises that the post-2020 EU energy efficiency target should be binding and implemented through individual national targets; urges the Commission to develop various 2030 energy efficiency scenarios, including at the level fixed by Parliament of 40 %; urges the Council, which has called for an EU-wide target of at least 27 %, to revise its objective upwards in line with Parliament’s adopted target;

93.  Notes that ambitious and achievable improvements in energy-efficiency, pursued in the interests of cohesion, solidarity and cost-effectiveness, could boost energy security, competitiveness, jobs and growth, and help keep consumer expenditures low, to combat energy poverty and to meet the climate and energy objectives;

94.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to apply the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle; notes that, according to the International Energy Agency, energy efficiency is the ‘first fuel’ and represents the best return on investment of any energy resource; stresses that gains in energy efficiency, particularly the reduction of energy losses in buildings, have the crucial effect of reducing EU energy imports from third countries, given that 61 % of gas imported into the European Union is used in buildings, mainly for heating purposes; calls, in this regard, for energy efficiency and infrastructure projects to be treated as key investments that are of similar importance as investments in new generation capacity;

95.  Stresses that gains in energy efficiency both reduce energy bills for households and industries and decrease the EU’s dependence on imports from third countries in a significant way; underlines that there is the potential to create two million jobs as a result of energy efficiency measures by 2020, in particular in the building sector, which accounts for 40 % of total EU energy demand; stresses that gains in energy efficiency are complementary to a diversification of the energy supply;

96.  Calls on the Commission to identify and remove remaining barriers to energy efficiency measures, and to develop a genuine market in energy efficiency in order to foster the transfer of best practices and ensure availability of products and solutions throughout the EU, with the aim of building a true single market in energy efficiency products and services;

97.  Stresses that it is necessary to increase both the depth and the rate of building renovation and the use of sustainable energy sources in heating and cooling, through the right incentives, in order to reduce energy demand; recommends the continuation of increasing energy efficiency standards for buildings, taking account of – and encouraging – technical innovation, notably the use of building information modelling and of lifecycle impact simulations of building products in public procurements; further recommends continued support for the construction of near zero-energy buildings as an additional crucial step in securing energy independence and a sustainable and secure energy system;

98.  Underlines that investments in energy efficiency improvements made by the industry so far must be recognised and duly taken into account when discussing energy efficiency in the EU;

99.  Believes that industry needs clear signals from policy makers in order to make the necessary investments in achieving the EU’s energy objectives; highlights, therefore, the need for ambitious targets, and for a regulatory framework that promotes innovation without creating unnecessary administrative burden, in order to best promote energy efficiency within a national context;

100.  Believes that the energy-efficiency target must work alongside energy and climate goals, and must strengthen the competitiveness of the EU economy vis-à-vis its major trade partners;

101.  Stresses that a revision of existing energy efficiency legislation, including the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive and the Energy Efficiency Directive, is needed alongside proper implementation of such legislation by Member States, in order to facilitate the achievement of national targets and complement those policies already in place that operate within the 2020 climate and energy framework; calls on the Commission to review the EU energy-efficiency legislation as set out in the Annex to the Framework Strategy on Energy Union;

102.  Stresses the role of the EU energy label in empowering and informing consumers with accurate, relevant and comparable information on the energy efficiency of energy-related products; stresses the need for a revision of the energy label in order to further facilitate energy-efficient consumer choices and incentivise the manufacturing of energy-efficient products;

103.  Underlines the success and further potential of ecodesign in terms of improving energy efficiency and energy consumption of products, and thereby decreasing household energy costs and consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions; calls on the Commission to introduce further implementing measures, taking into account the wider resource efficiency agenda, and to review existing measures to ensure their adequacy;

104.  Acknowledges the essential role of local authorities, companies and citizens in securing energy independence by increasing energy efficiency through: better urban planning; the development of energy-related internet and ICT technologies; the deployment of smart grids, demand-side energy management, cogeneration, alternative fuels infrastructure and heat pump applications; self-consumption; and the establishment, modernisation and expansion of district heating and cooling systems; stresses the need to encourage citizens-based initiatives, such as cooperative- or community-based renewable energy projects, to strengthen the link between citizens and energy service companies, to encourage the use of more active and sustainable travel models, to develop and implement Smart Cities solutions, to deploy future-proof distribution infrastructure to support urban eco-mobility and to promote the renovation, as well as insulation, of buildings, including by homogenous insulation; proposes that all multi-level governance partners be brought together in an operational interface that actively involves the Covenant of Mayors;

105.  Considers it an absolute priority to develop financing instruments, tools and innovative models to mobilise public funds and leverage private finance at local, national, regional and European level to support investments in key energy efficiency sectors such as the renovation of buildings, while paying due attention to the specificities of long-term investments; emphasises, in this regard, the role of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and of the EFSI (managed by the EIB), and insists on the need to fully involve national promotional banks; acknowledges that these instruments need to be accompanied by targeted technical assistance; highlights the need to ensure the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency schemes in public buildings; calls on the Commission to take all these elements into consideration when developing the ‘Smart Financing for Smart Buildings’ initiative;

106.  Considers that the different range of European funds which finance energy efficiency improvements should be better orientated, and reprioritised towards making improvements among vulnerable, low-income consumers and tackling the issue of split incentives between building owners and tenants or among owners;

107.  Calls on the Commission to identify, in consultation with the appropriate industry sectors and national, regional and local stakeholders, best practices for energy-efficiency financing throughout the EU and abroad, and subsequently to incorporate funding and innovative financing mechanisms in EBRD, EIB and other EU funds;

108.  Stresses that developing a new energy culture is essential for meeting the energy efficiency and climate change targets; calls on the Member States to raise awareness among younger generation via suitable education modules at schools in order to build a new energy consumer behaviour;

Towards a sustainable economy

109.  Recalls that the agreement reached by the European Council in October 2014 on the ‘2030 framework for climate and energy policies’ comprises a commitment to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 40 % at least compared to 1990 levels, being the basis for developing the decarbonisation dimension of the Energy Union; notes that this decision also constitutes the most ambitious contribution to the international climate negotiations with a view to achieving a binding climate agreement at the 2015 Conference (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris in December 2015;

110.  Stresses the need to achieve a comprehensive, ambitious and binding agreement at COP 21 that contains sound guarantees for keeping the rise in global average temperature below 2 °C in comparison with pre-industrial levels, together with a global, robust and common transparency and accountability system that includes monitoring, reporting obligations and an effective and efficient compliance system; believes that the post-2020 international climate regime should include provisions to enable greater ambition, support cost-effective mitigation efforts, and provide opportunities for safeguarding environmental integrity and sustainable development; stresses the need for a strong commitment to emission reductions from the world’s largest polluters; emphasises the key role to be played by the EU diplomacy as regards climate and energy;

111.  Recalls that limiting the rise in global temperature to an average of 2°C does not guarantee that significant adverse climate impacts will be avoided; emphasises that phasing out global carbon emissions by 2050 or shortly thereafter is necessary in order to keep the world on a cost-effective emission trajectory compatible with the below 2 °C target;

112.  Believes that the development of renewable energy sources is essential to the Energy Union, taking into consideration energy costs; underlines the crucial role of renewables in the EU in attaining energy security and political and economic independence by reducing the need for energy imports; underlines the crucial role of renewables in improving air quality and creating jobs and growth; believes that renewables deliver secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy and play an important role in pursuing Europe’s leadership in a green economy and in developing new industries and technologies; underlines that, in this regard, the current power market design should be more dynamic and flexible in order to integrate variable energy sources into the market; draws attention to the fact that the production costs of renewables have considerably dropped in recent years; stresses the importance of developing cross-border infrastructure and of enhancing research and innovation in developing smarter energy grids and new energy storage solutions as well as flexible generation technologies for the integration of renewables;

113.  Welcomes the commitment from the Commission to make the European Union ‘the world number one in renewables’; urges the Commission to present an operational and workable strategy to this effect; calls on the Member States and the Commission to guarantee transparency, consistency, stability and continuity of regulatory renewable energy frameworks and to avoid retroactive changes in economic conditions of investments in order to strengthen investors’ confidence and to contribute to a cost-efficient deployment of renewable energy across the EU regions; stresses the need for better coordination of support schemes in line with the European Commission Guidance on the design of renewable energy support schemes in order to avoid potential market distortion, and safeguard effective support for renewables; stresses that the right market conditions for investment in energy efficiency, renewables and smart infrastructures are crucial for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; underlines that the Energy Union should optimise market-based instruments for the promotion of Europe’s energy sources as a means to ensure that the energy transition takes place in the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly way;

114.  Stresses that the EU must ensure an internal level playing field with regard to national subsidy and state aid regimes, which does not unfairly reinforce market dominance of certain technologies and operators, in view of transforming our energy systems; welcomes, in this regard, the Commission’s report of 10 October 2014 on subsidies and costs of EU energy, and calls on the Commission to annually update this report, in order to better identify which sectors and areas are in need of additional funds, and which sectors experience market distortions as a result of subsidies;

115.  Stresses the need to end environmentally harmful subsidies, which need to be identified and phased out urgently, since these subsidies are a waste of scarce public money which are used first for supporting polluting practices and later for cleaning up;

116.  Stresses that the transition to a competitive and sustainable low-carbon economy offers significant opportunities in terms of new jobs, innovation, growth, and lower commercial and domestic energy bills; recognises, however, that these opportunities can only be realised through strong cooperation between the Commission, Member States, local and regional authorities, citizens and industry, leading to the most effective incentives and regulatory frameworks; notes that properly managed decarbonisation should not result in increased energy costs, energy poverty, deindustrialisation of the European economy or rises in unemployment; insists, therefore, on actively involving social partners in addressing the social impact of the transition towards a sustainable Energy Union; stresses that the EU requires EU-wide and, at the same time, market-based and technology-neutral policies that take into account all relevant legislation and the relevant EU targets, and deliver on them at the lowest cost to society;

117.  Recalls that the photovoltaic industry must be at the heart of the European industrial policy to meet the demands of a growing global market in a context where the bulk of the photovoltaic cells and modules are nowadays manufactured outside the European Union, mostly in China; stresses the need for the EU to be fully part of this new investment cycle in order to maintain its leadership in R&D, in machinery and in certain other segments such as inverters and balance of systems, and to re-establish its leadership in equipment production (cells and modules); believes that the EU should set the objective to be in a position to meet at least 20 % of its own market with cells and modules manufactured domestically by 2020;

118.  Recognises the benefits of increasing renewable energy in the heat market, in particular in buildings; stresses the increased flexibility of thermal infrastructure and storage in facilitating the integration of intermittent renewable sources by storing energy in the form of heat; reiterates that energy security can be increased through the development of district heating/cooling networks, which are an ideal means of integrating sustainable heat into cities on a large scale since they can simultaneously deliver heat derived from a range of sources and are not inherently dependent on any one source;

119.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that Member States require minimum levels of renewable energy production on new and refurbished buildings and that renewable energy projects benefit from swift administrative and grid connection procedures, notably by enforcing Articles 13.4 and 13.1.f. of Directive 2009/28/EC and Article 7.3 of Directive 2009/72/EC; calls on the Commission to increase, when revising existing relevant legislation, the number of buildings equipped with renewable energy systems, to require one-stop-shop administrative procedures for small-scale renewable energy projects and simple notification procedures for renewable energy installations whose production is entirely self-consumed, and to create a framework for innovative grid-connection arrangements and for the trade of grid services at distribution network level;

120.  Calls on the Commission to adopt an EU strategy for heating and cooling that identifies all actions and synergies needed in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors to reduce this dependency, while contributing to EU’s energy and climate objectives, achieving energy savings, reinforcing the competitiveness of the European economy, stimulating growth and jobs creation and promoting system innovation; stresses that this strategy for heating and cooling should address all five dimensions of the Energy Union;

121.  Stresses that hydropower is a major, indigenous, renewable and safe energy source which accounts for 11 % of all European electricity production; stresses that hydropower will therefore continue to play an important role in electricity production and storage, and will make a major contribution to de-carbonising the European economy and reducing the EU’s dependence on external energy sources;

122.  Calls for specific focus on marine renewables, in line with the Commission’s communication on the Blue Economy, as an industry with great potential but which is less established than other renewable sectors;

123.  Notes that integrating an increasing share of domestically produced biogas could contribute positively to energy security; underlines in this context the necessity of maintaining existing gas infrastructure for that purpose;

124.  Notes that biomass from sustainable forestry could contribute to the achievement of climate and energy goals of the 2030 framework;

125.  Notes that the current EU biofuels policy has been widely criticised for not taking into account greenhouse gas emissions associated with indirect land-use change (ILUC), which can be triggered when existing agricultural production shifts to uncultivated land, both inside and outside the EU;

126.  Considers that a sustainable approach for meeting the EU’s energy security targets should not further expand the use of biofuels grown on land, and that improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles, reducing transport demand, reducing intensive livestock and increasing the use of biofuels from waste and residues that do not cause additional land-use change are better options;

127.  Looks forward to, and insists on support for, projects and investments that capitalise on waste carbon as a commodity for low-carbon chemicals and advanced biofuels (i.e. by using microbes that are grown on carbon-rich waste gases and that are transformed into fuels and chemicals that displace those made from fossil resources (or first generation biofuels)), thereby reducing emissions and pollutants from industrial processes such as steel manufacturing;

128.  Highlights the fact that in a true circular economy waste has to feed back into the economy as raw material in order to keep the added value in the product for as long as possible, and preparation for reuse and recycling therefore has a much higher priority than incineration; points to the fact that many Member States already have an overcapacity in incineration plants; stresses the need for better planning and information-sharing and the need to prevent lock-in effects; urges the Commission to take the link between the Energy Union and the circular economy into account;

129.  Recalls that European industry and SMEs are vital to the European economy and recognises that Europe’s industrial competiveness and SMEs would significantly benefit from lower energy costs;

130.  Underlines that innovation and modernisation towards more energy- and resource-efficient industrial processes contributes to strengthening the competitiveness of the EU industry; points to innovation in renewable heat technologies that could decrease imports, reduce costs and enhance system performance in the context of addressing high-temperature heat demand in industrial sectors; highlights that the significant challenge of renovation and modernisation of Europe’s building stock creates a market for high performance building materials, devices and equipment and, thereby providing a significant opportunity for European manufacturers and installers in the buildings sector to innovate and create jobs that cannot be relocated;

131.  Notes that the means of achieving the 2030 climate and energy targets must be integrated into Member States’ industrial policy, taking into account the need for reindustrialisation; takes the view that the EU’s regulatory framework and EU climate and energy policies’ objectives should be consistent and bring in a more flexible, market-oriented approach in view of ensuring a resilient Energy Union, incorporating the 2030 political climate targets and reindustrialisation objectives in order to complement Member States’ industrial policy;

132.  Stresses that effective use of research and technological innovations fosters the leadership of European industry and strengthens the competitive advantage and commercial viability of European business and industry, creates jobs while contributing to the main EU energy and climate policy goals, including: reduction of energy demand; security of supply; the competitiveness and sustainable development of energy production, distribution, transportation and consumption; combatting energy poverty; the EU targets regarding greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy resources and energy efficiency; and making the best use of Europe’s energy sources;

133.  Calls on the Commission to safeguard the competitiveness of the energy intensive industries and to ensure long-term planning security for industrial investments, which shall reflect the Commission’s aspiration of raising the contribution of industry to GDP to as much as 20 % by 2020;

134.  Underlines the key role of the Emissions Trading System (ETS) as a cost-effective, market-based tool to decarbonise Europe’s energy system and to achieve the EU’s emission reduction target for 2030 and beyond; stresses that in addition to the Market Stability Reserve (MSR), a structural post 2020 reform of the ETS should be implemented to take into account the 2030 CO2 reduction target and should include, as long as no comparable efforts are undertaken in other major economies, tangible and more harmonised measures at EU level on carbon leakage;

135.  Calls on the Commission to examine further the issue of indirect carbon costs and their impact on (and share in) electricity prices in the Member States;

136.  Stresses that ETS revenues should be utilised in particular to support low-carbon innovation, energy efficiency and other CO2 reduction measures;

137.  Recognises that Europe’s energy and efficient technologies, such as cogeneration, would make a fundamental contribution to EU energy security and the achievement of greenhouse gas emission targets; believes, in this respect, that the Energy Union must reflect the right for the Member States to use any safe and sustainable low-carbon energy sources at their disposal;

138.  While recognising that the energy mix is primarily a Member State competence, acknowledges the public concerns about hydraulic fracturing and the consequences this technology might entail for the climate, environment and public health and for the achievement of the EU’s long-term decarbonisation goal; recognises, furthermore, that the limited potential of unconventional fuels to help meet the EU’s future energy demand, coupled with high investment and exploitation costs and the current low global oil prices, means that it is questionable whether hydraulic fracturing can be a viable technology in the European Union; believes that public concerns must be properly addressed and that any hydraulic fracturing activities should comply with the highest climate, environmental and public health standards; asks those Member States which intend to pursue hydraulic fracturing to respect the 2014 Commission recommendation on minimum principles for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons (such as shale gas) using high-volume hydraulic fracturing;

139.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively pursue the decommissioning of obsolete, most polluting or unsafe energy plants, also aiming at reducing the current overcapacity of the market;

140.  Calls on the Commission to improve the conditions for deployment of CCS; believes that CCS could aid in the transition to a low-carbon energy market, and that it could have an important role in reconciling the Energy Union’s divergent objectives of a diverse, secure energy supply which simultaneously achieves the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed to meet the EU’s Roadmap 2050 targets;

141.  Believes that decarbonisation technologies such as CCS and Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) will need to be further developed and improved through considerable research and innovation efforts, to ensure that such technologies are available to lessen, or even annihilate, the environmental footprint of fossil fuels, which still make up more than 40 % of the EU’s current energy production and which are likely to remain an important energy source in the future;

142.  Calls on the Commission to set up the NER400 Innovation Fund, which should support low-carbon demonstration projects, building on the NER300 programme for CCS and renewables, but extending its scope to low-carbon innovation in industrial sectors;

143.  Notes that nuclear power provided 27 % of the EU’s electricity mix and over half of all EU low-carbon power in 2014, that 130 out of 132 EU nuclear plants are due to be decommissioned by 2050, leaving a major gap in low-carbon base load power in the EU electricity mix; recognises that while some Member States have chosen to move away from nuclear power, others are looking to develop new nuclear power projects in order to meet their national and EU energy and climate objectives, and calls on the Commission to ensure the EU provides an enabling framework for those Member States that wish to pursue new nuclear power projects to do so, within EU internal market and competition rules;

144.  Notes that nuclear power is one of the most important contributions of the European energy system, providing for lower CO2 emissions while simultaneously limiting import dependence, securing a stable production of electricity that can serve the internal market and provide a stable base for an energy system where renewables can be phased in;

145.  Calls on Member States that are phasing out nuclear power to make certain that it is replaced with a mode of energy production that can contribute commensurately to the energy supply and to stabilising the common system for production and distribution;

146.  Believes that while it is for Member States to determine their energy mix and while it is a sovereign decision of each Member State on how to decarbonise its economy, EU level coordination of policies and technological development is necessary in order to deliver on Europe’s and Member States’ climate and energy targets; recognises that in certain areas EU-level policies are the most effective, and that in other areas close cooperation and coordination between Member States is crucial; recognises that a strong and reliable governance process is needed to guarantee such coordination;

147.  Calls on the Commission to put forward proposals for establishing a Modernisation Fund, which should have strict criteria and guidance to ensure that funding is targeted at genuine energy modernisation projects, to be selected on the basis of a technology-neutral approach and of whether they are demonstrably consistent with attainment of the EU’s 2030 greenhouse gas objectives;

148.  Stresses that the EIB should be involved in establishing previously mentioned criteria and guidance for the Modernisation Fund;

149.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the development of the Energy Union ensures environmental and climate protection, improved air quality, reduced external energy dependency, biodiversity, employment and the competitiveness of European industry based on technology innovation and leadership;

150.  Emphasises that energy must be made affordable to all citizens of the EU; considers that avoiding unnecessary consumption by undertaking efficiency improvements, stronger interconnections, higher market integration and sustainable energy investment, particularly in buildings, would enable many households to access, on equal conditions, a single, sustainable, competitive and secure energy market and escape energy poverty, which in 2012 affected one in four EU citizens; invites the Commission to present a communication on energy poverty in Europe, accompanied by an action plan to fight against it, which contains a definition and indicators of energy poverty;

Moving towards energy-efficient and decarbonised transport sector

151.  Estimates that transport represents over 30 % of final energy consumption in Europe and that 94 % of transport relies on oil products; considers, therefore, that a cleaner energy system, with a clear link to the decarbonisation of the transport sector, should be at the core of a framework strategy for a resilient energy union with a forward-looking climate change policy; stresses that combining measures to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy, and develop innovative energy technologies, is of crucial importance to efforts to achieve an environmentally sustainable energy mix for European transport systems; considers that the use of varied renewable energy sources should be encouraged, including liquefied natural gas for heavy load vehicles and in the maritime sector; urges the Commission to make proposals for the elimination, where appropriate, of environmentally harmful tax subsidies; encourages support for research and innovation aimed at finding technologically better mobility solutions, as well as solutions in the area of supporting technologies and policies;

152.  Notes that decarbonising the transport sector implies the integration of measures across policy areas in the energy, transport, trade, and research and innovation domains; highlights the importance of coherent approaches across borders to prevent national fragmentation, and stresses the need to set standards and interoperability requirements that enable European businesses to take advantage of market opportunities;

153.  Notes that improved vehicle performance standards and fuel efficiency are crucial both for reducing EU oil dependency and for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and calls, therefore, on industry, the Member States and the Commission to continue and accelerate their efforts in this field , ensuring that, in light of recent scandals, emission testing is not only accurate, but also reflects real-world driving conditions; asks the Commission to review the CO2 emission standards for cars and vans for the period beyond 2020; notes, however, that the long-term solution for cutting transport emissions, and ensuring energy demand reduction and diversification of supply, lies in alternative fuels, in electrification with renewable electricity and in the promotion of more sustainable modes of transport;

154.  Supports a comprehensive road transport package promoting more efficient framework pricing of infrastructure and the roll-out of intelligent interoperable transport solutions; stresses that energy efficiency can be improved by supporting digitalisation and the use of intelligent transport systems, and by developing innovative transport services; calls for a forward-looking research and innovation strategy for the transport sector; supports the development of sustainable urban and rural mobility plans to reduce traffic pollution, congestion, noise and road accidents; believes that such plans should aim to eradicate inequalities in terms of disabled users and costs;

155.  Welcomes the shift towards the most sustainable and energy-efficient modes of transport and transport routes, such as rail, short-sea shipping, inland navigation and maritime transport by making them more competitive and efficient in terms of reducing CO2 emissions; highlights, in this regard, the importance of intermodality;

156.  Calls on the Commission to put forward a comprehensive road transport strategy, as part of the decarbonisation of the transport sector, and to support greater efforts towards the development and deployment of electric mobility for road transport;

157.  Points out that the deployment of electric vehicles will impose a heavy burden in terms of electricity generation, and calls for assessments to be made in order to determine how far the existing generating capacity will be able to cope;

158.  Calls on the Commission to revise the fuel consumption and CO2 labelling scheme for passenger cars to ensure that consumers are provided with more accurate, relevant and comparable information on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption, so as to guide the consumer’s choice towards those cars that are the most energy efficient, and in turn incentivise manufacturers to improve the energy efficiency of their vehicles and increase energy security;

159.  Insists on the Commission accelerating the introduction of a revised test cycle, to ensure that CO2 and other pollutant emissions from vehicles reflect emissions under real driving conditions;

160.  Calls on the Commission to accelerate the integration of advanced technologies into innovative rail by bringing forward the Shift to Rail initiative, which can play a key role in clean public transport;

161.  Recalls that international shipping is still excluded from binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet is, in terms of traffic, experiencing a high growth rate; calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal on greenhouse gas reduction targets for international shipping, unless binding measures are agreed in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) before the end of 2016;

162.  Stresses the need for increased coordination of transport, heating and cooling, and power decarbonisation strategies; calls on the Commission to come forward with holistic plans for the decrease of CO2 emissions from the transport and heating and cooling sectors, considering, inter alia, that clean and cheap power produced from variable renewable energy sources, when abundantly available, could be used to charge electric vehicles and to run heating and cooling appliances;

163.  Stresses the need to prioritise EFSI support for transport projects that enable the technological transition towards a clean and sustainable transport system; stresses that other financial support instruments available at EU level should prioritise investment in infrastructure for intermodality, rail, maritime shipping and inland waterways;

164.  Encourages the Commission to include in its work on harmonising certification criteria for sustainable tourism a criterion relating to renewable energy use and another relating to the reduction of CO2 emissions, in line with the EU targets;

Research, innovation and competitiveness

165.  Calls on the Commission to intensify its research efforts regarding the better use of Europe’s energy resources and the lessening of their environmental impact, with a view to ensuring sustainable economic growth, job creation, industrial competitiveness and, in particular, the long-term climate and energy targets of the EU;

166.  Stresses that, in this regard, all the EU’s funding options for boosting safe and sustainable low-carbon energy technologies, energy efficiency, renewables, smart grids, decentralised production, flexible generation, electrical storage and electrification of the transport system must be fully exploited; calls on the Commission to intensify its research efforts on, and roll-out of, such technologies to meet its 2020, 2030 and longer-term objectives, and to improve its energy security and facilitate economic recovery; expects the mid-term review of the Horizon 2020 research programme to reflect these priorities; recalls that the Horizon 2020’s Energy Challenge is designed to support the transition to a reliable, sustainable and competitive energy system that has its main priorities listed under the headings Energy Efficiency, Low Carbon Technologies and Smart Cities & Communities; recalls that at least 85 % of the energy challenge in the budget of Horizon 2020 is to be spent in non-fossil fuels areas, within which at least 15 % of the overall energy challenge budget is to be spent on market up-take activities of renewable and energy efficiency technologies;

167.  Believes that greater effort in developing such technologies can bring significant long-term benefits in terms of cost-effective decarbonisation, reduced generation costs and reduced energy demand, thus strengthening competitiveness of industry;

168.  Notes the European technological leadership in key sectors such as wind turbines, electricity cables, grid development and services, urban transport systems; regrets that this leadership is under stress and calls on the Commission to take urgent actions to maintain this leadership;

169.  Urges the Commission to develop an initiative on the EU’s global technology and innovation leadership on renewable and low-carbon energy technologies, including wave energy, floating solar technologies and biofuels produced from algae, and to boost public and private research, development and innovation activities in these fields;

170.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to seek for better interaction and coordination of national and European research programmes, especially in the fields of energy, transport, ICT and construction, in order to ensure that priority is given to common challenges such as increasing energy efficiency by not focusing only on the heating sector but also on cooling, promoting small-scale renewable energies, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as increasing energy security and developing new renewable energy sources, and to maximise the market uptake of new technologies;

171.  Stresses the added value of integrating ICT in the energy system, and calls on the Commission to introduce common standards for smart grids at the transmission system level, to ensure a stable supply and free flow of energy across borders and contribute to energy security, and at distribution system level, to ensure security of supply for local communities, cities and regions; highlights, in this regard, the role that developing smarter energy grids and new energy storage facilities can play increasing the level of renewable energy sources;

172.  Acknowledges that smart metering devices make a significant contribution to distribution grid services; stresses that consumers shall remain the ultimate owners of their data, and that data transmitted to DSOs and other market operators should be anonymised in order to fully respect the right to privacy;

173.  Believes that the further development of an energy internal market is intrinsically linked to the Digital Single Market; calls on the Commission to promote the connection between the Energy Union and the Digital Single Market through the maximisation of consumer access to energy services using digital platforms, and through the development of an energy internal market that is more competitive, transparent and integrated in the digital economy;

174.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to increase IT security and the protection of critical energy infrastructures that provide crucial services for consumers, particularly with regard to the development of industrial production and the increasing role of ICT in the energy sector; stresses, in this regard, the importance of the adoption and timely implementation of the Network and Information Security Directive to maintain high levels of network and information security of critical infrastructures;

175.  Underlines that it should be a priority for the Member States, within the framework of Horizon 2020, to bring down the costs of sustainable, safe and less mature energy technologies, particularly those that contribute to the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the achievement of the EU’s 2030 targets; calls on both the Commission and the Member States to provide a clear legal and strategic framework as well as funding opportunities for R&D initiatives and deployment projects that help the European Union achieve its climate, energy, and environmental goals and strengthen economic competitiveness; welcomes the adoption by the Commission of a revised SET-Plan; emphasises that R&D and innovation should focus on system integration of the different solutions available or under development, rather than on individual sectors and technologies separately from each other;

176.  Recognises that progress in environmentally friendly, cost-effective innovations and R&D is also key to the EU’s future competitiveness, including Europe’s industry;

177.  Calls on the Commission to provide an explicit mapping of the different funding and financing instruments, such as the InvestEU programme, Connecting Europe (PCIs), R&D funds, structural and investment funds, smart grid financing instruments (ERA-Net Plus), the Horizon 2020 programme (H2020), EIB, the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR), the Connecting Europe Facility – Energy (CEF-E), NER 300, the Research Fund for Coal and Steel (RFCS), and Eurogia+, and to clarify the eligibility rules for each of these programmes;

Delivering the Energy Union: citizens and cities

178.  Recalls the commitment from 6 000 European cities to be leaders in the energy transition notably through the Covenant of Mayors; urges the Commission to fully mobilise this network as well as other initiatives such as Smart Cities and Communities, and Energy Cities, and give them the financial and human resources to develop further; considers that parties to the Covenant of Mayors should be given priority access to European funding;

179.  Stresses that active education/training and skills strategies are fundamental in the transition to a sustainable, resource-efficient economy; calls on the Member States to establish targeted citizens’ training and education programmes and to encourage local community-led education to reduce energy demand and produce renewable energy; emphasises that the success of the Energy Union requires, on the one hand, equal access to initial as well as life-long education and training, as an essential means to respond to changing circumstances and citizens' aspirations, and, on the other hand, to the needs of the labour market; recalls that training and up-skilling programmes to enable workers to fully reap the sustainable and local job potential of renewable energy development are indispensable;

o
o   o

180.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Contracting Parties of the Energy Community.

(1) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0344.
(2) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 59.
(3) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0088.
(4) OJ C 332 E, 15.11.2013, p. 28.
(5) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0444.
(6) OJ C 188 E, 28.6.2012, p. 42.
(7) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0094.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0445


Making Europe's electricity grid fit for 2020
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European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on achieving the 10 % electricity interconnection target – Making Europe’s electricity grid fit for 2020 (2015/2108(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0445A8-0330/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Achieving the 10 % electricity interconnection target’ (COM(2015)0082),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 15-16 March 2002,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20-21 March 2014,

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 23-24 October 2014,

–  having regard to the ENTSO-E ‘Ten-Year Network Development Plan 2014’,

–  having regard to the Madrid Declaration of the Energy Interconnections Links Summit between Spain, France, Portugal, the European Commission and the EIB of 4 March 2015,

–  having regard to the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) (Regulation (EU) No 1316/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0330/2015),

Benefits of interconnection

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication and strategy as a positive step towards achieving the 10 % electricity interconnection target and improving the functioning of the internal electricity market in the EU;

2.  Acknowledges that renewable energy, increased energy efficiency and a sustainable energy mix leading to energy savings and an internal energy market that allows energy to flow freely are important means for a stable, secure, independent, inclusive, transparent and competitive energy system for the EU, which generates high-quality jobs and wealth within a future-oriented sustainable economy; underlines the fact that a higher degree of electricity interconnectivity, smart grids and new market design are necessary for developing such a system; believes that creating such a system and ending energy islands should be a major political priority of the Energy Union;

3.  Recognises that electricity interconnection is one of the key preconditions for completing an integrated internal electricity market, which, if well designed, will help to achieve our climate objectives, including the EU’s aim to be the leader in renewables, and improve the EU’s geopolitical position through greater energy security and independence, as well as reduce energy isolation and the possibility of perturbations in the energy system; stresses that the electricity interconnectors also need to be addressed, planned and constructed through strong, coordinated regional cooperation that respects the competences of national authorities to determine the energy mix while respecting the EU’s long-term climate and energy goals;

4.  Underlines the fact that the benefits of a substantially increased interconnectivity of the European network go way beyond the economic and geopolitical dimensions; it is a strategic principle that should lead to a more resilient and robust network, better prepared to deal with all kinds of alterations and disruptions; and it allows the growing share of power from renewable sources to blend efficiently into the European network;

5.  Recalls that as ICT plays an increasing role in the electricity networks, electricity system security is more vulnerable as regards cyber threats; ask the Commission to evaluate electricity system security risks and, if needed, to formulate an action plan to combat it;

6.  Stresses that a fully integrated internal electricity market would facilitate the electricity trading and balancing services, and increase security and lower the volatility of electricity prices to the benefit of citizens and the competitiveness of Europe’s industry and business in a global economy, as it is estimated that EUR 12-40 billion could be saved annually by European consumers by 2030;

7.  Notes that, according to the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E), investments in the necessary interconnection projects of pan-European significance could be as high as EUR 150 billion by 2030, and notes with interest that, through such an investment in interconnectivity, electricity prices could be reduced by a minimum of EUR 2/MWh, and that these investments would allow Europe to cover a large share of its electric load with renewable energy sources; recalls that the internal electricity market must benefit all EU consumers; requests that the relevant institutions monitor that households, SMEs and other retail consumers reap an actual benefit, which should not remain limited to wholesale prices alone;

8.  Stresses that the phasing out of regulated energy prices for consumers should take into account the real level of market competition; notes, furthermore, that the Energy Union Strategy should insure that consumers have access to affordable, safe and sustainable energy prices;

The 10 % electricity interconnection target

9.  Recognises the 10 % target – to be achieved by 2020 – as a valuable target and an important step in the right direction; regrets that twelve Member States, mainly in the periphery of the EU, remain below the 10 % electricity interconnection target and are thus largely isolated from the internal electricity market; stresses, therefore, that more should be done to assist those Member States whose low level of connectivity hinders the completion of the internal electricity market to meet the target; considers, however, that, on its own, the 10 % target does not always reflect the market situation, and that it has not been established on the basis of scientific evidence; recalls that the 10 % target was first set in 2002 on the basis of the installed electricity generation capacity that existed at that time; acknowledges that, although the 10 % target is important, it describes neither the quantity of electricity flowing between countries nor the quality, such as regards the availability of the existing interconnection infrastructure or of the existing national infrastructure between the interconnectors; believes, therefore, that a single interconnection target based on installed electricity generation capacity is not, on its own, appropriate for all Member States; is therefore convinced that there is a need in the mid-term, and certainly within the 2030 horizon, to agree upon ambitious and evidence-based complementary interconnection targets, agreed by the regions; considers that such targets should be established on the basis of a variety of parameters; calls on the Commission to launch, as soon as possible, the technical discussion on such parameters; stresses that, in addition to the quantitative target, open access and the availability of interconnectors is also imperative if the remaining barriers for the functioning of the European electricity market are to be overcome; urges the Commission, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) and national regulators to ensure transparency and close monitoring of the accessibility of the interconnectors in order to prevent bottlenecks that hinder the functioning of the electricity market and to secure the operation of electricity systems;

10.  Observes that the limited transmission capacity in, for example, the Nord Pool Spot operating area gives rise to regional price differences, despite the fact that the interconnection target between countries is exceeded by a significant margin;

A holistic approach

11.  Notes that the frequent congestion of transmission networks might be linked to cross-border lines, but might also be the result of weak, outdated internal grids and limited availability on national networks; emphasises that reinforcements of national grids are imperative if interconnections are to be used to full capacity; insists that a holistic approach should be taken when assessing the need for reinforcement/extension of cross-border and national connections, with the aim of making the best possible use of the existing interconnection lines and the capacity of existing national infrastructure;

12.  Stresses the role of the Commission under the third energy package as guardian of an unbundled and accessible electricity market and facilitator of a decentralised energy system, in which Member States shall enable smaller suppliers, in particular prosumers who use renewable energy resources, to access the grid in accordance with fair market rules and with best practices for self-consumption;

13.  Notes that our energy landscape is becoming more decentralised, given the growing importance of energy prosumers; notes, therefore, the importance of a well-designed transmission and distribution smart grid; stresses the increasing and crucial role of distribution system operators (DSOs) as market facilitators, since a large majority of renewable energy installations are connected to the distribution networks; stresses, in this respect, that, when trying to solve a bottleneck in the grid, a thorough assessment is needed to define which combination of actions – including building new transmission lines, developing local smart grids, and integrating efficiency and flexibility in the system – is the most optimal, given the specific situation;

14.  Stresses that the benefits of raising the interconnection level cannot be accomplished without a high level of coupling of markets and transmission system operators (TSOs); calls on the Commission to make all efforts to prevent that coupling is established at Member States grouping level and to promote coupling at EU level that includes all Member States and neighbours, in particular the countries taking part in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP);

15.  Recalls that projects of common interest (PCIs) are evaluated by Regional Groups, set up by the Commission and comprising of representatives from the Member States, national regulatory authorities (NRAs), electricity transmission system operators and project promoters, ENTSO-E, ACER, the Commission and other key stakeholders;

16.  Underlines the fact that the list of PCIs must be developed in a more transparent and accountable way; notes that ENTSO-E, TSOs and project promoters play the predominant role in the development of a harmonised cost-benefit analysis methodology, in preparing the ten-year network development plans and the network codes, and in evaluating the costs and benefits of each project; recalls the need to provide complete assessments, including economic, social and environmental impacts; asks, in this context, the Commission to ensure that these assessments are conducted by qualified experts that are fully independent from the project promoters; stresses the need to optimise the overall process by promoting more engagement of Parliament and other stakeholders, including civil society representatives; calls on the Commission, ACER and national regulators to play a more proactive role in order to ensure a more neutral, transparent, traceable and inclusive consultative process; calls on the Commission to assess the situations in which the use of best available technology (BAT) could be established as a significant parameter for granting EU funds to projects;

17.  Calls on the Commission to explain better the ranking process for the PCIs; recalls that in order to be considered, PCIs should be included in the ENTSO-E’s ten year network development plans but that the final decision for funding lies with the Commission, on the basis of its own assessment criteria for the selection of projects; asks the Commission to account explicitly for these criteria;

18.  Invites the Commission to report annually to Parliament on the implementation of PCIs and on progress to reach the 10 % target, as part of the annual stocktaking foreseen in the Strategic Framework for the Energy Union;

Permit granting process

19.  Stresses that the lengthy permit granting procedure is a major challenge for new high-voltage lines in Europe; calls on the Member States to facilitate speedier processes whilst maintaining an adequate level of guarantees for the public interest, including effective public consultations;

20.  Recalls that projects on the PCI list benefit from preferential regulatory treatment, fast-track planning, a binding time limit of 3,5 years for the granting of a permit, and faster environmental assessment procedures, and may also be eligible for extra funding under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI); asks the Commission to make an assessment on how this fast-track planning is implemented and complied with in all Member States;

21.  Recognises that public awareness and support is essential to ensure fast implementation of interconnector projects; acknowledges that transparent and inclusive processes, and highest environmental standards, must not be undermined when building new power lines; calls on the project promoters to use BAT for new interconnectors aiming to enhance coherence between project investments in the grids, environmental sustainability and local acceptance;

22.  Stresses that the implementation of a one-stop shop approach contributes to shortening the permit granting procedures; recalls that the TEN-E Regulation requires each Member State to designate a National Competent Authority responsible for facilitating, shortening and coordinating the permit process at national level; welcomes, in this regard, the evaluation of the ‘one-stop-shop’-approach by the Commission to take place in 2017, and encourages the Commission, in this framework, to assess the potential of a single ‘one-stop shop’ at EU level;

ACER’s role

23.  Notes the understaffing and lack of resources of ACER; asks the EU budgetary authority to provide the agency with the necessary resources, in particular sufficient own staff, in order to allow the agency to fulfil, adequately and in a timely manner, the tasks assigned to it by legislation; calls for ACER’s role to be strengthened, in particular in relation to ENTSO-E and with regards to enhancing coordination and arbitration among NRAs as well as coordination of cross-border regulatory matters;

24.  Stresses the importance of qualified staffing of national energy regulators, with the required expertise and specialisation and independence; calls on the Commission to carry out an independent audit, by the end of 2016 at the latest, on the resources available to, and the degree of independence achieved so far by, all national energy regulators, including the identification of recommendations on how to improve the situation;

25.  Notes that there is still a lack of transparency with regard to the calculation of cross-border capacities made available to the market and the frequency, magnitude and reasons of curtailment on interconnectors; doubts, in this context, that most of the significant curtailments are fully addressed; asks the Commission to provide ACER with the adequate competences and powers to gather the necessary information on each individual cross-border transmission capacity so as to allow ACER to fulfil its monitoring responsibilities effectively; requests that such information be supplied to ACER, together with the necessary contextual information about the design and functioning of the national network; welcomes, in this respect, the swift conclusion of the network codes for electricity; notes the Commission’s intentions of expanding the mandate, purview and powers of ACER, and its reflections on what this might entail, as presented in its recent communication ‘Delivering a New Deal for Energy Consumers’; calls on the Commission to come forward with concrete suggestions in this regard, to further the realisation of a true internal energy market; notes that any new responsibilities assigned to ACER should be matched by adequate resources;

Financial instruments

26.  Notes the Commission’s estimate that EUR 35 billion of financing is necessary to reach the 10 % target by 2020 across all Member States; recalls that, according to the CEF Regulation ((EU) No 1316/2013), the major part of the financial assistance within the CEF energy envelope should be made available for electricity projects, and insists that the Commission give due consideration to that fact; supports the Commission’s recommendation that the CEF be concentrated on a few key projects; stresses that special attention must be given to projects that address the most significant gaps in the integrated EU electricity market and the lack of sufficient interconnectivity; considers that adequate EU financing should continue to be made available also beyond 2020 to support the construction of non-commercially viable electricity connection projects necessary to ensure the functioning of the internal energy market and security of the operation of electricity systems; stresses the importance of the EIB in supporting investors in commercially viable electricity infrastructure projects; notes the establishment of the EFSI, and encourages the Commission to ensure that the fund effectively attracts investments in electricity interconnection;

27.  Urges the Commission, furthermore, to: (1) encourage investments in the best available technology, which can be costlier but offers considerable life-cycle financial advantages as well as time savings and technology leadership advantages in the long run; (2) conduct a review of the financing rules with the aim of streamlining the existing mechanisms; and (3) strengthen incentives for further investments in the grid by, inter alia, encouraging profits made from transmission congestion rent to be reinvested in network-reinforcing infrastructures and technologies, including additional interconnectors;

Regional cooperation

Baltic region

28.  Notes that planned interconnectors are expected to allow the Baltic States to reach the 10 % goal by the end of 2015; is concerned that the Baltic states’ networks are still synchronised with, and dependent on, the Russian electricity system, which is an impediment for a truly integrated and properly functioning European electricity market; calls for a rapid synchronisation of the Baltic States’ electricity networks with the Continental European Network in order to ensure full integration in the internal electricity market, a higher security of electricity supply and secure system operation; asks the concerned Member States to take the necessary steps to initiate, and ENTSO-E to launch, a formal procedure for the extension of the synchronous Continental European Network towards the Baltic states; invites the Commission to support and monitor the implementation of this project; highlights the common Nordic power market as a best practice for cooperation among Member States in creating and developing the internal electricity market; acknowledges the importance of higher interconnectivity between Poland and the Nordic electricity market if Poland is to reach its 10 % target; welcomes the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding on reinforced Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP); underlines that regional cooperation through BEMIP shall continue and that solidarity between Member States in implementing PCIs is further enhanced;

North Sea region

29.  Acknowledges that offshore wind in the North Sea region has the potential to generate over 8 % of Europe’s power supply by 2030; notes further that coordination of the planning and building of a regional offshore grid infrastructure, market access and reserve sharing in the North Sea region could lead to cost savings of EUR 5-13 billion per year by 2030 through a better integrated regional market; calls on the Commission and the relevant Member States to endorse these potentials when developing the 2030 governance structure and the subsequent planning; calls on the Commission and the Member States for strong political support and endorsement of the North Sea Offshore Grid as a key step in building an effective Energy Union; urges the upcoming Presidencies of the Council of the EU to prepare and agree on a legal framework during the 2016 Dutch Presidency in the form of an Intergovernmental Agreement between the relevant Member States that defines a shared North Seas electricity strategy;

Central-Western Europe

30.  Highlights that the shared electricity market between Austria and Germany is furthering the implementation of an integrated European energy market; acknowledges that the common bidding zone – which was introduced in 2002 – means that the wholesale electricity prices in these two countries are the same, and ensures unlimited electricity trading and security of supply of almost 100 %; notes that the Austrian-German bidding zone is the only relatively large zone in Europe shared by two countries; notes that larger bidding zones support the necessary characteristics of a well-functioning and liquid electricity market, qualified to reduce trading costs, to provide resilient price signals for investment decisions and to foster more competition; calls for a rapid development of grids to allow the integration of renewable energy in the electricity market, and to guarantee grid stability, especially in southern Germany; calls for the retention of this success model and an enlargement of the bidding zone;

Central and South-Eastern Europe

31.  Stresses that Central and South-Eastern Europe (CSEE) is endowed with a vast – and largely untapped – potential in terms of renewables; notes that cooperation and coordination on long-term planning and building of a regional grid infrastructure in Central and South-Eastern Europe must go beyond the EU in order to include non-EU Western Balkan countries and Turkey; calls for the establishment of a new platform where all key stakeholders in the region could discuss and provide political backing to joint projects designed to fully exploit the region’s electricity potential; recognises that the EU’s Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity High Level Group, established in February 2015, could become such a platform, provided its mandate is expanded to include the electricity domain and the involvement of CSEE’s non-EU countries; acknowledges that the platform would enable the Commission to provide leadership and political support;

32.  Notes that the high dependence of Central and South-Eastern Europe on energy imports means that it is vital to increase cross-border electricity capacity, which would help ensure the region’s security of supply and, in the long term, help reduce people’s electricity bills;

33.  Recommends that the Commission thoroughly assesses the prospects of new electricity interconnections in the Mediterranean region and between South European and North African markets in view of increasing security of supply and developing renewables in both regions;

Iberian Peninsula

34.  Stresses the importance of significantly increasing interconnection between Spain and France to support the renewables in the region and to enable the Iberian Peninsula to participate fully in the internal electricity market; considers the Madrid Declaration, signed on 4 March 2015, and the establishment of a High Level Group on Interconnections for South-West Europe, as important steps towards increasing the region’s interconnectivity; acknowledges that the current interconnection capacity between the Iberian Peninsula and mainland Europe is too low, and that the projects included in the first PCI list were not sufficient to achieve the interconnection target in 2020; calls on the countries of the region to support the development of their considerable renewable energy potential and to facilitate the access of the sector to the integrated European market;

35.  Welcomes the initiative of the Commission to carry out a study of the benefits of the interconnection of the Iberian Peninsula with France, the United Kingdom, Italy and countries of the south bank of the Mediterranean;

Beyond 2020

36.  Notes that Europe’s energy system has evolved since 2002, when the 10 % electricity interconnection target was originally set – in particular, renewable energy sources have been developed across the continent; recommends, in this context, that the 15 % target, based on installed capacity for 2030, should not stand alone, and that is should be assessed carefully and thoroughly to ensure that it is fit for purpose and is pertinent and feasible; asks the Commission, therefore, to assess the setting of regional, complementary targets and to find better qualitative and quantitative benchmarks, such as trade flows, peak flows and bottlenecks, that highlight how much interconnection is needed;

37.  Stresses the need to derive a future electricity interconnection target on the basis of the EU’s long-term climate goals, and of the sustainable energy system that the EU is looking for; notes, in this context, that the degree of interconnection required will depend on several parameters, including: (a) the application in national and EU policy of the ‘energy efficiency first’ principle and more demand-side response measures; (b) the development of decentralised renewables-based electricity and its correlated smart grids; (c) national decisions on the energy mix, taking into account the EU’s long-term climate and energy goals; (d) the development of energy storage technologies – including at household and municipality levels; (e) the use of the best available technologies where appropriate; (f) the recognition of people as prosumers in the energy system; and (g) the creation of clear incentives for investments in the grids;

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


Implementation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility
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European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on implementation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility (2015/2042(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0446A8-0331/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on ‘implementation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility – 2013’ (COM(2014)0639),

–  having regard to the Interim Evaluation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility of 5 May 2015(1),

–  having regard to the ‘Study on imperfections in the area of microfinance and options how to address them through an EU financial instrument’(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1296/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 on a European Union Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI) and amending Decision No 283/2010/EU establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion(3) (the ‘EaSI Regulation’),

–  having regard to Decision No 283/2010/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 March 2010 establishing a European Progress Microfinance Facility for employment and social inclusion(4) (‘the Facility’) (the ‘Decision’),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 March 2009 with recommendations to the Commission on a European initiative for the development of microcredits in support of growth and employment(5),

–  having regard to the European Parliamentary Research Service’s in-depth analysis of May 2015 entitled ‘European Progress Microfinance Facility – Interim evaluation’(6),

–  having regard to Special Report No 8/2015 of the European Court of Auditors, entitled ‘Is EU financial support adequately addressing the needs of micro-entrepreneurs?’,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0331/2015),

A.  whereas microfinance contributes to meeting the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy; whereas microfinance can lift people out of poverty and unemployment, give them dignity and enhance cohesion in communities by improving social inclusion and minimising social divergences;

B.  whereas the objective of the Facility is to increase access to, and availability of, microfinance for persons who have lost or are at risk of losing their job, or have difficulties entering or re-entering the labour market, as well as persons who are facing the threat of social exclusion or vulnerable persons who are in a disadvantaged position with regard to access to the conventional credit market and who want to start or further develop their own micro-enterprises, including self-employment; whereas the objective of the Facility is also to increase access to, and availability of, microfinance for micro-enterprises and the social economy;

C.  whereas the objective of the Facility is to improve the capacity of intermediaries to increase the number of potential operations, in order to generate employment through quality job creation, growth and social inclusiveness in local communities;

D.  whereas the financial situation of women borrowers appears to be worse than that of men, with a higher share of women being unemployed or at risk of poverty(7); whereas the ratio between female and male entrepreneurs benefitting from the Facility is only 36:64 and is still insufficient in terms of equal gender balance;

E.  whereas the marginalisation and multiple discrimination suffered by certain groups of women further exacerbate their economic disadvantage and difficulty in accessing financing; whereas the insertion of women suffering from exclusion should be a priority;

F.  whereas an increasing number of women participating in the labour market are also primary breadwinners for their families; whereas the rate of single parents is higher for women than for men; whereas microfinance should benefit an increasing number of women;

G.  whereas the social economy includes cooperatives, mutual societies, non-profit associations, foundations and social enterprises, which contribute to the Union’s employment, social cohesion, regional and rural development, environmental protection, consumer protection, agricultural, third-country development and social security policies;

H.  whereas, as a consequence of the economic and financial crisis, levels of poverty and social exclusion have increased, as have long-term unemployment, youth unemployment and social inequalities;

I.  whereas the Facility improves the conditions under which borrowers can obtain loans and makes financing available for otherwise non-eligible individuals; whereas microfinance intermediaries (MFIs) have benefited from the Facility in 22 Member States; whereas the overall objective of the Facility is to disburse 46 000 microloans by 2020, representing an estimated amount of EUR 500 million;

J.  whereas the repayment rate by borrowers is estimated at 95 %; whereas the Facility has helped individuals to enter or re-enter the labour market, or start their own businesses, and helped self-employed people to preserve or expand their microenterprises in terms of jobs preserved, new hires and turnover generated; whereas the Facility has reached remote European areas and triggered economic activity;

K.  whereas outreach to minorities remains difficult to assess as most MFIs are not specifically engaged in an activity to increase outreach to minorities; whereas recipients of microloans do not necessarily see themselves as a marginalised group or fear discrimination if their ethnic background is disclosed;

L.  whereas 60 % of the individuals for whom data are available were either unemployed or inactive at the time of their microloan application; 84 % of recipients were in the age group of 25-54, and 36 % of recorded entrepreneurs supported by the loans were female;

M.  whereas the Facility should be assessed qualitatively and not just quantitatively; whereas although it is simpler to assess this Facility in terms of economic efficiency, its efficacy as a means of ensuring social inclusion should also be assessed, as should the quality and knock-on effect of the jobs created;

N.  whereas the targeted ratio of 40:60 between female and male entrepreneurs has almost been reached, and whereas it is significantly higher than the Union average;

O.  whereas business development services such as training and mentoring are key to the success and viability of a microenterprise;

P.  whereas the absence of financing of enterprises in the social economy has been identified as a shortcoming of the Facility;

Q.  whereas there are indications that microfinance might be one element in supporting businesses to transition from the shadow economy to the status of declared economic activity;

R.  whereas a greater degree of public disclosure of data related to the provision of microloans by MFIs is the best way of promoting better use of public funding; whereas a greater degree of public disclosure of data facilitates comparisons of the performance of MFIs;

S.  whereas there is potential for synergies between the Facility and the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and other EU funds, thus avoiding undesirable overlaps;

T.  whereas Article 6 of the Financial Regulation stipulates that ‘the budget shall be established and implemented in accordance with the principles of unity, budgetary accuracy, annuality, equilibrium, unit of account, universality, specification, sound financial management which requires effective and efficient internal control, and transparency’;

U.  whereas the Facility benefits from EU funding and from the European Investment Bank’s financial contribution, both of which are managed by the European Investment Fund (EIF); it also foresees additional funding from private investors;

V.  whereas this instrument is still not well known to potential beneficiaries;

Increasing access to microfinance

1.  Stresses the importance of a financial instrument such as the Facility in times of financial crisis in creating new undertakings, promoting new employment and ensuring that unemployed, disadvantaged people and microenterprises have access to financing, while mitigating the risk for MFIs;

2.  Notes that the impact on employment creation was less than initially expected, in spite of the fact that many recipients would have been completely excluded from the credit market were it not for microcredit; believes that this less-than-expected impact on employment creation can partly be explained by the fact that the Facility was implemented at the same time as the economy was experiencing a major economic crisis which impacted both on the credit market and on employment figures; notes, however, that the Facility substantially contributed to job preservation; takes into account that this will be addressed by the new, more flexible EaSI instrument;

3.  Regrets the high number of rejected applications for microfinance (almost 2 000 applications were rejected, partly on grounds of over-indebtedness of persons and undertakings) and the still significant microfinance market gap, despite the increase in the number of micro-borrowers; calls on the Commission to conduct a more detailed study of the reasons for these rejections, including finding ways to resolve them;

4.  Underlines the importance of the Facility, especially in times of crisis, in its role of enabling unemployed and disadvantaged people to have access to financing; emphasises that given the current migration and asylum crisis in particular, micro-financing can act as a fundamental support for refugees and migrants entering the EU labour market;

5.  Calls on the Member States to establish contact points to promote knowledge among potential beneficiaries and citizens in general about the Facility;

6.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States, capitalising on the experience gathered so far, to raise awareness, particularly in remote regions and within communities, especially in those with a minority background or within organisations for persons with disabilities, about the existence of the Facility, its benefits and the ways to access it;

7.  Notes that in 2013 actions funded under the Facility included senior loans and guarantees; notes in addition that some MFIs receive both a guarantee and a loan but that these two instruments always cover different portfolios;

8.  Calls for the Facility to take account of the added value of projects in regions with severe and permanent natural or demographic handicaps, such as sparsely populated regions and regions undergoing depopulation, since this will not only stimulate job creation there but also help maintain population levels;

9.  Welcomes the fact that Commission and the EIF have made the Microfinance and Social Entrepreneurship (MF/SE) axis of EaSI operational so as to secure access to money for the beneficiaries; expects that EaSI will tackle successfully the shortcomings of the Facility;

10.  Calls on the Commission to assess the suitability of the current definition of microcredit with a view to ensuring that future financial instruments meet the needs of the market and of beneficiaries and the targets defined in Article 2 of the Decision;

11.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to gather and assess data on the characteristics of microenterprises, their needs and their survival rates, and to propose adjustments to the EaSI Regulation, if necessary, during the mid-term review; welcomes the fact that the balance and the reflows available at the end of the Facility will be injected into the budget of the MF/SE axis of EaSI, thus increasing the number of guarantees and funded instruments that will be offered to microborrowers;

12.  Welcomes the fact that all seven of the financial instruments of the Facility hitherto examined have attracted additional private funding; expresses concern, nevertheless, that according to the report by the Court of Auditors, as far as guarantees are concerned, the target values for leverage ratios were achieved in only one case out of seven, and in two cases were not achieved;

13.  Welcomes the increased flexibility of the new programme under EaSI in responding to changing needs in respect of reallocation of the funds among axes of the programme; calls on the Commission to avoid double funding by developing clear and transparent synergies between EaSI and other Union programmes and initiatives;

14.  Calls on the Commission to provide greater publicity and information concerning the Facility and the means of access to it;

15.  Calls on the Commission to enlarge the geographical scope of the Facility, in order to reach every Member State; highlights the need to widen the sectorial scope of the Facility beyond the agriculture and trade sectors;

Reaching target groups and social impact reporting

16.  Deplores the fact that, owing to the lack of well-defined social reporting, the social impact of the Facility has not been measured more accurately in terms of job creation, business sustainability and minority group outreach; calls on the Commission, therefore, to adhere to standards for social performance measurements in an empirical way so as to ensure the highest social impact, also with regard to the Europe 2020 targets and to assess whether the definition of target groups, including people with disabilities, needs to be clarified further;

17.  Notes that the Facility has started its operations as a pilot project; notes, furthermore, that weaknesses were identified in terms of outreach to vulnerable groups such as migrants and disabled people; believes, however, that lessons learned have been taken into account and that some of the shortcomings have already been tackled in the EaSI instrument; welcomes the fact that the strategic assessment of the targets has been developed in accordance with the Europe 2020 objectives;

18.  Calls on the EIF to cooperate with MFIs, requiring them to apply the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision and prioritising those MFIs that have demonstrated their ability and willingness to cooperate with organisations providing further support to final beneficiaries; also calls on the EIF to enforce provisions in agreements with MFIs requiring them to cooperate more closely with organisations representing vulnerable groups in order to reach target groups more effectively;

19.  Calls on the Commission to improve methods of evaluating the viability, and the impact within their community, of businesses after repayment of the microcredit;

20.  Calls on the Commission and the EIF to improve reporting about beneficiaries and MFIs, while recognising that a balance needs to be struck so as to not overburden MFIs; stresses that the information that would be required for an appropriate report is provided by both the MFIs and the microborrowers in order to obtain a loan;

21.  Finds it regrettable that information on the use of the loans and guarantees related to the Facility is fragmentary and incomplete and lacks detailed information on the employment status of the final recipients, even though the Court of Auditors found that the reporting was in keeping with the requirements of the Decision;

22.  Calls on the EIF to ensure that MFIs publicise data on the number and the amount of microloans provided and on the type of final beneficiaries;

23.  Calls on the Commission to pursue equality between men and women in terms of access to microfinance and to envisage an equal target ratio between male and female entrepreneurs in the future; calls on the Commission and the Member States to encourage MFIs to implement specific strategies to target women and support female entrepreneurship, including through cooperation with relevant associations and organisations in the field;

24.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to further promote the visibility and information as regards the possibilities of financing under this Facility, including through awareness-raising campaigns, exchange of best practices among women entrepreneurs, and workshops and training that specifically target women, with a view to achieving better gender balance in access to microfinance;

25.  Calls on the Commission to take into account the benefits of microfinance for women, including the creation of sustainable jobs; calls on the Commission to facilitate exchanges of views and sharing of good practices between women entrepreneurs;

26.  Recognises the importance of the targeted ratio between female and male entrepreneurs; believes, however, that the success of the Facility should not be measured solely by blanket targets but on the ability of the Facility to enable micro-entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises to get their projects off the ground and contribute to economic growth and social cohesion;

27.  Urges the Commission to focus its efforts to improve access to microfinance for potentially excluded clients, such as migrants, refugees, long-term unemployed, young people, low-income persons, low-skilled workers and people with disabilities, who are currently not benefiting enough from the Facility;

28.  Calls on the Commission to view refugees and asylum seekers as a target group;

29.  Calls on the Commission to multiply the initiatives and funding available for granting microcredit to innovative start-ups run by young people, in order to support youth entrepreneurship and high technological, scientific and social innovation at a time of economic crisis and difficulty in obtaining access to credit; stresses, moreover, the need for the Member States to strive to reduce the red tape imposed on entrepreneurs in order to gain access to the funds made available to them by the Union;

Supporting the social economy

30.  Regrets that the Facility has not funded a significant number of social enterprises; welcomes the fact, therefore, that a specific percentage of the EaSI budget is dedicated to the funding of social enterprises;

31.  Encourages the Commission to closely monitor this new feature and to encourage the Member States to exchange data, knowledge and best practices in this respect, ensuring appropriate reporting from MFIs, and motivating them to support projects with high social impact among their potential clients;

32.  Invites the Commission to assess, and if necessary review, the cap stipulated for loans to social enterprises under EaSI, so as to give them the necessary, and adequate, resources for their beneficial development and so that market needs are met;

33.  Highlights the importance of a gender perspective being incorporated into funding programmes; believes that gender impact assessments and gender budgeting are useful in evaluating and improving the impact on women of funding priorities, the allocation of financial resources and specifications for funding programmes; emphasises the need for gender-disaggregated data to be systematically collected and regularly analysed;

Mentoring and training services and complementarity with other instruments

34.  Welcomes the possibility under EaSI of funding capacity-building of MFIs and technical assistance for MFIs to improve their professionalisation, service delivery, and gathering and processing of data to allow better feedback about the Facility;

35.  Encourages the Commission to link the Facility with basic entrepreneurship training so that businesses' economic viability and the aim of the lending are ensured;

36.  Deplores the fact that business development services, including mentoring and training, cannot be directly financed under EaSI, and calls on the Commission to investigate future financing avenues with appropriate new instruments in partnership with national or Union funds;

37.  Notes that the ESF should provide key financing for creating enterprises, viable microfinance and social entrepreneurship, together with mentoring and training programmes; finds it regrettable that these tools are not directly financed by the EaSI;

38.  Recommends that the Commission and Member States develop their strategic cooperation with local and regional organisations and institutions regarding EaSI, ESF and other possible national programmes, promoting their cooperation with MFIs and final recipients, in order to improve the assistance given to microborrowers in terms of training, mentoring and overall support for greater business viability;

39.  Welcomes the possibility of using funds from the ESF for the MF/SE axis of EaSI, and invites the Commission and the EIF to inform the MFIs better about this possibility under Article 38 of the Common Provisions Regulation(8);

40.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that EFSI is available to finance microenterprises;

Microfinance intermediaries

41.  Encourages the Commission to coordinate ESF and EaSI support in order to improve complementarity between the two programmes, with regard to Microfinance Facilities, focusing among other things on cooperation between MFIs and business support centres co-financed by the ESF;

42.  Welcomes the microcredit intermediary selection process, which is in compliance with the EIF’s rules and procedures, and reiterates Parliament’s request that those intermediaries should comply with the principles of responsible lending and avoidance of over-indebtedness of persons and undertakings;

43.  Recommends that the procedure for access to the instrument be simplified and that agreements between MFIs and the EIF be more flexible and easier to understand, allowing smaller MFIs to make full use of the funding instruments and the EIFs facilities quickly;

44.  Deplores the fact that a significant number of applications for the Facility were not completed and could not be approved by the EIF; asks the Commission to assess the reasons for this failure (e.g. a lack of information or accessibility, or a bureaucratic burden requiring simplification); calls on the Commission to act quickly to resolve the problem;

45.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that greater publicity and information are provided as regards the Facility and how to gain access to it, in addition to simplifying the procedure and making the agreements between microfinance intermediaries and the EIF more flexible and easier to understand, enabling smaller intermediaries to gain faster access to the market;

46.  Calls on the Commission and the EIF to assess how to better disseminate the benefits of the Facility to a wider public, beyond the existing requirements imposed on MFIs;

47.  Encourages the Commission to strengthen cooperation between MFIs and organisations engaged in representing the interests of beneficiaries, beyond the advertising of products or the finding of new clients;

48.  Calls on the Member States to develop the microfinance sector, so as to enable it to be expanded, which is necessary in order for the Europe 2020 objectives to be reached, and to make use of the Facility, by investigating possibilities for non-bank intermediaries to enter the microcredit market without depending on a partnering bank;

49.  Encourages the Commission to strengthen its dialogue with microfinance actors (MFIs, banks and non-banks, networks such as the European Microfinance Network), as well as with stakeholders currently not included, regarding the accessibility, use and design of the products to be offered under Union-funded programmes;

50.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to facilitate exchange of best practices among MFIs from different Member States;

51.  Calls on the Commission and the EIF to ensure that the MF/SE axis of EaSI further promotes the dissemination and integration of the European Code of Good Conduct for Microcredit Provision in contracts with MFIs;

52.  Considers that the Commission’s report on the implementation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility – 2013 is very general and is lacking detail with regard to its implementation;

53.  Encourages the Commission to ensure that the Facility and the EaSI instrument continue to contribute to the EU's added value and visibility;

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

(1) http://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?catId=738&langId=fr&pubId=7760
(2) http://bookshop.europa.eu/fr/study-on-imperfections-in-the-area-of-microfinance-and-options-how-to-address-them-through-an-eu-financial-instrument-pbKE0214424/?CatalogCategoryID=ZjsKABstHnIAAAEjH5EY4e5L
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 238.
(4) OJ L 87, 7.4.2010, p. 1.
(5) OJ C 117 E, 6.5.2010, p. 85.
(6) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/IDAN/2015/547555/EPRS_IDA(2015)547555_EN.pdf
(7) Interim Evaluation of the European Progress Microfinance Facility.
(8) Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 laying down common provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 320).


A new CFP: structure for technical measures and multiannual plans
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European Parliament resolution of 15 December 2015 on a new CFP: structure for technical measures and multiannual plans (2015/2092(INI))
P8_TA(2015)0447A8-0328/2015

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in particular Article 43 thereof,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Common Fisheries Policy, in particular Articles 7(2), 9 and 10 thereof,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Fisheries (A8-0328/2015),

A.  whereas the sustainability of fish stocks is the sine qua non for the future of the fishing industry;

B.  whereas, since 2009, legislative proposals regarding technical measures and multiannual plans have made little headway, partly on account of tensions arising between the European institutions concerning their respective decision-making powers under Article 43 TFEU with regard to Commission proposals in the case of the multinational plans and partly because of difficulties in bringing legislation on technical measures into line with the Lisbon Treaty;

C.  whereas the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013) includes among its objectives restoring and maintaining populations of harvested species above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), using an ecosystem- and selectivity-based approach; whereas technical measures and multiannual plans are among the main tools to achieve these objectives;

D.  whereas the main changes introduced under the 2013 CFP reform also include the landing obligation and regionalisation;

E.  whereas the complexity and diversity of technical measures as well as the fact that they are spread across many different regulations, have contributed to making implementation difficult for fishermen, which risks making fishermen mistrustful;

F.  whereas the principle of regionalisation includes the consultation of the Advisory Councils with the purpose of bringing the stakeholders closer to the decision-making process and of better evaluating the possible socio-economic impacts of the decisions;

G.  whereas the complexity of the technical measures and the difficulties in implementing them, coupled with the absence of any tangible results or incentives under the CFP have contributed to making fishermen mistrustful;

H.  whereas the review of technical measures, in accordance with the best available scientific advice and using an ecosystem-based approach, should seek to improve the environmental sustainability of the fishery and marine resources in a way that is consistent with the socioeconomic viability of the sector;

I.  whereas achieving the objectives of the new CFP requires, among other things, the use of more selective fishing gear and practices;

J.  whereas current innovations that improve the selectivity of fishing gear are frequently hindered by legislation;

K.  whereas the landing obligation involves a substantial change of approach to fisheries management, and to demersal fisheries in particular, and hence to technical measures in key areas such as catch composition and the mesh size;

L.  whereas particular emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of small-scale fishing for the sustainability of coastal communities, and in particular for the role of women and children; whereas the CFP alludes to a differentiated regime for small-scale fishing in Europe;

M.  whereas a general definition is needed for the concept of small-scale fishing, in light of the role it plays in rehabilitating our seas and in preserving traditional and environmentally sustainable practices and trades;

N.  whereas the definition of common basic principles for all sea basins through a framework regulation adopted through the ordinary legislative procedure under the Lisbon Treaty is necessary to ensure the implementation of the CFP objectives in the EU, to ensure a level playing field between operators and to facilitate the implementation and monitoring of technical measures;

O.  whereas the ordinary legislative procedure is not always necessary in the case of measures taken at regional level or subject to frequent changes or which are based on standards and objectives decided by the co-legislators, but must be used for the adoption of rules that are common to all sea basins and also for measures contained in specific regulations or not likely to be amended in the foreseeable future;

P.  whereas regionalisation must ensure that technical measures are adapted to the specific requirements of each fishery and each basin, ensuring flexibility and facilitating a rapid response to any arising emergencies; whereas regionalisation must make technical measures simpler and easier to understand, implement and enforce; whereas the adoption of technical measures on a regional basis should follow the model agreed by the co-legislators as agreed under the reformed CFP;

Q.  whereas regionalisation can help make the rules simpler and more comprehensible, which would be greatly welcomed by the fisheries sector and other stakeholders, especially where they are involved in the adoption thereof;

R.  whereas regionalisation should not lead to renationalisation, this being incompatible with the CFP, for which the EU has sole responsibility, given the shared nature of the resources;

S.  whereas the adoption of technical measures on a regional basis should follow the model agreed by the co-legislators under the new CFP, namely for the Commission to adopt delegated acts on the basis of joint recommendations from the Member States concerned that meet the standards and objectives decided by the co-legislators, or, if the Member States concerned do not submit a joint recommendation within the designated time, on the Commission’s own initiative; whereas, however, Parliament retains the right to object to any delegated acts under the Lisbon Treaty;

T.  whereas the revision of the framework of technical measures should present an opportunity to continue reflecting on regionalisation and to consider alternatives to delegated acts;

U.  whereas certain proposals for specific regulations containing technical measures (concerning driftnets, cetacean bycatches, deep-sea fishing) have proved controversial; whereas some proposals, such as those concerning deep-sea fishing in the northeast Atlantic, have been blocked for over three years; whereas deliberations on driftnet fishing are also deadlocked; whereas a number of specific provisions regarding technical measures have been rejected by the regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs);

V.  whereas the technical measures should take account of the phenomenon of illegal fishing which is often accompanied by the illegal use of fishing gear, and should propose an effective solution to the problem posed by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing;

W.  whereas technical measures applicable in each EU fishing basin are not always adapted to the needs of innovative activities and different local fisheries; whereas, in light of this, fishermen need a set of technical measures based on a regional approach, which correspond to the diverse conditions of each sea basin; whereas the management of fish stocks in a sustainable way is vital and in that respect the simplification and adaptability of the legislation to the realities on the ground is important; whereas it is also necessary to take into due consideration the fact that fishing basins are shared by third countries, with conservation rules very different to those of Europe;

X.  whereas in European waters, and in particular in the Mediterranean, it is vital that the Member States establish the necessary measures and cooperate to identify those citizens responsible for IUU fishing, thereby ensuring that applicable sanctions are imposed and border and ramp checks tightened;

Y.  whereas the multiannual plans adopted between 2002 and 2009 were not all equally effective; whereas new multiannual plans will be adopted under the new rules of the CFP;

Z.  whereas negotiations with third countries must be part of efforts to achieve sustainability;

AA.  whereas CFP reform introduced landing requirements and provided flexibility, exceptions and financial support under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF);

AB.  whereas difficulties in implementing the discard ban in mixed fisheries are likely to arise with choke species;

AC.  whereas, following the Lisbon Treaty, Parliament has joint legislative powers with regard to fisheries, aside from total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas;

AD.  whereas it has, since 2009, been unable to adopt any multiannual plan, proposals having remained deadlocked in Council;

AE.  whereas, within the interinstitutional task force on multiannual plans, the co-legislators recognised the importance of working together on the multiannual plans, so as to find practical solutions, despite differences in the interpretation of the legal framework provisions;

AF.  whereas multiannual plans should provide a robust and lasting fisheries management framework, based on the best and most recent scientific and socio-economic findings, and should be flexible enough to adapt to the evolution of stocks and annual decision making on the granting of fishing opportunities;

AG.  whereas a maximum sustainable yield limit and a deadline for achieving it, a precautionary safeguard trigger mechanism, a minimum target biomass, a mechanism for adapting to unforeseen changes in the best available scientific advice and a review clause were identified as the elements common to future multiannual plans;

AH.  whereas the multiannual plans must set a general objective that is achievable in administrative and scientific terms; whereas they should include long-term stable yields in accordance with the best available scientific advice, something which must be reflected in annual Council decisions regarding fishing opportunities; whereas these annual decisions should be strictly confined to the granting of fishing opportunities;

AI.  whereas the judgment of the Court of Justice of 26 November 2014 in Cases C-103/12 Parliament v Council and C-165/12 Commission v Council concerning the granting of fishing opportunities in EU waters to fishing vessels flying the flag of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the exclusive economic zone off the coast of French Guiana, establishes a precedent by clarifying the content and the limits of two different legal bases contained in Article 43 TFEU; whereas Article 43(3) may only be used as a legal basis for the granting of fishing opportunities under the TAC and quota regulations;

AJ.  whereas, on 1 December 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in joined Cases C-124/13 and C-125/13 Parliament and Commission v Council regarding Council Regulation (EU) No 1243/2012 amending the long-term plan for cod stocks, confirming that, as Parliament had submitted, given its aim and content, the regulation should have been adopted on the basis of Article 43(2) TFEU through the ordinary legislative procedure with Parliament as co-legislator because it entailed policy choices which affected the multiannual plan and hence were necessary for the pursuit of the CFP’s aims;

AK.  whereas, in the absence of multiannual plans, minimum conservation reference sizes may be modified under discard plans adopted by the Commission in delegated acts on the recommendations of the Member States concerned, or, if the Member States concerned do not submit a joint recommendation within the designated time, on the Commission’s own initiative; stresses the importance of both the protection of juveniles and of following scientific advice when taking decisions on the minimum conservation reference sizes;

AL.  whereas discard plans will play an essential role in view of the changes in fishing techniques and hence in terms of fishing mortality and individual spawning biomass, both quantifiable objectives under the multiannual plans, possibly brought about by modifications in minimum conservation sizes; whereas, modification of minimum sizes through delegated acts would mean changing the principal parameters of the multiannual plans from the outside;

AM.  whereas the co-legislators intended these delegated acts to be of a transitional nature, that were under no circumstances to be applied for more than three years;

AN.  whereas, for the same species, minimum conservation reference sizes may vary from one area to another in order to take into account the specific nature of the species and fisheries; whereas, whenever possible, horizontal decisions for all areas are desirable in order to facilitate monitoring;

1.  Considers that, in order to ensure the implementation of the CFP objectives, future technical measures should be simplified in order to remove any contradiction and/or duplication contained in a clearly structured legal framework and based on solid scientific data reviewed by peers;

2.  Considers it necessary to compile a comprehensive list summarising all technical measures currently in force, in order to obtain a better overview of possible simplifications and deletions in relation to future technical measures;

3.  Believes that technical measures must be reviewed in a bid to implement the objectives of the CFP, improve selectivity, minimise discards and the impact of fishing on the environment, simplify current rules, and increase the scientific base;

4.  Considers that technical measures should be adapted to the specific needs of each fishery and each region, thus helping to improve compliance by the industry concerned;

5.  Maintains that the simplification and regionalisation of technical measures should always be consistent with the real purpose of the technical measures regulation which is the minimisation of unwanted catches and impacts on the marine environment;

6.  Considers that, in order to facilitate the implementation of the CFP rules and to make CFP rules more acceptable to the fisheries sector and other stakeholders and ensure compliance therewith, fishermen must be more involved in decision making, in particular within the Advisory Councils and be given incentives such as support through EMFF and other instruments for innovation, training, equipment and use of more selective fishing gear;

7.  Considers that the new legislative framework will facilitate the further use of innovative fishing gear which has been scientifically proven to both increase selectivity and to have a reduced impact on the environment;

8.  Considers that innovation and research will need to be promoted to ensure that the CFP is properly implemented, in particular as regards the landing of discards, in order to increase selectivity and modernise fishing and monitoring techniques;

9.  Believes that the sustainable use of innovative fishing gear which has been proven to be more selective by independent scientific research should be permitted without restrictions or unnecessary quantitative limitations, governed by legislation and – insofar as further research is concerned – given financial support;

10.  Considers it necessary to maintain the ordinary legislative procedure for the adoption of rules common to all sea basins, including the establishment of standards and objectives for technical measures, including technical measures contained in specific regulations, or for technical measures not likely to be amended within the foreseeable future and considers that the ordinary legislative procedure is not always necessary for measures adopted at regional level or which are possibly subject to frequent changes; is of the opinion that these measures should be evaluated on a regular basis in order to ensure they remain relevant; considers that the judicious use of delegated acts can meet this need for flexibility and responsiveness; recalls, however, that Parliament retains the right to object to any delegated acts under the Treaty;

11.  Recommends that a clear, general European framework for technical measures should be defined, setting out a limited number of major cross-cutting principles; believes that all rules not applicable to the vast majority of European waters should not be included in this general framework but should instead come under regionalisation;

12.  Considers that any measure adopted at regional level should conform to the technical measures framework regulation and be consistent with the objectives of the CFP and Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) 2008/56/EC;

13.  Considers that rules regarding technical measures should be established through the appropriate use of the regionalisation process and be based on common centralised principles and definitions, including common objectives and standards to be applied throughout the EU, including a list of prohibited species and fishing gear, a set of specific rules for the larger sea basins and a number of specific technical regulations, all of which would be adopted by ordinary legislative procedure; notes that regionalisation would apply to rules applicable at regional level or subject to frequent changes and should be re-evaluated on a regular basis;

14.  Underlines the need for the new technical measures framework regulation to be clearly worded, which will require a significant clarification effort; consequently requests that the existing technical measures regulations, in particular Council Regulations (EC) No 850/98 and (EC) No 1967/2006, be repealed beforehand in order to bring an end to the proliferation of regulations;

15.  Recalls that as regards delegated acts, pursuant to Article 18 of the Basic Regulation, the Member States may, within a time limit to be set out in the regulation on the technical measures, submit recommendations to the Commission, and that the latter will not be able to adopt any act prior to the expiration of that time limit;

16.  Considers it necessary to assess the suitability, effectiveness and socio-economic implications for EU fleets and for the local communities of specific regulations based on technical measures while respecting the objectives of the CFP and of MSFD;

17.  Believes that the technical measures should include specific provisions on the use of certain fishing gear in order to protect vulnerable habitats and marine species;

18.  Believes that the technical measures should ensure that destructive and non-selective fishing gear is not used, and that the general use of explosive and poisonous substances should be prohibited;

19.  Believes that there is an urgent need to establish a coherent set of technical measures for each of the basins, taking account of the specific nature of each, where Union decisions may have a significant impact on the recovery of fish stocks and the protection of ecosystems and on the sustainable management of shared fish stocks;

20.  Maintains that, notwithstanding the landing obligation, in force since 1 January 2015 and to be progressively applied to fish stocks by 2019, provisions regarding technical measures must be sufficiently flexible to adapt in real time to progress in the fisheries and to provide more opportunities for the fisheries sector to put innovations regarding selective fishing methods into practice;

21.  Believes that the landing obligation constitutes a fundamental change for fisheries, and that the technical measures therefore need to be adapted so as to allow them to implement and facilitate more selective fishing; recommends the following three measures in order to achieve this:

   substantially modifying, or even revoking, the rules governing the composition of catches,
   affording greater flexibility as regards mesh sizes,
   making it possible to hold several types of gear on board;

22.  Takes note of the difficulties arising from the coexistence of the marketing standards laid down by Council Regulation (EC) No 2406/96 and the minimum catch sizes; requests that they be harmonised by the new technical measures framework regulation;

23.  Considers that a review of technical measures should take into account their impact in terms of biological resources conservation, the marine environment, fishing operating costs, and profitability in socio-occupational terms;

24.  Believes that the conservation objective of the technical measures framework regulation could be achieved more effectively through actions aimed at improving supply and demand management with the assistance of producer organisations;

25.  Considers that incidental artisanal fishing in the inland waters of the Member States and regions must remain outside the TACs;

26.  Believes that multiannual plans play a vital role in the conservation of fisheries resources under the CFP, being the most suitable vehicle for the adoption and implementation of specific technical measures for different fisheries;

27.  Believes that the co-legislators must continue to seek agreement on multiannual plans with regard to institutional competences under the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and on the basis of the relevant case law;

28.  Believes that multiannual plans should form a robust and lasting framework for fisheries management, be based on best and most recent scientific and socio-economic findings recognised by peers, and be adapted to the evolution of stocks, as well as providing flexibility for annual Council decisions on fishing opportunities; notes that these annual decisions should not exceed the strict scope of the allocation of fishing opportunities, and should, as far as possible, seek to avoid large fluctuations thereof;

29.  Maintains that progress must be made on future multiannual plans for restoring and maintaining stocks at levels above those that can produce the maximum sustainable yield, including an advance timetable, a conservation safeguard trigger, a mechanism for adapting to changes in scientific thinking and a review clause;

30.  Considers that, in order to avoid problems arising from compulsory landings for mixed fisheries, improving selectivity and minimising unwanted catches is necessary; considers that it would be advisable to find ways of using the possibility of adopting flexibility measures and using the scientifically established ranges of fishing mortality to set TACs;

31.  Reaffirms the need to increase the involvement of stakeholders through the Advisory Councils in the formulation and implementation of multiannual plans and in all decisions concerning regionalisation;

32.  Believes that Parliament should give particularly close scrutiny to delegated acts regarding discard plans and reserve the right to object to any if it deems it necessary;

33.  Considers that the transitional validity of the delegated acts regarding discard plans, including changes to the minimum conservation reference sizes, should not in any case exceed three years and should be replaced, where appropriate, by a multiannual plan and that, to that end, multiannual plans should be adopted as soon as possible;

34.  Takes the view that, in the context of regionalisation, decisions on minimum conservation reference sizes for each species should be based on scientific advice; stresses the need to avoid marketing irregularities or fraud that could jeopardise the functioning of the internal market;

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

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