Index 
Texts adopted
Thursday, 23 March 2006 - BrusselsFinal edition
Wheels for passenger cars and their trailers ***
 Approval of adaptive front-lighting systems for motor vehicles ***
 Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement with Israel, following enlargement ***
 EC-Denmark Agreement on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters *
 EC-Denmark Agreement on the service in Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters *
 Community action programme in the field of consumer protection (2007-2013) ***I
  Resolution
  Consolidated text
 Legal professions
 European contract law and revision of the acquis
 Security of energy supply in the European Union
 Criteria for EU peace enforcement operations, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo
 Revision of the Cotonou Agreement and setting of the amount for the 10th EDF
 The development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements
 European politicial parties
 Demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations
 Promotion of crops for non-food purposes

Wheels for passenger cars and their trailers ***
PDF 65k   DOC 37k
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council decision on the position of the European Community in relation to the draft Regulation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe on wheels for passenger cars and their trailers (COM(2005)0453 – 14451/2005 – C6-0444/2005 -2005/0181(AVC) )
P6_TA(2006)0102 A6-0046/2006

(Assent procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2005)0453 – 14451/2005)(1) ,

–   having regard to the request for assent submitted by the Council pursuant to Article 4(2), second indent, of Council Decision 97/836/EC (2) (C6-0444/2005 ),

–   having regard to Rules 75(1) and 43(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A6-0046/2006 ),

1.   Gives its assent to the proposal for a Council decision;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.
(2) Council Decision of 27 November 1997 with a view to accession by the European Community to the Agreement of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted to and/or be used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions ('Revised 1958 Agreement') (OJ L 346, 17.12.1997, p. 78).


Approval of adaptive front-lighting systems for motor vehicles ***
PDF 65k   DOC 36k
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council decision on the position of the European Community in relation to the draft Regulation of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning the approval of adaptive front-lighting systems (AFS) for motor vehicles (COM(2005)0454 – 14454/2005 – C6-0445/2005 – 2005/0180(AVC) )
P6_TA(2006)0103 A6-0045/2006

(Assent procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2005)0454 – 14454/2005)(1) ,

–   having regard to the request for assent submitted by the Council pursuant to Article 4(2), second indent, of Council Decision 97/836/EC (2) (C6-0445/2005 ),

–   having regard to Rules 75(1) and 43(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on International Trade (A6-0045/2006 ),

1.   Gives its assent to the proposal for a Council decision;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and the Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.
(2) Council Decision of 27 November 1997 with a view to accession by the European Community to the Agreement of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe concerning the adoption of uniform technical prescriptions for wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be fitted to and/or be used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals granted on the basis of these prescriptions ('Revised 1958 Agreement') (OJ L 346, 17.12.1997, p. 78).


Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement with Israel, following enlargement ***
PDF 67k   DOC 34k
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the conclusion of a Protocol to the Euro-Mediterranean Agreement between the European Communities and their Member States, of the one part, and the State of Israel, of the other part, to take account of the accession of the Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Cyprus, the Republic of Latvia, the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Hungary, the Republic of Malta, the Republic of Poland, the Republic of Slovenia and the Slovak Republic to the European Union (6060/2006 – COM(2004)0754 – C6-0077/2006 – 2004/0266(AVC) )
P6_TA(2006)0104 A6-0059/2006

(Assent procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2004)0754 )(1) ,

–   having regard to the text of the Council (6060/2006),

–   having regard to the request for assent submitted by the Council pursuant to Article 300(3), second subparagraph, in conjunction with Article 310 and Article 300(2), first subparagraph, second sentence of the EC Treaty (C6-0077/2006 ),

–   having regard to Rules 75(1), 83(7) and 43(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the recommendation of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on International Trade (A6-0059/2006 ),

1.   Gives its assent to conclusion of the Protocol;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the State of Israel.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.


EC-Denmark Agreement on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters *
PDF 66k   DOC 31k
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark extending to Denmark the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters (COM(2005)0145 – C6-0305/2005 – 2005/0055(CNS) )
P6_TA(2006)0105 A6-0038/2006

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2005)0145 )(1) ,

–   having regard to Article 61(c) and Article 300(2), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0305/2005 ),

–   having regard to Rules 51 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs(A6-0038/2006 ),

1.   Approves conclusion of the agreement;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Kingdom of Denmark and the other Member States.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.


EC-Denmark Agreement on the service in Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters *
PDF 66k   DOC 31k
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the conclusion of the Agreement between the European Community and the Kingdom of Denmark extending to Denmark the provisions of Council Regulation (EC) No 1348/2000 on the service in the Member States of judicial and extrajudicial documents in civil or commercial matters (COM(2005)0146 – C6-0306/2005 – 2005/0056(CNS) )
P6_TA(2006)0106 A6-0039/2006

(Consultation procedure)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the proposal for a Council decision (COM(2005)0146 )(1) ,

–   having regard to Article 61(c) and Article 300(2), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty,

–   having regard to Article 300(3), first subparagraph, of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C6-0306/2005 ),

–   having regard to Rules 51 and 83(7) of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0039/2006 ),

1.   Approves conclusion of the agreement;

2.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the governments and parliaments of the Kingdom of Denmark and the other Member States.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.


Community action programme in the field of consumer protection (2007-2013) ***I
PDF 166k   DOC 96k
Resolution
Consolidated text
European Parliament legislative resolution on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a Programme of Community action in the field of Health and Consumer protection (2007-2013) - Consumer aspects (COM(2005)0115 – C6-0225/2005 – 2005/0042B(COD) )
P6_TA(2006)0107 A6-0032/2006

(Codecision procedure: first reading)

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Commission proposal to the European Parliament and the Council (COM(2005)0115 )(1) ,

–   having regard to the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 30 June 2005 to split the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme of Community action in the field of health and consumer protection (2007-2013) in order to assign it to both the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection for the drawing up of two separate reports,

–   having regard to Articles 251(2) and 153 of the EC Treaty, pursuant to which the Commission submitted the proposal to Parliament (C6-0225/2005 ),

–   having regard to Rule 51 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection and the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0032/2006 ),

1.   Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2.   Points out that the appropriations indicated in the legislative proposal beyond 2006 are subject to the decision on the next multiannual financial framework;

3.   Calls on the Commission, once the next multiannual financial framework is adopted, to present, if appropriate, a proposal to adjust the financial reference amount of the programme;

4.   Calls on the Commission to refer the matter to Parliament again if it intends to amend the proposal substantially or replace it with another text;

5.   Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council and Commission.

Position of the European Parliament adopted at first reading on 23 March 2006 with a view to the adoption of Decision No .../2006/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection (2007-2013)

P6_TC1-COD(2005)0042B


(Text with EEA relevance)

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 153 thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission ,

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(2) ,

Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions(3) ,

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(4) ,

Whereas:

(1)    The Community can contribute to protecting the safety and economic interests of citizens through actions in the field of consumer protection.

(2)   It is therefore appropriate to establish a programme of Community action on consumer protection, replacing Decision No 20/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 December 2003 establishing a general framework for financing Community actions in support of consumer policy for the years 2004 to 2007(5) . That Decision should therefore be repealed.

(3)    Integrating consumer interests in all Community policies, in accordance with Article 153 of the Treaty, should be given high priority, together with the consumer policy objectives set out in this programme. Coordination with other Community policies and programmes is a key part of mainstreaming consumer protection in other policies. In order to promote synergies and avoid duplication, other Community funds and programmes should provide for financial support for the integration of consumer interests in their respective fields.

(4)    It is of general European interest that the safety of services and non-food products and the economic interests of citizens, as well as consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services, be represented at Community level. Key objectives of the programme may also depend on the existence of specialised networks that also require Community contributions to enable them to develop and function. Given the particular nature of the organisations concerned and in cases of exceptional utility, the renewal of Community support to the functioning of such organisations should not be subject to the principle of gradual decrease of the extent of Community support.

(5)    Implementation of the programme should build upon and extend existing actions and structural arrangements in the field of consumer protection. Implementation should be carried out in close cooperation with relevant organisations and agencies .

(6)    The measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision should be adopted in accordance with Council Decision 1999/468/EC of 28 June 1999 laying down the procedures for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission(6) , respecting the need for transparency as well as a reasonable balance between the different objectives of the programme.

(7)    Implementation of the programme should take into account that the internal market will not function properly if consumers are less well protected in some Member States than in others. The programme should therefore put a special focus on strengthening consumer protection and consumer awareness in the new Member States in line with the European Parliament's resolution of 15 December 2005 on the promotion and protection of consumers' interests in the new Member States (7) .

(8)    The Agreement on the European Economic Area (hereinafter referred to as the EEA Agreement) provides for cooperation in the field of consumer protection between the European Community and its Member States, on the one hand, and the countries of the European Free Trade Association participating in the European Economic Area (hereinafter referred to as the EFTA/EEA countries), on the other. Provision should also be made to open the programme to participation by other countries, in particular the neighbouring countries of the Community, countries that are applying for, candidates for or acceding to membership of the Community .

(9)    Appropriate relations with third countries not participating in the programme should be facilitated in order to help achieve the objectives of the programme, taking account of any relevant agreements between those countries and the Community. This may involve third countries taking forward complementary activities to those financed through this programme on areas of mutual interest, but will not involve a financial contribution under this programme.

(10)    It is appropriate to develop cooperation with relevant international organisations with a view to implementing the programme through maximising the effectiveness and efficiency of actions relating to consumer protection at Community and international level, taking account of the particular capacities and roles of the different organisations.

(11)    In order to increase the value and impact of the programme there should be regular monitoring and evaluation, including independent external evaluations, of the measures taken. For purposes of evaluating consumer policy, measurable objectives should, as far as possible, be formulated and valid indicators developed.

(12)    In view of the everyday role played by small businesses and craft industries in informing and advising consumers about products and services and health emergencies or risks inherent in the use of certain materials, the work done by such businesses and industries and their organisations for the benefit of consumers at all levels should be supported, and it should be ensured that Community legislation can be complied with by them.

(13)   Since the objectives of the action to be taken on consumer protection cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States due to the trans-national nature of the issues involved, and can therefore by reason of the potential for Community action to be more efficient and effective than national action alone in protecting the safety and economic interests of citizens, be better achieved at Community level, the Community may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity set out in Article 5 of the Treaty. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this decision does not go beyond what is necessary in order to achieve those objectives.

(14)   The Commission should ensure an appropriate transition between this programme and the programme it replaces, in particular regarding the continuation of multi-annual measures as well as evaluation of the successes of the previous programme and of areas that need more attention .

(15)    If the Commission takes a decision to delegate powers in respect of the logistical and administrative aspects of the implementation of this programme, it should do so after a cost-benefit analysis which produces positive results and it should investigate whether it is not preferable to extend the powers of the 'Executive Agency for the Public Health Programme' rather than set up an additional executive agency,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS DECISION:

Article 1

Establishment of the programme

A programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection covering the period from 1 January 2007 to 31 December 2013, hereinafter referred to as "the programme", is hereby established.

Article 2

Aim and objectives

1.   The programme shall complement and support the policies of the Member States and shall contribute to protecting the safety and economic interests of citizens by means of added value actions .

2.  The aim referred to in paragraph 1 shall be pursued through the following objectives to be achieved through the actions and instruments set out in Annex I:

   a) a better understanding of consumers and markets, with special attention being paid to the different needs of various age groups;
   b) better consumer protection regulation, including greater participation of consumer representatives, other civil society stakeholders and research bodies, that can be complied with by small businesses and craft industries;
   c) better enforcement, monitoring and judical and extra-judical individual and collective means of redress; and
   d) better informed, educated and responsible consumers.

Article 3

Methods of implementation

1.  Actions in pursuit of the aim and objectives set out in Article 2 shall make full use of appropriate available methods of implementation, including in particular:

   a) direct or indirect implementation by the Commission on a centralised basis; and
   b) joint management with international organisations.

2.  For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), financial contributions by the Community shall not exceed the following levels:

   a) 50% for an action intended to help achieve an objective forming part of a Community policy within the field of consumer protection, except in cases of exceptional utility where the Community contribution shall not exceed 80% under the conditions set out in Annex II ;
   b) 50% of expenditure for the functioning of a body pursuing an aim of general European interest where such support is necessary to ensure representation of consumer interests at Community level or to implement key objectives of the programme under the conditions set out in Annex II; and
   c) 95% of expenditure for the functioning of Community consumer organisations representing consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services at Community level under the conditions set out in Annex II.

3.    The renewal of financial contributions for actions set out in paragraph 2(b) and (c) may be exempted from the principle of gradual decrease.

4 .   For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), financial contributions by the Community may, where appropriate given the nature of the objective to be achieved, include joint financing by the Community and one or more Member States or by the Community and the competent authorities of other participating countries. In this case, the Community contribution shall not exceed 50%, except in cases of exceptional utility, where the Community contribution shall not exceed 70%.

5 .   For the purposes of paragraph 1(a), financial contributions by the Community may also be given in the form of flat-rate financing where this is suited to the nature of the actions concerned. For such financial contributions the percentage limits stipulated in paragraphs 2 and 4 shall not apply. The criteria for selecting, monitoring and evaluating such actions shall be adapted as necessary.

6.    The criteria for assessing whether or not exceptional utility as referred to in paragraphs 2(a) and 4 applies shall be established in advance in the annual plan of work referred to in Article 7(1)(a).

Article 4

Implementation of the programme

The Commission shall ensure the implementation of the programme in accordance with the provisions of Article 7.

Article 5

Funding

1.   The indicative financial framework for the implementation of the present programme for the seven- year period beginning on 1 January 2007 specified in Article 1 is EUR 233 460 000 .

2.   Annual appropriations shall be authorised by the budgetary authority within the limits of the financial perspective.

3.    The overall administrative expenditure of the programme, including internal and management expenditure for any Executive Agency created or extended to administer this programme, should be proportionate to the tasks provided for under the programme and is subject to decision of the budgetary and legislative authorities.

Article 6

Committee

1.   The Commission shall be assisted by a Committee ("the Committee").

2.   Where reference is made to this paragraph, Articles 4 and 7 of Decision 1999/468/EC shall apply, having regard to the provisions of Article 8 thereof.

The period laid down in Article 4(3) of Decision 1999/468/EC shall be set at two months .

3 .   The Committee shall adopt its rules of procedure.

Article 7

Implementation measures

1.  The measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision relating to the following shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 6(2):

   a) the annual plan of work for the implementation of the programme, setting out priorities and actions to be undertaken, including the allocation of resources and relevant criteria, inter alia selection and award criteria and criteria for the percentage of the financial contribution by the Community to be applied ;
   b) the arrangements for evaluating the programme referred to in Article 10.

2.   The Commission shall adopt any other measures necessary for the implementation of this Decision. The Committee shall be informed of them.

Article 8

Participation of third countries

The programme shall be open to the participation of:

   a) the EFTA/EEA countries in accordance with the conditions established in the EEA Agreement; and
   b) third countries, in particular countries in the European neighbourhood, countries that are applying for, candidates for or acceding to membership of the Union, and the western Balkan countries included in the stabilisation and association process, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the respective bilateral or multilateral agreements establishing the general principles for their participation in Community programmes.

Article 9

International cooperation

In the course of implementing the programme, relations with third countries that are not participating in the programme and relevant international organisations shall be encouraged.

Article 10

Monitoring, evaluation and dissemination of results

1.   The Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States, shall monitor the implementation of the actions of the programme in the light of its objectives. It shall report to the Committee, and shall keep the European Parliament and the Council informed .

2.   At the request of the Commission, Member States shall submit information on the implementation and impact of this programme.

3.   The Commission shall ensure that the programme is evaluated three years after its start and following the end of the programme. The Commission shall communicate the conclusions thereof, accompanied by its comments, to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions.

4.   The Commission shall make the results of actions undertaken in accordance with this Decision publicly available and shall ensure their dissemination.

Article 11

Repeal

Decision No 20/2004/EC is repealed.

Article 12

Transitional measures

The Commission shall adopt any measures necessary to ensure the transition between the measures adopted under Decision No 20/2004/EC and those to be implemented under this programme.

Article 13

Final provision

This Decision shall enter into force on the day following that of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.

Done at,

For the European Parliament For the Council

The President The President

ANNEX I

Actions and Instruments referred to in Article 2

Objective I - A better understanding of consumers and markets

Action 1: Monitoring and assessment of market developments with an impact on the economic and other interests of consumers, including price surveys, inventory and analysis of consumer complaints, analysis of cross-border marketing and business-to-consumer purchases, and surveys of changes in the structure of markets.

Action 2: The collection and exchange of data and information that provide an evidence base for the development of consumer policy and for the integration of consumer interests in other Community policies, including, surveys of consumer and business attitudes, consumer-related and other market research in the financial services area, collection and analysis of statistical and other relevant data, the statistical element of which will be developed using as necessary the Community Statistical Programme.

Action 3: The collection, exchange, analysis of data and development of assessment tools that provide a scientific evidence base on the safety of consumer goods and services, including consumer exposure to chemicals released from products.

Action 4: Setting up of a mechanism for reporting regularly on consumption and consumer protection on the European market, based on the establishment of a permanent consumer information and observation system at European level to gather, process and analyse data that can be used to provide objective, reliable and comparable information to enable the Community and the Member States to take measures to protect consumers, to evaluate the results of these measures, encourage the exchange of information on best practice and ensure that the general public is properly informed about consumer issues in the internal market .

Action 5: An inventory of existing legislation, regulations and practices in the Member States and evaluation of the extent of implementation of Community legislation in the Member States.

Objective II - Better and uniform consumer protection regulation

Action 6 : Preparation of legislative and other regulatory initiatives and promotion of self-regulatory initiatives ensuring the participation of the operators concerned, such as organisations of small and medium-sized enterprises, microenterprises and craft industries, including:

   6. 1 . Comparative analysis of markets and regulatory systems
   6. 2 . Legal and technical expertise for policy making on the safety of services
   6.3. Technical expertise in relation to assessment of the need for product safety standards and the drafting of CEN standardisation mandates for products and services
   6.4. Legal and technical expertise for policy development on the economic interests of consumers
   6.5. Workshops with stakeholders and experts.
   6.6. Dialogue between consumer organisations, representatives of business - with particular attention to small and medium-sized enterprises - and the Commission.
   6.7. Legal and technical expertise for the development of a harmonisation instrument on consumer protection and cross-border agreements.
   6.8. Legal and technical expertise for the development of guidelines on good business practice, including requirements to the effect that producers must be able, on request, to verify statements concerning products or services and give consumers information in advance on the conditions of purchase.

Objective III - Better enforcement, monitoring and redress

Action 7 : Coordination of surveillance and enforcement actions linked to the application of consumer protection legislation, including:

   7.1. Development and maintenance of IT tools (e.g. databases, information and communication systems)
   7. 2 . Training, seminars, conferences on enforcement
   7. 3 . Planning and development of joint enforcement actions
   7. 4 . Pilot joint enforcement actions
   7. 5 . Analysis of enforcement problems and solutions

Action 8: Establishment of a general institutional and legal framework for cooperation between Member States as regards the application of legislation.

Action 9 : Financial contributions for specific joint surveillance and enforcement actions to improve administrative and enforcement cooperation on Community consumer protection legislation, including Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on general product safety (8) , and other actions in the context of administrative cooperation.

Action 10 : Monitoring and assessment of the safety of non-food products and services, including:

   10. 1 . Reinforcement and extension of the scope and operation of the RAPEX alert system, taking developments in market surveillance information exchange into account
   10. 2 . Technical analysis of alert notifications
   10.3. Collection and assessment of data on the risks posed by specific consumer products and services
   10.4. Supporting scientific advice and risk evaluation, including the tasks of the independent scientific committees established by Commission Decision 2004/210/EC of 3 March 2004 setting up Scientific Committees in the field of consumer safety, public health and the environment (9) .
   10.5. Further development of the consumer product safety network as provided for in Directive 2001/95/EC .
   10.6. Analysis of injury data and development of best practice guidelines in relation to the safety of consumer products and services and making that information easily available to consumers.
   10.7. Development of methodologies and database maintenance for the purpose of data collection on injuries in relation to the safety of consumer products and services.

Action 11 : Monitoring of the functioning and assessment of the impact of alternative dispute resolution schemes on consumers.

Action 12 : Monitoring of the transposition and implementation of consumer protection legislation by Member States, notably Directive 2005/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market ( the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive) (10) and Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the Regulation on consumer protection cooperation) (11) , and of national consumer policies.

Action 13 : Provision of specific technical and legal expertise to consumer organisations, and particularly consumer organisations in the new Member States, to support their contribution to enforcement and surveillance actions.

Objective IV - Increased ability of citizens to take better decisions about their interests as consumers: better informed, educated and responsible consumers

Action 14: Improving communication with EU citizens on consumer issues, including:

   14.1. Conferences and seminars and meetings of experts and stakeholders
   14.2. Publications on issues of interest for consumer policy
   14.3. Provision of online information.

Action 15 : Development and maintenance of easily and publicly accessible databases covering the application of and case-law on Community consumer protection legislation.

Action 16 : Information actions about consumer protection measures and consumer rights, particularly in the new Member States, in cooperation with their consumer organisations.

Action 17 : Consumer education, including specific actions targeted at young consumers, older consumers and specific groups of consumers who are clearly less able to defend their interests, and the development of interactive consumer education tools.

Action 18 : Representation of the interests of Community consumers in international forums, including international standardisation bodies and international trade organisations.

Action 19 : Training for staff members of regional, national and Community consumer organisations and other capacity building actions.

Action 20 : Financial contributions for joint actions with public or non-profit bodies constituting Community networks that provide information and assistance to consumers to help them exercise their rights and obtain access to legal aid and advice, mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution, including the Commission's SOLVIT system, all of which are to be brought under the aegis of the European Consumer Centres Network. Particular attention will be paid to assisting the new Member States and acceding countries.

Action 21 : Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations representing consumer interests in the development of standards for products and services at Community level.

Action 22 : Financial contributions to the functioning of Community consumer organisations.

Action 23: Expansion of capabilities of consumer organisations in Member States which have a less long-standing tradition of consumer protection and consumer participation in policy-making by providing them with training to build up expertise and financial assistance for information campaigns and monitoring of Community consumer legislation.

Action 24 : Provision of specific technical and legal expertise to consumer organisations to support their participation in, and input into, consultation processes on Community legislative and non-legislative policy initiatives, in relevant policy areas, such as internal market policies, services of general interest and the 10-year framework programme on sustainable production and consumption.

Objective V - Increased participation of civil society, research bodies and stakeholders in policy-making related to consumer protection and development of international cooperation in the field of consumer related research to meet the needs of society and avoid overlapping

Action 25: Promotion and strengthening of Community level consumer organisations.

Action 26: Networking of non-governmental consumer organisations and other stakeholders.

Action 27: Strengthening of Community level consultative bodies and mechanisms.

Objective VI - Mainstreaming of consumer policy objectives

Action 28: Development and application of methods of assessing the impact of Community policies and activities on consumer interests.

Action 29: Exchange of best practice with Member States on national policies.

Objective VII - Promotion of international cooperation related to consumer protection

Action 30: Measures for cooperation with international organisations.

Action 31: Measures for cooperation with third countries which do not participate in the programme.

Action 32: Encouragement of dialogue between consumer organisations.

Common to all objectives

Action 33 : Financial contributions for specific projects at Community or national level in support of consumer policy objectives, including projects promoting the cross-border exchange of information and best practices .

ANNEX II

Beneficiaries - Criteria for the application of Article 3

1.    The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(2)(a) may be awarded to any legal person or association of legal persons, including appropriate independent public bodies and regional consumer organisations, that acts independently of industry and commerce and is responsible for the implementation of the projects.

2.   The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(2)(b) may be awarded to Community consumer organisations which:

   a) are non-governmental, non-profit making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objectives and activities the promotion and protection of the health, safety and economic interests of consumers in the Community;
   b) have been mandated to represent the interests of consumers at Community level by national consumer organisations in at least half of the Member States that are representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of consumers and are active at regional or national level; and
   c) have provided to the Commission satisfactory accounts of their membership, internal rules and sources of funding.

3.   The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(2)(c) may be awarded to Community consumer organisations which:

   a) are non-governmental, non profit-making, independent of industry, commercial and business or other conflicting interests, and have as their primary objectives and activities to represent consumer interests in the standardisation process at Community level;
  b) have been mandated in at least two thirds of the Member States to represent the interests of consumers at Community level:
   - by bodies representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of national consumer organisations in the Member States, or
   - in the absence of such bodies, by national consumer organisations in the Member States that are representative, in accordance with national rules or practice, of consumers and are active at national level; and
   c) have provided to the Commission satisfactory accounts of their membership, internal rules and sources of funding.

4.    The financial contributions for actions referred to in Article 3(4) may be awarded to a public body or a non profit-making body designated by the Member State or the competent authority concerned and agreed to by the Commission.

(1) Not yet published in OJ.
(2) 14.2.2006 (not yet published in OJ) .
(3) 16.2.2006 (not yet published in OJ) .
(4) Position of the European Parliament of 23 March 2006 .
(5) OJ L 5, 9.1.2004, p. 1. Decision as amended by Decision No 786/2004/EC (OJ L 138, 30.4.2004, p. 7) .
(6) OJ L 184, 17.7.1999, p. 23.
(7) Texts Adopted, P6_TA(2005)0526 .
(8) OJ L 11, 15.1.2002, p. 4.
(9) OJ L 66, 4.3.2004, p. 45.
(10) OJ L 149, 11.6.2005, p. 22.
(11) OJ L 364, 9.12.2004, p. 1. Regulation as amended by Directive 2005/29/EC.


Legal professions
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European Parliament resolution on the legal professions and the general interest in the functioning of legal systems
P6_TA(2006)0108 B6-0203/2006

The European Parliament ,

-   having regard to the UN's Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 7 September 1990,

-   having regard to Council of Europe Recommendation Rec (2000) 21 of 25 October 2000 on the freedom of exercise of the profession of lawyer,

-   having regard to its resolution of 18 January 1994 on the profession of notary in the Community(1) ,

-   having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2001 on scale fees and compulsory tariffs for certain liberal professions, in particular lawyers, and on the particular role and position of the liberal professions in modern society(2) ,

-   having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2003 on market regulations and competition rules for the liberal professions(3) ,

-   having regard to Council Directive 77/249/EEC of 22 March 1977 to facilitate the effective exercise by lawyers of freedom to provide services(4) ,

-   having regard to Directive 98/5/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 to facilitate practice of the profession of lawyer on a permanent basis in a Member State other than that in which the qualification was obtained(5) ,

-   having regard to Council Directive 2003/8/EC of 27 January 2003 to improve access to justice in cross-border disputes by establishing minimum common rules relating to legal aid for such disputes(6) ,

-   having regard to Directive 2005/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 September 2005 on the recognition of professional qualifications(7) ,

-   having regard to its position of 16 February 2006 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on services in the internal market(8) ,

-   having regard to the Commission communication "Professional Services - scope for more reform" of 5 September 2005 (COM(2005)0405 ),

-   having regard to the European Court of Justice jurisprudence on Community competition law and freedom to provide services, with specific reference to national rules on minimum legal fees,

-   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the Court of Justice of the European Communities has recognised that:

   - independence, absence of conflicts of interest and professional secrecy/confidentiality are core values of the legal profession that qualify as public-interest considerations;
   - regulations to protect core values are necessary for the proper practice of the legal profession, despite the inherent restrictive effects on competition that may result from this,
   - the purpose of the principle of freedom to provide services as applied to the legal professions is to promote the opening up of national markets through the possibility offered to service providers and their clients to benefit fully from the Community's internal market,

B.   whereas any reform of the legal professions has far-reaching consequences going beyond competition law into the field of freedom, security and justice and, more broadly, into the protection of the rule of law in the European Union,

C.   whereas the UN's Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of 7 September 1990 provide that:

   - lawyers shall be entitled to form and join self-governing professional associations to represent their interests, promote their continuing education and training and protect their professional integrity. The executive body of the professional associations shall be elected by its members and shall exercise its functions without external interference;
   - professional associations of lawyers have a vital role to play in upholding professional standards and ethics, protecting their members from prosecution and improper restrictions and infringements, providing legal services to all in need of them, and cooperating with governmental and other institutions in furthering the ends of justice and the public interest;
   - disciplinary proceedings against lawyers shall be brought before an impartial disciplinary committee established by the legal profession, before an independent statutory authority, or before a court, and shall be subject to an independent judicial review,

D.   whereas adequate protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which all persons are entitled, be they economic, social and cultural, or civil and political, requires that all persons should have effective access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession,

E.   whereas the duties of legal professionals to maintain independence, to avoid conflicts of interest and to respect client confidentiality are particularly endangered when they are authorised to exercise their profession in an organisation which allows non-legal professionals to exercise or share control over the affairs of the organisation by means of capital investment or otherwise, or in the case of multidisciplinary partnerships with professionals who are not bound by equivalent professional obligations,

F.   whereas unregulated price competition between legal professionals which leads to a reduction in the quality of the service provided operates to the detriment of consumers,

G.   whereas the market in legal services is characterised by asymmetry of information between lawyers and consumers, including small and medium-sized enterprises, since the latter do not have the necessary criteria for assessing the quality of the services provided,

H.   whereas the importance of ethical conduct, of maintaining confidentiality with clients and of a high level of specialised knowledge necessitates the organisation of self-regulation systems such as those run today by legal professional bodies and orders,

I.   whereas civil-law notaries are appointed by Member States as public officials whose tasks include drawing up official documents with special value as evidence and immediate enforceability,

J.   whereas civil-law notaries take on extensive investigation and scrutiny work on behalf of the State in matters relating to non-judicial legal protection, particularly in connection with company law – under Community law in some cases – and as part of this work they are subject to disciplinary supervision by the relevant Member State that is comparable to that applicable to judges and civil servants,

K.   whereas the partial delegation of the authority of the State is an original element inherent in the exercise of the profession of civil-law notary, and whereas it is currently exercised on a regular basis and represents a major part of the activities of a civil-law notary,

1.   Recognises fully the crucial role played by the legal professions in a democratic society to guarantee respect for fundamental rights, the rule of law and security in the application of the law, both when lawyers represent and defend clients in court and when they are giving their clients legal advice;

2.   Reaffirms the positions taken in its resolutions of 18 January 1994 and 5 April 2001 and its position of 16 December 2003;

3.   Notes the high qualifications required for access to the legal professions, the need to protect those qualifications that characterise the legal professions, in the interests of European citizens, and the need to establish a specific relationship based on trust between members of the legal professions and their clients;

4.   Reaffirms the importance of rules which are necessary to ensure the independence, competence, integrity and responsibility of members of the legal professions so as to guarantee the quality of their services, to the benefit of their clients and society in general, and in order to safeguard the public interest;

5.   Welcomes the Commission's recognition that reforms are best carried out at national level and that the authorities of the Member States, notably the legislative bodies, are in the best position to define the rules that apply to legal professions;

6.   Point out that the Court of Justice has allowed national legislators and professional associations and bodies a margin of discretion when deciding what is appropriate and necessary to protect the proper exercise of the legal professions in a Member State;

7.   Notes that each type of activity of a professional body must be looked at separately, so that the rules on competition are applied to the association only when it is acting exclusively in the interests of its members and not when it is acting in the general interest;

8.   Reminds the Commission that the aims of the rules governing legal services are the protection of the general public, the guaranteeing of the right of defence and access to justice, and security in the application of the law, and that for these reasons they cannot be tailored to the degree of sophistication of the client;

9.   Encourages professional bodies, organisations and associations of legal professions to establish codes of conduct at European level, including rules relating to organisational matters, qualifications, professional ethics, supervision, liability and communications, in order to ensure that the ultimate consumers of legal services are provided with the necessary guarantees in relation to integrity and experience, and to ensure the sound administration of justice;

10.   Invites the Commission to take account of the specific role of the legal professions in a society governed by the rule of law, and to carry out a thorough analysis of how markets in legal services operate when the Commission promotes a "less regulation, better regulation" principle;

11.   Invites the Commission to apply the competition rules, where applicable, in compliance with the case-law of the Court of Justice;

12.   Considers that the public interests overriding EU competition principles are to be found in the legal system of the Member State in which the relevant rules are adopted or produce their effects, and that there is no such thing as an EU public-interest test, however defined;

13.   Invites the Commission not to apply EU competition law to matters which, under the EU constitutional framework, are left to the jurisdiction of the Member States, such as access to justice, which includes issues such as the fee schedules to be applied by courts to liquidate lawyers" fees;

14.   Stresses that previous obstacles to freedom of establishment and the freedom of legal professionals to provide services have, in theory, been effectively removed by Directives 77/249/EEC, 98/5/EC and 2005/36/EC; notes, however, that the review will take place in two years" time and awaits with interest this thorough assessment;

15.   Considers that fee scales or other compulsory tariffs for lawyers and legal professionals, even for out-of-court services, do not violate Articles 10 and 81 of the Treaty, provided that their adoption is justified by the pursuit of a legitimate public interest and that Member States actively supervise the involvement of private operators in the decision-making process;

16.   Considers that Article 49 of the Treaty and Directives 2005/36/EC and 77/249/EEC make provision for the principle of the country of destination to apply to scale fees and compulsory tariffs for lawyers and other legal professionals;

17.   Considers that Article 45 of the Treaty must be fully applied to the profession of civil-law notary as such;

18.   Calls on the Commission to consider carefully the principles and concerns expressed in this resolution when analysing the rules governing the exercise of the legal professions in the Member States;

19.   Encourages professional organisations to continue developing their activities in the field of legal aid, in order to ensure that everyone has the right to receive legal advice and representation;

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

(1)1 OJ C 44, 14.2.1994, p. 36.
(2)2 OJ C 21 E, 24.1.2002, p. 364.
(3)3 OJ C 91 E, 15.4.2004, p. 126.
(4)4 OJ L 78, 26.3.1977, p. 17.
(5) OJ L 77, 14.3.1998, p. 36.
(6) OJ L 26, 31.1.2003, p. 41.
(7) OJ L 255, 30.9.2005, p. 22.
(8) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2006)0061 .


European contract law and revision of the acquis
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European Parliament resolution on European contract law and the revision of the acquis: the way forward (2005/2022(INI) )
P6_TA(2006)0109 A6-0055/2006

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (A6-0055/2006 ),

A.   whereas, whilst it seems that the European contract law initiative as described in the Commission communication of 11 October 2004 (COM(2004)0651 ) and reported on in the Commission's First Annual Progress Report (COM(2005)0456 ) should be seen primarily as an exercise in better law-making at EU level, it is by no means clear what it will lead to in terms of practical outcomes or on what legal basis any binding instrument or instruments will be adopted,

B.   whereas, even though the Commission denies that this is its objective, it is clear that many of the researchers and stakeholders working on the project believe that the ultimate long-term outcome will be a European code of obligations or even a full-blown European Civil Code, and that in any event the project is by far the most important initiative under way in the civil law field,

C.   whereas the decision to work towards and on such a Code must be taken by the political authorities, since the very decision to opt for a Code is political and its content, albeit legal, is predicated on social and political objectives; whereas, given that in the future the political will may well exist to adopt such a Code, it is essential that the present work be done well and with the appropriate political input,

D.   whereas, even if the initiative in its present form is limited to rationalising and tidying up the acquis in the field of consumer protection and to producing optional standard contract terms and conditions, it is essential that the political authorities have a proper input into the process; in this connection, recent experience with the adoption of a new Civil Code in the Netherlands could serve as a model,

E.   whereas, if the aim is to revise the consumer protection acquis with a view to raising public confidence in the internal market, it is necessary to deliver a high level of consumer protection,

F.   whereas the final product of the initiative should be open to amendment by the EC legislature and should be formally adopted by it,

G.   whereas, given that the existing consumer protection acquis is a distinctive area of Community law which reflects the EC legislature's concern to deliver a high level of consumer protection in accordance with the Treaties, and although it is clear that the European contract law initiative has a wider remit of securing and developing the coherence of contract law as a whole, this exercise should not lead to a dilution of the values at the heart of the existing consumer protection acquis,

Underlying principles and objectives

1.   Reiterates its conviction, expressed in its resolutions of 26 May 1989(1) , 6 May 1994(2) , 15 November 2001(3) and 2 September 2003(4) , that a uniform internal market cannot be fully functional without further steps towards the harmonisation of civil law;

2.   Calls on the Commission to exploit straightaway the ongoing work by the research groups on the drafting of European contract law, and by the Network for a common frame of reference (CFR-Net(5) ), with a view to using their results firstly towards the revision of the acquis in the field of civil law, and subsequently towards developing a system of Community civil law;

Substantive law issues

3.   Strongly recommends that the proposed common frame of reference and the envisaged contract law should not be designed in such a way as to unilaterally favour one restricted group of participants in legal transactions;

4.   Reminds the Commission that the term "business" covers more than just large corporations and includes small - even one-person - undertakings which will often require contracts that are specially tailored to their needs and that take account of their relative vulnerability when contracting with large corporations;

5.   Notes that the law to be developed must be applicable not only to business-to-business legal transactions but also to business-to-consumer legal transactions;

6.   Calls on the Commission to distinguish, where necessary, between legal provisions applicable to the business-to-business sector and those applicable to the business-to-consumer sector, and to separate the two systematically;

7.   Highlights the importance of taking into account the fundamental principle of freedom to conclude a contract, particularly in the business-to-business sector;

8.   Highlights the importance of taking into account the European social model when harmonising contract law;

9.   Calls for differing legal traditions and systems to be respected;

10.   Calls on the Commission, in its future proposals, to define adequately and precisely how those proposals will interact with the Community rules on the conflict of laws and with national legal systems, in particular as regards the conditions determining the validity of a choice of applicable law, the mandatory rules and the role of the lex fori;

11.   Notes that with over-detailed legal provisions on individual aspects of contract law there is a danger of being unable to react flexibly to altered legal circumstances, and therefore favours the adoption of general regulations including legal concepts which are not precisely defined, thus giving the courts the necessary margin of discretion in arriving at their judgments;

12.   Asks the Commission to conduct a thorough legal and economic impact assessment for all legislative measures concerning civil law;

Procedural issues

13.   Welcomes the Commission's First Annual Progress Report and endorses its thoughtful and measured approach to the revision of the consumer protection acquis;

14.   Calls for the Commission as a whole, under the primary responsibility of the Justice, Freedom and Security DG and with the involvement of the Internal Market and Services and the Health and Consumer Protection DGs in particular, to participate in this work, and for the material and human resources which are necessary – given the importance and extent of the project – to be made available;

15.   Calls on the Commission to submit without delay a clear legislative plan setting out the future legal instruments by which it aims to bring the results of the work of the research groups and the CFR-Net into use in legal transactions;

16.   Calls on the Commission to submit to Parliament a formal plan for the incremental consultation of Parliament as the work progresses, and for the ultimate implementation of the results of the work of the researchers and the CFR-Net;

17.   Calls on the Commission to ensure that the results obtained by the Network are adequately taken into account in the work of the research groups;

18.   Supports the Commission in its efforts at better law-making, but emphasises that the work done by researchers in developing the CFR must follow clear guidelines laid down by the EC legislature;

19.   Asks the Commission to assist clarification of the research and stakeholder processes by the production of an organisational diagram and/or flow chart which clearly identifies all the different groups, working groups, parties and so on which are involved, thereby indicating their role and position in the processes;

20.   Considers it desirable for the Commission, on the basis of the researchers" final report, to submit the various possible legal options to the Parliament, and recalls that the CFR can only finally be adopted following political approval by the Parliament and the Council;

21.   Calls on the Commission to keep Parliament continually informed, at least in quarterly reports, of the results obtained and progress of the work of the research groups and of the Network;

22.  Requires at least the following three kinds of information to appear in the quarterly reports:

   a) a summary of the most important results of the workshops held so far,
   b) reactions of the research groups, and
   c) a statement by the Commission on the way in which it proposes to take account of these results in its subsequent work;

23.   Calls on the Commission to act in the closest possible cooperation with the Parliament in every step taken towards developing a CFR; is of the opinion that Parliament should be formally consulted first on the draft structure and subsequently on each title or section of the CFR (depending on its final structure) as it is finalised, before it is ultimately consulted on the final instrument;

24.   Calls on the Commission to consult Parliament before taking any further planning measures;

25.   Calls on the Commission to allow the representatives of practice-based interests more time to prepare and discuss the complex substance of the work of the CFR-Net working groups;

26.   Urges that the organisations which appear on behalf of the interest groups in the CFR-Net be able to decide for themselves which representatives take part in the meetings;

27.   Instructs its Committee on Legal Affairs and its committees asked for their opinions on European contract law to continually follow the work of the Commission, the research groups and the Network and, where appropriate, to issue opinions on the results regularly issued by the Commission;

28.   Urges each Council Presidency to organise a forum in cooperation with the Commission and the Parliament in which the progress and results of the procedure may be presented and discussed;

29.   In order to give this ambitious and long-term project the visibility and attention which it warrants, undertakes to reflect carefully on how it should best be dealt with in Parliament itself, and accordingly suggests the setting-up of a parliamentary project team which should be properly resourced in order to deal with this long-term project over the period of the current parliamentary term and which should reflect the enhanced cooperation procedure between committees;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ C 158, 26.6.1989, p. 400.
(2) OJ C 205, 25.7.1994, p. 518.
(3) OJ C 140 E, 13.6.2002, p. 538.
(4) OJ C 76 E, 25.3.2004, p. 95.
(5) Network of those representing the interests of consumer organisations, industry, business and the legal profession (CFR-Net).


Security of energy supply in the European Union
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European Parliament resolution on security of energy supply in the European Union
P6_TA(2006)0110 B6-0189 , 0192 , 0198 and 0202/2006

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas energy security should be considered an essential component of the global security concept and has an increasing impact on the overall security of the European Union,

B.   whereas the Commission has adopted a Green Paper on a European strategy for sustainable, competitive and secure energy (COM(2006)0105 ),

C.   whereas there are three main objectives for EU energy policy: security of supply, competitiveness and protection of the environment,

D.   whereas the EU-25's import dependency for energy is 48% (2002) and is projected to rise to 71% by 2030 if no additional measures are taken, and whereas certainty of supply is one of the most important conditions for energy security,

E.   whereas 76.6% of the EU's demand for oil, 53% of its demand for gas, 35.4% of its demand for coal and almost 100% of its demand for uranium and uranium products is met from imports,

F.   whereas primary energy consumption in the EU-25 was 1700 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) in 2005, of which 38% was oil, 23% gas, 18% coal/solid fuels, 15% nuclear energy and 6% from renewable energy sources (RES),

G.   whereas, in 2004, the industrial sector accounted for 28% of the final energy use in the EU-25, transport for 31% and buildings for 41%,

H.   whereas, in the EU-25, 31% of the gross electricity generation is nuclear, 25% is from solid fuel (predominantly coal), 18% is from gas, 14% from RES and 5% from oil,

I.   whereas final energy intensity in the EU-25 has consistently decreased, so that in 2004 only about 70% of the energy used in 1980 was required for a unit of economic output; whereas overall primary energy consumption in the EU-25 has increased at an average rate of 0.8% per year, equivalent to 0.5% per capita per year over the same period,

J.   whereas 59% of the oil consumed in the EU-25 in 2004 was used by the transport sector, 17% was used in buildings, 16% was used for non-energy purposes and 8% was used in industry; whereas the Commission expects energy demand in the transport sector to grow by at least 30% by 2030, with an increase of up to 5% per year for air transport,

K.   whereas 29% of the gas consumed in the EU-25 in 2004 was used for the production of electricity, with the remaining 71% used for other purposes (industry, housing, etc.),

L.   whereas demand for coal in the EU has been decreasing for many years, and import dependency is already 35.4% and rising as a proportion of consumption of coal,

M.   whereas thirteen Member States generate nuclear electricity and certain Member States have a declared policy of phasing out nuclear power,

N.   whereas the EU energy market is, at the present time, not integrated and not sufficiently competitive,

O.   whereas the EU has set targets for increasing the share of energy consumption from RES from 6% to 12% and to 22.1% for electricity and 5.75% for fuel by 2010; whereas these targets can be attained if all Member States adjust their policies accordingly,

P.   whereas Parliament and the Council are about to adopt Directive 2006/32/EC on energy end-use efficiency and energy services requiring Member States to produce a series of action plans setting out their energy-saving strategies over the next nine years,

Q.   whereas RES are mainly indigenous sources and could be used in all sectors, i.e. electricity, heating and cooling, and transport,

R.   whereas, according to the last Eurobarometer on Energy, almost half of all EU citizens (48%) believe that their national government should focus on developing the use of solar power, followed by promoting advanced research for new energy technologies (41%) and developing the use of wind power (31%), whilst regulation to reduce dependence on oil (23%) and developing the use of nuclear power (12%) are less appreciated among respondents,

S.   whereas the EU should take advantage of its massive potential to save energy in all sectors, including transport, as well as to develop new renewable energy sources and technologies,

T.   whereas energy is a vital resource for economic growth, employment and social development and whereas disturbances in the supply of energy may create instability and can endanger peace,

U.   U whereas the agreement between Russia Algeria could be the first step towards the establishment of a gas 'OPEC' given that Russia and Algeria are among the EU's leading gas suppliers, which would have a major medium- and long-term impact on gas prices and security of supply;

Speaking with one voice

1.   Welcomes the new Commission Green Paper on a sustainable, competitive and secure energy policy for Europe; notes, however, that the Green Paper does not propose new targets or advance concrete proposals that would respond to recent calls for a common energy policy; urges the Commission and the Council to ensure a rapid political process in order to achieve a more ambitious European energy policy which includes a concrete plan of action as soon as possible; demands that Parliament be fully consulted in that process;

2.   Notes that the Green Paper fails to address vital sectors that rely heavily on imported sources of energy, in particular transport and aviation; considers that the Green Paper is less ambitious with regard to transport than the Commission's Final Report on CARS-21;

3.   Notes that recent disputes over gas prices between Russia and its neighbours, but also the recent increase in the price of crude oil, have revealed the vulnerability of the supply and distribution of energy; notes that energy policy in the narrow sense must be connected with foreign and security policies; calls on the Commission to respond to recent calls for a common energy policy;

4.   Calls on the EU to take the initiative to establish broad cooperation with all the large oil and gas consuming countries – the US, Japan and large emerging economies such as India and China – to work out a comprehensive and global strategy with a view to organising the demand side and combining their efforts in counterbalancing the oligopoly on the production side; insists that this strategy should also promote best technologies for energy saving and efficiency and the use of alternative energy sources;

5.   Recognises the importance of good political relations with the EU's major energy supply partner countries, particularly Norway, which remains the third largest oil producer in the world and which offers a stable energy supply and also has a proven track record in relations with Russia in the energy sector;

6.   Agrees with the Council that a common view on a strategy for security of supply should respect Member States" geographical, economic, regional, climate and structural differences;

7.   Calls on each Member State to draw up a prospective energy plan based on medium- and long-term forecasts of its supply and demand management, and state the means it intends to use to meet energy demand, in terms both of national production and of energy imports, stating the effects of this balance with respect to greenhouse gas emissions;

8.   Stresses that an active policy in support of democratic reforms, the development of civil society and social progress in the energy-producing countries and those with transit facilities will contribute substantially to long-term political stability, which is necessary for security in the supply and distribution of energy;

9.   Calls on the Commission and the Council to propose an internationally recognised mediation system for cases of conflict and dispute concerning the delivery and distribution of energy; believes that the EU could initiate such a process by developing a mediation system both as part of its neighbourhood policy and also with other key supplier countries, and could actively promote this mediation system globally; considers that the EU should develop a model approach to the international management of energy distribution;

10.   Stresses the importance of including in the new energy diplomacy of the EU a constructive dialogue with all major consumers of energy and notably emerging economies on energy efficiency and energy conservation, with the aim of setting minimum efficiency standards for global goods like cars, appliances, consumer electronics and office equipment, to be harmonised in phases, and promoting at global level the integration of the environment into transport and energy decisions;

11.   11 Insists that new strategies should be developed to reduce the possibilities of uranium and nuclear waste being used for the production and proliferation of nuclear weapons; therefore urges the Commission, the Council and the Member States to give their fullest support to the IAEA proposals to multilateralise the supply of fissile material for nuclear energy production;

Solidarity in the EU

12.   Stresses that an essential element of a common energy policy should be enhanced solidarity between Member States in order to deal with difficulties related to the physical security of infrastructure and security of supply; considers, furthermore, that such enhanced solidarity would considerably strengthen the capacity of the EU to defend its common interest on energy issues at international level;

13.   Advocates strengthening the European Neighbourhood Policy, placing special emphasis on cooperation with the neighbouring countries in the energy field, including transportation infrastructure, to which special financial assistance should be provided; calls for the inclusion of energy policy cooperation in the Action Plans being elaborated under the European Neighbourhood Policy;

14.   Calls for an approach based on fairness and shared responsibility in carrying out energy policy at national level, so that, when strategic decisions are taken, those partners among Member States which might be affected by the decisions are also consulted;

A well functioning internal market

15.   Strongly holds the view that an essential part of the maintenance of security of supply is the rapid transposition of existing EU provisions by all Member States in order to achieve a fully functioning internal market in electricity and gas, thereby enhancing competitiveness, transparency and energy efficiency;

16.   Is deeply concerned, therefore, about the distortion in the internal market caused by protectionist support for national market leaders, and urges the Commission to ensure full implementation of the internal market rules to ensure fair and non-discriminatory competition and avoid the formation of oligopolistic energy markets;

17.   Calls on the Commission to react strongly to the market dominance and market imperfections as described in the sector inquiry forwarded by DG Competition on 16 February 2006 and to submit new proposals for combating market dominance and market imperfections with a concrete set of actions and instruments; calls for closer cooperation between European and national competition authorities in order to give a coordinated and truly European answer to the emerging national economic patriotism;

18.   Calls on the Council to accept Parliament's position on priorities regarding the trans-European energy networks (TENs) in order to complete the missing links in the TENs , so as to avoid bottlenecks, improve security of supply and complete the internal market by supporting specific projects where appropriate;

19.   Urges Member States to create an EU internal energy market by striking a balance between internal and external sources of supply, ensuring interoperability of national energy grids and creating a competitive environment for energy by unbundling supply and distribution functions, while at the same time ensuring competition between distributors;

20.   Considers that the evolution of the Kyoto framework after 2012 needs active consideration now, to allow the markets to take into account the cost of carbon in major investment programmes, given that European competitiveness and growth are already being challenged by higher labour and electricity costs;

Sustainable energy sources

21.   Urges the Commission to propose concrete measures on energy and invest urgently and massively in a truly energy-efficient economy in order to diminish drastically our dependency on fossil fuels and to become the most energy-efficient economy in the world by 2020; urges the Commission furthermore to always insist on the key role that energy conservation and energy efficiency play in reducing energy dependency;

22.   Stresses the enormous innovation gap that currently exists in the energy sector and calls on the Commission to prepare a road map to speed up market penetration of existing best practice and best technologies in sectors like lighting, appliances, office equipment, consumer electronics, buildings, cars and decentralised electricity production, using a set of instruments such as public procurement and innovative financing mechanisms such as third-party financing;

23.   Stresses the exceptional importance of RES, along with energy efficiency, for a European energy policy for future energy supplies; asks the Commission and the Council, therefore, to come forward with new, ambitious targets for the period after 2010 and actions in this field to guarantee faster development in every Member State; insists that there should be a directive on heating and cooling from RES, as advocated by the Parliament, to ensure further market penetration by RES in the heating sector;

24.   Reaffirms its strong support for RES, calls on Member States to redouble efforts to achieve the targets of a 12% share of total energy consumption and 22.1% of electricity from RES by 2010 and and continues to endorse Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market(1) ;

25.   Welcomes the new initiatives by the Commission in its Biomass Action Plan (COM(2005)0628 ) and its EU strategy for biofuels (COM(2006)0034 ) and calls on all EU institutions to speed up efforts to use the potential of RES from biomass while paying due attention to environmental considerations;

26.   Considers it urgent that the Commission should submit proposals and work with the industry to hasten the application of hydrogen and fuel cells to bring about sustained, long-term improvements in energy efficiency and conservation in the transport sector; notes that biomass in general can help meet energy needs in the EU by conventional combustion; calls on the Commission, in view of the benefits from the additional income for the agriculture and forestry sector, to implement a crash programme for the earliest possible organisation of production, collection of agricultural and forest residues, pyrolysis and use of the gas produced;

27.   Recognises the growing importance of gas, as its share in total energy rises, and the need to use different strategies to ensure the security of gas supply, such as the development of liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and storage facilities as well as new pipelines;

28.   Believes that nuclear energy is a part of the European political debate on the energy mix; recognises the role that nuclear energy currently plays in some Member States in maintaining security of electricity supply as part of the energy mix and as a way of avoiding CO2 emissions; Considers that decisions on whether nuclear energy production should continue to play a role in some Member States can only be taken at Member State level within the framework of subsidiarity;

29.   Agrees with the Commission conclusion that the first priority for action should be in the field of demand management measures to improve efficiency of energy use and reduce consumption through conservation; in this respect, deeply regrets the delay in bringing forward proposals for the transport sector; notes the economic potential of saving a minimum of 20% of energy consumed and notes that this potential will rise with increasing energy prices, technological improvements and economies of scale;

30.   Notes that the building sector, which accounts for over 40% of all energy use in the EU, is the single biggest energy-consuming sector; notes, further, that rising energy prices not only affect the economy as a whole but, above all, the socially disadvantaged; encourages the Commission and the Member States to engage in a coordinated effort to upgrade European building stock, in which innovative financing solutions are proposed in close collaboration with the European Investment Bank;

31.   Recognises that the development of urban heating and cooling networks is key to enhancing the security of energy supply of buildings since it allows greater flexibility of fuel use; notes that combined heat and power and tri-generation are technologies which should be promoted and which could not only contribute to a larger share in energy supply for RES, but also improve energy efficiency, while industrial cogeneration is also a key way of reducing the volatility of energy prices for big industrial consumers;

Research and development

32.   Recognises the importance of increasing investment in R&D, taking advantage of existing technologies and promoting new ones in order to keep Europe at the cutting edge in comparison with its competitors and to create new, sustainable and long-term jobs, maintaining consistency with the goals of the Lisbon Agenda and paving the way for achieving, overall, Millennium Development Goal 7 concerning ensuring environmental sustainability;

33.   Notes that there is considerable room for a further improvement in RES and for a global market in new equipment and systems based on RES, and calls on the EU to ensure that renewable energy technologies are endowed with sufficient resources in the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Development and to help SMEs in this sector to use their leadership in technology to achieve success on the global market;

34.   Notes that all the forecasts concur that even in the long term conventional power stations will continue to account for a large share of electricity generation and is therefore in favour of promoting R&D into the efficiency of such power stations and ways of increasing it;

35.   Believes that knowledge of nuclear fusion technology and its application are of strategic value and should be further developed in the EU;

36.   Notes that voluntary agreements would also be useful in increasing research and development efforts by oil and gas companies, as part of their corporate social responsibilities, to develop new technologies in the energy field;

37.   Requests that research into biomass, into all RES, including wave and tidal power and energy storage, and into coal gasification technology be carried out, under the Seventh Framework Programme in order to reduce pollutant emissions and create a world market;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 283, 27.10.2001, p. 33.


Criteria for EU peace enforcement operations, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo
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European Parliament resolution on the criteria for EU peace enforcement operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo
P6_TA(2006)0111 B6-0190/2006

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the 'responsibility to protect' enshrined in the Outcome Document of the 2005 UN World Summit adopted in New York on 16 September 2005,

–   having regard to the fundamental importance of stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for the stability of the whole of central Africa and the Great Lakes region,

–   having regard to the fact that the DRC is struggling to recover from a devastating conflict that has caused over 4 million deaths,

–   having regard to the delicate transitional phase of the DRC, involving the difficult task of setting up democratic institutions,

–   having regard to the presence of 17 000 UN peacekeeping troops in the DRC, with the mission of stabilising the country,

–   having regard to the EU's involvement in maintaining the stability of the DRC, through the two ongoing European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) missions: the EU advisory and assistance mission for DRC security reform ('EUSEC DR Congo') and the EU Police Mission in Kinshasa ('EUPOL Kinshasa'),

–   having regard to the encouraging results of the constitutional referendum in December 2005,

–   having regard to the elections planned for the DRC in June 2006,

–   having regard to the UN's request for assistance during the period of the elections in the DRC,

–   having regard to Rule 103(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas the EU has only a limited number of deployable troops at its disposal, and its priorities should be maintaining peace and stability in the Balkans and in the Union's own immediate geographical neighbourhood,

B.   having regard, however to the UN's request and to the fact that it is an overarching goal of the EU and its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and European Security Strategy (ESS) to strengthen the UN as a framework for effective multilateralism, as outlined in the ESS,

1.  Considers that the following conditions must be fulfilled for this complex and potentially risky engagement of troops under the command of the EU:

   such an operation should have a strong and clear mandate that will refer exclusively to the security of the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2006,
   the military operation would have to be limited in time to the period of the elections. There has to be a clear strategy on how to transfer the tasks, after the expiration of the operation's mandate, to the UN and/or the Congolese police and military,
   security in the country, especially in the Katanga region and in the border region with Rwanda, should remain under the responsibility of the UN; the geographical scope of the EU mandate must be determined in accordance with the number of available troops, their security requirements and the operational requirements of the mission,
   under no circumstances should the military operation consist of troops from only one Member State. The European character of the operation should be expressed in the participation of several Member States,
   an intervention from the EU could only take place at the formal request of the Congolese interim government,
   the deployment of troops under the command of the EU would have a double task: deterring possible trouble-makers and encouraging the DRC's citizens to exercise their right to vote. The European operation must therefore be of an adequate and credible size,
   in order to achieve these goals, the Council would have to develop a clear concept of how to deploy the necessary military or police (possibly gendarmerie) forces,
   a time-limited military operation would have to be closely linked with the efforts of the international community for the reconstruction of the DRC after the civil war,
   clear commitments have to be made by the international community to improve the long-term efficiency and sustainability of the Congolese police and armed forces;

2.   Calls on the Council to appear before Parliament to present a clear proposal with a clear mandate fully based on a well-established scenario of needs, including a timetable; notes that for a possible EU mission to the DRC, there will need to be a specific EU mandate, based on the UN Charter;

3.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the DRC transitional government and the UN Secretary-General.


Revision of the Cotonou Agreement and setting of the amount for the 10th EDF
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European Parliament resolution on the revision of the Cotonou Agreement and setting of the amount for the 10th EDF
P6_TA(2006)0112 B6-0191 , 0193 , 0194 , 0196 , 0199 and 0200/2006

The European Parliament ,

1.   having regard to the partnership agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) of the one part and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(1) as amended in Luxembourg on 24 June 2005 (the Cotonou Agreement), and particularly Annex Ia concerning the multiannual framework of cooperation under the Cotonou Agreement,

2.   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament entitled 'Towards the full integration of co-operation with ACP countries in the EU budget', of 8 October 2003 (COM(2003)0590 ),

3.   having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council of 15 and 16 December 2005, particularly Point 70 and Annex II concerning the respective contributions of Member States to the ACP countries,

4.   having regard to its resolutions of 1 April 2004 on Budgetisation of the European Development Fund(2) , of 8 June 2005 on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the enlarged Union 2007-2013(3) , and of 17 November 2005 on a development strategy for Africa(4) ,

5.   having regard to the commitments given by Member States in 2005, particularly:

   - that the European Union and its Member States will reach the United Nations target of 0.70% of the EU's Gross National Income by 2015, which would increase the EU's contribution to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from EUR 33 000 million in 2003 to more than EUR 84 000 million by 2015 (Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council, 16 and 17 June 2005),
   - that an intermediate EU target of 0.56% would be reached by 2010, which would take EU Official Development Assistance (ODA) flows to EUR 67 000 million (Presidency Conclusions of the Brussels European Council, 16 and 17 June 2005),
   - that the EU and other donors will double aid to Africa and therefore provide Africa with USD 25 000 million in ODA by 2010(5) (Gleneagles Communiqué, released on 8 July 2005 by the Group of Eight in Gleneagles),

6.   having regard to Rule 108(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.   whereas Annex 1a to the Cotonou Agreement states that 'For this new period, the European Union shall maintain its aid effort to ACP States at least at the same level as that of the 9th European Development Fund (EDF), not including balances; to this shall be added, based on Community estimates, the effects of inflation, growth within the European Union, and enlargement to 10 new Member States in 2004',

B.   whereas, whilst the Commission had initially calculated an amount of EUR 24 948 million for the 10th EDF for the period 2008-2013 (6 years), the European Council, during its meeting in Brussels on 15-16 December 2005, agreed on an amount of just EUR 22 682 million,

C.   whereas this reduction of EUR 2 000 million violates the commitments of the Union with regard to Annex 1a of the Cotonou Agreement and does not reflect the numerous political pledges given in 2005 for a substantial increase of development aid,

D.   whereas the ACP countries would not have given their assent to the Cotonou Agreement without the inclusion of Annex 1a concerning financing, and there is therefore a need for the EU Member States to stand by their commitments,

E.   whereas some clarification is required before the European Parliament can give its assent to the Cotonou Agreement,

F.   whereas the budgetisation of the EDF is neither a miracle cure for all problems nor an obstacle to the effectiveness of the EU-ACP partnership,

G.   whereas it is legitimate to consider reforming the EDF 40 years after its creation and the current system has been unable to resolve the problems relating to both the time needed to release funds and the accumulation of unused appropriations (EUR 11 000 million),

H.   whereas the enlargement of the EU to include Romania and Bulgaria is scheduled for 2007,

I.   whereas East Timor acceded to the Cotonou Agreement on 15 December 2005,

J.   having regard to the concern expressed by the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) concerning their exclusion from the 10th EDF and the uncertainty as regards cooperation between the OCTs and the EU,

K.   whereas the primary objectives of the Cotonou Agreement are the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and the progressive integration of ACP countries into the world economy; whereas all ACP countries and EU Member States are committed to the achievement of the MDGs,

L.   whereas political dialogue is of increased importance in the Cotonou Agreement and development must support respect for human rights, democratic principles and good governance, as well as sustainable development,

1.   Regrets that the overall amount for the 10th EDF decided by the European Council is below the original calculation of the Commission;

2.   Regrets that the plethora of political commitments made in 2005 in support of substantial increases in ODA have not been translated into a substantial increase in the contributions of Member States to the EDF; underlines that the proposed amount for the 10th EDF would amount to only 0.028% of Member States' GDP;

3.   Deplores the fact that, on the one hand, Member States have made commitments to increase development aid but on the other hand, if the level of the 10th EDF remains at that fixed by the European Council, the overall levels of ODA managed by the Commission will fall from 19% to just 14% by 2015, making this a de facto re-nationalisation of development policy;

4.   Calls on the Member States to consider significantly raising their contributions to the 10th EDF;

5.   Calls on the Council and the Commission to clarify how the development dimension of the Economic Partnership Agreements, currently under negotiation, will be financed;

6.   Urges the Council to provide new money for 'aid for trade' programmes and insists that such programmes should not shift resources already earmarked for other development initiatives, such as the MDGs;

7.   Calls on the Council to ensure that the contributions of Romania and Bulgaria to the 10th EDF will be additional once they have acceded to the EU;

8.   Calls on the Council to take into account the accession of East Timor to the Cotonou Agreement and the fact that aid directed to this new country should clearly be additional in the light of the formula described in Annex 1a to the Cotonou Agreement;

9.   Calls on the Council and the Commission to clarify as soon as possible the question of future financing of cooperation with OCTs;

10.   Calls on the Council and Commission to clarify the future financing of the African Union, including what level of financing should come from the MEDA programme;

11.   Recalls that all EDF expenditure must satisfy the ODA eligibility criteria, as defined by the OECD's Development Assistance Committee;

12.   Calls on the Commission to take the lead in ensuring coordination between the Member States in order to enhance the effectiveness of both EU and bilateral development funding;

13.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Governments of the EU Member States and of the ACP countries.

(1) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p.3.
(2) OJ C 103 E, 29.4.2004, p. 833.
(3) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2005)0224 .
(4) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2005)0445 .
(5) In comparison with 2004 levels, this amounts to a doubling of aid.


The development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements
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European Parliament resolution on the development impact of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) (2005/2162(INI) )
P6_TA(2006)0113 A6-0053/2006

The European Parliament ,

-   having regard to the Partnership Agreement between the members of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) of the one part and the European Community and its Member States, of the other part, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(1) (the Cotonou Agreement),

-   having regard to the African Union's Ministerial Declaration on EPA Negotiations made at the 3rd Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Trade, Cairo, 5-9 June 2005,

-   having regard to the Cape Town Declaration adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly at its fourth session on 21 March 2002(2) ,

-   having regard to the declaration of the 81st Session of the ACP Council of Ministers, Brussels, 21-22 June 2005,

-   having regard to Sir John Kaputin's closing statement at the ACP Regional EPA Negotiators meeting, London, 4 October 2005,

-   having regard to the Commission Staff Working Document entitled 'The Trade and Development Aspects of EPA Negotiations', of 9 November 2005 (SEC(2005)1459 ),

-   having regard to the Joint Report on the all-ACP-EC phase of EPA negotiations, Brussels, 2 October 2003 (ACP/00/118/03 Rev.1, ACP-EC/NG/43),

-   having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 18 September 2000, which sets out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as criteria established jointly by the international community for the elimination of poverty,

-   having regard to the Outcome Document of the 'UN 2005 World Summit' (Millennium + 5), adopted in New York on 16 September 2005(3) ,

-   having regard to the report by the UN Millennium Project Task Force headed by Professor Jeffrey Sachs entitled "Investing in Development: a practical plan to achieve the Millennium Development Goals",

-   having regard to the Commission Report of 29 October 2004 on the Millennium Development Goals 2000-2004 (SEC(2004)1379 ),

-   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament and the European Economic and Social Committee of 12 April 2005 entitled "Speeding up progress towards the Millennium Development Goals - The European Union's contribution" (COM(2005)0132 ),

-   having regard to the Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 13 July 2005 entitled "Proposal for a Joint Declaration by the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission on the European Union Development Policy – "The European Consensus" (COM(2005)0311 ),

-   having regard to the Economic Report on Africa 2004 entitled "Unlocking Africa's Trade Potential" by the UN Economic Commission for Africa,

-   having regard to the Progress Report by the G8 Africa Personal Representatives on implementation of the Africa Action Plan, released on 1 July 2005 by the Group of Eight in London,

-   having regard to the Gleneagles Communiqué, released on 8 July 2005 by the Group of Eight in Gleneagles,

-   having regard to the Conclusions of the General Affairs Council of 23-24 May 2005,

-   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

-   having regard to the report of the Committee on Development (A6-0053/2006 ),

A.   whereas between 1975 and 2000 the EU's trade relationship with the ACP countries was governed by the Lomé Conventions which granted ACP countries non-reciprocal and preferential access to the EU market,

B.   whereas the signing of the Cotonou Agreement in 2000 ushered in a fresh era of ACP-EU relations, including provisions for a new trade relationship,

C.   whereas the primary objective of the ACP-EU partnership and the Cotonou Agreement is to improve the social and economic development prospects of the ACP countries;

D.   whereas the EU remains committed to the MDGs, they should be seen only as the first step in the eradication of poverty;

E.   whereas the goals of the Cotonou Agreement and the EU are clear, yet considering the expected impact of the EPAs as they stand at present on fragile ACP economies and the different levels of development between the EU and ACP economies, the EPAs' role in achieving these goals has been increasingly questioned by various players, including African Ministers, some EU Member States and European and civil society in the developing world,

F.   whereas market integration within the EU has been accompanied by cohesion measures in support of economically weaker countries,

G.   whereas the Cotonou Agreement underlines the need to build on the regional integration initiatives of ACP States, as the creation of larger regional markets and deeper regional integration will act as an incentive for traders and investors,

H.   whereas the Cotonou Agreement sets out the Parties" agreement to conclude new trading arrangements compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO), progressively removing barriers to trade between them and enhancing co-operation in all areas relevant to trade,

I.   whereas the existing trade arrangements (Annex V to the Cotonou Agreement "Trade Regime applicable during the Preparatory Period referred to in Article 37(1)") are covered by a WTO waiver that is due to expire at the end of 2007,

J.   whereas EPAs are supposed to define new trade relationships between EU Member States and ACP countries, yet liberalising trade between unequal partners as a tool for development has historically proven to be ineffective and even counterproductive,

K.   whereas the regional aspect of the EPAs is essential in strengthening not only North-South trade, but also South-South trade,

L.   whereas ACP Least Developed Countries (LDCs) have been granted market access to the EU under 'Everything But Arms' (EBA),

M.   whereas Article 19 of the Cotonou Agreement allows the ACP-EU cooperation framework to be tailored to the individual circumstances of each ACP country,

N.   whereas in the Conclusions of the November 2005 European Council, the EU Member States agreed on the need to establish and implement an improved monitoring mechanism to measure progress towards development objectives within the EPA process,

O.   whereas under Article 37(6) of the Cotonou Agreement, ACP countries have the right to explore alternatives to EPAs,

P.   whereas the EPA negotiations are currently in their fourth year, however it seems many hurdles remain if the negotiations are to be concluded by 31 December 2007 as provided for in the Cotonou Agreement; whereas Article XXIV of GATT requires a plan and a schedule for completion of a free-trade area "within a reasonable length of time",

1.   Understands that the EPA negotiations stem from the need to make ACP-EU trade relations compatible with WTO rules but calls on the Commission to be vigilant that the issue of compatibility does not take precedence over the overall aim of development; calls on the Commission, not only to focus on compatibility with WTO rules but also, in cooperation with developing countries, to aim to improve the rules of the WTO so that they work better for development;

2.   Believes that, appropriately designed, EPAs represent an opportunity to revitalise ACP – EU trading relations, promote ACP economic diversification and regional integration, and reduce poverty in the ACP countries;

3.   Welcomes the Commission's repeated emphasis that development remains the primary objective and goal of any EPA forged;

4.   Expresses its concern that the EPA/Free Trade Agreement negotiations have been launched and are moving into substantive phases in the absence of real democratic debate in most ACP countries; calls therefore for a real public debate including civil society, legislators and government institutions - and proper feedback and consultation mechanisms to reverse this situation and allow democratic participation;

5.   Believes that in order to achieve these developmental objectives EPAs should notably focus on fostering good economic governance, promoting regional integration of ACP economies, and attracting and retaining higher levels of investment within ACP countries;

6.   In consequence, calls on the Commission and the ACP regions to design EPAs around the principles of: asymmetry in favour of ACP regions; support for ACP regional integration; implementation of a sound and predictable framework for promoting trade and investment in ACP regions;

7.   Notes, however, the lack of a concrete development-friendly result so far in the negotiations, as demonstrated by the increasing concern and dissatisfaction of ACP countries with regard to the failure to deliver the development support measures required for achieving concrete benefits from an EPA, such as binding commitments on development cooperation, concrete adjustment measures to overcome the effects of preference erosion, technology transfer and improved competitiveness;

8.   Stresses that the outcome of the EPA negotiations should provide sufficient time for adjustment for ACP producers" domestic and regional markets and allow ACP countries the necessary policy space to pursue their own development strategies;

9.   Urges the Commission to act in accordance with the Cotonou objective of poverty eradication and to support the social and economic development of each regional grouping, and in particular the economically weaker countries in each grouping who might otherwise be marginalised, and to accept the necessity of greater flexibility - in terms of the timetable for negotiations regarding progressive trade opening, the length of the transition period and the degree of product coverage - if long-term sustainable development is to be the overall outcome of the EPAs; stresses that EPAs should help ACP countries to integrate in the global economy, by stimulating development through trade and taking into consideration the asymmetry of their economies;

10.   Stresses that the Development Policy Statement (DPS), in particular paragraph 36, provides guidance to the EPA negotiators; in this respect urges Directorate-General Trade to adhere to the principle of asymmetry and flexibility, to let "developing countries decide and reform trade policy in line with their broader national development plans", and to fully align its negotiation strategy with the overarching DPS principle of policy coherence for development;

11.   Stresses the importance of public services for development and democracy and consequently asks the Commission always to prioritise affordable access for all when considering promoting liberalisation or other options in areas such as water distribution and sanitation, health, education, transport and energy;

12.   Recognises the substantially different levels of economic development of the EU and the ACP and is therefore very concerned that too rapid a reciprocal trade liberalisation between the EU and the ACP could have a negative impact on vulnerable ACP economies and States, precisely at a time when the international community should be doing its utmost to support States in their drive to meet the MDGs; and accordingly calls on the Commission to ensure that special and differential treatment is given to ACP countries in the EPAs, pursuant to Article 34(4) of the Cotonou Agreement;

13.   Stresses that respect for workers' rights, is an essential element in combating poverty and achieving the MDGs, since it promotes the development of sustainable livelihoods and the social conditions where equality and democracy can be strengthened;

14.   Emphasises that the Lomé Conventions failed to stimulate adequate development within the ACP, that improved market access alone is not enough to stimulate development and that preference erosion calls for new instruments; stresses however that EPAs will not be any more successful if they are not wholly targeted at sustainable development and therefore calls for the EPA negotiations to really create new and improved market access opportunities for export of goods and services from ACP countries;

15.   Stresses the importance of Commission initiatives to stimulate product diversification and value-added production;

16.   Urges the Commission to support mechanisms for producers to be involved and participate in price determination where feasible, as provided for in the Cotonou Agreement Compendium; calls on the EU to promote fair trade as a mechanism to improve the conditions for small and marginalised producers and poor workers;

17.   Urges the Commission to take into account the budgetary importance of tariff revenues in many ACP states, which will be vastly reduced by any agreement for reciprocity with the EU; calls on the Commission to propose and fund comprehensive fiscal reform programmes ahead of full reciprocal market opening; calls for the introduction of WTO-compatible safeguard mechanisms, allowing for temporary import restrictions if a domestic industry is damaged or threatened with damage caused by a surge in imports;

18.   Recognises the potential for this loss of revenue to be replaced by other direct taxes or VAT, but stresses the regressive nature of some of these tax regimes which would disproportionately impact on the poor, as well as the technical problems related to their introduction and practical implementation;

19.   Calls on the Commission to introduce a safeguard mechanism in the EPAs, in order to provide the ACP with sufficient policy space and, if necessary, the possibility to take measures in the event of balance of payments difficulties or macro-economic shocks;

20.   Underlines the importance of the Commission fulfilling the commitment made by Mr Barroso to provide EUR 1 billion in aid-for-trade to developing countries and calls for further money, additional to existing European Development Fund commitments, to be made available if necessary; regrets that inadequate provision has been made both for this and for the suggested EUR 190 million per annum promised for Sugar Protocol countries in the Council's agreement on the next Financial Perspectives;

21.   Noting the importance of investment for the economic development of the ACP, urges the Commission to seek changes in the working of the European Investment Bank's investment facility, to enable the facility to promote additional and pro-development investment;

22.   Considers the improvement of education and infrastructure to be necessary prerequisites to the opening of ACP markets and therefore asks the Commission to guarantee greater resources and a mechanism that allows early disbursement to ACP countries to address supply-side constraints, the external effects of CAP reform and increasingly demanding EU regulatory standards;

23.   Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the needs of LDCs and provide adequate support for capacity-building and to address supply-side constraints in order to allow such countries to take advantage of the market access granted under EBA;

24.   Asks that the leaders of the ACP countries use resources more effectively, within a framework of greater responsibility, good governance and democracy;

25.   Calls for any market opening to be carried out within the framework of EPAs to be made contingent upon the achievement of specific development targets and the provision of adequate resources to address all of the additional costs involved;

26.   Stresses the importance of achieving substantial intra-regional integration prior to embarking on a programme of inter-regional integration;

27.   Insists that a timely and effective delivery of trade-related assistance should be guaranteed to ACP countries and regions to strengthen their trade capacity in the run-up to the EPA negotiations;

28.   Notes that EPA negotiations have led in some cases to the creation of new regional economic groupings, encompassing countries of markedly different development levels, causing difficulties in ACP countries and contributing to overlapping regional economic communities;

29.   Welcomes the role of regional integration processes, stimulated by the EPAs and identified as a priority in the Cotonou Agreement, in helping countries develop internal markets, attract investors and address supply-side constraints; however, calls on the Commission to take into consideration the need for transition periods in order to protect strategic products and industries and to introduce WTO-compatible safeguard mechanisms and find compensation for losses in tariff revenues;

30.   Reminds the Commission that it might not be feasible for all regional groupings to be in a position to begin gradually implementing an asymetrically reciprocal Free Trade Agreement with the EU by 2008 unless adequate supporting measures are taken;

31.   Calls for the Commission to ensure greater coherence and cohesion between the trade-related content of EPAs, the accompanying and adjustment measures and the timely and effective delivery of support; and calls for greater collaboration between Directorates-General Development, Trade and External Relations, and the EuropeAid - Cooperation Office, as well as EU Member States, on how to best deliver EPA development support;

32.   Urges the Commission to focus its attention on and prioritise improving production and processing capacities, and national and regional trade within the ACP;

33.   Deplores the speed with which the initial all-ACP phase of the EPA negotiations was conducted and regrets the lack of genuine conclusions at that stage;

34.   Considers that the role of the ACP Secretariat should be strengthened in coordinating these negotiations if it provided relevant information on the state of negotiations in different ACP regions;

35.   Calls on the Commission to respect the wishes of ACP leaders if they wish to reopen the all-ACP phase and resolve any remaining divergences;

36.   Calls on the Commission to start developing alternatives so that ACP countries can make an informed choice, and especially to consider a better implementation of a GSP+ regime,

37.   Recalls that the Cotonou Agreement provides that in the event that a country or region does not wish to sign up to an EPA/FTA it should not find itself worse off in terms of market access; calls on the Commission to examine all alternative possibilities including non-reciprocal arrangements as stated in Article 37(6) of the Cotonou Agreement, which provision should be respected if ACP countries accepted this;

38.   Notes that in order to push for greater flexibility, the Commission and the ACP countries need to work in partnership, in the spirit of the Cotonou Agreement, to press for a development-friendly revision of GATT Article XXIV such that non-reciprocal EPAs might be allowed; for this purpose, calls on the Commission to consider that EU and ACP countries together are a constituency large enough to demand for eventual reforms of WTO rules, to make them more just and suited to the needs of both developing countries and small European producers;

39.   Urges the Commission not to pursue investment, competition rules and government procurement within the EPA negotiations before achieving an explicit consensus with the ACP regions;

40.   Calls for greater transparency with regard to the progress and the substance of the negotiations as well as the delivery of EPA development assistance, and for greater involvement of ACP civil society players, the private sector, national-level parliaments, local governments, the European Parliament and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly in the negotiations;

41.   Welcomes the review of the EPA negotiations due to take place in 2006, as provided for in Article 37 (4) of the Cotonou Agreement, and trusts that it will be perceived as an opportunity to engage in a comprehensive and genuine assessment of the extent to which the EPAs will promote the appropriate conditions for poverty eradication and for long-term social and economic development to flourish;

42.   Recalls and supports the Cape Town Declaration, unanimously adopted by the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, which called for the establishment of development benchmarks against which to assess the conduct and outcome of the ACP-EU trade negotiations; and calls for the use of such benchmarks in all reviews of the progress made;

43.   Urges the Commission to proceed along these lines, implementing a new monitoring mechanism, with full involvement of parliamentarians and civil society, to ensure political scrutiny and accountability against development objectives or established benchmarks throughout the negotiating process;

44.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the EU Member States and of the ACP countries, the ACP-EU Council and the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.

(1) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(2) OJ C 231, 27.9.2002, p. 63.
(3) http://www.un.org/summit2005/ See also http://www.un.org/ga/59/hl60_plenarymeeting.html


European politicial parties
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European Parliament resolution on European political parties (2005/2224(INI) )
P6_TA(2006)0114 A6-0042/2006

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to Article 191 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, Article 12(2) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and Article 6(4) of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to Article I-46(4) of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe,

–   having regard to Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 4 November 2003 on the regulations governing political parties at European level and the rules regarding their funding(1) (the Regulation), particularly Article 12 thereof,

–   having regard to the Secretary-General's report of 21 September 2005 to the Bureau on party funding at European level pursuant to Article 15 of the Bureau decision of 29 March 2004 on implementing provisions for the Regulation(2) ,

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A6-0042/2006 ),

A.   whereas the further development of a democratic EU that is close to its citizens is a precondition for public support for the next steps towards European integration, and therefore a high priority must be given to making European democracy a reality,

B.   whereas political parties, including European political parties, are vital elements in building a European political area, benefiting democracy at European level,

C.   whereas political parties play an important role in promoting democratic values such as freedom, tolerance, solidarity and gender equality,

D.   whereas deeper reflection on the future of Europe requires a comprehensive dialogue with its citizens, and political parties at European level must play a key role in this dialogue,

E.   whereas in many EU Member States political parties are supported from public funds in their work of political information and opinion-forming,

F.   whereas the political families have banded together as European political parties, and their work is supported from Community funds,

G.   whereas Article 191 of the Treaty provides a basis for public funding of European parties at EU level,

H.   whereas the European political parties are not allowed to build up reserves by saving grant payments or by saving their own resources; whereas, when the balance sheet shows that parties end up with a positive financial result (profit), the amount of the surplus is deducted from the final grant,

I.   whereas the Regulation was the first step towards a legal framework for the European political parties,

J.   whereas the political parties have expressed a number of wishes in relation to the future shape of party funding at European level(3) ,

K.   whereas Parliament's Secretary-General has submitted a report on the application of the Regulation,

L.   whereas the provision of public funding for parties under the Regulation is not intended to make it more difficult, or indeed impossible, for the European political parties to build up reserves from their own resources (donations, membership subscriptions, fees), as they are merely prohibited from using the political funding to achieve a surplus at the end of the financial year;

M.   whereas a European political party, like any other organisation, whether profit-making or non-profit-making, needs, in making its long-term plans, to have a minimum degree of financial security, not least because it has to honour its commitments to employees, suppliers and contractors over a lengthy period of time,

N.   whereas under the current rules the European political parties do not receive any financial guarantees extending over a period longer than one year; whereas the grants made to them are determined every year and are completely dependent on the number of parties that apply for recognition and the number of Members of the European Parliament that the party concerned accounts for; whereas the grants in question can change dramatically from year to year if new political parties appear or a shift takes place in the number of MEPs from the political party concerned,

O.   whereas two new parties applied recently for recognition and submitted grant applications to the European Parliament, thus increasing the number of European political parties from eight to ten,

P.   whereas at present the parties are highly financially dependent on the European Parliament because they can only fund their long-term engagements as long as there is a steady and guaranteed flow of grants from Parliament,

Q.   whereas the present situation does not encourage the European political parties to have any proper financial management, inasmuch as there is no real incentive to apply principles of economic efficiency in the management of expenditure,

R.   whereas the European political parties are required to submit an annual budget which is divided into five categories; whereas that budget structure is imposed by the European Parliament,

S.   whereas, pursuant to Article I.3.3 of the standard-form Grant Award Agreement between the European Parliament and a European political party(4) , transfers between budget categories may not exceed 20% of the amount of each category,

T.   whereas the limitation applied to the transfer of money between budget categories prevents the European political parties from changing their political priorities in the course of the year,

U.   whereas the European political parties can now have legal status, through having legal personality in the country in which they have their seat; whereas some parties have opted for the legal form of a Belgian non-profit association and others for the legal form of an international non-profit association,

V.   whereas, however, the fiscal treatment of the European political parties and that of the European institutions remains very different,

W.   whereas the Regulation requires the European Parliament to publish a report on application of the Regulation, indicating any proposed changes,

The political background

1.   Notes that there is a gulf between many members of the public and the European institutions, and one of the reasons for this is that to date there has been inadequate political communication or information about European policy;

2.   Is convinced that political parties at European level must take on a further role than solely that of umbrella organisations and become active proponents of European policy options, firmly rooted in all levels of society and working for genuine citizen involvement not only through European elections, but also in all other aspects of European political life;

3.   Takes the view that political parties at European level are a key element in the process of forming and voicing European public opinion, without which further development of the EU cannot succeed;

4.   Stresses the need for a genuine European party statute which goes further than the Regulation on the funding of political parties at European level, establishing their rights and obligations and enabling them to attain a legal personality based on Community law and effective in the Member States; calls for its Committee on Constitutional Affairs to consider the question of a European statute for European political parties from a legal and fiscal point of view and to draw up specific proposals to that end;

5.   Urges that the statute should include provisions on individual membership of parties at European level, on their management, on the nomination of candidates and elections and on arrangements and support for party congresses and assemblies;

Experiences and proposals for improvement

6.   Asks the Commission to examine the possibility of introducing, on the occasion of a revision of Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003, rules on the financing of political parties at European level from the Community budget, which are not based on the concept of grants within the meaning of Title VI of Part I of the Financial Regulation, bearing in mind that this concept does not accommodate the specific features of political parties;

7.   Notes that three actions were brought seeking annulment of the Regulation, which the Court of First Instance rejected as inadmissible on 11 July 2005, and that an appeal has been lodged against one of the judgments;

8.   Welcomes the fact that since the beginning of this parliamentary term, following the European Parliament elections in June 2004, eight alliances of political parties from the Member States have formed political parties at European level and have been able to receive funding under the provisions of the Regulation;

9.   Notes that the allocation of EUR 4 648 000 in funding for the budget year 2004 began on 18 June 2004 with a call for submission of proposals and was concluded with the Bureau's final decision on funding of 6 July 2005, in accordance with the Regulation;

10.   Notes with satisfaction that, in terms of appointing staff, the political parties at European level have taken account of the principle of equal opportunities for women and men to a large extent, and encourages them to ensure a better representation of women and men on lists and among elected members;

11.   Points out that the EU budget for 2005 included EUR 8 400 000 for party funding, which the Bureau has distributed to the eight parties which submitted applications, in accordance with the provisions set out in the Regulation;

12.   Notes that, in 2004, political parties at European level were charged a total of EUR 20 071 for technical support, i.e. rooms, technicians and particularly interpretation, which under the Regulation is provided by Parliament against payment;

13.  On the basis of practical experience to date, and in view of the budget guidelines, considers that the following changes should be made to the system of funding:

   a) the Regulation lays down only the basic outline of the application procedure; to avoid an unnecessary burden on the applicants, it should be a two-stage procedure, firstly to decide whether a party in principle satisfies the conditions for support and secondly to determine the amount of funding;
   b) the timing of the payment of funds is not in tune with the way its recipients work; it should be changed so that 80% of the funding is paid out on signature of the financial agreement and the remainder at the end of the budget year on the basis of an account submitted by the recipient;
   c) to give recipients a greater degree of certainty in financial planning in the context of the binding budgetary principles laid down in the Financial Regulation, the Bureau and the Committee on Budgets, which draw up the annual budget proposals, should agree at the beginning of a legislature on a funding plan over several years, both with regard to the basic amount per party (15% of the total budget) and as to the additional amount per MEP from the party (85% of the total budget), and thus with sufficient flexibility to allow for any new parties;
   d) the European political parties must be placed in a position to make longer-term financial plans; they must, therefore, be able to use any of their own funds, particularly those derived from donations and membership subscriptions, in excess of the prescribed 25% of their expenditure to be financed from their own funds, to build up reserves;
   e) the current budget review procedure, or an amendment to the Regulation, should seek to introduce a limited exception which would allow 25% of funds granted for a budget year to be used in the first quarter of the following year;
   f) the strict division of funds between the five categories and the limited transfer of funds between them do not meet the needs of European parties; the financial agreement should therefore be changed so that a higher proportion of the funds can be transferred between the categories, on the understanding that the administrative burden in this procedure remains minimal;
   g) in addition there should be a possibility of sufficient flexibility in the annual work programme submitted by the parties for them to be able to react appropriately to unforeseen events in their political work;
   h) in the interest of efficient management of funding, the deadline for the parties to submit their final accounts should be brought forward to 15 May of the following year;
   i) to achieve the aim of reinforcing European political parties as factors in European democracy, and against the background of increasing demands on their political work as a result of enlargements (costs of translation, travel, etc.), an appropriate increase in the financial support for political parties seems desirable;

14.  Considers that during the present phase of reflection on the future of the European Union, the following questions should also be discussed:

   a) in what way can European political foundations be supported in order to assist in European political parties' work of political information and education? Parliament calls on the Commission to submit proposals on this matter;
   b) in what way can European lists of European parties be established for the European elections, to further the formation of a European political public sphere?
   c) what role can the European political parties play in referendums on European topics, in European Parliament elections and in the election of the Commission President?
   d) in what way can the role of European political youth organisations and movements, which are a vital means of nurturing European awareness and shaping a European identity among the younger generations, be promoted and enhanced? Parliament recommends the establishment of an internal working group, with representatives of the committees concerned, European political parties and the party-political youth organisations, which would present a report to the Bureau within a year on the role of party-political youth organisations and the best way of supporting them now and in the future statute.

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 297, 15.11.2003, p.1.
(2) PE 362.124/BUR/Ann. 2.
(3) Joint letter of 1 June 2005 to the President of Parliament from the following Members: Hoyer, Rasmussen, Martens, Francescato, Maes, Bertinotti, Kaminski, Bayrou and Ruttelli.
(4) Annex 2 to the Decision of the Bureau of the European Parliament of 29 March 2004 laying down the procedures for implementing Regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 (OJ C 155, 12.6.2004, p.1).


Demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations
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European Parliament resolution on demographic challenges and solidarity between the generations (2005/2147(INI) )
P6_TA(2006)0115 A6-0041/2006

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 14 March 1997 on the Commission report to the Council and European Parliament on the demographic situation in the European Union (1995)(1) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 12 March 1998 on the Commission demographic report 1997(2) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2000 on the Commission communication "Towards a Europe for all ages - promoting prosperity and intergenerational solidarity"(3) ,

–   having regard to the Commission communication to the Council and the European Parliament "Europe's response to World Ageing Promoting economic and social progress in an ageing world - A contribution of the European Commission to the 2nd World Assembly on Ageing" (COM(2002)0143 ),

–   having regard to the European Youth Pact adopted by the Brussels European Council of 22 and 23 March 2005,

–   having regard to the Commission communication entitled "Green Paper 'Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations'" (COM(2005)0094 ),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs and the opinions of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6-0041/2006 ),

A.   whereas demographic change, which is partly attributable to increased life expectancy, should not be treated just as a problem, but also represents a positive challenge to societies to engage people in all age groups and to offer opportunities which previously did not exist,

B.   whereas the Lisbon Strategy underlines the need for increased participation by women in the employment market in order to achieve the Lisbon objectives of full employment with high quality jobs,

C.   whereas Directive 92/85/EEC(4) provides for measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health at work of pregnant workers and workers who have recently given birth or are breastfeeding,

1.   Welcomes the Commission communication entitled "Green Paper 'Confronting demographic change: a new solidarity between the generations'" (the Green Paper);

2.   Welcomes the fact that, in presenting the Green Paper, the Commission has addressed at European level one of the key political and social challenges; stresses, at the same time, that numerous issues relating to demographic change in society fall exclusively within the sphere of competence of the Member States and that, therefore, there is no general Community competence for establishing European rules in this area;

3.   Regrets that the Commission Green Paper does not systematically incorporate the gender perspective at either the macro or micro level of analysis, although this is essential to develop comprehensive reflections and actions;

4.   Considers that demographic change and its impact on society are crucially important for the future of the Member States and of the Union; therefore calls on the Commission to acknowledge demographic change as a horizontal task and to take it into account in an appropriate manner, in the form of mainstreaming, in all the Union's activities;

5.   Observes that demographic change plus low economic growth/continuing high unemployment will increase these challenges exponentially over time; concludes, therefore, that growth should be increased and high unemployment should be reduced in order to counter the adverse consequences of demographic change;

6.   Is surprised that the Green Paper makes only passing reference to the healthcare aspects of demographic change; emphasises that, with an ageing population, the demand for health and long-term care services increases qualitatively and quantitatively; is convinced that investment in measures for the life-long prevention of illness is important for coming to terms with the human and financial aspects of demographic change; states that the longer people are in a position to enjoy healthy lives, the longer they can remain active and work;

7.   Agrees that, with lowering rates of reproduction, economic growth can be maintained through measures aimed at higher employment, innovation and increased productivity, as well as by modernising social protection;

8.   Advocates, in view of the marked change in demographic circumstances, a new solidarity across the generations and the further development of the existing social models in the European Union, the main objective of which should be to ensure participation in society, social security and social solidarity for all, and to encourage the potential of all generations;

9.   Recognises that different Member States are grappling with common challenges in this area, and are exploring different solutions with varying degrees of success; considers that there are no single one-size-fits-all "right" answers, especially in a Union of 25 or more member States; stresses that the need for a varied approach in tackling demographic challenges is further increased by the significant disparities experienced in the different regions and sub-regions; such disparities will require imaginative, non-uniform approaches;

10.   Regrets that the Green Paper does not highlight the importance of reproductive and sexual health in demographic changes; points out that infertility, and particularly male infertility, is on the rise, especially in highly industrialized areas, and that in some European countries up to 15% of couples are now infertile, chemical pollution being one of the causes of infertility;

11.   Regrets that the Green Paper does not give consideration to the growing number of single-parent families, 85% of which are headed by women and most of which are subject to a higher risk of poverty and should therefore be given special support;

12.   Notes the experience of Member States in which there exists a 'guaranteed minimum income;

13.   Is concerned about the difference in healthcare systems in the Member States, regions and social groups; states that the difference in healthcare (low life expectancy, widespread chronic illness, illness caused by living conditions), along with a low birth rate and emigration, can lead to a further increase in regional disparities and to a vicious circle which is difficult to break; asks the Member States to notify their differences in healthcare so as to achieve, with help from the Commission, a systematic exchange of best practice and to overcome this issue effectively;

14.   Calls on the Member States to acknowledge demographic change as a common challenge and to decide on a more intensive exchange of views at the Spring European Council about the effects of demographic change and on proven practices, especially in areas such as active ageing, family living conditions and the balance between working life and family life;

15.   Believes that all Member States can learn more from each other by exchanging best practices more vigorously, particularly with those Scandinavian countries where a high participation of men and women in the labour market is coupled with some of the highest fertility rates in Europe and where the availability of free or affordable childcare facilities, parental leave opportunities and the rules on maternity leave are contributory factors in the high participation of women in the labour market;

16.   Welcomes the fact that the European Union, through measures aimed at improving the framework conditions, wishes to support the Member States in reducing the discrepancy between the number of children parents wish for (2.3) and the actual number of children (1.5) they have;

17.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to undertake and disseminate studies on population change in the individual Member States, taking account of the causes and the likely short-term consequences thereof;

18.   Suggests that when comparing best practice regarding female labour market participation, comparisons are sought from, other countries;

19.   Stresses that creating favourable conditions for couples to have the number of children they wish is one of the conditions for the existence and development of any society, given the social and economic challenges resulting from the declining birth rate, and that action should therefore be taken to support motherhood and fatherhood;

20.   Considers that the decision by many women or couples to limit or delay having a child or children may not be their choice, but a preference forced upon them by the challenge of reconciling work, private and family life; considers that it is not just in the interests of parents to enable them to have the number of children they want and when they want them, but also in the interests of society as a whole given the declining birth-rate in Europe at present; urges, therefore, that Member States adopt measures to permit and support the establishment and operation of high quality crèches/day-care facilities for children, the elderly, people with disabilities and other dependant persons at a price affordable to all, regardless of income; stresses that this is essential in order to enable full and equal participation of men and women in the labour market, to enable women to adjust their participation in the job market to their rhythm of life and to help reconcile family life and work;

21.   Urges the Member States to promote tax measures to encourage a higher birth rate and draws attention to the fact that women, in particular young single mothers, should be guaranteed special protection and support following the birth of a child;

22.   Calls on Member States to study the costs and benefits of unpaid, voluntary and unstable work undertaken by young people as a means of entering the labour market; points to the possible links between such activities and low fertility levels through reduced access to housing and reduced stability; calls on private companies to review their policies in this regard;

23.   Considers that gender equality and combating discrimination against women at the workplace, both at the level of employment and being entrusted with responsibilities, and at the level of pay, could and should play a crucial role in the creation of families, supporting them and, at the same time, reducing the birth shortage in Europe;

24.  Calls on Member States to do more to identify and overcome all obstacles to promoting families, including obstacles outside the workplace, by taking such measures as:

   i) permitting more flexibility at work, recognising workers' needs, so that they can better adapt their working time to their family and shopping requirements;
   ii) improving the limited access to the housing market, for example by promoting easier access for mortgage finance so that more people can become property-owners and thereby gain their  independence earlier;
   iii) producing family-friendlier tax policies;
   iv) promoting wider and more accessible childcare and dependent-care facilities;
   v) promoting thriving local schools;
   vi) improving compatibility of working hours with school hours, at the same time promoting flexibility in working time and combating a long hours culture;
   vii) the continued promotion of equality at the workplace;
   viii) renewed efforts to promote equality at home, a fairer division of household and family obligations and the elimination of stereotypes through public information and awareness campaigns;

25.   Calls on the Member States to increase the availability of proper housing for families, especially for one-parent families and elderly people, for example 'inter-generational projects', in connection with urban and rural development and town and regional planning;

26.   Calls for the modernisation and development of national social security systems, especially in the field of day care for children and dependent persons while recognising that this area is a Member State competence; notes that single parent families and lone elderly women are particularly endangered by social exclusion, isolation and impoverishment and hence particular attention should be devoted to improving the standard of living and social participation of this expanding section of the population when considering such reform;

27.   Wishes to see the Member States work towards cutting red tape associated with measures to support families with regard to childcare;

28.   Stresses that, despite the progress made by the Member States in terms of raising the rate of women's employment, other forms of discrimination linked to women's employment are persisting or becoming more marked; calls, in this context, especially, for Member States to implement properly Council Directive 75/117/EEC of 10 February 1975 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women (5) ; stresses that the pay gap between men and women and the fact that women continue to fill low-paid jobs for which they are overqualified diminish the necessary financial independence of women, which is closely linked to the decision to have children; recommends that the Member States encourage the development of female employment and women's access to quality jobs and to equal treatment as regards pay;

29.   Calls on the Member States, in accordance with the objectives set by the 2002 Barcelona European Council, in which it was stated that, by 2010, Member States should provide childcare for at least 90% of children between the age of 3 and mandatory school age, and at least 33% of children under 3 years of age; to put forward similar targets for facilities for the care of the elderly and people with disabilities;

30.   Considers that demographic change will require new and enhanced educational and social infrastructure for young and elderly people alike, including increased facilities for life-long learning, childcare, nursing care and care for the elderly; points out the need for enhanced social infrastructures designed to promote old people's vitality and reintegrate them more actively into societal life;

31.    Stresses that, in many Member States, there is the significant risk of public finance commitments becoming unsustainable in the long term, illustrating the urgent need for reform;  underlines the vital importance that EU decision-makers take into account the financial impact of new and existing social legislation;

32.   Calls on the Member States to promote the quality of jobs and of the working environment so as to facilitate the implementation of lifelong professional training, enabling women and men to meet both their family obligations and labour market demands;

33.   Calls on the Member States to identify equality of the sexes and a balance between work and private life as government priorities;

34.   Notes that mounting social security costs will require dynamic economic growth to finance them; points out that this can occur only if innovation is encouraged; observes that fiscal methods such as increasing taxes to fund social security are less sustainable in the long-term given the falling tax base and higher dependency ratio as well as the urgent need to stimulate entrepreneurship in Europe; highlights therefore the need for a holistic policy approach when considering social security reform;

35.   Believes that there is a need to develop beyond the concept of a 'welfare state', whereby the primary responsibility for welfare lies with the state, and more towards a 'welfare society' in which all stakeholders recognise that they too have responsibilities for looking after each other and that these responsibilities can be mutually reinforcing;

36.   Submits that the improvement of work-life balance for individuals should be a perpetual priority for governments; considers that this balance can be threatened by rising unemployment and increasing individual workloads; points out that more flexible working hours for women and men, provided they result from a free choice and are not imposed under economic pressure, can help them combine work and family life more successfully; concludes that this should require governments to be enabling individuals to make genuinely free choices rather than making such choices on their behalf;

37.   Calls on the Commission to consult both sides of industry on the issue of a better balance between working life and family life;

38.   Considers that the business case for making work places more family-friendly should be made more strongly; recommends that Member States should establish guidelines for companies wishing to adopt such measures, taking into account the particular challenges for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs);

39.   Calls on the Member States to implement rules establishing paid maternity/paternity leave following the birth of a child and to promote the use of the right to parental leave shared equitably between women and men; urges the Member States, to this end, to combat the economic, social and cultural prejudices associated with the right of parental leave for men; calls on the Commission to revise Council Directive 96/34/EC of 3 June 1996 on the framework agreement on parental leave concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC(6) ; considers that parental leave, with a simultaneous guarantee of job retention, should be taken up by both fathers and mothers; advocates a system of incentives which will encourage partners to share parental leave, and recompense for the costs associated with bringing up children; calls on the Commission to consult both sides of industry on possible changes to the reforms concerning parental leave which were introduced in 1996, the purpose of which might be to extend the minimum period of three months to six;

40.   Reminds Member States of the third principle of the European Charter for Small Enterprises, namely that small enterprises could be exempted from certain regulatory obligations; calls on Member States as well as the Commission to translate this principle into action;

41.   Cannot stress strongly enough the importance of access to education, skills development, technology and life long learning opportunities plus the promotion of a training culture that encourages participation by people of all ages, particularly those entering and re-entering the job market; stresses that real qualifications such as technical and language skills should be given higher priority to optimise individual mobility, adaptability and employability as well as self-fulfilment; stresses the importance of preventive early-school leaving interventions and the need to look at alternative means of assessment for access to further training; specifically highlights the need for training for older people in areas such as information technology to remove obstacles to their ongoing participation in the labour market; encourages the development of special education methods for older people to this end;

42.   Calls on the Member States, therefore, to give older workers, in particular, the opportunity to pursue professional training programmes, so as to ensure that they may play an active part in the world of work until they reach retirement age; invites the Commission, in this connection, to approve the operational programmes for the European Social Funds only if they include a specific element relating to training measures for old people;

43.   Advocates the conclusion of partnership agreements between governments and both sides of industry in accordance with national custom and practice to promote the employment of older workers through measures to combat age discrimination, more flexible working time and measures to reintegrate older workers who are unemployed;

44.   Considers that European companies, especially in view of the need to protect those social groups most at risk (including old people, persons with disabilities and, in particular, young parents), to improve workplace safety and to promote forms of work organisation that can help extend accessibility, have a vital role to play in actively promoting and implementing equal opportunities, particularly in regard to family policy and combating discrimination on grounds of age, gender and family status; adds that companies should shoulder their Corporate Social responsibility and embrace the challenges associated with an ageing population by such initiatives as the promotion of flexible working hours and part-time work, for example especially in regard to parents, prospective parents and older workers;

45.   Notes that EU legislation on age discrimination has so far been ineffective in achieving its aims and calls on the Member States to improve their efforts to implement existing EU anti-discrimination legislation in this field, in particular Directive 2000/78/EC on equal treatment in employment and occupation;

46.   Endorses the Commission initiative for a framework directive to implement Article 13 of the EC Treaty;

47.   Concludes that the business case for retaining older workers needs to be made more strongly considering the potential of this group; considers that the emphasis should be to encourage and enable people to work longer, and that employers should be led to realise that this is in the interest of both parties; considers that healthy older people should represent a positive resource for society rather than an economic threat; considers that more emphasis to the positive outcome of the European Year of the Elderly and of Solidarity between Generations (1993) should be given;

48.   Appeals to companies to offer more flexible working time arrangements which take account of the different stages of life and open up, develop and design job opportunities consistent with the needs of parents and older workers, in particular;

49.   Considers that Member States should encourage companies to develop the concept of "home-sourcing", whereby innovative companies employ individuals who choose to work at home at hours of their own choosing while being collectively "e-connected" to the main business;

50.   Takes the view that the social partners should ensure that there is an adaptable labour market in order to create more flexible jobs, which ensures that there is a possibility of a place and a use for everyone on the labour market;

51.   Notes that, given the mobility of European workers and the centralisation of the labour markets, it is now necessary not only to improve mutual understanding of the different social security systems, but also to ensure a smooth passage between one national system and another, in a form that applies to public, private and other forms of insurance;

52.   Highlights the importance of knowledge-capture from retiring employees, particularly in the public sector where, in France for example, 50% percent of the public workforce will be eligible for retirement in the next ten years; urges Member States to encourage both the private and public sector to adopt proactive measures to avoid the loss of valuable experience and insight such as the mentoring of those entering the labour market, phased retirement and the implementation of lifelong-learning programmes; calls on Member States to afford special assistance to SMEs in this regard;

53.   Believes that particular attention should be paid to the oldest age group (that is, the over-80s), 25% of whom are not self-sufficient, and calls on the Commission to submit a proposal aimed at achieving a reduction in that percentage by means of collective and individual measures and tackling the problems of state welfare provision and health and social services for those who are not self-sufficient;

54.   Recognises however that labour-intensive professions such as roofing, construction and farming face greater challenges in harnessing the productive capacity of older workers and encouraging young recruits; encourages Member States to develop good practice for these professions so as to avoid staff shortages and skills loss;

55.   Recognises the potential of assisted-living housing, which enables older people to live independently for longer by creating a community environment in which they can live among their peers with medical assistance and home-help provision where appropriate;

56.   Encourages Member States and private companies to decouple higher ages and automatically higher wage levels, recognising that some pre-retirement people, while appreciating some income, may not require the same level of salary or working hours as during their earlier years; highlights the importance of more flexible working opportunities, such as part-time working, in later years as a potential solution;

57.   Encourages Member States to remove all disincentives for older people to continue working, particularly in relation to tax and pensions, and to explore possibilities for retirement age workers to withdraw part of their pension whilst continuing to receiving income from employment;

58.   Points out that elderly people can play a positive role in providing child care, and that conversely younger generations often have to play a role in providing care for dependants; calls on Member States and employers to show that they recognise this more fully;

59.   Observes that in some cases, such as anti-age-discrimination legislation, the law can on occasion be counter-productive in that it can discourage or even prevent companies taking on older workers; asks that Member States investigate more thoroughly the impact and application of such legislation in order to assess whether such measures are having the desired effect; urges that the spirit as well as the letter of such anti-discrimination legislation is observed;

60.   Highlights that an ageing EU population is likely to lead to an increasing proportion of people having a disability; notes the persistent high levels of unemployment among this group; calls on governments and companies to facilitate the entry of such people into work by example;

61.   Regrets that 'active ageing' is almost exclusively defined in the Lisbon strategy in terms of paid employment, whereas the concept should be applied more broadly to include unpaid activities such as work in civic, political and other voluntary organisations; recognises that such active engagement in society in unpaid work requires an adequate income from other sources; recognises that 'active ageing' is closely bound up with raising the retirement age and considers such a move to be one possible response to demographic change;

62.   Recognises that pension systems are a Member State competence; considers however that with regards pension entitlements, workers in the public and private sector should be treated equally rather than those from one sector receiving preferential treatment; considers that steps must also be taken to promote phased and flexible retirement, taking account of increased life expectancy and better public health; recognises that as people are living longer they can also work longer and calls on governments to consider  financial incentives to encourage people to do so;

63.   Believes that all Member States can learn more from each other by exchanging best practices more vigorously as regards pensions reform;

64.   Stresses, in view of demographic developments, the crucial importance of strong, financially viable social security systems, in particular pensions systems which promote appropriate, sustainable pensions, and health systems which are based on the principles of solidarity, fairness and universality, so as to improve access for all citizens to appropriate high-quality care in the event of sickness or a need for care; calls on the Member States to take the necessary measures to modernise pensions systems, so as to guarantee their financial and social viability and enable them to cope with the impact of the ageing population;

65.   Believes that reforms of national pension systems should not just concentrate on making such systems financially sustainable, but should also help make the lives of the elderly more financially sustainable;

66.   Recognises however that it is difficult for state-funded pensions to fulfil people's income needs in retirement: considers that greater importance and energy should be committed by Member States to develop appropriate supplementary pension systems and to encourage personal savings;

67.   Considers that national state-funded pensions, at whatever level determined by Member States, should be available equally to all as an entitlement and as such should not be subject to means-testing;

68.   Recalls that owners of small enterprises are subject to demographic change in the same way as employed workers; is alarmed that in the next ten years a third of European small business owners will retire and encourages all actors to promote entrepreneurialism not only to capture the skills and knowledge of this group but also to offset the negative consequences for growth;

69.   Considers that immigration policies which seek to promote the sustainable economic, social and legal integration of migrants are vital in order to achieve a balance between the respective rights and responsibilities of migrants and host societies, and that admission mechanisms for third country nationals must be managed effectively and transparently; prerequisites of the integration process are equal treatment through the elimination of all discrimination against migrants and their offspring and a close alignment with employment and social affairs policies; such policies should be encouraged in a bid to alleviate certain democratic challenges; recognises however that immigration in itself will not resolve all the problems associated with demographic change and also creates its own challenges;

70.   Notes that in the regions of Eastern Europe there is huge migratory outflow of young women, and that a responsible economic and employment policy and the targeted deployment of European Structural Funds under the existing provisions for gender mainstreaming and gender budgeting in the interests of women are therefore needed there;

71.   Recognises that management of immigration is a Member State competence; considers that greater efforts should be focused on education and skills development specifically for immigrants and ethnic communities;

72.   Considers that the proportion of ethnic minority people amongst those elderly requiring long term care is increasing substantially in some Member States; considers moreover that it should not be assumed that migrants and their offspring will prefer to return to their country of origin, particularly in old age, or where their offspring have been raised within the EU; adds that although the availability of quality childcare and elderly care is important to all ethnic groups, particularly for all women, it impacts on each ethnic groups differently and due attention should be paid to this in planning these services; stresses that anti-discrimination and equal treatment in the provision of such services is also key; recommends that more attention be paid to this aspect, particularly as regards comparing best practice;

73.   Notes that not enough attention has been paid hitherto to the integration of migrants, which is reflected, in part, in the low level of educational success and the continuing marginalisation of these new fellow-citizens; therefore calls on the Member States to step up their measures to promote integration, especially for migrants who have been living in the Union for some time;

74.   Emphasises the important role played by migrant women, and calls on the Member States to give them the place they deserve in their integration policies and to guarantee them all their rights; highlights the trend towards undocumented migrant women increasingly being employed as domestic workers to care for dependent persons; notes that this group may be subject to exploitation and calls on Member States to address this issue;

75.   Points out that immigrants arriving in their thirties and forties may well have no pension provision; calls on Member States to seek out best practice in dealing with this situation so as to avoid even greater pressure on pension systems;

76.   Reminds Member States that demographic change also applies to Least Developed Countries, which likewise face challenges associated with ageing populations poverty and the unequal distribution of income as well as a burgeoning problem of youth unemployment; would encourage Member State governments and the EU to consider this factor when formulating aid and cooperation programmes;

77.   Points out that policies which give immigration priority to skilled workers in order to strengthen EU economies also generate the direct opposite result of weakening the economies of those countries whence such skilled immigrants have come; considers that Member States should recognise their responsibilities in this regard;

78.   Urges Member States to improve the provision of services of general interest in rural areas, thereby allowing older people to continue to live independently for longer, reducing the demand on health systems and social security systems and avoiding a culture of premature dependence;

79.   Notes that care services must be safeguarded in the Member States as a result of demographic change, and calls for an enhanced exchange of good practice in this area; calls for care services to be protected as services of general interest and therefore calls on the Commission to incorporate such protection into the Green Paper on social services;

80.   Stresses the importance of sharing of information and best practice among Member States on how health systems can prepare for the increased demands placed on them by an ageing population;

81.   Recommends that the Member States implement policies to prevent the risks of exclusion, with particular reference to exclusion from school and becoming homeless, and points to the importance of giving priority to all measures aimed at maintaining family solidarity, in particular with regard to protecting the rights of children, while also respecting their parents' rights;

82.   Stresses the importance of providing cultural and leisure activities aimed at the older generation in recognition of the opportunities presented by the silver economy;

83.   Recommends that more attention be paid to standardising the different assumptions used by different Member States in supplying information to EUROSTAT so that best practice can be more validly compared and also embraced;

84.   Calls on the Commission and the Member States to use the future Seventh Research Framework Programme for matters relating to demographic trends, support for the family and strengthening health;

85.   Within the context of the Community programme PROGRESS, calls on the Commission to carry out appropriate studies, analyses and peer reviews relating to demographic change and its impact on society and on the relevant policy areas;

86.   Concludes that while the EU should continue to compare and contrast Member State performances, experiences and best practice in terms of dealing with the various challenges of demographic change, existing EU institutions are adequate for this purpose and no additional EU structures are required;

87.   Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, and the Governments and Parliaments of the Member States.

(1) OJ C 115, 14.4.1997, p. 238.
(2) OJ C 104, 6.4.1998, p. 222.
(3) OJ C 232, 17.8.2001, p. 381.
(4) OJ L 348, 28.11.1992, p. 1.
(5) OJ L 45, 19.2.1975, p. 19.
(6) OJ L 145, 19.6.1996, p. 4.


Promotion of crops for non-food purposes
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European Parliament resolution on the promotion of crops for non-food purposes (2004/2259(INI) )
P6_TA(2006)0116 A6-0040/2006

The European Parliament,

-   having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 November 2000, 'Towards a European strategy for the security of energy supply' (COM(2000)0769 ),

-   having regard to the Commission Communication of 26 November 1997, 'Energy for the future: renewable sources of energy - White Paper for a Community Strategy and Action Plan' (COM(1997)0599 ),

-   having regard to Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market(1) ,

-   having regard to the Commission Communication of 26 May 2004, 'The share of renewable energy in the EU - Commission Report in accordance with Article 3 of Directive 2001/77/EC, evaluation of the effect of legislative instruments and other Community policies on the development of the contribution of renewable energy sources in the EU and proposals for concrete actions' (COM(2004)0366 ),

-   having regard to the Commission's 'Intelligent Energy - Europe' Programme(2) , its Communication of 7 December 2005, 'Biomass Action Plan' (COM(2005)0628 ), and its Communication of 8 February 2006 on EU Strategy for Biofuels' (COM(2006)0034 ),

-   having regard to Directive 2003/30/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 8 May 2003 on the promotion of the use of biofuels or other renewable fuels for transport(3) ,

-   having regard to Directive 98/70/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 1998 relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Council Directive 93/12/EEC(4) ,

-   having regard to Council Regulation (EC) No 1782/2003 of 29 September 2003 establishing common rules for direct support schemes under the common agricultural policy and establishing certain support schemes for farmers(5) ,

-   having regard to Decision No 280/2004/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 concerning a mechanism for monitoring Community greenhouse gas emissions and for implementing the Kyoto Protocol(6) ,

-   having regard to Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 on restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity(7) ,

-   having regard to its resolution of 29 September 2005 on the share of renewable energy in the EU and proposals for concrete actions(8) ,

-   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

-   having regard to the report of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (A6-0040/2006 ),

A.   whereas the production of renewable raw materials represents a way of linking the common agricultural policy with modern, innovative policies such as those set out in the Lisbon and Gothenburg European Council conclusions,

B.   whereas, in the context of sustainable development, the production of renewable raw materials and the use of organic waste can contribute to the improvement of the environment, the sustainable production of energy, employment and regional balance, while playing a role in rendering multifunctional agriculture more diverse and self-sufficient,

C.   whereas, by partly replacing fossil energy sources, renewable raw materials are able, hand in hand with a balanced and strategic mix of all energy sources, to contribute to the reduction of the EU energy dependence, minimising the political and economic risks resulting from imports; whereas, at the same time, renewable raw materials contribute to the reduction of greenhouse emissions as well as to a better management of the life cycle of materials,

D.   whereas the development of non-food crops must not undermine the strategic objective of food self-sufficiency, which has been one of the objectives of the common agricultural policy since its inception,

E.   whereas although non-food crops appear to offer new opportunities for modern farming, particularly in the domain of energy, care must be taken when setting the competitive framework within which the substitution of non-food crops is viable for farmers and enables a new processing industry to operate,

F.   whereas if the EU's move towards energy diversification for the purpose of combating the greenhouse effect is to have any validity, policies designed to develop biofuels and exploit biomass must themselves be based on energy-saving production models,

G.   whereas although the development of non-food crops may help alleviate global warming, energy and environmental cost-benefit analyses should be undertaken from the outset, in order to calculate all the production costs and accurately assess the value of any new guidelines that may be adopted,

H.   whereas oil and natural gas reserves are steadily diminishing, oil production is likely to decline during the course of the next 15 years, and oil prices will consequently rise; whereas it is therefore imperative that the use of energy in the agricultural and food sector is sparing and efficient, above all through a reduction in the transport distances and through decentralised food supply and energy production,

I.   whereas the use of biomass for the production of energy is multi-faceted, involving energy production, environmental protection, standardisation, and security of supply through the use of local renewable energy sources and raw materials,

J.   whereas the need of the rapidly industrialising economies of Asia and other developing areas for conventional fuels will increase significantly in the near future, representing a key factor in the reduction of world oil reserves,

K.   whereas security of supply must be ensured through the diversification of energy sources, in order to make the EU less dependent on the imports of fossil fuels from third countries,

L.   whereas, in rural areas, biofuels can create much more employment than fossil fuel alternatives and can even provide a genuine socio-economic alternative in many areas affected by a decline in or the disappearance of native crops subject to CAP reforms, as in the case of sugar beet and cotton,

M.   whereas the increased use of renewable energy sources can have a beneficial impact, including, among other things, on jobs in areas of high unemployment, by fostering increased production in agricultural areas, higher employment levels and the development of industry and services in connection with renewable energy sources and a resumption of the farming of land abandoned as a result of political changes in the new Member States,

N.   whereas Directive 2003/30/EC on biofuels provides that, by 2010, the target consumption of biofuel as a proportion of all transport fuel should be 5,75%, which corresponds to the equivalent of 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year; whereas the level of consumption of biofuel in Member States is at present only 1,4% of total transport fuel; and whereas a substantial change in policy is therefore recommended,

O.   whereas many Member States rely on fuel tax exemptions to promote the production of biofuels, which is facilitated by Directive 2003/96/EC on energy taxation,

P.   whereas it is necessary to establish an internal market for agricultural products for energy and fuel purposes,

Q.   whereas all EU and Member State subsidies, tariffs, and regulations or directives relating to the promotion of energy crops and biofuels must be sustainable and compatible with WTO obligations,

R.   whereas the cultivation of energy crops can impact positively on biodiversity, soil, and water resources, provided that cultivation extends crop rotation, cross-compliance requirements are fully observed, and active steps are undertaken to improve soil fertility,

S.   whereas the potential of agricultural and forestry by-products, such as wood, wool, manure, straw, and slaughter waste should be further exploited in the context of energy production from agricultural products,

T.   whereas not only consumers, but also farmers and forest holders need to be informed about the properties of non-food uses of crops, biomass production, renewable energy and the opportunities they provide for the farm and forest sectors,

U.   whereas the recent CAP reform has created the conditions necessary for the development of non-food crops through decoupling, the use of the energy crops regime, and the cultivation of set-aside land,

V.   whereas biomass energy is a renewable source of energy with a huge potential, particularly for sustainable farming,

W.   whereas the main forms of biomass energy include transport biofuels (made mostly from cereal, sugar and oil seed crops and waste oils), domestic biomass heating (using wood and wood residues), the burning of wood wastes, straw, and agricultural waste in power plants to produce electricity or heat or both,

X.   X whereas renewable energy currently has prospects of comprising only 9 to 10% of the EU's energy mix by 2010 and not the 12% target,

Y.   whereas, since the new Member States of Central and Eastern Europe, together with Bulgaria and Romania, which are due to accede to the EU, are potential producers of renewable energy sources and they since receive or will receive a significant share of the aid from the EU's Structural and agricultural funds, it is necessary to encourage these countries fully in order to make effective use of their resources and include them in the horizontal rules of the CAP,

Z.   whereas, in the light of the EU's sugar reforms and discontinuation of the production of sugar beet, a thorough analysis should be made of the feasibility of increasing the existing potential for production of biofuels from sugar beet and other alternative crops on the land concerned,

A future for non-food crops

1.   Stresses the importance of increasing the support for research and development in non-food crop technology to enhance the potential and the efficiency of the industry; suggests that emphasis should be placed on the most viable bio energy projects, which are most likely to contribute to the rural economy, and which demonstrate the ability of biomass to contribute significantly to EU energy demands;

2.   Calls on the Commission to define a Community strategy and action plan to promote renewable energy sources in order to contribute to guaranteeing the security of food supply and improving energy efficiency in the EU, so as to ensure that secure food supplies are backed up by the best possible use of renewable raw materials;

3.   Underlines the fact that, far from being mutually exclusive objectives, the promotion of biofuels can have a major role to play in guaranteeing secure food supplies by keeping land in agricultural use;

4.   Calls upon the Commission to compile, with the assistance of the Member States, associations, and the parties concerned, a record of all individual and collective experiences relating to the use of biomass (renewable raw materials and organic waste from farming and forestry) for the production of biofuels, heat, and electricity, so that the most valuable initiatives can be replicated throughout the EU;

5.   Welcomes the efforts already made by the Commission to promote further deployment of crops for non-food purposes and to improve the efficiency of energy use via the setting up of its 'Intelligent Energy - Europe' programme, its 'Biomass Action Plan', and its Communication on Biofuels; calls, however, for better coordination with steps already taken in the Member States; encourages the Commission to adhere to the timetable announced for the initiatives and to implement the measures stemming therefrom as soon as possible;

6.   Considers, in the context of the long-term planning of EU energy policy, and ensuring that investors and producers benefit from economic and business certainty, that national action plans for biomass should be drawn up on the basis of integrated proposals, specifying priorities for the use of certain types of biomass and setting out specific environmental measures and policies for informing consumers about the benefits, problems and the contribution of this renewable energy source to sustainable development;

7.   Stresses the need to carry out research to explore the economic, ecological and technical factors involved in selecting suitable crops for cultivation on the basis of the particular nature of the soil and climate in each area;

8.   Calls on the Commission, in the agricultural sector as it does in other sectors, to promote, as a matter of priority, energy saving, the use of agricultural by-products for energy and the decentralised use of renewable materials;

9.   Stresses that the raw materials required for the production of biodiesel, bioethanol and heat and electricity generated from biomass should be sourced primarily from Member States' own reserves;

10.   Highlights the potential offered by the developments and the investments in the non-food crops sector for farmers subject to the sugar reform;

11.   Stresses the importance of making the targets in Directive 2003/30/EC on biofuels obligatory, with the establishment of robust monitoring mechanisms and with the aim that the commitments undertaken be achieved primarily from local European production; to this end, considers that the EU's trade policy must be consistent with this objective;

12.   Emphasises the fact that the establishment of obligatory targets must not result in the disappearance of or a reduction in the existing incentives for the production of biofuels in the EU; considers that the establishment of such targets should be subject to a revision of the Community rules on the taxation of energy products;

13.   Stresses, against a background of increasing scarcity of raw material resources, the importance of market mechanisms, which allow biomass energy sources to become competitive on a sustainable basis, even without public subsidies;

14.   Stresses that the development of the use of renewable energy sources should be considered in individual Member States taking into account local conditions, in close conjunction with the possibilities for such development;

15.   Points out the fact that all rural areas have considerable potential for biomass production but that the poorest of them always find it more difficult to harness that potential on account of their lower production levels and their natural and structural handicaps; points out that these areas should therefore be given priority in the use of Structural Funds for the purpose of exploiting their potential;

16.   Stresses the need, in the context of national and regional development strategies for 2007-2013, to draw up operational programmes to make use of biomass and to ensure that they are jointly financed by the Structural Funds, the Cohesion Fund, and the seventh framework programme of the European Community for research, technological development and demonstration activities (2007-2013),

17.   Insists that measures to promote energy crops must not be allowed to lead to further increases in domestic and business energy bills and consequently to a worsening of Europe's ability to compete as an attractive location worldwide;

18.   Urges the Commission to review the set-aside arrangements under the energy crops scheme, as set out in the CAP reform, and to increase substantially the maximum area eligible for additional aid and the level of payment; points out in this connection that it has recently called for the aid granted in respect of land used to grow energy crops to be increased to EUR 80 per hectare per year, on the basis of a maximum guaranteed area of 2 200 000 hectares;

19.   Urges the Commission to extend the list of crops eligible for cultivation for the production of biofuels in the support systems, to ensure that the most suitable energy crops are selected at local and regional level, to ensure corresponding forms of support for all forms of renewable energy sources, such as bioethanol, biodiesel and anaerobic digestion (biogas), and to provide producers with sufficient incentives to switch to this type of crop;

20.   Stresses that the promotion of crops for non-food purposes must be financed adequately, to include the rational use of funds, without thereby jeopardising the other objectives for the use of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development laid down in Council Regulation (EC) No 1698/2005 of 20 September 2005;

21.   Calls on the Commission to remove the barriers to the development of energy crops in the new Member States, which apply a simplified single area payment scheme (SAPS) and thus receive no financial support from the EU;

22.   Considers it important for energy crop premiums to be excluded from the phasing-in mechanism in the new Member States;

23.   Takes the view that support for energy crops in the new Member States should be separated from the SAPS, with a view to ensuring additional support for such crops;

24.   Highlights that, in the longer term, non-food crops must become economically viable and calls on the Commission to provide industry with lasting solutions and a stable regulatory environment, which will encourage it to make the adjustments and investments required on the one hand, and to eliminate the need to provide public funding for such crops on the other;

25.   Stresses that particular care should be taken to avoid any intensification of production which may have adverse effects on the environment such as polluting the soil with fertiliser residues and plant protection products and depleting and contaminating water resources;

26.   Stresses the importance of encouraging the communication between the farming and the processing sectors through the provision of clear contracts, technology translation and other incentives;

27.   Asks the Commission to encourage, proportionately according to the situation of each Member State, the use of grants and loan programmes at EU, national and regional level for purposes such as the construction of processing plants and the development of feedstock;

28.   Asks the Commission to evaluate the potential benefits of non-food crops in terms of employment opportunities and reduced transport costs created by renewable energy plants being built in rural areas;

29.   Stresses the importance of establishing measures to ensure a certain quality of imported feedstock and the compliance with social and environmental standards on the basis of the standards in force within the EU;

30.   Urges the Commission to make further efforts to bring together product standards and support for renewable raw materials throughout the EU in order to promote an internal market for renewable energy sources;

31.   Calls on the Commission to support, by means of changes to the rules, the promotion of non-food crops, provided that such promotion meets the sustainable development criteria and encourages multi-functional agriculture throughout the EU;

32.   Takes the view that the impact of energy crops on the rural environment should be monitored and that thought should be given to the introduction of a regulation seeking to prevent the uncontrolled spread of crops recognised as invasive in given areas;

33.   Calls for the use of existing control mechanisms, such as cross-compliance, in order to ensure that biodiversity and the environmental resources of soil, water and air are not compromised by the bio-based production of fuel, energy, and materials and the reduction of greenhouse gases is in fact achieved;

34.   Asks the Commission to consider developing a transparent, public database at EU level, which includes the life-cycle benefits of renewable raw materials together with results from life-cycle assessments;

35.   Asks that public procurement strategies support the introduction of materials derived from biomass in order to raise awareness of the potential uses of renewable raw materials and of their wider environmental and health benefits;

36.   Urges the Commission to support the dissemination and technological transposition of European research, development and testing of biomaterials, bioenergy, and biofuels and to support a public awareness campaign;

37.   Stresses the need for the integration of national research, development and testing of bio-materials at a EU level, particularly with regards to the establishment of an EU-wide research programme on technology for the conversion of biomass into energy, fuel and chemicals;

38.   Calls on the Commission to take action with a view to reaching a compromise on biofuels between the motor vehicle and petroleum industries at the earliest opportunity, in line with the principle 'biofuels for cars, not cars for biofuels';

Opportunities provided by speciality crops and products

39.   Calls on the Commission to take measures to encourage the production of speciality chemicals from agricultural raw material in order to increase farm income and provide the market with environmentally friendly and healthy products in the place of non-biodegradable chemical products;

40.   Recognises that applications for speciality crops can be very effective on a decentralised and small scale, and could therefore benefit a large number of farmers; urges the Commission, therefore, to encourage developments in this area with a view to a gradual increase in their production;

41.   Encourages the recent developments made in the plastics, lubricants and insulation industries to replace conventional products by plant-based products; calls on the Commission to make the use of plant-based products compulsory in the event that they constitute good alternatives to conventional products;

42.   Underlines the potential of agriculture to produce pharmaceutical crops for the production of vaccines and other products that aim to provide the medical industry with adequate instruments for health care;

43.   Supports the use in agriculture of preparations produced from agricultural products such as fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides, encouraging organic farming methods as regards fertilisation and plant protection;

44.   Highlights that the increasing consumer demand for environmentally friendly and health-promoting products provides a challenge for the agricultural industry to produce raw material for natural and hypo-allergenic cosmetics, products made from natural, environmentally friendly textiles, and novel food products;

45.   Calls on the Commission to encourage further innovation, promising new technologies such as the combined production of paper and bioethanol from straw;

Promoting the production of heat and electricity from agricultural resources

46.   Highlights the potential offered by the use of agricultural residues and waste for the production of heating, cooling and electricity, employing methods which are economically efficient and ecologically sound and which are capable of making the agricultural sector and rural communities more self-sufficient;

47.   Calls for funding for research and rural development to be increasingly directed towards the more efficient and extensive use of organic waste from farming and forestry for individual and communal purposes in rural areas;

48.   Asks the Commission to promote efficient use of the biomass available in the form of forestry and agricultural waste and also the production of energy crops in the form of suitable plants, for example, fast-growing woody plants such as willows and poplars, or grasses such as certain poaceae, without damaging the vegetation communities indigenous to each Member State, for the purpose of generating heat and simultaneously helping to exploit certain types of waste;

49.   Stresses the importance of setting obligatory targets for renewable heat generation, heat generation from agricultural by-products and the potential for the use of district heating, which will stimulate the efficient use of biomass as a renewable energy source and the development of new local markets for agricultural products;

50.   Stresses that the best possible environment should be created for the use of biomass, clear principles should be laid down for support schemes, and more financial resources should be allocated to boosting the production of biomass and ensuring that it is used more effectively;

51.   Calls on the Commission to draw up a recommendation aimed at encouraging Member States to use effective incentives, such as tax cuts, in order to promote the use of renewable energy and the production of energy from renewable, local primary products;

52.   Suggests further promoting efforts to encourage the direct on-farm production and use of renewable energy, such efforts having already been made by many small-scale processors, where there are good prospects of rapid commercial success without a need for long-term subsidies;

53.   Informs farmers of the opportunities and business options offered by the cultivation of energy crops following the restrictions brought about by the revised common agricultural policy;

54.   Encourages the establishment of bio-refineries, which increase the cost efficiency of final products by the integral use of biomass;

55.   Calls on the Member States to raise the awareness of their citizens as regards the positive environmental effects of using biomass and renewable energy sources by organising publicity campaigns targeted at the younger generation in particular, in whom an ecological awareness must be cultivated;

56.   Points out that due account should be taken of the need to make use of agricultural by-products and other biomass waste, including biodegradable industrial waste;

Opportunities for biofuels

57.   Highlights that the replacement of fossil fuels can lead to economic opportunities and the creation of jobs in line with the Lisbon Strategy;

58.   Points out that since the EU is required to take action to combat greenhouse gases and to protect the environment, biofuel production - which represents the potential diversification of its energy sources - should comply with the rules upon which sustainable agriculture is based;

59.   Draws attention to the need to prioritise conducting studies into the development of new technologies for the production and use of renewable fuels;

60.   Urges Member States to consider measures such as further tax incentives and the blending of fossil fuels with biofuels as promising ways to promote biofuels in the future;

61.   Stresses, however, that the introduction of fiscal measures such as tax exemptions requires careful handling in order to avoid distorting the market through the over-compensation of imported biofuels and those forms of energy with particularly low production costs;

62.   Urges Member States to put in place taxes and duties for sufficiently long durations so as to ensure industry confidence and stimulate investment;

63.   Asks the Commission to consider putting in place qualified market access arrangements for biofuel imports from third countries such as Brazil, so as to safeguard the worldwide security of food supply, biodiversity and the CO2 absorption-capacity of virgin forests, through the targeted levying of duties and the promotion of rural development projects aimed at the sustainable use of resources in third countries, thereby allowing the biofuel industry in the EU to remain competitive while applying high environmental standards;

64.   Calls for increased research funding for new economically efficient and sustainable technologies, the development of which are better adjusted to the needs of the biofuel industry;

65.   Welcomes that appropriate attention is being paid to promoting research into new and more cost-effective biofuel technologies;

66.   Recommends that research and development into second generation biofuels should be given substantial support but also that serious account be taken of the opportunities afforded by existing proposals which make a substantial contribution towards resolving environmental problems, such as the production of hydrogen from renewable energy sources;

67.   Acknowledges that biofuels are more expensive than fossil fuels - at least for the time being and until cheaper means of production are found, hence the importance of allocating funds to research - but points out that the mixing of biofuels and fossil fuels has a positive impact on the environment;

68.   Calls on the Commission to propose, without delay, a revision of Directive 98/70/EC on the quality of petrol and diesel fuels so as to determine the adequate means to facilitate the realisation of the objectives set out in Directive 2003/30/EC on biofuels, and thereby further to promote biofuels;

o
o   o

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

(1) OJ L 283, 27.10.2001, p. 33. Directive as last amended by the 2003 Act of Accession.
(2) Decision No 1230/2003/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 adopting a multiannual programme for action in the field of energy: "Intelligent Energy - Europe" (2003 - 2006), OJ L 176, 15.07.2003, p. 29.
(3) OJ L 123, 17.5.2003, p. 42.
(4) OJ L 350, 28.12.1998, p. 58. Directive as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1882/2003 (OJ L 284, 31.10.2003, p. 1).
(5) OJ L 270, 21.10.2003, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 319/2006 (OJ L 58, 28.2.2006, p. 32).
(6) OJ L 49, 19.2.2004, p. 1.
(7) OJ L 283, 31.10.2003, p. 51. Directive as last amended by Directive 2004/75/EC, OJ L 157, 30.4.2004, p. 100.
(8) Texts adopted , P6_TA(2005)0365 .

Last updated: 14 September 2006Legal notice