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Debates
Thursday, 5 September 2002 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Vote (continuation)
  

Recommendation for second reading (A5-0255/2002) by Eija-Riitta Anneli Korhola, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the Council common position for adopting a European Parliament and Council directive providing for public participation in respect of the drawing up of certain plans and programmes relating to the environment and amending with regard to public participation and access to justice Council Directives 85/337/EEC and 96/61/EC (5475/2/2002 – C5-0227/2002 – 2000/0331(COD))

(The President declared the common position approved as amended)

***

Joint motion for a resolution(1) on floods in Central Europe

(Parliament adopted the joint resolution)

***

Joint motion for a resolution(2) on the situation in Afghanistan

(Parliament adopted the joint resolution)

***

Report (A5-0270/2002) by Jules Maaten, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, on the Commission Communication on Europe and Asia: A Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships (COM(2001) 469 – C5-0255/2002 – 2002/2120(COS))

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

***

Report (A5-0226/2002) by Ursula Stenzel, on behalf of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy, on the annual report on the European Agency for Reconstruction (2001/2255(INI))

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

***

President. – That concludes the vote.

EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE

 
  
  

- Coelho report (A5-0241/2002)

 
  
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  Berthu (NI), in writing. – (FR) Paragraph 29 of the Coelho resolution welcomes the judgment of the Court of First Instance of 3 May 2002, which granted to Jégo-Quéré et Cie SA a direct right of appeal against a European regulation. It is true that this company was not ‘of direct and individual concern’, but if the action had not been declared admissible, the company would not have had any other means of defending itself in law, and would thus have been ‘denied access to the courts’.

We also welcome this judgment, but merely regret that it had not been passed earlier, for example when we tabled an appeal, which was obviously justified on its merits, against changing the name of the single currency.

Unfortunately, the Commission, probably feeling under threat, immediately requested that the Jégo-Quéré ruling be overturned, and it also immediately obtained a ruling in line with its wishes during the judicial vacations …

The European institutions have therefore succeeded in putting themselves in a position where they can constantly destabilise the Member States, whilst practically guarding their general regulations from individual appeals by citizens. This is a perversion of the current system, which protects supranational enterprises but must be improved in the future.

 
  
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  Kirkhope (PPE-DE), in writing. The British Conservatives believe that this is an ill-timed report which tries to move the discussion forward beyond what the representatives and the people themselves want. We believe that it should come about as a result of one's citizenship of a Member State, and not of Europe. We are all, of course, 'Europeans' but most people would not recognise an actual citizenship of Europe as being superior to the citizenship of their own country. We want to make people more caring and interested in the communities in their own nation states rather than create an artificial right, as the rapporteur seems to be suggesting.

The British Conservatives are opposed to the principles of the report for the reasons outlined above.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) The promotion of citizenship of the EU, the core objective of this proposal, does not do a great deal for me. In the former Soviet Union, attempts were made to turn the citizens of different federal republics, with different languages and cultures, into Soviet citizens. This was never successful. In Yugoslavia, attempts were made, alongside Serbs, Croats, Slovenes and Macedonians, to create new generations of real Yugoslavs who were meant to organise the country's future. These people are now second-class citizens. The creation of EU citizens who are constantly on the move between Member States in search of the most privileged jobs, leads to conflicts with their environment and to misfortune for themselves.

A second goal of this proposal is to increase the level of participation during European elections. People do not vote in order to meet a ritual obligation which they do not experience as useful. They only want to vote if the body they need to choose has a decisive say and if there is an actual choice between conflicting alternatives. Asking people to vote as an expression of sympathy with a united Europe does not work. If we carry on like this, even fewer people will vote in the next round of elections. I do, of course, support the reinforcement of civil rights, including those of immigrants, and better information about the Ombudsman.

 
  
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  Pasqua (UEN), in writing. – (FR) Many fellow Members have the dreadful habit of twisting the meaning of words in order to meet the needs of the federalist cause.

We have had the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, which some wrongly considered to be the preamble to a hypothetical Constitution. We have had governance, an unidentified political subject. Now we have European citizenship, a concept that has no meaning at all.

Citizenship is a political, not a technocratic concept, based on a political and not bureaucratic reality, based on the roots that people put down, on belonging to a natural community.

Citizenship is a status that is only granted to those who, by virtue of their birth or their merits, share common values.

It also assumes the existence of a political area, the most advanced form of which is still the nation.

Yet, where is the European nation when it lacks what Renan called a desire to live together? Without language, culture and traditions shared by the peoples of the European Union, a European people is no more. As Joseph de Maistre would have said, no one has ever met ‘a European citizen’.

Your artificial citizenship has no substance whatsoever. The report therefore has no purpose.

 
  
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  Theorin (PSE), in writing. (SV) The report contains a large number of good, important points. Nevertheless, I voted against the report, since it would involve, inter alia, incorporating the third pillar into the Community framework.

 
  
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  Zrihen (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I wholeheartedly supported the Commission’s proposal on European citizenship.

Of course, it is not easy to increase the political dimension of European citizenship by decree.

Clearly, it is essential that we strengthen measures on the ground to make citizens understand that we have provided them with considerable scope so that they can participate in the European area for citizens.

This is the price of achieving legitimacy for the European Union.

We must find channels of communication which will enable us to teach citizens about the challenges that they themselves must contend with in the future.

It is a matter of regret that, amongst the requirements that have come to the fore, the EU is not creating a specific history course which would describe the various uprisings, wars and revolutions which have taken place on the continent of Europe as being often difficult periods in achieving the vision that some have held for fifty years.

 
  
  

- Van Brempt report (A5-0224/2002)

 
  
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  Αlyssandrakis (GUE/NGL), in writing.(EL) The policy on lifelong training (not learning) is a policy to replace systematic education and fundamental learning with a superficial, market-driven transfer of skills and practices with its very own sell-by date, the basic aim of which is to meet the demands of big business for pliant, flexible workers, restructure employment relations and promote 'employability'. It is a way of exerting ideological and psychological pressure on the workers into blaming themselves for unemployment and accepting long-term unemployment and of destroying the link between education and job prospects.

At the same time, traditional schools are becoming a clearing house for lifelong learning by 'opening up their facilities' to 'local communities and enterprises', that is, multinationals will have a say about school curricula; this is already happening with pilot programmes being funded in Greece by the ΕU.

We are radically opposed to this policy and we are fighting for the abolition of all forms of discrimination or obstacles to equal access for all young people to a free, standard, state education until the age of 18, the sort of education which is vital for subsequent professional specialisation, an education that will help young people put their ideas in order, acquire scientific criteria against which to measure nature and society and become conscientious contributors to social progress.

That is why the MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece voted against the Van Brempt report.

 
  
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  Arvidsson, Cederschiöld, Grönfeldt Bergman and Stenmarck (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We endorse the proposal that the Commission should draft a Green Paper on higher education in order to launch what is known as the Bologna process.

 
  
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  Berthu (NI), in writing. – (FR) We voted against the Van Brempt report on a European Area of Lifelong Learning because it is a good example of the unwarranted extension of European powers.

The report is based on Article 150 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, which provides for, in a vague and debatable manner, the implementation of a European vocational training policy ‘while fully respecting the responsibility of the Member States’. Then the report attempts to extend this competency to the rest of education. In particular, it proposes that the Commission should develop (albeit ‘acting in close collaboration with the Member States’) a ‘European framework of basic skills’ to be acquired by all students before they leave compulsory school education.

In such circumstances, the attempts to extend powers are never-ending. In addition, the European Parliament once again states that the current situation in the area of qualifications ‘constitutes a serious obstacle to mobility between Member States and the emergence of a Europe-wide labour market’ (recital F). Yet, we had been led to understand that the European labour market was already functioning. In reality, it is clear that, since the aim was that of full mobility in a totally unified labour market, it is the nations themselves which will soon become the obstacle.

 
  
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  Bordes, Cauquil and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) Although we agree with some of the proposals put forward in the report, as well as with some of the good intentions expressed, we abstained overall.

The proposals are not in fact based on the aspirations of the young and the less young who, it is claimed, influence many of society’s needs. Everything is designed in accordance with what the report discreetly calls the labour market and its flexibility. Behind these noble sentiments, the aim is to provide industrial groups and capitalist businesses with a workforce that is trained according to their needs. This has nothing to do with a policy that provides all citizens with lifelong learning based on their potential and their aspirations.

 
  
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  Montfort (NI), in writing. – (FR) Creating a European area of lifelong learning has become a priority for the twenty-first century and we can only encourage the initiatives to achieve this.

This is a two-fold priority: it underpins the awareness of the need for lifelong learning for all and the incorporation of this training within the framework of the European area and no longer simply of just one Member State. By placing the emphasis on mobility, the report highlights the importance of training people whilst taking into account various experiences and methods that are specific to each Member State. It is both a way of achieving self-improvement and of enhancing one’s job prospects.

Lastly, although the report does not place sufficient emphasis on apprenticeships, this is nonetheless included in the awareness of the need to improve policies on professional training at European level and it reinforces my belief in the absolute need to put in place, in the coming years, a genuine 'Erasmus for apprentices' scheme which will provide professional training through a network, which has been jointly developed and takes into account the vast experience of each nation.

 
  
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  Zrihen (PSE), in writing. – (FR) I fully supported the report by Mrs Van Brempt and I welcome the initial proposal by the Commission.

Nonetheless, although it is inconceivable to think that, in the constantly changing society in which we live, knowledge is acquired once and for all. Constant updating is therefore necessary and although we must acknowledge that the academic systems are not the only generators of knowledge, lifelong learning should not be considered simply as a means of adapting the worker to the needs of the market.

The word ‘education’ and the word ‘training’ contain the fundamental concept of socialisation which is one of the pillars of structuring a society.

If we propose education and training in distinct, inconsistent and unrelated modules, our future citizens will be lacking an adequate professional basis and a sense of identity. The proposals that we are now making must be added to a basic system which, along with knowledge acquired, makes up the fundamental set of life skills for the citizens who will be making Europe a reality.

 
  
  

- Gutiérrez-Cortines report (A5-0183/2002)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) Although this report contains some positive aspects in terms of its intentions, it also makes some misguided proposals, which arise from a largely economic view of the system. For example, although its recommendation for a single course of initial study is to be welcomed, this course must be guaranteed not to be made excessively short on the pretext of meeting the needs for courses that will make students rapidly 'employable'. These courses would be cheaper but it would be students and families, once again, funding the system, with students paying once they have graduated.

The fact is that, with regard to what is known as the Bologna process, which contains this and other proposals, on the basis of the Bologna declaration of 1999, which was reiterated and developed in Prague in 2001, a distinction must be made, on the basis of the objectives underlying the entire process, between the official line and the practices that are taking place. Despite the statements to the contrary, the set of measures that we have already seen, some of which are already underway, suggest an attempt to cut costs by the Member States in higher education, as is happening in Portugal.

We therefore wish to stress our opposition to attempts to commercialise knowledge, to reduce the role of public higher education, to make structural changes to the social function of higher education and to its organisational structures and to attempts by the ruling classes to hijack the contents and objectives of education for ideological reasons.

 
  
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  Hyland (UEN), in writing.I welcome the initiative of Mrs Gutiérrez-Cortines to draft this report, bringing together many issues surrounding third-level education in the EU in a cohesive document with solid laudable proposals.

While education remains a national competence, it is important that the EU give whatever support possible to educators and students, particularly in areas where new and innovative courses and qualifications are needed.

In the area of rural development, there have been very significant initiatives in my own country, Ireland, to utilise EU funding such as through Leonardo to develop courses tailored to the needs of the rural economy.

The first course developed was a Diploma in Rural Development and Agri-Business. Pioneering work in adult education was carried out by Professor Jim Phelan of UCD, Dr Michael Ward of UCC, Professor Michael Cuddy of UCG and Dr Ted Fleming of Maynooth.

They have now gone one step further and developed the first degree programme via the Internet which is a BSc in Rural Development. This type of programme is an inspiration to what can be done for rural areas by fully exploiting new technologies. The aim is life-long learning; to produce a new type of specialist graduate equipped with superior rural development, advisory and management skills.

 
  
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  Pasqua (UEN), in writing. – (FR) This report is the confirmation of the irresponsible attitude of a Parliament which is shamefully abusing its right of initiative. This scandalous text is attempting, with rare hypocrisy, to place universities under the exclusive tutelage of Brussels. Several recitals clearly show the hidden intentions of the report, namely: to turn universities into servile outposts of the Commission, transform professors into docile supporters of European technocracy, to give the Commission a right of scrutiny over the national university systems, to encourage the mass influx of professionals and experts that have been duly mandated by Brussels into our universities.

The report is the natural corollary of the Jean Monnet Chairs, which, in France, raised the legitimate anger of a number of teachers, who have now regrouped within the Jean Bodin Observatory in order to counter the federalist offensive.

It is the same perverse and obscurantist logic which is at work.

The report shows utter disregard for the fundamental principles which serve to contribute to the importance of universities! Scientific neutrality is swept aside by this Europe-centric ideology, the propagation of which is the task of the Brussels agencies. The independence of teachers is violated by the interference of supranational bodies in the way the universities work and are organised.

You are turning universities into a Trojan Horse for European federalism.

 
  
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  Sacrédeus (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) I have voted in favour of the report but against approved Amendment Nos 1 and 2.

I find it extremely regrettable that my own Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats tabled two amendments which weaken the committee’s original text. Amendment No 1 removed the wording in paragraph 30 to the effect that the European Parliament ‘expresses its indignation at the increasing number of executions in China’ and ‘recalls that the Chinese government systematically uses persecution and torture as a means to silence dissidents and minorities’. The way in which the Chinese Government violates human rights is clear from, for example, its treatment of Christians and Falun Gong adherents.

I also voted against Amendment No 2, relating to paragraph 35, because, remarkably enough, it does not include Taiwan in the group of democratic countries. Moreover, there is a desire only to give Taiwan observer status, while other democracies in the region are to be given the opportunity of becoming full members.

I also welcome the fact that the report sheds light on the serious problem posed by the increasing number of fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups, such as Laskar Jihad, which constitute a serious threat to the Christian minority in Indonesia and are responsible for the fact that thousands of people have been killed and approximately 400 000 forced to flee their homes.

 
  
  

- Recommendation for second reading : Korhola (A5-0255/2002)

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) The lack of the right of consultation has two causes. One is an authoritarian state view in which citizens are seen only as obedient conscripts and taxpayers who must leave the actual decision-making to a specially selected elite who know how to do things much better than ordinary people. The other reason is economic interest. The protection against pollution, nuisance and dangers in their living environment that most people want often means that businesses are hindered in their pursuit of profits. This also results in an authoritarian approach in which decisions are governed by economic interests instead of being taken by everyone collectively. Over the last few decades these hindrances seem to have been broken through. There are forms of citizen consultation everywhere, and the EU also prescribes this. Unfortunately the results of this participation are still often twisted to mean the opposite. I support Mrs Korhola in her quest to put an end to the exceptions that are still being made for military interests and civil disasters. The military often still think that they are above civilian society and that they can impose their own ideas. Measures to prevent disasters can often be very drastic, like flooding polders in the Netherlands when river water levels are high. Such decisions must not be taken without consultation.

 
  
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  Thomas-Mauro (NI), in writing. – (FR) The right of citizens to information and to participation has, for a long time, come up against the so-called right to secrecy, behind which the state authorities have been hiding. The progression of reforms to improve relations between the administration and users has made this practice an exception. The divisions between ‘departments’ are gradually diminishing in the area of the environment as well.

This development is, of course, welcome. That is why I support the Commission’s proposal for a directive of 19 January 2001 seeking to transpose into Community law the second pillar of the Aarhus Convention of 25 June 1998. This proposal is innovative, but it is down to the Member States to give the public effective opportunities to take part in the decision-making process.

I would, however, like to express some reservations about the amendments of the Korhola report which go further than the Aarhus Convention and which confirm the opinion of the rapporteur himself. The MPF delegation believes, of course, that transparency of information and public participation in the decision-making process must be encouraged and well defined. This should not, however, create overly complicated procedures that would go against the objectives of the proposal. If excessively restrictive provisions are introduced, there is a risk that the whole process of access to information and decision-making could be impeded. The only thing we should do is transpose into Community law the provisions – which are wholly appropriate – of the Aarhus Convention in order to encourage the effective application of this convention.

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 137(1) of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
  

- Floods in Europe

 
  
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  Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE).(FR) Mr President, with respect to the floods, it could be said that, in times of trouble, you find out who your friends are. This old saying might illustrate the attitude of the European Union towards those affected by the floods, which have devastated Member States and candidate countries. By reacting swiftly, by dispatching representatives to the affected areas and by agreeing to make available financial aid, the Union has boosted its Community policy and its closeness to the people. The Union has proved that it can show the solidarity expected of it and which we work to achieve.

Although we can welcome the commitment to set up an assistance fund for natural disasters in the Union, we must certainly bear in mind the causes of this unpredictable weather. Scientists throughout the world are all telling us that global warming is irreversibly changing the way we live and greenhouse gas emissions are only serving to make these disasters worse. On one side of the planet, we have to sell livestock due to a lack of water and fodder. Elsewhere, entire regions have been devastated since July due to thunderstorms. Incidentally, Mr President, let us reiterate that, in Nepal, 422 people have died and 173 people have been reported missing. In Russia, 50 people have lost their lives and 100 have been reported missing. In Mexico, torrential rain has cost 21 lives and 15 000 people have been affected. In Asia, 250 people have died this year. Millions of homes have been affected by the rising water levels.

Unfortunately, as we know, these geographical areas do not have the opportunity that we have here to provide victims with solidarity. Although Members can welcome the fact that aid has been granted and emergency measures have been taken swiftly and effectively, it is not enough to call for the application of the Kyoto Protocol, we must do much more than that. We must integrate the environment into all our projects, into all our policies so that we can create a glimmer of hope. We must lead the way in trying to slow down climate change. The Rio Summit brought little in the way of results, so it is up to us to lead by example!

 
  
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  Posselt (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, although Bavaria, Saxony and Austria were also very badly hit by the floods, I have had an opportunity, as Federal Chairman of the Sudeten German Association, to mount a major relief programme for the Czech Republic. This stems not only from our traditional links with the country our families come from, but also from the fact that in situations like this we realise that as neighbours we are dependent on each other, for good or ill. Sometimes there are what you might call neighbour disputes, but in emergencies like this we see the value of good neighbourliness. Czechs were in action in Germany and in Austria, Austrians and Germans were in action in the Czech Republic, and I believe that there are two important points here. The first is that no victim of the floods should be worse off in the Czech Republic, which is a candidate country, than they would be in the existing Member States of the European Union.

Secondly, we also need to show solidarity when it comes to prevention. We need to recognise that we are all in the same boat and that what is happening in central Europe today could happen tomorrow in southern Europe or northern Europe. Above all, we should avoid something which I heard in this House earlier – by which I mean adopting the disdainful tone we heard during the topical and urgent debate about victims of the floods in the south. A lot of people from the north said that is typical, special pleading for the south, and vice versa. We Europeans are all in the same boat, and that is the key message of this disaster.

 
  
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  Dehousse (PSE), in writing. – (FR) Like my colleagues, the Belgian Socialists, I abstained during the final vote on the resolution on the floods in Europe for two reasons.

First of all, solidarity can have no borders. As Mrs Zrihen said, in the open sitting, the European Parliament is wrongly trying to compile a list of Member States whose regions have suffered torrential flooding. Italy had to be added, as it did not appear in the current list, and the final text does not mention, in particular, the floods in Switzerland.

Secondly, if we want to better protect the territory of the Union against floods – and this is undoubtedly the desire of the European Parliament – we must take into account river basins, which ignore borders mapped out by history. It is regrettable that, in our haste, we did not include this essential clarification in the text.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) During the past few years, the Rhine, Oder, Vistula and Elbe basins have been affected by flooding one after the other. This is no coincidence. They carry rainwater and ice water from the Alps and the Carpathians to the North Sea and the Baltic. Rain has been on the increase due to global warming, the deforested soil is no longer able to retain the water and the river beds have become too narrow. The dikes along these canalised rivers have been built too close to the main flow and houses have been built in alluvial areas where flood water was previously allowed to overflow. This is therefore certainly not about chance but about predictable accidents. The reference to the need to implement the Kyoto agreements worldwide is extremely appropriate, but it is to be feared that America will remain obstructive on account of pressure from the oil companies and the motor industry until they themselves become more and more affected by desertification and flooding. Attention is now once more being paid to finding the money to help the victims of flooding. This is necessary but unsatisfactory. The same disasters may happen again in future years, and the likelihood of their happening again is unfortunately very great. Our river management will therefore have to change radically, and this is still in danger of falling by the wayside.

 
  
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  Queiró (UEN), in writing. – (PT) The serious floods which recently devastated various countries in Central Europe clearly deserve our full attention and solidarity, especially for the families of the victims and for all those who have lost their homes and possessions. We are also fully aware that the consequences of this type of natural disaster, which are to a large extent due to the climate changes that we have been seeing, take on a transnational dimension and call for the support and solidarity of the European Union as single entity.

We have not abstained, therefore, due to any disagreement with the basic reasons or proposals for immediate aid contained in the joint resolution that has been adopted. We simply have doubts about establishing a permanent financial reserve for emergency actions to respond to disasters of this type by harnessing some of the structural funds. Indeed, it does not seem reasonable to us that financial resources from the structural funds should be permanently mobilised for emergency actions, which are by definition unpredictable, since it is possible to find, as has in fact happened in this case, more appropriate alternatives for dealing with this type of tragedy without affecting the permanent objectives that the use of these funds is intended to achieve.

 
  
  

- Afghanistan

 
  
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  Posselt (PPE-DE). – (DE) Mr President, I would rather like to take a slightly different approach to the one I adopted during the debate on Afghanistan. I am afraid to say that I am very pessimistic, as I have the very clear feeling that we are heading towards a fresh crisis. In Afghanistan, which is a multi-ethnic state, there is an increasingly strong feeling amongst the largest national group, the Pashtuns, and whether it is justified or not I cannot say, that they are being neglected as compared with the peoples who lead the Northern Alliance, such as the Tadzhiks and the Uzbeks. This feeling is giving rise to an increasing potential for conflict, which the surviving Taliban are exploiting. People talk about the Taliban withdrawal area in eastern Afghanistan as if it were just a military or police problem. Unfortunately this is a nationality problem, since as I have said the largest group in this multi-ethnic state feels that it is being treated as second class, and that is something that could be explosively dangerous in the long run. That is why we need a clever strategy for Afghanistan, in order to integrate all the ethnic groups more or less uniformly, which up to now clearly has not been the case. Despite all the humanitarian successes and all the progress made on paper there is still a time bomb ticking away in Afghanistan.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (PT) The main reason for our voting against this joint resolution is the approval of parts of the resolution that seek to justify war and US intervention in Afghanistan, a situation which is all the more serious because of all of the US pressure for a new war against Iraq. In fact, we totally disagree with resorting to war to resolve the problems of terrorism. As we have stated repeatedly, there are other ways of combating terrorism, such as acting to resolve its direct and indirect causes. By the same token, we cannot accept the calling into question of fundamental rights and freedoms or the practice of State terrorism on the pretext of combating terrorism.

Nevertheless, we welcome – which is why we have voted in favour of this point – the approval of the request for a detailed investigation, under the auspices of the United Nations, of the allegations of massacres and war crimes, which our group has condemned on more than one occasion, specifically by inviting the film-maker Jamie Doran to show his film in the European Parliament on 12 June. We also support the call for greater financial aid for the economic and social reconstruction of the country and urgent humanitarian aid.

 
  
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  Frahm (GUE/NGL), in writing.I have voted in favour of the joint resolution even though it contains certain points with which I do not agree.

First of all I disagree with the analysis that the intervention in Afghanistan was necessary – on the contrary!

Second, the UN mandate for peace enforcing should not be prolonged but changed to peacekeeping.

But I support the joint resolution in the demand for investigation of all war crimes committed in Afghanistan and in the demand that prisoners should be treated in accordance with international conventions.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) Afghanistan is a sort of Switzerland. In every valley the people determine their often stubborn points-of-view and they do not appreciate outside interference. Over the last twenty-five years, ideologues from Russia, Saudi Arabia and now the US have wanted to try out their various experiments on Afghan society. This has mainly resulted in death and destruction. The latest intervention was not so much aimed at helping to solve the many problems that exist in Afghanistan, but to avenge the destruction of two office towers in New York a year ago. Whether this dreadful attack was devised from within Afghanistan has never been proven, but the American response was that the established regime there had to be punished and ousted. Just as they now also want to oust the Iraqi regime. In a world in which there is only one big military and economic superpower left, will the national government of another country only be legitimate from now on if it is well-disposed towards America and acts in line with American interests? The resolution falls between two stools. On the one hand, it justifies the war and the continuing military presence. On the other hand, it is looking at the war crimes of the victors and the need to investigate and punish for the first time. The latter is new, and is a step forward compared with earlier attitudes. In the light of this improvement, I am voting in favour of the resolution.

 
  
  

- Maaten report (A5-0270/2002)

 
  
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  Posselt (PPE-DE). – (DE) I am sorry that Mr Fatuzzo is not here today – I seem to be standing in for him. However, I am genuinely concerned about this issue. On the subject of Mrs Stenzel's report, I would like to congratulate her very warmly on it. I am pleased that we have adopted it today, as elections are being held in Macedonia on 15 September. What is at stake here is the democratic stability of this important country, to which we are now linked by an association agreement. This country has experienced a huge refugee problem. It has had two wars within its borders, many disasters, and now it is afflicted by terrorism. That is why it is very important for us to signal to Macedonia today that this democracy has our support, this democracy, which over the last four years – during which there have been several major disasters – has amazingly succeeded in achieving a balance between different nationalities. Even if quite a lot that glitters is still not gold, when you see the remarkable things the Macedonians have achieved, you have to say that they have earned our solidarity. One sign that we could give would be to abolish the visa requirement for Macedonia at long last. There was never such a requirement for Yugoslavia, there is not one for Croatia or Slovenia, and in fact Macedonia is the only associated country with a visa requirement. We should finally accept this small country as a genuine European partner.

 
  
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  Krivine and Vachetta (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) The report presented by the Commission on its strategy on Asia gives a great deal of room to pious hopes. It has the advantage, however, of being extremely clear on certain key issues, particularly on the desire of the EU’s leading bodies to take action over any unequal liberalisation in trade and in the movement of capital, and to provide the WTO with even greater powers. No lessons have been learned from the 1997-1998 financial crises and from the crash in Asia, the current stock market crisis or from the crash in South America. Reality must fade into the background in the face of liberal dogma in the era of capitalist globalisation.

The ASEM 4 Summit in Copenhagen will also discuss security. At a time when, in Europe, immigrants are being used as scapegoats for the social crisis and, in Asia, Washington is deploying its policy of a ‘lasting war’ in the name of combating terrorism, is once again sending forces to the Philippines and is threatening to invade Iraq, we would hope that the EU would guarantee the rights of immigrants and would oppose American interventionism.

In the real world, however, the European Union is behaving like an economically dominant force in Asia and the United States like an aggressive force. This is certainly something that the European Parliament should oppose. There may be different situations that set Asia apart but there are general developments which affect the entire continent of Europe and Asia.

(Explanation of vote abbreviated in accordance with Rule 137(1) of the Rules of Procedure)

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) The crux of this report is not the greenhouse effect in newly industrialised countries, the fight against poverty, capital punishment in China or the dictatorship in Burma. These comments serve only as padding for the EU's stance favouring Taiwan over China. Taiwan has recently changed from a place of exile from the old pre-1949 Chinese regime into a country in which the majority is non-Chinese, where the old Kuo Min Tang party has lost power to movements of indigenous Taiwanese, and which is looking more and more like Europe and Japan from a political and economic point of view. The majority will probably now choose to become an independent state in a referendum. Not even so much because this has actually been the case for 53 years, but rather because they never felt much kinship with the Chinese mainland. The fact that the previous regime in Taiwan had for decades sought foreign backing to recapture the mainland is a problem. The existence of two Germanies, two Vietnams and two Yemens ultimately came to an end because one was able to swallow up the other. The EU Member States withdrew their recognition of Taiwan in favour of China. If a majority of the European Parliament now chooses to recognise two states after all, the debate about this must be conducted openly instead of being concealed.

 
  
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  Sacrédeus (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) I voted against the report, which was adopted by 379 ‘yes’ votes to 27 ‘no’ votes and 57 abstentions.

The committee believes that a common institutional policy is needed for harmonising European research and higher education, together with significantly stronger support by the EU for the universities.

In view of the principle of subsidiarity and the idea of academic freedom, I can support neither the proposals to establish ‘a European University Seat’ nor the demand for a special ‘European University of Culture’.

I find it disquieting that the Commission is being given the task of preparing a Green Paper on the European higher education area. I also find it hard to understand why it is specifically the EU and the Commission that are to assess the quality of education, especially access to study loans and grants, hardship allowances, university residences and, in particular, student health care.

As a Swedish Christian Democrat Member of the European Parliament, I find it perturbing that the report contains demands and requests covering a long list of areas that the universities themselves, or at least the Member States, should be allowed to decide about, without interference by the EU. This infringes academic freedom and the principle of subsidiarity. In particular, there is dubious wording in the report to the effect that ‘convergence and cohesion’ among European universities should be boosted.

 
  
  

- Stenzel report (A5-0226/2002)

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) EU Member States caused much damage in the former Yugoslavia through their participation in the war in 1999. It is therefore their duty to contribute to its restoration. Not only in Kosovo but also in Serbia. This has now been proposed, and rightly so. In 1999 there were good grounds for suspecting that the war was not only about Kosovo. The deep loathing that the inhabitants of Kosovo had developed against Yugoslavia looked as if it would be misused as a crowbar with which to achieve a whole different set of objectives. The coercive proposals made to Milosevic before the outbreak of the war did not, oddly enough, provide for independence for Kosovo, but rather for foreign influence on the government and the economy of Serbia and Montenegro. If it is now being proposed that the European Agency for Reconstruction, which was originally intended for Kosovo, now be extended to include Serbia and Montenegro and if there are also calls for Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro to be made more dependent on one another by creating a common energy supply, this raises the question as to whether Serbia has been promised that it will get Kosovo back in exchange for adapting to and integrating into the EU. If this is the case, it will not only evoke a lot of resistance within Serbia but will in particular cause uncontrollable anger on the part of the deceived inhabitants of Kosovo. The EU is playing with fire.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes the explanations of vote.

(The sitting was suspended at 12.50 p.m. and resumed at 3 p.m.)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR ONESTA
Vice-President(3)

 
  

(1) Tabled by the following Members: Hans-Gert Poettering and others, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group, Enrique Barón Crespo and others, on behalf of the PSE Group, Kyösti Tapio Virrankoski, on behalf of the ELDR Group, Kathalijne Maria Buitenweg, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group, Helmuth Markov, on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group, Franz Turchi and Mauro Nobilia, on behalf of the UEN Group, replacing resolutions B5-0463/2002, B5-0475/2002, B5-0476/2002, B5-0477/2002, B5-0478/2002, B5-0483/2002 by a new text.
(2) Tabled by the following Members: Philippe Morillon on behalf of the PPE-DE Group, Margrietus J. van den Berg and Jannis Sakellariou on behalf of the PSE Group, Cecilia Malmström and others, on behalf of the ELDR Group, Joost Lagendijk and Nelly Maes on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group, Cristiana Muscardini on behalf of the UEN Group, replacing resolutions B5-0456/2002, B5-0457/2002, B5-0458/2002, B5-0459/2002, B5-0460/2002, by a new text.
(3) Approval of Minutes of previous sitting – Membership of committees – Communication of common positions of the Council: see Minutes.

Last updated: 27 July 2004Legal notice