Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 8 February 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Russia, the case of Oyub Titiev and the Human Rights Centre Memorial
 Executions in Egypt
 Child slavery in Haiti
 Guarantee Fund for external actions ***I
 EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union ***I
 Annual Report on the Financial Activities of the European Investment Bank
 Current human rights situation in Turkey
 Situation in Venezuela
 Situation of UNRWA
 Time change arrangements

Russia, the case of Oyub Titiev and the Human Rights Centre Memorial
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on Russia, the case of Oyub Titiev and the Human Rights Centre Memorial (2018/2560(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0034RC-B8-0096/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Russia, in particular its resolutions of 13 June 2013 on the rule of law in Russia(1), 13 March 2014 on Russia: sentencing of demonstrators involved in the Bolotnaya Square events(2), 23 October 2014 on the closing-down of the NGO ‘Memorial’ (winner of the 2009 Sakharov Prize) in Russia(3), of 12 March 2015 on the murder of the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and the state of democracy in Russia(4), of 24 November 2016 on case of Ildar Dadin, prisoner of conscience in Russia(5) and of 6 April 2017 on Russia, the arrest of Alexei Navalny and other protestors(6),

–  having regard to the statement by the Chairs of Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Human Rights of 12 January 2018 calling for the immediate release of human rights defender Oyub Titiev,

–  having regard to Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and to which the Russian Federation is a party,

–  having regard to the EU statement of 19 January 2018 on human rights violations concerning the Memorial Human Rights Centre in Russia and the statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 11 January 2018 on the detention of the Director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the Chechen Republic, Mr Oyub Titiev,

–  having regard to the visit by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture to the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation in November-December 2017,

–  having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998,

–  having regard to the existing Agreement on partnership and cooperation (PCA) establishing a partnership between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the Russian Federation, of the other part and to the suspended negotiations for a new EU-Russia agreement,

–  having regard to the seventh periodic report of the Russian Federation considered by the UN Human Rights Committee at its 3136th and 3137th meetings, held on 16 and 17 March 2015,

–  having regard to the European Council Guidelines of 24 June 2013 to promote and protect the enjoyment of all human rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the Russian Federation, as a full member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, has committed itself to the principles of democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights; whereas Russia has the obligation and the means to investigate the crimes carried out by the Chechen authorities; whereas the Russian Federation has ratified 11 out of the 18 international human rights treaties;

B.  whereas Oyub Titiev, the Chechnya office director at the 2009 Sakharov Prize-winning human rights organisation, the Memorial Human Rights Centre (commonly known as Memorial), was arrested on 9 January 2018 by Chechen police and charged with drug possession; whereas these charges have been denied by Mr Titiev and denounced as fabricated by NGOs and other human rights defenders;

C.  whereas on 25 January 2018 the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic upheld the decision of the Shalinsky City Court to remand Oyub Titiev in custody for two months;

D.  whereas the criminal law of the Russian Federation has been amended and a new Article 212.1 has been introduced, under which a person may be charged in the event of violation of the law on public assemblies, notwithstanding the fact that this amendment restricts the freedom of speech and assembly;

E.  whereas Russian authorities show a tendency towards disrespecting the right of free assembly and detained more than 1 000 demonstrating citizens in the City of Moscow alone and numerous more in several other cities of the Russian Federation after the peaceful demonstrations held on 26 March 2017;

F.  whereas the number of political prisoners in the country has significantly increased in recent years, amounting to 102 persons in 2016, according to the Memorial Human Rights Centre;

G.  whereas the NGO law of 2012 has severely restricted NGOs’ ability to work independently and to operate in an effective manner; whereas, under this law, Memorial has been designated a ‘foreign agent’ by the Russian Ministry of Justice;

H.  whereas Yuri Dmitriev, a Memorial historian, was part of the team that found a mass grave of more than 9 000 people at Sandarmokh, many of them members of the Soviet intelligentsia; whereas, in recent years, Memorial has become the last remaining independent human rights organisation that continues to operate in the Republic of Chechnya; whereas it is very likely that the attacks on human rights defenders in the Chechen Republic, including the fabricated criminal charges against Oyub Titiev and arson attacks in neighbouring republics, were orchestrated in retaliation against Memorial for exposing and seeking justice for human rights violations in Chechnya;

I.  whereas Parliament awarded the 2009 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Memorial human rights group;

J.  whereas in the Economist Democracy Index 2017, Russia ranks 135th out of 167 countries, which marks a significant decline in comparison with the country’s ranking as 102nd in 2006;

K.  whereas there is a high level of concern regarding the human rights abuses of LGBTI people in Chechnya; whereas the Russian Federation is a signatory to several international human rights treaties and, as member of the Council of Europe, to the European Convention on Human Rights, and thus has the duty to ensure the safety of all persons who may be at risk; whereas the EU has repeatedly offered additional assistance and expertise to help Russia to modernise and abide by its constitutional and legal order, in line with Council of Europe standards; whereas Russia has the obligation and the means to investigate the crimes carried out by the Chechen authorities; whereas homosexuality was decriminalised in the Russian Federation in 1993;

1.  Calls for the immediate release of the Director of the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the Chechen Republic, Mr Oyub Titiev, who was detained on 9 January 2018 and then officially indicted and remanded on trumped-up charges of illegal acquisition and possession of narcotics; urges the Russian authorities to ensure full respect for Mr Titiev’s human and legal rights, including access to a lawyer and medical care, physical integrity and dignity, and protection from judicial harassment, criminalisation and arbitrary arrest;

2.  Deplores the statement by the Chechen authorities accusing the work of human rights defenders and organisations; notes with concern that the arrest comes shortly after public remarks by Mr Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, who appears to condone violence against human rights defenders;

3.  Is of the opinion that the arrest of Mr Titiev is part of a worrying trend of arrests, attacks, intimidations and discreditations of independent journalists and human rights defenders working in Chechnya; points out that other cases that form part of this worrying trend include the arrests of the chair of the Assembly of the Peoples of the Caucasus, Ruslan Kutaev, and the journalist Zhalaudi Geriev, who were both sentenced on dubious grounds relating to drugs in 2014 and 2016, respectively;

4.  Expresses its deep concern over the fact that no one has yet been brought to justice for the murder of Mr Oyub Titiev’s Memorial predecessor and human rights activist in Chechnya, Ms Natalia Estemirova, who was abducted from outside her home in Grozny in July 2009 and was found shot dead later the same day near the village of Gazi-Yurt in neighbouring Ingushetia; urges the Russian authorities to pursue genuine investigations into this crime; recalls, in this regard, that yet another human rights lawyer and activist, Stanislav Markelov, known for his work on Chechnyan abuses, was shot dead in central Moscow in 2009;

5.  Urges the Russian authorities to put an immediate end to the worrying trend of arrests, attacks, intimidations and discreditations of independent journalists and human rights defenders working in that region of the Russian Federation, in breach of their right to free expression; condemns attacks on human rights defenders by the Chechen authorities, and urges Moscow to put an end to these attacks and to foster a normal working climate for human rights defenders and organisations in Chechnya and other parts of the Russian Federation;

6.  Expresses deep concern at the worsening conditions for critical civil society in Russia, in particular those organisations that work on human rights and democratic freedoms and express criticism of state policies in this regard; underlines that Memorial, the 2009 Sakharov Prize winner, remains one of the most authoritative voices on human rights in Russia today, and has become the last remaining independent human rights organisation to continue to operate in the Republic of Chechnya, and expresses its solidarity and strong support for its dedicated work;

7.  Calls on the Russian authorities to protect all Russian citizens from unlawful abuse; calls on the Russian authorities to put an immediate end to the crackdown on free expression in Chechnya, and to provide effective security guarantees to victims and witnesses of abuses and bring perpetrators of abuses to justice; underlines that Russia and its government carries the ultimate responsibility for investigating these acts, for bringing perpetrators to justice and for protecting all Russian citizens from unlawful abuse;

8.  Points out that yet another sign of the persecution and harassment suffered by human rights organisations in the North Caucasus region was the arson attack on 17 January 2018 against the offices of Memorial in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia, and the attack on 22 January 2018 when unknown arsonists set fire on a car belonging to Memorial’s local office in Dagestan; condemns these attacks and urges the Russian authorities to investigate effectively these and other attacks against Memorial’s property, and threats against its staff, and to ensure that those responsible are held to account;

9.  Calls on the Russian authorities, as a matter of urgency, to conduct immediate, independent, objective and thorough investigations into the deplorable developments in Chechenia; calls on the Chechen authorities, and those of the Russian Federation, to abide by domestic legislation and international commitments, to uphold the rule of law and universal human rights standards and to ensure the safety and democratic freedoms of all persons who may be at risk;

10.  Takes note of the request by Memorial to investigate Titiev’s case outside of Chechnya;

11.  Condemns the attacks against other civil society groups and NGOs in Chechnya, including the attacks and smear campaign against the Joint Mobile Group of Human Rights Defenders in Chechnya (JMG), which led to the group’s withdrawal from Chechnya for security reasons in 2016;

12.  Expresses its deep concern over the reports of arbitrary detention and torture of people perceived to be LGBTI in the Republic of Chechnya; calls on the authorities to end this campaign of persecution and to allow international human rights organisations to conduct a credible investigation into the alleged crimes; condemns also the killing of individuals by family members in so called ‘honour killings’ and deplores the Chechen authorities’ support for, and encouragement of, these crimes;

13.  Calls on the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to assist those who have fled Chechnya and to bring this campaign of abuse into the open; welcomes the fact that a number of Member States have granted asylum to such victims, and calls on all Member States to continue or step up asylum request procedures for victims, journalists and human rights defenders, in accordance with European and national law;

14.  Calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and on the EEAS, to ensure that all cases of persons prosecuted for political reasons are raised in EU-Russia human rights consultations, when resumed, and that Russia’s representatives in these consultations are formally requested to respond in each case and to report back to Parliament on their exchanges with the Russian authorities;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the President, Government and Parliament of the Russian Federation, and the Chechen authorities.

(1) OJ C 65, 19.2.2016, p. 150.
(2) OJ C 378, 9.11.2017, p. 250.
(3) OJ C 274, 27.7.2016, p. 21.
(4) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 126.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0446.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0125


Executions in Egypt
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on executions in Egypt (2018/2561(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0035RC-B8-0109/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular that of 10 March 2016 on Egypt, notably the case of Giulio Regeni(1), that of 17 December 2015 on Ibrahim Halawa, potentially facing the death penalty(2) and that of 15 January 2015 on the situation in Egypt(3); to its resolutions of 16 February 2017 on executions in Kuwait and Bahrain(4) and of 8 October 2015 on the death penalty(5); and to its resolution of 7 October 2010 on the World day against the death penalty(6),

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty, on Torture, on Freedom of Expression and on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Egypt of August 2013 and February 2014,

–  having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement of 2001, which entered into force in 2004, strengthened by the Action Plan of 2007; having regard also to the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities 2017-2020, adopted on 25 July 2017, and to the joint statement issued following the EU-Egypt Association Council,

–  having regard to the joint declaration of 10 October 2017 by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, (VP/HR), Federica Mogherini, and the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe on the European and World Day against the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to the joint statement of 26 January 2018 by UN experts including Nils Melzer, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, urging the Egyptian authorities to halt imminent executions,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Egypt, and notably Article 93 thereof (the binding character of international human rights law),

–  having regard to the United Nations Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those facing the Death Penalty,

–  having regard to the African Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance, which prohibit military trials of civilians under all circumstances,

–  having regard to the final declaration adopted by the 6th World Congress against the Death Penalty, held in Oslo from 21 to 23 June 2016,

–  having regard to the new EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights, which aims to place the protection and surveillance of human rights at the heart of all EU policies,

–  having regard to Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights and to Protocols 6 and 13 thereto,

–  having regard to the six resolutions of the UN General Assembly in favour of adopting a moratorium on the death penalty,

–  having regard to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which have been ratified by Egypt,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Egypt is party, and in particular to its Article 18 and the second optional protocol on the death penalty, as well as its Article 14,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the death penalty is the ultimate inhuman and degrading punishment, which violates the right to life as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; whereas the European Union has a strong and principled position against the death penalty and in favour of a universal moratorium on capital punishment with a view to its global abolition, as one of the key objectives of its human rights policy;

B.  whereas since January 2014 at least 2 116 individuals have reportedly been sentenced to death in Egypt; whereas no death sentences were approved under former Presidents Mohamed Morsi and Adli Mansour; whereas at least 81 executions have been carried out since 1 January 2014;

C.  whereas, reportedly, in 2017 Egyptian courts handed down at least 186 death sentences and 16 people were executed; whereas in recent weeks and since the end of December 2017 there has been an alarming increase; whereas all recent executions were carried out without prior notification of the victims or their families; whereas 24 other Egyptians currently appear to be in danger of imminent execution, having exhausted all appeal processes;

D.  whereas at least 891 people are currently on trial or awaiting trial in Egypt on charges that could carry a death sentence; whereas at least 38 individuals who were under the age of 18 at the time of their alleged offences have been tried alongside adult co-defendants on charges that carry the death penalty; whereas courts have recommended initial death sentences for at least seven such individuals; whereas the imposition and execution of the death penalty against persons who were aged under 18 when the crime was committed is a violation of international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as Article 111 of Egypt’s Child Law; whereas Egypt is a party to numerous international conventions on political and civil rights, torture, the rights of children and juveniles, and justice;

E.  whereas the Military Code has a larger number of offences punishable by death than its civilian counterpart, and Egyptian legislation has gradually expanded military jurisdiction; whereas the number of civilians sentenced to death in Egypt’s military courts leapt from 60 in 2016 to at least 112 in 2017; whereas at least 23 Egyptians were executed in recent months, including 22 civilians sentenced by military courts that are far from meeting standards for a fair trial; whereas in total, at least 15 000 civilians, including dozens of children, were reportedly referred to military prosecutors between October 2014 and September 2017;

F.  whereas reportedly a worrying number of the testimonies and confessions used in trials, including military trials, were obtained after the accused were reportedly forcefully disappeared and tortured or ill-treated; whereas the fight against torture is a long-standing human rights priority of the EU and a common objective for the UN Convention Against Torture, which has been signed by Egypt;

G.  whereas all recent and imminent executions are reportedly the result of trials that failed to uphold fair trial and due process rights; whereas the UN Safeguards Guaranteeing Protection of the Rights of those facing the Death Penalty strictly prohibit the application of the death penalty following unfair trials; whereas multiple UN human rights experts have repeatedly called on Egypt to halt all pending executions following allegations of unfair trials;

H.  whereas it is important that all necessary measures are taken to ensure that trials take place under conditions which genuinely afford the full guarantees stipulated in Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a State party; whereas in cases of capital punishment trials must meet the highest standards of fairness and due process;

I.  whereas on 29 November 2017 the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights urged the Egyptian government to immediately suspend death sentences in five different cases; whereas, nonetheless, the defendants in one of these, the Kafr el-Sheikh case, were executed on 2 January 2018;

J.  whereas Egypt has gone through several difficult challenges since the 2011 revolution and the international community is supporting the country in addressing its economic, political and security challenges;

K.  whereas serious security challenges exist within Egypt, particularly in Sinai, where terrorist groups have staged attacks on security forces; whereas a number of devastating terrorist attacks have occurred within Egypt, including the recent attack on a Sufi mosque that killed 311 civilians and injured at least 128 others; whereas on 9 April 2017 twin suicide bombings took place at St. George’s church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox cathedral, killing at least 47 people;

L.  whereas there has been an ongoing state of emergency in Egypt, in place since April 2017 and extended for three months from 13 January 2018, introduced, according to the state media, to help tackle the ‘dangers and funding of terrorism’ and undermining fundamental freedoms and granting the President and those acting on his behalf the power to refer civilians to State Security Emergency Courts for the duration of the three-month period;

M.  whereas the overall human rights situation continues to deteriorate in Egypt; whereas the crackdown on terrorism has been used as justification by the Egyptian authorities to conduct a large-scale repression;

N.  whereas the Counter-terrorism Law enacted in 2015 imposes the death penalty on anyone found guilty of setting up or leading a terrorist group, under a broad definition of terrorism that includes ‘infringing the public order, endangering the safety, interests, or security of society, obstructing provisions of the constitution and law, or harming national unity, social peace, or national security’, and thus putting any civilian, including human rights defenders, at risk of being labelled a terrorist and being sentenced to death;

O.  whereas Egyptian human rights defenders documenting and denouncing death sentences, torture and enforced disappearance have been subject to targeted repressive measures, such as the closure of the El Nadeem Centre in 2017 and the attempt by the Egyptian authorities to shut down the Cairo office of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF); whereas Egypt opened a legal front against NGOs last year with a law requiring state security agencies to approve their funding, foreign or domestic, thus virtually banning them; whereas on 5 April 2018 Egypt’s highest court of appeal will rule on the so-called ‘foreign funding’ case involving international NGOs;

P.  whereas the new 2017-2020 EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities adopted in July 2017 are guided by a shared commitment to the universal values of democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and constitute a renewed framework for political engagement and enhanced cooperation, including on security, judicial reform and counter-terrorism, on a basis of due respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms; whereas the Subcommittee on Political Matters, Human Rights and Democracy of the Association Agreement between Egypt and the European Union held its fifth session in Cairo on 10 and 11 January 2018, addressing cooperation in the areas of human rights, democracy and the rule of law;

Q.  whereas the EU is Egypt’s first economic partner and its main source of foreign investment; whereas EU bilateral assistance to Egypt under the European Neighbourhood Instrument for 2017-2020 amounts to around EUR 500 million; whereas on 21 August 2013 the Foreign Affairs Council tasked the High Representative to review EU assistance to Egypt; whereas the Council decided that the EU’s cooperation with Egypt would be readjusted in accordance with developments on the ground;

R.  whereas companies based in several EU Member States have continued to export surveillance and military equipment to Egypt;

1.  Strongly condemns the use of capital punishment, and calls for a halt to any imminent executions in Egypt; strongly supports an immediate moratorium on the death penalty in Egypt as a step towards abolition; in this sense, condemns all executions wherever they take place and emphasises once again that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to the enhancement of human dignity as established in the EU’s human rights policy priorities; calls on the Egyptian authorities to review all pending death sentences in order to ensure that those convicted in flawed trials will have a fair retrial; recalls that despite security challenges in Egypt, executions should not be used as a means to combat terrorism;

2.  Calls on the Egyptian Parliament to review Egypt’s Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, counter-terrorism legislation and Military Code, and calls on the government to review the relevant decrees so as to ensure that civilians accused of crimes punishable by death are not referred to exceptional or military courts on any grounds, since such courts do not meet the fair trial standards endorsed by Egypt in its international rights commitments and guaranteed in its Constitution; calls on the Egyptian authorities to cease trying civilians in military courts;

3.  Urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure the physical and psychological safety of all accused persons while imprisoned; denounces the use of torture or ill-treatment; calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure that those detained receive all medical attention that they may require; calls on the EU to implement in full its export controls vis-à-vis Egypt, in particular with regard to goods that could be used for torture or capital punishment;

4.  Encourages Egypt to sign and ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights aimed at the abolition of the death penalty, and the UN International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; encourages the Egyptian government to issue an open invitation to the relevant UN Special Rapporteurs to visit the country;

5.  Expresses its serious concern at the mass trials by Egyptian courts and the large number of death sentences handed down by them; calls on the Egyptian judicial authorities to uphold and respect the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party, and notably Article 14 thereof on the right to a fair and timely trial based on clear charges and ensuring the respect of the defendants’ rights;

6.  Calls on the VP/HR to condemn the alarming number of recent executions in Egypt, and urges the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to continue to fight the use of the death penalty; urges the EEAS to address recent developments in Egypt, and to use all means of influence at its disposal to stop imminent executions and encourage the Egyptian authorities to respect their commitments to international norms and laws;

7.  Urges the VP/HR and the Member States to ensure that human rights are not undermined by migration management or counter-terrorism actions under the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities; underlines the importance that the EU attaches to its cooperation with Egypt as an important neighbour and partner; strongly urges Egypt to respect its commitment made in the EU-Egypt Partnership Priorities adopted on 27 July 2017 to promote democracy, fundamental freedoms and human rights, in line with its Constitution and international standards;

8.  Condemns the terrorist attacks in Egypt; extends its most sincere condolences to the families of the victims of terrorism; stands in solidarity with the Egyptian people, and reaffirms its commitment to fighting the spread of radical ideologies and terrorist groups;

9.  Reminds the Egyptian Government that the long-term prosperity of Egypt and its people goes hand in hand with the protection of universal human rights and the establishment and anchorage of democratic and transparent institutions that are engaged in protecting citizens’ fundamental rights;

10.  Supports the aspirations of the majority of Egyptian people who want to establish a free, stable, prosperous, inclusive, and democratic country which respects its national and international commitments on human rights and fundamental freedoms;

11.  Expresses its grave concern at the ongoing restrictions on fundamental democratic rights, notably freedom of expression, association and assembly, political pluralism and the rule of law in Egypt; calls for an end to all acts of violence, incitement, hate speech, harassment, intimidation, enforced disappearances or censorship directed at political opponents, protesters, journalists, bloggers, students, women’s rights activists, civil society actors, LGBTI people, NGOs and minorities, including Nubians, by state authorities, security forces and services and other groups in Egypt; condemns the excessive use of violence against protesters; calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, and calls for an independent and transparent investigation into all human rights violations;

12.  Recalls its continued outrage at the torture and killing of the Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, and denounces, once again, the lack of progress in the investigation into this brutal murder; stresses that it will continue to press the European authorities to engage with their Egyptian counterparts until the truth is established on this case and the perpetrators are held accountable;

13.  Urges President Sisi and his government to fulfil their commitment to genuine political reform and respect for human rights; emphasises that credible and transparent elections are essential for a democracy, as guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution and in accordance with Egypt’s international commitments;

14.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to take a clear, strong and unified position on Egypt in the upcoming sessions of the UN Human Rights Council and for as long as the country fails to show meaningful improvements in its human rights record;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, and the Government and Parliament of Egypt.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0084.
(2) OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 130.
(3) OJ C 300, 18.8.2016, p. 34.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0044.
(5) OJ C 349, 17.10.2017, p. 41.
(6) OJ C 371 E, 20.12.2011, p. 5.


Child slavery in Haiti
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on child slavery in Haiti (2018/2562(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0036RC-B8-0100/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Haiti,

–  having regard to the Joint Statement of 12 June 2017 on the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commissioner for Development,

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council annual report which highlights human rights advances and challenges in Haiti in 2017,

–  having regard to the ACP-EU migration action study of 20 July 2017 on the trafficking of human beings in Haiti,

–  having regard to Haiti’s implementation report considered by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on 15 January 2016,

–  having regard to the UNHCR Universal Periodic Review of Haiti of 31 October-11 November 2016,

–  having regard to the UN Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

–  having regard to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,

–  having regard to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,

–  having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,

–  having regard to the UN Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery, in particular article 1(d) thereof, of 7 September 1956,

–  having regard to International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour and ILO Convention 138 on the minimum age for employment,

–  having regard to the 34th session of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly of December 2017 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,

–  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

–  having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,

–  having regard to the UN Declaration of Human Rights,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas Haiti is one of the world’s poorest countries with severe corruption, poor infrastructure, lack of healthcare, low levels of education and historical political instability being the main sources of its crippling poverty;

B.  whereas the use of children as domestic workers, often referred to by the creole term ‘Restavek’, is systematic throughout Haiti and exists mainly due to the harsh economic conditions and cultural attitudes towards children;

C.  whereas Restavek is a form of domestic trafficking and modern-day slavery affecting approximately 400 000 children in Haiti, 60 % of whom are girls; whereas many Haitian children do not have birth certificates and are at risk of trafficking and abuse; whereas, according to UNICEF, exposure of children to violence and abuse, including corporal punishment and gender-based violence, is a substantial problem; whereas one in four women and one in five men are victims of sexual abuse before the age of 18; whereas 85 % of children aged 2 to 14 are victims of violent discipline at home, 79 % are victims of corporal punishment and 16 % suffer from extreme corporal punishment; whereas an estimated 30 000 children live in approximately 750 mostly privately-run and financed orphanages;

D.  whereas the Restavek children are typically born into poor rural families who have few or no means of raising income and will sell a child to another family in exchange for food or money;

E.  whereas the Government of Haiti has made some efforts to address the exploitation of Restavek children, such as the adoption of a comprehensive law to combat human trafficking, measures to identify and assist children in domestic servitude, and awareness raising; whereas it is the obligation of the state to support parents so that they can fulfil their responsibilities;

F.  whereas many Haitian children receive insufficient education and schooling; whereas according to UNICEF 18 % of children aged 6 to 11 in Haiti do not attend primary school; whereas approximately one-half of all Haitians aged 15 and over are illiterate, as 85 % of schools are run by private entities and are prohibitively expensive for low-income families; whereas Hurricane Matthew significantly impacted access to education, damaging 1 633 out of 1 991 schools in the hardest-hit areas;

G.  whereas more than 175 000 people, including tens of thousands of children, displaced in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, are still living in extremely precarious and unsafe conditions; whereas the 2010 earthquake claimed more than 220 000 lives and displaced some 800 000 children, resulting in many being forced into slavery;

H.  whereas Haiti is a source, transit and destination country for forced labour and the trafficking of children; whereas the Restavek phenomenon also has an international dimension, with many Haitian children being trafficked to the neighbouring Dominican Republic;

I.  whereas the recent electoral and political impasse following the 2016 presidential election severely hampered Haiti’s ability to pass key items of legislation and a national budget to tackle urgent social and economic challenges;

J.  whereas impunity in Haiti has been fuelled by a lack of accountability of officials, and in particular the lack of systematic investigations into the use of force and widespread illegal or arbitrary arrests by the police; whereas Haiti ranks 159th out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s corruption index;

K.  whereas Haiti is ranked 163rd in the UNDP Human Development Index and is in continuous need of humanitarian and development aid;

L.  whereas in September 2017 the Haitian parliament approved a national budget for the year 2018 that raises taxes disproportionately from an already impoverished population, which led to violent demonstrations and riots in the capital, Port-au-Prince; whereas the Minister for the Economy and Finances, Mr Patrick Salomon, presented a budget which, for instance, prioritises the cleaning of government institutions over public health programmes;

M.  whereas the EU has allocated EUR 420 million to Haiti under the 11th European Development Fund, with particular emphasis being placed on child nutrition and on education to support child development;

N.  whereas in 2017 the EU launched a call for proposals under the French title of ‘La promotion des droits des enfants et la protection des enfants victimes d’exploitation, discrimination, violence et abandon’ whose main priority was to return imprisoned children to their biological families or to place them in care families;

1.  Deplores the fact that large numbers of children in Haiti are forcibly removed from their families as part of the Restavek phenomenon and are subjected to forced labour; calls for an end to this practice;

2.  Expresses grave concern about the continuing human rights violations, including gender-based violence, illegal detentions and the practice of keeping children enslaved as Restaveks in Haiti; calls on the Haitian Government to prioritise legislative measures, namely a reform of the Criminal Code, to combat such issues, whilst re-establishing key institutions in the country which have stalled as a result of the recent political impasse, in order to deliver on urgent reforms;

3.  Calls on the Government of Haiti to urgently implement measures to address the vulnerabilities that lead to child domestic servitude, including protecting children who are victims of neglect, abuse, violence and child labour;

4.  Calls for the EU and its Member States to further help Haiti implement measures that protect children, including programmes and partnerships aimed at combating violence, abuse and child exploitation; calls on the Government of Haiti to prioritise and establish sufficiently resourced procedures to end the Restavek practice, including the training of social services to help place Restavek children away from abusive families and provide rehabilitation to meet their physical and psychological needs;

5.  Calls on the Haitian Government to put in place an administrative system which guarantees that all newborn children are registered at birth, as well as measures to register those who were not registered at birth and to register where they reside;

6.  Encourages the Haitian authorities and donors to shift major resources currently spent on expensive but poor quality orphanage institutions to community-based services that strengthen the abilities of families and communities to care adequately for their own children;

7.  Calls on the Government of Haiti and on the remaining EU Member States, where applicable, to ratify without reservation the following conventions which are essential in the fight against child trafficking and slavery:

   Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and opt-in to the inquiry and inter-state procedures,
   International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance,
   Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment,
   Rome Statute;

8.  Calls for EU development assistance to pay particular attention to assisting with urgent reform of the judicial system and the training of prosecutors and judges in the handling of cases of rape and sexual violence, ensuring that the police and judiciary are trained to deal impartially with women and girls reporting gender-based violence;

9.  Notes that the Haitian parliament passed an annual budget in September 2017; underlines the recent progress made with regard to the right to education, in particular through the Universal, Free and Compulsory Education Programme, which requires both a system of effective monitoring and enforcement and a sustained financial effort both from the Haitian national budget and EU development assistance; calls for greater attention to be given to the well-being and rehabilitation of Restavek children, including the most disadvantaged, the disabled, those with learning difficulties and those in rural areas, within the framework of the next EDF and Haiti’s National Indicative Programme, including through a regular joint progress report on measures taken and their effectiveness in combatting the Restavek phenomenon;

10.  Expects the EU and its Member States, which have pledged assistance to Haiti after Hurricane Matthew, to honour their pledges and help the country to overcome its long-term challenges;

11.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the ACP-EU Council of Ministers, the institutions of the Cariforum, the Governments and Parliaments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.


Guarantee Fund for external actions ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 February 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 480/2009 establishing a Guarantee Fund for external actions (COM(2016)0582 – C8-0374/2016 – 2016/0274(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0037A8-0132/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0582),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 209 and 212 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0374/2016),

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

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 1 December 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on International Trade (A8-0132/2017),

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

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it replaces, substantially amends or intends to substantially amend its proposal;

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 8 February 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 480/2009 establishing a Guarantee Fund for external actions

P8_TC1-COD(2016)0274


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/409.)


EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 8 February 2018 on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Decision No 466/2014/EU granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union (COM(2016)0583 – C8-0376/2016 – 2016/0275(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0038A8-0135/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0583),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Articles 209 and 212 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0376/2016),

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

–  having regard to the report from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the mid-term review of the application of the Decision No 466/2014/EU as regards the EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union (COM(2016)0584),

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the committee responsible under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 1 December 2017 to approve Parliament’s position, in accordance with Article 294(4) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the Committee on Development, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on International Trade and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0135/2017),

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

2.  Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it replaces, substantially amends or intends to substantially amend its proposal;

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

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 8 February 2018 with a view to the adoption of Decision (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Decision No 466/2014/EU granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union

P8_TC1-COD(2016)0275


(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Decision (EU) 2018/412.)


Annual Report on the Financial Activities of the European Investment Bank
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on the Annual Report on the Financial Activities of the European Investment Bank (2017/2071(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0039A8-0013/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 15, 126, 175, 177, 208, 209, 271, 308 and 309 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and to Protocol No 5 on the statute of the European Investment Bank (EIB),

–  having regard to the EIB Group Operational Plan for 2017-2019, published on the EIB website,

–  having regard to the 2016 Activity Report of the EIB,

–  having regard to the 2016 Financial Report and the 2016 Statistical Report of the EIB,

–  having regard to the Evaluation of the Functioning of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) of the EIB of September 2016,

–  having regard to the Agreement concluded on 2 May 2017 by the European Parliament and the EIB in respect of the information to be exchanged under Regulation (EU) 2015/1017 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 June 2015 on the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the European Investment Advisory Hub and the European Investment Project Portal and amending Regulations (EU) No 1291/2013 and (EU) No 1316/2013 — the European Fund for Strategic Investments(1),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/2396 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2017 amending Regulations (EU) No 1316/2013 and (EU) 2015/1017 as regards the extension of the duration of the European Fund for Strategic Investments as well as the introduction of technical enhancements for that Fund and the European Investment Advisory Hub(2),

–  having regard to the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Decision No 466/2014/EU granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under financing operations supporting investment projects outside the Union (COM(2016)0583),

–  having regard to the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 480/2009 establishing a Guarantee Fund for external actions (COM(2016)0582),

–  having regard to the EIB Economic Resilience Initiative,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/1601 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 September 2017 establishing the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), the EFSD Guarantee and the EFSD Guarantee Fund(3),

–  having regard to the first EFSD Strategic Board meeting held in Brussels on 28 September 2017,

–  having regard to the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth held in Gothenburg on 17 November 2017 and to the European Pillar of Social Rights,

–  having regard to the EIB Group Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment,

–  having regard to the report on the implementation of the EIB’s Transparency Policy in 2015 and the EIB’s 2016 Corporate Governance Report,

–  having regard to the EIB Environmental and Social Handbook,

–  having regard to the ongoing revision of the EIB Complaints Mechanism – Principles, Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure of 2010,

–  having regard to the EIB policy towards weakly regulated, non-transparent and uncooperative jurisdictions (NCJ Policy) of 15 December 2010 and the addendum thereto of 8 April 2014,

–  having regard to the EIB’s approval of the ratification of the Paris Agreement by the EU of 4 October 2016,

–  having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Sustainable Development Goals,

–  having regard to President Juncker’s State of the Union speech delivered on 13 September 2017 at Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg,

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

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Regional Development (A8-0013/2018),

A.  whereas the European Investment Bank (EIB) is considered to be the ‘financial arm of the EU’ and the key institution in sustaining public and private investments within the EU, while also playing an important role outside the EU through its external lending activities;

B.  whereas the EIB Group financial activities include both lending own resources and fulfilling the various mandates granted to it with the support of the EU budget and third parties such as the EU Member States;

C.  whereas continuous attention should be focused on the development of best practices related to the EIB Group’s performance policy and management, governance and transparency;

D.  whereas the EIB maintained a solid financial standing in 2016 in accordance with the forecast for that year, with a net annual surplus of EUR 2,8 billion;

E.  whereas the EIB should continue to strengthen its efforts to expand its loan activities effectively by providing technical assistance and advisory support, especially in regions with low levels of investment, in order to address regional discrepancies, while reducing administrative burdens for applicants;

F.  whereas the EIB, as the institution responsible for the management of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), should maintain the pursuit of a high-quality, geographically balanced asset portfolio, with long-term economic benefits that generate quality jobs, and should make this its main priority across the whole EU territory;

G.  whereas the European Investment Fund (EIF) should play a key role in complementing the EIB’s interventions, as the EU’s specialist vehicle for venture capital and guarantees aimed primarily at supporting SMEs and thus leading to further European integration and economic, social and territorial cohesion;

H.  whereas safeguards against fraud, including tax fraud and money laundering, and risks of financing terrorism are contained in the EIB Group contractual provisions included in the contracts signed by the EIB Group and its counterparties; whereas the EIB Group should require that its counterparties comply with all applicable legislation; whereas additional contractual provisions addressing specific transparency and integrity issues should be imposed by the EIB Group on the basis of due diligence results;

I.  whereas the EIB Group is treaty-bound to contribute to EU integration, economic and social cohesion and regional development through dedicated investment instruments such as loans, equities, guarantees, risk-sharing facilities and advisory services;

J.  whereas the EIB Group should maintain a high credit standing as a fundamental asset of its business model and a high-quality, solid asset portfolio with sound investment projects under the EFSI and all financial instruments in its portfolio;

Global challenges and main policies

1.  Stresses that the economic crisis has significantly weakened economic growth in the EU and that one of the main fallouts is the decline in investment in the EU; underlines that the fall in public and private investment has reached alarming levels in the countries most affected by the crisis, as evidenced by Eurostat’s findings; expresses concern about macroeconomic imbalances and unemployment rates that remain significant in some Member States;

2.  Expects the EIB to continue to work with the Commission and the Member States to address systemic shortcomings that prevent certain regions or countries from taking full advantage of the EIB’s financial activities;

3.  Welcomes the EIB Group’s willingness to enhance EU competitiveness, provide real support for growth and job creation, and contribute to solving socio-economic challenges within and outside the EU, by pursuing its overarching public policy goals relating to innovation, SMEs and midcap finance, infrastructure, the environment, economic and social cohesion, and the climate; recalls that these objectives also necessitate the provision of public goods; insists that, in order to achieve the Europe 2020 strategy objectives successfully, all EIB Group activities should not only be economically sustainable, but also contribute to a smarter, greener and more inclusive EU; calls on the EIB, in this regard, to work with small market participants and community cooperatives to undertake bundling of small-scale renewable energy projects to enable them to be eligible for EIB funding; emphasises the need for coherence between the instruments necessary to reach these objectives;

4.  Welcomes, in this regard, the Commission’s work strand of combining different financing sources, including the EFSI, centrally managed EU-level financial instruments and the European Structural and Investment (ESI) fund programme resources, as well as the resources of the Member States and national promotional banks and institutions (NPBIs), which has enabled risky projects and projects with limited access to finance to be serviced to the benefit of SMEs;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the EIB has affirmed its commitment to supporting the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement; believes that the review of the EIB’s energy lending criteria foreseen for 2018 will be an opportunity for the bank to take stock of the support it gives to the fossil fuels sector and for it to publish the relevant and related comprehensive data; urges the bank, in this context, to publish the concrete action plans deriving from its 2015 Climate Strategy and to align its portfolio with the global average temperature increase target of 1,5 degrees in line with the Paris Agreement, through the swift and complete phasing-out of fossil fuel projects and the prioritisation of energy efficiency and renewable projects; welcomes the Council conclusions of 10 October 2017 on climate finance(4) and highlights the importance of sufficient financing being available for sustainable green investments, including for bio-based industries(5); calls on the EIB to continue financial support for sustainable, local energy sources in order to overcome Europe’s high level of external energy dependency and ensure security of supply; invites the EIB to consider adopting the OECD Rio climate markers used for tracking and monitoring climate expenditures from the ESI funds in order to better take into account the EIB activities related to cohesion policy in the assessment of the role of ESI funds in tackling climate change;

6.  Points out that the EIB has had very mixed results on climate action, despite meeting its 25 % target by a slender margin overall; is concerned that in 16 Member States, EIB support for climate action did not even reach 20 % and that climate action investment in 2016 was predominantly located in the EU’s stronger economies, with 70 % of EFSI support for renewable energy concentrated in just one country – Belgium – and 80 % of energy efficiency investment through the EFSI allocated to France, Finland and Germany;

7.  Welcomes the fact that the EIB has responded to the crisis by expanding its activities significantly, including in the countries worst affected; calls on the EIB to further support EU countries in order to contribute to their economic recovery;

8.  Recalls the urgent need for clarification on the impact of Brexit on the EIB’s current budget and its activities in order for the institution to continue to be able to perform its role; notes that the UK provided 16,11 % of the EIB’s capital, accounting for EUR 3,5 billion of the paid-in capital and EUR 35,7 billion of the bank’s callable capital; stresses the importance of clarifying the amount of the UK contribution to the EIB budget as well as the UK’s future economic participation; calls for Member States to make sure that the departure of the UK does not result in a loss of the EIB’s ability to support the EU economy; underlines in this respect the need to establish legal certainty as soon as possible in the matter of ongoing projects co-financed by the EIB in the UK; believes that, while the UK, in terms of investment, should be treated as any other Member State prior to its formal departure from the Union, the EIB is right to condition investment on assurances that investment eligibility criteria, notably on environmental standards, will be met for the full duration of such investments;

9.  Stresses the importance of the EIB’s financing activities in the eastern and southern neighbourhood in supporting those countries which are implementing difficult economic and democratic reforms on their path towards the EU; recalls that the main financing activities should also aim to address both urgent needs and longer-term challenges, such as rebuilding infrastructure, ensuring adequate housing and emergency response infrastructure and combating youth unemployment; stresses the need for the EIB to conduct external operations so that its activities focus specifically on areas of high importance for the EU; highlights, in this respect, the expansion of the EIB’s External Lending Mandate (ELM) to step up activities in the southern neighbourhood, the Mediterranean region, Latin America and Asia; highlights, furthermore, the great potential for EIB operations to improve the economic situation in regions of key geopolitical relevance, in particular in Ukraine, which is facing great economic stress due to the ongoing armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine;

10.  Considers that the EIB, as the ‘EU bank’ incorporated and governed by the Treaties and the relevant Protocol annexed thereto, must live up to this unique status, which brings with it unique rights and responsibilities; observes that the EIB plays a key role in implementing an ever greater number of financial instruments leveraging EU budgetary funds;

11.  Notes that according to the Operational Plan 2017-2019, the value of the EIB loans signed is forecast to rise once again in 2019 (to EUR 76 billion, following a fall from EUR 77 billion in 2014 to EUR 73 billion in 2016); points out that the current context should encourage the bank to adopt more ambitious objectives and to increase the loans signed by the EIB; recalls that the EIB should play a fundamental role in the implementation of the Europe 2020 strategy through instruments such as Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility;

12.  Welcomes the EIB’s commitment to tackling the root causes of migration and to taking action in countries particularly affected by the migration crisis, including by strengthening and complementing humanitarian action and providing support for economic growth, development and the investments needed in both urban, health and educational and social, modern and sustainable infrastructure, stimulating economic activities for job creation and promoting cross-border cooperation between Member States and third countries; expects the EIB Group, to this end, to step up its efforts in coordinating its Economic Resilience Initiative and the revised ELM with the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD); calls for an increase in financial assistance for projects that would help mitigate the economic costs associated with the migration crisis while having a positive impact on citizens, refugees and other migrants in Member States that receive the largest inflows of refugees and migrants;

13.  Welcomes, in this regard, the EIB’s Crisis Response and Resilience Initiative, which aims to increase the amount of aid granted to countries in Europe’s southern neighbourhood and the Balkans by EUR 6 billion; calls for this initiative to generate genuine additionality as regards current EIB activities in the region;

14.  Takes note of the EIB’s proposal to set up, within the Group, a subsidiary – by using the EIF as a model – dedicated to financing outside Europe; expects to be informed of any developments on this matter in a timely manner;

15.  Welcomes the EIB Group Strategy on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment published in 2017; believes that a gender perspective should be applied to all EIB Group financial operations; expects a Gender Action Plan, setting ambitious targets and accompanied by concrete indicators, to be implemented soon;

16.  Welcomes the agreement reached on the prolongation and adjustment of the EFSI, and expects that the revised fund and the enhanced European Investment Advisory Hub will enable the problems identified in the current scheme, namely in relation to additionality, sustainability, climate action, geographic balance and advisory hub activities, to be overcome; stresses the importance of avoiding geographical imbalances in the EIB’s lending activity, so as to ensure a broader geographical and sectoral allocation without compromising the high quality of projects; calls on the EIB to further strengthen its work with NPBIs in order to improve outreach and further develop advisory activities and technical assistance to address the issue of geographical balance in the long term; notes a wide variety of experiences in terms of EFSI projects; supports and encourages the further exchange of best practices between the EIB and the Member States in order to ensure economic efficiency and adequate leverage of the Juncker plan, which will make a difference to the lives of EU citizens;

17.  Notes that in the social sector, the EIB lends on average EUR 1 billion per year for social housing projects (which have seen a sharp increase in recent years and the further diversification of promoters and borrowers), EUR 1,5 billion for health infrastructure, and EUR 2,4 billion for education infrastructure projects; underlines that the further development of EIB financing in this sector would mirror current progress towards upholding the EU Pillar of Social Rights and ensuring, in accordance with expectations, that the EIB Group prioritise those projects that have the greatest impact on the creation of sustainable local jobs;

18.  Welcomes the fact that, according to the EIB Economics Department’s brief of 28 September 2017, the cumulative investments approved by the EIB Group in 2015 and 2016 will add 2,3 % to EU GDP by 2020 and will add 2,25 million jobs, which shows the substantial macroeconomic impact of the EIB; encourages the EIB to further expand its macroeconomic analysis capability, including research regarding the macroeconomic impact of its activities, as well as its general analytical work and sectoral studies, and the range of empirical papers and publications, thereby also becoming a ‘knowledge bank’; calls on the EIB to continue improving the assessment of projects, by using richer, more precise and refined impact indicators;

19.  Recognises the importance of the anti-cyclical role that the EIB has played in the past years; believes that one of the key priorities for the EIB once the economy returns to pre-crisis investment levels should be to focus on helping to bridge investment gaps in areas where markets fail, for example due to their persistent short-term focus and inability to correctly price long-term externalities, in order to boost sustainable investments, technological progress and innovation leading to sustainable growth; underlines the need to prioritise innovation-based projects with clear added value for the EU as well as regional development, by supporting projects such as the revitalisation of rural and other less accessible and underdeveloped areas;

20.  Emphasises that the EIB has played and continues to play a positive role in reducing the negative public investment gap; emphasises that investment, responsible and sustainable structural reforms and sound budgetary policies must be an integral part of an overall strategy; calls for coordination between the EIB’s activities in the Member States and the governments’ activities, policies and objectives set in national reform programmes as well as in the country-specific recommendations whenever such coordination is possible;

21.  Underlines that at EU level there are major structural reasons for increasing investment gaps between Member States; calls on the EIB to boost its technical assistance in order to address low project generation capacity in some Member States; calls on the EIB to provide more detailed information on the direct and indirect jobs created by every project funded;

22.  Underlines that the EIB is treaty-bound to contribute to the balanced and steady development of the internal market through its primary lending activity, to support projects for developing less developed regions and projects which have a cross-border nature, in synergy with the ESI funds; stresses therefore the potential of the EIB’s important complementary role in the implementation of cohesion policy, which should always remain performance-based and result-oriented, including through activities aimed at strengthening project preparation capacities, consultancy and analysis services and loans for the national co-financing of the ESI funds; calls on the Commission and the EIB to better coordinate their efforts with a view to further promoting the exchange of best practices and disseminating investment opportunities in all European regions, including those which are not covered by the Cohesion Fund, with a view to better achieving the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion;

23.  Emphasises that the EIB, as a public financial institution which finances projects aimed at fulfilling EU policies and priorities, should contribute to economic, social and territorial cohesion, including in less developed regions, as provided for in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union; notices with concern, however, that, according to the geographical breakdown of lending by country in which projects are located, five Member States, the biggest EU economies, received 54,11 % of the total loans granted in 2016; calls on the EIB and the Commission to examine the reasons which led to this situation and to report back to Parliament by mid-2018; emphasises the need for broader territorial distribution of funds, including as regards the EFSI, which should always be complementary to the ESI funds, in order to achieve the objective of reducing regional disparities; stresses the need for an enhanced role for the EIB in financing social entrepreneurship and start-ups, social infrastructure growth acceleration, renewable energy, energy efficiency and circular economy projects; recalls in this context that the EIB is also a big investor in non-EU countries;

24.  Takes note of the mid-term interim evaluation of all Horizon 2020’s financial instruments (InnovFin) managed by the EIB Group and the 15 recommendations made therein; expects the EIB Group to formulate a detailed strategy on the path it intends to follow to implement these recommendations;

Compliance

25.  Reiterates its position that the European legal framework, including the EIB Statute, the EFSI Regulation, the four Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Regulations, and the five ESI funds (the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund) should prohibit the use of EU funding ultimately going to beneficiaries or financial intermediaries with a proven record of involvement in tax evasion or tax fraud;

26.  Recalls that the EIB’s non-compliant jurisdiction (NCJ) policy needs to be ambitious; notes that relying on the common EU list of third country jurisdictions that fail to comply with tax good governance standards, which was endorsed by the Council of the EU on 5 December 2017 and which will prevail over other lead organisations’ lists in the case of conflict, is a positive but insufficient step, and calls for country-by-country reporting without exemptions to be made a key part of the EIB’s corporate social responsibility strategy; calls on the EIB to: comply with the relevant standards and applicable legislation on the prevention of money laundering and on the fight against terrorism, tax fraud and tax evasion; not make use of or engage in tax avoidance structures, in particular aggressive tax planning schemes or practices which do not comply with tax good governance criteria, as set out in the legal acts of the Union, Council conclusions, Commission communications or any formal notice by the Commission; and not maintain business relations with entities incorporated or established in jurisdictions that do not cooperate with the Union in relation to the application of the internationally agreed tax standards on transparency and exchange of information; calls on the EIB, following a consultation with the Commission and stakeholders, to revise and update its NCJ policy in the light of the adoption of the aforementioned Union list of non-cooperative jurisdictions; calls on the Commission, for its part, to submit a report to Parliament and the Council every year on the implementation of that policy;

27.  Notes that the Commission has blocked certain projects submitted by the international financial institutions (IFIs)(6) in the past because these projects involved unjustifiably complex tax arrangements by means of harmful or absent tax regimes in third countries; calls on the Commission and the EIB to include in its annual report information on projects where funds have been transferred to offshore jurisdictions; stresses the need for IFIs to eliminate the risk of EU funds directly or indirectly helping tax avoidance and tax fraud;

28.  Notes that concerns were raised about projects funded by the EIB involving offshore structures and non-cooperative jurisdictions; calls on the Commission to publish an annual public report on the use of EU funds in relation to offshore structures and EIB and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) money transfers to those structures, including the number and nature of projects blocked, explanatory comments on the rationale for blocking projects and follow-up action taken to ensure no EU funds directly or indirectly help tax avoidance and tax fraud;

29.  Welcomes the fact that the EIB takes into account the tax impact in countries where investment is made and how this investment contributes to economic development, job creation and the reduction of inequality;

30.  Considers that, as the European Union’s bank, the EIB should step up its efforts to ensure that the financial intermediaries with which it engages do not make use of or engage in tax avoidance structures, in particular aggressive tax planning schemes or practices which do not comply with tax good governance criteria as set out in EU legislation, including Commission recommendations and communications; stresses that the EIB should also make sure that financial intermediaries are not involved in corruption, money laundering, organised crime or terrorism;

31.  Stresses the need for the EIB to have reliable and complete information on beneficial ownership of the final recipients of the EIB funds, including in cases where the financing relies on private equity funds; urges the EIB, therefore, to reinforce its due diligence procedure and transparency when working with financial intermediaries; considers that using criteria for selecting financial intermediaries and being in possession of up-to-date information on beneficial ownership of companies, including trusts, foundations and tax havens, are best practices to be permanently followed; notes the fact that the EIB identifies the beneficial owners of such companies during the due diligence process; invites the EIB Group to further reinforce its contractual conditions by integrating a clause on or reference to good governance in order to mitigate risks to integrity and reputation; insists on the need for the EIB to establish a thorough public list of selection criteria for financial intermediaries, so as to step up the EU’s commitment to combating tax abuse and to prevent more effectively the risks of corruption and infiltration by criminal groups;

32.  Welcomes the EIB’s efforts to carry out due diligence on EIB Group counterparties and operations, including ongoing monitoring activities and controls, so as to ensure that the EIB does not unwittingly facilitate corruption, fraud, collusion, coercion, money laundering, tax fraud, harmful tax practices, or the financing of terrorism, notably through the publication of regular activity reports by the Office of the Chief Compliance Officer (OCCO) and its close cooperation with the EIB Inspectorate General; calls on the EIB to align itself with the new rapid alert and exclusion system planned by the Commission;

33.  Welcomes the EIB Group’s cooperation and exchanges with the different Commission services on the measures contained in the anti-tax avoidance package, with a view to clarifying the scope and key elements of the legislative package, the EIB Group’s role and involvement, and its engagement in dialogue with civil society organisations on these issues, at the level of both the EIB Group’s Board of Directors and the EIB’s services, such as the OCCO; calls on the EIB to better address tax avoidance in its due diligence checks;

Accountability

34.  Believes that the enhanced economic role of the EIB Group, its increased investment capacity and the use of the EU budget to guarantee its operations must be accompanied by greater transparency and increased accountability, so as to ensure genuine public scrutiny of its activities, project selection and funding priorities;

35.  Acknowledges that the EIB submits three reports a year on its activities to Parliament and that the EIB President and staff regularly attend hearings at the request of Parliament and its committees; recalls however, its request for a higher level of parliamentary accountability and transparency of the EIB; reiterates its call, in this regard, for the signing of an interinstitutional agreement between the EIB and Parliament on the exchange of information, including the possibility for Members to address written questions to the President of the EIB;

36.  Recalls that transparency in the implementation of EU policies not only serves to strengthen the EIB group’s overall corporate accountability and credibility, with a clear overview of the type of financial intermediaries and final beneficiaries, but also contributes to enhancing the effectiveness and sustainability of the funded projects and ensures a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and corruption in its loan portfolio;

37.  Welcomes the fact that the EIB Group’s transparency policy is based on a presumption of disclosure and that everyone can access EIB Group documents and information; recalls its recommendation for the publication on the EIB Group website of non-confidential documents, such as interinstitutional agreements and memoranda, and urges the EIB Group not to stop there, but to continue looking for ways to improve;

38.  Suggests that the EIB group should follow the example set by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group and start disclosing information about the high-risk sub-projects it finances via commercial banks (the main intermediaries/financial vehicles used by the EIB Group to fund SMEs);

39.  Welcomes the fact that all project documents held by the EIB Group are disclosed upon request; asks the EIB Group to define guidelines for non-sensitive and basic information that could be disclosed in relation to demands for proactive project-level disclosure;

40.  Calls for the EIB Group’s disclosure policy to ensure an increasingly high level of transparency as regards the principles governing its pricing policy and governance bodies; welcomes, in this regard, the disclosure of the minutes of the meetings of the EIB Group’s Board of Directors of January 2017, the public register of documents, and the publication of project data via the International Aid Transparency Initiative(7); calls for the publication of the minutes of management committee meetings;

41.  Takes note of the ongoing revisions of the EIB Group’s whistleblowing policy; urges the EIB Group to reinforce the independence, legitimacy, accessibility, predictability, equitability and transparency of its complaints mechanism, including by involving directors and improving protection for complainants; believes that such measures are clearly in the interests of the bank, the stakeholders and the EU institutions;

42.  Notes that out of 120 cases reported to the Fraud Investigations Division of the Inspectorate General (IG/IN) in 2016, 53 % were referred by EIB Group staff; welcomes the fact that the fraud reporting mechanism on the EIB’s website is now available in 30 languages(8); believes that the EIB should carefully follow the ongoing work on the protection of whistle-blowers at EU level and consequently further improve its reporting possibilities;

43.  Calls on the EIB Group to put a continuous emphasis on performance scrutiny via performance assessments and proven impact; encourages it to continue to refine its monitoring indicators, more specifically its indicators of additionality, with a view to assessing impact as early as possible in the project generation phase and providing the Board with sufficient information on the impact envisaged, in particular with regard to the contribution of projects to EU policies, for example their effect on employment (during both implementation and operation); points out, furthermore, that the performance of EIB Group financing cannot be assessed on the basis of an appraisal of its financial impact alone, and calls, therefore, for the right balance to be maintained between the operational targets defined in terms of business volume and the non-financial EIB Group staff objectives; urges, for instance, that the performance assessments indicate what specific objectives within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are targeted by the project and to what extent it has contributed to fulfilling them; considers it vital that people living in the vicinity of funded infrastructure-related projects should be actively involved in assessing them;

44.  Welcomes the fact that the EIB is continuing to work on fine-tuning its impact reporting methodology, for instance so as to accurately capture the investment mobilised through various intermediated lending structures and new products, and the joint steps taken together with other multilateral development banks in the harmonisation of key aspects of impact reporting, such as in the report recently compiled on climate finance reporting and the report being prepared on lending across all sectors;

45.  Welcomes the fact that results measurement (ReM+) is gradually leading to a ‘change of culture’ in the EIB Group; calls for the harmonisation and generalisation of this exercise, integrating in addition the Addis Ababa and Paris indicators as far as possible; believes that adjusting such indicators further by integrating local views could diminish their remoteness without affecting their independence;

46.  Calls on the EIB to take into account the local context when investing in third countries; recalls that investing in third countries cannot be based on a profit maximisation approach alone but must also aim to generate long-term, private sector-led sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty through job creation and improved access to productive resources;

47.  Notes that in many of the EIB’s countries of operations, human rights, and in particular the freedoms of expression, assembly and association, are under attack in a variety of ways, from violent crackdowns on protests and the criminalisation of free speech, to arbitrary arrests, the detention of human rights defenders and restrictions on civil society organisations; calls on the EIB to adopt a Human Rights Action Plan for the purposes of implementing the objectives of the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, in order to forestall any negative impacts of EIB projects on human rights, to ensure that the EIB’s projects contribute to the enhancement and fulfilment of human rights, and to provide remedies in the event of human rights violations;

48.  Welcomes the publication of its ReM framework methodology, but believes that the results of such assessments should be disclosed for any operation, including the environmental and social impact at the level of projects or sub-projects; welcomes the mid-term revision of the ELM, as a consequence of which the EIB will now, on request, communicate to Parliament ReM sheets for projects covered by the EU budget guarantee; calls on the EIB, however, to publish further ReM sheets for individual projects outside the EU and Three Pillars assessment sheets for projects in the EU in order to strengthen the Bank’s transparency;

49.  Calls on the EIB to publish all relevant documents regarding loans to the automotive industry for the development of diesel technology, including the respective European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) report and its recommendations on EIB loans to Volkswagen, and more generally to explain the extent to which loans were made to car companies found to have manipulated emissions and provide an overview of how many of these loans have been counted as climate action; asks, in this context, for clarification as to the checks and balances in place to ensure a genuine clean technology orientation for more recent loan agreements with car companies such as those backing research and development activities in the areas of connectivity, efficient petrol-electric hybrid engines, longer-range electric cars and advanced driving assistance systems;

50.  Welcomes the EIB Group’s adoption of high transparency and accountability standards for its SME lending activity, and the fact that mandatory reporting from financial intermediaries on each SME that benefitted from EIB Group support will take these results into account when subsequent transactions with the same intermediary are considered;

51.  Underlines that, following the entry into force of Directive (EU) 2017/1371 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2017 on the fight against fraud to the Union’s financial interests by means of criminal law(9), and of Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (‘the EPPO’)(10), the EPPO shall examine EIB operations in the Member States whenever national authorities or the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) have reason to suspect that a criminal offence has been committed in this context;

52.  Notes the limited existing information on the extent to which the EIB lending activities contribute to the achievement of cohesion policy objectives; calls therefore on the EIB to present special chapters, as appropriate, in its annual report dedicated to evaluating the impact of the EIB activities aimed at supporting the implementation of cohesion policy, including Interreg-related activities, and to provide detailed information on the use of loans in cohesion policy projects and programmes, with reference also to the geographical distribution of the support, its effective contribution to cohesion policy objectives, including horizontal principles and the Europe 2020 strategy’s goals, and the concrete capacity to mobilise private investment; underlines in this context the EIB’s responsibility to provide the European Parliament, the Court of Auditors and others with sufficient data, including on the costs and management of its products, and considers also the added value of aggregate data at EU level on the combination of cohesion policy- and EIB-related investments;

Financial activities of the EIB Group

53.  Calls on the EIB Group to actively collaborate with the Commission in a process of rationalisation of the number and types of financial instruments under the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) and to anticipate the process by drawing attention, as an initial step, to any existing duplication or overlaps, on the basis of its own experience;

54.  Believes that the EIB Group’s financial instruments should serve projects chosen on the basis of their own merits, their potential to generate added value for the EU as a whole, and effective additionality, especially in areas where markets fail to finance and support projects, finding the right balance between a potentially higher risk profile and the fundamental need to maintain its high credit standing;

55.  Warns, in this respect, that market-driven instruments risk shifting the focus of the EU budget from EU public common goods and encourages the EIB Group to reinforce its reporting to the Commission on the quality as opposed to the quantity of its financing in the context of financial instruments;

56.  Notes that in order to make full use of the additional risk-bearing capacity, the EIB group has developed various new products that will allow for higher risk taking (e.g. subordinated debt, equity-type, risk sharing with banks), and has reviewed its credit risk policy and eligibilities in order to allow for increased flexibility;

57.  Calls on the EIB Group to further develop its risk culture in order to improve its effectiveness and the complementarity and synergies between its interventions and various EU policies, in particular by supporting innovative companies, infrastructure projects and SMEs that are taking risks or evolving in economically disadvantaged regions or regions that lack stability, in line with the recurrent and longstanding objective of easier access to financing for SMEs, but without compromising the principles of sound management or jeopardising the EIB’s high credit standing; recalls that if they are to contribute to the economic development of the EU, as well as economic, social and territorial cohesion, risk transfer-based instruments cannot be risk free; stresses that the EIB and its shareholders must be fully aware of this; encourages the EIB to assess the possibility of offering EIB bonds for direct purchase;

58.  Notes that the support of the EIB group to SMEs and midcaps amounted to a record EUR 33,6 billion and supported the creation of 4,4 million jobs in 2016; highlights the importance of the EIB Group providing continuous support for SMEs and midcaps by enhancing their access to finance; emphasises that SMEs are the backbone of the European economy and should remain the principal target of the EIB Group’s lending activities by further reinforcing financing instruments for SMEs and midcaps;

59.  Recalls that more than 90 % of EU SMEs are microenterprises, providing almost 30 % of the employment in the private sector; points out that microenterprises are more vulnerable to economic shocks than larger firms and may remain underserved in credit provision, particularly when based in a region where the economic and banking context is unfavourable; calls on the EIB to draw up a strategy for remedying the fact that SMEs in such circumstances have difficulties in gaining access to project financing;

60.  Acknowledges that access to finance is still a core barrier to the growth of the cultural creative industries (CCIs); stresses the urgent need for funding initiatives to strengthen such industries; emphasises the potential from the EIB and the EFSI to support the creative sector, mainly through the financing of SMEs; calls on the EIB to address the lack of EFSI funding to CCIs by investigating possible interactions with Creative Europe;

61.  Calls on the EIB group to further rely on financially sound intermediaries, such as NPBIs, for the instruction of certain types of projects, which would not jeopardise its high credit standing;

62.  Considers that many EIB Group governance rules are designed to safeguard its high credit standing, but that very little information is available on how close the EIB Group is to a lower rating;

63.  Underlines that the due diligence of investment projects financed by the EIB Group should be based on both factors related to financial return and factors not related to financial return, but instead to the achievement of other kinds of objectives, such as the contribution of the project to upward economic convergence and cohesion in the EU, or to the achievement of the Europe 2020 targets or the SDGs; considers that the EIB Group should explain these non-financial criteria to institutional and private investors (for example, pension funds and insurance companies) in an appropriate manner, thus promoting an increased focus on socio-economic and environmental impact across the financial sector;

64.  Believes that in cases where stressed financial market conditions would prevent the realisation of a viable project or where it is necessary to facilitate the establishment of investment platforms or the funding of projects in sectors or areas experiencing a significant market failure or suboptimal investment situation, the EIB Group should implement and document changes, notably to the remuneration of the EU guarantee to the EIB, in order to contribute to a reduction in the cost of financing the operation borne by the beneficiary of EIB Group financing through financial instruments, so as to facilitate project implementation; believes that similar efforts should be undertaken where necessary to ensure that financial instruments support small projects, and that where the use of local or regional intermediaries enables a reduction in the cost of financial instrument financing to small projects, this form of deployment should also be considered;

65.  Welcomes the recently approved equity strategy involving more appraisal of equity-type operations to address the gap in equity financing in the innovation and infrastructure priority areas in the EU, in particular in two market areas: indirect equity financing (equity investment in infrastructure funds and co-investment programmes) and direct equity-type financing (quasi-equity loans to corporates and quasi-equity loans to midcaps) with a mix of direct and indirect instruments (equity funds and participating loans);

66.  Welcomes the EIF support already given to crowdfunding platforms within the scope of existing activities, the willingness to continue to support platforms selectively within the scope, or through the expansion of, existing programmes, and the work carried out jointly with the Commission on a potential debt and equity crowdfunding pilot project; suggests that the EIF find ways to identify and reach FinTech-led financial intermediaries in need of support;

67.  Calls on the Commission to assess and monitor carefully the cost associated with the number of mandates given to the EIB; recalls that the associated administrative cost may have an impact on its overall performance given the current level of financial and human resources;

68.  Highlights that the EIB’s role in cohesion policy is increasing, especially due to the enhanced use of financial instruments in combination with grants; stresses, however, that their accessibility for final recipients is still very low and that Member States and regions point to the complexity of the procedures, laid down both in the Financial Regulation and the Common Provisions Regulation (CPR), including on disproportionate costs and fees, as well as to competition with more attractive national and regional instruments; welcomes, in this context, the setting up of the fi-compass platform as a one-stop shop for advisory services on financial instruments under cohesion policy; calls, nevertheless, for further technical assistance and simplification of the existing procedures, as well as more focus on capacity building vis-à-vis financial intermediaries, and points to the need to better link management costs and fees to the performance of the fund manager of financial instruments under the ESI funds; recalls nevertheless that grants, being an effective form of support in manifold areas of public intervention, must be maintained as the main tool for cohesion policy and that financial instruments should be concentrated in those sectors where they have higher added value than grants, their use remaining at the discretion of managing authorities; points out that a stronger framework of EIB engagement with the European Parliament needs to be promoted, in order to allow for better scrutiny of EIB activities;

Communication and advisory activities of the EIB Group

69.  Regrets that the potential beneficiaries of EIB Group financing are generally not sufficiently aware of the products developed by the EIB Group; questions whether the EIB Group’s supply chain is sufficiently diverse and inclusive;

70.  Believes the communication of the EIB group, in cooperation with its relevant national partners, should be improved in order to raise SMEs’ awareness of their financing possibilities and to better inform the citizens of the local and concrete projects financed by the EU;

71.  Welcomes, in this regard, the partnerships that are being concluded with international and national institutions in order to ensure complementarity with the EIB’s advisory services;

72.  Regrets the lack of data available on the role of the EIB at each stage of the implementation cycle of cohesion policy and the limited information on the extent to which EIB lending activities contribute to cohesion policy objectives; stresses the need and calls for more efforts to achieve greater transparency and better communication with a view to ensuring that information reaches final recipients at regional and local level and to increasing the visibility of projects;

73.  Expects the Commission, the EIB Group and national, regional and local authorities to continue to work and strengthen their cooperation, in the spirit of complementarity, with NPBIs in order to create more synergies between the ESI funds and EIB financing instruments and loans, to reduce administrative burdens, simplify procedures, increase administrative capacity, boost territorial development and cohesion and improve the understanding of ESI funds and EIB financing, since NPBIs have a sound knowledge of their respective territories and the ability to implement tailor-made financial instruments locally;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 128, 19.5.2017, p. 1.
(2) OJ L 345, 27.12.2017, p. 34.
(3) OJ L 249, 27.9.2017, p. 1.
(4) http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2017/10/10/conclusions-climate-change/pdf
(5) For example, sound, well-rated projects that do not receive funding from the Bio-Based Industries Joint Undertaking.
(6) The EIB, EIF and Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund.
(7) European Parliament resolution of 28 April 2016 on the European Investment Bank (EIB) – Annual Report 2014 (Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0200).
(8) http://www.eib.org/attachments/general/reports/ig_fraud_investigations_activity_report_2016_en.pdf
(9) OJ L 198, 28.7.2017, p. 29.
(10) OJ L 283, 31.10.2017, p. 1.


Current human rights situation in Turkey
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on the current human rights situation in Turkey (2018/2527(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0040RC-B8-0082/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Turkey, in particular that of 27 October 2016 on the situation of journalists in Turkey(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 6 July 2017 on the 2016 Commission Report on Turkey(2),

–  having regard to the statements by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative, Federica Mogherini and the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, of 2 February 2018 on the latest developments in Turkey, of 14 July 2017 a year after the coup attempt in Turkey, and of 13 March 2017 on the Venice Commission’s opinion on the amendments to the Constitution of Turkey and recent events,

–  having regard to the statements by the European External Action Service (EEAS) Spokesperson of 8 June 2017 on the reported detention of the head of Amnesty International in Turkey, Taner Kiliç, of 8 July 2017 on the detention of human rights defenders on the island of Büyükada in Turkey, and of 26 October 2017 on ongoing human rights cases in Turkey,

–  having regard to the EU-Turkey High Level Political Dialogue of 25 July 2017,

–  having regard to the written observations by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights submitted to the European Court of Human Rights of 2 November 2017 concerning a group of twelve applications relating to the freedom of expression and right to liberty and security of parliamentarians in Turkey and of 10 October 2017 concerning a group of ten applications relating to the freedom of expression and right to liberty of journalists in Turkey,

–  having regard to Resolution 2156 (2017) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the functioning of democratic institutions in Turkey,

–  having regard to the fact that the EU’s founding values include the rule of law and respect for human rights, values which also apply to all EU candidate countries,

–  having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Turkey is a state party,

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

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

A.  whereas Parliament strongly condemned the attempted coup of 15 July 2016; whereas on 18 January 2018 the Turkish Parliament extended the state of emergency in Turkey for another three months; whereas the state of emergency is currently being used to silence dissent and goes far beyond any legitimate measures to combat threats to national security; whereas under international law, emergency measures must be necessary and proportionate in scope and duration;

B.  whereas Turkey is an important partner of the EU and is expected as a candidate country to uphold the highest standards of democracy, including respect for human rights, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and the universal right to a fair trial;

C.  whereas 148 signatories of the ‘Academics for Peace’ petition are facing indictments for disseminating ‘terrorist propaganda’ and await court hearings in May 2018;

D.  whereas, according to the European Federation of Journalists, following the attempted coup, 148 journalists remain in prison; whereas the crackdown on political dissent through social media continues; whereas 449 people were detained for posting comments on social media that were critical of the Turkish Government’s military intervention in the Syrian enclave of Afrin; whereas, according to Amnesty International, the Turkish authorities have shut down hundreds of civil society organisations and closed down the offices of more than 160 broadcasters, newspapers, magazines, publishers and distribution companies;

E.  whereas the Turkish authorities have dismissed 107 000 people from their professions since July 2016; whereas the ‘Commission of Inquiry for State of Emergency Practices’ set up upon the recommendation of the Council of Europe has received 104 789 applications as of 18 January 2018 and has so far issued decisions only in 3 110 cases, which have not been made public;

F.  whereas recent years have seen the extension of executive control over the judiciary and prosecution, the widespread arrest, dismissal and arbitrary transfer of judges and prosecutors, and persistent attacks against lawyers;

G.  whereas according to data provided by the Human Rights Association (HRA), in the first 11 months of 2017 a total of 2 278 people encountered torture and ill-treatment;

H.  whereas the situation in the south-east of the country remains extremely worrying; whereas an estimated 2 500 people have been reportedly killed in the context of security operations and an estimated half a million people have become displaced since July 2015; whereas 68 Kurdish mayors remain imprisoned;

I.  whereas among those journalists detained are, for example, the German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yücel, the academic and columnist Mehmet Altan, the journalist Şahin Alpay; as well as numerous journalists and staffers from the daily Cumhuriyet, including Ahmet Şık;

J.  whereas, in the aftermath of the lifting of the parliamentary immunities of a large number of MPs, many opposition MPs have faced judicial proceedings and detention; whereas 10 MPs remain detained, including HDP co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, who was not allowed to appear in court for security reasons, and CHP MP Enis Berberoğlu, and six MPs have been stripped of their parliamentary mandate, including the Sakharov Prize laureate Leyla Zana, following a vote in the Turkish Parliament;

K.  whereas in July 2017 the Turkish authorities arrested 10 human rights activists (the ‘Istanbul Ten’), who were later released on bail; whereas the Istanbul court overturned its own decision to release Taner Kılıç, the president of Amnesty International Turkey, on 1 February 2018, keeping him detained for the duration of his trial;

L.  whereas one of Turkey’s leading civil society leaders, Osman Kavala, was arrested on 18 October 2017, and has been held in prison ever since on the accusation that he ‘attempted to overthrow the government’ by supporting the Gezi Park protests in December 2013;

M.  whereas on 19 November 2017 the Ankara Governor’s Office decided to impose an indefinite ban on any event organised by LGBTI organisations;

N.  whereas despite the fact that the Turkish Constitution provides for the freedom of belief, worship, and the private dissemination of religious ideas, and prohibits discrimination on religious grounds, religious minorities still face verbal and physical attacks, stigmatisation and social pressure at school and in public life, discrimination and problems regarding the ability to legally establish a place of worship;

O.  whereas, in view of the situation in Turkey as regards democracy, the rule of law, human rights and press freedom, Turkey’s pre-accession funds have been cut by EUR 105 million compared to the Commission’s initial proposal for the 2018 EU budget, with a further EUR 70 million held in reserve until the country makes ‘measurable sufficient improvements’ in these fields;

P.  whereas Parliament called, in November 2016, for the accession process with Turkey to be frozen and, in July 2017, for it to be suspended if the constitutional changes were implemented unchanged;

1.  Reiterates its strong condemnation of the coup attempt of 16 July 2016, and expresses its solidarity with Turkey’s citizens; recognises the right and responsibility of the Turkish Government to take action in bringing the perpetrators to justice while guaranteeing respect for the rule of law and the right to a fair trial; stresses, however, that the failed military takeover is currently being used to further stifle legitimate and peaceful opposition and to prevent the media and civil society in the peaceful exercise of freedom of expression through disproportionate and illegal actions and measures;

2.  Expresses its deep concern at the ongoing deterioration in fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey, and the lack of judicial independence; condemns the use of arbitrary detention and judicial and administrative harassment to persecute tens of thousands of people; urges the Turkish authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been detained only for carrying out their legitimate work, exercising freedom of expression and association and are being held without compelling evidence of criminal activity; calls for the lifting of the state of emergency in the country and the repeal of the emergency decrees;

3.  Calls on the Turkish authorities to respect the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes a clear rejection of capital punishment, and the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, including the principle of presumption of innocence;

4.  Calls on the Turkish Government to offer all persons subjected to restrictive measures appropriate and effective remedies and judicial review in line with the rule of law; stresses that the presumption of innocence is a fundamental principle in any constitutional state; calls on Turkey to revise, as a matter of urgency, the ‘Commission of Inquiry for State of Emergency Practices’ in such a way that it becomes a robust and independent commission capable of giving individual treatment to all cases, of effectively processing the enormous number of applications it receives, and of ensuring that the judicial review is not unduly delayed; urges the Commission of Inquiry to make its decisions public; calls on the Turkish authorities to allow trade unions to exercise legitimate union activity;

5.  Underlines that terrorism continues to pose a direct threat to citizens in Turkey; reiterates, however, that the broadly defined Turkish anti-terrorism legislation should not be used to punish citizens and media for exercising their right of freedom of expression; condemns, in that respect, the detention and trial of at least 148 academics from public and private universities who signed the ‘Academics for Peace’ petition, and equally condemns the most recent arrests of journalists, activists, doctors and ordinary citizens for expressing their opposition to the Turkish military intervention in Afrin; is seriously concerned about the humanitarian consequences of the military intervention in this Kurdish-majority region of Syria and warns against the continuation of disproportionate actions;

6.  Is deeply concerned about reports of the ill-treatment and torture of prisoners, and calls on the Turkish authorities to carry out a thorough investigation into those allegations; reiterates its call to make public the report of the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT report);

7.  Strongly condemns the decision of the Turkish Parliament to unconstitutionally waive the immunity of a large number of MPs, paving the way for the recent arrests of 10 opposition MPs, including the co-chairs of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, and revoking the mandate of six opposition MPs, including most recently that of Sakharov Prize laureate Leyla Zana; condemns the imprisonment of 68 Kurdish mayors; condemns the arbitrary replacement of local elected representatives, which is undermining further the democratic structure of Turkey;

8.  Is seriously concerned over the closure of more than 160 media outlets by executive decree under the state of emergency; condemns the political pressure on journalists; expresses serious concern at the monitoring of social media platforms and the shutdown of social media accounts by Turkey’s authorities; urges the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained without proof, including EU citizens such as the German journalist Deniz Yücel, who has been held in jail for a year, including nine months in solitary confinement, while no formal charges have yet been brought against him; urges Turkey to drop charges against a Finnish-Turkish journalist, Ayla Albayrak, who has been convicted by a Turkish Court in absentia; welcomes the fact that some journalists and staff of the opposition paper Cumhuriyet were released after months in prison, and also calls for the immediate release of the four Cumhuriyet journalists still behind bars;

9.  Is very concerned at the massive crackdown against Turkey’s civil society organisations, and specifically the arrest of one of the leading NGO leaders, Osman Kavala; urges the Turkish Government to immediately release Kavala as his arrest is politicised and arbitrary;

10.  Notes with concern the deterioration of Turkey’s long-held secularist principles and values; is seriously concerned about the lack of respect for the freedom of religion, including the increased discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities; condemns the confiscation of 50 Aramean churches, monasteries and cemeteries in Mardin; calls on the Commission to urgently address these issues with the Turkish authorities; urges the Turkish Government to release pastor Andrew Brunson and to allow him to return home;

11.  Recalls equally the principle of non-discrimination against minorities, including Roma, who have an equal right to express their culture and to have access to social welfare;

12.  Condemns the statement by the Ankara Governor’s Office of 19 November 2017 regarding the decision to impose an indefinite ban on any event organised by LGBTI organisations, following three consecutive bans of the Istanbul Pride march; calls on the Turkish authorities to revoke the ban; welcomes the release of the leading LGBTI activist Ali Erol and calls, in this respect, on the Turkish authorities to release arbitrarily detained LGBTI activists and to safeguard the well-being of Diren Coşkun, who is on hunger strike;

13.  Reiterates its serious concern at the situation in south-east Turkey, especially in the areas where curfews are imposed, excessive force is used and collective punishment is applied; urges Turkey to come up with a plan for the effective reintegration of the half-million internally displaced people; reiterates its condemnation of the return to violence by the PKK, which has been on the EU’s terror list since 2002, and urges it to lay down its arms and to use peaceful and democratic means to voice its expectations; recalls that the Turkish Government has a responsibility to protect all of its citizens; deplores the widespread practice of expropriation, including of properties belonging to the municipalities; is convinced that only a fair political settlement of the Kurdish question can bring sustainable stability and prosperity, both to the area and to Turkey as a whole, and therefore calls on both sides to return to the negotiating table;

14.  Expresses its serious concern over the functioning of the legal system in Turkey after the Istanbul criminal court decision to keep two jailed journalists, Mehmet Altan and Şahin Alpay, in detention following the request of the constitutional court for their release on the grounds that they had had their rights violated in custody; notes that this constitutes a further deterioration of the rule of law; deeply regrets the recent re-arrest of the president of Amnesty International Turkey, Taner Kılıç, which is widely considered a travesty of justice, and calls for the charges against him and his co-defendants (the ‘Istanbul Ten’) to be dropped as no concrete evidence has yet been submitted against them;

15.  Reiterates its position of November 2017 in which it called for funds destined for the Turkish authorities under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPAII) to be made conditional on improvements in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and, where possible, rerouted to civil society organisations; reiterates its call on the Commission to take into consideration the developments in Turkey during the review of the IPA funds, but also to present concrete proposals on how to increase support for Turkish civil society;

16.  Urges the High Representative, the EEAS, the Commission and the Member States to continue to raise with their Turkish interlocutors the situation of human rights defenders, political activists, lawyers, journalists and academics in detention, and to provide diplomatic and political support for them, including observation of trials and monitoring of cases;

17.  Calls for this resolution to be translated into Turkish;

18.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the President, Government and Parliament of Turkey.

(1) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0423.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0306.


Situation in Venezuela
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on the situation in Venezuela (2018/2559(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0041RC-B8-0078/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Venezuela is a party,

–  having regard to the Constitution of Venezuela,

–  having regard to its numerous resolutions on Venezuela, in particular those of 27 February 2014 on the situation in Venezuela(1), of 18 December 2014 on the persecution of the democratic opposition in Venezuela(2), of 12 March 2015 on the situation in Venezuela(3), of 8 June 2016 on the situation in Venezuela(4), of 27 April 2017 on the situation in Venezuela(5) and of 13 September 2017 on EU political relations with Latin America(6),

–  having regard to the declaration of 12 July 2017 by the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Mercosur Delegation and the EuroLat Parliamentary Assembly on the current situation in Venezuela,

–  having regard to the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted on 11 September 2001,

–  having regard to the statement of 31 March 2017 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, on the ruling by the Venezuelan Supreme Court to take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) condemning the detention of Enrique Aristeguieta on 2 February 2018,

–  having regard to the warnings contained in the reports of 30 May 2016 and 14 March 2017 by the Organisation of American States (OAS) on Venezuela, and to the calls by the Secretary-General of the OAS for the urgent convocation of its Permanent Council under Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter to discuss the political crisis in Venezuela,

–  having regard to the letter of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) of 27 March 2017 on the worsening and severe political, economic and humanitarian crises in Venezuela,

–  having regard to the OAS declaration signed by 14 of its member states on 13 March 2017 demanding that Venezuela promptly schedule elections, release political prisoners and recognise its constitution’s separation of powers, among other measures,

–  having regard to the resolution of the OAS Permanent Council of 3 April 2017 on the recent events in Venezuela,

–  having regard to the declaration of ‘El Grupo de Lima’ of 23 January 2018 on the National Constituent Assembly’s decision to call presidential elections,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 13 November 2017 and 22 January 2018 on Venezuela, namely imposing an arms embargo and sanctions,

–  having regard to the declaration by the VP/HR on behalf of the EU on the alignment of certain third countries concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela on 7 December 2017,

–  having regard to the declaration by the VP/HR on behalf of the EU on the latest developments in Venezuela, of 26 January 2018, condemning the decision by the Venezuelan authorities to expel the Spanish Ambassador in Caracas,

–  having regard to its decision to award the 2017 Sakharov Prize to the Democratic Opposition in Venezuela,

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

A.  whereas the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly, which is recognised neither internationally nor by the European Union, called for presidential elections to be held before the end of April 2018; whereas, according to the Venezuelan Constitution, the body responsible for calling an election is the National Electoral Council; whereas Article 298 of the Venezuelan Constitution, which clearly states: ‘The law that regulates electoral processes may not be modified in any way in the period between election day and the six months immediately preceding it’, has very recently been violated several times;

B.  whereas this decision was taken outside the scope of the national dialogue which has been taking place since December 2017, and regardless of any possible developments achieved in the meeting held between the Venezuelan Government and opposition in Santo Domingo; whereas the date of and process leading up to the elections were two of the main topics of the Santo Domingo talks; whereas this call for elections runs counter to both democratic principles and good faith as regards dialogue between the government and the opposition;

C.  whereas on 25 January 2018 the Supreme Court decided to exclude the MUD (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática) from the presidential elections; whereas on 4 February 2018 the National Electoral Council excluded the Primero Justicia party from the electoral process; whereas leaders such as Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles are banned from running for office; whereas these decisions represent a serious breach of the principle of equitable elections, prohibiting opposition candidates from competing freely and on equal terms in the elections;

D.  whereas the MUD was awarded Parliament’s 2017 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought;

E.  whereas such an unconstitutional call for early elections resulted in Mexico’s and Chile’s withdrawal from the process of national political negotiations between the Venezuelan Government and part of the opposition;

F.  whereas on 13 November 2017 the Council of the EU decided to adopt an arms embargo against Venezuela and a ban on related material that might be used for internal repression;

G.  whereas on 22 January 2018 the Council of the EU decided, by unanimity, to impose sanctions against seven Venezuelan individuals holding official positions in the form of restrictive measures such as travel bans and asset freezes, in response to non-compliance with democratic principles, the rule of law and democracy;

H.  whereas following the adoption of EU sanctions, Venezuela retaliated by expelling the Spanish ambassador in Caracas and declaring him ‘persona non grata’, accusing Spain of interfering in its internal affairs; whereas the EU has firmly condemned this decision, while at the same pointing out its full solidarity with Spain, on the understanding that EU decisions in the area of foreign policy, including the imposition of sanctions, are unanimous;

I.  whereas the situation of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela continues to deteriorate; whereas Venezuela is facing an unprecedented political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis, resulting in many deaths; whereas holding free and fair elections with all appropriate guarantees and allowing adequate time to prepare them are fundamental for a start to be made on resolving the many problems Venezuela faces; whereas almost 2 million Venezuelans have fled the country; whereas host countries are coming under increasing strain in terms of providing assistance and services to new arrivals;

J.  whereas rebel police official Oscar Pérez and six other individuals were extra-judicially executed despite the fact that they had already surrendered;

K.  whereas on 2 February 2018 Enrique Aristeguieta Gramcko was kidnapped from his home at night by the intelligence services, with no information given about his whereabouts, and released the following day;

L.  whereas a growing number of people in Venezuela, including children, are suffering from malnutrition as a consequence of limited access to quality health services, medicines and food; whereas, regrettably, the Venezuelan Government persists in denying the problem and refusing to receive and facilitate the distribution of international humanitarian aid; whereas Venezuelans have been seeking to buy food and essential supplies on the Caribbean islands owing to severe shortages at home;

1.  Deplores the unilateral decision by the illegitimate National Constituent Assembly, which is recognised neither internationally nor by the EU, to call early presidential elections by the end of April 2018; deeply deplores the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s recent ruling prohibiting MUD representatives from competing in the upcoming elections; points out that many potential candidates will be unable able to run for elections because they are exiled, subject to administrative disqualifications, imprisoned or under house arrest; insists that no obstacles or conditions should be imposed as regards the participation of political parties and calls on the Venezuelan authorities to fully restore their eligibility rights;

2.  Insists that only elections based on a viable electoral calendar, agreed in the context of the national dialogue with all relevant actors and political parties, and respecting equal, fair and transparent conditions of participation – including the lifting of bans on political opponents, without political prisoners, and ensuring the National Electoral Council is balanced in composition and impartial and with the existence of sufficient guarantees, including monitoring by independent international observers – will be recognised by the EU and its institutions, including the European Parliament; recalls its readiness to send an Electoral Observation Mission if all the necessary conditions are met;

3.  Strongly condemns the decision by the Venezuelan authorities to expel the Spanish Ambassador in Caracas and declare him ‘persona non grata’, and insists that the Venezuelan Government immediately restore its normal diplomatic relations with Spain; recalls that all EU decisions in the area of foreign policy, including imposing sanctions, are taken by unanimity; calls, in this regard, for full solidarity with Spain;

4.  Considers the imposition by the Council of the EU of the arms embargo, and the sanctions levied against seven Venezuelan officials to be appropriate measures in response to grave breaches of human rights and democracy, but calls for them to be extended against those mainly responsible for the increased political, social, economic and humanitarian crisis, namely the President, the Vice-President, the Minister of Defence, members of the high military command, and members of their inner circles, including family members; suggests that, if the human rights situation continues to deteriorate, further diplomatic and economic actions could be explored and adopted, including those related to the state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA);

5.  Condemns in the strongest terms the continued violation of the democratic order in Venezuela; reiterates its full support of the National Assembly as the only legally constituted and recognised parliament in Venezuela, and calls on the Venezuelan Government to restore its full constitutional authority; rejects any decisions taken by the National Constituent Assembly as being in breach of all democratic standards and rules; expresses its support for the political solution in the context of all relevant actors and political parties; recalls that separation and non-interference between the branches of government is an essential principle of democratic states guided by the rule of law;

6.  Calls on the ICC Prosecutor, under the Rome Statute provisions, to open investigations into the human rights violations perpetrated by the Venezuelan regime, and calls for the EU to play an active role in this regard;

7.  Reiterates its previous calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, respect for democratically elected bodies and the upholding of human rights;

8.  Expresses its solidarity and full support to the people of Venezuela who are suffering the effects of a severe humanitarian crisis; calls for immediate agreement to be reached on a humanitarian emergency access plan for the country, and calls on the Venezuelan authorities to allow unimpeded humanitarian aid as a matter of urgency, and to grant permission to international organisations that wish to assist the public; calls for the rapid implementation of a short-term response to counter malnutrition among the most vulnerable groups, such as children; calls for the EU to help neighbouring countries, and in particular Colombia, to address the situation of the Venezuelan refugees; calls on the Venezuelan Government to provide Venezuelans living abroad and entitled to receive such social security rights with their pensions;

9.  Reiterates its request for a European Parliament delegation to be sent to Venezuela and to hold a dialogue with all sectors involved in the conflict as soon as possible;

10.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Government and National Assembly of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States.

(1) OJ C 285, 29.8.2017, p. 145.
(2) OJ C 294, 12.8.2016, p. 21.
(3) OJ C 316, 30.8.2016, p. 190.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0269.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0200.
(6) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0345.


Situation of UNRWA
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on the situation of UNRWA (2018/2553(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0042RC-B8-0085/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Middle East Peace Process,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) of 7 June 2017 on European Union support to UNRWA (2017-2020),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolutions 194 of 11 December 1948 and 302 of 8 December 1949, and to other relevant UN resolutions,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 30 March 2017 entitled ‘Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’,

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

A.  whereas UNRWA is a UN agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees; whereas UNRWA’s services encompass education, healthcare, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance; whereas the UN General Assembly has renewed UNRWA’s mandate many times, most recently until 30 June 2020 by a vote of 167 UN member states;

B.  whereas the EU and its Member States, taken together, are the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing EUR 441 million in 2017; whereas the United States, as the largest single-country donor, has announced that it will contribute USD 60 million but withhold USD 65 million from a scheduled payment of USD 125 million to UNRWA; whereas this decision was, according to the State Department, intended to encourage other countries to increase aid as well as to promote reform within the Agency;

C.  whereas UNRWA has been facing major structural financial shortcomings for many years and would have faced continued difficulties in 2018 independently of the decision of the US government;

D.  whereas in his report of 30 March 2017 the UN Secretary-General made several recommendations aimed at ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for UNRWA;

1.  Remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA in its provision of vital services for the wellbeing, protection and human development of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria; applauds UNRWA for its extraordinary efforts, including inprotecting and supporting more than 400 000 Palestine refugees, and many others, in war-torn Syria; recalls that UNRWA was established in the spirit of solidarity with Palestine refugees in order to alleviate their suffering;

2.  Expresses its concern at UNRWA’s funding crisis; urges all donors to honour their promises to the Agency;

3.  Notes that any unexpected reductions or delays in predicted donor disbursements to UNRWA can have damaging impacts on access to emergency food assistance for 1,7 million Palestine refugees and primary healthcare for 3 million, on access to education for more than 500 000 Palestinian children in 702 UNRWA schools, including almost 50 000 children in Syria, and on stability in the region;

4.  Notes that the EU is committed to continue assisting UNRWA in securing financial resources to enable it to implement the mandate given by the UN General Assembly, to operate on a sustainable and cost-effective basis and to ensure the quality and level of services provided to Palestine refugees;

5.  Welcomes the decisions made by the EU and several of its Member States to fast-track funding to UNRWA and urges other donors to follow this example; urges the United States to reconsider its decision and to honour the payment of its entire scheduled contribution to the Agency; welcomes the contributions of member states of the Arab League to UNRWA, but calls on them to increase their commitment in order to close the funding gap;

6.  Encourages the European Union and its Member States to mobilise additional funding for UNRWA in order to meet its short-term financial needs; stresses, however, that any long-term solution to the recurrent financial shortages of the Agency can only be achieved through a sustainable funding scheme in a global multilateral framework; urges the EU to play a leading role in the international community to establish such a mechanism; underlines the importance of the recommendations made by the UN Secretary-General in his report of 30 March 2017 in this regard;

7.  Welcomes the fact that UNRWA envisages sustaining internal measures aimed at containing costs and achieving further efficiency gains while pursuing other areas where efficiencies may be possible; urges the Agency to continue to improve its management structure and strategic planning towards enhanced transparency, accountability and internal oversight, to ensure timely and accurate programme and financial reporting to the EU, to ensure that UNRWA facilities are not misused, to investigate allegations of neutrality violations by its staff members and to take appropriate disciplinary action where appropriate; stresses the importance of respecting the neutrality of UNRWA installations in line with international humanitarian law and the UN diplomatic status of the Agency;

8.  Reiterates that the EU’s main objective is to achieve the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security, on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect for international law;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East, and the Congress and State Department of the United States.


Time change arrangements
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European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on time change arrangements (2017/2968(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0043B8-0070/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Directive 2000/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 January 2001 on summer-time arrangements(1),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission of 13 April 2016 on better law-making(2),

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

A.  whereas according to the Interinstitutional Agreement on better law-making, the evaluation of existing legislation should provide a basis for impact assessments as regards options for future action;

B.  whereas numerous scientific studies, including the European Parliamentary Research Service study of October 2017 on EU summer-time arrangements under Directive 2000/84/EC, have failed to come to a conclusive outcome, but have instead indicated the existence of negative effects on human health;

C.  whereas a number of citizens’ initiatives have highlighted citizens’ concerns about the biannual clock change;

D.  whereas Parliament has raised this issue before, for example in Oral Question O-000111/2015 – B8-0768/2015 to the Commission of 25 September 2015;

E.  whereas it is crucial to maintain a unified EU time regime even after the end of biannual time changes;

1.  Calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough assessment of Directive 2000/84/EC and, if necessary, come up with a proposal for its revision;

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

(1) OJ L 31, 2.2.2001, p. 21.
(2) OJ L 123, 12.5.2016, p. 1.

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