Index 
Texts adopted
Tuesday, 7 June 2016 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Eliminating illicit trade in tobacco products: protocol to the WHO Framework Convention ***
 Uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles: UNECE agreement ***
 EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
 Enhanced cooperation in the area of property regimes of international couples ***
 Eliminating illicit trade in tobacco products: protocol to the WHO Framework Convention (judicial cooperation in criminal matters) ***
 Markets in financial instruments ***I
 Markets in financial instruments, market abuse and securities settlement ***I
 Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Rimantas Šadžius
 2015 Report on policy coherence for development
 The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
 International Accounting Standards (IAS) evaluation
 Peace Support Operations – EU engagement with the UN and the African Union
 Unfair trading practices in the food supply chain
 Technological solutions for sustainable agriculture
 Enhancing innovation and economic development in future European farm management

Eliminating illicit trade in tobacco products: protocol to the WHO Framework Convention ***
PDF 244kWORD 60k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, with the exception of its provisions falling within the scope of Title V of Part Three of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (14384/2015 – C8-0118/2016 – 2015/0101(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0238A8-0154/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14384/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (15044/2013),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 33, 113, 114, 207 and Article 218(6) second subparagraph, point (a), and the second subparagraph of Article 218(8) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0118/2016),

–  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 International Trade (A8-0154/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the protocol;

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


Uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles: UNECE agreement ***
PDF 239kWORD 60k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion of Revision 3 of the Agreement of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for the reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions ('Revised 1958 Agreement') (13954/2015 – C8-0112/2016 – 2015/0249(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0239A8-0185/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (13954/2015),

–  having regard to the Revision 3 of the Agreement of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted and/or used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for the reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions ('Revised 1958 Agreement') (13954/2015),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 207 and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a), of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8‑0112/2016),

–  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 International Trade (A8-0185/2016),

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 to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.


EU-Colombia and Peru Trade Agreement (accession of Croatia) ***
PDF 239kWORD 60k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, of the Additional Protocol to the Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (12594/2014 – C8-0180/2015 – 2014/0234(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0240A8-0155/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (12594/2014),

–  having regard to the Additional Protocol to the Trade Agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and Colombia and Peru, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union (12595/2014),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Articles 91, 100(2), 207 and Article 218 (6), second subparagraph, point (a) (v) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0180/2015),

–  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 International Trade (A8-0155/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the additional protocol;

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 Colombia and the Republic of Peru.


Enhanced cooperation in the area of property regimes of international couples ***
PDF 238kWORD 60k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the draft Council decision authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions on the property regimes of international couples, covering both matters of matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships (08112/2016 – C8-0184/2016 – 2016/0061(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0241A8-0192/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (08112/2016),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 329(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0184/2016),

–  having regard to the conditions laid down in Article 20 of the Treaty on European Union and in Articles 326 and 327 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Rule 85 and Rule 99(1), first and third subparagraphs, of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8‑0192/2016),

1.  Consents to the draft Council decision authorising enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions on the property regimes of international couples, covering both matters of matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships;

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


Eliminating illicit trade in tobacco products: protocol to the WHO Framework Convention (judicial cooperation in criminal matters) ***
PDF 247kWORD 60k
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products to the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, as regards its provisions on obligations related to judicial cooperation in criminal matters and the definition of criminal offences (14387/2015 – C8-0119/2016 – 2015/0100(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0242A8-0198/2016

(Consent)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the draft Council decision (14387/2015),

–  having regard to the draft Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (15044/2013),

–  having regard to the request for consent submitted by the Council in accordance with Article 82(1) and Article 83, and Article 218(6), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (C8-0119/2016),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 March 2016 on the tobacco agreement (PMI agreement)(1),

–  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 and the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0198/2016),

1.  Gives its consent to conclusion of the Protocol;

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

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0082.


Markets in financial instruments ***I
PDF 244kWORD 64k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2014/65/EU on markets in financial instruments as regards certain dates (COM(2016)0056 – C8-0026/2016 – 2016/0033(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0243A8-0126/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0056),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 53(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0026/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Central Bank of 29 April 2016(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 26 May 2016(2),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 18 May 2016 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 Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0126/2016),

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 7 June 2016 with a view to the adoption of Directive (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2014/65/EU on markets in financial instruments

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Directive (EU) 2016/1034.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.
(2) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Markets in financial instruments, market abuse and securities settlement ***I
PDF 246kWORD 68k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 7 June 2016 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 600/2014 on markets in financial instruments, Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 on market abuse and Regulation (EU) No 909/2014 on improving securities settlement in the European Union and on central securities depositories as regards certain dates (COM(2016)0057 – C8-0027/2016 – 2016/0034(COD))
P8_TA(2016)0244A8-0125/2016

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0057),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0027/2016),

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

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Central Bank of 29 April 2016(1),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 26 May 2016(2),

–  having regard to the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 18 May 2016 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 Economic and Monetary Affairs (A8-0125/2016),

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 7 June 2016 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2016/... of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 600/2014 on markets in financial instruments, Regulation (EU) No 596/2014 on market abuse and Regulation (EU) No 909/2014 on improving securities settlement in the European Union and on central securities depositories

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2016/1033.)

(1) Not yet published in the Official Journal.
(2) Not yet published in the Official Journal.


Nomination of a member of the Court of Auditors – Rimantas Šadžius
PDF 236kWORD 61k
European Parliament decision of 7 June 2016 on the nomination of Rimantas Šadžius as a Member of the Court of Auditors (C8-0126/2016 – 2016/0805(NLE))
P8_TA(2016)0245A8-0183/2016

(Consultation)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 286(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C8‑0126/2016),

–  having regard to Rule 121 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0183/2016),

A.  whereas Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, in particular in view of the requirements laid down in Article 286(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

B.  whereas at its meeting of 23 May 2016 the Committee on Budgetary Control heard the Council’s nominee for membership of the Court of Auditors;

1.  Delivers a favourable opinion on the Council’s nomination of Rimantas Šadžius as a Member of the Court of Auditors;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision to the Council and, for information, the Court of Auditors, the other institutions of the European Union and the audit institutions of the Member States.


2015 Report on policy coherence for development
PDF 195kWORD 91k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on the EU 2015 Report on Policy Coherence for Development (2015/2317(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0246A8-0165/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which reaffirms that the Union must take account of the objective of development cooperation in the policies that it implements which are likely to affect developing countries,

–  having regard to Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union, which states that the Union’s action on the international scene shall be guided by the principles which have inspired its own creation, development and enlargement, and which it seeks to advance in the wider world: democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law,

–  having regard to paragraphs 9 and 35 of the joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission of December 2005 entitled ‘The European Consensus on Development’(1),

–  having regard to the successive conclusions of the Council, the biennial reports by the Commission and the resolutions of Parliament on policy coherence for development (PCD), particularly Parliament’s resolution of 13 March 2014 on the EU 2013 Report on Policy Coherence for Development(2),

–  having regard to the Commission’s fifth biennial report on PCD, namely its Working Document on Policy Coherence for Development, published in August 2015 (SWD(2015)0159),

–  having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York in 2015(3), which includes a target to ‘enhance policy coherence for sustainable development’ (target 17.14),

–  having regard to the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness outcome document of December 2011 on partnership for Effective Development Co-operation,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A8-0165/2016),

A.  whereas the Council conclusions on the fifth EC biennial report on PCD, adopted in October 2015, emphasised that PCD will be an important part of the EU’s contribution to achieving the broader aim of policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD);

B.  whereas the adoption of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda presents a new challenge for the achievement of PCD, as it establishes a single, universal set of development goals applicable to all;

C.  whereas the EU must take the lead in promoting PCD;

D.  whereas 1,5 billion people are still living in poverty with deprivation in health, education and living standards; whereas most of them are women;

E.  whereas the fiscal space of developing countries is de facto constrained by the requirements of global investors and financial markets; whereas developing countries have been offering various tax incentives and exemptions to attract or retain investors, leading to harmful tax competition and a ‘race to the bottom’;

F.  whereas the EU has a direct and historical responsibility in its dealings with partner countries;

G.  whereas the current European framework for development lacks effective mechanisms to prevent and remedy incoherencies arising from the policies pursued by the Union;

PCD in the framework of the 2030 Agenda

1.  Reiterates that PCD is a key element for delivering and achieving the new sustainable development agenda; calls for proactive action based on a common understanding of PCD; points out that the human rights-based approach should lead to a deepened understanding of PCD, since without addressing the obstacles to the realisation of rights there can be no progress towards sustainable development and the eradication of poverty; considers that PCD should contribute to the establishment of the rule of law, to impartial institutions and to tackling the challenge of good governance in developing countries;

2.  Regrets that, although PCD was endorsed in the UN Millennium Declaration(4), the Lisbon Treaty and the Busan Forum on Aid Effectiveness(5), little progress has been made as to its concrete implementation;

3.  Calls for an EU-wide debate on PCD in the framework of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and its new 17 universal and indivisible SDGs, so as to understand better how the concept might fit with the more universal concept of PCSD;

4.  Recalls that the sustainable development goals apply to both developed and developing countries and that the SDGs should be comprehensively integrated into the EU’s decision-making process at both internal and external levels; stresses the need to develop governance processes to promote PCD at the global level, and calls for the inclusion of PCD as a core issue in the upcoming EU policy debates on the new Global Strategy and the MFF;

PCD mechanisms

5.  Calls for PCD to be discussed at a European Council meeting in order to foster an interinstitutional debate involving the Commission, the EEAS, the Council, and Parliament, as well as debate at the national level;

6.  Proposes that in preparation for that summit, the Commission and the EEAS should address concrete recommendations to the EU heads of state and government on effective mechanisms to operationalise PCD and integrate EU strategies to better implement SDGs, and on how to define more clearly the responsibilities of each EU institution in achieving PCD commitments; believes that such a process should be as transparent and as inclusive as possible, involving local and regional governments, civil society organisations and think-tanks;

7.  Welcomes the creation of a group of Commissioners involved in external relations; calls for regular reporting on the work of this group by the VP/HR to the Committee on Development;

8.  Considers that the mechanisms that have been used by some EU delegations to provide feedback to the Commission’s 2015 PCD Report should be extended to all EU delegations, and that this should become a yearly exercise; calls on the EU delegations to ensure that PCD is on the agenda of the respective bilateral meetings and joint assembly meetings, as well as of the yearly meeting of EU Heads of Delegations in Brussels;

9.  Welcomes the Better Regulation Package adopted by the Commission on 19 May 2015; further welcomes the fact that PCD is specifically mentioned as a legal requirement in Tool 30 of the Better Regulation Guidelines (COM(2015)0215);

10.  Regrets the fact that although impact assessments represent a significant tool for achieving PCD, assessments of development impacts remain few in number and do not properly address the potential impact on developing countries; hopes that the Better Regulation Package and its guidelines will improve this situation by taking development and human rights into account in all impact assessments and by enhancing transparency; calls on the Commission systematically to consult human rights organisations at an early stage of the policymaking process and to put in place stronger safeguards and mechanisms in order to better balance stakeholders’ representativeness; welcomes the public consultation on the roadmap, which is aimed at determining the outcome and impact of PCD on developing countries and which opens up opportunities for external stakeholders, including developing countries and civil society, to give their views and actively participate; further welcomes the field phase of the roadmap and the case studies, which could contribute effectively to an accurate evaluation of the impact of PCD; considers it necessary to undertake more systematic ex-post assessments during EU policy implementation;

11.  Believes that more emphasis must be put on institutional coordination, whether between EU institutions or with Member States; calls on the governments of the Member States to embed PCD in a legally binding act and to define a Policy Coherence for Sustainable Development (PCSD) action plan to operationalise it; considers that national parliaments should be more fully involved in the PCD agenda, in the context of their capacity to hold their governments accountable and scrutinise progress in this field;

12.  Stresses the important role that Parliament must play in the process of promoting PCD by giving it priority in its agendas, increasing the number of meetings between committees and between parliaments relating to PCD, promoting exchanges of views on PCD with partner countries, and fostering dialogue with civil society;

13.  Notes that some Member States have established an effective interministerial coordination mechanism with a specific mandate on PCSD; calls for Member States to follow and exchange the good practices already adopted by other Member States;

14.  Notes that joint programming is a successful tool for the coherent planning of EU development cooperation activities; welcomes the fact that it includes Member States’ bilateral activities in partner countries, but laments past failures to link EU action to Member States’ activities, which have led to opportunities for exploiting synergies being missed;

15.  Recognises that implementing PCD correctly will require an appropriate level of resources and staff; urges that PCD focal points in national ministries and EU delegations be granted the necessary resources to put in place national and European strategies on PCD;

16.  Underlines the essential role played by national parliaments in the implementation of PCSD by ensuring that political commitments, monitoring and the full involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) receive periodic scrutiny, and by scrutinising impact assessment reports by governments;

17.  Recalls its proposal for an independent system within the Union for receiving complaints by persons or communities affected by the Union’s policies; recognises the important role of Parliament’s Committee on Development and its standing Rapporteur on PCD in relaying the concerns expressed by members of the public or by communities affected by EU policies;

18.  Stresses the need for the EU to invest more resources in evidence-based analysis of PCD; calls on the Commission to identify incoherencies without delay and produce an analysis of their cost, as well as to develop adequate monitoring and progress-tracking mechanisms on PCD; also calls on the Commission to include in its analysis proposals on how to avoid and deal with incoherencies between different policies; further stresses the need to improve PCD referencing in programming documents;

19.  Points out the need to strengthen PCD in the context of the revision of the European Consensus for Development and of the discussions on the future post-Cotonou agreement;

Priority areas

Migration

20.  Acknowledges that the EU is facing its biggest refugee crisis since World War II; stresses that strengthening the link between migration and development policies is essential to addressing the root causes of this phenomenon; believes that the EU should use all the tools at its disposal to tackle the crisis, including security and diplomatic instruments; underlines that the response to the refugee crisis should not focus only on security concerns and that development objectives must be better integrated so as to make EU migration policies compatible with those that seek to reduce poverty; emphasises that PCD represents an important part of the new EU policy on migration; welcomes the adoption of the European Agenda on Migration (COM(2015)0240), which develops a comprehensive response to the crisis; believes that its implementation should be accompanied by concrete actions to boost economic, political and social development and good governance in the countries of origin; highlights the importance of remittances as a source of financing for development; stresses the importance of Member States’ agreements with third countries in facilitating safe movement and the mobility of international workers; considers that development aid programmes and budgets should not be used for migration control purposes; stresses that any common migration policy needs to focus on legal routes to Europe and on the reception of migrants;

21.  Emphasises that the EU needs greater harmonisation of migration and asylum policies, both within the Union itself and with its international partners; suggests that a truly efficient and holistic migration and asylum policy has to fully integrate EU internal and external policies, in particular within EU working structures; underlines the importance of developing a single common asylum and immigration policy; calls for an inclusive approach to tackle the root causes of migration that is closely linked to development in order to achieve a sustainable settlement of the current migration crisis; recalls that women and girls who are refugees or migrants are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence and exploitation and that a gender perspective must be integrated into EU migration policy;

22.  Calls on the EU and its Member States, in order to enhance coherence between migration and development policies, not to report refugee costs as ODA, as doing so has a huge opportunity cost at the expense of development programmes which effectively tackle the root causes of migration;

Trade and finance

23.  Underlines that the EU and its Member States taken together remain the most important Aid for Trade donor in the world (EUR 11,7 billion in 2013 – SWD(2015)0128); suggests that EU Aid for Trade must also aim to empower poor producers, cooperatives, micro- and small enterprises, facilitate the diversification of domestic markets, enhance women’s equality, and further regional integration and the reduction of income inequality; welcomes the Commission’s aim to put more focus on the development-related provisions of trade agreements; recalls the commitment by Member States to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0,7 % of GNP as ODA to developing countries, as well as the OECD/DAC recommendation of reaching an average grant element in total ODA of 86 %; underlines that trade agreements should contribute to the promotion of sustainable development, human rights and the fight against corruption around the world;

24.  Recalls that trade liberalisation is not per se positive for poverty eradication, since it can have negative effects on sustainable development;

25.  Calls on the Commission to submit an annual report to Parliament and the Council on the implementation of EU Aid for Trade in developing countries, giving details of the amounts and sources of the funding allocated, both under Chapter 4 of the EU budget and under the EDF; takes the view that such a report would provide a sound basis for EU reports on PCD, to be published every two years;

26.  Recalls that SDG target 17.15 acknowledges the need to respect each country’s policy space for poverty eradication and sustainable development; reiterates the right of developing countries to regulate investment so as to ensure obligations and duties for all investors, including foreign investors, with the aim of protecting human rights and labour and environmental standards;

27.  Welcomes the progress made since the establishment of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, and calls on the Commission to expand binding frameworks to cover other sectors; urges the Commission, in this regard, to extend corporate social responsibility and due diligence initiatives that complement the existing EU timber regulation or concern the proposed EU regulation on conflict minerals to other sectors, thereby ensuring that the EU and its traders and operators live up to the obligation to respect both human rights and the highest social and environmental standards;

28.  Recalls that EU investment policy, especially when involving public money, must contribute to the realisation of the SDGs; recalls the need to enhance the transparency and accountability of development finance institutions (DFIs) in order to effectively track and monitor flows, debt sustainability and added value in respect of their sustainable development projects;

29.  Recalls the unique role of ODA in achieving effective development results; calls for the development focus and nature of ODA, including a transparent and accountable reporting system, to be protected; recalls that untying aid is a necessary condition for opening up opportunities for developing-country socio-economic actors, such as local firms or technical assistance experts, and advocates boosting the use of developing- country procurement systems for aid programmes in support of activities managed by the public sector with a view to enhancing the local private sector;

30.  Recalls, however, that aid alone is not sufficient; believes that innovative and diversified sources of financing such as a financial transaction tax, a carbon tax, an air ticket levy, rents from natural resources, etc., must be considered and should be aligned with development effectiveness principles; believes that coherence should be strengthened between public, private, international and domestic financing; recognises the essential role of the private sector in this regard; emphasises that it is important to create the right conditions for private enterprise in developing countries, and to promote the establishment of political and legal frameworks facilitating bank account use and the creation of digital infrastructures;

31.  Believes that EU trade policy must take into account the realities and development situation of developing countries in order to achieve PCD objectives, as well as the right of developing countries to establish their own development strategies; stresses that trade and investment agreements concluded by the EU and its Member States must not undermine, either directly or indirectly, development objectives or the promotion and protection of human rights in partner countries; recalls that fair and properly regulated trade in accordance with WTO rules can have potentialities for development; welcomes the inclusion of comprehensive trade and sustainable development chapters in all trade and investment agreements;

32.  Calls on the EU to set up an appropriate framework to address how corporations integrate human rights and social and environmental standards; calls for the EU and its Member States to continue to engage actively in the work of the UN’s Human Rights Council in order to hold corporations accountable for human rights abuses;

33.  Supports an efficient, fair and transparent tax system in line with good governance principles; welcomes the package of tax transparency measures presented by the Commission on 18 March 2015 and the Anti-Tax Avoidance Package presented on 28 January 2016, including the Commission communication on an external strategy to promote tax good governance internationally; highlights the importance of conducting an impact assessment and spillover analysis of new EU tax legislation in order to avoid negative impacts on developing countries; recalls that domestic resource mobilisation through taxation is the most important source of revenue for the public financing of sustainable development; urges the EU to support developing countries in building their capacities in the areas of tax administration, financial governance and managing public finances, and in curbing illicit financial flows; calls on the EU to ensure that corporations pay taxes in the countries where value is extracted or created by them; stresses, accordingly, the EU’s responsibility to promote and operationalise globally the principle of PCD in tax matters; urges the EU, to this effect, to enable developing countries to participate on an equal basis in the global reform of existing international tax rules;

34.  Considers that international cooperation is vital for tackling illicit financial flows and tax evasion, and calls on the EU to encourage further international cooperation on tax matters; calls on the EU to ensure fair treatment of developing countries when negotiating tax treaties in line with the UN Model Double Taxation Convention, taking into account their particular situation and ensuring a fair distribution of taxation rights; welcomes the commitments made at the Addis Ababa Financing for Development conference that took place in July 2015, such as the review of multilateral development finance and the Addis Tax Initiative that aims to help developing countries build up their domestic resourcing systems; calls on the EU to make full use of the OECD Model Tax Convention, which includes an optional provision for assistance in tax collection;

35.  Calls for an evaluation of the impact of price subsidies on exports, tariffs and trade barriers for developing countries;

36.  Recalls that efforts to secure access to raw materials from developing countries must not undermine local development and poverty eradication, but should, rather, support developing countries in translating their mineral wealth into real development;

Food security

37.  Stresses that achieving global food security will require PCD at all levels, particularly if the more ambitious targets of Agenda 2030, namely to fully eradicate hunger and end all forms of malnutrition, are to be met; believes that the EU should promote the establishment of robust regulatory frameworks with clear criteria to protect the rights and food security of the vulnerable;

38.  Calls on the EU to evaluate systematically the impact of, among other factors, EU agricultural, trade and energy policies – such as biofuel policy – on food security in the developing world and on the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people; urges the Commission to continue to concentrate on cooperatives, micro, small and medium-scale farming and agricultural workers, and to promote sustainable and agro-ecological practices in line with the conclusions of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, and the SDGs; recalls the need to ensure that the deployment of CAP measures does not jeopardise the food production capacity and long-term food security of developing countries; stresses that substantive issues of policy coherence and impact need to be addressed in the ongoing monitoring of the EU’s Food Security Policy Framework (COM(2010)0127); emphasises that the EU must support the establishment of processing industries in the agricultural sector and the improvement of food storage techniques; recalls the importance of considering the impact of fisheries agreements on the food security of developing countries; calls on the EU and its Member States to contribute to the prevention of land grabs by supporting developing countries in their implementation at national level of the UN Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests;

Health

39.  Stresses the need for developing countries to assign priority in their budget funding to establishing sound health systems, constructing sustainable health infrastructure and providing basic services and quality care; calls on the EU to support the establishment of universal health cover, which will guarantee the mutualisation of health risks in developing countries;

Climate change

40.  Calls for determined action from the EU, its Member States and all international partners in implementing the recent COP21/Paris climate agreement; stresses that the EU and other developed countries must continue to support climate action to reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change impacts in developing countries, and in particular in least developed countries (LDCs); recalls the crucial importance of the provision of adequate climate finance in this context; supports the process of EU energy transition and the shift towards renewable energy in this regard; stresses that failure to limit global warming to well below 2° C may undermine development gains; calls on the EU to assume a proactive role in addressing the global climate challenge by establishing strategic priorities at all levels and across all sectors, and to design and implement new binding climate, energy efficiency and renewable energy targets in line with the Paris agreement;

41.  Recognises that private finance in the context of climate finance cannot replace public finance; emphasises the need for transparent reporting and accountability and to ensure the implementation of relevant social and environmental safeguards regarding private climate finance;

Gender

42.  Welcomes the EU Gender Action Plan 2016-2020, and encourages the monitoring and implementation of its objectives in all EU external action, including in EU-funded projects at country level; further calls on the EU effectively to mainstream gender equality and women’s empowerment in all its policies, including budgets, and to ensure that its external policies contribute to combating all forms of discrimination, including against LGBT persons;

Security

43.  Recognises that there can be no sustainable development or poverty eradication without security; recognises, moreover, that the security-development nexus is an important element in ensuring the effectiveness of EU external action;

44.  Highlights the importance of guaranteeing policy coherence and coordination between the EU’s external action, security, defence, trade, humanitarian aid and development cooperation policies; draws attention to the challenge of good governance in developing countries; insists that PCD should contribute to the establishment of the rule of law and impartial institutions, as well as to the strengthening of actions leading to disarmament and ensuring public health care and food security, and related policies that ensure security and development;

45.  Calls on the EU to strengthen its capacities for crisis prevention and early response in order to reinforce the synergies between the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and development instruments, finding a balance between short-term responses to crises and longer-term development strategies; suggests that creating a new instrument dedicated to the development-security nexus might limit incoherencies and increase the efficiency of PCD; stresses that this instrument should not be financed through existing development instruments, but through new budgetary appropriations; calls for the inclusion of the priorities and policies of the regions and countries concerned in the elaboration of EU strategies for security and development; welcomes the use of the Political Framework for Crisis Approach (PFCA) as an important tool to allow a common early understanding of crises; calls for reinforced collaboration between the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States in order to deliver a comprehensive analysis that enables an informed choice between CSDP and non-CSDP actions when dealing with a crisis;

46.  Believes that the Strategy for Security and Development in the Sahel(6), the African Rapid Reaction Force and the Sahel Regional Action Plan 2015-2020(7) are good examples of a successful implementation of the EU’s comprehensive approach, effectively mixing security, development and governance responses;

47.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to continue improving links between humanitarian aid, development cooperation and resilience to disasters so as to enable a more flexible and effective response to growing needs;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 46, 24.2.2006, p. 1.
(2) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0251.
(3) http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1
(4) http://www.un.org/millennium/declaration/ares552e.htm
(5) http://www.oecd.org/development/effectiveness/49650173.pdf
(6) http://eeas.europa.eu/africa/docs/sahel_strategy_en.pdf
(7) www.consilium.europa.eu/en/meetings/fac/2015/04/st07823-en15_pdf


The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
PDF 237kWORD 121k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (2015/2277(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0247A8-0169/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development and the outcome document adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015, entitled ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, and in particular to Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out therein, namely to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture(1),

–  having regard to the Paris Agreement of the parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, adopted on 12 December 2015(2),

–  having regard to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) agreed by the African Union (AU) in 2002(3),

–  having regard to the summit of AU Heads of State held in Maputo (Mozambique) in 2003, at which the AU governments agreed to invest more than 10 % of their total national budget allocations in the agricultural sector(4),

–  having regard to the assembly of AU Heads of State and Government of July 2012, which designated 2014 the ‘Year of Agriculture and Food Security in Africa’(5), marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the CAADP,

–  having regard to the declaration on ‘Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods’, adopted on 27 June 2014 by the summit of AU Heads of State held in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), whereby the AU governments recommitted allocating at least 10 % of public spending to agriculture(6),

–  having regard to the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative of the G8 of 2009(7),

–  having regard to the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (F&G), adopted by the Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Land and Livestock which took place in April 2009 in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)(8), as well as to the declaration on ‘Land Issues and Challenges in Africa’(9) adopted by the AU Heads of State at the summit held in Sirte (Libya) in July 2009, urging effective implementation of the F&G,

–  having regard to the Guiding Principles on Large Scale Land Based Investments in Africa, adopted by the AU Joint Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Rural Development, Fisheries and Aquaculture, meeting in Addis Ababa on 1 and 2 May 2014(10),

–  having regard to the declaration of May 2013 by African civil society organisations, ‘Modernising African agriculture – Who benefits?(11),

–  having regard to the Djimini Declaration of 13 March 2014 by West African smallholder organisations(12),

–  having regard to the FAO’s ‘Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security’ of 2004(13),

–  having regard to the report of 2009 by the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), ‘Agriculture at a crossroads’(14),

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966(15),

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of 1979(16),

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of 1987(17),

–  having regard to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of 2007(18),

–  having regard to the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on development-based evictions and displacements of 2007(19),

–  having regard to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011(20), as well as to the OECD’s Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises, updated in 2011(21),

–  having regard to the 2011 Busan Partnership for Effective Development(22),

–  having regard to the 2012 Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT)(23),

–  having regard to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV Convention) of 1991(24),

–  having regard to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) of 2001(25),

–  having regard to the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992 and the associated Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety of 2000 and Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization of 2010(26),

–  having regard to the African model law on Biosafety(27),

–  having regard to the resolution on land legislation for food sovereignty, adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of La Francophonie on 12 July 2012(28),

–  having regard to the resolution on the social and environmental impact of pastoralism in ACP countries, adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in Addis Ababa on 27 November 2013(29),

–  having regard to the Commission communication ‘An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges’(30), adopted on 31 March 2010, and to the Council conclusions on the policy framework adopted on 10 May 2010(31),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 28 May 2013 on food and nutrition security(32),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Action Plan on Nutrition of July 2014(33),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2011 on an EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges(34),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 on the EU approach to resilience and disaster risk reduction in developing countries: learning from food security crises(35),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2014 on the role of property rights, property ownership and wealth creation in eradicating poverty and fostering sustainable development in developing countries(36),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2015 on ‘Tanzania, notably the issue of land grabbing’(37),

–  having regard to the Declaration of the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles, issued at the World Social Forum in Tunis in March 2015(38);

–  having regard to its resolution of 30 April 2015 entitled ‘Milano Expo 2015: Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’(39),

–  having regard to the African Civil Society Demands for the Inclusion of Food Sovereignty and the Right to Food in the Germany G7 Presidency Agenda in June 2015(40),

–  having regard to the Milan Charter(41), which was presented at Expo 2015 under the theme ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life’ and signed by more than one million heads of state, governments and private individuals, and which calls on all associations, businesses, national and international institutions and private individuals to take responsibility for ensuring that future generations may enjoy their right to food and includes binding commitments to guarantee that right throughout the world,

–  having regard to the fact that the UN Committee on World Food Security is the adequate forum for agreement on policy guidance on this issue internationally and that it is in this forum that all concerned parties have a voice,

–  having regard to the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact of 15 October 2015(42) put forward by Milan City Council and signed by 113 cities around the world, which was submitted to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and illustrates the key role played by cities in policymaking on food,

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 January 2016 on the situation in Ethiopia(43),

–  having regard to the public hearing on the New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security (NAFSN) organised by its Committee on Development on 1 December 2015(44),

–  having regard to the study ‘New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa’ by Professor Olivier de Schutter, commissioned by its Committee on Development and published by its Directorate-General for External Policies in November 2015(45),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Development and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0169/2016),

A.  whereas the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa (NAFSN) aims to improve food security and nutrition by helping 50 million people in sub-Saharan Africa out of poverty by 2020; whereas the participating countries have negotiated Country Cooperation Frameworks (CCFs) setting out commitments to facilitate private investment in the agriculture sector in Africa;

B.  whereas investment in small-scale farming has been neglected over the last thirty years in Africa, while low-income countries’ dependence on food imports grew significantly, rendering them vulnerable to price variations on international markets;

C.  whereas large public-private partnerships (PPPs) risk creating dominant positions for large agricultural companies in African agriculture that crowd out local businesses;

D.  whereas private investment under NAFSN has reached over 8.2 million smallholders and created more than 21 000 jobs, more than half of which are for women;

E.  whereas the food crisis of 2008 generated universal recognition of the need to support smallholder food production for domestic markets;

F.  whereas the launch of structural adjustment programmes in the early 1980s contributed to the development of an export-led agriculture in which priority was given to increasing the production of cash crops for global markets; whereas such choice favoured large-scale, highly capitalised and mechanised forms of production, while small-scale farming was comparatively neglected;

G.  whereas international markets will be more volatile in the future; whereas countries should not take the risk of being excessively dependent on imports, but should, rather, invest primarily in domestic food production to build resilience;

H.  whereas family farmers and smallholders must be at the heart of NASFN;

I.  whereas food security in developing countries largely depends on the sustainable use of natural resources;

J.  whereas so-called ‘growth poles’ aim to attract international investors by making land available to big private companies, and whereas this must not be done at the expense of family farmers;

K.  whereas the agreements on NASFN do not contain any concrete indicator on hunger and malnutrition;

L.  whereas family farmers and smallholders have demonstrated their ability to provide diversified products and to increase food production sustainably by means of agro‑ecological practices;

M.  whereas monocultures increase dependency on chemical fertilisers and pesticides, lead to massive land degradation and contribute to climate change;

N.  whereas agriculture accounts for at least 14 % of total annual greenhouse gas emissions, mostly owing to the use of nitrogen fertilisers;

O.  whereas different forms of land tenure exist (customary, public and private), but NAFSN almost exclusively refers to land titling to address tenure rights;

P.  whereas, by 2050 70 % of the world’s population will live in cities and a combined global and local approach to nutrition will be more necessary than ever before;

Q.  whereas land titling is not the only guarantee against land expropriation and resettlement;

R.  whereas gender is a very important dimension of investment in agriculture in Africa; whereas rural women have long been discriminated against as regards access to a range of productive resources, including land, credit, inputs and services;

S.  whereas until recently the support provided to agriculture has concentrated on male-managed export crops, leaving women largely in charge of handling the task of producing food for the sustenance of the family;

T.  whereas the FAO estimates that about 75 % of plant genetic diversity has been lost worldwide; whereas wide-scale genetic erosion increases our vulnerability to climate change and to the appearance of new pests and diseases;

U.  whereas control, ownership and affordability of seeds are essential to the food security resilience of poor farmers;

V.  whereas farmers’ right to multiply, use, exchange and sell their own seeds should be protected;

W.  whereas improvements in nutrition gaps in Africa are central to the sustainable development agenda; whereas poor nutrition derives from a host of interacting processes relating to healthcare, education, sanitation and hygiene, access to resources, women’s empowerment and more;

X.  whereas the commitments made under the CCF on regulatory reforms in the seed sector aim to strengthen plant breeders’ rights at the expense of the current farmers’ seed systems which the poorest farmers still largely rely on;

Agricultural investment in Africa and fulfilment of the SDGs

1.  Notes that several CCFs focus on the development of special economic areas with the goal of maximising investments through initiatives ranging from road or energy infrastructure to tax, customs or land tenure regimes; also stresses the need to improve and ensure focus on access to water, scaling up nutrition education and sharing best practice strategies;

2.  Observes that agricultural investment policies mostly focus on large-scale land acquisitions and on export-oriented agriculture that is usually unrelated to local economies; notes that the development of extensive irrigation in the targeted geographical investment areas of NAFSN may reduce water availability for other users, such as small-scale farmers or pastoralists; stresses that under those circumstances the ability of mega-PPPs to contribute to poverty reduction and food security must be critically assessed and improved; emphasises that agricultural investment policies should be linked to and should support the development of the local economy, including smallholders and family farming; recalls that the FAO Tenure Guidelines recommend secure access to land in order to allow families to produce food for household consumption and to increase household income; stresses the need to base large-scale land-based investment in Africa on these guidelines, ensuring smallholders’ and local communities’ access to land, promoting local SME investment. and ensuring that PPPs contribute to food security and to reducing poverty and inequality;

3.  Points out that the decision-making process in the cooperation framework has not involved all stakeholders, but has, rather, excluded, inter alia, rural communities, farm workers, small farmers, fishermen and indigenous peoples, and has disregarded their right to participate;

4.  Deplores the lack of consultation of African CSOs in the launch of the NAFSN; stresses that participation of food-insecure groups in the policies that affect them should become the cornerstone of all food security policies;

5.  Points out that NAFSN has made a commitment to promoting inclusive, agriculture-based growth that supports small-scale farming and helps reduce poverty, hunger and under-nutrition; stresses, to this end, that NAFSN must restrict, as far as possible, the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, given their health and environmental consequences for local communities, such as biodiversity loss and soil erosion;

6.  Criticises the assumption that corporate investment in agriculture automatically improves food security and nutrition and reduces poverty;

7.  Notes the G20 report of 2011 which stressed that tax-driven investment may prove transitory; recalls that numerous investor motivation surveys have shown a neutral or negative impact of special tax incentives on decisions to invest(46);

8.  Notes that tax incentives, including exemption from company tax in Special Economic Areas, are depriving African states of tax revenues that could have been a source of vital public investment in agriculture, especially in food security and nutrition programmes(47);

9.  Calls on governments and donors to suspend or review all policies, projects and consultancy arrangements that directly encourage and facilitate land grabbing by supporting highly harmful projects and investments or indirectly increase pressure on land and natural resources and can result in serious human rights violations; calls for support to be given instead to policies which protect and assign priority to small-scale food producers, particularly women, and promote the sustainable use of land;

10.  Warns against replicating in Africa the Asian ‘Green Revolution’ model of the 1960s and ignoring its negative social and environmental impacts; recalls that the SDGs include the goal of promoting sustainable agriculture, to be achieved by 2030;

11.  Notes with concern that in Malawi NAFSN promotes the expansion of tobacco production instead of supporting alternative livelihoods in accordance with obligations under the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) of 2005 and commitments made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development;

12.  Urges the EU Member States to strive to transform NAFSN into a genuine tool for sustainable development and into an instrument of support for family farming and local economies in sub-Saharan Africa, recalling that family farmers and smallholders produce about 80 % of the world’s food and provide over 60 % of employment in the region;

13.  Notes with concern that the CCFs refer only selectively to international standards that define responsible investment in agriculture, and that they refer neither to the FAO 2004 Voluntary Guidelines supporting the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security nor to any duties on the part of private investors to respect human rights;

14.  Calls on the EU and its Member States, as being, taken together, the biggest development aid donor in the world, to:

   ensure that EU-based investors respect, and encourage other partners in the alliance to respect, the rights of local communities and the needs of small farms, in following a human-rights based approach within the cooperation frameworks, including the maintenance of environmental, social, land, labour and human rights safeguards and the highest standards of transparency over their investment plans;
   ensure that EU-based investors implement a social responsibility policy when drawing up employment contracts and do not exploit their economic advantage over workers from local communities;
   support and champion local African enterprises and stakeholders as primary actors and as beneficiaries of the NAFSN initiatives;
   implement the recent WTO decision to eliminate agricultural export subsidies, which are distorting local markets and destroying livelihoods in developing countries;
   eliminate tariff barriers that act as a disincentive to African countries adding value to raw produce locally;

15.  Calls on participating countries to:

   ensure that financial, tax or administrative reforms do not exempt investors from making a fair contribution to the tax base of participating countries or give an unfair advantage to investors over smallholders;
   ensure that their respective governments retain the right to protect their agricultural and food markets through appropriate tariff and tax regimes, which are particularly necessary to tackle financial speculation and tax dodging;
   adopt policies that promote responsible trade and commit to eliminating tariff barriers that dissuade regional trade;

Governance, ownership and accountability

16.  Draws attention to the commitment made by the parties to NAFSN to incorporate the FAO’s ‘Voluntary Guidelines to support the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security’, and calls on the parties to NAFSN to commit to implementing international standards that define responsible investment in agriculture and to abide by the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the OECD’s Guidelines on Multinational Enterprises;

17.  Stresses that NAFSN must step up good governance as regards natural resources, in particular by guaranteeing that people have access to their own resources and by protecting their rights in the context of contracts on deals relating to natural resources;

18.  Calls for the EU to work with the UN towards the adoption by all countries, on a binding basis, of the Milan Charter and the commitments it contains;

19.  Emphasises how important water regulation and combating climate change are for sustainable agriculture; calls on all NAFSN partners to focus on improving access to water and to techniques involving irrigation and stepping up environmental protection and soil conservation;

20.  Calls for the EU to work with the UN towards the adoption and dissemination of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact;

21.  Calls on the participating countries to commit to implementing international standards that regulate investment via a human-rights based approach, incorporating the AU’s Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa and its Guiding Principles on Large Scale Based Investments in Africa;

22.  Calls for all letters of intent within the CCFs to be published in full; stresses the need for strong institutional and legal frameworks to ensure a fair sharing of risks and benefits; emphasises that active participation on the part of civil society within NAFSN is crucial in order to step up transparency and ensure that its objectives are met; points out that dialogue and consultation with all civil society groups must be encouraged;

23.  Regrets that the only indicator common to the ten cooperation frameworks within the NAFSN is the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ index;

24.  Stresses that private companies involved in multilateral development initiatives should be accountable for their actions; calls on the parties to NAFSN, to this end, to submit annual reports on the action taken under NAFSN and to make those reports public and accessible to local people and communities, and to set up an independent accountability mechanism, including an appeal mechanism for local people and communities; stresses equally that New Alliance investment affecting land rights must be subject to an independent prior impact study on land rights and must be in line with the FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests;

25.  Notes that multinationals operating under NAFSN favour large-scale contract farming, which risks marginalising small-scale producers; calls on the ten African states participating in NAFSN to ensure that contract farming benefits both buyers and local suppliers; to this end, deems it crucial to strengthen, for example, farmers’ organisations so as to improve the bargaining position of farmers;

26.  Highlights that the private sector is already driving 90 % of jobs in partner countries and that the potential for private-sector participation is undeniable, as private companies are ideally suited to providing a sustainable base for mobilising domestic resources, which forms the basis of any aid programme; underlines the importance of a transparent regulatory framework that clearly establishes the rights and obligations of all actors, including those of poor farmers and vulnerable groups, since without such a framework those rights cannot be successfully protected;

27.  Calls for the CCFs to be revised so as to effectively tackle the risks of contract farming and out-grower schemes for small-scale producers, by ensuring fair contract provisions, including pricing arrangements, respect for women’s rights, support for sustainable agriculture and appropriate dispute settlement mechanisms;

Access to land and security of tenure

28.  Warns that a pure focus on land titling often leads to insecurity for small-scale food producers and indigenous people, especially women, who lack legal recognition of their land rights and are vulnerable to unfair land deals, expropriation without consent or lack of fair compensation;

29.  Underlines the need to have small-scale food producers in leading positions, allowing their own independent organisations to support them in controlling their land, natural resources and programmes;

30.  Notes with concern that investors and local elites involved in land deals often describe the areas being targeted as ‘empty’, ‘idle’ or ‘under-utilised’, yet very little land in Africa is truly idle, given, for example, the prevalence of pastoralist activities;

31.  Highlights that 1,2 billion people still live either without permanent access to land or else occupying property for which they have no formal claim, with no legal titles, no surveys delineating their lands and no legal or financial means of turning property into capital;

32.  Welcomes the inclusion of the 2012 VGGT in all CCFs; calls for the effective implementation and systematic assessment of compliance with the VGGT and with the SDG framework within the review process for the CCFs;

33.  Stresses that NAFSAN should focus on combating land grabbing, which constitutes a human rights violation as it deprives local communities of land on which they depend to produce food and feed their families; points out that in a number of developing countries land grabbing has deprived people of their work and their means of subsistence and forced them to leave their homes;

34.  Calls on participating countries to:

   ensure participatory and inclusive arrangements that prioritise the rights, needs and interests of those in whom rights to land are legitimately vested, particularly smallholders and small family farmers; ensure, in particular, that free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) is obtained from any/all communities living on land whose ownership, and/or control over which, is transferred;
   enact binding national measures against land-grabbing, corruption based on land transfer and the use of land for speculative investment;
   monitor land titling and certification schemes to ensure that they are transparent and do not concentrate land ownership or dispossess communities of the resources they rely upon;
   ensure that financial assistance is not used to support initiatives that enable companies to displace local communities;
   to recognise all legitimate rights to land and to ensure legal certainty over land rights, including informal, indigenous and customary tenure rights; as recommended by the VGGT, to promote new laws and/or effectively enforce existing laws that place effective safeguards on large-scale land transactions, such as ceilings on permissible land transactions, and to regulate on what basis transfers exceeding a certain scale should be approved by national parliaments;
   to ensure that the principle of FPIC is observed for all communities affected by land grabbing and that consultations are held to ensure the equal participation of all local community groups, in particular those that are most vulnerable and marginalised;

35.  Recalls equally that user rights derived from customary tenure should be recognised and protected by a legal system in line with the provisions and rulings of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights;

36.  Calls for NAFSN to be subject to an ex ante impact study regarding land rights and to be conditional on FPIC on the part of the local people affected;

37.  Supports a robust and innovative monitoring mechanism within the CFS; calls on the EU to build a strong position, in consultation with civil society organisations, in order to contribute to the global monitoring event during the 43rd CFS session to be held in October 2016, in order to ensure a comprehensive and thorough assessment of the use and application of the Tenure Guidelines;

38.  Calls on the governments of the countries concerned to ensure that firms carefully analyse the impact of their activities on human rights (due diligence) by conducting and publishing independent prior assessments of their impact on human, social and environmental rights and improving and ensuring access to domestic human rights complaints processes that are independent, transparent, reliable and appealable;

39.  Calls on the parties to NAFSN to put in place independent grievance mechanisms for those communities affected by land dispossession as a result of large-scale investment projects;

40.  Recalls that combating malnutrition requires a close linking of the agriculture, food and public health sectors;

Food security, nutrition and sustainable family farming

41.  Recalls the need to make all efforts to achieve improved nutrition and food security and to combat hunger, as embedded in the SDG 2; insists on better support for empowering farmers’ cooperatives, which are key for agriculture development and food security;

42.  Notes that stability is higher, and emigration lower, where there is food security based on healthy living soils and productive agro-ecosystems that are resilient to climate change;

43.  Emphasises that high-quality, balanced nutrition is essential, and affirms that nutrition should be at the heart of (re)building food systems;

44.  Calls, therefore, for means of replacing over-reliance on imported food with resilient domestic food production, prioritising local crops that meet nutritional requirements; notes that this is becoming more important as climates and markets become increasingly volatile;

45.  Recalls that energy intake alone cannot be used to indicate nutritional status;

46.  Stresses the need for strategies to minimise food waste throughout the food chain;

47.  Stresses the need to protect agricultural biodiversity; calls on EU Member States to invest in agro-ecological farming practices in developing countries, in line with the conclusions of IAASTD, the recommendations of the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, and the SDGs;

48.  Supports the development of policies conducive to sustainable family farming and encouraging governments to establish an enabling environment (conducive policies, adequate legislation, participatory planning for a policy dialogue, investments) for the development of family farming;

49.  Calls on African governments to:

   invest in local food systems in order to boost rural economies and ensure decent jobs, equitable social safety nets and labour rights, to improve arrangements for democratic scrutiny of access to resources, including farmers’ seeds, and to ensure the effective engagement of small-scale producers in policy processes and implementation; stresses in particular that NAFSN must encourage the establishment of domestic processing industries in the agriculture sector and the improvement of food storage techniques, and must strengthen the link between agriculture and trade so as to build local, national and regional markets that benefit family farmers and provide quality food for consumers at accessible prices;
   avoid making food production systems over-dependent on fossil fuels, with a view to limiting price volatility and mitigating the effects of climate change;
   develop short food supply chains locally and regionally, and appropriate storage and communications infrastructure to this end, as short supply chains are most effective in combating hunger and rural poverty;
   enable African farmers to access affordable, low-input technological solutions to African-specific agronomic challenges;
   encourage a wide variety of nutritious, local and, as far as possible, seasonal food crops, preferably locally adapted or indigenous varieties and species, including fruit, vegetables and nuts, in order to improve nutrition through continuing access to a varied, wholesome and affordable diet, adequate in terms of quality, quantity and diversity rather than calorie intake alone, and consistent with cultural values;
   commit to the full implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and the resolutions adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA) on infant and young child nutrition;
   establish, promote and support producer organisations such as cooperatives that strengthen small farmers’ bargaining positions, bringing about the necessary conditions to ensure that markets remunerate small farmers better, and enabling the sharing of knowledge and best practice between small farmers;

50.  Stresses that NAFSN must lead to the establishment of a regionally adapted agricultural structure in the primary and processing stages;

51.  Calls on African governments to foster intergenerational solidarity and to recognise the key role it plays in combating poverty;

52.  Stresses the importance of promoting programmes of nutrition education in schools and local communities;

53.  Stresses that the right to water goes hand in hand with the right to food, and that the UN resolution of 2010 has not yet resulted in decisive action to establish the right to water as a human right; calls on the EU to consider the proposal of the Italian Committee for a World Water Contract (CICMA) for an optional protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

54.  Recognises the vital role of access to clean drinking water and the impact farming can have on it;

55.  Recognises the role of access to water for farming needs, and the risks of over-relying on precious water for irrigation, and, in light of this, notes the need to reduce wasteful irrigation practices and stresses the role water-conserving agronomic techniques can play in preventing evapotranspiration, in retaining water in a healthy living soil and in keeping drinking sources unpolluted;

56.  Notes that sustainable soil management can increase world food production by up to 58 %(48);

57.  Notes the synergies between soil-based and tree-based approaches and the importance of adapting agro-ecosystems to climate change; notes especially the large demand for firewood; notes in particular the multiple uses of nitrogen-fixing trees;

58.  Recognises the specific needs of tropical and semi-arid agriculture, especially with regard to crops needing shading from the sun and soil protection, and considers extractive monocultures to be outdated, also noting that they are increasingly being phased out in NASFN donor countries;

59.  Cautions against over-reliance on producing non-food agricultural commodities rather than food, in particular biofuel feed stocks, in initiatives financed by NAFSN, in which the production of such commodities can have a detrimental impact on food security and on the food sovereignty of participating countries;

60.  Notes that agronomic techniques – boosting natural processes such as topsoil formation, water and pest regulation or closed loop nutrient cycling – can assure long-term productivity and fertility at a low cost to farmers and administrations;

61.  Notes that agrochemicals can be both over-used and used inappropriately in developing countries, such as those participating in NAFSN;

62.  Notes that this is compounded by illiteracy and lack of appropriate training, and can result in significantly elevated levels of pesticide residues in fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as in poisoning and other impacts on human health for farmers and their families;

Regulatory reform in the seed sector

63.  Recalls that farmers’ right to produce, exchange and sell seeds freely underpins 90 % of agricultural livelihoods in Africa, and that seed diversity is vital in building resilience of farming to climate change; stresses that corporate requests to strengthen plant breeders’ rights in line with the 1991 UPOV Convention must not result in such informal arrangements being prohibited;

64.  Notes the dangers of deregulation of the seed sector in participating countries, which may lead to smallholders becoming over-dependent on seeds and plant protection products manufactured by foreign companies;

65.  Recalls that the TRIPS provisions which call for some form of protection for plant varieties do not force developing countries to adopt the UPOV regime; stresses that those provisions do, however, enable countries to develop sui generis systems which are better adapted to the characteristics of each country’s agricultural production and to traditional farmer-based seed systems, while LDCs that are parties to the WTO are exempted from compliance with the TRIPS provisions concerned; emphasises that sui generis systems must be supportive of and must not counter the objectives and obligations existing under the CBD, the Nagoya Protocol and ITPGRFA;

66.  Deplores the corporate call to harmonise seed laws on the basis of the principles of distinctness, uniformity and stability (DUS), in the African context via regional institutions, which will hamper the development and growth of farmer-based seed systems at national and regional levels, since such systems usually do not breed or save seeds that fulfil the DUS criteria;

67.  Urges the G7 member states to support farmer-managed seed systems via community seed banks;

68.  Recalls that while commercial seed varieties may improve yields in the short term, traditional farmers’ varieties, landraces and associated knowledge are best suited for adaptation to specific agro-ecological environments and climate change; stresses that, in addition, their higher performance depends on the use of inputs (fertilisers, pesticides, hybrid seeds) which risk trapping farmers in a vicious circle of debt;

69.  Notes with concern that the introduction and spread of certified seeds in Africa increases smallholder dependence, makes indebtedness more probable, and erodes seed diversity;

70.  Advocates supporting local policies aimed at ensuring consistent and sustainable access to a diverse and nutritious diet, following the principles of ownership and subsidiarity;

71.  Urges the Commission to ensure that the commitments made to farmers’ rights by the EU under ITPGRFA are reflected in all technical assistance and financial support for seed policy development; calls for the EU to support intellectual property rights regimes that enhance the development of locally adapted seed varieties and farmer‑saved seeds;

72.  Urges the G8 member states not to support GMO crops in Africa;

73.  Recalls that the African Model Law on Biosafety sets a high benchmark for biosafety; believes that all assistance from foreign donors in developing biosafety at national and regional levels should be framed accordingly;

74.  Urges African countries not to implement national or regional biosafety regimes with lower standards than those set out in the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety;

75.  Calls on participating countries to give farmers the option of avoiding input dependency, and to support farmers’ seed systems in order to maintain and improve agro-biodiversity through maintaining local publically-owned seed banks and exchanges and continuous development of local seed varieties, specifically providing flexibility on seed catalogues so as not to exclude farmers’ varieties and to guarantee the continuation of traditional produce;

76.  Calls on the participating countries to safeguard and promote access to, and exchange of, seeds and agricultural inputs for smallholders, marginalised groups and rural communities, and to respect international agreements on non-patentability of life and biological processes, especially where native strains and species are concerned;

77.  Stresses the risk of increased marginalisation of women in decision-making resulting from the development of certain commercial crops; notes that agricultural training often targets men and tend to sideline women, who therefore find themselves excluded from the management of land and crops that they have traditionally looked after;

Gender

78.  Regrets that the CCFs largely fail to define precise commitments on gender budgeting or to monitor progress through disaggregated data; stresses the need to move from abstract and general commitments to concrete and precise ones in the remit of national action plans to empower women as rights-holders;

79.  Urges governments to eliminate all discrimination against women in terms of access to land and microcredit schemes and services, and to effectively involve women in the design and implementation of agricultural research and development policies;

Funding agricultural investment in Africa

80.  Stresses the need to ensure the transparency of all funding granted to private -sector companies, and that such funding must be made public;

81.  Calls on donors to align Official Development Assistance (ODA) with the development effectiveness principles, to focus on results with a view to poverty eradication, and to promote inclusive partnerships, transparency and accountability;

82.  Calls on donors to channel their support for developing agriculture primarily through national development funds which grant subsidies and loans to smallholders and family farming;

83.  Urges donors to support education, training and technical counselling for farmers;

84.  Calls on donors to promote the forming of farmers’ organisations of a professional and economic nature, and to support the establishment of farmers’ cooperatives which enable the delivery of affordable means of production and help farmers process and market their products in a way that safeguards the profitability of their production;

85.  Believes that the funding provided by G8 member states to NAFSN contravenes the objective of supporting domestic local companies which cannot compete with multinationals that already benefit from a dominant market position and are often granted business, tariff and tax privileges;

86.  Recalls that the purpose of development aid is to reduce, and ultimately to eradicate, poverty; believes that ODA should focus on direct support to small-scale farming;

87.  Stresses the need to revitalise public investment in African agriculture, while providing support for private investment, and to prioritise investment in agro-ecology, so as to sustainably increase food security and reduce poverty and hunger while conserving biodiversity and respecting indigenous knowledge and innovation;

88.  Stresses that G7 member states should guarantee African countries the right to protect their agricultural sectors through tariff and tax regimes that favour family and smallholder farming;

89.  Calls on the EU to address all the deficiencies of NAFSN outlined above, to act to enhance its transparency and governance, and to ensure that actions taken under it are consistent with development policy goals;

o
o   o

90.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the parties to NAFSN.

(1) UN General Assembly resolution A/RES/70/1.
(2) UN FCCC/CP/2015/L.9/Rev.1.
(3) http://www.nepad.org/system/files/caadp.pdf
(4) Assembly/AU/Decl.7(II).
(5) Assembly/AU/Decl.449(XIX).
(6) Assembly/AU/Decl.1(XXIII).
(7) http://www.ifad.org/events/g8/statement.pdf
(8) http://www.uneca.org/publications/framework-and-guidelines-landpolicy-africa
(9) Assembly/AU/Decl.1(XIII) Rev.1.
(10) http://www.uneca.org/publications/guiding-principles-large-scale-land-based-investments-africa
(11) http://acbio.org.za/modernising-african-agriculture-who-benefits-civil-society-statement-on-the-g8-agra-and-the-african-unions-caadp/
(12) https://www.grain.org/bulletin_board/entries/4914-djimini-declaration
(13) http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/y7937e/y7937e00.htm
(14) http://www.unep.org/dewa/Assessments/Ecosystems/IAASTD/tabid/105853/Defa
(15) https://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en
(16) http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/
(17) http://www.achpr.org/instruments/achpr/
(18) http://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
(19) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/ForcedEvictions.aspx
(20) https://www.unglobalcompact.org/library/2
(21) http://www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/oecdguidelinesformultinationalenterprises.htm
(22) http://www.oecd.org/development/effectiveness/busanpartnership.htm
(23) http://www.fao.org/nr/tenure/voluntary-guidelines/en/
(24) http://www.upov.int/upovlex/en/conventions/1991/content.html
(25) http://www.planttreaty.org/
(26) https://www.cbd.int/
(27) http://hrst.au.int/en/biosafety/modellaw
(28) http://apf.francophonie.org/IMG/pdf/2012_07_session_58_Resolution_Regulation_du_foncier.pdf
(29) OJ C 64, 4.3.2014, p. 31.
(30) COM(2010)0127.
(31) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/114357.pdf
(32) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/uedocs/cms_Data/docs/pressdata/EN/foraff/137318.pdf
(33) SWD(2014)0234.
(34) OJ C 56 E, 26.2.2013, p. 75.
(35) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0578.
(36) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0250.
(37) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0073.
(38) http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php/main-issues-mainmenu-27/agrarian-reform-mainmenu-36/1775-declaration-of-the-global-convergence-of-land-and-water-struggles
(39) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0184.
(40) http://afsafrica.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/AFSA-Demands-to-the-Germany-G7-Presidency-Agenda.pdf
(41) http://carta.milano.it/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/English_version_Milan_Charter.pdf
(42) http://www.foodpolicymilano.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Milan-Urban-Food-Policy-Pact-EN.pdf
(43) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0023.
(44) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/deve/events.html?id=20151201CHE00041
(45) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/535010/EXPO_STU(2015)535010_EN.pdf
(46) Mwachinga, E. (Global Tax Simplification Team, World Bank Group), ‘Results of investor motivation survey conducted in the EAC’, presentation given in Lusaka on 12 February 2013.
(47) ‘Supporting the development of more effective tax systems’ – a report to the G20 working group by the IMF, the OECD and the World Bank, 2011.
(48) FAO, Global Soil Partnership.


International Accounting Standards (IAS) evaluation
PDF 208kWORD 100k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on International Accounting Standards (IAS) evaluation and the activities of the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Foundation, the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) and the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB) (2016/2006(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0248A8-0172/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1606/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 July 2002 on the application of international accounting standards(1),

–  having regard to the report of the High-Level Group on Financial Supervision in the EU, chaired by Jacques de Larosière, of 25 February 2009,

–  having regard to Directive 2013/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 on the annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements and related reports of certain types of undertakings, amending Directive 2006/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directives 78/660/EEC and 83/349/EEC(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2012/30/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 258/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 April 2014 establishing a Union Programme to support specific activities in the field of financial reporting and auditing for the period of 2014-20 and repealing Decision No 716/2009/EC(4),

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 258/2014 establishing a Union Programme to support specific activities in the field of financial reporting and auditing for the period of 2014-20 (COM(2016)0202),

–  having regard to the October 2013 report by Philippe Maystadt entitled ‘Should IFRS standards be more European?’,

–  having regard to the Commission report of 2 July 2014 to the European Parliament and the Council on the progress achieved in the implementation of the reform of EFRAG following the recommendation provided in the Maystadt report (COM(2014)0396),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 18 June 2015 to the European Parliament and the Council on evaluation of Regulation (EC) No 1606/2002 of 19 July 2002 on the application of international accounting standards (COM(2015)0301),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 17 September 2015 to the European Parliament and the Council on the activities of the IFRS Foundation, EFRAG and PIOB in 2014 (COM(2015)0461),

–  having regard to the Communication from the Commission of 30 September 2015 to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on an Action Plan on Building a Capital Markets Union (COM(2015)0468),

–  having regard to the study on the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) (‘The European Union’s Role in International Economic Fora – paper 7: The IASB’) and the four studies on IFRS 9 (‘IFRS Endorsement Criteria in Relation to IFRS 9’, ‘The Significance of IFRS 9 for Financial Stability and Supervisory Rules’, ‘Impairments of Greek Government Bonds under IAS 39 and IFRS 9: A Case Study’ and ‘Expected-Loss-Based Accounting for the Impairment of Financial Instruments: the FASB and IASB IFRS 9 Approaches’),

–  having regard to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1569/2007 of 21 December 2007 establishing a mechanism for the determination of equivalence of accounting standards applied by third country issuers of securities pursuant to Directives 2003/71/EC and 2004/109/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council(5),

–  having regard to the G20 Leaders’ Statement of 2 April 2009,

–  having regard to the IASB’s Discussion Paper of July 2013 entitled ‘A Review of the Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting’ (DP/2013/1) and the IASB’s Request for Views of July 2015 entitled ‘Trustees’ Review of Structure and Effectiveness: Issues for the Review’,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Comment of 1 December 2015 on the IASB Trustees’ Review of Structure and Effectiveness,

–  having regard to International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 9 on Financial Instruments issued on 24 July 2014 by the IASB, to EFRAG’s endorsement advice on IFRS 9, to EFRAG’s assessment of IFRS 9 against the true and fair view principle, to the meeting documents of the Accounting Regulatory Committee (ARC) on IFRS 9 and to the comment letters from the European Central Bank (ECB) and European Banking Authority (EBA) on the endorsement of IFRS 9,

–  having regard to the letter of 14 January 2014 sent on behalf of the coordinators of its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, commenting on the IASB discussion paper entitled ‘A Review of the Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting’,

–  having regard to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Report on Enforcement and Regulatory Activities of Accounting Enforcers in 2014, of 31 March 2015 (ESMA/2015/659),

–  having regard to the ESMA guidelines on enforcement of financial information, of 10 July 2014 (ESMA/2014/807),

–  having regard to the ESMA table on compliance with the ESMA guidelines on enforcement of financial information, of 19 January 2016 (ESMA/2015/203 REV),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 April 2008 on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the Governance of the International Accounting Standard Board (IASB)(6),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies(7),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/43/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 on statutory audits of annual accounts and consolidated accounts(8), amended by Directive 2014/56/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014(9) applicable from mid-June 2016,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgetary Control (A8-0172/2016),

A.  whereas the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the international standards on auditing (ISA) are one essential component needed for the efficient functioning of the internal market and of the capital markets; whereas the IFRS and ISA can be understood as a public good, should not therefore endanger financial stability or hinder the economic development of the Union and should serve the common good and not only the interests of investors, lenders and creditors;

B.  whereas falsification of company accounts poses a threat to economic and financial stability in addition to undermining public confidence in the social market economy model;

C.  whereas the purpose of the IFRS is to strengthen accountability by reducing the information gap between investors and companies, to protect investment, to bring transparency through enhancing the international comparability and quality of financial information, to enable investors and other market participants to make informed economic decisions, and therefore to influence the behaviour of actors in financial markets and impact the stability of these markets; whereas, however, this ‘decision usefulness’ model of accounting is not entirely consistent with the ‘capital adequacy’ function of accounting as described in ECJ case-law and the Accounting Directive suggesting that the conceptual basis of accounting under the IFRS framework does not encompass the purpose of accounts in EU law, for which a true and fair view of the specific figures is the standard, as set out in written answer E-016071/2015 from Commissioner Jonathan Hill dated 25 February 2016; whereas the true and fair view requirement calls for a holistic assessment in which figures and qualitative explanations are important;

D.  whereas the Accounting Directive states that accounts are ‘of special importance for the protection of shareholders, members and third parties’ and that ‘such undertakings offer no safeguards to third parties beyond the amounts of their net assets’; whereas the Accounting Directive also states that its aim is ‘to protect the interests subsisting in companies with share capital’ by ensuring that dividends are not paid out of share capital; whereas this general purpose of accounts can only be fulfilled if the figures set out in the accounts give a true and fair view of a company’s assets and liabilities, financial position and profit or loss; whereas a true and fair view, the determination of dividend payments and the assessment of the solvency of a company also require qualitative information and a wider evaluation of risks;

E.  whereas the IASB functions under the umbrella of the IFRS Foundation – a private not-for-profit corporation registered in London, UK and Delaware, US – and is the standard setter whose processes must be transparent, independent and subject to direct public accountability; whereas the EU contributes around 14 % of the IFRS Foundation’s budget and is therefore its largest financial contributor;

F.  whereas the global movement of capital requires a global system of accounting standards; whereas the IFRS are applied in 116 jurisdictions under different modalities (full adoption, partial, option or convergence), but not in the US for domestic issuers;

G.  whereas the September 2002 Norwalk Agreement between the IASB and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) proposed that there should be convergence between the IFRS issued by the IASB and the US-GAAP issued by the FASB;

H.  whereas in the EU the endorsement process is based on the endorsement criteria as stipulated in the IAS Regulation; whereas an IFRS should not be contrary to the true and fair view principle as included in the Accounting Directive, which requires that financial statements must give a ‘true and fair’ view of a company’s assets and liabilities, financial position and profit or loss; whereas dividends and bonuses should not be paid out of unrealised profits which ultimately means out of capital as the Capital Maintenance Directive requires; whereas the IFRS should be conducive to the public good in Europe and should meet basic criteria related to the quality of information required for financial statements;

I.  whereas the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament are involved in the endorsement process based on advice from the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG), a private technical adviser of the Commission, and on the work of the Accounting Regulatory Committee (ARC) composed of representatives from the Member States; whereas the Maystadt report discussed the possibility of setting up an agency to replace EFRAG as a longer-term solution;

J.  whereas, within the EU, different stakeholders – particularly long-term investors – have raised the issue of the consistency of the IFRS with the legal requirements of the Accounting Directive, in particular the principles of prudence and stewardship; whereas the involvement of Parliament in the standard-setting process is not sufficient and is not commensurate with the EU budget’s financial contribution to the IFRS Foundation; whereas emphasis has also been put on strengthening Europe’s voice in order to ensure that such principles are fully acknowledged and embedded throughout the standard-setting process;

K.  whereas the recent financial crises brought the role played by IFRS in financial stability and growth onto the G20 and EU agendas, in particular the rules regarding the recognition of losses incurred in the banking system; whereas the G20 and the De Larosière report highlighted key issues with respect to accounting standards ahead of the crisis, including off-balance sheet accounting, the procyclicality related to the mark-to-market principle and profit and loss recognition, the underestimation of risk accumulation during cyclical upturns and the lack of a common and transparent methodology for the valuation of illiquid and impaired assets;

L.  whereas the IASB delivered the IFRS 9 financial instruments as a key response to some aspects of the crisis and to its impact on the banking sector; whereas EFRAG’s advice on IFRS 9 was positive, with a number of observations concerning the use of ‘fair value’ in the event of market difficulties, the lack of conceptual basis regarding the 12-month loss provisioning approach and the unsatisfactory provisions pertaining to long-term investment; whereas, owing to the different effective dates of IFRS 9 and the forthcoming insurance standard, the advice expressed a reservation on the applicability of the standard to the insurance sector; whereas this issue is acknowledged by the IASB itself; whereas there are concerns that the proposed accounting treatment of equity may negatively affect long-term investment; whereas the ECB and EBA comment letters on IFRS 9 were positive but also mentioned a number of specific shortcomings;

M.  whereas the off-balance sheet accounting issue was addressed in the subsequent amendments to ‘IFRS 7 Financial Instruments: Disclosures’ and the issuance of three new standards – ‘IFRS 10 Consolidated financial statements’, ‘IFRS 11 Joint arrangements’ and ‘IFRS 12 Disclosure of interests in other entities’;

N.  whereas in May 2015 the IASB published an Exposure Draft of the ‘Conceptual Framework’ which describes concepts assisting the IASB in developing the IFRS, enabling preparers of financial statements to develop and select accounting policies and helping all parties to understand and interpret the IFRS;

O.  whereas the governance structure of the IFRS Foundation is under review, in accordance with its constitution; whereas this is therefore the right time to review the organisational set-up and the changes required for the governing and monitoring bodies of the IFRS Foundation and the IASB, with a view to integrating them better into the system of international financial institutions and ensuring broad representation (such as consumer representation agencies and finance ministries) of interests and public accountability that will guarantee high-quality accounting standards;

P.  whereas the ISA are developed by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), an independent body hosted by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC); whereas the Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB) is an international independent organisation that oversees the process leading to the adoption of the ISA and the IFAC’s other public interest activities;

Q.  whereas the Union programme to support specific activities in the field of financial reporting and auditing for the period 2014-2020 covers the funding of the IFRS Foundation and the PIOB for 2014-2020, but the funding of EFRAG only for 2014-2016;

Evaluation of 10 years of the application of IFRS in the EU

1.  Notes the Commission’s IAS evaluation report on the application of the IFRS in the EU and its assessment that the objectives of the IAS Regulation have been met; regrets that the Commission has not yet proposed the legal changes that are required to solve the shortcomings identified in its evaluation; calls on the standard setter to ensure that the IFRS are coherent within the existing body of accounting standards and to promote convergence at international level; calls for a more coordinated approach in developing new standards, including coordinated timelines for application, in particular with regard to the implementation of IFRS 9 Financial Instruments and the new IFRS 4 Insurance Contracts; urges the Commission to put forward diligently legal proposals to this end and to ensure that any delay does not result in misalignment or disruption of competition within the insurance industry; calls on the Commission to examine in detail whether the recommendations of the de Larosière report have been fully implemented, in particular Recommendation No 4, which states that a wider reflection on the mark-to-market principle is needed;

2.  Calls on the Commission to comply as a matter of urgency with the Maystadt recommendation regarding expansion of the ‘public good’ criterion, i.e. that accounting standards should neither jeopardise financial stability in the EU nor hinder the EU’s economic development, and to ensure that this criterion will be fully respected during the endorsement process; urges the Commission, together with EFRAG, to issue clear guidelines on the meaning of the ‘public good’ and the ‘true and fair view’ principle on the basis of ECJ case-law and the Accounting Directive in order to arrive at a common understanding of these endorsement criteria; calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to incorporate Maystadt’s definition of the ‘public good’ criterion into the IAS Regulation; calls on the Commission, together with EFRAG, to examine systematically whether the ‘public good’ criterion as defined by Maystadt requires changes to existing accounting standards and, on this basis, to cooperate with the IASB and national and third-country standard setters to obtain wider support for modifications or, in the absence of such wider support, to provide in EU law for specific standards to meet such criteria where needed;

3.  Notes that the ‘true and fair view’ test of Article 4(3) of Directive 2013/34/EU applies to the figures set out in the accounts as the standard for the purpose of accounts prepared according to European law, as described in Recitals 3 and 29 of the directive; highlights that this purpose relates to the capital adequacy function of accounts, i.e. that investors, both creditors and shareholders, use the figures in the annual accounts as the basis for determining whether a company is ‘net asset’ solvent and for determining dividend payments;

4.  Emphasises that a core component of achieving the true and fair view of the figures set out in the accounts is prudent valuation, which means no understating of losses or overstating of profits, as described in Article 6(1)(c)(i) and (ii) of the Accounting Directive; points out that this interpretation of the Accounting Directive has been confirmed by numerous ECJ rulings;

5.  Notes that Recital 9 of the IAS Regulation allows a degree of flexibility when making a decision to endorse an IFRS by not requiring ‘a strict conformity with each and every provision of those Directives’; suggests, however, that this does not extend to allowing IFRS to deviate so far from the general purpose of the 2013 Accounting Directive (2013/34/EU), which replaced the Fourth Company Law Directive (78/660/EEC) and Seventh Company Law Directive (83/349/EEC) referred to in the first indent of Article 3(2) of the IAS Regulation, as to result in financial statements that overstate profits or understate losses; considers, in this connection, that the endorsement of IAS 39 was possibly contrary to this general purpose of the Fourth and Seventh Company Law Directives, superseded by the 2013 Accounting Directive, given its incurred loss model, and in particular to Article 31(1)(c)(bb) of the Fourth Company Law Directive, which stated that ‘all foreseeable liabilities and potential losses arising in the course of the financial year concerned or of a previous one [should be measured and recognised], even if such liabilities or losses become apparent only between the date of the balance sheet and the date on which it is drawn up’;

6.  Welcomes the intention of the IASB to reintroduce the principle of ‘prudence’ and re-inforce ‘stewardship’ in the new Conceptual Framework; regrets that the IASB’s interpretation of ‘prudence’ only means ‘prudent treatment of discretion’; notes that the IASB’s understanding of the principle of prudence and stewardship is not the same as what is stated in the relevant ECJ case-law and the Accounting Directive; believes that the principle of prudence should be accompanied by the principle of reliability; calls on the Commission and EFRAG to agree on the meaning of the principle of prudence and stewardship as defined in ECJ case-law and the Accounting Directive and, on this basis, to cooperate with the IASB and national and third-country standard setters in order to obtain wider support for these principles; calls on the IASB to examine systematically whether a revised Conceptual Framework requires changes to existing accounting standards and to make modifications where needed;

7.  Notes the reform regarding the recognition of losses in the IFRS framework, which should allow for a more prudent build-up of loss provisions on the basis of the forward-looking concept of loss expectation instead of incurred losses; takes the view that the EU endorsement process should carefully and prudently frame the way in which the expected loss concept is to be specified so as to avoid model overreliance and allow clear supervisory guidance on asset impairment;

8.  Takes the view that the off-balance sheet accounting issue has not yet been properly and effectively addressed as the decision as to whether or not an asset is to be reported on balance sheets is still subject to a mechanistic rule which can be circumvented; calls on the IASB to correct these shortcomings;

9.  Welcomes the IFRS Foundation and IOSCO protocols on enhanced cooperation in view of the key issues, identified by the G20, concerning regulation of securities markets; considers this cooperation to be necessary in order to meet the need for high-quality global accounting standards and to encourage application of consistent standards across varying national settings;

10.  Is convinced that the exchange of information between the IASB and IOSCO on growing IFRS use should be viewed not only as a stocktaking exercise, but also as an opportunity to identify instances of best practice; welcomes, in this regard, the annual ‘enforcer discussion session’ introduced by IOSCO in order to inform the IASB about key implementation and enforcement issues;

11.  Notes that the effects of an accounting standard must be fully understood; insists that it should be a priority for the IASB and EFRAG to strengthen their impact analyses, notably in the field of macroeconomics, and to assess the different needs of the wide variety of stakeholders, including long-term investors and companies, as well as the general public; calls on the Commission to remind EFRAG to strengthen its capacity to assess the impact of new accounting standards on financial stability, with an explicit focus on European needs that should be introduced into the IASB’s standardisation earlier on in the process; notes, in particular, the absence of a quantitative impact assessment for IFRS 9, for which no data will be available before 2017; calls on the Commission to make sure that IFRS 9 serves the EU long-term investment strategy, especially by restricting provisions which could introduce excessive short-term volatility in financial statements; notes that the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – ESMA, EBA and EIOPA – which have the expertise and capacity to assist in this task rejected full membership of the EFRAG Board because of EFRAG being a private body; considers that the ECB and ESAs, as observers of the EFRAG Board following the reformed governance arrangements, would contribute positively to taking greater account of effects on financial stability; calls on the Commission, in the context of the revision of the IAS Regulation, to explore ways of being provided with a systematic formal feedback from the ESAs;

12.  Is convinced that only simple rules can be effectively applied by users and controlled by supervisors; recalls that, in its statement of 2 April 2009, the G20 called for less complexity in accounting standards for financial instruments and for clarity and consistency in the application of valuation standards internationally, working with supervisors; is concerned about the persisting complexity of the IFRS; calls for this complexity to be reduced wherever appropriate and possible when developing new accounting standards; believes that a less complex accounting standards system will contribute to more uniform implementation so that company financial data are comparable between Member States;

13.  Calls for mandatory country-by-country reporting under IFRS; reiterates Parliament’s view that public country-by-country reporting can play a decisive role in combating tax avoidance and fraud;

14.  Asks the IASB, the Commission and EFRAG to involve Parliament and the Council at an early stage when developing financial reporting standards in general and in the endorsement process in particular; takes the view that the scrutiny process for the adoption of IFRS in the EU should be formalised and structured by analogy with the scrutiny process applicable to ‘level 2’ measures in the field of financial services; recommends that the European authorities invite civil society stakeholders to support their activities, including at the EFRAG level; calls on the Commission to create a space for stakeholders to discuss fundamental principles of accounting in Europe; calls on the Commission to grant Parliament the possibility to receive a short list of EFRAG board president candidates so as to organise informal hearings ahead of a vote on the proposed candidate;

15.  Notes in this context that Parliament should play the role of an active promoter of IFRS, provided that the requests contained in this resolution are properly taken into account, as evidence exists that the benefits outweigh the costs;

16.  Is convinced that a globalised economy needs internationally accepted accounting standards; recalls, however, that convergence is not an objective in itself but only desirable if it results in better accounting standards reflecting an orientation towards the public good, prudence and reliability; believes therefore, that a robust dialogue should continue between the IASB and national accounting standards setters, despite the slow progress of the convergence process;

17.  Notes that the majority of enterprises are SMEs; notes the Commission’s intention to explore with the IASB the possibility of developing common high-quality and simplified accounting standards for SMEs which could be used, on a voluntary basis, at EU level by SMEs listed on Multilateral Trading Facilities (MTFs), and more specifically SME growth markets; notes, in this connection, the possibilities of the already existing financial reporting standards for SMEs; believes that, as a condition for work to continue in this field, IFRS have to be less complex and must not promote pro-cyclicality, and that SME interests should be sufficiently represented on the IASB; believes that the relevant stakeholders should be represented on the IASB; calls on the Commission to undertake a proper impact assessment of the effects of IFRS on SMEs before taking any further steps; calls for such a development to be carefully monitored and that Parliament should be fully informed, with due account being taken of the ‘better regulation’ process;

18.  Stresses that national standard setters are now closely integrated in EFRAG; identifies, therefore, the advisory role of EFRAG when it comes to accounting issues relating to small listed companies and SMEs more generally;

19.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission is encouraging Member States to follow the ESMA guidelines on the enforcement of financial information; deplores that several Member States do not comply and do not intend to comply with the ESMA guidelines on the enforcement of financial information; calls on these Member States to work towards compliance; calls on the Commission to assess whether ESMA’s powers make it possible to ensure consistent and coherent enforcement across the EU and, if not, to explore other ways to ensure proper application of enforcement;

20.  Acknowledges that the balance between the mandatory scope of application of the IAS Regulation and the option for the Member States to extend the use of the IFRS at national level ensures proper subsidiarity and proportionality;

21.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to examine the case for coordinating the EU rules relating to dividend distribution; recalls, in this connection, Article 17(1) of the Capital Maintenance Directive, which refers directly to a company’s annual accounts as the basis for decisions relating to dividend distributions and places certain restrictions on the distribution of dividends; notes that the Commission’s evaluation of the IAS Regulation has shown some evidence that differences in enforcement of IFRS persist between Member States; stresses that capital maintenance and dividend distribution rules have been cited in the report on the evaluation of the IAS Regulation as a source of legal challenges which can arise in certain jurisdictions where Member States permit or require the use of IFRS for individual annual financial statements on which distributable profits are based; points out that each Member State considers how to address such issues in its national legislation within the framework of the EU capital maintenance requirements; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to ensure compliance with the Capital Maintenance Directive and the Accounting Directive;

22.  Calls on EFRAG and the Commission to examine as soon as possible whether accounting standards allow tax fraud and tax avoidance and to make all the necessary changes to correct and prevent potential abuse;

23.  Notes ongoing efforts to enhance transparency and comparability of public accounts by developing European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS);

Activities of the IFRS Foundation, EFRAG and the PIOB

24.  Supports the Commission recommendations that the Monitoring Board of the IFRS Foundation should shift the focus of its attention from the issue of internal organisation to discussing matters of public interest that could be referred to the IFRS Foundation; believes, however that further progress should be made as regards the governance of the IFRS Foundation and the IASB, in particular in terms of transparency, prevention of conflicts of interest and diversity of hired experts; points out that IASB’s legitimacy is at stake if the Monitoring Board continues to disagree over its responsibility while depending on consensus decisions; supports, in particular, the Commission’s proposal to consider the reporting needs of investors with different investment time horizons and to provide specific solutions, in particular for long-term investors, when developing their standards; supports better integration of the IASB into the system of international financial institutions and steps to ensure broad representation (such as consumer representation agencies and finance ministries) of interests and public accountability that will guarantee high-quality accounting standards;

25.  Notes the dominance of private actors on the IASB; points out that medium-sized businesses are not represented at all; points out that the IFRS Foundation continues to rely on voluntary contributions, often from the private sector, which may give rise to a risk of conflicts of interests; calls on the Commission to urge the IFRS Foundation to aim for a more diversified and balanced financing structure, including on the basis of fees and public sources;

26.  Welcomes the activities of the IFRS Foundation/IASB in carbon and climate reporting; takes the view, in particular, that key long-term structural issues such as the valuation of stranded carbon assets in undertakings’ balance sheets should be explicitly added to the IFRS working programme with a view to developing related standards; calls on the IFRS bodies to put the challenge of carbon reporting and carbon risks on their agenda;

27.  Calls on the Commission and EFRAG to look into the shift in pension asset allocation from equities to bonds as a result of the introduction of the mark-to-market accounting under IFRS;

28.  Supports the Commission in urging the IFRS Foundation to ensure that use of the IFRS and the existence of a permanent financial contribution are conditions for membership of the governing and monitoring bodies of the IFRS Foundation and of the IASB; calls on the Commission to explore ways to reform the IFRS Foundation and the IASB in order to remove veto rights from members which do not fulfil the aforementioned criteria;

29.  Calls on the IFRS Trustees, the IFRS Monitoring Board and the IASB to promote an appropriate gender balance within the respective forums;

30.  Recalls its request made in the Goulard report for measures to enhance democratic legitimacy, transparency, accountability and integrity which, inter alia, concern public access to documents, open dialogue with diverse stakeholders, the establishment of mandatory transparency registers and rules on transparency of lobby meetings as well as internal rules, in particular prevention of conflict of interests;

31.  Emphasises that the EFRAG reform must improve the European contribution to the development of the new IFRS and could participate in the reform of governance of the IFRS Foundation;

32.  Deplores the fact that EFRAG has been operating for some time without a board president, given the key role he/she plays in reaching consensus and in ensuring a clear, strong European voice on accounting matters at international level; stresses the importance of appointing a new president as soon as possible; urges the Commission, therefore, to speed up the recruitment process, taking due account of the role of Parliament and its Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs;

33.  Welcomes the EFRAG reform which took effect on 31 October 2014 and acknowledges that significant efforts have been made in this regard; notes the improved transparency; deplores the fact that, with regard to the funding of EFRAG and, in particular, the possibility of establishing a system of compulsory levies paid by listed companies, the Commission has focused its efforts on implementing parts of the reform that are achievable in the short term; asks the Commission to take formal steps – as recommended in the Maystadt report – to encourage Member States that do not already have a National Funding Mechanism to establish one; notes the Commission proposal for the extension of the Union Programme for EFRAG for the period 2017-2020; calls on the Commission to conduct an annual comprehensive assessment of its agreed reform, as provided for in Article 9(3) and 9(6) of Regulation (EU) No 258/2014; calls on the Commission to assess the opportunity and possibility of transforming EFRAG into a public agency in the long term;

34.  Deplores the fact that the requirement, suggested by Maystadt, that the functions of EFRAG CEO and EFRAG TEG Chairman should be combined has been turned into a possibility; notes that the composition of the new board deviates from Maystadt’s proposal as the European Supervisory Authorities and the European Central Bank declined to accept full membership of the board; calls on EFRAG to extend the number of users, currently only one, on the board and to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are represented in EFRAG;

35.  Welcomes the fact that in 2014 PIOB diversified its funding; notes that the total funding provided by IFAC was 58 % which, while still accounting for a significant proportion of PIOB funding, is well below the two-thirds threshold and that there was therefore no need for the Commission to limit its annual contribution, as stipulated in Article 9(5) of Regulation (EU) No 258/2014; calls on PIOB to step up its efforts to ensure integrity in the auditing profession;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 243, 11.9.2002, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 182, 29.6.2013, p. 19.
(3) OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 74.
(4) OJ L 105, 8.4.2014, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 340, 22.12.2007, p. 66.
(6) OJ C 259 E, 29.10.2009, p. 94.
(7) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0108.
(8) OJ L 157, 9.6.2006, p. 87.
(9) OJ L 158, 27.5.2014, p. 196.


Peace Support Operations – EU engagement with the UN and the African Union
PDF 280kWORD 88k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on Peace Support Operations – EU engagement with the UN and the African Union (2015/2275(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0249A8-0158/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Title V of the Treaty on European Union, and in particular to Articles 21, 41, 42, and 43 thereof,

–  having regard to Article 220 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations, and in particular to Chapters VI, VII and VIII thereof,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 1 April 2015, ‘Partnering for peace: moving towards partnership peacekeeping’(1),

–  having regard to the Joint Communication by the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of 28 April 2015 on ‘Capacity building in support of security and development – Enabling partners to prevent and manage crises’(2),

–  having regard to the report of 16 June 2015 of the UN High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations(3),

–  having regard to the declaration made at the 28 September 2015 Leader’s Summit on Peace-Keeping convened by President Barack Obama of the United States,

–  having regard to the documents of 14 June 2012 ‘Plan of Action to enhance EU CSDP support to UN peacekeeping’(4) and of 27 March 2015 ‘Strengthening the UN-EU Strategic Partnership on Peacekeeping and Crisis Management: Priorities 2015-2018’(5),

–  having regard to the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) agreed at the 2nd EU-Africa Summit held in Lisbon on 8-9 December 2007(6) and the JAES Roadmap 2014-2017 agreed at the 4th EU-Africa Summit held in Brussels on 2-3 April 2014(7),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 3 of 2011 on ‘The Efficiency and Effectiveness of EU Contributions channelled through United Nations organisations in Conflict-affected Countries’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 November 2015 on ‘The role of the EU within the UN – how to better achieve EU foreign policy goals’(8),

–  having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 9 December 2015 on ‘The evaluation of the African Peace Facility after ten years: effectiveness and prospects for the future’,

–  having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

–  having regard to the ‘Oslo’ Guidelines on the Use of Foreign Military and Civil Defence Assets in Disaster Relief of November 2007,

–  having regard to Article 4h and 4j of the Constitutive Act of the African Union,

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325(2000) on Women, Peace and Security(9),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 15 October 2012 on the roots of democracy and sustainable development: Europe’s engagement with civil society in external relations,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and to the opinion of the Committee on Development (A8-0158/2016),

A.  whereas Peace Support Operations (PSOs) are a form of crisis response, normally in support of an internationally recognised organisation such as the UN or the African Union (AU), with a UN mandate, and designed to prevent armed conflict, restore, maintain or build peace, enforce peace agreements and tackle the complex emergencies and challenges posed by failing or weak states; whereas the stability of the African and European neighbourhood would greatly benefit all our countries;

B.  whereas the aim of PSOs is to help create stable, secure and more prosperous environments for the longer term; whereas good governance, justice, greater respect for the rule of law, protection of civilians, respect for human rights and security are the essential preconditions for this, and successful reconciliation, reconstruction and economic development programmes will help deliver self-sustaining peace and prosperity;

C.  whereas the security landscape in Africa in particular has changed dramatically in the last decade, with the emergence of terrorist and insurgent groups in Somalia, Nigeria, and the Sahel-Sahara region, and with peace enforcement and counter-terrorism operations becoming the rule rather than the exception in many areas; whereas fragile states and ungoverned spaces are increasing in number, leaving so many people affected by poverty, lawlessness, corruption and violence; whereas the porous borders within the continent help fuel violence, reduce security and provide opportunities for criminal activity;

D.  whereas peace has been recognised as crucial for development in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16 on peace and justice has been introduced;

E.  whereas appropriately experienced and equipped organisations and nations, ideally with a clear and realistic UN mandate, should provide those resources necessary for a successful PSO, in order to help create secure environments for civil organisations to do their work;

F.  whereas the UN remains the main guarantor of international peace and security, and has the most comprehensive framework for multilateral cooperation in crisis management; whereas there are currently 16 UN peacekeeping operations with over 120 000 personnel deployed, more than ever before; whereas over 87 % of UN peacekeepers are deployed on eight missions in Africa; whereas the UN is constrained in the scope of its operations;

G.  whereas the AU operates under different constraints from the UN and can take sides, intervene without invitation, and intervene where no peace accord has been signed, while still respecting the UN Charter; whereas given the number of inter-state and intra-state conflicts in Africa this is an important difference;

H.  whereas NATO has provided support to the AU, including to AMIS in Darfur and AMISOM in Somalia, with planning and strategic air-and-sea lift assets, and capacity-building for the African Standby Force (ASF);

I.  whereas the crises in Africa call for a coherent global response which goes beyond the purely security aspects; whereas peace and security are necessary preconditions for development, and all local and international actors have highlighted the need for close coordination between security and development policy; whereas a long-term perspective is needed; whereas Security Sector Reform and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants can be of importance in reaching stability and development goals; whereas the UN Liaison Office for Peace and Security and the Permanent Mission of the African Union in Brussels play key roles in developing relationships between their organisations and the EU, NATO and national embassies;

J.  whereas the primary mechanism for European cooperation with the AU is the African Peace Facility, originally established in 2004 and providing some EUR 1,9 billion through the Member State-funded EDF; whereas when the APF was established in 2003 its financing via EDF funds was meant to be provisional, but 12 years later the EDF remains the main source of funding for the APF; whereas in 2007 the scope of the Facility was broadened to encompass a wider range of conflict-prevention and post-conflict stabilisation activities; whereas the 2014-2016 action programme takes account of external evaluation and consultations with Member States and introduces new elements to improve its effectiveness; whereas Article 43 TEU refers to the so-called ‘Petersberg Plus’ tasks, which cover military advice and assistance tasks, conflict prevention and peace-keeping tasks, and tasks of combat forces in crisis management, including peace-making and post-conflict stabilisation; whereas in 2014 more than 90 % of the budget was earmarked for PSOs, of which 65 % was for AMISOM staff; whereas strengthening the institutional capacity of the African Union and the African regional economic communities is vital to the success of PSOs and the post-conflict reconciliation and rehabilitation processes;

K.  whereas the EU’s role needs to be seen in the context of the contributions made to PSOs by numerous countries and organisations; whereas, for example, the US is the world’s largest financial contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and provides direct support to the AU through its African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership, as well as approximately USD 5 billion in support of UN operations in the Central African Republic, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, South Sudan and Somalia; whereas these various sources of funding are coordinated by the African Union Partners Group on Peace and Security; whereas China has become an active participant in UN peacekeeping operations and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation includes the AU Commission; whereas, after Ethiopia, it is India, Pakistan and Bangladesh that are the largest providers of personnel for UN peacekeeping;

L.  whereas the European countries and the EU itself are major contributors to the UN system, notably in providing financial support for UN programmes and projects; whereas France, Germany and the UK are the largest European contributors to the budget for UN PKOs; whereas the EU Member States are collectively the largest contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping budget, with about 37 %, and are currently contributing troops to nine peacekeeping missions; whereas, in addition, in 2014 and 2015 EU financial commitments to the AU totalled EUR 717,9 million and AU contributions amounted to just EUR 25 million; whereas European countries contribute only about 5 % of UN Peacekeeping personnel, with 5 000 troops out of a total of some 92 000; whereas, however, France, for example, trains 25 000 African soldiers each year and separately deploys over 4 000 personnel in African PKOs;

M.  whereas anti-personnel landmines have been a major obstacle to post-conflict rehabilitation and development, not least in Africa, and the EU has spent some EUR 1,5 billion over the past 20 years on processes to support demining and assist mine victims, becoming the largest donor in this field;

N.  whereas, in addition to the role of individual European countries, the EU has a distinctive contribution to make in PSOs with multidimensional actions; whereas the EU is providing technical and financial support to the AU and the sub-regional organisations, in particular through the African Peace Facility, the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and the European Development Fund; whereas the EU is conducting counselling and training actions in the framework of its CSDP missions, contributing to the reinforcement of African capacities in crisis management;

O.  whereas the five civilian EU missions and the four military EU operations ongoing in Africa frequently operate alongside or in sequence with UN, AU or national actions;

P.  whereas the EU is committed to helping strengthen the African Peace and Security Architecture, in particular by supporting the operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF);

Q.  whereas the European Council has requested that the EU and its Member States enhance their support to partner countries and organisations, through the provision of training, advice, equipment and resources, so that they can increasingly prevent or manage crises by themselves; whereas there is a clear need for mutually reinforcing interventions in the areas of security and development in order to achieve this goal;

R.  whereas the EU should support the actions of others who may be better able to fulfil particular roles, avoiding overlap and helping strengthen the work of those already present on the ground, in particular Member States;

S.  whereas Article 41(2) TEU prohibits expenditure from EU budgets on operations having military or defence implications, while not explicitly excluding EU financing of military tasks such as peacekeeping operations with development objectives; whereas the common costs are charged to the Member States under the Athena mechanism; whereas, while the primary objective of EU development policy is the reduction, and in the long term the eradication, of poverty, Articles 209 and 212 TFEU do not explicitly exclude the financing of capacity-building in the security sector; whereas the EDF and the APF, as instruments outside the EU budget, are relevant in addressing the security-development nexus; whereas the EDF requires that programming is designed to meet the criteria of Official Development Assistance (ODA), which mostly exclude security‑related expenses; whereas the EU is working on the possibility of additional dedicated instruments in the context of its initiative on Capacity Building in Support of Security and Development (CBSD);

T.  whereas the needs of the countries concerned and European security must be the guiding principles for EU involvement;

1.  Stresses the need for coordinated external actions that make use of diplomatic, security and development tools to restore confidence and tackle the challenges of wars, internal conflicts, insecurity, fragility and transition;

2.  Observes that the deployment of multiple UN-authorised missions in the same theatre of operations, with different actors and regional organisations, is increasingly the reality of modern peace operations; underlines that managing these complex partnerships, while not duplicating work or missions, is essential to successful operations; in this regard, calls for the evaluation and rationalisation of the existing structures;

3.  Stresses the importance of early communication and enhanced procedures for crisis consultation with the UN and the AU, as well as other organisations such as NATO and the OSCE; highlights the need to improve information sharing, including on the planning, conduct and analysis of missions; welcomes the finalisation and signing of the EU-UN administrative arrangement on exchanging classified information; recognises the importance of the Africa-EU Partnership and of EU-AU political dialogue on peace and security; suggests an agreement between the AU, the EU and other key actors and the UN on a set of shared aims for African security and development;

4.  Urges the EU, given the scale of the challenges and the complex involvement of other organisations and nations, to seek an appropriate division of labour and to focus on where it can best add value; notes that a number of Member States are already involved in operations in Africa and that the EU could generate real value-added by supporting these operations more;

5.  Notes that, in an increasingly complex security environment, UN and AU missions are in need of a comprehensive approach under which, in addition to deploying military, diplomatic and development instruments, other essential factors are a thorough knowledge of the security environment, exchanges of intelligence and information and modern technologies, knowledge of how to undertake counterterrorism and fight crime in conflict and post-conflict areas, the deployment of critical enablers, the provision of humanitarian aid, and restoration of political dialogue, all of which European countries can help to provide; notes the work already being done by specific Member States, as well as by other multinational organisations in this field;

6.  Stresses the importance of the other instruments of the EU in the security field and, in particular, of the CSDP missions and operations; recalls that the EU is intervening in Africa to contribute to the stabilisation of countries facing crises, in particular through training missions; underlines the role of the CSDP missions, both civilian and military, in supporting reforms of the security sector and contributing to the international crisis management strategy;

7.  Notes that the perceived legitimacy of a PSO is key to its success; believes that the AU should therefore contribute with support and military forces wherever possible; notes that this is also important with regard to the long-term self-policing aims of the AU;

8.  Welcomes the fact that the new African Peace Facility action programme addresses shortcomings, and places stronger emphasis on exit strategies, greater burden-sharing with African countries, more targeted support and improved decision-making procedures;

9.  Welcomes the UN-EU Strategic Partnership on Peacekeeping and Crisis Management and its priorities for 2015-2018 as agreed in March 2015; notes the past and ongoing CSDP missions aimed at peace-keeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security, and takes account of the key role of other organisations, including pan-African and regional organisations, and of countries in these areas; calls on the EU to make further efforts to facilitate Member State contributions; recalls that the EU has engaged in crisis-management activities in Africa, aimed at peacekeeping, conflict prevention and strengthening international security in line with the UN Charter; notes that only 11 of the 28 EU Member States made pledges at the 28 September 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping, while China pledged a standby force of 8 000 and Colombia 5 000 troops; calls on the EU Member States to significantly increase their military and police contributions to UN peacekeeping missions;

10.  Underlines the need for a rapid African response to crisis, and identifies the key role in this of the African Standby Force (ASF); underlines the major contribution of the EU, through the African Peace Facility and the funding of the AU, allowing the AU to strengthen its capacity to provide a collective response to crises on the continent; encourages regional organisations, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to increase their efforts in the area of rapid African responses to crises and to complement the efforts of the AU;

11.  Emphasises, nevertheless, the importance of investing more in conflict prevention, taking account of factors such as political and religious radicalisation, election-related violence, population displacements and climate change;

12.  Recognises the critical contribution of the African Peace Facility in developing the triangular partnership between the UN, the EU and the AU; believes that this Facility provides both an entry point and a potential lever for creating a stronger partnership between the EU and the AU and has proved indispensable in allowing the AU, and through it the eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs), to plan and manage their operations; considers it vital that the EU institutions and Member States remain closely engaged if the Facility is to be fully utilised and that the AU demonstrate higher levels of efficiency and transparency in using the funds; takes the view that the APF should focus on structural support rather than just bankrolling African forces’ pay; acknowledges that there are other funding mechanisms in use, but believes that given the Facility’s sole focus on Africa, as well as its clear goals, it is especially important with regard to PSOs in Africa; considers that Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working on peace-building in Africa should be given the opportunity to contribute their views, as part of a more strategic engagement with CSOs on peace and security; remains concerned at the continuing problems of financing and political will on the part of African countries; notes the Council conclusions of 24 September 2012 which state that ‘funding, alternative to the funding from the EDF, will have to be considered’;

13.  Observes that stepping up European military cooperation would increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Europe’s contribution to UN peace missions;

14.  Welcomes, given the great importance of building African capabilities, the successful conduct of the Amani Africa II exercise in October 2015, involving more than 6 000 military, police and civilian participants, and looks forward to the operationalisation of the 25 000-strong African Standby Force (ASF) as soon as possible in 2016;

15.  Calls on the EU and its Member States, as well as on other members of the international community, to assist with training, including discipline, equipment, logistical support, financial assistance and development of rules of engagement (RoE), to encourage and assist African states in full and continuing commitment to the ASF; urges more active advocacy of the ASF in African capitals by Member State embassies and EU delegations; believes that the ODA needs to be redesigned under the OECD framework through peacebuilding lenses; considers that the EDF regulation should be reviewed in order to allow programming design that includes peace, security and justice expenditures that have development-related motivation;

16.  Notes the importance of Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions for Africa’s security, in particular training and support missions for African forces, and especially EUTM Mali, EUCAP Sahel Mali and EUCAP Sahel Niger, EUTM Somalia, and EUCAP Nestor; notes the additional support provided by those missions for the efforts of other, UN-run missions; calls on the EU to step up the capabilities of those training missions, in particular by allowing African soldiers who have been trained to be monitored on and after their return from theatres of operations;

17.  Insists that neither the EU nor the Member States, in supporting PSOs, should act in isolation but that they should, rather, take full account of the contributions of other international actors, improve coordination with them and rapidity of response, and focus their efforts on certain priority countries using the most appropriate and experienced Member and African States as lead nations; underlines the importance of the regional economic communities in the architecture of African security; notes the role EU delegations could play as facilitators of coordination among international actors;

18.  Supports a holistic EU approach, which is the main instrument for mobilising the full potential of EU action in the context of peacekeeping operations and the stabilisation process, as well as for mobilising various ways to support the development of AU countries;

19.  Stresses that border management assistance should be a priority for EU engagement in Africa; notes that porous borders are one of the main factors behind the increase in terrorism in Africa;

20.  Welcomes the Joint Communication on capacity-building and joins the Council in calling for its urgent implementation; points to the EU’s potential, particularly through its comprehensive approach covering civilian and military means, to help strengthen security in fragile and conflict-affected countries and to address the needs of our partners, in particular for military recipients, while reiterating that security is a precondition for development and democracy; regrets that neither the European Commission nor the Council shared with the European Parliament their assessment of the legal options in support of capacity building; calls on both institutions to inform the European Parliament on this in due time; calls on the European Commission to suggest a legal base in line with the original European objectives of 2013 outlined in the initiative on ‘Enable and Enhance’;

21.  Points out that the Council Legal Service’s contribution of 7 December 2015, entitled ‘Capacity building in support of security and development – legal questions’, gives thought to ways and means of financing matériel for African countries’ militaries; calls on the Council to continue this discussion;

22.  Welcomes the positive responses received by France after activation of Article 42(7); very much welcomes the re-engagement of European armed forces in Africa;

23.  Recognises that the problem is often not the lack of funding but, rather, how funds are spent and what other resources are utilised; notes that the Court of Auditors’ recommendations concerning EU funds have not been fully implemented; calls for regular reviews of how funding from national governments through the EU and the UN is spent; believes it is vital to utilise funds effectively, given their finite nature and the scale of the problems being faced; believes accountability is an essential part of this process, as well as helping to tackle endemic corruption in Africa; insists on a more thorough and transparent evaluation of PSOs supported by the EU; backs initiatives such as the Békou trust fund operating in the Central African Republic, which seeks to pool European development-related resources, expertise and capacities in order to overcome the fragmentation and ineffectiveness of international action in the context of reconstruction of a country; calls for more systematic joint programming among the various EU instruments;

24.  Notes the 15 May 2015 UN Evaluation Report on Enforcement and Remedial Assistance Efforts for Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by the United Nations and Related Personnel in Peacekeeping Operations; considers that the AU, the UN, the EU and Member States should exercise strong vigilance concerning such criminal matters and urges the most rigorous disciplinary and judicial procedures and the utmost effort to prevent such crimes; recommends, furthermore, appropriate training and education of PKO staff and believes the appointment of female staff and gender advisors would help overcome cultural misconceptions and reduce the occurrence of sexual violence;

25.  Calls for a concerted effort towards capacity-building by the EU and the UN; believes the current funding programme is unsustainable, and that conditions should be attached to the African Peace Facility in order to encourage the AU to increase its own contributions to PSOs;

26.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the UN, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, the President of the Pan-African Parliament, the Secretary-General of NATO and the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) S/2015/229.
(2) JOIN(2015)0017.
(3) A/70/95–S/2015/446.
(4) Council document 11216/12.
(5) EEAS(2015)458, Council document 7632/15.
(6) Council document 7204/08.
(7) Council document 8370/14.
(8) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0403.
(9) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 56.


Unfair trading practices in the food supply chain
PDF 297kWORD 105k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on unfair trading practices in the food supply chain (2015/2065(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0250A8-0173/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 15 July 2014 entitled ‘Tackling unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food supply chain’ (COM(2014)0472),

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on unfair business-to-business trading practices in the food supply chain (COM(2016)0032),

–  having regard to the communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 28 October 2009 entitled ‘A better functioning food supply chain in Europe’ (COM(2009)0591),

–  having regard to the Commission’s Green Paper of 31 January 2013 on ‘Unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain in Europe’ (COM(2013)0037),

–  having regard to its Declaration of 19 February 2008 on ‘Investigating and remedying abuse of power by large supermarkets operating in the European Union’(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 7 September 2010 on fair revenues for farmers: a better functioning food supply chain in Europe(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2012 on imbalances in the food supply chain(3),

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee’s opinion of 12 November 2013 on the Commission’s Green Paper on ‘Unfair trading practices in the business-to-business food and non-food supply chain in Europe’,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the large retail sector – trends and impacts on farmers and consumers(4),

–  having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2016 on the annual report on EU Competition Policy(5), particularly paragraph 104 thereof,

–  having regard to the Commission Decision of 30 July 2010 establishing the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning Food Supply Chain(6),

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

–  having regard to the study ‘Monitoring the implementation of principles of good practice in vertical relationships in the food supply chain’, produced by Areté srl for the Commission (January 2016),

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 December 2013 on the European Retail Action Plan for the benefit of all actors(8),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/114/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2006 concerning misleading and comparative advertising(9),

–  having regard to Directive 2011/7/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 on combating late payment in commercial transactions(10),

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

–  having regard to the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator Investigation into Tesco plc of 26 January 2016,

–  having regard to Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts(12),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 261/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards contractual relations in the milk and milk products sector(13),

–  having regard to the Supply Chain Initiative progress report of July 2015,

–  having regard to the 2012 report from Consumers International entitled ‘The relationship between supermarkets and suppliers: what are the implications for consumers?’,

–  having regard to the universal framework for Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems (SAFA) developed by the FAO,

–  having regard to the extremely critical situation faced by farmers and agricultural cooperatives, especially in the dairy, pig meat, beef, fruit and vegetables, and cereals sectors,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0173/2016),

A.  whereas unfair trading practices (UTPs) are a serious problem, occurring in many sectors of the economy; whereas the Commission’s report of 29 January 2016 on unfair business-to-business trading practices in the food supply chain (COM(2016)0032) confirms that those practices can occur at every stage of the food supply chain; whereas the problem is particularly evident in the food supply chain, having adverse effects on the weakest link in the chain; whereas the problem is attested to by all entities in the food supply chain and by many national competition authorities; whereas the Commission, Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee have repeatedly drawn attention to the problem of UTPs;

B.  whereas ‘unfairness’ in the food supply chain is difficult to translate into infringement of current competition law, as its existing tools are only effective on some forms of anti-competitive behaviour;

C.  having regard to the size and strategic importance of the food supply chain for the European Union; whereas the sector employs over 47 million people in the EU and accounts for around 7 % of gross value added at EU level, and whereas the total value of the EU market for products connected with the retail food trade is estimated at EUR 1,05 billion; whereas the retail services sector accounts for 4,3 % of the EU’s GDP and 17 % of the EU’s SMEs(14); whereas 99,1 % of undertakings in the food and drink sector are SMEs and microenterprises;

D.  whereas the single market has brought major benefits to operators in the food supply chain, and the food trade has an increasingly significant cross-border dimension and is of particular importance for the functioning of the internal market; whereas cross-border trade between EU Member States accounts for 20 % of the EU’s total food and drink production; whereas 70 % of all Member States’ food exports are to other Member States;

E.  whereas significant structural changes have taken place in the business-to-business (B2B) food supply chain in recent years, involving a high level of concentration and vertical and cross-border integration of entities operating in the production sector, and especially in the processing and retail sectors, as well as upstream to production;

F.  whereas entities involved in the food products supply chain have reported UTPs principally consisting of:

   payment delays;
   restricted access to the market;
   unilateral or retroactive changes to contract terms;
   failure to provide either sufficiently detailed or unambiguously formulated information on contract terms;
   refusal to conclude a written contract;
   sudden and unjustified cancellation of a contract;
   unfair transfer of commercial risk;
   demanding payment for goods or services that are of no value to one party to the contract;
   charges for fictitious services;
   transferring transport and storage costs to suppliers;
   forced involvement in promotions, charging to place goods in prominent positions in shops and other additional fees;
   transferring to suppliers the costs of promoting goods in sales areas;
   imposing unconditional return of unsold merchandise;
   exerting pressure to cut prices;
   preventing trading partners from sourcing from other Member States (territorial supply constraints);

G.  whereas, given the impossibility of stopping an agricultural production process once it has begun, and the perishable nature of its products, farmers are particularly susceptible to UTPs in the food supply chain;

H.  whereas producers sometimes work at a loss following negotiations with other actors in the food supply chain that put them at a disadvantage, e.g. through supermarket markdowns and reductions;

I.  whereas UTPs occur where there are inequalities in trading relations between partners in the food supply chain, resulting from bargaining power disparities in business relations, which are the result of the growing concentration of market power among a small number of multinational groups, and whereas these disparities tend to harm small and medium-sized producers;

J.  whereas UTPs can have harmful consequences for the individual entities in the food supply chain, particularly in the case of farmers and SMEs, which in turn can have an impact on the entire EU economy, as well as on final consumers by limiting their choice of products and access to new and innovative goods; whereas UTPs may have an impact on price negotiations between enterprises, discourage cross-border trade in the EU and hinder the proper functioning of the internal market; whereas, in particular, unfair practices can result in enterprises cutting back on investment and innovation, including in the fields of environmental protection, working conditions and animal welfare, owing to a reduction in income and a lack of certainty, and may lead them to abandon production, processing or trading activities;

K.  whereas UTPs are an obstacle to the development and smooth functioning of the internal market, and can seriously disrupt the proper functioning of the market;

L.  whereas UTPs can result in excessive costs, or lower-than-expected revenues for businesses with weaker bargaining power, as well as in overproduction and food waste;

M.  whereas consumers potentially face a loss in product diversity, cultural heritage and retail outlets as a result of UTPs;

N.  whereas SMEs and microenterprises, which make up over 90 % of the EU’s economic fabric, are particularly vulnerable to UTPs, and are more affected than large enterprises by the impact of UTPs, which makes it harder for them to survive on the market, to undertake new investments in products and technology and to innovate, and makes it more difficult for SMEs to expand their activities, including across borders within the single market; whereas SMEs are discouraged from engaging in commercial relationships by the risk of UTPs being imposed on them;

O.  whereas UTPs do not only take place in the food supply chain, but just as often in non-food supply chains such as those of the garment industry and the automotive industry;

P.  whereas many Member States have introduced various ways of countering UTPs, in some cases by means of voluntary and self-regulatory schemes and in others through relevant national regulations; whereas this has led to a high degree of divergence and diversification between countries in terms of the level, nature and form of legal protection; whereas some countries have not taken any action in this area;

Q.  whereas some Member States that had initially chosen to counter UTPs by means of voluntary schemes have subsequently decided to address them through legislation;

R.  whereas UTPs are covered only in part by competition law;

S.  whereas European competition law should permit consumers to benefit from a wide range of quality products at competitive prices, while ensuring that undertakings have an incentive to invest and innovate by giving them a fair chance to promote the advantages of their products without being unduly forced out of the market by UTPs;

T.  whereas European competition law should enable the final consumer to purchase goods at a competitive price, but must also ensure free and fair competition between undertakings, notably in order to encourage them to innovate;

U.  whereas the ‘fear factor’ comes into play in commercial relationships, with the weaker party being unable to make effective use of their rights and unwilling to lodge a complaint about UTPs imposed by the stronger party, for fear of compromising their commercial relationship;

V.  whereas the performance of the food supply chain affects EU citizens’ daily lives, given that approximately 14 % of their household expenditure is spent on food;

W.  whereas many actors operate in the food supply chain, including manufacturers, retailers, intermediaries and producers, and UTPs may occur at different levels of the chain;

X.  whereas the ‘fear factor’ means that small suppliers will not be able to make effective use of their right, if created, to go to court, and that other, cheap and accessible mechanisms, such as mediation by an independent adjudicator, will better serve their interests;

Y.  whereas the Supply Chain Initiative (SCI) has major limitations – e.g. there are no penalties for non-compliance and there is no option of lodging confidential complaints – meaning that it cannot be used as an effective tool to combat UTPs;

1.  Welcomes the steps taken to date by the Commission to combat UTPs with a view to securing a more balanced market and to overcoming the current fragmented situation resulting from the different national approaches to addressing UTPs in the EU, but points out that these steps are not sufficient to combat UTPs; welcomes the above-mentioned Commission report of 29 January 2016, as well as the long-expected accompanying study on the monitoring of the implementation of principles of good practice in vertical relationships in the food supply chain, but notes its conclusions, which do not pave the way for an EU-level framework to tackle unfair trading practices at EU level;

2.  Welcomes the action taken by the High Level Forum for a Better Functioning of the Food Supply Chain and the setting up of the expert platform on B2B practices, which has drawn up a list, a description and an assessment of trading practices that may be regarded as grossly unfair;

3.  Acknowledges the setting up and development of the SCI, which plays an important role in promoting cultural change and improving business ethics, and which has resulted in the adoption of a set of principles of good practice for vertical relationships in the food supply chain and a voluntary framework for the implementation of those principles which only in the second year of its operation already numbers over one thousand participating companies from across the entire EU, and those mainly SMEs; welcomes the progress made so far, and believes that efforts to promote fair trading practices in the food supply chain should make a real impact but cannot currently be considered sufficient to tackle the problem of UTPs in the food supply chain; stresses, however, that the effectiveness of the SCI, as recognised by both the recent Commission report and external evaluation, is undermined by a broad range of shortcomings, such as weaknesses in governance, limitations in transparency, no enforcement measures or penalties, a lack of effective deterrents against UTPs, and not allowing for individual anonymous complaints by potential victims of UTPs or own-initiative investigations by an independent body, which consequently leads to under-representation of SMEs and farmers, in particular, who may find the SCI inadequate for its purpose; recommends the setting up of similar supply chain initiatives in other relevant non-food sectors;

4.  Regrets, however, that some of the dispute resolution options promoted by the SCI have not yet been used in practice, meaning that the assessment of their effectiveness is based on theoretical judgments; is concerned that no concrete case has been examined to assess the SCI’s role in tackling UTPs, and that a more detailed analysis has not been carried out as regards the collection of data relating to complaints received and resolved; believes that the failure to carry out such an in-depth assessment undermines the overall judgment of the initiative; is disappointed by the statement, as recognised by the aforementioned Areté study evaluating the effectiveness of the SCI, that ‘the actual achievements of the SCI may seem very modest if measured against the actual or perceived magnitude and seriousness of the issue of UTPs’;

5.  Notes the setting up of SCI national platforms of organisations and businesses in the food supply chain to encourage dialogue between the parties, promote the introduction and exchange of fair trading practices and seek to put an end to UTPs, but wonders whether they are really effective; points out, however, that some national platforms have not delivered on these objectives and that, as in the case of Finland, farmers have abandoned the platform; proposes that Member States be encouraged and given incentives to take further action, using suitable instruments, on any complaints or non-conformities reported by these national platforms;

6.  Takes the view that the principles of good practice, and the list of examples of fair and unfair practices in vertical relations in the food supply chain, should be extended and enforced in an effective manner;

7.  Welcomes the Commission`s currently on-going study on choice and innovation in the retail sector; believes that this exercise would be instrumental in clarifying the evolution and drivers for choice and innovation at overall market level;

8.  Welcomes the development of alternative and informal mechanisms for dispute settlement and redress, in particular through mediation and amicable arrangements;

9.  Notes that where UTPs exist in the food supply chain, they are contrary to basic principles of law;

10.  Condemns practices that exploit imbalances in bargaining power between economic operators and that have an adverse effect on freedom to contract;

11.  Points out that UTPs, when imposed by parties in a stronger bargaining position, have a negative impact throughout the food supply chain, including on employment, to the detriment of consumer choice and of the quality, variety and innovativeness of the products made available; stresses that UTPs can hamper business competitiveness and investment, and push companies to make savings at the expense of salaries, working conditions or the quality of raw materials;

12.  Reaffirms that free and fair competition, balanced relations among all actors, freedom to contract, and strong and effective enforcement of the relevant legislation – making it possible to protect all economic actors in the food supply chain, irrespective of geographical location – are of key importance in ensuring the proper functioning of the food supply chain and in guaranteeing food security;

13.  Points out the need to build mutual trust between supply chain partners, on the basis of the principles of freedom to contract and a mutual beneficial relationship; underlines the corporate social responsibility of the larger contracting party to limit its advantage during negotiations and to work with the weaker party towards a solution that is positive for both parties;

14.  Welcomes the Commission’s acknowledgement, in its Green Paper of 31 January 2013, that there is no true contractual freedom where there is marked inequality between parties;

15.  Recognises that UTPs result primarily from income and power imbalances in the food supply chain, and stresses that these must urgently be addressed in order to ameliorate the situation for farmers in the food sector; notes that selling below the cost of production, and the serious misuse of basic agricultural foods such as dairy, fruit and vegetables as ‘loss leaders’ by large-scale retailers, threaten the long-term sustainability of EU production of such items; welcomes efforts, such as the Tierwohl Initiative in Germany, aimed at helping farmers to compete on the basis of their products’ merits;

16.  Points out that UTPs have serious negative consequences for farmers, such as lower profits, higher-than-estimated costs, food overproduction and wastage, and financial planning difficulties; emphasises that such negative consequences ultimately reduce consumer choice;

17.  Questions the unwavering support expressed in the Commission’s report for the SCI, given its limitations; reiterates farmers’ reluctance to participate on account of the lack of trust, the restrictions on anonymous complaints, the lack of statutory power, the inability to apply meaningful sanctions, the absence of adequate mechanisms to combat well-documented UTPs, and concerns about imbalances in the nature of enforcement mechanisms that have not been taken adequately into account; regrets the Commission’s reluctance to ensure anonymity and appropriate sanctions;

18.  Believes that the SCI and other national and EU voluntary systems (codes of good practice, voluntary dispute settlement mechanisms) should be developed further and promoted as an addition to effective and robust enforcement mechanisms at Member State level, ensuring that complaints can be lodged anonymously and establishing dissuasive penalties, together with EU-level coordination; encourages producers and traders, including farmers’ organisations, to become involved in such initiatives; takes the view that these initiatives should be available to all suppliers who are not concerned about their anonymity, and that they may usefully evolve as platforms for education and the sharing of best practices; notes that the Commission, in its recent report, states that the SCI needs to be improved, in particular to take account of confidential complaints and as regards the granting of investigatory and sanctioning powers to independent bodies;

19.  Asks the Commission to take steps to ensure effective enforcement mechanisms, such as the development and coordination of a network of mutually recognised national authorities at EU level; emphasises, in this context, the UK Groceries Code Adjudicator as a possible model to follow at EU level, which could create a real deterrent against UTPs and help to eliminate the ‘fear factor’;

20.  Welcomes the recent step taken by the SCI to enable SMEs and micro-enterprises to join under a simplified procedure; notes that the number of registered SMEs has increased; points out, however, that the SCI needs to be further strengthened through a number of actions, identified by the Commission in its report of 29 January 2016, in relation to which progress should be monitored by the Commission with a view to:

   stepping up efforts to publicise and improve awareness of the SCI, especially among SMEs;
   ensuring the impartiality of the governance structure, e.g. by establishing an independent chair who is not affiliated to specific stakeholder groups;
   allowing alleged victims of UTPs to complain confidentially;
   enhancing internal procedures to check that individual operators comply with their process commitments and to monitor the occurrence and outcome of bilateral disputes in a confidential manner;

21.  Notes the Commission’s observation that farmers’ representatives have decided not to join the SCI as, in their view, it does not ensure sufficient confidentiality for complainants and lacks statutory powers for independent investigations and meaningful sanctions, as well as mechanisms to combat well-documented UTPs, and as their concerns about imbalances in the nature of enforcement mechanisms have not been properly taken into account; believes that farmer participation is crucial, and that decreased participation does not reflect a lack of awareness, but rather a lack of faith in current SCI procedures and governance; proposes, therefore, that improving the functioning of the SCI via, inter alia, independent governance, confidentiality and anonymity, and effective enforcement and deterrence, could, as a first step, increase farmer interest, support, and, thereby, participation;

22.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate and encourage producers to join producer organisations (POs) and associations of producer organisations (APOs) in order to increase their bargaining power and position in the food supply chain;

23.  Acknowledges, nonetheless, that voluntary and self-regulatory schemes can offer a cost-effective means to ensure fair conduct in the market, resolve disputes and put an end to UTPs, if coupled with independent and effective enforcement mechanisms; underlines, however, that, so far, such schemes have shown limited results owing to a lack of proper enforcement, under-representation of farmers, impartial governance structures, conflicts of interest between the parties concerned, dispute settlement mechanisms that fail to reflect supplier ‘fear factor’ and the fact that they do not apply to the whole supply chain; calls on the Commission to continue supporting the exchange of best practices among Member States;

24.  Notes that there is EU legislation already in place to combat unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices (Directive 2005/29/EC), but points out that there is no EU legislation to combat unfair practices between different operators in the agri-food chain;

25.  Points out that any serious analysis of UTPs must take as its starting point the new economic paradigm that has emerged over the last few years: large-scale retail in which access to sales outlets has become the subject of fierce competition under the control of the supermarkets; points out that some competition authorities have identified specific practices involving the transfer of excessive risk to suppliers which could render them less competitive; points out that those authorities have also concluded that own brands bring in an element of horizontal competition vis-à-vis industry brands that has not been given sufficient consideration;

26.  Stresses that action to combat UTPs will help to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and to develop cross-border trading within the EU and with third countries; points out that the fragmented nature of the markets, and disparities between national laws on UTPs, expose supply chain operators to a range of diverse market conditions and can lead to the practice known as ‘forum shopping’, which, in turn, could lead to regulatory uncertainty;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States fully and consistently to enforce competition law, rules on unfair competition and anti-trust rules, and, in particular, to impose firm penalties for abuse of a dominant position in the food supply chain;

28.  Considers it essential to ensure that EU competition law takes into account the specific features of agriculture and serves the welfare of producers as well as consumers, who play an important role in the supply chain; believes that EU competition law must create the conditions for a more efficient market that enables consumers to benefit from a wide range of quality products at competitive prices, while ensuring that primary producers have an incentive to invest and innovate without being forced out of the market by UTPs;

29.  Points out that while private, own-brand labelled products can bring increased value, choice and ‘fair trade’ products to consumers, they also represent a strategic issue in the medium- and long-term, as they introduce a horizontal dimension to competition in respect of industrial brands that had never previously been a factor and that can give an unfair and anti-competitive position to retailers, who become both customer and competitor; draws attention to the existence of a ‘risk threshold’ beyond which the market penetration of own brands in a given category of product could turn the current positive effects of own brands into negative effects, and provide a disincentive as regards the innovative efforts of many companies; insists, therefore, that the issue of private own-brands requires particular attention from the Commission and competition authorities, specifically with regard to the need to assess the potential long-term consequences for the supply chain and the position of farmers within it, while bearing in mind that consumer habits in Member States vary;

30.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to fully and consistently enforce Directive 2011/7/EU on combating late payments in commercial transactions, in order that creditors be paid within 60 days by businesses, or otherwise face interest payments and payment of reasonable recovery costs of the creditor;

31.  Invites the Commission to submit a proposal, or proposals, for an EU-level framework laying down general principles and taking proper account of national circumstances and best practices to tackle UTPs in the entire food supply chain in order to ensure a level playing-field across Member States that will enable markets to operate as they should and fair and transparent relations to be maintained between food producers, suppliers and distributors;

32.  Believes strongly that the definition of UTPs outlined by the Commission and relevant stakeholders in the document “Vertical relationships in the Food Supply Chain: Principles of Good Practice”, dated 29 November 2011(15), should be taken into account, along with an open list of UTPs, when submitting a proposal for an EU-level framework;

33.  Suggests, furthermore, that anonymity and confidentiality be incorporated into any future legislative initiative, or initiatives, in this area;

34.  Considers that Member States should, when not already the case, establish or recognise public agencies or dedicated bodies like an adjudicator, at national level with responsibility for enforcing action to combat unfair practices in the food supply chain; takes the view that public agencies of this kind can facilitate enforcement, e.g. by being empowered to open and conduct investigations on their own initiative and on the basis of informal information or complaints dealt with on a confidential basis (thus overcoming the ‘fear factor’), and can act as a mediator between the parties involved; stresses the need for mutual recognition and effective cooperation at EU level between national authorities to ensure sharing of relevant information, particularly on good practice, and expertise concerning new types of UTPs, acting in full respect for the principle of subsidiarity;

35.  Calls on the Commission, the Member States and other relevant stakeholders, in follow-up to the Commission’s report, to facilitate the incorporation of farmers’ organisations (including POs and APOs) within the scope of national enforcement bodies governing the food supply chain, primarily by securing the anonymity of complaints and an effective sanctions regime;

36.  Believes that framework legislation at EU level is necessary in order to tackle UTPs and to ensure that European farmers and consumers have the opportunity to benefit from fair selling and buying conditions;

37.  Points out that this European framework legislation must not lower the level of protection in countries that have adopted national legislation to combat business-to-business UTPs;

38.  Calls on Member States without a competent enforcement authority to consider establishing such an authority and to provide it with power to supervise and enforce measures necessary to tackle UTPs;

39.  Stresses that the enforcement authorities should have a range of different enforcement measures and sanctions at their disposal, in order to allow, in accordance with the gravity of the specific circumstance, a flexibility of response; believes that such measures and sanctions should have a deterrent effect with a view to changing behaviour;

40.  Recalls that all Member States already have regulatory frameworks addressing UTPs; notes the recent regulatory action taken by some Member States, whereby they have introduced provisions supplementing national competition law, broadened the scope of application of the directives on UTPs by extending their provisions to cover B2B relations, and set up independent enforcement agencies; notes, however, that the different approaches taken in this regard by the Member States concerned has resulted in various degrees and types of protection against UTPs;

41.  Notes that, in adopting measures to counter UTPs within the food supply chain, due account must be taken of the specific features of each market and the legal requirements that apply to it, the different situations and approaches in individual Member States, the degree of consolidation or fragmentation of individual markets, and other significant factors, while also capitalising on measures already taken in some Member States that are proving to be effective; takes the view that any proposed regulatory efforts in this area should ensure that there is relatively broad discretion to tailor the measures to be taken to the specific features of each market, in order to avoid adopting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, and should be based on the general principle of improving enforcement by involving the relevant public bodies alongside the concept of private enforcement, thus also contributing to improving the fragmented and low level of cooperation that exists within different national enforcement bodies and to addressing cross-border challenges regarding UTPs;

42.  Points out that the existing fragmented and low level of cooperation within different national enforcement bodies is not sufficient to address cross-border challenges regarding UTPs;

43.  Calls on the Commission to assess the effectiveness and impact of regulatory and non-regulatory measures, with due account taken of all the possible implications for the various stakeholders and for consumer welfare, and of the policy mix indicated by respondents to the aforementioned Areté study, being a combination of voluntary initiatives and public enforcement (33 % of total answers) and specific legislation at EU level (32 %);

44.  Is convinced that consumer awareness about agricultural products is fundamental to addressing the problems resulting from imbalances in the food supply chain, including UTPs; calls on all stakeholders involved in food supply chain management to step up transparency in the overall food supply chain and to increase consumer information through more appropriate product labelling and certification schemes, in order to enable consumers to make fully-informed choices about available products, and to act accordingly;

45.  Calls on the Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States, to promote initiatives whereby consumers can be alerted to the risks of price dumping for primary producers, and expressly supports awareness-raising campaigns to that end in schools and training establishments;

46.  Notes that, since 2009, it has adopted five resolutions on problems in the EU retail chain, including three specifically on imbalances and abuses within the food supply chain; further notes that during the same period the Commission has produced three communications and a Green Paper, and has commissioned two final reports on similar subjects; declares, therefore, that yet more analysis on the state of the food supply chain will merely delay the pressing need for action to help farmers fight unfair trading practices;

47.  Urges all parties in the food supply chain to consider standard contracts, and also new‑generation contracts, whereby risks and benefits are shared;

48.  Recognises that the reform of the common agricultural policy (CAP) and the new single common market organisation have introduced a number of measures aimed at addressing the bargaining power gap among farmers, the retail trade, the wholesale trade and SMEs in the food supply chain by supporting, in particular, the establishment and expansion of POs; stresses the importance of this supply-side cooperation;

49.  Notes that Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013, which provides for the establishment of POs, is backed by financial incentives under the second pillar of the CAP; points out that the legal framework extends the scope for collective bargaining (in some sectors) and delivery contracts (in all sectors) to POs, associations of POs (APOs) and inter-branch organisations, and also introduces temporary exemptions from certain competition rules in periods of severe market imbalance, subject to safeguards;

50.  Urges the Commission to strongly promote this approach in order to increase the bargaining power of the primary producer and to encourage producers to join POs and APOs; underlines, in particular, the vulnerability of small and family farmers, who have the potential to create and support employment in isolated, remote and mountain regions;

51.  Takes the view that strengthening and establishing producer organisations must go hand in hand with strengthening farmers’ bargaining power in the food chain, in particular by giving them the right to have their contracts collectively bargained;

52.  Calls for increased transparency and provision of information within the supply chain and for the strengthening of bodies and market information tools such as the European Food Price Monitoring Tool and the Milk Market Observatory, with a view to supplying farmers and POs with accurate and timely market data;

53.  Is of the opinion that prices throughout the food supply chain should better reflect the value added by primary producers; calls, accordingly, for the retail price formation process to be as transparent as possible;

54.  Points out that farmers in a number of Member States have secured a strong position in the food supply chain by establishing cooperatives which ensure that value added at the processing stage is channelled back to farmers, and considers it crucial that these cooperatives are not burdened with extra costs as a result of compulsory and costly red tape;

55.  Urges producers and processors to work together to invest in innovation and increase the added value of their products;

56.  Reminds the Commission that in December 2013 Parliament adopted an own-initiative report calling on the Commission to examine the possibility of independent enforcement with a view to addressing the ‘fear factor’ among primary producers; urges the Commission to consider this in its own report;

57.  Takes the view that professional organisations could act as a platform for primary producers, allowing them to lodge complaints with a competent authority about alleged UTPs without fear;

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

(1) OJ C 184 E, 6.8.2009, p. 23.
(2) OJ C 308 E, 20.10.2011, p. 22.
(3) OJ C 227 E, 6.8.2013, p. 11.
(4) OJ C 255, 14.10.2005, p. 44.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0004.
(6) OJ C 210, 3.8.2010, p. 4.
(7) OJ C 33 E, 5.2.2013, p. 9.
(8) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0580.
(9) OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 21.
(10) OJ L 48, 23.2.2011, p. 1.
(11) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(12) OJ L 95, 21.4.1993, p. 29.
(13) OJ L 94, 30.3.2012, p. 38.
(14) Eurostat, 2010.
(15) https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/sites/digital-agenda/files/discussions/Vertical%20relationships%20in%20the%20Food%20Supply%20Chain%20-%20Principles%20of%20Good%20Practice.pdf


Technological solutions for sustainable agriculture
PDF 211kWORD 102k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on technological solutions for sustainable agriculture in the EU (2015/2225(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0251A8-0174/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), in particular Articles 11, 114(3), 168(1) and 191 thereof,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2013/743/EU of 3 December 2013 establishing the specific programme implementing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decisions 2006/971/EC, 2006/972/EC, 2006/973/EC, 2006/974/EC and 2006/975/EC(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1291/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (2014-2020) and repealing Decision No 1982/2006/EC(2),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005(3),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market and repealing Council Directives 79/117/EEC and 91/414/EEC(4),

–  having regard to Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides(5),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 233/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2014 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation for the period 2014-2020(6),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 870/2004 of 24 April 2004 establishing a Community programme on the conservation, characterisation, collection and utilisation of genetic resources in agriculture and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1467/94(7), and to the Commission report of 28 November 2013 entitled ‘Agricultural Genetic Resources – from conservation to sustainable use’ (COM(2013)0838),

–  having regard to Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2003 on genetically modified food and feed(8),

–  having regard to the Memorandum of Understanding of 14 July 2014 between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank for cooperation in agriculture and rural development in 2014-2020,

–  having regard to its resolution of 11 March 2014 on the future of Europe’s horticulture sector – strategies for growth(9),

–  having regard to the 2014 study by Policy Department B: Structural and cohesion policies – Agriculture and rural development, entitled ‘Precision agriculture: An opportunity for EU farmers – potential support with the CAP 2014-2020’,

–  having regard to the 2013 study by Science and Technology Options Assessment (STOA) entitled ‘Technology options for feeding 10 billion people’;

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 29 February 2012 on the European Innovation Partnership ‘Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability’ (COM(2012)0079),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 February 2012 entitled ‘Innovating for Sustainable Growth: A Bioeconomy for Europe’ (COM(2012)0060),

–  having regard to the Commission decision of 16 October 2015 on the setting up of the High Level Group of Scientific Advisors (C(2015)6946),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 19 May 2015 entitled ‘Better regulation for better results – An EU agenda’ (COM(2015)0215),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on patents and plant breeders’ rights(10);

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A8-0174/2016),

A.  whereas our societies are facing multiple challenges involving agriculture and must play their part, and whereas the global population is estimated to reach 9,6 billion by 2050, meaning there will be around 2.4 billion more people than today;

B.  Whereas on average at least one third of food produced is wasted, and nearly half in some sectors, and whereas one of the most effective ways of meeting this anticipated demand, while not depleting scarce resources, is by harnessing technological solutions to increase production, improve the means of distribution and tackle food waste;

C.  whereas there is a pressing demand to produce more food which is safe, healthy and nutritious for EU and global citizens in order to deal with malnutrition, obesity, cardio-vascular disease, etc.; and whereas the EU’s high food quality standards enjoy worldwide recognition;

D.  whereas there are many alternatives for land use which compete with farming, including urbanisation, industry, tourism and recreation;

E.  whereas agricultural raw materials offer prospects for growth in green chemistry;

F.  whereas making farming more sustainable is becoming an ever more important objective for operators, given the need to control costs in order to safeguard incomes, on the one hand, and to respond to the depletion and degradation of natural resources (soil, water, air and biodiversity) on the other; whereas agriculture accounts for 70 % of the world’s fresh water use, and whereas water availability is already a major limitation on agricultural production in some regions of the EU and globally; whereas the use of drinking water in agriculture can be significantly reduced by the effective use of modern irrigation techniques and by growing crops suited to the local climate;

G.  whereas nitrogen fertilisers drive high yields, but their manufacture accounts for about 50 % of the fossil fuel energy consumed by agricultural production systems;

H.  whereas global energy demand is predicted to rise by 40 % by 2030, and whereas serious thought must now be given to meeting this demand through increased energy efficiency and a secure energy mix that includes renewables; whereas research has shown that shorter agro-food chains can lead to reduced energy inputs with cost and environmental benefits;

I.  whereas up to 40 % of global crop yields are lost to plant pests and diseases each year, and whereas this percentage is expected to increase significantly in the years ahead; whereas steps must be taken to prevent this figure from increasing further, including through systemic approaches and adaption of existing production models, and whereas climate change is contributing to this loss and leading to the emergence of ecologically novel plant pests and diseases;

J.  whereas global warming is generating extreme weather events that result in droughts or floods that cause substantial damage to the population groups affected and pose severe risks to their food security; and whereas climate resilience in biologically and structurally diverse agro-ecosystems can help to reduce this risk;

K.  whereas the EU’s genetic crop potential is not being consistently realised on Europe’s farms, where yields have plateaued in recent years;

L.  whereas the diversity and quality of plant genetic resources play a crucial role in agricultural resilience and productivity, thus being a determining factor for long-term farming and food security;

M.  whereas closing the ‘yield gap’ poses a particular problem for the sustainable agriculture research agenda;

N.  whereas precision farming involves the use of automation and other technologies to improve the precision and efficiency of key agricultural management practices, by using system-based approaches to collect and analyse data and optimise interactions between the weather, soil, water and crops, and whereas precision farming is ultimately designed to lower pesticide, fertiliser and water use while improving soil fertility and optimising yields;

O.  whereas soil science shows us that healthy, living soils nurture and protect crops via beneficial species that defend against pathogens and pests and also provide plant crops with nutrients and water in exchange for sugars in plant root exudates; whereas agricultural practices may impact negatively on the biological, chemical and physical quality of soils, with consequences including soil erosion, degradation of soil structures and loss of fertility;

P.  whereas the benefits of innovative technologies should not be limited to one type of agricultural practice and need to be applicable to all farming types, whether conventional or organic, livestock or arable, or small or large-scale;

Q.  whereas the number of pesticide active substances was reduced by 70 % between 1993 and 2009, while the presence of pest outbreaks has increased in the European Union; whereas the approvals process, including the criteria for defining active substances and for new substances constituting an alternative to plant protection products, is becoming increasingly challenging for EU agriculture and its citizens; whereas there is a need to urgently address the lack of active substances for minor uses;

R.  whereas insufficient crop protection solutions for specialty crops endangers the quality, diversity and sustainable production of food crops in the EU, which has a direct impact that has been estimated to amount to more than EUR 1 billion, including production loss and additional costs for farmers;

S.  whereas short-term cycles in policy and research funding priorities can be detrimental to skills, infrastructure and innovation in agriculture, and whereas priority should be given to the efficient transfer of research findings from science to farmers, and to research programmes focused on improving the sustainability of agriculture, reducing production costs and increasing competitiveness;

Precision Farming (PF)

1.  Notes that the agriculture sector has always relied on new farm business models and practices that include new techniques and production methods to increase outputs and adapt to new and changing circumstances; emphasises that ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling, are of central importance to agriculture, and that some functions, such as carbon sequestration, go beyond food production;

2.  Is convinced that innovation has the potential to contribute to achieving sustainable agriculture in the EU, and considers PF technologies to be particularly important for maintaining progress, but recognises the limits to its widespread adoption, including the reliability, manageability and limited knowledge of this technology and its adaptability to all farm types and sizes;

3.  Takes the view that the principles underpinning PF can generate significant benefits for the environment, increase farmers’ incomes, rationalise the use of agricultural machinery and significantly increase resource efficiency, including use of water for irrigation; therefore encourages the Commission to promote policies to stimulate the development and uptake of precision farming technologies for all farm types, irrespective of their size and production, whether crop and/or animal farming;

4.  Highlights the particular need for the innovation process in PF to solve the problem of ‘high cost’ in the development and use of some PF technologies, and for farmers and the whole supply chain to be actively involved in the development of these technologies in order to ensure clear benefits at farm level and to help farms become more resilient;

5.  Is convinced that economic development and sustainable production are not mutually exclusive and are achievable through innovation; stresses the need to support innovation in technology and governance by providing regulatory coherence, clarity and room for entrepreneurship, and urges the Commission to ensure that innovation is explicitly taken into account in forthcoming reviews and reforms of relevant legislation; highlights the fact that European agriculture is able to produce high-quality and high-added-value products together with profitable, knowledge-based solutions in order to feed a growing and more demanding world population;

6.  Calls on industry, the Commission and the Member States to work in partnership to improve the performance and adaptability of robotic and other PF techniques in order for research funding to be used effectively in the interests of agriculture and horticulture;

7.  Further calls on industry to exploit opportunities arising from innovation to develop PF capabilities which are accessible to all, thus empowering people with disabilities, promoting gender equality and broadening the skills base and employment opportunities in rural communities;

8.  Welcomes the inclusion of PF robotics in the newly published Horizon 2020 work programme for 2016-2017, but regrets that proposals under this call do not require a multi-actor approach, which may mean that farmers are excluded from innovative developments; emphasises that PF can reduce resource use by at least 15 %; encourages the uptake of precision agriculture that provides new whole-farm management approaches, such as GPS/GNSS-technology-driven machinery and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPASs);

Big data and informatics

9.  Points out that the farming industry, like all other sectors of the economy, is undergoing a process of change; emphasises that modern farming was made possible only by the acceptance of scientific and technological progress, and that digital advances likewise offer the possibility of further development in the farming sector;

10.  Emphasises that the collation and analysis of large integrated data sets has the potential to drive innovation in agriculture and is particularly useful in addressing and developing an efficient and sustainable food-chain that will benefit farmers, the economy, consumers and the environment; calls on the Commission and the Member States to remove the barriers to integrating complex and fragmented ICT systems, stimulating investment and covering training costs, and to make the necessary facilities more accessible to agriculture;

11.  Welcomes the progress made by the European Space Agency (ESA) in developing PF; takes the view that the ESA’s Sentinel 2B satellite, which is to be placed in orbit in late 2016, may give a clearer picture of the amount of land taken up by crops and forests, with the result that agricultural policies can be implemented more effectively, use of resources rationalised and harvesting periods optimised; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support the use of satellite-based systems;

Soil, water and nutrient management

12.  Recognises soil degradation to be a major constraint in agricultural production, and calls for greater ambitions and efforts to improve soil and water management practices, particularly in light of climate change; welcomes the development of controlled traffic farming (CTF) technologies, which reduce soil damage caused by overworking of the land, and also welcomes recent efforts to integrate high-resolution remote sensing technologies into organic farming; encourages the Commission to quantify the environmental and production benefits of these new technologies and to ensure awareness, knowledge and technology transfer;

13.  Calls for farmers to be included in the design, testing and dissemination of soil nutrient mapping technologies in order to help improve their effectiveness;

14.  Regrets that the efficiency of nutrient use in the EU is very low, and stresses that action is needed to improve the efficiency of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) use, in order to reduce their impact on the environment and improve food and energy production; calls for targeted research (and its applied use) to improve nutrient efficiency monitoring and the further optimisation of variable rate technologies;

15.  Agrees that the development of new technologies and innovative agricultural practices could contribute significantly to reduced use of plant protection products, fertiliser and water, and also combat soil erosion;

Genetic diversity

16.  Is of the view that the loss of genetic diversity over the past century threatens food/feed security and undermines EU policies on sustainable agriculture, biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation strategies; believes that monoculture and a lack of crop rotation is a major factor in this loss; considers all plant varieties and animal species, including landraces, their wild and semi-wild relatives, and old and pioneer varieties to be essential for maintaining genetic diversity, breeding programmes and the production of sufficient, nutritious and healthy food;

17.  Takes the view that EU regulation should enable farmers and breeders to make the best use of such genetic resources to safeguard biodiversity and innovation in developing new varieties; stresses that EU regulations should always aim not to undermine such innovative processes by putting an unnecessary administrative burden on breeders and farmers;

18.  Stresses the need for greater dialogue between genetic banks, private and public plant research, breeders, end users and all other actors involved in the conservation and use of genetic resources, in order to build resilience and meet the challenges of sustainable farming throughout Europe;

19.  Highlights the previous support from DG Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) and DG Research and Innovation (RTD) for genetic resource conservation activities, for example the European Native Seed Conservation Network (ENSCONET), but calls for successor programmes to continue the support for crop and livestock genetic conservation activities, especially the in-field use of genetic resources through on-farm measures;

20.  Stresses the importance of opening up the conservation of genetic resources to a greater diversity of plant and animal species and for the research funding in this area to result in technological improvements for agriculture and horticulture;

21.  Calls on the Commission to put forward proposals for the European strategy for the safeguarding of genetic diversity in agriculture provided for in Measure 10 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2020;

22.  Recognises the need to use germplasm collections responsibly in order to identify and characterise traits for resource use efficiency, pest and disease resistance and other attributes conferring improved quality and resilience; considers that this requires greater emphasis to be placed on phenotyping, which is a particular bottleneck for many crops;

23.  Notes that the most effective way to maintain genetic diversity in agriculture is by using it in vivo; notes that of the three DUS criteria (distinctiveness, uniformity and stability) applied to official EU seed catalogues, uniformity and stability are not natural characteristics in genetically diverse plants; notes that adaptation to climate change is dependent upon high genetic variation; notes the increasingly concentrated seed markets and decreased variation per variety; encourages the role played by farm seed systems and exchanges in empowering farmers, and recognises participative breeding as a long tradition of innovation in rural communities;

24.  Recognises the need to maintain and use genetic resources for long-term food security and to broaden the genetic base of modern plant and animal breeding programmes; recognises that organic farms face a shortage of new varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases and which could be cultivated without the use of plant protection products; supports the concept of access and benefit sharing, but urges implementation of the Nagoya Protocol, under Regulation (EU) No 511/2014, and Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/1866, so that breeders are not deterred by the complexity and cost arising from using wild material to introduce new traits such as pest and disease resistance, nutritional quality and environmental resilience; notes that this should be done without disempowering rural communities that have stewarded species and bred varieties throughout the years;

25.  Considers it essential to maintain and develop the performance of local breeds, given their ability to adapt to the characteristics of their native environment, and for farmers’ rights to breed plants autonomously and to store and exchange seeds of different species and varieties to be respected, in order to ensure the genetic diversity of European agriculture;

26.  Recognises the need to support suitable crop rotations that remain profitable for farmers; also highlights the need to maintain a range of suitable crop protection tools for a broad range of crops, in addition to genetic resources; stresses that, without such tools, the diversity of crops that can be produced profitably will be severely impacted;

Precision breeding

27.  Supports the need for continuous progress in innovative breeding through the application of safe and proven techniques aimed at increasing not only the range of pest- and disease-resistant traits in crops, but also the range of food raw materials with nutritional and health-beneficial characteristics on the market;

28.  Considers it important to ensure sustained support for development and use of future technological tools which may allow breeding to successfully address the societal challenges ahead;

29.  Considers it timely for the Commission to publish the final report of the ‘New Techniques’ working group and to use its scientific findings as a basis for, inter alia, clarifying the legal status of the breeding techniques currently under scrutiny and to use sound legal analysis in its deliberations;

30.  Encourages open and transparent dialogue among all stakeholders and the public on the responsible development of high-precision, innovative solutions for breeding programmes, including on its risks and benefits; notes that this will require efforts to raise awareness and understanding of new techniques among farmers and the general public; calls on the Commission to ensure that consumers and farmers are sufficiently educated in new and emerging breeding techniques so as to ensure that an open and informed public debate can take place;

31.  Expresses concern at the recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) of 25 March 2015 in Cases G2/12 and G2/13;

Plant protection products (PPPs)

32.  Stresses the urgent need to review the implementation of the regulatory framework for PPPs and to develop a coherent, efficient, predictable, risk-based and scientifically robust assessment and approvals system; considers it important to reduce farmers dependence on pesticides as much as possible, noting that production of food and feed operates in a competitive, international environment; considers it important to develop PPPs which are cost-effective, safe to use and environment friendly;

33.  Welcomes the 2016 Commission Work Programme REFIT initiatives which commit the EU to carrying out an evaluation of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 and Regulation (EC) No 396/2005; stresses that the REFIT process must not lead to the lowering of food safety and environmental protection standards;

34.  Calls on the Commission to include in its report to Parliament and the Council options for amending and improving the current legislation, and in particular on the functioning of mutual recognition of authorisations and the zonal evaluations process;

35.  Underlines the concern that the zonal authorisations system is not functioning, owing to the continued use of outdated national authorisation methodologies, and calls on the Commission to harmonise the approval system to ensure mutual recognition of products across the Member States in the zones identified in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009;

36.  Welcomes the latest Integrated Pest Management – European Research Area Network (IPM-ERANET) and the new coordination platform for ‘minor uses’, but considers that the platform could be better exploited to cover research and innovation with a view to addressing the lack of crop protection solutions for minor use and speciality crops;

37.  Highlights the importance of transparently assessing the impacts of active substances with a view to ensuring sustainable agriculture in line with EU law, and of comprehensively evaluating the risk and hazards associated with the use of products, and recalls that the precautionary principle should be used when the degree of uncertainty is too high to ensure public health or good agricultural and environmental conditions;

38.  Calls on DG Health and Food Safety (SANTE) to establish clear criteria for defining low-risk active substances for the development and use of low-risk pesticides, while considering evolving scientific knowledge and ensuring that the objectives of health and environmental protection are met, and to ensure that safety data are present for the criteria applied for all potential low-risk substances;

39.  Takes the view that low-risk substances, including non-chemical alternatives to PPPs such as biological controls, should be given priority for evaluation by the rapporteur Member States and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in order to help meet the aims of Directive 2009/128/EC regarding integrated pest management and the sustainable use of pesticides, especially for product use on minor and speciality crops;

40.  Stresses that farmers need to have a bigger toolbox at hand to protect their crops and to decide which measure will best protect their crops; therefore encourages wider use of various alternatives to traditional pesticides, including biopesticides, as a component of integrated pest management, and calls for more efforts to be made to develop more cost-effective alternatives by supporting field research into and more demonstration of non-chemical alternatives and low-risk measures and pesticides which are more environment friendly;

41.  Notes that biological controls are methods of protecting crops based on the use of living organisms or natural substances and could reduce the use of traditional pesticides and contribute to better plant resilience;

42.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with an action plan and to set up an expert group in order to work towards a more sustainable pest management system; highlights the potential of a pest management system that improves the interaction between plant breeding efforts, natural combat systems and pesticide use;

43.  Regrets the slow progress of the Member States and the Commission in respectively implementing and evaluating implementation of IPM and Directive 2009/128/EC;

Skill development and knowledge transfer

44.  Recognises that the development of agri-related technologies requires a multitude of specialist skill sets and knowledge that are transdisciplinary in approach – these include, but are not limited to, general plant, animal and environmental science, physiology and engineering;

45.  Regrets the increasing skill shortages in many of these professions, and calls on the Member States to work in partnership with industry, research institutions and other relevant stakeholders in the design of their next rural development programmes, including European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs), with a view to identifying opportunities to support skill development and knowledge transfer in these areas, including by means of training and apprenticeships for young farmers and new entrants;

46.  Calls on the agricultural technologies sector to improve coordination and integration of on-farm demonstrations and use of demonstration and monitor farms with a view to sharing best practice at regional, national and European level, using currently available or new programmes, initiatives or resources;

47.  Recognises the potential that precision farming and digital technology integration can have in making agriculture more attractive for young farmers and creating new opportunities for growth and employment in rural areas; believes that investing in the development of these technologies may foster generational change in farming;

Research and funding priorities

48.  Recognises the long-term challenges associated with sustainable agriculture and horticulture, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop a long-term investment plan, assigning priority to a sectoral approach, with continuity of funding, for basic and applied research, and asks the Commission and the Member States to improve training for specialists in sustainable agriculture, and to ensure that expert consultation is available;

49.  Considers that the plan should include cost-effective solutions and be applicable to small-scale producers, rural areas and outermost and mountainous regions; emphasises that farmers are the major stewards of the environment in Europe and need continued access to innovation and research, enabling them to produce food, feed and other products in a sustainable and more cost-effective way, while protecting the environment for future generations and enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services;

50.  Welcomes the progress made in applied research in recent years, but calls for greater efforts to guarantee knowledge transfer to end users and to involve farmers and other users of agricultural technologies and products, including small farms;

51.  Calls for the European Innovation Partnership for competitive and sustainable agriculture, contained in the second pillar of the CAP, to be stepped up in order to create partnerships of innovative actors, including all farmers, and in particular small-scale farmers, further away from European decision-making centres;

52.  Notes that, in Member States where public-private partnerships are used intelligently, there has been a greater shift towards applied research and a higher involvement of end users;

53.  Considers it essential for the Commission and the Member States to develop projects which focus on the development of more resource-efficient agricultural practices and crop varieties, including locally specialised varieties, aimed at the conservation and improvement of soil fertility and nutrient exchange, especially given the increasing scarcity of water availability and certain key components of fertilisers such as phosphate; calls on the Commission to prioritise investment in the circular economy and climate-smart farming practices, with adequate funding incentives for research and uptake by farmers; underlines that the merits of aquaponics, closed loop nutrient cycling, agro-ecology, including agroforestry, conservation agriculture and sustainable forest management, sapropel, short feed chains, pasture-based grazing and low-input production should be duly evaluated, divulged and incentivised;

54.  Also considers it essential for the Commission and the Member States to develop innovative projects for producing non-food products (bio-economy, renewable energy, etc.) and services with a view to developing a more resource-efficient agriculture industry (better use of water, energy, food for crops and animals, etc.), and one which is more autonomous;

55.  Notes that, throughout much of the EU, independent or publically-funded centres for education, training and innovation in agriculture have declined or do not adequately cater for transdisciplinary approaches in emerging fields such as agricultural engineering; recognises that in some Member States farmers’ qualifications are still limited, which makes access to, and the application of, new technologies more difficult, and therefore calls on the Commission to draw up a European plan for investment in technical or higher-level agricultural training and education;

56.  Welcomes the recently launched European Innovation Partnership for Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI), which aims to link research and practical farming, and calls on the Commission to play an active role in boosting coordination at national and cross-border level to promote an explicit innovation agenda linked to Horizon 2020 and to guarantee adequate knowledge transfer to end users;

57.  Encourages the Commission and the Member States to do more to raise public awareness of the value of farming in the EU, and to develop trans-European centres for agricultural innovation that would demonstrate and enable appropriate access to innovative new technologies, sustainable agriculture, food security and sovereignty;

58.  Stresses that the activities of these centres should enable access to new technologies not only for sustainable agriculture but also for sustainable rural development by working within communities, with rural SMEs, cooperatives and producer organisations; underlines that they should be transparent and open to the general public and farmers, and should have a trans-sector approach, fostering dialogue among sectors that may be impacted by innovation in different ways;

59.  Urges the Commission to ensure that, alongside technological and scientific innovations, traditional techniques and farms can continue to flourish, given that these are an immense asset, being a source of cultural, rural, historical and tourism diversity, and provide a livelihood for numerous European small-scale farmers in a whole variety of regions;

60.  Calls on the Member States to make better use of the financial instruments created under the joint Memorandum of Understanding between the Commission and the European Investment Bank in respect of agriculture and rural development for the period 2014-2020;

61.  Emphasises the added value associated with these instruments, especially in terms of leverage effects and loan guarantees aimed at boosting the implementation of the sustainable agriculture and forestry research agenda, including Societal Challenge 2 of Horizon 2020; cites, in particular, their usefulness for reducing the investment needs and risks for farmers wishing to adopt expensive PF technology and methods;

Keeping Europe at the centre of scientific development and innovation

62.  Notes that rural areas, including outermost and mountainous regions, are more exposed to actual and potential climate change, which makes them less attractive and more susceptible to aging populations and depopulation; recognises that agriculture must be allowed to adapt to meet changing circumstances using all available technological solutions to ensure that farmland is used more sustainably;

63.  Notes that modern technologies in agriculture and a broader land use sector can help these sectors contribute fairly to global climate change mitigation efforts; in this context, highlights the need to broaden the definition of ‘productive agriculture’ and to fully support and respect those farming lands which provide public goods in climate mitigation and carbon sequestration, including agro-ecological farming;

64.  Regards it as essential to preserve farmland in areas such as mountainous and peripheral areas in the Union, and backs all action to ensure that the mainly small-scale holdings there also have access to high technology tailored to their needs;

65.  Considers it essential that reasonable EU regulation, oriented towards consumer safety and health and environmental protection, based on independent, peer-reviewed science, enables EU farm produce to be competitive and attractive on the internal and world markets, and calls for that principle to continue to hold good;

66.  Notes in particular the high cost, long timescales and commercial and legal uncertainty of bringing new technologies and sustainable products to market under current EU regulations; notes that these facts are even more evident in the outer-most regions, remote rural areas, less favoured areas and mountainous areas;

67.  Urges the Commission to utilise and enhance all the characteristics of the outer-most regions by carrying out pilot projects in the field of technological and scientific innovation aimed at reducing their natural disadvantages and, given their small scale, the difficulty of gaining access to and applying the latest scientific and technological developments;

68.  Calls on the Commission to improve its regulatory framework in line with the principles of Better Regulation so as to ensure timely, efficient and effective decision-making procedures, which could contribute to technological development in the EU;

69.  Calls on the Commission to use its new Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) to refine a regulatory framework which places greater emphasis on risk-based and independent scientific evidence when assessing risks, hazards and benefits in the adoption or non-adoption of new technologies, products and practices;

70.  Notes broad support for the adoption of the innovation principle, which would require EU legislative proposals to be fully assessed in terms of their impact on innovation;

71.  Calls on the Commission to take more wide-ranging action in the field of scientific cooperation at international level, with a view, inter alia, to intensifying the exchange of information and identifying development opportunities;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 965.
(2) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 104.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 487.
(4) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 309, 24.11.2009, p. 71.
(6) OJ L 77, 15.3.2014, p. 44.
(7) OJ L 162, 30.4.2004, p. 18.
(8) OJ L 268, 18.10.2003, p. 1.
(9) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2014)0205.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0473.


Enhancing innovation and economic development in future European farm management
PDF 209kWORD 103k
European Parliament resolution of 7 June 2016 on enhancing innovation and economic development in future European farm management (2015/2227(INI))
P8_TA(2016)0252A8-0163/2016

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing rules for direct payments to farmers under support schemes within the framework of the common agricultural policy and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 637/2008 and Council Regulation (EC) No 73/2009,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1306/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on the financing, management and monitoring of the common agricultural policy and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 352/78, (EC) No 165/94, (EC) No 2799/98, (EC) No 814/2000, (EC) No 1290/2005 and (EC) No 485/2008,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 establishing a common organisation of the markets in agricultural products and repealing Council Regulations (EEC) No 922/72, (EEC) No 234/79, (EC) No 1037/2001 and (EC) No 1234/2007,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 December 2013 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005,

–  having regard to the UN’s International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development of the FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank and WHO,

–  having regard to the memorandum of understanding between the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) signed on 14 July 2014,

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 March 2011 on the EU protein deficit: what solution for a long-standing problem?(1),

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 18 June 2012 on the European Innovation Partnership ‘Agricultural productivity and sustainability’(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on patents and plant breeders’ rights(3),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development and the opinion of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0163/2016),

A.  whereas the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that the expected rise in the world’s population to 9,1 billion by 2050 will in the business as usual scenario require a 60 % increase in food supply that should be safe and of high quality and a 24 % increase in crop yields in the developed countries by that date, whilst preserving resources for future generations and preventing food waste and losses, which currently account for over one third of global production; whereas the FAO also estimates that there will only be a 4,3% increase in arable land by 2050, which will require better management of natural resources to combat soil degradation among other issues;

B.  whereas land everywhere faces a drop-off in intrinsic productivity and fertility caused by land degradation, especially soil erosion, owing to the loss of ecosystem functions such as topsoil formation, humification, pollination, water retention and nutrient cycling; whereas there is a broad consensus that to resolve this and maintain and improve productivity, we need to increase delivery innovatively of such ecosystem functions in order to ensure resilience against climate change;

C.  whereas according to the UN, if the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are to be achieved, agricultural productivity will have to double by 2030, while simultaneously the agri-food sector will have to adapt to climate change and changing weather conditions, improve ecosystem and soil quality and minimise biodiversity loss; whereas, in order to achieve this, priority must be given to the use of microbiological preparations which increase soil life; whereas four out of the eight UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are connected to agriculture;

D.  whereas population growth, higher average incomes and changing consumer behaviour will lead to revised dietary preferences, and will result in particular in higher demand for processed foods and animal proteins such as meat and dairy;

E.  whereas the quality of life of agricultural workers and of rural communities must be improved;

F.  whereas against the background of the numerous challenges and the growing number of rules farmers have to deal with, and the fact that agricultural technology resources have fallen and the rate of growth of irrigated land areas has slowed markedly, EU consumers have never spent as low a percentage of their income on food as they do now; whereas the current economic downturn has resulted in increased levels of poverty, often forcing EU consumers to seek assistance from food banks;

G.  whereas the FAO notes in its main publication ‘The State of Food and Agriculture’ that women make significant contributions to the rural economy in all regions and their roles vary from one region to another, even though they still have less access than men to the resources and opportunities they need in order to be more productive;

H.  whereas consumers are demanding food production with higher environmental, nutritional and health standards and values and of increasing quality, while at the same time the agricultural sector needs to diversify and innovate to provide quality, safe and affordable food for all citizens and to ensure a decent and viable income for its producers;

I.  whereas farm production needs to increase and improve with less resources owing to pressure on natural resources and its associated effects on biodiversity, vulnerability of the environment, climate change and the scarcity of land, together with population growth and changing consumer behaviour; insists that innovative agriculture should provide a smaller ecological footprint and make optimal use of natural processes and ecosystem services including renewable energy and a greater consumption of local agri-food products;

J.  whereas, a more resource-efficient model of agriculture that is better at optimising its products is key to addressing the challenges of sustainability for all farms, irrespective of size, and to making them better equipped to preserve natural resources and the environment;

K.  whereas the development of more sustainable models of agriculture intended not only to provide food for people but also to produce non-food goods and services represents significant potential for job creation in each region, not only in the food sector (human and animal) but also in the bio-economy, green chemistry, renewable energy and tourism sectors, etc.; whereas these are also very often jobs that cannot be relocated;

L.  whereas the EU is the biggest exporter of agricultural products worldwide, making the agri-food sector a key economic pillar of the Union, employing 47 million people in 15 million downstream enterprises in fields such as food processing, retail and services, and contributing to a positive trade balance of EUR 17 802 million that represents 7,2% of the total value of EU exports;

M.  whereas the CAP’s competitiveness and sustainability were key priorities of the 2013 CAP reform; whereas safeguarding secure food supplies by increasing sustainable agriculture productivity and ensuring reasonable and fair prices for farmers and consumers, as mentioned in Article 39 TFEU, can be achieved best, inter alia, through innovation; reiterates that sustainable and innovative agriculture, which produces high-quality products, contributes to meeting many horizontal-policy TFEU goals related to the environment and health; whereas future competitiveness depends, among other things, on the intrinsic productivity and fertility provided by natural processes and resources;

N.  whereas the memorandum of understanding between the Commission and the EIB signed on 14 July 2014 explicitly encourages further investments in innovative agriculture, by providing financial instruments to foster the uptake of investments in agriculture, including a proposal from the Commission aimed at supporting and expanding financial tools in the farming sector in order to combat price fluctuations;

O.  whereas the agricultural sector has been subject to frequent cycles of change with a view to enhancing productivity; whereas these cycles have significantly contributed to the economic development of agriculture to its current level; whereas the incorporation of the latest technologies and adapting and re-inventing existing ones including organic and agro-ecological approaches into farming practices, will bring significant benefits to all sizes of farms; whereas aquaculture has an underexplored potential for introducing innovation into traditional agricultural practices by exploiting marine and oceanic natural resources in a sustainable way;

P.  whereas in some Member States, for various structural reasons, large areas of abandoned agricultural land continue to lie unused;

1.  Notes that agriculture has always developed new practices, techniques and production methods that have increased outputs, improved the adaptability of farming practices to new and changing circumstances and cut production costs; notes further that agriculture and forestry are key parts of our natural world providing goods and services that go beyond food production and can be enhanced by fostering new developments; is convinced that innovation is a prerequisite for maintaining this progress;

2.  Is strongly convinced that economic development and sustainable production are not mutually exclusive and are achievable mainly through innovation, research and development, new governance and business models and improved agronomy; stresses the need to support innovation in technology and governance by providing coherent and clear regulation with room for entrepreneurship; urges the Commission to ensure that any future CAP reflects this and that innovation is explicitly taken into account in forthcoming reviews and reforms of relevant legislation which gives more recognition to new and young farmers with novel ideas and business models; highlights the fact that European agriculture is achieving its goal in producing high-quality and high-added-value products, through profitable and knowledge-based solutions as supported by Europe’s 2020 strategy; welcomes in this respect the incoming Commission assessment of the 2012 Bioeconomy Strategy’s contribution to the circular economy, as the shift from fossil fuels to renewables contributes to cutting energy costs for farmers and thus enabling more investments in innovation;

3.  Stresses that agriculture can be part of the solution by prudently using natural resources and ensuring biodiversity, stimulating innovation being key to this end; considers that agricultural practices are dependent upon natural resources and this interplay should be optimised and production systems better understood to improve management systems; calls for the intrinsic productivity, fertility and resilience of our agro-ecosystems in the medium and long term to be ensured and for a reduction in emissions; emphasises the importance of improving production systems through better adapted crops and rotation systems, improved management systems and notes the importance of a living soil; stresses the potential for job creation not only in the food production sector but also in the tourism, bio-economy and green chemistry sectors;

4.  Takes into account the fact that the EU market for food and agriculture is one of the most integrated markets in Europe and urges the Commission to create and implement regulations that ensure a more level playing field and fair competition in order to encourage economic development in the agriculture and food sector in all Member States;

5.  Points out that small and medium-sized family farms form an integral part of the European agricultural sector and contribute to creating socially and economically vibrant rural areas that contribute to the upkeep of cultural and natural heritage; points out furthermore that these farms experience difficulties at times in tapping the benefits of advanced production techniques and practices that could ensure a fair income and improve farmers living and working conditions and the creation of high-quality jobs; underlines that innovation has the potential to increase labour productivity and income by reducing production costs and making business more efficient; stresses that ownership of, and access to, arable land are pivotal for farmers and family farms; advocates making farming a more desirable occupation for young men and women, inter alia, by improving access to finance, technology and support programmes; calls for the development of new business ideas and on the Commission to inform farmers more effectively about their opportunities in this respect; acknowledges the social role of agriculture, its contribution to social cohesion and its effect on fighting rural depopulation, the innovative services it brings to local communities and the role it plays in preserving traditional knowledge; stresses the importance of access to fast and reliable rural broadband internet services, and of innovative concepts tailored for all disadvantaged regions, such as mountainous and peripheral areas in the Union and urges the Commission to make this a priority;

6.  Encourages the Commission to come forward with solutions to stimulate the uptake of ICT-based management systems, real-time data monitoring, sensor technology and the use of detection systems for the optimisation of production systems or precision agriculture, which inter alia could mean adapting to changing production and market conditions leading to more efficient and optimal use of natural resources, better monitoring of a number of production stages, increased crop performance, reduction of the environmental footprint, energy consumption and GHGs, better understanding of animal behaviour, and improved animal health and welfare; stresses, likewise, that the more extensive use of ICT is key to making farming more environmentally sustainable and the sector more competitive; encourages, in this respect, the Commission to improve the alignment of the various policies concerned in order to promote more effectively ICT management systems;

7.  Recalls that a simplification of measures and more guidance on the implementation of CAP measures would encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable farming practices;

8.  Is convinced that information gathered by robotics, sensor technology, automatic control and other technological innovations in the context of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies and Big Data will enable real-time monitoring, better decision-making, and improved operations management along the whole food chain; welcomes the creation of the Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) (Working Group 06) on ‘smart farming and food safety’, and stresses in this respect the importance and relevance of the European Digital Single Market for agriculture in terms of tackling problems of interoperability, standards for better convergence and questions of ownership of, access to and use of, personal and non-personal data;

9.  Is concerned at the low level of awareness concerning the potential of Big Data and IoT and the fragmentation of the related technology systems, which increase the barriers to uptake and slow down deployment, and is disappointed at the slow take up of GPS technologies; highlights the importance of making these technologies meaningful to the farmers; notes that in the EU currently only 10 % of aided guidance, less than 1 % of real time kinematic movement and less than 1 % of variable rate application techniques are being used; encourages the Commission to quantify environmental and production benefit and to ensure awareness, knowledge and technology transfers; expresses concern that some Member States risk losing a proportion of the direct payment amount in 2018 owing to their lack of a land register, and suggests that the Commission make available smart tools designed to expedite the mapping of farmland;

10.  Encourages the uptake of precision agriculture that provides new whole-farm management approaches, such as GPS/GNSS-technology driven machinery which, in combination with Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs or drones), can work arable land with centimetre precision; agrees that these techniques could significantly reduce both the use of plant protection products and fertiliser and water use, and combat soil erosion; calls on the Commission to remove the barriers to adopting precision farming, in particular those linked to complex and fragmented ICT systems and investment level issues; notes that precision agriculture is also important in stock farming as a means of monitoring animal health, nutrition and yield; encourages the Member States to support these practices, in particular by using the opportunities provided by the new rural development rules in Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013; calls on the Commission to take account, in future revisions of the CAP, of the use of precision farming by farmers in the context of greening; stresses the importance of ensuring that all farms, including those in remote and outlying regions and the smallest farms, and all others involved in rural agriculture have access to multipurpose technologies, given the need to maintain and increase employment levels in those most vulnerable areas;

11.  Welcomes the increased use of RPASs for farming purposes, since this can lead to savings in crop protection material and water usage; notes that a proposal for legislation is forthcoming in the revision of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)’s basic regulation, so that all drones would come under EU competence; calls on the Commission to ensure that there are clear and unambiguous EU-wide standards and rules for the civil use of RPASs and that forthcoming legislation takes into account the specific conditions under which drones operate in agriculture;

12.  Highlights the importance of new innovative and affordable solutions for the agricultural sector in order to increase the use of more environmentally friendly methods, goods and resources, which could include not only new growing methods and field management but also ways to increase the use of renewable energy and ways to phase out the need for fossil-based fuels;

13.  Encourages innovative solutions in animal husbandry that contribute to a higher level of animal health and welfare, which reduce the need for veterinary medicinal products, including antimicrobials; highlights the possibilities for optimising the use of animal faeces in the production of renewable energy and improved fertilisers; acknowledges that within the limits of natural processes, innovative solutions can be found for capturing emissions, diffusing pollution and increasing the energy efficiency of animal housing systems whilst addressing the impact on the cost price; draws attention to the fact that methane can be captured for energy production that could help mitigate climate change; reiterates that antimicrobials should be prudently and responsibly applied and that the entire production chain can be improved with more efficient and faster diagnostic tools, better real-time monitoring, targeted precautionary measures and new ways of dispensing to combat antimicrobial resistance, leaving sufficient room for those Member States that already do better in this respect and points out the need for research on drugs to cope with emerging diseases;

14.  Supports extensive animal husbandry methods and calls for the development of innovative technologies for the accurate assessment of the environmental benefits of grassland and pastures maintained by this type of farming and recognises the benefits thereof as a complement to crop production;

15.  Points to the importance of recovering animal protein within the production cycle; calls on the Commission, therefore, to draw up measures to promote the recycling of agricultural waste by encouraging the recovery of protein for feed;

16.  Urges the Commission to promote land access policies for small and medium-sized farms and to foster animal production based on pastureland, fodder and the production of plant protein, and to promote research and innovation in relation to the sustainable production of plant protein;

17.  Emphasises the untapped potential of technology and innovation for the development of new goods and products (relating to food and feed, machinery, biochemistry, biocontrol etc.) which may have the potential to create employment along the whole agri-food value chain; draws attention, nevertheless, to the fact that innovation and technologisation leads to job losses in traditional agricultural occupations and calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide training and retraining courses for workers in the agricultural sectors affected; highlights the creation of new jobs in the agricultural sector, which is of pivotal importance for rural development, rural repopulation and economic growth, and considers that developing modern agricultural practices will make agriculture more attractive to young farmers and entrepreneurs alike; calls on the Commission to look into the possibilities of incentivising farmers to raise public awareness about the workings of the agri-food chain and new production methods;

18.  Is of the opinion that new information technologies provide ample opportunities to establish new value chains, which may include more direct contact between producers and consumers, with a stronger focus on innovative products, new services and more production differentiation, with the potential to provide new income streams for farmers as well as establishing a more transparent marketplace that will be of benefit to farmers and extend their potential reach; points out that innovations in the food supply chain could help to ensure a more even distribution of risks;

19.  Stresses the need to tackle food wastage, in particular systemic food wastage, since each year 100 million tonnes of food in Europe is wasted or thrown away, which amounts to approximately 30%-50% of the food produced in the EU; considers that greater cooperation is also needed in the food chain to reduce current levels of waste; points out that out-dated regulatory frameworks should not form barriers to innovative ways of processing food waste and the sharing of best practices and prioritising innovative projects should be encouraged to combat food waste and losses including under Horizon 2020;

20.  Underlines that for every tonne of food waste avoided, approximately 4,2 tonnes of CO2 could be saved, which would have a significant impact on the environment; stresses, in addition, the importance of a legal framework consistent with the circular economy principle, whereby clear rules are laid down on by-products, the use of raw materials is optimised, and residual waste is reduced as much as possible;

21.  Highlights that a sizeable proportion of biotic waste streams are already used, for example, as animal feed or base material for biofuels; considers, however, that these materials should generate even higher outputs by aiming for the most added value and by using new technologies such as biorefining, insect breeding, reuse of animal lipids, enzymes and proteins from residues in the food industry, solid state fermentation, biogas extraction and the extraction of minerals from manure, and the use of surplus manure as a renewable energy source; notes the lack of clear rules and the underutilisation of other resources derived from biomass such as agricultural by-products and waste streams, and encourages the Commission to support their reuse in the energy sector and elsewhere by facilitating EU-wide recognition systems and special measures under the rural development programme that could involve farmers and other stakeholders such as the local authorities in small-scale projects; notes that these recognition systems and special rural development programmes could also facilitate cross-border circulation and improve synergy and coherence with other EU policies;

22.  Considers that depleted soil quality is compromising future production, necessitating a change in farming methods and systems, given that the phasing out of animal husbandry has contributed to a decrease in soil fertility on many farms owing to the inadequate organic content and insufficient use of organic fertilisers; is concerned that the EU is highly dependent on the import of minerals for the production of mineral fertilisers such as phosphate and that the production of mineral fertilisers has a high carbon and ecological footprint; emphasises the possibility of processing animal manure into mineral concentrate that could be used to manufacture ‘green fertiliser’ that could reduce and eventually replace the need for mineral fertilisers, given that its efficiency level is comparable to that of the latter; welcomes the fact that the production and use of mineral concentrates make a significant contribution to the circular economy by closing the mineral loop and will considerably reduce farms’ fertiliser costs; asks the Commission to revise the EU regulation on fertiliser and to remove legislative obstacles in the nitrates directive so as to enable and stimulate the development of mineral concentrate from animal manure;

23.  Is also concerned at the EU’s continued dependence on imported protein feed such as soya and calls for an ambitious protein crop development policy in the EU;

24.  Recommends the use of management systems specific to individual farms that measure and evaluate the balance of nutrients at farm level linked to the different chains in the production cycle helping to measure the environmental impact of individual farms and calculate farm-specific nutrient balances; notes that an efficient use of minerals leads to higher crop yields and less need for fertiliser, and contributes to efficient feeding practices, allowing farmers to improve their operations while reducing costs and moving away from generic measures; calls on the Commission to support, by means of co-financing from various European funds, including Horizon 2020 and EFSI, the pilot projects in this field which are already planned, and to present a study on the matter;

25.  Encourages the implementation of high-precision low-emission techniques for storage, transportation and land spreading of manure which would lead to a significant improvement of the plant uptake of nutrients from the manure, thus reducing the need for mineral fertilisers and reducing the risk of water contamination;

26.  Points out that better land application techniques are one of the key factors in reducing the total ammonia emission and, consequently, each country should ensure, that low-emission slurry application techniques are used with band spreading (using trailing shoe or trailing hose systems), injection or acidification;

27.  Points out that climate-smart farming practices could have a triple-win effect by increasing sustainable production, ensuring climate-resilient farming that copes better with changing and adverse weather patterns, and reducing emissions from the agricultural sector by encouraging productive, resource-efficient and circular systems; stresses that the agriculture and forestry sectors are unique in actively capturing CO2 by means of plants and forestation, use of cover and leguminous crops, limiting tillage and permanent soil cover, forest shelterbelts that are also beneficial for crop-protection and water holding capacity, and absorbing greenhouse gases in the soil (carbon sinking); notes in this respect the 4/1000 programme presented during the COP21 and the possibility for financial incentives; encourages farmers to continue and to increase their take up of these new and innovative practices;

28.  Underlines the important role of agro-forestry in agricultural systems, especially in reducing flooding and soil erosion and in improving soil health; calls for further integration of innovative tree-based approaches in agricultural activities and to remove administrative burdens to optimise catchment-level planning, river basin and water management; stresses the benefits associated with trees for increased sustainability and farming productivity, for biodiversity preservation and local and regional economic development; recognises that traditional silvo-pastoral systems are multifunctional and sustainable land use should be protected and rewarded, while newer methods of incorporating trees in the lowland farming systems such as alley cropping should be considered;

29.  Considers soil quality to be of economic and ecological importance since a depletion of the ecological state would result in less productive soil, lower nutrient availability, increases in the susceptibility of plants to pests and diseases, lower water holding capacity and diminished biodiversity; calls on the Commission to support innovative practices and the sharing of best practices such as crop rotation systems, permanent soil cover, limited tillage and fertilising with green legumes and nitrogen-binding bacteria to avoid further soil degradation; points out that, in order to combat desertification and eutrophication, farmers must be encouraged to develop irrigation systems, including improving water efficiency and the application of economical irrigation techniques; believes that the interplay between the mobilisation of organic matter and production needs to be better understood; welcomes research into innovative practices such as the use of microbial interventions (bacterial fertilisers) and studies of plant-soil interactions with mycorrhiza, PGPR and PGR bacteria which could lower the environmental impact and reduce the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides that damage human and animal health and the environment; recognises the importance of a sustainable soil use that takes account of site-specific needs;

30.  Recognises that farm systems are not productive if they are flooded or drought-afflicted for most of the year; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote innovation in water management and conservation, integrated with farm advice services and extension services, by means of innovative techniques and technology to reduce wasteful irrigation practices and to mitigate flooding; calls for application of these new techniques with existing and new landscape features such as ponds, and with schemes aimed at increasing water retention in the soil and in habitats associated with agriculture such as wet meadows, protecting groundwater infiltration zones, increasing infiltration capacities of water into the soil and water retention; welcomes landscape-level synergies with river basin management planning; calls for encouraging uptake of ’regeneration agriculture’ techniques to increase the depth of the topsoil layer, encourage humus creation, inoculate dying or unhealthy soils with compost in order to bring them back to optimal functionality etc.;

31.  Calls for more efforts to be made to develop and fully implement integrated plant protection management systems by supporting scientific research into non-chemical alternatives and low-risk measures, as defined in the relevant legislation, and pesticides which are more environmentally friendly; cautions against the prophylactic use of plant protection material and underlines in this respect that integrated pest management should make smarter use of the interplay between biological and chemical measures; stresses that innovations in alternative, low risk substances, as defined in the relevant legislation, and physical interventions could be further encouraged along with bio-stimulation and biocontrol at European level; is concerned that the current approach to the authorisation of plant protection products is sub-optimal and that legislation to incentivise the development of integrated pest management is lagging behind; calls on the Commission to come forward with a roadmap geared towards a more sustainable pest management system which includes advisory services; notes that biological control mechanisms relating to pests and diseases could reduce the use of pesticides and may contribute to better plant resilience;

32.  Calls for the continuous development of innovative breeding techniques, with European seed banks nevertheless being maintained, which is vital for new and diverse varieties with higher yields, greater nutritional value, better resistance to pest diseases and adverse weather conditions, and to facilitate greater biodiversity; points out that breeding techniques may provide opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of conventional agriculture; cautions against any lock-in chemical dependency on newer varieties; disapproves of the current administrative and regulatory burdens for businesses and encourages community-based farming breeding programmes; underlines that due care is necessary in the approval of new varieties; urges the Commission to encourage the uptake of new techniques which have undergone appropriate risk assessment where it is required and are fully in line with the precautionary principle, and to ensure access to biological materials for SMEs in the breeding sector, and expects it to strongly support innovation in this respect; disapproves of the current decision of the enlarged board of appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) of 25 March 2015 in Cases G2/12 and G2/13;

33.  Highlights, in connection with innovative breeding methods for plant and animal varieties, the arrangements for the legal protection of biological inventions(4), under which general plant and animal varieties and essential biological processes for the production of plants and animals may not be patented; urges the Commission to verify the interpretation and scope of that derogation, since in the interests of food security, free access to, and use, of breeding materials must continue to be guaranteed;

34.  Highlights the possibility of using financial instruments to help improve farming income in Europe; notes that only five Member States have taken up the additional possibilities under the new Rural Development Programme to make use of market-compatible financial instruments in order to address market gaps; calls on the Commission to facilitate access to credit, since lack of such access is often a barrier to innovation;

35.  Welcomes the EC-EIB memorandum of understanding and its willingness to support agricultural projects and young farmers by providing new financing opportunities for Member States that establish forms of financial support such as guarantee funds, revolving funds or investment capital to facilitate access to credit for farmers and groupings of farmers such as cooperatives, producer organisations and groups and their partners, with a view to helping on-farm investment in modernisation while also offering financing opportunities to overcome barriers to credit, which affects women disproportionally, and financing opportunities for young farmers to expand their businesses, as well as to ensure investment in public-sector research combined with public-private partnerships in order to test and launch innovative products; reiterates that Parliament wishes to see this financial support flowing and to remove any obstacles in accessing this funding;

36.  Calls on the Commission to assess in detail which new skills will be required in future European farm management, and to promote their dissemination by every means available;

37.  Acknowledges that there is great potential for better risk management and views the current risk management and market management tools as being underdeveloped, a situation which could result in the short-term loss of productivity and long-term loss of innovation; calls on the Commission to investigate and report on the possibility of stimulating private insurance schemes covering adverse climatic events, animal or plant diseases, pest infestations or environmental incidents, as mentioned in Article 37 of Regulation (EU) No 1305/2013;

38.  Welcomes the opportunities by the European Innovation Partnership AGRI (EIP-AGRI) for applied research within the agricultural sector and participatory innovation involving communities of rural practitioners; is concerned by the fragmented way EIP-AGRI is implemented nationally and, in this respect, calls on the Commission to ensure the simplest possible procedures for participation; asks the Commission to assess the co-financing mechanisms of EIP-AGRI and other European public policies to incentivise more effective research that looks more at market needs and the need to develop sustainable agronomic and agro-ecological practices and is driven by entrepreneurial and socio-economic needs, creating cross-border research focus groups and greater participation possibilities for businesses; calls on the Commission to be more actively involved in terms of providing an explicit innovation and research agenda linked to Horizon 2020 programmes;

39.  Stresses the importance of consumer awareness and information; highlights that more transparency in the supply chains and in production can help consumers to make more informed choices about the products they are buying; considers that this, in turn, can help farmers to earn higher revenues from their production;

40.  Considers that economic development and ecological sustainability are complementary, provided enough room is left for innovation and entrepreneurship and provided action is taken to prevent the appearance of unjustified differences in national implementation and to retrospectively eliminate such differences, so as to ensure a genuinely level playing field in the Union, inter alia, by exploring new and relevant techniques such as satellite imaging; calls on the Commission to ensure a genuinely level playing field for the agricultural sector while at the same time ensuring that relevant environmental legislation, such as the Birds and Habitats Directives, is fully respected in the various Member States and the disparate, contradictory and suboptimal implementation thereof brought to an end;

41.  Is concerned that, according to the mid-term review of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2020, there has been no significant overall progress in the contribution of agriculture to maintaining and enhancing biodiversity;

42.  Stresses that the CAP should be more focused on farmers’ needs and local conditions while not compromising policy goals; stresses the need for a simpler and more flexible legislative framework that is more geared towards national and local conditions and better suited to deliver synergies with other sectors by enhancing and promoting knowledge crossovers, integration of resource use and is better aligned with the circular economy in order to improve the visibility of existing systems for specific promotional labelling and encourage new innovations in the promotion of the diversity of European agricultural products; stresses furthermore that a competitive and sustainable CAP ensures a greater uptake of innovative practices and long-term viability of the European agricultural sector by streamlining government intervention and stimulating public and private sector innovations that contribute to the economic development of Europe, in particular rural areas;

43.  Calls on the Commission to report every two years on the impact of Union financing and other Union measures in the field of agricultural innovation on the development of cost prices and selling prices of agricultural products and on the associated financial and economic prospects of family farms in the Union;

44.  Considers innovation to be an essential tool and a key horizontal policy priority for the development, implementation and achievement of the objectives of the CAP reform 2014-2020; calls on the Commission, therefore, to provide a more ambitious overarching strategy with measurable outcomes in order to align and focus research and innovation vis-à-vis policy priorities; stresses that the CAP should provide more flexibility for the use of newly developed techniques and practices without an increase in the administrative burden; believes that a horizontal priority for the European legislative framework should be to ensure sufficient leeway for pilot programmes and testing for innovative techniques, while observing the precautionary principle;

45.  Calls on the Commission to also ensure that in other fields of regulation aimed at creating a better functioning and integrated internal market, regulations and policies strive to enhance fair competition;

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

(1) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 58.
(2) OJ C 193, 30.6.2012, p. 1.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0473.
(4) Directive 98/44/EC on the legal protection of biotechnological inventions.

Legal notice - Privacy policy