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A7-0350/2011

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PV 14/11/2011 - 22
CRE 14/11/2011 - 22

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PV 15/11/2011 - 7.9
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P7_TA(2011)0485

Debates
Tuesday, 15 November 2011 - Strasbourg OJ edition

8. Explanations of vote
Video of the speeches
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  President. – We shall now proceed to the explanations of vote.

 
  
  

Oral explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Kerstin Westphal (A7-0350/2011)

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I would like to say that I voted for this report because a dwindling working population and ageing workforce will mark the demographic trends in the EU in the coming years. In light of this, the lack of effective measures for maintaining quality of life and social integration may have an adverse impact on social security systems. In the EU, pension fund costs account, on average, for 43% of the gross expenditure on social welfare services. The potential offered by the elderly must be utilised. At the same time, I think that strategies are needed to encourage the birth rate and migration. These issues must be addressed using a coordinated approach involving all European, national and regional authorities. Romania has more pensioners than employees, which means that its pension system will be at risk in the future.

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE).(RO) Madam President, I voted to adopt the report on demographic change in light of the future cohesion policy because aspects such as depopulation, an ageing population or labour migration pose real challenges for Member States, with a noticeable impact on Europe’s regions in particular. Regional policy is a key instrument for tackling demographic change. This is precisely why we need to ensure that this aspect will be included as a horizontal objective in the future cohesion policy.

The vote I gave today was in support of the hardest hit regions being given the resources and technical assistance they need to be able to access the Structural Funds. They will guarantee not only access to vital public services, but also create new sources of jobs, especially by supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. One of the EU-level solutions for reducing the adverse impact of demographic change is to promote the exchange of good practices between Member States.

This is why I have called on the European Commission to come up with concrete solutions for ensuring that the Erasmus programme for local and regional elected representatives continues. I think that this programme must be continued in a form suited to the relevant needs and real circumstances.

 
  
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  Robert Dušek (S&D) . – (CS) Madam President, Europe has the oldest population and, at the same time, the lowest population growth in the world, and the waves of migration from third countries are still growing. If we treat these population changes as an opportunity, and jointly mould them in an appropriate way, they will not become a time bomb for the EU. Unlike strategies, Member States, regions and cities can make use of resources from the Structural Funds. In the 2007-2013 period, a mere 9% of the potential funding was absorbed. Regional policy is, in the meantime, the main tool that can be used to address demographic changes. I would like to call on the regions to make greater use of the possibilities the EU provides, and to work on adequate projects for supporting old people, children and families, and work for young people. In the area of immigration, I would like to emphasise that it is vital for the EU to distinguish in its policies between migrants who move Europe ahead and those who migrate to the EU merely with a vision of an easier life. The submitted report offers many appropriate solutions, and I have therefore voted for its adoption.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Madam President, we are all aware that demographic change is presenting us with a wide range of challenges. In rural areas in particular, it is important for us to put in place concrete measures which will allow us to make good use of the opportunities that will undoubtedly accompany this change. This is all about making rural areas as attractive as possible. First and foremost, this means providing sufficient jobs for younger people in order to counteract the trend for migration away from these areas.

In addition, public bodies must adjust to the needs of an ageing population. Our rural regions must remain a home for the people who live there. Therefore, cohesion policy must make a significant contribution in this area in future. Nevertheless, it will be important, in future, to weigh up the requirements that we are able to meet against those that we simply cannot fulfil.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, I welcome the report, which recognises the different strategies needed from region to region across the EU to combat demographic change. We need to have a coordinated effect at EU, national and regional level, as we have in Wales.

The report sets out a number of recommendations, focusing on suggestions for structural policy reform, urban development, measures for families, the use of the ESF to combat youth unemployment and, in particular, the sharing of best practice between the different regions and nations. Wales, as a convergence region, welcomes the initiative.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Madam President, I welcome this report, especially the practical recommendations in it to deal with the challenge facing us, and we have a lot of challenges facing us.

In this regard, I recall that my colleague, Danuta Hübner, when she was a Commissioner, pointed out that one-third of regions would decline in population by 2020 and a half will have a decline by 2030. This poses huge problems for us, particularly in relation to structural and cohesion policy. Particularly worrying is the impact which an ageing population will have. It will put huge pressure on finances in terms of health care and infrastructure, etc. We have got to meet that challenge, and the sooner we face up to it and put measures in place and utilise cohesion funding for it, the better it will be.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, the elemental cause of our discontents is easily stated: there is too much debt. Too much personal debt, too much corporate debt and too much public debt. Even I am not going to claim that this is wholly a crisis of the eurozone. It was also a crisis in Latvia, a crisis in Hungary and indeed a crisis in my own country, and the underlying cause is easily diagnosed: interest rates were kept too low for too long and this mistake was made equally by the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and, indeed, the FED and the Bank of Japan.

What is happening now is that there is a correction. The malinvestments of the decade of easy credit should be being rectified so that growth can begin again on a more sober and realistic basis, but here in Europe – and indeed in the United Kingdom – politicians and central bankers are furiously working the bellows in trying to re-inflate the bubble. It is not going to work; it is like trying to postpone a hangover by remaining drunk. You may defer the reckoning, but it will be all the worse when it comes.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, the challenge stemming from the current demographic changes within the EU is one of the biggest we will face over the coming years. We must strive to develop policies which not only make the public aware of the benefits and opportunities inherent in demographic changes, but also enable older workers to fully access work and housing markets. I therefore welcome some elements of this report which recognise the unique benefits to the current demographics. In the UK, we have recently abolished the default retirement age, acknowledging, amongst other things, the benefits of an older workforce.

However, there are a number of recommendations within this report which I cannot support, most particularly those recommendations which call for a common EU strategy on migration and the diversion of Structural Funds away from building economic capacity and towards special multi-generational housing projects and undefined ‘communal events’ to integrate immigrants into their local communities.

 
  
  

Report: Pascal Canfin (A7-0055/2011)

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Madam President, I voted in favour of the regulation today. Credit default swaps can provide greater liquidity in our economy and, in certain cases, can also help to protect and safeguard us against loss. The problem is – as the financial crisis has shown very clearly – that they also contain problematic elements that have entailed a significant systemic risk for our economy, because speculation kicked off a negative spiral. What has been absolutely crucial today is the fact that we have taken a decision that can remedy the problem. We are injecting a degree of responsibility into credit default swaps by ensuring that there is an ownership element, such that buyers and sellers must have a certain relationship to the instrument that they are trading with. I think this is a very positive development and I have therefore voted in favour of the proposal.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, I abstained on this report as it does not go anywhere near tackling the dictatorship of the markets that exists in our society. The extent of that dictatorship has been seen very clearly in the past week, which has been reminiscent of Europe’s colonial era. The same arguments have been used to impose technocratic governance on Italy and Greece, with the argument that the people are not capable of governing for themselves, with the same result that the basic democratic right of people to elect their government comes second to the needs of the market, second to the needs of the bankers, second to the profits of the elite in our society.

These technocrats who have been appointed are not neutral between the 1% and the 99%. Until the weekend, Mr Mario Monti served as an adviser to Goldman Sachs. Mr Papademos has spelt out how the interests of the bankers must be protected in writing down Greek debt. Their mandate comes not from the people of Italy or Greece or the rest of Europe, but comes from the markets. It is a mandate to continue the savagery of people’s living standards in the interests of the elite. Above all, what is needed again is a European-wide fight back, the need for a European-wide struggle against austerity and against the rule of these elites. What is needed is a European-wide strike.

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Madam President, nobody would consider taking out a fire insurance policy for a house that they did not own, unless they were interested in their neighbour’s house burning down so that they could claim on the insurance policy. Anyone who did this would be regarded as a fraudster and would be imprisoned.

I think that the rules that apply to real life should also apply to the stock exchange. Therefore, I am very pleased that the regulation which we have adopted today will impose stringent restrictions on short selling throughout Europe. In particular, it has become clear in the past that highly speculative trading in sovereign bonds puts our financial system at risk. You cannot sell what you do not own and you cannot insure what you do not own. Therefore, it is particularly important that we have adopted standardised rules for the whole of Europe to counteract this type of trading.

Now, it is essential that the new regulations come into force as quickly as possible and are regularly monitored. We must call for a ban on these activities not only in Europe but throughout the world.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, despite having voted against the first version of the Canfin report in plenary, and although the subsequent report has been revised after a number of trialogues, I still have a great number of reservations about the report, which is why I have abstained.

As a member of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, I am concerned by the detail in the report and the ability to implement the proposal as it stands, particularly about the proposed ban on uncovered sovereign CDS and the potential subsequent impact on the ability of Member States in the EU to raise revenue through bond issuance. An opt-in, and not an opt-out, system for Member States’ regulators would have been more equitable and added to the report’s credibility.

 
  
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  Daniel Hannan (ECR). – Madam President, in the past two weeks, we have witnessed a coup d’état: bloodless and genteel, but a coup d’état nonetheless. In Italy as in Greece, elected premiers have been toppled in favour of Eurocrats – respectively, a former Vice-President of the European Central Bank and a former European Commissioner. They head what are called ‘national governments’, but the governments have been put together for the sole purpose of implementing a programme that would be rejected at a general election.

They are called technocrats, but it is precisely their policies that created the problem in the first place. They presided over the debt; they decided to keep the euro going at the expense of the prosperity of the constituent nations; they – Mr Papademos in particular – were responsible for admitting countries that did not meet the debt criteria at the outset. Now we see the true face of the European project. Apparatchiks in Brussels deal directly with apparatchiks in Athens and Rome. The people are cut out altogether and their elected representatives are sidelined. The lamps are going out all over Europe.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, short selling and credit default swaps are two of the principal methods of investing in, or hedging against, a fall in prices or a default of a bond. Restrictions on the trading of sovereign debt, in particular, when the underlying asset is not owned or borrowed by the investor, can be very controversial. We must ensure that while we bring about some protection from aggressive short selling in the markets, this must not be done at the risk of liquidity. Any blanket ban on credit default swaps could have serious consequences on the ability of Member States to raise revenue through issuing bonds. Despite this report being brought closer into line with the position of my group, I still have a number of reservations, and these have come out in the detail and the general direction of the proposals.

 
  
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  Syed Kamall (ECR). – Madam President, as a shadow rapporteur on this report, I had a number of concerns.

First of all was the lack of focus on the causes of the crisis. One of the things we are ignoring in this place is the role that governments themselves played in creating the crisis. Look at the US Government and the Community Reinvestment Act which encouraged banks to lend to uncreditworthy customers, and at the levels of debt that governments incurred – and then they blamed the markets.

At the same time, I also share some of the concerns about the CDS and uncovered sovereign CDS. However, my concerns over this report were that we actually missed the target. Of course we should be tackling the issue of CDS when a bank does a swap and suddenly bad debt is re-rated as good debt because the CDS has been issued by an institution that itself has a good credit rating.

But the most important thing that we have missed is that those organisations, those institutions that issue CDS, should make sure that they have sufficient capital to meet their obligations when a default occurs. This has not occurred and we have missed the elephant in the room.

 
  
  

Report: Mariya Nedelcheva (A7-0188/2011)

 
  
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  Peter Jahr (PPE).(DE) Madam President, Fruit and wine production is very important in the European Union. I am very grateful to Ms Nedelcheva for succeeding in simplifying the regulations for statistics on permanent crops. On the one hand, we all know that statistics are necessary. However, on the other hand, they do not always please those people affected, in this case farmers, because they are associated with a large amount of red tape. It is particularly important to me that smallholdings are excluded from the regulations on statistics and that the administrative effort involved is kept to a minimum for all the businesses affected. Our stated goal is to make agricultural policy simpler and more transparent. Regulations which do not make sense and are no longer up-to-date must be abolished.

This report represents another small step forwards, but we will, of course, have to continue evaluating our own rules and regulations constantly to ensure that they meet the requirement for a reduction in bureaucracy.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, although this report is largely technical concerning the provision of detailed statistics, I was pleased to support it.

Crop statistics are essential for the management and evaluation of EU markets and the common agricultural policy. Although the details in this report largely concern vines which – I have to accept – are not very prevalent in my Member State, although they are a growing part of our agricultural scene, it is still important that all Members of this House pay attention to the detail of these technical reports so that we do not have motions and reports going through that we are not clear about and of which we do not fully understand the implications. At this important time for the common agricultural policy, I believe that it is even more imperative that we pay attention to the detail.

 
  
  

Report: Emma McClarkin (A7-0373/2011)

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the complexity of the process of recognition, which affects an extremely high number of professions, is an obstacle to the circulation of European professionals and has negative effects on growth and competition.

Therefore, I share Ms McClarkin’s view which aims to streamline administrative processes by creating registration systems and an online portal containing all the relevant information regarding procedures. I believe that the proposal to extend the Internal Market Information system to professions not yet open to the directive on services is valid and necessary.

Finally, I hope for further development of the debate towards other and wider categories of professionals. I refer, in particular, to professions close to the world of business, which currently raises an often unnecessary barrier against cross-border exchanges, as in the case of legal and accounting professions.

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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I would like to raise a point of order regarding your interpretation of the Rules. In previous years, when I requested to make an explanation of vote, it was deemed that it could only be called provided the Member had made the request before that report itself came up on the screen, not the initiation of the explanation of votes session.

Now you are having a narrow interpretation that you have to submit the request before the whole explanation of votes session begins. Can you have a consistent interpretation of this rule, because clearly it was intended that you could only apply before that particular report, not the whole thing starting after the ending of the voting session? Each President interprets that rule differently as far as I can see. I agree, for that matter, that the way it is written in the Rules is not clear either.

 
  
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  President. – I believe that you are right, because it is written in the regulations that a request for the declaration of the vote cannot be received after the beginning of the first declaration. Therefore, in my opinion, I believe that you are right; however, we will consult the services for the purposes of greater clarity.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE).(DE) Madam President, I have just listened to your statement with great interest. However, I would like to point out that I indicated to you by raising my hand before the start of the debate on the reports that I wanted to take the floor. I do not know why you did not notice. Your colleague has just informed me about this. The question is whether this really has to be done in writing or whether it is also possible to do it orally.

 
  
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  President. – I repeat that, in my opinion, you are right, but the services have given me their negative opinion. Therefore, we will clarify the matter once, for all modalities, before publicising it.

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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, there is no doubt that a system organised on real and actual cooperation between the Member States dictates that, with regard to the relationship of confidence that is established between the Member States, the principle of freedom of movement should be characterised concretely by effective and assertive instruments.

Mobility of professionals, which is essentially directed towards those who are in a position to add value to activities which take place in another Member State, must surely be interpreted favourably. Compulsory training and compulsory retraining, as well as a minimum standard requirement which allows for equivalence between accreditation systems, appear to be absolutely necessary, especially in a delicate and essential sector like public health; in this way, we can avoid potential distortions in the implementation of a provision which we support and believe can aim for ambitious results in realising concrete and measurable objectives for the benefit of the patient, in the case of health care, and for the benefit of the consumer, in the case of other equally significant sectors.

 
  
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  Charles Tannock (ECR). – Madam President, I take the opportunity to say that the freedom of movement of EU professionals is a very good thing, but I believe that in some ways, by going further than what is even permitted in the United States, we have, in the European Union, allowed loopholes to emerge which allow for doctors for instance – and I am a retired one myself – who are not sufficiently professionally equipped to discharge their duties medically to practise in my country, the United Kingdom.

I strongly believe that all EU doctors registering in the United Kingdom should be subject to linguistic and professional aptitude assessment before being given full registration. Too many problems have arisen in recent years due to different medical practices and poor English skills, and patients have suffered as a consequence. This needs urgent review by the Commission.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE).(DE) Madam President, firstly, I would like to thank you very much for interpreting the Rules of Procedure in a way which is helpful to the Members of this House. I would also like to add to the comments on Ms McClarkin’s report concerning the implementation of the Professional Qualifications Directive. I think that the report which we have adopted today takes Mr Tannock’s concerns into consideration, because we believe it is important to allow for more mobility within the European internal market, in other words, more mobility for the professionals who want it. This is because we will only be able to create a common economic and monetary area in Europe in the long term when professional qualifications are generally recognised and when the holders of the qualifications can genuinely move about freely within Europe.

However, the European Commission now needs to make a series of proposals which, first of all, ensure that automatic recognition continues and, secondly, enable the Internal Market Information system, which the Member States use to recognise professional qualifications, to be easily accessed. A lot remains to be done in this area.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I voted for this report because I am in favour of simplifying the procedures for recognising professional qualifications. As I also emphasised during the hearing which I organised last month, an effective recognition system is vital for the mobility of highly skilled workers. For example, Romanian physiotherapists are receiving the right to practise in France more quickly following SOLVIT’s intervention. The Association of German Engineers reported recently that more than 36 000 posts have not been filled due to the lack of professionals. A European area open to workers from every Member State is part of the solution to this problem.

According to the latest Commission report, the mobility of Romanian and Bulgarian workers raised the EU’s GDP by 0.3%. I take this opportunity to call again for the restrictions aimed at them to be lifted. I welcome Iceland’s decision to give them unconditional access to the labour market.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, with today’s vote, Parliament has laid the foundations for future discussion on the new directive which, as anticipated yesterday by Commissioner Barnier, will be presented on 13 December. I approve of the report given by the rapporteur who, in collaboration with all the rapporteurs, has managed to synthesise the view put forward last June by the Commission with the Green Paper.

I feel I should underline two key elements at the heart of the report: language and training. I believe it is necessary, in particular with regard to health care professions, to introduce an accurate means of evaluation of the level of linguistic ability that should take place prior to the authorisation of allocating work, and to raise the minimum training requirements common to all Member States, with a view to ensuring ever greater security to European patients.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Madam President, I think it is quite incredible that we can adopt a report like this one here on migrant workers without a single word being said about the huge problems that these same migrant workers have created for a number of Member States. There has not been a single word said about the problems that many countries are experiencing in connection with a lack of compliance with wage requirements. There is not a single word in the report about the lack of compliance with the agreements, nor is there anything about the lack of compliance with the rules governing driving and rest times, and I could go on.

What version of reality are those of you who voted in favour of this report actually living in? As far as I am concerned, not a day goes by when I am not approached by citizens, undertakings, NGOs and various countries, particularly in the western part of the Union, concerning precisely these problems. Do you really believe that the problems will go away of their own accord if we simply avoid mentioning them in a report like this one?

 
  
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  Marina Yannakoudakis (ECR). – Madam President, I believe in the single market and I believe in the free movement of people. These are the tools the European economy needs to return to growth.

However, when looking at medical qualifications, the first priority must be the wellbeing of the patient. I am pleased that this report gives Member States the responsibility for checking the ability of migrant doctors and nurses. Doctors must be able to communicate adequately with their patients and colleagues. The new alert mechanism for doctors is also welcome.

In the UK, the case of the German doctor who killed a patient in Cambridge after making serious errors has raised concern about the EU mobility of doctors. The fact that he was allowed to continue practising medicine in Germany after being struck off in the UK is also troubling.

I hope the earlier warning system will allow medical authorities in Member States to better protect their citizens. I am in favour of movement for employment, but we must ensure that we protect our patients across Europe first.

 
  
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  Richard Howitt (S&D). – Madam President, I have spoken before in this Parliament on the case of my constituent, 70-year-old David Gray, who was killed when a locum German doctor unlawfully administered 10 times the recommended dose of a pain-killing drug. On behalf of his sons, Stuart and Rory Gray, I do so again today, to say that their father would still be alive if the mandatory blacklist system the European Parliament calls for today had been in place back in 2008. I am also incensed that Germany failed to extradite the doctor involved, despite the fact that an e-mail dated 16 March 2009 to the Cambridge Constabulary clearly shows that the European arrest warrant was received before the doctor, Daniel Ubani, was finally judged to be incompetent in Germany. His case should, under the existing law, have been heard in British courts.

Today, MEPs have called for a change to the law to clarify beyond doubt that language checks for foreign doctors are perfectly permissible, as well as requiring an alert system to ensure that doctors under disciplinary questioning in one EU country cannot escape penalty in every country. But I say, with the greatest respect to my German colleagues, that changing the law only works if every EU country respects the law that is passed.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE).(GA) Madam President, the vision our founders had in relation to the European Union was that goods and people across Europe would have free, easy and official movement over borders. It is a good vision and a lot has been done to implement it.

Today’s proposals go further, particularly in trying to get qualifications mutually recognised right across the European Union but, as speakers have pointed out, there are difficulties, particularly regarding qualifications where the person with the qualification is dealing with the public and services, such as medical services, teaching, etc. Language proficiency is very important and certainly there is no room for error here, particularly in the diagnosis of patients, as has been pointed out.

My second point is that we should also have some effective method of ensuring that the contents of the programmes that lead to qualification are of the same standard across the European Union.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I would also request speaking time on this item. I would like to congratulate my colleague on her report on the Professional Qualifications Directive; this has been a very high profile issue recently in the UK. The report is particularly encouraging with its emphasis on the reduction of the number of regulated professions and its encouragement of online application procedures.

The report will encourage the free movement of a growing number of highly skilled workers across the EU. Within the report, there is a specific mention of the health care sector. The protection of consumer and patient safety, as we have heard, is a vital objective in the context of the revision of this directive. Thus, I am delighted to see that special attention has been paid to the special status of health care professionals.

There has been much debate on the issue of language barriers. I believe that they are not necessary in all fields of work, but again we must have a decree of flexibility and, for professions where they are vital, we need to acknowledge that and make sure that we carry that through.

 
  
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  George Lyon (ALDE). – Madam President, I would also like to welcome Parliament’s vote today in favour of the report by Emma McClarkin on mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

In particular, there has been great concern in Scotland about the competence of European doctors working for the National Health Service. Since the introduction of the 48-hour working week and the handing over to NHS 24 of all out-of-hours care, almost one in ten health care professionals in the UK have now trained outside the UK. While these doctors provide a vital service, patients must, of course, have peace of mind about their competence.

This report takes an important step towards ensuring that a cross-border alert system will stop the so-called ‘dodgy’ doctors from moving from one country to another to continue practising when they have been accused or suspended in their own country for a question of malpractice. That will reassure patients that their doctors are qualified and not facing charges of misconduct in the countries they came from.

The relationship between patient and doctor is important to recognise and respect. In this regard, use of language is vital, and that is why I am pleased that this report has identified the language issue as an area that does need further work. Patients must feel comfortable with their doctor and health professional and understand the advice and treatment plan, wherever their doctor comes from.

I do hope Parliament can trust the Commission to look into this report with the necessary attention to ensure the best quality of treatment across Europe, through changes of legislation where necessary.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, by voting in favour of the McClarkin report, I have voted for simplification and the reduction of the number of regulated professions in the EU, which, importantly, will enhance the mobility of professionals whilst ensuring that the proper safeguards and checks are in place for them, particularly those who work in the health care sector. I believe that the report takes the right steps to protect and encourage professional workers seeking to work in another Member State. However, we need at all times to ensure that language specificities, particularly with respect to patient safety, are workable in practice – a concern expressed by many of my patients in Wales.

 
  
  

Report: Kyriacos Triantaphyllides (A7-0369/2011)

 
  
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  Paolo Bartolozzi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the challenges posed by the modern age and by Mr Triantaphyllides’s report, for which we have voted in favour, dictate that citizens in their capacity as consumers should be placed at the centre of the EU debate, and they remind us that the safeguarding of citizens’ interests cannot remain a principle sanctified at the level of treaties, but should be a concrete and inspiring principle of EU politics.

Protected and informed consumers, who are made more aware and are therefore in a position to take full advantage of the instruments and resources at their disposal, as well as to make full use of their rights, should be the final aim of the EU’s new strategy on consumer policy.

This strategy should therefore be established as an approach with ample breathing space, and it should be all-encompassing, so that it can move freely from the sector of financial services to that of food, from the safeguarding of minors to advertising, and, therefore, be in a position to make an important contribution to Europe’s social and environmental objectives.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Madam President, it is interesting to read this report. You almost get the impression that the EU is a promised land, where the streets flow with milk and honey. There is no limit to the good things that we offer citizens here: free movement, a social market economy, progress, a high level of competitiveness, full employment, high environmental quality, and so on.

Unfortunately – and rather strangely – there is not a single word about how we want to achieve all of these good things for our citizens. Nowhere is it explained how we are to achieve all of these objectives. Looking around the EU’s territory, all I can say is that it is probably not going very well! Rarely has the EU’s competitiveness been worse than it is today. Rarely has employment been lower than it is today, and rarely has free movement operated as poorly as it is doing today. Nevertheless, one fine statement after another is adopted here in this House that bears absolutely no relation to the reality that citizens outside this House live in. Perhaps we will get the two ends to meet sometime in the future.

 
  
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  Miroslav Mikolášik (PPE). (SK) Madam President, the EU needs a strategic approach to consumer policy, for it to be closely coordinated with other EU policies. Consumers’ dissatisfaction with the functioning of many services, above all, banking and financial services, and with the quality and safety of some products, which results from a lack of awareness of the rights of consumers and the obligations of suppliers, must produce a reaction in the form of a political and legal response from the EU to this issue.

In my opinion, the priority of consumer policy should continue to be the protection of consumers – especially children – from hazardous products. A high level of consumer product safety must therefore be effectively guaranteed in the EU by the relevant market surveillance authorities and agencies in the area of the food, chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries and in agriculture, since these areas have a direct impact on the health of EU citizens on a daily basis through their products.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, together with my ECR colleagues, I voted in favour of this consumer policy report as it clearly sets out the need for a proactive policy which places consumers at the heart of the single market. Encouragingly, the report draws from statistics from the Consumer Scoreboard and has taken the recently published top 20 main citizens’ and business concerns regarding the single market into full account. The report calls for the Commission to integrate initiatives across all its responsible services, which will ensure proper implementation and enforcement of existing legislation. We now, on behalf of our citizens, need to deliver these policies.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I was happy to support this report, particularly the emphasis on requesting the Commission to improve the criteria for carrying out more impact assessments and to review EU regulations which have a direct effect on consumer policy. It is high time consumers reclaimed a key position in the discussions around the single market. E-commerce is increasing and brings huge opportunities for consumers, but it also increases all of our vulnerability. So I welcome particularly the recognition of the e-commerce issue in this report and the promise to go forward with further work in that area.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Madam President, I will always support the right of consumers to accurate information on the products or services they wish to buy. It is possible to make responsible decisions on the basis of such information. The law must clearly guarantee every consumer the right to turn to the courts in the event of disappointment or damage.

As an MEP, I have worked for many years with consumer groups, helping them to defend this right. At the same time, I am rather dismayed at the huge growth in the consumer agenda that the Commission has come forward with. We should not underestimate people’s common sense when deciding how to spend the money they have earned. We must not take this responsibility away from them. The relationship between the buyer and the seller is a relationship of trust. If this relationship is distorted, the trust and responsibility of both parties disappears.

I supported the report, even though I believe that excessive regulation paradoxically increases dishonesty, both on the part of sellers and buyers.

 
  
  

Report: Jürgen Creutzmann (A7-0342/2011)

 
  
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  Salvatore Iacolino (PPE). (IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the Internet came into being exactly 20 years ago. On this network today, the most popular pieces of information circulate ever-increasingly, widely available for anyone interested in them. Online gambling services represent a concrete modality by means of which a very important industry in Europe – the third largest in Italy, generating EUR 75 billion – is nourished on a daily basis.

The principle of subsidiarity between Member States applies here. Evidently, there is certainly a need to combat any instances relating to the illegal use of these activities. Illegal online gambling – that is, unauthorised online gambling – must be punished as a transnational offence and, in such cases, Member States should also cooperate with each other. Organised crime and money laundering are the negative aspects of this industry, and one should also recall the extent to which addiction can especially harm vulnerable individuals; in order to tackle addiction, an interdisciplinary approach supported by appropriately equipped health authorities should be adopted. However, it is an important system which, economically, should be aided and supported within a normative framework, in which the presence of the European Union can be advantageous.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Madam President, I voted in favour of the report today, but I did not vote in favour of paragraph 20 or what is stated in paragraph 20. I understand the purpose behind what is stated there, but I think it is rather poorly worded. I think it is important that there should be a demonstrable intention to break the rules. If we have different rules in 27 Member States, there is no point shutting down one business if a mistake is made. We need to give them the opportunity to remedy the situation before we shut down their business in other Member States as well.

There is one issue to which I would just like to draw attention. In principle, online gambling has made gambling more accessible, and that has resulted in more gambling addicts. I would strongly urge the Commission to ensure that gambling operators also pay for the treatment of addicts. It is currently often left to religious organisations and others to take care of addicts. In other words, the gambling operators must be involved in paying for the damage that they cause. It could be a very small proportion of their turnover – we are probably talking per mille – but I do not think that the job of clearing up after online gambling should be the responsibility of the Member States alone.

 
  
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  Cristiana Muscardini (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the topic for discussion is the Commission’s communication on online gambling. The development of gambling and its horizontal growth across various social sectors certainly begins to cause concern with regard to the negative implications entailed, such as the involvement of minors and vulnerable adults in a high-risk activity, particularly in the case of children – and this risk is not simply of a financial nature, but is, first and foremost, a moral one.

My recent written inquiry regarding video games was concerned with gambling games in which minors could take part, and asked what initiatives should be undertaken to provide a remedy for the anomaly.

The current concerns of the Commission and the resolution for which we have voted clearly put forward the need for a proposal on a directive which defines the minimum applicable standards across the whole of Europe. These standards should be binding for all authorised operators who offer online gambling services, and should grant Member States the power to supplement and improve upon them by formulating their own standards. For this reason, we hope that the Commission puts forward a definitive proposal on this subject as soon as possible.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, in the last five years, gambling has spread over the whole of Europe. In Italy, according to the state monopolies, online gambling increased by 153% from 2008 to 2009, and by 29% from 2009 to 2010. These worrying figures provide evidence of the widespread impact of this phenomenon. We must consider this issue seriously.

Although online gambling falls within the jurisdiction of the Member States, common actions must be established across Europe to protect vulnerable consumers and to tackle illegal gambling. The report on the initiative opens the door to actions which I hope will soon be initiated and I agree that there is a need to implement preventative measures with a view to reducing addictive behaviour. The trials taking place in some countries could set the measure for ‘best practice’ to be replicated all over Europe, with the aim of monitoring the phenomenon and promoting responsible gambling.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, online gambling is a continually growing market whose turnover has exceeded EUR 10 billion. Currently, responsibility for keeping the gambling market in check lies with individual Member States, but the more delicate question at stake here concerns the proliferation via the Internet of an unregulated black market of considerable dimensions, whose principal protagonists are located in Asia.

The idea that the principle of subsidiarity should be respected at the level of individual Member States remains pivotal, but in order to be able to combat external dangers it is advisable to guarantee coordination across the EU. These dangers relate to protecting not only consumers, but also revenues on the part of Member States which rely upon tax generated by so-called legal gambling.

Another significant point is linked to the difficulty of accurately detecting the identity and age of gamblers on the Internet. The Commission and the Member States must intervene without delay in order to protect European consumers from bogus operators and from the risk of addiction.

 
  
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  Mitro Repo (S&D). (FI) Madam President, the report on gambling was adopted by the Committee with an overwhelming majority of votes. I voted in favour of it, but I wish to say that the rapporteur changed the report fundamentally, although he himself did vote in favour of it. This, I think, was somewhat surprising.

As the report states, the purpose of the Commission’s Green Paper is not at all to reduce regulation and open up the online gambling market. The Green Paper has mainly initiated a public dialogue between the various actors, thus providing a welcome alternative to the decisions of the Court of Justice. In the report, it quite rightly states that gambling policy in Europe needs to be clarified. We must also do all we can to take action against illegal betting.

Moreover, the report’s major message, that there should be strong support for national decision making, is absolutely vital. Gambling is something quite different from ordinary economic activity. Given this, there are good arguments for organising gambling games so that they are covered by national legislation. This would take into account the special features of Member States and, furthermore, their levels of consumer protection.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the online gambling sector is constantly expanding, with a turnover of several billion euro along with many problematic issues that need to be resolved. Therefore, I fully agree with the adoption of all those measures which are aimed at safeguarding the integrity of the sport, even by means of greater coordination between the Member States and the various sports federations.

Last year, Mr Iacolino and I presented an inquiry calling for the decisive intervention of European institutions to prevent instances of fraud concerning fixed sports events, and to tackle the potential for the interference of organised crime in European sports; we asked, as in the text put to the vote today, for a mutual definition of fraud in sports and for harmonisation of sanctions across Europe. For this reason, I voted in favour today.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, as shadow rapporteur on the ECON Committee opinion, I have supported the Creutzmann report on online gambling as it acknowledges that a uniform European legislative act would not be appropriate to deal with the whole of the gambling sector.

However, it recognises where there would be clear added value from a coordinated European approach, in addition to additional national regulation in certain areas, such as in administrative cooperation. Given the cross-border nature of online gambling services, this seems appropriate. It also goes some way towards enhancing protection for vulnerable consumers, such as those adopted in the common advertising standards, and developing a blacklist of illegal gambling providers. This is a step in the right direction that acknowledges the cross-border nature of this sector.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, I welcome this discussion on online gambling. What is of most concern when one considers online gambling is the increasing ease of access to online gambling sources via the Internet, interactive TV and apps for smartphones. Gambling seems to be everywhere. You cannot escape advertising for betting in newspapers and television, at sporting occasions, and it now seems that there is very much a cultural acceptance of this as a fun thing to do. Sadly, while some people may get enjoyment, there are, for many, the miseries that online gambling brings.

In September 2008, a report by the Gambling Commission in the United Kingdom showed that between 10% and 14% of young people are at risk of developing gambling problems, while between 5% and 7% were said to be problem gamblers. The studies examined by the Commission categorised those young people as under the age of 18. This is a shocking statistic, but not surprising.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, one of the noticeable changes in my country in recent years is the closure of so many public houses and the opening of betting shops. Side by side with that has been the growth of online betting particularly, as many people have pointed out, amongst young people. It is a worrying trend and it is one that needs to be contained.

You also have the possibility – indeed the probability – of illegal online gambling which is used to launder money, etc. So there is definitely a need for tighter regulation for a number of reasons: firstly, so that those who are providing the activity, particularly sports bodies, can get something back in return; secondly, as has been pointed out, to deal with addiction, rather than leave it to Member States on their own; and thirdly, of course, to control it so that it is legal and not illegal. All those matters are important. Cross-border mutual state cooperation is very important.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I am happy to support this report tackling the issues around online gambling. It is an issue with which I am very familiar, not because I am much of a gambler myself, but because in my own constituency – in Gibraltar in fact – we have an exemplar of how regulation can work well.

For those concerned about the application of consumer protection, I can do no better than to advise them to visit the Rock and its online gambling industry. The advanced use of computer-based algorithms to monitor activity, both from the point of view of gambler behaviour and from the point of view of detecting large-scale fraud, is truly impressive. This report calls for much which is already in place there. You do not need to re-invent the wheel; just have a look at how it can be done.

 
  
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  Anna Záborská (PPE). (SK) Madam President, smoking is harmful to health. Tobacco advertising leads to an increase in smoking. Society therefore increasingly restricts this kind of advertising. Although health falls within the jurisdiction of Member States, regulation of the sale of tobacco products is pan-European.

Poverty is also harmful to health. Habitual gambling leads to poverty, but in this case, the responsibility rests on the shoulders of Member States. Smoking and gambling both harm people and are addictive. While the Member States can act effectively in regulating the sale of cigarettes, it is regulated by the EU. In the regulation concerning online gambling, however, we are proposing respect for the different cultural traditions of individual Member States.

I voted in favour of the report, but I have two questions. What do we really mean by subsidiarity? Do we apply it only when it suits us?

 
  
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  Christofer Fjellner (PPE).(SV) Madam President, the gaming market in Europe is cross-border in nature. Therefore, it needs and is awaiting a European response. This Green Paper is very welcome and important, but the Commission must now go further and take action. The European Parliament’s demands that we are voting on today are very clear. First and foremost, the Commission is, and must act as, the Guardian of the Treaties. The Commission must take action against Member States that do not have a coherent gaming policy and that exclude trustworthy, lawful providers from other countries. Secondly, we need European rules for responsible gaming.

Gambling addition is a major problem in Europe, but sometimes it almost seems as if the finance ministers’ dependency on gaming revenue is even greater. We must therefore ensure that the EU guarantees a good level of protection for all consumers who gamble across borders. The Member States may not like it, but consumers will. The protection must then go with them. The Commission must demonstrate that it is on the side of the consumers – rather than seeking to obtain revenue from gaming.

 
  
  

Report: Csaba Sándor Tabajdi (A7-0359/2011)

 
  
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  Andrea Zanoni (ALDE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, protecting bees means protecting all pollinating insects, agriculture, the environment and the ecosystem. I have abstained from voting on the resolution of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development because it is incomplete and not effective enough.

The use of neonicotinoid pesticides to treat maize seeds in agriculture has led to the destruction of millions of bees. In Italy, we have experienced losses of between 30% and 70% of hives, causing serious damage to beekeepers, bees and the environment. In the two years that Italy has prohibited the use of these pesticides, two important results have come about: the bee population has recovered, and it has been demonstrated that maize production has not diminished without the use of pesticides.

Today’s resolution has been a missed opportunity to call for the banishment across Europe of neonicotinoid pesticides. Europe should undertake to defend this most important natural asset on a wider scale and with greater conviction. Albert Einstein said, ‘If all the bees died, man would have four years to live’.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, beekeeping is an activity which provides numerous jobs – around 600 000 – and is a valuable bastion of agro-environmental biodiversity.

I believe it is crucial to protect the distinctive features of beekeeping that exist in the different Member States and to promote professional training schemes geared towards increasing the technical and scientific level of the relevant human resources both in the agricultural phase and in the retail phase, by means of information and product marketing measures aimed at getting honey accepted as one of the essential elements of a healthy diet.

Therefore, what is needed is a strategic recovery plan that takes into account the many factors – from those that are institutional and administrative to those that are veterinary – able to provide that impetus for growth which all European agriculturalists are awaiting. The report approved today takes steps in this direction and I firmly support it with my vote, as it upholds, amongst other things, the interests of all European beekeepers.

 
  
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  Jarosław Kalinowski (PPE).(PL) Madam President, annual honey production decreased in Poland by 4 000 tonnes in the last 10 years, and the number of bee families decreased from 2 000 000 to 1 800 000. In other countries of the European Union these declines have been much more dramatic. These data show that the population of this most useful of insects is dying at an alarming rate. In the EU, 80% of crops are pollinated by bees, so it is important to change the policy being followed in this sector.

The processes that are currently taking place can leave irreversible effects in the ecosystem, and yet one of the priorities for future agricultural policy is to work actively for biodiversity. Money is needed to study the bee population, the reasons for its decline and the treatment of apian disease. We should also pay attention to human activity, which, through a more informed use of chemicals, can contribute to the creation of favourable conditions for the development of beekeeping. I did, of course, vote in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Mario Pirillo (S&D).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, today’s vote has drawn attention to the beekeeping sector, which plays a crucial role in European agriculture by helping to maintain biodiversity and provides an income for around 600 000 workers in the European Union.

I consider the programme launched by the European Commission for monitoring the health of honeybees to be a useful one that has the aim of identifying the reasons behind their increased mortality rate in recent years. The impact of pesticides on the health of bees must be explored in more detail.

I have voted in favour of the report and I am disappointed that the reference to a correlation between some pesticides and bee mortality has not been supported, as proposed by the rapporteur. I call on the European Commission to provide greater financial aid to the beekeeping sector in the new common agricultural policy (CAP) for 2014-2020.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I welcome the vote in favour of this report on the day we are debating the subject of the common agricultural policy. I voted for it because it is vital to create a common insurance system for protecting beekeepers during crises. This professional group is on the wane, especially due to the shortage of young workers. The only Member States where such a situation is not being seen are Romania and Bulgaria.

I must emphasise the importance of point 30: the impact of pesticides on larvae needs to be assessed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009. At the moment, the authorisation procedure does not take into account all their effects on bees. The EU reference laboratory for bee health was created to study and prevent the effects of substances of this nature. Its coordination with the national authorities also ensures information is provided in real time about the occurrence of particular diseases.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the European Union is currently committed to defining the contents of the new common agricultural policy. I believe that the beekeeping sector is an integral part of our agriculture. Indeed, 84% of plant species and 76% of food production in Europe are dependent on pollination by bees. In order to preserve the health of bees, it is important to put specific and effective interventions into practice, not only on a national level but also across Europe, in such a way as to guarantee an appropriate harmonisation of surveillance systems.

Another problem is linked to the inappropriate and excessive use of pesticides which can have negative consequences and cause excessive bee mortality, and which are tolerated in different ways by the Member States, so as to distort competition on the internal market. In support and defence of our quality produce, I am in favour of the request for obligatory indication on the label of source and country of origin. Our fight has always been concerned with informing and protecting the consumer.

The risks derived from the use of GMO crops in agriculture should also be taken into serious consideration. Recently, the European Court has intervened, acknowledging that beekeepers have the right to be compensated for their losses.

 
  
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  Giommaria Uggias (ALDE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I was among those who signed the alternative resolution on the health of honeybees, because the report put forward by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) completely rejected the recommendations indicated in the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) opinion, for which I was a shadow rapporteur.

The plague inflicted upon bees is a problem which is becoming more and more serious, and there is plenty of scientific confirmation to show the damage caused by pesticides and monocultures. In order to understand this, we only have to think of areas of the world, for instance certain valleys in China, where pollination is now carried out by hand precisely as a result of uninhibited overuse of particular types of pesticides over time.

Yet, the report approved today by the European Parliament has not taken a stance on this topic. We lack a critical objective on the toxicity of pesticides, specifically, the prohibition of systematic neurotoxins; we lack indications for the beekeeping sector relating to contamination of honey produce by GMO crops; we lack a critique on monoculture; and we lack the idea that large-scale changes are required in agriculture, including crop rotation, to reduce the use of pesticides, with a view to reversing the sharp decline in the production of pollinators.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, as we are all aware, the honeybee population has seen a stark decline these past few years, which subsequently could have a devastating effect on Europe’s ability to produce crops that require pollination. A number of factors have been attributed to this decline, and Welsh beekeepers – although they themselves are increasing in number – are concerned about their bee population’s long-term survival. Indeed, such is the revival of beekeeping in the UK that even the London Stock Exchange now boasts beehives on its London City roof.

The Tabajdi report offers a balanced view of reasons for honeybee mortality and rightly calls for more research funding to be made available from the FP8 programme to focus on bee disease prevention and to find possible solutions. I hope researchers look globally for case studies and do not begin from a prejudiced viewpoint with respect to certain pesticides and genetic technologies. Independent research needs to be just that: independent and without bias.

 
  
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  Diane Dodds (NI). – Madam President, whilst it is true that in general, the bee population is declining, it is also equally true that their importance within agriculture is undervalued by many. Without bees, many crops would fail and in Northern Ireland, we are particularly privileged to have a very good product in the Armagh Bramley apple. These orchards are, of course, especially reliant on bees for pollination, and on a recent visit to some orchard owners, they expressed grave concern over the bee population.

I agree that funding should be made available to research the disease and monitor bee populations across Europe. However, I would plea for a balanced view of the decline of the bee population; we must not use agriculture as a scapegoat for this, but actually investigate ways of improving the bee population and the disease and parasites that affect it.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I am happy to support the Agriculture Committee’s report on honeybee health. I was, in fact, the person who drew up the Environment Committee’s opinion and was not able to vote for it because it was hijacked by non-scientifically-validated concerns about pesticides, which were knee-jerk and disproportionate. I regret that this also found its way into an alternative resolution, which I am pleased was rejected by this plenary.

As we move into a world containing our seven billionth citizen, it is more and more important that we make sure that agricultural production and productivity move forward. I welcome the Commission’s extra resource to Member States. I very much welcome the setting up of the reference laboratory in France. I would recommend all Members visit or at least have a look at the work that they are doing. We need to do far more to develop veterinary medicines to tackle the effect of the Varroa virus and parasites, and we need to stick with our programme on plant protection, where we have regulation which is coming into force.

 
  
  

Report: Peter Simon (A7-0371/2011)

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Madam President, I think it is very important that we now have clear rules in this area. We were in need of simpler rules, for both the national and the local authorities, with regard to State aid. One thing that has created legal uncertainty is the very vague definition of services of economic interest and services of no economic interest. I therefore think it is good that we will now hopefully have a clearer definition in this area. It is also good that we will increase the thresholds for exemption from the requirement of notification to a level, and in those areas, where it will have no detrimental effect on trade. That will actually make it easier for the national or regional authorities to comply with the rules that we lay down.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I voted in favour of Mr Simon’s report since I fully agree with the urgency to bring more clarity and directness to the application of rules on State aid to services of general economic interest. In particular, I believe that there is widespread agreement on the urgency to draw up de minimis measures for services of general interest which do not substantially affect commerce between Member States.

Having said this, I have some reservations on the approach chosen by the Commission. In fact, I believe that the excessive quantity of texts, between communications, decision and regulation, runs the risk of confusing the normative framework and of making it appear confused and difficult to understand rather than contributing to a genuine and functional updating of existing rules as required.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Madam President, I voted in favour of this report, but I am nevertheless taking the floor because I believe that the whole issue should be seen in a wider context. Once again in this area, we politicians, who are democratically elected, are being pulled around the circus ring by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. We find that the Court has once again issued a ruling, most recently in the Altmark case, that means that we – as a reaction to what the Court in Luxembourg has said – ought to amend the rules. It ought to be the case in a democracy that it is the politicians that sit at the head of the table, not the officials. I think that we should have a debate on how, in principle, we can restructure the system so that, to a greater extent, it is we elected representatives that make the rules, instead of us simply rushing around afterwards to follow the rules laid down by the judges in Luxembourg – with good intentions, I am sure, but without being democratically elected. In other words, I think that this matter raises a question of principle with regard to how the rules – particularly those in the area of health – come into being.

 
  
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  Kay Swinburne (ECR). – Madam President, in my opinion, the report on the reform of EU State aid rules on services of general economic interest is of concern as it extends the definition of social services of general interest, which could be to the detriment of competition across the whole of the EU single market. The value-creating potential of the private sector will not be fully realised as long as the public sector still has unfair competitive advantages applied to it. The privileges enjoyed by the public sector therefore have a negative impact on the EU’s economic strength as a whole, and should be terminated immediately. Failure to come to this conclusion is why I have voted against this report.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I voted against this report because it does far too little to break up the cosy cushion of privilege often enjoyed across Europe by the public sector. Far more work needs to be done in this area. My constituents in the South West of England believe that there is an unfair application of State aid rules and this is a major factor in undermining their confidence in, and support for, the single market.

This failure of confidence in the functioning of the single market then permeates through to discontent with the European Union as a whole. I do not believe that my constituents are particularly unique in this, so I do believe that this is an area that should have far more attention from this Parliament in order to increase confidence in the work that this Parliament does. I regret that this report does not go far enough, and I look forward to more action on this area in the future.

 
  
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  Andreas Schwab (PPE).(DE) Madam President, to a certain extent, this report concerns the issue of the internal market having an impact on our doorsteps. Many mayors, people in positions of authority and office holders underestimate the importance of the effect of the internal market right outside our front doors. For this reason, this report is a step in the right direction. On the one hand, we are calling for a distinction to be made between economic and non-economic services of general interest. This sounds hugely complex, but ultimately it involves very concrete measures when it is a question of allowing specific bus routes or specific social housing construction to be subsidised by local politicians on a small scale. However, the general principles of the internal market must, of course, play a role in this respect. It goes without saying that efficiency takes priority over local responsibilities.

Secondly, I am very pleased and very grateful that it has been possible to rule out Article 14 as the basis for the regulations on issues concerning State aid. The European Parliament has made its position clear, partly as a result of our efforts on the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs. This will have a very positive impact on the further stages of the discussion.

 
  
  

Report: Frédéric Daerden (A7-0370/2011)

 
  
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  Ramona Nicole Mănescu (ALDE).(RO) Madam President, I am deeply concerned that young people and children feature among the most vulnerable social groups. I voted for the measures ensuring not only access to high-quality education and vocational training, but also for stepping up the efforts to reduce the school dropout rate. Member States must take action as a priority to combat dropping out of school, but the rate of 10% envisaged in the EU 2020 strategy is not ambitious enough to be able to guarantee a solution to this problem. At a time when the youth unemployment rate is so high in Europe, combating the problem of dropping out of school and preventing it are key issues.

I believe that this report is largely good and includes specific, necessary measures which I also voted for. However, I was unable to vote for the proposal for a framework directive on framework services of general interest or for a European legislative initiative imposing a minimum income, since I believe that these aspects come rather under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of Member States.

 
  
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  Raffaele Baldassarre (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, over 80 million people in Europe are threatened by poverty. The economic crisis has aggravated this situation, leaving the weakest fringes of society exposed. I have therefore voted in favour of Mr Daerden’s report; I particularly appreciated its comprehensiveness and the number of issues raised, making for an effective fight against poverty. I refer specifically to the close examination of cooperation between states, to the definition of common principles to establish the so-called ‘basket’ of goods and services that are essential and accessible to all, and to the fight against child poverty.

In the same way, I agree with the lines of action drawn up by the Commission, in particular, the priority of better use of Structural Funds, which could play an essential role in the development of innovative approaches and of specific programmes in the fight against poverty.

 
  
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  Paul Murphy (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, this report comes at a time when poverty is returning on a mass scale to haunt Europe. There are 116 million people in the EU at risk of poverty. Youth unemployment rates now stand at over 40% in Greece and Spain, in Ireland it stands at over 29%, and because of the driving down of wages and conditions, even those with a job are not immune from the risk of poverty, with 22% of those still at risk of poverty.

The fact that this report was passed by a large majority brings to mind the quote from Shakespeare, ‘words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart’. This is precisely the same Parliament that has voted in favour of the likes of economic governance, in support of savage austerity dressed up as so-called fiscal consolidation: the same policies of savage attacks on people’s living standards, savage attacks on public services that have resulted in more people being at risk of poverty and social exclusion.

If we are serious about tackling poverty, it means putting an end to austerity, it means tackling the power of the 1% in society – the speculators, the banks, the big corporations like the energy companies that will profit this winter while thousands die of fuel poverty. It means tackling that power, taking wealth and power out of those hands and using it instead to invest and to create jobs and public services.

 
  
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  Morten Messerschmidt (EFD).(DA) Madam President, I have to admit that I found reading this report disturbing. Just consider the passage ‘poverty is the unacceptable reflection of an uneven distribution of wealth’. What sort of report is this? A communist manifesto? Poverty is not simply a result of an uneven distribution of wealth, but of unequal access to opportunities. Calling poverty a reflection of the fact that wealth has not been properly distributed simply makes people passive participants; it turns people into objects that merely receive benefits on the basis of a fair distribution as determined by politicians.

When I read this report, I could not help but think of the American Declaration of Independence, where Jefferson describes ‘unalienable rights’ as being ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. That is how politicians set people free, namely, by saying that it is people’s own responsibility to create their fortune – to establish their own ‘pursuit of happiness’ – not by saying that it is politicians’ responsibility to distribute whatever resources may be available evenly. This is a disgraceful report. It could have been written during the Soviet era.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE).(RO) Madam President, I would like to point out that I voted for this report because poverty and social exclusion affect people’s quality of life. In Romania, as all over the world for that matter, mining settlements offer jobs. Towns like Roşia Montană have a mono-industry economy in mining. Reopening these mines offers a chance for local inhabitants to have a better living. Social welfare systems must offer security against the risks and provide effective support to those in trouble.

In my country, the social welfare law adopted recently by the Senate promotes the principle of reintegrating the unemployed into the labour market. Social inclusion policies need to be supplemented by programmes combating multiple forms of discrimination. The National Agency for Equal Opportunities for Women and Men supports the principle of gender equality in all national policies.

 
  
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  Bendt Bendtsen (PPE).(DA) Madam President, the vote on the report on the European platform against poverty and social exclusion was not by a show of hands. Firstly, I would like to say that the reason why I am voting against it is because the principle of subsidiarity has not been complied with. I am surprised that we actually want the EU to introduce minimum wages. It is stated in paragraph 95 that this is to be done in full compliance with the principle of subsidiarity. This sentence alone actually renders paragraph 95 redundant. We cannot introduce minimum wages via the EU without violating the principle of subsidiarity.

In Denmark, we have a model in which the social partners reach an agreement on the setting of wages by negotiation. That is the Nordic model in which the social partners negotiate wage levels themselves. The workers are very much in agreement with this and they are united in this agreement. They therefore adopt this principle. Another key paragraph in this report concerns the food distribution scheme. The fact that the EU could previously help to feed the poor by using the intervention stocks was great; it was good that butter mountains and milk lakes were at least, to a certain extent, used for something useful. However, the scheme should be abolished because it is out of date. We no longer have these surplus stocks.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE).(IT) Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, the dramatic financial crisis which we are experiencing has aggravated further still the situation of millions of European citizens living in poverty or in conditions of semi-poverty and marginalisation. The fight against early school leaving, easier access to European funds and better use of these funds, more attentive and efficient use of social welfare – these are just a few of the steps forward that need to be taken in order to reach the ambitious objective of reducing the number of people living in insecurity to 20 million before 2020.

For these reasons, I have voted in favour, as I am aware that only with a collective, well-coordinated effort will it be possible to reduce the number of people living in need within the European Union.

 
  
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  Julie Girling (ECR). – Madam President, I voted against this report because it will be completely ineffectual in doing what it purports to do. The way to fight poverty is to provide solid, reliable and flexible employment. This can only flow from strong and growing economies. This is where we should be placing our emphasis.

Youth unemployment is a scandal and it will not be resolved by the Commission interfering in Member States’ actions on minimum wages or by any of the other proposals in this report. Micro-management from Brussels has never solved anything. This report has lots of wishful thinking and worthy words, and lets down the people it purports to support.

 
  
  

Written explanations of vote

 
  
  

Report: Klaus-Heiner Lehne (A7-0348/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) In view of the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, I am voting for the position at first reading.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome this recasting of the coordination of safeguards required of companies within the meaning of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Coordination of these safeguards is required so as to protect the interests of members and third parties, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies, and the maintenance and alteration of their capital. The purpose of this recasting is to make such safeguards equivalent throughout the Union.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the European Parliament legislative resolution of 15 November 2011 on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent. Every five years, the European Parliament and the Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission in accordance with Article 50(1) and (2)(g) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, will examine and, if need be, revise the amount expressed in paragraph 1 in euro in the light of economic and monetary trends in the Union and of the tendency towards allowing only large and medium-sized enterprises to opt for the types of company listed in Annex I.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) I agree with the rapporteur and the opinion published by the three legal services of the European institutions that the proposal in question does not include any substantive amendments and is limited solely to straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change to their substance.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Mr Lehne, concerns a proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council whose purpose is the coordination of safeguards which, to protect the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies, pursuant to Article 54(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent throughout the European Union. Given that the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission has published an opinion that the proposal does not include any substantive amendments, and that it is limited to codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier act and is therefore restricted to straightforward codification of the existing acts, I am voting for the report on this proposal for a directive.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) There have been numerous substantial amendments to the second Council Directive 77/91/EEC of December 1976 on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 58 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent. Due to further amendments, it would be appropriate, on the grounds of transparency, to recast this directive.

The Consultative Working Party consisting of the respective legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission met for the purpose of examining, among others, the proposal submitted by the Commission, and concluded that the proposal does not comprise any substantive amendments (other than those proposed in the draft of the recast text) and, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts with those substantive amendments, that the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing.(PL) The European Parliament’s proposal on coordination of safeguards required of companies, which finds expression in the amendments to the proposed directive, will significantly improve the scope of the law in this field. In its role as legislator, the European Union has done more in the field of company law than in any other area of private law. Using directives to harmonise legislation in different Member States reduces the risk associated with the existence of differences in the legal systems of different Member States. The protection of shareholders, creditors and economic partners and creating the right basis for an economic space without internal borders, in which the most important legal conditions applied to companies are the same, should be a priority for us.

Legislation which is adopted must not hinder the growth of European companies; it should, however, stimulate integration of the European internal market by guaranteeing firms a freedom of movement similar to that which exists in national markets. I hope that further work on harmonisation of the law in this area will tend to improve the position of firms and other interested parties, and also that implementation in this area will be carried out with ever greater efficiency.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the proposal in question does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and, in terms of the codification of the unamended provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts without any change to their substance.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal in which, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission do not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of the Lehne report. It is, in fact, appropriate to replace the existing secondary legal basis with the ordinary legislative procedure. The amendment tabled is rightly aimed at this.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, which provides legal certainty in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of this report, which ensures legal certainty in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies, and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent throughout the EU.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The report describes the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent. What is more I would like to see these measures be transparent and accessible for implementation of comprehensive control. Therefore, I voted ‘In favour’.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this proposal, which contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts without any change to their substance. I believe that when adopting new amendments, it is appropriate to recast the directive in the interests of legal clarity. Furthermore, in cases where it is necessary to go beyond straightforward codification and make substantive changes in a speedy manner, the Commission will be able to choose, on a case-by-case basis, whether to recast its proposal or whether to submit a separate proposal for amendment, leaving its codification proposal on the table, and then, once the substantive change has been adopted, incorporate it into the proposal for codification. The legislative process will thus be more flexible and swift. It should be noted that, in order to ensure minimum equivalent protection for both shareholders and creditors of public limited liability companies, national provisions relating to their formation and to the maintenance, increase or reduction of their capital must be coordinated.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of Article 54(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent. This text is the result of an interinstitutional agreement analysed by the Consultative Working Party of the legal services, which concluded that the proposal does not comprise any substantive amendments and that, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier act, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change to their substance. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Since there are instances of imprecision in the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, such as the format of the text, the use of appropriate adaptation markers, as well as issues concerning shading, and taking into account that the proposal does not contain any other substantial amendment other than those indicated, I voted in favour of re-codifying the existing texts.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Given that the purpose of this directive is the codification of texts that were disparate, with benefits in terms of the accessibility and comprehensibility of the legislation, without making any changes to their substance, and that the individual amendments introduced have already been accepted by the Committee on Legal Affairs, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. On the proposal for a directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on coordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 54 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in respect of the formation of public limited liability companies and the maintenance and alteration of their capital, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent (recast) (COM(2011)0029 – C7-0037/2011 – 2011/0011(COD)) (ordinary legislative procedure – recast), the European Parliament, A. whereas, according to the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, the proposal in question does not include any substantive amendments other than those identified as such in the proposal and whereas, as regards the codification of the unchanged provisions of the earlier acts together with those amendments, the proposal contains a straightforward codification of the existing texts, without any change in their substance, 1. Adopts its position at first reading hereinafter set out, taking into account the recommendations of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission;

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report is technical in nature. It concerns the recasting of the Company Law Directive and its purpose is to remove the secondary legal basis from the directive’s text, as the Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that it is illegal. As such, and in line with the opinion of the Consultative Working Party of the legal services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission, two amendments were made to the European Commission proposal in the Committee on Legal Affairs and I voted for them today in plenary.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) In the proposal for a directive on the coordination of safeguards required by the Member States for the formation of public limited companies and for the maintenance and alteration of their capital, the European Parliament has tabled two amendments concerning the revision of the minimum capital needed to establish a public limited company. I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Brian Simpson (A7-0356/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, whose unanimous recommendation regarding the Protocol to the Athens Convention is an evolutionary step, given that many cases have been insufficiently dealt with by the convention since 1974.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The carriage of passengers by sea is regulated by the Athens Convention of 1974. In 2002, a Protocol was adopted to fill a number of gaps in the convention, such as the carrier’s liability in case of fault and the compensation of passengers in the event of an accident. This Protocol is in keeping with Community policy on maritime safety. Since it offers more guaranties to passengers carried by sea, I decided to vote for the Simpson report.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) The main objective of the Athens Convention, to which the Member States are bound, is the safety of passenger ships and regulation of the rights of their passengers. This does not mean, however, that action intended to improve legal protection should not be taken, particularly if it is in the interests of EU citizens. The convention has insufficiently regulated a number of issues, including the nature and extent of carriers’ liability and minimum requirements on insurance. So the current Protocol lays on carriers greater obligations towards passengers, specifies the liability for damages caused by accidents and also in the case of terrorist attacks, as well as the claims and the insurance procedures associated with such events. Another beneficial measure is the fact that the European Union has become a contracting partner to the Protocol, which increases its powers in this matter.

In expectation of an increase in the quality of services and the level of safety of maritime transport, I endorsed the resolution.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) The accession to the Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea is a long-standing issue followed closely by the EU and by Parliament, in particular. This convention dates back to 1974 and concerns, in particular, the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights. However, it was considered that this convention did not regulate adequately a number of important issues, such as the nature and limits of the carriers’ liability and minimum insurance requirements. Being a mixed agreement requiring ratification by Member States, in order to achieve a coherent legal framework throughout the European Union, both Member States and the EU must prepare the simultaneous deposition of their instruments of ratification or accession by 31 December 2011.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the recommendation on the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea, concerning the 1974 Athens Convention, because I agree with increasing the liability of maritime carriers. This increase has particular impact on cases of failure or negligence, and it is now also becoming mandatory for carriers to be properly insured and for users to be able to claim compensation directly from the insurer.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Whatever the mode of transport used, passengers have the right to be provided with a quality, safe service. I therefore view accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea positively. Its purpose is to ensure the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights, and to close certain loopholes in the regulations regarding liability of carriers at international level.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a recommendation, drafted by Mr Simpson, relates to the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the European Union to the Protocol, adopted on 1 November 2002, to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11 thereof. What was at stake was an issue as important as liability in case of fault or neglect by the carrier, compulsory insurance and the right to make claims directly against the insurer. Accession negotiations, started in 2003, were suspended and only restarted in 2007, after the Commission had tabled a complementary regulation in 2005 on the liability of carriers of passengers. In 2009, following four years of negotiations, the European Parliament and Council reached an agreement on Regulation (EC) No 392/2009, which stipulates that the EU has exclusive competence to accede to the Athens Protocol as far as the matters covered by the regulation are concerned, and that all other aspects of the Protocol will fall under Member State competence. As such, I welcome the adoption of this recommendation and the overcoming of a problem that has existed for almost 10 years.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour as this represents an improved regime relating to the liability of shipping carriers and the compensation of passengers carried by sea. In particular, it obliges carriers to take out insurance.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the proposal because the accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea is a long-standing issue dealt with by the EU and by the European Parliament in particular. The convention itself dates back to 1974, with the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights lying at its heart. It was, however, considered that the convention insufficiently regulated a number of substantive issues, including the nature and extent of the carriers’ liability and minimum requirements on insurance. The Committee on Legal Affairs is responsible for, inter alia, the interpretation and application of Union law and compliance of Union acts with primary law, notably the choice of legal bases, the interpretation and application of international law, insofar as the Union is affected, and measures concerning judicial and administrative cooperation in civil matters. The Committee on Legal Affairs is responsible for drafting the European Parliament legislative resolution on this decision. The other articles of the Athens Protocol concern amendments to the Athens Convention regarding the liability of a carrier, compulsory insurance, the limit on liability for death and personal injury or for loss of or damage to luggage and vehicles, and accounting and conversion issues. These are all issues relating to transport.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing.(PL) The Athens Convention was signed in 1974, but many questions concerning the safety of the carriage of passengers remained unresolved. As a member of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, I think maritime transport is a very important branch of transport, and it is one which is used by EU citizens. This document is of great importance in terms of the liability borne by carriers. In the case of fault or neglect by the carrier, passengers have a legal warrant to take action. It resolves issues related to the insurance of passengers and gives passengers the possibility of making direct claims against the insurer. I endorsed the report.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – The accession to the Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea is a long-standing issue followed up by the EU and by the Parliament. The convention itself dates back to 1974 with the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights lying at its heart. It was, however, considered that the convention regulated insufficiently a number of substantive issues including the nature and extent of the carriers’ liability and minimum requirements on insurance. Under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Protocol, which was adopted on 1 November 2002, amended the Athens Convention in a way that satisfied key elements such as liability in case of fault or neglect by the carrier, compulsory insurance and the right to make claims directly against the insurer.

The compensation of terrorism-related damages is addressed by IMO Guidelines and a reservation to the Protocol. Considering that most of the desirable elements were then covered by the Protocol, the Commission proposed in 2003 that the European Community become a contracting party to the Protocol of 2002 and that the Member States should do likewise. Negotiations within the Council on the conclusion were suspended, however, and were only resumed in December 2007.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I believe that at this moment, it is important for the EU to adhere to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention of 1974. I voted in favour, and agree with the choice of a mixed agreement and with the reasons for excluding Articles 10 and 11.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report that consents to accession of the European Union to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11 thereof.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report giving European Union assent to the 2002 Protocol of the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – According to the convention, the carrier is responsible for damage incurred as the result of loss or damage to luggage, bodily harm inflicted on the passenger or his death, if damage occurred during transportation and was a consequence of the fault or negligence of the carrier, his employees or agents acting within the limits of their responsibilities. The complainant is required to prove guilt. The carrier is not responsible for the loss or damage of money, securities, gold, works of art or other valuables if they were not given to the carrier for storage. I am categorically against that norm of convention. After the Council had solved numerous issues that the convention had regulated insufficiently, such as the carrier’s liability in the event of fault or neglect, compulsory insurance and the right to make claims directly against the insurer, I supported the initiative.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The convention of 1974 primarily concerns issues of safety and liability which can arise during the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea. The convention was revised by means of a Protocol adopted in 2002 to allow for more efficient regulation of areas including liability in the case of fault or neglect by the carrier, compulsory insurance and the entitlement to make claims directly against the insurer. The Member States retain the right to regulate independently all the areas not covered by the Protocol. In addition, it is possible to specify higher limits of liability.

As Articles 10 and 11 of the Protocol relate to the areas of judicial cooperation in civil matters which come under the terms of Article 81 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, these provisions will be covered by a separate act. It goes without saying that accession to the Protocol involves the creation of a general legal framework which standardises the rights of passengers transported by sea in a positive way and, therefore, represents an improvement on the current situation. However, some of the provisions are unclear, which is why I have abstained.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome and supported the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the European Union to the 2002 Protocol to the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11. It should be noted that, in order to properly guarantee the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights, it is very important for appropriate limits of liability to be set for carriers, particularly in cases of fault or neglect. I believe that it is only possible to achieve these objectives by establishing a uniform level and type of liability throughout the EU in the areas of international and national transport. We should welcome the fact that we have finally managed to reach an agreement and adopt a regulation and to give the EU exclusive competence to accede to the Athens Protocol as far as the matters covered by the regulation are concerned. I also believe that it is appropriate to give individual Member States the right to decide for themselves on issues that are not covered by the regulation.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The basis of this report is the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the European Union to the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea. The primary aim of this convention is to ensure the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights. It was, however, considered that the convention regulated insufficiently a number of substantive issues, including the nature and extent of the carriers’ liability and minimum requirements on insurance. Some of these issues were overcome with a Protocol negotiated under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation, which was adopted on 1 November 2002, amending the Athens Convention. However, the accession of the European Union and its Member States was not consensual and, following four years of negotiations, a complementary regulation was tabled on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents, with a view to concluding the Protocol and incorporating most of the substantive provisions into EU law. It was adopted in 2009 and will apply by 2013. The aforementioned steps enabled accession to the convention. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) This draft decision, which concerns adhesion to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, aims to guarantee valid criteria regarding elements relating to liability as well as minimum insurance requirements. Insufficient regulation relative to this subject urged the Commission to propose in 2003 that the European Community became a contracting party to the Protocol of 2002 and that the Member States followed suit. I agree on the importance of respecting fundamental elements such as liability in the event of fault or negligence by the carrier and compulsory insurance, and I therefore vote in favour of the draft decision.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea was amended by the Protocol of 1 November 2002, which sought to introduce liability in case of fault or neglect by the carrier, compulsory insurance and the right to make claims directly against the insurer. These amendments were introduced into the Union statute book by Regulation (EC) No 392/2009, adopted on 23 April 2009. As there is nothing to prevent the conclusion of the agreement, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea is a long-standing issue followed up by the EU and by the Parliament, in particular. The convention itself dates back to 1974 with the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights lying at its heart. It was, however, considered that the convention insufficiently regulated a number of substantive issues including the nature and extent of the carriers’ liability and minimum requirements on insurance. Under the aegis of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Protocol, which was adopted on 1 November 2002, amended the Athens Convention in a way that satisfied key elements such as liability in case of fault or neglect by the carrier, compulsory insurance and the right to make claims directly against the insurer. The compensation of terrorism-related damages is addressed by IMO Guidelines and a reservation to the Protocol. Considering that most of the desirable elements were then covered by the Protocol, the Commission proposed in 2003 that the European Community become a contracting party to the Protocol of 2002 and that the Member States should do likewise. Negotiations within the Council on the conclusion were suspended however, and were only resumed in December 2007.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The aim of the 1974 Athens Convention is to ensure the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights. The Protocol in question was signed in 2002 and includes issues such as liability in case of fault or neglect by the carrier, compulsory insurance and the right to make claims directly against the insurer. The proposal for the accession of the EU to the 2002 Protocol was requested in 2010, although certain aspects of it fall under Member State competence. Therefore, the institutions asked the Member States to ratify the Protocol, as the Union has done, so as to ensure a coherent legal framework in the EU.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the European Parliament resolution on the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the EU to the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention Relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, 1974, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11 thereof. This Protocol introduces clarifications about liability in case of fault or negligence by the carrier, compulsory insurance, the limit of liability for death or physical injury or damage to luggage or vehicles. The adoption of Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 on the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of an accident entails that the EU now has exclusive competence to accede to the Athens Protocol as far as the matters covered by the regulation are concerned. All the other aspects of the Protocol which are not covered by the regulation come under Member States’ remit. The Athens Protocol continues to be a mixed agreement which each Member State must sign up to. With this in mind, Member States and the European Union must deposit the accession instruments on the same day. I must highlight the deadline of 31 December 2011, which is when the EU and Member States must deposit the instruments for joining the Athens Protocol or ratifying it, in the case of those which have already signed it.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The Athens Convention of 1974 relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea primarily covered the safety of passenger ships and passengers’ rights. However, the provisions of the 1974 convention concerning the nature and extent of the carriers’ liability and the minimum requirements on insurance were inadequate and, therefore, the convention was amended accordingly by means of a Protocol in 2002. The European Commission submitted a proposal in 2005 for a further amendment to the Protocol, which involved standardising the liability of carriers in the case of accidents (this was updated in 2010). This act makes the EU a contracting party to the Athens Convention. I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Klaus-Heiner Lehne (A7-0341/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this technical report, since it deals with important issues as regards judicial and civil cooperation, and will hopefully have important benefits regarding passengers’ rights.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for the recommendation because I believe the measures therein serve the interests of the European public, by contributing to increasing the liability of maritime carriers and the defence of passengers’ rights.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Whatever the mode of transport used, passengers have the right to be provided with a quality, safe service. I therefore view accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea positively. Its purpose is to ensure the safety of passenger ships and passengers’ rights, and to close certain loopholes in the regulation regarding liability of carriers at international level.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a recommendation, drafted by Mr Simpson, relates to the draft Council decision concerning the accession of the European Union to the Protocol, adopted on 1 November 2002, to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11 thereof. Accession negotiations, started in 2003, were suspended and only restarted in 2007, after the Commission had tabled a complementary regulation in 2005 on the liability of carriers of passengers. In 2009, following four years of negotiations, the European Parliament and Council reached an agreement on Regulation (EC) No 392/2009, which stipulates that the EU has exclusive competence to accede to the Athens Protocol as far as the matters covered by the regulation are concerned, and that all other aspects of the Protocol will fall under Member State competence. This draft decision sets out the declarations to be made by the Union at the time of the deposit of the instrument of accession. As such, I welcome the adoption of this recommendation and the overcoming of a problem that has existed for almost 10 years.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) This report returns this issue to the Committee on Transport and Tourism, as the committee is considered competent to draft the European Parliament’s legislative resolution on the proposal for a decision relating to these articles with regard to the Athens Convention, whilst giving its assent to accession to the Protocol.

The 2002 Protocol to the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea was intended to tackle certain loopholes in the regulation relating to the responsibility of international carriers. The majority of the articles of the Athens Protocol concern amendments to the Athens Convention regarding liability of a carrier, compulsory insurance, limit for liability for death and personal injury or for loss of or damage to luggage and vehicles, and accounting and conversion issues.

These points relate to transport, so it is right that the Committee on Transport and Tourism should be the committee competent for drafting the European Parliament’s legislative resolution on the proposal for a decision relating to these articles.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing.(IT) I believe that the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention of 1974 relating to the carriage of passengers and their luggage by sea could remedy certain shortfalls in the regime currently in force on the liability of carriers at international level. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the document because the majority of the articles of the Athens Protocol concern amendments to the Athens Convention regarding the liability of a carrier, compulsory insurance, the limit on liability for death and personal injury or for loss of or damage to luggage and vehicles, and accounting and conversion issues. These are all issues relating to transport, and the Committee on Transport is therefore responsible for drafting the European Parliament legislative resolution on the draft decision relating to those articles.

 
  
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  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D), in writing.(PL) Despite the fact that a horizontal agreement has existed between the European Union and Jordan since 2008, the European Union wants to establish a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan. This is because the EU-Jordan Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement will facilitate the work of carriers from all Member States, and Jordan will become a country where aviation law will be adapted to EU requirements. Jordanian legislation on questions such as safety and air traffic management will be aligned with EU legislation. I think it is worth developing commercial relations with as large a partner as Jordan undoubtedly is. The agreement is also an element of the development of the EU’s neighbourhood policy. It is my expectation that, thanks to this agreement and the opening of this market, there will be an increase in passenger numbers and in revenues. I endorsed the report.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this technical report on the legal elements of the EU’s accession to the Athens Protocol in order that the Protocol can be applied by 2013 at the latest.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) Mr Lehne’s recommendation is a useful instrument which facilitates better comprehension of the decision to split accession to Articles 10 and 11 from the rest of the Protocol. The above Articles concern issues relating to the jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments, and the relevant legal basis as regards these Articles is Article 81. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report giving European Union assent to the 2002 Protocol of the 1974 Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea, with the exception of Articles 10 and 11.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Since it has become clear that the legal elements of the Protocol relate to judicial cooperation in civil matters, particularly regarding passenger compensation, providing for strict liability and including compulsory insurance with a right of direct action against insurers up to a specified limit, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, which concerns report A7-0356/2011. In fact, the Committee on Legal Affairs is being called on to intervene because the legal basis of the act is at issue. The Committee on Legal Affairs is unanimously proposing that Parliament give its assent to accession to the Protocol. All aspects of the Protocol not provided for in Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 are Member State competences. That is the case, for example, regarding the provisions relating to the possibility of setting liability limits higher than those provided for in the Protocol. As such, the agreement is a mixed one and has to be ratified by the Member States.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I agree with the notion that the Protocol of 2002 to the Athens Convention of 1974 on the transportation of passengers by sea is inadequate, as it lacks regulations relating to the liability of international carriers. Moreover, I believe that, as these are matters regarding transport, the Committee on Transport is responsible for drafting the European Parliament legislative decision. I must therefore vote in favour of the draft decision relating to Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The subject of Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 April 2009 is the liability of carriers of passengers by sea in the event of accidents, and the intention was to include the amendments to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea introduced by the Protocol of 1 November 2003. The system introduced partially conflicts with that instituted by Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters. As the Committee on Legal Affairs has not raised any reservations about concluding the agreement, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The 2002 Protocol to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea of 1974 aims at addressing certain shortcomings in the regulation of the liability of carriers at international level. Under Annex VII to the Rules of Procedure, the Committee on Legal Affairs is responsible for, inter alia, the interpretation and application of Union law and compliance of Union acts with primary law, notably, the choice of legal bases, the interpretation and application of international law, insofar as the Union is affected, and measures concerning judicial and administrative cooperation in civil matters. Since Articles 10 and 11 of the Athens Protocol concern questions relating to jurisdiction and recognition and enforcement of judgments, the relevant legal basis as far as those articles are concerned is Article 81(1) TFEU on judicial cooperation in civil matters. The Committee on Legal Affairs is thus the committee responsible for this aspect of accession to the Protocol.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The 2002 Protocol is intended to regulate matters concerning the liability of international carriers, which were expressed in the Athens Convention. Regulation (EC) No 392/2009 enabled the incorporation of these amendments into EU statute law. I am therefore voting in favour, since I consider consistency between European legislation and that of the Member States important, as well as because Parliament’s committees will have a voice in future amendments to the agreement.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Articles 10 and 11 of the Athens Convention cover jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in each Member State. I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Recommendations: Brian Simpson (A7-0356/2011), Klaus-Heiner Lehne (A7-0341/2011)

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The accession to the Athens Convention relating to the Carriage of Passengers and their Luggage by Sea is a long-standing issue followed up by the EU and by the Parliament.

The convention itself dates back to 1974 with the safety of passenger ships and passenger rights lying at its heart. It was, however, considered insufficient, and there is therefore a need to incorporate changes into it relating, above all, to carriers’ liability, compulsory insurance, a limit for liability for death and personal injury, or for loss of or damage to luggage and vehicles. The Protocol, which was adopted on 1 November 2002, amended the Athens Convention in a way that it also satisfied these key elements.

Considering that most of the desirable elements were then covered by the Protocol, the Commission proposed in 2003 that the EU, together with the Member States, became contracting parties to the Protocol. The Union now has exclusive competence to accede to the Athens Protocol as far as the matters covered by the regulation are concerned, and all other aspects of the Protocol which are not covered by the regulation belong to the competence of Member States. Taking into account the process applied in the case of international agreements, the accession to the Protocol is submitted to Parliament for consent and, in my opinion, it is also right for the Committee on Transport and Tourism to issue a positive opinion on the conclusion of this agreement.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Olga Sehnalová (A7-0347/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it harmonises the already existing bilateral agreements with European Union law.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Since the Barcelona Process (1995), which became the Union for the Mediterranean (2008) as a result of the impetus given by the French Presidency of the EU, Jordan and the EU have maintained economic, political, environmental and cultural relations, the European neighbourhood policy completing this Union. The Arab Spring, supported by the European Parliament, has shown the need to re-launch Euromed and to pursue integration of the EU and the countries to the south of the Mediterranean. This is why I gave my support to the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement between the EU and Jordan.

 
  
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  Zigmantas Balčytis (S&D), in writing. (LT) I welcomed the conclusion of this agreement, which replaces all of the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the European Union and Jordan. The agreement establishes uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 European Union Member States and allows them to benefit from them. External studies carried out for the Commission estimate that the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan would generate 54 000 extra passengers and consumer benefits of up to EUR 30 million in the first year of market opening.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The air services operated between the European Union and Jordan are based on bilateral agreements concluded between the Member States and Jordan.

The Commission recently negotiated a comprehensive agreement that is much more ambitious and replaces all the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the European Union and Jordan, establishing uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 Member States.

The agreement in question has the following objectives: gradual market opening in terms of capacity and access to routes on a reciprocal basis; non-discrimination and a level playing field for economic operators; and alignment of Jordan’s aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management.

The conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan would generate 54 000 extra passengers and consumer benefits of up to EUR 30 million in the first year of market opening.

For all the above reasons, I voted for this recommendation.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) I am voting in favour of the draft legislative resolution on the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement between the EU and Jordan. The agreement will allow for gradual market opening in terms of aviation routes and transport capacity and provide for the alignment of Jordan’s aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as air transport safety and air traffic management. Jordan and the EU came to this agreement in view of extending it to other EU partner countries in the Mediterranean area. I voted in favour of the draft resolution on the agreement.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted for Ms Sehnalová’s report on the EU-Jordan Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement. This agreement provides for gradual market opening in terms of access to routes and capacity on a level playing field. It will also strengthen security, safety and air traffic management.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The conclusion of the EU-Jordan Aviation Agreement plays an important role in developing the European neighbourhood policy. For this reason, I voted for this agreement, since it will enable both parties to gradually open up their markets to each other, in terms of capacity and access to routes. It is also crucial to promote a level playing field between these two markets, thereby enabling participation without discrimination, as well as the alignment of Jordan’s aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan is a long-standing EU priority, as it is an important element of the European neighbourhood policy. Moreover, this new agreement negotiated by the Commission brings obvious benefits, in that it replaces provisions of the current bilateral agreements with a horizontal agreement that restores a solid legal basis for EU-Jordan relations, setting out uniform conditions for the airlines of the 27 Member States. It should be noted that, to date, provision of these services has been conditional on the existence, or not, of bilateral agreements between each Member State and Jordan. The European Commission’s estimated figures for the first year of this new common aviation area are really positive: benefits to consumers will be around EUR 30 million and there should be 54 000 extra passengers.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) As Chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries, I was extremely satisfied to vote for this recommendation, because this agreement represents a long-standing priority for the EU, which the Commission estimates will generate 54 000 extra passengers and consumer benefits of EUR 30 million in the first year of market opening. This agreement is part of a wider objective for creating a common Euro-Mediterranean aviation area, and is perfectly in line with the objectives of the future European neighbourhood policy, for which I am the European Parliament’s co-rapporteur. I am therefore doubly satisfied – personally, as well as politically – to vote for this recommendation. This is a step towards strengthening EU-Jordan relations, since, as the rapporteur rightly says in his recommendation, relations between the EU and Jordan are based on the 2002 association agreement, whose objective is to establish an EU-Jordan free trade area. Moreover, both parties are working closely together on democratic reforms in Jordan and modernising its economy. The EU is also Jordan’s biggest trade partner after Saudi Arabia.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) This report, which I voted for today, concerns the agreement to gradually open up markets in terms of access to routes and capacity on a reciprocal basis. In addition, it will strengthen the safety, security and management of Jordan’s air traffic once its legislation has been aligned.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this recommendation because it supports the re-establishment of direct flights between EU airspace and Jordan, which I consider an important step in bringing these regions closer together again. The aforementioned recommendation seems balanced to me, since it promotes the gradual opening up of the aviation markets, accompanied by harmonisation of security and air traffic rules, whilst also being based on respect for the principle of non-discrimination.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Jordan agreement on certain aspects of air services will replace the bilateral agreements of the same kind that have been concluded and will standardise common rules on air services within the EU. The agreement seeks the gradual market opening in terms of capacity and access to routes on a reciprocal basis; non-discrimination and a level playing field for economic operators, based on the principles laid down in the EU Treaties; and alignment of Jordan’s aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management, in order to create a common Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the European Union and Jordan.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This proposal for a recommendation, drafted by Ms Sehnalová, concerns the EU-Jordan Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement. Currently, air services between the countries of the EU and Jordan are governed by bilateral agreements, which is no longer possible under the Treaty of Lisbon. In 2008, an agreement with Jordan enabled the harmonisation of the bilateral agreements with EU law. Recently, the European Commission negotiated a wider-ranging comprehensive agreement, with a view to creating an EU-Jordan Euro-Mediterranean area, thereby establishing uniform operating conditions for the air carriers of all 27 Member States. I therefore welcome the adoption of this proposal, whose agreement will encourage the gradual opening up of the air market in terms of capacity and access to routes on a reciprocal basis, in line with the European neighbourhood policy. Moreover, Jordan’s legislation in this area will be aligned with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management. Non-discrimination and a level playing field for economic operators are also guaranteed, based on the principles laid down in the EU Treaties.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Air services between the European Union and Jordan presently operate on the basis of bilateral agreements between individual Member States and Jordan. The Commission is now submitting an agreement that is much more ambitious in its scope and replaces all of the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan.

The agreement establishes uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 Member States and allows them to benefit regardless of their national affiliation. Accordingly, EU-based air carriers will be able to operate services between any location in the EU and Jordan. The agreement’s objectives include a gradual opening up of the market and the introduction of a non-discriminatory and level playing field for economic operators, based on the principles laid down in the EU Treaties, and the alignment of Jordanian aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management.

Since the agreement regulates not only the areas falling within EU jurisdiction, but also areas falling within the jurisdiction of Member States, its conclusion is desirable so that it can be ratified at EU level and in the Member State parliaments. I firmly believe that the conclusion of the Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement with Jordan is in the interests of EU citizens and businesses and is in line with the EU’s neighbourhood policy. This is another reason for the European Parliament to consent to the conclusion of the agreement.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing.(IT) I believe this report makes it clear that the agreement can gradually open up the market on a reciprocal basis, bring in fair and non-discriminatory conditions on the basis of the principles of the EU Treaties, and align Jordan’s laws on air transport with those of the EU in various ways. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) Air services between the European Union and Jordan currently operate on the basis of bilateral agreements between individual Member States and Jordan. The European Commission recently negotiated a comprehensive agreement that is much more ambitious in its scope and replaces all of the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan. The agreement establishes uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 Member States and allows them to benefit regardless of their national affiliation. Accordingly, EU-based air carriers will be able to operate services between any location in the EU and Jordan. Hitherto, various conditions have applied to the provision of these services. I welcomed this document because the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan has long been an EU priority and also represents an important element in the development of the EU’s neighbourhood policy. External studies carried out for the Commission estimate that the conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan would generate 54 000 extra passengers and consumer benefits of up to EUR 30 million in the first year of market opening.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this proposal. Air services between the European Union and Jordan presently operate on the basis of bilateral agreements between individual Member States and Jordan. These bilateral agreements were brought into line with EU law by the conclusion of a horizontal aviation agreement with Jordan in 2008. The Commission recently negotiated a comprehensive agreement that is much more ambitious in its scope and replaces all of the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan. The agreement establishes uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 Member States and allows them to benefit regardless of their national affiliation. Accordingly, EU-based air carriers will be able to operate services between any location in the EU and Jordan, something that was, until now, conditional upon, among other things, the existence of a bilateral agreement between the Member State concerned and Jordan.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing.(IT) We offer our congratulations for the conclusion of a far more ambitious global agreement which replaces the mass of preceding bilateral agreements and anticipates the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan.

This agreement should be considered an important element in the development of European neighbourhood policy, and will ensure equal and unbiased economic conditions for operators founded on the principles of the EU Treaties. Without a doubt, the introduction of uniform standards for air carriers from the 27 Member States will be of general benefit to everyone, regardless of their nationality. EU air carriers will therefore be able to provide their services between any point in the EU and Jordan, whereas hitherto, the provision of these services was in part dictated by the bilateral agreements made between a given Member State and Jordan.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The air services currently operating between the European Union and Jordan are based on bilateral agreements concluded between the Member States and Jordan. The conclusion of a horizontal air services agreement with Jordan in 2008 enabled the harmonisation of these bilateral agreements with European Union law.

The agreement establishes uniform conditions for the air carriers of the 27 Member States, from which they all benefit regardless of nationality. In this context, the European Union’s air carriers will be able to provide their services from any point in the European Union and Jordan, whereas, to date, provision of these services has been conditional on, for example, the existence of bilateral agreements between each Member State and Jordan.

The agreement has the following objectives: gradual market opening in terms of capacity and access to routes on a reciprocal basis; non-discrimination and a level playing field for economic operators, based on the principles laid down in the EU Treaties; and alignment of Jordan’s aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management.

I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) The European Union is Jordan’s main trading partner after Saudi Arabia, which is one reason why the conclusion of the Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan is of enormous significance for the European Union, including for the development of the EU’s neighbourhood policy. I am voting in favour.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – Air services between the European Union and Jordan presently operate on the basis of bilateral agreements between individual Member States and Jordan. The Commission recently negotiated a comprehensive agreement that is much more ambitious in its scope and replaces all of the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan. The agreement establishes uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 Member States and allows them to benefit regardless of their national affiliation. Accordingly, EU-based air carriers will be able to operate services between any location in the EU and Jordan, something that was, until now, conditional upon, among other things, the existence of a bilateral agreement between the Member State concerned and Jordan. I support this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Jordan air services 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 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 US Congress in order to debate all questions relating to aviation policy between the EU and Jordan. This agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and Jordan 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 allows the operation of direct flights between any location in the EU and Jordan. The following aspects will become possible: gradual market opening, non-discrimination and the harmonisation of rules on safety, security and air traffic management. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement replaces the existing bilateral agreements between the individual Member States and Jordan in this area. The aim is to establish uniform standards for the air carriers from all 27 Member States. From now on, these companies can operate services between any location in the EU and Jordan without requiring an additional bilateral agreement. The main objectives of the agreement are the gradual opening of the market in terms of access to routes and capacity, the removal of discrimination, the creation of a level playing field and the alignment of Jordanian aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management.

The agreement represents the next stage of the association agreement signed in 2002 which has the objective of creating a free trade area between the EU and Jordan. For the reasons described above, it is to be expected that a common aviation area will bring significant competitive advantages for the relevant European air carriers and a considerable improvement in terms of travelling conditions for passengers. Therefore, I have voted in favour of concluding the agreement.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the conclusion of this agreement. This is one of those cases where an EU agreement replacing bilateral agreements of EU Member States with third countries is more ambitious and will deliver greater benefits because it lays down uniform standards for air carriers, harmonises conditions for the provision and operation of services which hitherto varied, and prevents possible discrimination. The market will gradually be opened up on a reciprocal basis, and this will contribute to the establishment of a free trade area between the EU and Jordan. The agreement will increase the efficiency of transport, will facilitate interpersonal contacts, will have a positive impact on economic development and will promote technical cooperation. This agreement should, in the first year alone, boost passenger numbers by 54 000 and generate benefits to consumers worth around EUR 30 million. It is a step towards implementing the objective set by the EU of establishing, in the long term, a common aviation area with all Mediterranean partners and is consistent with the goals of the European neighbourhood policy.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European Union is making a very systematic effort to develop good neighbourly relations with all adjacent regions. This dimension is extremely important, especially for the southern members of the EU, led in this case particularly by France, and it applies to the Mediterranean Sea area in particular.

Some Member States have an aviation agreement, but many, such as Slovakia, for example, still do not have such an agreement. I welcome agreements such as the one between the EU and Jordan, particularly for the positive effect that the agreement entails in terms of opening up the market to all Member States in a non-discriminatory way. It will also save costs and time for those that did not have an agreement.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement between the EU and Jordan aimed at creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the European Union and Jordan. Above all, EU air carriers will enjoy uniform standards and a favourable and liberal environment to provide competitive services in open markets. The entry into force of this agreement will also ensure greater aviation safety and security and, moreover, will be mutually beneficial as regards consumers, air carriers, workers and the community.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report concerns the air services operated between the European Union and Jordan. There has been a horizontal air services agreement with Jordan since 2008, which has enabled the harmonisation of these bilateral agreements with European Union law. However, the Commission recently negotiated a comprehensive agreement that is much more ambitious and replaces all the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the European Union and Jordan. The agreement establishes uniform conditions for the air carriers of the 27 Member States, from which they all benefit regardless of nationality. In this context, the European Union’s air carriers will be able to provide their services from any point in the European Union and Jordan, whereas, to date, provision of these services has been conditional on, for example, the existence of bilateral agreements between each Member State and Jordan. As this is an agreement with objectives that are positive overall, such as gradual market opening in terms of capacity and access to routes on a reciprocal basis, and non-discrimination and a level playing field for economic operators based on the principles laid down in the EU Treaties, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) The importance of this air space in the European contingency is a challenge that also opens up greater services for the community. It is therefore necessary to conduct a careful analysis of aviation services between the European Union and Jordan which allows us to note that the aviation market in question, characterised by bilateral agreements between individual Member States and Jordan, does not therefore guarantee free movement within the area described above. This agreement aims to reach a very ambitious global agreement to replace the 27 bilateral agreements with a Euro-Mediterranean airspace between the EU and Jordan, which would allow any European air carrier to provide services between any point in the EU and Jordan. Considering that this initiative could open up the aviation market gradually and on a reciprocal basis, while also guaranteeing equal and unprejudiced economic conditions to operators, I am happy to express my vote in favour of this agreement.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) This agreement, which is intended to replace the bilateral agreements between the various Member States and Jordan, is emerging as a key element of the European neighbourhood policy because it advocates increased closeness between the EU and Jordan. Indeed, it is important to keep in mind that the European Union is currently Jordan’s second biggest trade partner, so it is committed to the process of affirming and consolidating democracy in this area. The Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement between the European Union and its Member States and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan offers a suitable regulatory framework for enabling airlines to increase the number of air links between the two territories, whilst operating with great freedom. Essentially, what is being sought is greater market opening through the introduction of more equitable rules and of non-discrimination for economic operators, on the one hand, and the harmonisation of legislation relating to safety, security and air traffic management, on the other. It is estimated that, in the first year of application of the agreement, there will be 54 000 extra passengers with an overall economic benefit of EUR 30 million. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. Air services between the European Union and Jordan presently operate on the basis of bilateral agreements between individual Member States and Jordan. These bilateral agreements were brought into line with EU law by the conclusion of a horizontal aviation agreement with Jordan in 2008. The Commission recently negotiated a comprehensive agreement that is much more ambitious in its scope and replaces all the bilateral agreements by creating a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan. The agreement establishes uniform standards for air carriers in all 27 Member States and allows them to benefit regardless of their national affiliation. Accordingly, EU-based air carriers will be able to operate services between any location in the EU and Jordan, something that was, until now, conditional upon, among other things, the existence of a bilateral agreement between the Member State concerned and Jordan. The agreement’s objectives are gradual market opening in terms of access to routes and capacity on a reciprocal basis; non-discrimination and a level playing field for economic operators, based on the principles laid down in the EU Treaties; and alignment of Jordan aviation legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I have voted in favour of this agreement because I believe it is very important to replace the mass of current bilateral pacts with a global one which is able to establish a Euro-Mediterranean aviation area between the EU and Jordan. In this way, it will be possible to obtain uniform standards for air carriers from the 27 Member States, bringing benefits to everyone, regardless of their nationality. EU air carriers will therefore be able to provide their services between any point in the EU and Jordan, whereas hitherto, the provision of these services was dictated by the bilateral agreements made between a given Member State and Jordan. Consequently, it will now be possible to open the market in terms of routes gradually and on a reciprocal basis, ensuring equal and unbiased economic conditions for operators founded on the principles of the EU Treaties.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) The conclusion of a Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan has been a priority for the EU for a long time, and is an important element in the development of European neighbourhood policy. The agreement, which answers to the interests of European citizens and businesses, introduces uniform standards for air carriers from the 27 Member States that have Jordan on their itinerary in a way that conforms to European neighbourhood policy.

According to external studies conducted for the Commission, the Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement with Jordan would generate an increase of at least 54 000 passengers, as well as guaranteed consumer benefits of at least EUR 30 million in the first year of market opening. This agreement follows a similar one negotiated with Morocco in 2006 which resulted in a significant increase in aviation services between the EU and Morocco.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The conclusion of this comprehensive agreement on opening up the Euro-Mediterranean aviation market is an important step towards deepening relations with neighbouring countries and towards the European neighbourhood policy. It is estimated that the number of passengers in the first year will be 54 000, generating around EUR 30 million. On the basis of this document, the air carriers of the 27 Member States have uniform and non-discriminatory conditions and are able to operate flights from any part of the EU. Moreover, the gradual opening up of the market has also led to alignment of Jordan’s legislation with EU legislation on issues such as safety, security and air traffic management. Once again, I am voting in favour, but I would re-emphasise the need for Parliament to be consulted and informed about the progress of negotiations as a party institution to the acquis communautaire.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The bilateral aviation agreements between individual Member States and third countries are being combined into one agreement, in which the EU replaces the Member States as the party to the contract with the third countries. The aim is to gradually open up the market in terms of access to routes and capacity on a reciprocal basis and to guarantee that Jordanian aviation laws comply with EU legislation, in particular, with regard to safety regulations. External studies show that this will generate benefits for consumers amounting to EUR 30 million. The intention is also to create a common Euro-Mediterranean aviation area. I have voted in favour of the agreement.

 
  
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  Artur Zasada (PPE), in writing.(PL) I thank the rapporteur, Ms Sehnalová, for a very well prepared report. As rapporteur for the report on the aviation agreement between the United States and the European Union, I welcome the ambitious general agreement between the EU and Jordan. As in the case of the agreement with the US, the agreement introduces uniform conditions for air carriers in all 27 Member States and allows them to benefit regardless of their national affiliation. EU air carriers will be able to provide services between any point in the EU and Jordan. If the agreement had not been accepted by Parliament, there would have been a danger that the aircraft of Member States which do not have an agreement would not be able to operate flights from the territory of the European Union to Jordan. The added value of the agreement is the possibility of creating a common Euro-Mediterranean aviation area.

 
  
  

Recommendation: Thomas Ulmer (A7-0344/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report because it harmonises the already existing bilateral agreements with European Union law.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on the Common Aviation Area Agreement between the European Union and Georgia. This agreement will regulate relations between the EU and its 27 Member States and Georgia in the field of aviation. The purpose of the agreement is to ensure the gradual establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area. The existing bilateral agreements on air traffic services between the two parties are to be superseded by the new agreement. The agreement is being concluded as part of the EU neighbourhood policy, one of the aims of which is to establish a common aviation area between the EU and its neighbours. I support the rapporteur’s position that applying the current rules on aviation safety, security and air traffic management to Georgia will open the markets of both parties and enable all economic operators to participate on a non-discriminatory basis. This means that, in future, air carriers in the EU and Georgia will be able to offer their services anywhere in the EU and Georgia. Reciprocal market opening will undoubtedly bring new participants into the market, will see the use of airports that have, until now, been under-used, and will consolidate EU air carriers. The Commission estimates that the gradual establishment of the EU/Georgia common aviation area will, in the first year alone, boost passenger numbers by 25 000 and generate benefits to consumers worth around EUR 17 million.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Relations between the EU and Georgia are framed by the European neighbourhood policy (ENP). Launched in 2004, the ENP aims to bridge the gap between the new Member States of the EU and their immediate neighbours and to improve the prosperity and stability of the region. By supporting this motion for a resolution, I undertake to ensure the application not only of one of the measures provided for by the ENP, namely, the enforcement of single market rules in Georgia, but also of the Treaty of Lisbon, which stipulates that the European Parliament must give its approval for the conclusion of international agreements by the Member States.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) The intention of this agreement is to regulate relations in the area of aviation between the European Union, its 27 Member States and Georgia. Its purpose is the establishment of an EU-Georgia common aviation area, so extending to Georgia the rules of the single market in air transport in force in the European Union and creating a level playing field between all carriers from the EU and Georgia. Application to Georgia of current rules on aviation security and safety and air traffic management is the way to reciprocal market opening, meaning that in future, all air carriers in the Union and Georgia will be able to offer their services from anywhere in the Union to anywhere in Georgia. The gradual establishment of the EU-Georgia common aviation area will, in the first year alone, boost passenger numbers by 25 000 and generate benefits to consumers worth around EUR 17 million. For all the above reasons, I voted for this recommendation.

 
  
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  Adam Bielan (ECR), in writing.(PL) The agreement governing cooperation with Georgia in the field of air transport has as its purpose the establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area. Existing agreements between individual Member States and Georgia have not always conformed to practices accepted in the Union and, in addition, have often not brought tangible benefits to aviation undertakings, and this is something which always affects the frequency of connections. The Common Aviation Area Agreement is a good example of cooperation within the framework of neighbourhood policy. In view of the fact that negotiations are in progress on an association agreement with Georgia, the Common Aviation Area Agreement enables Georgia to enhance yet further its credibility in the European market.

The estimated growth in passenger numbers by 25 000 in the first year of operation of the agreement alone, along with the associated benefits, are, I think, a good sign for the future. The connection between Warsaw and Tbilisi, which has been operated for a year now by LOT Polish Airlines, is already enjoying great popularity in Poland. Other important matters are the rules on safety and the principle of non-discrimination – the equal share of all economic stakeholders in the common aviation area. I support the resolution.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I supported the aviation agreement between the EU and Georgia, which will establish a uniform framework for all aviation undertakings in the EU and Georgia. Application to Georgia of the current legislation on aviation security and safety and air traffic management is the way to reciprocal market opening, enabling all economic stakeholders to participate in the common aviation area on a non-discriminatory basis. This means that, in future, all aviation undertakings in the EU and Georgia will be able to offer their services from anywhere in the EU to anywhere in Georgia. I firmly believe that reciprocal market opening will bring new participants into the market, entail the use of airports previously inadequately served and result in consolidation among EU aviation undertakings. I agree with the Commission’s estimate that the gradual establishment of the EU/Georgia common aviation area will, in the first year alone, boost passenger numbers by 25 000 and generate benefits to consumers worth around EUR 17 million.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted for the Ulmer report on the Common Aviation Area Agreement between the EU and Georgia. This agreement is concluded as part of the neighbourhood policy and the creation of a common aviation area with neighbouring countries. It aims to establish uniform framework conditions for all aviation undertakings by allowing for gradual market opening through access to routes and capacity.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Georgia aviation agreement finally enables the application to Georgia of the rules of the single market in air transport in force in the European Union and creates a level playing field between all air carriers from the European Union and Georgia. This new agreement, for which I am voting, will be of benefit to both parties, enabling, in future, all air carriers in the Union and Georgia to offer their services from anywhere in the Union to anywhere in Georgia. It is estimated that the benefits to consumers of this new common aviation area will be worth around EUR 17 million in the first year alone. This reciprocal opening up will also enable the participation of new operators, as well as the use of airports that have been underexploited to date and the consolidation of the Union’s air carriers.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since I believe these common aviation agreements come under the umbrella of a fairly important area of EU action, not just because it sets out joint rules with third countries, but also because it deepens the internal market. By way of example, I would stress that this report will make it possible to extend the rules of the single transport market to Georgia, so creating a common legislative framework that will bring increased transparency and a more level playing field between carriers from Europe and Georgia. I would also stress the timeliness of this agreement, in a wider context than that of improving relations with our neighbouring countries and at a time when we have approved the revision of the European neighbourhood policy, for which I am the European Parliament’s co-rapporteur.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing.(FR) This report, which I voted for, concerns the agreement signed with Georgia, and is an integral part of the neighbourhood policy and of the EU’s common aviation area with neighbouring countries. The agreement aims to establish uniform framework conditions for all aviation undertakings by allowing for gradual market opening through access to routes and capacity.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this recommendation because it promotes the strengthening of our bilateral relations by supporting the reciprocal and generalised opening up of all economic agents of the aviation markets of both Georgia and the EU, without discrimination.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Georgia Common Aviation Area Agreement is intended to replace the bilateral agreements of the same kind, and to standardise common rules on air services within the EU. The agreement will enable the extension to Georgia of the rules of the single market in air transport, and will create a level playing field between all air carriers from the European Union and Georgia. Application to Georgia of the current legislation on aviation security and safety and air traffic management is the way to reciprocal market opening and to the non-discrimination of the various economic operators on the basis of nationality.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation, drafted by Mr Ulmer, concerns an international agreement whose purpose is to regulate relations in the area of aviation between the European Union, its Member States and Georgia. This agreement is intended to replace the bilateral agreements in force and is part of the European neighbourhood policy, whose goal is to create a common aviation area between the EU and its neighbouring countries. The Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009, substantially changed the powers of several European institutions, particularly Parliament, which, in the new set-up, is called upon to rule on matters not previously under its jurisdiction, as in this case of an international agreement between the EU and Georgia on air services. I am voting for this recommendation because the reciprocal opening up of these markets will encourage their growth, thereby facilitating the appearance of new operators, and will improve standards of aviation security and safety and of air traffic management, by applying to Georgia the rules of the single market in air transport in force in the EU – this will benefit both European and Georgian citizens.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) This agreement is an international one, establishing relations in the field of aviation between the EU and its 27 Member States and Georgia. Its purpose is the establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area, replacing existing bilateral agreements on air traffic services between the two sides.

The Council signed the agreement on 2 December 2010, and it will be applied provisionally pending its entry into force. The agreement will extend to Georgia all the legislation and rules governing the EU single market in air transport and will establish uniform framework conditions for all aviation undertakings in the EU and Georgia. The agreement is the way to reciprocal market opening and will bring new participants into the market, entailing the greater use of airports and result in consolidation among EU aviation undertakings and the gradual establishment of the EU/Georgia common aviation area.

The conclusion of the agreement, however, is subject to the consent of the European Parliament. I firmly believe that it is right and necessary for the Committee on Transport and Tourism to give its approval for the conclusion of the agreement.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing.(IT) I believe that this agreement will extend to Georgia the regulations governing the single market in air transport in force in the EU. Application to Georgia of the current legislation on aviation security and air traffic management will therefore lead to the reciprocal opening of markets without discrimination.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins (PPE), in writing. – I welcome the work that has been done on this report. It is essential that we have our house in order when it comes to replacing the bilateral agreements with these new EU-wide agreements. The report will ensure that we avoid discrimination between EU air carriers; the traditional designation clauses, referring to air carriers of the Member State party to the bilateral agreement, are to be replaced by an EU designation clause, referring to all EU carriers. This is a more transparent and open system, and is to be welcomed.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this international agreement because it establishes relations in the field of aviation between the EU and its 27 Member States and Georgia. The purpose of the agreement is to ensure the gradual establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area. The existing bilateral agreements on air traffic services will henceforth be replaced. The agreement is being concluded as part of the EU neighbourhood policy, one of the aims of which is to establish a common aviation area between the EU and its neighbours. The agreement will extend to Georgia all the legislation and rules governing the EU single market in air transport and will establish uniform conditions for all air carriers in the EU and Georgia. Application to Georgia of current rules on aviation safety, security and air traffic management will open the markets of both parties and enable all economic operators to participate on a non-discriminatory basis. This means that in future, air carriers in the EU and Georgia will be able to offer their services anywhere in the EU and Georgia. I believe that the reciprocal opening of markets will bring new participants into the market, will see the use of airports that have, until now, been under-used, and will consolidate EU air carriers. The Commission estimates that the gradual establishment of the EU/Georgia common aviation area will, in the first year alone, boost passenger numbers by 25 000 and generate benefits to consumers worth around EUR 17 million.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this agreement. This agreement is an international one establishing relations in the field of aviation between the EU and its 27 Member States and Georgia. Its purpose is the establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area. The existing bilateral agreements on air traffic services between the two sides are to be superseded by the new agreement. The agreement is being concluded as part of the EU neighbourhood policy, one of the aims of which is to establish a common aviation area between the EU and its neighbours.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. – The agreement put forth by the Committee on Transport and Tourism establishing relations in the field of aviation between the EU’s 27 Member States and Georgia is an important step in streamlining operations between countries. In a field such as aviation where safety, security and air traffic management are paramount, it is important that the bilateral agreements that exist between individual Member States and Georgia be consolidated into an agreement of a common aviation area. Additionally, the EU and Georgia should form this agreement to solidify common framework conditions. Moreover, reciprocal market opening will help broaden participation in the market which coincides with the objectives of the European neighbourhood policy. As a member of the Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, I see the EU-Georgia Common Aviation Area Agreement as a logical step in increasing Georgia’s involvement in activities that affect both Georgia and the EU. The EU must ensure its commitment to passenger safety and the efficient operation of air services while encouraging the participation of its neighbours in market-boosting pursuits.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) This recommendation is very important for achieving the goal of a shared airspace between the European Union and neighbouring countries. I welcome the fact that this agreement would bring about EUR 17 million of advantages for consumers. I am voting in favour.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I supported this agreement, which is an international one establishing relations in the field of aviation between the EU and its 27 Member States and Georgia. Its purpose is the establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area. The existing bilateral agreements on air traffic services are to be superseded by the new agreement which is being concluded as part of the EU neighbourhood policy, one of the aims of which is to establish a common aviation area between the EU and its neighbours. The agreement is being applied provisionally pending its entry into force.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The EU-Georgia air services 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 to be concluded must be approved by Parliament, which will therefore need to be kept up-to-date with all negotiations, and it will also be important to hold regular meetings between MEPs and Members of the Georgian Parliament to discuss all issues relating to EU-Georgia aviation policy. This agreement is therefore an important step towards opening up the market to airlines from the EU and Georgia without any discrimination. This opening-up of the market will contribute to improving the services provided to passengers.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Since Georgia gained its independence in 1992, the European Union has repeatedly manifested its desire to maintain close relationships with its Eastern neighbour. This Common Aviation Area Agreement is consistent with this desire to maintain enduring relationships on issues that are both varied and strategic. A common aviation area will guarantee security and efficiency, and the conclusion of this agreement will be a by-word for increased mobility for European citizens. Moreover, maintaining contact with Georgia on a wide range of issues will also enable us to address more easily certain economic and political aspects that will be crucial in the long term such as, for example, opening up the markets.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – If uniform framework conditions apply to all aviation undertakings in the EU and Georgia, including the current legislation on aviation security and safety and air traffic management in future, and if the overall purpose of the agreement is to facilitate a reciprocal market opening to all economic stakeholders on a non-discriminatory basis, I vote in favour.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of the conclusion of this agreement. It will facilitate the establishment of the EU/Georgia common aviation area, with Georgia gradually implementing high standards in the areas of aviation regulation and safety, including environmental protection. Moreover, it is a step towards establishing a common aviation area with the EU’s eastern neighbours. This agreement should, in the first year alone, boost passenger numbers by 25 000 and generate benefits to consumers worth around EUR 17 million. The agreement will increase the efficiency of transport, will facilitate interpersonal contacts, will have a positive impact on economic development and will promote technical cooperation. Common aviation area agreements, which create opportunities for mutual and fair participation in this market, are an example of, and incentive for, the further economic integration of partner countries and the EU. I hope for swift progress in the conclusion of agreements with Moldova, Ukraine and the remaining countries of the Southern Caucasus so that these Eastern Partnership countries can fully join the European common aviation area.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Relations between the EU and Georgia are very important in many areas, and the aviation agreement represents a practical implementation of this in the area of transport. For reasons such as efficiency and cost-reduction – as is the case with Jordan – Member States including Slovakia have strongly supported the negotiations over this agreement. For states that are in regions directly adjacent to the continent of Europe – which also applies to Georgia – there is another important factor in relation to the development of the Single European Sky. In addition to all of the Member States, the EU is trying to incorporate neighbouring states into this common area as well. This increases the significance of the agreement all the more, and is also a reason why I fully support it.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this agreement between the EU and Georgia on the creation of a common aviation area because it is important not just for transport but also in the sense that it establishes a stronger basis for cooperation in the neighbourhood policy. It should be noted that, for carriers of both parties, this agreement will open up markets and create uniform, non-discriminatory operating conditions, while eliminating existing barriers. Thus, aviation undertakings in Europe and Georgia will be able to provide air services on a level playing field without any restrictions. I believe that this agreement will not only open up new opportunities and strengthen the position of carriers, but will also facilitate full use of airport infrastructure because, according to initial estimates, there should be a significant increase in the amount of passengers and cargo.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The intention of this international agreement is to regulate relations in the area of aviation between the European Union, its 27 Member States and Georgia. The goal of the aforementioned agreement is to create a common aviation area between the EU and Georgia. The bilateral agreements in force, which have regulated air services between the parties to date, should be replaced with this new agreement. This stage is part of the European neighbourhood policy, which also intends to create a common aviation area between the European Union and its neighbouring countries. I voted for this agreement for all these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) In response to the EU neighbourhood policy which anticipates the creation of common air space between the EU and its neighbours, and in consideration of the importance of aviation policy in the contingent context of Europe, the draft decision of the Council and the representatives of the governments of the EU Member States is an answer to ongoing needs. The establishment of the common aviation area between the EU and Georgia, to replace the 27 bilateral agreements of individual Member States, fits in with the framework of development represented by the reciprocal opening of markets, while ensuring the consolidation of EU aviation enterprises which are already in the market and the entry of new participants. Having considered the important economic aspect and the communitarian nature of the issue, and being satisfied with the work accomplished, I am expressing my vote in favour of the draft decision on the conclusion of the Common Aviation Area Agreement between the EU and its Member States, and Georgia.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The purpose of this report is to create an EU-Georgia common aviation area, which should come to replace the bilateral agreements that have been regulating air services between the parties to date. Part of the European neighbourhood policy, this agreement provides for all air carriers in the Union and Georgia being able, in future, to offer their services from anywhere in the Union to anywhere in Georgia. The Common Aviation Area Agreement between the European Union and its Member States and Georgia therefore offers a suitable regulatory framework for enabling airlines to increase the number of air links between the two territories, whilst operating with great freedom. It is estimated that, in the first year of application of the agreement, there will be 25 000 extra passengers with an overall economic benefit of EUR 17 million. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. This is an international agreement establishing relations in the field of aviation between the EU and its 27 Member States and Georgia. Its purpose is the establishment of an EU/Georgia common aviation area. The existing bilateral agreements on air traffic services between the two sides will be superseded by the new agreement. The agreement is being concluded as part of the EU neighbourhood policy, one of the aims of which is to establish a common aviation area between the EU and its neighbours. The Council signed the agreement on 2 December 2010. The agreement is being applied provisionally pending its entry into force.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this international agreement because I believe it is capable of regulating aviation relationships between the European Union, its 27 Member States, and Georgia. In this way, common air space between the EU and Georgia will be created to replace the current bilateral agreements. The agreement will extend the regulations governing the single market in air transport currently in force to Georgia, and establish uniform framework conditions for all aviation enterprises of the EU and Georgia, taking us one step closer towards establishing an ever more solid and concrete neighbourhood relationship.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) Some points of this agreement reprise a number of Georgian proposals and requests regarding rapprochement with the European Union; in my opinion, they go too far, bearing in mind both the status of the country, as part of the European neighbourhood policy (ENP), and its economic and political situation, where more progress is needed on democracy, the rule of law and the economy.

In particular, the resolution mentions the inclusion of a reference to Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union (membership) and acknowledges the European identity of the country. Given the impasse in which Europe now finds itself and the general discontent over many countries joining in the latest enlargements of 2004 and 2007, hinting at further enlargement – even in the long term – seems like a bad idea to me at this moment in time. Such an initiative would also create a point of difference with other eastern and Mediterranean countries participating in the ENP, damaging its unity.

In terms of the desire to open trade negotiations for the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), the conclusions of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in June stated that negotiations can begin before the end of the year, as long as enough progress is made on implementing the remaining preconditions specified by the Commission.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) This EU-Georgia aviation agreement will enable the regulation of the air transport market at the level of the Twenty-Seven. Through this document, Georgia, as a member of the European neighbourhood policy, and the EU are enacting the gradual opening up of the market by incorporating European legislation into the national law of the country in question. As with other aviation agreements, both economies will benefit, since more airlines will have the opportunity to open new routes in the various Member States. It is therefore estimated that, in the first year, there will be 25 000 passengers with an overall economic benefit of some EUR 17 million. While I agree with the conclusion of these aviation agreements, I would once again stress that the European Parliament should be consulted over the course of negotiations concerning the various international agreements, rather than simply issuing a non-binding opinion.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) This report concerns the current air traffic situation and proposes a large number of simplifications and improvements in future to allow air traffic between the Member States of the EU and Georgia to develop and grow significantly. As the rapporteur, I would like to thank all the employees and shadow rapporteurs who have helped me.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) The reciprocal opening of the market will allow air carriers to participate in the aviation area on a non-discriminatory basis. In future, all airlines will be able to make their services available in the EU and in Georgia. External studies show that this will generate benefits for consumers amounting to around EUR 17 million. I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing.(IT) I have voted in favour of the agreement on a common aviation area between the 27 Member States and Georgia. This international agreement is part of the EU’s neighbourhood policy, which has already been ratified by a series of agreements similar to the one put to the vote today, and aims to establish a safer aviation area for the citizens of Europe and their ‘neighbours’.

 
  
  

Report: Danuta Maria Hübner (A7-0357/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report. As I come from one of the outermost regions, I am well aware of the permanent constraints on this type of region, and it is important to study the possibility of expanding these provisions to the outermost regions of the Azores and Madeira.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this resolution on temporarily suspending autonomous common customs tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands. The Kingdom of Spain has submitted a request to the European Commission, on behalf of the authorities of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, for the temporary suspension of common customs tariff duties on certain industrial products imported into the Canary Islands, so as to strengthen the competitive position of local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the Union. However, in order to ensure that the goods imported, be they raw materials, parts, components or duty-free capital goods, do not distort competition, they will be subject to end-use controls ensuring their use by local companies on the islands. As regards capital goods, they will have to be used by local companies on the islands for a period of at least two years before they can be sold freely to companies situated in other parts of the Union. I agree with the rapporteur that the proposed suspension will help local SMEs and farmers in the Canary Islands to invest and generate jobs in this outermost region of the Union.

 
  
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  Izaskun Bilbao Barandica (ALDE), in writing. (ES) I support this report on the temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products from the Canary Islands in order to make local economic operators more competitive and stabilise employment in this ultra-peripheral region of the European Union.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Kingdom of Spain has requested the temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of a certain number of industrial products to the Canary Islands, with a view to strengthening the competitive position of local economic operators and ensuring more stable employment in these regions. Given this, I voted for this report, since this suspension will only affect the regions in question and will contribute to helping the economic development of local small and medium-sized enterprises and farmers, and creating jobs in this region. It is also important to consider that, in the context of the current economic crisis, taking specific measures to stimulate economic activity and stabilise jobs in the medium term is also part of the plan for the recovery of the European economy.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the temporary suspension of Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands in order to support Spain’s efforts to increase the competitiveness of local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the European Union. In order to guarantee that the goods imported duty-free do not distort competition, they must be subject to end-use controls to ensure their use by local companies on the islands. I think that measures of this kind, which are beneficial to local SMEs and farmers, who are encouraged to invest and generate jobs, must also be considered in other outermost regions of the European Union.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. – (RO) I regard it as useful that the European Union has acknowledged the particular, specific problems of the Canary Islands, as well as their implications for EU integration.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on temporarily suspending autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands because I think, in the current context of economic crisis, that it will contribute to strengthening the competitiveness of local economic operators and to generating stable employment in this outermost region.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Kingdom of Spain has requested, on behalf of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, the temporary suspension of the Common Customs Tariff duties on certain industrial products, so as to strengthen the competitive position of local businesses and stabilise employment in this outermost region. In order to ensure that the goods imported do not distort competition and that they will be used by local companies, they will be subject to periodic checks confirming that they will not be sold in other regions of the Union until two years have passed. Like the Canary Islands, several other of Europe’s outermost regions confront problems resulting from their isolation from main lines and means of supply, which are being exacerbated by the present economic and financial crisis. This justifies positive discrimination in their favour.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union provides for special support measures for the outermost regions of the EU as a means of overcoming the economic disadvantages resulting from their geographic location. The Canary Islands are amongst the regions considered ‘outermost’. The Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, through the government of the Kingdom of Spain, has requested the extension of the current temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of a certain number of industrial products into the Canary Islands as a means of keeping the population employed and ensuring the competitiveness of local businesses. Taking account of the global financial crisis, this measure could help the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises and farmers to keep their economy stable and create jobs, so combating the recession being experienced in almost all the Member States of the EU. Given the socio-economic importance of this measure of temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties, I voted for this report, drafted by Ms Hübner, and I hope that the economy of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands will recover quickly.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The Spanish Government has requested, on behalf of the authorities of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, the extension of the current temporary suspension of tariffs on imports of certain industrial products. As has already happened in the Portuguese outermost regions, the Azores and Madeira, these measures are intended to secure and strengthen productivity and employment in regions whose specific conditions mean they are faced with a series of permanent constraints and difficulties: economic and social inequalities, geographic location, conditions of insularity, and natural disadvantages.

Non-payment of tariff duties on certain imported products is a measure that could contribute to overcoming some of these constraints and help to promote regional development. This is a measure from which the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises, farmers and producers could benefit. That is why we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) It is normal that the Spanish Government should request, on behalf of the authorities of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, the extension of the current temporary suspension of tariffs on imports of certain industrial products. As has already happened in the Portuguese outermost regions, the Azores and Madeira, these measures are intended to secure and strengthen productivity and employment in regions whose specific conditions mean they are faced with a series of permanent constraints and difficulties: economic and social inequalities, geographic location, conditions of insularity, and natural disadvantages. Non-payment of tariff duties on certain imported products is a measure that could contribute to overcoming some of these constraints and help to promote regional development, specifically that of the region’s small and medium-sized enterprises, and local farmers and producers. That is why we voted in favour.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) In September 2010, the Spanish Government requested, on behalf of the government of the Canary Islands, an extension of the suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on certain products, stating in the justification that, in view of the remoteness of the islands, businesses face extremely unfavourable economic and commercial disadvantages which have a negative impact on demographic trends, employment, and social and economic development.

The recent economic crisis has seriously affected industry and the construction sector in the Canary Islands, and the unfavourable financial conditions have had a serious impact on many areas of business. In addition to this, the sharp growth in unemployment in Spain has further dampened domestic demand, including demand for industrial products. It is necessary to ensure, however, that these customs measures are made use of only by businesses based in the Canary Islands. It would be appropriate to transfer the implementing powers to the Commission in order to allow any necessary temporary withdrawal of the suspension where there is disruption to trade, and in order to ensure unified conditions for the implementation of the regulation.

In any case, however, I believe that it is justified to extend the period of complete suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties for certain types of product for the Canary Islands, in an attempt to bolster the competitive position of local businesses and stabilise employment.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) The Kingdom of Spain has submitted a request, on behalf of the authorities of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, for the temporary suspension of common customs tariff duties on certain industrial products imported into the Canary Islands, so as to strengthen the competitive position of local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the Union. In order to ensure that the goods imported, be they raw materials, parts, components or duty-free capital goods, do not distort competition, they will be subject to end-use controls ensuring their use by local companies on the islands. As regards capital goods, they will have to be used by local companies on the islands for a period of at least two years before they can be sold freely to companies situated in other parts of the Union. Moreover, raw materials, parts and components will have to be used for industrial transformation and maintenance in the Canary Islands in order to benefit from the duty suspension. An evaluation of the impact of these measures is not possible as they are an integral part of a series of measures adapted to the specific problems of these islands. However, the measures will have an impact on the own resources and revenue of the Union. I welcomed this document because, in the present economic downturn, the need to take specific measures to stimulate economic activity and stabilise employment over the medium term may be seen to fit well with the European economic recovery plan and the measures required to meet the special problems of the outermost regions of the Union.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Spain has requested the temporary suspension of the Common Customs Tariff duties on certain industrial products into the Canary Islands, so as to strengthen the competitive position of the local economic operators and stabilise employment. In order to ensure that the goods imported, be they raw materials, do not distort competition, they will be subject to end-use controls ensuring their use by local companies on the islands. Regarding capital goods, they will have to be used by local companies on the islands for a period of at least two years before they can be sold freely to companies situated in other parts of the Union. Moreover, raw materials, parts and components will have to be used for industrial transformation and maintenance in the Canary Islands in order to benefit from the duty suspension. These specific measures to stimulate economic activity and stabilise employment over the medium term may be seen to fit well with the European economic recovery plan. In view of the above, and the necessity to take all measures likely to assist economic recovery, I support this proposal be adopted without amendment.

 
  
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  Jiří Maštálka (GUE/NGL), in writing. (CS) As I have already pointed on other occasions, it is necessary to set up high-quality control mechanisms which make it possible to operate transparently and effectively. The advantages stemming from the temporary suspension of the general tariff on imports of a specific type of goods should stimulate the growth of the local economy and strengthen competitiveness. The application of control regimes should be a protective element, so that use can be made of these advantages throughout the agreed period. The situation should not arise where these favoured types of goods become the subject of illegal commerce or other speculative activities beyond the original aim. In my opinion, experience drawn from the previous period with monitoring the end use of this type of goods will help to enhance the process in the coming years.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) There is no denying that this suspension will have a number of effects, though these will not necessarily be good for the EU’s resources. However, it is a necessary step in order to create jobs in a region on the very edge of the European Union. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I supported this report that seeks to strengthen the competitive position of the local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the European Union.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) With the adoption of the autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands, we have contributed to helping local small and medium-sized enterprises and farmers to invest and create jobs in this outermost region of the Union. In the context of the current economic crisis, the need to take specific measures to stimulate economic activity and stabilise jobs in the medium term can be viewed as fitting adequately into the plan for the recovery of the European economy, and into the measures needed to respond to the specific problems of the Union’s outermost regions.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Canary Islands belong to the outermost regions. To overcome their handicaps (e.g. small internal market, great distance from the mainland), special measures may be envisaged. Due to the economic and financial crisis, the industrial sector of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands has deteriorated and unemployment has risen. Tariff suspensions on imports of certain industrial products are aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of the local economic operators. Therefore, there are no reasons to disagree with the report of Ms Hübner. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) For some time, the economy of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands has been suffering a serious downturn. By temporarily suspending autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports to the Canary Islands, the European Union and the islands are hoping to increase the competitiveness of the local economic operators and to stabilise the employment situation. End-use controls will be imposed to ensure that the duty-free imported goods really are used by local companies on the islands and that, as a result, they do not distort competition. In addition, raw materials, parts and components intended for industrial processing and maintenance must be used on the islands themselves. Without the help of the European Union, it is unlikely that the difficult economic situation in the Canary Islands will be resolved.

A concession in the form of a temporary suspension of autonomous customs duties is in line with the measures laid down in the European economic recovery plan and is a tried-and-tested means of providing the Canary Islands with economic assistance. However, it will also have an impact on the revenue of the European Union and it is not yet possible to estimate the extent of this. On account of these considerations, I have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Kingdom of Spain has requested, on behalf of the authorities of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, the temporary suspension of the Common Customs Tariff duties on certain industrial products imported into the Canary Islands, so as to strengthen the competitive position of the local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the Union. In order to ensure that the goods imported, be they raw materials, parts, components or capital goods, do not distort competition, they will be subject to end-use controls ensuring their use by local companies on the islands. Regarding capital goods, they will have to be used by local companies on the islands for a period of at least two years before they can be sold freely to companies situated in other parts of the Union. Moreover, raw materials, parts and components will have to be used for industrial transformation and maintenance in the Canary Islands in order to benefit from the duty suspension. The effects of this proposed suspension will be limited to the regions concerned and, in the current context of the economic crisis, will help local small and medium-sized enterprises and farmers to invest and generate jobs in this outermost region of the Union. I voted for this resolution for these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) For the purpose of aiding local development, employment and business competitiveness, this proposal for a regulation provides for a temporary suspension of Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands. This policy will have rapid effects on the regions involved and help small and medium-sized enterprises and local farmers to invest and create jobs. Even though it is impossible to evaluate the impact of these measures overall, they will, in any case, have an impact on the own resources/revenue of the Union.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) It is not uncommon for the outermost regions to suffer specific problems requiring different treatment in certain cases. In this case, the suspension of Common Customs Tariff duties for the Canary Islands is justified, relating to raw materials, parts, components and capital goods used by local companies. This is conditional, however, on their use for industrial purposes for a minimum of two years. As this is a measure justified by the specific context of this region, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. In its explanatory memorandum, the European Commission informs the Council and Parliament that the Kingdom of Spain has requested, on behalf of the authorities of the Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands, the temporary suspension of the Common Customs Tariff duties on certain industrial products into the Canary Islands, so as to strengthen the competitive position of the local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of the Union. In order to ensure that the goods imported – be they raw materials, parts, components or duty-free capital goods – do not distort competition, they will be subject to end-use controls ensuring their use by local companies on the islands. Capital goods will have to be used by local companies on the islands for a period of at least two years before they can be sold freely to companies situated in other parts of the Union. Moreover, raw materials, parts and components will have to be used for industrial transformation and maintenance in the Canary Islands in order to benefit from the duty suspension.

 
  
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  Nicole Sinclaire (NI), in writing. – I am opposed to trade tariffs, and this request for suspension of the Common Customs Tariffs in order to help producers in the Canary Islands proves that they are bad for business. However, I cannot support this request. If a state wishes to be in the EU, then it should accept that it will be subject to the same damaging legislation as everybody else. Why should the producers of the Canary Islands be exempt from the taxes that are crippling businesses in my country? Lift the tariffs completely, not selectively.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The outermost regions of the European Union experience constraints relating to their isolation, their insularity, and their difficult terrain and climate, which amount to a structural limitation on their economic and social situation, as set out in Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). This specific statute permits the adaptation of the provisions of the TFEU and, consequently, the adoption of European-level measures relating to the needs of these regions in particular. That is the context of the report voted on today in the European Parliament, whose purpose is the temporary suspension of autonomous Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands. Such measures have already been approved for other outermost regions, like Madeira and the Azores, and are intended to make economic operators in these regions more competitive.

 
  
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  Oldřich Vlasák (ECR), in writing.(CS) The Spanish Government has, on behalf of the self-governing area of the Canary Islands, requested an extension of the current regime, which provides for a suspension of tariffs on imports of certain industrial products. These measures have the explicit aim of boosting the competitiveness of local businesses, and thereby ensuring more stable employment on the islands. I have not supported the report because I am against the establishment of tariff exemptions in the EU. Competitiveness and employment can be boosted through the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund. I would like to say at the same time that suspension of tariffs leads to loss of revenue from the EU’s own resources, which the European Parliament, contrary to this, is trying to increase through proposals for various taxes on financial transactions and the like.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) At Spain’s request, the Common Customs Tariff duties on imports of certain industrial products into the Canary Islands are to be temporarily suspended. The objective is to strengthen the competitive position of local economic operators and stabilise employment in these outermost regions of Europe, as provided for in the European economic recovery plan. In order to prevent goods imported without duties from distorting competition, they must be subject to end-use controls, which means that checks must be carried out to ensure that they really are used by local companies on the islands. I have voted in favour.

 
  
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  Iva Zanicchi (PPE), in writing. (IT) In view of the current international context, I think it is important not to neglect the peripheral and the outermost areas of the European Union, which are suffering the effects of the economic crisis more than others.

The proposed suspension of tariff duties on certain products in the Canary Islands will help small and medium-sized enterprises and local farmers to invest and create jobs in a region which, following the crisis and a drop in tourist flows, finds itself close to recession.

I am therefore in favour of adopting the measures designed to incentivise business and consolidate employment in the medium term, contributing to economic recovery in the outlying areas of the EU. I voted in favour for these very reasons.

 
  
  

Report: Jan Březina (A7-0358/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this legislative package, since it continues to lay particular emphasis on research and development, in the context of the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for 2007-2011, by extending it until the end of the multiannual financial framework in 2013.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) Nuclear energy is critical for a number of Member States, including France, and enables them to reduce their energy dependence. However, the Fukushima disaster has shown how important it is for nuclear energy to be subject to strict controls. I therefore voted in favour of the report by Jan Březina, which supports nuclear energy research activities such as the completion of the construction of the ITER reactor and sustainable waste management, but also research into security.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) How and to what extent should we fund ITER? The issue is regularly on the agenda of the European Parliament. It has come up again in the vote on extending the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM). Continuing nuclear research is fine, but the research budget should not be committed entirely to nuclear energy. There is a need to diversify, especially since, with the cost of the ITER programme having increased exponentially since its launch in 2006, rising from EUR 6 to 16 billion, I think that the project should continue with the means available. While research into both nuclear fusion and fission is a good thing (although it should be diversified), I very much regret the increase in appropriations (a further EUR 700 000 in 2012) as well as the anticipated financial tinkering, which would result in earmarking part of the European research budget just to fund ITER, not to mention the fact that budgetary cuts are planned in the field of research, which will only exacerbate the imbalance between research expenditure on nuclear energy and that devoted to developing renewable energy. For these reasons, I voted against the Březina reports on the EURATOM Framework Research Programme.

 
  
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  Antonio Cancian (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Březina’s report on the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community because I believe that cofinanced research is a fundamentally important way to develop increasingly safe and efficient technology for the production of nuclear energy. The programme makes a major contribution to the Union’s innovation initiative, financing pre-commercial research and easing the technology transfer processes between the academic and industrial spheres. Moreover, significantly increasing the general level of nuclear energy sustainability would help reach the energy resource efficiency objective that Europe has made a priority. Indeed, nuclear energy plays an important role in achieving the goals laid down in the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) and especially in terms of reduced carbon emissions, greater supply security, lower dependence on suppliers of energy sources from politically unstable parts of the world and greater industrial competitiveness. I therefore share the stance put forward in this document, which highlights the need to support research and development activities with adequate funding in order to succeed in improving the security and efficiency of the nuclear energy generation sector.

 
  
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  Maria Da Graça Carvalho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I welcome these proposals intended to continue and extend the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom FP) for nuclear research to the years 2012 and 2013, in line with the financial perspective. The Euratom FP concerns research activities into nuclear energy and radiation protection. This programme’s legislative acts are draft decisions on its implementation through direct and indirect actions, and on laying down the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in indirect actions.

 
  
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  Derek Roland Clark (EFD), in writing. – I am on record as promoting the development of nuclear fusion as a means of providing adequate electricity supplies. Universities and commercial operators may need support from national governments but not from the EU.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) I identify with those who have profound doubts about nuclear energy: about its cost, about what to do with its radioactive waste, and about the security of its facilities from accidents in house, from terrorist attacks or other criminal acts or from natural disasters like those that occurred in Fukushima, Japan. I am therefore ambivalent about the reports by Mr Březina. I acknowledge that some avenues of research could even be positive because they have an impact on increasing the safety and protection of the public, but others are clearly intended to pursue the investments of an industry that is being phased out in a number of European countries.

That is why I have decided to abstain in the final votes on the reports concerning the implementation of the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom FP) for nuclear research and training activities, for both direct and indirect actions, and on that concerning the rules for the participation of undertakings, research centres and universities in indirect actions under the Euratom FP and for the dissemination of research results.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the proposal for a decision on the future atomic programme and nuclear research and training activities. I think further investigation is needed, as well as research and development by European university research centres. Through the framework programme, Euratom will promote various research projects on nuclear energy (fusion and fission) and on protection against radiation. The funds shall finance ITER (the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor), which will make it possible to show the scientific basis and practicality of fusion energy. I would personally like to emphasise that these activities are in line with the objectives of improving the safety of nuclear fission and other questions on the radiation emitted in industry and medicine.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities by indirect actions because it is part of a legislative ‘package’ intended to continue supporting research and development activities in the context of the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for 2007-2011 by adapting it to the current multiannual financial framework until 2013.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Coordination on atomic energy is one of the origins of the current process of European integration. From the start of this process, it has been shown that there is a need to seek to work together on researching and developing technology that has enabled Europe to keep up with the development and use of such energy. Atomic energy currently forms part of the ‘energy mix’ of some European Union Member States, so allocating sufficient funds to the European Coal and Steel Community for it to pursue these goals could enable it to contribute to ensuring safer and cleaner nuclear energy for the public, whilst it is still in use. This resolution is one of the measures intended to ensure that this will happen, in this case by implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community by means of indirect actions.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, by Mr Březina, concerns the proposal for a Council decision concerning the specific programme implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013), to be carried out by means of indirect actions by the Joint Research Centre. Despite the disasters in Chernobyl and, recently, in Fukushima, the nuclear issue remains very current, not just because of the need to monitor the decommissioning of obsolete nuclear plants, ensuring the safe management of waste, but also, and fundamentally, because of an issue of scientific and technological modernisation, as regards both energy production and medicine. Over the last few years, the European Union has been contributing decisively to progress in this area by supporting a number of programmes and, in particular, the ITER project, more than 50% of whose funding comes from the EU. Despite the economic and financial crisis, I believe the EU should remain at the forefront of research into this area so as not to lose its leading position or threaten all the know-how acquired over the years. That is why I am voting for this motion for a resolution.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) It is important to continue the debate about the option of nuclear for supplying energy because of its limits, potential and dangers, but, irrespective of that, we believe there is a need for training and research in this area, which has many applications beyond those mentioned above. Every country needs to train specialist experts and researchers in this field and have a body of research, monitoring and control infrastructure, whether or not nuclear is one of its energy choices.

That is also the case for Portugal, where the current government has plans to abolish the Nuclear Technology Institute, to which experts and researchers have rightly been objecting.

As regards the content of the report, we have reservations about some of its premises, particularly those that end up promoting nuclear energy. The way in which it does this does not fit with the debate that needs to take place about the well-known risks and consequences for the public and the environment, which recent accidents of alarming proportions have amply demonstrated.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The structure of the framework programme, which is to be implemented through indirect actions and which implements the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013) consists of two kinds of activities: indirect actions in the area of research into nuclear fusion and research into nuclear fission and radiation protection, and direct actions for the activities of the Joint Research Centre in the field of nuclear energy. The indirect actions should be implemented by this specific programme.

The EU has concluded many international agreements in the field of nuclear research, and it is necessary to continue efforts at strengthening international research cooperation. This bilateral international cooperation is based on a solid legal framework of cooperation agreements between the EU and third countries, and the framework programme in question is key to the implementation of these agreements. The programme relates to research in the field of nuclear fusion, nuclear fission and radiation protection. The basic aim is to ensure the continuation of research funded from EU sources in these fields for another two years in accordance with the activities successfully carried out in the 2007-2011 period.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this programme because it concerns research in fusion, fission and radiation protection. The principal aim is to ensure the continuation of EU-funded research in these fields for a further two years in line with the activities carried out successfully during 2007-2011. To this end, the proposal explains in more detail the scope of the research and development activities. This specific programme for indirect actions covers the following two thematic priorities: fusion energy research and nuclear fission and radiation protection. The aim of the work carried out under the first thematic priority is to develop safe, sustainable, environmentally friendly and economically viable prototype reactors for power stations, to create the necessary knowledge base and implement ITER as a major step towards this. The objectives of the second thematic priority are to establish a sound scientific and technical basis in order to accelerate practical developments for the safer management of long-lived radioactive waste, to enhance, in particular, the safety, resource efficiency and cost-effectiveness of nuclear energy and to ensure a robust and socially acceptable system for protecting people and the environment against the effects of ionising radiation. I believe these are particularly important areas for energy independence, safety and resource efficiency.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution and, in particular, to amend it to say ‘the design and implementation of the Framework Programme (2012-2013) should be based on the principles of simplicity, stability, transparency, legal certainty, consistency, excellence and trust following the recommendations of the European Parliament in its report on simplifying the implementation of the Research Framework Programmes’.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I voted in favour of Mr Březina’s report. I agree with the amendments put forward by the Commission proposal. It is right to emphasise and demand application of the principles of simplicity, stability, transparency, legal certainty, consistency, excellence and trust.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) At times of crisis, we need to ensure that the framework programmes of the various EU entities are properly implemented. In the specific case of the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community, it is important that funds be spent properly on safeguarding against potential safety risks, as well as on research to discover a cleaner and more environmentally friendly form of atomic energy.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – Euratom’s programme aims at the generalisation and development of knowledge in the nuclear field, an increase in the scientific-technical qualifications of specialists, and the improvement of technologies from the point of view of their reliability, safety, cost-effectiveness and sustainable development. I would like to be confident that the results of research will be accessible to all EU citizens for free in future. I am in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) The management of the ITER nuclear research reactor indicated as early as 2009 that the costs of the ITER reactor could rise by as much as 100%. The original Euratom funding provided as part of the Seventh EU Research Framework Programme would not have been sufficient for the ITER reactor. Estimates indicate that the construction costs for ITER will amount to EUR 6.6 billion. According to these estimates, the contribution from the Euratom budget would be around EUR 5.3 billion and France would provide about EUR 1.3 billion.

Therefore, in order to accommodate the current disparity of EUR 2.15 billion, the Euratom budget must be increased by around EUR 3.15 billion to make a total of approximately EUR 5.3 billion. The extent to which cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be increased is extremely dubious, given its proposals for Fukushima, which involved, for example, lowering the radiation figures. Furthermore, there are no future-proof nuclear power plants. Therefore, I am forced to reject this report in the strongest possible terms.

 
  
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  Radvilė Morkūnaitė-Mikulėnienė (PPE), in writing. (LT) As events this year in Japan show, nuclear safety remains a particularly relevant issue both in the European Union and beyond. This is particularly important in Lithuania, near whose borders there are plans to build two nuclear power plants. In the event of accidents at these plants, the whole of Vilnius – the capital of an EU Member State – would have to be evacuated. The potential for EU scientists in this area is huge. I therefore particularly welcome the position relating to the strengthening of research in the field of radiation protection. Such knowledge would help to establish the highest standards of nuclear security and would offer better protection from the negative impact of radiation on the environment and human health.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because it is particularly important to ensure the successful continuation of research into fusion, fission and radiation protection. Moreover, given the successful results of these activities, we must ensure that the design and implementation of the new Framework Programme is based on the principles of simplicity, stability, transparency, legal certainty, consistency, excellence and trust. I believe that only through joint efforts can we ensure that nuclear energy is used in a safer, more cost-effective and resource-efficient manner, guaranteeing a strong and socially acceptable system for protecting people and the environment from ionising radiation. Particular attention should be paid to contractual arrangements that reduce the risk of failure to perform as well as the reallocation of risks and costs over time.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on the proposal for a Council decision concerning the specific programme, to be carried out by means of indirect actions, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013). This proposal concerns research into fusion, fission and radiation protection. Its main purpose is to ensure EU-financed research activities in these areas over a period of more than two years, taking into account the activities successfully undertaken in the 2007-2011 period. To this end, the proposal describes the area of research and development activities in detail.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I have understood the fundamental aspects of the proposal for a decision, such as the composition of the committee in such a way as to ensure a reasonable balance between women and men and between the Member States undertaking research and training activities in the nuclear sector, as well as the attention given to the development of contractual arrangements that reduce the risk of failure to perform and the reallocation of risks and costs over time. Moreover, I am in favour of the initiative to plan a new satellite experiment under the Eighth Framework Programme with a view to ensuring the facilities required while limiting risks and operational costs. I am therefore expressing my vote in favour of the abovementioned proposal for a Council decision concerning the specific programme, to be carried out by means of indirect actions, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013).

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the analysis of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, I voted for the proposal for a Council decision concerning the specific programme implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities, to be carried out by means of indirect actions, because I believe it is in line with the goals of EU energy policy.

 
  
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  Oreste Rossi (EFD), in writing.(IT) The proposal that accompanies this report is directed towards the adoption of a Council decision regarding the specific programme, to be carried out by indirect actions, implementing the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Committee for nuclear research and training activities (2012-2013). This relates to research in the fields of fusion, fission and radiation protection. The main aim consists of guaranteeing the continuation of research financed by the EU in the fields mentioned above for a further two years, in line with the activities carried out successfully between 2007 and 2011. To this end, the proposal illustrates the scope of R&D activities in greater detail.

 
  
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  Michèle Striffler (PPE), in writing.(FR) Mr Březina’s report concerns the Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community for nuclear research and training activities (fusion, fission and radiation protection). The programme’s main goal is to ensure that the EU-funded research in these fields continues, along the path these activities have taken in the period 2007-2011. Whilst I would vigorously defend substantial financial support for research and development, actions relating to nuclear energy merit particular attention as regards their final objective. There must be no construction of new nuclear power stations that runs counter to the safety standards that are essential to our fellow citizens. Research and development efforts must also be agreed in the field of renewable energies, which contribute to job creation and provide a high level of environmental protection. That is why I abstained from voting on this report.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) The Seventh Framework Programme of the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom FP) 2007-2011 is made up of two specific programmes – one of ‘indirect actions’ and another of ‘direct actions’ – and finishes at the end of this year. The European Commission has tabled a proposal tackling the ‘indirect actions’, such as research into energy from nuclear fusion and fission, and radiation protection; the intention is to extend the programme created specifically for the purpose for a further two years. I am voting for this Commission initiative because I believe it is important for the European Union to adopt measures intended to continue the activities being undertaken, and to start implementing the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan endorsed by the Council in March 2008. Finally, I believe the new Euratom FP for 2012-2013 should be simpler and have less of a bureaucratic burden, by adopting increasing transparency and legal certainty in line with the European Parliament’s suggestions as regards the implementation of the research framework programmes.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this proposal for a decision as I think that it is important to continue the research funded by the EU in two of the programme’s priority areas: research on nuclear fusion and fission energy and protection against radiation. I think that it is important for the EU’s future energy mix to develop the ITER knowledge base and implement ITER as a main step forward towards creating reactor prototypes for power plants which will be secure, durable, green and economically viable.

It is important that, as part of the second priority ‘Nuclear fission and radiation protection’, practical developments towards safer management of long-lived radioactive waste gather momentum in order to increase, in particular, safety and resource efficiency. I called for particular attention to be paid to the development of contractual arrangements which reduce the failure to perform as well as the reallocation of risks over time. I think that, when forming committees dealing with fission and fusion aspects, it is important to ensure a reasonable gender balance and a balance between Member States undertaking nuclear research and training.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) At a time of global warming and on the eve of an unprecedented oil peak, electricity from nuclear power seems more than ever to be the energy of the future. Wind power and solar panels alone will be unable to meet our growing need for electricity. Nuclear energy will therefore have a key role to play, despite the positions taken recently by some parties. Categorical opposition to nuclear energy in favour of supposedly cleaner energy sources will result, in the immediate term, as demonstrated in Germany, in promoting the use of coal as a source of electricity. Where, then, is the environmental benefit? Rather than challenging an energy that has been developing since the inception of the EU, we must dedicate ourselves, as does this report, to proposing improved methods to manage the risks relating to nuclear power. It is precisely because we expect nuclear power to progress towards zero risk that we must give research the time and resources to achieve this ambition. I refer, in particular, to ITER, which is ultimately aiming to produce clean nuclear energy at four times the productivity level and which is nonetheless constantly criticised and threatened by the ecologists, who always vote against the European funds needed for this project.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Criteria have been specified for the 2012-2013 work programme of the European Atomic Energy Community which will allow proposals for indirect measures to be evaluated and projects to be selected. All the activities must be based on the principles of transparency, consistency and legal certainty. The proposal also covers safety, performance, the efficient use of resources and objectives for the uses of radiation in industry and medicine, together with issues relating to the safety of nuclear plants and the disposal of radioactive waste. As I am opposed to nuclear power in principle, and as this proposal refers specifically to the ITER nuclear fusion project and highlights its new European dimension, I have voted against the report.

 
  
  

Report: Klaus-Heiner Lehne (A7-0355/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting in favour of this report, and would highlight the achievements the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has made. It is always worth stressing the importance of a Europe that defends the welfare state so as to protect the weakest; changes to labour laws should not jeopardise workers’ rights, particularly in insolvency proceedings.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – The persisting disparities between national insolvency laws create difficulties for companies with cross-border activities and are an obstacle to a successful restructuring of insolvent companies. I am fully in favour of this report which identifies areas in national insolvency laws that are accessible and eligible for harmonisation and issues that should be revised in the Insolvency Regulation. I am in favour of this report which invites the Commission to incorporate the following recommendations into future legislative proposals on an EU corporate insolvency framework: harmonise the opening of insolvency proceedings, revise the Insolvency Regulation with regard to its scope and certain definitions (e.g. ‘centre of main interest’, ‘establishment’ in the context of secondary proceedings) and make the communication between the relevant courts obligatory, improve the cooperation of liquidators and cooperation in general on administrative level in cases where enterprises that are part of a group of companies become insolvent and create an EU Registry for insolvency cases.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) At a time of economic crisis, insolvency proceedings increase in number. It is therefore important that they are well regulated. In his own-initiative report, Klaus Heiner Lehne favours rescuing companies declared insolvent as an alternative to liquidation, the latter being a last resort. As these proceedings differ from one Member State to the next, the report recommends that they be harmonised in order to avoid penalising companies with cross-border activities. As I favour the convergence of the rules to which European companies are subject, I therefore supported this report.

 
  
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  Elena Băsescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report as I feel that insolvency procedures need to be harmonised. The Insolvency Regulation’s area of application should be extended. Insolvency entails adverse consequences for the economies of Member States. It can create difficulties for companies involved in cross-border activities. At the same time, disparities between national legislations in this area affect competitiveness.

Insolvency of a group of companies may lead to multiple insolvency proceedings. However, I should point out that there are no legislative provisions at EU level on the insolvency of groups of companies. This shortcoming may have major adverse consequences. Differences in the main procedures should be avoided. Suitable procedural guarantees need to be introduced. At the same time, the balance needs to be reinforced between the interest of the entrepreneur in looking to save his or her company and the interest of the creditors in protecting their debts. I welcome the idea of creating an EU-level insolvency registry.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of this report. The differences between national legislations on insolvency create major problems for companies, give rise to abuses, and affect Member States’ economies. I also support the recommendations made in the report’s annex, especially those concerning the prompt initiation of insolvency proceedings by all companies where insolvency is temporary and those concerning claims, avoidance actions, liquidators’ qualifications, restructuring plans and so on.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because I agree that we urgently need to establish as far as possible a better legal environment for business and eliminate barriers that have a negative impact on competitiveness in the European Union. Indeed, disparities between national insolvency laws create difficulties for companies with cross-border activities which might hamper the successful restructuring of insolvent companies. In this document, the European Parliament sets out its recommendations on areas of insolvency law which may be harmonised at EU level and which could help in drawing up legislative initiatives on this issue in future. Parliament thus proposes harmonising certain aspects of the initiation of insolvency proceedings, as well as procedures for the submission of claims, and puts forward recommendations on the harmonisation of aspects of avoidance actions, requirements for the qualification and work of liquidators and the establishment of restructuring plans. The European Parliament has also proposed the creation of an EU registry for insolvency cases which would contain every cross-border insolvency case opened and to which it would be compulsory for courts to transmit data.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) In my opinion, when revising the regulation on insolvency proceedings, the Commission ought to focus on certain important aspects, such as widening the scope of the regulation to include those procedures in which the management remains in control of the company, as this would afford the debtor in possession a number of mechanisms to restructure his business. The centre of main interests (COMI) is the most important concept, in my opinion, since the Insolvency Regulation’s principal jurisdictional role – that of determining which court is competent to open the main proceedings and which will be the applicable law – depends on the definition of the COMI. This concept is not defined, however, and this gives rise to uncertainty. In my opinion, the definition of an establishment should include services, and not just human means and goods. Finally, the duty of communication and cooperation enshrined in the regulation should not only affect liquidators but also courts.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Insolvency proceedings are very different among the 27 Member States of the Union. Regulation at EU level therefore aims to prevent parties from being encouraged to transfer their assets or to relocate judicial proceedings from one Member State to another to benefit from the most advantageous jurisdiction. In recent years, the phenomenon of groups of companies has increased. This is likely to result in the commencement of several separate proceedings in different jurisdictions with respect to each of the insolvent group members, with the risk that the group may be broken into its constituent parts rather than reorganised. Future regulation should therefore relate to groups of companies and stipulate that proceedings should be opened in the Member State where the operational headquarters of the group are located. The interests of workers should not be forgotten, which is why it is necessary to increase the priority of employees’ claims relative to other creditors’ claims.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I supported the adoption of this own-initiative report by Mr Lehne, which aims to harmonise the insolvency proceedings of European companies. The European Union should support our companies in difficulty by simplifying administrative burdens and by strengthening communication between the different intra-Community jurisdictions.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report on insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law, since the intention is to hold a useful debate on harmonising insolvency procedures in the various EU countries. This harmonisation, undertaken at a number of levels, would be positive for Europe, since it would make a major contribution to strengthening the single market and European integration.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This recommendation follows in the wake of a study prepared by this Parliament on an attempt to identify specific areas relating to insolvency amongst the various bodies of national law that could be harmonised. There is, without a doubt, a clear interest in exploring the conclusions presented therein, as well as in the proposals subsequently drafted by the rapporteur. However, I should like to stress that, while such harmonisation resolves potential conflicts on international insolvency law, it is not enough on its own. As such, there needs to be an improved EU coordinated approach and an agreement between the Member States enabling more efficient mechanisms for coordinating processes.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) The current financial and economic crisis is obliging society in general to reflect on all administrative and legal procedures involving economic activity. One of the problems affecting modern societies is companies being in business: when growing, these generate wealth and create jobs; when in recession, they throw millions of workers into unemployment, with social consequences of which we are all aware. One of the causes of unemployment is companies going out of business, often through insolvency. Currently, every Member State has its own legislation on this subject, so it is crucial to harmonise insolvency procedures at EU level in the spirit governing the workings of the single market. The recommendations of this report, drafted by Mr Lehne, which will serve as guidelines for the Commission, come under four headings: harmonisation, wherever possible; revision – and improvement, where possible – of the Insolvency Regulation; improved cooperation from liquidators and in general; and creation of an EU insolvency register. I voted for this report because I believe it will contribute to making EU companies run more smoothly.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The rapporteur makes some positive proposals. The most significant of these is the attention given to workers, clear in opportune statements such as ‘although employment law is the responsibility of the Member States, insolvency law can have an impact on employment law’; ‘in the context of increasing globalisation and indeed of the economic crisis, the issue of insolvency needs to be considered from an employment-law perspective, as differing definitions of ‘employment’ and ‘employee’ in Member States should not undermine the rights of employees in the event of insolvency’; and ‘it is necessary to increase the priority of employees’ claims relative to other creditors’ claims’.

However, the report is not free of contradictions, the most important of which is the attempt to harmonise the conditions under which insolvency proceedings may be opened. Moreover, the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises are not always secured. Although there are some positive points in the opening of proceedings, it is always the most powerful who will benefit most.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) There are a number of contradictions in this report, including, in fact, the attempt to harmonise the conditions under which insolvency proceedings may be opened. The rapporteur points to some positive issues regarding the opening of proceedings, but the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises will not always be safeguarded. In general, it is always the most powerful who will benefit from proceedings.

However, this report has positive aspects. Particular attention has been given to workers, as can be seen, for example, from the following statements:

‘although employment law is the responsibility of the Member States, insolvency law can have an impact on employment law’; and ‘in the context of increasing globalisation and indeed of the economic crisis, the issue of insolvency needs to be considered from an employment-law perspective, as differing definitions of ‘employment’ and ‘employee’ in Member States should not undermine the rights of employees in the event of insolvency’.

It also considers it ‘necessary to increase the priority of employees’ claims relative to other creditors’ claims’.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) Disparities between national insolvency laws create competitive advantages or disadvantages and difficulties for companies with cross-border activities, which could become obstacles to the successful restructuring of insolvent companies. Even if the creation of a body of substantive insolvency law at EU level is not possible, there are certain areas of insolvency law where harmonisation is achievable. Insolvency law should be a tool for rescuing companies at Union level, to the benefit of the debtor, the creditors and the employees whenever possible.

I also believe that a legal framework should be established that better suits cases of companies which are temporarily insolvent. In each specific case, the reasons for the insolvency of a business must be investigated, and it must be ascertained whether the business’s financial difficulties are merely transient or whether the business is completely insolvent. The interlinking of national insolvency registers, leading to the creation of a generally accessible and comprehensive EU database of insolvency proceedings, would allow creditors, shareholders, employees and courts to determine whether insolvency proceedings have been opened in another Member State and to ascertain the deadlines and details for the presentation of claims. Such steps would promote cost-effective administration and increase transparency, while respecting data protection.

 
  
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  Lorenzo Fontana (EFD), in writing.(IT) Mr Lehne’s report suggests to me that the new proposals should introduce a number of very positive elements with regard to the topic of insolvency, such as the creation of a European insolvency register, and they should, above all, increase the level of harmonisation and protection for creditors. For this reason, I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg (S&D), in writing.(PL) I fully endorse the initiative to revise the Insolvency Regulation of 29 May 2000. Since it came into force, many changes have taken place, 15 new Member States have joined the Union and the phenomenon of groups of companies has increased enormously. Looked at today, the measures proposed in the regulation of 11 years ago already seem anachronistic. Particular attention should be given to the need to formulate a clear definition of the centre of main interests, or COMI, of a debtor to enable the correct establishment of jurisdiction for insolvency proceedings. Incorrect interpretation of the concept of the COMI is a source of misunderstandings when filing for the bankruptcy of foreign companies. The location of the COMI determines the competence of a court to open insolvency proceedings. The basic factor which determines location is identification of the place where the debtor’s business operations are conducted and if this is ascertainable by third parties. Difficulties may arise here, when a foreign court, in publishing a bankruptcy decision relating to a company from another country, considers that that company has its COMI in another Member State because real control of the company is exercised there. The attempt to resolve this dilemma made by the European Court of Justice in its judgment of 2 May 2006 in the case of Eurofood IFSC Limited unfortunately did not completely solve the problem, which confirms the need for a clearer definition.

I would also like to emphasise the need to interpret the regulation in accordance with Directive 2008/94/EC on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employer. The Member States should not undermine the rights of employees in the insolvency procedure. I support the proposal to introduce a ranking of creditors in which priority would be given to employees, with a guarantee of at least the minimum standards of protection irrespective of the different national legal definitions.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This report quite rightly emphasises the need to respect the principle of subsidiarity in relation to any EU proposals relating to insolvency. This is particularly necessary within the UK, where the law on insolvency is fundamentally different in Scotland and the other countries making up the current Member State.

 
  
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  Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenovа (ALDE), in writing. (BG) Insolvency legislation varies greatly between individual Member States. This is why I think that the report containing recommendations to the Commission on insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law is of paramount importance to its harmonisation at European Union level.

The Insolvency Regulation stipulates that the state where proceedings are opened will determine the conditions, more specifically by establishing against which debtors insolvency proceedings may be brought, what assets form part of the estate, and the way in which assets are treated.

I share the view of the rapporteur that a legislative initiative is required to harmonise these aspects so that there is greater legal certainty right from the start of proceedings. According to the Insolvency Regulation, the lodging, verification and admission of claims are determined by the law of the state where proceedings are opened, which will also apply to claims that are accepted as insolvency claims. I support the view that such harmonisation of claims would increase the legal certainty for creditors. I concur that the creation of an EU Registry is needed so that creditors and courts can determine whether insolvency proceedings are opened in another Member State, as well as their deadlines and other details of the claims which have been lodged.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this proposal because disparities between national insolvency laws create competitive advantages or disadvantages and difficulties for companies with cross-border activities which might hamper the successful restructuring of insolvent companies. These disparities favour forum-shopping. I believe that it would be beneficial for the internal market if all companies enjoyed a level playing field and competition was not distorted. The Commission is therefore requested to submit to Parliament one or more legislative proposals relating to an EU corporate insolvency framework, in line with the detailed recommendations set out in the annex of this proposal, in order to ensure a level playing field based on a detailed analysis of all viable alternatives.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I voted for this resolution which calls for, in the case of insolvency proceedings, a four-fold structure of future legislative initiatives: (1) harmonisation where possible, (2) revision of the Insolvency Regulation where it will remain – in addition to harmonisation – relevant and where the practice has proven that improvement can be made, (3) improvement of the cooperation of liquidators and cooperation in general on administrative level in cases where enterprises that are part of a group of companies become insolvent and (4) creation of an EU Registry for insolvency cases.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) It is important to emphasise that the recommendations must respect the principle of subsidiarity and the fundamental rights of citizens. Furthermore, the financial implications of the proposal put forward must be covered by suitable budget appropriations. The report by Mr Lehne follows this path and I am therefore voting in favour.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I welcome the recommendations to the Commission on insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law contained in this own-initiative report.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Legislation on insolvency proceedings needs to be improved. In this climate of crisis, the number of insolvencies is ever increasing and there is a need to speed up proceedings. There were also loopholes in the old legislation that needed to be closed, not least as regards the insolvency of groups of companies. The Insolvency Regulation only applies to single companies and there is no legislation at EU level on the insolvency of groups of companies, despite groups being a very common form of business model in economic life. This omission has important negative consequences. It is important to be aware of the great variety of different group structures and relationships between companies belonging to the same group and, therefore, of the fact that the same solution cannot be applied to all kinds of groups, at least given the current state of insolvency laws in the Union. Ideally, the insolvency of groups of companies should be managed by a single court applying its own insolvency law. This solution facilitates coordination and the transmission of information, saves costs, maximises asset value, and facilitates recovery.

 
  
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  Louis Michel (ALDE), in writing. (FR) In Belgium, 2010 was synonymous with an unprecedented pensioner boom. More than 100 000 workers qualified for a pension. I welcome the invitation this report extends to the Member States to recognise the importance of integrating migrants. Immigration is a natural phenomenon. The history of mankind is a history of migration. Zero immigration does not exist, has never existed, and will never exist. In this day and age, it is no longer possible to go without an in-depth reflection on the problem of migration. All countries are affected by the movement of people, whether as origin, transit or receiving countries. Migration is a positive reality. It enriches not only the economy but also the culture and the society of the transit and destination countries. The migratory phenomenon is a natural phenomenon, which must be supported, shaped and portrayed positively. In a Europe where the regions are becoming increasingly important, it is also important to point out that the Structural Funds allocated to them can be used to achieve such an objective. Unfortunately, this is far from the case at present, as only 9% of appropriations have been used.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – This report asks the Commission to come up with one or more legislative initiatives relating to an EU corporate insolvency framework. The S&D achieved two objectives: firstly, it adopted in the Committee on Legal Affairs technical amendments whereby we ask the Commission to come up with a clear definition of ‘COMI’ (centre of main interest) for groups of companies and, in relation to that, rules for a shift in COMI or substantive consolidation, in order to identify the legitimate jurisdiction for main and secondary proceedings. Secondly, it provided a bridge between Regulation (EC) No 1346/2000 and Directive 2008/94/EC on the protection of employees in the event of the insolvency of their employers. I totally support the report because in it, Parliament calls on the Commission to introduce a ranking of creditors that should give precedence to employees and set minimum standards of protection irrespective of different legal definitions for the categories concerned and substantive national laws.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because, owing to differences in national legislation, many companies find themselves at a competitive disadvantage and find it difficult to operate. The restructuring of insolvent companies is also hampered. It should be noted that a single and effective insolvency framework is a very important instrument of the market economy. It not only helps to sustain business and production capacities, but encourages change, and the speedy redistribution of resources also plays a particularly important role in the area of credit and investment. I therefore believe that the insolvency framework must function as a tool within a European crisis management framework. Consequently, insolvency requirements and the conditions under which insolvency proceedings may be opened should be harmonised at EU level, as should certain aspects of avoidance actions and other requirements. Only by implementing these measures will an effectively functioning competitive environment be created for businesses, along with opportunities to sustain businesses that face temporary financial difficulties.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) On 23 March 2011, the Committee on Legal Affairs held a workshop on ‘Harmonisation of insolvency proceedings at EU level’. The aim was to identify areas in national insolvency laws that are eligible for harmonisation. In preparation for the hearing, the Committee on Legal Affairs commissioned a study on ‘Harmonisation of Insolvency Law at EU level’. The recommendations of this report take into account the ideas that experts expounded in the aforementioned study and during the hearing, and that were further explained in the accompanying documentation. This report therefore includes recommendations to the Commission on insolvency proceedings in the context of EU company law, and explains the actions that should be taken in future legislative processes. As this is a process with constructive measures in an area in which harmonisation could bring benefits, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) At a time of considerable financial instability, short selling could aggravate the downward spiral in the prices of shares, notably in financial institutions, in a way which could ultimately threaten their viability and create systemic risks. Therefore, the measure put forward in 2008 to restrict or ban short selling in some or all securities appears necessary. In the absence of a European legislative framework, this regulation led to the creation of different laws in the 27 Member States. However, we have to consider that in order to guarantee the functioning of the internal market, improving the conditions in which it operates and ensuring a high level of protection of investors and consumers, it is worthwhile establishing a common legislative framework of laws and relevant powers with regard to short selling and credit default swaps. In light of this, I voted in favour of the proposal for a regulation.

 
  
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  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. (RO) The freedom of establishment and the increased mobility of companies between Member States have highlighted the need for better coordination and a greater degree of harmonisation of insolvency law in order to combat the adverse impact of ‘insolvency tourism’ on employees. Even though employment law is the responsibility of Member States, insolvency law can have an impact on employment law and, in the context of increased globalisation and, indeed, of the economic crisis, the issue of insolvency needs to be considered from an employment law perspective.

I am concerned to note the growing number of workers, especially women and people over the age of 45, affected by insolvency procedures. This situation can be attributed to the very severe economic and social impact the financial and economic crisis is having, and the nature of systemically-relevant, cross-border financial institutions increases their role in this area. I welcome the fact that Directive 2008/94/EC on the protection of employees in the event of their employer becoming insolvent explicitly includes in its scope part-time employees, employees on fixed-term contracts and employees in a temporary employment relationship. Nevertheless, I feel it is necessary to increase the protection afforded in the event of insolvency, even for workers on non-standard contracts.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The insolvency system remains one of the areas of law in which there are significant differences between the Member States’ legislation. However, this is an extremely important area in which there is justification for bringing the various Member States’ bodies of law closer together: in the final analysis, the satisfaction of a company’s claims depends on how the insolvency procedure is structured; it is also a company’s last chance for economic recovery. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. On 23 March 2011, the Legal Affairs Committee held a workshop on ‘harmonisation of insolvency proceedings at EU level’. The aim was to identify areas in national insolvency laws that are accessible and eligible for harmonisation. In preparation of the hearing, the Legal Affairs Committee commissioned a study on ‘Harmonisation of Insolvency Law at EU level’. The recommendations of this report take into account the ideas that experts elaborated in the aforementioned study and during the hearing and that were further explained in the accompanying documentation.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) Disparities between national insolvency laws often create competitive advantages or disadvantages and difficulties for companies with cross-border activities, which could become obstacles to a successful restructuring of insolvent companies.

It would therefore be prudent to harmonise across Europe the conditions under which insolvency proceedings can be opened. The Committee on Legal Affairs has quite rightly identified four points for future legislative initiatives. In addition to harmonisation, where possible, it would be good to see a revision of the Insolvency Regulation, where still necessary, and where practice has proven that improvements can be made.

Thirdly, it would also be a good idea to improve cooperation among liquidators and cooperation in general on the administrative level in cases where enterprises that are part of a group of companies become insolvent. Lastly, the creation of an EU Registry for insolvency cases was suggested. The recommendations are designed to serve as guidelines for the Commission to reform the issue, ending differences between national legislation.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) At the time of the adoption of the Insolvency Regulation at EU level, in 2000, certain important issues were not properly included, and there is now a need to give them particular emphasis. As such, the disparity between national legal systems as regards insolvency proceedings requires harmonisation, so as to enable a better restructuring of Europe’s various companies, which should consist of the following legislative proposals. The various points considered include harmonisation of the conditions under which insolvency proceedings may be opened, revision of certain definitions included in the regulation and its scope, improved promotion of cooperation between liquidators and administrative entities, and creation of an EU registry of cases.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) Following a detailed analysis of the insolvency regulations of the individual Member States, the areas where harmonisation would be both sensible and viable have been categorised. In addition, the proposal includes suggestions for increasing the cooperation between the administrative bodies and the creation of an insolvency register at a European level. I have voted in favour.

 
  
  

Report: Kerstin Westphal (A7-0350/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, and would draw attention to the fact that demographic change is a factor that should be taken into account when setting out policies, especially for the outermost regions and for the weakest regions supported by the ‘Convergence’ objective.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I am in favour of this report which depicts how demographic change clearly impacts the provision of social infrastructure, such as pension systems, nursing care and health care, and calls for proactive measures to prevent its negative consequences. Demographic change is producing new challenges in many regions of the EU. As demographic change can bring both risks and opportunities, it is imperative that each region has its own strategy. As such, Members call on the Commission to include demographic change as a horizontal objective in the future cohesion policy and also encourages the regions to use Structural Funds to help address demographic challenges and to improve access to social and administrative services. As Europe will, for demographic reasons, remain dependent on migration for skilled labour, this report calls for Member States to recognise the integration of migrants as a strategically important policy measure.

It also believes that the regions should use ESF funds in a decisive manner to combat youth unemployment by supporting training measures for young people, while continuing support to raise the female employment rate. Lastly, the report considers that demographic developments in the regions should be statistically measured so that data can be evaluated at European level.

 
  
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  Roberta Angelilli (PPE), in writing.(IT) We are facing a challenge, namely, to tackle demographic change in a practical way, through targeted policies and good allocation of financial resources. Unfortunately, we are witnessing the ageing of the European population. Our population growth rate is among the lowest in the world, while the birth rate is below the replacement level of an average of 2.1 children per woman.

Demographic change will drastically change the political, social and economic situation in Europe, especially due to the crisis, the retirement age and the considerable migratory flows to which Europe’s borders are subject. Furthermore, the cities will have to deal with a population influx, while according to estimates, the population of around 20 regions will fall by more than 10%. There is no time to lose. We need targeted policies, concrete and visible efforts and progress within a short time, tackling female and youth employment, for example, and the integration of people with disabilities.

 
  
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  Elena Oana Antonescu (PPE), in writing. (RO) Europe has the oldest population in the world, and it also has the lowest population growth rate. This is a situation which ought to alarm us and make us aware that demographic change affects numerous areas. Joint solutions and synergies can be found by implementing EU policies for the main sensitive issues raised by demographic change. Therefore, the Structural Funds must be better adapted to the challenges posed by these changes, depopulation and the social isolation of elderly people must be prevented, and town planning needs to be adapted. Furthermore, the rise in the employment rate of women plays a key role in combating this problem. Last but not least, coordination needs to be improved between the relevant authorities at every level, and exchanges of good practices must be encouraged. I take this opportunity to call on Member States to take into account the different levels of development of the regions where the allocation and distribution of the EU Structural Funds are concerned, as well as the definition of impact indicators.

 
  
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  Pino Arlacchi (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report because demographic change is creating new possibilities for some regions in the world and, instead of being viewed purely as a threat, it should also be seen as an opportunity. The support provided by the cohesion policy instruments should be carefully examined and exploited in an appropriate manner. The impact of demographic change varies substantially from region to region, depending on whether it is rapid or slow, and whether the region concerned is a region of net immigration or of shrinking population.

For this reason, this text calls on the Member States and regions to consider the divergent development levels of the regions and take into account demographic indicators when allocating and distributing EU Structural Funds and defining impact indicators. Furthermore, demographic developments in the regions should be made comparable, and exchanges of best practices between Member States, regions and local communities should be encouraged.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The EU faces two demographic challenges: the ageing of its population and a low birth rate. A slowdown in the population growth rate impacts negatively on the economy and increases the risk of dependence. These trends are more pronounced in regions where the exodus of young people to attractive urban centres is more marked. The EU must find ways to manage these developments in a sustainable manner, notably through cohesion policy. As I am committed to the principle of social cohesion, which is at the heart of EU regional policy, I voted in favour of Kerstin Wetphal’s own-initiative report, which proposes that demographic change should become one of the priorities of this policy.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Demographic change is a reality in the European Union. Europe’s population is ageing: it has the oldest population and the lowest population growth rate in the world. Demographic change is therefore considered the major trend of the 21st century, and it will drastically change the political, social, societal and economic situation in Europe. This report, for which I voted, identifies the following priorities: better adapting the Structural Funds to the challenges of demographic change; preventing depopulation and the social exclusion of the elderly; combating unemployment amongst women and young people; and making use of the knowledge and experience of older people. In order for Europe to achieve an adequate response to demographic change, it is important, firstly, that it be possible to determine these changes in adequate statistical terms, and, secondly, that there be better coordination between the responsible entities at all levels and an exchange of best practices.

 
  
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  George Becali (NI), in writing. (RO) Europe has two important features nowadays: an ageing population and migration flows both from within and outside the EU. During the current financial year, Member States have allocated EUR 30 billion from the Structural Funds to measures relating to demographic change. I find interesting the idea of treating demographic change also as an opportunity, rather than only as a threat. This can be achieved by dealing with the problem at regional level.

The Commission has proposed support for young families provided by high-quality child care and educational institutions, as well as through solutions for the generation in the middle and the elderly. Therefore, it is right for us to aim to adapt the Structural Funds better to these challenges. Towns and villages must be attractive to their inhabitants, have the necessary infrastructure to support children and families, and provide multi-generational housing. A reduction in youth unemployment is desirable through projects financed by the ESF.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing.(FR) Demographic change in the European Union is a fact today. Europe’s population is ageing and it has the lowest population growth rate in the world. Handling this change is an issue of varying importance in our regions, depending on their demographic growth and their migratory pull. This own-initiative report puts forward numerous proposals for responding to the differing expectations of our regions in terms of services, infrastructures and social policy in this context of demographic change. It is essential to support the efforts already under way to ensure the adequate, universal provision of high-quality basic services of general interest. The future cohesion policy must therefore play its key role through better coordination of the European Structural Funds.

In order to stem the negative impact of demographic change, Europe will need labour immigration, especially highly qualified labour. The Member States must recognise that the integration of migrants is a strategically important policy measure which must be integrated into the future cohesion policy. Ageing and immigration, as highlighted by this quality report, must become opportunities for the Europe of tomorrow.

 
  
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  Sergio Berlato (PPE), in writing.(IT) Demographic change in the European Union is a fact. The way it is handled will have a decisive influence on the political, social and economic situation in Europe, and handling it will certainly be one of the central tasks of the future. Europe has the oldest population and the lowest population growth in the world. Furthermore, it should be noted that in the majority of Member States, the birth rate lies below the replacement level of 2.1 children for every woman and, in some cases, even continues to diminish in the face of increased life expectancy.

Regional policy, in my opinion, is an essential instrument in confronting demographic change. The Member States and regions should be positioned to make greater use of Structural Funds in order to develop strategies to tackle the challenges posed by demographic change successfully.

The Commission, in the conclusions of the Fifth Report on cohesion, underlines the importance of demographic change. However, the Commission should regard this change as an essential priority for the development of Europe and, in the meantime, the Member States and regions should henceforth recognise these problems as a horizontal priority to be included in their own operational programmes.

 
  
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  Vilija Blinkevičiūtė (S&D), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report because demographic change is producing new challenges in many regions of the EU. Not all EU regions have realised that demographic change can bring risks, but they now have to understand that each region and each urban area needs its own strategy. In principle, this is the Member States’ responsibility, but the regions themselves must be proactive and, at the same time, they need guidance and prospects for the future. Demographic change, especially population ageing, has a clear impact on the provision of social infrastructure, such as pension systems, nursing care and health care, with regional authorities having to meet changing demand from various population groups. Moreover, the impact of demographic change varies substantially from region to region, depending on whether it is rapid or slow and whether the region concerned is a region of net immigration or of shrinking population and therefore requires a different adjustment strategy, and must be tackled in a coordinated way by all European, national and regional authorities. Attention should be drawn to the fact that in regions of shrinking population, particularly rural regions, quality of life is defined differently from the way it is in regions with a growing population, and therefore different support strategies are needed.

 
  
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  Vito Bonsignore (PPE), in writing.(IT) I offer my congratulations for the work carried out by the rapporteur, for which I voted in favour. Demographic change, now established in the European Union, and its handling are among the most pressing tasks in the immediate future. The population of Europe continues to age and demographic growth is the lowest in the world. In the majority of Member States the birth rate is below the replacement level, equal to 2.1 children per woman.

Regional policy should therefore become an essential instrument in confronting demographic change. Structural Funds should be better adapted to the challenges posed by demographic change, in particular, by also making use of demographic indicators when allocating funds. Moreover, in response to these challenges, it is necessary to focus efforts on increasing the employment rate for women and fighting youth unemployment.

Finally, it is necessary to ascertain adequately the demographic trend from a statistical point of view, thereby improving coordination between relevant services at every level, including through exchange of good practices. Handled effectively, demographic change could present opportunities for Europe itself, and no longer be considered a threat.

 
  
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  Jan Březina (PPE), in writing. (CS) I firmly believe that the Structural Funds must be better adapted to the challenges of demographic change. The Commission should consider this change a key priority for European development. At the same time, Member States and regions should take more account of this topic than previously, and consider it a horizontal priority in their operational programmes. In the distribution of resources from the Structural Funds at regional level, account should be taken of demographic indicators. We are confronting significant challenges with infrastructure, not only in rural areas, but also in the cities. We must prevent an exodus of citizens and the social exclusion of old people, and we must also make changes to town planning. The Structural Funds can play a supporting role here. Towns and villages must be attractive to citizens, and this includes infrastructure that is of benefit to children and families, as well as good public transport over short distances. In view of the fact that demographic changes mainly affect old people, children and families, it is necessary for resources from the European Regional Development Fund to be directed to supporting loans at favourable interest rates that can help with the construction of flats that are suitable for old people or with supporting multigenerational housing. It is essential to have comprehensive health care, sufficient nursing staff and payment-free, all-day child care, which can be supported by cohesion policy.

 
  
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  Alain Cadec (PPE), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the Westphal report on the consequences of demographic change for the future cohesion policy. This report considers that Member States and their regions should take more account of demographic change and recognise it as a cross-cutting priority in their operational programmes. It also emphasises the role of the Structural Funds in preventing depopulation and the exclusion of the elderly, as well as the importance of infrastructures in making regions attractive for families.

 
  
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  Carlos Coelho (PPE), in writing. (PT) Europe’s populations are ageing, life expectancy is increasing and demographic change is increasingly becoming a reality, which is consequently having a social and economic impact on both social security and migratory pressure. It is important to start now on tackling the challenges associated with demographic change, which vary a great deal from region to region, so as to reverse the flow of young people abandoning rural areas for the cities. If not, there will be an alarming population decline of 10% in around 20 regions of the EU.

Demographic change has undoubtedly been affecting older people, children and families. Therefore, we need measures intended to reorganise urban planning, particularly as regards better quality public transport; the granting of funds from the European Regional Development Fund, with the intention of offering loans at lower interest rates so that beneficiaries can adapt their houses to the needs of older people; increased medical care cover; and making better use of older people’s knowledge and experience as regards advice, in order to prevent their exclusion and depopulation.

 
  
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  Lara Comi (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this report on the initiative as I believe that demographic change should not be considered as a problem, but rather as a great opportunity for Member States to carry out reforms. The increase in life expectancy and the ageing of the population present two of today’s great challenges in the field of demographic change and have an impact on the political, social and economic circumstances of every country. To this end, structural policy should take up these challenges, concentrating on the needs of the elderly, children and families, on the necessity to employ skilled labour, focusing on increasing the inclusion of women in the labour market as well as on the use of Structural Funds to adapt to different regional scenarios. Furthermore, I believe that it is very important to strengthen aid to regions characterised by depopulation and by population ageing in order to guarantee that these regions are in a position to benefit from Structural Funds. To this effect, it could be useful to promote the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation, of social infrastructures and integrated urban development. I hope that all Member States will be able to adopt their own support strategies which are nevertheless coordinated by the various relevant authorities. In order to distribute Structural Funds, it is certainly necessary to bear in mind the different levels of development between regions.

 
  
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  Andrea Cozzolino (S&D), in writing.(IT) Demographic change, as underlined in the Fifth Report on cohesion, poses one of the central challenges for the future of the European socio-economic system, and it is a challenge with a wide territorial context that cuts deeply into the management of services and infrastructures.

Without in any way detracting from the task of individual Member States, this challenge, which could also become an opportunity, directly implicates European institutions and, in particular, regional development policies. These policies are characterised by different strategies that are adapted to guaranteeing the demands and needs, respectively, of areas with populations on the rise and in decline, as well as the varying needs of urban and rural areas.

In response to these challenges, European Funds (both the ERDF and the ESF) can be used comprehensively to ensure that equilibrium is restored to demands and, to this end, we should welcome the prospect of also making use of specific demographic indicators to assign European funds as well as to redistribute finances at the level of individual States.

I express my vote in favour in the hope for policies capable of correlating the effects of demographic change with the fight against old and new poverty.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) The European Union must take into account current demographic changes at Member State level to identify how the EU strategies intended for this area can be adapted according to the problems pinpointed by local and regional authorities. The current crisis must not affect urban and regional development projects, which must be correlated with functional changes to the infrastructure, including through revitalising and redeveloping city centre areas, and with the possibility that, in the future, smaller or larger cities will be developed which are better suited to the elderly and their mobility.

 
  
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  Mário David (PPE), in writing. (PT) Europe’s demographic structure is changing radically. That is an unavoidable fact. Apart from the ageing of the population and lower birth rates at global level, demographic change in a number of regions of the European Union is bringing new challenges that should be considered objectively in future EU cohesion policy. In certain regions, there is depopulation; in others, considerable influxes of people. I therefore consider it absolutely essential to set out and implement an adequate infrastructure policy, adapted to the needs of each area. The Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund play a key role here. As such, there is a need to develop specific policies for the rural areas suffering depopulation, on the one hand, and specific policies for the urban areas receiving significant influxes of population, on the other. The report gives good examples of what should be done. I voted for this report, since I believe it makes pertinent, objective, clear and easily understood contributions to the debate that has recently started on the future of EU regional policy.

 
  
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  Luigi Ciriaco De Mita (PPE), in writing.(IT) Different rates of development and the changes in the ways of life that exist in our societies have led to profound variations in the demographic pyramid. If higher life expectancy is a positive aspect of these changes, the same could not be said for others, in particular, for those that concern young people and women. With regard to these categories of the population, elements that have been shown to be inadequate include work policies that have put a strain both on training (including at university and post university), in favour of a more pronounced trend towards entering the world of work, and on accompanying policies concerning remaining in work, with a view to greater fulfilment of family needs. To this end, among the initiatives to be reinforced by more profitable use of Structural Funds, one could, on the one hand, include the provision of services in support of guidance and of satisfying the demand for work with job offers, whereby these services are adequate, operational and easily accessible to those who require them. On the other hand, one could intervene by strengthening policies in support of the family (including greater diffusion of public or private nurseries and organisation of flexible work). I believe that the approved report leads in this direction.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this report recommending improved allocation of cohesion policy resources in order to give local authorities the resources to mitigate the impact of Europe’s ageing population. It has become essential to counteract the exodus of young people from the less-favoured regions, and to develop care infrastructures for the elderly, if we are to prevent these people from becoming excluded.

 
  
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  Anne Delvaux (PPE), in writing. (FR) Demographic change, both at European and international level, is one of the major challenges that the public authorities have to tackle. An ageing population, significant migratory flows, the exodus from rural regions to urban regions. These demographic upheavals constitute one of the main challenges for the future. The report for which I voted today invites the Commission, in particular, to perfect its ‘demographic vulnerability index’ and to recalculate it every five years in order to better identify the regions of Europe that are particularly exposed to demographic change. It is just a first step in the management of these inexorable developments.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report because it argues that gender equality policies could contribute significantly to tackling demographic change. In addition to measures intended to increase women’s employability, particular attention should be paid to incentives for employers’ associations that promote the reconciliation of professional and private life.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Demographic change is obvious in a European Union that is increasingly old and incapable of reproducing itself from one generation to the next. This situation cannot fail to concern specialists, as well as political decision makers, who will be unable to avoid the blame for the negative consequences of their societies’ loss of vitality, and who will instead have to seek ways of minimising the resulting problems and adapting the welfare state to the new reality. The ageing of the population is no bad thing in and of itself, but rather demonstrates how average life expectancy has increased. However, the low birth rate should be worthy of our taking a closer look at support for reconciling personal and family life, and at adopting family friendly public policies.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report, drafted by Ms Westphal, tackles a subject of extreme importance for the future of Europe. Indeed, we cannot be insensitive to the demographic change that has been occurring, essentially over the last three decades. The sharp drop in the birth rate, increased life expectancy, the depopulation of rural areas and migratory flows are some of the phenomena about which the European Union needs to reflect, and which it must include in future cohesion policy. Demographic change is ‘the major trend of the 21st century, as it will drastically change the political, social, societal and economic situation in Europe’, so it is essential that the Structural Funds be channelled into alleviating the negative effects of this change: investment in rural areas to prevent depopulation; urban child care facilities; benefits for older people, children and families; increased rate of employment for women; and a new policy for integrating qualified immigrant women. I therefore welcome the rapporteur’s view of not considering demographic change a problem, but rather an opportunity for confronting the ageing of Europe’s population, as well as the adoption of this report, which includes a proactive vision of demographic change.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Demographic change in Europe is partly the expression of civilisation’s achievements, like increased average life expectancy, but also of worrying aspects like the low birth rate, which is of particular concern in certain countries, like Portugal. The rapporteur’s intention is to examine and explore these developments, from the point of view of the opportunities and consequences of demographic change. As we stated during the debate, it concerns us that this debate is frequently used, in some ways that are more disguised than others, to pave the way for enforcing measures that threaten the fundamental rights and victories of the workers and peoples, like social security systems; for increasing the retirement age and reducing pension values, for overloading and damaging social infrastructure, and for abolishing rights to health care.

All this has been happening with the implementation of so-called austerity measures. If demographic change is not to represent a step backwards for society or jeopardise economic and social cohesion, public services must be universal and of high quality, adapted and reinforced according to new requirements resulting from demographic change, and publicly owned. Changes to the policies that have been leading to the low birth rate must also be implemented.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) Scientific and technical development, and civilisation’s achievements over the last century, enable progress that poses us a series of new possibilities and challenges. However, at the level of the EU institutions, this progress has been used as a pretext for imposing steps backwards; in other words, to threaten the rights and victories of the workers and peoples, like public and universal social security systems. Many of the challenges have gone without the proper response, whether at the level of cohesion policy, of regional development, of combating desertification, or of strengthening and diversifying public services.

This report tackles the important issue of using the Structural Funds – specifically, the European Regional Development Fund and the European Social Fund – to confront some of these challenges, particularly in the countries and regions suffering most from ageing and depopulation. Increasing the absorption of these EU funds is all the more important when we realise that many of these countries and regions are confronted with unacceptable programmes of so-called austerity, which are squeezing investment levels to the point of penury, so preventing the full use of these funds by those who need them most and at a time when they are most needed.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The European population is the oldest in the world and, as a result, managing demographic change is one of the core tasks for the future. Demographic change has different impacts on different regions, depending on a range of factors.

The right solution to this problem requires different adaptation strategies. It is clear, for example, that quality of life in regions with a declining population – particularly in rural areas – is defined differently than in regions with a growing population. I firmly believe, however, that in seeking an optimal solution, it is essential in all circumstances to take account of the individual needs of different population groups.

In order to find answers to the challenges posed by demographic change, it is important to try and create the sort of conditions that will allow EU Member State citizens to balance work, family and private life.

It is also important to improve coordination between the competent authorities at all levels so as to allow positive advances to be made, for example, through the sharing of experience and proven approaches to a given problem. If we make the necessary effort for suitable guidance on demographic change and find a response at European, national and regional level, it will not be a threat for Europe but, on the contrary, an opportunity.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) The difficulty is not knowing whether, and to what extent, EU regional policy should take account of the extremely worrying demographic changes taking place in Member States and some of their regions, but how to avert the impending demographic disaster. Nothing in this report actually focuses on resolving the problem of ageing in our continent and of economic and social decline, as well as demographic decline, in many regions, not just isolated rural areas. Clearly, it is not for this policy of patronage and financial tinkering, which you call ‘cohesion policy’, to tackle these problems, which depend on proactive national birth policies. However, neither should this policy make pronouncements on encouraging immigration from outside Europe as a solution to replacing indigenous populations. Amidst all the confusion and immigrationist militancy, the few sensible considerations contained in this report could not deflect the inevitable negative vote.

 
  
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  Brice Hortefeux (PPE), in writing.(FR) By overwhelmingly adopting the report on demographic change and its consequences for the future cohesion policy, Parliament has sent a clear signal to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union on how cohesion policy should be handled in the future.

Member States are increasingly mobilising the Structural Funds in order to combat the adverse effects of demographic change (population ageing, rural exodus of young people, inadequate infrastructures, and so on), of which the impact on the economic and social development of the European Union cannot be ignored. For the period 2007-2013, the Member States have devoted EUR 30 billion to action in this area. These efforts need to continue.

That is why I believe it is essential for the demographic dimension to become an integral part of European policies, in particular, cohesion policy, and to be taken into account in national strategies, too.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – This report highlights the need for adequate provision of affordable housing. Important steps towards this end have been made in my own country, where the Scottish Government and the Scottish Futures Trust are working with local authorities to implement the National Housing Trust initiative. This initiative is rectifying years of neglect in this area by successive unionist governments.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because demographic change in the EU is a fact, and handling it constitutes one of the core tasks for the future. Europe’s population is ageing: it has the oldest population and the lowest population growth rate in the world. In most Member States, the birth rate is below the replacement level and continues to fall in some cases, while life expectancy is rising. Demographic change is therefore rightly considered to be the major trend of the 21st century as it will drastically change the political, social, societal and economic situation in Europe. The problem is not demographic change itself, but politicians’ and society’s hesitation to address this change. Meeting the full range of demographic challenges is principally the task of the Member States, but the regions must be proactive, for which reason they need support at European level. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) can contribute to the task of addressing the challenges stemming from demographic change in the EU, namely, the increase in the number of older people and the decline in the young population. If we shape demographic change and find answers both at European level and at national and regional level, this change will not be a threat but an opportunity for Europe.

 
  
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  Lívia Járóka (PPE), in writing. – The economic and social impacts of demographic change are one of the key factors that must be reckoned with regarding the future prosperity of Europe and the fulfilment of justice, human rights and freedom. Marginalisation and demographic dynamics often go hand in hand, as can most conspicuously be seen in the case of the Roma. Not only are they the continent’s far youngest minority with the lowest socio-economic status, but their communities can be characterised by reversed demographic trends compared to the majority population. Hence, in most new Member States, while there is a rapid ageing of the majority population, the proportion of Roma is quickly increasing within the active age cohort, which carries the social security system on its shoulders.

As a demographic gap opens up, so it is usually followed by the exacerbation of intra-regional disparities, further polarising those micro-regions that are peripheral and declining and those that are dynamic and developing. The fact that there are areas which are lagging behind may hamper general social development and threaten to disrupt cohesion – not only in territorial terms, but also in social terms. Their specific needs must therefore be targeted through an equivalent, complex and intensive programme based on a pan-European crisis map.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) Demographic change in the European Union is a fact, and handling it constitutes one of the core tasks for the future. This report has an important role to play with regard to the wellbeing of our fellow Europeans. That is why I supported this report.

 
  
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  Giovanni La Via (PPE), in writing.(IT) The rise in life expectancy, which affects almost the entirety of the population of Europe, forces us to think about new challenges and about considering the possibilities without limiting ourselves to avoiding the risks. A demographic change, indeed, leads to reflections and new strategies regarding European Structural Funds anticipated for the development of urban and rural areas. Evaluating, in the light of the new figures on life expectancy and birth rates, the policies relating to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and, more generally, those that concern mobility and social cohesion, is more necessary than ever. However, this evaluation must take place under the watchful eye of the authorities in individual Member States and regions. Mr Westphal’s report, for which I have voted in favour, reflects the need to tackle the theme of demographic change, in the diversity and complexity of its elements, keeping in mind the repercussions it can have on the economy, employment and mobility, and those that are closely linked to the citizens of the EU.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – Demographic change in the EU is a fact and handling it constitutes one of the core tasks for the future. Europe’s population is ageing: it has the oldest population and the lowest population growth rate in the world. In most Member States, the birth rate is below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman (and continues to fall in some cases), while life expectancy is rising. There is a 50% probability that a girl born in Germany in 2010 will reach the age of 100. Demographic change is therefore rightly considered to be the major trend of the 21st century, as it will drastically change the political, social, societal and economic situation in Europe. This report makes some sensible suggestions for handling demographic change and I supported it.

 
  
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  Clemente Mastella (PPE), in writing.(IT) Demographic change in the European Union is a fact, and handling it constitutes one of the core tasks for the future. We have the oldest population and the lowest population growth in the world. In the majority of Member States, the birth rate is below the replacement level.

Many people consider demographic change to be a problem. We, instead, agree with the rapporteur who, according to this report, believes that this point of view is short-sighted and hopes that the opportunities which these demographic developments can offer to Europe are taken into consideration. The problem is not demographic change itself, but the hesitation of politics and society in addressing this change. Member States and regions can draw on the Structural Funds to develop tailor-made strategies. In order to find answers to the challenges posed by demographic change, we believe that it is necessary, first and foremost, to obtain adequate statistics on this change. Secondly, coordination between the authorities concerned should be improved at every level and examples of good practice should be exchanged between the 27 Member States.

 
  
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  Iosif Matula (PPE), in writing. (RO) Demographic change is a current problem facing the EU, exerting an irreversible impact on society. In order to meet the EU 2020 objectives for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, demographic change needs to be approached as an opportunity rather than an inconvenience. The year 2012 is the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between the Generations. The decline in the number of people of working age and the ageing population will have a crucial impact on the labour market. At the same time, youth unemployment is growing at an alarming rate, and the European Union is obliged, in practical terms, to establish a balance between generations.

An initial measure is to utilise the full potential of the European Social Fund to support opportunities for training, professional retraining and social inclusion involving women and young people. The next step must be to encourage workforce training, particularly in developing regions in countries which have joined the European Union more recently. The workforce in countries like Romania or Bulgaria is not used to its full professional capacity. Equal opportunities on the labour market will lead to beneficial competition and provide a dynamic, professionally well-trained workforce. Removing discrimination against workers, promoting their mobility, along with creating a stable vocational training system, are key factors contributing to the European Union’s future.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) Proactive measures need to be taken urgently in order to prevent the negative effects of demographic change and to enable an increase in technical assistance for the regions that have been most affected by depopulation and ageing. I fully agree that the balance between work and family life needs to be improved. Genuine support for families is an essential condition for raising the birth rate in the Member States. I am voting in favour.

 
  
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  Erminia Mazzoni (PPE), in writing.(IT) The report on demographic change addresses the crucial issue of the gradual ageing of the European population. It sets out a concrete proposal that is based on the conviction that the trend can be reversed in the long term and benefited from in the short term. The European Union cannot walk away from the responsibility of dealing with this phenomenon, since it will set the tone for the future economic and political structure of united Europe. The wide range of effects that it has on social dynamics suggests the use of the structural policy in order to take positive action. The report puts forward six priority areas for ensuring that the rights of all generations are protected, be they children, young people, women or the elderly. The idea of using the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) must be taken into consideration during the discussion on the legislative package on the new cohesion policy. The subject we are looking at is entirely coherent with the objective of promoting social cohesion, which is among the three priorities of the EU 2020 strategy. These reasons led me to lend my support to the excellent work carried out by Ms Westphal, both in committee and in this House.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – Europe’s population is ageing – it has the oldest population and the lowest population growth rate in the world. For this reason, demographic developments must be studied at regional level in particular, where very different developments become apparent. This report, that I support, calls on the Commission to include demographic change as one of the thematic priorities of the future cohesion policy, as the Structural Funds must be better adapted to the challenges of demographic change. The report also encourages Member States and regions to pay greater heed to the issue as a horizontal priority in their operational programmes than heretofore.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) Demographic change in the EU is a fact, and dealing with it constitutes one of the core tasks for the future. Europe’s population is ageing. Europe has the oldest population and the lowest population growth rate in the world. In most Member States, the birth rate is below the replacement level of 2.1 children per woman and continues to fall in some cases, while life expectancy is rising. Demographic change is producing new challenges in many regions of the EU. For this reason, demographic developments must be studied predominantly at regional level, where very different developments become apparent.

 
  
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  Alajos Mészáros (PPE), in writing. (HU) The ageing of the European population is steadily progressing. It is here that we find the highest average age and the lowest population growth rate worldwide. The birth rate per woman remains below the 2.1 children required for sustaining the population, whereas life expectancy is increasing. Demographic change presents many regions of the European Union with new challenges. The European Commission communication on promoting solidarity between the regions states that the rights of each generation must be protected. Due to the diversity of the challenges, regions and cities will need strategies of their own. This generally falls within Member State competence, and it is therefore obvious that regions must act proactively, in which they require both guidance and perspectives. In their operational programmes for the 2007-2013 programming period, the Member States have allocated some EUR 30 billion (8.5% of Structural Fund appropriations) to measures in this field.

Regional policy is therefore a key instrument in tackling demographic change. In the future, the Structural Funds will need to be better aligned to the challenges of demographic change, and should acknowledge it as a horizontal priority in their operational programmes. When allocating structural funding on a regional level, account must be taken of demographic indicators as well. I find the professional opinion of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs to be particularly useful.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I agree that demographic developments in the regions should be made comparable in view of exchangeable data and that exchanges of best practices between Members States, regions and local communities should be encouraged. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) Large-scale demographic change has been under way for several decades and is having far-reaching consequences for the structure of society and a massive impact on the economy. The trend towards an ageing population is not as pronounced in the new Member States in Eastern Europe as it is in the old EU Member States. Demographic change is certain to bring about decisive changes in the political, social, societal and economic situation in Europe. The abandonment of whole areas of land highlights the threats to which rural regions will be exposed in future if we cannot put a stop to the migration of younger people. Initial investigations into the costs and benefits of immigration should by now have made it clear that mass migration is not an appropriate response to demographic change.

Massive cuts in the infrastructure in rural regions under the guise of deregulating the postal and railway systems, together with school closures, are further accelerating the migration trend. As long as the basic infrastructure is being cut back, structural subsidies will not be able to reverse the trend. Therefore, I cannot vote in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Katarína Neveďalová (S&D), in writing. (SK) According to the latest information, the population of the world recently passed the 7 billion mark. Demographic change in the EU and worldwide is a reality, and solving this problem is one of the key challenges now and in the future. The situation is different in each part of the world, and this is also true for the EU, where the individual regions differ from one another.

This irreversible change affects cohesion policy in particular. The constant movement of the population within the EU, or the influx of people from third countries, will, sooner or later, force us to reassess and update this policy. These changes will mainly include reforms to structural policy, urban development and projects aimed at creating residential areas that support families, children and pensioners. Last but not least, these will also include migration and unemployment.

It will only be possible to achieve these reforms through close cooperation between Member States. Whatever changes or reforms take place, it is necessary for them to take account of the most vulnerable layers of the population, such as children and single mothers, for example.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcome this resolution because demographic change is currently taking place in the EU on an unprecedented scale and is posing certain dangers, particularly to cohesion policy. Consequently, I believe that structural policy reforms must be actively implemented at EU level. Above all, the EU Structural Funds must be allocated with due regard to the development level of each region and other demographic indicators. The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) must provide increased funding for urban and infrastructure development. It should be noted that the Commission has a special role to play in this area because it must ensure the effective and coordinated management of the consequences of demographic change. Moreover, given the ever increasing problem of the ageing of society, we need to reinforce pension systems, promote solidarity between the generations, and ensure high-quality care and nursing in residential care homes.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report. We usually refer to demographic change as a problem. However, the fact that people are living longer is obviously not a problem. The real problem is low birth rates. The cause, apart from the modern way of life, is the economic insecurity and fear that people feel about starting and maintaining a large family. How could they feel otherwise when more than one in three large families – 31.3% to be precise – in the European Union today face the risk of poverty and social exclusion. This, therefore, is the major challenge: to adjust the Cohesion Fund at EU level and operational programmes at national level to support families, to support large families, to promise that social cuts to large families will not be accepted. This pledge, this social contract with large families, is the best safety net for safeguarding social cohesion and for resolving the current demographic problem, and it is becoming even more important in countries such as Greece, where citizens are suffering unprecedented and drastic cuts to social benefits due to the economic crisis.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) Like the rapporteur, I believe, in general, that these problems also constitute opportunities for new types of development. However, that is not always the case and demographic issues could run into tragic situations in a future without opportunities. I am referring specifically to the process of desertification of some of the islands of the Azores. In particular, the populations of the islands of Graciosa, Flores and São Jorge are declining and, with them, economic, social, cultural and leisure activity, along with all hope for personal or collective development. There is an urgent need for specific and effective policies to tackle these dire situations, and for adequate funding, which is not being found quickly.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) I agree with the idea that managing demographic change in the EU is one of the key tasks of the future, considering that many see demographic change as a problem, despite the opportunities which these demographic developments can offer to Europe. Furthermore, given that I consider the six priority areas included in the report to be valid, I am voting in favour of this report so that structural policy will address the enormous challenges of demographic change.

 
  
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  Franck Proust (PPE), in writing. (FR) I welcome the initiative taken by Parliament to raise an issue that is fundamental to our future: demographic change. However, I would like to stress that this issue will have a significant impact not only on regional policy, which is the subject of the report, but also on all European policies. That is the sense in which I voted in favour of the report. The entire structure and architecture of public policy needs to be rethought – from decision making at local level to broad guidelines at international level. We will need good ideas if we are to find substantive, effective solutions to this problem, which affects all our western societies. I also think it would be good to involve the advisory committees even more closely, especially the European Economic and Social Committee. Provided for in the Treaties, this body is made up of representatives of civil society. They are stakeholders on the ground, whose experience may be useful to us in our forthcoming debates.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Demographic change is a fact in the European Union today: the population is becoming progressively older, on the one hand, and people from less developed areas are increasingly leaving for urban centres, on the other. Indeed, the EU has the lowest birth rate in the world, which is not only heightening the need to recruit labour originating in non-EU countries, but is also, in social terms, leading to very severe pressure on social security systems. Therefore, irrespective of the demographic policies in the strict sense that could be adopted, there is a need now to deal with the adoption of a structural policy enabling the Union’s new demographic structure to be tackled. I voted in favour because I agree with this idea.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) The Member States of the European Union will experience massive population ageing in the coming years. This phenomenon will, of course, affect our countries differently, depending on their demographic structure and their attractiveness in terms of migration. Our regions must, therefore, on the basis of their specific characteristics, adopt proactive measures as quickly as possible so as to turn this development into an opportunity. In this sense, I welcome Kerstin Westphal’s report. Making ageing a horizontal objective of cohesion policy, which is what is proposed, will make it possible for projects to be funded that are able to meet the expectations of our regions in terms of services, infrastructure and social policy in a context of demographic change. Better coordinated and targeted European funding programmes, such as the ERDF, the ESF and the EAFRD, may, in fact, be very decisive in helping regional and local authorities guarantee continuing medical coverage, good urban planning, the possibility of intergenerational communication, and an appropriate policy for the integration of migrants. The cohesion policy of the EU can therefore play a key role in ensuring that population ageing becomes an opportunity for everyone throughout Europe.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – Against. The report is contradictory in itself, weakens existing EP positions on gender equality and mainstreaming, and includes at least one conservative paragraph (para 25: extended families as solution for child care) which we do not support.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this report because I think that demographic change in the EU is a fact and handling it is one of the key tasks for the future of Europe. The population of the European Union continues to age. We have the oldest population and the lowest population growth in the world. Although many see demographic change as a problem, I think this point of view is short-sighted and I hope that the opportunities which these demographic developments can offer to Europe are taken into consideration. The problem is not demographic change itself, but the hesitation of politics and society in addressing this change.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of Ms Westphal’s report and I agree with the rapporteur that demographic change in the EU, which will drastically change the political, social and economic situation in Europe, is a fact and that, within that framework, we need to identify the opportunities that these developments bring for Europe. It should be noted that demographic change will have particularly tangible results in regions and rural areas, as young people are already leaving rural areas for towns and cities. I agree with the rapporteur that each region and each urban area needs to develop its own strategy, at both national and regional level, so that demographic change will not be a threat but an opportunity for Europe.

 
  
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  Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (PPE), in writing. (FR) Demographic change is one of the most important challenges facing Europe in the 21st century. Indeed, the increasing ageing of the population requires ambitious and courageous strategies. A low fertility rate of 1.5 children per woman, continually rising life expectancy, a decline in the working-age population, and an entire generation of baby boomers who are now retiring require us to adapt our policies if we do not want to burden future generations with the debt of our present comfort. Europe’s role is not to impose an age at which everyone should retire, nor to impose a contribution model. Nonetheless, Europe may be of assistance in the coordination of policies, the implementation of a strategy for the employment of senior citizens through the European Social Fund (ESF), or investing through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in care facilities for the elderly and the refurbishment of social housing for dependents. For the period from 2007 to 2013, the Member States have allocated almost EUR 30 billion in their operational programmes to initiatives in this area. We need to expand these initiatives to meet the challenge of demographic transition.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Schroedter (Verts/ALE), in writing. (DE) We in the Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance were not able to endorse Ms Westphal’s report on demographic change. It lags far behind the Castex report which was adopted by Parliament in 2008 and, as a result, will be a disappointment for many European citizens. Women, in particular, will find that the report contains very little for them, despite the fact that demographic change has a female face. In the majority of the Member States, it is women who have to choose between children and a career, who do the work of caring for family members which is generally unpaid and unrecognised, and who are therefore the largest group of people suffering from poverty in old age. The amendments which the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Quality and I, on behalf of the Group of the Greens, have submitted were an attempt to rectify this situation. However, the rapporteur rejected all these amendments and opted instead for a completely outdated picture of the family in which women, as in the past, are the unpaid care workers. The one-sided and restrictive approach to migration in the report also does not correspond with the position of the Greens.

We want to see a controlled but not restrictive immigration policy in Europe. In the paragraphs on urban development and regions with net emigration, our amendments form part of the compromises. This is why we have abstained from voting.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) According to Eurostat, none of the EU Member States has a positive population replacement rate. Only a few, including Great Britain, France and Ireland, have steadily increasing populations. In truth, some say that the European countries characterised by population decline – Germany, Italy and Spain – have reached the point of no return in demographic terms. According to some demographers, these countries have fallen into a ‘low fertility trap’.

The reasons behind a low birth rate are the fact that not having children and families with just one child is becoming the norm and this results in the cultural institutionalisation of ‘zero growth’. In the developed world, delaying having children is among the main causes of the low fertility rate, while access to contraceptives has allowed the adult population to exercise greater control over when they have children. Ever increasing numbers of men and women are aiming first of all to establish themselves at work, putting off having children until later.

We are already aware of the many, possibly dramatic, repercussions of population change. I would like to point out one, which is a liability for our national economies: the ageing of the population. The result of this is that an increasing number of old people depend on an increasingly meagre workforce.

 
  
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  László Surján (PPE), in writing. (HU) I supported Ms Westphal’s own-initiative report because I believe that in order to stop current demographic trends and encourage people to have children, we must give the citizens of Europe hope. The reason for this is that a logical consequence of hopelessness and a lack of economic prospects is migration and relocation to more promising regions. However, the depopulation phenomenon afflicting several European regions could be reversed by following a targeted cohesion policy that takes into account intra-regional differences. We must therefore assess how sustainable a method of planning based solely on a GDP-based regional development indicator is when the overall picture it provides obscures the centres of poverty. Europe should pay increased attention to such micro-regions, and should assist them in participating in tender schemes and finding their way through the mazes of bureaucracy.

All this presupposes a far higher degree of flexibility on the part of the EU. It must focus on programmes that make micro-regions attractive again and create jobs. At the same time, I am convinced that as regards demographic issues, it is not cohesion policy that can deliver the main answers and solutions.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In October 2011, the European Commission tabled the legislative package concerning the future of cohesion policy in the period 2014-2020, introducing new measures that I consider extremely important for reducing bureaucracy in cohesion policy and making it more effective. The Directorate-General for Regional Policy’s Fifth Report on Economic, Social and Territorial Cohesion says that ‘Demographic change has become increasingly prominent on the policy agenda’, so demonstrating the importance of the issue in question for the future of cohesion policy. I am voting for this report because it tables measures that could prevent the negative consequences of demographic change, lists several solutions for older people, children and families, and increases the role of cities as hubs intending to stimulate greater social integration. Finally, I believe the Structural Funds in the period 2014-2020 should contribute to solving the challenges resulting from demographic change in the European Union, particularly as regards the decline in the youth population and the increase in average life expectancy.

 
  
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  Silvia-Adriana Ţicău (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted in favour of the report on demographic change and its consequences for the future EU cohesion policy because the impact of demographic change varies considerably between regions, has implications at both infrastructure and services level, and requires a coordinated approach by European, national and regional authorities. The European Union has an ageing population, while its birth rate is falling. A healthy, active population is critical for the development of European society. In order to tackle demographic change, the EU needs to narrow the existing discrepancies in terms of health and improve access to health care services. Member States must be encouraged to use the ERDF and ESF Structural Funds to adapt housing to the needs of the elderly, so as to safeguard the quality of life in an ageing society and support young families. We call for the ESF rules to be made easier to manage and also to allow small organisations to enjoy this source of funding, and to develop and manage innovative social projects. We urge the Commission to create more flexible terms which will promote cross-financing between the ERDF and ESF funds by Member States and local authorities when devising and implementing integrated urban development plans/strategies.

 
  
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  Viktor Uspaskich (ALDE), in writing. (LT) I am pleased that the report addresses demographic issues, but there should be a greater focus on those challenges which have an impact on rural areas and towns. One third of Lithuania’s population lives in rural areas. While young people are emigrating, the rural population is ageing – a quarter of the rural population is over 60 years of age. The statistics are worrying. The birth rate in rural areas is 30% higher than in urban areas, but this percentage is falling every year, while the rate of mortality in rural areas is very high (75% higher than in urban areas). This has a negative impact on natural population growth. Demographic change also underlines the disparities in the quality of life of those living in rural and urban areas. In Lithuania, children, farmers and the elderly are worst affected by demographic change. Lithuania’s rural population is three times more likely to experience poverty than the inhabitants of its major cities. I agree with the rapporteur that the EU Structural Funds should be better adapted to the challenges caused by demographic change. For example, low-interest loans provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) really would help the poor in Lithuania’s rural areas.

 
  
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  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR), in writing. – The EU approach is generally unhelpful in these matters. A common EU migration policy would make it more difficult for the British Government to control our borders and would lead to an increase in the number of illegal immigrants who enter the UK via our European neighbours (many of whom have porous and weak external borders). Our national security, prosperity and cohesion are my prime concerns. I voted against the report.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report, as it sends a clear message on the changes Parliament would like the Commission to implement with regard to combating the consequences of demographic change for cohesion policy. Whilst recognising that all Member States are different, this report identifies a number of areas where changes to the framework of Structural Funds could recognise specific demographic changes, for example, by providing social infrastructure for an ageing population, urban development plans and strategies for the elderly, children and family-friendly towns and social inclusion and integration of migrants.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) This report looks at demographic change as a continuous process which requires an appropriate reaction at a political level, and which should be supported at a European level using money from the Structural Funds. The rise in the average age of the European population puts increased demands on the pension, health and care systems. Measures are needed to channel migration from the countryside, which is increasing once again, and to provide support for the overstretched infrastructure in large urban areas.

 
  
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  Hermann Winkler (PPE), in writing. (DE) The subject of demographic change is of huge importance for Saxony, the region which I come from, and for the whole of the EU. Between 1990 and 2005, Saxony lost 13% of its population and, by 2020, it is expected to lose another 11.4%. The causes of this are migration and, most importantly, low birth rates. Demographic change has an impact on almost all areas of life and, in particular, on the economy. Vocational education for younger and older workers is becoming increasingly important. However, this issue also involves infrastructures and many services. A number of regions within the EU are affected, not just eastern Germany. For this reason, EU structural funding provides essential aid. During the current subsidy period, around EUR 30 billion is available for operational programmes in the region. We also need to take this into account for the new subsidy period, which begins in 2014, and this is called for in the report, which I have voted in favour of.

This can include support for education and training for young and older people, funding to help young families, and changes in urban and regional planning, such as subsidies for housing suitable for elderly people. We must now ensure that the money is distributed in a way which takes these challenges into account and allows the regions sufficient room for manoeuvre.

 
  
  

Report: Pascal Canfin (A7-0055/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, and would say that the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament has fought and continues to fight hard for an end to speculation that impacts on the interest rates paid on Europe’s sovereign debt. As a policy relating to Europe’s economic governance, ending short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps would contribute to a more transparent global financial system.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The financial crisis has highlighted many shortcomings in the financial system, such as ‘short selling’ and ‘credit default swaps’ (CDS). Credit default swaps are a form of financial insurance used to hedge the risks taken by the purchaser. These risks may be the bankruptcy of a company or of a state. Accentuating the speculation, CDS contributed to the bursting of the financial bubble in 2008 and led to the collapse of the US bank Lehman Brothers. However, CDS have not disappeared, and they threaten the euro area if Greece is declared to have defaulted on its sovereign debt. It is therefore imperative that the financial markets are regulated to a greater extent. As I am in favour of tighter regulation of CDS, I voted for Pascal Canfin’s report.

 
  
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  Regina Bastos (PPE), in writing. (PT) Since the start of the financial crisis, several Member States have taken measures to suspend or ban short selling. However, the powers that national regulators have to restrict or ban such selling vary from Member State to Member State. This new regulation will create a harmonised framework for coordinated action at European level. This regulation bans or restricts these transactions and makes it more difficult to speculate on a country’s sovereign debt. The new legislation intends to increase transparency and enable regulators to more easily detect the risks of the debt market. The regulation also makes it impossible to buy credit default swaps with the sole purpose of speculating on a country’s default, owing to the negative impact that these can have on the stability of the sovereign debt markets. The European Securities and Markets Authority will be central to monitoring and supervision activities. The regulation also introduces stricter requirements as regards informing and notifying national and European regulatory entities, in order that these might be able to monitor the markets and detect the accumulation of risk more easily. I voted for this report for the above reasons.

 
  
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  Jean-Luc Bennahmias (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Let us stop speculating on the sovereign debt of Member States. On Tuesday, 15 November, the European Parliament adopted the ban on naked credit default swaps (CDS) on sovereign debt with a large majority. With the Canfin report, the European Parliament has therefore just put an end, purely and simply, to speculative sovereign debt games, which have no place in a social market economy. With contagion now spreading from the peripheral countries to Italy, Spain, and to our country, banning the sale of these speculative financial instruments is consistent with the notion of European public utility. Achieving this ban, in the current context, was no mean feat for the European Parliament and shows that it intends to play its full role in getting the European Union out of this crisis. While the debt crisis is being dealt with behind closed doors, the European Parliament is fully performing its role as colegislator: going beyond the Commission proposal, Parliament has succeeded, through lengthy negotiations with the Member States, in banning naked credit default swaps on sovereign debt. This is good news, both for the return of financial regulation and for the European Parliament.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) In the current climate of crisis and financial emergency in the EU, it is important to regulate and standardise some aspects of Member States’ legislation on short selling and credit default swaps. We must give the markets and investors a coherent framework and therefore guarantee effective supervision that is ready to respond to the speculation that has fed the economic crisis. The proposal being voted on today contains limitations on sales and purchases of financial products and derivatives through the markets which, under the current structure, can be used by speculators aiming to damage sovereign debt securities and make money out of the downward spiral of prices. As the text proposes, it will also be necessary to provide for possible temporary restrictions on short selling. Also, in some cases, it will be necessary to encourage cooperation between the various national authorities responsible for market supervision through the coordination of the European Securities and Markets Authority.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Chountis (GUE/NGL), in writing. (EL) Short selling and credit default swaps are one of the root causes of the present financial crisis. We now know that these are practices that were abused by speculators to the detriment of Member States’ economies. I abstained on this particular report because, even though it proposes certain measures to control these destructive ‘financial instruments’, it is basically inadequate and lacking in political courage and ultimately compromises with financial interests. Guaranteeing stricter regulatory rules and greater transparency in short selling are fairly important steps, but they are not enough. Given the catastrophic role that these financial products and the speculative practices associated with them have played, what we need is to ban them, not simply to regulate them more strictly.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps because I hope that it will ensure the proper functioning of the internal market and improve the functioning conditions, particularly for the financial markets. A high level of consumer and investor protection also needs to be ensured, as well as harmonising the framework for short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps, in order to hinder the creation of obstacles preventing the proper functioning of the internal market, as it is likely that Member States will continue to adopt conflicting measures.

 
  
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  Marielle De Sarnez (ALDE), in writing. (FR) Let us stop speculating on the sovereign debt of Member States. The European Parliament adopted the ban on naked credit default swaps (CDS) on sovereign debt with a large majority and has therefore just put an end, purely and simply, to speculation on sovereign debt, which has no place in a social market economy. With contagion now spreading to Italy and Spain, banning the sale of these speculative financial instruments is consistent with the notion of European public utility. Achieving this ban, in the current context, was no mean feat for the European Parliament and shows that it intends to play its full role in getting the European Union out of this crisis. While the inadequate response to the debt crisis is too often dealt with in intergovernmental, behind closed doors meetings, the European Parliament is fully performing its role as colegislator. By going beyond the Commission proposal, Parliament has succeeded, through lengthy negotiations with the Member States, in banning naked credit default swaps on sovereign debt. This is good news, both for the return of financial regulation and for European democracy.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted for this report, since I consider it crucial to curb the speculation on the EU’s sovereign debts that has been taking place. Much of this speculation has been fed by the sale and resale of credit default swaps (CDSs), whose price serves as an indicator of the level of risk of the respective sovereign debts. As such, more effective regulation is of the greatest urgency. The purpose of these measures is to prevent, throughout the European Union, anyone not owning sovereign debt of one of the EU Member States from being able to buy these risk management products – CDSs – in order to speculate against the related debt. Finally, these proposals will also enable a move towards greater transparency in the short selling – the sale of securities without owning them – market, so as to better regulate another area that generates a lot of speculation.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) This report represents the culmination of an intense negotiation process between both colegislators and results, in my opinion, in a balanced position with regard to the limit to speculation on sovereign debt and to the future of short selling. I would stress that this makes the European Union the first region in the world to restrict short selling and credit default swaps, and I welcome the decision to limit their activity instead of simply banning them. I should also like to highlight the increased role given to the European Securities and Markets Authority, which will enable greater monitoring and supervision of the rules listed here, and which is in line with Parliament’s position regarding European supervisory authorities. Finally, I would congratulate the team of rapporteurs on all the work they have done, which will provide greater European-level harmonisation of this type of activity.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) As the majority of experts state, the current economic and financial crisis has demonstrated the economic, social and political costs of a self-regulated financial system. The attention of the experts now returns to the search for a methodology that could identify behaviour capable of causing new crises in the financial system. This report, drafted by Mr Canfin, concerns the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps (CDSs), which were banned in some Member States at the peak of the crisis. A bad debt cannot be classified as good and no one can sell something not in their possession. It is crucial that there be legislation harmonising the potential risks resulting from short selling and CDSs in order for the financial systems to be more secure and run more smoothly. I welcome the adoption of this report, which will give more powers to the European regulators, greater transparency to the financial markets, and greater security to all investors, who will now be at less risk of losing their investments.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As the report says, at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008, competent authorities in several Member States of the EU, and in other countries such as the United States and Japan, adopted emergency measures to restrict or ban short selling in some or all securities. They acted due to concerns that, at a time of considerable financial instability, short selling could aggravate the downward spiral in the prices of shares, notably in financial institutions, in a way which could ultimately threaten their viability and create systemic risks.

However, in the European Union, the measures adopted by Member States were divergent because of the lack of common regulatory measures. Only now, two years later, are some measures – albeit very insufficient ones – being taken, with a view to harmonising the rules on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps, making notification mandatory in properly typified cases, which could contribute to reducing some speculation, particularly on sovereign debt. Regrettably, they will only come into force in 2012, and even after then, the exceptions provided for will still permit this practice in some cases.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) As the report says, at the height of the financial crisis in September 2008, competent authorities in several Member States of the EU, and in other countries such as the United States and Japan, adopted emergency measures to restrict or ban short selling in some or all securities. They acted due to concerns that, at a time of considerable financial instability, short selling could aggravate the downward spiral in the prices of shares, notably in financial institutions, in a way which could ultimately threaten their viability and create systemic risks.

However, in the European Union, the measures adopted by Member States were divergent because of the lack of common regulatory measures. Only now, two years later, are some measures – albeit very insufficient ones – being taken, with a view to harmonising the rules on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps, making notification mandatory in properly typified cases, which could contribute to reducing some speculation, particularly on sovereign debt.

Regrettably, they will only come into force in 2012. I also regret that the proposal for a regulation states ‘While in certain situations, it may have adverse effects, under normal market conditions, short selling plays an important role in ensuring the proper functioning of financial markets’.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) At the height of the financial crisis in September 2008, competent authorities in several Member States and the US adopted emergency measures to restrict or ban short selling in some or all securities. The measures adopted by Member States differed, as the Union lacks a specific legislative framework for dealing with short selling.

To ensure the functioning of the financial markets, and to ensure a high level of consumer and investor protection, it is necessary to harmonise the framework for short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps, particularly in order to maintain financial stability. It is appropriate for the framework provisions to take the form of a regulation. Regulations impose a direct obligation on private parties to publish information. They also delegate powers to the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). The ban on so-called naked short selling is also appropriate. The current debt crisis shows how speculators who do not own bonds of euro area Member States but only bet on them can cause entire states to go bankrupt. It is therefore important that only bond holders can engage in covering securities through credit default swaps. Last but not least, we also need to strengthen ESMA’s powers. I take the view that it should be the Ministers for Finance who take decisions in so-called exceptional situations, and not ESMA.

 
  
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  Bruno Gollnisch (NI), in writing.(FR) I voted in favour of the Canfin report, which seeks to better control and limit some of the most speculative financial practices and partially ban these practices in relation to sovereign debt. However, as with all of the other European texts on the regulation of the financial markets, it did not live up to my expectations. The European Union contents itself with minimal, partial, incidental measures, when it should really be attacking the root of the problem and calling into question all of the acts that have brought us to this point, and I mean all of them: elimination of controls on capital movements, securitisation of debts, floating exchange rates, ban on the monetisation of public debts, and so on. In other words, we should abandon the general philosophy that has governed the globalisation of the economy for decades. There is no doubt that the financial sector is already preparing instruments that will enable it to by-pass or distort these measures. Indeed, the states are still under the control of the markets and the rating agencies when it comes to financing never-ending deficits fuelled in part by the exorbitant interest rates. I get the impression that we are trying to put out a forest fire with water pistols. I want to be able to rely on my own pump, but it will not put out the fires.

 
  
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  Roberto Gualtieri (S&D), in writing.(IT) One of the causes of the current economic and financial crisis is the lack of adequate regulation of financial markets.

Through the adoption of the report by Mr Canfin and the first-reading agreement between Parliament and the Council, the EU has taken an important step forwards by bringing in new rules on credit default swaps and short selling.

Thanks to the work of Parliament, the slightly timid approach taken by the Council has been corrected in a number of fundamental ways. Indeed, we have brought in a ban on naked short selling – that is, selling securities that you do not actually own – which includes a ban on buying credit default swaps unless you also own the relevant government bonds.

Moreover, the information and transparency obligations imposed on operators will allow national supervisory authorities to keep up to date with any pressure on a security, thereby effectively preventing risk.

Parliament can therefore only express its satisfaction about the adoption of this regulation: it may be just an initial step and a simple part of a more general project to regulate the financial markets, but this regulation represents significant progress and a robust contribution to better-functioning financial markets, particularly in terms of sovereign debts.

 
  
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  Sylvie Guillaume (S&D), in writing.(FR) The vote on this report is the first of its kind in the world in the regulation of the financial markets. The tremendous pressure exerted by the markets and rating agencies on countries is unbearable on a political level, and on a social level it is a terrible assault on the people of Europe, who are repeatedly suffering the effects of austerity plans. The ban on naked short selling on credit default swaps (CDS) is real progress: from now on, speculators will no longer be able to contract credit default swaps (a financial product for insuring against debtor default) on state bonds without owning those bonds. In other words, it will no longer be possible to speculate and make money by betting on the collapse of an economy. This is truly an unprecedented step forward in the fight against all-powerful financial capitalism. The long-term objective is to ban in the same way all naked selling on the financial markets. Finance must serve the real economy, not the other way round.

 
  
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  Ian Hudghton (Verts/ALE), in writing. – I welcome this important report. At a time when the European and global economy is in crisis, naked credit default swaps only compound matters. It is right that the EU takes steps to reign in the damaging actions of the spivs and speculators.

 
  
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  Juozas Imbrasas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I welcomed this document because, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market, in particular, the financial markets, and to ensure a high level of consumer and investor protection, it is appropriate to lay down a common regulatory framework with regard to the requirements and powers relating to short selling and credit default swaps and to ensure greater coordination and consistency between Member States. It is therefore proposed that the provisions should take the legislative form of a regulation in order to ensure that provisions which impose direct obligations on private parties to notify and disclose net short positions relating to certain instruments and naked short selling are applied uniformly throughout the European Union. A regulation is also necessary to confer powers on the European Securities and Markets Authority to coordinate measures by competent authorities or to take measures itself.

 
  
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  Kent Johansson, Marit Paulsen, Olle Schmidt and Cecilia Wikström (ALDE), in writing. (SV) A ban on short selling in one country affects other countries. We therefore need common EU legislation and greater coordination of the application of rules. The European Supervisory Authority ESMA needs to be given a strong and coordinating role. The agreement that we voted on entails a permanent ban on naked short selling of credit default swaps for sovereign bonds, referred to as CDSs. We are opposed to such a ban because we do not know what effects a ban will have. There is a high risk that the cost of state borrowing will rise, as it could be more expensive for the market players to insure themselves against falls in the value of countries’ sovereign debt. No European supervisory authority, with the exception of the German authority, has introduced a ban on short selling, and such bans are not being demanded by the supervisory authorities themselves. We therefore abstained in today’s vote.

 
  
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  Constance Le Grip (PPE), in writing.(FR) I supported the report by Pascal Canfin, which paves the way for an agreement with the Council on the adoption of the regulation on ‘short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps’.

This is the first time that the European Union will legislate in this area to ban these complex products, with potentially harmful and destructive effects, that allow speculation on countries’ sovereign debt and result in volatility and exaggerated reactions on the markets.

This is a new, decisive step that we, the Members of the European Parliament, are taking to ensure better regulation of the European financial markets and break the vicious circle and spiral of events that have led to the recent financial crisis.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome this legislation. The ban on naked credit default swaps on sovereign debt is a great achievement for Parliament. The overall transparency of the financial markets will be improved and coordination at European level and the role of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) will also be enhanced.

 
  
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  Véronique Mathieu (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of the report on short selling. The financial crisis has hit Europe hard and weakened the economies of many countries. It is time to draw our conclusions. This report aims to limit payment defaults in order to stabilise the markets. The naked short selling of credit default swaps (CDS) is prohibited, thus preventing speculation on a country defaulting. Notifications and the communication of information have also increased, allowing for better control of financial systems upstream and anticipation of potential problems. The powers of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) have been strengthened to enable it to fulfil its role as arbitrator to the full and to control the markets. This report therefore makes it possible to pre-empt and prevent market volatility, the negative consequences of which for the economy we know only too well.

 
  
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  Marisa Matias (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The financial crisis has demonstrated to us that short selling, as well as other forms of financial engineering of varying degrees of sophistication, carries enormous risks, and leads to market instability and to the emergence of serious systemic risks, with no evidence of any benefits for the functioning of the economy. As regards short selling, I believe we should have been even more ambitious in the regulation of transparency obligations and of covered short selling as a means of combating financial speculation, so I abstained.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am in favour of Mr Canfin’s report. In light of the historic time that we find ourselves in, it is crucial to adopt this regulation. We must make sure that the various measures brought in by the Member States do not create barriers to the internal market. Guaranteeing the correct functioning of the financial markets is a matter of urgency, thereby raising the level of protection for investors and consumers.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – In the context of the financial crisis, it is important that measures are taken to supervise and restrict short selling in some or all securities, as such practices can contribute to a downward spiral in share prices and financial instability. I welcome the calls in this text for the harmonisation relating to short selling and the powers that regulators may use in exceptional situations across the EU. I support Recital 20, whereby the competent authorities of Member States could temporarily suspend such restrictions where it is believed that these restrictions are having a negative impact on the functioning of the sovereign credit default swap market.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The financial products that financial institutions have created over the years have not been properly regulated, and this contributed to the severe financial crisis that broke out in the past. The new rules relating to short selling and credit default swaps also aim to create greater transparency, both for the regulating authorities and for the markets, and to allow the regulators to detect the risks to the sovereign debt market more easily. Regulators will also have the ability to restrict or ban short selling, under certain circumstances. We hope these new measures will solve the problems we have had in the past.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – The Commission’s proposal to regulate short selling is the result of the need to harmonise the national competent authorities’ approach to limiting short-selling practices and to regulate the market of credit default swaps. The most important element is that we will tackle speculation. I voted in favour.

 
  
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  Andreas Mölzer (NI), in writing. (DE) By enacting the regulation on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps, the European Union is attempting to standardise the restrictions in this area which have previously been applied by individual Member States. Credit default swaps act as insurance against defaults on loans and also on sovereign bonds. However, it is now possible to buy these products without being a creditor or an owner of sovereign bonds oneself. In this case, it is an advantage if a company or a state cannot meet its financial obligations, because the insurance amount is ultimately paid to the owner of the credit default swaps. It goes without saying that these two financial instruments can cause increased instability on the markets in particular in times of financial and economic crisis and, therefore, must be subjected to restrictions. In a globalised financial world, it makes more sense for all the EU Member States to take a joint approach, which is why the regulation represents a step in the right direction. It is for this reason that I have voted in favour of the report.

 
  
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  Claudio Morganti (EFD), in writing. (IT) I decided to vote in favour of this report because it helps to regulate some significant aspects of the financial markets more effectively.

Firstly, short selling, while a potentially useful tool, must be used with extreme care and attention, otherwise we run the risk of having a financial jungle that is dangerous for everyone, investors and savers alike.

Similarly, regulating credit default swaps (CDSs) was the right thing to do. Initially created to act as guarantees, over time, CDSs have turned increasingly into a dangerous way to speculate against States. More stringent rules and greater caution among those working in financial markets are therefore most welcome. We cannot allow financial speculation to have damaging results on the entire real economy as well.

 
  
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  Franz Obermayr (NI), in writing. (DE) At a time of considerable financial instability, short selling can aggravate the downward spiral in the prices of shares, in particular, those of financial institutions. As a result, systemic risks may be generated which could threaten the viability of these institutions. There is no specific legislative framework within the EU for dealing with short selling issues and, therefore, the measures taken by the Member States during the financial crisis varied significantly. In order to improve the functioning of the European financial markets and to ensure a high level of consumer and investor protection, a common framework with regard to the requirements and powers relating to short selling and credit default swaps needs to be established and greater coordination and consistency between the Member States must be introduced where measures have to be taken in an exceptional situation. In addition, it is appropriate to choose the form of a regulation, as some provisions impose direct obligations on private parties to report and disclose net short positions relating to certain instruments and naked short selling. Therefore, I have voted in favour of this report.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) At the height of the financial crisis originating in the property sector, in September 2008, competent authorities in several EU Member States and the United States adopted emergency measures to restrict or ban short selling in some or all securities. They acted due to concerns that, at a time of considerable financial instability, short selling could aggravate the downward spiral in the prices of shares, notably in financial institutions, in a way which could ultimately threaten their viability and create systemic risks. The measures adopted by Member States were divergent, as the Union lacks a specific legislative framework for dealing with short selling issues. The purpose of this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps is to compensate for this lack of a specific legislative framework for a measure regarding short selling at the level of the Twenty-Seven. As such, I voted for this report.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) Following the financial crisis, it became necessary to provide the legal systems of various Member States with legislative instruments enabling preventative measures to be taken against the risk of another systemic crisis emergency. In this context, the adoption of a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps is justified, enabling consumers and investors to be offered means of protection and, at macro-economic level, the risk of systemic crises to be reduced. I therefore voted in favour.

 
  
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  Evelyn Regner (S&D), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the Canfin report because, following long-drawn-out negotiations with the Council, the European Parliament has succeeded in reaching an agreement and introducing improvements in the form of stricter regulation of short selling and credit default swaps. Parliament was able to convince the Council of the validity of its position on many points during the trialogue negotiations. Trading in uncovered credit default swaps on state debt, which has drastically increased levels of state debt in Greece, Portugal and Spain and, more recently, also in Italy, will be subject to stringent restrictions and will only be possible with the agreement of the European Securities and Markets Authority. For a long time, I did not understand why the Council spent so much time hesitating over this subject in the negotiations. At the start of the negotiations, the Council took a very cautious approach and spoke out in favour of a minimum level of regulation of short selling.

As a result of the negotiating skills of the delegation from the European Parliament during the trialogue negotiations, it has been possible to achieve what, in comparison, represents a major step towards preventing high-risk speculation. I also welcome the fact that, because of the agreement which was reached, this regulation will come into force quickly after the first reading, rather than being debated for another year or two. We need rapid and effective action.

 
  
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  Frédérique Ries (ALDE), in writing. – (FR) I supported the agreement reached between the Polish Presidency and the European Parliament delegation to ban naked selling on sovereign debt. In my view, it is important, in the wake of the decision taken by certain Member States (Germany, France, Belgium, etc.), for the European Union to ‘clean up’ the jungle of financial instruments that are destabilising the markets and reducing the monetary funds available to finance the real economy. The creativity of the experts is clearly limitless, as in this case, where financial institutions have the possibility of purchasing credit default swaps without owning the underlying assets, for example, Greek state bonds. Applied to the real economy, it is as if a citizen were given the opportunity to take out a fire insurance policy on his neighbour’s house, giving him an obvious interest in a little arson.

It is the worst possible temptation! In adopting this regulation here, the European Parliament is seeking a ‘return to normal’. As the rapporteur, Mr Canfin states, this compromise ‘will make it impossible for a hedge fund to buy Greek or Italian credit default swaps (CDS) without already owning the bonds of those countries, for the sole purpose of speculating on the country’s default’.

 
  
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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 Canfin. The new European rules adopted today impose greater transparency and will prohibit the use of some kinds of credit default swaps (CDSs), which are financial products used as insurance against defaults. These rules prove that the EU can act against speculation when the political will to do so exists. The legislation will make it impossible to buy CDSs with the sole aim of speculating on a country’s default. For example, buying Greek CDSs will only be allowed from now on if the buyer already owns Greek government bonds or a stake in a sector that is highly dependent on their performance, such as a Greek bank, since, if the country were to go bankrupt, Greek banks would certainly suffer a great deal.

 
  
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  Robert Rochefort (ALDE), in writing. (FR) I supported the report relating to the regulation on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps (CDS). This is a key regulation in combating the financial crisis. We note, in particular, our victory in banning short selling on sovereign credit default swaps. Indeed, it was necessary to restrict current opportunities for speculating on a country’s debt crisis. It was utterly disgraceful to make it possible to speculate on the default and failure of others. The entry into force of the text will, in principle, enshrine the prohibition of such selling if the purchaser is not exposed to the sovereign debt concerned. However, national market authorities will be able to suspend the ban temporarily if a malfunction occurs on the sovereign debt market. We also welcome the progress made in respect of disclosure: this should enable the regulatory and supervisory bodies to carry out their duties better through improved preventive work and closer monitoring. The lack of information was a major problem encountered by the supervisory bodies before the crisis and the time had come to draw the lessons in this regard.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. As Green MEP and EP draftsman for the legislation, Pascal Canfin, said: ‘The legislation adopted by the EP today, notably the decision to ban naked credit default swaps, is a major step forward in tackling sovereign debt speculation, which continues to wreak havoc across the eurozone. The European Parliament pushed to ensure a ban on naked CDS was included from the outset, and its inclusion is a victory for the EP and our efforts to curb the excesses of the financial system. These new rules will prohibit market actors from purchasing CDS of sovereign debt without holding actual bonds of the countries involved as a general rule. This will prevent cynical traders from speculating on the bankruptcy of a country’.

 
  
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  Licia Ronzulli (PPE), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of this text because I think that in these tough economic times, it is essential to limit short selling and trading in so-called credit default swaps, which are financial products used as insurance against defaults. The new European rules must impose greater transparency and make it more difficult to speculate on a country defaulting.

Parliament’s aim with this text was to obtain a ban on short selling in these financial products. Furthermore, more stringent disclosure obligations will be introduced from today onwards. Indeed, a lack of information was very much one of the biggest obstacles to supervisors’ work in the period before the crisis.

 
  
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  Antolín Sánchez Presedo (S&D), in writing.(ES) The adoption by Parliament of the regulation on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps (CDSs) is an important step forward in financial reform. I congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Canfin, and the other shadow rapporteurs on the content of the agreement with the Council.

The regulation introduces transparency in the area of short positions on securities, bonds and CDSs. It strengthens the powers of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to take coordinated action to limit speculation. Restrictions must be imposed on the short selling of securities and bonds in order to ensure that the regulation functions properly. It is also appropriate for these restrictions to be lifted for long-term bonds or those designed to increase liquidity in the Member States.

The ban on naked short selling of CDSs on sovereign debt will prevent a few unscrupulous speculators from making fortunes at the public’s expense. It is reasonable for the Member States to have the option of temporarily revoking this rule to stop it harming them when the market is not functioning properly, under the scrutiny of the ESMA.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) To put an end to the current fragmentary situation, where some Member States have adopted different measures, it is important to work in a harmonised way to deal with the potential risks deriving from short selling and credit default swaps.

If the price of a financial instrument rises significantly in one trading venue, in a way that is clearly disproportionate to previous values, the competent authorities should have the power to temporarily ban sales of that instrument in that venue.

The rules put forward by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs are designed to tackle the risks identified, increasing the liquidity of the market and allowing investors to act when they think that a security is overvalued so that short selling leads to a more efficient system of price formation. However, this must all be done bearing in mind the differences between Member States, the potential economic impact of the rules themselves, and without unduly reducing the benefits that short selling brings for the quality and efficiency of the market.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In September 2010, the European Commission tabled a proposal on short selling and certain aspects of credit default swaps, which was intended to resolve the regulatory fragmentation existing between the Member States. I am voting for this regulation, as there is a pressing need to standardise the Member States’ response to the risk of short selling by applying this regulation to financial instruments that are admitted to trading on a trading venue in the Union, including such instruments when traded outside a trading venue, derivatives, or debt instruments issued by a Member State or the Union. I should also like to mention that there is an urgent need for the European Union to find sustained and lasting responses to resolving the sovereign debt crisis by developing cross-cutting solutions for the euro area.

 
  
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  Rafał Trzaskowski (PPE), in writing.(PL) This vote is a great success for the European Parliament. The Union has taken action to control speculation on short selling and credit default swaps, as this kind of speculation was putting the finances of Member States at risk. We have shown the participants of financial markets that when there is the political will, we are able to take action which is extremely effective.

 
  
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  Thomas Ulmer (PPE), in writing. (DE) I have voted in favour of the report. For the first time, regulations and restrictions on short selling are being introduced, which is a subject that the majority of the EU population knows nothing about. This move is the right one and it represents the start of an organised, but no longer completely unregulated, approach to financial transactions. The regulation is important because the much-vaunted markets have completely failed in this respect. When the situation is turned on its head and taxpayers or, in other words, all of us are responsible for the risk, we have the political right and also the responsibility to take regulatory measures.

 
  
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  Derek Vaughan (S&D), in writing. – I supported today's report to curb short selling and trading in credit default swaps. The regulation is key to tackling the financial crisis dominating Europe at the moment, and I welcome the move to ban ‘naked’ credit default swaps. Speculators should not be able to gamble with debt issued by governments; short selling and CDS trading fuel volatility in the markets which is something Europe cannot risk. I also welcome the move to improve reporting requirements. National and European supervisors will now be alerted to potential risks at an earlier stage and will therefore be able to carry out their work more effectively.

I am pleased that ESMA, the EU’s financial watchdog, will also be involved in restricting short selling and hope that new powers for ESMA will allow better financial coordination across Member States. I am disappointed that UK Conservative MEPs could not support this report, showing once again their support for the elite of the City of London.

 
  
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  Marie-Christine Vergiat (GUE/NGL), in writing. (FR) The European Parliament has adopted a law curbing sovereign debt speculation by banning credit default swaps (CDS). Credit default swaps can be held by a speculator even if the speculator does not hold any debt. In practice, this amounts to insuring the house of his neighbour and selling this insurance when there is an increased risk of fire.

Credit default swaps have led to frenzied speculation, with speculators buying them in huge volumes in order to increase the perception of a risk that the country will collapse. In so doing, speculators artificially increase the price of these CDS and sell them at very high prices to the holders of the debt.

It is an aberration. Banning credit default swaps if the purchaser does not hold bonds issued by the country involved is a positive step.

This measure will certainly not be enough to stem the crisis. However, it does have the merit of demonstrating to all who are still in any doubt that the financial crisis is not an act of fate but the result of political choices, and these choices can be re-examined. Determination to control the markets and to regulate the speculators is not a pipe dream, of which there is ample evidence.

 
  
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  Dominique Vlasto (PPE), in writing. (FR) I was keen to support this legislative resolution, which extends the financial regulation process launched by my political family in 2007. This text prohibits malicious financial operators from hastening the default of euro area Member States by banning naked credit default swaps (CDS). These financial instruments, originally designed for investors to take out insurance when purchasing a State bond, constituted an autonomous market. In other words, it was possible to hold the insurance on a house (the CDS) without being the owner of the house (the State bond). Therefore, it was in the interest of the holder of the insurance that the house burned down so that he could collect the payout. This grotesque situation in particular led hedge funds to create a climate of panic around Greece by acquiring CDS in huge volumes. These CDS then became increasingly lucrative as concern spread. Faced with this excessive speculation, Greece had to borrow at exorbitant rates of interest, thereby accumulating even more debt. In order to prevent other States from falling foul of such speculative madness, we are now demanding that the holder of the CDS must also hold the State bond.

 
  
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  Angelika Werthmann (NI), in writing. (DE) This proposal for a regulation represents a comprehensive regulatory framework for credit default swap derivatives. Short selling of securities is said to have made a significant contribution to the current financial situation. Covering an area which is as extensive as possible, we need clear guidelines concerning the cooperation between the European Securities and Markets Authority and the national bodies, combined with a comprehensive transparency regime, including restrictions on naked short selling.

 
  
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  Glenis Willmott (S&D), in writing. – I am pleased to have voted for new controls on what are some of the riskiest aspects of the financial sector. The financial crisis was, in no small part, the result of unseen risks building up across the financial industry. To make the system safer and reduce the likelihood of future crises, we need to tackle those risks. This is doubly important for markets in sovereign debt. We have all seen the effects that a sovereign debt crisis can have on people and their livelihoods in Greece and elsewhere in the eurozone. The rules approved by Parliament today therefore target ‘naked’ short selling, as well as ‘uncovered’ credit default swaps (CDS) for sovereign debt, which have allowed traders to speculate on a country’s debt without even owning it.

They have the potential to be extremely damaging by encouraging speculation and driving down asset prices at the worst possible time. Putting an end to these activities is an important step in preventing another Greek-style crisis.

 
  
  

Report: Mariya Nedelcheva (A7-0188/2011)

 
  
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  Luís Paulo Alves (S&D), in writing. (PT) I am voting for this report, since this political compromise proposes a common legal framework for the systematic collection, compilation and transmission of data on permanent crops in the various Member States; it is important to make this information available.

 
  
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  Laima Liucija Andrikienė (PPE), in writing. – I am in favour of this report, which welcomes the Commission proposal to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops, in line with current user and market requirements.

The report stresses the objective of achieving simplification and recognises the efforts made by the Commission to reduce the administrative burden on respondents and ensure that statistical data on permanent crops provide a reliable basis for taking judicious decisions in relation to production and the European market. The report indicates that the administrative burden may be reduced by amending the precision requirements, excluding from the scope of the provisions all smallholdings of less than 0.2 hectares, and no longer requiring a breakdown by NUTS 3 region for certain data on vines for purposes other than the production of table grapes.

With regard to the delegation of power to the Commission to amend certain aspects of this regulation through delegated acts, the rapporteur stresses that the principles laid down in Parliament’s resolution of 5 May 2010 on the power of legislative delegation (2010/2021(INI)) must be strictly applied.

 
  
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  Sophie Auconie (PPE), in writing. (FR) The EU conducts statistical surveys in the fruit and vine-growing industries. These statistics are used, for example, to assess the production potential of certain fruit trees (apple trees, pear trees, etc.). The statistical system is, however, obsolete. That is why I voted in favour of Ms Nedelcheva’s report, which recommends simplifying the legal framework.

 
  
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  Mara Bizzotto (EFD), in writing.(IT) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Nedelcheva because I think it is crucially important to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops, as proposed by the Commission. Indeed, this update will allow these crops to be better aligned with the current needs of users and the market. Furthermore, I have decided to support this report because it aims to attach particular significance to the goal of simplification and the need to reduce the administrative burden on respondents.

 
  
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  John Bufton (EFD), in writing. – I voted against this report. This is another attempt to extend statistical harmonisation and create a pan-European database in order to dictate what kind of crops may be seeded and harvested in future in the EU. Such decisions should be taken by Member State governments based upon domestic research, economic need, climate and exportation.

 
  
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  Corina Creţu (S&D), in writing. (RO) I voted for this resolution which aims to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops in line with current user and market requirements. With this in mind, and with a view to achieving simplification, the Commission is making efforts to reduce the administrative burden on respondents and ensure that statistical data on permanent crops provide a reliable basis for making sensible decisions in relation to production and the European market. It must be borne in mind that structural statistics on permanent crops are vital for managing the markets at EU level.

 
  
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  Vasilica Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), in writing. (RO) I think that cooperation needs to be strengthened at EU level between the authorities involved in compiling European statistics on permanent crops. I also believe that the best examples of international practice should be taken into consideration when compiling European statistics.

 
  
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  Christine De Veyrac (PPE), in writing. (FR) I voted in favour of this proposal, which will provide access to reliable statistics on European crops to enable decisions to be taken that meet the real needs of farmers. These measures include easing the administrative burden on smallholdings and simplifying the collection of data for the other stakeholders in the industry.

 
  
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  Edite Estrela (S&D), in writing. (PT) I voted in favour of the report on European statistics on permanent crops because it recognises the need to adapt the common regulatory framework for European statistics on permanent crops to current user and market requirements, as well as to simplify the administrative burden inherent to data production, specifically by exempting small farms.

 
  
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  Diogo Feio (PPE), in writing. (PT) Statistics are an irreplaceable method and means of evaluating practically all areas of political activity, and are extremely useful both for forecasting certain events, and for providing goods and services. They are also important as regards agricultural activity, as they enable more thorough knowledge of what has been produced and of what a given area could produce, as well as of how such activity fits into the marketplace. The updating, simplification and optimisation of these statistics increase the possibilities for their use and remove part of the bureaucratic burden from them, so enabling their production without excessive constraints on respondents.

 
  
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  José Manuel Fernandes (PPE), in writing. (PT) Statistics constitute an essential technique that forms the basis for the majority of scientific work. When we have better information about a given subject, we are able to make more appropriate and grounded decisions. Bureaucracy is a necessary evil, which urgently needs to be cut back as far as is possible without affecting transparency or jeopardising the achievement of established goals. In this report on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning European statistics on permanent crops, Ms Nedelcheva points out the advantages of this proposal, specifically as regards reducing the administrative burden on respondents and simplifying procedures. I welcome the adoption of this report, for which I voted, since I believe that the normal procedures for gathering statistics are too bureaucratic, and are the same for both large and small farms, which often complicates the lives of this latter group.

 
  
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  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The objective of this report is to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops ‘in line with current user and market requirements’. Certain aspects of this report are better than in the European Commission’s initial proposal, not least with the removal of the Commission’s ability to change the list of permanent crops using delegated acts, without Parliament’s prior approval. The proposal of simplification by reducing the administrative burden on respondents is important and should, to begin with, ‘entail smaller samples’. We would also register our concern that these changes should not mean an additional burden on the competent national authorities.

However, it is not clear to us that the changes being proposed to statistics will respond in all the ways necessary to the specific difficulties for small farmers and smallholders created by the current data-collection system.

Naturally, that is more important for countries like Portugal where, despite the increased concentration of ownership that has taken place over recent years, encouraged by the common agricultural policy, small and medium-sized holdings still predominate, accounting for around four fifths of all farms.

In view of the doubts and concerns expressed, we voted for the improvements proposed by Parliament, but we did not vote for the final legislative proposal.

 
  
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  Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL), in writing. (PT) The objective of this report is to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops ‘in line with current user and market requirements’. Certain aspects of this report are better than in the European Commission’s initial proposal, not least with the removal of the Commission’s ability to change the list of permanent crops using delegated acts, without Parliament’s approval.

The proposal of simplification by reducing the administrative burden on respondents through the introduction of thresholds at farm and territorial level is also important and should, to begin with, entail smaller samples.

However, it is not clear that these statistics will respond in all the ways necessary to the concerns of small and medium-sized farmers, as they will be technical support for decision making in the areas of production and the European market. In countries that have weaker economies and are more dependent on agri-foodstuffs, like Portugal, the path followed in recent decades has been the enfeeblement of the agricultural sector, especially family farming, through the successive neoliberal reforms of the common agricultural policy.

Owing to all these concerns, we voted for the improvements proposed by the majority in the European Parliament, but we did not vote for the final legislative proposal.

 
  
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  Monika Flašíková Beňová (S&D), in writing. (SK) The importance of agriculture for the economic, social and cultural development of Europe is widely acknowledged. Fruit and wine production is a key area of agricultural activity in the EU.

In Council Regulation (EEC) No 357/79 of 5 February 1979 on statistical surveys of areas under vine, and in Directive 2001/109/EC of 19 December 2001 concerning the statistical surveys to be carried out by the Member States in order to determine the production potential of plantations of certain species of fruit trees, provision is made for the creation of an information system on the statistically most important permanent crops at European level.

The statistical system currently available for permanent crops in the EU would not be possible without this legislation. Despite this, however, there is a need to update the data. There is still room for improvement in the comparability and completeness of the framework, by putting greater effort into the harmonisation of variables and concepts, and providing greater freedom to Member States to select the methods and sources they use, in order to collect the basic data necessary for compiling these European statistics.

Over the years, Member States, interested parties and Commission units have requested changes to the legal basis for statistics on permanent crops, and I also take the view that it is appropriate to update, simplify and optimise the existing legal framework for statistics on permanent crops and to replace the two existing acts with one act.

 
  
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  Philippe Juvin (PPE), in writing. (FR) Fruit and wine production is a key area of agricultural activity in the European Union. The aim of this proposal is to update, simplify and optimise the existing legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops, replacing the existing two legal acts by a single one. That is why I supported this report.

 
  
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  Elisabeth Köstinger (PPE), in writing. (DE) It is important for us to revise the regulation which dates back to 1979 concerning the statistical surveys used to evaluate the production potential of certain permanent crops and, in particular, wine and fruit. In addition, we must establish a standardised, simplified information system at a European level concerning the most important permanent crops. These legal provisions have helped to create national systems for surveying the production potential of these crops and the structural features of the production units. The aim of the proposal, which I support, is to update, simplify and improve the legal framework.

 
  
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  David Martin (S&D), in writing. – I welcome the Commission proposal, the aim of which is to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops in line with current user and market requirements. The rapporteur stresses the objective of achieving simplification and recognises the efforts made by the Commission to reduce the administrative burden on respondents and ensure that statistical data on permanent crops provide a reliable basis for taking judicious decisions in relation to production and the European market.

 
  
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  Mario Mauro (PPE), in writing. (IT) I am voting in favour of the report by Ms Nedelcheva. The Commission proposal on updating the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops to bring them into line with current user and market requirements is, without doubt, worthy of support. I agree with the rapporteur on the amendments put forward, which will definitely improve the text.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE), in writing. – I voted in favour of this report and welcome the Commission’s proposal aimed at updating, simplifying and consolidating the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops in line with current user and market requirements. It is important that measures are taken to reduce administrative burdens in the collection and processing of harmonised European statistics on permanent crops.

 
  
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  Nuno Melo (PPE), in writing. (PT) The objective of this regulation is to update the legal framework in force for European statistics on permanent crops ‘in line with current user and market requirements’. The objective of simplification should be stressed, and the efforts the Commission has made to reduce the administrative burden on respondents should be lauded. The intention is to use statistics relating to permanent crops as a reliable basis for making suitable decisions in the areas of production and of the European market. However, it is possible and desirable for the administrative burden to be reduced by amending the data precision requirements, excluding all smallholdings of less than 0.2 hectares.

 
  
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  Alexander Mirsky (S&D), in writing. – I completely approve if this political agreement endorses the need for a common legal framework for the systematic collection, compilation and transmission of European statistics on permanent crops in the different Member States.

 
  
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  Rolandas Paksas (EFD), in writing. (LT) I voted in favour of this report, which is aimed at updating, simplifying and improving the current framework for European statistics on permanent crops and better adapting it to users’ actual requirements. Given the current situation farmers find themselves in, I believe that it is, above all, necessary to reduce the administrative burden they face. The fact that there was a particular focus on smallholdings, with operating conditions being made easier for them by eliminating the obligation to provide statistical data relating to certain permanent crops, should be welcomed.

 
  
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  Georgios Papanikolaou (PPE), in writing. (EL) The report on the proposal to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops, which I supported, is a move in the right direction, because it adapts to the current needs of users and the market. The reduced administrative burden and simpler questionnaires will allow more comprehensive data to be collated on the volume of production, products and crops on the European market. Having reliable statistics brings about a win-win situation; on the one hand, they help to ensure that the right decisions are taken in terms of demand, production and differentiation of European agricultural products, so as to make them more competitive and, on the other, they tell farmers and agricultural cooperatives how they can optimise their land. By definition, improving these statistics will be very useful to Greece, whose economy is heavily reliant on the primary sector.

 
  
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  Maria do Céu Patrão Neves (PPE), in writing. (PT) The objective of this report is to update the legal framework in force for European statistics on permanent crops ‘in line with current user and market requirements’. The objective of simplification should be stressed, and the efforts the Commission has made to reduce the administrative burden on respondents should be lauded. The intention is to use statistics relating to permanent crops as a reliable basis for making suitable decisions in the areas of production and of the European market. I share the rapporteur’s concerns about the need to achieve a better balance between the needs of users and the administrative burden inherent to producing statistics. Consideration should be given to the rapporteur’s suggestion of reducing the administrative burden by amending the data precision requirements, excluding all smallholdings of less than 0.2 hectares from the scope of the provisions, and no longer requiring a breakdown by NUTS 3 region to be given for certain data on vines for purposes other than for the production of table grapes. I voted for this report for these reasons.

 
  
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  Aldo Patriciello (PPE), in writing. (IT) Updating the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops and bringing them into line with current market and user needs means not only simplifying the data in order to make them more accessible to users, but also reducing the administrative burden, given changes to the precision of the statistics. Since I think it is necessary to better reconcile the quality of the data requested and that data which can actually be found, so as to achieve a balance between user needs and the administrative burden, I am pleased to vote in favour of the proposal in question since I agree with every part of the text.

 
  
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  Paulo Rangel (PPE), in writing. (PT) The effective application of EU law depends, to a large extent, on its capacity for continuously adapting to the successive challenges that emerge. To this end, there is a need to periodically revise legislative texts, so as to evaluate exactly which points could be improved. That is the context of the Commission’s recent proposal intended to reduce the administrative burden on those surveyed for the purposes of Europe’s statistics on permanent crops. This initiative should be applauded, since it contributes to protecting public trust and to the simplicity of EU legislation. I voted in favour for these reasons.

 
  
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  Crescenzio Rivellini (PPE), in writing. (IT) In today’s part-session, we voted on Ms Nedelcheva’s report on European statistics on permanent crops. The Commission proposal aims to update the existing legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops to bring them into line with current user and market requirements. These relate to using the statistical data on permanent crops as a reliable basis for taking judicious decisions in relation to production and the European market. The proposal aims to simplify the breakdown of user data, adapting them to statistical needs by cancelling the annual statistics on crops and the detailed breakdown of wine production.

 
  
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  Raül Romeva i Rueda (Verts/ALE), in writing. – In favour. The report welcomes the Commission proposal, the aim of which is to update the legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops in line with current user and market requirements, and stresses the objective of achieving simplification and recognises the efforts made by the Commission to reduce the administrative burden on respondents and ensure that statistical data on permanent crops provide a reliable basis for taking judicious decisions in relation to production and the European market.

 
  
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  Nikolaos Salavrakos (EFD), in writing. (EL) I voted in favour of the report by Ms Nedelcheva on the use of statistics on permanent crops because I consider that they provide a reliable basis for taking the right decisions in connection with agricultural production and the European market. I agree with the rapporteur that we need to reduce the administrative burden in connection with the production of statistics and with the amendments that she tabled on the proposal for a regulation.

 
  
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  Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (PPE), in writing.(IT) I congratulate Mariya Nedelcheva, who has included a series of paragraphs in this report to secure my vote in favour, in particular, those relating to the simplification and reduction of the administrative burdens facing respondents in connection with the statistics on permanent crops.

The Commission’s proposal is necessary during the revision phase of the agricultural market system. I would like to recall that in recent years, the Standing Committee for Agricultural Statistics (Eurostat) has debated broadly on the future of agricultural statistics and, in particular, on structural statistics which are the principal point of reference in the decennial census.

The future challenges facing the bodies that draw up statistics are, above all: the broadening of the European Union which has further increased the number of differences between national agricultures in terms of land structures and crop systems; the thorough revision of the common agricultural policy, which is in the process of changing the framework for informational statistics requirements for the Commission as well as for national and local governments; the need to make the European system for agricultural statistics, on the one hand, more homogenous with that of economical statistics and, on the other hand, more flexible with regard to new informational needs concerning safeguarding of the environment and food security.

 
  
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  Nuno Teixeira (PPE), in writing. (PT) In May 2010, the European Commission drafted a proposal for a regulation concerning European statistics on permanent crops, which argues that there is a need to ‘update, simplify and optimise the existing legal framework for European statistics on permanent crops replacing the existing two legal acts by a single one’. I am voting for the amendments to this regulation, given that there is a need to instil greater cooperation between the authorities involved in producing and publishing European statistics; to undertake consultations with various decision makers, including experts with wide knowledge of the subject; and to take into account the best practices adopted at international level. I also consider it important that this regulation establishes a common framework for systematically producing European statistics on permanent crops, so facilitating increased EU-level integration and comparison.