Index 
Texts adopted
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement ***I
 Request for waiver of the immunity of Rolandas Paksas
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski
 Request for the waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen
 The need for an EU strategy to end and prevent the gender pension gap
 2016 Report on Serbia
 2016 Report on Kosovo
 2016 Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
 Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
 State of play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh

Binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement ***I
PDF 636kWORD 67k
Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 14 June 2017 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 for a resilient Energy Union and to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change (COM(2016)0482 – C8-0331/2016 – 2016/0231(COD))(1)
P8_TA(2017)0256A8-0208/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

Text proposed by the Commission   Amendment
Amendment 1
Proposal for a regulation
Title
Proposal for a
Proposal for a
REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
REGULATION OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL
on binding annual greenhouse gas emission reductions by Member States from 2021 to 2030 for a resilient Energy Union and to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change
on climate action to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change ("Climate Action Regulation implementing the Paris Agreement")
Amendment 2
Proposal for a regulation
Citation 1 a (new)
Having regard to Protocol No 1 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on the role of national parliaments in the European Union,
Amendment 3
Proposal for a regulation
Citation 1 b (new)
Having regard to Protocol No 2 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality,
Amendment 4
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 3
(3)  On 10 June 2016 the Commission presented the proposal for the EU to ratify the Paris agreement. This legislative proposal forms part of the implementation of the EU's commitment in the Paris agreement. The Union's commitment to economy-wide emission reductions was confirmed in the intended nationally determined contribution of the Union and its Member States that was submitted to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC on 6 March 2015.
(3)  The Council ratified the Paris Agreement on 5 October 2016, following the consent that was given by the European Parliament on 4 October 2016. The Paris Agreement entered into force on 4 November 2016 and aims, under Article 2 thereof, ‘to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty, including by: (a) Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1,5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change; (b) Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production; (c) Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.
The Paris Agreement also requires its parties to take action to conserve and enhance, as appropriate, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, including forests.
This legislative proposal forms part of the implementation of the EU's commitment in the Paris agreement. The Union's commitment to economy-wide emission reductions was confirmed in the intended nationally determined contribution of the Union and its Member States that was submitted to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC on 6 March 2015.
Amendment 5
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4
(4)  The Paris Agreement replaces the approach taken under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which will not be continued beyond 2020.
(4)  The Paris Agreement replaces the approach taken under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol which will not be continued beyond 2020. The Green Investment Schemes linked to the Kyoto Protocol, which provide financial support for emission reduction projects in lower-income Member States, will therefore also be discontinued.
Amendment 6
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 4 a (new)
(4 a)  The Environment Council meeting on 21 October 2009 supported a Union objective , in the context of necessary reductions according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by developed countries as a group, to reduce emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050 compared to 1990.
Amendment 7
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 5
(5)  The transition to clean energy requires changes in investment behaviour and incentives across the entire policy spectrum. It is a key Union priority to establish a resilient Energy Union to provide secure, sustainable, competitive and affordable energy to its citizens. Achieving this requires continuation of ambitious climate action with this Regulation and progress on the other aspects of Energy Union as set out in the Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy.16
(5)  The transition to clean energy and the bio-economy requires changes in investment behaviour across the entire policy spectrum and incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with less capital and small farms to adapt their business models. It is a key Union priority to establish a resilient Energy Union which prioritises energy efficiency and aims to provide secure, sustainable and affordable energy to its citizens as well as applying stringent sustainability and emission-reduction policies to the use of bio-based resources to replace fossil resources. Achieving this requires continuation of ambitious climate action with this Regulation and progress on the other aspects of Energy Union as set out in the Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy.16
__________________
__________________
16 COM(2015)0080
16 COM(2015)0080
Amendment 8
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 9
(9)  The approach of annually binding national limits taken in Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council19 should be continued from 2021 to 2030, with the start of the trajectory calculation in 2020 on the average of the greenhouse gas emissions during 2016 to 2018 and the end of the trajectory being the 2030 limit for each Member State. An adjustment to the allocation in 2021 is provided for Member States with both a positive limit under Decision 406/2009/EC and increasing annual emission allocations between 2017 and 2020 determined pursuant to Decisions 2013/162/EU and 2013/634/EU, to reflect the capacity for increased emissions in those years. The European Council concluded that the availability and use of existing flexibility instruments within the non-ETS sectors should be significantly enhanced in order to ensure cost-effectiveness of the collective Union effort and convergence of emissions per capita by 2030.
(9)  The approach of annually binding national limits taken in Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council19 should be continued from 2021 to 2030, with the start of the trajectory calculation in 2018 on the average of the greenhouse gas emissions during 2016 to 2018, or value of the 2020 annual emission allocation, whichever value is lower, and the end of the trajectory being the 2030 limit for each Member State. In order to reward early action and to support Member States with a lower capacity to invest, Member States with a GDP per capita below the EU average, that have during 2013 to 2020 lower emissions than their annual emission allocations for the period from 2013 to 2020 provided under Decision 406/2009/EC, may, under certain conditions, request additional allocations from a reserve. A supplementary adjustment to the allocation in 2021 is provided for Member States with both a positive limit under Decision 406/2009/EC and increasing annual emission allocations between 2017 and 2020 determined pursuant to Decisions 2013/162/EU and 2013/634/EU, to reflect the capacity for increased emissions in those years. The European Council concluded that the availability and use of existing flexibility instruments within the non-ETS sectors should be significantly enhanced in order to ensure cost-effectiveness of the collective Union effort and convergence of emissions per capita by 2030.
_________________
_________________
19 Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 (OJ L 140, 5.6.2009, p. 136).
19 Decision No 406/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 (OJ L 140, 5.6.2009, p. 136).
Amendment 9
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 9 a (new)
(9 a)  In order to set the Union on track to a low-carbon economy, this Regulation provides for a long-term emission reductions trajectory to reduce from 2031 the greenhouse gas emissions covered by this Regulation. The Regulation also contributes to the aim of the Paris Agreement to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.
Amendment 10
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 10 a (new)
(10a)  In order to preserve full efficiency of the market stability reserve established by Decision (EU) 2015/18141a of the European Parliament and the Council, the cancellation of allowances as the result of the use of the flexibility laid down in this Regulation following the reduction of EU ETS allowances should not be taken into account as allowances that have been cancelled in accordance with Directive 2003/87/EC when determining, under Decision (EU) 2015/1814, the total number of allowances in circulation in a given year pursuant to that Decision.
____________________________
1a Decision (EU) 2015/1814 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 October 2015 concerning the establishment and operation of a market stability reserve for the Union greenhouse gas emission trading scheme and amending Directive 2003/87/EC (OJ L 264, 9.10.2015, p. 1).
Amendment 11
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11
(11)  A range of Union measures enhance Member States’ ability to meet their climate commitments and are crucial to achieving necessary emission reductions in the sectors covered by this Regulation. These include legislation on fluorinated greenhouse gases, CO2-reductions from road vehicles, energy performance of building, renewables, energy efficiency and the Circular Economy, as well as Union funding instruments for climate-related investments.
(11)  A range of Union measures enhance Member States’ ability to meet their climate commitments and are crucial to achieving necessary emission reductions in the sectors covered by this Regulation. These include legislation on fluorinated greenhouse gases, CO2-reductions from road vehicles, improvements in the energy performance of buildings, an increase in renewables, greater energy efficiency and promotion of the Circular Economy, as well as Union funding instruments for climate-related investments.
Amendment 12
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11 a (new)
(11a)  In order to achieve those emissions reductions and in an effort to maximise the role of the agriculture sector, it is important that Member States promote innovative mitigation actions with the greatest potential, including: conversion of arable to permanent grassland; management of hedges, buffer strips and trees on agricultural land; new agroforestry and woodland planting schemes; prevention of tree removal and deforestation; low or no till and use of cover/catch crops and crop residues on land; carbon auditing and soil/nutrient management plans; improved nitrogen efficiency and nitrification inhibition; wetland/peat land restoration and conservation; and enhanced livestock breeding, feeding and management methods for lower emissions.
Amendment 13
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11 b (new)
(11b)  This Regulation, including the available flexibilities, provides an incentive for emission reductions consistent with other Union legal acts on climate and energy for sectors that are covered by this Regulation, including in the area of energy efficiency. Given that over 75 % of the greenhouse gas emissions are energy-related, increased efficiency of energy use and energy savings will play an important role in delivering such emissions reductions. Ambitious energy efficiency policies are therefore key not only for higher fossil fuel import savings ensuring energy security and lower consumer bills, but also for an increased uptake of energy-saving technologies in buildings, industry and transport, the strengthening of economic competitiveness, local job creation as well as improving health conditions and tackling energy poverty. Paying for themselves over time, measures taken in sectors covered by this Regulation are a cost-effective way of helping Member States achieve their targets under this Regulation. Accordingly, when translating this Regulation into national policies, it is important that Member States pay particular attention to the specific and different potentials for energy efficiency improvements and investments across sectors.
Amendment 14
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11 c (new)
(11c)   The transport sector is not only a major greenhouse gas emitter but has also been the fastest growing sector in energy consumption since 1990. It is important, therefore, that further efforts are made by the Commission and the Member States to improve energy efficiency, foster a shift to sustainable transport modes and reduce the sector´s high carbon dependency. The decarbonisation of the energy mix by promoting low emission energy for transport, for example by sustainable biofuels and electric vehicles, will contribute to the CO2 emission reduction target, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. That could be facilitated by ensuring that the sector has a clear and long-term framework to provide certainty and upon which to base investments.
Amendment 15
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 11 d (new)
(11d)   The impact of energy and sectorial policies on the Union and national climate commitments should be assessed with common quantified methods, so that their impacts are transparent and verifiable.
Amendment 57
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 12
(12)  Regulation [ ] [on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework] lays down accounting rules on greenhouse gas emissions and removals relating to land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). While the environmental outcome under this Regulation in terms of the levels of greenhouse gas emission reductions that are made is affected by taking into account a quantity up to the sum of total net removals and total net emissions from deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland and managed grassland as defined in Regulation [ ], flexibility for a maximum quantity of 280 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent of these removals divided among Member States according to the figures in Annex III should be included as an additional possibility for Member States to meet their commitments when needed. Where the delegated act to update the forest reference levels based on the national forestry accounting plans pursuant to Article 8 (6) of Regulation [LULUCF] is adopted, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of Article 7 to reflect a contribution of the accounting category managed forest land in the flexibility provided by that Article. Before adopting such a delegated act, the Commission should evaluate the robustness of accounting for managed forest land based on available data, and in particular the consistency of projected and actual harvesting rates. In addition, the possibility to voluntarily delete annual emission allocation units should be allowed under this Regulation in order to allow for such amounts to be taken into account when assessing Member States' compliance with requirements under Regulation [ ].
(12)  Regulation [ ] [on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use change and forestry into the 2030 climate and energy framework] lays down accounting rules on greenhouse gas emissions and removals relating to land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF). While the environmental outcome under this Regulation in terms of the levels of greenhouse gas emission reductions that are made is affected by taking into account a quantity up to the sum of total net removals and total net emissions from deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland, managed grassland and where applicable managed wetland as defined in Regulation [ ], flexibility for a maximum quantity of 280 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent of these removals divided among Member States according to the figures in Annex III should be included as an additional possibility for Member States to meet their commitments when needed. Where the delegated act to update the forest reference levels based on the national forestry accounting plans pursuant to Article 8 (6) of Regulation [LULUCF] is adopted, the power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of Article 7 to reflect a balanced contribution of the accounting category managed forest land in the flexibility of 280 million provided by that Article. Before adopting such a delegated act, the Commission should evaluate the robustness of accounting for managed forest land based on available data, and in particular the consistency of projected and actual harvesting rates. In addition, the possibility to voluntarily delete annual emission allocation units should be allowed under this Regulation in order to allow for such amounts to be taken into account when assessing Member States' compliance with requirements under Regulation [ ].
Amendment 17
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 12 a (new)
(12a)  Achieving, in a mutually coherent manner, the multiple Union objectives linked to the agricultural sector, including climate mitigation and adaptation, air quality, the conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services and support for rural economies, will require changes in investment and incentives, supported by Union measures, such as the CAP. It is vital that this Regulation take into account the objective of contributing to the objectives of the Union Forest Strategy to promote a competitive and sustainable supply of wood for the Union bio-economy, the Member States’ national forest policies, the Union Biodiversity Strategy and the Union Circular Economy Strategy.
Amendment 18
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 13
(13)  In order to ensure efficient, transparent and cost-effective reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions and of other information necessary to assess progress with Member State's annual emissions allocations, the requirements for annual reporting and evaluation under this Regulation are integrated with the relevant Articles under Regulation (EU) No. 525/2013, which should therefore be amended accordingly. The amendment of that Regulation should also ensure that progress of Member States in making emission reductions continues to be evaluated annually, taking into account progress in Union policies and measures and information from Member States. Every two years, the evaluation should include the projected progress of the Union towards meeting its reduction commitments and of Member States towards fulfilling their obligations. However, the application of deductions should only be considered at five-year intervals, so that the potential contribution from deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland and managed grassland taking place pursuant to Regulation [ ] can be considered. This is without prejudice to the duty of the Commission to ensure compliance with the obligations of Member States resulting from this Regulation or to the power of the Commission to initiate infringement proceedings for this purpose.
(13)  In order to ensure efficient, transparent and cost-effective reporting and verification of greenhouse gas emissions and of other information necessary to assess progress with Member State's annual emissions allocations, the requirements for annual reporting and evaluation under this Regulation are integrated with the relevant Articles under Regulation (EU) No 525/2013, which should therefore be amended accordingly. The amendment of that Regulation should also ensure that progress of Member States in making emission reductions continues to be evaluated annually, taking into account progress in Union policies and measures and information from Member States. Every two years, the evaluation should include the projected progress of the Union towards meeting its reduction commitments and of Member States towards fulfilling their obligations. A full compliance check should be carried out every two years. The application of the potential contribution from deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland and managed grassland taking place pursuant to Regulation [ ] should be considered in accordance with the intervals laid down in that Regulation. This is without prejudice to the duty of the Commission to ensure compliance with the obligations of Member States resulting from this Regulation or to the power of the Commission to initiate infringement proceedings for this purpose.
Amendment 19
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 13 a (new)
(13 a)   As the sectors covered by this Regulation constitute more than half of the Union´s greenhouse gas emissions, the emission reduction policies in these sectors are highly important in order to fulfil the Union's commitments in accordance with the Paris Agreement. Therefore, the monitoring, reporting and follow up procedures under this Regulation should be fully transparent. Member States and the Commission should make the information concerning compliance with this Regulation publicly available and should ensure the proper involvement of the stakeholders and the public in the review process of this Regulation. The Commission is also urged to create an efficient and transparent system to monitor the outcome of the flexibilities introduced.
Amendment 20
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 14
(14)  As a means to enhance the overall cost-effectiveness of total reductions, Member States should be able to transfer part of their annual emission allocations to other Member States. The transparency of such transfers should be ensured and may be carried out in a manner that is mutually convenient, including by means of auctioning, the use of market intermediaries acting on an agency basis, or by way of bilateral agreements.
(14)  As a means to enhance the overall cost-effectiveness of total reductions, Member States should be able to bank or borrow part of their annual emission allocations. Member States should also be able to transfer part of their annual emission allocations to other Member States. The transparency of such transfers should be ensured and may be carried out in a manner that is mutually convenient, including by means of auctioning, the use of market intermediaries acting on an agency basis, or by way of bilateral agreements.
Amendment 21
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 15
(15)  The European Environment Agency aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe’s environment by providing timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-makers, public institutions and the public. The European Environment Agency should assist the Commission, as appropriate in accordance with its annual work programme.
(15)  The European Environment Agency aims to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe’s environment by providing timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-makers, public institutions and the public. The European Environment Agency should assist the Commission, as appropriate in accordance with its annual work programme, and contribute directly and effectively to coping with climate change.
Amendment 22
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 17
(17)  In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of Article 4 according to which annual emission limits for Member States will be established, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council21 .
(17)  The power to adopt acts in accordance with Article 290 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union should be delegated to the Commission in respect of supplementing this Regulation by determining the annual emission allocations for Member States.
_________________
21 Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission's exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13).
Amendment 23
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 19 a (new)
(19a)   In addition to the efforts to reduce its own emissions, it is important that the Union, in line with the aim of increasing its positive impact on the global carbon handprint, envisage, together with third countries, climate solutions by implementing joint projects with those countries, in the 2030 climate policy context, taking into account that the Paris Agreement refers to a new international cooperation mechanism for combating climate change.
Amendment 24
Proposal for a regulation
Recital 20
(20)  This Regulation should be reviewed as of 2024 and every 5 years thereafter in order to assess its overall functioning. The review should take into account evolving national circumstances and be informed by the results of the global stocktake of the Paris Agreement.
(20)  This Regulation should be reviewed as of 2024 and every 5 years thereafter in order to assess its overall functioning. The review should take into account evolving national circumstances and be informed by the results of the global stocktake of the Paris Agreement.
To comply with the Paris Agreement it is necessary that the Union makes progressively stronger efforts and submits every five years a contribution reflecting its highest possible ambition.
The review should therefore take into account the Union´s objective to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050 compared to the 1990 levels and the aim of the Paris Agreement of achieving a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. It should be based on best available science and should rely on a preparatory report by the European Environment Agency.
The review of the emission reductions of Member States for the period from 2031 should take into account the principles of fairness and cost-effectiveness.
Amendment 25
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1
This Regulation lays down obligations on the minimum contributions of Member States to meeting the greenhouse gas emission reduction commitment of the Union for the period from 2021 to 2030, rules on determining annual emission allocations and for the evaluation of Member States' progress towards meeting their minimum contributions.
This Regulation lays down obligations on the minimum contributions of Member States to meeting the greenhouse gas emission reduction commitment of the Union for the period from 2021 to 2030, rules on determining annual emission allocations and for the evaluation of Member States' progress towards meeting their minimum contributions. It requires Member States to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions referred to in Article 2 in order to meet the Union target of a reduction of at least 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 in a fair and cost-effective manner.
Amendment 26
Proposal for a regulation
Article 1 – paragraph 1 a (new)
The general objective of this Regulation is to set the Union on track to a low-carbon economy through the establishment of a predictable long-term pathway to reducing by 2050 the greenhouse gas emissions of the Union by 80 to 95% compared to 1990 levels.
Amendment 27
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – paragraph 3
3.  For the purposes of this Regulation, CO2 emissions from IPCC source category '1.A.3.A civil aviation' shall be treated as zero.
3.  For the purposes of this Regulation, CO2 emissions from IPCC source category '1.A.3.A civil aviation' covered by the Directive 2003/87/EC shall be treated as zero.
Amendment 28
Proposal for a regulation
Article 2 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3 a.   This Regulation applies to CO2 emissions from IPCC source category '1.A.3.D navigation' which are not covered by Directive 2003/87/EC.
Amendment 29
Proposal for a regulation
Article 4
Article 4
Article 4
Annual emission levels for the period from 2021 to 2030
Annual emission levels for the period from 2021 to 2030
1.  Each Member State shall, in 2030, limit its greenhouse gas emissions at least by the percentage set for that Member State in Annex I to this Regulation in relation to its emissions in 2005 determined pursuant to paragraph 3.
1.  Each Member State shall, by 2030, limit its greenhouse gas emissions at least by the percentage set for that Member State in Annex I to this Regulation in relation to its emissions in 2005 determined pursuant to paragraph 3.
2.  Subject to the flexibilities provided for in Articles 5, 6 and 7, to the adjustment pursuant to Article 10(2) and taking into account any deduction resulting from the application of Article 7 of Decision No 406/2009/EC, each Member State shall ensure that its greenhouse gas emissions in each year between 2021 and 2029 do not exceed the level defined by a linear trajectory, starting in 2020 on the average of its greenhouse gas emissions during 2016, 2017 and 2018 determined pursuant to paragraph 3 and ending in 2030 on the limit set for that Member State in Annex I to this Regulation.
2.  Subject to the flexibilities provided for in Articles 5, 6 and 7, to the adjustment pursuant to Article 10(2) and taking into account any deduction resulting from the application of Article 7 of Decision No 406/2009/EC, each Member State shall ensure that its greenhouse gas emissions in each year between 2021 and 2029 do not exceed the level defined by a linear trajectory, starting in 2018 either on the average of its greenhouse gas emissions during 2016, 2017 and 2018 determined pursuant to paragraph 3 or on the 2020 annual emission allocation determined in accordance with Article 3(2) and Article 10 of Decision 406/2009/EC, whichever is lower, and ending in 2030 on the limit set for that Member State in Annex I to this Regulation.
3.  The Commission shall adopt an implementing act setting out the annual emission allocations for the years from 2021 to 2030 in terms of tonnes of CO2 equivalent as specified in paragraphs 1 and 2. For the purposes of this implementing act, the Commission shall carry out a comprehensive review of the most recent national inventory data for the years 2005 and 2016 to 2018 submitted by Member States pursuant to Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 525/2013.
3.  The Commission shall adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 12 to supplement this Regulation by setting out the annual emission allocations for the years from 2021 to 2030 in terms of tonnes of CO2 equivalent as specified in paragraphs 1 and 2. For the purposes of those delegated acts, the Commission shall carry out a comprehensive review of the most recent national inventory data for the years 2005 and 2016 to 2018 submitted by Member States pursuant to Article 7 of Regulation (EU) No 525/2013.
4.  This implementing act shall also specify, based on the percentages notified by Member States under Article 6(2), the quantities that may be taken into account for their compliance under Article 9 between 2021 and 2030. If the sum of all Member States' quantities were to exceed the collective total of 100 million, the quantities for each Member State shall be reduced on a pro rata basis so that the collective total is not exceeded.
4.  This delegated act shall also specify, based on the percentages notified by Member States under Article 6(2), the quantities that may be taken into account for their compliance under Article 9 between 2021 and 2030. If the sum of all Member States' quantities were to exceed the collective total of 100 million, the quantities for each Member State shall be reduced on a pro rata basis so that the collective total is not exceeded.
5.  This implementing act shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 13.
Amendment 30
Proposal for a regulation
Article 4 a (new)
Article 4 a
Long-term emission reductions trajectory from 2031
Unless decided otherwise in the first or one of the subsequent reviews referred to in Article 14(2), each Member State shall, for each year from 2031 to 2050, continue to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions covered by this Regulation. Each Member State shall ensure that its greenhouse gas emissions in each year between 2031 and 2050 do not exceed the level defined by a linear trajectory, starting from its annual emission allocations for 2030 and ending in 2050 on a level of emissions that is 80% below the 2005 level for that Member State.
The Commission shall adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 12 to supplement this Regulation by specifying the annual emission allocations for the years from 2031 to 2050 in terms of tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
Amendment 31
Proposal for a regulation
Article 5
Article 5
Article 5
Flexibility instruments to achieve annual limits
Flexibility instruments to achieve annual limits
1.  Member States may use the flexibilities set out in paragraphs 2 to 6 of this Article, and in Articles 6 and 7.
1.  Member States may use the flexibilities set out in paragraphs 2 to 6 of this Article, and in Articles 6 and 7.
2.  In respect of the years 2021 to 2029, a Member State may borrow a quantity of up to 5% from its annual emission allocation for the following year.
2.  In respect of the years 2021 to 2025, a Member State may borrow a quantity of up to 10% from its annual emission allocation for the following year. In respect of the years 2026 to 2029, a Member State may borrow a quantity of up to 5% from its annual emission allocation for the following year.
3.  A Member State whose greenhouse gas emissions for a given year are below its annual emission allocation for that year, taking into account the use of flexibilities pursuant to this Article and Article 6, may bank that excess part of its annual emission allocation to subsequent years until 2030.
3.  A Member State whose greenhouse gas emissions for a given year are below its annual emission allocation for that year, taking into account the use of flexibilities pursuant to this Article and Article 6, may in respect of the years 2021 to 2025, bank the excess part of its annual emission allocation up to a level of 10% of its annual emission allocation to subsequent years until 2025. In respect of the years 2026 to 2029 a Member State may bank the excess part of its annual emission allocation up to a level of 5% of its annual emission allocation to subsequent years until 2030.
4.  A Member State may transfer up to 5% of its annual emission allocation for a given year to other Member States. The receiving Member State may use this quantity for compliance under Article 9 for the given year or for subsequent years until 2030.
4.  A Member State may transfer up to 5% of its annual emission allocation for a given year to other Member States in respect of the years 2021 to 2025, and up to 10% in respect of the years 2026 to 2030. The receiving Member State may use this quantity for compliance under Article 9 for the given year or for subsequent years until 2030.
5.  A Member State may transfer the part of its annual emission allocation for a given year that exceeds its greenhouse gas emissions for that year, taking into account the use of flexibilities pursuant to paragraphs 2 to 4 and Article 6, to other Member States. A receiving Member State may use this quantity for compliance under Article 9 for that year or subsequently until 2030.
5.  A Member State may transfer the part of its annual emission allocation for a given year that exceeds its greenhouse gas emissions for that year, taking into account the use of flexibilities pursuant to paragraphs 2 to 4, Article 6, to other Member States. A receiving Member State may use this quantity for compliance under Article 9 for that year or subsequently until 2030.
5 a.   A Member State shall not transfer any part of its annual emission allocation if, at the time of transfer, that Member State's emissions exceed its annual emission allocation.
6.  Member States shall be able to use credits from projects issued pursuant to Article 24a (1) of Directive 2003/87/EC for compliance under Article 9, without any quantitative limit and while avoiding double-counting.
6.  Member States shall be able to use credits from projects issued pursuant to Article 24a (1) of Directive 2003/87/EC for compliance under Article 9, without any quantitative limit and while avoiding double-counting. Member States may encourage the establishment of private-private and public-private partnerships for such projects.
Amendment 32
Proposal for a regulation
Article 6 – paragraph 3 a (new)
3a.   Access to the flexibility set out in this Article and Annex II shall be granted on condition that the Member States concerned commit to taking measures in other sectors where insufficient results have been achieved in the past. The Commission shall supplement this Regulation by adopting a delegated act in accordance with Article 12 setting out a list of such measures and sectors by 31 December 2019.
Amendment 55
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 - title
Additional use of up to 280 million net removals from deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland and managed grassland
Additional use of up to 280 million net removals from land use, land use change and forestry
Amendment 34
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 – paragraph 1
1.  To the extent that a Member State's emissions exceed its annual emission allocations for a given year, a quantity up to the sum of total net removals and total net emissions from the combined accounting categories of deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland and managed grassland referred to in Article 2 of Regulation [ ] [LULUCF] may be taken into account for its compliance under Article 9 of this Regulation for that year, provided that:
1.  To the extent that a Member State's emissions exceed its annual emission allocations for a given year including any emission allocations banked pursuant to Article 5(3), a quantity up to the sum of total net removals and total net emissions from the combined accounting categories of deforested land, afforested land, managed cropland, managed grassland, managed wetland where applicable, and, subject to the delegated act adopted pursuant to paragraph 2, managed forest land, referred to in Article 2 of Regulation [ ] [LULUCF] may be taken into account for its compliance under Article 9 of this Regulation for that year, provided that:
(-a)  the Member State submits by 1 January 2019 an action plan to the Commission that sets out measures, including where relevant the use of Union financing, for climate efficient farming and for the land-use and forest sectors and demonstrates how these measures will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions under this Regulation and to exceeding the requirements under Article 4 of Regulation [ ][LULUCF] for the period from 2021 to 2030;
(a)  the cumulative quantity taken into account for that Member State for all years of the period from 2021 to 2030 does not exceed the level set in Annex III for that Member State;
(a)  the cumulative quantity taken into account for that Member State for all years of the period from 2021 to 2030 does not exceed the level set in Annex III for that Member State;
(b)  such quantity is in excess of that Member State's requirements under Article 4 of Regulation [ ][LULUCF];
(b)  such quantity is demonstrated to be in excess of that Member State's requirements under Article 4 of Regulation [ ][LULUCF] during the five year periods set out in in Article 12 of Regulation [ ][LULUCF];
(c)  the Member State has not acquired more net removals under Regulation [ ][LULUCF] from other Member States than it has transferred; and
(c)  the Member State has not acquired more net removals under Regulation [ ][LULUCF] from other Member States than it has transferred; and
(d)  the Member State has complied with the requirements of Regulation [ ] [LULUCF].
(d)  the Member State has complied with the requirements of Regulation [ ] [LULUCF].
The Commission may issue opinions on the action plans submitted by Member States in accordance with point (-a).
Amendment 56
Proposal for a regulation
Article 7 - paragraph 2
2.  Where the delegated act to update the forest reference levels based on the national forestry accounting plans pursuant to Article 8 (6) of Regulation [LULUCF] is adopted, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act to modify paragraph 1 of this Article in order to reflect a contribution of the accounting category managed forest land in accordance with Article 12 of this Regulation.
2.  Where the delegated act to update the forest reference levels based on the national forestry accounting plans pursuant to Article 8 (6) of Regulation [LULUCF] is adopted, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act to modify paragraph 1 of this Article and the accounting categories in Annex III in order to reflect a balanced contribution of the accounting category managed forest land in accordance with Article 12 of this Regulation without exceeding the total amount of 280 million available under this Article.
Amendment 36
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 – paragraph 1
1.  In 2027 and 2032, if the reviewed greenhouse gas emissions of a Member State exceed its annual emission allocation for any specific year of the period, pursuant to paragraph 2 of this Article and the flexibilities used pursuant to Articles 5 to 7, the following measures shall apply:
1.  Every two years the Commission shall carry out a check of Member States’ compliance with this Regulation. If the reviewed greenhouse gas emissions of a Member State exceed its annual emission allocation for any specific year of the period, pursuant to paragraph 2 of this Article and the flexibilities used pursuant to Articles 5 to 7, the following measures shall apply:
(a)  an addition to the Member State's emission figure of the following year equal to the amount in tonnes of CO2 equivalent of the excess greenhouse gas emissions, multiplied by a factor of 1.08, in accordance with the measures adopted pursuant to Article 11; and
(a)  an addition to the Member State's emission figure of the following year equal to the amount in tonnes of CO2 equivalent of the excess greenhouse gas emissions, multiplied by a factor of 1.08, in accordance with the measures adopted pursuant to Article 11; and
(b)  the Member State shall be temporarily prohibited from transferring any part of its annual emission allocation to another Member State until it is in compliance with this Regulation. The Central Administrator shall implement this prohibition in the registry referred in Article 11.
(b)  the Member State shall be temporarily prohibited from transferring any part of its annual emission allocation to another Member State until it is in compliance with this Regulation. The Central Administrator shall implement this prohibition in the registry referred in Article 11.
Amendment 58
Proposal for a regulation
Article 9 a (new)
Article 9a
Early action reserve
1.  In order to take into account early action before 2020, a quantity not exceeding a total sum of 90 million tonnes in annual emission allocations in the period 2026 to 2030 shall, upon the request of a Member State, be taken into account for that Member State’s compliance for the purposes of the last compliance check under Article 9 of this Regulation provided that:
(a)  its total annual emission allocations for the period 2013 to 2020 determined in accordance with Article 3(2) and Article 10 of Decision No 406/2009/EC exceed its total annual verified greenhouse gas emissions for the period 2013 to 2020;
(b)  its GDP per capita at market prices in 2013 is below the EU average;
(c)  it has used to the maximum extent the flexibilities referred to in Articles 6 and 7 to the levels set in Annexes II and III;
(d)  it has used to the maximum extent the flexibilities referred to in Article 5(2) and (3) and it has not transferred emission allocations to another Member State pursuant to Article 5(4) and (5); and
(e)  the Union as a whole meets its target referred to in Article 1(1).
2.  The maximum share of a Member State of the total sum referred to in paragraph 1 that may be taken into account for compliance shall be established on the basis of the ratio of, on the one hand, the difference between its total annual emission allocations for the period 2013 to 2020 and its total verified annual greenhouse gas emissions in the same period, and, on the other, the difference between the total annual emission allocations for the period 2013 to 2020 of all the Member States fulfilling the criterion in point (b) of paragraph 1 and the total verified annual greenhouse gas emissions of those Member States in the same period.
The annual emission allocations and the verified annual emissions shall be determined pursuant to paragraph 3.
3.  The Commission shall adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 12 to supplement this Regulation by setting the maximum shares for each Member State in terms of tonnes of CO2 equivalent pursuant to paragraphs 1 and 2. For the purpose of those delegated acts, the Commission shall use the annual emission allocations determined in accordance with Article 3(2) and Article 10 of Decision No 406/2009/EC and the reviewed inventory data for the years 2013 to 2020 pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 525/2013.
Amendment 38
Proposal for a regulation
Article 10 – paragraph 2
2.  The amount contained in Annex IV to this Regulation shall be added to the allocation for the year 2021 for each Member State referred to in that Annex.
2.  The amount contained in Annex IV to this Regulation, representing a total sum of 39,14 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent for all Member States, shall be added to the allocation for the year 2021 for each Member State referred to in that Annex.
Amendment 39
Proposal for a regulation
Article 11 – title
Registry
European Register
Amendment 40
Proposal for a regulation
Article 11 – paragraph 1
1.  The Commission shall ensure the accurate accounting under this Regulation through the Union Registry established pursuant to Article 10 of Regulation (EU) No 525/2013, including annual emission allocations, flexibilities exercised under Article 4 to 7, compliance under Article 9 and changes in coverage under Article 10 of this Regulation. The Central Administrator shall conduct an automated check on each transaction under this Regulation and, where necessary, block transactions to ensure there are no irregularities. This information shall be accessible to the public.
1.  The Commission shall ensure the accurate accounting under this Regulation through the Union Registry established pursuant to Article 10 of Regulation (EU) No 525/2013. The Commission shall, for that purpose, adopt a delegated act in accordance with Article 12 to supplement this Regulation, concerning in particular annual emission allocations, flexibilities exercised under Article 4 to 7, compliance under Article 9 and changes in coverage under Article 10 of this Regulation. The Central Administrator shall conduct an automated check on each transaction under this Regulation and, where necessary, block transactions to ensure there are no irregularities. The European Register system shall be transparent and include all relevant information regarding the transfer of allowances between Member States. This information shall be accessible to the public through a dedicated website hosted by the Commission.
Amendment 41
Proposal for a regulation
Article 11 – paragraph 2
2.  The Commission shall be empowered to adopt a delegated act to implement paragraph 1 in accordance with Article 12 of this Regulation.
deleted
Amendment 42
Proposal for a regulation
Article 11 a (new)
Article 11 a
Climate impact of Union funding
The Commission shall carry out a comprehensive, cross-sectorial study of the impact of funding granted from the Union budget or otherwise pursuant to Union law on the mitigation of climate change.
By 1 January 2019, the Commission shall present to the European Parliament and the Council a report on the findings of the study which shall be accompanied, if appropriate, by legislative proposals aimed at discontinuing any Union funding which is not compatible with the CO2 reduction targets or policies of the Union. It shall include the proposal of a mandatory ex ante climate compatibility check which applies to every new Union investment from 1 January 2020 and the obligation to make the results public in a transparent and accessible way.
Amendment 43
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 2
2.  The power to adopt delegated acts referred to in Article 7(2) and 11 of this Regulation shall be conferred on the Commission for an indeterminate period of time from the entry into force of this Regulation.
2.  The power to adopt delegated acts referred to in Article 4(3), Article 4a, Article 6(3a), Article 7(2), Article 9a and Article 11 of this Regulation shall be conferred on the Commission for a period of five years from ... [the date of entry into force of this Regulation]. The Commission shall draw up a report in respect of the delegation of power not later than nine months before the end of the five-year period. The delegation of power shall be tacitly extended for periods of an identical duration, unless the European Parliament or the Council opposes such extension not later than three months before the end of each period.
Amendment 44
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 3
3.  The delegation of powers referred to in Article 7(2) and 11 may be revoked at any time by the European Parliament or by the Council. A decision of revocation shall put an end to the delegation of the power specified in that decision. It shall take effect the day following the publication of the decision in the Official Journal of the European Union or at a later date specified therein. It shall not affect the validity of any delegated acts already in force.
3.  The delegation of powers referred to in Article 4(3), Article 4a, Article 6(3a), Article 7(2), Article 9a and Article 11 may be revoked at any time by the European Parliament or by the Council. A decision of revocation shall put an end to the delegation of the power specified in that decision. It shall take effect the day following the publication of the decision in the Official Journal of the European Union or at a later date specified therein. It shall not affect the validity of any delegated acts already in force.
Amendment 45
Proposal for a regulation
Article 12 – paragraph 6
6.  A delegated act adopted pursuant to Article 7(2) and 11 shall enter into force only if no objection has been expressed either by the European Parliament or the Council within a period of two months of notification of that act to the European Parliament and the Council or if, before the expiry of that period, the European Parliament and the Council have both informed the Commission that they will not object. That period shall be extended by two months at the initiative of the European Parliament or the Council.
6.  A delegated act adopted pursuant to Article 4(3), Article 4a, Article 6(3a) Article 7(2), Article 9a and Article 11 shall enter into force only if no objection has been expressed either by the European Parliament or the Council within a period of two months of notification of that act to the European Parliament and the Council or if, before the expiry of that period, the European Parliament and the Council have both informed the Commission that they will not object. That period shall be extended by two months at the initiative of the European Parliament or the Council.
Amendment 46
Proposal for a regulation
Article 13
Article 13
deleted
Committee procedure
1.  The Commission shall be assisted by the Climate Change Committee established by Regulation (EU) No 525/2013. That Committee shall be a committee within the meaning of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011.
2.  Where reference is made to this paragraph, Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 shall apply.
Amendment 47
Proposal for a regulation
Article 14 – paragraph 1
1.  Within six months of the facilitative dialogue under the UNFCCC in 2018 the Commission shall publish a communication assessing the consistency of the Union's climate and energy legislative acts with the goals of the Paris Agreement. In particular, the communication shall examine the role and adequacy of the obligations laid down in this Regulation in meeting those goals, and the consistency of Union legislative acts in the field of climate and energy, including energy efficiency and renewable energy requirements, as well as legislative acts in the field of agriculture and transport, with the EU´s greenhouse gas reduction commitment.
The Commission shall report to the European Parliament and to the Council by 28 February 2024 and every five years thereafter on the operation of this Regulation, its contribution to the EU's overall 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and its contribution to the goals of the Paris Agreement, and may make proposals if appropriate.
2.   The Commission shall report to the European Parliament and to the Council by 28 February 2024 following the first global stocktake of the implementation of the Paris Agreement in 2023 and within six months of the subsequent global stocktakes thereafter, on the operation of this Regulation, its contribution to the EU's overall 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target and the contribution to the goals of the Paris Agreement. The report shall, if appropriate, be accompanied by legislative proposals to increase the emission reductions of Member States.
The review of the emission reductions of Member States for the period from 2031 shall take into account the principles of fairness and cost-effectiveness in the distribution among Member States.
It shall also take into account progress by the Union and by third countries towards the goals of the Paris Agreement as well as progress made in leveraging and sustaining private finance in support of the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Amendment 48
Proposal for a regulation
Article 15 a (new)
Decision (EU) 2015/1814
Article 1 – paragraph 4
Article 15a
Amendment to Decision (EU) 2015/1814
Article 1 (4) of Decision (EU) 2015/1814 is replaced by the following:
“4. The Commission shall publish the total number of allowances in circulation each year by 15 May of the subsequent year. The total number of allowances in circulation in a given year shall be the cumulative number of allowances issued in the period since 1 January 2008, including the number issued pursuant to Article 13(2) of Directive 2003/87/EC in that period and entitlements to use international credits exercised by installations under the EU ETS in respect of emissions up to 31 December of that given year, minus the cumulative tonnes of verified emissions from installations under the EU ETS between 1 January 2008 and 31 December of that same given year, any allowances cancelled in accordance with Article 12(4) of Directive 2003/87/EC other than the allowances cancelled in accordance with Article 6 (1) of Regulation (EU) 2017/...* of the European Parliament and the Council, and the number of allowances in the reserve. No account shall be taken of emissions during the three-year period starting in 2005 and ending in 2007 and allowances issued in respect of those emissions. The first publication shall take place by 15 May 2017.
______________
* Regulation (EU) 2017/... of the European Parliament and the Council on climate action to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement and amending Regulation (EU) No 525/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council on a mechanism for monitoring and reporting greenhouse gas emissions and other information relevant to climate change ("Climate Action Regulation implementing the Paris Agreement") (OJ L ..., ..., p ... .).”

(1) The matter was referred back for interinstitutional negotiations to the committee responsible, pursuant to Rule 59(4), fourth subparagraph (A8-0208/2017).


Request for waiver of the immunity of Rolandas Paksas
PDF 159kWORD 45k
European Parliament decision of 14 June 2017 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Rolandas Paksas (2016/2070(IMM))
P8_TA(2017)0257A8-0219/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Rolandas Paksas, forwarded on 31 March 2016 by the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania and announced in plenary on 13 April 2016,

–  having heard Rolandas Paksas in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having held an exchange of views with the Prosecutor General of Lithuania and the Chief Prosecutor at the Organised Crime and Corruption Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office,

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

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Article 62 of the Constitution of Lithuania,

–  having regard to Article 4 of the Law on the status and working conditions of the Members of the European Parliament elected in the Republic of Lithuania,

–  having regard to Article 22 of the Statute of the Seimas,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0219/2017),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Rolandas Paksas, in connection with criminal investigations;

B.  whereas the request by the Prosecutor General relates to suspicions against Rolandas Paksas of having agreed to accept a bribe on 31 August 2015 in exchange for influencing public authorities and state officials to exercise their powers, which would constitute an offence under the Lithuanian Criminal Code;

C.  whereas pursuant to Article 9 of Protocol No 7, during the sessions of the European Parliament, its Members shall enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

D.  whereas pursuant to Article 62 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, the Members of the Seimas may not be held criminally liable or be detained, or have their liberty restricted otherwise, without the consent of the Seimas;

E.  whereas pursuant to Article 4 of the Law on the status and working conditions of the Members of the European Parliament elected in the Republic of Lithuania, Members of the European Parliament shall enjoy the same personal immunity in the territory of the Republic of Lithuania as a Member of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, unless otherwise provided for in the EU legislation;

F.  whereas pursuant to Article 22 of the Statute of the Seimas, criminal proceedings may not be instituted against a Member of the Seimas, and that Member may not be arrested, and may not be subjected to any other restrictions of personal freedom without the consent of the Seimas, except in cases when that Member is caught in the act of committing a crime (in flagranti), in which case the Prosecutor General must immediately notify the Seimas thereof;

G.  whereas in accordance with Rule 5(2), parliamentary immunity is not a Member’s personal privilege but a guarantee of the independence of Parliament as a whole and of its Members;

H.  whereas the purpose of parliamentary immunity is to protect Parliament and its Members from legal proceedings in relation to activities carried out in the performance of parliamentary duties and which cannot be separated from those duties;

I.  whereas where such proceedings do not concern the performance of a Member’s duties, immunity should be waived unless it appears that the intention underlying the legal proceedings may be to damage a Member’s political activity and thus Parliament’s independence (fumus persecutionis);

J.  whereas based on the extensive and detailed information provided in this case there is no reason to suspect that the proceedings relating to Rolandas Paksas are motivated by an intent to damage his political activity as a Member of the European Parliament;

K.  whereas it is not for the European Parliament to take a stance on the guilt or otherwise of the Member or whether the acts attributed to the Member warrant the opening of criminal proceedings, nor to pronounce itself on the relative merits of national legal and judicial systems;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Rolandas Paksas;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the Republic of Lithuania and to Rolandas Paksas.

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


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski
PDF 163kWORD 44k
European Parliament decision of 14 June 2017 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski (2017/2019(IMM))
P8_TA(2017)0258A8-0218/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski, forwarded on 1 December 2016 by the Minister of Justice of the French Republic in connection with a judicial investigation being conducted by the Bobigny Public Prosecutor on the grounds of public defamation and incitement to hatred or violence in respect of a person or group of persons on account of their origin or membership or non-membership of a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion, and announced in plenary on 16 January 2017,

–  having heard Mylène Troszczynski in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic, as amended by Constitutional Law No 95-880 of 4 August 1995,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0218/2017),

A.  whereas the Bobigny Public Prosecutor has requested that the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski, Member of the European Parliament and Member of the Picardy Regional Council, should be waived in connection with proceedings relating to the posting on her Twitter account on 23 September 2015 of a picture of women wearing the full veil who seem to be queuing outside the offices of a CAF (Caisse d’allocations familiales – Family Allowances Fund), accompanied by the comment ‘Rosny-Sous-Bois CAF on 9.12.14. Wearing of the full veil is supposed to be prohibited by law...’;

B.  whereas the offending image was in fact a photomontage based on a picture taken in London and already used by another Twitter account holder, and whereas the investigation revealed that it was not Ms Troszczynski who published the message online, but her assistant, who confessed to having done so;

C.  whereas the Public Prosecutor pointed out that as the editor of her own Twitter account, Ms Troszczynski could be held responsible for the tweet;

D.  whereas when Ms Troszczynski realised that the picture was forged, she promptly removed it from her Twitter account;

E.  whereas the waiver of the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski relates to an alleged offence of public defamation in respect of a person or group of persons on account of their origin or membership or non-membership of a particular ethnic group, nation, race or religion as defined, and for which penalties are laid down by Articles 23, 29(1), 32(2) and (3), 42, 43 and 48-6 of the Law of 29 July 1881, and to the commission of the offence of incitement to discrimination, hatred or racial violence, the subjects of the investigation which is under way, as defined, and for which penalties are laid down by Articles 24(8), (10), (11) and (12), 23(1) and 42 of the Law of 29 July 1881 and by Article 131-26(2) and (3) of the Criminal Code;

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

G.  whereas Article 26 of the French Constitution provides that no Member of Parliament shall be prosecuted, investigated, arrested, detained or tried in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of his or her official duties and that no Member of Parliament may be arrested for a crime or be the subject of any other custodial or semi-custodial measure without the authorisation of the Parliament;

H.  whereas the scope of immunity accorded to Members of the French Parliament corresponds in fact to the scope of immunity accorded to Members of the European Parliament under Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union; whereas the Court of Justice of the European Union has held that for a Member of the European Parliament to enjoy immunity an opinion must be expressed by the Member in the performance of his or her duties, thus entailing the requirement of a link between the opinion expressed and the parliamentary duties; whereas such link must be direct and obvious;

I.  whereas the charges are unrelated to the position of Mylène Troszczynski as a Member of the European Parliament and concern instead activities of a regional nature, given that the forged picture and the comments referred to what was allegedly happening in Rosny-Sous-Bois, in violation of the French law;

J.  whereas the alleged actions do not relate to opinions expressed or votes cast by Mylène Troszczynski in the performance of her duties as a Member of the European Parliament within the meaning of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

K.  whereas there is no suspicion of fumus persecutionis, which is any evident attempt to obstruct the parliamentary work of Mylène Troszczynski, behind the judicial inquiry which was opened following a complaint alleging defamation of a public administration, lodged by the Seine-Saint-Denis Family Allowances Fund represented by its general manager;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Mylène Troszczynski;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Minister of Justice of the French Republic and to Mylène Troszczynski.

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


Request for the waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen
PDF 160kWORD 44k
European Parliament decision of 14 June 2017 on the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen (2017/2020(IMM))
P8_TA(2017)0259A8-0217/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen, forwarded on 22 December 2016 by the French Minister of Justice, Mr Jean-Jacques Urvoas, in connection with a request from the Prosecutor-General at the Paris Court of Appeal and announced in plenary on 16 January 2017,

–  having heard Jean-Marie Le Pen in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

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

–  having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 12 May 1964, 10 July 1986, 15 and 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011 and 17 January 2013(1),

–  having regard to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0217/2017),

A.  whereas the Prosecutor-General at the Paris Court of Appeal has requested the waiver of the parliamentary immunity of a Member of the European Parliament, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in connection with criminal investigations;

B.  whereas the request by the Prosecutor-General relates to allegations that Jean-Marie Le Pen made a statement during a radio broadcast amounting to incitement to discrimination, hatred or racial violence, which is a criminal offence under the French Criminal Code;

C.  whereas, pursuant to Article 26 of the Constitution of the French Republic, ‘no Member of Parliament shall be subject to investigation, arrest, detention or conviction by a court of law for opinions expressed or votes cast by him while carrying out his duties’ and whereas no Member of Parliament may be ‘arrested or otherwise deprived of, or restricted in, his liberty on account of a crime or misdemeanour’ without the consent of Parliament;

D.  whereas Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union stipulates that Members of the European Parliament shall not be subject to any form of inquiry, detention or legal proceedings in respect of opinions expressed or votes cast by them in the performance of their duties;

E.  whereas, in accordance with Rule 5(2) of its Rules of Procedure, parliamentary immunity is not a Member’s personal privilege but a guarantee of the independence of Parliament as a whole and of its Members;

F.  whereas the provisions concerning parliamentary immunity must be interpreted in the light of the values, aims and principles of the Treaties;

G.  whereas, for Members of the European Parliament, this absolute immunity implies that opinions cannot be challenged, whether expressed during official Parliament meetings or elsewhere, for example in the media, when there is ‘a link between the opinion expressed and parliamentary duties’(2);

H.  whereas there is no connection between the contested statement and the parliamentary work of Jean-Marie Le Pen, and whereas Jean-Marie Le Pen was therefore not acting in his capacity as a Member of the European Parliament;

I.  whereas, pursuant to Article 9 of Protocol No 7, during the sessions of the European Parliament its Members shall enjoy, in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

J.  whereas only the immunity covered under Article 9 may be waived(3);

K.  whereas the purpose of such immunity is to protect Parliament and its Members from legal proceedings relating to activities carried out in the performance of parliamentary duties which cannot be separated from those duties;

L.  whereas where such proceedings do not concern the performance of a Member’s duties, immunity should be waived unless it appears that the intention underlying the legal proceedings may be to damage a Member’s political activity and thus Parliament’s independence (fumus persecutionis);

M.  whereas, on the basis of the information provided in this case, there is no reason to suspect that the proceedings relating to Jean-Marie Le Pen are motivated by an intent to damage his political activity as a Member of the European Parliament;

1.  Decides to waive the immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen;

2.  Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the competent authority of the French Republic and to Jean-Marie Le Pen.

(1) Judgment of the Court of Justice of 12 May 1964, Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier, 101/63, ECLI:EU:C:1964:28; judgment of the Court of Justice of 10 July 1986, Wybot v Faure and others, 149/85, ECLI:EU:C:1986:310; judgment of the General Court of 15 October 2008, Mote v Parliament, T-345/05, ECLI:EU:T:2008:440; judgment of the Court of Justice of 21 October 2008, Marra v De Gregorio and Clemente, C-200/07 and C-201/07, ECLI:EU:C:2008:579; judgment of the General Court of 19 March 2010, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-42/06, ECLI:EU:T:2010:102; judgment of the Court of Justice of 6 September 2011, Patriciello, C-163/10, ECLI:EU:C:2011:543; judgment of the General Court of 17 January 2013, Gollnisch v Parliament, T-346/11 and T-347/11, ECLI:EU:T:2013:23.
(2) Judgment in Patriciello, cited above, paragraph 33.
(3) Judgment in Marra, cited above, paragraph 45.


The need for an EU strategy to end and prevent the gender pension gap
PDF 226kWORD 57k
European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the need for an EU strategy to end and prevent the gender pension gap (2016/2061(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0260A8-0197/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 2 and Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union,

–  having regard to Articles 8, 151, 153 and 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, in particular its provisions on social rights and on equality between women and men,

–  having regard to Articles 22 and 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 16: The equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights (Article 3 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)),(1) and UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), General Comment No. 19: The right to social security (Article 9 of the ICESCR),(2)

—  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 March 2010 entitled ‘Europe 2020: A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ (COM(2010)2020),

–  having regard to Articles 4(2), 4(3), 12, 20 and 23 of the European Social Charter,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the European Committee of Social Rights of 5 December 2014(3),

–  having regard to Council Directive 79/7/EEC of 19 December 1978 on the progressive implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women in matters of social security(4),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation(5),

–  having regard to Council Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services(6),

–  having regard to Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(7),

–  having regard to the Commission Roadmap of August 2015 on a new start to address the challenges of work-life balance faced by working families,

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 3 December 2015 entitled ‘Strategic engagement for gender equality 2016-2019’ (SWD(2015)0278), and in particular to Objective 3.2 thereof,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2011 on the situation of women approaching retirement age(8),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on the situation of single mothers(9),

–  having regard to its resolution of 24 May 2012 with recommendations to the Commission on application of the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or work of equal value(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 March 2013 on the impact of the economic crisis on gender equality and women’s rights(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 10 March 2015 on progress on equality between women and men in the European Union in 2013(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 9 June 2015 on the EU Strategy for equality between women and men post 2015(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 8 October 2015 on the application of Directive 2006/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the implementation of the principle of equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2016 on creating labour market conditions favourable for work-life balance(15),

—  having regard to the Council conclusions of 18 June 2015 on ‘Equal income opportunities for women and men: Closing the gender gap in pensions’,

—  having regard to the declaration of 7 December 2015 by the EU Presidency Trio (Netherlands, Slovakia and Malta) on gender equality,

–  having regard to the European Pact for Gender Equality (2011-2020), adopted by the Council on 7 March 2011,

–  having regard to the study commissioned by its Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs entitled ‘The gender pension gap: differences between mothers and women without children’ (2016) and the Commission study ‘The Gender Gap in Pensions in the EU’ (2013),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A8-0197/2017),

A.  whereas in 2015 in the EU the gender gap in pensions, which may be defined as the gap between the average pre-tax income received as a pension by women and that received by men, stood at 38,3 % in the 65 and over age group, and has increased in half of the Member States in the past five years; whereas the financial crisis of the last few years has had a negative impact on many women’s incomes; whereas in some Member States between 11 and 36 % of women have no access at all to any pension;

B.  whereas equality between women and men is one of the common and fundamental principles enshrined in Articles 2 and 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union, Article 8 TFEU and Article 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union; whereas gender equality should likewise be mainstreamed in all EU policies, initiatives, programmes and actions;

C.  whereas women enjoy poorer pension entitlements and payments than men in most EU Member States and are both over-represented in the poorest pensioner groups and under-represented in the wealthiest;

D.  whereas these disparities are unacceptable and should be reduced and all pension contributions be calculated and levied in a gender-neutral manner in the EU, which has gender equality as one of its founding principles, as well as the right of all people to a life in dignity as one of its fundamental rights as enshrined in the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of the EU;

E.  whereas a pension is the main source of income for one person in four in the EU-28, and whereas the significant increase in the number of people of pensionable age brought about by rising life expectancy and the overall ageing of the population will result in the doubling of that figure by 2060;

F.  whereas, as a result of demographic change, in future fewer and fewer active employees will have to provide for ever more pensioners, which means that private and occupational old age pension schemes will become increasingly important;

G.  whereas the aim of pension policies is to ensure economic independence, which is essential for equality between women and men, and that social security systems in the Member States give all EU citizens a decent and adequate retirement income and an acceptable standard of living and safeguard them against the risk of poverty resulting from various factors or from social exclusion, so as to guarantee active social, cultural and political participation and life with dignity in old age, in order to continue to be part of society;

H.  whereas growing individual responsibility for decisions regarding savings entailing different risks also means that individuals have to be clearly informed of the options available and the associated risks; whereas both women and men, and in particular women, have to be supported in improving their financial literacy level, in order to be able to make informed decisions in an increasingly complex area;

I.  whereas the pension gap tends to exacerbate the situation of women with regard to economic vulnerability and leaves them exposed to social exclusion, permanent poverty and economic dependence, in particular on their spouses or other family members; whereas the pay and pensions gap is even more pronounced for women with multiple disadvantages or belonging to racial, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, given that they are often in jobs requiring fewer skills with less responsibility;

J.  whereas pensions linked to individual rather than to derived rights could help guarantee everyone’s economic independence, reduce disincentives to participation in formal work, and minimise gender stereotypes;

K.  whereas, owing to their longer life expectancy, women are likely on average to require more pension income than men to cover their retirement; whereas such additional income may be available to them from survivor’s pension mechanisms;

L.  whereas the lack of comparable, comprehensive, reliable and regularly updated data on the basis of which to gauge the size of the pension gap and the relative importance of the factors that contribute to it makes it difficult to determine how best to tackle the problem;

M.  whereas the gap is larger (at more than 40 %) in the 65-74 age group than it is for all over-65s on average, in particular as a result of the fact that entitlements may in some cases, such as widowhood, be transferred in some Member States;

N.  whereas pension cuts and freezes increase the risk of poverty in old age, particularly among women; whereas the percentage of older women at risk of poverty and social exclusion stood at 20,2 % in 2014, compared with 14,6 % of men, and by 2050 the proportion of people over 75 at risk of poverty could reach 30 % in most Member States;

O.  whereas people over 65 have income worth around 94 % of the average for the population as a whole; whereas, nevertheless, around 22 % of women over 65 live below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold;

P.  whereas the average pension gap for the EU as a whole in 2014 concealed major disparities between n Member States; whereas, by way of comparison, the lowest gender pension gap is 3,7 % and the highest is 48,8 %, while the gap exceeds 30 % in 14 Members States;

Q.  whereas the percentage of the population receiving a pension varies widely between the Member States, standing at 15,1 % in Cyprus and 31,8 % in Lithuania in 2013, whilst the majority of pension beneficiaries in most EU Member States in 2013 were women;

R.  whereas the pension gap, which is the product of a range of factors, is a reflection of the gender imbalance that exists in relation to careers and family life, as well as opportunities to make pension contributions, position within the family group and the way in which income is calculated for pension purposes; whereas it also reflects labour market segregation and the higher proportion of women working part-time, for lower hourly wages, with career breaks and with less years in employment owing to the unpaid work performed by women as mothers and as caregivers in their families; whereas, therefore, the pension gap should be regarded as a key indicator of gender inequality in the labour market, all the more since the current level of the gender pension gap is very close to the total earnings gap (39,7 % in 2015);

S.  whereas the full extent of the pension gap, which is the product of all cumulated gender imbalances and inequalities - in terms, for example, of lifelong access to power and financial resources - that arise throughout people’s working lives and are mirrored in first and second pillar pensions, may be masked by corrective mechanisms;

T.  whereas the pension gap, when examined at any given moment, is a reflection of social and labour market conditions over a period stretching back several decades; whereas those conditions are subject to sometimes major changes which will have a knock-on effect on the needs of various generations of women pensioners;

U.  whereas the pension gap differs from one woman pensioner to another according to personal, social, marital and/or family status; whereas, in view of this, a one-size-fits-all approach will not necessarily produce the best results;

V.  whereas single parent households are particularly vulnerable since they represent 10 % of all households with dependent children, and 50 % of those are at risk of poverty and social exclusion, double the rate for the population as a whole; whereas there is a positive correlation between the pension gap and the number of children brought up, and whereas the gender pension gap of married women and mothers is much greater than that of single women without children; whereas, in view of this, the inequalities suffered by mothers, especially single mothers, are likely to be exacerbated when they retire;

W.  whereas pregnancy and parental leave tend to impel mothers - who represent 79,76 % of the persons who reduce their working time in order to care for children aged less than eight - into low-wage or part-time jobs or undesired career breaks to take care of their children; whereas maternity, paternity and parental leave are necessary and vital instruments for the better sharing of care-related tasks, improving work-life balance and minimising women’s career breaks;

X.  whereas the pay levels and thus the pension entitlements of fathers are unaffected, or may even be positively affected, by the number of their children;

Y.  whereas the female unemployment rate is underestimated, given the fact that many women are not registered as unemployed, particularly those living in rural or remote areas, many of whom also devote themselves exclusively to household tasks and childcare; whereas this creates disparities in their pensions;

Z.  whereas traditional working time arrangements make it difficult for couples in which both parents wish to work full time to strike a proper work-life balance;

AA.  whereas pension credits for men and women as a form of allowance for caring for children or family members could help ensure that career breaks for reasons of care do not have a negative impact on pensions, and it would be desirable for such schemes to be extended to or stepped up in all the Member States;

AB.  whereas pension credits applying to different forms of work may help all workers to get a pension income;

AC.  whereas, although some efforts have been made to improve the situation in this area, the employment rate among women still falls short of the Europe 2020 strategy targets, and is still far lower than that among men; whereas women’s increasing labour market participation contributes to efforts to reduce the gender pension gap in the EU, as there is a direct link between labour market participation and the level of pension; whereas, however, the employment rate contains no information about duration or type of employment and is thus limited in what it can tell us about pay and pension levels;

AD.  whereas the number of years worked has a direct impact on pension income; whereas women’s careers are on average more than 10 years shorter than men’s, and whereas the pension gap is twice as large for women who have worked for less than 14 years (at 64 %) than for those who have worked for a longer period (32 %);

AE.  whereas women are more likely than men to take career breaks, take on non-standard forms of employment, work part-time (32 % of women in comparison with 8,2 % of men) or on an unpaid basis, especially when they provide care for children and relatives and have almost sole responsibility for care and housework owing to persisting gender inequalities, all this being to the detriment of their pensions;

AF.  whereas investment in schools, pre-school education, universities and care for elderly people can help create a better work-life balance and can result in the long term not only in the creation of jobs, but also in women obtaining high-quality employment and being able to stay in the labour market for longer, which will in the long term have a positive effect on their pensions;

AG.  whereas informal care is a fundamental pillar of our society and is to a large extent carried out by women, and this imbalance is reflected in the gender gap in pensions; whereas this kind of invisible work is not sufficiently recognised, especially when considering pension entitlements;

AH.  whereas there continues to be a large gender pay gap in the EU; whereas that gap, which stood at 16,3 % in 2014, is caused in particular by discrimination and segregation resulting in the over-representation of women in sectors where pay is lower than in sectors dominated mainly by men; whereas other factors, such as career breaks or entering into involuntary part-time work to combine work and family responsibilities, stereotypes, undervaluing of women’s work, and differences in levels of education and professional experience also contribute to the gender pay gap;

AI.  whereas the EU’s objective of achieving adequate social protection is enshrined in Article 151 TFEU; whereas the EU should therefore support Member States by making recommendations on improving protection for older people entitled to a pension by virtue of their age or personal situation;

AJ.  whereas the strengthening of the linkage between contributions and earnings, taken together with the increasingly prominent role played by second and third pillar schemes in pension systems, is shifting the risk of the appearance of gender-specific factors in the pension gap towards private-sector providers;

AK.  whereas no ex ante or ex post gender impact assessments were conducted for the reforms to pension systems laid out in the Commission’s white paper on pensions of 2012;

AL.  whereas Member States have sole responsibility for the organisation of public social security systems and pension systems; whereas the EU has primarily a supporting competence in the field of pension schemes, particularly under Article 153 TFEU;

General remarks

1.  Calls on the Commission to work closely with the Member States in establishing a strategy for putting an end to the gender gap in pensions in the European Union and helping them to establish Guidelines in that regard;

2.  Endorses and supports the Council’s call for a new Commission initiative setting out a strategy for equality between women and men for 2016-2020, for this to take the form of a communication as has been the case with previous strategies, and for the EU’s strategic engagement on gender equality to be enhanced, linking it closely to the Europe 2020 strategy;

3.  Believes that this strategy should seek not only to address at Member State level the impact of the pension gap, in particular on the most vulnerable groups, but also to prevent it in the future by fighting its underlying causes, such as unequal positions between women and men in the labour market in terms of pay, career advancement and opportunities to work full time, as well as labour market segregation; encourages, in this regard, intergovernmental dialogue and best practice sharing among the Members States;

4.  Stresses that a multifaceted approach, with a combination of actions under different policies that aim at improving gender equality, is required in order to make a success of the strategy, which must embrace a life-course approach to pensions, taking the whole of the person’s working life into account, as well as addressing disparities between men and women in terms of employment level, careers, and possibilities of paying pension contributions, as well as those resulting from the way in which pension systems are organised; calls on the Commission and the Member States to follow up on the Council conclusions of 18 June 2015 entitled ‘Equal income opportunities for women and men: closing the gender gap in pensions’;

5.  Draws attention to the important role played by the social partners in the discussion of issues relating to the minimum wage while respecting the subsidiarity principle; stresses the important role of trade unions and collective bargaining arrangements in ensuring that older people have access to public pensions in line with the principles of solidarity between generations and gender equality; stresses the importance of taking due account of social partners when taking political decisions altering significant legal aspects of eligibility conditions for entitlement to pensions; calls on the EU and the Member States, in cooperation with the social partners and gender equality organisations, to set out and implement policies to close the gender pay gap; recommends that the Member States consider carrying out wage-mapping on a regular basis as a complement to these efforts;

6.  Calls on the Member States to put in place respectful and poverty-preventing measures for workers whose health does not allow them to work until the legal retirement age; believes that early retirement arrangements should remain in place for workers exposed to arduous or hazardous working conditions; considers that raising employment rates through quality jobs could help to reduce considerably the future increase of people unable to work until the legal retirement age and, thereby, to alleviate the financial burden of ageing;

7.  Is deeply concerned by the impact of the austerity-driven Country-Specific Recommendations (CSRs) on pension schemes and their sustainability and on access to contribution-based pensions in a growing number of Member States, and by the negative effects the CSRs have on income levels and on social transfers needed to eradicate poverty and social exclusion;

8.  Emphasises that the subsidiarity principle must also be applied strictly in the area of pensions;

Assessment and awareness-raising for more effective action to address the pension gap

9.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to continue investigating the gender pension gap and to work together with Eurostat and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) with a view to developing formal and reliable indicators of the gender pension gap, as well as identifying the various factors behind it in order to monitor it and set clear reduction targets, and to report to the European Parliament; calls on the Member States to provide Eurostat on an annual basis with statistics on the gender pay gap and gender pension gap, in order to make it possible to assess developments throughout the EU and means of addressing the matter;

10.  Calls on the Commission to carry out a thorough assessment of the impact on the most vulnerable groups, and on women in particular, of the recommendations of the 2012 White Paper on Pensions, aimed at combating the causes of the gender pension gap, as well as to establish a formal indicator of the gender pension gap and to conduct systematic monitoring; calls for adequate evaluation and gender impact monitoring of the recommendations or measures taken to date; calls on the Commission to support the development of gender-disaggregated statistics and research with a view to enhancing the monitoring and evaluation of the effects of pension reforms on women’s prosperity and wellbeing;

11.  Calls on the Member States to promote action to close the gender gap in pensions through their social policies, to raise awareness among decision-makers in this area, and to develop programmes that will provide women with more information on the gap’s implications for them, as well as with the tools they require with a view to devising sustainable pension funding strategies that are tailored to women’s specific needs, as well as on women’s access to second and third pillar pensions, particularly in feminised sectors where take-up may be low; calls on the Commission and the Member States to extend and further raise public awareness relating to equal pay and the pension gap, as well as to direct and indirect discrimination against women at work;

12.  Reiterates the need for clear harmonised definitions in order to facilitate comparison at EU level of terms such as ‘gender pay gap’ and ‘gender pension gap’;

13.  Calls for the Member States and the Union institutions to promote studies on the effects of the gender gap on the pensions and financial independence of women, taking account of issues such as the ageing population, gender differences in health conditions and life expectancy, how family structures have changed and the number of single-occupancy homes has risen, and differences in women’s personal situations; calls too for them to draw up possible strategies to put an end to the gender pension gap;

Reducing inequalities in terms of scope for paying pension contributions

14.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that the EU legislation on indirect and direct gender discrimination is properly implemented and its progress systematically monitored, with infringement procedures initiated in case of non- compliance, and possibly revised in order to make sure that men and women are equally able to pay pension contributions;

15.  Condemns unequivocally gender pay disparities and their ‘inexplicable’ component resulting from discrimination at the workplace, and reiterates its call for Directive 2006/54/EC, which has been clearly and sufficiently transposed in only two Member States, to be revised to ensure more equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and pay, in application of the principle of equal pay for equal work between women and men, which has been guaranteed by the Treaty since the founding of the EEC;

16.  Calls on the Member States and the Commission to ensure application of the principle of non-discrimination and equality in the labour market and in access to employment, and, in particular, to adopt social protection measures to ensure that women’s pay and welfare entitlements, including pensions, are in line with the principle of equal pay for male and female workers for equal work or for work of equal value; calls on the Member States to establish appropriate measures to curb violations of the principle of equal pay for equal work or for work of equal value for women and men;

17.  Urges Member States, employers and trade unions to draft and implement serviceable and specific job evaluation tools to help determine work of equal value and thus ensure that men and women receive equal pay and hence, in the future, equal pensions; encourages firms to carry out annual equal pay audits, to publish the data with the utmost transparency, and to narrow the gender pay gap;

18.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to tackle horizontal and vertical segregation on the labour market by eliminating gender inequalities and discrimination in employment and encouraging, in particular through education and by raising awareness among girls and women to take up studies, jobs and careers in innovative growth sectors which are currently dominated by men as a result of the persistence of stereotypes;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to offer women greater incentives to work for longer and with shorter breaks, in order to increase their degree of economic independence today and in the future;

20.  Points to the importance, in a context in which the burden of responsibility for pensions is shifting from state pension systems to self-funded schemes, of ensuring that access to the financial services covered by Directive 2004/113/EC is non-discriminatory and based on unisex actuarial criteria; notes that application of the unisex rule will help reduce the gender pension gap; calls on the Member States and the Commission to increase transparency, access to information and certainty for members and beneficiaries of occupational pension schemes, taking into account the EU’s principles of non-discrimination and gender equality;

21.  Emphasises that the Court of Justice of the European Union has made it clear that occupational pension schemes are to be considered pay and that the principle of equal treatment therefore applies to those schemes as well;

22.  Calls on the Member States to pay special attention to women, who often have not acquired pension rights and therefore lack economic independence, especially in case of divorce;

Reducing career-related gender inequalities

23.  Welcomes the fact that the Commission responded to its call to improve the reconciliation of professional and private life, by means of non-legislative proposals and a legislative proposal which creates several types of leave with a view to meeting the challenges of the 21st century; stresses that the proposals made by the Commission are a good basis for meeting the expectations of European citizens; calls on all institutions to deliver on this package as soon as possible;

24.  Urges Member States to comply with and enforce legislation on maternity rights so that women do not suffer disadvantages in terms of pensions because they have been mothers during their working lives;

25.  Calls on the Member States to consider employees being given the possibility to negotiate voluntary flexible working arrangements, including ‘smart working’, in line with national practice and independently of the age of the children or family situation, thus allowing women and men a better work-life balance, such that they do not have to favour one over the other when assuming care responsibilities;

26.  Notes the Commission’s proposal for carers’ leave in the directive on work-life balance for parents and carers, and recalls its call for adequate remuneration and social protection; encourages the Member States, on the basis of a pooling of best practice, to introduce, to the benefit of both women and men, ‘care credits’ to offset breaks from employment taken in order to provide informal care to family members and periods of formal care leaves, such as maternity, paternity and parental leave, and to count those credits towards pension entitlements fairly; considers that such credits should be awarded for a short, set period in order not to further entrench stereotypes and inequalities;

27.  Calls on the Member States to design strategies for recognising the importance of informal care performed for family members and other dependants and their fair sharing between women and men, the lack of which is a potential cause of career interruptions and precarious work for women, thus jeopardising their pension rights; in this context, stresses the importance of incentives for men to use their parental and paternity leave;

28.  Calls on the Member States to enable the transfer of the employee after the maternity or parental leave back to the comparable work arrangement;

29.  Points out that a proper work-life balance for men and women cannot be achieved unless local, high-quality, affordable and accessible care facilities for children, the elderly and dependants are available and without encouraging the equal sharing of responsibilities, costs and care; calls on the Member States to increase investment in services for children, emphasises the need for childcare facilities to be available throughout rural areas, and urges the Commission to support the Member States, including through the provision of available EU funding, in creating such facilities in a form that is accessible to all; calls on the Member States not only to meet the Barcelona targets at the earliest opportunity and no later than by 2020, but also to define similar targets for long-term care services, at the same time offering families that prefer a different childcare model the freedom to choose; congratulates those Member States which have already met the two sets of targets;

Impact of pension systems on the pension gap

30.  Calls on the Member States to assess, on the basis of accurate, comparable data, the impact that their pension systems are having on the pension gap and its underlying factors, in order to combat discrimination and create transparency in the pension systems of the Member States;

31.  Stresses that the sustainability of pension systems has to allow for the challenges posed by demographic changes, the ageing of the population, the birth rate, and the ratio between persons in gainful employment and those of pensionable age; recalls that the situation of the latter depends greatly on the number of years for which they have worked and paid contributions;

32.  Calls on the Member States, in order to ensure sustainable social security in view of the rising life expectancy in the EU, urgently to carry out necessary structural changes to the pension systems;

33.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take a closer look at how the pension gap might be affected by a shift from statutory state pensions towards more flexible arrangements in occupational and private schemes for pension contributions, with regard to the calculation of the duration of contribution to the pension system and to arrangements for gradual retirement;

34.  Warns of the risks to gender equality represented by the shift from social security pensions to personal funded pensions, since personal pensions are based on individual contributions and do not compensate for times spent caring for children and other dependent relatives, or for periods of unemployment, sick leave or disability; points to the fact that pension system reforms which link welfare benefits to growth, and to the state of labour and financial markets, focus only on macroeconomic aspects and overlook the social purpose of pensions;

35.  Calls on the Member States to remove the elements of their pension systems, and of the reforms implemented, that add to imbalances in pensions (especially gender imbalances such as the existing pension gap), taking into account the gender impact of any future pension reforms, as well as to implement measures to eradicate this discrimination; stresses that any policy changes related to pensions should be measured against their impact on the gender gap, with specific analysis comparing the impact of the proposed changes on women and men, and that this should be a feature of the planning, design, implementation and evaluation processes of public policy;

36.  Calls on the Commission to promote the pooling of best practice with a view to identifying both the corrective measures that are most effective and those that can tackle the factors contributing to the pension gap;

37.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to introduce unisex life tariffs in pension schemes and care credits, as well as for derived benefits, so that women can receive equal pension annuities for equal contributions, even if they are expected to live longer than men, and to ensure that female life expectancy is not raised as a pretext for discrimination, more particularly for the calculation of pensions;

38.  Calls for a review of all the incentives available under the taxation and pension systems and of their impact on the gender pension gap, with particular emphasis on households headed by single mothers; also calls for the abolition of counterproductive incentives and for the individualisation of entitlements;

39.  Highlights the important role played by survivor’s pensions in protecting and safeguarding many older women from the higher risk of poverty and social exclusion they face compared to older men; calls on the Member States to reform, where necessary, their systems for survivor’s pensions and widow’s pensions in order not to penalise unmarried women; calls on the Member States, supported by the Commission, to study the effects of different systems providing survivor’s pensions in light of the high rates of divorce, the incidence of poverty among non-married couples and the social exclusion of older women, and to consider providing for legal instruments to ensure shared pension rights in divorce cases;

40.  Highlights the fact that all people have the right to a universally accessible public pension, and recalls that Article 25 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union enshrines the rights of the elderly to lead a life of dignity and independence, and that Article 34 of the Charter recognises the entitlement to social security benefits and social services that ensure protection in the event of maternity, illness, industrial accident, disability, dependency on long-term care, old age, or loss of employment; points to the importance of public social security systems funded by contributions as an important component of adequate pension provision;

41.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that both men and women have the chance to achieve full contribution periods, and likewise to ensure everyone’s right to a pension, with a view to closing the pension gap by fighting gender discrimination in employment, adjusting education and career planning, improving work-life balance and enhancing investment in childcare and care of the elderly; considers that establishing sound regulations on health and safety in the workplace that take account of gendered occupational as well as psychosocial risks, investing in public employment services that are able to guide women of all ages in search of employment, and introducing flexible rules for transitioning from work into retirement is also relevant;

42.  Points out that in its General Comment No 16 (2005) on the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights set out the requirements of Article 3 in relation to Article 9 of the ICESCR, including the requirement of equalising the compulsory retirement age for both men and women and of ensuring that women benefit equally under public and private pension schemes;

o
o   o

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

(1) 11 August 2005, E/C.12/2005/4.
(2) 4 February 2008, E/C.12/GC/19.
(3) XX-3/def/GRC/4/1/EN.
(4) OJ L 6, 10.1.1979, p. 24
(5) OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.
(6) OJ L 373, 21.12.2004, p. 37.
(7) OJ L 204, 26.7.2006, p. 23.
(8) OJ C 51 E, 22.2.2013, p. 9.
(9) OJ C 131 E, 8.5.2013, p. 60.
(10) OJ C 264 E, 13.9.2013, p. 75.
(11) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 6.
(12) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 2.
(13) OJ C 407, 4.11.2016, p. 2.
(14) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0351.
(15) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0338.


2016 Report on Serbia
PDF 162kWORD 55k
European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Serbia (2016/2311(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0261A8-0063/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council meeting of 19 and 20 June 2003 concerning the prospect of the Western Balkan countries joining the European Union,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2008/213/EC of 18 February 2008 on the principles, priorities and conditions contained in the European Partnership with Serbia and repealing Decision 2006/56/EC(1),

–  having regard to the Commission opinion of 12 October 2011 on Serbia’s application for membership of the European Union (SEC(2011)1208), the European Council’s decision of 2 March 2012 to grant Serbia candidate status and the European Council’s decision of 27-28 June 2013 to open negotiations with Serbia,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Communities and their Member States and the Republic of Serbia, which entered into force on 1 September 2013,

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion of 22 July 2010 on the accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo, and to UN General Assembly Resolution 64/298 of 9 September 2010, which acknowledged the content of the ICJ opinion and welcomed the EU’s readiness to facilitate dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo,

–  having regard to the declaration and recommendations adopted at the fifth EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee meeting of 22-23 September 2016,

–  having regard to the Report on Enterprise and Industry Policy adopted on 7 October 2016 by the EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee,

–  having regard to the OSCE/ODHIR limited election observation mission final report on early parliamentary elections in Serbia of 29 July 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2016 report on Serbia of 9 November 2016 (SWD(2016)0361),

–  having regard to the Commission’s assessment on the Economic Reform Programme of Serbia (2016-2018) (SWD(2016)0137),

–  having regard to the Joint Conclusions of the Economic and Financial Dialogue between the EU and the Western Balkans and Turkey of 26 May 2016 (9500/2016),

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of 13 December 2016,

–  having regard to the third meeting of the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Council held on 13 December 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 4 February 2016 on the 2015 Report on Serbia(2),

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0063/2017),

A.  whereas Serbia, like every country aspiring to EU membership, must be judged on its own merits in terms of fulfilling, implementing and complying with the same set of criteria and whereas the quality of and the dedication to the necessary reforms determines the timetable for accession;

B.  whereas Serbia’s progress under rule of law chapters 23 and 24 and in the process of normalisation of relations with Kosovo under chapter 35 remains essential for the overall pace of the negotiating process, in line with the Negotiating Framework;

C.  whereas Serbia has taken important steps towards the normalisation of relations with Kosovo, resulting in the First Agreement on the Principles of Normalisation of Relations of 19 April 2013 and the August 2015 agreements, but there is still a lot to be done in this regard; whereas further steps are urgently needed in order to deal with, move forward on and solve all pending issues between the two countries;

D.  whereas Serbia has remained committed to creating a functioning market economy and has continued to implement the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA);

E.  whereas the implementation of the legal framework on the protection of minorities needs to be fully ensured, notably in the areas of education, use of language, access to media and religious services in minority languages, and adequate political representation of national minorities at local, regional and national levels;

1.  Welcomes the opening of negotiations on Chapters 23 (Judiciary and Fundamental Rights) and 24 (Justice, Freedom and Security) as the key chapters in the EU approach to enlargement based on the rule of law, as progress on these chapters remains essential for the overall pace of the negotiation process; welcomes the opening of Chapters 32 (Financial Control) and 35 (Other Issues), the opening of negotiations on Chapter 5 (Public Procurement) and the opening and provisional closure of Chapter 25 (Science and Research), the opening of negotiations on Chapter 20 (Enterprise and Industrial Policy) and the opening and provisional closure of Chapter 26 (Education and Culture); looks forward to the opening of additional chapters that have been technically prepared;

2.  Welcomes the continued engagement of Serbia on the path of integration into the EU and its constructive and well-prepared approach to the negotiations, which is a clear sign of determination and political will; calls on Serbia to continue to actively promote and communicate this strategic decision among the Serbian population, including by promoting enhanced awareness of Serbian citizens about funding from the EU budget directed to Serbia; invites the Serbian authorities to refrain from anti-EU rhetoric and messages directed at the public; underlines the need for informed, transparent and constructive debates on the EU, its institutions and the implications of membership; takes note of improvements in dialogue and public consultations with relevant stakeholders and civil society as well as their engagement in the EU integration process;

3.  Underlines that the thorough implementation of reforms and policies remains a key indicator of a successful integration process; commends the adoption of the revised National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (NPAA); calls on Serbia to improve the planning, coordination and monitoring of the implementation of new legislation and policies, setting up an adequate and efficient administrative capacity, and to undertake further efforts to ensure the systematic inclusion of civil society in policy dialogues, including in the accession process, as a tool to improve the standards of democratic governance; welcomes the continued initiatives by the Government Office for Cooperation with Civil Society aimed at improving cooperation between the state and the civil sector;

4.  Notes delays in the absorption of pre-accession aid, also due to the inadequate institutional framework; urges the authorities to seek positive examples and best practices among the Member States; underlines the need to establish a more effective and comprehensive institutional system at national, regional and local level, for the absorption of IPA (Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance) and other available funds;

5.  Welcomes the progress made by Serbia in developing a functioning market economy and the improvement of the overall economic situation in the country; stresses that Serbia has made good progress in addressing some of its policy weaknesses, in particular with regard to the budget deficit which is now below the level set in the Maastricht criteria; highlights that growth prospects have improved and domestic and external imbalances have been reduced; welcomes the fact that the restructuring of publicly owned enterprises has advanced, particularly in the field of energy and railway transportation, and underlines the importance of their professional management in order to make them more effective, competitive and economic; underlines the significance of public sector employment in Serbia and the importance of respecting the rights of workers;

6.  Takes note of the results of the presidential elections held on 2 April 2017; strongly condemns the rhetoric used during the presidential campaign by government officials and pro-government media against other presidential candidates; regrets the uneven access of candidates to the media during the election campaign as well as the parliament recess during the campaign, denying opposition politicians a public forum; calls on the authorities to properly investigate claims of various types of irregularities, violence and intimidation during the elections; recognises the protests which were taking place at that time in various Serbian cities and encourages the authorities to consider their demands in line with democratic standards and the spirit of democracy;

7.  Underlines the paramount role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for Serbia’s economy and invites Serbia to further improve the business environment for the private sector; calls for the Serbian Government and the EU institutions to expand their funding opportunities for SMEs, especially in the field of IT and the digital economy; commends Serbia’s efforts concerning dual and vocational education in order to address youth unemployment and underlines the importance of organising training more in keeping with labour market demand; encourages Serbia to promote entrepreneurship, particularly among young people; notes the unfavourable demographic trends and the ‘brain drain’ phenomenon and calls on Serbia to introduce national programmes to promote youth employment;

8.  Welcomes the conduct of the parliamentary elections on 24 April 2016 which were assessed positively by the international observers; calls on the authorities to fully address the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, in particular with regard to biased media coverage, an undue advantage for incumbents, a blurring of the distinction between state and party activities, the registration process and the lack of transparency of the financing of political parties and of the election campaign; stresses that the funding of political parties must be in accordance with the highest international standards; calls on the authorities to properly investigate claims of irregularities, violence and intimidation that arose during the electoral process; calls on Serbia to ensure fair and free elections in April 2017;

9.  Notes that Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić received 55.08 % of the vote in the presidential election of 2 April 2017; stresses that a multiparty delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) observed the election, and that the OSCE/ODIHR deployed an election assessment mission (EAM);

10.  Reiterates its call on Serbia, in line with the requirements of its candidate status, to progressively align its foreign and security policy with that of the EU, including its policy on Russia; considers the conduct of joint Serbia-Russia military exercises regrettable; is concerned about the presence of Russian air facilities in Nis; regrets that in December 2016 Serbia was one of 26 countries that did not support the resolution on Crimea at the United Nations calling for an international observation mission on the human rights situation in the peninsula; welcomes Serbia’s important contribution to several EU CSDP missions and operations (EUTM Mali, EUTM Somalia, EUNAVFOR Atalanta, EUTM RCA) and its continued participation in international peacekeeping operations; strongly encourages and supports Serbia in negotiating WTO accession;

11.  Commends Serbia’s constructive and humanitarian approach in dealing with the migration crisis; invites Serbia to foster this constructive approach also with neighbouring countries; takes positive note of the fact that Serbia has made substantial efforts to ensure that third country nationals receive shelter and humanitarian supplies with EU and international support; stresses that Serbia should adopt and implement the new asylum law; calls on the Serbian authorities to continue to provide all refugees and migrants with basic services such as adequate housing, food, sanitation and healthcare; calls on the Commission and the Council to provide continued support for Serbia in addressing migration challenges and to closely monitor the application of financial subsidies for the organisation and handling of migration flows; encourages Serbia to sustain the decreasing trend of asylum seekers coming into the EU from Serbia; calls on Serbia to fully respect the rights of asylum applicants in Serbia and to ensure that unaccompanied and separated minors are identified and protected; calls on the Commission to continue the work on migration with all the countries of the Western Balkans in order to ensure that European and international norms and standards are followed;

Rule of law

12.  Notes that, while some progress has been made in the area relating to the judiciary, in particular by taking steps to harmonise jurisprudence and further promoting a merit-based recruitment system, judicial independence is not assured in practice, and this prevents judges and prosecutors from implementing the adopted legislation; calls on the authorities to bring the constitutional and legislative framework into line with European standards in order to reduce political influence in the recruitment and appointment of judges and prosecutors; stresses that the quality and efficiency of the judiciary and access to justice remain under constraints due to an uneven distribution of the workload, a burdensome case backlog and the lack of a free legal aid system, which needs to be established; calls for the implementation of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights;

13.  Is concerned by the lack of progress in the fight against corruption and urges Serbia to show clear political will and commitment in tackling this issue, also by enhancing and fully enforcing the legal framework; calls on Serbia to step up the implementation of the national anti-corruption strategy and action plan, and calls for the establishment of an initial track record on investigations, prosecutions and convictions for high-level corruption; welcomes the progress on the finalisation of the draft law on the Anti-Corruption Agency and the implementation of the activities on the prevention of and fight against corruption envisaged through the newly established EU twinning project; urges Serbia to amend and implement the economic and corruption crimes section of the criminal code with a view to providing a credible and predictable criminal law framework; is concerned about repeated leaks to the media regarding ongoing investigations; calls on the Serbian authorities to investigate seriously several high-profile cases where evidence of alleged wrongdoings has been presented by journalists; reiterates its call for proper reform of the offence of abuse of office and abuse of responsible position so as to prevent possible misuse or arbitrary interpretation; stresses that the excessive recourse to the provision on abuse of office in the private sector is harmful to the business climate and hampers legal certainty; calls on Serbia to guarantee the neutrality and continuity of the public administration;

14.  Welcomes Serbia’s active role in international and regional police and judicial cooperation, the progress made in the fight against organised crime and the adoption of Serbia’s first national serious and organised crime threat assessment (SOCTA); calls on Serbia to step up efforts to investigate wider criminal networks, improve financial investigations and intelligence-led policing and develop a solid track record of final convictions; calls on Serbia to fully implement the law of February 2016 on the police, to align with EU rules on the confiscation of criminal assets and to establish a secure platform to exchange intelligence between law enforcement agencies; welcomes the recent changes to the law on public property and stresses that its transparent and non-discriminatory implementation must be ensured, and that further measures must be adopted to fully establish legal clarity over property rights; calls for additional efforts in addressing the issue of the scope, implementation and implications of the Law on the Organisation and Competences of State Authorities in War Crime Proceedings; calls on the authorities to address cases of excessive use of power by police against citizens; has taken note, with concern, of the controversial events in Belgrade’s Savamala district, with regard in particular to the demolition of private property; expresses concern that one full year has passed without any advances in the investigation, and calls for its swift resolution and for full cooperation with the judicial authorities in the investigations to bring perpetrators to justice; calls on the Serbian Ministry of Interior and the Belgrade city authorities to fully cooperate with the public prosecutor in this case; calls on the authorities to refrain from accusations, pressure and attacks directed at members of the ‘Let’s not drown Belgrade’ civil movement;

15.  Welcomes Serbia’s active role in the fight against terrorism, and recalls that Serbia criminalised already in 2014 the activities of foreign fighters in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014); urges the adoption of the national strategy to prevent and fight terrorism finalised in March 2016; calls on Serbia to fully implement the recommendations of the evaluation report of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (Moneyval), and in particular the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on terrorist financing and money laundering; welcomes Serbia’s continued international and regional cooperation in the fight against drugs but stresses that further efforts are needed in order to track down and prosecute criminal networks involved in trafficking of human beings; considers that a regional strategy and enhanced cooperation in the region are essential to tackle corruption and organised crime;

Democracy

16.  Welcomes the measures taken to improve transparency and the consultation process within the parliament, including public hearings and regular meetings and consultations with the National Convent on European Integration, especially as they are important parts of the negotiation procedure; remains concerned about the extensive use of urgent procedures in adopting legislation; stresses that the frequent use of urgent procedures and last minute changes to the parliamentary agenda undermine parliamentary effectiveness, quality and transparency of the law-making process, while not always allowing for sufficient stakeholder and wider public consultation; underlines that the parliament’s oversight of the executive needs to be strengthened; calls for better coordination at all levels and immediate adoption of the parliament’s code of conduct; regrets that, due to disruption, the Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia was not able to present the Commission’s report in the European Integrations Committee of the Serbian Parliament; stresses that the Head of the EU Delegation should be able to present this report without undue obstacles and that this will also enable proper oversight of the accession process by the Serbian Parliament;

17.  Notes that the constitution needs to be revised so as to fully reflect the recommendations of the Venice Commission, notably with regard to the parliament’s role in judicial appointments, the control of political parties over the mandate of Members of Parliament, the independence of key institutions and the protection of fundamental rights;

18.  Welcomes the adoption of the public financial management reform programme, e-government strategy, a strategy on regulatory reform and policy-making, new laws on general administrative procedures, public salaries and civil servants at provincial and local government level; notes that the implementation of the public administration reform action plan has been slow in some areas, and that no progress has been made in amending the legal framework for central government civil servants; underlines that more effort is needed to further professionalise and depoliticise the administration and make recruitment and dismissal procedures more transparent;

19.  Reiterates the importance of independent regulatory bodies such as the Ombudsman, the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, the State Audit Institution, the Anti-Corruption Agency and the Anti-Corruption Council in ensuring oversight and accountability of the executive; stresses the need for transparency and accountability of state institutions; calls on the authorities to fully protect the independence of these regulatory bodies, to provide full political and administrative support for their work and to ensure proper follow-up of their recommendations; calls on the authorities to refrain from accusations and unfounded political attacks directed at the Ombudsman;

20.  Underlines the necessity of ensuring an accessible education system with a full and balanced curriculum, including on the importance of human rights and anti-discrimination, and work and training opportunities for young people, and of promoting European study programmes, such as the Erasmus programme;

Human rights

21.  Underlines that the legislative and institutional framework for observance of international human rights law is in place; stresses that consistent implementation across the whole country is needed; notes that further sustained efforts are needed to improve the situation of persons belonging to vulnerable groups, including Roma, persons with disabilities, persons with HIV/AIDS, LGBTI persons, migrants and asylum seekers, and ethnic minorities; underlines the need for the Serbian authorities, all political parties and public figures to promote a climate of tolerance and inclusion in Serbia; calls on the authorities to ensure proper implementation of the adopted anti-discrimination legislation, especially with regard to hate crimes; expresses its concerns on the Law on Rights of Civilian Victims of War, which excludes some groups of victims of violence during the conflict, and calls on the authorities to review this law;

22.  Reiterates its concern that no progress has been made to improve the situation regarding freedom of expression and self-censorship of the media, which is a worsening phenomenon; stresses that political interference, threats, violence and intimidation against journalists, including physical assaults, verbal and written threats and attacks on property, remain an issue of concern; calls on the authorities to publicly and unequivocally condemn all attacks, to provide adequate resources to investigate more proactively all cases of attacks against journalists and media outlets and to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice; expresses concern for the fact that civil defamation lawsuits and smear campaigns are disproportionately targeting critical media outlets and journalists and for the possible impact on media freedom of decisions of the judiciary with regard to defamation; expresses concern at a negative campaign against investigative journalists reporting about corruption, and calls on government officials to refrain from engaging in such campaigns; calls for the full implementation of media laws; welcomes the signing of the agreement on cooperation and protection of journalists between prosecutors, police and journalists and media associations and looks forward to its implementation; underlines the need for complete transparency in media ownership and funding of media; encourages the government to guarantee the independence and financial sustainability of both public service media organisations and the financial viability of media content in minority languages, and to increase the role of public broadcasters in this area;

23.  Is concerned that the Law on Advertising was adopted in 2015 without proper public consultation, abolishing important provisions such as the ones related to the prohibition of the advertising of public authorities and of political advertising outside election campaigns;

24.  Deplores the requirement for the use of IPA funds which demands that civil society organisations (CSOs) become partners with the state in order for their applications to be successful;

25.  Condemns the government’s and the government-managed media’s negative campaign against CSOs; is concerned about the governmental setting up of fictitious CSO institutions in opposition to independent CSOs; finds it unacceptable that partnership with the government is needed in order for CSOs’ applications for IPA funds to be successful;

Respect for and protection of minorities

26.  Reiterates that the promotion and protection of human rights, including the rights of national minorities, is a basic precondition for joining the EU; welcomes the adoption of an action plan for the realisation of the rights of national minorities, and the adoption of a decree establishing a fund for national minorities, which needs to be made operational; calls for the full implementation of the action plan and its annex in a comprehensive and transparent manner, with the constructive engagement of all sides; reiterates its call on Serbia to ensure consistent implementation of legislation on protection of minorities and to pay particular attention to non-discriminatory treatment of national minorities throughout the country, including in relation to education, use of languages, adequate representation in the judiciary, public administration, the national parliament and local and regional bodies, and access to media and religious services in minority languages; welcomes the adoption of new educational standards for the teaching of Serbian as a non-mother tongue and the progress in translation of school textbooks into minority languages, and encourages the Serbian authorities to ensure the sustainability of these processes; invites Serbia to fully implement all international treaties concerning minority rights;

27.  Notes that Vojvodina’s multiethnic, multicultural and multiconfessional diversity also contributes to Serbia’s identity; underlines that Vojvodina has maintained a high degree of protection for minorities and that the inter-ethnic situation has remained good; stresses that the autonomy of Vojvodina should not be weakened and that the law on Vojvodina’s resources should be adopted without further delay, as prescribed by the constitution; welcomes the achievement of the Serbian city of Novi Sad selected to be a European Capital of Culture, in 2021;

28.  Notes the adoption of the new Roma social inclusion strategy 2016-2025, which covers education, health, housing, employment, social protection, anti-discrimination and gender equality; calls for the full and swift implementation of the new strategy for Roma inclusion, as they are the weakest, most marginalised and most discriminated against group in Serbia, for urgent adoption of the action plan and for the establishment of a body to coordinate implementation of the action plan; condemns the demolition of informal Roma settlements by the authorities, without notification or offers of alternative accommodation; is extremely concerned about the non-issuance of personal documents to Roma people, which restricts their fundamental rights; is of the opinion that all the above-mentioned issues lead to a large number of Roma people from Serbia seeking asylum in the EU;

Regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations

29.  Welcomes the fact that Serbia remains constructively committed to bilateral relations with other enlargement countries and neighbouring EU Member States; encourages Serbia to strengthen its proactive and positive engagement with its neighbours and the wider region, to promote good neighbourly relations and to intensify efforts with neighbouring countries to solve bilateral issues in accordance with international law; reiterates its call on the authorities to facilitate access to archives that concern the former republics of Yugoslavia; calls on Serbia to fully implement bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries; underlines that outstanding bilateral disputes should not have a detrimental effect on the accession process; encourages Serbia to enhance cooperation with the neighbouring EU Member States, in particular on border areas, in order to facilitate economic development;

30.  Takes positive note of the fact that Serbia has shown an increasingly constructive engagement in regional cooperation initiatives such as the Danube Strategy, the South-East Europe Cooperation Process, the Regional Cooperation Council, the Central European Free Trade Agreement, the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative, the Brdo-Brijuni process, the Western Balkan Six initiative and its connectivity agenda and the Berlin process; welcomes the meeting of the Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian Prime Ministers on energy and transport infrastructure cooperation and supports the idea of a permanent format of the ‘Craiova Group’ meetings; stresses the importance of the regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans in promoting reconciliation; calls on Serbia to implement the connectivity reform measures associated with the connectivity agenda and the conclusions of the 2016 Paris conference on the Western Balkans and TEN-T regulation; commends the role of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia in promoting regional cooperation and contributing to setting up the Western Balkans Chamber Investment Forum;

31.  Welcomes the adoption of a national strategy for the investigation and prosecution of war crimes; calls on Serbia to promote a climate of respect and tolerance and condemn all forms of hate speech, public approval and denial of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes; notes that the mandate of the former War Crimes Prosecutor expired in December 2015; stresses that the appointment of his successor is a matter of serious concern; calls for the implementation of this national strategy and the adoption of an operational prosecutorial strategy in line with the principles and rules of international law and international standards; calls for enhanced regional cooperation in handling war crimes and solving all outstanding issues in this respect, including through cooperation between the War Crimes Prosecutors’ Offices in the region on issues of mutual concern; calls for full cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), which remains essential; calls for war crimes to be handled without any discrimination, addressing impunity and ensuring accountability; urges the authorities to continue working on the issue of the fate of missing persons, locating mass graves and guaranteeing the rights of victims and their families; reiterates its support for the initiative to establish the regional Commission for the establishment of facts about war crimes and other serious violations of human rights committed in the former Yugoslavia and urges the Serbian Government to take the lead on its establishment;

32.  Expresses its concern about the participation of some high-ranking Serbian officials in the 9 January 2017 celebrations of the Day of Republika Srpska, which were held in defiance of Bosnia and Herzegovina Constitutional Court decisions; stresses that both Serbia, as a candidate country, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a potential candidate, should defend and promote the rule of law by their actions; calls on the Serbian authorities to support constitutional reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to strengthen the country’s capacity to function and participate in EU accession talks;

33.  Commends the opening of three new border-crossing points between Serbia and Romania as a positive development and recommends the opening of the three delayed border-crossing points with Bulgaria at Salash–Novo Korito, Bankya–Petachinci and Treklyano–Bosilegrad;

34.  Commends both Serbia and Albania for their continued commitment to improving bilateral relations and strengthening regional cooperation on the political and societal level, for example through the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), headquartered in Tirana; encourages both countries to continue their good cooperation in order to promote reconciliation in the region;

35.  Welcomes Serbia’s continued engagement in the normalisation process with Kosovo, and its commitment to the implementation of the agreements reached in the EU- facilitated dialogue; reiterates that progress in the Dialogue should be measured in terms of its implementation on the ground; calls, therefore, on both parties to move forward with the full implementation, in good faith and in a timely manner, of all the agreements already reached and to determinedly continue the normalisation process, including the question of the Community of Serbian Municipalities; encourages Serbia and Kosovo to identify new areas of discussion for the dialogue, with the aim of improving the lives of people and comprehensively normalising relations; reiterates its call on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to carry out an evaluation of the performance of the sides in fulfilling their obligations;

36.  Regrets, nevertheless, the decision taken by the Serbian authorities not to allow former President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga to attend the ‘Mirëdita, Dobar Dan’ festival in Belgrade, at which she had been invited to deliver a speech on victims of sexual violence during the war in Kosovo; regrets also the subsequent reciprocity measure adopted by the Kosovan authorities to ban Serbia’s Minister of Labour Aleksandar Vulin from entering Kosovo; stresses that such decisions are in breach of the Brussels Agreement on freedom of movement concluded by Serbia and Kosovo within the framework of the process of normalisation of the relations between the two countries;

37.  Expresses serious concern at the recent tensions between Serbia and Kosovo regarding the first train journey from Belgrade to Mitrovica North, including warmongering statements and anti-EU rhetoric; stresses the need for both Belgrade and Pristina to refrain from any action that might jeopardise the progress achieved so far and to refrain from provocative steps and unhelpful rhetoric that could hamper the normalisation process;

38.  Welcomes the Serbian authorities’ support of Montenegro in its investigation into the failed attacks planned for the day of Montenegro’s elections in 2016; notes that the Serbian authorities have arrested two suspects following the issuing of an arrest warrant by Montenegro; encourages the Serbian authorities to continue to cooperate with Montenegro to arrange for the suspects’ extradition to Montenegro in accordance with the terms of the countries’ bilateral agreement on extradition;

39.  Calls on the Commission to make further efforts to support a true reconciliation process in the region, notably through support for cultural projects dealing with the recent past and promoting a common and shared understanding of history and a public and political culture of tolerance, inclusion and reconciliation;

Energy

40.  Calls on Serbia to fully implement the connectivity reform measures in the energy sector; encourages Serbia to develop competition in the gas market and to take measures to improve alignment with the acquis in the fields of energy efficiency, renewable energy and the fight against climate change, including the adoption of a comprehensive climate policy; calls for the ratification of the Paris climate agreement; calls for the development of a hydropower strategy for the Western Balkans as a whole in line with EU environmental legislation and calls on the authorities to use additional EU funding of EUR 50 million to develop the region’s hydropower potential; commends Serbia for establishing the financing system for the environment via the Green Fund; stresses the need to develop Serbia’s gas and electricity interconnections with its neighbours; encourages Serbia to speed up technical and budgetary preparations for the Bulgaria-Serbia gas interconnector;

41.  Points out that Serbia has yet to adopt formally the Water Management Strategy and has not yet revised the Law on Waters and the National Danube River Basin Management Plan; stresses that these laws are of fundamental importance for further alignment with the EU acquis and for improving the implementation of the EU directives in the water sector;

o
o   o

42.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Government and Parliament of Serbia.

(1) OJ L 80, 19.3.2008, p. 46.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0046.


2016 Report on Kosovo
PDF 202kWORD 55k
European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Kosovo (2016/2314(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0262A8-0062/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council meeting of 19 and 20 June 2003 concerning the prospect of the Western Balkan countries joining the European Union,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EU and Kosovo, which entered into force on 1 April 2016,

–  having regard to the signing of a framework agreement with Kosovo on participation in Union programmes,

–  having regard to the First Agreement of Principles Governing the Normalisation of Relations, signed by Prime Ministers Hashim Thaçi and Ivica Dačić on 19 April 2013, and to the Implementation Action Plan of 22 May 2013,

–  having regard to Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/947 of 14 June 2016 amending Joint Action 2008/124/CFSP on the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo),

–  having regard to the reports of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the ongoing activities of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and developments relating thereto, including the latest report released on 26 October 2016, and to the Security Council debate on UNMIK held on 16 November 2016,

–  having regard to the 2016 Commission Communication of 9 November 2016 on EU Enlargement Policy (COM(2016)0715),

–  having regard to the Commission’s 2016 report on Kosovo of 9 November 2016 (SWD(2016)0363),

–  having regard to the Commission assessment of 18 April 2016 on the Kosovo Economic Reform Programme 2016-2018 (SWD(2016)0134),

–  having regard to the Joint Conclusions of the Economic and Financial Dialogue between the EU and the Western Balkans and Turkey of 26 May 2016 (9500/2016),

–  having regard to the European Reform Agenda launched on 11 November 2016 in Pristina,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of 13 December 2016 on the enlargement and stabilisation and association process,

–  having regard to the conclusions of the General Affairs Council meetings of 7 December 2009, 14 December 2010 and 5 December 2011, which stressed and reaffirmed, respectively, that Kosovo, without prejudice to the Member States’ position on its status, should also benefit from the prospect of eventual visa liberalisation once all the conditions had been met,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal for a regulation on visa liberalisation for people from Kosovo of 1 June 2016 (COM(2016)0277) and to the fourth Commission report of 4 May 2016 on progress by Kosovo in fulfilling the requirements of the visa liberalisation roadmap (COM(2016)0276),

–  having regard to UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999), to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion of 22 July 2010 on the accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo, and to UN General Assembly Resolution 64/298 of 9 September 2010, which acknowledged the content of the ICJ opinion and welcomed the EU’s readiness to facilitate dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo,

–  having regard to the joint statements of the EP-Kosovo interparliamentary meetings of 28-29 May 2008, 6-7 April 2009, 22-23 June 2010, 20 May 2011, 14-15 March 2012, 30-31 October 2013 and 29-30 April 2015, to the declarations and recommendations adopted at the first and second meetings of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee of 16-17 May 2016 and 23-24 November 2016 respectively, and to the first meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Council held on 25 November 2016,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0062/2017),

A.  whereas 114 of the 193 UN member states, including 23 of the 28 EU Member States, recognise Kosovo’s independence;

B.  whereas (potential) candidate countries are judged on their own merits, and whereas the speed and quality of the necessary reforms determines the timetable for accession;

C.  whereas the EU has repeatedly reiterated its willingness to assist in the economic and political development of Kosovo through a clear European perspective, in line with the European perspective of the region and Kosovo has shown aspiration in its path towards European integration;

D.  whereas the EU has placed the rule of law, fundamental rights, the strengthening of democratic institutions, including public administration reform, as well as good neighbourly relations, economic development and competitiveness, at the core of its enlargement policy;

E.  whereas more than 90 % of Kosovars fears unemployment and more than 30 % receives between EUR 0 and 120 per month;

1.  Welcomes the entry into force of the EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) on 1 April 2016 as the first contractual relationship and an essential step in order to continue the process of the integration of Kosovo into the EU; welcomes the launch of the European Reform Agenda on 11 November 2016 and the adoption of the national strategy for the implementation of the SAA as a platform to facilitate implementation of the SAA and calls on Kosovo to continue to show clear political will and determination to implement the agreed roadmap including the setting up of the coordination mechanism for the implementation of the SAA, and to seize the positive momentum created by the SAA, in order to implement and institutionalise reforms and improve the socio-economic development of Kosovo, to establish cooperation with the EU in numerous areas, which would also further Kosovo’s trade and investment integration, to advance relations with neighbouring countries and to contribute to stability in the region; calls on the government of Kosovo to focus on the implementation of the comprehensive reforms that are required to meet its obligations under the SAA; welcomes the holding of the Second Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee on 23-24 November 2016, and the holding of the first meeting of the EU-Kosovo Association and Stabilisation Council on 25 November 2016; notes how free, fair and transparent early general elections and municipal elections in in the second part of 2017 are crucial for the democratic future of Kosovo as well as for the future of its EU integration process;

2.  Welcomes the overall peaceful and orderly conduct of the early general elections of 11 June 2017; regrets, nevertheless, that, due in part to the short time available, some of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) recommendations of 2014 were not addressed; expresses its concern at the problems observed by EU monitors during the election campaign with regard, in particular, to the disruptive interference of some political parties in the independence of the media, both private and public, and to the threats and acts of intimidation against members and candidates of the Kosovo Serbian community in competition with the Srpska Lista; urges parties to swiftly form a government to continue Kosovo’s path towards the EU and to commit to ratifying a border demarcation agreement with Montenegro and to continuing to build up a track record of convictions for high-level corruption and organised crime with a view to paving the way for visa-free travel for Kosovan citizens;

3.  Expresses concern at the persistent extreme polarisation of the political landscape; calls on all the parties to show responsibility and ownership and to create the conditions for a fruitful, solution and result-oriented dialogue with a view to defusing tension and reaching a sustainable compromise aimed at facilitating the progress of the country on its European path;

4.  Urges the leaders of the Kosovo-Serbian community to take full ownership of their place and role in the institutions of the country, acting independently from Belgrade and constructively for the benefit of all the people of Kosovo, while urging Kosovo to continue to support the access of Kosovo Serbs to Kosovo institutions; welcomes in this regard the integration of Kosovo Serb judicial personnel, police and civil protection into the Kosovo system; calls on Kosovo authorities to continue to build mutual trust between communities while promoting their economic integration;

5.  Condemns in the strongest terms the violent disruption of activities by some members of the opposition which occurred in the parliament of Kosovo in the first half of 2016 and welcomes the return of the opposition to participate in Assembly proceedings on most issues, as well as the constructive involvement of all members of the joint parliamentary delegation of the European Parliament and the Kosovo Assembly during the last part of the outgoing legislature; stresses the importance of political dialogue, the active and constructive participation of all political parties in the decision-making processes and unhindered parliamentary business as essential conditions for progress in the integration process to the EU;

6.  Underlines that the path towards EU integration requires a strategic long-term vision and sustained commitment in the adoption and implementation of the necessary reforms;

7.  Notes that five Member States have not recognised Kosovo; stresses that recognition would be beneficial to the normalisation of relations between Kosovo and Serbia and increase the EU’s credibility in its own external policy; takes positive note of the constructive approach of all Member States in facilitating and strengthening the relations between the EU and Kosovo in order to foster socio-economic development, the rule of law and democratic consolidation for the benefit of the people of Kosovo; encourages a positive approach with regard to Kosovo’s participation in international organisations;

8.  Welcomes the proposal by the Commission to grant visa liberalisation, which would be a very positive step for Kosovo on the path to European integration; positively notes the decrease of asylum requests by Kosovo citizens in both EU and Schengen Associated countries and welcomes the introduction of the Reintegration Fund and reintegration programmes for returned Kosovo citizens; expresses concern at the stalemate in the outgoing Assembly with regard to the ratification of the demarcation agreement with Montenegro, and stresses that visa liberalisation can only be granted once Kosovo has fulfilled all criteria, including in relation to building up a track record of high-level convictions for corruption and organised crime, which has been greatly aided by the IT tracking mechanism for high-profile cases that Kosovo uses for high-level crimes, a mechanism that should also be extended to other criminal cases; calls, therefore, on the authorities to step up efforts to tackle the issues of money laundering, drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings, the arms trade and illegal possession of weapons;

9.  Considers it vital that Kosovo’s foreign and security policy should be aligned with the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy;

10.  Welcomes the progress made in implementing the various agreements signed since August 2016 in the normalisation process with Serbia, following months of little to no progress; emphasises that the full implementation of the agreements is essential for further successful evolution of the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue; calls on both Kosovo and Serbia to show more engagement and sustained political will as regards the normalisation of relations and to refrain from any actions that would jeopardise the progress achieved so far in this process; recalls that this is a condition for accession to the EU; takes note of some progress on other technical issues such as cadastres university diplomas and licence plates and on the implementation of the agreement on the Mitrovica Bridge; has been following developments on the Mitrovica bridge with concern and supports the recent agreement; welcomes the allocation of an independent international telephone code to Kosovo; reiterates its call for the European External Action Service to carry out an evaluation on a regular basis of the performance of the parties in fulfilling their obligations and to report its findings to the European Parliament; stresses that the agreements reached should improve the daily life of ordinary citizens; notes that the benefits of the dialogue are not evident to the citizens of Kosovo and Serbia and emphasises the need for the utmost transparency in communicating the outcomes of the dialogue, in particular in northern Kosovo; stresses the importance of good neighbourly relations with all countries in the Western Balkans;

11.  Strongly condemns the act of sending a Serbian nationalist train from Belgrade to Northern Kosovo; expresses serious concerns about warmongering statements and anti-EU rhetoric; notes the decision of the court of Colmar (France) to refuse the extradition to Serbia of and to release Mr Ramush Haradinaj, who was acquitted in 2008 and 2012 by the ICTY and arrested in France on 4 January 2017 on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by Serbia in 2004 according to its law on the Organisation and Competences of State Authorities in War Crime Proceedings; regrets that this law has hitherto been misused to pursue citizens of countries that belonged to the former Yugoslavia, as proven by this recent case; urges both parties to refrain from provocative steps and unhelpful rhetoric that could hamper the normalisation process; calls on the EU, Kosovo and Serbia to discuss these matters in a constructive manner in the framework of the negotiations for accession to the EU;

12.  Notes that the Association of Serbian Municipalities has not yet been set up, that the corresponding statute has not yet been drafted and that the establishment of the association is the responsibility of the government of Kosovo; urges Kosovo to establish the association without further delay in line with the agreement reached under the EU-facilitated dialogue and with the ruling of the Kosovo Constitutional Court; encourages, in this regard, the Kosovo authorities to appoint a high-level working group with a clear and time-bound mandate to propose a statute for public input and parliamentary review; expresses concern at the continued presence of Serbia’s parallel structures, including through their continued financial support and calls for their dismantlement; encourages all stakeholders to find an acceptable and mutually agreeable long-term solution for the status of the Trepca mining complex;

13.  Calls on the political forces to ensure that the civil liberties and security of the Serbian community and their places of worship are respected;

14.  Welcomes the establishment of the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor Office in The Hague as an essential step for ensuring justice and reconciliation; underlines that witness protection is pivotal to the success of the Special Court and thus calls on authorities to allow citizens to benefit from this system without fear of retribution; calls on the EU and the Member States to continue to support the Court including through proper funding; welcomes the willingness of the Netherlands to host the Court;

15.  Calls on Kosovo to address the issue of missing persons, including: guaranteeing property rights effectively, barring the usurpation of properties and guaranteeing the return and reintegration of displaced persons; calls on Kosovo to ensure effective compensation for the victims of war rape as stated in the National Action Plan; notes with concern the slow progress in investigations, prosecutions and convictions on war crimes, including in cases of sexual violence during the 1998-1999 Kosovo war, and urges Kosovo to intensify its efforts in this respect;

16.  Regrets the fact that civil society is not regularly consulted as part of the decision-making process; urges the need to empower civil society further and calls for political will to be shown to engage with civil society by implementing the minimum standards for public consultation;

17.  Calls on the political forces to guarantee, respect, support and intensify efforts to improve the rule of law, including the independence of the judiciary therein, and by making a clear distinction between the legitimate aspiration of the people of Kosovo for freedom and justice and the actions of individuals who allegedly committed war crimes, which must be duly prosecuted by the competent judicial authorities;

18.  Notes that the Ombudsman began implementing the 2015 law on the Ombudsman with increased and improved reporting and urges adoption of related secondary legislation; calls on the assembly and government of Kosovo to ensure the financial, functional and organisational independence of the Ombudsman, in line with international standards on national human rights institutions; urges the government to follow up reports and recommendations of the Office of the Auditor General and Ombudsman;

19.  Emphasises the need for the proper functioning of the Ombudsman institution, and the need to ensure that it obtains all the resources required to carry out its activities;

20.  Notes that, while some progress has been achieved in adopting legislation for the proper functioning of the judiciary, the administration of justice remains slow and inefficient and is hampered by the remaining shortcomings of criminal legislation, political and economic expediency, political interference, a lack of accountability and limited financial and human resources, including in the Special Prosecution Office; encourages Kosovo to address these issues as a matter of priority in order to ensure legal certainty regarding the property rights of foreign investors; notes the efforts made by the police and the prosecutor’s office to tackle organised crime; acknowledges the efforts of the competent authorities to investigate the death in prison of Mr Astrit Dehari and urges the competent authorities to finalise the investigation;

21.  Welcomes the signing of the framework agreement for Kosovo’s participation in EU programmes and encourages the swiftest possible entry into force and proper implementation of the agreement following the European Parliament’s approval;

22.  Expresses serious concerns at the lack of progress made with regard to the protection of freedom of expression and media freedom, and at the increased political interference and pressure and intimidation on the media; is deeply concerned by the increased number of direct threats and attacks on journalists and the widespread self-censorship; urges the Kosovar authorities to fully recognise and protect freedom of expression in line with EU standards, to end impunity of attacks against journalists and bring those responsible to justice; urges the government to guarantee the independence and the sustainability of the public service media RTK and to introduce an adequate financing scheme; calls for the adoption of sound legislation on copyright and to ensure transparency of media ownership;

23.  Calls on the Government of Kosovo to ensure that cases of physical attacks against journalists and other forms of pressure are promptly investigated and to accelerate and strengthen the adjudication of cases by the judiciary, to continue to unequivocally condemn all attacks against journalists and media outlets, and to ensure transparency of media outlet ownership to combat the increasing risks of undue pressures on editors and journalists;

24.  Welcomes the agreement signed by Kosovo and Serbia on 30 November 2016 on the final steps for the implementation of the Justice Agreement, reached within the Dialogue of 9 February 2015, which will enable the judicial institutions of the country to become operational in the entire territory of Kosovo;

25.  Stresses that systemic corruption is contrary to the fundamental EU values of transparency and independence of the judiciary; reiterates its concern about the very slow progress in the fight against corruption and organised crime and calls for renewed efforts and a clear political will to tackle these issues, which hamper future significant economic progress; regrets that corruption and organised crime go unpunished in certain areas of Kosovo, notably in the north; is concerned that the track record of investigations, prosecutions and final convictions remains poor and that confiscation and sequestration of criminal assets is rarely utilized despite their being an essential tool in fighting corruption, and therefore recommends the prompt freezing of assets and an increase in the number of final confiscations; encourages the Kosovo Anti-Corruption Agency to take a more proactive approach in investigations; expresses concern that political parties and campaign financing are not properly covered by regulatory oversight; takes the view that the law on conflict of interest needs to be brought into line with European standards and the effective removal of public officials indicted or convicted of serious or corruption-related crimes needs to be put into practice; expresses concerns about the lack of effective coordination between the institutions responsible for the detection, investigation and prosecution of corruption cases; expresses serious concerns at the involvement of criminal armed groups in cross-border criminal activities and calls for direct and effective cooperation between Kosovo and Serbia, as well as between all the countries in the region, in the fight against organised crime; stresses that Kosovo’s membership of Interpol and cooperation with Europol would facilitate these efforts;

26.  Expresses concern that Kosovo continues to be a storage and transit country for hard drugs; notes with concern the lack of secure storage for seized drugs prior to destruction; expresses serious concerns about the low rate of convictions in cases against human trafficking, despite Kosovo being a source, transit and destination for trafficked women and children; notes with concern the existence of armed groups and their involvement in organised criminal activities such as arms smuggling and the apparent impunity with which they are able to operate across borders;

27.  Calls on Kosovo to step up efforts to put an end to gender-based violence and to ensure women’s full enjoyment of rights; calls on Kosovo institutions to allocate adequate funding to the implementation of the national strategy on domestic violence, which includes international mechanisms such as the Istanbul Convention; welcomes the high-level political support for the rights of LGBTI persons; welcomes the holding of the second pride parade, but reiterates that fear remains widespread in the LGBTI community;

28.  Calls on the Kosovo authorities to address gender mainstreaming as a priority and to ensure that governing bodies and authorities lead by example; is concerned about the structural challenges hampering the implementation of the law on gender equality, and remains concerned about the underrepresentation of women in decision-making positions; urges Kosovo to continuously encourage women to seek high-level positions; expresses concern about the low levels of property ownership among women and calls on the authorities to actively ensure that property rights for women, including inheritance rights, are secured; welcomes the adoption of a national strategy on domestic violence and calls for its full implementation in order to bring about progress in combating domestic and gender-based violence; reiterates the link between sexual violence during war and conflicts and the normalisation and high levels of gender-based violence in post-conflict countries when these issues are not properly addressed; urges the authorities to publicly encourage and put in place protection mechanisms and shelter measures for women who break their silence and denounce domestic violence; encourages the work of NGOs on this issue;

29.  While commending the establishment of the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Group for Human Rights in 2016, notes that further efforts are needed to protect the rights of all minorities in Kosovo, including Roma, Ashkali, Egyptian and Gorani communities, through the full implementation of the relevant legislation and the allocation of sufficient resources; calls on the competent national and local authorities to undertake as a matter of priority all necessary legislative and practical measures to limit discrimination and to affirm the rights of the various ethnic minorities, including cultural, linguistic and property rights, so as to contribute to the development of a multi-ethnic society; calls on Kosovo to ensure that returning refugees, many of whom are Roma, are fully integrated and have their rights as citizens reinstated, thus ending statelessness; calls on Kosovo to adopt a new strategy and action plan for the integration of Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian communities;

30.  Welcomes the increased efforts to counter, prevent and combat violent extremism and radicalisation and recognises the important work carried out by Kosovo in this domain; notes that many foreign fighters have returned to Kosovo and calls on the authorities to ensure that they are monitored and prosecuted, and to establish a comprehensive approach with effective policies for prevention, de-radicalisation and, where appropriate, reintegration; calls for further identification, prevention and disruption of the flow of foreign fighters and of untraceable money intended for radicalisation; underlines the need for effective community programmes to address the grievances that fuel violent extremism and radicalisation, and to build relationships that promote tolerance and dialogue;

31.  Welcomes the improvement of the economic situation and the increase of tax revenues that make more resources available for the government to carry out its policies; expresses its concerns, however, about the sustainability of Kosovo’s budget with regard to the amount of benefits allocated to war veterans in particular, and calls, in this regard, for the reform of the relevant law as agreed with the International Monetary Fund; reiterates that socio-economic structural reforms are crucial for supporting long-term growth; stresses the need to bolster local industry as a matter of urgency, while also focusing on the competitiveness of locally manufactured products so that they may meet EU import standards; is concerned by the dependence on migrant remittances; expresses concern at the ad hoc financing decisions taken, which undermines the stability that businesses require; reiterates the need to expedite the registration of new businesses, which are currently hampered by unaccountable administration, underdeveloped infrastructure, a weak rule of law and corruption; urges Kosovo to follow up on the recommendations from the EU’s ‘Small Business Act’ assessment and the introduction of regulatory impact assessments to reduce the administrative burden on SMEs and calls on the Commission to increase assistance towards SMEs; invites Kosovo to fully implement the recommendations of the 2016-2018 Economic Reform Programme and the European Reform Agenda launched on 11 November 2016;

32.  Notes with concern the high unemployment rate, especially youth unemployment, and expresses concern about discrimination against women on the labour market, especially in the hiring process; calls on Kosovo to step up its efforts to increase the level of employment and improve labour market conditions; highlights the need to focus on improving the quality of education, including by improving teacher training, supporting the school-to-work transition and matching educational competences with job needs, which is an essential step in tackling the very high rate of youth unemployment; calls for further efforts to increase joint education of all components of Kosovo’s society; underlines the need to improve enforcement mechanisms, notably labour inspectorates and courts, and to strengthen the dialogue, through the Social Economic Council of Kosovo, between public institutions and social partners; welcomes the conclusions of the 2016 Paris summit and the establishment of the first Regional Youth Cooperation Office;

33.  Regrets the slow pace of Kosovo’s efforts to build an adequate and efficient administrative capacity, which is preventing the country from fully implementing the laws adopted and using EU funds effectively; expresses regret at the endemic corruption, the political interference and politicisation of staff in public administration at all levels, as well as appointments to various independent institutions and agencies made on the basis of political affiliation and not of professional criteria to a sufficient extent; calls for further efforts to ensure merit-based recruitment, which is necessary to ensure effective, efficient and professionally independent public administration; calls for investigations to be made into the recent allegation of political interference in recruitment to and decision-making processes in public bodies;

34.  Notes that tendering specifications for applications for all forms of contracts under IPA funding are so demanding that Kosovar or regional companies often cannot even apply for them and calls, to this end, for special attention to be given to guide and instruct interested stakeholders; urges authorities to direct the remaining assistance, which has not yet been programmed, towards projects with a more direct impact on the economy of Kosovo;

35.  Welcomes the extension of the mandate of EULEX Kosovo and urges Kosovo to continue to cooperate actively in the full and unhindered execution by EULEX of its mandate; calls for continued EU efforts in further strengthening independent justice, police and customs systems beyond 2018 with a view to Kosovo taking full ownership of these functions; calls for an efficient and smooth transition of judicial cases dealt with by EULEX prosecutors to national prosecutors with appropriate safeguards to guarantee that the victims of past violations have access to truth, justice and reparation;

36.  Notes the termination of the criminal investigation into allegations of corruption in the EULEX mission; expresses its satisfaction that the EU officials involved were cleared of any wrongdoing; calls on EULEX to ensure increased effectiveness, full transparency and greater responsibility with regard to the mission for the duration of its mandate, and to fully implement all the recommendations made by independent expert Jean-Paul Jacqué in his report of 2014;

37.  Notes that so far Kosovo has not become a major transit route for refugees and migrants travelling along the ‘Western Balkan route’; urges Kosovar authorities to ensure that those passing through are treated in accordance with European and international law, including the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention; reiterates that funding, amongst other provisions in the IPA II heading, should be available and ready to be mobilised and implemented swiftly and effectively in times of crisis and need;

38.  Welcomes the fact that several Serb religious and cultural sites which regrettably were destroyed in 2004, have been renovated with Kosovo public funding, such as the orthodox Cathedral; acknowledges Kosovo’s commitment to protect cultural heritage sites and calls on the authorities to implement all UN conventions on cultural heritage at all levels regardless of the status of Kosovo vis-a-vis UNESCO, through the adoption of an appropriate strategy and national legislation, and to ensure the adequate protection and management of cultural heritage sites throughout Kosovo; welcomes, in this respect, the EU-funded programme aimed at protecting and reconstructing small cultural heritage sites with a view to fostering intercultural and interreligious dialogue in all multi-ethnic municipalities; reiterates the fact that the draft law on freedom of religion needs to be adopted and should incorporate the Venice Commission’s recommendations on the matter;

39.  Warmly welcomes the Council of Europe’s decision to grant Kosovo observer status in its Parliamentary Assembly as of January 2017 in respect of Kosovo-related sessions; supports Kosovo’s efforts to integrate into the international community; calls, in this connection, for the participation of Kosovo in all the relevant regional and international organisations and urges Serbia to stop interfering in this process;

40.  Urges the Kosovo authorities to adopt a credible long-term energy strategy and legislative framework based on energy efficiency, the diversification of energy sources and the development of renewables; highlights the need to further work towards reliable electricity grids and to make the energy sector more sustainable, both in terms of security and environmental standards; calls on the authorities to sign the Western Balkan 6 Memorandum of Understanding on regional electricity market development and on establishing a framework for future collaboration with other countries; stresses that in 2017 Kosovo will hold the presidency of the Energy Community Treaty and reminds the authorities of Kosovo’s legal obligation under this treaty to ensure that 25 % of all electricity is obtained from renewables by 2020; calls on the government to respect the agreement to decommission the Kosovo A power plant and refurbish the Kosovo B power plant, making use of the EUR 60 million allocated for this purpose by the EU within the framework of IPA funds; calls for a hydropower strategy for the whole of the Western Balkans;

41.  Expresses its concern at the alarming level of air pollution in Kosovo, in particular in the Pristina urban area, and calls on the state and local authorities to urgently take adequate measures to deal with this emergency; highlights that the national strategy on air quality needs to be properly enforced; is concerned that the waste management problem remains one of the more visible problems in Kosovo and that the current legislation does not fully address the challenge;

42.  Welcomes the launch of the new railway connectivity project on the Orient/East-Med Corridor, which includes new railway track and stations in Kosovo and constitutes Kosovo’s sole connection to the wider region; calls on the government of Kosovo to fully support the implementation of the project;

43.  Welcomes the efforts made by the Commission to bring about the unblocking of the power interconnection grid between Albania and Kosovo, which has been blocked for months by Serbia, and calls for constructive cooperation between the Serbian and Kosovar electricity authorities; reminds Serbia that the deadline set by the Energy Community for removing the blockade was 31 December 2016 at the latest;

44.  Calls on the Commission to continue its work on migration-related issues with all the countries of the Western Balkans, in order to make sure that European and international norms and standards are followed; welcomes the work done so far in this regard;

45.  Calls on the Commission to make further efforts to support a true reconciliation process in the region, notably through support for cultural projects dealing with the recent past and promoting a common and shared understanding of history and a public and political culture of tolerance, inclusion and reconciliation;

46.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the European External Action Service and the Government and National Assembly of Kosovo.


2016 Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
PDF 207kWORD 55k
European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (2016/2310(INI))
P8_TA(2017)0263A8-0055/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Presidency conclusions of the Thessaloniki European Council of 19-20 June 2003 concerning the prospect of the Western Balkan countries joining the Union,

–  having regard to the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, of the other part(1),

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement concluded at Ohrid and signed at Skopje on 13 August 2001 (Ohrid Framework Agreement, ‘the OFA’),

–  having regard to the European Council’s decision of 16 December 2005 to grant the country the status of candidate for EU membership, to the European Council conclusions of June 2008, to the Council conclusions of December 2008, December 2012, December 2014 and December 2015, and to the Presidency conclusions of 13 December 2016, which received the support of the overwhelming majority of delegations and which reiterated unequivocal and strong commitment to the country’s EU accession process,

–  having regard to the 13th meeting of the Stabilisation and Association Committee between the country and the Commission, held in Skopje on 15 June 2016,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 9 November 2016 entitled ‘EU Enlargement Policy’ (COM(2016)0715), accompanied by the Commission staff working document entitled ‘The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2016 Report’ (SWD(2016)0362),

–  having regard to the June 2016 European Court of Auditors Special Report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

–  having regard to the Commission’s June 2015 Urgent Reform Priorities for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,

–  having regard to the Recommendations of the Senior Experts' Group on Systematic Rule of Law issues relating to the communications interception revealed in Spring 2015,

–  having regard to the political agreement (the so-called 'Pržino Agreement') reached between the four main political parties in Skopje on 2 June and 15 July 2015, and the four-party agreement on its implementation of 20 July and 31 August 2016,

–  having regard to the Final Declaration by the Chair of the Paris Western Balkans Summit of 4 July 2016 as well as the Recommendations of the Civil Society Organisations for the Paris Summit 2016,

–  having regard to the preliminary findings and conclusions and the final report of the OSCE/ODIHR concerning the early parliamentary elections of 11 December 2016,

–  having regard to UN Security Council resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), as well as to UN General Assembly resolution 47/225 and the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995,

–  having regard to the judgment of the International Court of Justice on the Application of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the country,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0055/2017),

A.  whereas, after twice being postponed, early parliamentary elections in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia were held on 11 December 2016 in an ordinary and calm atmosphere, in accordance with international standards and in line with OSCE/ODIHR recommendations; whereas they proceeded without major incidents, were generally well-administered and the voter turnout was high;

B.  whereas reforms and accession preparations are being hampered by political polarisation, deep mutual mistrust and a lack of a genuine dialogue between the parties; whereas backsliding in some important areas can be continuously observed; whereas democracy and the rule of law have been constantly challenged, particularly as the result of state capture affecting the functioning of democratic institutions and key areas of society;

C.  whereas, on 27 April 2017, Talat Xhaferi was elected as new Speaker of the Macedonian Parliament; whereas, on 17 May 2017, the President of the Republic of Macedonia entrusted the mandate to form a new government to SDSM leader Zoran Zaev; whereas, on 31 May 2017, the new government led by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was voted in by the Macedonian Parliament;

D.  whereas some of the key issues in the reform process include reform of the judiciary, public administration and media, youth unemployment and a review of the implementation of the OFA;

E.  whereas a serious commitment by all political forces is required for the country to continue to pursue its EU integration and Euro-Atlantic path; whereas a new government needs to adopt and fully implement robust reforms marked by tangible results, particularly as regards the areas of the rule of law, justice, corruption, fundamental rights, home affairs and good neighbourly relations;

F.  whereas there is common understanding between the Commission, the Council and the Parliament that the maintenance of the positive recommendation to open accession negotiations with the country remains dependent/conditional on progress in the implementation of the Pržino Agreement and substantial progress in the implementation of the Urgent Reform Priorities;

G.  whereas the Council has been blocking progress due to the unresolved name issue with Greece; whereas bilateral issues should not be used as a pretext to obstruct the swift start of negotiations with the EU;

H.  whereas bilateral disputes should not be used to obstruct the EU accession process, nor the opening of accession negotiations, but should be duly addressed in a constructive spirit and in compliance with EU and UN standards; whereas all efforts should be pursued to maintain good neighbourly and inter-ethnic relations;

I.  whereas (potential) candidate countries are judged on their own merits and the speed and quality of the necessary reforms determine the timetable for accession; whereas the opening of accession negotiations should be guaranteed upon the fulfilment of required conditions; whereas the country has been considered for many years as one of the most advanced EU candidate countries in terms of alignment with the acquis;

J.  whereas the EU accession process is a major incentive for further reforms, particularly with regard to the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, the fight against corruption, and media freedom; whereas regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations are essential elements of the enlargement process, the Stabilisation and Association Process and the country’s accession process;

K.  whereas on 20 July and 31 August 2016 leaders of the four main political parties reached an agreement on the implementation of the Pržino Agreement, which included setting 11 December 2016 as the date for early parliamentary elections and declaring their support for the work of the Special Prosecutor; whereas they also reiterated their commitment to implement the ‘Urgent Reform Priorities’;

L.  whereas the recent political crisis has illustrated the lack of an effective system of checks and balances in the Macedonian institutions and the need to increase transparency and public accountability;

M.  whereas fighting organised crime and corruption remains fundamental to countering criminal infiltration of the political, legal and economic systems;

1.  Welcomes the formation of a new government on 31 May 2017; urges all political parties to act in a spirit of reconciliation, in the common interest of all citizens and to work with the government on restoring confidence in the country and its institutions, including through the full implementation of the Przino Agreement and Urgent Reform Priorities;

2.  Welcomes the respect for fundamental freedoms shown at the early elections on 11 December 2016, which were well administered, were held in a transparent and inclusive manner and proceeded without major incidents; notes that the OSCE/ODIHR considered the elections competitive; welcomes the fact that all political parties accepted its results in the interest of domestic stability and underlines their responsibility to ensure that there is no backsliding into political crisis; calls on all parties to refrain from any obstruction of the effective functioning of the parliament; urges the new government to swiftly proceed with the necessary reforms, to ensure the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration and to advance its European perspective for the benefit of citizens; considers cross-party and inter-ethnic cooperation essential for addressing pressing domestic and EU-related challenges, and for maintaining the positive recommendation to open EU accession negotiations;

3.  Welcomes the improvements in the electoral process, including the legal framework, voters’ list and media coverage; welcomes the fact that civil society representatives observed the elections in a large majority of the polling stations; calls on the competent authorities to effectively address the alleged irregularities and shortcomings, including voter intimidation, vote buying, misuse of administrative resources, political pressure on the media, as well as confrontational language and verbal attacks on journalists, also in view of the local elections in May 2017; urges the competent authorities to address the recommendations made by the OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission and to establish a credible track record of effective scrutiny of political party and electoral campaign financing; stresses the need for greater transparency and further de-politicisation of the work of the electoral administration in order to increase the public’s trust in future elections;

4.  Considers it important to conduct a population census (the last census was conducted in 2002), provided that there is a country-wide consensus on the methodology to be applied, in order to obtain an updated and realistic picture of the demographics of the Macedonian population, to better meet the needs of – and offer services to – Macedonian citizens, and to further update the voters’ list and minimise any irregularities and shortcomings in the future;

5.  Expects the new government, as a first priority, in cooperation with other parties, to accelerate EU-related reforms; reiterates its support for the opening of accession negotiations, conditional on the progress of the implementation of the Pržino Agreement to ensure its full, tangible and sustainable implementation and substantial progress in the implementation of the Urgent Reform Priorities on systemic reforms; calls on the Council to address the issue of the accession negotiations at its earliest convenience; continues to be convinced that negotiations can generate much-needed reforms, create a new dynamic, revitalise the European perspective and positively influence the resolution of bilateral disputes so as not to hamper the EU accession process;

6.  Underlines the strategic importance of further progress in the EU accession process and calls again for political will and ownership to be displayed by all the parties in fully implementing the Urgent Reform Priorities and the Pržino agreement; underlines that implementation of the Pržino agreement is vital also beyond the elections to ensure political stability and sustainability in the future; calls on the Commission to assess, at its earliest convenience but before the end of 2017, the country’s progress on implementation and to report back to Parliament and to the Council; while recalling that long overdue reforms need to be launched and implemented, supports the continuation of the High Level Accession Dialogue (HLAD) for systematically assisting the country in this endeavour; regrets that no meeting was held under HLAD and that there was little progress on meeting previous targets; draws attention to the potential negative political, security and socio-economic consequences of further delays in the country’s Euro-Atlantic integration process; further calls on the Commission and the EEAS to increase the visibility of EU-funded projects in the country in order to bring the EU closer to the citizens of the country;

7.  Underlines the significant progress the country has made in the process of EU integration and emphasises the negative consequences of further delaying the process of integration, including the threat to the credibility of the EU’s enlargement policy and the risk of instability in the region;

8.  Points out that the current challenges facing the European Union (Brexit, migration, radicalism, etc.) should not hinder the enlargement process, but rather that these challenges have demonstrated the need to fully integrate the Western Balkans into EU structures in order to enhance and deepen partnership and overcome international crises;

9.  Welcomes the high level of legislative alignment with the acquis communautaire and acknowledges the priority given to the effective implementation and enforcement of existing legal and policy frameworks, as in the case of countries already engaged in the accession negotiations;

10.  Congratulates the country for continuing to fulfil its commitments under the SAA; calls on the Council to adopt the Commission’s 2009 proposal to move to the second stage of the SAA, in line with the relevant provisions;

11.  Urges all parties to demonstrate the political will and responsibility to overcome the divisive political environment, polarisation and lack of a culture of compromise and to re-engage in dialogue; emphasises again the key role of parliament in the democratic development of the country and as the forum for political dialogue and representation; calls for its oversight functions to be strengthened and for limits to be placed on the practice of frequent legislative changes to laws and the use of shortened procedures for adoption, without sufficient consultation or impact assessment; urges the smooth operation of the parliamentary committees on the interception of communications and on security and counterintelligence, and their unhindered access to the necessary data and testimonies in order to provide credible parliamentary control over relevant services; acknowledges the constructive role civil society plays in supporting and improving democratic processes;

12.  Notes some progress in reforming public administration including the steps to implement the new legal framework on human resources management; calls for further commitment to implement the Commission recommendations; remains concerned about the politicised public administration and that civil servants are subject to political pressure; urges the new government to demonstrate a strong political commitment to enhancing professionalism, merit, neutrality and independence at all levels by implementing the new merit-based recruitment and appraisal procedure; stresses the need to complete the 2017-2022 public administration reform strategy, including by making sufficient budget allocations for its implementation, and to strengthen relevant administrative capacity; calls for the incoming government to establish transparent and effective lines of accountability between and within institutions; recommends that all communities be fairly represented at all levels of the public administration;

13.  Recommends that the incoming government develop a comprehensive e-governance strategy accompanied by the further development of e-services for citizens and businesses in order to reduce the bureaucratic burden for the state, citizens and business; emphasises that e-governance and e-services would enhance the country’s economic performance and increase the transparency and efficiency of the public administration and services; stresses the right of citizens to access public information and calls for further efforts to ensure that this right is not impeded in any way; encourages the search for innovative e-solutions to ensure easy access to public information and to reduce related bureaucracy;

14.  Regrets the continuous backsliding in the reform of the judiciary, which should be encouraged to function independently; deplores recurrent political interference in its work, including in the appointment and promotion of judges and prosecutors, as well as the lack of accountability and cases of selective justice; calls once again on the competent authorities to address effectively the outstanding issues as identified in the ‘Urgent Reform Priorities’ and to demonstrate the political will to progress in judicial reform including by improving, in law and in practice, transparency in the appointment and promotion procedures and by reducing the length of court proceedings; acknowledges that some efforts have been made to improve transparency; calls, furthermore, on the authorities to ensure the professionalism of the Judicial Council and the Prosecutors Council and the functional independence of the justice system as a whole;

15.  Reiterates the importance of a thorough and independent investigation, without hindrance, into allegations of wrong-doing brought to the fore by the wiretaps and the related failures of oversight; recalls the importance of the mandate and the work of both the Special Prosecutor and the Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry to look into legal accountability and political responsibility respectively; notes that the Special Prosecutor has raised the first criminal indictments concerning wrongdoings arising from the wiretaps;

16.  Is concerned about the political attacks against, and the administrative and judicial obstructions to, the work of the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) and the lack of cooperation from other institutions; reminds the criminal courts that do not respond to official requests from the SPO that they have a legal obligation to assist the SPO; considers it essential for the democratic process that the SPO is able to fulfil all its functions and to carry out thorough investigations in full autonomy, without impediment and with the necessary means; calls for the SPO to be given full support and the conditions and time necessary to complete its important work; calls for an end to obstructions in the courts for referring evidence to the Special Prosecutor, and for support for amendments to the law to ensure it has autonomous authority for witness protection with respect to the cases for which it is responsible; strongly believes that the outcomes of the investigations constitute an important step towards restoring trust in national institutions; highlights, furthermore, the need to adopt amendments to the Law on Witness Protection;

17.  Remains concerned that corruption continues to be a serious problem and that combating corruption is being undermined by political interference; highlights the need for strong political will to tackle it; stresses the need to strengthen the independence of the police, the prosecution and the State Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (SCPC); calls for action to improve transparency and to ensure the merit-based selection and appointment of SCPC members; calls, as a matter of urgency, for efforts to be made to ensure the effective prevention and punishment of conflicts of interest and to establish a credible track record on high-level corruption, including the implementation of the legal framework for the protection of whistle-blowers in line with European standards, the Urgent Reform Priorities and the Venice Commission recommendations; encourages once again independent CSOs and the media to bring to light corruption and support independent and impartial investigations; calls on the authorities to support the work of the Ombudsman with adequate staffing and budgetary measures;

18.  Is concerned about the merging of media, political and government activities, particularly regarding public spending; strongly condemns the existence of unlawful economic, political and family ties in relation to the spending of public funds; calls on the government to adopt a legislative framework that regulates conflicts of interest and makes public the assets of persons occupying high state positions as an additional measure to fight corruption;

19.  Welcomes the fact that the legislative framework and strategies for fighting organised crime are in place; welcomes the dismantling of criminal networks and routes related to trafficking in human beings and drugs and calls for a further stepping up of the efforts to fight organised crime; encourages further improvement of cooperation between law enforcement agencies both within the country and with neighbouring countries and the strengthening of the powers and resources of the courts; considers it essential to further develop the law enforcement capacity to investigate financial crimes and confiscate assets;

20.  Appreciates the continued efforts to fight Islamic radicalisation and foreign terrorist fighters; welcomes the adoption of the 2013-2019 strategy to fight terrorism, which also defines the concepts of violent extremism, radicalisation, prevention and reintegration; calls for its implementation through more cooperation between security agencies and civil society organisations (CSOs), religious leaders, local communities and other state institutions in the education, health and social services sectors in addressing the different stages of radicalisation and developing tools for reintegration and rehabilitation; further calls for continued monitoring of returning foreign fighters by security services, their proper reintegration into society and a constant exchange of information with the authorities of the EU and neighbouring countries;

21.  Is concerned about signals coming from CSOs referring to the deterioration of the climate in which they operate; remains concerned about radical public attacks on CSOs and foreign representatives by politicians and the media; acknowledges and encourages the important role played by CSOs in monitoring, supporting and improving democratic processes, including the electoral process, and ensuring checks and balances; is concerned about limited government commitment and insufficient cooperation with CSOs at all levels; highlights the importance of a regular and constructive dialogue and cooperation with CSOs and urges the competent authorities to include them in policymaking in a regular and structured manner; calls on the authorities not to discriminate against CSOs on any grounds such as political affiliation, religious views or ethnic composition; believes that freedom of assembly and association should not be denied to any group of people without serious justification;

22.  Encourages the authorities to resume work on the interrupted census which would provide accurate population statistics that could serve as a basis for government development programmes and adequate budget planning;

23.  Reminds the government and political parties of their responsibilities in shaping, by law and in practice, a culture of inclusion and tolerance; welcomes the adoption of the national strategy for equality and non-discrimination 2016-2020; is concerned about impartiality and the independence of the Commission for Protection from Discrimination and calls for a transparent selection process for its members; reiterates its condemnation of hate speech against discriminated groups; is concerned that intolerance, discrimination and attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people persists; reiterates its call for the Anti-Discrimination Law to be aligned with the acquis as regards discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation; underlines again the need to combat prejudice and discrimination against the Roma, and to facilitate their integration and their access to the education system and the labour market; is concerned about the inhumane physical conditions and overcrowding in prisons, despite a significant increase in the prison budget; calls for the Ombudsman’s recommendations to be respected;

24.  Calls for further efforts to promote gender equality and increase the participation of women in political life and employment, to improve their socio-economic situation and to strengthen women’s rights on the whole; calls on the competent authorities to improve the implementation of the Law on Equal Opportunities, to tackle the underrepresentation of women in key decision-making positions at all levels and to strengthen the effectiveness of institutional mechanisms to advance equality between men and women; urges the competent authorities to make sufficient budget allocations for its implementation; is concerned about the lack of women’s access to some basic health services and the persistently high infant mortality rate;

25.  Urges the government to take measures to review the Law on Prevention and Protection against Domestic Violence and other relevant laws, in order to provide appropriate protection to all victims of domestic violence and gender-based violence and to improve support services to victims of domestic violence, including an adequate number of shelters; further urges the government to ensure that cases of domestic violence are thoroughly investigated and perpetrators prosecuted, and to continue to raise awareness about domestic violence;

26.  Reiterates that the interethnic situation remains fragile; urges all political parties and CSOs to actively promote an inclusive and tolerant multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and to strengthen coexistence and dialogue; believes that specific measures are needed in order to achieve social cohesion among the various ethnic, national and religious communities; reminds the government and party leaders of their commitment to fully implement the OFA in an inclusive and transparent manner, to complete its overdue review without further delay, including policy recommendations, and to ensure a sufficient budget for its implementation; condemns any form of irredentism and any attempt to disintegrate different social groups; stresses the importance of starting the long-awaited census without further delay;

27.  Calls on the Commission to make further efforts to support a true reconciliation process in the region, notably through support for cultural projects dealing with the recent past and promoting a common and shared understanding of history and a public and political culture of tolerance, inclusion and reconciliation;

28.  Reiterates that the authorities and civil society should take appropriate measures to achieve historical reconciliation in order to overcome the divide between and within different ethnic and national groups, including citizens of Bulgarian identity;

29.  Urges the government to send clear signals to the public and the media that discrimination on the basis of national identity is not tolerated in the country, including in relation to the justice system, media, employment and social opportunities; underlines the importance of these actions for the integration of the various ethnic communities and the stability and European integration of the country;

30.  Encourages the authorities to retrieve the relevant Yugoslav secret service archives from Serbia; takes the view that transparent handling of the totalitarian past, including the opening-up of the secret service archives, is a step towards further democratisation, accountability and institutional strength;

31.  Reiterates the importance of media freedom and independence as one of the core EU values and a cornerstone of any democracy; remains concerned over freedom of expression and the media, the use of hate speech, the cases of intimidation and self-censorship, systemic political interference in and pressure on editorial policies, the absence of investigative, objective and accurate reporting, as well as unbalanced reporting of government activities; reiterates its call for reporting of a variety of viewpoints through the mainstream media, particularly the public service broadcaster;

32.  Calls on the new government to ensure that intimidation or violence against journalists is prevented and duly investigated and that those responsible be brought to justice; underlines the need for the sustainability and political and financial autonomy of the public service broadcast in order to ensure its financial and editorial independence, and the right of access to impartial information; calls for inclusive media interest representation bodies; calls for the establishment of a professional code of conduct accepted by both public and private media; encourages joint work between government officials, CSOs and journalist organisations on the media reform;

33.  Remains concerned that the political situation represents a serious risk to the Macedonian economy; continues to be concerned about weak contract enforcement, the size of the informal economy and the difficulty in obtaining access to finance; stresses that the sizeable shadow economy is an important obstacle to business; stresses the need to take measures to enhance competitiveness and job creation in the private sector, and calls on the competent authorities to also address judicial efficiency;

34.  Welcomes the maintenance of macro-economic stability, the reduction of the unemployment rate and the government’s continued commitment to promoting growth and employment through market-based economic policies, but is concerned about the sustainability of public debt and the fact that unemployment still remains high with very low labour market participation, especially among young people, women and the disabled; further urges competent authorities to tackle long-term and structural unemployment, to promote economic policy cooperation, to better align education with labour market demands and to develop a targeted strategy on how to better integrate young people and women into the labour market; is concerned about the outflow of highly educated young professionals and strongly calls on the government to develop programmes to allow highly educated young professionals to return and participate in the political and decision-making processes; calls for action to improve fiscal discipline and transparency and increase budget planning capacity; encourages the principle of balanced budgets; notes that a reliable and predictable regulatory environment for businesses leads to increased macro-economic stability and growth; calls for proper consultation with all stakeholders in this regard;

35.  Welcomes the progress made in modernising transport, energy and telecommunications networks and, in particular, the efforts to complete Corridor X(2); in view of the importance of railway links in the framework of a sustainable system of transport, welcomes the government’s intention to upgrade or construct railway links from Skopje to the capitals of the neighbouring countries and calls for greater progress, especially in the finalisation of the railway and road connections within Corridor VIII(3);

36.  Commends the good level of preparation in the field of electronic communications and the information society; calls for further advancement in the area of cyber security and underlines the need to develop and adopt a national cyber security strategy in order to increase cyber resilience;

37.  Is concerned about the significant shortcomings in the field of the environment, in particular in the area of industrial pollution and air and water pollution; notes that the current condition of the water-supply system is generally poor, resulting in high water loss and water quality issues; stresses the need to develop and implement a sustainable waste policy and calls for a comprehensive policy and strategy on climate action to be developed that is in line with the EU 2030 framework for climate policy, and for the ratification and implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement;

38.  Welcomes the country's constructive role in regional cooperation, particularly in the Western Balkans Six initiative and connectivity agenda; notes, however, that transport and energy infrastructure linkages to regional neighbours and the connection to the TEN-T network are still limited; welcomes the progress made on the security of supply, as well as in the area of electricity transmission interconnectors and gas interconnections; notes the agreement signed with the Western Balkans countries on the development of a regional electricity market; highlights the need to make progress on opening up the electricity market and to develop competition in the gas and energy market, working towards the unbundling of utilities in line with the EU’s Third Energy Package; calls for substantial improvements as regards energy efficiency, the production of renewable energy and the fight against climate change; calls for the ratification of the Paris climate agreement;

39.  Urges the authorities to strengthen the administrative and financing capacities in order to ensure a transparent, efficient and effective public procurement regime, prevent any irregularities and implement EU funds properly and in a timely manner, and to provide, at the same time, detailed regular reports on the programming and use of Community funds; notes with concern that the Commission has yet again reduced the IPA financial assistance by approximately EUR 27 million as a consequence of the lack of political commitment to deliver on reforms in public financial management; calls on the Commission to include information about IPA support for the country and the effectiveness of implemented measures in its reports, in particular the IPA support allocated to implementation of the key priorities and relevant projects;

40.  Commends the country for its constructive role and cooperation and its tremendous efforts in addressing the challenges of the migration crisis, thus substantially contributing to the security and stability of the EU; in this regard, calls on the Commission to provide the country with all necessary tools to alleviate the crisis; recommends further measures and actions in compliance with international humanitarian law to improve its asylum system, to ensure the necessary capacity to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings and in migrants, including cooperation agreements with neighbouring States in the fight against crime, and to ensure effective border management;

41.  Notes that the country lies on the so-called ‘Western Balkans route’ and that approximately 600 000 refugees and migrants, including vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly, have so far travelled through it on their way to Europe; urges its authorities to ensure that migrants and refugees applying for asylum in the country or traveling through its territory, are treated in accordance with international and EU law, including the 1951 Refugee Conventions and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights;

42.  Calls on the Commission to continue the work on migration-related issues with all the countries of the Western Balkans, in order to make sure that European and international norms and standards are followed;

43.  Emphasises the importance of regional cooperation as a tool to drive forward the process of EU integration, and commends the country’s constructive efforts and proactive contributions in promoting bilateral relations with all countries in the region;

44.  Believes that regional cooperation is an essential element in the EU accession process, bringing stability and prosperity to the region, and should be a priority for the government; welcomes the country’s continued constructive role and proactive contributions towards promoting bilateral, regional and international cooperation, as well as its participation in civilian and military crisis management operations; commends the increased alignment with EU foreign policy (73°%); calls on Macedonian authorities to also align with the EU’s restrictive measures against Russia following the illegal annexation of Crimea; reiterates the importance of finalising the negotiations on a treaty on friendship and good neighbourliness with Bulgaria; calls on the authorities to respect the political, social and cultural rights of citizens of the country who identify themselves as Bulgarians;

45.  Encourages the establishment of joint expert committees on history and education with neighbouring countries, with the aim of contributing to an objective, fact-based interpretation of history, strengthening academic cooperation and promoting positive attitudes in young people towards their neighbours;

46.  Welcomes the tangible results from the initiative for confidence-building measures between this country and Greece, which could contribute to a better understanding and stronger bilateral relations, paving the way for a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, and acknowledges positive developments regarding their implementation; underlines the importance of avoiding gestures, controversial actions and statements which can have a negative impact on good neighbourly relations; strongly reiterates its invitation to the Vice-President/High Representative (VP/HR) and the Commission to develop new initiatives to overcome the remaining differences and to work, in cooperation with the two countries and the UN Special Representative, on a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue and to report back to Parliament thereon;

47.  Welcomes the activities carried out in the framework of the Berlin Process, which demonstrate strong political support for the European perspective of Western Balkan countries; points out the importance of this process for the promotion of the economic development of the countries in the region through investments in core networks and bilateral projects in the fields of infrastructure, the economy and interconnectivity; reiterates the importance of active participation in the regional youth-related initiatives, such as the Regional Youth Cooperation Office of the Western Balkans; welcomes the establishment of the Western Balkans Fund, and urges the Commission to take into account the initiatives and projects proposed;

48.  Commends the country on its chairmanship of the CEI when the focus throughout 2015 was on economic cooperation and business opportunities, infrastructure and general economic development, including rural development and tourism, and on bridging macro-regions;

49.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Vice-President/High Representative, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government and parliament of the country.

(1) OJ L 84, 20.3.2004, p. 13.
(2) Corridor X is one of the pan-European transport corridors and runs from Salzburg (Austria) to Thessaloniki (Greece).
(3) Corridor VIII is one of the pan-European transport corridors and runs from Durrës (Albania) to Varna (Bulgaria). It also passes through Skopje.


Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
PDF 167kWORD 46k
European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2017/2703(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0264RC-B8-0397/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions, in particular those on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of 23 June 2016(1), 1 December 2016(2) and 2 February 2017(3),

–  having regard to the statements by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini and by her Spokesperson on the situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the statements by the EU Delegation to the DRC on the situation of human rights in the country,

–  having regard to the political agreement reached in the DRC on 31 December 2016,

–  having regard to the resolution of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of 15 June 2016 on the pre-electoral and security situation in the DRC,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 17 October 2016 and 6 March 2017 on the DRC,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 10 March 2017 on the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC,

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on the DRC, in particular resolution 2293 (2016) on renewing the DRC sanctions regime and the mandate of the Group of Experts, and resolution 2348 (2017) on renewing the mandate of the UN Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO),

–  having regard to the joint statement on the DRC by the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and the International Organisation of La Francophonie of 16 February 2017,

–  having regard to the revised Cotonou Partnership Agreement,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance,

–  having regard to the Constitution of the DRC, adopted on 18 February 2006,

–  having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the DRC has suffered from continuous cycles of conflict and brutal political repression; whereas the humanitarian and security crisis in the DRC has further deteriorated as a result of the political crisis caused by non-compliance by President Joseph Kabila with the constitutionally mandated two-term limit;

B.  whereas the conflict is occurring in the context of a political crisis in the DRC; whereas an agreement reached on 31 December 2016 under the auspices of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo (CENCO) envisages a political transition to end with free and fair presidential elections to be held by the end of 2017 without changing the constitution; whereas to date no progress has been made on the implementation of the agreement;

C.  whereas in August 2016 armed clashes broke out between the Congolese army and local militias in the Central Kasai province and spread to the neighbouring provinces of Eastern Kasai, Lomami and Sankuru, causing a humanitarian crisis and resulting in the internal displacement of over one million civilians; whereas UN reports have documented mass violations of human rights, including the massacre of more than 500 civilians and the discovery of over 40 mass graves; whereas according to the UN nearly 400 000 children are on the verge of starvation; whereas 165 Congolese civil society organisations and human rights defenders have called for an independent international investigation into the mass violations of human rights in the provinces of Kasai and Lomami, emphasising that both governmental forces and militiamen are implicated in these crimes;

D.  whereas two UN experts, along with support staff, were kidnapped and murdered in the Kasai province in March 2017;

E.  whereas the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) launched a USD 64,5 million appeal in April 2017 for urgent humanitarian assistance in the Kasai region;

F.  whereas human rights organisations are continually reporting on the worsening situation in the country regarding human rights and freedom of expression, assembly and demonstration, an increase in politically motivated trials and the excessive force used against peaceful demonstrators, journalists and political opposition, particularly perpetrated by the army and militias; whereas women and children are the first victims of the conflict, and sexual and gender-based violence, often used as a tactic of war, is widespread;

G.  whereas, under its mandate which was renewed in April 2017 for another year, MONUSCO should contribute to the protection of civilians amid the escalation of violence, and should support the implementation of the political agreement of 31 December 2016, while the MONUSCO contingent should also be deployed with due regard for new security and humanitarian priorities;

H.  whereas the EU adopted restrictive measures on 12 December 2016 against seven individuals in response to the obstruction of the electoral process and human rights violations, and on 29 May 2017 against a further nine individuals who hold positions of responsibility in the state administration and in the chain of command of the DRC security forces;

1.  Remains deeply concerned at the deterioration of the political, security and humanitarian situation in the DRC; strongly condemns all human rights violations, including acts of violence by all perpetrators, abductions, killings, torture, sexual violence, and arbitrary arrests and illegal detentions;

2.  Calls for the opening of an independent and comprehensive committee of inquiry, including UN experts, in order to shed light on the violence in the Kasai region and to ensure that the perpetrators of these massacres are held to account for their actions; calls on the Member States to politically and financially support a committee of inquiry;

3.  Recalls that the Government of the DRC bears the primary responsibility to protect civilians within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction, including protection from crimes against humanity and war crimes;

4.  Strongly regrets the delays in organising the next presidential and legislative elections in the DRC, which constitutes a violation of the Congolese constitution; further regrets the lack of progress in implementing the political agreement of 31 December 2016 for transitional arrangements; recalls the commitment made by the Government of the DRC for transparent, free, and fair elections to be held in a credible manner before the end of 2017, ensuring the protection of political rights and freedoms and in compliance with the political agreement, leading to a peaceful transfer of power; reiterates the importance of the publication of a detailed electoral calendar, while welcoming the process of electoral registration; calls for the early implementation of the commitments contained in the agreement, in particular the amending and adoption of the necessary laws in the Congolese parliament before the end of the parliamentary session; calls for the electoral law to be amended in order to guarantee the representation of women through appropriate measures;

5.  Underlines that the Independent National Electoral Commission is responsible for being an impartial and inclusive institution in the implementation of a credible and democratic electoral process; calls for the immediate creation of a national council for monitoring the agreement and electoral process, in accordance with the 2016 political agreement;

6.  Recalls the duty of government to respect, protect and promote fundamental freedoms as a basis for democracy; urges the Congolese authorities to restore an environment conducive to the free and peaceful exercise of freedom of expression, association and assembly and freedom of the media; demands the immediate release of those unlawfully detained, including journalists, opposition members and civil society representatives; asks all political stakeholders to pursue political dialogue;

7.  Condemns all violations of international humanitarian law committed by national authorities and security services; is further concerned by reports of serious human rights violations by local militias, including the unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers, which could constitute war crimes under international law; considers that putting an end to the phenomenon of child soldiers must be a priority of the authorities and of the international community;

8.  Reiterates its deep concern about the alarming humanitarian situation in the DRC, which includes displacement, food insecurity, epidemics and natural disasters; urges the EU and its Member States to increase financial and humanitarian aid through reliable organisations, in order to meet the urgent needs of the population, particularly in the Kasai province; strongly condemns all attacks conducted on humanitarian personnel and facilities, and insists that the Congolese authorities ensure the smooth and timely delivery of aid to the population by humanitarian organisations;

9.  Welcomes the renewal of MONUSCO’s mandate and the work done by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the DRC to protect civilians and uphold human rights in the electoral context; stresses that the original and current mandate, which applies to all UN troops in the country, is to ‘neutralise armed groups’; calls for the entire MONUSCO force to fully intervene and protect the population from armed groups, to protect women from rape and other sexual violence, and not to allow any limitations on the basis of national command;

10.  Notes with concern the risk of regional destabilisation; reiterates its support for the United Nations, the International Organisation of La Francophonie and the African Union in facilitating political dialogue; calls for an intensification of engagement in the Great Lakes region in order to prevent further destabilisation;

11.  Recalls the importance of holding individuals to account for human rights abuses and other actions which undermine a consensual and peaceful solution in the DRC; supports the use of EU targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for serious human rights violations; calls for further investigations of, and sanctions to be extended against, the persons responsible, at the highest level of government, for the violence and crimes committed in the DRC and for the plunder of its natural resources, in conformity with the investigations carried out by the UN Group of Experts; stresses that the sanctions must include asset freezes and the prohibition of entering the EU;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the European Commission / High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers and Joint Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary-General of the UN, and the President, Prime Minister and Parliament of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0290.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0479.
(3) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0017.


State of play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh
PDF 184kWORD 49k
European Parliament resolution of 14 June 2017 on the state of play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh (2017/2636(RSP))
P8_TA(2017)0265B8-0396/2017

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its resolution of 26 November 2015 on freedom of expression in Bangladesh(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 29 April 2015 on the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza building collapse and progress of the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact(2),

–  having regard to its resolution of 18 September 2014 on human rights violations in Bangladesh(3),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 April 2017 on the EU flagship initiative on the garment sector(4),

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Bangladesh, in particular those of 16 January 2014(5), 21 November 2013(6) and 14 March 2013(7),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 25 November 2010 on human rights and social and environmental standards in international trade agreements(8) and on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(9),

–  having regard to its resolutions of 6 February 2013 on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility: accountable, transparent and responsible business behaviour and sustainable growth’(10), and on ‘Corporate Social Responsibility: promoting society’s interests and a route to sustainable and inclusive recovery’(11),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 24 April 2017 entitled ‘Sustainable garment value chains through EU development action’ (SWD(2017)0147),

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘A renewed EU strategy 2011-2014 for Corporate Social Responsibility’ (COM(2011)0681) and to the results of the public consultation on the Commission’s work on the direction of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy after 2014,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on a new forward-looking and innovative future strategy for trade and investment(12),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 14 October 2015 entitled ‘Trade for all - Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy’ (COM(2015)0497),

–  having regard to the Cooperation Agreement between the European Community and the People’s Republic of Bangladesh on Partnership and Development,

–  having regard to the Sustainability Compact for Continuous Improvements in Labour Rights and Factory Safety in the Ready-Made Garment and Knitwear Industry in Bangladesh,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Bangladesh Sustainability Compact Technical Status Reports of July 2016 and of 24 April 2015,

–  having regard to the mission report of 23 January 2017 by its Committee on International Trade following the ad hoc delegation visit to Bangladesh (Dhaka) of 15 to 17 November 2016,

–  having regard to the ‘Better Work Bangladesh’ programme of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), launched in October 2013,

–  having regard to the ILO High Level Tripartite Mission Report, and the 2017 observations of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations concerning Conventions 87 and 98,

–  having regard to the special paragraph in the report of the ILO Committee on Application of Standards of the ILO Conference of 2016,

–  having regard to the complaint filed in 2017 with the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association concerning the government’s crackdown on garment workers in Ashulia in December 2016 and the complaint filed with the UN Special Mandates, also concerning the crackdown in Ashulia,

–  having regard to the UN’s Johannesburg Declaration on sustainable consumption and production to promote social and economic development,

–  having regard to the UNCTAD Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (2015),

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which lay down a framework for both governments and companies to protect and respect human rights, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2011,

–  having regard to the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption,

–  having regard to the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,

–  having regard to the Accord Quarterly Aggregate Report on remediation progress at RMG (ready-made garments) factories covered by the Accord of 31 October 2016,

–  having regard to the question to the Commission on the state of play of the implementation of the Sustainability Compact in Bangladesh (O-000037/2017 – B8‑0217/2017),

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on International Trade,

–  having regard to Rules 128(5) and 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Bangladesh has become the world’s second largest garment producer, with the textile sector providing almost 81 % of total exports; whereas 60 % of the clothing output of Bangladesh goes to the EU, which is the country’s major export market;

B.  whereas the ready-made garment (RMG) industry currently employs 4,2 million people in as many as 5 000 factories and indirectly supports the livelihoods of as many as 40 million people – about a quarter of Bangladesh’s population; whereas the RMG industry has made an important contribution to poverty reduction and to the empowerment of women; whereas women, mostly from rural areas, represent 80 % of the RMG sector in Bangladesh; whereas, nonetheless, 80 % of workers are still employed in the informal sector; whereas the complex nature of the garment supply chain and its low level of transparency facilitate human rights violations and increase exploitation; whereas the minimum wage in the RMG sector has remained below the World Bank’s poverty line;

C.  whereas gender equality is a driver of development; whereas women’s rights fall within the human rights spectrum; whereas it is clearly laid down in Article 8 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union that ‘in all its activities, the Union shall aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality, between men and women’, and, therefore, the EU has a duty to mainstream gender equality in all its policies, guaranteeing that men and women benefit equally from social change, economic growth and the creation of decent jobs, doing away with discrimination and promoting respect for women’s rights in the world;

D.  whereas approximately 10 % of the workforce in the RMG sector is employed in Export Processing Zones (EPZs); whereas the EPZ Labour Act falls short of granting sufficient basic rights to workers in comparison to those elsewhere in Bangladesh; whereas a large expansion of EPZs is planned;

E.  whereas the EU’s generous unilateral trade preferences under the ‘Everything but arms’ initiative for least-developed countries (LDCs), enshrined in the EU GSP regulation granting tariff-free access for Bangladesh textiles under flexible rules of origin, have significantly contributed to the success story of Bangladesh’s sizeable garment exports and growth in employment;

F.  whereas these trade preferences are enshrined in the EU’s principle of promoting fair and free trade, and, therefore, allow the EU to suspend GSP benefits in the most serious cases of human rights violations on the basis of Chapter V, Article 19(1)(a) of the GSP regulation, which stipulates that preferential treatment may be withdrawn temporarily on a number of grounds, including serious and systematic violation of the principles laid down in the conventions listed in Part A of Annex VIII, among them the ILO’s eight fundamental conventions;

G.  whereas on the basis of these provisions, the Commission and the EEAS launched, at the beginning of 2017, an enhanced dialogue on labour and human rights with the aim of achieving better compliance with the principles of those conventions;

H.  whereas the ILO devoted a special paragraph to Bangladesh in the report of its Committee on Application of Standards from its conference in 2016, finding the country in serious breach of its obligations under Convention 87 (freedom of association); whereas in 2015 the ILO reported that 78 % of trade union registration applications were rejected, owing to a mixture of hostility to unions on the part of factory managers and certain politicians and an administrative incapacity to register them;

I.  whereas, according to various reports, hundreds of garment workers have died in various factory fires in Bangladesh since 2006, for which regrettably the numerous culpable factory owners and managers have never been brought to justice; whereas it is estimated that every year some 11 700 workers are killed in fatal accidents and another 24 500 die from work-related diseases, across all sectors;

J.  whereas the current minimum wage of 5 300 takas (BDT) or USD 67 per month has not been increased since 2013 and the minimum wage board has not been convened;

K.  whereas since 21 December 2016, following strikes and demonstrations by Bangladeshi garment workers seeking higher wages, the authorities arbitrarily arrested and detained at least 35 union leaders or advocates, shut down union and NGO offices or put them under police surveillance, and suspended or dismissed about 1 600 workers for protesting against low wages in the garment industry;

L.  whereas Bangladesh ranks 145th out of 177 countries on the Transparency Index; whereas corruption is endemic in the global garment supply chain and involves the political class as well as local administrations;

M.  whereas a number of promising initiatives led by the private sector such as the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety (‘the Accord’) have contributed moderately positively to improving supply chain standards and workforce safety over the last 20 years in terms of increasing workers’ rights in the garment supply chain;

N.  whereas the conclusions of the successive reviews of the Compact in 2014, 2015 and 2016 report tangible improvements achieved by the Bangladeshi authorities in some areas, and recognise the contribution of the Compact in moderately improving health and safety in factories and working conditions in the RMG industry; whereas progress relating to workers’ rights has been more challenging and no substantial evolution has been witnessed in the last few years in this area; whereas accordingly to the ILO, the shortcomings in amending and implementing the Bangladesh Labour Act of 2013 are resulting in severe obstacles to the exercise of the right of freedom of association and to registering trade unions, especially in the RMG sector in the EPZs; whereas workers in EPZs have been denied the right to join a trade union;

O.  whereas following the disaster, there has been unprecedented demand from European consumers for greater information on where products originate and the conditions in which they are produced; whereas European citizens have submitted countless petitions and have organised campaigns demanding greater accountability from garment brands, to ensure that their products are manufactured in an ethical way;

Responsible business in Bangladesh - primarily a domestic task

1.  Stresses that despite its impressive track record on growth and development in recent years, Bangladesh needs to make sizeable efforts in the long run in order to achieve sustainable and more inclusive economic growth; underlines that structural reforms leading to increased productivity, further diversification of exports, social justice, workers’ rights, environmental protection and fighting corruption would be essential in this sense;

2.  Calls on the Government of Bangladesh to enhance its level of engagement as regards improving safety and working conditions and workers’ rights in the garment sector as a matter of highest priority, and to enhance the implementation of the legislation on building and factory safety, to continue to increase government funding for the labour inspectorate, to continue to recruit and train more factory inspectors, to provide for conditions to lower the turnover of labour inspectors, to set up an annual work plan for follow-up inspections of factories subject to remediation, and to enlarge building and factory inspections to other sectors;

3.  Calls on the Government of Bangladesh to amend the 2013 Labour Act so as to address freedom of association and collective bargaining in an effective fashion, to promote social dialogue, to ensure the speedy and non-arbitrary registration of trade unions, to ensure the effective investigation and prosecution of alleged anti-union discrimination and unfair labour practices, to guarantee a legislative framework for labour matters that is in full conformity with international standards, notably in full compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association and collective bargaining, and that is effectively implemented; further urges the government to ensure that the law governing the EPZs allows for full freedom of association in line with the same international standards, and to actively investigate, as a matter of urgency, all acts of anti-union discrimination;

4.  Urges the Government of Bangladesh, industry associations and factory owners to pursue remediation work for all export-oriented RMG factories and to ensure that repairs and other inspection follow-ups are undertaken and transparently monitored by the relevant public authorities, recognising the usefulness of the funds mobilised by donors and the importance of effective financial support;

5.  Urges the Government of Bangladesh to immediately reconvene the minimum wage board and institute a shorter frequency of wage review;

Private-sector initiatives - an effective and valuable contribution

6.  Calls on the international brands and retailers and the Bangladeshi private sector to stay engaged in order to respect the labour laws and implement CSR measures, and to improve their record as regards responsible business practices, including ensuring decent working conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers, as well as facilitating the provision of transparent information on which factories are producing the goods and coordination mechanisms between relevant initiatives; encourages the continuation of the work of the global retailers and brands for the adoption of a unified code of conduct for factory audits in Bangladesh;

7.  Stresses the achievements of the engagement of the private business sector in cooperation with the Government of Bangladesh and international organisations in the country, through the Accord on Fire and Building Safety; points out, however, that despite marking progress on fire and building safety, the Accord partners still remain concerned with the slow pace of completing remediation on critical safety issues; calls on the parties to the Accord to prolong their engagement by means of it for another period of five years, before the current agreement comes to an end on 12 May 2018; invites the government, as well as the Bangladeshi business sector, to acknowledge the usefulness of the commitment of retailers in Bangladesh through the Accord, and to support the extension of the mandate given to the Accord partners in Bangladesh;

8.  Calls on the Government of Bangladesh and the private sector to continue their initiatives aimed at financial compensation and rehabilitation of victims, to develop an effective re-employment strategy and to offer support for entrepreneurship and livelihoods skills;

The EU and the international community - shared responsibility

9.  Supports the follow-up activities to the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact and the enhanced dialogue of the Commission and the EEAS with Bangladesh on labour and human rights, aimed at achieving better compliance with the principles of the conventions listed in the GSP regulation;

10.  Supports the Commission’s examination of a possible EU-wide initiative on the garment sector, with voluntary initiatives and strict codes of conduct as its key principles; notes the Commission’s working document of 24 April 2017 entitled ‘Sustainable garment value chains through EU development action’, and reiterates its demand not to limit itself only to that working document, but to include the possible consideration of binding legislation on due diligence; stresses furthermore that coordination, sharing of information and exchange of best practices and the commitment of governments to set the appropriate framework conditions can contribute to increasing the efficiency of private and public value chain initiatives and help achieve positive results on sustainable development; underlines the importance of raising awareness among consumers so as to increase transparency, as well as supporting the efforts for better labour and environmental standards, product safety and sustainable consumption;

11.  Takes the view that the Bangladesh Sustainability Compact, in which the EU is a key player, could serve as a paradigm for the establishment of similar partnerships with third countries; calls on the EU to continue and step up its cooperation at international level with organisations such as the ILO, the OECD and the UN in the area of sustainable development and CSR;

12.  Supports the efforts of the UN open-ended working group set up with the aim of drawing up a binding UN treaty on business and human rights; calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively engage in the resulting negotiations;

13.  Underlines that failure to improve the security situation and systematically confront the threats posed by extremists in Bangladesh will have a direct effect on investment in the country, which will ultimately hold back long-term development and the lives of ordinary people;

Conclusions

14.  Stresses that the high-quality garment sector is essential for economic and social development in Bangladesh, and that its expansion has allowed large numbers of workers, especially women, to move from the informal to the formal economy; warns against initiatives that could lead to the disengagement of EU and other businesses from Bangladesh and would be damaging not only for the country’s reputation but, most importantly, for its future development prospects;

15.  Underlines that it is the shared duty of the Government of Bangladesh, the local private sector, the international community and business partners to contribute to achieving responsible business conduct as an overarching goal;

o
o   o

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the European External Action Service, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the UN Human Rights Council, the Government and Parliament of Bangladesh, and the Director-General of the ILO.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2015)0414.
(2) OJ C 346, 21.9.2016, p. 39.
(3) OJ C 234, 28.6.2016, p. 10.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0196.
(5) OJ C 482, 23.12.2016, p. 149.
(6) OJ C 436, 24.11.2016, p. 39.
(7) OJ C 36, 29.1.2016, p. 145.
(8) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 31.
(9) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(10) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 28.
(11) OJ C 24, 22.1.2016, p. 33.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0299.

Legal notice - Privacy policy