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Procedure : 2011/2082(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Select a document: :

Texts tabled :

A7-0318/2011

Debates :

PV 13/10/2011 - 3
CRE 13/10/2011 - 3

Votes :

PV 13/10/2011 - 6.3
CRE 13/10/2011 - 6.3
Explanations of votes
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :

P7_TA(2011)0436

Debates
Thursday, 13 October 2011 - Brussels OJ edition

9. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
PV
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Peter Skinner (A7-0243/2011)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, European consumers’ confidence in the financial system has been severely tested in the last few months, and the Belgian case is clear evidence of this. I am convinced that the system of compensating the potential losses of consumers in the event of bankruptcy of financial institutions or insurance companies, together with insurance guarantee schemes, could make a precious contribution to reducing the risks of policyholders and beneficiaries.

I voted in favour of this report. However, I would like to emphasise that, until now, European consumers have not had access to sufficient information in cases of insurance company insolvency. This information must be easily accessible, comprehensive and comprehensible, but, above all, consumers must be clearly told which authority they can apply to should they need to claim compensation.

 
  
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  Eduard Kukan (PPE). – Madam President, I am glad that Parliament has finally adopted the amendments to Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process. These measures will revitalise trade with the Western Balkan countries and help their economies through privileged access to the EU market. In turn, economic development is to foster political stability in the entire region. It is in the EU’s interest to make efforts to mitigate the effect of the economic crisis on the Western Balkans.

These amendments permit the extension of the regulation’s validity to 31 December 2015. It took the European Parliament a long time to adopt these extensions and that had unwanted consequences for trade relations with the poorest countries in the region, such as Kosovo. I hope that in future, the European Parliament will act more swiftly in such a situation, taking into consideration Parliament’s position on the integration of the region and efforts to improve economic relations with the countries of the Western Balkans.

 
  
  

Report: David Casa (A7-0318/2011)

 
  
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  Alfredo Antoniozzi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, the legal mechanism devised as a temporary solution for adapting the value-added tax (VAT) system to the abolition of the internal borders is showing its limitations and shortcomings. There is a high level of exposure to fraud, a problem that must be solved as soon as possible. Furthermore, if we think about the considerable increase in commercial transactions between tradespeople based in different Member States and about the rise in the provision of cross-border services, reform of the VAT system appears obvious and inevitable.

I voted for Mr Casa’s report, but I still believe that the reverse charge mechanism needs to be explored further. In particular, we are not currently able to forecast what the effects would be of concentrating the financial risk exclusively on the retailer.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, we had yesterday the published reform of the common agricultural policy; spending on the CAP is not going to be cut in absolute terms, and in proportionate terms, it is going to have a massive cut from 40% of the budget to 38 point something. My point is not to rehearse all of the manifold failings of that system: the wanton damage it does to developing countries, in Africa in particular; the ecological cataclysm that it has caused in Europe with the felling of hedgerows; the encouraging of pesticides and chemical fertilisers; or indeed the way in which it penalises the poor both through their taxes and through higher prices. My point is that such a system has shown itself to be incapable of reform.

We delude ourselves when we think that we can get in and argue our case, and be reasonable, and change these bureaucracies and these mechanisms into something different from what they were set up to be. We have reached the point where there is no point in persuading ourselves that we need more treatment, more antibiotics. We have to face the reality that amputation is now the only way to save ourselves.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE). – Madam President, there are many positive aspects to this report but I am afraid I was unable to support it for a number of reasons. Chief among them was paragraph 10, which calls for a standard harmonised or reduced VAT rate on all intra-EU cross-border travel, regardless of the mode of transport, and for harmonised rules on VAT deductibility.

Derogations are an important element of the VAT Directive as they give Member States the necessary flexibility to address specific issues, and the continuing exemption on transport is vital for an island nation like Ireland. The cost of access for goods, and indeed for people, matter hugely to our economy and to ordinary individuals, so I think Member States need to have flexibility in shaping tax policies in order to meet their individual needs, and access to and from an island nation is certainly central to this.

In regard to the continuing availability of zero and reduced VAT rates, that is an important issue for Ireland. But finally, I want to say that I fully support the reduction of red tape and fraud that this very good report otherwise deals with.

 
  
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  Hannu Takkula (ALDE).(FI) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report because I think that value-added tax is very much a European tax. We should remember that, on this point, we really do need flexibility for the Member States. It is very important to remember that we should not, incidentally, start to bring taxation more into line with other Member States. Instead, each Member State should – as any independent country should – have the right to decide its own fiscal and economic policy, even if we have a system of open coordination within our internal market.

A particular concern that I would like to raise, and which this report certainly refers to, but which should be emphasised more strongly, relates to voluntary work. Voluntary work, in whatever form, should not be liable to VAT or any other tax. We need people who are prepared to work for different NGOs, not-for-profit organisations, sports clubs, and so on. They are worth their weight in gold and important for us in European civil society. Therefore, it is particularly important to ensure that voluntary work, sports clubs and those active in civil society are not subject to any form of tax.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Madam President, first of all, I would like to say that I made a mistake during the voting for this report, I wanted to abstain but I voted against it because someone was speaking in my ear at the time. Therefore, if that could be corrected, I would be grateful to you.

However, the reason why I, Ms Harkin and other members were not able to fully support this report was because it refers to tax harmonisation, and it is a cause of controversy in our country. Even though it is a good objective, maybe, in the future, it is too soon for us and therefore, we abstained from the final vote instead of voting in favour of it as our group wanted us to do even though it is a very good report in general.

 
  
  

Report: Sharon Bowles (A7-0337/2011)

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, I wonder whether in the middle of the fifth century, Roman philosophers and governors debated whether the solution to their problems was not more government, and more rapacious provincial governors, and higher taxes, and more uniformity and harmonisation, and, if necessary, the importation of Goths to do the work which it was no longer profitable for Romans to do. If they did, the evidence has been lost, but perhaps one day, scavenging over the remains of western civilisation, some future archaeologist might stumble upon the speech which the President of the European Commission gave yesterday, where he decided that the solution to Europe’s debt problems was more of what had caused it: more debt, more centralisation, higher taxes.

Given the magnitude of events that we are debating, all of these further agglomerations of power by central government do seem extraordinary. We are consigning this part of the world to utter economic irrelevance while on our borders, more virile nations are growing and taking up the slack. Altogether elsewhere, vast herds of reindeer move across miles and miles of golden moss, silently and very fast.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0534/2011

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, let us be clear that the essence of any new plan by this Commission and Council will be the same as the last, which is bail-outs for the banks and savage austerity for working class people. What this means is seen in Ireland today, where you have the pathetic sight of an elected government jumping through hoops for the ringmaster, IMF’s A.J. Chopra, and an array of unelected IMF and EU bureaucrats. We also have the sight of Taoiseach Enda Kenny scurrying to Brussels to receive his orders from unelected Commission President Barroso. The orders are clear: increase the austerity and sell off more state assets. The indications now are that we will be faced with EUR 4 billion worth of cutbacks and a tax next year.

The results of that austerity are just as clear. You can see it in Greece, where austerity has destroyed the economy, which is in freefall. In Ireland, despite the hype about improved economic performance, the reality is that domestic consumption and domestic investment continue to plummet, precisely as a result of that austerity. The spread of the occupying movement into Europe is a sign that young people – working-class people – are not prepared to accept it. We need to build those movements into a mass movement that can defeat austerity across Europe.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Madam President, I supported the resolution calling for a comprehensive plan to save the eurozone because I do think that we have to give a clear message to the Council to take fast, tough and decisive measures in relation to sovereign debt. I do think that we have to move forward to a more community method and fewer intergovernmental deals.

However, when I read in the resolution that we call for a plan for an economic ‘government’ – rather than ‘governance’ – of the eurozone, I think that at least we have to ask ourselves the question: are we calling for a two-step Europe? With ‘a two-step Europe’, I mean that a part of Europe which is not yet reformed, the eurozone, will remain behind, and the rest of Europe that has reformed will go forward.

I do think that it is very important that we call for what brings unity, cohesion and solidarity. We need common solutions for the eurozone because we have an integrated market. We have an integrated financial system, we have integrated banks. We need profound reforms in the Member States of the eurozone that have not done so. We have to have real market integration, complete the internal market and open up the internal market for services. We need more unity, more cohesion and more solidarity, not new divisions in Europe.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0532/2011

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I wanted to emphasise that I voted against the two amendments tabled by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group because it is unacceptable to change the rules in the middle of the game, while promoting double standards against Member States.

I welcome the European Parliament’s fair and principled approach to assessing the Schengen accession process for Romania and Bulgaria. Yesterday’s debate confirmed once again Parliament’s continuing commitment to the major flagship projects of European integration, such as citizens’ freedom of movement, the Schengen area and the euro area.

I disapprove that political decisions in some Member States give precedence to populist attitudes instead of to facts and realities. Every country is entitled to make its own decisions. However, the European spirit demands those countries which are currently expressing opposition to Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen area to come up urgently with a solution that is acceptable to all of us.

 
  
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  Anna Maria Corazza Bildt (PPE). – Madam President, I sincerely supported the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen, as they have fulfilled all the criteria set out in the Schengen evaluation process. This has been acknowledged both by the Council and Parliament. We cannot change the rules during the process and discriminate against new Member States just because of the domestic debate in some of the Schengen Member States. We have to stand up for freedom of movement in Europe.

Freedom of movement is one of the cornerstones of the European Union. I am sure that both the Bulgarian and the Romanian authorities will take all their responsibilities and continue to be committed to putting in place and implementing the Schengen acquis. To protect our citizens in the Schengen area, we are not going to build more walls; we have to move forward to a common migration asylum policy. We have to have better police cooperation. We have to implement the new Frontex legislation. It is not a time for divisions in Europe. Once again, it is time for more unity, more cohesion, and not for fractions.

 
  
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  President. – That concludes the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Recommendation: Dominique Riquet (A7-0307/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this document. International aviation relations between Member States and third countries have traditionally been governed by bilateral air services agreements. In 2002, the EU Court of Justice ruled that traditional designation clauses in Member States’ bilateral air services agreements infringe EU law because they allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals. This is contrary to Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report because I believe that a single agreement should replace the numerous bilateral agreements that were concluded in the past, and are still in force, between Cape Verde and Member States of the EU. The agreement will make recognition of EU air carriers simpler and more uniform, and will help ensure that existing anti-competitive provisions comply with EU legislation.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Riquet’s report because I believe it is necessary to swiftly approve the agreement between the European Union and Cape Verde in order to complete harmonisation of the current provisions on the subject. More specifically, Cape Verde has signed eight bilateral agreements, the provisions of which must, however, be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level.

The new approval became necessary after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled in 2002 that certain provisions of the existing bilateral agreements between the Member States and third countries in the field of air services conflicted with Article 49 TFEU. Subsequently, on 5 June 2003, the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with a view to replacing the provisions of the bilateral agreements with an EU-level agreement, given that the EU has sole competence in this field.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome this agreement, since it enables all European Union air carriers to benefit from the right of establishment, so preventing discrimination against air carriers from the Member States on the basis of nationality. Under this new agreement, European Union competition rules take precedence over the existing provisions of bilateral agreements.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that the traditional designation clauses included in bilateral air services agreements concluded by Member States infringe EU law because they allow a third country to reject, withdraw or suspend the permissions or authorisations of an air carrier that has been designated by a Member State but that is not substantially owned and effectively controlled by that Member State or its nationals.

These clauses constitute obvious discrimination, violating Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which guarantees that nationals of the Member States can exercise their freedom of establishment in a Member State and the same treatment in a host Member State as that given to nationals of that Member State. This new agreement that has been negotiated by the Commission, in addition to correcting a discriminatory situation, brings obvious benefits in that it replaces the provisions of the eight current bilateral agreements with a horizontal agreement that restores a solid legal basis for EU-Cape Verde relations.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I support this recommendation because I am in favour of greater cooperation between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde in the field of air services. It is absolutely crucial today to establish mutually supportive relationships between the Member States and third countries in order to guarantee greater efficiency and integration, which can serve to improve the aviation sector in the areas of tourism and trade. Therefore, I would stress the importance of replacing the traditional designation clauses with a single EU designation clause permitting all EU air carriers to benefit from the right of establishment in third countries. In the case in point, Cape Verde has, since 2002, signed eight bilateral agreements, the relevant provisions of which must be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement. This would make air links more straightforward, transparent and effective. This measure has the potential not only to improve existing relations between the EU and Cape Verde, but also to simplify future problems in the aviation sector with other developing countries.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) This agreement with the Republic of Cape Verde represents a small step down the difficult path of European integration that the EU and the Member States have been continuously following in recent decades. In the case in question and the field of aviation, another step is being taken towards the completion of the common market. Moreover, in this case, we are talking about its external aspect. I would stress these two aspects, and I also welcome the fact that this specific agreement has come into effect with Cape Verde, an African country whose official language is Portuguese: as a Portuguese Member, that makes me particularly satisfied.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this draft Council decision, which is the result of bilateral negotiations led by the European Commission to enable the Union to establish a single agreement with its partners. This agreement negotiated with the Republic of Cape Verde will give all European air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between that country and the European Union.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Cape Verde agreement on certain aspects of air services will replace the eight bilateral agreements of the same kind that have been concluded, and will standardise common rules on air services within the EU area. The agreement will enable all EU air carriers to benefit from the right of establishment and will ensure that there is no discrimination against air carriers from the Member States on the basis of nationality. Furthermore, the agreement lays down rules on the taxation of fuel and competitiveness.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation, drafted by Mr Riquet, concerns a proposal for a decision of the Council regarding the conclusion of the agreement between the Union and Cape Verde on certain aspects of air services. Eight Member States – Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom – had bilateral agreements with Cape Verde, which were against the spirit of the EU with regard to standardisation of procedures, as ruled by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Pursuant to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations and the agreement was signed on 23 March 2011. On 17 May 2011, the Council decided to submit the agreement to Parliament for approval. I therefore voted to conclude this agreement between the EU and the Republic of Cape Verde, since it will allow all European air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the Member States and this African country, as well as clarifying the rules on taxation of aviation fuel and on competition.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are doubtful and concerned about the proposal to conclude an EU-Cape Verde agreement on certain aspects of air services, as to the consequences that might arise from it, bearing in mind the current framework of liberalisation and the resulting monopolistic concentration in the sector. As a direct result of ‘free competition’, which is held sacrosanct, the ability of the Member States to defend their flag carriers is being reduced.

The path of opening up the market has a clear impact on national air carriers, in a sector which is strategic for safeguarding national interests, for various reasons. In addition, this agreement seeks to replace some of the provisions relating to competition in the bilateral agreements concluded by certain Member States, including Portugal, with a single EU agreement, thus harmonising the range of requirements and permissions enabling air carriers to establish themselves in the territory of Cape Verde. In this way, it supersedes the specificities of the bilateral agreements of each Member State in this area. As in the earlier cases of Brazil, the US, Canada and the Economic Community of West African States, we did not vote for this report.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We are doubtful about the proposal to conclude an EU-Cape Verde agreement on certain aspects of air services, with regard both to the consequences that might arise from it and the liberalisation process under way, and to the Member States’ reduced capacity to defend their flag carriers, which is a direct result of free competition. As this is a strategic sector for safeguarding national interests, the path of opening up the market has a clear impact on national air carriers.

Moreover, this agreement seeks to replace the current agreements with a single EU agreement, in particular, certain provisions relating to competition in the bilateral agreements concluded by the Member States, including Portugal. In this way, it seeks to harmonise the range of requirements and permissions relating to competition that enable carriers to establish themselves in the territory of Cape Verde, superseding the specificities relating to this matter contained in the bilateral agreements of each Member State. We therefore voted against this report.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK)? In 2002, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that certain provisions of the existing bilateral agreements between the Member States and third countries in the field of air services conflicted with Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) on non-discriminatory freedom of establishment which guarantees nationals of Member States who have exercised their freedom of establishment the same treatment in the host Member State as that accorded to nationals of that Member State. There are also further issues where compliance with EU law should be ensured through amending or complementing existing provisions in bilateral air services agreements between Member States and third countries. Those provisions required compliance with EU law with a view to enabling all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to air routes between the EU and these third countries. Therefore, in June 2003, the Council authorised the Commission to open negotiations with these third countries on the replacement of the relevant provisions at Union level. In the case of Cape Verde, the provisions of the agreement supersede or complement the existing provisions in the eight bilateral air services agreements between EU Member States and the Republic of Cape Verde. The agreement will serve a fundamental objective of the external aviation policy of the European Union by bringing existing bilateral air services agreements into line with EU law.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because, in this case, the Republic of Cape Verde has signed eight bilateral agreements, the relevant provisions of which must be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level. This single agreement allows all European Union carriers to benefit from the right of establishment, governs the authorisation and revocation of authorisation, and clearly states that in exercising its rights, the Republic of Cape Verde must not discriminate between air carriers of Member States on the grounds of nationality. It also ensures compliance as regards the taxation of aviation fuel with Council Directive 2003/96/EC on the taxation of energy products. It is worth noting that EU competition rules will take precedence over the provisions of bilateral agreements.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Guaranteeing a single framework in the field of air services between the Member States and Cape Verde is important both for the safety of our passengers and for economic relations with that African country. Moreover, that is why I voted for Mr Riquet’s text, which is aimed, in fact, at establishing EU-wide legislation on the management of air services with Cape Verde. Until now, the fragmented and unilateral nature of relations in the field of air services has led to agreements that fail to reflect the EU-wide unity of our work in this institution. Mr Riquet’s text takes into account the Council directives and aims for horizontal and joint management, rather than the current bilateral management, of agreements on transport services between the Member States and Cape Verde. I am certain that the terms and the spirit of this resolution can only bring benefits and opportunities from an economic and trade point of view.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report which is necessary because of a 2002 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that aspects of the EU’s external policy in the field of aviation did not comply with EU law. In the case in point, Cape Verde has signed eight bilateral agreements, the relevant provisions of which must be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level. More specifically, this single agreement contains the following: Article 2 of the agreement replaces the traditional designation clauses with an EU designation clause, permitting all European Union carriers to benefit from the right of establishment. The article governs designation, authorisation and revocation of authorisation and clearly states that in exercising its rights, Cape Verde shall not discriminate between air carriers of Member States on the grounds of nationality. Article 4 concerns the taxation of aviation fuel, which must conform to the provisions of Council Directive 2003/96/EC on the taxation of energy products. Under Article 5, EU competition rules take precedence over the existing provisions of bilateral agreements

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union has sole competence in the field of air services. The agreements signed in this field must, however, be based on criteria of effectiveness, proportionality and subsidiarity, meeting a basic objective of EU external policy in the field of aviation.

In the case in point, Cape Verde has signed eight bilateral agreements, the relevant provisions of which must be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level. Therefore, we support the conclusion of a single agreement aimed at replacing the traditional designation clauses with an ‘EU designation clause’, in order to permit all European Union carriers to benefit from the right of establishment.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I did, of course, vote in favour of the recommendation on the proposal for a Council decision on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde on certain aspects of air services. All European Union air carriers must be allowed non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and third countries. The eight agreements with Cape Verde have my full support.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Cape Verde agreement is very important for the future of relations between both parties. As such, and following the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, Parliament needs to be fully informed and consulted about the work carried out by the joint committee and the entities involved. Any agreement that is to be concluded must be adopted by Parliament, which will therefore need to be kept up to date with all negotiations, and it will even be important in the future for regular meetings to be held between members of this House and members of the National Assembly of Cape Verde, in order to debate all issues relating to aviation policy between the EU and Cape Verde. This agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and Cape Verde without any discrimination. This opening up of the market will contribute to improving the services provided to passengers.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The agreement brings existing bilateral air service agreements in line with EU law. Therefore, I voted ‘In favour’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In 2002, the European Court of Justice ruled that certain provisions of the existing bilateral agreements between the Member States and third countries in the field of air services contravened the freedom of establishment. Therefore, negotiations with those third countries, including with Cape Verde, were opened with a view to replacing the provisions in question with an EU-level agreement. The relevant provisions of the eight bilateral agreements previously concluded with the Republic of Cape Verde are to be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level. The strong emphasis on the freedom of establishment of foreign air services could, under certain circumstances, give rise to competitive disadvantages for the European aviation industry. For this reason, I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution on the conclusion of the agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Cape Verde on certain aspects of air services because the Republic of Cape Verde has signed eight bilateral agreements, the relevant provisions of which must be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level, in order to guarantee their compatibility with European Union law. Above all, we must stop discrimination between air carriers of Member States on the grounds of nationality. Air transport services must be provided in a non-discriminatory environment and on a sound legal basis. It is also very important to ensure that carriers are allowed access to routes between the EU and third countries and are also allowed to benefit equally from the right of establishment.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I fully support the proposal for an agreement on air transport between the EU and Cape Verde. I believe that, in this day and age, we need procedures that provide the best possible guidance for this type of activity, in order to ensure the safety of citizens and the monitoring of goods. I also believe that simplifying matters by adopting a single agreement at EU level on the establishment of air carriers in third countries is something that we need to do.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted against this report because I believe that, by granting all European carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and Cape Verde, it is harmful to the national interest, damaging the privileged relationship between Portugal and Cape Verde; a relationship of close friendship that is centuries-old.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) In the wake of the ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union that certain clauses included in agreements on air services between the Member States and third countries violated freedom of establishment, and following Council authorisation, the Commission opened negotiations on replacing these provisions with a single EU-level agreement. As a result, the eight bilateral agreements already concluded between the Member States and Cape Verde need to be amended accordingly. Since I believe this is a necessary means of guaranteeing the freedom of establishment of all EU carriers, in line with the fundamentals of EU law, I voted for the conclusion of this agreement, which was signed on 23 March 2011.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In 2002, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that certain provisions of the existing bilateral agreements between the Member States and third countries in the field of air services conflicted with Article 49 TFEU on (non-discriminatory) freedom of establishment. Those provisions needed to be brought into line with EU law to allow all EU air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and those third countries. In its Decision of 5 June 2003, the Council therefore authorised the Commission to open negotiations with those third countries with a view to replacing the provisions in question with an EU-level agreement (‘horizontal mandate’). The EU has sole competence in this field. The resulting agreements satisfy the criteria of effectiveness, proportionality and subsidiarity. They also meet a basic objective of the EU’s external policy in the field of aviation. In the case in point, Cape Verde has signed eight bilateral agreements, the relevant provisions of which must be replaced or supplemented by the provisions of a single agreement at EU level.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this agreement because I believe it has the scope to allow all European Union air carriers non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and third countries. In particular, Article 2 of this agreement seeks to replace the traditional designation clauses with a single European clause permitting all European Union carriers to benefit from the right of establishment and preventing Cape Verde from being able to discriminate between air carriers of Member States on the grounds of nationality.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the air agreements which the EU has concluded with third countries in line with Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union is to eliminate discrimination against certain EU air carriers in relation to freedom of establishment. In the case of this agreement with Cape Verde, the EU is seeking to replace the eight existing bilateral agreements with an EU-wide agreement: a so-called ‘horizontal agreement’. This agreement includes EU designation clauses, clauses on the right of establishment between the air carriers of the Member States, an EU framework for the taxation of energy products, and rules on competition.

This is an exclusive EU competence, but I would reiterate that Parliament should be consulted during the negotiation process, and not only at the end of it. I am voting for this report, as I believe that both parties will reap economic rewards from concluding the agreement, thereby promoting mobility and accessibility between European countries and Cape Verde.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) With this vote, the European Parliament is giving its consent to the conclusion of an agreement between the EU and the Republic of Cape Verde providing for an EU-compliant regulation in the field of air services between the Member States of the EU and third countries. This stems from a ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2002, which ascertained that certain provisions of the existing bilateral agreements contravened the freedom of establishment under EU law. In the case in point, the Republic of Cape Verde has eight existing agreements with Member States, the relevant provisions of which are being replaced or supplemented by the agreement that we are voting on here. Since the agreements satisfy the criteria of effectiveness, proportionality and subsidiarity, and all EU air carriers will be allowed non-discriminatory access to routes between the EU and these third countries, in this case Cape Verde, I voted in favour of this agreement.

 
  
  

Report: Peter Skinner (A7-0243/2011)

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I have voted in favour of this report which depicts how the EU can use insurance guarantee schemes (IGS) in order to ensure that the risks facing policyholders in the event of the failure of an insurance entity are reduced. This report aims at strengthening support for consumer protection in four main areas: ensuring customer protection in the event of the bankruptcy of an insurer; ensuring equal consumer protection regardless of the ‘home’ state of the insurer; ensuring consumer protection in the event of fraud or mis-selling; and ensuring taxpayer protection in the event of IGS failure. I support the rapporteur’s view that these policy goals can be adequately met by a minimum harmonisation directive that ensures the same level of consumer protection regardless of the location of the insurer writing the policy.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because insurance guarantee schemes are a valuable instrument for reducing the risks facing insurance policyholders in the event of an insurance company going bankrupt. I think that there needs to be a coherent and consistent cross-border framework at EU level for national insurance guarantee schemes in Member States, whose role is to offer consumers last-resort protection when insurance companies are no longer able to meet their contractual obligations. Taxpayers’ exposure to the failure of financial institutions must be kept to a minimum through effective and proportionate supervision by national and European supervisory authorities.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this important report. The aim of insurance guarantee schemes (IGS) is to give consumers protection in cases where insurance undertakings are no longer able to fulfil their contractual commitments. Under these schemes, people will be protected against the risk that claims will not be met if their insurance company becomes insolvent. IGSs differ frequently in coverage, which results in heterogeneous levels of policyholder protection between Member States. The lack of harmonised IGS arrangements in the EU hinders effective and equal consumer protection and impedes the functioning of the internal insurance market. Consequently, there is a loss of consumer confidence, market stability is put at risk and cross-border competition is distorted. I agree that, in light of the lessons drawn from the recent crisis, we must develop harmonised IGSs in order to remedy existing shortcomings and restore consumer confidence. National and European Supervisory Authorities, in particular, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), must consistently apply sound prudential rules and effective supervision ensuring a high level of consumer protection and the proper functioning of the insurance market.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are a crucial instrument for reducing the risks which policyholders face in the event of bankruptcy. They are important. I voted for the idea that all types of insurance products which European consumers buy should be covered by an IGS, and that the IGS will guarantee that they receive 100% compensation within a set period of time, applicable across the EU.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are a useful tool for reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the insolvency of an insurance company. I believe we will see an increase in cross-border activity over the coming years, and with consumers therefore being more likely to purchase insurance from firms operating from markets with differing or no IGSs, there are obvious issues in relation to consistency of consumer protection.

The European Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated its support for consideration of an EU-level approach to this matter, something which I fully support, especially in view of the wide variation in existing schemes across EU Member States.

Finally, I agree with the rapporteur that, given the serious implications of the failure of a national insurance guarantee scheme for market confidence throughout Europe, national supervisors should conduct specific Europe-wide stress testing on national IGSs to ensure they are capable of withstanding the failure of one or more insurers, and make recommendations where insurance guarantee scheme models are found to be inadequate.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The report by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs supports the introduction of a uniform system of insurance guarantee schemes within a legally binding regime. The introduction of this system is particularly necessary at the moment, since banking and insurance finance is in crisis and consumers, too, are suffering the worst effects of the crisis, with the result that they are deprived of consistent EU-wide protection today if insurers go bankrupt. The measure would help restore consumer confidence in the finance and insurance sectors, as well as fill some gaps in consumer protection legislation. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) A directive for harmonising the terms for protecting insurance consumers is designed to protect all Europeans, in the event of the insurer going bankrupt, from the complications which could arise, depending on the insurer’s country of origin, from fraud or mis-selling or from the failure of the guarantee schemes. The scheme for providing additional, standard protection to those using the insurance instrument must be designed according to the principle of subsidiarity. Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are regarded as an instrument for reducing the risks facing insurance policyholders in the event of an insurance company going bankrupt. The European Parliament has demonstrated its support for a common EU-level approach on more than one occasion. The issue of IGSs is obviously complex due to the extensive variety of existing schemes in EU Member States and to the interaction between IGSs, as well as to other aspects currently being examined at EU level, the most important being the imminent introduction of the Solvency II Directive. This will radically change the European insurance industry. In statistical terms, its economic, risk-based requirements will reduce the risk of an insurer going bankrupt to a one in 200 year event.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report on insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs), which are fundamental consumer protection tools for reducing the risks for policyholders in the event of the insolvency of an insurance company.

However, this is a very complex sector, both in terms of the application of the considerable variety of insurance schemes that exist in the Member States, and in terms of the implications deriving from the future introduction of the Solvency II Directive. Under the directive, a ‘ladder’ of supervisory intervention exists before an insurance company can go bankrupt.

In this regard, I support the position of the rapporteur, who identifies four main policy areas for consumer protection, regardless of country of origin, in the event of bankruptcy, fraud or mis-selling, and for taxpayer protection in the event of insurance guarantee scheme failure. These are areas in which an EU dimension to IGSs is necessary, through a harmonisation directive based on the same level of consumer protection regardless of the location of the insurer.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The proposals tabled by the European Commission in its White Paper on Insurance Guarantee Schemes (IGSs) are important if there is to be a European dimension. IGSs are considered valuable instruments for reducing the risks faced by policyholders in the event of insurer bankruptcy. The information available to consumers in case of insurer insolvency should be easily accessible, comprehensible and easy to follow. Setting up a single point of contact for all financial guarantee schemes ensures that the existing legislation really benefits consumers, especially as regards providing information and facilitating cross-border contact and payments.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) Developing an effective policy on insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) and implementing it correctly from a methodological point of view is a delicate and complex task, especially given that no mechanism exists to compensate consumers for the losses suffered in the insurance market. It is delicate, because applying it superficially is liable to affect consumer confidence; and it is complex, because the widely adopted parameters may not necessarily work for all the Member States. The Commission should therefore be commended for its work on this subject, because it has combined methodological rigour with the flexibility that is needed. Creating a subsidiary role for IGSs at national level so as to offer greater guarantees to consumers shows sensitivity and is evidence of a high degree of professionalism. The cross-border standardisation directive for IGSs demonstrates a very broad and consistent outlook, and puts the Commission in the position of guarantor of the consistency of the common insurance guarantee scheme. Therefore, it is particularly important to ensure that this image is not obscured in any way. I believe that special attention will have to be paid to transparency when information is exchanged: in the event of the insolvency of an insurer, having a coherent single point of contact for all financial guarantees will ensure that the directive genuinely benefits consumers.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) The principal goal of this own-initiative report is the protection of the European consumer and the increased integration of the internal market. The text proposes a series of elements strengthening insurance guarantee schemes in Europe. The current context of economic, financial and budgetary crisis has demonstrated that public confidence in the financial system can easily be shaken if there is not an appropriate compensation process to remedy losses incurred by the public as consumers of financial products. I therefore believe, firstly, that these are appropriate and necessary measures that reinforce confidence in the insurance system and, therefore, in the entire European financial system in general. Secondly, I believe they represent another small step in the continuous process of European integration. We must not waver from this objective, even for a second, if we aspire to a Europe in peace that enjoys greater justice, prosperity and solidarity.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I eagerly await the proposal to be tabled by the Commission on this issue, and believe that this report could and should make a significant contribution to the architecture of a future European directive on insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs). I agree with the rapporteur’s choice of the four priorities to be dealt with by a future directive: ensuring consumer protection in the event of the bankruptcy of an insurer; ensuring equal consumer protection regardless of the ‘home’ state of the insurer; ensuring consumer protection in the event of fraud or mis-selling; and ensuring tax-payer protection in the event of IGS failure. All of this is to come from a minimum harmonisation directive that ensures a level of consumer protection. Finally, I would stress the importance of IGSs with regard to reducing risk in cases of insurer bankruptcy, and would emphasise the importance this directive will have for the success of the Solvency II Directive.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In July 2010, the European Commission published its White Paper on Insurance Guarantee Schemes (IGSs), which included a range of measures, in particular, as regards bankruptcy. This is quite an important issue, not just because of the need to bring to an end the great variety of systems existing in the various Member States, but also because of the interaction between IGSs and other issues under consideration in the EU; in particular, the Solvency II Directive, which will come into force in 2013 and will reduce the risk of insurer bankruptcy to one in 200. This report by Mr Skinner is based on the Commission proposals. In these disturbed times of global economic and financial crisis, it is essential that these measures be implemented as soon as possible, so as to increase the confidence of European consumers, who should be better informed on this issue. I therefore welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Starting with the acknowledgement of the importance of insurance guarantee schemes in terms of reducing the risks faced by insurance policyholders and beneficiaries in the event of insurer bankruptcy, this report advocates the deepening of the present Solvency II Directive. The Solvency II Directive introduces a ladder of supervisory intervention minimising the likelihood of an insurer going bankrupt and the disruption to policyholders or, where appropriate, beneficiaries resulting from such an event. This is a very sensitive area, where what is being sought in the name of defending consumer rights and confidence is, at times, the deepening of the workings of the internal market in the field of financial services. For that reason, we view this issue with a certain amount of scepticism. We will monitor the development of the situation. Our central concerns are defending consumers, and defending the principle of subsidiarity, as well as the interests of the various Member States.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report, which begins by acknowledging the importance of insurance guarantee schemes in terms of reducing the risks faced by insurance policyholders and beneficiaries in the event of insurer bankruptcy, advocates deepening the present Solvency II Directive, which introduces a ladder of supervisory intervention minimising the likelihood of an insurer going bankrupt and the disruption to policyholders or, where appropriate, beneficiaries resulting from such an event.

This is a very sensitive area, where what is being sought in the name of defending consumer rights and confidence is, at times, the deepening of the workings of the internal market in the field of financial services. For that reason, we view this issue with a certain amount of scepticism, and it is one whose later developments we will monitor closely, in order to defend consumers, and to defend the principle of subsidiarity as well as the interests of the various Member States.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) provide last-resort protection to consumers when insurance undertakings are unable to fulfil their contractual commitments. They thus protect people against the risk that claims will not be met if their insurance company becomes insolvent. They frequently differ in coverage, however, which results in heterogeneous levels of policyholder protection between Member States. There are also significant differences in other aspects that affect the scope of the protection provided, and also in operational procedures and funding arrangements The lack of harmonisation hinders effective and equal consumer protection, which may lead to a loss of consumer confidence in the relevant markets and may ultimately jeopardise market stability. It may also impede the functioning of the internal insurance market by distorting cross-border competition. The development of harmonised IGSs could, however, help to remedy the existing deficiencies. In order to maintain consumer confidence in both the insurance industry and the single market for financial services, in my opinion, a consistent level of protection for consumers of all types of insurance products should be ensured. Consumers should be confident that all types of insurance products they buy are covered by an insurance guarantee scheme, and that this insurance guarantee scheme will guarantee that they receive 100% compensation within a set time period which is consistent across the EU.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing. (BG) Against the background of the financial crisis, Europe’s citizens face increasingly serious risks linked to the possibility of financial and insurance institutions going bankrupt. I supported this resolution because I think that consumer confidence must be preserved and the insurance guarantee schemes must become more secure. This would also help stimulate cross-border competition and speed up the development of the insurance market in the EU. I share the view that effective, proportionate supervision is required from national and European supervisory bodies, along with better cooperation. Member States’ involvement in carrying out tests on the insurance guarantee schemes and in exchanging information, if the competent authorities detect problems in an insurance company, is important for improving coordination and confidence in the system. I also support the measures promoting greater transparency and awareness among consumers. They need to clearly understand what happens if the insurer possibly becomes insolvent and the risks relating to this. This information should be easily accessible, easy to understand and comprehensive, with a single point of contact established to facilitate this process. Furthermore, consumers should not suffer any losses if the regulatory bodies fail to supervise the insurers appropriately.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are considered a valuable tool in reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the failure of an insurance company. A wide range of IGSs currently exist in the Member States, offering varying degrees of consumer protection across various product lines on the basis of various funding models, and the lack of harmonised IGSs at European level and the diverse regimes among Member States have therefore led to ineffective and uneven protection for insurance policyholders and have slowed down the functioning of the insurance market by distorting cross-border competition. Consumer trust in the functioning of the internal market in financial services can only be assured by a consistent level of consumer protection regardless of the origin of the service provider, primarily through the consistent application of sound prudential rules and effective supervision by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and, where appropriate, competent national authorities. The Commission is urged to come forward with proposals for a cross-border standardisation directive establishing a coherent and consistent cross-border framework for IGSs across Member States. The most important thing for us should be to protect consumers from losses in the event of the failure of insurance companies, and for this reason and the others mentioned above, I welcomed this document.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Skinner’s text because I believe that European legislation in the field of insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) is necessary, but should, at the same time, be considered and analysed carefully because of the recessionary effects it could have on the market. While it is true that protecting customers who take out a policy to cover the risk of an insurer going bankrupt should be a priority of ours, it is equally true that IGSs should insure a wide range of national and, above all, European markets at a time of economic crisis. I believe that the text of this resolution is along those very lines and seeks to combine these two aspects through an approach that does not undermine the protection already guaranteed by some Member States. The protection of consumers from the risk of the insolvency of insurers must be guaranteed through measures that are effective in preventing risks to customers and that, at the same time, ensure that insurers, too, have the flexibility to operate in the free market.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) represent consumers’ final protection in cases where insurance companies are unable to meet their contractual obligations. It is a tragic fact that of the 30 countries making up the EU-EEA, only 12 have at least a general insurance guarantee scheme. This means that if an insurance company goes bankrupt, one third of the entire insurance market in the EU-EEA is not covered by any guarantee. Since this represents 26% of life insurance policies and 56% of general insurance policies, I consider that European citizens should benefit from IGSs to protect them against the risk of compensation claims not being honoured by insurance companies which have declared insolvency.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this report by my friend, Peter Skinner. Insurance guarantee schemes (IGS) are considered a valuable tool in reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the failure of an insurance entity. Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated its support for consideration of an EU-level approach (Solvency II, Article 242; EIOPA, Article 26), and your rapporteur supports in principle the proposals put forward by the Commission in its White Paper on a directive for insurance guarantee schemes (published July 2010), seeing them not least as consequential for the success of Solvency II. The issue of IGS is complex on account of the wide variation in existing schemes across EU Member States and the interaction between IGS and other issues currently under consideration at EU level, most prominently, the imminent introduction of Solvency II.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGS) are considered a valuable tool for reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the insolvency of an insurance company. The European Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated its support for consideration of an EU-level approach.

The issue is complex on account of the wide variation in existing schemes across EU Member States and the interaction between IGS and other issues currently under consideration at EU level, most prominently, the imminent introduction of Solvency II.

Our objectives are: consumer protection in the event of the bankruptcy of an insurer; consumer protection regardless of the ‘home’ state of the insurer; consumer protection in the event of fraud or mis-selling; and taxpayer protection in the event of IGS failure. We believe that these four policy goals can be adequately met only by a minimum harmonisation directive that ensures the same level of consumer protection regardless of the location of the insurer writing the policy, and limits the exposure of taxpayers for claims made by policyholders in the markets.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) Consumers are invariably affected to a great extent by the economic crisis. The insurance sector is one example of this. I therefore support Mr Skinner’s report on the proposed supervisory measures.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report. In the context of the financial crisis, consumer confidence, and protection, can be easily undermined within the financial system. It is vital that a consistent level of consumer protection is ensured regardless of the location of the insurer writing the policy. I welcome the calls for a coherent cross-border framework for insurance guarantee schemes across all Member States.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) In terms of both life insurance and non-life insurance, the interests of the insured must be the primary concern over those of the markets. The Commission’s White Paper and this report validating it, albeit with some concerns, are merely papering over the cracks of a failing system.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Commission’s tabling of a proposal on this issue will be timely, since this report will make a significant contribution to the architecture of a future European directive on insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs). The rapporteur’s approach to the main points for consideration seems correct to me, and it stresses the following priorities: ensuring consumer protection in the event of insurer bankruptcy; ensuring equal consumer protection regardless of the ‘home’ state of the insurer; ensuring consumer protection in the event of fraud or mis-selling; and ensuring taxpayer protection in the event of IGS failure. We can achieve all of this through a minimum harmonisation directive that ensures the proper level of consumer protection.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Insurance guarantee schemes are considered an important tool in reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the failure of an insurance entity. Existing insurance guarantee schemes reflect the specificities of national markets and are highly heterogeneous in structure. For this reason, the S&D’s and my opinion has been that of not supporting the adoption of a harmonised European approach to funding insurance guarantee schemes at this point.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) The need for greater consumer protection and guarantees, particularly in the light of the recent financial crisis, has been proven to apply to the insurance market, too, especially when an insurer goes bankrupt. Insurance guarantee schemes, or IGSs, serve precisely to insure people against possible risks. This report proposes greater harmonisation of IGSs at European level so as to cover the risks that may arise in the event of cross-border insurer default. It is right to adopt the ‘home’ country principle in order to apply supervisory measures, but the EIOPA, the European authority created for the very purpose of supervising the European insurance system, should also play a key role. Consumers are very much central to this report, with numerous references to greater consumer protection and guarantees. For all these reasons, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because a consistent and harmonised framework of rules on insurance guarantees must function at European Union level, abolishing different regimes across the Member States. It should be pointed out that an insurance guarantee scheme is an effective measure which reduces the risks facing policyholders, and guarantees varying degrees of consumer protection and effective cross-border competition. Consequently, it is very important to ensure that European rules provide for a high and appropriate level of protection. Given the fact that many consumers lose some or all of their assets and find themselves in poverty due to the failure of insurance companies, I believe that it is appropriate to consolidate the ‘home’ country principle, under which the burden of responsibility for failure should be borne by the ‘home’ IGS. Only then will people be protected against the risk that claims will not be met if their insurance company becomes insolvent. It should be noted that this principle, as a last-resort consumer protection measure, must only be applied in exceptional cases when insurance undertakings are unable to fulfil their contractual commitments owing to insolvency and when other regulatory instruments have been exhausted.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Skinner’s report, to which I also contributed as part of my work in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs by tabling a series of amendments. I believe that, in line with what has already been done for the banks and investment companies, EU-level insurance guarantee schemes should be implemented in the insurance sector, too. However, it is my opinion that, while the basic principle may be the same, it is important to adapt and tailor the measures to the sector in question, given its specific characteristics. For example, the scope should exclude third-party motor insurance policies that already have a mandatory fund that provides cover and be restricted to life insurance products, since they require greater protection as long-term products that are often intended for people of retirement age. Furthermore, I believe it is essential to link the creation of insurance guarantee funds to the prudential rules laid down by the Solvency II Directive, which still needs to be implemented in full. I hope that the Commission will take these suggestions on board when it presents the legislative proposal in the future.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The European Parliament has repeatedly stated its position on the need for convergence between the laws of the Member States on the question of insurance. Solvency II, which will enter into force in 2013, creates a new Community framework within which the exposure to risk from insurance will be reduced, along with uncontrolled bankruptcies of insurers. Nonetheless, the Commission proposal still does not specifically focus on the issues of consumer protection in the event of the bankruptcy of an insurer, of consumer protection regardless of the insurer’s state of origin and of safeguarding citizens in the event of fraud or abusive policies from an insurance product. The European Parliament report, which I voted in favour of, focuses on these parameters.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are considered a valuable instrument for reducing the risks faced by policyholders in the event of insurer bankruptcy. Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated its support for the idea of an EU approach. The proposals tabled by the European Commission in its White Paper on IGSs are important to the success of the Solvency II Directive. The issue of IGSs is complex because of the great variety of systems existing in the various Member States, and because of the interaction between IGSs and other issues currently under consideration in the EU; in particular, the introduction of the Solvency II Directive. I voted in favour because I believe it is crucial that the EU move towards more robust and rigorous supervision, and continuous evaluation of national IGSs’ capacities for response and reaction. Indeed, the bankruptcy of a major insurer in a given Member State affects all the others, so there is a need to create synergies between Member States and ensure the sharing of best practices in the approaches taken by the insurance guarantee schemes.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The introduction of an insurance guarantee scheme will enable the confidence of the public to be boosted by guaranteeing them against the potential bankruptcy of an insurer. A series of preventative measures designed to avoid insurer bankruptcy are at issue, along with a range of guarantee measures intended to protect policyholders if such a bankruptcy were to occur. Also important are the need to prevent abuses in the conclusion of insurance contracts, the need to ensure consumers are treated equally, irrespective of the ‘home’ country of the insurer, and the concern with preventing the taxpayer from bearing the costs of insurer bankruptcy. As such, and because I believe it is important in the current context to ensure the risks faced by policyholders are reduced, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Parliament: 1. Recognises that the new supervisory regime and the forthcoming Solvency II framework will further enhance consumer protection; 2. Calls on the Commission, with regard to the rules and definitions set out in Solvency II and the new supervisory framework, to come forward with proposals for a cross-border standardisation directive establishing a coherent and consistent cross-border framework for insurance guarantee schemes across Member States, providing only last-resort protection to consumers when insurance undertakings are unable to fulfil their contractual commitments owing to insolvency; 3. Calls on the Commission to put forward rapidly the proposal for a directive on insurance guarantee schemes to complement deposit guarantee schemes, investor compensation schemes and Solvency II.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are a valuable tool for reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the insolvency of an insurance company. The European Parliament has repeatedly demonstrated its support for consideration of an EU-level approach, and in adopting today’s proposal welcomes the proposals put forward by the Commission in its White Paper on Insurance Guarantee Schemes. The lack of harmonised consumer protection rules at European level, in favour of rules based on the ‘host country’ approach, does have its merits. However, it results in duplication of costs for pan-European insurers having to participate in multiple national schemes. To ensure consumer confidence both in the insurance sector and in the single market in insurance services, a consistent level of protection for consumers of all types of insurance products must be guaranteed. In this document, Parliament emphasises that new European legislation should not result in a reduction in consumer protection. European citizens should be confident that all types of insurance products that they buy are covered by an IGS, and that this IGS will guarantee that they receive 100% compensation within a set period of time which is the same across the EU.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs) are important instruments for reducing the risks faced by insurance policyholders and beneficiaries in cases of bankruptcy of a regulatory body, so contributing to strengthened consumer protection. I am voting for this report, as I consider harmonisation of IGSs crucial so as to establish a uniform and consistent cross-border framework for the systems of all the Member States. I would argue that ‘home’ and ‘host’ supervisors should cooperate fully with the national IGSs, and that the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority should develop an integrated, simple approach, based on international best practices. I consider it important that tests be carried out on the IGSs of the various European countries, which will help to detect any potential problems at national level. Small and concentrated markets that find it hard to obtain adequate funding for the activities of an IGS, which could give rise to dangerous systemic risks, should be taken into account. Finally, I would argue that all information should be easily available to consumers, so that they are fully aware of the various forms of protection from potential insurer insolvency, and of how the continuity of insurance contracts is ensured in situations of portfolio transfer.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the report on insurance guarantee schemes because European consumers need to be protected in the event of insurer default. In order to ensure a high level of consumer protection in the event of insurer default, a European framework must be set up to allow a choice between receiving financial compensation for the investment made in the insurance policy and continuing the insurance contracts by portfolio transfer. I should emphasise how important it is to increase consumers’ knowledge and awareness of financial services and the associated risks. A mechanism needs to be introduced for insurance policies to include clear warnings about the risks associated with them and the options which consumers have in these cases. We call on the Commission to take measures aimed at setting up a common, coherent and consistent insurance guarantee framework to provide total, permanent protection for insurance policyholders throughout the EU. Furthermore, in the case of insurance policies too, consumer protection authorities must endorse the framework contracts offered by insurers, so that consumers are protected and informed about their rights and obligations and can have some negotiating power when taking out an insurance policy.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Only a few Member States have insurance guarantee schemes (IGSs). The rapporteur reminds us that the lack of harmonisation in this area at Community level hinders effective and equal consumer protection. This may have an impact on consumer confidence, ultimately threatening market stability. Consumer protection is a very important issue for Lithuania. The latest World Bank report states that, in my country, legislation concerning consumer protection in the area of financial services is not implemented uniformly. A Eurobarometer survey on consumer protection in Europe has shown that Lithuanian consumers need a better consumer protection programme. There also needs to be additional funding in order to ensure that the Lithuanian Consumer Association works more effectively. There are more than 20 consumer associations operating in Lithuania, but only a few in the area of financial services. Some consumer associations receive limited funding from the government, but that is not enough. Government funding should be supplemented with funding provided by European agencies or bilateral agreements with established European consumer associations. Measures aimed at improving consumer protection and financial literacy must be pragmatic and effective and give consumers rights. They should include giving consumers information about improving financial services and promoting market transparency. In the case of Lithuania, this also means strengthening the functions of the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority by implementing legislation concerning consumer protection in the area of financial services.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – This report looks at how the EU can play its part in ensuring robust insurance guarantee schemes as a way of reducing the risks facing policyholders in the event of the failure of an insurance company. This report looks to strengthen consumer protection in four main areas: ensuring consumers are protected in the event of bankruptcy; ensuring the equal treatment of consumers regardless of the country of the insurer; ensuring that there is sufficient cover for consumers in cases of fraud; and making sure that the taxpayer does not become liable for the bankruptcy of an insurer. This protection will apply to all types of insurance policy and provides protection from the gung-ho attitude of some financial institutions with the public’s money.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The reform of the law relating to insurance supervision in Europe is intended to reduce the risk of the insolvency of insurers. With Solvency II, a ladder of supervisory intervention will exist from 2013 onwards, beginning with the requirement to increase the level of capital, followed by a prohibition of writing new business and then by the forced sale of assets. The rapporteur adds to the Commission proposal a comprehensive equal consumer protection guarantee and a taxpayer protection guarantee in the event of the failure of a guarantee scheme. I voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: David Casa (A7-0318/2011)

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) As is also stated in the 2010 Green Paper on the future of VAT, the time has come to have a critical look at this instrument with a view to strengthening its coherence with the single market and its capacity as a revenue raiser by improving its economic efficiency, robustness and resistance to attacks of fraud. A simpler, harmonised VAT system would also reduce the operational cost to taxpayers and tax administrations, prevent market distortions, in particular, in the transport sector, and help achieve the objective of the ‘Better Regulation’ agenda, which is to reduce administrative burdens by 25%.

 
  
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  Margrete Auken (Verts/ALE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Socialist People’s Party is of the opinion that the setting of VAT rates falls exclusively within the competence of the Member States. We support Mr Casa’s report, as it contains many good initiatives in relation to increasing efficiency and reducing bureaucracy and proposals for how we can harmonise our VAT systems in a beneficial way. However, the Danish Socialist People’s Party cannot support proposals that lead towards divesting the Member States of their competence in respect of VAT rates.

 
  
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  Liam Aylward and Pat the Cope Gallagher (ALDE), in writing. – Regrettably, we were unable to support this report for a number of reasons. While the report contains several positive aspects in relation to red tape and tax fraud, we were unable to support the report as we fundamentally believe that Member States must retain flexibility in relation to taxation matters. The continuing availability of zero and reduced rates remains an important and sensitive issue for many Member States, including Ireland. Derogations and exemptions are essential, particularly in the transport area. In terms of the legal process, unanimity must be the basis for decision making on all fiscal matters including VAT. This is consistent with the Lisbon Treaty and the protocols agreed to following the second referendum in Ireland.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report. It is more than 40 years since value-added tax (VAT) was introduced in the then European Economic Community, and the time has therefore come to take a critical look at the VAT system with a view to strengthening its coherence with the single market and its capacity as a revenue raiser by improving its economic efficiency and robustness. Currently, the VAT system in the EU is fragmented, where tariffs vary and various exceptions are in force, which distorts competition in the internal market and creates conditions for fraud. Every year, massive losses are incurred by Member States as a result of VAT fraud, possibly amounting to EUR 100 billion. I believe that EU-wide VAT reform is a precondition for enhancing the efficient functioning of the internal market, increasing EU competitiveness, protecting the Community’s interests from possible fraud in the future and ensuring increased revenue for Member State and EU budgets.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) VAT is a significant source of income for each national budget. Unfortunately, varied approaches to the VAT system among Member States frequently result in complications, especially in the case of international transactions. In this regard, the proposal to move towards a ‘broad based’ VAT system seems promising.

We should also support the proposals concerning the reduction of red tape, for example, the suggested reduction in the frequency of periodic VAT returns, the development of a system for the electronic submission of VAT returns and the simplification of VAT exemption regulations. These measures will naturally have a positive impact on business activities in situations where payments are delayed by foreign partners. I regard as very effective the proposal for a Standard European Invoice, particularly in its electronic form. It will allow for the more transparent, clear and organised management of documentation. In the case of entrepreneurs, it will also simplify the process of making claims for faulty goods or services. I support the resolution, and I also advocate harmonised VAT rates for similar goods and services.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) The report on the future of VAT contains some positive ideas and suggestions, which should be considered carefully and assessed in order to restructure the tax system of the Member States and the relationship between the market and national bureaucracies. I welcome, for example, the fact that, as well as simplifying and harmonising VAT, there is talk of simplifying and reducing the administrative and bureaucratic burdens for businesses in relation to VAT obligations. Simplifying VAT will help businesses and Member States alike to reduce bureaucratic procedures and administrative formalities. Other positive elements are the proposal to introduce a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for SMEs, again with a view to cutting red tape and costs, and the encouragement for national administrations to use electronic systems in order to facilitate cross-border transactions and bureaucratic procedures in the area of VAT. I therefore voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted for the report by Mr Casa, which I believe is balanced as a whole, and because I agree with its fundamental values of simplification, transparency and harmonisation, albeit in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity.

In the 17 years since its introduction, value-added tax (VAT) has undergone considerable modifications by the Member States, resulting in a disparate and excessively costly system, but also one that gives States their biggest tax revenues. However, the financial crisis affecting the whole euro area obliges us to re-examine the taxation system, too, and to move towards a standard, neutral accounting system. First and foremost, this would deliver greater efficiency and simplification, but, at the same time, it would ensure a necessary reduction of the administrative burdens on small and medium-sized enterprises. Uneven taxation in the internal market makes our companies less competitive, and they are the backbone of the European economy. It is also liable to create worrying tax evasion, particularly in cross-border transactions.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The internal market is a crucial tool for a competitive EU. A common value-added tax (VAT) system is essential if it is to function effectively. A comprehensive VAT system should reduce operational costs for users and administrative charges for authorities while combating fraud, which is a considerable burden on public finances and on consumers. The VAT exemption threshold for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) varies from one Member State to the next and applies at national level only. In order for the European Union to promote the growth of SMEs – which represent 99% of all businesses – and take advantage of the opportunities and benefits afforded by the single market, it is important for the Commission and the Member States to consider adopting a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for SMEs, with a view to cutting red tape and costs and ensuring access to the internal market.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D ), in writing. (IT) The procedure which began with the publication of the Green Paper on the future of value-added tax (VAT) has to be supported. The need to restructure the system rules out any further delays, as the mechanism introduced on a provisional basis has proved to have numerous shortcomings, particularly with regard to the risk of fraud.

The hope for the future is that a new VAT system, together with the taxation of financial transactions, will, as the Commission claims, become an important own resource for the European budget. In the meantime, we invite the Commission to act quickly and to continue along its chosen path to the end, actively encouraging Member States to put in place all the necessary preliminary conditions in order to avoid multiple and overlapping elements and to allow for smoother bureaucratic procedures and reduced administration costs.

In times of trouble, it is important to devote significant energies to fighting the waste of resources caused by evasion and fraud. Therefore, I support the report by Mr Casa, and hope that in its proposal, the Commission will take due account, above all, of the call to adopt mechanisms to make cross-border fraud control less random, by making optimal use of mechanisms that have already been tried and tested in individual Member States, or by using all the resources made available by the latest technology.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this report which boldly launches a debate on the future of VAT within the European Union. The current administrative burdens on European companies are crippling them. With this report, we are attempting to simplify this system and make it more transparent. It is time to move towards a convergence of VAT rates in the European market, while allowing Member States the necessary flexibility to set rates so that they can retain this instrument of budgetary control.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) By publishing its Green Paper on the future of VAT, the Commission aimed to generate a broad-based debate on the evaluation of the current VAT system and the possible ways forward to strengthening its coherence with the single market and its capacity as a revenue raiser whilst reducing the cost of compliance. The complexity of VAT rules that we have at present has always led to administrative burdens for companies, making the European Union less attractive to investors. The reason that I have voted for the European Parliament’s report is because its goal is to find a simpler, more robust and more efficient system that is more transparent and is based on close cooperation and exchange of best practices between the Member States, whilst respecting the principle of subsidiarity.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) I am in favour of simplifying and harmonising the value-added tax (VAT) system in the EU, which will lead to greater transparency and efficiency, and to less bureaucracy and fraud. In this way, we can improve the workings of the internal market and contribute to the increase in competitiveness that we so badly need. Combating VAT fraud is also a priority because it is estimated that this fraud totals EUR 100 billion. VAT receipts represent more than 21% of the Member States’ tax revenue, demonstrating that they are an important source of revenue for national budgets; in many of them, it is even the main source of revenue. Companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), cannot bear the administrative costs that they incur by charging VAT. It is worth noting that SMEs represent more than 99% of companies and around 67.4% of jobs in the EU. In Portugal, SMEs represent 81.4% of the total number of jobs. As regards countries in receipt of outside help, I believe there should be particular and substantial solidarity towards them, since the EU cannot impose tax rises on them whilst simultaneously going ahead with harmonisation and exemptions.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The report calls on the Member States to agree by January 2012 on a list of common goods and services that should benefit from tax exemptions or a reduction in the value-added tax (VAT) rate, so moving towards some form of EU-level harmonisation. It draws attention to the importance of a coordinated strategy to improve the fight against tax fraud. According to the report, VAT is a key priority, given the massive losses incurred by Member States, which total EUR 100 billion.

The report also calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider introducing a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for small and medium-sized enterprises. Finally, it calls on the Commission to submit, by the end of 2013, a report comprising a binding list of common goods and services eligible for a reduced VAT rate or an exemption under the VAT Directive, on the basis of the findings of the Member States and the VAT Committee. At this stage, that is not the practical result of this report, which is part of a process of deepening fiscal integration, which we do not support.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. (IT) I welcome the report by Mr Casa. Together with the European Commission’s Green Paper, it aims to generate a debate with the parties involved, firstly, on the current VAT system, and, secondly, on possible ways of strengthening its coherence with the single market and its capacity as a revenue raiser whilst reducing the cost of compliance. I regret that the report does not make reference either to the need to promote reduced and harmonised rates in the tourism sector or to the sensitive issue of the special VAT scheme for travel agents, a debate that has been at a standstill in the Council since 2002.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This is a report on the future of value-added tax (VAT), which calls on the Member States to agree by January 2012 on a list of common goods and services that should benefit from tax exemptions or a reduction in the VAT rate. It calls for a coordinated strategy to improve the fight against tax fraud. It should be noted that the report stresses that VAT fraud is a key priority, given the massive losses incurred by Member States, which it says total EUR 100 billion. It also calls on the Commission and the Member States to consider introducing a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for small and medium-sized enterprises. Finally, it calls on the Commission to submit to Parliament and the Council, by the end of 2013, a report comprising a binding list of common goods and services eligible for a reduced VAT rate or an exemption under the VAT Directive, on the basis of the findings of the Member States and the VAT Committee. An attempt at fiscal harmonisation, which we do not support, is underlying all of this, so we voted against.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) After more than 40 years since the introduction of VAT, the time has come to review the system with a view to strengthening its coherence with the single market and its contribution to other policies. Reforming the VAT system can play a crucial role in supporting the delivery of the Europe 2020 strategy and a return to growth through its potential to reinvigorate the single market and underpin smart budget consolidation in the Member States. Any such improvements require a comprehensive VAT system that can adapt to changes in the economic and technological environment. A simpler VAT system would also reduce the operational cost to taxpayers and tax administrations, thereby increasing the net benefit to the Treasury. Moreover, the key role of businesses in collecting VAT must be properly recognised, since VAT is a consumption tax and not a tax on businesses. VAT compliance costs are a major administrative burden for EU companies and reducing this burden would contribute significantly to increasing their competitiveness. These are the main challenges the EU is facing in the field of VAT. Consultation with stakeholders and businesses should take place and these parties should participate in the preparation and implementation of legislation in the field of VAT at EU and national level in order to ensure its uniform implementation throughout the EU and in order to create legal certainty.

 
  
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  Mathieu Grosch (PPE), in writing. (DE) VAT systems in Europe do not, in many cases, help bring about a coherent economic policy. Border regions, in particular, such as the German-speaking Community in Belgium on the borders of the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg, experience the greatest difficulties with the differing VAT rates. In Luxembourg, in particular, certain professions, particularly in retail, have completely disappeared under the pressure of the major differences in tax rates. The current proposal makes reference to these problems, in particular. I hope that the Council will be all ears to this and will not, as so often, stumble at the hurdle of ‘unanimity’.

 
  
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  Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), in writing. (SV) Mr Casa’s report contains commendable proposals to prevent fraud, but it also seeks greater harmonisation and an emphasis on indirect taxation rather than direct redistributive taxation. The proposal also runs the risk of eroding municipal autonomy. I am therefore voting against this report.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing. (BG) Value-added tax (VAT) is an important source of revenue for the budgets of Member States and the EU, and its effectiveness should be increased. The VAT system needs to be reformed to achieve this aim, which is why I supported this European Parliament resolution. We already have an adequate basis for analysing the practices carried out and the strengths and weaknesses of the existing system, which gives us the chance to take measures to increase its effectiveness and improve its compliance with the requirements of the single market. I share the rapporteur’s view that similar goods and services should be subjected to similar VAT treatment within the EU. I think that drawing up a common list of goods and services which benefit from an exemption or reduced VAT rate would be a positive step towards this. I also support the need to work on improving coordination and cooperation between Member States’ tax administrations and on the wider use of e-government solutions. This would help both streamline operational expenses and reduce administrative burdens, thereby facilitating the battle against tax fraud which affects the European Union’s financial interests.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because it is aimed at overhauling and reforming the current VAT system. I believe that a VAT system should reduce operational costs for users and administrative charges for authorities while combating fraud, which is a considerable burden on public finances and on consumers. The Member States must better implement the measures proposed by the Commission in 2009 to reduce the administrative burdens arising from EU legislation in the area of VAT, notably by reducing the frequency of periodic VAT returns, simplifying the proof required for the VAT export exemption, abolishing ‘nil’ intra-EU sales listings, increasing the use of e-government solutions in line with the Digital Agenda for Europe (in particular, for the electronic submission of VAT returns and lists), abolishing interest and penalty payments on VAT related to errors of form if the individual legal entity has not caused the Member State in question to suffer any shortfall in VAT revenue, and considering the introduction of a single VAT reimbursement procedure, VAT identification number and an electronic storage system for VAT for the whole of the EU. At this stage, the highest priority should be given to addressing the lack of harmonisation and the need to standardise procedures and reduce linguistic barriers, while reducing the system’s vulnerability to fraud. I am convinced that the business community requires clear VAT rules that increase legal certainty and the likelihood of uniform interpretation by Member States.

 
  
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  Dan Jørgensen (S&D), in writing. (DA) The Danish Social Democrats are of the opinion that the setting of VAT rates falls exclusively within the competence of the Member States. We support Mr Casa’s report (A7-0318/2011), as it contains many good initiatives in relation to increasing efficiency and reducing bureaucracy and proposals for how we can harmonise our VAT systems in a beneficial way. However, the Danish Social Democrats cannot support proposals that lead towards divesting the Member States of their competence in respect of VAT rates.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Casa’s text because I believe it is a step in the direction of more appropriate administration and procedures in an area that affects Europe in both economic and trade terms. The application models contained in the resolution address, in particular, specific issues that are also linked to consumer protection and the risk of fraud. To be more precise, a new model for collecting VAT, through the use of a specific bank account, ensures greater traceability and security in order to prevent illegal or fraudulent transactions in this area. I believe there is a need for a VAT collection process that is more effective and organised in such a way as to facilitate, firstly, the implementation of the system and a drastic reduction in red tape, and, secondly, greater protection for consumers and the commercial sector in general.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) VAT was introduced in the European Union over 40 years ago. The market for services at the time was entirely different to the one we have today. Therefore, it is my belief that a comprehensive review of our taxation system is essential. Currently, the European economy is directed towards services based on new technologies, resulting in further changes in the market. In addition to this, there are still significant disparities in tax rates between Member States. Therefore, I support Mr Casa’s report regarding the future of VAT in the EU, and I have voted in favour of its adoption.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The VAT system, which is based on legislation adopted at European level and applied at national level, suffers from numerous shortcomings which do not make it fully efficient and compatible with the requirements of a true single market. This report, which I voted for, suggests some improvements. The measures that have been suggested in the report include: abolishing the annual summarising of VAT returns and intra-EU acquisition listings; reducing the frequency of the periodic VAT returns; simplifying the proof required for VAT export exemptions; abolishing ‘nil’ intra-EU sales listings; increasing the use of e-government solutions, in particular, for the electronic submission of VAT returns and lists; abolishing interest and penalty payments on VAT related to errors of form if the individual legal entity has not caused the Member State in question to suffer any shortfalls in revenue.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) Value-added tax constitutes a major source of revenue for the national budgets of the Member States, although the legislation adopted at European level and applied at national level suffers from numerous shortcomings which do not make it fully efficient and compatible with the requirements of a true single market.

With regard to the treatment of cross-border supplies, we share the assessment of the Commission, some Member States and many VAT practitioners and stakeholders that the country of origin principle, to which Member States had committed themselves, and which has been supported in the past by both the Commission and by us, is not realisable, primarily due to a lack of political support among Member States. We therefore support the Commission’s initiative to recognise the status quo and move towards a destination principle. A VAT system based on the place of establishment of the customer, for both goods and services, appears to be a promising route, but this needs to be accompanied by the introduction of well-functioning one-stop shops by Member States, in order to avoid multiple VAT registrations, increased compliance costs and negative cash flow effects for businesses operating internationally.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Value-added tax (VAT), in addition to duty, is an important instrument for collecting revenue and has made a considerable contribution to reducing budget deficits during the current crisis. Member States have seen the need to raise VAT thresholds, which has affected the business sector and halted economic growth.

SMEs are undoubtedly the most at risk to the rise in the VAT rate. This is why the European Commission must consider introducing a mechanism to assist them by reducing their obligations and costs and supporting their access to the internal market.

Cohesion policy objectives must be taken into account when establishing the VAT system in the future. I think that facilities for paying VAT on non-refundable loans would provide significant support to beneficiaries and, in turn, would stimulate the absorption of European funds. Member States must define clear, simplified rules by consulting with the beneficiaries of non-refundable funds in order to identify measures which will support them.

I support this report in order to facilitate more active cooperation between Member States in the future, with the aim of facilitating the exchange of information between tax authorities in Member States via online tax information and assistance portals.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is essential that the report on the future of VAT be adopted. The objective of a common VAT system must be achieved as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – My Fine Gael colleagues and I abstained on the Casa report on the future of VAT. We recognise the need to examine the possibilities for achieving a simpler and more efficient VAT system and support, in particular, the proposals to reduce red tape and combat fraud. However; we would be concerned about some of the proposals contained in this report, in particular, on transport. As an island nation, it is crucial that the cost of access to Ireland remains accessible; therefore, the continuing exemption of transport is vital for Ireland’s wellbeing. We also believe that Member States must continue to be afforded discretion in shaping their tax policies in order to meet their individual needs. In this regard, the continuing availability of zero and reduced rates remains an important issue.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) This Europe does not allow for any harmonisation of its direct taxation. In accordance with the Euro Plus Pact and with the various austerity measures imposed on States under the pretext of ‘debt crisis’, here it is now attempting to introduce a universal VAT increase and a shift from direct to indirect taxation. Making the poor pay more and the rich less, that is what the EU has come up with to tackle the crisis. This report calls on the States to impose this system by law or even grant the Commission the right to introduce it. Unacceptable. I voted against.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The adoption of this report on the future of value-added tax (VAT), which calls on the Member States to agree by the start of next year on a common list of goods and services that should enjoy lower VAT rates, is very important for the future of VAT. However, there is also a need for the Commission and Member States to consider introducing a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for small and medium-sized enterprises.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) Commission action is needed in the interest of European citizens. VAT is an instrument that enables us to lighten the burdens of our citizens and SMEs, and to create an effective internal market. The reduction of administrative burdens, the use of template-based European invoicing and the coordination of the current system of disparate European practices are all necessary. Through these, we can promote entrepreneurship among citizens, the growth of SMEs and the emergence of new markets. Europe and its citizens need a European VAT concept that is more transparent, efficient, yet flexible and supportive to growth. Any reform of the current regulations needs to focus on the fight against cross-border tax fraud, too, because governments make up for the loss of tax revenues caused by such fraud to the detriment of Europe’s citizens.

Once the VAT system becomes more transparent, consumers will be able to make better decisions in the light of more accurate information. This will mean an enhanced ability to plan and increased security and prosperity for the SME sector and for our citizens. In the spirit of the report, harmonisation among countries could commence without Member States giving up their fiscal autonomy. In adopting the report, we have sent the Commission a message about our political support. The message is clear and unambiguous, and I hope that the Commission will also act in this spirit. That is why I, too, voted in favour of this document.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Value-added tax constitutes a major source of revenue for the national budgets of the Member States. The VAT system, which is based on legislation adopted at European level and applied at national level, suffers from numerous shortcomings which do not make it fully efficient and compatible with the requirements of a true single market. It is necessary to avoid fraud, favour not just consumption taxes, but take into account innovative finance, streamline exemptions and reduce red tape, etc. I am ‘In favour’.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) A uniform VAT system, such as will be introduced throughout the European Union in future, will undoubtedly contribute both to the promotion of trade between Member States and the international competitiveness of the EU itself. However, while striving for this, we must not forget a few basic elements to which attention is drawn in the report we adopted. Firstly, we need to reduce the number of administrative obstacles faced by VAT payers in the Member States. Secondly, when implementing the principle of subsidiarity, without infringing competition rules, we need to leave Member States a certain degree of discretion to set justified exceptions or other concessions. Thirdly, we must establish a uniform system that functions in such a way that it is able to stop VAT evaders operating in the EU.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system must be established and function effectively in the European Union, and be beneficial to citizens, companies and Member States alike. VAT plays an important role in ensuring economic stability and growth, and we therefore need to stop VAT fraud, reduce the bureaucratic burden on taxpayers and administrators, and eliminate barriers to the smooth functioning of the internal market. I believe that in today’s economic climate, it is also appropriate to apply a lower VAT rate to energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly products and services. It is also very important to ensure that, by the beginning of next year, Member States agree on a list of common goods and services that should benefit from VAT exemptions or a reduction in the VAT rate, and the Commission should submit a report on this list by the end of 2013.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour because I agree with this report’s call for a Europe-wide lower rate for some goods and services. It calls on the Member States to agree by the start of next year on a common list of goods and services that should enjoy tax exemptions or lower value-added tax (VAT) rates. At the same time, it calls on the Commission to confirm this as mandatory by the end of 2013. It also calls on the Commission and Member States to consider introducing a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for small and medium-sized enterprises. The large majority who voted for this report are in favour of the Member States moving towards a ‘broad-based’ VAT system, and of further narrowing the standard-rate band. I also agree with the various recommendations on VAT design, reducing red tape and the efficiency of VAT collection.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The system of value-added tax (VAT) covers the entire EU. Indeed, as it is a tax on consumption and as the EU is characterised by the free movement of goods, services and businesses, there is a need for an EU-level approach, minor national variations notwithstanding. As such, the Commission has proposed applying the destination principle; that is, applying – wherever there are differences – the rules of the purchaser’s location. However, the overriding concern is to reduce inefficiencies in the administrative machine, for example, by reducing the frequency of the periodic VAT returns, or by simplifying the evidence required for exempting exports from VAT. Finally, it is also important to find means of collection suited to improving the efficiency of the system and reducing fraud. The future of VAT that we are attempting to design here must involve two things: simplicity and efficiency. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I congratulate Mr Casa on his excellent work. The text that has been adopted is the European Parliament’s response to the Commission’s Green Paper on the future of VAT, published in December 2010, and is a contribution to the drafting of the future European strategy on the future of VAT, which is expected for the end of this year. The main objective of this report is to strike a balance between maintaining VAT revenues at the levels necessary to provide a major source of income, and ensuring that those revenues do not stifle entrepreneurial activities. This could be achieved, first and foremost, by combating fraud (which currently costs the European Union EUR 100 billion in lost revenue) and reducing the plethora of different exemptions and rates. Furthermore, the intelligent development of new VAT systems at EU level would make life easier for honest entrepreneurs and would help non-profit making organisations in the supply of goods and services. In line with this text, I call on the Commission and the Member States to consider introducing a Europe-wide VAT exemption threshold for SMEs, with a view to cutting red tape and costs and facilitating access to the internal market.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Value-added tax (VAT) constitutes a major source of revenue for the national budgets of the Member States. The VAT system, which is based on legislation adopted at European level and applied at national level, suffers from numerous shortcomings which do not make it fully efficient and compatible with the requirements of a true single market. On 1 December 2010, the Commission launched a Green Paper on the future of VAT. The aim of the Green Paper is to generate a broad based debate with all the stakeholders on the evaluation of the current VAT system and the possible ways forward to strengthen its coherence with the single market and its capacity as a revenue raiser, whilst reducing the cost of compliance. The Green Paper covers, in particular, the treatment of cross-border supplies, as well as other key issues, addressing tax neutrality, the degree of harmonisation required in the single market and reducing red tape, whilst ensuring VAT revenues for Member States.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) VAT constitutes a major source of revenue for the national budgets of the Member States. The VAT system, which is based on legislation adopted at European level and applied at national level, does, however, suffer from numerous shortcomings that do not make it fully efficient and compatible with the requirements of a true single market. The report adopted today supports the Commission’s intention to move towards a ‘broad based’ VAT system. This should therefore include solving the problem of input VAT deduction relating to in-house production versus outsourcing, as well as solving the issue of ‘hidden’ VAT in supply chains. A VAT system based on the place of establishment of the customer, for both goods and services, could be a solution.

 
  
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  Vilja Savisaar-Toomast (ALDE), in writing. (ET) I voted in favour of the report on the future of value-added tax. In view of the important role of value-added tax in the harmonisation of differences in taxation, in the development of a common internal market and in reducing bureaucracy, and in order to safeguard Member States’ value-added tax revenues, I am glad that we were able to consider this topic. I believe that this report, which examines the modification of the value-added tax system, is important because it offers a solution to the problem that has arisen in the transport sector, offering equal opportunities to all modes of transport. Member States should ensure that similar goods and services receive like treatment in the application of value-added tax, and should also ensure that value-added tax is applied uniformly to different cross-border transport services, regardless of the mode of transport. The situation whereby some modes of transport, for instance, bus and train transport, are subject to value-added tax, while air transport and shipping are exempt, creates unequal conditions for the provision of these same cross-border transport services. Considering that 99% of entrepreneurs in the European Union are small and medium-sized enterprises, this is also of great importance in the reduction of the administrative burdens of SMEs. The report states that administrative burdens should be reduced by 25% by 2012. I sincerely hope that Member States will accept the amendments in question.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is imperative to review the VAT system, which was introduced more than 40 years ago, since the structure of trade in favour of an increase in cross-border transactions has shown the limitations of the system as well as the huge scope for fraud that may result from it. For my part, I hope that the legislative proposal will aim to further simplify the system in order to reduce administrative burdens for businesses (in large part due to VAT formalities) and especially for small businesses, of which there are a very large amount in my country: 4 335 448 (99.9% of all businesses). It is therefore essential to strengthen the simplification measures through the use of harmonised VAT return models, special schemes for small businesses and micro businesses, and the development of the one-stop shop. In the case of intra-Community transactions, the Commission has declared its willingness to definitively abandon the objective of taxation in the country of origin in favour of destination-based taxation. This mechanism would have the benefit of preventing some types of fraud. However, small retailers are siding against the proposal, as it would mean abolishing the system of fractionated VAT payments (one of the main benefits of the current system), and hence concentrating the financial risk on traders, who would have to pay the full amount of VAT to the public treasury.

 
  
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  Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DA) I voted against the report on the future of VAT because the EU should not interfere in Member States’ tax policies. We saw the negative consequences of the EU’s interference most recently in connection with the European Commission’s legal proceedings against Denmark with regard to the question of VAT exemption for voluntary organisations.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In December 2010, the European Commission published the Green Paper on the future of value-added tax (VAT) entitled ‘Towards a simpler, more robust and efficient VAT system’, in which it is possible to assess new measures intended to reform a system that is 17 years old. I am voting for this report because it enhances the efficient functioning of the internal market, through increasing EU-level harmonisation of VAT rates for various goods and services, especially modes of transport and cultural goods, where there are major distortions in competition. I would stress the work undertaken with a view to making the system more efficient, on the basis of closer cooperation and the sharing of best practices between the Member States. I also believe that the new VAT system should be adjusted to cross-border trade, should cut red tape by 25% by 2012, and should reduce the administrative burden on companies. As such, the participation of various company representatives in the work of the VAT Committee is crucial, and the European institutions should value their ideas and proposals. Finally, I should like to stress the importance of adopting a ‘green’ VAT system: reduced and deductible rates should be implemented for energy-efficient goods and services.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report on the future of value-added tax (VAT) because the measures being proposed will help make the internal market more efficient. The report calls on Member States to coordinate and harmonise administrative practices relating to VAT, and implement measures to reduce the administrative burdens caused by VAT, reduce the frequency of regular VAT returns and simplify the proof required for a VAT export exemption. E-invoicing helps reduce payment delays, the risk of errors and fraud, as well as administrative costs. Directive 2010/45/EU on the common system of value-added tax as regards the rules on invoicing sets out new VAT rules for e-invoicing, thereby ensuring equal treatment for paper and e-invoices. According to COM(2009)15 on reducing administrative burdens, applying the same VAT rules to both paper and e-invoices will reduce the administrative burden on companies by up to EUR 18 million in the medium term. In the transport sector, there has been a call for harmonised regulations or a reduced VAT rate for cross-border transport within the EU, as well as for making information accessible about the different VAT rates applied in the passenger transport sector, so as to inform passengers about the exact cost of their cross-border journey.

 
  
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  Emilie Turunen (Verts/ALE), in writing. (DA) The Danish Socialist People’s Party is of the opinion that the setting of VAT rates falls exclusively within the competence of the Member States. We support Mr Casa’s report, as it contains many good initiatives in relation to increasing efficiency and reducing bureaucracy and proposals for how we can harmonise our VAT systems in a beneficial way. However, the Danish Socialist People’s Party cannot support proposals that lead towards divesting the Member States of their competence in respect of VAT rates.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I abstained on this report on the future of VAT.

VAT is, by its very nature, the most unfair tax, and I therefore cannot vote against a report which stresses the need to reform the system, which we cannot dispute.

Fighting fiscal fraud, taking into account the specific nature of social services, cultural services, SMEs or even non-profit organisations, are all goals that we can support.

The report also stresses the need to devise a ‘green VAT’ strategy, in particular, by introducing reduced rates for energy-efficient products and services.

So many interesting ideas, but putting them into practice seems quite uncertain, and may remain nothing more than rhetoric since the report is rooted firmly in the logic of consolidating the single market.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the adoption of this report on the future of VAT. Created in Europe in 1967, VAT accounts for over one-fifth of tax revenue in Member States: it is therefore vital that it works properly. The system in place today was designed to be temporary, and my political group is now calling for a massive shake-up. The first thing needed is to cut red tape. The bureaucratic burden on companies in this area has become intolerable. This is a priority if we want to make the European internal market appealing again. Next, the process of EU integration requires increased convergence, and VAT must set the example. It is absolutely necessary to do away with any disparities that may currently exist between Member States, in order to put a stop to unhealthy competition that tends to be rife. The two cornerstones of this reform will increase the stability, growth and prosperity of the EU common market, making it more appealing and improving legal certainty. I emphasise that with the modernisation of our tax system, the EU’s leading position in global trade is at stake.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Since, on the one hand, VAT represents one of the most important sources of income for the Member States and, on the other, the existing VAT system no longer reflects the current situation on the EU internal market, it is high time that the outdated system was revised. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
  

Report: Sharon Bowles (A7-0337/2011)

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome the Council’s recommendation to nominate Jörg Asmussen as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) At a pivotal moment in the life of the European institutions, when the European Central Bank, in particular, is required to perform an especially careful and interventionist role in monitoring the sovereign debt crisis, the stability of the euro and the economic recovery, I wish the newly appointed Mr Asmussen every success in his office, and I believe that he will perform the functions for which he has been appointed with dedication and competence.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) By letter of 4 October 2011, the European Council consulted the European Parliament on the appointment of Jörg Asmussen as Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank for a term of office of eight years, with effect from 1 November 2011. The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament then proceeded to evaluate the credentials of the nominee, his curriculum vitae and his replies to the written questionnaire that was sent out to him, in particular, in view of the requirements laid down in Article 283(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and in the light of the need for full independence of the European Central Bank pursuant to Article 130 TFEU. The committee subsequently held a ninety-minute hearing with the nominee on 10 October 2011, at which he made an opening statement and then responded to questions from the members of the committee. The committee then delivered a favourable opinion on the Council recommendation to appoint Jörg Asmussen as Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank and instructed its President to forward this decision to the European Council, the Council and the governments of the Member States. On the basis of the above, and also in my view, there is no doubt about the justification of the appointment of the candidate to this office.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the appointment of Jörg Asmussen as a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB), as proposed in the text by Ms Bowles. The experience Mr Asmussen has gained over the years in national and international economic and financial institutions alone testifies to his suitability as a candidate. Should this not be enough to fit the profile of a candidate required to carry out an extremely important role, which may legitimately be the case, the questionnaire contained in the proposal enables one to analyse in greater depth the ideas, values and possible strategic decisions that the candidate is ready to put into practice when carrying out his role within the ECB. I therefore believe that Mr Asmussen is a perfect fit for the role that he will have to carry out and for the institution that he will represent in his relations with the institutions and the media. At a time of economic and financial upheaval, it is increasingly important for the ECB to be perceived as a strong banking institution that has a clear political and economic position and that safeguards European interests, as has been the case until now.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of the Council recommendation to appoint Jörg Asmussen as a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European institutions have to be served by the very best. In this instance, the newly appointed Jörg Asmussen has an unblemished record and was approved with distinction at his hearing before Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. I wish him every success for the eight years of his term.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I supported the appointment of Jörg Asmussen as a member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank because in recent times, he has participated in many negotiations between Berlin and others members of the euro area regarding the assistance to Greece and other countries which are in a difficult situation.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the appointment of Mr Asmussen as a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank (ECB). Following the resignation this summer of Jürgen Stark, I believe that getting the Board back to full strength is a matter of urgency, especially in these times of crisis, when the ECB has played, and continues to play, a fundamental role. I hope that the Council gives the necessary approval as soon as possible, not least to send a message of cohesion and unity. I should like to take this opportunity to commend the ECB for what it has done, and is still doing, to maintain the stability of the euro and of the entire European Union. Were it not for the wisdom and the effectiveness of its actions during this crisis, I am not sure whether the Member States, particularly those in the euro area, would have had the ability and the strength to withstand and endure so much financial upheaval on their own. Fortunately, the ECB, in accordance with the Treaties and with its mandate, stepped in without hesitation, demonstrating a European spirit that should serve as a model for the other EU institutions.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for the appointment of Jörg Asmussen as a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank. A large majority in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs considered the candidate’s profile suited to the roles he will play, which is the reason why I voted as I did.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Council has consulted Parliament on the nomination of Jörg Asmussen to an eight-year term as a Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank. Mr Asmussen has, since July 2008, been State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany, and has long experience of economic and financial governance. He has also been, inter alia, Germany’s G7 and G20 Finance Deputy, a member of the Eurogroup Working Group, a member of the Financial Stability Board, Alternate Governor at the World Bank and Alternate Governor at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. I voted in favour because he is someone with vast experience in this area, and I hope his carrying out of his roles will be crowned with success.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Ivailo Kalfin (A7-0327/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The European Investment Bank (EIB), whose shareholders are the Member States, is one of the most important EU financial instruments. Its lending outside the EU (EUR 9 billion) represented more than 12% of its total lending for 2010. The European Union provides a budgetary guarantee to the EIB covering sovereign and political risks in connection with its loan and loan guarantee operations outside the EU in support of EU external policy objectives. This proposal aims to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for EIB external financing for the remainder of the current financial perspectives 2007-2013, whilst introducing new elements in the mandate. These new elements will help ensure greater EIB intervention in sectors which will further the development of third countries, such as environmental infrastructure, including water and sanitation, sustainable transportation and climate change mitigation.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution because the EU needs to adjust the ceilings to ensure the continuity of the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) operations. At the same time, it is important that the transparency of this institution’s operations is enhanced. Providing an EU guarantee for the EIB’s external operations ensures that its financial health is not affected.

The EIB should step up its activities, particularly in the sectors which would be conducive to progress in the developing countries, for instance, environmental infrastructure and sustainable transport, as well as support for health care and education. I support the idea of extending the operations eligible for the EU guarantee so that all the regions which come under its external mandate are covered. I think that the link between the implementation of EIB activities and EU regional priorities needs to be strengthened.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is important to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for European Investment Bank (EIB) external financing for the remainder of the current multiannual financial framework, 2007-2013. I welcome some of the new elements introduced into the EIB mandate, which will enable greater coordination with achieving the EU’s goals, substantially increased accountability and transparency, and better use of the EU’s budgetary guarantee. Parliament has sought primarily to adjust the ceilings for continuity of operations until 31 December 2013, to strengthen the transparency of EIB operations under the external mandate and their support for EU external policy objectives, and to prepare for longer-term prospects, some of which were highlighted by mid-term review recommendations.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The external mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been jointly decided by Parliament and the Council since 2009. The present mandate of the EIB expires in October 2011 and, in April 2010, the Commission proposed its extension until 2013. I would congratulate the institutions involved in the negotiations, and I welcome the outcome of their concerted efforts and the resulting increase in Union guarantees to the EIB. I hope that the funds available to the EIB will be used efficiently and productively, and that coordination between the EU and the EIB will increasingly become more of a reality, bearing in mind both the needs of internal cohesion and the Union’s external objectives.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report by Mr Kalfin is part of a recommendation for second reading on a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank (EIB) against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU. On 21 April 2010, the Commission submitted to Parliament and the Council a proposal for a decision intended to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for EIB external financing for the remainder of the current multiannual financial framework, until 2013, by making a number of changes. At first reading, the Committee on Budgets adopted a series of amendments and compromises that took into account the contributions received from five other committees. In view of the negotiations carried out by the rapporteur and the number of informal trialogues between Parliament, the Council and the Commission, as well as all the contact with the EIB, I am voting to extend the EIB’s mandate, since that will enable better achievement of EU goals, considerably more accountability and transparency, and better use of the EU’s budgetary guarantee.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The European Investment Bank (EIB) can award loans to projects, not just in the European Union Member States, but also in other countries. This report tackles the issue of EU budgetary guarantees to cover the sovereign and political risks associated with loans and loan guarantees outside the EU. This is an issue that falls under the scope of the codecision procedure between Parliament and the Council.

On 21 April 2010, the Commission submitted a proposal for a decision to Parliament and the Council granting an EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union. At specialist committee level, a number of amendments were adopted at first reading, including compromises which emerged from multiple informal contacts and opinions received from five committees. On 27 January 2011, the Committee on Budgets adopted its recommendation to plenary, incorporating a global compromise amendment in the form of a consolidated text. This is an important step insofar as it safeguards and facilitates the possibility of awarding loans for projects to be undertaken in developing countries, for example.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The European Investment Bank (EIB), whose shareholders are the Member States, is one of the financial instruments awarding loans totalling EUR 9 billion to projects outside the EU. The EU’s budgetary guarantee covering the sovereign and political risks associated with loans and loan guarantees outside the EU is subject to codecision between the European Parliament and the Council.

Meanwhile, on 21 April 2010, the Commission submitted to Parliament and the Council a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and the Council granting an EU guarantee to the EIB against losses under loans and guarantees for projects outside the European Union. At committee level, a number of amendments were adopted at first reading, including compromises which emerged from multiple informal contacts and opinions received from five committees. On 27 January 2011, the Committee on Budgets adopted its recommendation to plenary, incorporating a global compromise amendment in the form of a consolidated text.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In addition to its core mission of financing investment in the European Union, the European Investment Bank (EIB) has, since 1963, undertaken financing operations outside the European Union in support of the EU's external policies. This allows the EU budget funds available to the external regions to be complemented by the financial strength of the EIB for the benefit of beneficiary countries. With a view to supporting the Union’s external action, and in order to enable the EIB to finance investments outside the Union without affecting its credit standing, the majority of its operations in external regions have benefited from an EU budgetary guarantee administered by the Commission. EIB financing operations should contribute to the general principles guiding the EU’s external action, as referred to in Article 21 of the Treaty on the European Union, of promoting and consolidating democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to the implementation of international environmental agreements to which the EU is party. It is my view that, in accordance with the objective of enhancing the coherence of overall EU support in the regions concerned, opportunities should be sought to combine EIB financing with EU budgetary resources as and when appropriate. It is necessary to have an early exchange of views between the EIB, the Commission and the European External Action Service in the process of preparing programming documents in order to maximise synergies between EIB activities and those of the Commission.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I agree with Parliament’s position on the EU guarantee to the EIB, which enables the EIB to retain its EU guarantee for its financing of investments outside the EU as part of its engagement with our neighbours and international partners. This agreement marks the first time Parliament and the Council have used codecision as the legal basis for this guarantee, which is a positive step towards reinforcing its democratic oversight and accountability. Crucially, Parliament has also secured an increase of EUR 1 billion for investments in the southern Mediterranean (such as improving infrastructure and offering credit to private enterprise). In addition, EIB loans and guarantees for projects outside the EU will now be contingent upon their contribution to key EU goals, such as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, reduction of poverty levels and the fight against climate change.

 
  
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  Jiří Havel (S&D), in writing. (CS) The European Investment Bank (EIB), in addition to its basic role of financing investment in the EU, is also involved in providing loans outside the EU, which amounted to EUR 9 billion at the end of 2010, or about 12% of total loans. The European Parliament (EP) addressed the topic of the EIB on 17 February 2011 within the framework of the approved Resolution P7_TA-PROV(2011)0062, which I also supported, including the five motions for amendment. The most important amendments relate to increasing the ceilings by EUR 1.857 billion and EIB reinvestments, EU goals and their cross-compliance in accordance with Article 208 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the Paris Declaration of 2005 and the Accra Agenda for Action of 2008, as well as transparency and reporting – emphasising, for example, impact analyses in respect of development, environmental and social sustainability, and the performance indicators drawn up by the EIB in the area of development, the environment and human rights, etc. – and the more long term prospects concerning, for example, the provision of micro-credit based on the new financial framework. The proposed broader mandate of the EIB should enable better coordination in achieving EU objectives, greater responsibility and transparency and the better use of EU budgetary guarantees. Overall, it can be said that the report submitted by Ivailo Kalfin builds on previous EP decisions, and reflects the proposed changes, and I therefore recommend it for approval in the version submitted.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because, on the basis of the mid-term review findings, the general objective is to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for European Investment Bank (EIB) external financing for the remainder of the current financial perspectives 2007-2013, whilst introducing new elements in the mandate. The EIB is a non-profit, policy-driven public bank which only invests in projects that further EU policy objectives. The EIB provides financial assistance to implement the EU’s external cooperation and development policy objectives, such as private sector development, the development of infrastructure, a reliable energy supply and a stable environment. I believe that these are important areas that require ongoing funding.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this report because I believe that, on the whole, the extended mandate of the EIB will allow much better coordination for achieving the EU’s goals, considerably more accountability and transparency, and a better use of the EU budgetary guarantee.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Investment Bank (EIB), whose shareholders are the Member States, is one of the most important EU financial instruments. Its lending outside the EU (EUR 9 billion) represented over 12% of its total 2010 lending. It is therefore essential to grant an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under loans and loan guarantees for projects outside the European Union.

We therefore favour strengthening the capacity of the EIB to support EU development objectives by enhancing its appraisal and monitoring of the social and development-related aspects of projects. We believe that we need greater and more focused intervention in sectors which further the development of third countries, such as environmental infrastructure, including water and sanitation, sustainable transportation and climate change mitigation and adaptation. At the same time, we believe it is essential to strengthen the transparency of EIB operations under its external mandate and their support for EU external policy objectives, taking into account longer term prospects, some of which were highlighted by the mid-term review recommendations.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Kalfin’s report because I believe that the text will serve to encourage, on the basis of the extended mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB), a more coordinated approach to achieving EU objectives, more accountability and transparency, and proper use of the EU budgetary guarantee. The increase in the ceilings and the possibility for the EIB to reinvest reflows from earlier operations, as proposed in Draft Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006, will enable the EU to support its external policy objectives in relation to operations that it carries out more strongly, with the same applying to the Millennium Development Goals and all those programmes that have a climate-related impact, thereby guaranteeing sustainable development in environmental and social terms.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The European Investment Bank (EIB) could play an important role in helping the Member States which European Union policies condemn to crisis on the basis of their debt and its rating. Instead of this, the EU prefers to continue having it fund offshore subsidiaries of multinationals and asks for no other ecological guarantees other than those that the European Commission wants to propose. I voted against.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The external mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been jointly decided by the European Parliament and the European Council since 2009. It expires in October 2011. However, a Commission proposal suggests its extension until 2013. I am pleased to see that the negotiations between the various institutions have had a positive outcome, with a significant increase in the guarantees offered to the EIB by the European Union. We hope now that these funds will be used effectively and will contribute to escaping the crisis.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The European Investment Bank, whose shareholders are the Member States, is one of the most important EU financial institutions. Its lending outside the EU (EUR 9 billion) accounted for more than 12% of its total 2010 lending. An important part of its lending operations outside the EU is actually covered by an EU budget guarantee. This EU budget guarantee covers sovereign and political risks of EIB loans and loan guarantee operations outside the EU. I voted ‘In favour’.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) In April 2010, a proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council granting an EU guarantee to the European Investment Bank against losses under loans and loan guarantees for projects outside the Union was tabled. In this connection, a mid-term review of the EIB external mandate was arranged. At first reading, the European Parliament adopted some amendments and, following negotiations with the Council and the Commission, an agreement was reached for the second reading in Parliament. Some of the proposed amendments may indeed result in improvements. However, there is still insufficient accountability and transparency in the use of the EU budgetary guarantee. For that reason, I abstained.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution, under which the European Investment Bank would be granted an EU guarantee for external lending for the period 2007-2013. Above all, given this bank’s importance for implementing EU policy objectives, it is very important to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for EIB external financing. When providing the necessary political and financial support for countries and projects, I believe that there should be a greater focus on those sectors which further the development of third countries. We also need to strengthen the capacity of the EIB to support EU development objectives and the EIB should increase its activity in support of health and education.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European institutions’ decision to allow the European Investment Bank greater flexibility by granting it more administrative and decision-making autonomy shows that the interest Europe takes in the development of projects required within the EU and the financing of those projects is considered to be important. Clearly, it is important to legislate properly so as not to risk wasting appropriations, and Mr Kalfin’s recommendation for second reading, for which I voted, stresses the need to lay down actual rules to guarantee, in particular, projects completed outside the territory of the EU Member States.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The rapporteur believes that the text now being tabled fully reflects Parliament’s first reading, and is the result of intensive negotiations in February-June 2011. I also believe that, in general terms, extending the European Investment Bank’s mandate will enable greater coordination with achieving the EU’s goals, substantially increased accountability and transparency, and better use of the EU’s budgetary guarantee. I voted in favour of this report because of all these facts.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the Commission proposal is to maintain the EU guarantee of European Investment Bank (EIB) external financing. At first reading, the European Parliament’s primary objective involved making EIB activity more transparent and seeking to integrate its activity with the EU’s long-term goals. The most important of the points raised at that time were that the Commission’s annual report should deal with the relationship between aid granted and the EU’s foreign policy objectives, the impact of this action in terms of environmental and energy sustainability, and linking funding made available through the EIB up with that from other donors. The Council took Parliament’s observations on board and these amendments were incorporated. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The general objective is, on the basis of the findings of the mid-term review, to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for EIB external financing for the remainder of the current financial perspectives 2007-2013, whilst introducing a number of new elements into the mandate. The new elements are the following: 1. Activation of the EUR 2 billion ‘optional mandate’, which was placed in reserve. This optional mandate is to be activated not as an increase of individual regional ceilings, but as a mandate dedicated to projects which contribute to the fight against climate change across all regions covered by the decision; 2. Replacing the current system of regional objectives for operations under EU guarantee with horizontal high-level objectives covering all regions under the external mandate; 3. Development by the Commission, together with the EIB, and in consultation with the European External Action Service (EEAS), of operational guidelines for each region under the external mandate, reflecting EU regional strategies in order to strengthen the link between the implementation of EIB activities in line with the general high-level objectives under the external mandate and EU regional priorities.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because, when viewed as a whole, it allows for the European Investment Bank’s mandate to be extended and for the Bank to be endowed with greater operational capacity with the aim of achieving the objectives set by the European Union. As a result, it will be possible to ensure more transparency and better use of the EU budgetary guarantee. On the basis of the findings of the mid-term review, it is now necessary to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for EIB external financing until 2013.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted for this report which encourages European Union support for programmes that promote the development of natural resources, the fight against global warming and against poverty.

This report is in favour of EU guarantees to the European Investment Bank against losses for projects carried out in third countries.

The EIB is one of the primary means of EU intervention in the countries of the South: EUR 9 billion in loans, 12% of total loans in 2010. The proposed measures therefore increase the legitimacy of EU investments in development aid. This is not a luxury in these times of financial crisis. Investments in the countries of the South cannot suffer due to European governments’ negligence in dealing with the crisis.

These policies seem to be along the right lines, albeit still falling far short of what could be done in this field.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The European Investment Bank (EIB), the shareholders of which are the EU Member States, is one of the most important financial instruments of the EU. Its lending outside the EU represented more than 12% of its total 2010 lending. Based on the findings of a mid-term review, the objective was to ensure the continuation of the EU guarantee for EIB external financing for the remainder of the current financial perspectives 2007-2013, whilst introducing a number of new elements in the mandate. I voted in favour because, following intensive negotiations, the extended mandate of the EIB will allow much better coordination for achieving the EU goals, considerably more accountability and transparency, and a better use of the EU budgetary guarantee.

 
  
  

Report: Sharon Bowles (A7-0227/2011)

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established in 1990 to support the development of market economies from Central Europe to Central Asia following the widespread collapse of communist regimes. The European Union, together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and 40 countries (including all EU Member States at that time), were founding members. The EBRD is currently owned by 61 countries, the EU and the EIB. The EBRD supports projects in 29 countries, primarily in the private sector, that cannot be financed by the market. The Bank promotes entrepreneurship and fosters the transition towards open and democratic market economies. I welcomed this proposal to permit the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the EBRD and thereby increase the share capital accordingly.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted resolutely against this report on the subscription by the European Union to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The EBRD, which coordinates development projects in around 30 countries in Eastern Europe and Asia, has, in fact, launched 44 projects in Turkey, too. In view of the threats, including military threats, that the Turkish Government has recently made against the EU and its Member States, and given that that same government is responsible for daily attacks on democracy, on the rights of religious minorities and on the freedom of expression, there is no way I can support the initiative in question. Similarly, the EBRD coordinates projects in countries such as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the government of which is not only responsible for attacks on the freedom of expression, but is also a key player in cases of corruption and clientelism, as well as a promoter of unacceptable historical falsehoods. I therefore voted against the report.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) The increase in capital from EUR 20 to EUR 30 billion, not least to guarantee the AAA rating of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is a very important commitment which must be supported. Therefore, EU representatives within the EBRD’s governing bodies must encourage greater alignment with the objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy, thereby ensuring greater effectiveness of the EBRD’s external policy. The institution will have to provide transparent information to the public regarding its financing activities, and evaluations of projects and beneficiaries will be made public, leading to more frequent and tighter controls which will put paid to the secrecy surrounding the list of beneficiaries. In order to pursue the principle of transparency, the Governor of the EBRD will be required to report annually on the promotion of EU external policy objectives and Europe 2020 strategy objectives. This will ensure a more effective system and prevent duplication of investments by the European Investment Bank and the EBRD. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this proposal because I believe that subscribing to additional shares following the increase in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is a necessary move in order to maintain the Bank’s rating. This increase also responds to the need to create a safety buffer in the event of a future negative development in the Bank’s investment portfolio. I believe it is important to support this policy given the central role that the institution plays in ensuring the stability of the financial sector and in providing a rapid response in economic crisis situations. Therefore, this operation calls for an assessment/rationalisation of the European investment banking system and for greater cooperation between banks belonging to the system itself. It is also important for the Governor of the EBRD to consider how this request fits in with other very important policies for the EU, such as the EU 2020 strategy and the EU’s Millennium Development Goals.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) With regard to the subscription for additional callable shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in proportion with the EU’s current share, I think that increasing the capital will boost the institution’s activities in its countries of operation. In light of the financial crisis, it will increase the bank’s opportunities for granting the necessary assistance to those countries’ economies at a time of restricted capital availability. In this respect, I welcome the fact that the EBRD approved loans to Romania amounting to EUR 799 million for the 2009-2010 period. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and European Investment Bank are financed by the European Union, which entails the risk of their activities overlapping. I believe that the EU needs to exert tighter control over this, both so that it can verify the route taken by the loans granted and combat tax evasion, especially in view of the possible movement of EBRD funds via tax havens and the illegal use of the principle of banking secrecy.

 
  
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  George Sabin Cutaş (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report concerning the subscription by the European Union to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) because it proposes making the European public investment banking system more efficient and tightening the control of the projects financed. I believe that tax evasion is contributing to the current instability in the global financial system. A bank financed by the European Union cannot therefore allow itself to cooperate with entities which evade their tax obligations.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) In May, the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided to increase its capital from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. This was in response to the financial crisis and to the stepping up of its activities in support of the countries where it operates. The proposal is to generate new callable capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital, so it will have no immediate effect on the EU budget. I am voting for this report as I consider it an important measure in helping to reverse the current economic and financial situation in Europe. The injection of additional liquidity into the EBRD will enable the bank’s activities to be stepped up and developed. Although Parliament wanted to go further, I nevertheless welcome the agreement that has been reached by the trialogue on tabling a report by the end of the fourth Capital Resources Review, which assesses the banking system for European public investment and also examines the possibility of restructuring the banks in question, as previously requested by Parliament.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) Parliament has called for: 1) a report to be presented offering an assessment of the European public investment banking system as already called for by the European Parliament in its resolution of 25 March 2009. This assessment should set out options as to how best to rationalise the system, while taking account of the potential effects of restructuring on the capacity of the respective banks to lend to the economies hit by the crisis; 2) the Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to report annually to the relevant committee of the European Parliament on the promotion of the EU’s objectives with particular regard to the Millennium Development Goals, the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and jobs and to step up the transfer to renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies; 3) tighter control to prevent beneficiaries from using tax havens in projects in which the EBRD is involved.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided on a capital increase in May 2010. The authorised capital stock of the EBRD will increase by 50%, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. The purpose of this capital increase is to respond to the financial crisis and intensify the EBRD’s activities in support of the beneficiaries of its investment. As this is an uncontroversial proposal intended to respond to a crisis situation, I was bound to vote in favour.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) In May 2010, the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided to increase its capital by 50%, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. It was the first EU financial institution to be created to support economic development in Europe following the break-up of the Soviet Union. Essentially, the EBRD supports the development of the local sector: small and medium-sized enterprises, individuals, towns, regional cooperation, innovation, job creation, energy, environmental projects, and so on. This report, drafted by Ms Bowles, concerns the proposal for a decision by Parliament and the Council on the subscription by the EU to additional shares in the capital of the EBRD, in proportion with the Union’s current 3.031% share in the capital. I agree with and welcome this subscription, with the EU’s increase in capital for the EBRD, as it is an example of the EU’s economic capacity as a shareholder, and I hope that some of this capital will be used to support the development of the countries involved in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this proposal for a decision is to enable the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in the context of the capital increase decided on by the Board of Governors of the EBRD in 2010. The decision will also authorise the Governor of the EBRD – a representative of the European Union – to deposit the requisite instrument of subscription.

The Board of Governors decided last May to increase the capital of the bank by 50%, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion, with a view to responding to the financial crisis and to enhancing the EBRD’s activities in support of its countries of operation. The capital increase assumes EUR 1 billion new paid-in capital and EUR 9 billion new callable capital. As the Committee on Budgets mentions, the proposal is to generate the new callable capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital. Hence, the operation will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget. The risk stems from the potential need to call up additional capital in the unlikely case of a considerable negative development with the bank’s investment portfolio.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this proposal for a decision is to enable the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in the context of the capital increase decided on by the Board of Governors of the EBRD in 2010. The decision will also authorise the Governor of the EBRD – a representative of the European Union – to deposit the requisite instrument of subscription.

The Board of Governors decided last May to increase the capital of the bank, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion, with a view to responding to the financial crisis and to enhancing the EBRD’s activities in support of its countries of operation. The capital increase assumes EUR 1 billion new paid-in capital and EUR 9 billion new callable capital. As the Committee on Budgets mentions, the proposal is to generate the new callable capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital. Hence, the operation will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget. The risk stems from the potential need to call up additional capital in the unlikely case of a considerable negative development with the bank’s investment portfolio.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing.(SK) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established in 1990 to support the development of market economies from central Europe to central Asia. The European Union, together with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and 40 countries (including all EU Member states at that time), were founding members. The EBRD supports projects in 29 countries, primarily in the private sector, that cannot be fully financed by the market. The Bank promotes entrepreneurship and fosters transition towards open and democratic market economies. The proposed decision is intended to permit the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the EBRD in the framework of the capital increase decided by the EBRD Board of Governors on 14/15 May 2010. The decision will also authorise the Governor of the EBRD for the European Union to deposit the requisite instrument of subscription. The initial capital of the EBRD was fixed at ECU 10 billion, of which the EU subscribed 3%. In 1996, the Governors of the EBRD decided to double the authorised capital of the EBRD for which the EU subscribed an additional 30 000 shares of EUR 10 000 each, bringing the EU subscribed capital to EUR 600 million. The EU share in the EBRD’s total authorised capital remained unchanged. The proposal is to generate the new paid-in capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital. Hence, the operation will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget.

 
  
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  Louis Grech (S&D), in writing. – I support the Bowles report which follows the increase in the EBRD’s authorised capital stock by EUR 10 billion. This will allow the EBRD to broaden its activities, providing additional access to capital in its countries of operation during a difficult economic period. This additional capital generation will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget. Furthermore, I support the report’s commitment to increasing the transparency of the EBRD, and ensuring that its work is consistent with the Europe 2020 strategy. The requirement that the EBRD report annually to Parliament will also strengthen accountability and ensure the EBRD’s work is in line with the EU’s objectives.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because the objective of the proposed legislation is to permit the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in proportion with the Union’s current capital share (3.031%). In May 2010, the Board of Governors of the EBRD decided to increase the capital of the bank by 50% from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion with a view to responding to the financial crisis and to enhancing its efforts in support of its countries of operation. The capital increase assumes EUR 1 billion new paid-in capital and EUR 9 billion new callable capital. The proposal is to generate the new paid-in capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital. Hence, the operation will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget. The risk stems from the potential need to call up additional capital in the unlikely case of a considerable negative development with the bank’s investment portfolio. After the operation, the EU will continue to hold a 3.031% share in the EBRD, with the paid-in part rising from EUR 157.50 million to EUR 187.81 million, and the callable part from EUR 442.5 million to EUR 712.63 million.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I supported this proposal, which seeks to allow the subscription to new shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) following the Board of Governors’ decision on 14 and 15 May 2010 to increase its capital from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. The guidelines contained in the report should be viewed as a foundation on which to maintain the EU 2020 strategy objectives. One such objective that must be emphasised is transparency, which the EBRD is increasingly being asked to ensure, including through the report that its Governor is required to present on the subject of the EU’s external policy objectives. Transparency of the EBRD’s financial operations will therefore become the key factor in banking performance and will mean that investments are channelled in a more effective and efficient manner. I voted in favour of Ms Bowles’s resolution because I believe that a recapitalisation measure in the shape of the issuance of new shares in the Bank’s capital is the right way to go, given the equally important fact that it will not directly affect the EU budget.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should respond effectively to the crisis and refocus its strategy in view of the scale of the impact which the crisis has had in the area in which the Bank operates. I consider that the capital increase proposed by the EBRD is absolutely necessary in order to mitigate the impact of the crisis. This will enable the EBRD to maintain a high level of activity and to contribute, together with other European or national organisations and institutions, to economic recovery in its area of activity.

Estimates show that, by increasing its capital, the EBRD will generate an annual business volume of approximately EUR 9 billion in 2011 and 2012 and approximately EUR 8.5 billion per year up to 2015. I thus believe that, given the role the EU plays in governing the EBRD, it should subscribe to new shares in order to achieve the Community’s objectives.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this decision, which permits the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the EBRD in the framework of the capital increase decided by the EBRD Board of Governors on 14/15 May 2010. The decision will also authorise the Governor of the EBRD for the European Union to deposit the requisite instrument of subscription

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We support this proposal for a decision intended to permit the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the framework of the capital increase decided by the EBRD Board of Governors on 14-15 May 2010. The decision will authorise the Governor of the EBRD to deposit the requisite instrument of subscription. In fact, the proposal is to generate the new paid-in capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital. Hence, the operation will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget. The risk stems from the potential need to call up additional capital in the unlikely case of a considerable negative development with the bank’s investment portfolio. After the operation, the EU will continue to hold a 3.031% share in the EBRD, with the paid-in part rising from EUR 157.5 million to EUR 187.81 million, and the callable part from EUR 442.5 million to EUR 712.63 million.

 
  
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  Barbara Matera (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Bowles. I completely support the European Union’s subscription to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) following the decision to increase the Bank’s capital. This subscription ought to allow the Union to achieve and bolster its objectives in the field of external economic relations and preserve its relative voting power within the EBRD. Moreover, I think it is important for the Governor of the EBRD for the European Union to support the development of additional financial instruments and to ensure that cooperation allows for better control over, and visibility of, the Union’s public funds.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The subscription by the European Union to additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), as a result of the decision to increase this capital, is expected to provide significant assistance to the economies of countries where the EBRD operates at a time of capital shortage. I therefore voted in favour of the report by Ms Bowles.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I welcome the option included in the report to take into account the effects of a restructuring on the borrowing capacity of the respective banks to economies hit by the economic crisis. I voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) I voted against increasing the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the sole purpose of which is to convert all States to a market economy. However, I welcome the amendments aiming to combat the use of tax havens and demanding tighter controls and greater transparency in general.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided a capital increase for the Bank of 50%, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion in May 2010. The purpose of this capital increase is for the EBRD to respond to the financial crisis in order to intensify its activities in support of the beneficiaries that it has selected for investment.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The increase in callable capital contributes to maintaining the EBRD’s access to financial markets and to increasing its activities in the countries of operation, thus providing valuable assistance to the economies of those countries in difficult economic times. Therefore, I voted ‘In favour’.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted against this report because even though it is a technical measure, in my opinion, the subject of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has political implications. Indeed, I maintain that the EBRD, like the rest of the European Investment Bank (EIB), cannot provide financing for a country that does not respect the territorial sovereignty of an EU Member State and that even threatens the EU itself. I am referring, of course, to the age-old question of relations between Cyprus and Turkey. The European Union should send a strong message to Turkey, suspending all financing until the Cyprus question is resolved. We cannot and must not accept vetoes and ultimatums from Ankara, as was the case a few days ago on the issue of the future Cypriot Presidency of the European Union.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this resolution because it is appropriate to permit the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in proportion with the Union’s current capital share. Attention should be drawn to the fact that EU participation in the EBRD’s capital is an efficient means of contributing to the implementation of EU objectives, of helping to mitigate the impact of the crisis in the EBRD’s countries of operation, and of sustaining a high level of activity by the EBRD. It should be noted that this operation will not have an immediate direct effect on the EU budget because the aim is to generate the new paid-in capital by transforming accumulated distributable reserves into share capital. In addition, this capital subscription would not require any actual cash payments from the EU budget unless there should be very serious and unforeseen losses. I believe that there is no reason to doubt the bank’s financial sustainability because the EBRD has significant experience of successful operations, pursues a responsible lending policy, and retains good financial ratios.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) At this historic time, the proposal adopted just now on increasing the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is something that I have no qualms in supporting. The European Union joined the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the 1990s and, as the years have gone by, the governors of the EBRD have seen fit to double its capital. The EU has subscribed to more than 30 000 shares, though its share of the total capital has remained unchanged. Last May, in order to tackle the crisis, the Council decided to increase the EBRD’s capital from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion, which seemed like a good starting point for providing fresh impetus and offered a robust response at a time of major speculation. Furthermore, the future work of the EBRD will be essential for putting project bonds into action.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 14 and 15 May 2010, the Board of Governors of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) decided to increase its capital by 50%, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to enable the European Union to subscribe to additional callable shares in the EBRD, in proportion to the Union’s current 3.031% share of its capital. The proposal tabled by the Commission is not contentious. In view of the conclusions of the rapporteur on the matter, I am voting for this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the capital increase for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), approved by its Board of Governors, legislative authorisation is necessary for the EU to subscribe to new shares. With a view to the EU maintaining its position within the company, with a 3.031% share, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The EBRD Board of Governors decided a capital increase on 14/15 May 2010. The authorised capital stock of the Bank will increase by 50% from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. The purpose of the proposed legislation is to allow the European Union to subscribe for additional callable shares in the EBRD, in proportion with the Union’s current share in the capital (3.031%).

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) The purpose of today’s document is to allow Europe to subscribe to additional shares in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Today, Parliament’s vote will authorise the Governor of the European Central Bank to deposit the requisite instrument of subscription. In fact, last May, the decision was taken to increase the capital from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion with a view to responding to the financial crisis and to enhancing its activities in support of its countries of operation. Today’s decision has no immediate direct effect on the EU budget.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was created in 1990 with the aim of supporting the development of market economies from Europe to Central Asia. At present, the EBRD’s capital stock is held by the EU, the European Investment Bank and 61 countries. On 14 and 15 May 2010, the Board of Governors of the EBRD decided to adopt two resolutions on increasing its capital by 50%, from EUR 20 billion to EUR 30 billion. A total of 100 000 shares will be issued, in proportion to the existing shareholdings of the EBRD’s members, with the EU being issued 3 031 new shares and each share having a par value of EUR 1 000. I voted for this report because the EBRD will be able to increase its activities in its countries of operation, to ensure support for new markets, to encourage greater cooperation with other European financial institutions, and to implement the best prudential banking practices. I would also stress the importance of adopting mechanisms for monitoring the European banking system, of achieving the Union’s foreign policy objectives, and of it being possible for the EU to keep the same number of votes in the EBRD.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) Lithuania and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are bound by close cooperation. According to EBRD data, our cooperation covers 78 projects with a total value of EUR 1.8 billion and a net turnover of EUR 590.6 million. I believe that it would be helpful for the EU to sign the decision on these additional shares in the capital of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), particularly given that this will have no immediate direct effect on the EU budget. The objective of the proposed legislation is to permit the EU to subscribe for additional callable shares in EBRD countries, in proportion with the EU’s current share of the capital. This decision would enable the EBRD to increase its activities in its countries of operation, including Lithuania, thus providing valuable assistance to the economies of those countries in times of restricted capital availability. Although the EBRD’s activities were reduced following Lithuania’s accession to the EU, it continues to play an important role in our country. The EBRD can, for instance, encourage commercial banks to continue to provide companies, particularly SMEs, with loans. Above all, the EBRD can help to strengthen corporate governance in Lithuania’s local companies, promote investment in renewable energy, and support the development of electricity grids.

 
  
  

Report: Salvatore Iacolino (A7-0157/2011)

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the regulation which transposes into EU law the implementation of Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (UNFP). This Protocol, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, is the first binding instrument relating to small arms adopted at global level. The proposed regulation introduces an ‘export procedure’ to be applied by Member States to exports to third countries. The adoption of the regulation under the ordinary legislative procedure enables Article 10 of the UNFP to be applied in all the Member States, which finally establishes a uniform system for trade in firearms. We, Members of the European Parliament, support this regulation, which encourages more transparency, helping to combat illegal trafficking in firearms by encouraging and strengthening cooperation amongst States, an objective which has grown in importance since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) Since the European Union is one of the leading weapons manufacturers and exporters in the world, the creation of a uniform system for trade in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition is absolutely essential. This is not a matter of a simple regulation to reduce the maximum time allowed for processing authorisation requests, particularly with regard to arms for civilian use. Rather, it relates to the obvious need to set up a tracing mechanism using export authorisations, as well as import and transit measures, that are designed to strike a blow against illegal weapons trafficking. I would like to congratulate Mr Iacolino on this text, which aims to protect the safety of the Union and the weapons industry. I hope that all those countries that have not yet signed or ratified the United Nations Firearms Protocol will reflect upon and adopt the measures set out in the Protocol, deciding to work together to fight international organised crime and to bolster cooperation between national authorities.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report because it combats illegal trafficking in firearms by encouraging and strengthening cooperation between states. It encourages Member States to give the competent authorities appropriate powers and lay down the penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of the regulation. The gravity of custodial sentences should be such as to deter anybody from engaging in any such activities.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The Stockholm Programme for ‘an open and secure Europe, serving and protecting citizens’, highlights trafficking in arms as one of the illegal activities that continue to challenge the internal security of the EU, and the Union should therefore continue to promote the ratification of international conventions (and their protocols), in particular, those developed under the auspices of the United Nations. I welcomed this proposal because the specific Union action is needed to complete the process of transposition into Union legislation of the provisions of the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, otherwise known as the UN Firearms Protocol or UNFP.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted for this report because I welcome the fact that it makes appropriate simplifications to the procedures for granting firearms export licences, thereby ensuring an increased level of security, in keeping with the provisions of the relevant UN Protocol.

Every year, there are more than 700 000 victims of armed violence, two thirds of whom fall victim outside any conflict situation. A huge proportion of the weapons used to commit these violent acts have been acquired or shipped illegally. In this situation, a sound, effective control system for firearms exports, based on clear procedures for granting licences, is of paramount importance in preventing illegal shipments.

Romania is one of the countries which have ratified the UN Firearms Protocol, thereby highlighting its strong commitment to international non-proliferation and control instruments. I appreciate that ratification of this Protocol by all Member States is important in terms of ensuring a uniform EU-level approach in this important area. Adopting the measures for implementing Article 10 marks a first step in this direction.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) The report in question is particularly important because it concerns the adoption of the regulation implementing Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol which establishes a uniform system for trade in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition within the EU Member States. I would like to remind you that Europe has a long, well-established tradition in the field of sport shooting, where over 10 million citizens, in full compliance with the legal provisions in force, make a significant contribution to the economic wealth of the EU. The result we have achieved today, thanks, in particular, to the active participation of all stakeholders in the consultation process, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, entailed a long, painstaking process aimed at satisfying the provisions of the UN Protocol and making them compatible with the current situation in Europe, where 27 Member States have very different national laws in this area. I am therefore very pleased at the adoption of this new instrument which, in my opinion, marries two key requirements: helping to combat illegal trafficking in firearms by encouraging and strengthening cooperation between States, and harmonising and simplifying procedures for stakeholders in the sector, such as hunters and sport shooters.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report on Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and establishing export authorisation, import and transit measures for these weapons. In the light of the continual growth of cross-border organised crime within the EU – particularly after the latest enlargements towards eastern countries – taking steps to meet EU citizens’ safety requirements assumes the utmost importance. The adoption of specific legislation on trafficking in firearms responds to this requirement. Furthermore, since the document also sets out to consider the commercial needs of European enterprises in this sector, striking a balance between safety requirements and the economic and employment needs of the businesses themselves, the report is entirely worthy of support and hence I decided to vote in favour.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) It is extremely important for Article 10 of the UN Firearms Protocol (UNFP) to be implemented in all the Member States with a view to harmonising procedures and finally creating a common system to regulate trade in firearms. To date, the UNFP has been ratified by 83 countries, including 13 EU Member States. However, there are still five EU Member States which have neither signed nor ratified it. The proposed regulation introduces an ‘export procedure’ to be applied by Member States to exports to third countries. The adoption of the regulation under the ordinary legislative procedure would enable Article 10 of the UNFP to be applied in all Member States, which would finally establish a uniform system for trade in firearms and their parts, components and ammunition within the European Union. In addition to the general aim of harmonising and simplifying the procedures followed, the regulation is also intended to help combat illegal trafficking in firearms by encouraging and strengthening cooperation between states, an objective which has assumed increasing importance since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, which entered into force in June 2005, was the first binding instrument relating to small arms for civilian use adopted at world level. To date, the Protocol has been ratified by 83 countries and signed by 52 signatories. Nevertheless, countries such as the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland and Malta have neither ratified nor signed the document. Article 10 of the Protocol must, however, be implemented in all the Member States with a view to both harmonising and simplifying procedures and to creating a common system to regulate the trade in firearms, thereby helping combat illegal trafficking.

I voted for the report tabled by Mr Iacolino which has the merit of reconciling the various existing needs by means of balanced proposals. Indeed, implementation of Article 10 has implications for public safety and the viability of the industry. We must, however, also take into account the delicate social and economic repercussions arising from the sector, which, in Europe alone, accounts for some EUR 694 million of exports and EUR 220 million of imports, a significant contribution to GDP and employment.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The trafficking of arms is one of the illegal activities that continue to threaten the EU’s internal security. This initiative concerns the sale and transfer of firearms, and their parts, essential components and ammunition within the Union, and is part of the EU’s policy on combating transnational crime. It provides for stepping up the fight against the illegal trafficking of firearms, including controls on exports, and for tracing small arms and scaling back their proliferation and spread throughout the world.

The purpose of the UN Firearms Protocol (UNFP) is to promote, facilitate and step up cooperation between states, so as to prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms and related products. Given that, to date, only 13 Member States have ratified this Protocol, I think the adoption of this initiative through the ordinary legislative procedure will be important, as it will enable the application of Article 10 of the UNFP in all the Member States. As such it will enable the harmonisation and simplification of procedures, whilst it should, at the same time, make combating the illicit trade in firearms more effective through the promotion and stepping up of cooperation between Member States.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this proposal, which I endorse both in terms of its spirit and its content. By adopting this proposal, I think Parliament has shown enormous purpose and commitment on such a difficult issue as the manufacture and trade of firearms. Adopting shared, Europe-wide rules for more effective export control represents a huge opportunity to improve safety in Europe. On the other hand, businesses must not be burdened by excessive requirements, which would reduce their competitiveness to the benefit of foreign manufacturers. It is important to ensure that these changes can contribute to the formation of a community of European citizens that is an ever more united and steadfast presence on the international scene. This can only be achieved, as stressed in the report, if the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of weapons is prevented. I am, in any case, happy that Mr Iacolino has succeeded, through minor amendments to the Commission’s text, to strike the right balance between simplification and protecting European consumers, without neglecting the importance of safety aspects.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the resolution on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council implementing Article 10 of the UN Firearms Protocol and establishing export authorisation, import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. First of all, I support the proposal for creating a common system for regulating the trade in firearms. The UN Firearms Protocol has been ratified by 83 countries so far, featuring only 13 EU Member States, including Romania. In order to harmonise procedures, it is vital to extend the adoption of this first binding instrument relating to small arms adopted globally. EU Member States are duty-bound to make a valuable contribution to setting up, at least at EU level, a uniform system for trading firearms and ammunition, a step which would help combat illegal arms trafficking more effectively.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report promotes combating the illicit trafficking of firearms and seeks to implement Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime for all Member States, by promoting and stepping up cooperation. In this document, I would stress the general objective of harmonising and simplifying procedures, in addition to the effective combating of the illicit trade in firearms by promoting and stepping up cooperation between Member States. I was pleased to vote for this report, as the EU, the public, and world peace and security will all benefit when the UN Protocol comes into force in the 27 Member States.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of measures implementing Article 10 of the UN Protocol, as it will help in the fight against illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms. It is now up to the European Union to comply with the commitments already undertaken with the international community.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on implementing Article 10 of the UN Firearms Protocol establishing authorisation measures for the exporting, importing and transit of firearms, and their parts, components and ammunition, since it tables important measures to combat the illicit trafficking of firearms, provides for more rigorous controls on legal transfers, and steps up cooperation between national authorities.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this regulation is to transpose Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol on firearms, and their export, import and transit, into European law, and it focuses on the exporting of weapons for use by civilians. The effective combating of the illicit trade in firearms through the promotion and stepping up of cooperation between Member States can be added to the general objective of harmonising and simplifying procedures.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Iacolino, concerns the proposal for a regulation by Parliament and the Council on implementing Article 10 of the UN Protocol on firearms, and sets out measures for authorising the export, import and transportation of these weapons, their parts and components and ammunition. The proposal for a regulation covers firearms for civilian use, including small arms and those used by hunters or for sport shooting. The new proposal for a regulation transposes Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition into Union law. I unconditionally support this proposal, as all of its measures aimed at combating the illicit trafficking of firearms are welcome. Let us remember what happened only recently in Sweden, with the slaughter of nearly one hundred victims. Moreover, it is essential that all those involved in this trade know that they are being properly monitored, so as to avoid these weapons being diverted to the black market. It is public safety that is at stake.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this regulation is to transpose Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (UNFP) into Union law. This Protocol – which is the first binding international-level agreement on small arms – was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in May 2001, and has already been ratified by more than 80 UN Member States, including Portugal.

The regulation covers the sale and transfer of non-automatic weapons, their parts and their ammunition to third countries, including countries that have not ratified the UNFP. The UNFP sets out positive steps to combat the illicit trafficking of firearms at international level, and stresses controls on their exporting, importing and transit. As such, according to the UNFP, each state ‘shall establish or maintain an effective system of export and import licensing or authorisation, as well as of measures on international transit’.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this regulation is to transpose the implementation of Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition (UNFP) into Union law. This Protocol – which is the first binding international-level agreement on small arms – was adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in May 2001, and has already been ratified by more than 80 UN Member States, including Portugal.

The regulation covers the sale and transfer of non-automatic weapons, their parts and their ammunition to third countries, including countries that have not ratified the UNFP. The UNFP sets out positive steps to combat the illicit trafficking of firearms at international level, and stresses controls on their exporting, importing and transit, stating that each state ‘shall establish or maintain an effective system of export and import licensing or authorisation, as well as of measures on international transit’. However, we do not agree with all the rapporteur’s positions.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The proposal for a regulation aims to implement Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. It was adopted in May 2001 as a Protocol supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. It entered into force on 3 July 2005 after it had been ratified by 40 countries and is the first binding instrument relating to small arms adopted at a global level. The proposed regulation introduces an export procedure to be applied by Member States to exports to third countries. Its adoption would enable Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol (UNFP) to be applied in all the Member States, which would establish a uniform system for trade in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition within the European Union. The aim of harmonising and simplifying the procedures followed is supplemented by the endeavour to help combat illegal trafficking in firearms by encouraging and strengthening cooperation between states. The proposed regulation covers the trade in and transfer of non-automatic firearms and their parts and ammunition for civil (non-military) use to third countries, including countries which are not contracting parties to the UNFP. I firmly believe that it is important for Article 10 of the UNFP to be implemented in all the Member States with a view to harmonising procedures in the attempt to create a common system to regulate the trade in firearms.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this regulation because it proposes an export procedure to be applied by Member States to exports to third countries. The adoption of the regulation would enable Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol (UNFP) to be applied in all Member States, which would finally establish a uniform system for trade in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition within the European Union. This proposal covers the trade in, and transfer of, non-automatic firearms and their parts and ammunition for civil (non-military) use to third countries, including countries which are not contracting parties to the UNFP.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Iacolino, which must be praised for dealing with such a delicate and controversial issue as the implementation of Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol and the establishment of export authorisation, import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. Article 10 of the Protocol must, however, be adopted by all the Member States in order to provide a genuine, unanimous response to illegal trafficking in weapons, which is clearly one of the main causes of disagreement in this resolution. On the other hand, as we pursue the entirely positive aim of fighting crime, we must not run the risk of hindering or making legal trade in weapons difficult. Mr Iacolino’s text succeeds in acknowledging the needs of an economic sector that is important not just for individual Member States, but also for the European Union. I think that managing to balance both sides of a thorny issue is a notable achievement in the approach to implementing Article 10 of the Protocol.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal for a regulation to address the fact that the European Union needs to transpose into Union legislation Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The UN Protocol, negotiated and signed by the Commission on 16 January 2002 on behalf of the European Community, makes provision in Article 10 for stronger controls on the exporting, importing and third-country transit measures of firearms for civilian use, their parts, components and ammunition. Article 10 provides that, ‘Each State Party shall establish or maintain an effective system of export and import licensing or authorisation, as well as of measures on international transit, for the transfer of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition’.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) The implementation of clear and effective control measures for the import, export and transit of these goods represents one side of the security issue. I would like to mention in relation to this topic that we should not forget improvements in the working conditions of the relevant control bodies. They should, in principle, have access to sophisticated and intelligible legislation. I am referring to proposed and existing legislative measures, such as the attempt to improve monitoring of the trade in goods of this kind, the attempt to enhance the effectiveness of control regimes and, in particular, the attempt to suppress the illegal handling of this material.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) The Stockholm Programme regards arms trafficking as a threat to the European Union’s internal security. In addition to the general aim of harmonising and simplifying the procedures followed, the regulation is, of course, also intended to help combat illegal trafficking in firearms by encouraging and strengthening cooperation between States, an objective which has assumed increasing importance since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009.

We believe that export authorisation should be granted only after import authorisation has been obtained from the third country and a notice of no-objection to transit has been issued by the country of transit. The regulation introduces a novel procedure – based on the principle of tacit consent – to be used in the event of the transit country failing to register objections within a specified period. We consider it essential to introduce certain simplified procedures for some types of export and some categories of users. Member States will have to undertake to give the competent authorities appropriate powers and lay down rules on the penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of this regulation. Lastly, we would stress how important it is for Article 10 of the UNFP to be implemented in all the Member States with a view to harmonising procedures and finally creating a common system to regulate the trade in firearms.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing.(FR) This new regulation guarantees the safety of our citizens by improving the traceability of arms, without, however, penalising legitimate users such as hunters and target shooters. In my capacity as rapporteur for the opinion, I welcome the fact that we have managed to achieve the right and fair balance on this matter. The procedures required of hunters and target shooters when they temporarily leave the territory of the European Union have been simplified. Similarly, administrative procedures for dealers and manufacturers of small arms have not been increased. Weapons collectors will not be affected by this regulation. In the EU, there are hundreds of SMEs which represent not only jobs, but also expertise in the manufacture of our sporting weapons. We have been careful not to penalise them, in particular, in the face of foreign competition. We must stand firm against terrorism and all forms of crime, and prevent the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, but this should not be done at the expense of the noble passion of millions of our citizens.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the report by Mr Iacolino. I agree with him on the need to take account of considerations relating to the viability of the industry as well as public safety issues, following the provisions of the Stockholm Programme.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report and welcome the establishment of a uniform system for trade in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition with the EU. I further welcome the proposal for regulatory guidelines for the export, import and transfer to third countries of the items concerned, in accordance with the UN Firearms Protocol, which has, thus far, been ratified in 83 countries and signed by 52 signatories.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The production and circulation of firearms and their essential components must be subject to extremely tight controls. This is imperative for the safety of all. The transposition of UN rules on combating the trafficking of firearms and the efforts made to make this transposition as effective as possible are a step in the right direction.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) New rules were adopted today to monitor the export of firearms for civilian use, such as small arms and those used by hunters or for sport shooting. This legislation, which has already been agreed with the EU Council of Ministers, establishes a uniform system within the European Union for the export of firearms, their parts and components and ammunition from the Member States to third countries. The aim is to step up the fight against the illicit trafficking of firearms. The new regulation transposes Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition into Union law.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing.(SK) In the absence of definitive legal regulations, the arms trade may be considered a potential threat to the internal security of the European Union. The protection of citizens, as well as their basic rights and freedoms, therefore requires the creation of a unified system of trading in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition in the EU. I therefore welcome the draft regulation submitted by the Commission in May 2010, which is directed towards the implementation of Article 10 of the UN Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. In my opinion, the harmonisation, streamlining and clarification of processes applied across the EU, as well as their acceleration, will contribute to the fight against illicit trafficking in firearms, for which active cooperation between states is an essential precondition.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Though the proposal for a regulation does not completely and precisely lay down rules governing export authorisation, and import and transit measures for firearms, their parts and essential components and ammunition, nevertheless, for the purpose of implementing Article 10 of the UN Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) The main aim of this report is to allow the implementation of Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms, their components and ammunition. The measure provides for greater regulation and harmonisation in the sector. On the one hand, it is right to combat the illegal international trade in firearms, which is a source of enormous profits for international crime and has dangerous consequences. On the other hand, we must try to assist those who use weapons for other purposes, such as for sport and hunting, as well as protect businesses that manufacture weapons for civil purposes. The report meets all these requirements, which is why I wanted to express my positive evaluation of it.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution. The proposed regulation will fill the gap giving the EU exclusive competence in the area of the common commercial policy, harmonising and simplifying the procedures in all EU Member States for trade in arms with third countries. As 10 years have passed since the adoption of the United Nations Firearms Protocol (UNFP) at the United Nations General Assembly, the application of its provisions in the Member States is very uneven (the Protocol has been ratified by 13 EU Member States and signed by nine, while five have not adopted it, among them, major arms exporters), and this transposition of Article 10 UNFP into EU law will help establish a uniform EU system for trade with third countries in small firearms. The aim of the regulation is not to place an additional financial burden on companies (it provides for appropriate simplification of procedures), but to promote cross-border cooperation and strengthen the fight against illicit trafficking in firearms. I also welcome the rapporteur’s initiative of including a reference to Article 2(2) of the Council Framework Decision on the European arrest warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution because a uniform, effectively functioning system must be established in the European Union for the trade in and export authorisation of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition, as well as import and transit measures, in order to stop illicit trafficking in firearms and strengthen cooperation between states. Above all, a uniform trade system will facilitate the activities of traders because it will simplify the procedures applied, and Member States will also be able to apply the export procedure to exports to third countries. I believe that it is appropriate to reduce the maximum time allowed for processing export authorisation requests in order to speed up administrative and bureaucratic procedures and enable exporters to plan their activities more effectively. I also agree with the proposal to lengthen the period of validity of multiple export authorisations because this would help to reduce the administrative burden on Member States and on exporters which organise shipments on a regular basis and over extended periods of time.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I can only lend my support to Mr Iacolino’s proposal on export and import authorisations for firearms. In May 2010, following the implementation of the United Nations Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, the European Union’s work on the subject intensified, culminating in the current proposal, which suggests that effective EU control on the arms trade is essential. The fact that the Protocol has so far been ratified by 83 countries, including many Member States of the EU, leads to the conclusion that supporting this kind of initiative is the right path to take. The arms trade is a very delicate sector that needs suitable regulation designed, above all else, to block illegal trafficking.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The proposal for a regulation being processed under the legislative procedure of first reading by the European Parliament, which I voted in favour of, reflects the need to transpose into EU law Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, which supplements the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The simplified procedures for importing and exporting firearms for legal purposes will need to be applied in all cases with due care and always within the framework of European legislation and the trade rules that apply in the EU. These points are emphasised in the opinion of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and were included in the final proposal for a regulation.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report introduces new rules for monitoring the export of firearms for civilian use, such as small arms and those used by hunters or for sport shooting. This new legislation, which has been agreed with the EU Council of Ministers, establishes a uniform system within the European Union for the export of firearms from the Member States to third countries, with the aim of stepping up the fight against the illicit trafficking of firearms. It transposes Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition into Union law. European exporters will have to obtain authorisation from a Member State in order to be able to export firearms, parts and ammunition to countries outside the EU. Export authorisation will only be granted if the importing country agrees, and if there is no objection by a transit country. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a regulation is aimed at introducing a system for the export of firearms from the Member States to third countries, implementing Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition. As this is a balanced proposal which contributes to safeguarding public safety, I voted in favour, although it does not take account of the socio-economic implications of such a regulation.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) I should like to offer my congratulations on the excellent work carried out by Mr Iacolino. The agreement on the export of firearms for civil purposes is Parliament’s response to the Norwegian tragedy. Indeed, the tragic events in Norway confirm the need to come up with a clear legal framework on exports and imports for the EU’s civil firearms sector, an industry in which Europe excels and which also involves many sportspeople and enthusiasts. The text includes some very important points, such as the same level of correspondence for all exports to third countries as for imports, which will help combat arms trafficking more effectively. The text also manages to marry the requirements for simplified and efficient procedures for stakeholders in the sector, hunters and sport shooters, with the safety considerations and controls that firearms exports necessitate.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The regulation transposes into EU law the implementation of Article 10 of the UN Firearms Protocol (UNFP) against the illicit manufacturing and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components, and their ammunition. The Protocol was adopted in the UN in 2001, entered into force in 2005 after its ratification by 40 UN Member States, and is the first binding agreement relating to small arms at global level. The regulation on the implementation of Article 10 UNFP covers the trade in, and transfer of, non-automatic firearms, their parts and ammunition for civil (not military) use to third countries, including countries not signatory to the UNFP. It requires authorisation for export, import and transit of such items through third countries. An export authorisation can only be granted if the importing country has issued the relevant import authorisation. For third-country transit, a ‘no objection’ certificate will be required from the transit country.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this text because its adoption under the ordinary legislative procedure would make it possible, at long last, to establish a uniform system for trade in firearms, their parts and ammunition within the European Union. By harmonising and simplifying procedures, it will therefore finally be possible to combat illegal trafficking in firearms more effectively, encouraging and strengthening cooperation between Member States in this delicate sector.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The arms industry in Europe accounts for some EUR 694 million of exports and EUR 220 million of imports. I share Mr Iacolino’s stance, since I believe that adopting the regulation would allow Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol to be applied in all Member States. This would see the establishment of a uniform system for trade in firearms, harmonise and simplify procedure for specialist European enterprises in the sector, and combat illicit trafficking in weapons. Moreover, the text strikes the correct balance between the need for safety and helping businesses by cutting red tape.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) This Protocol, which entered into force in June 2005, is the first binding instrument relating to small arms adopted at world level. It targets both the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts and components and ammunition. The harmonisation and simplification of procedures which it sets out will enable tighter controls on the trade in firearms at global level and, in fact, limit their proliferation more effectively. Within Parliament, in particular, within the Committee on International Trade, we are committed to making the text clearer and more accurate in order to optimise the control procedure. As the European Commission and the Council have accepted the changes that we proposed, we have managed to achieve a balanced text, which takes into account the needs of legitimate traders or users, but which also effectively represses illicit movements. That is why I supported this report in the plenary vote.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of implementing the United Nations Protocol on arms trafficking, which has, in any case, already been ratified by Italy. I should also like to compliment the rapporteur, Mr Iacolino, for the thoroughness of this text, which not only brings in greater controls on illicit arms trafficking, but also simplifies trade in these weapons for some categories, such as hunters and sport shooters.

 
  
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  Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DA) I, reluctantly, have to acknowledge that the EU’s powers in the area of trade have been extended. In this case, I have voted in favour of these powers being used to introduce the United Nations Firearms Protocol, as this Protocol will provide clear rules in this area. This does not alter the fact that I do not, in general, support the EU’s extended powers in the area of trade.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of the proposal for a regulation on implementing Article 10 of the United Nations Firearms Protocol (UNFP) is to incorporate this article into European law. Therefore, the intention is to implement a harmonised and simplified system for the trade in firearms for civilian use within the EU. The UNFP provides for the importing, exporting and transit of the aforementioned articles to third countries, and covers several categories of user. At the same time, this simplification of procedures aims to combat the threat to public safety as regards the production and illicit trafficking of arms, and enables the European industry itself to be sustainable. I consider it essential that the Member States ratify the UNFP, since it is a fundamental document and supplements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the new rules to control the cross-border movement of firearms for civilian use in the EU. This regulatory framework will introduce more effective controls, with the aim of combating the manufacture and trafficking of firearms by outlining the need for exporters to be issued with a licence to export firearms and ammunition to non-EU countries. Introducing more transparency to keep track of weapons and to fight illegal trafficking is a promising step in the aftermath of the tragic events in Norway a few months ago.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I voted for this regulation, which implements within the European Union a United Nations Protocol aimed at limiting and monitoring more effectively the illicit manufacturing, sale and use of firearms, however small they are. This is a small step forward in the fight against the proliferation of firearms.

The European Union has a duty to apply the international texts that aim to prevent conflicts and that call into question the right to kill as a way for human beings to behave.

How can we forget that weapons were sold (and are still being sold) by France, the United Kingdom and others to regimes like Gaddafi’s, in order for them to crush their people?

We need to aim instead at banning the export and even the large-scale production of weapons.

A regulation that tackles firearms always deserves to be supported, even if its scope is very limited. That is the reasoning behind my vote today.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The Commission proposal implements Article 10 of the United Nations Protocol against the illicit manufacturing of firearms (for civil use) and the trade in firearms or their transfer to third countries. Simplified procedures will be provided for hunters and sport shooters. The socio-economic impact on GDP and employment in the EU is also taken into account. To increase legal certainty, it is recommended that the concept of serious crime be illustrated by means of examples.

 
  
  

Report: Vital Moreira (A7-0243/2010)

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the resolution on Exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process. The European Union has granted unlimited duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. The key aim of these measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through a privileged access to the EU market. In turn, economic development is to foster political stability in the entire region. The termination of the trade preferences would take from the beneficiaries an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. This could have negative consequences on the overall economic performances for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process; their economic recovery could be seriously jeopardised. As such, I support this proposal which aims to amend some elements of this regulation in order to permit the extension of its validity to 31 December 2015.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) With Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000 the European Union has granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. The key aim of these measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through privileged access to the EU market. Economic development is also to foster political stability in the entire region. The trade preferences were granted for a period ending on 31 December 2010 and currently apply to all products originating in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. The termination of the trade preferences would take from the beneficiaries an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. This could have a very significant negative impact on the overall economic performance of the Western Balkans, with negative repercussions on domestic reform and transition processes in that region. Moreover, their economic recovery could be seriously jeopardised. I welcomed this proposal to extend the validity of the regulation to 31 December 2015.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing. (IT) By means of Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000, the European Union has granted exceptional duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. These measures provide for the privileged access of the Western Balkan countries to the EU market, the main objective being to revitalise their economies.

In its resolution of November 2009, the European Parliament already called on the Commission to make every possible effort to mitigate the effect of the economic crisis on the Western Balkans. In that document, the European Parliament endorsed measures to promote economic development in these countries so that this economic development, in turn, will lead to political stability. The termination of the trade preferences in December 2010 deprived the beneficiaries of an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. Not only could the economic recovery of the Western Balkans be seriously jeopardised, defeating all the efforts made so far, but it could also have negative repercussions on their domestic reform and transition processes. I am therefore strongly in favour of extending the validity of the regulation on trade preferences to December 2015.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of this report. In a sense, the measures contained in the report could appear controversial, since they aim to bring in a preferential regime for goods originating from Balkan countries. Considering our opposition to these countries’ rapprochement with and entrance to the European Union, setting up a preferential regime for goods from the Balkans could appear problematic. However, this document does take account of the possible damage that this kind of change could have for the EU market. It therefore proposes the adoption of defensive countermeasures to prevent our market being damaged in any way, up to and including the partial suspension of the preferential regime if any real problems arise. Since the document takes account of our market’s needs and makes them a priority, I have decided to vote in favour.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing. (IT) By means of Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000 – subsequently codified, owing to the numerous amendments, by Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 – the European Union has granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process.

In particular, the aim was to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through granting them privileged access to the EU market, thereby bringing about economic development and fostering political stability in the entire region. The trade preferences which were granted expired on 31 December 2010, and since then the beneficiaries have been deprived of an objective economic advantage which could help sustain the difficult transition and domestic reform processes under way across the entire Balkan region.

I therefore voted in favour of this report since I believe it is right to extend the trade preference concessions until at least 2015. This will alleviate potential negative economic repercussions caused by the economic crisis which could undermine the reform processes under way in these countries.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of amending Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009. It is absolutely essential, at this time of crisis, to support the economies of developing countries. Granting Western Balkan countries privileged, temporary access to the EU market can mitigate the effects of the economic crisis on this region and therefore assist and accelerate the processes of political stabilisation. Indeed, by amending Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, trade preferences will be extended until 2015 for almost all products from countries and territories benefiting from the concession. I feel compelled to point out that the Balkans is a region of priority significance in our foreign policy. Its geographical proximity, intertwined security interests, migratory flows and trade are all factors that contribute to the significance of south-eastern Europe. We must be aware that these countries could, in future, have a huge influence over the political and economic stability of the EU. It is therefore imperative to facilitate the economic development of the Balkan regions through this proposal, which will allow trade preferences for these regions to be extended and therefore bring political stability to the entire region.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I support the amendment of certain elements of Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 in order to permit the extension of its validity until 31 December 2015 and make the necessary adjustments consequent to the entry into force of the bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Providing privileged access to the EU market for almost all products originating from the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process may make a vital contribution to revitalising the Balkan economies. The lack of this economic advantage in trading with the EU would affect the Balkan countries’ economic recovery, entailing adverse repercussions for their domestic reforms and the transition processes.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) This legislative resolution concerns the exceptional trade measures for the territory of the Western Balkan region, as a way of fostering stability and promoting development. The key aim of these measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through privileged access to the EU market. Given the current situation in this region, I believe that economic development is, objectively speaking, an essential factor in preserving peace and security, as well as the political stability of the region. I therefore support the extension of certain aspects of Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, which will enable it to run until 2015, and will allow enough time to consolidate the entry into force of the Union’s bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, as called for in the resolution.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, which will help to revitalise the economy of the Western Balkans. It is critical that we maintain trade preferences with these countries in transition so that they have access to the European market. This amendment to the regulation, which has been expected for months, will be a force for economic but also political stability for the region.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) This regulation had to be adopted so as not to interrupt trade with the Western Balkans. Expiry of the trade preferences would have effectively taken from the beneficiaries an objective economic advantage in their trade with the European Union, which could have had negative consequences for the overall economic performance of the Western Balkans, with consequent negative repercussions on their domestic reform and transition processes.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the report on exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process because I believe there is a need to extend the regulation providing for duty-free access for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories of the Western Balkans, thereby contributing to the revitalisation of their economies.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The exceptional trade measures applied to Bosnia and Herzegovina, to Serbia and to Kosovo are intended to revitalise the Western Balkans and foster political stability there. The shortcomings and tensions continuing to affect the countries of the region are still apparent today, so there is good reason for the European Union to treat them with particular care and attention, and to encourage them not to abandon their avowed intentions of acceding to the EU one day. The end of the measures in question would threaten the trade advantages of the aforementioned countries and would constitute a significant setback for their economies. I therefore view in a positive light the extension of certain aspects of Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, which will enable it to run until 31 December 2015, and will make it possible to implement certain adjustments stemming from the entry into force of the Union’s bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, which was drafted by Mr Moreira, concerns a proposal for a regulation of Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, which adopts exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the EU’s Stabilisation and Association process. Since 2000, the EU has granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in these countries as a way of supporting internal reform processes and the implementation of democratic regimes. I voted for this report, as I believe that the extension until 31 December 2015 of trade preferences is crucial for the Western Balkan countries linked to the Stabilisation and Association process: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. Under these preferences, these countries benefit from significant economic advantages in their exports to the Member States.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report approves the proposal for a regulation whose purpose is to extend until the end of 2015 a series of trade preferences awarded to the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. These preferences, initially set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000, and subsequently codified in Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 of 30 November, expired at the end of 2010.

The rapporteur argues that the end of the trade preferences ‘could have negative consequences for the overall economic performance of the Western Balkans, with consequent negative repercussions on their domestic reform and transition processes. As the report acknowledges, the aforementioned processes fall under the umbrella of the enlargement strategy of the EU, which is therefore seeking to ‘take charge’ of them in defence of the interests that govern the integration process itself; the same interests that benefit from it. The regulation provides for measures that the Commission could adopt ‘should imports of agriculture and fishery products cause serious disturbance to the EU markets and their regulatory mechanism’. These measures are used at the Commission’s discretion, and they do not adequately protect the Member States that feel they have been treated unfairly. The products involved – some of which could be considered sensitive – include fish, meat and wine.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this proposal for a regulation is to extend until the end of 2015 a series of trade preferences awarded to the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. These preferences, which are set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, of 30 November, expired at the end of 2010.

The rapporteur believes that the end of the trade preferences could harm these countries and what he calls their domestic reform and transition processes. These processes are bound up with the major EU powers’ progress in the region, and seek their domination in market and geostrategic terms, using the so-called ‘EU enlargement strategy’ to this end. The regulation provides for measures that the Commission could adopt ‘should imports of agriculture and fishery products cause serious disturbance to the EU markets and their regulatory mechanism’. However, the use of these measures is at the Commission’s discretion, and we believe that they do not adequately protect the Member States that feel they have been treated unfairly. The products involved include fish, meat and wine, which could be considered sensitive for some countries.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Council Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000 of 18 September 2000 introduced exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process, whereby unlimited duty-free access to the EU market is provided for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. Stabilisation and association agreements and interim agreements establish a contractual trade regime between the EU and Bosnia and Herzegovina and between the EU and Serbia. It is therefore necessary to amend Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 by withdrawing Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia from the list of beneficiaries of tariff concessions granted for the same products also in the context of the contractual regime and to adapt the global tariff quota volumes for specific products for which tariff quotas were granted under the contractual regimes. At the same time, Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 remains the main instrument governing trade relations with Kosovo. Uninterrupted access to the EU market is a crucial factor for reviving the economy of Kosovo and the entire region, whilst avoiding any negative effects on the European Union. For these reasons, I believe it is appropriate to extend the validity of Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 to 31 December 2015.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) With this regulation, the European Union has granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. The key aim of these measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through privileged access to the EU market. In turn, economic development is to foster political stability in the entire region. I welcomed this document because certain provisions of the regulation are amended in order to extend its validity to 31 December 2015 and make certain adjustments which became necessary following the entry into force of bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. – The European Union has granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. The key element is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through a privileged access to the EU market. Economic development is to foster political stability in the entire region. This proposal amends certain elements of this regulation in order to permit extension of its validity and, at the same time, make some adjustments consequent to the entry into force of bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. The regulation has to be in full accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon. Although it took a long time, we have to be aware that measures to revitalise trade are in the interest of the EU. This is why I endorsed this proposal.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) The aim of this regulation was, and should remain, to revitalise the Western Balkan economies and to foster political stability in these regions. In order to be able to take account of this aim in future, too, it is important for the regulation to be updated and adapted to the circumstances. Termination of the trade preferences would result in an economic disadvantage for the countries that are beneficiaries. The main reason why I support the amendment of the regulation introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process is in order to maintain and continue to foster the EU’s hitherto good partnerships with the countries and regions in question.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing. (IT) Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000 provided for exceptional, limited, duty-free access to the EU market for the majority of products from countries that have benefited from the Stabilisation and Association process, particularly the Balkan countries. However, these extraordinary measures expired on 31 December 2010, thereby seeing the disappearance of an important asset for the development and economic growth of these countries. I voted in favour of Mr Moreira’s text because I think we need to push back this end-date until December 2015 in order to allow the countries benefiting from these economic policies to resume the path of economic – and therefore political – development. Interrupting these special economic measures would have deprived the Balkan countries of an important opportunity for growth and institutional-political reform, not only in national terms, but, above all, for a broader and more productive Europe.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Parliament, in its resolution of 26 November 2009 on the 2009 enlargement strategy concerning the Western Balkan countries, Iceland and Turkey, called on the Commission to make every possible effort to mitigate the effect of the economic crisis on the Western Balkans. Termination of the trade preferences would take from the beneficiaries an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. This could have negative consequences on the overall economic performance of the Western Balkans, with consequent negative repercussions on their domestic reform and transition processes. Moreover, their economic recovery could be seriously jeopardised. That is why I strongly support the amendment of certain elements of Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 in order to permit the extension of its validity to 31 December 2015 and make certain adjustments consequent to the entry into force of bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) By means of Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000, the European Union has granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. The key aim of these measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through a privileged access to the EU market. In turn, economic development is to foster political stability in the entire region. The termination of the trade preferences would take from the beneficiaries an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. This could have negative consequences for the overall economic performance of the Western Balkans, with consequent negative repercussions on their domestic reform and transition processes. Moreover, their economic recovery could be seriously jeopardised. That is why we support the amendment of certain elements of Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 in order to permit the extension of its validity to 31 December 2015 and make certain adjustments consequent to the entry into force of bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union must do everything possible to alleviate the effects of the economic crisis in the Western Balkans. Now is not the time to close down the trade preferences regime with countries in that area. I agree on the exceptional measures set out in the report by Mr Moreira. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Under Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000, the EU granted exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the EU market for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process. The key aim of this measure is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through privileged access to the EU market. The resulting economic development will foster political stability throughout the region. The benefits of this regulation expired on 31 December 2010. Given the economic and financial crisis that we are currently experiencing, these conditions need to be extended until 31 December 2015, so that the expiry of these special conditions does not lead to stagnation in the economies of these regions, as good economic conditions are needed to maintain stability and peace in this troubled Balkan region.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – If the key aim of the measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through a privileged access to the EU market, then economic development will foster political stability in the entire region. Therefore, I voted ‘In favour’.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) The EU has given the Balkan countries a clear prospect of EU membership and is encouraging internal reforms in these countries in many ways through stabilisation and association agreements and, as the largest donor in the region, is gradually helping to establish a free trade area between the EU and the Balkan countries. Autonomous trade preferences have been in force since 2000, and in 2007, these were renewed and unlimited duty-free access to the EU market was granted until the beginning of 2011 for nearly all products originating in these countries. The EU is therefore currently the Balkan countries’ largest trading partner. Trade is one of the main instruments for promoting development. By suddenly terminating the trade preferences, particularly now against the backdrop of the economic crisis, the EU would not only deal a painful blow to the economies of the countries in the Balkan region, but also to the political stability of the region. On the other hand, the Commission is given sufficient leverage to take restrictive measures if faced with serious market distortion in the agricultural and fishery sectors. I therefore voted in favour of extending the validity of the preferences until the end of 2015 with the necessary amendments.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution aimed at revitalising the economies of the Western Balkan countries by extending the validity of trade preferences and continuing to give them privileged access to the EU market. It should be noted that economic development is vitally important as it fosters political stability in the entire region. The termination of trade preferences would meanwhile have a very significant negative impact on the economy of the Western Balkans, domestic reforms and transition processes. Moreover, the beneficiaries would lose an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. Given that the agricultural and fishery markets are very sensitive and easily disturbed, I agree with the proposal to empower the Commission to adopt delegated acts in order to take appropriate measures to protect EU markets and regulatory mechanisms where imports of agricultural and fishery products cause serious disturbance to their functioning.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I could see no option but to vote in favour of the text on exceptional trade measures for countries connected to the EU’s Stabilisation and Association process. Indeed, there are absolutely no downsides to extending a trade system to which the EU has provided far-reaching access, thereby allowing many third countries to bypass most duties and customs issues, providing fresh impetus to the relevant economic sectors at a time of international economic strife. Measures like these, thanks to increasing relations with third countries, can only serve to catapult the markets back into action.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report supports the extension of the Western Balkan countries’ trade preferences until the end of 2015. The aim of extending this measure, which dates from 2000, is to maintain EU support for the revitalisation of the Western Balkan economies through privileged access to EU markets. The expiry of the trade preferences would rob their beneficiaries of an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. This could have extremely negative consequences for the overall economic performance of the Western Balkans, with consequent negative repercussions on their domestic reform and transition processes. Moreover, their economic recovery could be seriously jeopardised. I voted for the report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Western Balkan countries benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association Process have privileged access to the EU market on account of trade preferences introduced by Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000, which have since been amended several times and codified by Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009. Pursuant to this regulation, such trade preferences should only be granted until 31 December 2010. However, in view of the current financial situation, not renewing them could have dire consequences for the economies of these countries. As such, I believe that this amendment to Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 is fully justified, as, besides introducing certain adjustments that have become necessary following the entry into force of bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia, it extends these preferences until 31 December 2015.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. These ‘exceptional trade measures’ with the partners in the Western Balkans under the EU Stabilisation and Association programme are indeed preferential tariff measures, which guarantee duty-free access for most of the partner countries’ exports into the EU market. They need to be notified to the WTO. The trade preferences were originally granted for a period ending on 31 December 2010 and currently apply to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo (Albania, the Republic of Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and Montenegro fall under a different scheme). The present dossier extends the validity of these measures by five years, until 31 December 2015, and makes certain adjustments due to the entry into force of bilateral agreements with Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) The aim of these trade measures is to give fresh impetus to the economies of the Western Balkan countries, allowing their goods to have access to the EU under privileged conditions. The privileges are designed to promote economic development and political stability in the entire Balkan region, as well as to give a commercial aspect to the stabilisation and association agreements with these countries. Though worthy in its basic principles, this measure cannot guarantee with any certainty that the authorities in the relevant countries will carry out the requisite checks on the goods to combat counterfeiting and therefore protect our businesses, which often suffer at the hands of unfair competition. Mr Moreira made the right amendments to bring in defensive measures that will mitigate the possible negative effects, so I voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Tokia Saïfi (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report, for the measures it puts forward are mainly aimed at revitalising the economies of the Western Balkans by granting them special access to the EU market. The economic development that will ensue will improve political stability in the whole region. In addition, the proposals contained in this report are in keeping with the recommendations that we had adopted in 2009, in the resolution on the ‘2009 enlargement strategy concerning the countries of the Western Balkans, Iceland and Turkey’, in which the European Parliament invited the Commission to do everything in its power to mitigate the effects of the economic crisis on the Western Balkans. Finally, this report advocates extending the validity period of the regulation that implements these measures, which will guarantee legal stability for European economic players who are present in the Balkans.

 
  
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  Matteo Salvini (EFD), in writing. (IT) I feel duty-bound to vote in favour of renewing trade preferences with Balkan countries, including Serbia, that currently have a stabilisation and association agreement in place with the European Union. Firstly, I feel this way on the basis of the Commission’s favourable take on simplifying commercial agreements with countries, such as China, that do not have association agreements with the European Union and whose products often undermine our competitiveness. Secondly, the text on which we reached final agreement offers the possibility of limiting the damage that allowing access for these goods could cause to our market.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) Exceptional, unlimited, duty-free access to the European Union market was granted by Regulation (EC) No 2007/2000 for nearly all products originating in the countries and territories benefiting from the Stabilisation and Association process, with the purpose of revitalising their economies; following a number of amendments, it was codified by Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009. These trade preferences are currently applied to Bosnia and Herzegovina, to Serbia and to Kosovo, and products originating in Albania, in the Republic of Croatia, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and in Montenegro continue to benefit, under Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009, from measures more favourable than the trade concessions provided for in the framework of bilateral agreements.

Insofar as the interim agreements and the stabilisation and association agreements provide for trade concessions to Bosnia and Herzegovina on the products identified in the autonomous trade preferences, these concessions should be withdrawn from the regulation. However, the termination of the trade preferences would take from the beneficiaries an objective economic advantage in their trade with the EU. As such, the proposal voted on today amends certain aspects of the regulation so as to extend it to the end of 2015 and make certain adjustments consequent to the entry into force of bilateral agreements.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the European Parliament Resolution on the proposal amending Council Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 introducing exceptional trade measures for countries and territories participating in or linked to the European Union’s Stabilisation and Association process. The key aim of these measures is to revitalise the Western Balkan economies through providing privileged access to the EU market. Given that the economic preferences introduced by this regulation support the process of transition and reform in this region and that Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 expired on 31 December 2010, I think that, during the current crisis, extending its validity until 31 December 2015 is a suitable step for supporting economic development and stability in the Western Balkans. This means that products from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro or Serbia will continue to benefit from the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 in the cases specifically mentioned. In order to guarantee that the EU can meet its international obligations, the preferences included in this regulation ought to be conditional upon continuing or renewing the current exemption obtained by the EU from its obligations within the World Trade Organisation.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Regulation (EC) No 1215/2009 grants trade preferences to the countries of the Western Balkans that are strongly linked to the EU through the Stabilisation and Association process. The reason for this economic cooperation is the positive effect that this has on the domestic reform and transition processes of the non-EU countries. I voted in favour of the extension of the trade preferences until 31 December 2015.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0534/2011

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) The forthcoming European Council is of great importance and must finally show the way forward. The Council should, above all, focus on benchmarking economic policies, strengthening Europe’s global competitiveness, establishing the EU’s position for the G20 summit and establishing the EU’s final position on the climate change conference. I agree with the proposals put forward in the resolution that the President of the Commission should table a comprehensive plan to include elements such as the recapitalisation of European banks, the communitisation of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and an assessment of available and envisaged means, a meaningful European growth, investment and jobs plan, and proposals to complete the overhaul of financial market regulation and to improve economic governance in the EU should a crisis occur in the future.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this resolution because it is necessary to send a strong signal to European leaders. The EU is facing an economic and financial crisis. This crisis must not, however, become a crisis of European values and integration. I expect the European Council to confirm the solidarity which is essential between the Member States by means of a joint response to the current economic challenges. At the same time, it should engage decisively in finding a way out of the crisis on the basis of the road map to stability and growth presented by the Commission.

At the same time, I expect the European Council to offer a clear solution and specific timetable for the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area, not only because this is the correct attitude towards these countries, which have met all the technical conditions, but also because it would strengthen the area without internal frontiers.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) On the eve of the European Council, in the urgent situation which Europe finds itself in today, I think that we need to be clear. We have got our back to the wall, we have been too slow to react, and when we did, it was often out of step with the scale of the crisis, because of institutional delays and prevarication on the part of some. In the resolution adopted today, we are asking for a comprehensive plan to be introduced, with a road map and a timetable. According to us, this plan should include several elements, one of which I believe is essential, namely, an ambitious European plan for growth, investment and jobs which would be implemented in part by issuing project bonds. This must be done quickly and with determination by the EU. Europe is going through a legitimacy crisis and must once again show European citizens that it serves a purpose.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the State of the Union address on 28 September 2011, Parliament urged the President of the Commission to table a comprehensive plan with a clear road map setting out distinct stages for its implementation. In Parliament’s last plenary sitting, the President of the Commission introduced a road map for stability and growth, detailing all the measures necessary for overcoming the crisis in Europe. The road map for stability and growth is a convincing plan both for the markets and for the European public, and it has the support of the overwhelming majority in Parliament. It introduces concrete measures to enhance the benefits of the single market: strengthening the digital internal market and the internal energy market, new legislation on patents, and new free trade agreements. Lastly, it proposes a programme to support young people looking for their first job, which has been a flagship initiative of mine and of the Portuguese delegation of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) since the start of this session. Let us hope the Council will put the common future of the Member States above selfish national interests on 23 October, and will adopt the road map as a genuine Marshall Plan for Europe.

 
  
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  Proinsias De Rossa (S&D), in writing. – I support this resolution calling on the European Council to act decisively and for the President of the Commission to table a comprehensive plan with a clear road map setting out distinct phases for its implementation. Such a plan should be based entirely on the Community method using the existing EU institutional arrangements. Indeed, the democratic legitimacy and accountability of any such plan and any related measure need to be ensured through the involvement of Parliament. The plan should include as a minimum the following elements: an EU plan for the recapitalisation of European banks; the communitisation of the EFSF and the future ESM; a meaningful European plan for growth, investment and jobs that also includes project bonds; a proposal for a faster and stronger mechanism which allows the Commission to enforce the single market acquis in Member States; an economic government for the euro area based on the Community method (particularly with regard to the setting up of an economic government); proposals to complete the overhaul of financial market regulation; a report on the setting up of a system of common issuance of European sovereign bonds before the end of 2011.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the joint motion for a resolution on the next European Council meeting, given its importance in unequivocally setting out the path that the EU should follow. I believe a European growth, investment and jobs plan should be tabled, with a clear timeframe that provides, inter alia, for reinforcement of the Community method in economic governance, for the communitisation of the European Financial Stability Facility and the future European Stability Mechanism, for coordinating and harmonising Member States’ tax systems, including measures against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, and for the drafting of a report on establishing a system of common issuance of European sovereign bonds (eurosecurities) before the end of 2011.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) We are at a critical moment in our history and the European Union is being called on not just to shoulder its responsibilities as regards containing the sovereign debt crisis, but also, and more importantly, to set us on the path towards the future, with no hesitations, no deadlocks and no postponements. As Mr Barroso has said, the European Council of 23 October is obliged, for this very reason, to meet the severe challenges that we are experiencing.

There is no margin for further errors and postponements, and the path must be that of a determined and courageous political solution. As we have recovered from difficult situations on previous occasions in our history, I am sure that the European Union will overcome this crisis and emerge from it with better and more robust mechanisms for the future. The political will of our leaders will be the determining factor, so I consider the tabling of the stability and growth plan by the Commission very positive. I hope that the European Council of 23 October will be able to give a determined and effective response to the great challenges before us.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This motion for a resolution was tabled following the statements made by the Council and the Commission pursuant to Rule 110(2) of the Rules of Procedure, and focuses on preparation for the next meeting of the Council, which will take place on 23 October. In view of the social turmoil raging across Europe because of the current economic and financial crisis, the next meeting of the Council is hugely important for the future of the EU and, in particular, the euro area, which has provoked much discussion in Parliament. I welcome the adoption of this resolution, for which I voted, as it contains proposals crucial to the future of the EU and, in particular, the adoption of a European plan promoting economic growth, encouraging investment and increasing employment in pursuit of the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy. Measures such as the communitisation of the European Financial Stability Fund, the completion of the overhaul of financial market regulation, tax harmonisation and the creation of a system of sovereign bonds are some of the steps that I would like to see approved at the next Council meeting, so that we can achieve a more united EU with more solidarity.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Yet another resolution reflecting the compromises, complicities and responsibilities shared by the main political groups, including the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, on the European Union’s current path to disaster. It stresses the fundamentals of the economic and monetary union, particularly the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), which has now been strengthened, and with which it will not be possible either to overcome the inequalities existing within the EU, or to prioritise the creation of jobs with rights, or the eradication of poverty, social exclusion, and society’s inequalities and injustices.

As we have been arguing for a long time, what was needed was to definitively replace the SGP with an employment and social progress pact. The basis of this pact would be to develop a series of policies diametrically opposed to so-called ‘austerity’, of which the programmes of aggression against the workers and peoples of Greece, Portugal and Ireland currently being imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission are extreme examples. Instead of transferring more millions from the pockets of the workers and the peoples to private banks, there is a need to promote public control of sectors like the financial sector, which is of considerable importance if it is to be rescued from the ‘casino economics’ to which it has been abandoned.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) We voted against this resolution, which once again ignores the reality and the far-reaching measures needed to change the grave situation being experienced in the European Union. It should already be clear that, without changing the policies and fundamentals of the economic and monetary union, it is impossible to prioritise jobs with rights, and the elimination of poverty, social exclusion, and society’s inequalities and injustices. We would stress the urgent need for an employment and social progress pact and the abolition of the current Stability and Growth Pact once and for all.

It is time to terminate the programmes of veritable aggression against the workers and peoples of Greece, Portugal and Ireland currently being imposed by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. As the struggling workers and peoples are demanding, it is time for a break with the policies of monopolistic capitalism that are causing profound social injustices in the majority of the European Union’s countries. This is all happening at the same time as they are preparing to give billions of euro to the banks, transferring their debts to the public sector: in other words, to the workers, young people and women who are in precarious situations or are unemployed; to the pensioners without a decent standard of living; and to the small and medium-sized enterprises that are already unable to cope with the financial throttling and the sharp decline in the people’s purchasing power.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK)? The meeting between representatives of the European Council will certainly be dominated by the current crisis in the euro area. Although the European Union is facing a number of problems and challenges, this is undoubtedly the greatest. I firmly believe that European institutions must unequivocally adopt a more assertive stance. The inability to resolve the crisis in the euro area is undermining the legitimacy of European institutions and frustrating the citizens of the Member States. Progressive, prudent and consensual decision making, which is characteristic of the EU even in normal times and is the source of its legitimacy, must find its limits in this crisis, otherwise there is a danger of collapse. We should make every effort to move politically acceptable decisions towards realistic solutions in order to address the crisis. At the June summit, the EU Heads of State confirmed their commitment to do everything necessary to maintain the financial stability of the euro area as a whole. I firmly believe that next week’s October meeting of the Council will be the last opportunity to confirm these words. After then, it could be too late, because it is only a clearly defined and convincing plan of measures, prepared and approved in the presence of democratically elected representatives of the European Parliament, that could contribute to the restoration of confidence in the euro area and the EU as such. It would be a signal to both investors and citizens of the Member States that Europe can be relied upon.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) For years, the will expressed by the people and their representatives has been constantly denied and rejected, as proved again yesterday with the Slovak Parliament’s decision. We are now seeing the crisis being exploited to force through the creation of a European superstate, with Commission officials at the helm, standardising tax, imposing the strict application of its diktats, issuing bonds guaranteed by Member States and concerned only about the wellbeing of markets and banks. And this Parliament is to be the democratic legitimacy of this superstate. We reject the financial absurdity that entails creating the instruments of a huge public debt, pooled at European Union level, when the euro area’s public debt is already more than EUR 6 000 billion! A system that rests exclusively on the shoulders of the six AAA-rated countries, including France, who will have to pay for the others if something goes wrong. A system that can already force these six countries to shoulder EUR 2 000 billion of additional potential debt. And the otherwise very liberal Mr Verhofstadt was calling yesterday for a tripling of the scheme. The desire to exploit this crisis in order to exert power over the nations is making you lose your reason.

 
  
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  Gunnar Hökmark (PPE), in writing. (SV) At the European Parliament’s sitting in Brussels on 13 October, we Swedish Conservatives voted in favour of the resolution on preparation for the European Council meeting of 23 October. We share the view that the EU, and the whole of the EU at that, needs a stricter framework, but we would emphasise that this must not lead to a division of the EU into different structures. The challenges facing Europe affect us all and need to be tackled by means of joint decisions.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because the forthcoming European Council is of great importance and must finally and decisively show the way forward. I believe that the following basic elements of the Council are very important: an EU plan for the recapitalisation of European banks, the communitisation of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), and an assessment of whether the available and envisaged means will suffice to bring the sovereign debt crisis under control, a meaningful European growth, investment and jobs plan that also includes project bonds, ways of improving Member States’ efforts to coordinate and harmonise elements of their tax systems, including measures against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, and proposals to complete the overhaul of financial market regulation to make the EU economy more resilient to future crises. It is also important for there to be a report on the setting up of a system of common issuance of European sovereign bonds (eurosecurities) on the basis of joint and several liability before the end of 2011. These eurosecurities would serve to strengthen fiscal discipline and increase stability in the euro area through the markets, and, by taking advantage of the increase in liquidity, would ensure that Member States enjoying the highest credit ratings would not be penalised by higher interest rates.

 
  
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  Cătălin Sorin Ivan (S&D), in writing. (RO) The European Council meeting on 23 October will be crucial to the future of European integration. This is why we are placing our trust in the judgment of Europe’s leaders to address the current needs in a concrete, well-structured manner.

As MEPs, we have called for an EU approach to resolving the sovereign debt crisis, and not one focused on Member States’ abilities. In this respect, we feel, in agreement with the European Commission, that European banks must be recapitalised and the European Financial Stability Facility ‘communitised’. The euro area will collapse without these measures.

Creating Eurobonds is another condition without which the euro area will be unable to withstand the pressures internally, as well as externally from the international markets.

Last but not least, it is important that Parliament is involved in the decision-making process because these measures will not go down well with the European general public without democratic legitimacy.

 
  
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  Krišjānis Kariņš (PPE), in writing. (LV) I support the European Parliament resolution on preparation for the European Council meeting of 23 October. The resolution calls on the European Commission to take decisive steps in the economic sphere in order to secure economic stability and solve economic problems. I believe that the European Union does not currently have a concrete plan of how to emerge from the crisis in the euro area, which is why I supported the demand to table one. It is Europe’s turn to take the measures that Latvia has taken, in order to overcome the financial crisis. Europe must embrace fiscal discipline and introduce mechanisms that would not only allow us to overcome the crisis in the euro area but also achieve more rapid economic recovery. We must also prevent the possible recurrence of such a crisis. Europe’s largest economies are important export markets for Latvian businesses. A decline in growth or even recession in those economies as a result of the euro area crisis would be most unwelcome for Latvia.

 
  
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  Tunne Kelam (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of the joint EPP, ALDE, S&D, and Greens resolution; nevertheless I find adding the following points very valuable. We have to concentrate also on growth and jobs, after austerity measures. This means that fiscal consolidation has to be accompanied by clearly defined long-term macro-economic targets, including those identified in the Europe 2020 strategy. We have to prioritise especially our fight against unemployment, with the main focus on youth unemployment. This will cause a new crisis in the not so distant future if we do not take it seriously today. Secondly, we need to boost trade and win back trust from our strategic partner countries. In this matter, we have to seriously look into reducing non-tariff barriers and other regulatory obstacles to trade. The EU needs to define regulatory dialogues with these key countries as one of the key regulatory priorities of the new EU trade policy under the Europe 2020 strategy. The EU has to ensure coherent and coordinated implementation of bilateral, plurilateral and multilateral trade rules.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing. (PL) The motion for a resolution to wind up the debate on the Council and Commission statements on preparation for the European Council meeting deserves our broad support. Its key merits are as follows: firstly, that it calls for communitisation of the European Financial Stability Facility, which should allow the national debt crisis to be overcome. This facility should make it possible to curb the tendency to take on more debts and prevent the negative consequences of such debt. Secondly, it proposes to develop a plan for growth through investments financed by project bonds. Thirdly, it declares the European Parliament’s willingness to play an increased role in finding a solution to the crisis within the European Union.

 
  
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  Petru Constantin Luhan (PPE), in writing. (RO) The European Council meeting on 23 October 2011 will be dominated by economic issues, especially those relating to measures for strengthening economic governance and fiscal discipline. Particular attention will also be focused on measures for stimulating economic growth. The forthcoming European Council must adopt an approach advocating not only fiscal and budgetary consolidation, but also economic growth. We must avoid a situation where the adoption of measures to strengthen the governance of the euro area will lead to the EU’s euro area countries being decoupled from the rest of the Member States.

In the same context, I should mention the importance of applying to all Member States the rules for joining the euro area in a non-discriminatory, and hence transparent and identical manner.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which calls on the European Council to, among other things, come up with a meaningful European growth, investment and jobs plan that also includes project bonds.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted against paragraph 5, indent 4, which considers that a (Council) plan should include ways of improving Member States’ efforts to coordinate and harmonise elements of their tax systems, including measures against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance. Whilst I support measures to combat tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, harmonising tax systems – and thereby possibly tax rates – I cannot support.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) The European people, whose very interests this institution is supposed to be looking after, are bearing the full brunt of the crisis. Deaf to the people’s suffering and demands, the majority of this House continues to support the top down implementation of its liberal formulae. And now it is asking the Council to recapitalise the European banks and surrender their sovereign prerogatives to an economic government of the euro area operating under the Community method. This text is advocating authoritarian federalism which serves the markets. I voted against it and I also condemn it.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU, and specifically the euro area, will not be able to get through the difficult period it is experiencing if the Commission is weak and has no power to make decisions. The next meeting of the European Council is therefore crucial in order for us to find better ways of emerging from the crisis. The Commission must table a comprehensive plan, including the solutions needed for us to escape from this crisis. I am bound, however, to stress that the role of Parliament will be vital in the discussion and adoption of these solutions, in particular, as regards economic governance.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – With this resolution, Parliament calls on the President of the Commission to prepare a comprehensive plan with a clear road map, setting out distinct phases for its implementation. If the plan contains the following elements: an EU plan for the recapitalisation of European banks, the communitisation of the EFSF and the future ESM, and an assessment of whether the available and envisaged means will suffice to bring the sovereign debt crisis under control, a meaningful European growth, investment and jobs plan that also includes project bonds, ways of improving Member States’ efforts to coordinate and harmonise elements of their tax systems, including measures against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, a proposal for a faster and stronger mechanism which allows the Commission to enforce the Single Market rules in Member States, an economic government for the euro area based on the Community method, and proposals to complete the overhaul of financial market regulation to make the EU economy more resilient to future crises, then I will support that project fully.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) More plans for centralisation cannot help us out of the crisis. They will just make this difficult situation even worse. We need to move back to a union of countries with equal rights and independent economic policies. We must create a smaller hard monetary union consisting of economically powerful states. Despite all the setbacks and the warnings of experts, we are continuing to take the wrong approach, which involves turning the EU into a transfer union with centralised economic governance from Brussels, while disregarding the losses. Contrary to all the expert opinions, billions of euro are being wasted on rescuing ailing EU countries, such as Greece, and the predictable failure of this solution, which is doomed to disaster, is being used as an opportunity finally to abolish the sovereignty of the EU Member States by the back door. I therefore reject this report in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) The forthcoming European Council is of huge importance in this difficult economic period. The issues that will be debated and the decisions that will be adopted during the Council will have an impact on the future of all European Union Member States. However, this decision is important in the context of the future of the entire EU because it is precisely during this Council that the EU’s leaders will face the difficult challenge of adopting economic recovery measures under the Community method. Above all, this will mean putting European interests before national interests and a need for solidarity between the EU and its Member States.

 
  
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  Kristiina Ojuland (ALDE), in writing. – I have two major concerns over the resolution on the preparation for the European Council meeting on 23 October. First, I think that we should not be moving in the direction of harmonising the Member States’ tax systems. I believe that this policy area must be left strictly to the Member States themselves to regulate. We must be very careful not to make changes that would harm our markets and our internal competitiveness. I believe that different tax systems help to induce progress and maintain a higher level of competitiveness for the EU, vis-à-vis third countries as well. Secondly, I would like to point out that issuing European sovereign bonds without a strong commitment by the Member States in their monetary and fiscal sector will create even bigger problems and cannot be considered as a sustainable solution in the long term.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The importance of the European Council is clear because it must finally and decisively show the way forward. Given the importance of this Council, I believe that it should pay exclusive attention to economic policies. Consequently, during the Council, the President of the Commission should table a comprehensive plan with a clear road map setting out distinct phases for its implementation. Above all, we need to discuss in detail an EU plan for the recapitalisation of European banks which would enable us to react promptly to recapitalise lenders affected by the credit crunch in the euro area and organise new stages of financial assistance. Another clearly important topic for discussion at the Council is a European growth, investment and jobs plan that should also include project bonds. Moreover, ways of improving Member States’ efforts to coordinate and harmonise elements of their tax systems, including measures against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance, should also be discussed. Proposals to complete the overhaul of financial market regulation to make the EU economy more resilient to future crises must be considered as a matter of urgency. Particular attention should also be paid to a report on the setting up of a system of issuance of European sovereign bonds.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the resolution on preparation for the next European Council meeting, along with my fellow Members in the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), the Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, and the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, because I think a precise, forceful request from Parliament is needed in order to achieve a shared response to the crisis afflicting Europe. The aim of the initiative is to ask the President of the Commission to set out a global anti-crisis plan accompanied by a road map setting out distinct phases for its implementation. Internal organisation is essential if we are to restore confidence to the markets and among citizens, combat speculation and save the banking system.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this resolution, which sets out a series of proposals for debate as part of the agenda of the Council meeting on 23 October. I would like to highlight the concerns about economic policy, in particular, increasing competitiveness and promoting employment, and the EU’s position for the G20 summit and the Durban conference on climate change, which will be some of the matters under discussion at the next Council meeting.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The recent events that have rocked the EU clearly demonstrate the need to set out a coherent response, without any further delay, that allows us to overcome the current crisis and re-lay the foundations for growth and stability in the euro area. The next Council meeting will be crucial in this respect. I therefore hope that, on 23 October, the Commission will be given a clear mandate to implement a comprehensive action plan that can address the challenges that we are facing.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Although there were enough proposals and policy content to agree on the text, I wish to stress that, if we were in a majority position, the resolution would have looked different and would have taken up, inter alia, the following points: stronger wording on the regulation of the financial industry and making a link to safeguarding the social and political stability of the EU; a call for an investment plan (avoid the term ‘growth plan’) with project bonds in order to foster the ecological transformation of the economy (Europe 2020 strategy); emphasising the role of the Commission as the core of the ‘economic government’ and clearer language as regards the democratic accountability of this ‘government’ (to the EP); harmonisation of corporate and energy taxation and the establishment of an EU financial transaction tax.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The upcoming Council meeting is crucial for the future of the EU and should, once and for all, decisively point the way to addressing the severe economic and financial crisis plaguing the EU. I urge the Commission, along with the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats), to which I belong, to table a comprehensive plan with a clear road map setting out distinct stages for its implementation, with the utmost urgency. This plan should include a programme for recapitalising the banks, an EU programme for growth, investment and employment, the communitisation of the European Financial Stability Facility and the future European Stability Mechanism, ways of improving efforts to coordinate and harmonise the tax systems of the Member States, the proposal for a more robust mechanism for implementing the single market acquis in the Member States, economic governance of the euro area based on the Community method, a report on setting up a system of common issuance of European sovereign bonds, and, lastly, proposals to complete financial market regulation and make the EU more resistant to future crises. It is also worth recalling the role of Parliament as an institution directly elected by the European public in terms of democratic legitimacy and accountability.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the motion for a European Parliament resolution on preparation for the European Council meeting on 23 October 2011, during which issues relating to EU economic policy will be discussed.

At present, the European Union needs a major EU-level plan for economic growth, investment and employment, which will also include bonds for funding European projects. We are drawing the attention of the European Council, the Council of the European Union and the Commission to the fact that, in order to ensure that Europe’s citizens enjoy the benefits of better coordination of budgets and fiscal frameworks, the EU budget and associated multiannual financial framework must be subject to strict regulations governing transparency, accounting practices and accountability.

At the same time, we must emphasise the importance of access to raw materials, in particular, oil, gas and rare earths, being provided to the whole of European Union industry. We call on the European Council and Commission to become actively involved, along with the EU’s strategic commercial partners, in all the international forums, with the aim of signing long-term bilateral trade agreements, compatible with the World Trade Organisation, which will guarantee the steady supply of these vital resources.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) We have witnessed yet another surrealist debate this week in the European Parliament, in the context of the so-called preparation for the forthcoming European Council.

When the Members of the Confederal Group of the European United Left – Nordic Green Left demanded that there be solidarity at last with the European people who, until now, have been the only ones to pay for the crisis, the only answer that we got was solidarity of the Member States with the banks.

A new miracle cure has appeared: recapitalisation. The only stated goal remains that of starting up again the crazy machine that will take us to the wall, and calming the markets and the rating agencies.

The Member States are going to inject yet more billions of euro with no guarantee. Once again, we are going to nationalise the losses but the profits will remain private.

There are more and more citizens in the four corners of Europe and elsewhere who reject these austerity policies and yet in this House, once again, the Members of the GUE/NGL Group had the feeling they were the only ones to take a stance.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) I voted in favour of the cross-group motion for a resolution, which places high – but justified – expectations on the Heads of State or Government. These include a clear road map, tangible objectives and a clear timeframe, as well as the unambiguous Community method requirement to ensure transparency and to guarantee democratic decision making.

 
  
  

Motion for a resolution B7-0532/2011

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I support the resolution on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area, as they have fulfilled all the criteria set out in the Schengen evaluation process. Both countries have redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems through a substantial investment in their law enforcement authorities. Bulgaria and Romania have continuously proved their support and solidarity and sustained commitment to be reliable partners in south-eastern Europe, through a consistent contribution to border security in these parts of the EU. It is of grave importance that we do not impose any additional criteria on Member States that are already in the process of joining the Schengen area and that we include Bulgaria and Romania solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures. It is now up to the Member States to honour their commitments under the EU legal framework as regards the Schengen accession criteria and not give the priority to national populism, and accordingly uphold the fundamental right of the free movement of persons guaranteed to EU citizens by the Treaties.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing. (IT) On 22 September, the European Council meeting of justice and home affairs ministers postponed the date for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area. The vetoes put forward by the Netherlands and Finland seem to be based on continuing high levels of corruption and widespread organised crime in both the countries in question. Therefore, the argument runs, their accession to the Schengen area is still premature. That said, it seems that not much confidence is being placed in the abilities of these two countries to protect their borders, particularly their external borders. Important illegal weapons and drug trafficking routes run across these borders and Romanian and Bulgarian women are victims of human trafficking and sexual slavery to a greater extent than other European women. Bearing this in mind, could the Commission provide further information on this matter?

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution. The creation of the Schengen area is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process, guaranteeing a fundamental right to EU citizens, i.e. the free movement of persons. Parliament’s resolution of 8 June 2011 and the Council’s conclusions of 9 June 2011 certified that Romania and Bulgaria fulfil all the criteria of the Schengen acquis evaluation process to successfully join the Schengen area. I welcome the resolution’s call on all Member States to adopt a decision on enlarging the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures because additional criteria cannot be imposed on Member States which are already in the process of joining the Schengen area.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I voted for the resolution on the accession of Romania and Bulgaria to the Schengen area, and I congratulate the initiators.

There are a few clear, simple matters and a couple of questions which still remain unanswered. On the first count, both countries have successfully completed the Schengen evaluation process. We, not just Parliament but the Council too, said in June that both countries were ready to join. In September, the last JHA Council postponed the decision indefinitely.

My question is, expressed in the simplest possible terms: why, until when, what should we do, and is the procedure fair? I think that we have the right to receive a reply, not only us MEPs, but also Bulgarian and Romanian citizens.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) We have just confirmed that we are in favour of Romania and Bulgaria joining the Schengen area. Reaffirming our position from before the summer, we adopted with broad support this resolution, which is urging all the Member States to take the decision to enlarge the Schengen area to these two countries. According to the European Commission, Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled the criteria, and nothing should prevent their accession. However, the case is being held up at the Council by several Member States who consider it necessary to add certain criteria. On that, I am entirely in agreement to say that we need to look more carefully at difficult issues such as the fight against corruption and organised crime. Nevertheless, these criteria need to be applied in the same way to all the Member States. Meanwhile, a compromise must be found within the Council for these countries that currently meet the Schengen criteria.

 
  
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  Sebastian Valentin Bodu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Adoption of the resolution on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen without the amendments proposed by the political groups which have expressed extremist views or should not express views at all because they are not resident in the Schengen area, and I do not believe they ever will be, demonstrates that the European Parliament is a body which has not been infected with the virus of extreme right-wing populism. I hope that this resolution will prompt two Member States, the Netherlands and Finland, to seriously consider whether they do indeed believe in democracy and respect for the rules which they were involved in drawing up.

It is, however, unfortunate that strong and traditional parties are managing to change their public agenda rooted in Community standards and requirements under pressure from extremist parties which are governing on the back of Europe’s slide towards isolationism and extremism partly due, perhaps, to an excessively liberal policy on immigration from outside the Community. It is all the more unfortunate when the citizens of some Member States have to bear the consequences of such actions even though they have done everything they have been asked to do in order to join other citizens in being able to travel without border controls.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Romania and Bulgaria have met all the criteria for the successful completion of the Schengen evaluation process. Each of these countries has reorganised its integrated border management systems by investing substantially in their law enforcement authorities, including the provision of training and the latest technology, and have visibly reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks, thus fully transposing the Schengen acquis. It is vital that all of the Member States honour their commitments under the EU legal framework in relation to the criteria for accession to the Schengen area, so as to allow the accession of Bulgaria and Romania.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) The project of European integration is blocked by electoral realities embarrassing to the democracies that we, who liberated ourselves from communism barely two decades ago, believe to be advanced. I will not conceal from you the disappointment felt by my fellow Romanians in the face of the wave of defamatory lies with which the newest European citizens are confronted, from France to Finland. It is distressing to see European integration and the European spirit cracking perilously at the first serious attempt to undermine them.

It is gratifying that the European Parliament remains an advocate of the European idea and supports the two Member States in the face of the unjust harassment to which they are subjected in order to block their access to the Schengen area. However, I fear that we should not be under any illusions in a Europe captivated by national selfishness promoted by the populist right and a tendency to formalise the Franco-German domination of the European Union. One of the reasons why we in the East lived through communism for half a century was the treachery and cowardice of the West. The lesson in humility dished out to us by some of the old Member States reminds us of this and will probably cure us of our illusion of having returned to the cradle of normality. So rest assured: just as we survived the Soviet Union, we will also survive living in a European Union increasingly removed from the vision of its founders.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I believe that the free movement of people, and the creation of the Schengen area in particular, are among the greatest triumphs of the process of European integration. As regards the accession of Romania and Bulgaria, and despite the postponement following the Council’s failure to vote on 22 September, I would like to stress that the suitability of both countries to join the Schengen area was certified by Parliament and the Commission back in June. I therefore believe that the accession of these countries should occur as quickly as possible, as outlined in the resolution that has now been adopted.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the joint motion for a resolution on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen because I argue that the European Council and the Member States should act in accordance with the Treaty on European Union and take the measures necessary for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area without further delays.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Bulgaria and Romania have transposed the Schengen acquis satisfactorily and are now objectively eligible for accession to the Schengen area. Despite the efforts of both countries, some Member States have been raising objections to accession, which cannot fail to cause ill feeling within the Union. While caution and concern for the Union’s internal security are understandable, it cannot be considered appropriate to seek to change the rules for accession to the Schengen area after the countries in question have undertaken reforms and improved their services so as to comply adequately and in time.

By acting in this way, the Member States that are blocking the accession of Bulgaria and Romania are weakening solidarity, and are threatening security and the quality of the level of Europe’s requirements with regard to areas as sensitive as freedom of movement, migration and border security. It should be noted that I am not trying to suggest that we should not maintain robust criticism of the weaknesses that Member States may have, or debate organised crime and corruption: rather, I argue that we cannot set rules for accession and later seek to bar countries that meet these rules from entering the Schengen area.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The free movement of people is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU citizens by the Treaties. The creation of the Schengen area and the integration of the Schengen acquis into the EU legal framework is an achievement facilitating the European integration process. Romania and Bulgaria have met all the criteria for the successful completion of the Schengen evaluation process, as affirmed in the 8 June 2011 resolution of Parliament and the Council, and in their conclusions of 9 June 2011. Romania and Bulgaria have fundamentally redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems and reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks. I therefore believe that the Member States should meet their commitments under the EU legal framework in relation to the criteria for accession to the Schengen area and, as a result, they should take the decision to enlarge the Schengen area so that it includes Bulgaria and Romania, without imposing additional criteria on the Member States that have already embarked upon the process of accession to the Schengen area.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Although we have criticised and continue to criticise the Schengen Agreement, its meaning and its implications, we are bound to point out the European Union’s terrible contradictions in this area. As is acknowledged in the resolution, Bulgaria and Romania meet the requirements. However, they are hostages to populist discourse. This discourse is emerging and moving forward at the exact same time the social consequences of the dominant EU-level guidelines that have led to this ever deepening crisis are deteriorating. Since the Netherlands and Finland are blocking the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area, Parliament is now expressing its opposition to the application of additional criteria to these countries, which discriminate against them and will delay their accession to the Schengen area indefinitely. This is a contradiction of all the discourse from Europe’s leaders regarding the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

 
  
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  Carlo Fidanza (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Parliament’s resolution urging the Council to adopt the necessary measures to allow both countries to join the border-free area. It should be underlined that Romania and Bulgaria have made progress on the integrated management of their borders and on strengthening their legal and institutional frameworks. I think these decisions should be taken on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures, using the criteria set out for these cases. Other issues should be dealt with in due time and not used by the Member States as a veto or instrument of retaliation or, even worse, to curry favour with domestic public opinion.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Since the Netherlands and Finland are blocking the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area, Parliament is now expressing its opposition to the application of additional criteria to these countries, delaying their accession to the Schengen area indefinitely. As is well known, we have a negative view of the Schengen Agreement, but we are bound to stress the enormous contradictions of the European Union in this area too. As has been stressed in several speeches, Bulgaria and Romania meet all the requirements and should not be hostages to populist discourse. In fact, this course of action only protects the interests of some major powers and contradicts all the discourse from the European Union’s leaders regarding the free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Benová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The creation of the Schengen area and the integration of the Schengen acquis into the EU framework is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process, which directly concerns European citizens. Romania and Bulgaria adopted the Schengen acquis upon accession to the EU in 2007. Both countries have fundamentally redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems by investing substantially in their law enforcement authorities, including the provision of training and the latest technology, and have visibly reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks, a fact which is acknowledged in all the Schengen evaluation reports. Both countries have fully implemented the Schengen acquis which, according to their Accession Treaty and the existing EU legal framework, is the only prerequisite for their accession to the Schengen area. I firmly believe that it is important that all Member States take the decision on enlarging the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures. I also believe that additional criteria cannot be imposed on Member States which are already in the process of joining the Schengen area. It is right that the competent authorities should take the necessary measures to enable Romania and Bulgaria to accede to the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing. – The creation of the Schengen area is one of the greatest achievements of the European project and a display of European integration. Free movement of labour, goods and capital across national borders is the core of our prominent economic strengths. I believe these points of reference should be remembered when deciding on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area. This joint resolution, which I voted in favour of, reaffirms the readiness of both countries to enter the Schengen area, having fulfilled the criteria set out in the accession treaties for concluding the Schengen evaluation process. Consequently, this resolution strongly urges the Council to base their decision to welcome Bulgaria and Romania into the Schengen area exclusively on the existing technical benchmarks established by the EU legal treaties. With this resolution, Parliament demonstrates its solidarity with Bulgaria and Romania and acknowledges their importance by asking for equal treatment and supporting their successful accession into Schengen.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing. (FR) The problem is not which criteria need to be met to be part of the Schengen area, or whether we need to add others on a case-by-case basis; the problem is Schengen itself. The Schengen Agreement has considerably weakened the European Union’s external borders, creating an influx of potential illegal immigrants at the borders’ weakest links. One of the countries concerned today has a common border with Turkey, which is both a country of origin and a country of transit for this illegal immigration. Greece, although ‘helped’ by Frontex, is having tremendous difficulty in controlling its own border with this neighbour, to the point where it is envisaging building a wall. Controlling borders, including internal borders, and the flows that go through them, whether goods, capital or people, is becoming more crucial everyday for our countries. Controlling a border does not mean making it impenetrable. Everyone should understand that. Aware of the harmful effects Schengen is having on my country and wishing it would withdraw from Schengen, I consequently refuse to make others suffer the same fate.

 
  
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  Françoise Grossetête (PPE), in writing. (FR) The free movement of persons must come with safeguards. We must set up a way to constantly monitor the application of the Schengen agreements, in order to see if each Member State is playing by the rules.

Bulgaria and Romania have undertaken important reforms aimed at reorganising their border controls, by investing heavily in their law enforcement authorities. Their institutional and legal framework has evidently been strengthened, as the latest Schengen assessment reports show. I do regret, however, that the proposal aimed at consolidating the Schengen acquis by incorporating additional criteria pertaining to organised crime and corruption was rejected.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this resolution to reiterate once again my support for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area. This accession, which requires unanimous approval by Council Members, was blocked on 22 September. In my view, it is disgraceful that this accession is still being blocked. This has led to a situation of double standards which is at odds with the reality. Indeed, Romania and Bulgaria fulfil the criteria as set out in the Schengen accession texts, which Finland and the Netherlands cannot ignore. The corruption that was highlighted to refuse accession, although it should be vigorously fought against, does not form part of the technical criteria. Changing the rules at the end of the process does not rest on any legal justification, and the refusal to let these countries access the area of free movement is a political decision. These countries, which already play a special role at the external borders of the EU, cannot be treated as if they were second-class countries. The EU must continue to honour its commitment to the fundamental acquis that is the free movement of persons.

 
  
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  Marian Harkin (ALDE), in writing. – I voted for this motion for resolution because I believe free movement of persons is a fundamental right and Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled the criteria for the successful conclusion of the Schengen evaluation process. In the final analysis, this is about the rule of law.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because I am convinced that the free movement of persons is a fundamental right guaranteed to EU citizens by the Treaties. The creation of the Schengen area and the integration of the Schengen acquis into the EU framework is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process. Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled all the criteria for successful conclusion of the Schengen evaluation process. Both countries have fundamentally redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems by investing substantially in their law enforcement authorities, including the provision of training and the latest technology, and have visibly reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks, a fact which is acknowledged in all the Schengen evaluation reports. There are some doubts over Romania and Bulgaria managing to adopt all the Schengen acquis provisions on combating corruption and organised crime, and Bulgaria has moreover failed to approve measures that were intended to help it manage increasing migratory flows on its borders with Greece and Turkey. However, I nevertheless believe that additional criteria cannot be imposed on Member States which are already in the process of joining the Schengen area. We should therefore enlarge the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania, and the European Council should proceed in accordance with the EU Treaty and take the necessary measures to enable Romania and Bulgaria to accede to the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Sandra Kalniete (PPE), in writing. (LV) I voted for this resolution because I consider the creation of the Schengen area to be one of the European Union’s greatest achievements. Bulgaria and Romania have satisfied all the conditions for joining. The fact that certain Member States have chosen to block this process actually threatens the credibility of the criteria the EU has established. Both Romania and Bulgaria reckoned with the conditions as they exist, so setting new conditions now that they have satisfied those existing conditions is wrong. It contradicts European values and contradicts what is provided in the Accession Treaty. I understand the concerns of some Member States, but this sort of action is not constructive, and I am sure that these states would not want similar methods to be deployed against them. Both my group and I trust that a sensible decision will ultimately be taken in order to allow Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area. That is in all our interests, and in this Union the strongest should support the weakest.

 
  
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  Marine Le Pen (NI), in writing. (FR) To refuse Romania and Bulgaria accession to the Schengen area is tantamount to admitting that, in the European Union, the Member States are not all treated on an equal footing. Yet to accept their accession is to go against the freedom and sovereignty of the Netherlands and Finland, which are currently openly opposed to it. If we recognise the rights of some, it will be done to the detriment of the rights of others. This dilemma exposes in a very clear way the absurdity of the Schengen Treaty, which entrusts the responsibility of controlling and protecting the borders of the area’s 25 Member States to Europe’s peripheral countries. Giving such responsibility can only be achieved if there is trust. The fact is, the Dutch and the Finns do not have this trust. Without Schengen, we would not be in this situation. Each country would be free and responsible for its borders without demanding from a third country a responsibility it no longer assumes. We therefore urgently need to review this Treaty so that everyone can be in charge of their own affairs. This is not a step backwards, it is simply returning to common sense. I therefore voted against this resolution.

 
  
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  Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska (PPE), in writing.(PL) Today, we have voted on a motion for a resolution on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen. I voted in favour, since in my opinion, a quick and firm decision will prevent the matter from being prolonged. We should also positively acknowledge the fulfilment by Bucharest and Sofia of all the required criteria specified during the evaluation process. Furthermore, despite the debates in some Member States, I believe that we should not impose additional conditions on EU Member States during the process of their accession to Schengen. We should not introduce divisions, because Europe must be open to the free movement of its citizens.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which calls on all Member States to honour their commitments under the EU legal framework as regards the Schengen accession criteria, and not to give priority to national populism.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing. (IT) We consider the free movement of persons to be a fundamental right which must be guaranteed to all EU citizens, as expressly laid down in the Treaties.

The creation of the Schengen area and the integration of the Schengen acquis into the EU framework is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process and, in this regard, we believe that Romania and Bulgaria have fulfilled all the criteria for successful conclusion of the evaluation process, as certified, moreover, by Parliament in its resolution of 8 June 2011 and by the Council in its conclusions of 9 June 2011. Both countries have fundamentally redesigned and reorganised their integrated border management systems by investing substantially in their law enforcement authorities, including the provision of training and the latest technology, and have visibly reinforced their institutional and legal frameworks.

We therefore urge all Member States to take the decision on enlarging the Schengen area to include Bulgaria and Romania solely on the basis of the Schengen acquis and procedures. Indeed, we believe that additional criteria cannot be imposed on Member States which are already in the process of joining the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) Voting in favour of the resolution is also a way to reject the populist and nationalist sentiments that are taking root in some countries. Ensuring that the European spirit prevails, including in decisions like this, is one of the biggest priorities for the Union today.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I abstained from voting on this resolution (as a whole) since Ireland opted not to participate in the Schengen arrangements.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Mélenchon (GUE/NGL), in writing.(FR) Bulgaria and Romania have completed all the work demanded by Fortress Europe. The wait has been too long. The Council must allow Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to move freely within the Schengen area. I voted for this text which did not deserve to see the word populism confused with the State xenophobia in which some right-wing governments are foundering.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU cannot first set out specific requirements for new countries wishing to join the Schengen area, and then, soon after these have been achieved, use populist arguments to deny countries entry. The position of the Netherlands and Finland is not what springs to mind when we recall why we are proud of the EU as an area of solidarity. I am not surprised that new criteria may be needed for integration into the Schengen area in future cases of accession, but after Romania and Bulgaria have made a major effort to meet the current criteria, I do not believe it is right that they should be denied entry to the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE), in writing.(SK) The free movement of persons is a fundamental right which is guaranteed for EU citizens by treaties and is also the basis of the idea of European integration. It clearly has to be acknowledged that Bulgaria and Romania have substantially reorganised their integrated border control systems, although there are still doubts as to whether they completely fulfil the criteria for joining the Schengen area. Recent unhappy experience with the increased influx of migrants has revealed many shortcomings in the protection of external borders, and it is therefore impossible to remove the justified fears of some states regarding further potential threats related to the full opening of borders, such as higher crime rates and an overall deterioration in security and public order in their national territories. It is natural that any lawful state will try to protect its citizens and its internal security. For this reason, I believe it is necessary to respect the principle of unanimity, as far as the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area is concerned, and to try and dispel the persistent concerns in a constructive manner.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Since the resolution insists that double standards for new and old Member States are not acceptable, that there is no legal basis for adding new political criteria ‘in progress’ to those technical benchmarks established by the Treaties, and that political national considerations cannot overcome respect for EU rules, equal for all, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union already occurred too early. Consequently, the accession of these countries to the Schengen area would be an even bigger mistake. The efforts of Bulgaria and Romania to better protect their borders with non-EU countries do not even begin to meet the Schengen criteria. The failure to tackle organised crime in both countries is diametrically opposed to the security interests of Austria and the European Union. The inclusion of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen area would enable the uncontrolled entry of criminal forces into Western Europe. This must be prevented at all costs. For that reason, I am opposed to the motion.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I voted against this resolution because, in my opinion, Romania and Bulgaria still do not respect some basic requirements. Moreover, I am not alone in this opinion: other countries such as Finland and the Netherlands used their veto in the Council against these two countries joining the Schengen area. No adequate guarantees on fighting criminality and corruption have been put in place. Moreover, huge concerns remain about the ability of these two Member States to ensure that their external borders are respected. We cannot accept weaknesses in this area, since we would risk an even greater invasion of non-EU citizens across the external borders of Romania and Bulgaria. Firstly, these problems have to be resolved; then – and only then – can we think about them joining Schengen.

 
  
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  Rareş-Lucian Niculescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Accession to the Schengen area is a right for Romania and Bulgaria, but an obligation for the other Member States, deriving from their status as European Union Member States. Bulgaria and Romania have clearly met all the necessary criteria for a country to join the Schengen area. With today’s vote, Parliament has shown that it stands up for fairness, fair play, equality between Member States and EU legislation.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) It should be noted that the creation of the Schengen area and the integration of the Schengen acquis into the EU framework is one of the greatest achievements of the European integration process. It is an obvious expression of the ideal of the free movement of persons. Attention should be drawn to the fact that it is not easy to join the Schengen area because the Schengen acquis criteria applied are particularly strict. Every country aiming to join the Schengen area must be adequately prepared to protect the external borders of the entire EU and issue visas that will be valid throughout the Schengen area, and must also guarantee data protection and effective police cooperation. Thus, in order to strengthen the protection of the EU’s external borders and the security of all EU citizens, obligations provided for in the EU legal framework concerning the criteria for accession to the Schengen area must be applied equally to all Member States and, in this case, Bulgaria and Romania are no exception.

 
  
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  Alfredo Pallone (PPE), in writing. (IT) I think that the EU is duty-bound to extend the Schengen area, as discussed in Parliament at the last plenary session, to provide for the accession of Romania and Bulgaria. This is particularly so given that the two countries have passed the requisite technical tests to open internal borders, thereby demonstrating that their organisational and regulatory frameworks are working correctly. While compliance with the Schengen parameters is the main requirement, it seems, unfortunately, that this is not enough for the Netherlands and Finland, whose actions are seriously hampering the work that these two countries have so far carried out with huge commitment. Furthermore, after France and Germany have given the green light and further checks have been carried out on their border surveillance system, I hope that this resolution will lead soon enough to a definitive agreement on Bulgaria and Romania’s accession to the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The fact that the Netherlands and Finland are blocking the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area is the reason for this motion for a resolution, in which the Council and the Commission are asked about the ‘justice’ and ‘legality’ of applying additional criteria to these countries and delaying their accession indefinitely. I share the concerns expressed by the rapporteur for Parliament on this matter and the co-author of this resolution, Mr Coelho, particularly when he states that Bulgaria and Romania have met all of the requirements asked of them, and says that they should not be held hostage by populist rhetoric.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Romania and Bulgaria meet all the criteria for accession to the Schengen area, having fully transposed its acquis and undertaken the necessary reforms of their border management systems. In view of this, I believe I must add my voice to Parliament’s call for the Member States to vote, without any further delay, to expand the Schengen area to these countries.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – We support the common resolution submitted by the EPP, S&D, ALDE, ourselves and GUE/NGL. Joining Schengen is conditional – a state has a right and an obligation to join it as soon as the preconditions are properly met. We are against additional preconditions not stipulated in the Schengen acquis.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing. (IT) Romania and Bulgaria only joined the European Union in 2007. I therefore think it is premature to apply the Schengen Agreement, which provides for the abolition of internal border controls with these two countries. I would point out the concerns of France and Germany, which do not believe that Romania and Bulgaria are able to tackle corruption and fight organised crime. Given that criminal groups have already moved from Romania to other European countries – and to Italy above all – we cannot run such risks. Likewise, the Netherlands takes the view that Bulgaria and Romania have gaps in their legal and anti-corruption systems, while Finland also finds the proposal untenable.

 
  
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  Olga Sehnalová (S&D), in writing. (CS) Free movement of persons is one of the fundamental values of the European Union. I voted for the adoption of the resolution because it is generally unacceptable, in my opinion, to have double standards towards different countries within the framework of commonly adopted rules, whether these are rules on the Schengen area or on other issues.

 
  
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  Joanna Senyszyn (S&D), in writing.(PL) I supported the resolution on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen. All Schengen evaluation reports confirm that further postponement of the decision on this matter is unjustified.

I call on the Polish Presidency to adhere to the Treaty and to take action which will result in Romania and Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area. Imposing additional criteria on these countries is unacceptable. These countries have successfully fulfilled the criteria which applied to all other Member States, and they should be allowed to accede to Schengen without further delay.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing. (IT) After the vetoes from the Netherlands and Finland, and the rejection of the Justice and Home Affairs Council on 22 September, Bulgaria and Romania will not be allowed to lift internal border controls. My opinion is that in so doing, Europe has proved its inconsistency – just as the EU’s reputation for reliability is hardly at an all-time high. There are, in fact, established criteria for these two countries to join Schengen; criteria that were met in April last year. Now concerns are being voiced about the ability of these countries to tackle corruption and fight organised crime, with demands for further progress in these areas. This has gone so far as to not even accept the proposed compromise, under which air and sea border controls would be lifted this year, with land borders to follow next year. I would like to express my support for Bulgaria and Romania, certain as I am that by defending their interests, we can also contribute to maintaining the integrity of the Schengen edifice and the credibility of the EU. The risk of disunity is already a problem, and is even more significant than the fear that corruption will destroy the system of free borders. This is becoming a critical issue in relations between the eastern European Member States – many of which contain the EU’s external borders – and the rest of Europe.

 
  
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  Søren Bo Søndergaard (GUE/NGL), in writing. (DA) I voted against the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area. The EU is quite clearly avoiding taking a stance on the extensive corruption and organised crime that are wreaking havoc in these two countries, which the responsible governments ought to focus on combating for the benefit, first and foremost, of the Bulgarian and Romanian people.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The creation of the Schengen area and the free movement of people within the EU are fundamental pillars of the entire process of European integration. This success, as well as the incorporation of the Schengen acquis into EU law, must not be threatened by populist or nationalist ideologies. The economic crisis affecting the euro area cannot be an excuse for changing Union policy and excluding Member States that demonstrably meet all the criteria.

Following their accession, in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania adopted the Schengen acquis and made the greatest efforts to meet the required criteria, specifically in terms of data protection, land and sea border areas, police cooperation, and visas. Following the positive results of the evaluations, which are a precondition for Member States’ accession to the Schengen area, the decision was blocked in the Council by France and Germany, alleging shortcomings as regards combating corruption and organised crime. I believe that the additional criteria requested contradict the fundamental values of the EU. We cannot apply different criteria depending on the country. In view of this, I am voting for this motion for a resolution and call on the Council to reach a decision as quickly as possible.

 
  
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  Rafał Trzaskowski (PPE), in writing. (PL) Bulgaria and Romania have met all the requirements set for them by the European Union. That is why the Schengen area should be laid open to them. We must meet our obligation towards these countries. One does not change the rules while the game is on.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) In the past few months, we have seen how economic imbalance threatens the survival of the euro in the euro area. At the same time, another fundamental EU project has come under threat – the Schengen visa-free regime. For the majority of Lithuanians, freedom of movement is an essential aspect of the European project and was one of the greatest privileges of our membership of the EU. This privilege was not granted to the citizens of Bulgaria and Romania and I regret that an agreement on the enlargement of the Schengen area has not been concluded with respect to these countries. Both countries have implemented SIS (Schengen Information System) systems and have guaranteed that they function properly. Concern about emigration is understandable, particularly with growing unemployment. However, the lack of unity and solidarity among EU governments on this issue is worrying. Once again, the credibility of the EU is at stake. The issue of opening borders should not distract our attention from the lack of opportunities in some Member States. Like the young people of Lithuania, Romanian and Bulgarian young people often think that going abroad will open up the best opportunities for them. I would like to stress that I fully and strongly support Bulgaria and Romania and the policy of a solidarity-based, united and non-discriminatory EU as regards its Member States.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) I abstained on this text because, aside from the condemnation of the Dutch and Finnish governments’ opposition to Romania and Bulgaria accessing the Schengen area, it automatically justifies the so-called acquis of said area.

What are we talking about? Firstly, the refusal to allow all European citizens to move freely within the European Union. This is a disgrace and we know which majority is in power in the two northern European countries that have used their veto. Romania and Bulgaria meet all the conditions that current members of the Schengen area had to fulfil. The European Parliament is therefore right to condemn this veto.

However, the European Parliament’s resolution cannot let this opportunity pass by without giving out gold stars to the Schengen area. The fact is, Schengen is about all-out judicial and police cooperation to control the Union’s borders; it is fortress Europe against the pseudo-invasions that threaten the European identity.

It fuels fear of the other, and xenophobia becomes commonplace in the words of many governments which are really only seeking to disguise their inability to manage the financial crisis.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The Schengen Agreement in the Treaty on European Union provides for the removal of border controls as the right of every Member State provided it meets the security requirements – a definitive catalogue. The evaluation by the Schengen Evaluation Working Group found that both countries meet the formal criteria and also that, on account of extensive investments and the latest equipment, they would, in some respects, be even better prepared than the long-standing Schengen countries. Concerns over excessive mobility of workers are unfounded in view of the fact that the level of this mobility has hardly changed from its 2% mark in the last 30 years. Moreover, the fear that opening up the borders will open the floodgates to organised crime has to be refuted inasmuch as the inclusion of these two countries in the Schengen area and the associated inclusion of Romania and Bulgaria in the common Schengen Information System would, on the contrary, provide increased security. Concerns can be countered with sensible arguments, and the somewhat poor justification for the veto in the Council gives reason to suspect that it is more likely to have internal political motives. A refusal to include Member States in the Schengen area on the basis of arbitrary criteria is unlawful and a disgraceful course of action for the European Union to take. I therefore voted in favour of the joint motion for a resolution, in which the Member States are emphatically called on ‘not to give priority to national populism’ in the decision on enlarging the Schengen area.

 
  
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  Hermann Winkler (PPE), in writing. (DE) I did not vote in favour of the motion for a resolution on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to Schengen. In so doing, I did not in any way wish to belittle the efforts that these two Member States have made in recent years, but I would like to make it clear that we cannot carry on as before. There are currently still problems in the area of organised crime and corruption in these countries, which extend right to the borders with my region of Saxony. I understand the desire of Bulgaria and Romania to join. However, their arguments that similar problems already exist in the Schengen area are unacceptable. We must take the concerns of the people at home seriously if we want to continue to have them onboard with us in ‘project Europe’. I could envisage a two-stage solution, like that proposed by Germany. In the medium term, the airports of both countries could be included in the Schengen system, with the land and sea borders being included later. For the future, we need more robust criteria for accession to Schengen. The progress reports must also reflect the situation in an objective and transparent way, with nothing glossed over simply to realise political objectives.

 
Last updated: 26 March 2012Legal notice