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Debates
Tuesday, 20 April 2004 - Strasbourg OJ edition

Vote
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  President. The next item is the vote. We have 37 reports and 1 252 amendments to vote on today. This combination of reports and amendments is the largest single voting session we have had in the last five years, so I will need your fullest cooperation.

Report (A5-0198/2004) by Reimer Böge, on behalf of the Committee on Budgets, on the proposal for a Council decision amending Decision 2000/24/EC to take into account the enlargement of the European Union and the EU's Wider Europe – New Neighbourhood policy

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0264/2004) by Christa Randzio-Plath, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2003/96/EC as regards the possibility for Cyprus to apply, in respect of energy products and electricity, temporary exemptions or reductions in the levels of taxation

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Recommendation for second reading (A5-0246/2004) by the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, on the common position of the Council with a view to adopting a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the interoperability of electronic road toll systems in the Community (rapporteur: Renate Sommer)

(The President declared the common position approved)

 
  
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  Sommer (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (DE) Mr President, I am entitled to two minutes’ speaking time, and I wanted to take advantage of this, because we Germans are so keen to talk about electronic toll systems.

(The President gave the rapporteur leave to speak.)

Mr President, election period or not, we are proceeding with the second reading on the interoperability of toll-collection systems in the European Union, and this is truly a subject that Germans like to address. Toll-collection technology has, of course, been on our agenda in Germany for several months. That is not my main point, though.

By and large, the Council has now adopted our amendments from the first reading. This represents a good bit of work on our part in the European Parliament, because we made major changes to the Commission draft. We firmly believe that it is not a matter for the legislature to prescribe the use of one particular toll system in a binding legal instrument. It will now remain possible to use satellite positioning and mobile telephony as well as 5.8 GHz microwave communication for the collection of tolls in the European Union.

The only thing it is important to prescribe is that these technological solutions must be interoperable, in other words that a vehicle must be able to operate throughout Europe with a single on-board unit – one device per vehicle and one contract per customer. And that is precisely what we shall achieve now through the establishment of a European electronic toll service. We have called this ‘contractual interoperability’. This was the specification laid down by the present draft directive, and the draft now fully meets that specification. The market – the forces of free competition – will now determine which system becomes the electronic toll technology of the future.

At the same time, however, we wish to make it crystal-clear that, in view of the vast array of potential additional uses of satellite positioning and mobile communications, their adoption is to be recommended in principle – provided that the strictest of measures are put in place to protect personal data. The innovative European project Galileo will provide the information services for this purpose from 2008. In short, the common position as it now stands constitutes an absolutely excellent outcome.

I should like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to everyone – to the Council, the Commission and especially the shadow rapporteurs of the other groups – for their extremely cooperative approach in this matter.

 
  
  

***

Report (A5-0255/2004) by Janelly Fourtou, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Recommendation (A5-0215/2004) by the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion by the European Community of the Protocol on the accession of the European Community to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol) (rapporteur: Christine De Veyrac)

Before the vote:

 
  
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  De Veyrac (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (FR) Mr President, just a brief word, because we are already running very late, to mention that Eurocontrol is the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation and that the effect of this report is to approve the ratification by the Community of the Protocol on accession to the revised Eurocontrol convention. This ratification will enable the Community to contribute to policy making and to strengthen the synergies between the two organisations. It will also strengthen Eurocontrol’s ability to launch development programmes and to implement new air traffic control technologies that will ensure the creation of the Single European Sky. The entire air sector should benefit from this.

Finally, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, with the enlargement of the European Union now imminent, I would like to stress how valuable membership of Eurocontrol by the accession countries that have not yet joined it will be for everybody in improving air safety. I hope that these new Member States will rapidly integrate the process of the Single European Sky so as to allow the airspace to be properly managed over the entire territory of the unified Union. That is why we must encourage the countries that will be joining the European Union on 1 May and that are not yet members of Eurocontrol to take the steps necessary for accession as quickly as possible.

 
  
  

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0142/2004) by Carmen Cerdeira Morterero, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on the proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of a regime of local border traffic at the external land borders of the Member States

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0141/2004) by The Earl of Stockton, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on the proposal for a Council regulation on the establishment of a regime of local border traffic at the temporary external land borders between Member States

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0145/2004) by Ewa Klamt, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on the proposal for a Council decision establishing a secure web-based Information and Coordination Network for Member States' Migration Management Services

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Klamt (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the general plan adopted by the Council in 2002 on the suppression of illegal immigration and human trafficking in the European Union provided for the introduction of a new early-warning system, which is now to be further developed into a secure web-based Intranet site.

The Commission’s proposal is good. That needs to be emphasised too. We were able to work very well with it in committee, and we regard it as a decisive step towards improved coordination and communication between Member States, which is the key to successful cross-border efforts to combat illegal immigration.

Exchanges of information, of course, can only become an everyday reality if the Member States can be sure that the information they provide will be sufficiently protected. The CIRCA system proposed by the Commission is a commendable step in this direction. It meets the required security standard. In particular, it permits selective access to the information within the system.

I wish to thank my honourable colleagues from the various parliamentary groups for their broad approval of this report, and I am pleased that we shall manage to complete this process before the end of the current parliamentary term.

 
  
  

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0233/2004) by Othmar Karas, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 77/388/EEC as regards the place of supply of services

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0222/2004) by Guido Bodrato, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the Framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0262/2004) by Carlos Coelho, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on the proposal for a Council Decision establishing the Visa Information System (VIS)

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Coelho (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (PT) Mr President, the safety of our citizens is a priority for all of us. We are aware of the importance of external border controls and the need to strengthen them, also as a result of freedom of movement and the abolition of controls at internal borders. We are living in times in which the growing threat of cross-border organised crime, illegal immigration and above all terrorism have moved to the top of our political agenda and have become the focal point of the public's concerns. This represents a threat to our democracies, a threat we need to combat by strengthening our own democratic systems and instruments here in Europe.

Mr President, all this means that we need a system for rapidly and efficiently exchanging information for border controls, including the area of political cooperation. For this reason, it is vitally important either to develop a second generation SIS – Schengen Information System II or SIS II – or to create a visa information system, not forgetting the issue of introducing biometrical data.

We need, however, to do this within a framework of clear rules that ensure that the system is effective, economical, and scrupulously respects Community rules on personal data protection. The proposal before us and a second proposal announced by the Commission – for the purpose of defining the system and the way in which it is to operate – are complementary and must be dealt with jointly. If something is to be financed, both the legislative authority and the budget authority need to know exactly what.

Having said that, I call on the plenary, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, to reject the Commission initiative, which is little more than an empty vessel. I hope that at the start of the next parliamentary term the Commission will submit a detailed, exhaustive and soundly based proposal, unlike the one before us today.

Mr President, given that we are at the end of the parliamentary term, I would like my draft legislative resolution to be put to the vote also.

(Applause)

 
  
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  President. On behalf of the committee, the rapporteur recommends rejection.

(Parliament rejected the text)

Does the Commission agree to withdraw the proposal?

 
  
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  De Palacio, Vice-President of the Commission. (ES) Mr President, the rejection of the proposal concerning the first phase of the establishment of the visa information system is a matter of great regret to the Commission. It means delaying the creation of the final system that will have to be in place before the end of this year. Pursuant to the framework agreement, Mr Vitorino will inform the College of Commissioners of this result. He will also provide ongoing information on follow up to this matter.

 
  
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  President. In that case the matter is automatically referred back to committee under Rule 68(3) of the Rules of Procedure.

 
  
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  Coelho (PPE-DE), rapporteur. – (PT) Mr President, I would like to refer to what happened with the Schmidt report during the previous sitting: it does not make any sense at all to refer the report back to the committee. We do not have two months, because we are at the end of the parliamentary term, and I call on this House to vote on my report, which includes a legislative resolution from this Parliament and rejects the Commission's initiative.

 
  
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  President. No, we shall not vote on the legislative resolution. I am quite satisfied that I am following the Rules of Procedure as they should be applied. If you wish to take it up with me later I will be happy to explain why.

***

Second report (A5-0266/2004) by Jorge Salvador Hernández Mollar, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on the initiative of the Kingdom of Spain with a view to adopting a Council Directive on the obligation of carriers to communicate passenger data

(Parliament rejected the text)

***

Report (A5-0140/2004) by Martine Roure, on behalf of the Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on:

1. the initiative of Ireland with a view to adopting a Council decision amending Decision 2000/820/JHA establishing a European Police College (CEPOL);

2. the initiative of the United Kingdom with a view to the adoption of a Council decision amending Decision 2000/820/JHA establishing a European Police College (CEPOL)

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0273/2004) by Christa Randzio-Plath, on behalf of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, on the draft recommendation of the Council concerning the appointment of Mr José Manuel González-Páramo as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Randzio-Plath (PSE), rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs recommends the appointment of Mr José Manuel Gonzáles-Páramo as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank. We have no doubts about his personal integrity and professional competence. In this context, however, we should like to point out that it would be a good thing if the European Central Bank were to sit down with this Parliament in future and reflect on the future role of the system of central banks. This is truly a vital requirement, not least with regard to the future selection of candidates. We also believe there is a need to examine whether it would not be appropriate to introduce a procedure whereby we ratify future appointments rather than merely deliver a consultative opinion.

 
  
  

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0221/2004) by Bert Doorn, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, on the assessment of the impact of Community regulations and the consultation procedures

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Report (A5-0263/2004) by Mario Mantovani, on behalf of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, on the communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions: equal opportunities for people with disabilities: a European Action Plan

(Parliament adopted the text)

***

Recommendation for second reading (A5-0234/2004) by the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, on the common position of the Council with a view to adopting a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the coordination of social security systems (rapporteur: Jean Lambert)

(The President declared the common position approved as amended)

***

Recommendation for second reading (A5-0249/2004) by the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, on the common position of the Council with a view to adopting a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on minimum safety requirements for tunnels in the Trans-European Road Network (rapporteur: Reinhard Rack)

(The President declared the common position approved)

***

Report (A5-0047/2004) by Hans Kronberger, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive relating to arsenic, cadmium, mercury, nickel and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in ambient air

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0191/2004) by Evelyne Gebhardt, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council regulation on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (‘the regulation on consumer protection cooperation’)

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Second report (A5-0224/2004) by Joachim Wuermeling, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the harmonisation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States concerning credit for consumers

Before the vote:

 
  
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  Wuermeling (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have just come to an understanding on a few more points with a view to making the voting procedure easier for you. By agreement with my honourable colleagues, I should therefore like to propose that, beginning with the Committee’s Amendment No 10, we consolidate the votes into four blocks. I have already indicated to the Bureau how these blocks can be arranged so that we can deal with the whole proposal fairly quickly, and I should like to ask your permission, Mr President, to present a brief oral proposal for a compromise before the vote on Article 3(2)(a) and before the vote on Article 16.

 
  
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  McCarthy (PSE). Mr President, as this matter was agreed just prior to the vote I want to be quite clear about the separate vote, because the complete voting list was only available this morning. We would like to check that there is to be a separate vote on Amendments Nos 38 and 39 as a block and on Amendments Nos 80, 102, 122, 127 and 128. If that is what the rapporteur has given you, then I am happy to go along with that division.

 
  
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  President. Mrs McCarthy, I understand that Amendments Nos 38, 39 and 102 have been withdrawn. On the other amendments mentioned, it seems that the rapporteur agrees with you.

Before the vote on Amendment No 178:

 
  
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  Wuermeling (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, we are dealing here with the applicability of the Directive to agreements relating to small amounts of credit or those covering particularly large amounts. The Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party has tabled an amendment proposing that the coverage threshold for microcredits be drawn at EUR 500. I should like to combine this amendment with Amendment No 175, tabled by the Group of the European Socialists with a view to setting an upper limit of EUR 100 000. That would be a sensible joint solution. If it secures a large majority, there is a good chance that it will serve as the basis for further deliberations within the Council.

 
  
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  President. Are there any objections to the oral amendment?

 
  
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  McCarthy (PSE). Mr President, I object on the basis that we reserve the right to vote on an amendment that allows us to have no lower threshold. This combination means that there would be a minimum threshold of 500 combining with a Socialist upper threshold. We do not want a lower threshold, so we cannot accept this compromise.

 
  
  

(As 32 or more Members objected, the oral amendment was not accepted)

After the vote on Amendment No 64:

 
  
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  McCarthy (PSE). Mr President, Amendment No 206 is not rendered redundant by the adoption of the previous amendment. Therefore, we need to vote on Amendment No 206.

 
  
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  President. I shall ask the rapporteur for advice on this. After the adoption of Amendment No 64 I was advised that Amendment No 206 would fall. Rapporteur, what is your opinion?

 
  
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  Wuermeling (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (DE) Mr President, the Commission proposed a ban on doorstep negotiation of credit agreements. The committee called for this ban to be completely scrapped. We approved that motion. So there is no longer any scope for a reduced ban as proposed in Amendment No 206. It is therefore correct that Amendment No 206 should fall.

 
  
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  McCarthy (PSE). Mr President, the Group has not tabled an amendment to ban doorstep selling, but rather to make it subject to conditions in terms of unsolicited negotiation of credit or doorstep selling. As it is not a ban, we should be able to vote on it.

 
  
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  Wuermeling (PPE-DE), rapporteur. (DE) Ladies and gentlemen, a majority of you have come out against the inclusion of any rule on doorstep selling, and with good reason too. The fact is that a separate directive covers these matters, and in the wake of this vote there is no more scope for the inclusion in the present directive of other rules on the same subject. I still say that the amendment should fall.

 
  
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  President. I will follow the advice of the rapporteur. I will come back to Mrs McCarthy and her colleagues with an explanation later.

 
  
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  Wuermeling (PPE-DE). (DE) I waive my right to move an oral amendment.

 
  
  

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0188/2004) by Fiorella Ghilardotti, on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the Internal Market and amending Directives 84/450/EEC, 97/7/EC and 98/27/EC (the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive)

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0260/2004) by Robert William Sturdy, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on maximum residue levels of pesticides in products of plant and animal origin

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0213/2004) by Peter Michael Mombaur, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, on the modification of the legal base and general guideline of the Council in view of the entry into force of a directive of the European Parliament and the Council concerning measures to safeguard security of natural gas supply

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0254/2004) by Esko Olavi Seppänen, on behalf of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on conditions for access to the gas transmission networks

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0171/2004) by Astrid Thors, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on establishing a framework for the setting of Eco-design requirements for Energy and amending Council Directive 92/42/EEC

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0154/2004) by Alexander de Roo, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the Directive establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community, in respect of the Kyoto Protocol's project mechanisms

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0265/2004) by Hans Blokland, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on batteries and accumulators and spent batteries and accumulators

President. – Anyone from Ireland will know that an accumulator is a bet on a horse race!

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0220/2004) by Luigi Cocilovo, on behalf of the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive amending Directive 1999/62/EC on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0216/2004) by Helmuth Markov, on behalf of the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive on minimum conditions for the implementation of Directive 2002/15/EC and Council Regulations (EEC) Nos. 3820/85 and 3821/85 concerning social legislation relating to road transport activities

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0267/2004) by Gérard M.J. Deprez, Committee on Citizens' Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs, on the proposal for a Council decision establishing the European Refugee Fund for the period 2005-2010

(Parliament adopted the legislative resolution)

***

Report (A5-0176/2004) by Karl-Heinz Florenz, on behalf of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Consumer Policy, on the communication from the Commission: Towards a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

***

Report (A5-0227/2004) by Johannes Voggenhuber, on behalf of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, on respect for and promotion of the values on which the Union is based

(Parliament adopted the resolution)

***

President. – That concludes the vote.

EXPLANATIONS OF VOTE

 
  
  

- Report: Böge (A5-0198/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The Commission is proposing a revision of the European Investment Bank's external lending mandate, under which loans are guaranteed from the EU budget, so as to take account of the new Neighbourhood Policy against the background of the enlarged European Union, as part of its proposals for the 2007-2013 policy and financial framework. If the overall ceiling for credits opened, equivalent to EUR 20 260, is taken into account, it will soon be seen that the report accompanying this legislative proposal does little to further the geopolitical considerations and objectives which it is supposed to be inspired by, and in particular the creation of a pan-European-Mediterranean free trade area, in which the European Union has great political, economic and military influence at regional level.

The Neighbourhood Policy gives particular priority to Russia, for which the rapporteur proposes an increase of EUR 500 million in the provisional allocation, and to the Mediterranean shore countries. These loans would obviously serve the European Union's policy of regional influence, interest and interference – an objective that we reject. But more worrying still is the fact that this Neighbourhood Policy appears to be to the detriment of the European Union's cooperation and development policy, especially in relation to the ACP (Africa, Caribbean and Pacific) countries, Latin America and Asia.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The proposal before us deals with the revision, up to the end of the remaining period of the mandate, of the Community budget guarantee to the European Investment Bank for the loans the EIB grants to third countries on the basis of its own resources.

The enlargement of the Union on 1 May 2004 will result in an increase in the EIB's lending capacity without raising the ceiling on its external lending mandate, which will be particularly favourable at a time when the European Union is stepping up its cooperation with potential candidate countries in the Western Balkans and is preparing to gradually strengthen its links with other neighbours to the south and east.

According to the EIB's Corporate Operational Plan or COP, the forecast utilisation rate for the various regional packages during the remaining period of the mandate points to a total guaranteed loan volume in excess of the total amount fixed.

On the basis of these projections, the Commission is proposing a new geographical distribution of the current mandate, while maintaining the current overall limit of EUR 19 460 million.

Given the need for the Union to strengthen its links with its closest neighbours, I voted in favour.

 
  
  

- Recommendation for second reading: Sommer (A5-0246/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The report before us comes in the wake of the large number of amendments approved by the European Parliament at first reading, almost all of which were subsequently accepted by the Council.

The common position demonstrates that the solution suggested by the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism is that best suited to achieving the key objective of interoperability between the various electronic road toll systems in operation in some Member States.

Microwave technology for electronic road tolls is the most affordable, is based on the application of existing technology already successfully used in telephony, provides the ideal solution for the objective proposed in the directive, and genuinely makes the life of certain motorway users easier.

It should, however, be stressed that the committee is not ruling out a study at a later stage, for 2008, on the applicability of satellite technology, but everything will depend on technological progress in the market and on the specific needs of other types of road traffic control.

Given that the report before us does not amend the text of the common position, which ensures compatibility of the various systems operating in the Member States by 2007, I am voting in favour of it.

 
  
  

- Report: Fourtou (A5-0255/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The object of the proposal for a regulation before us amending Council Regulation (EEC) 2913/92 establishing the Community Customs Code is to create a harmonised legal framework with identical customs controls in all the Member States, based on commonly agreed standards and risk criteria for the selection of goods and economic operators in order to fight terrorism, organised crime and trade in dangerous goods.

With a view to tightening security around goods crossing international borders, traders will be required to provide customs authorities with information on goods being imported into or exported from the European Union. This information will be in electronic form and will be exchanged between the authorities of the various Member States.

Once again, we must reaffirm that the fight against terrorism cannot be allowed to threaten respect for our citizens' rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to privacy, of which the protection of personal data forms a part, as laid down in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The protection of personal data should not be viewed as an obstacle to effectively fighting terrorism, which means that we have certain reservations about the changes proposed to the regulation, in spite of the European Parliament's amendments, which specifically refer to these rights.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The object of the proposal for a regulation as presented by the Commission is to modify the Community Customs Code, incorporating certain basic principles for managing the security of our external borders and establishing a harmonised risk assessment system.

The proposal provides for a set of measures aimed at increasing security in the international movement of goods. The following measures deserve particular attention: (a) the introduction of a requirement for traders to provide customs authorities with information on goods before they are imported into or exported from the European Union; (b) the establishment of a framework for authorising operators; (c) the creation of a mechanism for agreeing risk criteria at Community level; (d) the establishment of automated support systems for the implementation of risk management.

The proposal reflects a positive desire for integrated and effective management of our external borders, by seeking to improve the effectiveness of customs procedures and controls, both by simplifying customs legislation and by enhancing the use of electronic systems in customs procedures.

I wish to stress that those working in the sector support the changes, which will make it possible to strike a satisfactory balance between growth in the checks and formalities needed for security purposes and the need to facilitate legitimate trade. I share that view and voted for the report.

 
  
  

- Recommendation: De Veyrac (A5-0215/2004)

 
  
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  Queiró (UEN), in writing. (PT) The Council and Parliament recently adopted the regulation on the Single European Sky, one of the provisions of which was Community membership of Eurocontrol.

In accordance with the accession protocol, as is the case with other international organisations, the Community and the Member States will participate in the work of Eurocontrol, with voting rights allocated according to whether an issue falls within an area of Community competence or that of the Member States.

The institutional synergy between the Community and Eurocontrol will bring certain benefits in terms of air traffic capacity, safety and efficiency, to be achieved by initiating programmes for developing and implementing new air traffic control technologies.

Given that the issue here is to establish rules for international cooperation with the ultimate aim of pursuing the objectives already described whilst respecting the competence of the Member States in this field, I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Ribeiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As the Treaty provides for a common transport policy, the Commission has been presenting a series of proposals for membership of various international conventions, so as to enable it to exercise those competences delegated to it by the Member States.

This proposal forms part of the ‘Single European Sky’ initiative, which provides for an active Community role as regards Eurocontrol's technical competences.

The accession protocol stipulates the legal provisions permitting the Community to become a full member of Eurocontrol, establishing joint participation in Eurocontrol by the Community and the Member States on the basis of an allocation of voting rights. Voting rights are to be exercised by the Community or by its Member States depending on whether the issue at stake falls within the competence of the Community or of the Member States.

Nevertheless, the treaties do not, apart from anything else, confer competence on the European Community with regard to issues of defence and national security, which means that the use of airspace for military purposes does not fall within the competence of the European Community, as we advocated during the debate on the Single Sky.

As ever, attempts are being made to move forward in ways and at a pace with which we cannot agree.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) This proposal relates to the accession of the European Community to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol.

In accordance with Rules 86 and 97 of our Rules of Procedure, Parliament is required to give a favourable opinion on this agreement, as the relevant negotiations were concluded on 8 October 2002 with the signing of the protocol in question.

In accordance with the accession protocol, as is the case with other international organisations, the Community and the Member States will participate in the work of Eurocontrol with voting rights allocated according to whether an issue falls within an area of Community competence or that of the Member States.

The Council and Parliament recently adopted the regulation on the Single European Sky, one of the provisions of which was Community membership of Eurocontrol, so that Parliament has already indirectly expressed its views on this matter.

The relationship between the Community and Eurocontrol may bring certain benefits in terms of air traffic capacity, safety and efficiency, to be achieved by initiating programmes for developing and implementing new air traffic control technologies, and I accordingly voted in favour of the report.

 
  
  

- Report: Cerdeira Morterero (A5-0142/2004)

 
  
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  Bordes and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The transformation of the new borders of the European Union formed by enlargement into a veritable iron curtain will have tragic consequences for the populations living on either side of these borders. These borders sometimes divide peoples, and even families, and turning them into the Schengen borders is unacceptable in human terms.

If Europe demonstrated some genuine brotherly love, it would, on the contrary, make travelling easier. This is not the reasoning, however, behind the report’s proposal to relax the rules somewhat as regards local border traffic. Instead it claims that ‘the EU and its neighbours can profit from putting in place mechanisms that allow workers to move from one territory to another where skills are needed most’. In other words, closing the borders too tightly would prevent businesses from benefiting from cheap casual labour or from keeping local trade on its feet. Hence the proposed regulation, which is nit-picking and bureaucratic.

To cap it all, the Stockton report, for its part, gives, albeit only temporarily, approximately the same treatment to residents of the border areas between the countries currently in the Union and the new accession countries. This goes to show that enlargement, even if it removes all the barriers to the movement of capital, is not removing the barriers to the movement of people.

We have abstained so as to avoid blocking the slight relaxation for border residents with respect to Schengen, without endorsing inhumane legislation.

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

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The object of the Commission's proposal is to regulate local border traffic. The main objective is to avoid barriers to trade, social and cultural interchange or regional cooperation, with a view to promoting the development of border regions and facilitating border crossing by bona fide border residents, and harmonising the rules applied in order to achieve this.

Although I wish to congratulate the Commission on its initiative, I must disagree with certain points, points that the rapporteur has also challenged and addressed in her report. They are issues connected with what might be called ‘good faith’, and with the lack of effective border control resources, which could give rise to constant abuse.

Bearing in mind the need to fight illegal immigration, and to prevent criminal activity and even the entry of terrorists, I cannot understand why the Commission is not providing for any controls to ensure compliance with the authorised time limit for a stay.

We agree with the central concept of making it easier for some residents of third countries to enter the EU, but we wish to press for greater rigour in granting such facilities.

The points the rapporteur has drawn attention to are extremely pertinent, and given that the amendments in her report will have precisely that effect, I am voting in favour of her report.

 
  
  

- Report: The Earl of Stockton (A5-0141/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) This proposal is one of a group of legislative acts aimed at harmonising rules applying to local border traffic. More specifically, it attempts to facilitate the entry of certain border residents from third countries into the EU. In particular, it advocates that restrictions relating to ‘transfrontier workers’ should not be lifted, and proposes that a specific visa intended for them should be created.

The temporary nature of this visa is stressed, as is the fact that it is only aimed at persons living within 50 km of the border.

The amendments proposed by the rapporteur and her comments are very much to the point. They are comprehensible and justified, and do not undermine the objective of the Commission's proposal.

I am voting in favour of the report.

Nevertheless, the Commission's attention should be drawn to the abuses that may occur if proper precautions are not taken, with a view in particular to preventing abuses and weaknesses that could facilitate illegal immigration, criminal activity and even terrorist activity.

 
  
  

- Report: Klamt (A5-0145/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Despite certain concerns expressed in the European Parliament's opinion, this initiative, although it is apparently ‘technical’ and ‘neutral’, in fact has to be seen in the context of the criminalisation of immigration and of support for so-called emergency management and the deportation of immigrants back to their countries of origin.

The proposal emphasises that ‘as a development of the Early Warning System, the network is primarily designed to facilitate the exchange of strategic and tactical information on irregular or illegal migratory flows and trends’. It is not, for the time being, ‘envisaged to exchange personal data regarding criminal networks involved in smuggling or trafficking of human beings’.

The rapporteur herself makes the following criticism: ‘The fight against illegal immigration should not only be targeted at persons who have illegally entered the EU, but should, above all, combat facilitators who supply illegal labour networks in Europe’.

An attempt is being made here to create an improved instrument that will make the coordination and communication ‘vital if irregular migration is to be successfully combated on a cross-border basis’ more effective.

This is yet another aspect of a policy that ignores the economic and social causes of immigration.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) Faced as we are with the opening of borders within the Schengen area, constant breaches of Community borders and urgent security requirements resulting from the current world geopolitical situation, I consider it vital for means of managing and monitoring migratory flows to be coordinated, and the same applies to the monitoring of and fight against illegal immigration.

The Commission's technical platform, CIRCA, the Communication and Information Resource Centre Administrator, will provide a virtual workspace for closed user groups and a continuing information exchange, if it can guarantee a high level of security.

I wish to emphasise the possibility of Europol being included in this network.

I hope that the users and beneficiaries of this more efficient web-based approach to migration will not forget that the subjects of their investigations are individuals who, regardless of their legal status, have inalienable rights and deserve to be respected.

I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
  

- Report: Karas (A5-0233/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The Commission proposal, which has the full backing of the rapporteur, reflects the urgent need for the long-awaited amendment of Directive 77/388/EEC. As is well known, services have as a rule been taxed at the place where the supplier is established. The Commission now wishes to reverse this situation, so that, with some exceptions, tax will be levied at the place where the customer is established.

As I understand the position, this change will better reflect the current situation in the service sector, and will provide greater security for all parties involved. The measures proposed will also make it possible to eliminate some existing problems that are the result of the far-reaching changes that have taken place since 1977.

The report does not raise any particular problems and essentially aims to respect the general principle according to which the place of taxation is defined as the place where the services are supplied. Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs approved the draft legislative resolution unanimously.

I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
  

- Report: Bodrato (A5-0222/2004)

 
  
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  Arvidsson, Cederschiöld, Grönfeldt Bergman, Stenmarck and Wachtmeister (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) We have today voted in favour of the report on the conclusion of the Framework Agreement between the European Community and the European Space Agency (ESA) in accordance with the EC/ESA agreement of 2003. Previously, we have also given our support to the resolution on the Commission Green Paper on space policy, adopted on 9 October 2003, the resolution on a uniform European space strategy, adopted on 17 January 2002, and also the resolution on an action plan for implementing the European space policy, adopted on 29 January 2004. We have also supported efforts to implement the Galileo project.

It is important that EU competence not be otherwise extended to space policy and that industrial cooperation on space chiefly take place between Member States according to the Convention establishing the European Space Agency. The European Union’s involvement in space should cover research in the first instance. We reject the increased EU competence that is set to be included in the EU Constitutional Treaty.

 
  
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  Queiró (UEN), in writing. (PT) I shared the generally positive attitude of those voting on this framework agreement, the discussion of which ended up revolving around the legal basis. That positive attitude was underpinned by an opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, which recalled – and this was very much to the point – that the choice of the legal basis referred to could not be left to the discretion of the Community legislator, but should instead be based on objective criteria and subject to legal control.

According to the Committee on Legal Affairs and the rapporteur of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, the absence of a reference to Article 300(3) of the EC Treaty, stipulating that Parliament should be consulted, could only be the result of an oversight, which should be rectified. The rapporteur eventually presented an amendment to this effect, which was quickly replaced by a corresponding correction.

The willingness of the rapporteur to do this was another factor that encouraged me to vote for the report.

 
  
  

- Report: Coelho (A5-0262/2004)

 
  
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  Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The security of our citizens is of paramount importance to every one of us.

We are aware of how important and necessary it is to tighten controls at external borders, as a further consequence of free movement and the scrapping of internal border controls.

We are living in times in which transnational organised crime, illegal immigration and, particularly, terrorism, stand at the top of the political agenda and at the forefront of the public’s political concerns. These problems threaten our democracies, and must be combated by strengthening European democracy and its instruments.

What is required is the swift and effective sharing of information in the fields of border controls and police cooperation.

Consequently, the development of the Second Generation of SIS (SIS II) and of a Visa Information System (VIS) and the introduction of biometric data all take on vital importance.

We must undertake such action within a framework of clear rules that ensure that the system is effective, efficient and in strict compliance with Community rules on protecting personal data.

This proposal to establish the VIS and to enable the system to be funded outside the Community budget and …

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

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Establishing a Visa Information System (VIS) should be seen as part of the Schengen Information System (SIS) and EURODAC, within the framework of communitarising the ‘third pillar’, namely, Justice and Home Affairs, and seeks to remove certain key competences from the Member States. It should be noted that, as from 1 May, such a decision no longer requires unanimity in the Council.

The VIS is proposed as a system for the exchange of Visa data between Member States.

Whilst we do not share the rapporteur’s position, we do accept his conclusion that this Commission initiative must be rejected, given in particular that it defines neither the system nor its operation ‘including the categories of data to be entered into the system, the purposes for which they are to be entered and the criteria for their entry, the rules concerning the content of VIS records, the rights of access for authorities to enter, update and consult the data and rules on the protection of personal data and its control’.

Hence our vote against the proposal.

 
  
  

- Second report: Hernández Mollar (A5-0266/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report concerns yet another rejection by Parliament – of a Spanish government initiative from April 2003, a measure that forms part of the so-called ‘fight against terrorism’, which seeks to establish an agreement with the USA on the communication of airline passenger data. We are strongly opposed to such a move, even though this is a fait accompli, since various airlines already pass on such information. We therefore welcome the fact that Parliament’s Committee on Citizens’ Freedoms and Rights, Justice and Home Affairs has delivered a negative opinion on the matter.

The initiative seeks to transmit to the USA personal data which, according to the information made available, would cover thirty-four areas, including telephone numbers, credit card details, political opinions, family background, religious beliefs and health. No effective checks or safeguards are provided for, which places citizens’ rights, freedoms and guarantees in jeopardy.

This is an unacceptable move that breaches the European directive on protection of personal data. Currently, individual countries are responsible for ensuring that people are protected as regards the data contained in passenger name records. This proposal seeks to limit a country’s ability to block the transfer of data, in order to guarantee its citizens’ rights.

 
  
  

- Report: Roure (A5-0140/2004)

 
  
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  Flemming (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, I think it is important to point out that it was not I alone but all the members of the Austrian People’s Party in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and European Democrats who ultimately rejected the de Roo report. We have difficulties with the nuclear issue in Amendment No 38. The wording is simply too vague for our liking, and I am a little surprised that Alexander de Roo does not also recognise that the right to bank credits leaves the door open for credits issued before 2012 in respect of nuclear projects to be used after that date. This means that operators could meet their environmental requirements by means of credits from a nuclear project conducted in the period from 2008 to 2012. Our support for the total exclusion of nuclear projects is absolutely solid, and this is why we were unable to accept the de Roo report at the end of the day.

 
  
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  Coelho (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Issues relating to police cooperation and to protecting our citizens are among our most pressing concerns. Police cooperation is essential if we are to provide the European public with a higher level of safety within the area of freedom, security and justice.

Following up the conclusions of the Tampere European Council, the Portuguese presidency tabled an initiative, adopted in December 2000, which set in motion the first stage of the European Police College, as a network of the existing national training institutes of each Member State. The College is intended to train senior police officers by developing a European approach to the main problem areas in combating crime, preventing crime and maintaining law and order, in particular the cross-border dimensions of these problems.

This report on the operation and future of the College notes some difficulties, mainly caused by the lack of legal personality. In spite of these difficulties, the College can be deemed to have done excellent work.

I support these two initiatives, particularly the implementation, at legislative level, of the position adopted by most Member States, including Portugal. At this stage, it is preferable to retain the network structure of national institutes, but now with a legal personality, a governing board responsible for organising and running the College, and its own secretariat and seat.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The Tampere European Council, of 15 and 16 October 1999, decided ‘to set up a European Police College for the training of senior law enforcement officials’. It stated that ‘it should start as a network of existing national training institutes’.

The aim of this Irish initiative is to confer on the European Police College (CEPOL) the legal personality and authority normally accorded to legal entities. The purpose of the United Kingdom’s initiative is to locate the College’s seat in Bramshill, following on from the political agreement at the Council, and to establish a permanent secretariat to assist CEPOL.

The feasibility study on giving CEPOL a permanent structure was carried out in a three-year report on the operation and future of CEPOL, which stated that the lack of legal personality had led to difficulties in terms of governance, and at financial and organisational level.

The rapporteur tabled three amendments in order to restore some logic to the proposals, inter alia as regards costs borne by the CEPOL budget and the location of the seat of CEPOL.

I feel that CEPOL has done excellent work, and should continue to develop. There is no need during the current stage to create a European College separately from the national training institutes. Consequently, I support the proposals tabled by Ireland and the United Kingdom, along with the amendments adopted and ...

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

 
  
  

- Report: Randzio-Plath (A5-0273/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted against the recommendation before us, for the following reasons:

Firstly, the rotation of nationals from the Member States on the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB) has not been guaranteed. The ECB was not content with merely being the first Community body to break the representativeness rule by not comprising nationals of every Member State, or with its Statute being altered to ensure that members of this committee have permanent voting rights, unlike those on the governing boards of Central Banks, who exercise their right to vote on a rotation basis. In this area too we are seeing the consolidation of a cabinet consisting of the larger members, while smaller countries such as Portugal are excluded from decision-making at the heart of EU monetary policy.

Secondly, the nominee slavishly toes the line on monetary and budgetary orthodoxy, and on the prevailing trends in the EU’s economic and monetary policy. He also appears blithely indifferent to the economic crisis facing the Community. He is committed to the ECB’s key objective of price stability, and feels that the crisis is the result of structural reforms.

Furthermore, he sees ‘no need for changes in the current form of the Maastricht Treaty or the Stability Pact’, given that, according to him, ‘current problems are not the result of undue rigidities’ in the Pact, but the fact that come countries fail to comply with the commonly agreed rules.

 
  
  

- Report: Doorn (A5-0221/2004)

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) In the Dutch press, the impression has been created that Mr Doorn, the acting leader of the CDA Party, has found a way of saving the country EUR 10 billion a year. While a superficial reading of this will lead one to assume that he will use this sum to reduce EU tax payments, Mr Doorn does not offer a solution to the problem of the EU’s waste of 20% of its budget annually on prestige projects, on pumping money around rich Member States and fraud. His only concern is to liberate businesses from what he considers to be stifling bureaucracy. Above all, he wants fewer rules that are intended to protect employment and the environment and, consequently, fewer costs for entrepreneurs. That is in keeping with the ambition of Mr Zalm, the Dutch Finance Minister, who wants to reduce the administrative burden for businesses from EUR 17 billion to EUR 14 billion annually and reckons that half of this is attributable to European rules. According to Mr Zalm's calculation, the sum involved therefore is not EUR 10 billion but only EUR 1.5 billion. While I support an expansion of the options to be able to assess the negative impact of European regulations at the earliest possible stage, I do have a feeling that Mr Doorn will be wanting to put a stop to entirely different rules from those I have in mind.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I congratulate Mr Doorn on his excellent work, and the whole of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market on approving this report unanimously.

Impact assessment, as stated, incidentally, in the institutional agreement on better lawmaking of June 2003, is an essential tool, not only in terms of improving the quality of legislation, but also in terms of reducing the financial and administrative burden incurred in complying with legislation.

In this regard, studies carried out by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) suggest that improving legislation could result in economic growth of 7% and in a rise in productivity of 3%.

It is extremely important to monitor the implementation of cost assessment and impact assessment. If civil servants are assisted and monitored by an independent audit, and by the institutions themselves, and if an assessment is made of the burden that businesses and individuals incur to comply with legislation, I feel that this would be a vital step towards greater EU development.

I therefore endorse the report.

 
  
  

- Report: Mantovani (A5-0263/2004)

 
  
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  Bastos (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) The fight against discrimination suffered by people with disabilities has been stepped up at national and European level, and adopting the European Plan for people with disabilities was an essential step in this regard.

People with disabilities are still, however, not accorded equal treatment and opportunities in all aspects of life. The gains that have been made must be consolidated by means of appropriate political and legislative policies. The European Plan must, accordingly, contain a directive against discrimination based on disability, which must be applicable to all policies that fall within the EU’s competences. All Member States must transpose all of the applicable legislation in this area and must develop channels for sharing good practice.

I also endorse the report’s recommendation to improve disabled people’s accessibility to information technologies, to the built environment and to high quality services that encourage such people to be independent.

I therefore voted in favour of this report, which underlines the importance of improving the situation of the 50 million citizens of the enlarged European Union that are affected.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) I welcome this report, although it falls short in certain areas. It regrets the fact that, despite repeated calls by Parliament, the Action Plan does not contain legislative proposals, in particular a directive to combat discrimination based on disabilities, extending to all sectors of European Union competence and designed once and for all to remove all barriers to participation in community life by people with disabilities. It also criticises the fact that in the proposals for the Action Plan attention has not been given to the need to offer specific support to disabled persons’ organisations in the new accession countries.

The report also states that the future Treaty must provide for stronger measures to combat discrimination and to promote respect for human rights, especially of those people with a high degree of dependency and/or unable to represent themselves unaided. It advocates a United Nations Convention on the human rights of people with disabilities and calls for the recommendations of the EU expert report on ‘Accessibility for All’ to be implemented, including the revision of Constructive Products Directive, thereby laying down mandatory accessibility standards.

The report calls on the Commission to place special emphasis on combating violence against women with disabilities, under the Daphne Programme and to introduce measures to remedy …

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

 
  
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  Marques (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) I congratulate Mr Mantovani on his excellent and timely report on the Communication from the Commission on Equal Opportunities for people with disabilities: A European Action Plan. I wholeheartedly endorse this report, particularly as regards the need to give continuity to actions aimed at combating discrimination against people with disabilities.

I also strongly agree with Mr Mantovani’s call for a timetable for the submission of a directive to combat discrimination based on those areas not covered by Directive 200/78/EC.

 
  
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  Montfort (PPE-DE), in writing. (FR) Mr Mantovani’s report addresses the issue of equal opportunities for people with disabilities, which is certainly to be welcomed.

It is true that we too often forget that, before people are people with disabilities, they are, quite simply, people, who also deserve to have their dignity and their rights respected: the right to freedom of movement, the right to take part in the life of society in general, the right to equality of opportunity and the right to be respected as a person. Put simply, the rights accorded to all human beings.

A dignified society can be recognised by the place it gives to its most vulnerable members. Unfortunately, today, in the countries we call developed, people with disabilities are still too frequently the victims of discrimination.

That is why I support the rapporteur in his request that any policy should be based on universal values accorded to everyone. I hope that this report finally makes us pay attention to all people with disabilities and this is why I voted in favour of it.

 
  
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  Queiró (UEN), in writing. (PT) This report offers a timely reminder that in the enlarged European Union there are around 50 million people with disabilities of various kinds. European strategy must, therefore, focus on combating discrimination and on promoting human rights. The European Year of People with Disabilities 2003 succeeded in raising awareness of disability-related issues.

I therefore applaud the Commission’s initiative to propose the adoption of a European Action Plan in this area. We regret, however, that there are no specific legislative proposals, and nor is there a timetable for the submission of a directive to combat discrimination based on disabilities.

We must also strive to ensure that disabled people’s organisations play a more active role in the decision-making process at EU, UN and national level.

I should also like to highlight the Commission’s undertaking to submit a working paper on the implementation of the European employment strategy with respect to disabled persons, and improved accessibility for these individuals to information technologies and the built environment, including access to services.

We share this point of view entirely and feel that this is an excellent report.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I should first like to point out that this report is a follow-up to the European Year of People with Disabilities 2003 and related issues. It calls for non-discrimination and the promotion of human rights to be the main focus of the European Union’s strategy. According to the report, the positive results obtained should be incorporated into the European Union’s policies. The report regrets the absence of legislative proposals, and calls for a timetable for submitting a directive in this regard. It calls for stronger measures to combat discrimination and to promote respect for human rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. It also expresses support for a United Nations convention and calls on Member States to promote such a convention.

The report calls for organisations representing persons with disabilities to play a more active role in the decision-making process. It advocates the use of the European Social Fund and Structural Funds for persons with disabilities. According to the report, it is vital that disabled people should have greater accessibility to information technologies and to the built environment, including access to services. It also calls for a specific action programme, with effect from the 2005 budget.

For all of these reasons I am voting in favour of Mr Mantovani’s report, which contains excellent observations and suggestions.

 
  
  

- Recommendation on second reading: Lambert (A5-0234/2004)

 
  
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  Bastos (PPE-DE), in writing. (PT) Over the course of the years, Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71 has undergone many modifications that have rendered it more complicated.

This Regulation must, as a matter of urgency, be brought up to date and simplified, in the context of enlargement and given the need to coordinate social security systems in Member States in order to protect the rights of citizens moving around EU territory. I therefore voted in favour of this recommendation for a second reading regarding the Common Position adopted by the Council.

This Regulation, which applies to all European citizens covered by a social security system in their respective Member States, represents fundamental progress. Coverage is wider, as it applies to all those persons resident in the territory of a second Member State in the same way as their own national systems, thereby also making a major contribution towards social inclusion. All citizens are guaranteed protection when they move around other Member States and are not subject to double taxation. An essential step has been taken, especially with the introduction of the principle of good administration, which will encourage greater cooperation and mutual help between the institutions in Member States, and will enhance the way in which citizens’ requests for information are dealt with.

 
  
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  Bordes and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) We voted in favour of this report even though its explanatory statement specifies that the social security systems of each Member State should be coordinated, not harmonised and still less harmonised from the top down.

Coordination does, however, at least enable certain categories of employees, particularly frontier workers, to know their rights in terms of medical treatment, unemployment benefits or pensions, which is not the case at the moment, apart from a few bilateral agreements.

If the European Union wanted to make progress in the field of social rights, it would impose a single social security system, extending to all other States the most employee-friendly aspects of legislation in the countries that are most advanced in this area. The current trend, however, is for each State to make cutbacks in its social security system, which results in the working classes’ access to appropriate care being restricted.

The European Parliament recognises its voluntary powerlessness by stating, as this text does, that it can ‘appreciate the desire of Member States to maintain a complete control of their social security systems (…) for budgetary security’.

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

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Social security systems must be coordinated if freedom of movement is to be enjoyed, as provided for in the Treaties. The current regulation on the matter is over 30 years old and has undergone numerous modifications, as a result of national systems being updated and of rulings by the European Court of Justice. What remains is a document that is extremely difficult to read. Furthermore, it addresses subjects that are covered by other directives.

This new version has the advantage of being simpler and more up to date, and does not represent a step backwards in relation to the current situation. It will apply to all citizens of the European Union, in accordance with the concept of citizenship set out in the Treaties. A number of derogations and exceptions have also been conceded.

It is regrettable, however, that the Council has not gone further as regards two aspects. Firstly, there is no guarantee that prior authorisation to receive suitable treatment outside the Member State of residence will be granted if the patient’s condition demands this, as Parliament proposes. Secondly, concerning unemployment benefit, Parliament and the Commission had suggested that the unemployed could, with prior authorisation, seek work in another country for a period of six months. The Council, however, chose to retain the current period of three months with the possibility of extending this to six months…

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

 
  
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  Hermange (PPE-DE), in writing. (FR) The aim of Regulation No 1408/71 is to ensure the coordination of the Member States’ social security systems in order to protect the rights of persons moving within the European Union. That is why this regulation is essential, and why its adoption today is necessary. Indeed, I must remind you that the free movement of workers is one of the four freedoms laid down in the Treaty of Rome.

Over many years – since 1971 to be precise – this regulation has been amended considerably in order to take as much account as possible of changes in national legislation, to improve certain provisions and to fill the gaps that still exist. Following a great deal of negotiation in the Council and some effective work by our rapporteur, we have achieved a satisfactory balance, taking into account the constraints and characteristics of the Member States’ various social security systems.

True, the text could be improved. Nevertheless, it forms without any doubt whatsoever, an important step forward as regards the free movement of citizens. They will now be able to retain their rights to social security when they go to work in another Member State. In addition, their families will also benefit from full health cover. It is for all these reasons, and in particular because of the essential and tangible improvement in the daily lives of our fellow citizens, that I am voting in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Malmström, Paulsen and Olle Schmidt (ELDR), in writing. (SV) We fully support the right to free movement of persons, as one of the fundamental freedoms of the internal market. That is also why we have chosen to vote in favour of Mrs Lambert’s report. It is natural that the EU, in order to realise its vision of the free movement of workers and other citizens who can support themselves, lay down stipulations for EU citizens moving from one country to another. A significant risk when the EU becomes involved in areas that should chiefly be dealt with by the Member States, however, is that the body of legislation doubles. When Member States want to protect their benefit systems, they resort to discriminatory transitional arrangements because the detailed EU rules do not permit permanent measures that are completely reasonable. Pensions and other benefits that have been accrued can be taken along without problems when citizens move to another EU country, whereas social security benefits (for example child allowances and housing benefit) that are not accrued individually should not in principle be paid out to persons resident in another country. In the context of the EU-25 that is now being formed, Regulation (EEC) No 1408/71, the Social Charter, should be revised in order that it better suits the new requirements.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I welcome the adoption of this Common Position, in an area in which Community provisions have already enabled millions of European citizens to enjoy social protection when they move around the EU.

The Common Position simplifies and updates the legal framework – Regulation 1408/71 – thereby broadening its material and personal scope. The principles of equal working conditions and of exported benefits are both strengthened. The Regulation will apply to all those citizens of the Member States covered by the social security legislation of a given Member State. It offers protection to salaried workers, to self-employed workers, civil servants, students, pensioners, and those who do not pursue an activity. Furthermore, it improves the chances of people without jobs – including unemployed frontier workers – finding work in another Member State.

The difficulties that arose at first reading centred on the approval of two amendments concerning tax harmonisation and an unacceptable definition of the family. The Council also rejected these two amendments. I therefore support the final Common Position.

 
  
  

- Recommendation for second reading: Rack (A5-0249/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) Safety – and in this particular case road safety – is an area that the European Union has always held dear. Indeed many directives have been adopted in this regard.

The proposal before us seeks to increase minimum safety requirements in tunnels on the Trans-European Road Network. I therefore offer my wholehearted support to this report.

The Common Position that has been reached, which the rapporteur calls on us to endorse, reduces the technical elements substantially and does not seek to impose specific and detailed obligations on Member States. The main objective remains the same and a higher level of safety in Trans-European tunnels will be ensured.

I also welcome the administrative structure suggested in the report, with a safety coordinator and an authority responsible for traffic in the tunnel. This strikes me as an effective means of achieving the desired aim.

The unanimous vote in the Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism and the complete convergence of the positions of the two institutions were important factors in my decision to vote in favour of the report before us.

 
  
  

- Report: Kronberger (A5-0047/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) Council Directive 96/62/EC of 27 September 1996 on ambient air quality assessment – the Air Quality Framework Directive – provides the framework for future EC legislation on air quality, of which the proposal for a directive before us is the fourth and final development. This proposal forms part of an integrated package of measures to combat air pollution in the EU, based on the aims of the Community’s fifth and sixth environmental action programmes for the environment.

Without prejudice to the special emphasis placed on monitoring air quality, which is, of course, to be welcomed, I agree with the rapporteur’s criticisms of the absence of limit values in this proposal (unlike other directives in this field).

Given that arsenic, cadmium, nickel and certain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons have carcinogenic effects on human beings, and are thus hidden dangers to health, I must offer my support to this proposal, without prejudice to the pertinent criticisms raised.

I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
  

- Report: Gebhardt (A5-0191/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Article 129(a) of the Treaty states that ‘The Community shall contribute to the attainment of a high level of consumer protection’, through ‘specific action which supports and supplements the policy pursued by the Member States to protect the health, safety and economic interests of consumers and to provide adequate information to consumers’. Any such action, however, ‘shall not prevent any Member State from maintaining or introducing more stringent protective measures’.

The regulation before us forms part of the follow-up to the Commission Green Paper on European Union consumer protection, giving substance to Article 129(a) of the Treaty. Its aim is to strengthen cooperation between the national authorities responsible for the surveillance, investigation and prosecution of cross-border infringements. A network of public bodies is thus created, in order to address the rise in cross-border trade – especially electronically – and the need to offer consumers better protection. The rapporteur also seeks to enlist the participation of consumer organisations in this cooperation, and this is something that we consider to be of vital importance.

Hence our vote in favour. We feel, however, that all efforts should be made to avoid any major repercussions on the Member States’ national legal systems or any disparities in the prosecution of national or cross-border infringements.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) Consumers certainly deserve more rigorous and more effective protection, especially in today’s world. The aim of the Commission’s proposal is to increase protection for consumers. Consequently, I accept the need to implement a system of cooperation that will lead to a high level of surveillance, in order to investigate and combat cross-border infringements.

There are some extremely welcome measures in this proposal for a regulation, such as closer cooperation between Member States through bodies specially set up for the purpose, and the creation of an electronic database, containing comprehensive information in this area.

I welcome the Commission’s proposal. I also endorse the amendments tabled in this report, which are intended to develop the Commission’s proposal and to pre-empt certain problems that may arise from the coexistence of different systems for implementing the legislation.

Against this background, the report paves the way for the involvement of private consumers’ associations in the framework of cross-border cooperation between the authorities concerned.

For all of these reasons, I voted in favour.

 
  
  

- Second report: Wurmeling (A5-0224/2004)

 
  
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  Villiers (PPE-DE). Mr President, I would like to congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Wuermeling, for having done a fantastic job in turning a disastrous Commission proposal into something that still has some problems but is considerably improved.

It is vital to remember that we must not produce a proposal that undermines access to credit. The Commission's proposal would have denied the less advantaged and lower- income groups from access to credit. It would have meant a huge amount of inconvenience for consumers. For example, many consumers in Europe have credit cards, and some have two, three or four. Under the Commission proposal they would have to resign their contracts for each of these credit cards. They would have faced a lot of red tape when their credit limit changed. They would have faced even more red tape if they wanted to be overdrawn for a day or so. If they wanted to buy a fridge or a TV on credit, they would have had to leave it in the shop for two weeks before they could take it home. There were bizarre proposals from the Commission on the destruction of data that would have inhibited the law enforcement authorities in the fight against fraud and financial crime.

Many of these problems have been solved by our amendments, and I would appeal to the Council to accept those amendments adopted today. There are still some problems with overdrafts and credit intermediaries, but Parliament can claim credit for achieving significant improvements to this proposal which I hope will be accepted in the final directive when it is agreed in the next Parliament.

 
  
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  Thors (ELDR). (SV) Mr President, thank you for the outstanding way in which you have conducted the sitting. The Group of the European Liberal, Democrat and Reform Party is extremely pleased with the outcome of the vote. We have addressed some of the things that had been preventing the development of the banking sector, but at the same time we have retained very important aspects of consumer protection and developed that too. I think that we have created a Directive that will enable increased cross-border trade within Europe in the future.

I know that some people would have liked to vote in favour of provisions on mortgage credit, but I hope and ask that the Commission presents a proposal on this point, which is extremely difficult to regulate. My thanks to the President for giving me the floor, and for conducting the sitting so excellently.

 
  
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  Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (EL) I trust that the proposal for a directive on consumer credit which we are debating will provide a solution for the benefit of consumers and will put a stop to this unacceptable situation which functions like an El Dorado for the credit institutions. In Greece, in recent years, there has been a rapid increase in consumer loans and we are already talking about the excessive debt of Greek households.

This increase is due not only to misleading advertising to attract customers, but also to the ambiguous terms and 'small print' in the agreements, which put an additional burden on borrowers.

No one can deny the need for measures to be introduced to standardise the information which banks must provide so that consumers are in a position to compare more easily and select the product best suited to their needs.

This information must also list the actual annual rate of interest, the eventual cost of contracting the agreement, the number and amount of the instalments and the total cost of the loan. The right of the consumer to be able to withdraw from the agreement within a reasonable period of time without needing to justify his action must also be established.

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) In 2003, consumer credit accounted for over EUR 510 billion in the euro zone alone (13% of household consumption). This illustrates both the economic interest in this market by the banks and other operators and also the reality of over-indebtedness, which must not be underestimated.

In Portugal, household debt exceeds 100% of available income, if mortgages are taken into account. The issue does not, therefore, solely concern access to credit and consumer protection, but also economic sustainability, with families at severe risk of falling prey to the dictates of monetary policies and to the artificial temptations of consumerism.

The consumer credit market is predominantly a local or regional market. There is, therefore, no apparent reason to encourage granting credit to cross-border trade, particularly with fallacious arguments that this will be the ‘engine’ to ‘stimulate internal consumption in Europe’ or a ‘key factor in the much-hoped-for economic resurgence’.

While I am aware that some operators are opposed to this directive, due to certain obligations that the directive imposes on them, I have my reservations as regards the process of maximum harmonisation as contained in this Commission proposal. We must take measures to increase cooperation, to strengthen mechanisms for protecting consumers and to introduce the flexibility that Member States need in order to adopt measures that are more ...

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

 
  
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  Queiró (UEN), in writing. (PT) The report before us seeks to amend Directive 87/102/EEC, concerning Community rules on consumer credit. The issue at stake is whether the application of harmonised rules in this area will contribute towards protecting the consumer. On the one hand, such harmonisation offers greater security to trade within the Community, to creditors, to traders and to consumers. On the other hand, complete harmonisation would weaken the rules applied by individual Member States, who must, therefore, retain the right to offer a higher level of protection to their consumers, even those States that feel that total harmonisation may prove useful in certain areas.

Without going into detail, it strikes us that, even though the report is the result of compromises struck in the committee concerned, it is well-balanced and reflects our concerns that both lenders and borrowers should be held liable, at a time when marketing and invitations to buy on credit are extremely aggressive.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the Commission’s proposal, which updates the provisions of Directive 87/102/EEC, is to raise levels of consumer protection. Such an initiative is, therefore, to be welcomed.

It also contains some less positive elements, however, and this report seeks to rectify those elements.

Some of the measures put forward by the Commission could make credit more expensive and, in so doing, could lead to a reduction in loans.

We welcome those rules that are intended to strengthen transparency and comparability.

It is also important that we establish the principle of responsible lending, placing special emphasis on the obligations of both lender and borrower.

We must establish minimum, yet essential rules at Community level for consumer credit. Nevertheless, a higher level of consumer protection must fall to Member States at national level, otherwise the subsidiarity principle will be breached and the nature of a directive will be undermined.

In light of the amendments tabled by the rapporteur, I am voting in favour.

I must, however, state my approval of the way in which the Commission draws attention to over-indebtedness. In this regard, in fact, I cannot agree with the report. One of the main reasons for consumer over-indebtedness must surely have to do with easy access to consumer credit, such as non-essential or other items that consumers clearly neither need nor can afford.

In this respect I agree ...

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

 
  
  

- Report: Ghilardotti (A5-0188/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The aim of the Green Paper on Consumer Protection in the European Union was to define a framework directive to offset the negative aspects of business-consumer relations, namely unfair business practice. The Green Paper acknowledges the importance of self-regulation of the main operators through codes of conduct. This is, accordingly, a further directive forming part of the consumer protection package based on broader objectives that are intended to safeguard consumer confidence and to promote transnational and European business transactions. Accordingly, the intention is, once again, to harmonise the internal market, by establishing Community legislation in the area of unfair business practice.

Nevertheless, this proposal for a directive, amended by Parliament, aims to improve the rights of consumers who have been the victims of unfair practice, provides a clause that establishes a general prohibition of unfair commercial practices, clarifies the definition of such practices, broadens the range of practices covered, provides stronger measures to protect consumers deemed vulnerable, such as children and the elderly, and involves consumers’ organisations more closely in drafting codes of conduct. We welcome all of this. The directive falls short, however, of what was required.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) Following up the provisions of the Green Paper on consumer protection, this proposal for a directive from the Commission is intended to protect consumers from unfair commercial practices by companies in the internal market, by defining what constitutes unfair commercial practice uniformly across the EU.

The Commission’s proposal seeks to strike a balance between, on the one hand, a higher degree of consumer protection and, on the other, the smooth operation of the internal market.

I welcome the rapporteur’s amendments to the Commission’s initial proposal, which have made significant improvements to the proposal. Of these amendments, the rapporteur is particularly concerned with commercial practices aimed at specific categories of consumer, namely those consumers whose vulnerability is exacerbated by factors such as age, disability, temporary physical or mental condition, or literacy level.

As regards misleading advertising, I endorse the rapporteur’s suggestion that the proposal for a directive should cover advertising whose content is controlled by the companies themselves and not by advertising agencies.

I applaud the rapporteur’s work and voted in favour.

 
  
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  Sacrédeus (PPE-DE), in writing. (SV) I have chosen to vote against Amendment No 21 by the committee, which aims to abolish the Swedish system of different voting weights for A and B shares.

Some harmonisation of the rules of EU countries on financial markets may be needed for the benefit of the internal market, and thus of growth, but this amendment is along the wrong lines. The system of A and B shares is open, non-discriminatory and based on purchasing contracts that have been entered into freely. It offers opportunities for individuals and institutions to invest risk capital in an enterprise without the liability associated with ownership.

There is no proof that the system of differentiated voting power obstructs takeovers. A more fundamental objection is that deciding on forms of ownership, questioning ownership and preventing long-term owner liability for an enterprise are not matters for the EU.

 
  
  

- Report: Sturdy (A5-0260/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The presence of pesticide residues in products of plant and animal origin affects human and animal health and must be reduced as far as possible. This question is intrinsically linked with commonly used agricultural practices – the agricultural model – and with the environmental risks associated with using pesticides, particularly in soils and water. The proposal before us is intended to consolidate and harmonise existing legislation on pesticides and to standardise the rules across all Member States. The regulation sets maximum pesticide levels for all products, gives the Commission the final say in setting import tolerances and gives the European Food Safety Authority the responsibility for risk assessment.

In spite of our reservations about the report’s federalist attitude, the questions of principle appear to be sound, provided that Member States retain the possibility of enforcing more stringent measures in their own territories and that specific national and regional characteristics are taken into account, such as climate differences and the available best agricultural practices. We must, moreover, address the issue of setting levels, which should be based not on helping business or on complying with WTO rules but on consumer health. It is, therefore, vital that imported products are subject to the same rules.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The aim of the proposal for a regulation is to harmonise all maximum residue levels (MRLs) at Community level, which will ensure a high level of health protection for consumers and will reduce commercial problems.

The purpose of the proposal is to simplify existing legislation and to define the roles of the various parties involved, in particular that of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and that of the Commission, in setting MRLs. The EFSA will take responsibility for risk assessment, based on its network of experts and institutions in the Member States, and will issue an expert opinion on the safety of each MRL. The Commission will be responsible for risk management, and for setting MRLs based on the expert opinions of the EFSA.

The authorities of the Member States will provide the EFSA with details of national food systems and of the products and practices permitted in those countries.

MRLs of existing or new substances that have yet to be harmonised, previously set at national level, will be compiled by the EFSA. If those are proved to be safe, based on available information, they will be set as temporary MRLs.

In light of the need to guarantee a high level of food safety and given that I endorse the move to define roles and responsibilities more clearly, I voted in favour.

 
  
  

- Report: Mombaur (A5-0213/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I welcome the Council’s adoption of the ‘general orientation’ proposed by Parliament at first reading, taking on board the objections raised at that time, in particular concerning respect for the principle of subsidiarity.

The ‘common orientation’ is thus entirely consistent with the basic idea that security of natural gas supply should be guaranteed in the first place by the companies involved, whereas Member States and, finally, the Commission should intervene only at the second and third stages.

Of course, I welcome the fact that a ‘Gas Coordination Group’, consisting of representatives of the Member States and interest groups, is to be set up along the lines of the body that already deals with oil. This is precisely the measure to provide the much-needed ‘sharing of best practice’, to implement the best solution and to ensure that subsidiarity is respected.

Lastly, the choice of Article 95 TEC, as the legal basis for the original proposal for a directive was justified by the fact that the Commission had proposed a range of measures for harmonisation. It is precisely these measures, however, that Parliament and then the Council removed from the initial proposal, because they considered them to be fundamentally unsuitable. In line with the terms agreed by the Council and the European Parliament and because I agree with changing the legal basis to Article 100 TEC, I voted in favour.

 
  
  

- Report: Seppänen (A5-0254/2004)

 
  
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  Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The reaction of the large private monopolies or of the large countries when their interests are put at risk, in this case in the vitally important energy sector, is most revealing.

As the rapporteur says, ‘a market can be 100% open, as in Germany, but still be virtually impenetrable to foreign companies, because domestic companies in effect have a monopoly over the infrastructure’ … ‘There was also unwillingness in France for legal unbundling of both electricity and gas markets.’

The aim of the major powers and their large corporations is to liberalise the energy market, provided that they retain control in their countries and gain control of the market in other countries. This is the case in France, where the market will only be liberalised when conditions are met for French big business to be in control.

Parliament, accordingly, seeks to enforce ‘equal’ rules for all, when what is actually required is to remove the strategic control of a country’s energy supply from big business – with its mindset of profit and domination – and to promote a sector and a public policy that ensures fair and universal access and a country’s sustained and balanced development.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The gas and electricity markets have, to a large extent, been liberalised but remain essentially national markets. A consensus must be found, at European level, on developing technical rules relevant to the completion of the internal gas market. This matter was considered by the bi-annual Madrid European Gas Regulatory Forum, which brings together representatives of the Commission, national regulatory authorities, Member States, network operators and users, as well as gas consumers. As was concluded at that meeting, we must ensure the openness and transparency of national markets, a gradual reduction of gas prices (an area in which there are still enormous disparities between Member States), improve interconnection capacities and the problems ensuing from low capacities and remedy the lack of proper rules on charging for cross-border trade in energy.

That Forum – to which the proposed regulation gives a formal consultative role in preparing and debating the guidelines – strove to achieve a consensus on the technical rules for completing the internal market in gas at the Forum’s seventh meeting in Madrid, in September 2003, which looked at the issue of the principles underlying compliance with the set of guidelines under review. This consensus provided the basis for the proposal, which once again ...

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

 
  
  

- Report: Thors (A5-0171/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this proposal for a directive because I believe that the ecological design of energy-using products should be encouraged and I therefore believe that Parliament must support the Commission in its Integrated Product Policy (IPP).

The environmental impact of a product must not be measured only according to its use or consumption but also by considering the fact that, within its life-cycle, design could have a major impact on the effects a product has. Like the rapporteur, I believe that eco-design could thus incorporate environmental considerations at the stage when the technical possibilities for so doing are at a maximum.

I also think that there are significant advantages to be gained by manufacturers (and consumers) from this proposal’s adoption, such as knowing and optimising the flow of raw materials and energy, anticipating and complying with environmental legislation and meeting the expectations of customers and users.

 
  
  

- Report: de Roo (A5-0154/2004)

 
  
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  Alyssandrakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The ΕU has been undermining the Kyoto protocol since the moment it signed it. Instead of taking substantial measures to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases responsible for the greenhouse effect and the climate changes which it causes, it is trying to take advantage of the 'flexible' mechanisms so that not only are industry's interests not touched, but so that there are benefits too. This is happening at a time when it is certain that the ΕU will not achieve its objective of reducing emissions by 8% by 2010.

Thus, within the framework of the principle that everything can be bought and sold, a market with the right to pollute has been established. Now, the directive is being supplemented in order to include 'joint implementation' and 'clean development mechanisms', both of which concern industries which invest in cleaner technologies in non-EU countries. The reduction in emissions achieved is reported under the assets of the industries, which acquire the right to pollute elsewhere (inside the ΕU). It is obvious that this is yet another scheme which involves complicated procedures with uncertain results in order to circumvent the material provisions of the Kyoto protocol and benefit businesses, in that the cost of applying the protocol will fall by 20%.

The report does not put forward the tiniest objection to the above measures, which is why we MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece voted against it.

 
  
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  Bordes and Laguiller (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) Production focused solely on profit, with no concern for the environment, has consequences that are so threatening to the very survival of the human race that international institutions are beginning to take an interest in it in certain areas and to lay down regulations setting, in particular, allowances limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

Allowances intended to reduce pollution, however, become in turn commodities that can be bought and sold and turn into de facto rights to pollute that the richest countries can buy from the poorest.

These allowances-cum-commodities are, to judge by the report, a real headache for Parliament when it comes to determining their ‘market value’. The more extraordinary aspects of this debate illustrate the extent to which we are living in an economic system that does not allow society to control its own economic activity. A self-aware human race with control over its means of production would attempt to satisfy everyone’s needs in the short and long term, while respecting nature. It would have no difficulty in establishing, at a global level, ceilings that must not be exceeded for production that may damage the environment. It is the economic system itself, though, which is blind and stupid, and, Kyoto agreement or not, it constitutes a threat to the future of humanity.

 
  
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  Fitzsimons (UEN), in writing: I voted for the report by Mr de Roo today for several important reasons.

The Irish presidency has intensified the level of discussions on securing broader international support for the implementation of the Kyoto Accord. We have serious political obligations with regard to complying with the Kyoto provisions. If we are to offset the effects of global warming and the resulting damage to the global economy, we must reduce the level of greenhouse gases. This has been my view for some time. The European Union must be to the forefront in persuading our international partners to agree to all aspects of Kyoto.

I welcome the Irish Government’s talks this week with the new head of the American Environmental Protection Agency. I hope these can help move the process forward and that this lobbying will encourage the US to review its isolationist position on Kyoto. I also hope we can move away from the adversarial approach on environmental issues between environmental groups and key business communities.

Enlargement on 1 May 2004 will strengthen our voice and position on the international stage in favour of Kyoto. We know what our obligations are. We must ensure they are met.

 
  
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  Goebbels (PSE), in writing. (FR) I voted against the de Roo report. I am, of course, in favour of a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading, in order to make it easier for our economies to adapt to the constraints imposed by the objectives set out in the Kyoto protocol. I feel, however, that Parliament wants to introduce an overly bureaucratic system and pointless obstacles. This is all the more regrettable because the Kyoto protocol has not yet entered into force and, as a result of this, the United States, Russia and China will gain a competitive advantage over their European competitors.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) At the end of each legislative period, rapporteurs try to bring the negotiations with the Council to an end promptly, so that, following the elections, there is no need for another discussion with uncertain outcome. Before a public debate becomes possible, serious differences of opinion have already been cleared out of the way. In this case, industry is pleased that, thanks to the energy displayed by the Green rapporteur, CO2 emission allowance trading can start as early as 2005 instead of 2008. That is in keeping with the Liberal view that a reduction in emission is too expensive at home and it is therefore preferable for this to be done in countries where this is more cost-effective. The expected advantages are that at world level, results are achieved more quickly and that in their industrialisation processes, developing countries are encouraged to make use of environmental technology developed in Europe straight away. This is traded off against the fact that no measures are taken at home, countries in eastern Europe sell their rights in order to reconstruct their industries and countries in the developing world may not be able to start the industrialisation process for a long while yet. However, on a positive note, at least 50% of reduction must be achieved within the EU. The advantage of this proposal is that production forests, which are intended to be felled or which can burn down, can no longer be fraudulently entered in accounts as carbon pits for taking carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into oxygen.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) ‘Joint Implementation’ (JI) and the ‘Clean Development Mechanism’ (CDM), together with international emissions trading, are innovative instruments provided for under the Kyoto Protocol. The ‘flexible mechanisms provided for under the Kyoto Protocol’ allow the Parties partially to meet their Kyoto objectives, whilst taking advantage of the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in other countries at a lower cost than in their own territories.

These projects must provide real, measurable and long-term benefits related to the mitigation of climate change, whilst at the same time contributing to the sustainable development objectives of the host countries, in particular by transferring environmentally safe and sound technologies.

On 18 March 2003, the Council adopted a common position on a Directive establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading. By stimulating demand for CDM credits, this proposal will enable us also to assist developing countries implementing CDM projects in meeting their objectives for sustainable development. This would also help to combat climate change through the effective implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
  

- Report: Blokland (A5-0265/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) The main problem posed by batteries and accumulators is the fact that they contain heavy metals, such as mercury, lead and cadmium. In practice, the collection of batteries that contain these metals did not work, largely because, as the Commission has said, consumers did not sort goods properly. This is one of the reasons why the Commission decided to opt for the collection of all batteries, so as to ensure that the valuable material contained in all batteries could be recycled.

It is crucial, as I have said on other occasions, to explore all forms of waste treatment with a view to reusing and/or recovering products. It is essential, however, that we also heed the warning from industry professionals to the effect that it will take five years for the recycling market to come of age. Furthermore, the proposed collection rates are too high, particularly in comparison with the best per inhabitant per year rates in some European countries.

Lastly, I believe that we must invest, in particular, in alternative technological solutions, which are safer and less onerous. This is an area that I would like to see developed further in the near future.

I thus abstained from the final overall vote, because I believe that the outcome of the various votes will not ensure the required balance.

 
  
  

- Report: Cocilovo (A5-0220/2004)

 
  
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  Ebner (PPE-DE). (DE) Mr President, allow me to explain my abstention on the Cocilovo report. The rapporteur took great pains to support a new approach and to pursue it boldly. I should have welcomed an even bolder line and particularly a more receptive attitude to the amendments tabled in committee and here in plenary by the various political groupings – I myself was among those who tabled them – with a view to taking more account of the needs of people in sensitive areas. This boldness was lacking at the first reading. I hope this will have been rectified by the time we next deal with the proposal. I am confident that this is the right approach, but it must be pursued more consistently and more boldly.

 
  
  

- Report: Markov (A5-0216/2004)

 
  
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  Krivine (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) Nobody now denies that road transport has fallen into the brutal clutches of free trade, to the detriment of employees’ working conditions, road safety and the environment. In this context, I have supported all the amendments that aim to make social and fiscal dumping illegal. For example, I voted in favour of measures strengthening monitoring accompanied by sanctions, whether on the road or on company premises, and in favour of all improvements to drivers’ working conditions. In this field, as in others, I am in favour of striving for social and environmental excellence.

That said, I am still sceptical as to whether the European Union truly wants to legislate in this fundamentally important field for the capitalist economy and, above all, to impose proper checks and sanctions on all offenders. Without real involvement from the Member States, and without additional human and material resources, which includes enlarging the labour inspectorate, I fear that these provisions will once again go unheeded. I have nevertheless voted in favour of this report, but I am counting particularly on the Europe-wide mobilisation of employees and of their unions to really shift the balance of power.

 
  
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  Ribeiro (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The establishment of the single market and the consequent liberalisation of the road transport sector and of short-sea shipping in the Union have led to stiffer competition and to a substantial increase in the number of cases in which companies attempt to gain a competitive advantage by failing to comply with Community legislation on driving and rest periods, as can be deduced from the significant increase in infringements recorded.

Imposing rules for monitoring the correct implementation of provisions on working time should be seen, therefore, against the backdrop not only of protecting drivers’ rights, but also of competition and road safety.

We therefore rejected the amendments seeking to remove from the scope of this directive control over the maximum weekly working time, night working hours, weekly rest periods and driving times between these rest periods and a two-weekly limitation of driving hours as proposed by the Commission in Annex 1.

I must state my unhappiness at the Council’s ongoing failure to present its common position on adopting a regulation on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport, a matter on which the EP delivered an opinion in January 2003. I also wish to congratulate the rapporteur on his work.

 
  
  

- Report: Deprez (A5-0267/2004)

 
  
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  Lund and Thorning-Schmidt (PSE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament have today voted in favour of Mr Deprez’ report (A5-0267/2004). We think it important further to develop the Refugee Fund and to coordinate efforts at EU level, as well as to lay down sensible procedures and such like.

We are nonetheless aware of the fact that the Council decision is covered by Title IV of the Treaty establishing the EU and does not apply to Denmark, cf. the Protocol on Denmark’s Position.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) We are now looking at developing the first phase of the European Refugee Fund (ERF I), which started on 1 January 2000 and will expire on 31 December 2004.

ERF II will attempt to improve assistance to Member States for receiving asylum seekers, for integrating into the EU persons requiring international protection and also for actions to promote the voluntary return of persons without protection or asylum seekers whose requests for asylum have been rejected.

Its programme will be divided into two periods (from 2005 to 2007 and from 2008 to 2010) and its total cost will be EUR 687.48 million.

It will apply to all Member States, except to Denmark, and also to all applicant countries.

ERF II complies with the relevant provisions of the Treaty.

Consequently and also given that there is broad consensus on this subject and that ERF 1 has produced good results, I voted in favour of the Deprez report.

 
  
  

- Report: Florenz (A5-0176/2004)

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) This communication is the outcome of a consultation process involving various special interest groups, which will furthermore take account of studies currently underway. The communication will also formalise a thematic strategy on the prevention and recycling of waste to be adopted by the Commission, as announced, in September 2004.

The strategy to which I refer, which follows on from the Community waste management strategies of 1989 and 1996 – is intended to promote a more sustainable form of waste management, which covers environmental, economic and social aspects and introduces new concepts and both qualitative and quantitative approaches, which will certainly help us to find better solutions.

I agree with the emphasis the rapporteur places on the importance of more ambitious actions for raising environmental awareness among the public, businesses, economic stakeholders, etc and I agree that one of the essential aspects of the desired strategy must reside, precisely in this point, paying particular attention to information and training campaigns and projects in schools.

 
  
  

- Report: Voggenhuber (A5-0227/2004)

 
  
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  Mayol i Raynal (Verts/ALE). (FR) Mr President, I would like to make some comments on Mr Voggenhuber’s report. I note that some fundamental rights are not included in the draft constitution. Mr Voggenhuber, who is a member of my own political group, was a member of the Convention. I am talking about the principle of legal equality of languages. I am talking about the right to self-determination.

Finally, a flagrant violation of fundamental rights has occurred in Spain with the closure of the Basque newspaper Egunkaria. The text also fails to address this issue. I am extremely unhappy about this and, because the chairman of my group called me an idiot for signing the draft motion of censure, I have taken the liberty of not voting the way my group directed on this matter and have abstained.

 
  
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  Alyssandrakis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) The ΕU never misses an opportunity to brag about its principles and values and to give everyone else lessons in good manners. Just how hypocritical this is can be seen from the fact that it considers the prosecutions and bans against communists in numerous candidate countries and the Annan plan for Cyprus to be compatible with its principles. In political practice, its principles are so broad as to allow room for everything which is in the interests of monopolies and so narrow as to exclude the fundamental rights of the workers.

The Commission communication and the report by the Committee on Constitutional Affairs address the matter as a legal matter and focus on the procedure for applying Article 7 of the Treaty, which makes provision for measures to be taken against Member States which violate the principles of the ΕU. This is not just a legal issue, it is a deeply political issue. In addition, the report does not for a moment doubt the 'good intentions' of the ΕU. Nonetheless, it does contain some positive points, such as those which refer to the need for a higher standard of protection of fundamental rights, tolerance, the promotion of a political climate in which people feel threatened and so on.

That is why we MEPs of the Communist Party of Greece did not vote against the report but abstained from the vote.

 
  
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  Berthu (NI), in writing. (FR) I voted against the Voggenhuber report, which attempts to exploit Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union to implement, in the area of general policy and citizens’ rights, a new form of ‘multilateral monitoring’, added to the one arising from the Maastricht Treaty for economic policy and the one that the socialists would like to strengthen in the social field.

This multilateral monitoring, the growth and increasing strictness of which is becoming a characteristic of the current European Union, poses two problems.

First of all, there is the problem of its legitimacy, since it uses the basis of a largely artificial European democracy to suppress national democracies, even though they are more effective and closer to the people.

Then there is the problem of its effectiveness, since to date, as we know, its main achievement has been to paralyse the Member States and to cause stagnation throughout the European system, which is becoming, in all areas, more and more cumbersome, more and more rigid, and more and more difficult to get moving.

Finally, the desire to unify and move beyond the nation States on which this monitoring is founded causes many more problems than it solves, because it subverts democracy and destroys both the pluralism and the dynamism of Europe.

 
  
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  Caudron (GUE/NGL), in writing. – (FR) In 1992, when our Community declared it was moving beyond the economic dimension to become a Union, its treaty stated that ‘the Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States’.

Article 7 provides safeguard mechanisms. The sad Austrian episode in 1999 caused us to think again about the effectiveness of those instruments. Amendments were subsequently adopted, but they did not go far enough. We can therefore be pleased at the Commission’s initiative.

Like the rapporteur, however, I think the Commission is on the wrong track in basing its strategy only on prevention. Prevention must be combined with penalties. A risk of breach of fundamental rights is very difficult to define. I advocate a broad definition, to include, for example, a Member State’s failure to deal with human rights violations (racism, anti-Semitism), the discriminatory impoverishment of population groups, serious restrictions on the freedom of the press.

 
  
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  Lund and Thorning-Schmidt (PSE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Social Democrats in the European Parliament have today voted in favour of Mr Voggenhuber’s report (A5-227/2004) on fundamental rights in the EU.

We support the basic idea behind this report, but reject, however, the wording of paragraph 11(a), stating that ‘Union intervention pursuant to Article 7 of the EU Treaty must therefore be confined to instances of clear risks and persistent breaches and may not be invoked in support of any right to, or policy of, permanent monitoring of the Member States by the Union’.

We believe that the EU must be able to monitor a Member State for a period in the event of fundamental rights in the EU being violated. If, for example, a country grossly violates human rights, it is necessary to be able to monitor that it is remedying the situation in question.

 
  
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  Meijer (GUE/NGL), in writing. (NL) Mr Voggenhuber has been arguing on behalf of the Group of the Greens for an EU Constitution for years. Meanwhile, such a constitution is in preparation, in which free competition pure and simple, more and more arms and the undemocratic authority of the Council are permanently established. This constitution, and also Article 7 of the present Treaty on European Union, allow measures against Member States that cease to be democracies and seriously and persistently breach the rule of law of the constitutional state. That is important for the undemocratic Spain under the recently defeated Aznar Government and the potential future Member States of Romania and Turkey. Neither these provisions nor the Commission’s communication on them make clear whether they also cover a serious failure to act against violations of human rights. I appreciate the fact that, in his resolution, Mr Voggenhuber wishes to give it an interpretation based on openness, equality, plurality of opinions and confidence that the Union is not going to engage in permanent monitoring of the Member States. I also agree with him that Parliament must play an important role in the event of suspensions and this must not be left to the power politics of the Council. What disturbs me, however, is the idealistic sauce being poured over his resolution. The real values of the EU, alas, are the market, currency, free competition and armaments, rather than democracy, human rights, the environment, peace and solidarity.

 
  
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  Ribeiro e Castro (UEN), in writing. (PT) I voted against this report because it takes a maximalist and centralist, almost persecutory approach towards respect for and promotion of the values on which the Union is based and – neglecting its role, which is to complement the States which it comprises – it has opted to ignore the nature and reality of national democracies, casting an unfortunate pall of suspicion over them.

At a time when the European Union is preparing for the largest wave of enlargement in its history and particularly in light of the degrading spectacle that the annual debate on the report on human rights in the EU has become, it would be worrying, to say the least, if the European Parliament were to grant itself the task of ‘policing’ Member States’ adherence to democracy and values, whilst ignoring the role of States and Nations in a multifaceted definition of what it is to ‘be Europe’ and putting forward a disciplinarian and perverse vision of this reality.

I agree with the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market when it recommends that the potential Interinstitutional Agreement on Article 7 of the EU Treaty should only be addressed, if at all, after the accession of the new Member States.

The proposal to extend the ‘values’ on which the Union is based, incorporating the Charter of Fundamental Rights into this field, and ambiguously and disproportionately to extend the list of phenomena to be considered serious risks are, in my view, both mistaken.

 
  
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  President. That concludes the explanations of vote.

(The sitting was suspended at 2.15 p.m. and resumed at 3.05 p.m.)

 
  
  

IN THE CHAIR: MR COX
President

President. – Before turning to this afternoon’s work, I owe you a brief explanation for being late. As you know, voting took more than two hours this morning: real political efficiency is required at the end of a legislative period to conclude the work of Parliament’s committees.
There is something else, however: I was involved in a very important ceremony outside our Parliament early this afternoon to mark the deaths in Rwanda ten years ago, with the speaker of the Rwandan parliament and a delegation of parliamentarians who had come from Rwanda to be with us here in Strasbourg today. I therefore apologise for being late. It was, however, a shocking fact that must be acknowledged and even commemorated, as we did today, since, in addition to our other responsibilities, we for our part have at least a duty to remember.

 
Last updated: 10 August 2004Legal notice