Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 4 October 2018 - StrasbourgFinal edition
Deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97
 The UAE, notably the situation of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor
 Mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
 Public procurement strategy package
 EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) ***I
 Mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders ***I
 Free flow of non-personal data in the European Union ***I
 The EU's input on a UN binding instrument on transnational corporations with respect to human rights
 Situation in Yemen
 Fighting customs fraud and protecting EU own resources

Deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on the deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, notably the case of Charter 97 (2018/2861(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0375RC-B8-0451/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Belarus,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all human rights conventions to which Belarus is a party,

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

A.  whereas in February 2016 the EU lifted most of its restrictive measures against Belarusian officials and legal entities as a gesture of goodwill aimed at starting a policy of engagement with a view to encouraging Belarus to respect the principles of human rights, democracy and rule of law;

B.  whereas the EU has repeatedly reiterated that EU-Belarus relations can only be further advanced once they are based on trust and the values of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms;

C.  whereas current policies in Belarus undermine these values, thereby preventing the EU from offering Belarus broader participation in the Eastern Partnership and closer relations, or from signing the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities;

D.  whereas the situation in terms of freedom of media and freedom of speech is continuing to deteriorate in Belarus, as evidenced by severe harassment of independent news portals and journalists, as in the ‘BelTA case’;

E.  whereas Belarusian authorities have recently initiated a wave of police harassment and intimidation against journalists;

F.  whereas Reporters without Borders concludes that more than 100 journalists were arrested in 2017, mostly while covering opposition protests; whereas harassment of freelance journalists working for independent media outlets based abroad has reached unprecedented levels, with these journalists unable to get accreditation;

G.  whereas the leading independent news website Charter 97.org, which focuses on human rights and opposition causes and takes its name from Charter 97, a declaration of 1997 calling for democracy in Belarus that was signed by journalists, opposition politicians and rights activists, was forced to move to Warsaw, Poland, where it has been operating from since 2011, after it was blocked multiple times by the Belarusian authorities, with its offices raided twice by the police and its equipment confiscated that same year;

H.  whereas since 24 January 2018 access to the Charter 97 website has been blocked within Belarus, for an indefinite duration, without trial and amid vague allegations of ‘threats to the national interest’; whereas according to the editor-in-chief of Charter 97, Natalya Radina, in the month following the blocking of the Charter 97 website the number of visitors to the site from within Belarus decreased by 70 %;

I.  whereas Ms Radina has received death threats;

J.  whereas on 16 April 2018 access to the Charter 97 website was also blocked by the Russian authorities within the territory of the Russian Federation;

K.  whereas the founder of Charter 97, Aleh Byabenin, was found hanged at his home near Minsk in September 2010; whereas Belarus-born Pavel Sheremet, a spokesperson for the organisation behind Charter 97, was killed in a car bombing in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, in July 2016;

L.  whereas in early August 2018 Belarusian authorities carried out raids in the editorial offices of several independent Belarusian outlets, starting with Tut.by and followed by searches in BelaPAN, realty.by, Belaruskaya Navuka and Kultura; whereas the raids resulted in arrests and detention of journalists, including the editor-in-chief of Tut.by, over allegations that they had illegally accessed and used online information provided by the state-owned news agency BelTA;

M.  whereas on 7 August 2018 Belarus’ Investigative Committee opened a criminal case under Article 349(2) of the Criminal Code punishable by up to two years in prison (illegal access to computer information committed out of other personal interest which caused substantial harm) against journalists and editors of a number of online resources and arrested 18 journalists, seven of whom were detained as suspects for three days; whereas there have been cases of pressure being put on journalists and their relatives and of them being forced to cooperate with the intelligence service and police;

N.  whereas the latest amendments to the Law on Mass Media, adopted in June 2018, extend government control to online media outlets; whereas the changes, which will enter into force on 1 December 2018, will impose further bureaucratic hurdles for websites wishing to register as official online media outlets;

O.  whereas websites which choose not to register, despite the new legislation, or do not meet the new criteria, are denied accreditation with government institutions, thereby further censoring the press; whereas both registered and unregistered online media outlets will also be obliged to register the names of people who submit comments; whereas the owners of registered online media outlets will also be legally responsible for the content of such comments;

P.  whereas new legislation will require that authors of all posts and comments on online forums be identified and that website owners moderate such comments;

Q.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, have expressed the view that these legislative changes constitute an unacceptable restriction of freedom of speech and access to information;

R.  whereas Belarus ranks 155th in the Reporters Without Borders’ 2017 World Press Freedom Index, which evaluates the level of press freedom in 180 countries each year;

S.  whereas since the beginning of 2018, Belarusian journalists, whose right to gather, store and disseminate information is guaranteed by the Constitution, have been fined over 70 times for cooperation with foreign mass media without accreditation, the fines totalling over BYN 60 000; whereas Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Violations has become an efficient tool to harass independent journalists and media outlets such as Belsat TV, which has been operating from Poland since 2011;

T.  whereas Belarus remains the only country in Europe that still practises capital punishment;

U.  whereas specific categories of people in Belarus are being subjected to false imprisonment and arbitrary detention, denial of proper care and contact with family members while in detention, state-organised physical and psychological violence, prosecution and conviction on spurious and falsified charges, disproportionate financial penalties, administrative sanctions and other forms of repression by the Belarusian authorities; whereas these categories include political prisoners (notably Mikhail Zhamchuzhny and Dzmitry Paliyenka), known political opponents, human rights activists, civil society actors, activists in environmental, non-governmental and civil society organisations, independent bloggers, journalists and editors, peaceful protestors from all walks of life, and, in particular, activists of independent trade unions (notably Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik);

1.  Strongly condemns the repeated harassment and detention of journalists and independent media in Belarus; urges the authorities to end all judicial harassment, intimidation and threats against journalists and independent media and to allow all news portals to operate freely;

2.  Considers the blocking of the news website Charter 97 by the Belarusian authorities since January 2018 unacceptable; reiterates its call on the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally lift the block imposed on internet access to the news website within Belarus;

3.  Strongly condemns the amendments adopted to the media law, which are being used to tighten control over the internet; reiterates its strong concern about the worsening climate for independent and opposition websites and media outlets and journalists in Belarus;

4.  Is of the view that independent media do not constitute a threat to the authorities but rather are an important element to the checks and balances system and hence should be seen by the government as a potential critical partner and not as an enemy;

5.  Regrets the fact that Belarus is continuing to persist with a repressive and undemocratic policy against journalists, lawyers, political activists, human rights defenders, civil society actors, trade unionists and others who are seen as a threat to the political establishment; underlines that such repression hinders any closer relationship with the EU and broader participation in the Eastern Partnership;

6.  Reiterates its calls on the Belarusian authorities to strengthen respect for democratic principles, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, including respect for truthful and unbiased journalism, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Belarus;

7.  Calls for the EU institutions to include in the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities strong references to the independence of the media, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly; calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to ensure that EU assistance programmes and other forms of bilateral cooperation, including financial assistance, must be linked to clear and tangible steps towards democratisation and openness, including comprehensive election reform and full respect for media freedom;

8.  Calls on the EEAS and the Commission to continue their support for civil society organisations in Belarus and abroad; stresses, in this context, the need to support all independent sources of information for Belarusian society, including media broadcasting in the Belarusian language, and those abroad such as Charter 97 and Belsat TV;

9.  Calls on the Vice President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to closely monitor the situation of media freedom in Belarus, in cooperation with the Standing United Nations Rapporteur for Belarus;

10.  Urges the Belarusian authorities to allow full and unhindered functioning of political and public organisations and to repeal Article 193/1 of the Criminal Code curtailing the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association;

11.  Calls strongly for the unconditional and immediate release of political prisoners Mikhail Zhamchuzhny and Dzmitry Paliyenka, and for all former political prisoners to be fully rehabilitated; calls on the authorities to allow all independent trade unions to play their legitimate and central role in civil society without hindrance; regrets the conviction on 24 August 2018 of Henadz Fiadynich and Ihar Komlik, activists of the independent trade union REP, to four years of restricted freedom;

12.  Commends the work carried out by the current UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus, Miklós Haraszti, and draws the attention of his successor, Anaïs Marin, to the manifold abuses of power, curtailment of individual and collective freedoms and repression of civil society, independent trade unions and media, as clearly identified in Mr Haraszti’s reports;

13.  Calls, in this regard, for the Belarusian authorities to recognise the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Belarus without delay, and for the Commission, the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to make the provision of any further financial or technical assistance to Belarus conditional on the circumstances set out above, while preserving the EU’s ability to directly fund Belarusian civil society;

14.  Remains concerned about the construction of a nuclear power plant in Ostrovets; notes the report on stress tests and recommendations published on 3 July 2018 and demands that stress test recommendations be implemented as a condition for any further advancement in EU-Belarus cooperation, in particular for the signing of the EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities;

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 governments and parliaments of the Member States and the President and Government of Belarus.


The UAE, notably the situation of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on the UAE, notably the situation of human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor (2018/2862(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0376RC-B8-0456/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions, including that of 26 October 2012 on the human rights situation in the United Arab Emirates(1),

–  having regard to the statement of 4 June 2018 by the chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights condemning the 10‑year prison sentence issued against Ahmed Mansoor,

–  having regard to Article 30 of the Constitution of the United Arab Emirates (UAE),

–  having regard to the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to which the UAE is a party,

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework and the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 16 October 2017 on the Mid-Term Review of the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders of 2004, as updated in 2008,

–  having regard to the statement by the UN Human Rights Experts of 12 June 2018 calling for the immediate release of jailed human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor,

–  having regard to the Co-Chairs’ statement of 18 July 2016 at the 25th Joint Council and Ministerial Meeting of the European Union and of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf in Brussels,

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

–  having regard to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the UAE is party,

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

A.  whereas Ahmed Mansoor was arrested by UAE security officers in March 2017; whereas he is a prominent human rights activist and the 2015 laureate of the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders; whereas Mr Mansoor may have been the last remaining human rights defender in the UAE who had been able to criticise the authorities publicly;

B.  whereas the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation explained in a statement on 29 March 2017 that ‘the Office of Public Prosecution for Electronic Crimes ordered the detention of Mr Ahmed Mansoor on a charge of spreading false and misleading information over the Internet, through agendas aimed at disseminating antipathy and sectarianism’; whereas this and other official statements of the UAE authorities indicated that the sole reason for his detention, trial, and conviction was the content of his expression online, and the charges against him are based on alleged violations of the UAE’s repressive 2012 Cybercrime Law, which has allowed UAE authorities to silence human rights defenders and provided for long prison sentences and severe financial penalties for individuals who criticise the country’s rulers;

C.  whereas the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights has assessed that the arrest and secret detention of Ahmed Mansoor may constitute an act of reprisal for his engagement with UN human rights mechanisms and for the views he has expressed on social media, including Twitter, as well as for being an active member of organisations such as the Gulf Centre for Human Rights;

D.  whereas a group of UN human rights experts has called on the UAE Government to release Mr Mansoor, describing his arrest as a direct attack on the legitimate work of human rights defenders in the UAE;

E.  whereas on 29 May 2018, Ahmed Mansoor was sentenced to 10 years in prison for exercising his right to freedom of speech in Twitter posts following a grossly unfair trial in Abu Dhabi; whereas he was also fined one million UAE dirhams (EUR 232 475) and was to be placed under surveillance for three years on his release; whereas Mr Mansoor has appealed against the sentence, but the timing of the appeal process remains unclear;

F.  whereas subsequently to his arrest in March 2017, Mr Mansoor has reportedly been prohibited from making any form of contact with his family, and has only been granted four visits by his wife since that date; whereas he has reportedly remained in solitary confinement since his arrest and allegedly subjected to torture; whereas according to the UAE authorities he is being detained in Al Sadr prison in Abu Dhabi;

G.  whereas it appears that Mr Mansoor has not been able to appoint an independent lawyer of his own choosing in spite of government assertions that he may do so; whereas the right to see a lawyer is a basic right of any detained person, as outlined in Article 16 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, which the UAE has ratified;

H.  whereas Ahmed Mansoor has been harassed and persecuted by the UAE authorities for more than six years and has repeatedly faced physical assault, death threats, and physical and electronic surveillance; whereas after seven months of pre-trial detention, he was sentenced to three years in prison for ‘insulting officials’ in 2011 in a trial deemed unfair; whereas he was released after eight months on a presidential pardon, but the authorities never returned his passport, subjecting him to a de facto travel ban;

I.  whereas before his arrest Mr Mansoor was one of 133 signatories to a petition for universal and direct elections in the UAE and for the Federal National Council, a government advisory board, to be granted legislative powers; whereas Mr Mansoor also administered an online forum called Al-Hiwar al-Emarati that criticised UAE government policy and leaders; whereas he is a member of the Middle East and North Africa Advisory Committee at Human Rights Watch and an engaged actor with the UN Human Rights mechanisms;

J.  whereas UAE residents who have spoken up on human rights issues are at serious risk of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, and torture; whereas the crackdown on peaceful activism calling for constitutional reform and reform in relation to human rights issues is still ongoing; whereas attacks on members of civil society, including efforts to silence, imprison or harass human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, and others have become increasingly common in recent years;

K.  whereas the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers stated after her visit to the UAE in 2014 that lawyers who take up cases related to state security ‘have been harassed, threatened and had pressure exerted on them’; whereas she denounced the fact that the ‘judicial system remains under the de facto control of the executive branch of the government’;

L.  whereas evidence has emerged that EU Member States have approved exports of various cybersurveillance technologies to countries with appalling human rights records, including the UAE;

M.  whereas the death penalty continues to be applied in the UAE; whereas at least 19 people are currently on death row and there was one execution in 2017;

1.  Strongly condemns the harassment, persecution and detention of Ahmed Mansoor as well as of all other human rights defenders solely on the basis of their human rights work and their use of their right to freedom of expression both online and offline; urges the UAE authorities to conduct thorough and impartial investigations into the attacks against civil society actors in order to bring the perpetrators to justice;

2.  Calls on the authorities to release Mr Mansoor immediately and unconditionally, and to drop all charges against him, as he is a prisoner of conscience detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, including through his human rights work; also calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience in the UAE and for all charges against them to be dropped;

3.  Expresses its grave concern at the reports that Ahmed Mansoor has been subjected to forms of torture or ill-treatment while in detention, and that he is being held in solitary confinement; urges the authorities to investigate these allegations and grant him immediate and regular access to a lawyer, to his family, and to any medical care he may require; reminds the UAE authorities that prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement can amount to a form of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under international human rights law, and that the lack of an arrest warrant or any judicial oversight in his arrest and detention represents a breach of the fundamental principles of due process under international human rights law;

4.  Calls on the UAE authorities to ensure that detainees deemed to have broken the law undergo due process and are given a free and fair trial according to international standards;

5.  Calls on the UAE to review the Federal Law on combating cybercrimes in order to make it conform to international standards relating to the right of everyone to seek, receive, disseminate and impart information and ideas to others, the right to freedom of opinion, expression, and information, access to the internet and the right to privacy; urges the UAE authorities to amend the Counter-Terrorism Law, the 2012 Cybercrimes Law and Federal Law No 2/2008, which are repeatedly used to prosecute human rights defenders;

6.  Calls on the UAE authorities to stop all forms of harassment against individuals and immediately to lift the travel ban against human rights defenders, and insists that they guarantee, in all circumstances, that human rights defenders in the UAE are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities, both inside and outside the country, without fear of reprisals;

7.  Calls for an EU-wide ban on the export, sale, update and maintenance of any form of security equipment to the UAE which can be or is used for internal repression, including internet surveillance technology; expresses its concern at the ever-increasing use of certain cybersurveillance dual-use technologies against activists and journalists; welcomes, in this regard, the EU institutions’ ongoing efforts to update the dual-use export control regulation;

8.  Is concerned at the increasing number of individuals who are being punished for collaborating with the UN and its different bodies; urges the UAE authorities to cease the obstruction and harassment of individuals engaged with various UN human rights mechanisms; urges the authorities, furthermore, to allow UN experts, international NGOs or EU officials access to visit Mr Mansoor;

9.  Calls for greater freedoms in the UAE; underlines that it is important that the UAE respect its international obligations under human rights law, and urges the authorities to ensure the protection of freedom of speech, thought and expression both online and offline for all UAE citizens, and to comply with all provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular Articles 1, 6(a), and 12(2); stresses that these freedoms are guaranteed not only by universal human rights instruments, but also by the Arab Charter on Human Rights, to which the UAE is a party;

10.  Calls on the UAE to confirm its intention to ‘uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights’ by ratifying the ICCPR and its optional protocols and by issuing a standing invitation to visit to all UN special procedure mandate holders;

11.  Calls on the VP/HR, the EU and its Member States to take a strong public stand towards this flagrant violation of human rights, including by demanding Mr Mansoor’s release in all contacts they have with the UAE authorities; urges the EU Delegation in Abu Dhabi to provide all appropriate support to Ahmed Mansoor, including prison visits, trial monitoring and the provision of legal or any other form of assistance that he might require; calls on the European External Action Service (EEAS) to report to the European Parliament on the actions undertaken so far by the EU Delegation in support of Mr Mansoor;

12.  Calls on the EEAS to propose, and for the Member States to adopt, EU targeted measures related to serious human rights violations;

13.  Reiterates its opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances and calls for a moratorium with a view to its abolition ;

14.  Encourages continued dialogue between the EU, its Member States, and the UAE; considers that regular interparliamentary meetings between Parliament and its partners in the Gulf region are an important forum for developing a constructive and frank dialogue on issues of common concern; stresses that interparliamentary discussions should not focus only on security and trade issues, but should also include respect for human rights as a crucial topic in their discussions;

15.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Government and Parliament of the United Arab Emirates, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Commission, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the Member States of the Gulf Cooperation Council; calls for the translation of this resolution into Arabic.

(1) OJ C 72 E, 11.3.2014, p. 40.


Mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on mass arbitrary detention of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (2018/2863(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0377RC-B8-0460/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in China, in particular those of 26 November 2009 on China: minority rights and application of the death penalty(1), of 10 March 2011 on the situation and cultural heritage in Kashgar (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region)(2), of 6 July 2017 on the cases of Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo and Lee Ming-che(3), of 15 December 2016 on the cases of the Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy and Ilham Tohti(4), and of 12 September 2018 on the State of EU-China relations(5),

–  having regard to Article 36 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, which guarantees all citizens the right to freedom of religious belief, and to Article 4 thereof, which upholds the rights of ‘minority nationalities’,

–  having regard to the EU-China Strategic Partnership which was launched in 2003 and to the joint communication of 22 June 2016 from the Commission and the EEAS to Parliament and the Council entitled ‘Elements for a new EU strategy on China’ (JOIN(2016)0030),

–  having regard to the 36th round of EU-China dialogue on human rights held in Beijing on 9-10 July 2018,

–  having regard to remarks in the address made by Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council on 10 September 2018, in which she expressed deep concern over ‘re-education camps’ and asked the Chinese Government to admit independent investigators,

–  having regard to the recent general allegation letter sent in May 2018 by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) to the Chinese Government, expressing concern about the continued deterioration of the situation and increase in the number of Uyghurs being arbitrarily detained,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 16 December 1966,

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

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

A.  whereas the promotion of and respect for universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law should remain at the centre of the long-standing relationship between the EU and China, in accordance with the EU’s commitment to uphold these very same values in its external action and China’s expressed interest in adhering to them in its own development and international cooperation;

B.  whereas since President Xi Jinping assumed power, the human rights situation in China has deteriorated further, with the government stepping up its hostility toward peaceful dissent, the freedoms of expression and religion, and the rule of law;

C.  whereas the situation in Xinjiang, which is home to around 11 million Uyghurs and ethnic Kazakhs, has rapidly deteriorated in recent years, as absolute control of Xinjiang has been elevated to a top priority, while further challenges are posed by periodic terrorist attacks in or allegedly connected to Xinjiang, by Uyghurs;

D.  whereas the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has cited estimates that ‘from tens of thousands to upwards of a million Uighurs’ may be being detained in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism; whereas this would represent the largest mass incarceration of an ethnic minority population in the world today;

E.  whereas the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China has also stated that there is solid information that Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other primarily Muslim ethnic minorities in the XUAR have been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, egregious restrictions on religious practice and culture, and a digital surveillance system so pervasive that every aspect of daily life is monitored – through facial recognition cameras, mobile phone scans, DNA collection and an extensive and intrusive police presence;

F.  whereas detainees are reportedly being held in poor conditions, subjected to political indoctrination, including mandatory courses in patriotism, and forced to denounce their ethnic and religious identity; whereas there are recent reports of deaths in custody including suicides;

G.  whereas thousands of children have reportedly been separated from their parents, who are arbitrarily detained in internment camps, and are being held in overcrowded orphanages, even if only one of their parents is detained in a camp;

H.  whereas at the UN hearing of 13 August 2018 in Geneva, the Chinese delegation denied the accusations made by UN experts of having detained ethnic Uyghur Muslims in ‘re-education’ camps in the western region of Xinjiang; whereas comprehensive evidence exists of the construction and upgrading of these facilities;

I.  whereas some foreign journalists have been pressured into refraining from reporting on sensitive issues such as Uyghur human rights and the use of internment camps, including in some cases through the refusal to renew press credentials;

J.  whereas nowhere in the world is the population monitored as strictly as in the XUAR; whereas the provincial government has recruited tens of thousands of additional security personnel;

K.  whereas data is collected by an ‘integrated joint operations platform’ that also stores further data on the population, including consumer habits, banking activity, health status and the DNA profile of every single inhabitant of the XUAR; whereas Muslims in the region are required to have a spyware app on their mobile phones and failure to install the app is an offence;

L.  whereas first-hand testimony and credible academic research have indicated that there is intentional targeting of Uyghurs with ties to people abroad and of those with religious beliefs;

M.  whereas Uyghurs overseas have been pressured to return to China, often with the support of host states; whereas Chinese embassies abroad have refused to renew many Uyghur passports, leading to insecurity in terms of work and study;

N.  whereas requests from the WGEID and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other UN Special Procedures mandates to send independent investigators to Xinjiang have been routinely denied by the Chinese Government;

O.  whereas the Uyghur economics professor Ilham Tohti was sentenced to life imprisonment on 23 September 2014 on the charge of alleged separatism, after being detained in January of the same year; whereas seven of his former students were also detained and sentenced to imprisonment of between three and eight years for alleged collaboration with Mr Tohti; whereas Ilham Tohti has always rejected separatism and violence and has sought reconciliation based on respect for Uyghur culture;

1.  Is deeply concerned about the increasingly suppressive regime imposed on different minorities, in particular Uyghurs and Kazakhs, with additional restrictions being placed on the constitutional guarantees of their rights to freedom of cultural expression and religious belief, speech and expression, and peaceful assembly and association; demands that the authorities respect these fundamental freedoms;

2.  Calls on the Chinese Government to immediately end the mass arbitrary detention of members of the Uyghur and Kazakh minorities, to close all camps and detention centres and to release detained persons immediately and unconditionally; is deeply concerned by the numerous allegations of poor conditions, torture and deaths inside the camps; reminds the Chinese authorities that re-education facilities have no legal basis;

3.  Is alarmed by the reported deaths of Muhammad Salih Hajim, Abdulnehed Mehsum, Ayhan Memet and others, all elderly Uyghurs, academics and community leaders, in internment camps;

4.  Expresses its deep concern at the state’s implementation of measures to ensure the ‘comprehensive supervision’ of the region through the installation of China’s ‘Skynet’ electronic surveillance system in major urban areas, the installation of GPS trackers in motor vehicles, the use of facial recognition scanners at checkpoints and at train and petrol stations, and the blood-collecting activities of Xinjiang’s police force to further expand China’s DNA database;

5.  Emphasises that government control and the compulsory mass collection of citizens’ data primarily targets and affects Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities, in violation of the prohibition of discrimination under international law;

6.  Urges the Chinese Government to release to the families concerned the full details of those forcibly disappeared in Xinjiang, including their names, whereabouts and current status;

7.  Is deeply concerned about China’s Counterterrorism Law (2015) and the Regulation on De-Extremification, which have an overly broad definition of what constitutes a terrorist act; calls, therefore, on China to clearly differentiate between peaceful dissent and violent extremism;

8.  Reiterates its call on the Chinese Government to immediately and unconditionally release Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti and all others detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression and, pending their release, calls on China to ensure that they have regular, unrestricted access to their families and lawyers of their choice; calls, furthermore, for the release of Eli Mamut, Hailaite Niyazi, Memetjan Abdulla, Abduhelil Zunun and Abdukerim Abduweli, as requested by the EU during the 36th round of the EU-China Human Rights dialogue held in Beijing on 9-10 July 2018;

9.  Urges the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the Member States to monitor intensely the changing human rights developments in Xinjiang, including the increased government repression of Uyghurs, Kazakhs and other ethnic minorities, and to send a strong message to the highest level of the Chinese Government to end the grotesque human rights violations;

10.  Calls on the Chinese authorities to allow free, unhindered access for journalists and international observers to Xinjiang province;

11.  Recalls the importance for the EU and the Member States of raising the issue of human rights violations in Xinjiang with the Chinese authorities, including at leadership level, in line with the EU’s commitment to project a strong, clear and unified voice in its approach to the country, including at the yearly Human Rights Dialogue and the upcoming Euro-Asia Summit;

12.  Expresses its deep concern regarding the reports of harassment of Uyghurs abroad by the Chinese authorities aiming to compel them to act as informants against other Uyghurs, return to Xinjiang or remain silent about the situation there, sometimes by detaining their family members;

13.  Welcomes the decision taken by Germany and Sweden to suspend the return of all ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs or other Turkic Muslims to China in consideration of the risk of arbitrary detention, torture or other ill-treatment they would face in the country, and calls on all other Member States to follow suit and to expedite asylum claims by Turkic Muslims at risk of being forcibly returned to China; further calls on EU Member States to invoke domestic law, as appropriate, to investigate the Chinese Government’s intimidation of Turkic Muslim diaspora communities in Europe;

14.  Reminds China of its human rights obligations following its signing of a wide range of international human rights treaties and therefore recalls that China is expected to live up to these commitments;

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, and the Government and the Parliament of the People’s Republic of China.

(1) OJ C 285 E, 21.10.2010, p. 80.
(2) OJ C 199 E, 7.7.2012, p. 185.
(3) OJ C 334, 19.9.2018, p. 137.
(4) OJ C 238, 6.7.2018, p. 108.
(5) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0343.


Public procurement strategy package
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on the public procurement strategy package (2017/2278(INI))
P8_TA(2018)0378A8-0229/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2017 on Making Public Procurement work in and for Europe (COM(2017)0572),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 3 October 2017 on Helping investment through a voluntary ex-ante assessment of the procurement aspects for large infrastructure projects (COM(2017)0573),

–  having regard to Commission Recommendation (EU) 2017/1805 of 3 October 2017 on the professionalisation of public procurement – Building an architecture for the professionalisation of public procurement (C(2017)6654)(1),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC(2),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/25/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on procurement by entities operating in the water, energy, transport and postal services sectors and repealing Directive 2004/17/EC(3),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/23/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 February 2014 on the award of concession contracts(4),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 17 May 2017 on the review of the practical application of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) (COM(2017)0242),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/55/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 April 2014 on electronic invoicing in public procurement(5),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 11 October 2017 on the Assessment of the European Standard on electronic invoicing, according to Directive 2014/55/EU (COM(2017)0590),

–  having regard to the European Economic and Social Committee opinion of 14 February 2018,

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

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, the opinion of the Committee on International Trade and the position in the form of amendments of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A8-0229/2018),

A.  whereas the full potential of public procurement in helping to build a competitive social market economy is yet to be unlocked, and whereas over 250 000 public authorities in the Union spend around 14 % of GDP, or nearly EUR 2 000 billion, each year on the purchase of services, works and supplies;

B.  whereas public procurement involves the spending of a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money, meaning that it should be carried out in an ethical manner, with transparency and integrity and in the most efficient way, in terms of both costs and quality delivered, in order to provide quality goods and services to citizens;

C.  whereas correctly implemented public procurement rules are a crucial tool in the service of a stronger single market and for the growth of EU companies and jobs in the Union and whereas the intelligent use of public procurement can be a strategic tool to achieve the EU’s goals of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, accelerating the transition to more sustainable supply chains and business models;

D.  whereas, when it comes to the transposition of EU rules on public procurement and concessions, the full transposition and implementation of EU law is essential to make it easier and cheaper for small and medium-sized enterprises to bid for public contracts, with full respect for the EU’s principles of transparency and competition;

E.  whereas the Commission launched a targeted consultation on the draft Guidance on Public Procurement of Innovation on 3 October 2017, and a targeted consultation on the scope and structure of a Commission guide on socially responsible public procurement on 7 December 2017;

F.  whereas according to a 2016 survey, as mentioned in Commission communication COM(2017)0572, only four Member States relied on digital technologies for all major steps in public procurement, such as e-notification, e-access to tender documents, e-submission, e-evaluation, e-award, e-ordering, e-invoicing and e-payment;

G.  whereas according to the European Semester thematic fact sheet on public procurement of November 2017, the number of tender procedures with only one bid increased from 14 % to 29 % for the period 2006­2016, and whereas, according to Commission communication COM(2017)0572, ‘SMEs win only 45 % of the value of public contracts above EU thresholds, clearly below their weight in the economy’;

H.  whereas the new rules introduced by the 2014 directives, by facilitating public procurement and imposing more controls, should contribute to the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy for a sustainable, more social, innovative and inclusive economy;

I.  whereas according to Commission communication COM(2017)0572, 55 % of public procurement procedures still use the lowest price as the only award criterion, instead of, for instance, strategic social and environmental criteria;

J.  whereas the European Union is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

K.  whereas it is of crucial importance that suppliers trust that the Union’s public procurement systems offer simple and accessible digital procedures, full transparency, integrity and security of data;

Legislative framework and implementation

1.  Welcomes, almost four years after the extensive revision of the Union public procurement legislative framework was concluded, the set of non-legislative measures proposed by the Commission and expects that this will create impetus for better implementation;

2.  Is deeply disappointed by the pace at which many Member States have transposed the 2014 directives in the area of public procurement, and by the many delays, and deplores the fact that the Commission had to initiate infringement procedures against some Member States; urges the swift completion of transposition in all Member States without any further delay;

3.  Is concerned about the next round of deadlines provided by the directives regarding electronic procurement and the transition of Member States to full e-procurement, including e-invoicing; stresses the need for the Member States’ digital agendas to include the promotion of full e-procurement;

4.  Calls on the Commission to finalise swiftly the Guidance on Public Procurement of Innovation and the Guide on socially responsible public procurement, in order to facilitate the implementation of the respective legal provisions in the Member States;

5.  Asks the Commission to better and more clearly organise the guides and other tools developed to help Member States with the implementation of the public procurement framework, in a more accessible and user-friendly way that offers a good overview to all practitioners, while also paying attention to the languages available;

6.  Welcomes the new public procurement guidance for practitioners of February 2018, designed to help national, regional and local public officials ensure efficient and transparent public procurement procedures for EU-funded projects;

Strategic and coordinated procurement

7.  Points out that the current Union legislation, more than ever, allows for public procurement to be used as a strategic instrument to promote EU policy goals, and encourages the Member States to get the most that they can out of it; recalls that public procurement is also an important tool at a regional and local level to complement local and regional strategies and encourages public hearings and consultations with the end users of products and services;

8.   Calls for the extensive use of innovative procurement to achieve smart, green and inclusive growth and to strengthen the circular economy; underlines the importance of the circular economy and, in this regard, the new possibilities offered by the new public procurement directives as regards goods and services reused, repaired, remanufactured, refurbished and other sustainable and resource-efficient products and solutions;

9.  Calls on the Member States to use public procurement strategically in order to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, including for SMEs and social enterprises; underlines that this requires Member States to systematically signal such policies at the highest level and support, to this end, procurers and practitioners in the public administration;

10.  Points out the importance of tendering conditions which are not overly burdensome, so that access to public contracts remains possible for all companies, including SMEs;

11.  Welcomes the example of adopting National Public Procurement Strategies and encourages more Member States to follow this example as a means of modernising and streamlining their public procurement systems and hence enhancing their efficiency; stresses that public procurement is a cross-cutting area for the various sectors of public administration, and that it is thus essential to have, in addition to coordination, a governance structure that involves the main stakeholders so that the fundamental decisions can be taken in a more collaborative manner and accepted by all those involved;

12.  Welcomes the fact that many Member States have made provisions for the use of quality criteria (including the best price-quality ratio) and encourages their systematic application; encourages contracting authorities to apply criteria other than simply the lowest price or cost effectiveness, taking into account qualitative, environmental and/or social aspects;

13.  While acknowledging that in some cases the low price can reflect innovative solutions and efficient management, is concerned about the excessive use of the lowest price as the primary award criterion in a number of Member States with disregard for quality, sustainability and social inclusion, and therefore calls on the Commission and the Member States to analyse and report on the reasons behind this situation and to propose suitable solutions where necessary;

14.  Calls on the Member States to ensure that public procurement practices are in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; calls on the Member States to encourage consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations in this respect;

15.  Calls for the adoption of a European code of ethics for public procurement for the various actors in the procurement process;

16.  Stresses that it is important for contracting authorities to consider the full life-cycle of products, including their impact on the environment, in their purchasing decisions, when appropriate, and calls on the Commission to assist in the development of methodologies to implement the concept of ‘life-cycle costing’;

17.  Notes that innovative, social and environmental considerations are legitimate and essential award criteria in public procurement, and that contracting authorities can also pursue green, innovative or social goals through well-thought-out specifications and by allowing variant offers in a non-discriminatory way, provided that these characteristics are linked to the subject matter of the contract and are proportionate to its value and objectives;

18.  Recalls that the Union’s legislative framework on public procurement obliges Member States to ensure that contractors and subcontractors fully comply with the environmental, social and labour law provisions which apply at the place where the works are executed, services are provided or goods are produced or supplied, as set out in the applicable international conventions, in Union and national law as well as in collective agreements concluded in accordance with national law and practices; calls on the Commission to guarantee that this obligation is fulfilled by Member States in the transposition and application of the 2014 directives and to facilitate the exchange of best practices in this area;

19.  Acknowledges that a qualitative assessment of bids requires skilled procurers, and calls on the Commission to assist Member States with the dissemination of evaluation methodologies and practices, particularly through the organisation of workshops and training courses; underlines that such assistance should be available at all administrative levels where procurement is carried out;

20.  Points out that that socially responsible public procurement must take into account supply chains and the risks associated with modern-day slavery, social dumping and human rights violations; notes that efforts must be made to ensure that goods and services acquired through public procurement are not produced in a manner that violates human rights; calls on the Commission to include substantive provisions on ethics in supply chains in its new guide on social considerations in public procurement;

21.  Welcomes the efforts of several Member States to set up authorities that are responsible for coordinating procurement, and acknowledges that this contributes to conducting strategic and efficient procurement;

22.  Calls for more Member States to use the advantages of central purchasing and aggregation of public purchasing, and notes that Central Purchasing Bodies could and should speed up dissemination of expertise, of best practices and of innovation;

23.  Stresses that, especially with the aim of fostering innovation, it is important that contracting authorities engage with the market and make sufficient use of the pre-procurement phase as preparation for the next steps; believes that pre-procurement is also an essential phase for supporting SME involvement;

24.  Considers that the new partnership procedure will help to foster innovation, and encourages contracting authorities to cooperate with the market in order to develop innovative methodologies, products, works or services which do not yet exist; welcomes in this regard the fact that 17 innovation partnership procedures have been initiated to date;

25.  Welcomes the voluntary ex-ante assessment of procurement aspects for large infrastructure projects, as proposed by the Commission, and calls on the Commission to swiftly implement the helpdesk, the notification mechanism and the information exchange mechanism, while fully respecting confidentiality;

Digitalisation and sound management of the procurement procedures

26.  Regrets the slow uptake of digital technologies in public procurement in the Union, and calls on the Member States to strive for a rapid digital transformation of the procedures and for the introduction of e-processes for all major stages, namely from notification, access to tenders and submission to evaluation, contract award, ordering, invoicing and payment;

27.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place the eForms by the end of 2018 at the latest;

28.  Recalls that e-procurement offers a range of important benefits such as significant savings for all parties, simplified and shortened processes, reductions in red tape and administrative burdens, increased transparency and greater innovation as well as improved access of SMEs to public procurement markets;

29.  Agrees with the Commission that contract registers can be a cost-efficient tool for managing contracts, for improving transparency, integrity and data, and for better governance of public procurement;

30.  Calls on the Commission to look into the possibility of interlinking national contract registers with Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) to remove the obligation on contracting authorities to publish the same information in two systems;

31.  Draws attention to the difficulties that may arise for bidders, and especially SMEs, regarding requirements for certificates and signatures and encourages a light requirements regime in this respect, together with full application of the once-only principle in order to minimise the burden for bidders;

32.  Emphasises that all Member States should be in a position to provide all necessary data on public procurement implementation, including data on tenders, procedures and contracts and statistical information, also in order to enable the Commission to assess the single market on procurement;

33.  Calls on the Member States to promote the innovative use of open-format data, as such data are essential for any government to manage its public administration, and at the same time, to enable the economic potential of such data to be harnessed by companies, while also encouraging transparency and responsibility within institutions and bodies dealing with public procurement; points out that such data must always be published with due regard for the principle of proportionality and in accordance with the EU acquis on data protection and business secrecy;

Single market and improved access to procurement

34.  Points out that competitive bidding is vital in public procurement, and notes with regret a decrease in the intensity of competition in public procurement in the Union in recent years; urges the Member States recording a high percentage of notices with only one bidder to address the problem;

35.  Urges the Member States to increase joint procurement procedures, including cross-border, as facilitated by the revised EU rules, and calls on the Commission to provide in-depth support in this field; considers that such procedures should not however result in contracts of such size that SMEs are effectively excluded from consideration at the earliest stage of the process;

36.  Regrets that SMEs and social economy enterprises are still facing difficulties in accessing public procurement, and calls on the Commission to assess the effectiveness of the measures provided by the 2014 directives and to come forward with new solutions if necessary;

37.  Asks the Commission to report to Parliament on the implementation on the ground of the ‘apply or explain’ principle in Article 46 of Directive 2014/24/EU, which requires contracting authorities to provide an indication of the main reasons for their decision not to subdivide into lots, which must be systematically explained in the procurement documents or the individual report;

38.  Calls on the Member States to support SMEs’ participation in tenders, for example by mandatory division into lots when possible or by placing a limit on the turnover required to participate in a tender procedure; highlights that division of public procurement contracts into lots fosters competition in the market as well as avoiding the risk of single-supplier dependency; calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop advisory services and training for SMEs to improve their participation in tendering processes;

39.  Calls on the Commission to analyse in particular the impediments to cross-border public procurement resulting from language, administrative, legal or any other barriers, and to propose solutions or intervene in order to guarantee functional cross-border procurement;

40.  Underlines the importance of ensuring interoperability in purchased goods and services and of avoiding vendor lock-in, and calls on the Commission to propose measures in this field;

41.  Regrets the lack of clear and consolidated public procurement data in the EU and notes that reliable data on access to public procurement are necessary to verify the accountability of public authorities, and are a means of combating fraud and corruption;

42.  Accepts the evaluation outcome of the Remedies Directive and the Commission’s decision not to propose a legislative revision, but calls for continuation of the cooperation of national review bodies and for more guidance from the Commission on the directives;

43.  Regrets that the Defence Procurement Directive has not yet delivered the desired results, in particular with regard to trans-national infrastructure projects, and urges the Commission and the Member States to intensify their efforts to better implement the currently applicable rules;

44.  Highlights the importance of transparency and the non-discriminatory nature of public procurement procedures; recalls the importance of having proper appeal procedures in place and the importance of access to guidance on how to launch an appeal;

International public procurement

45.  Calls for Union action to improve the access of EU suppliers to third-country public procurement markets, as the Union’s public procurement market is one of the most open in the world;

46.   Expresses concern over unfair competition within public procurement procedures as a result of state interference with third-country competitors, in particular, but not limited, to the market for electric vehicles and batteries; considers that there is a need to link trade defence instruments and public procurement practices;

47.  Stresses that public procurement markets are of major economic importance, given that procurement expenditure is estimated to account for 20 % of global GDP, and stresses that improving access to public procurement markets in third countries, as well as levelling the playing field for European businesses, can therefore be a major driver of growth in trade of goods and services, and also leads to greater choice and better value for tax payers’ money, both in the EU and in third countries;

48.  Points out that public procurement markets in third countries are often de jure and/or de facto closed to EU bidders; encourages the Commission to collect and provide better data on international public procurement procedures; recalls that the Commission estimates that more than half of the global procurement market is currently closed to free international competition owing to protectionist measures, which are on the rise globally, while approximately EUR 352 billion in value of EU public procurement is open to bidders from member countries of the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement; stresses the need for the EU to address this imbalance without resorting to protectionist measures; asks the Commission to ensure that European companies get similar market access to that enjoyed by our foreign competitors in the EU market and notes that the proposed so-called international procurement instrument (IPI) could under certain conditions be a means to create leverage for increasing market access;

49.  Welcomes the fact that one of the six priority areas for the Commission’s action in the field of public procurement is the improvement of access to procurement markets; stresses that improving access to public procurement markets in third countries, including at sub-national level, constitutes a strong offensive interest for the EU in trade negotiations, given that many EU companies are highly competitive in various sectors; stresses that government procurement should be included in each future trade agreement with a view to maximising the participation of European companies in foreign tenders; calls on the Commission to ensure compliance with and proper implementation of the provisions concerning public procurement markets contained in the EU’s free trade agreements; recalls that trade agreements should be used to improve access to third countries’ public procurement markets and that improved market access to third-country procurement markets, and enhanced rules for modern, efficient and transparent procurement procedures, which are crucial to obtaining better value for public money, should be key elements of any trade agreement to be concluded by the EU, while fully respecting the legitimate public policy objectives enshrined in the Union’s public procurement directives; stresses that third-country economic operators must comply with European social and environmental criteria in order to qualify for public procurement contracts, as laid out in Directives 2014/23/EU, 2014/24/EU and 2014/25/EU, and encourages, in line with this, the use of MEAT (most economically advantageous tenders) criteria for the award of such contracts; notes that bilateral and sub-regional free trade agreements do not always guarantee full access to procurement markets; asks the Commission to negotiate the greatest possible access to public procurement markets in third countries;

50.  Emphasises that any strategy to open up public procurement markets in third countries must concretely address the obstacles to and specific needs of SMEs to facilitate their access to markets, as they are particularly disadvantaged when it comes to penetrating third-country public procurement markets, while the effects on SMEs of exposure to new competitors from third countries must also be given due consideration; calls on the Commission to encourage the inclusion of SME-friendly procurement procedures (including cross-border initiatives and the division of tenders into lots) in trade agreements; stresses the benefits to be gained, by SMEs in particular, through digitalisation and the use of e-procurement in all public procurement processes with third countries;

51.  Points out that major emerging economies, such as Brazil, China, India and Russia, are not yet part of the GPA, while China and Russia are officially in the process of acceding, and asks the Commission to encourage and promote third countries in their efforts to join the GPA, as multilateral and plurilateral agreements are the best way to establish a level playing field in the long term; stresses that bilateral trade agreements with ambitious procurement provisions that respect the underlying principles of the GPA can be a stepping stone for enhanced multilateral cooperation;

52.  Highlights the importance of the GPA not only for providing de jure access to procurement markets in third countries, but also for enhancing the transparency and predictability of procurement procedures; encourages the Commission to promote the development of global and convergent standards for transparent procurement as an important tool for combating corruption; more specifically, asks the Commission to strive for the inclusion in trade agreements of provisions on joint rules for public procurement which enable reporting of corruption, simplify procedures and strengthen integrity and transparency for bidders;

Professionalisation

53.  Welcomes the Commission’s recommendations on professionalisation and calls on the Member States to develop national plans as a priority; suggests that each plan should differentiate between types of procurement, in particular as SME access to procurement in services and digital infrastructure may be facilitated in a different way to procurement access in the case of large infrastructure contracts;

54.  Calls on the Commission to propose the means for financial support from Union funds to support relevant actions on professionalisation in the Member States;

55.  Regrets the low level of professionalisation among those responsible for public purchasing and calls on the Member States to improve the skills of everyone involved in all stages of the public procurement process;

56.  Underlines that both procurers and suppliers need to be adequately trained in order to work efficiently at all procurement stages, and that attention must be given to all levels of public administration and to quality criteria, including social and environmental criteria, regarding professionalisation; believes that better results can be achieved by improving how public authorities consider what they will procure as well as how they procure it; without prejudice to the negotiated procedure, regrets that public procurement can often be captured by more experienced firms, which assist in the design phase of a procurement contract and as a consequence are better placed to win the contract;

57.  Asks Member States to encourage universities to further develop university courses in European public procurement law and to improve the training and career management of procurement practitioners, including those working in SMEs, including concerning the development and uptake of accessible IT tools; supports the creation of a common European framework of relevant technical and computer skills;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 259, 7.10.2017, p. 28.
(2) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 65.
(3) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 243.
(4) OJ L 94, 28.3.2014, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 133, 6.5.2014, p. 1.


EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 October 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust) (COM(2013)0535 – C7-0240/2013 – 2013/0256(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0379A8-0320/2017

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2013)0535),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 85 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C7‑0240/2013),

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

–  having regard to the reasoned opinion submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Czech Senate, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the provisional agreement approved by the responsible committee under Rule 69f(4) of its Rules of Procedure and the undertaking given by the Council representative by letter of 20 June 2018 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Budgetary Control and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0320/2017),

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 4 October 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), and replacing and repealing Council Decision 2002/187/JHA

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/1727.)


Mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders ***I
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Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 October 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mutual recognition of freezing and confiscation orders (COM(2016)0819 – C8-0002/2017 – 2016/0412(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0380A8-0001/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2016)0819),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 82(1), second subparagraph, point (a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8-0002/2017),

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

–  having regard to the reasoned opinion submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the Czech Senate, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  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 20 June 2018 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 Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A8-0001/2018),

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 4 October 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on the mutual recognition of freezing orders and confiscation orders

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/1805.)


Free flow of non-personal data in the European Union ***I
PDF 121kWORD 44k
Resolution
Text
European Parliament legislative resolution of 4 October 2018 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union (COM(2017)0495 – C8-0312/2017 – 2017/0228(COD))
P8_TA(2018)0381A8-0201/2018

(Ordinary legislative procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission proposal to Parliament and the Council (COM(2017)0495),

–  having regard to Article 294(2) and Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C8‑0312/2017),

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

–  having regard to the reasoned opinion submitted, within the framework of Protocol No 2 on the application of the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, by the French Senate, asserting that the draft legislative act does not comply with the principle of subsidiarity,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 15 February 2018(1),

–  after consulting the Committee of the Regions,

–  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 29 June 2018 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 the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinion of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (A8-0201/2018),

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 4 October 2018 with a view to the adoption of Regulation (EU) 2018/… of the European Parliament and of the Council on a framework for the free flow of non-personal data in the European Union

(As an agreement was reached between Parliament and Council, Parliament's position corresponds to the final legislative act, Regulation (EU) 2018/1807.)

(1) OJ C 227, 28.6.2018, p. 78.


The EU's input on a UN binding instrument on transnational corporations with respect to human rights
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on the EU’s input to a UN Binding Instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with transnational characteristics with respect to human rights (2018/2763(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0382B8-0443/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Articles 2, 3, 21 and 23 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on implementation of the 2010 recommendations of Parliament on social and environmental standards, human rights and corporate responsibility(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 30 May 2018 on the Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Commercial Policy(2),

–  having regard to Articles 207 and 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights and Democracy as adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June 2012, and to the Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2015-2019 adopted by the Council on 20 July 2015,

–  having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council in its resolution 17/4 of 16 June 2011,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Trade for All Strategy,

–  having regard to the Commission’s Sector Guides on Implementing the UNGPs(3),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 14 July 2015 on ‘Implementing the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights – State of Play’ (SWD(2015)0144),

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) entitled ‘Improving access to remedy in the area of business and human rights at the EU level’(4),

–  having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolution 26/9 of 26 June 2014, whereby it decided ‘to establish an open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises’,

–  having regard to General comment No 24 (2017) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) on State obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the context of business activities (E/C.12/GC/24),

–  having regard to the Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(5),

–  having regard to the United Nations Global Compact(6),

–  having regard to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,

–  having regard to the International Labour Organisation’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy, revised in 2017,

–  having regard to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for the garment and footwear sector,

–  having regard to the Children’s Rights and Business Principles developed by UNICEF,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Business and Human Rights adopted on 20 June 2016,

–  having regard to the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility,

–  having regard to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2012 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters(7),

–  having regard to Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 amending Directive 2013/34/EU as regards disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups(8),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017 laying down supply chain due diligence obligations for Union importers of tin, tantalum and tungsten, their ores, and gold originating from conflict-affected and high-risk areas(9),

–  having regard to the Council of Europe recommendation to Member States on human rights and business, adopted on 2 March 2016,

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 March 2018 on gender equality in EU trade agreements(10),

–  having regard to its resolution of 13 December 2017 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2016 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(11),

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2017 on the EU-Africa Strategy: a boost for development(12),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 April 2017 on the EU flagship initiative on the garment sector(13),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 February 2017 on the revision of the European Consensus on Development(14),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2017 on the impact of international trade and the EU’s trade policies on global value chains(15),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 995/2010 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 October 2010 laying down the obligations of operators who place timber and timber products on the market(16),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 November 2010 on corporate social responsibility in international trade agreements(17),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 December 2016 on the Annual Report on human rights and democracy in the world and the European Union’s policy on the matter 2015(18),

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on increasing the effectiveness of development cooperation(19),

–  having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2016 on corporate liability for serious human rights abuses in third countries(20),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2016 on the fight against trafficking in human beings in the EU’s external relations(21),

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 April 2016 on the private sector and development(22),

–  having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2015 on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2014 and the European Union’s policy on the matter(23),

–  having regard to the study commissioned by its Subcommittee on Human Rights on ‘Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’(24),

–  having regard to the questions to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to the Commission and to the Council on the EU’s input to a UN Binding Instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with transnational characteristics with respect to human rights (O-000074/2018 – B8‑0402/2018, O-000075/2018 – B8-0403/2018 and O-000078/2018 – B8‑0404/2018),

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

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

A.  whereas the EU is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights; whereas its actions on the international scene (including its development and trade policies) must be guided by these principles and must be consistent with the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD), as enshrined in Article 208 of the Treaty of Lisbon; whereas according to Article 208 of the TFEU the principle of PCD must be respected in all EU external actions;

B.  whereas the European Union is both a normative power and an economic power; whereas, as such, it needs to position itself as a leader in the dissemination of best practice and the development of global standards;

C.  whereas the implementation of Agenda 2030 implies that economic development should go hand in hand with social justice, good governance, respect for human rights, including social rights and the right to human dignity and freedom for all, as well as high labour and environmental standards; whereas sustainable development, trade and human rights can have an impact on each other and may reinforce one another;

D.  whereas human rights obligations rest primarily with States; whereas although States are not per se responsible for human rights violations by private actors, they may breach their international human rights law obligations where such violations can be attributed to them, or where they fail to take appropriate due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and redress private actors’ abuse; whereas States generally have discretion in deciding what measures to take, making use of policies, legislation, regulations and adjudication;

E.  whereas due diligence is a concept referred to in the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises(25);

F.  whereas States should fulfil their human rights obligations within their territory and/or jurisdiction; whereas States should set out clearly the expectation that obligation to protect implies regulating to ensure that all business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or jurisdiction respect human rights throughout their operations, including through their subsidiaries, controlled companies and entities in their supply chain worldwide;

G.  whereas the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), endorsed by consensus in the Human Rights Council, remain the authoritative framework for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse impacts on human rights linked to business activity, and whereas the 2017 study commissioned by Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and entitled ‘Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ shows clearly that EU Member States are the most advanced in the global context in the implementation of the UNGPs, having the highest number of National Action Plans adopted or in progress;

H.  whereas the UNGPs apply to all States and to all business enterprises, both transnational and others, regardless of their size, sector, location, ownership and structure, and are grounded in the three pillars of the UN ‘protect-respect-remedy’ framework, namely: 1) the State’s duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; 2) the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and 3) greater access for victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial; stresses that although the UNGPs are not legally binding, they are widely recognised and supported, and serve as the basis for policy approaches towards business and human rights internationally, as well as recognition of States’ existing obligations to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and fundamental freedoms, of the role of business enterprises as specialised organs of society performing specialised functions which are required to comply with all applicable laws and to respect human rights, and of the need for rights and obligations to be matched to appropriate and effective remedies when breached; whereas available evidence suggests that where the UNGPs are implemented, the incidence of corporate-related human rights harm is reduced;

I.  whereas the UN Global Compact calls on corporations to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and the fight against corruption, making a commitment to those values and integrating them into their business operations on a voluntary basis;

J.  whereas corporations are one of the major players in economic globalisation, financial services and international trade, and are required to comply with all applicable laws and international treaties in force and to respect human rights; whereas these business enterprises as well as national corporations may at times cause or contribute to human rights violations or abuses and affect the rights of vulnerable groups such as minorities, indigenous people, women and children, or contribute to environmental problems; whereas they may also have an important role to play in offering positive incentives in terms of promoting human rights, democracy, environmental standards and corporate social responsibility;

K.  whereas there is an asymmetry between the rights and obligations of transnational corporations (TNCs), particularly in investment protection treaties, where investors are being granted broad rights, such as ‘fair and equitable treatment’, that are not necessarily matched by binding and enforceable obligations in terms of compliance with human rights and labour and environmental law throughout the whole supply chain;

L.  whereas the long-term positive impact on human rights of European businesses operating globally and leading by example through a non-discriminatory corporate culture is acknowledged;

M.  whereas the EU, with regard to the internal/external coherence of its policies, has played a leading role in negotiating and implementing a number of initiatives for global responsibility which go hand in hand with the promotion and respect of international standards in relation to business and human rights; whereas the EU and its Member States have also committed to a number of instruments, in particular the 2011 UNGPs and the 2016 Council of Europe recommendation on human rights and business;

N.  whereas in recent years, the EU and its Member States have started to adopt legislation to enhance corporate accountability and embed elements of Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) into legislation; whereas these measures are now helping to set global standards but can still be developed further, examples being the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation and the EU Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFR), as well as the Timber Regulation (EUTR); whereas the Commission, however, has been reluctant to put forward further legislation for other sectors, such as garments, despite repeated calls from Parliament; whereas the multitude of national legislative initiatives might lead to an inefficient and unfair playing field within the EU; whereas a binding UN treaty could be a meaningful step forward in this regard;

O.  whereas victims of human rights violations in which EU businesses are involved may claim compensation before domestic courts in the EU under Regulation (EU) No 1215/2012; whereas the provisions laid down in this regulation require a stronger international framework in order to improve their efficiency with regard to the affected parties, while ensuring a level playing field between corporations domiciled in the EU and those which are not;

P.  whereas a global holistic approach to corporate liability for human rights abuses is still lacking; whereas victims of human rights abuses involving transnational companies face multiple obstacles to accessing remedies, including judicial remedies and guarantees of non-repetition; whereas such obstacles to access to remedies constitute a further serious violation of human rights; whereas a holistic approach would provide legal certainty to both businesses and individuals, in the context of the proliferation of national due diligence initiatives;

Q.  whereas gender inequality implies that women are often particularly vulnerable to human rights violations, and face special burdens when seeking access to remedy;

R.  whereas the 2017 opinion of the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) found that more could be done to ensure effective judicial and non-judicial access to remedy for business-related human rights abuses within or outside the EU, including by providing victims with more assistance in accessing courts and the possibility to file class actions, facilitating the burden of proof, and incentivising due diligence obligations for companies, including for parent companies linked to human rights performance in subsidiaries or supply chains;

S.  whereas the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights imposes both domestic and extraterritorial obligations on States regarding their duties to provide access to judicial remedies for victims of human rights violations;

T.  whereas a system of corporate liability for human rights abuses is currently being negotiated in the UN, within the UNHRC’s open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG), established by the UN General Assembly in 2014; whereas both the EU and its Member States play a role at the OEIGWG, but the Commission has no mandate from the Council to conduct negotiations on behalf of the EU concerning its participation in the OEIGWG;

1.  Notes that the globalisation and increasing internationalisation of business activities and supply chains make the role that corporations play in ensuring respect for human rights more important, having already created a situation in which international norms, rules and cooperation are crucial to avoid human rights abuses in third countries;

2.  Is of the opinion that transnational corporations should refrain from financing or engaging in activities, commercial or non-commercial, that might fuel radicalism or extremism, in particular when it entails the manipulation of a religious creed, as well as from any direct or indirect support to any group promoting, advocating or justifying violence;

3.  Firmly believes that the private sector is an important partner in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in mobilising additional resources for development; stresses that, given their increasing role in development cooperation, private sector actors must align with development effectiveness principles and abide by the principles of corporate accountability throughout the whole life cycle of projects;

4.  Recalls that due diligence is a key component of the UN Guiding Principles’ second pillar regarding corporate responsibility and respect for human rights; stresses that effective due diligence practices can also help strengthen access to remedy; encourages the EU and its Member States to pursue the adoption of a coherent framework establishing mandatory human rights due diligence requirements for companies;

5.  Recalls that the NAP (National Action Plan) development process, if well-designed and adjusted to the local context, can contribute not only to ensuring an efficient implementation of the UNGPs but also to the strengthening of national human rights protection mechanisms;

6.  Reiterates its call for the UNGPs and other international corporate responsibility standards to be consistently raised by EU representatives in human rights dialogues with third countries;

7.  Strongly supports the full implementation, within and outside the EU, of the UNGPs, as unanimously endorsed by the Council in June 2011, and calls for the EU and the Member States to elaborate and adopt ambitious and operative action plans at both EU and national level that set out clear expectations for governments and all types of business enterprises for the swift, effective and comprehensive implementation of the said principles; takes the view that the NAPs should include indicators to measure achievement; stresses also that the EU should ensure independent and regular peer review of Member States’ NAPs and the progress made, particularly to facilitate access to remedy; recalls that the UNGPs can be complemented with parallel binding initiatives to cover their shortcomings;

8.  Considers it regrettable that a global approach is still lacking to the way in which transnational corporations abide by human rights law and ensure other remedy mechanisms, which may contribute to TNCs’ impunity for cases of human rights abuses and thus be detrimental to people’s rights and dignity; regrets that the UNGPs are not embodied in enforceable instruments; recalls that the poor implementation of UNGPs, as in the case of other internationally recognised standards, has been largely attributed to their non-binding character;

9.  Notes with concern that many obstacles persist regarding access to judicial remedy, particularly in case of transnational corporations, due to, for example, difficulties encountered by victims in identifying the competent court, lack of codification of certain human rights abuses in penal codes, or corruption, which can undermine legal proceedings in developing countries; recalls that appropriate non-judicial remedies are also of crucial importance, but are often lacking; calls on national governments to reinforce their efforts to ensure, through judicial, administrative, legislative or other appropriate means, that when human rights abuses occur within their territory and/or jurisdiction, those affected have access to effective remedy;

10.  Reaffirms the urgent need to act in an effective and coherent manner at all levels, including national, European and international, in order to effectively address human rights abuses by transnational corporations, to provide for access to remedies, to address legal problems resulting from the transnational character of the activities of business enterprises and TNCs and the growing complexity of global value chains and the extraterritorial dimension of transnational companies, as well as the related uncertainty as to where liability for human rights violations lies; reaffirms the need to fully implement the extraterritorial obligations of States, as set out in the Maastricht Principles and building on the various instruments of the Council of Europe, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR); more broadly, urges the EU to take initiatives to improve access to remedy in extraterritorial cases, in line with the recommendations set in the 2017 FRA opinion;

11.  Reaffirms the primacy of human rights in international law, in accordance with Article 103 of the Charter of the United Nations, and the need to consolidate it through a clear system whereby human rights obligations effectively take precedence over other types of conflicting obligations, and provision is made for suitable mechanisms to enforce human rights law, for monitoring and for remedies, combined with appropriate penalties and compensation in the event of violations; insists that this is essential for overcoming globalisation imbalances and putting people’s rights and the planet first; stresses that coordination and the exchange of information and good practices will contribute positively to initiatives taken by businesses which have decided to respect human rights and social and environmental standards;

12.  Stresses that corporate social responsibility on a voluntary basis risks creating unfair competition for those who choose to comply with international standards; stresses that it is not sufficient for ensuring, in connection with the implementation of the duty of care, full conformity with international standards and obligations;

13.  Warmly welcomes in this context the work initiated in the United Nations through the OEIGWG to create a binding UN instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, and considers this to be a necessary step forward in the promotion and protection of human rights;

14.  Stresses that the binding treaty should build on the UNGP’s framework and encompass: the definition of mandatory due diligence obligations for TNCs and other business enterprises, including with respect to their subsidiaries, the recognition of the extraterritorial human rights obligations of States, the recognition of corporate criminal liability, mechanisms for coordination and cooperation among states on investigation, prosecution and enforcement of cross-border cases, and the setting-up of international judicial and non-judicial mechanisms for supervision and enforcement; is of the opinion that the new instrument should impose on States the obligation to adopt regulatory measures requiring companies to apply human rights due diligence policies and procedures, and proposes that this obligation should be enforced by means of companies being accountable in either the forum where the harm was caused, or the forum where the parent company is incorporated or where it has a substantial presence;

15.  Calls on the UN member states to protect the negotiations from commercial and other vested interests, following the example of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), including strong ethical rules to prevent conflicts of interest and unethical lobbying, and requiring full transparency regarding industry interactions with parties to the negotiations;

16.  Recalls the need to adopt a gender-sensitive approach throughout the process and to pay special attention to vulnerable groups such as indigenous people and children;

17.  Recalls that Parliament has voiced its unequivocal support for this multilateral OEIGWG process in eight different resolutions;

18.  Stresses the importance of the EU and its Member States being actively involved in this intergovernmental process through the creation of a working group including all the relevant departments of the Commission, the EEAS, the Council Working Group on Human Rights (COHOM) and the relevant committees of Parliament, on the basis of the principle of PCD;

19.  Reiterates once more its call for the EU and its Member States to engage genuinely and constructively in these negotiations and in the intergovernmental process aimed at the completion of the OEIGWG’s mandate; highlights the paramount importance of the EU constructively contributing to the achievement of a Binding Treaty which will effectively address the issue of corporate liability for human rights violations and related challenges;

20.  Calls on the UN member states to ensure that the negotiations leading to the treaty are conducted in a transparent fashion, with consultation of a broad range of rights-holders potentially impacted by the treaty, including civil society organisations and victim platforms; calls on the EU and its Member States to mainstream a meaningful gender approach in their negotiating position;

21.  Calls for the EU to ensure that any revision or future strategy document linked to the EU Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy includes clear objectives and measurable benchmarks for the EU’s participation in the UN treaty negotiations;

22.  Decides to continue to closely follow the OEIGWG negotiation process;

23.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the European External Action Service.

(1) OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 19.
(2) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0230.
(3) https://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/publications/european-commission-sector-guides-implementing-un-guiding-principles-business-and-hum-0_en
(4) http://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/fra-2017-opinion-01-2017-business-human-rights_en.pdf
(5) http://www.etoconsortium.org/nc/en/main-navigation/library/maastricht-principles/?tx_drblob_pi1%5BdownloadUid%5D=23
(6) https://www.unglobalcompact.org/
(7) OJ L 351, 20.12.2012, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 330, 15.11.2014, p. 1.
(9) OJ L 130, 19.5.2017, p. 1.
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2018)0066.
(11) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0494.
(12) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0448.
(13) OJ C 298, 23.8.2018, p. 100.
(14) OJ C 252, 18.7.2018, p. 62.
(15) OJ C 337, 20.9.2018, p. 33.
(16) OJ L 295, 12.11.2010, p. 23.
(17) OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 101.
(18) OJ C 238, 6.7.2018, p. 57.
(19) OJ C 224, 27.6.2018, p. 36.
(20) OJ C 215, 19.6.2018, p. 125.
(21) OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 47.
(22) OJ C 58, 15.2.2018, p. 209.
(23) OJ C 399, 24.11.2017, p. 151.
(24) http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2017/578031/EXPO_STU(2017)578031_EN.pdf
(25) http://www.oecd.org/corporate/mne/48004323.pdf


Situation in Yemen
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on the situation in Yemen (2018/2853(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0383RC-B8-0444/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Yemen, in particular those of 25 February 2016(1) and 15 June 2017(2) on the humanitarian situation in Yemen, and of 9 July 2015(3) and 30 November 2017(4) on the situation in Yemen,

–  having regard to the report published by the UN Human Rights Council Group of Regional and International Eminent Experts on Yemen on 28 August 2018 on the situation of human rights in Yemen, including violations and abuses since September 2014,

–  having regard to the joint statements by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Christos Stylianides of 13 June 2018 on the latest developments around Hodeidah, Yemen, and of 4 August 2018 on the airstrikes in Hodeidah,

–  having regard to the annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 24 September 2018 on the situation in Yemen,

–  ‎having regard to the Council conclusions of 25 June 2018 on Yemen,

–  having regard to the statement by the President of the UN Security Council of 15 March 2018,

–  having regard to the statement of 6 September 2018 by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen,

–  having regard to the statement by the World Food Programme Executive Director of 19 September 2018,

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

–  having regard to the UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen, in particular resolutions 2216 (2015), 2201 (2015) and 2140 (2014),

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

A.  whereas the ongoing conflict in Yemen has entered its fourth year and more than 22 million people need humanitarian support; whereas over 17 million people are food insecure, among whom more than 8 million people are severely food insecure and at risk of starvation; whereas the current fragmentation of the conflict is a clear sign of the erosion of state unity; whereas the situation in Yemen also carries grave risks for the stability of the region;

B.  whereas the conflict started in 2015 when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels ousted the country’s internationally recognised president, who subsequently brought in a multinational coalition led by Saudi Arabia to fight the rebels and those troops allied to them;

C.  whereas since November 2017, the Saudi-led coalition has established a blockade on all imports to the Houthi-controlled territory, with the exception of urgent humanitarian and relief materials; whereas according to the OCHA, Yemen has received only 21 % of its fuel requirements and 68 % of its food import needs since the blockade began; whereas, in certain cases, Houthi rebels have blocked the delivery of essential medical supplies, food and humanitarian aid to government-controlled cities;

D.  whereas in June 2018 the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) started an offensive to take the city of Hodeidah; whereas Save the Children has reported hundreds of civilian casualties in this operation; whereas Hodeidah is Yemen’s most important port and is the transit point for as much as 70 % of the country’s critical food and humanitarian aid; whereas, according to the UN, nearly 470 000 people have fled Hodeidah Governorate since early June 2018; whereas a further attack on Hodeidah would have devastating consequences for civilians; whereas parties to the conflict are obliged to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief, including medicine, food and other items necessary for survival;

E.  whereas the ceasefire negotiations led by the UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, resulted in a temporary cessation of the offensive; whereas the collapse of the latest attempt to hold peace talks in Geneva led to a resumption of hostilities on 7 September 2018; whereas since the offensive started, civilian deaths have increased by 164 %; whereas, in spite of the international pressure to achieve a stable and inclusive political solution to the crisis, the parties to the conflict and their regional and international backers, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, have failed to reach a ceasefire or any type of settlement, and the fighting and indiscriminate bombings continue unabated;

F.  whereas on 9 August 2018, an air strike perpetrated by the Saudi-led coalition hit a school bus in a market in the northern province of Saada, killing scores of people, including at least 40 children, most of whom were under the age of 10; whereas this attack was followed two weeks later, on 24 August, by a new Saudi-led coalition strike killing 27 civilians, mostly children, who were fleeing the violence in the besieged southern city of Hodeidah;

G.  whereas the Saudi-led campaign and the intense aerial bombardments, including indiscriminate attacks in densely populated areas, exacerbate the humanitarian impact of the war; whereas the laws of war prohibit deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and civilian targets such as schools and hospitals; whereas, having regard to the findings of the Group of Independent Eminent International and Regional Experts (GEE), such attacks may amount to war crimes and the individuals who commit them may be prosecuted for these crimes; whereas the Saudi-led coalition’s investigations into alleged war crimes in Yemen have lacked credibility and failed to provide redress to civilian victims;

H.  whereas since March 2015, more than 2 500 children have been killed, more than 3 500 children have been maimed or injured and a growing number of children have been recruited by armed forces on the ground; whereas women and children are particularly affected by the ongoing hostilities; whereas according to UNICEF, nearly two million children are out of school, which compromises the future of an entire generation of children in Yemen as a result of limited or no access to education, making them vulnerable to military recruitment and sexual and gender-based violence;

I.  whereas in August 2018 a report compiled by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights concluded that there are ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ all parties to the conflict in Yemen may have committed war crimes; whereas forces on both sides of the conflict have been accused of firing heavy weapons into built-up areas and highly populated areas, including strikes on hospitals and other non-military structures;

J.  whereas the war has led to the destruction of infrastructure and the collapse of Yemen’s economy, and caused widespread disruption to basic commodities and the supply of utilities, sanitation and clean drinking water; whereas the regular payment of salaries of up to 1,4 million non-military Yemeni public workers effectively ceased at the end of 2016;

K.  whereas preventing the use of UN flights for international media and human rights organisations impedes independent coverage of the situation in Yemen and contributes to the global neglect of the conflict;

L.  whereas gender-based sexual violence has increased exponentially since the start of the conflict; whereas the already limited capacity to address sexual and gender-based violence in the criminal justice system has collapsed, and no investigations have been conducted in relation to practices such as abducting and raping women, or threatening to, as a way of extorting money from their families and communities;

M.  whereas human rights defenders have faced relentless harassment, threats and smear campaigns from all parties to the conflict; whereas women human rights defenders, journalists and activists have faced specific repression on the basis of their gender;

N.  whereas Houthi de-facto authorities have conducted a systemic campaign of harassment, arbitrary and abusive detentions, and forced disappearances and torture against human rights defenders, journalists and religious minorities; whereas 24 Yemenis from the Baha’i minority, including one child, are facing charges that could result in the death penalty, for nothing other than their beliefs and peaceful actions;

O.  whereas Houthi rebels have been accused of causing mass civilian casualties during their siege of Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city; whereas they have waged a war of attrition against civilian populations in government-controlled areas; whereas they have also deployed banned anti-personnel landmines and recruited children;

P.  whereas Kamel Jendoubi, Chairman of the GEE that issued a Report to the Human Rights Council on the Situation of human rights in Yemen on 28 August 2018, is the victim of a smear campaign aimed at intimidating the GEE and casting doubts on its findings;

Q.  whereas Yemen has signed the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court but has yet to ratify it; whereas several provisions of the Rome Statute, including those related to war crimes, reflect customary international law;

R.  whereas in February 2018 Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution highlighting Iranian involvement in the conflict;

S.  whereas there is an international arms embargo in place against the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and, according to the 18th EU Annual Report on Arms Exports, EU Member States have continued to authorise transfers of arms to Saudi Arabia since the escalation of the conflict, in violation of Council Common Position 2008/944/CFSP of 8 December 2008 defining common rules governing control of exports of military technology and equipment(5); whereas in the past year, some EU Member States have partly or totally suspended arms transfers to Saudi Arabia and the UAE; whereas Parliament has repeatedly called on the VP/HR to launch an initiative to impose an EU arms embargo on Saudi Arabia, in line with Common Position 2008/944/CFSP;

T.  whereas the majority of strikes carried out by US forces in Yemen are lethal drone strikes; whereas the decision to add certain persons to the target lists of drone operations is often made without court warrants or orders; whereas the targeting and subsequent killing of certain individuals can under certain circumstances be seen as extrajudicial killing;

U.  whereas the war in Yemen has opened up space for extremist groups, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), to extend their reach, thereby threatening the wider region; whereas a stable, secure Yemen with a properly functioning government is critical to international efforts to combat extremism and violence in the wider region and beyond, as well as to peace and stability within Yemen itself;

V.  whereas stability in the wider region is of critical importance for the EU; whereas the EU is committed to a comprehensive and strategic approach encompassing all relevant regional actors; whereas finding a political solution to the conflict under the auspices of the UN peace initiative in Yemen should be a priority for the EU and the international community as a whole;

W.  whereas the EU remains committed to continuing to deliver life-saving aid to all people in need in Yemen; whereas at the same time, the EU shares the concerns of the UN and other donors about the continuing shrinking of humanitarian space; whereas from 2015 until now, the EU has contributed more than EUR 233 million in humanitarian funding to Yemen;

1.  Condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing violence in Yemen and all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure; emphasises its concern over the conflict that is continuing to degenerate into one of the gravest current humanitarian, political, and economic crises; reminds all parties involved, including their regional and international backers, that the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals and medical personnel, water systems, ports, airports and markets, amounts to a grave violation of international law;

2.  Deeply regrets the loss of life caused by the conflict and the suffering of those caught up in the fighting, and expresses its condolences to the families of the victims; reaffirms its commitment to continuing to support Yemen and the Yemeni people;

3.  Calls on all parties to the conflict to cease hostilities immediately; urges Saudi Arabia and other actors involved to further lift the ongoing blockade of Yemen: calls on all directly or indirectly involved states and relevant actors, including Iran, to apply maximum pressure on all parties to work towards de-escalation and to immediately cease providing political, military and financial support to military actors on the ground, either directly or by proxy;

4.  Stresses that only a political, inclusive and negotiated solution to the conflict can restore peace and preserve the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen; calls on all international and regional actors to engage constructively with the parties in Yemen to enable a de-escalation of the conflict and a negotiated settlement;

5.  Supports the efforts of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to restart the political process; takes note of his statement to the UN Security Council of 11 September 2018 ‘that despite the absence of one of the sides to the Consultations in Geneva last week, and even if it certainly did not go as planned, we still managed to relaunch the political process with solid support clearly from the Yemeni people and the international community’; welcomes Mr Griffiths’ visit to Sana’a on 16 September 2018; calls for the Special Envoy to be given full and unhindered access to all parts of the territory of Yemen; calls on the VP/HR and all EU Member States to provide Mr Griffiths with political backing with a view to reaching a negotiated and inclusive settlement;

6.  Condemns all terror attacks in the strongest terms; is deeply concerned about the increased presence in Yemen of criminal and terrorist groups, including AQAP and ISIS/Daesh; calls on all parties to the conflict to take resolute action against such groups; condemns the presence of foreign fighters and calls for the removal of all such fighters from Yemen;

7.  Calls on all the parties to the conflict to allow for immediate and full humanitarian access to the conflict-affected areas in order to assist the population in need; calls on the Council and the UN Security Council, in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2216 (2015), to identify the individuals obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Yemen and to impose targeted sanctions on them;

8.  Stresses that the UN Security Council has underlined its support for the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM), and that the EU fully supports the continuation of UNVIM and the full and unhindered implementation of its mandate;

9.  Calls on all parties to immediately cease all attacks against freedom of expression, and to release all journalists and human rights defenders detained solely for having exercised their human rights; calls on all parties to cease obstructing the work of international media and humanitarian personnel in relation to the conflict;

10.  Calls on all parties to the conflict to take the necessary measures to ensure effective, impartial and independent investigations into all alleged violations and abuses of human rights and alleged violations of international humanitarian law, in accordance with international standards; is deeply concerned about reports of denial of freedom of religion or belief, which include discrimination, unlawful detention, the use of violence, and abuses of human rights, including sexual and other violence against women, men, girls and boys, in violation of international standards;

11.  Calls on all parties to the conflict to end the recruitment or use of children as soldiers and to put a stop to other grave violations committed against them in violation of applicable international law and standards; calls on all parties to release any children who have already been recruited and to cooperate with the UN with a view to their rehabilitation and reintegration into their communities; supports the vital work of UNICEF in Yemen;

12.  Calls on the Specialised Criminal Court in Houthi-controlled territory in Sana’a to acquit and release Asmaa al-Omeissy, Saeed al-Ruwaished and Ahmed Bawazeer, who were forcibly disappeared, tortured and sentenced to death after a grossly unfair trial for allegedly aiding an enemy country;

13.  Calls on the Specialised Criminal Court in Sana’a to immediately release the 25 followers of the Baha’i faith who are currently detained for peacefully practising their religion and face charges punishable by death;

14.  Reminds all parties to the conflict that they are accountable under international law for any crimes committed; urges the Member States to take all necessary measures to hold alleged perpetrators to account, notably through national or international prosecution of individuals, groups and organisations suspected of such violations or the application of the principle of universal jurisdiction, and by investigating and prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of atrocity crimes in Yemen;

15.  Praises the work undertaken by the UN GEE on Yemen and expresses its full solidarity with its Chairman, Kamel Jendoubi; welcomes the annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 24 September 2018 on the situation in Yemen, in which the UN Human Rights Council decided to extend the mandate of the GEE for a further period of one year, renewable as authorised by the Human Rights Council, to include gathering evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Yemen, in order to prosecute and punish those guilty of such violations; calls for a referral of the situation in Yemen to the International Criminal Court (ICC); urges Yemen to join the ICC, which would allow for the prosecution of all those responsible for the crimes committed during the conflict, in the absence of a UN Security Council referral;

16.  Calls for the European Union and all Member States to provide cohesive, prompt and effective support to the GEE across all relevant UN bodies, and in the Human Rights Council in particular;

17.  Urges the Council, the VP/HR and the Member States to oppose extrajudicial killings, including the use of drones, to reaffirm the EU’s position under international law and to ensure that Member States do not perpetrate, facilitate or otherwise take part in unlawful lethal operations; urges the Council to adopt a Common Position on the use of armed drones;

18.  Calls on the EU to take the initiative at the next Human Rights Council meeting to raise the issue of membership by states with deeply questionable human rights records;

19.  Urges the VP/HR, the EEAS and the Member States to continue to conduct a dialogue with the countries of the region on human rights and fundamental freedoms; expresses its readiness to hold a constructive and open dialogue with authorities of the countries of the region on the fulfilment of their international human rights commitments; calls for an exchange of expertise on judicial and legal matters in order to strengthen the protection of individual rights in the countries of the region;

20.  Calls on the Council to effectively promote compliance with international humanitarian law, as provided for in the relevant EU guidelines; reiterates, in particular, the need for the strict application by all EU Member States of the rules laid down in Common Position 2008/944/CFSP; recalls, in this regard, Parliament’s resolutions on the situation in Yemen of 25 February 2016 and 30 November 2017; urges all EU Member States in this context to refrain from selling arms and any military equipment to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and any member of the international coalition, as well as to the Yemeni Government and other parties to the conflict;

21.  Denounces the destruction of Yemeni cultural heritage by the airstrikes of the Saudi-led coalition, including the Old City of Sana’a and the historic city of Zabid; regrets and recalls the responsibility of the coalition for this destruction and stresses that it will be held accountable also for such acts; calls on the UN Secretary-General to refer the issue of the protection of all cultural sites under threat from the conflict in Yemen to the Security Council, with a view to the adoption of a resolution on the matter;

22.  Welcomes the UN 2018 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan and the 2018 High-Level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen, in which international donors pledged more than USD two billion; deplores, however, the fact that a funding gap still exists for Yemen; welcomes the fact that the EU is committed to assisting those affected by the conflict in Yemen and has pledged EUR 107,5 million; calls on all donors to swiftly disburse their pledges; welcomes the fact that the EU will continue to provide development assistance to Yemen, giving priority to interventions directed at stabilising the country, and will work in stable areas with local authorities to promote resilience, to help to maintain the provision of basic services and to foster sustainable livelihoods for communities;

23.  Reserves the right to reconsider the matter until a negotiated solution is reached; recommends that its Subcommittee on Human Rights monitor human rights developments in Yemen and produce a report on the violations of human and civil rights perpetrated in the country;

24.  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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States and the Government of Yemen.

(1) OJ C 35, 31.1.2018, p. 142.
(2) OJ C 331, 18.9.2018, p. 146.
(3) OJ C 265, 11.8.2017, p. 93.
(4) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0473.
(5) OJ L 335, 13.12.2008, p. 99.


Fighting customs fraud and protecting EU own resources
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European Parliament resolution of 4 October 2018 on fighting customs fraud and protecting EU own resources (2018/2747(RSP))
P8_TA(2018)0384B8-0400/2018

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the seventeenth report of the European Anti-Fraud Office on the year 2016,

–  having regard to 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(1),

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU) 2017/1939 of 12 October 2017 implementing enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office(2) and to Commission Decisions (EU) 2018/1094 of 1 August 2018 confirming the participation of the Netherlands in the enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office(3) and (EU) 2018/1103 of 7 August 2018 confirming the participation of Malta in the enhanced cooperation on the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office(4),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU) No 952/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 October 2013 laying down the Union Customs Code(5) and to the related delegated and implementing acts,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 7 April 2016 on an action plan on VAT (COM(2016)0148),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ special report No 24/2015 of 3 March 2016 entitled ‘Tackling intra-Community VAT fraud: More action needed’,

–  having regard to customs procedure 42, which provides for VAT exemption on goods imported into one Member State when they will subsequently be shipped to another Member State,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(6),

–  having regard to the European Court of Auditors’ special report No 19/2017 of 5 December 2017 entitled ‘Import procedures: shortcomings in the legal framework and an ineffective implementation impact the financial interests of the EU’,

–  having regard to the motion for a resolution of the Committee on Budgetary Control,

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

A.  whereas traditional own resources, comprised mainly of duties on imports from outside the EU and sugar levies, account for around 12,8 % of EU own resources;

B.  whereas in early 2017 the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) concluded an investigation into a case of customs fraud in the UK, the main conclusions of which appear in the 2017 OLAF activity report;

C.  whereas OLAF calculated a loss for EU budget own resources of EUR 1.987 billion in terms of lost customs duties due on textiles and shoes imported from China through the UK in the period 2013-2016;

D.  whereas, as a means of comparison, in 2016 OLAF recommended the financial recovery of a total amount of EUR 631,1 million as a result of 272 investigations it carried out;

E.  whereas the fraud in question involves undervaluation, whereby importers can derive profit from evading customs duties and related taxes, paying much less than what is legally due;

F.  whereas the investigation also revealed substantial VAT evasion in connection with imports through the UK through abuse of the suspension of the payment of VAT, the so-called customs procedure 42; whereas these losses are cumulatively estimated to be in the range of EUR 3,2 billion for the period 2013-2016, which also represents a loss for the EU budget;

G.  whereas OLAF has issued a financial recommendation to the Commission’s Directorate-General for Budget, an administrative recommendation to the Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union and a judicial recommendation to the UK Crown Prosecution Service to initiate judicial proceedings against those involved in fraudulently evading customs duties and against those knowingly involved in laundering the proceeds of this offence;

H.  whereas OLAF is currently investigating a new customs undervaluation case involving the port of Piraeus in Greece, which represents a serious loss for EU resources and is estimated to have cost Italy tens of millions of euros in unpaid VAT, though the total could be far higher as the investigation is still ongoing;

I.  whereas the UK and Greek cases are far from being isolated and should act as a trigger to take action;

J.  whereas the European Court of Auditors has pointed out that there is no harmonised and standardised application of customs controls by Member States and that this may incentivise fraudsters to choose the weakest link in the chain to perform their fraudulent imports;

1.  Welcomes the infringement procedure initiated by the Commission on 8 March 2018 as a follow-up to the UK customs fraud case;

2.  Calls on the Commission to take all necessary measures to recover uncollected EU own resources to provide revenue for the EU budget;

3.  Calls on the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union to take action in order to prevent future abuse of customs procedure 42;

4.  Requests that the Commission follow up on the OLAF recommendations and report back accordingly, and regrets the fact that it can take up to 10 years to recover funds;

5.  Urges the Commission to ensure that Member States fully comply with the provisions of the Union Customs Code, which entered into force on 1 May 2016, and to clarify any provisions that may lead to confusion; calls on the Commission and the Member States to make sure that the application of the common rules by customs authorities is organised in such a manner that fraud, including carousel fraud, is effectively prevented and controls are reinforced at ports, airports and land borders and on the internet;

6.  Calls on the Commission to contribute to the completion and financial sustainability of the EU customs information systems;

7.  Calls on the Commission to develop a suitable methodology and produce periodic estimates of the customs gap as from 2019, and to report back to Parliament every six months in this regard;

8.  Calls on the Council to reach a swift agreement with Parliament on a Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions, in order to allow harmonised administrative sanctions and the application of the same criteria in consideration of violations; recalls that Parliament adopted its position back in October 2016; calls on the Commission to facilitate this agreement;

9.  Regrets the fact that not all EU Member States have agreed to be part of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office;

10.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to conclude as soon as possible their discussions on efforts towards implementing a definitive VAT system, which aims to harmonise the way VAT is collected and paid across the EU in order, among other things, to avoid fraud;

11.  Calls on the Commission to develop an action plan to ensure the full and timely implementation of the VAT regulations in all Member States with a view to securing this source of EU own resources;

12.  Calls on the Commission to consider transferring the responsibilities of customs authorities from national to EU level as regards ensuring harmonised treatment at all EU points of entry, monitoring the performance and activities of customs administrations, and collecting and processing customs data;

13.  Endorses the objectives of the Customs 2020 Regulation (EU) No 1294/2013(7) to support customs authorities in protecting the financial and economic interests of the Union and of the Member States, including the fight against fraud; emphasises that the Commission must take appropriate measures ensuring that the financial interests of the Union are protected by the application of preventive measures against fraud;

14.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission.

(1) OJ L 198, 28.7.2017, p. 29.
(2) OJ L 283, 31.10.2017, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 196, 2.8.2018, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 201, 8.8.2018, p. 2.
(5) OJ L 269, 10.10.2013, p. 1.
(6) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(7) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 209.

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