General Information

2019 EU Budget: Commission proposes a budget focused on continuity and delivery – for growth, solidarity, security

This budget is the sixth one under the current 2014-2020 long-term EU budget and operates within the limitations set therein. It is designed to optimise funding for existing programmes as well as new initiatives and to boost European added value in lin…

General Information

Motion for a resolution on the Commission Work Programme 2018 – B8-2017-0450

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the European Council declaration on competitiveness of 19 February 2016,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making,

–  having regard to the final report of 24 July 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 entitled ‘Towards improved single market regulation’(1),

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality(2),

–  having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the best economic and social support that the Member States can offer their citizens to ensure improved quality of life is a growing economy with low inflation and high rates of employment and wage growth, generating the resources required to fund investment for the future, improved infrastructure and public services;

B.  whereas the Member States face significant economic challenges in a difficult global marketplace which can only be met by creating dynamic, competitive economies with rising levels of productivity and innovation;

C.  whereas security is a serious concern in an era of domestic and international threats;

D.  whereas public opinion has grown increasingly wary of a Union which appears to be taking on powers and responsibilities that are more fittingly exercised at the level of its Member States, their regional and local authorities or by citizens themselves;

E.  whereas EU citizens clearly seek a Union with a light touch which facilitates cooperation among its Member States in areas where this can add value, but above all which respects the essential principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and conferral;

PART 1: EUROPE IS AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE

General principles to shape the 2018 work programme

1.  Underlines the fact that the Member States are the democratic foundation of the EU and that the Commission in its proposals for 2018 must attach sufficient importance to involving national and regional governments in its work;

2.  Calls on the Commission to keep new proposals to a minimum in 2018, focusing on areas in which European cooperation can add value in line with the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and conferral;

3.  Calls for the refashioning of EU policies and programmes in order to allow Member States greater local control over and more flexibility in how they seek to meet agreed European objectives;

4.  Insists that the Commission increase the level of consultation on possible future proposals with Member States, regional and local governments, and citizens directly; underlines the importance of allowing sufficient time for feedback and the use of more ‘white papers’ and ‘green papers’ to set out various different options;

5.  Emphasises the importance of delivering value for money and pursuing a policy of zero tolerance in cases of mismanagement and fraud;

6.  Underlines the importance to the EU of being outward-looking and developing close economic, commercial and strategic ties with friends and allies, particularly those who are close neighbours;

Priorities for 2018

7.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise measures in 2018 that will enable the EU to support its Member States in reforming their economies so as to achieve long-term sustainable growth, job creation and prosperity;

8.  Believes that, at EU level, a crucial instrument to improve the economic outlook is the advancement of the better law-making agenda; calls on the Commission, therefore, to develop the agenda with ambition, in particular:

–  the SME and competitiveness tests as part of the impact assessments,

–  the setting of burden reduction targets,

–  the Annual Burden Survey, and

–  the work of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board;

and calls on the Commission to ensure that micro-enterprises are exempted as far as possible from all legislative proposals so that new start-ups and entrepreneurs can be encouraged;

9.  Calls for the focus to remain on growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; believes that boosting investment should not be seen as an alternative to necessary structural reforms;

10.  Stresses the importance of competition policy enforcement in creating a level playing field that fosters innovation, productivity, job creation and investment by all players across the single market and across all business models, including SMEs;

11.  Emphasises the importance of progress in tackling the migration crisis in a way that demonstrates much more sensitivity to widespread concerns within the Member States over uncontrolled migration by providing feasible policy suggestions, and that respects the prerogatives of sovereign Member States in this field;

12.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise the negotiation of new trade deals with third countries to secure lower prices for European consumers and bigger markets for European producers, generating new jobs and greater prosperity;

13.  Highlights the importance of the implementation of circular economy policies with a focus on the fight against food waste; calls on the Commission to encourage the Member States to cooperate and exchange good practices;

14.  Reiterates the need to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; highlights the genuine importance of achieving the full accessibility of products, services and environments, which is essential for enabling their full participation in society;

15.  Recalls the need to promote work-life balance for non-official carers who care for dependent relatives (the elderly, children, persons with disabilities) without being in official employment;

16.  Emphasises the need for a positive and amicable conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, recognising the great contribution that the UK has made to the EU over 40 years, so as to ensure a strong economic and political partnership between the Union and the UK for the future that respects the reasonable requirements and interests of all parties;

PART 2: SPECIFIC PROPOSALS FOR THE WORK PROGRAMME DELIVERING ON THE 10 PRIORITIES

1.  ‘A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment’

Better law-making

17.  Reminds the Commission that any legislative proposals should be subject to a thorough impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis; asks the Commission to ensure that each impact assessment is targeted so as to demonstrate the possible effects on businesses and the market, and that the proposals are made only if the intended effect is proportionate;

18.  Emphasises the importance of the Commission including SMEs and competitiveness tests in all impact assessments, notwithstanding the fact that this will help to ensure that companies, SMEs in particular, are not overburdened by legislation; calls on the Commission to roll out the use of the SME Test across all DGs and to cooperate in a more systematic fashion with the Regulatory Scrutiny Board in order to ensure a more structured application of the test in the same manner as it was executed in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 and Directive 2011/7/EU;

19.  Strongly suggests that the Commission initiate a ‘cooling off’ period following the conclusion of trilogue negotiations for the completion of an impact assessment and subsidiarity check; invites the Commission to provide for an evaluation and possible follow-up of the independence of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board in fulfilling its role of supervising and providing objective advice on respective impact assessments; calls on the Commission to recognise that the Better Regulation Agenda has an essential local/regional dimension, which is not necessarily addressed through subsidiarity, by expanding its regulatory impact assessment processes (as distinct from ‘territorial impact assessments’) to examine the financial and administrative impact of existing and new standards on local/regional governments;

20.  Underlines the importance of the annual burden survey (ABS), agreed as part of the IIA on Better Law-Making, as a vital tool to identify and monitor, in a clear and transparent manner, the results of the Union’s efforts to avoid and reduce any overregulation and administrative burdens, especially since they affect SMEs; believes that the ABS must be used to identify the burdens imposed both by the Commission’s individual legislative proposals and acts and by individual Member States’ transposition and interpretation of legislation, known as ‘gold-plating’;

21.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on the recommendations set out in the annual reports of 2012, 2013 and 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality; notes, in particular, calls made in the reports for a factually substantiated analysis of all proposals put forward by the Commission on subsidiarity and proportionality grounds; calls for consideration of proportionality (in addition to subsidiarity) in reasoned opinions from national parliaments, which would require a revision of the treaties, for an evaluation of the number of national parliaments required for a yellow card to be triggered, and for the time limit for the submission of subsidiarity opinions by national parliaments to be extended;

22.  Underlines calls in the reports for Commission assessments of proportionality to discard proposals with disproportionate burdens on competitiveness and SMEs; recalls that a green card for national parliaments has been requested and that Parliament has asked the Commission to undertake a subsidiarity check and full impact assessment at the conclusion of legislative negotiations, to ensure that subsidiarity and proportionality are respected once proposals have been amended;

23.  Calls on the Commission, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the new IIA, to put forward proposals for establishing burden reduction targets in key sectors as a matter of urgency; calls on the Commission to aim for a 25 % reduction by 2020 of the economic costs linked to regulatory burdens for businesses in each policy area, with a longer-term target of halving the burden of existing Union regulations by 2030; strongly encourages the Commission to apply immediately the ‘for each new standard created two old standards are to be repealed’ formula, by considering the benefits of introducing regulatory offsetting, whereby new rules that add to administrative and regulatory burdens can only be imposed if a corresponding double cut in existing burdens can be identified;

24.  Calls on the Commission (and on Parliament) to recognise that democratically elected local and regional governments, and their representative associations, are part of the European law-making process; requests specifically that they be exempted from the Transparency Register obligations, as is already the case for individual regions;

25.  Calls on the Commission to pay more careful attention to ensuring transparency and the separation of powers through stricter compliance with the provisions of Article 290 TFEU, and therefore to refrain from using delegated acts to pass genuine legislative measures that should be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure;

26.  Underlines the continued importance of the REFIT Agenda and subsequent legislative proposals following the cumulative impact assessment; calls on the Commission to include the Seveso III Directive under the REFIT rolling programme and to focus primarily on the impact on businesses, particularly SMEs, and their ability to make long-term investments, as well as its effect on the possible relocation of EU-based chemical production;

27.  Notes the Commission proposals on the European Pillar of Social Rights, which seek to strengthen the social dimension of the EU; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to ensure, while pursuing its priorities, that all initiatives under the auspices of the European Pillar of Social Rights fully respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

28.  Calls on the Commission to systematically review the social acquis, which consists of more than 50 directives developed since 1958, and to identify opportunities for further simplification and burden reduction, including through the withdrawal or repeal of legislation where appropriate;

29.  Recognises that women continue to be under-represented in the labour market; believes in this regard that flexible employment contracts, including temporary and part-time contracts, can play an important role in increasing the participation of groups that might otherwise have been excluded from the labour market; considers it inappropriate for the Commission to put forward legislative proposals, including a framework directive on decent work, that would seek to restrict the use of such contracts in the Member States;

30.  Recalls Article 155 TFEU; calls on the social partners, in the context of current and future framework agreements, to embrace the improved regulation tools, increase the use of impact assessments, and refer agreements proposing legislative action to the Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board;

Budgetary means

31.  Notes that the Commission must publish its proposal for a new multiannual financial framework (MFF) before 1 January 2018, as set out in Article 25 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013; considers that the next MFF must develop a pathway towards a modern EU budget that adequately addresses current challenges, such as the migrant and refugee crisis, the threat of terrorism, and the UK’s withdrawal from the Union; believes that the Commission should therefore undertake a comprehensive spending review before the negotiations on the next MFF, in order to systematically evaluate each policy area under the EU budget in terms of efficiency, added value and contribution towards overall EU priorities; urges the Commission, furthermore, to align the next MFF with the political cycles of both the Commission and Parliament in order to improve the political ownership and, by extension, accountability of the Union’s multiannual budget; believes that the MFF ceilings agreed in 2013 should be maintained;

32.  Notes that the Commission will consider proposals from the High Level Group on Own Resources, including new candidates for own resources; urges the Commission not to call for tax-raising powers for the EU; advocates not abandoning the established guidelines on the current system of own resources, such as the balance between the budget and current traditional own resources (for example tariffs and sugar levies), or those on own resources based on gross national income (GNI) believes that own resources should be presented in a clear and uniform way in national budgets in order to ensure the transparency and comparability of the EU’s revenue;

33.  Considers that the Commission should develop an improved system of budgetary control which is proportionate to the benefits achieved through EU funding; considers that an integral part of this system should be its reporting, which ought to be sufficiently transparent and detailed, including the reporting of information on the recipients of EU funds and whether payments have been made on time; believes that the performance, cost-effectiveness and results achieved via EU funding should always be scrutinised in order to ascertain the sustainable, long-term effects of EU expenditure; recalls Parliament’s call for a dedicated Commissioner for Budgetary Control, replacing one of the existing Commissioners, to work with Member States to resolve cases of fraud and mismanagement; calls for the preparation of proposals to reform the Court of Auditors to serve as both an audit and evaluation authority, undertaking or commissioning independent evaluations of Union programmes;

Transport

34.  Underlines the need to continue development of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and their core network corridors as a matter of priority, in order to link the transport networks of all EU regions and solve problems such as the lack of appropriate infrastructure, accessibility and low interoperability between the eastern and western parts of the EU; stresses the need for synergy between the financial resources of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the Structural and Investment Funds in order to ensure the best use of all available EU funding; stresses, however, that while the focus of CEF 2.0 should be on innovative financing tools and combining various types of resources, a sufficient proportion of its grants should be set aside for transport infrastructure projects that would not attract private investment owing to different market conditions in different parts of the EU;

Research

35.  Calls on the Commission, in its mid-term review and given the level of detail required in a Horizon 2020 project proposal, to introduce stricter selection criteria at the first application stage, as a large number of applicants are investing time and effort in producing a full proposal at the second stage with little likelihood or confidence of success; is concerned that this problem is particularly serious for SMEs;

36.  Stresses the need for applied research, particularly research that leads to better knowledge, skills and practices, to ensure that new technologies are used in the best possible manner; calls on the Commission to better balance the needs of fundamental, applied and translational research and development, to ensure efficient, fast translation of new discoveries into real technologies and products;

Skills and education programmes

37.  Stresses that the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020) and the Commission’s new Skills Agenda should complement national actions and support Member States in their efforts to develop formal and informal education and training systems, with a view in particular to improving reading, writing and numeracy skills;

38.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the expert community and relevant stakeholders, including parents’ organisations, are actively engaged in policy development;

39.  Calls on the Commission to assess the effectiveness and added value of EU culture and education programmes, paying particular attention to the Europe for Citizens programme, and to promote the simplification of procedures and sound financial management at all levels;

Regional development and cohesion policy

40.  Calls on the Commission to provide a strong indication of how it envisages that post-2020 cohesion policy will be funded and structured and of any reforms to the existing regime; believes that dialogue between all institutions must be prioritised in order to create a transparent decision-making process; stresses the need to express the current ceilings for commitment and payment appropriations under heading 1(b) as a proportion of EU GDP in the overall EU budget;

41.  Asks the Commission to carry out further studies to ensure that cohesion policy is having its intended impact at beneficiary or project level; believes that this is particularly important given that only an estimated 25 % of the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and CEF for the 2014-2020 programming period will have been allocated by the end of 2018;

42.  Acknowledges that the Omnibus Regulation made a number of important changes focused on simplification, streamlining and flexibility; believes that more can be done to ensure that technical assistance is properly targeted, monitored and evaluated; believes in addition that the Commission should empower local actors by tackling complex approval procedures, late payments to recipients and issues with combining sources of funding, and by promoting grassroots approaches such as Community-Led Local Development;

2.  ‘A Connected Digital Single Market’

43.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals to establish the general principle of the free movement of data and to remove data localisation restrictions across the EU;

3.  ‘A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’

44.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the socio-economic consequences of the new electricity market design, particularly in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, which is likely to bear higher energy transition costs than other EU Member States;

45.  Is concerned about the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive and calls on the Commission to work with Member States following consistent guidelines to ensure effective implementation; supports the ‘efficiency first’ principle where appropriate and believes that targets should be proportionate and realistic;

4.  ‘Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base’

46.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals based upon its assessment of the Motor Insurance Directive (Directive 2009/103/EC), in particular on the resolution of issues facing vehicle users arising from the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Vnuk v Triglav, and to consider other improvements for citizens seeking insurance, such as recognition of periods without insurance claims in Member States other than the State in which the insurance is sought, in order that citizens may benefit from offers available to consumers of those Member States;

47.  Urges the Commission when drafting the revision of the Posted Workers Directive (Directive 96/71/EC) to keep in mind both the proper functioning of the internal market and the principle of freedom to provide services; urges the Commission when drafting civil law rules on robotics to take into account the sector-specific approach proposed by Parliament in order to encourage innovation and respect the different stages of robotic development in the different sectors and between Member States;

48.  Calls, following the outcomes of the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector, for the swift adoption of the 3rd and 4th Real Driving Emissions (RDE) packages with the aim of establishing a precise definition of the conditions under which current CO2 and NOx limits are to be fulfilled;

49.  Notes that key provisions of the Biocidal Products Regulation on the approval of suppliers and the registration of active substances used for treated articles face significant compliance issues owing to low awareness among affected businesses; strongly urges the Commission to build on the work already undertaken as part of the recent fitness check on the most relevant chemicals legislation (excluding REACH), as well as related aspects of legislation applied to downstream industries, and to include the Regulation under its 2018 REFIT Agenda, with specific regard to the financial and administrative burdens faced by SMEs and micro-enterprises when compiling approval dossiers for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA);

50.  Notes the financial and regulatory challenges for Member States in complying with the Nitrates Directive (Directive 91/676/EEC), which is often considered a poor example of effective EU legislation, with numerous infringement cases still pending; emphasises the need to harmonise its reporting cycle with that of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC, WFD) so that the same monitoring data can be used for the reviews of both Directives, and to limit and simplify nitrate planning requirements which have proven an unnecessary bureaucratic burden for the agricultural sector; urges the Commission to add to the work undertaken in its 2012 fitness check of EU fresh water policy, and to include a systematic review of the Nitrates Directive in its 2018 REFIT Agenda in order to streamline cumbersome requirements and reduce compliance costs;

51.  Notes that current operational frameworks and data instruments regarding rules for vitamins and minerals used as ingredients of food supplements under the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC) are often mentioned as an example of weak and obsolete EU legislation, with numerous harmonisation gaps across the EU, in terms not only of regulatory fields and inter-agency cooperation, but also of national divergences on the wide range of nutrients and ingredients that may also be present in food; calls on the Commission to revise the work already done and to cooperate closely with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in reviewing the current state of the European health food market, making due use of scientific research;

52.  Underlines the need to ensure continued investment in the creative cycle and access to high-quality audiovisual media content for consumers, while enhancing protection for minors and supporting the production and distribution of European works; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to follow through on its commitment to carrying out impact assessments and taking evidence-based measures, and to encourage the sharing of best practices across Member States and in industry, while recalling the principle of cultural sovereignty;

Fisheries

53.  Welcomes the progress being made by the EU’s fishing fleets in achieving the aims and objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), notably Article 2 concerning environmentally sustainable fisheries; calls on the Commission to support and continue to promote (Eco-) labels as a mechanism for recognising good quality fish caught in a sustainable way and for guaranteeing sea-to-plate traceability; calls on the Commission to ensure that the CFP and the landing obligation are implemented in a sound manner within realistic time frames; calls on the Commission to continue working closely with fishermen and scientists to identify and forecast where choke species may occur and to develop research solutions such as innovative fishing techniques, for example pulse fishing;

54.  Stresses the need for the Commission to revise Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 (the Mediterranean Regulation), in particular the part that refers to the ban on the use of certain traditional gears and the provisions that relate to the specific characteristics of fishing gears; has concerns about the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks, which contains the new management framework;

55.  Calls on the Commission to find a pragmatic solution with regard to industrial fisheries in order to regulate and limit the practice of using valuable fish resources for fishmeal, in particular when it comes to vulnerable ecosystems in the Baltic Sea; calls on the Commission to review existing legislation to support small-scale fisheries in particular and to elaborate on their definition; stresses the need for the Commission to review the existing legislation with a view to introducing the seasonal closure period for cod fisheries in the Baltic Sea, so as to limit the fishing of cod juveniles;

Agriculture

56.  Welcomes the twelve-week public consultation held by the Commission and the fact that President Juncker and Commissioner Hogan have recognised that the CAP needs to be revitalised and receive sufficient funding; hopes that input from farmers, citizens and organisations received during this consultation will shape the future CAP; stresses that the CAP should ensure that taxpayers receive value for money from the investment they make in agriculture, while moving towards the equalisation of direct payments across the Member States and ensuring that the EU can maintain and increase its food-producing potential;

57.  Is disappointed at the lack of action to ensure the more efficient use of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which would improve food and energy production; stresses that soil degradation continues to be a major constraint in EU agricultural production;

58.  Is concerned about the way in which the Commission has dealt with a number of delegated acts; reminds the Commission that delegated acts should address technical and administrative adjustments and not introduce politically-driven agricultural measures into the CAP, thereby bypassing the ordinary legislative procedure;

59.  Stresses that more voluntary tools must be made available to EU farmers under pillar II to enable them to deal with increased price volatility and prolonged periods of low prices; calls on the Commission to work with Member States in developing the EU’s risk management toolkit; stresses that the main income-stabilising tool for farmers is direct payments under pillar I; calls on the Commission to explore measures that would ensure market transparency throughout the entire food supply chain;

60.  Calls on DG AGRI to work closely with DGs EMPL and GROW to ensure a real focus on the agri-food sector; notes that if the EU’s agri-food sector is to be competitive on the world market, efforts must be concentrated on job creation, growth and investment in all holdings irrespective of type and size, so that production potential is maximised; stresses that if Europe is to develop its precision farming methods and agri-technologies, the Commission should work with Member States to plan for investment in technical or higher-level agricultural training and education;

5.  ‘A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union’

61.  Highlights the importance of the achievement of the Capital Markets Union; stresses, however, that any further legislative proposals should be made only if the intended effects cannot be achieved by non-legislative means;

62.  Highlights that non-legislative steps, including the encouragement of market-driven solutions and the effective enforcement of competition and single market laws, might offer the best way forward in some areas;

63.  Calls on the Commission to recognise that diversity among business models and the financial markets of Member States can constitute strengths worth protecting for Europe as a whole;

64.  Stresses the importance of amending regulation to align it with international agreements, for example the ongoing Basel commitments;

65.  Welcomes the work of the Commission and Member States to actively promote the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and the use of tax havens, drawing on the expertise of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in fostering good tax governance;

66.  Calls for strict adherence to the no-bail-out clause as a commendable option for reforming the economic governance framework;

67.  Highlights the importance of monitoring the implementation of existing Banking Union legislation and enhancing dialogue with sector experts to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of adopted legislation;

6.  ‘Trade’

68.  Supports the continued efforts of the Commission to negotiate specific provisions designed to improve the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises to engage in trade and investment; recognises the proliferation of integrated global supply chains in international trade patterns; asks the Commission to pursue a digital trade strategy that takes into account the opportunities it offers to small and medium-sized businesses by facilitating access to global markets; recommends that this strategy endeavour to improve connectivity and capacity-building for e-commerce by eliminating unjustified restrictions on cross-border data flows, providing that adequate rules promoting open, trusted and secure digital trade are in place; encourages the Commission to advance the digital trade agenda in ongoing and future free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as the organisation must continue to represent a flexible and dynamic forum for negotiations;

69.  Calls on the Commission to review the current ACP-EU trade framework governed by the Cotonou Agreement, which will expire in 2020; notes that this is a good opportunity to evaluate the relationship and work on a new model that takes into account evidence-based findings on impact, effectiveness, EU added value and current changes in the international context; believes that the new outline should aim to support economic growth in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and their integration into the global economy; asks the Commission, therefore, to develop a clear and strong trade policy that includes, but is not limited to, private sector development, trade facilitation and reciprocal liberalisation; calls on the Commission to do so in line with the principle of policy coherence for development;

70.  Recognises and supports the approach taken in the Trade for All Strategy, namely including anti-corruption provisions in future trade agreements, given the known role that corruption plays in facilitating illegal trade; requests that the Commission pursue a trade policy that tackles illegal trade when negotiating with trade partners; recommends doing so in line with the existing international trade frameworks negotiated at multilateral level;

7.  ‘An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust’

71.  Believes that full interoperability of EU databases in the area of justice and home affairs, to which relevant national authorities have adequate access, including to biometric data, is essential for a more effective fight against organised crime and terrorism; urges the Commission to develop standards for current and future databases that incorporate the principles of security by design and, where applicable, purpose limitation by default; believes, furthermore, that EU systems and the Member States must be able to use information from and exchange information with international databases, such as those managed by Interpol; urges the Commission to work with Member States to ensure the permanent and good-quality uploading of relevant information to EU databases;

72.  Believes that work on new or updated databases should be a priority, including the Entry-Exit System (EES), the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), the SIS II package, Eurodac, the European Police Records Index System (EPRIS) and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), and that proper funding should be made available for putting them in place; urges the Commission to follow technological developments continuously in order to improve the information systems, bearing in mind the importance of speed and reliability for their usability;

73.  Supports the upcoming revision of the Cybersecurity Strategy; calls on the Commission to review existing legislation in the area of cybercrime and to put forward a proposal which establishes a clear framework for the relationship between private companies and law enforcement authorities in the fight against organised crime and radicalisation online, while considering the security of personal data processing and the risk of data breach;

74.  Calls for more work to be done to counter online propaganda, in particular that which promotes extremist ideologies, but also whose aim is to destabilise, such as propaganda efforts coordinated from Russia; calls for the more appropriate funding of Europol’s Internet Referral Unit;

75.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the exchange of best practices on countering radicalisation in prisons in the EU;

8.  ‘Towards a New Policy on Migration’

76.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts to conclude an agreement with all relevant parties in Libya in order to stem the illegal inflow of third country nationals into EU territory;

77.  Encourages the Commission both to continue negotiations with third countries on return and readmission agreements as a crucial part of a fair asylum system and to review the Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC) to evaluate whether it still provides an adequate legal framework for EU return policy; believes that at Member State level voluntary resettlement can be used as an instrument for providing international protection;

78.  Supports the objective of establishing strict asylum procedures and conditions in the Member States; believes, however, that Member States are and must remain ultimately responsible for their borders, labour market policies, and access to social welfare, healthcare, housing and education;

79.  Believes that more efforts are needed to ensure support for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, including by pooling resources, as it takes on important new tasks, including the future ETIAS Central Unit;

9.  ‘A Stronger Global Actor’

80.  Calls for regular reviews of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) to ensure that it addresses the constantly evolving situations on the EU’s eastern and southern borders; further insists that the work and budgets of the European External Action Service (EEAS) are properly scrutinised and accounted for; believes that this evaluation should focus not only on whether the money is spent correctly, but also on whether ENP objectives have been achieved;

81.  Encourages cooperation between the EU, its Member States and international organisations, including the UN, NATO, and the Commonwealth, ensuring recognition of shared global foreign policy, security and humanitarian challenges, and national competence in these areas;

82.  Insists that the promotion of human rights remains an important dimension of the EU’s foreign policy objectives and all its relations with third countries, including in areas such as religious freedom, freedom of expression, political freedom, the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, and the rights of minority groups, including LGBTI people;

83.  Calls for the continued exertion of diplomatic pressure, including the use of targeted sanctions against individuals, groups and the Russian Government, in order to peacefully resolve the conflict in Ukraine; insists on strict adherence to the non-recognition-policy for Russian-occupied Crimea;

84.  Encourages further international cooperation in seeking a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that achieves a secure and universally recognised Israel existing alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian State;

Security

85.  Recognises NATO as the cornerstone of European defence and security policy and resists any measures that will undermine the EU’s links with international defence partners; urges the Commission to work with Member States to achieve the target set for NATO members of spending 2 % of GDP on defence;

86.  Calls on the Commission to examine the objectives and cost-effectiveness of EU civilian missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) with a view to developing more effectively an area of genuine and useful complementarity with the role of other organisations;

87.  Encourages, as the largest contributor to international action against anti-personnel landmines (APL), a review of the EU’s targeting and funding of mine action in order to bring such action to a successful conclusion within the shortest possible time frame;

88.  Proposes the identification of research funding and practical action in the field of cybersecurity, particularly the protection of infrastructure and the strengthening of national resilience, in order to determine where the greatest added value lies, taking into account work carried out by other organisations;

Development

89.  Believes that the role of the public sector is fundamental to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); believes that the private sector, under free and fair trade conditions, is the driver of wealth creation and economic growth in all market economies, generating 90 % of jobs and income in developing countries; notes that according to the UN, the private sector accounts for 84 % of GDP in developing countries and has the capacity to provide a sustainable base for lower aid dependence and domestic resource mobilisation;

90.  Calls on the Commission to establish a clear, structured, transparent and accountable framework governing partnerships and alliances with the private sector in developing countries; calls, furthermore, for the setting-up at EU level of sectorial, multi-stakeholder platforms, bringing together the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs), NGOs, think tanks, partner governments, donors and other stakeholders, in order to provide information about opportunities for participating in public-private partnerships (PPPs), exchange best practices, and provide technical support on the legal framework and the challenges expected to arise from collaborative development interventions;

91.  Welcomes the EIB’s role in local private sector development; underlines the fact that the EIB’s support for microfinance has already been particularly successful, with just EUR 184 million in microcredits sustaining 230 500 jobs in microenterprises around the world, and that these microcredits have a strong gender perspective, generating twice as many jobs for women as for men; calls on the Commission and the Member States to acknowledge the success of microfinance policies by means of an increase in available financial resources; notes that the EIB devotes additional resources to microfinance through the EU’s external lending mandate in all the developing countries in which it is active;

92.  Recalls that Sustainable Development Goal 3 clearly states that by 2030 everyone should be able to enjoy good mental and physical health throughout their lives; underlines the fact that, each year, 100 million people fall into poverty as a result of health costs which are disproportionate to their incomes, and that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over one third of the world’s population, and over 50 % in Africa, does not have access to medicines, owing to inequalities such as lower education levels and income, limited access to information, poor infrastructure, and restricted access to medical points in rural areas, with a corresponding lack of diagnoses, leading to a lack of treatment and minimal access to medication;

93.  Recalls that the aim should be to reach people who need healthcare wherever and whenever they need it, with due respect for the sovereignty of the third countries concerned, while acknowledging that the availability of medicines is affected by conflicts and crises, as are all aspects of healthcare systems; believes that in such cases emergency response systems are necessary to effectively prevent and/or respond to possible outbreaks;

10. ‘A Union of Democratic Change’

94.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an IIA with a view to enabling the genuine involvement of the national parliaments’ network in the EU’s legislative process, in accordance with the inseparable principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on the Commission, to that end, to:

–  de facto extend the scrutiny period within which national parliaments can issue a reasoned opinion from eight to twelve weeks;

–  encourage and examine reasoned own-initiative opinions from national parliaments suggesting that the Commission initiate a legislative act within its area of competences (‘green card’);

–  consider any reasoned opinion on the non-compliance of a draft Union legislative act with the principle of subsidiarity as ‘politically binding’ if it has achieved the established threshold of a third of the votes allocated to the national parliaments, and consequently undertake to instantly and completely remove the challenged draft act;

–  welcome the parliamentarisation and modernisation of the Luxembourg Compromise as regards reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments on topics they deem to be of ‘very important national interest’ that oppose the adoption of or participation in a given draft act, and invites the Council to hold comprehensive discussions with a view to reaching a consensus;

–  welcome the right of national parliaments to recall and review implementing or delegated acts adopted by the Commission, as well as their right to full cooperation on requests submitted by any national parliamentary inquiry committee when a European matter is concerned;

–  review any directive or regulation if requested to do so by the national parliaments;

–  introduce an automatic sunset clause for certain acts after five or ten years;

–  initiate the repatriation of so-called shared competences if national parliaments achieving a third of the votes consider that objectives have not, in the light of experience, been sufficiently met through the ordinary legislative procedure and that competences would be best returned to Member States and/or regional and local authorities;

95.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an ordinary treaty revision procedure under Article 48 TEU with a view to proposing the changes to Article 341 TFEU and Protocol 6 necessary to enable Parliament to decide on the location of its seat and internal organisation;

96.  Calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to amend the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union to the effect that ‘any judge who has taken part in the consideration of the case may annex to the judgment either a separate opinion, concurring with or dissenting from that judgment, or a bare statement of dissent’;

o

o o

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

General Market

Speeches by Commissioners Avramopoulos and Jourová at the 10th European Forum on the rights of the child – The protection of children in migration

Keynote speech by Commissioner Jourová : More protection for refugee and migrant children

Dear Dimitris,

Honourable Members of Parliament co-chairs of the Intergroup on rights of the child – Ms Corazza Bildt and Ms Chinnici,

Distinguished speakers,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome to the 10th European Forum on the rights of the child!

This year’s topic is ‘children in migration’. We use this term to describe children in different circumstances. It includes asylum applicants, refugees and undocumented migrants.

You will see some of these children in the background of my presentation. The pictures were taken by the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in the hotspots in Lesvos, Chios, and Samos, and the ‘Kara Tepe’ camp in Lesvos.

And I would like to begin by telling you a story.

Amira is 16 years old and fled to Europe by boat, with her mother. Her father is believed to be dead.

They travelled with other family members. She describes the conditions they are living in now and says she does not feel safe. She gives some details about her daily exposure to violence. Despite the trauma she has suffered, Amira sees clearly.

She says that she expects the European Union and its Member States to protect her human rights, and recalls that in her country people viewed Europe as a beacon for human rights.

Amira says that she missed out on several years of school because of the war. And it is now urgent for her to go to school and catch up. She wants to be safe and to get on with her life. Her mother, sitting beside her, looks lost, traumatised and desolate.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While Amira is not the real name of the child in this story, her experience was very real. It is a typical example of what many children in migration and their families have to go through in these very hard times in their life.

Of course, each and every child in migration has lived through other experiences and they have their own story to tell. Often, what they have gone through has been more than a child should have to bear.

And, yet, they may be the lucky ones. They survived and made it to Europe.

I, and many of you, have spoken with many of these children in the past few months – in many places. And their situation demands that we rise to the occasion and ensure respect for their rights. We may be their last line of defence. And we need to make sure that their voice is heard. That is our responsibility.

Let me put the current situation of child migration into context.

There are no reliable figures for the numbers of third country national children who do not apply for asylum or who are undocumented. But, we know that one in four asylum applicants in the EU is a child and ninety-six thousand unaccompanied children applied for asylum in the EU in 2015.

Thousands of unaccompanied children are missing.

This is the most shocking reality of the migration crisis.

A report from Sweden last week said that four per cent, or eighteen hundred, of the forty-five thousand unaccompanied child asylum applicants from 2013 to the present have gone missing.

In February 2016, the European Commission announced a comprehensive approach to the protection of children in migration. And my colleague Dimitris Avramopoulos will tell you about proposals for new asylum and migration laws and EU funding under the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

The EU Agencies, the Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Asylum Support Office and Frontex carry out crucial guidance and support roles. They have developed helpful tools and collected qualitative data which can be used to inform policy.

The European Parliament and the Intergroup on rights of the child are defenders of the rights of children in migration.

And the UN Special Representative on the rights of migrants will have some very clear messages for us today.

In my own portfolio, the Commission provides funding for children’s rights and to protect children from violence. This year we gave priority to children in migration.

All children have the same rights under the UN Convention on the rights of the child. And, they all have the right to protection.

No child should be discriminated against and they should all benefit from equal access to national child protection systems. EU law reflects and protects these rights.

And the New York Declaration on refugees and migrants reaffirmed international commitments that we should keep in mind in our discussions.

We have the institutions and the legal framework to act.

My concern – my objective for today – is to take stock of how things really work in practice – on the ground – and what we, as politicians, can do to help fill gaps and resolve challenges.

For example, how do these laws and policies work for individual children? How do they meet their needs? Are they child rights based? What impact do they have on children such as Amira?

We all know that in a child’s young life just one week, a month, a year can seem interminable. So, we need to assess the time it takes for implementation. In particular, what can we do to speed up family reunion and reunification and ensure faster Dublin transfers?

Are procedures and processes adapted to the needs of children? What support are they given in order to be able to claim their rights? What is done to protect children from violence, whether they are in families, or unaccompanied or separated? Are we doing enough to identify individual vulnerabilities and to respond to them? How can we ensure a continuum of care and protection from arrival through to durable solutions, whether this means integration or return? Can we learn from someone else? Is transition from one stage or process to the next smooth?

There are still so many unanswered questions, particularly with regard to solutions. And I hope that we will address all of these issues at this Forum.

I’m sure effective guardianship will crop up in nearly all discussions. EU law already provides for the appointment of a guardian – which is a crucial role – for unaccompanied children. And we need to determine who the champions for a particular child are.

For children in families, we have a duty to support families in their role as primary caregiver. When I have visited reception centres, not only in Greece but for instance also Le Petit Chateau in Brussels, I am always very keen to speak with parents and to know what is done to empower them. This is important.

We must seek to restore their dignity and give them some control over their lives and let them be parents again.

Let me turn to Amira again and remind you how overwhelmed her mother was. The more integrated our responses can be, for both Amira and her mother, the better.

We are all becoming more and more aware of the importance of psychosocial support, as well as access to healthcare, not only for children but for the child’s parents. We want to restore and preserve family unity and avoid family separation.

For unaccompanied children, I see opportunities to extend the use of family-based or foster care. We need to give children the best care possible and there should be a range of options available, in line with the UN Guidelines for the alternative care of children.

We should train those working with and for children in migration so they are qualified to do so. And we should train them to identify risks of violence, exploitation, abuse and trafficking, for boys as well as girls.

We should ensure that there are standards in place for reception, and monitor implementation.

We need to assure access to education, bearing in mind the New York declaration commitment to ensure access to education within a few months of the initial displacement.

We need to do much more work to be done to ensure a range of viable alternatives to administrative detention.

We must acknowledge that it may be in a child’s best interests to return to her or his country of origin.

Not all children can or will stay in the EU. However, for any child who will not stay, we must ensure that they have enjoyed their rights to protection and non-discrimination, and benefitted from fair and effective procedures. We must also ensure that the primary consideration of their best interests is well documented.

We will compile a list of good practices for the protection of children in all phases of migration. So, I hope you will have a clear focus on good and promising practices and solutions and that you will contribute to that exercise.

After the Forum we will also issue conclusions to feed into further policy developments at both the EU and Member State level.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to discuss the situation of all these children over the next two days. I invite all of you to participate actively. And I look forward to working with you to implement our collective and coherent, comprehensive approach to the protection of children in migration.

Thank you.

Keynote speech by Commissioner Avramopoulos

Ladies and gentlemen,

This year’s European Forum on the rights of the child, with a focus on migration, could not be more timely. My thanks go out to my dear colleague Vera, for organising this event on such a topical issue.

Even if we succeed in all areas of our migration policy, if we don’t succeed in protecting children, we have not succeeded at all. This is why protecting children is such a priority for us.

And the refugee crisis has put this question even higher on the political agenda. The number of migrant children arriving on our southern coasts, both in Greece and Italy, has risen in the last two years. This is why our political and operational response should be equivalent to the needs and expectations.

Already today, the protection of children is central in EU asylum and migration law. We have important guarantees for migrant children who seek international protection in Europe.

We have had an action plan on unaccompanied migrant children for several years, and we have been carefully monitoring how Member States have implemented it.

As some of you may know, this summer the Commission has proposed a far-reaching reform of the Common European Asylum System.

So what are we proposing that will benefit the needs and interests of children?

Our proposals aim to strengthen the protection of migrant children, and in particular of migrant children who arrive alone in Europe. For example, we proposed measures to guarantee that children will be accommodated in suitable facilities. Children should also have access to specialised services and to education.

Those who are victims of trauma will receive psychosocial support. Family reunification procedures for children and unaccompanied minors will be strengthened and streamlined. Our Dublin reform proposal, for example, broadens the concept of family members to include the applicant’s siblings.

Effective guardianship for unaccompanied minors is also an issue. Our proposal to upgrade asylum procedures contains several provisions that will make guardianship more effective. We want the appointment of guardians to happen promptly, respecting the pre-set deadlines.

Guardians will have to be adequately qualified and trained for their role, and they will have to have sufficient time to meet with and dedicate to each child.

The guardianship system will need to ensure monitoring and accountability mechanisms. Guardians play a specialist and crucial role within the asylum procedures, and more needs to be done to facilitate the exchange of good practice and expertise, to possibly share joint training and to work together on any cross-border cases.

We also propose that in the future, accelerated procedures and in particular detention measures may only be applied to unaccompanied minors in limited, exceptional and fully justified circumstances.

In other words: such measures should be avoided as a rule. More needs to be done as of now to ensure that alternatives to detention are available.

Likewise, improving reception conditions for unaccompanied minors in frontline Member States is an absolute priority for the Commission.

What are we doing now? The EU has already provided substantial funding through various channels in order to improve reception conditions for children in Greece and in Italy. We will continue to prioritise this in funding, with a focus on upgrading the standards and quality of care and protection.

Child protection is also present in the context of the new European Border and Coast Guard adopted in September 2016. The child’s best interests will be a primary consideration in the activities of the Agency.

Right now, we aim to support frontline Member States to ensure appropriate first line reception and assistance for unaccompanied minors, in terms of identification, reception, provision of information and referral.

You are all aware that speedy and coordinated efforts are needed to face the phenomenon of children going missing. In terms of prevention, we need to build trust in the system by ensuring appropriate reception and care including effective guardianship; by improving the quality of information given to children; and by speeding up processes and procedures linked to relocation and family reunification.

In terms of identification, our proposal to revise Eurodac includes a lowering of the minimum age for fingerprinting from 14 to 6 years old, precisely to reduce the risks of going missing.

In the absence of travel documents, fingerprinting is one of the very few options to identify a person.

We also need to ensure that children who go missing are rapidly reported to the relevant national authorities and that every effort is made to find them.

In addition, according to the relocation decisions, applications made by unaccompanied children and vulnerable persons have to be prioritised. Despite this obligation, so far very few unaccompanied and separated children have been relocated from Greece, and not a single one from Italy.

This cannot continue.

Pledges must be urgently increased and delivered on, and internal procedures on the ground must be improved to make this all happen.

Let me also say that it is not just about making sure that children’s rights are safeguarded and implemented. It is also about making sure that their vulnerabilities are not exploited, particularly in the context of the ongoing refugee crisis.

I have already mentioned the issue of children going missing. In addition, exploitation and trafficking is a serious concern. Behind every child victim of trafficking, there is not only a trafficker but also a ‘user’, or rather an ‘abuser’.

The European Commission remains firmly committed to addressing all forms of exploitation and protecting the most vulnerable, in line with the Anti-Trafficking Directive and the EU Anti-Trafficking Stategy.

Risk assessment, durable solutions, presumption of childhood, legal and psychosocial assistance, education and assistance to families are some of the key features of our legislation.

Likewise, the legislation on protecting children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation applies to all children in the EU, no matter their status or origin. Member States should therefore ensure the effective application of that legislation to all children, including unaccompanied children who are the most vulnerable.

Our EU agencies EASO, Frontex, and Europol are supporting Italy and Greece in the identification of migrants and the provision of information to them in hotspots. They also work with police forces to help identify and prosecute smugglers and traffickers.

Moreover, it is not just about saving or protecting children; it is also about empowering them. And this is why we cannot forget about integration, both now but also in the long term.

One key policy area is education. All children, regardless of their family, religious, ethnic or cultural background or gender, have the right to access education.

Refugee children may have attended school only for short periods of time, or never, and therefore need tailored support including catch-up classes. Teachers need the necessary skills to assist them and should be supported in their work in increasingly diverse classrooms.

Early Childhood Education and Care is fundamental for the integration of migrant families and children, and to make sure that all children are given the chance to realise their potential.

Different EU funds – such as the Asylum, Migration Integration Fund, the European Social Fund and the Fund for Humanitarian Aid – are being mobilised to support Member States in improving access to education for the vulnerable, and in particular refugee children.

Outside the EU, €120m of EU funding has been allocated for 2015-2016 to regional education and protection programmes for vulnerable Syrian refugee and host community children and adolescents working through partners such as UNICEF in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

The Facility for Refugees in Turkey, meanwhile, will support the schooling of young Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Finally, I wish to touch upon a sensitive question: the issue of return and reintegration in the country of origin. Let me say that return can only happen when it is in full respect of the primary consideration of the child’s best interests.

We need to ensure better family tracing, and where return is determined to be in the child’s best interest, appropriate assistance must be provided. The returning child must be received in the country of origin by a family member, a designated guardian or an appropriate reception facility.

The principle of non-refoulement shall be fully respected at all times. I wish to underline that children should never be left in limbo.

We need to avoid situations where children are not considered to have a right to stay in the EU, but they cannot be returned to their country of origin.

Ladies and gentlemen,

While we have many challenges ahead, we have also come a long way in recent years. We have the right foundations and the right tools to address these challenges together.

We are in a room of like-minded people: we all want to make sure children in whichever situation – and particularly those in a vulnerable situation such as the refugee crisis – get the protection they need.

The challenge is not to agree or discuss here today – the challenge is to make it happen. Many of you are involved at various political and operational levels: you can influence and you can make a change. This Forum brings an excellent opportunity to provide an effective response to these children by joining all our efforts.

Children are our future. They are the next generation.

Protecting and investing in them is not just about saving lives or about respecting fundamental rights, it is about shaping the future.

General Market

Motion for a resolution on the strategic priorities for the Commission Work Programme 2017 – B8-2016-0893

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Political Guidelines for the European Commission, entitled ‘A New Start for Europe: My Agenda for Jobs, Growth, Fairness and Democratic Change’ and presented by Jean-Claude Juncker on 15 July 2014,

–  having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Commission Work Programme 2016 – No time for business as usual’ (COM(2015)0610), and Annexes 1 to 6 thereto,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-Making of 13 April 2016,

–  having regard to the Conference of Committee Chairs’ Summary Report, which provides complementary input to this resolution from the point of view of parliamentary committees and which the Commission should take duly into account when drafting and adopting its Work Programme for 2017,

–  having regard to its resolution of 28 June 2016 on the decision to leave the EU resulting from the UK referendum(1),

–  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 28-29 June 2016,

–  having regard to the contribution of the Committee of the Regions to the Commission’s 2017 Work Programme,

–  having regard to the Commission statement of 6 July 2016 on the Commission Work Programme 2017,

–  having regard to Rule 37(3) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the European integration process has brought peace and contributed to security and prosperity in Europe for decades;

B.  whereas Europe now faces many common and global challenges, but also increasing frustration and mistrust among many citizens about uncertain life prospects and a lack of opportunities that citizens expect decision-makers to respond to; whereas, if it is to succeed, European integration cannot let itself be reduced to a mere economic project; whereas it is urgent to win back the hearts of Europeans in favour of the European project and to strengthen economic, social and territorial cohesion;

C.  whereas the EU’s overlapping crises require effective European solutions, strongly anchored in a more democratic process through the community method, and with the full involvement of the European Parliament and the national parliaments;

D.  whereas the EU is our common house and it must offer a safe home and a stable economic environment with real equality of opportunity for its citizens; whereas sustainability and economic growth are compatible and can be mutually reinforcing; whereas it is important to bring the EU out of the lengthy economic crisis and deliver social progress by stepping up sustainable investments, reducing disparities and developing better policies, in particular by deepening the internal market and completing the Economic and Monetary Union;

E.  whereas we have chosen to pursue a common future, as a community based on shared values and cherishing the richness and diversity of our traditions and history; whereas we want Europe to play its role and take up its responsibility on the global stage, committed to solidarity, multilateralism, our external partnerships and promoting convergence on better standards; whereas we want to secure our common project of shared peace, prosperity and democracy, with a view to creating an appealing future for all generations;

Improving the working and living conditions of European citizens

1.  Recalls that Europe’s economic recovery has been modest and unbalanced, with many regions of the Union still experiencing unacceptable levels of unemployment, poverty, inequality and a severe lack of prospects for younger generations; stresses that the EU must therefore work towards a dynamic and inclusive labour market embedded in the European social market economy model, improving citizens’ living and working conditions at their places of origin and enabling fair mobility, while respecting in every Member State the core European principle of free movement of workers; is convinced that all EU citizens must count on a fundamental set of fair working conditions, full compliance with European standards on health and safety at work and access to quality education, social protection and essential services which enable a work-life balance;

2.  Calls on the Commission, to that end, to build on the ongoing public consultation and Parliament’s forthcoming report by putting forward, in line with Treaty objectives and the Charter of Fundamental Rights, an ambitious proposal on a European pillar of social rights, to be translated into concrete initiatives, in particular to:

  –  promote the accessibility, affordability and quality of early education, childcare and healthcare, which are crucial to ensuring that no child is left behind; the Commission should therefore reflect on further actions to develop social investment, and in particular to reduce child poverty through the adoption of an EU Child Guarantee;

  –  close the skills gap and ensure access to quality education, training, vocational training and lifelong learning for all;

  –  reduce social inequalities and promote quality jobs, especially for young people and the long-term unemployed;

  –  address work-life balance challenges and the gender gap in pay and pensions, including through new legislative proposals on the Maternity Leave Directive, the Carers’ Leave Directive and on paternity leave;

3.  Stresses that the Commission should monitor, encourage and support Member States’ efficient and effective spending of funds to boost youth employment and quality job creation, in particular in regions with high unemployment levels, through programmes financed by the Youth Employment Initiative, the European Structural and Investment Funds, the European Fund for Strategic Investments and the European Investment Bank;

4.  Emphasises that the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States and social partners, should also reinforce the European social dialogue with a view to better reconciling labour markets and social protection systems in order to address social inequalities and new challenges arising from globalisation and digitalisation;

5.  Underlines that the Commission should ensure the principle of non-discrimination and equal pay for equal work at the same place for all workers, regardless of the underlying contract, including for mobile and posted workers;

Strengthening economic recovery and long-term competitiveness with a view to creating jobs, raising living standards and generating prosperity

6.  Is convinced that the EU can be a world leader by unleashing the full potential of its single market and promoting entrepreneurship, fair competition and investment in innovation;

7.  Calls for re-launching the sustainable growth and employment strategy Europe 2020, with a real ambition for the future, in particular for improving our social market economy model and bringing about broadly shared prosperity; is convinced that boosting employment remains the top priority, and that the EU needs targeted investments to accelerate the transition towards an innovative, resource-efficient, digital economy with a view to reindustrialising Europe;

8.  Asks the Commission to design a new, ambitious industrial strategy that builds on and complements the Circular Economy Package; points out that additional private and public investments are needed for energy transition, eco-innovative SMEs, research and education;

9.  Calls on the Commission to propose more measures which would foster research and development, innovation, cultural diversity and creativity as key drivers of job creation, while bearing in mind that companies’, and in particular SMEs’, access to capital is vital in order to encourage development and production of new products and services in both traditional and emerging sectors and effective protection of intellectual property rights;

10.  Considers that the single market needs to be further integrated, in particular in the digital area, creating a fair environment for consumers and SMEs and removing unjustified barriers; is deeply convinced that a globally competitive, innovative, citizen-oriented digital single market is a possible way forward to respond to the challenges of the 21st century; considers that economic growth in the EU can be further expanded by fully exploring the potential of the travel and tourism sector, and stresses that the Commission must play a central role in ensuring that all priorities related to competitiveness, digitalisation, good governance, skills and qualifications, sustainability and connectivity in the tourism sector are taken into consideration across political frameworks;

11.  Expects the Commission to mobilise all its powers and competences to promote a transition to a better growth model consistent with the principles of sustainable development which entails its economic, social and environmental dimensions;

Responding to climate change and ensuring energy security

12.  Reiterates that efforts must be stepped up to achieve the Energy Union, with a view to guaranteeing energy security and affordable, sustainable energy for all citizens and businesses, paying particular attention to addressing energy poverty;

13.  Notes the human and economic consequences of climate disasters in Europe; highlights the importance of continuing to address the root causes of climate change with an ambitious climate strategy that includes energy efficiency;

14.  Calls for more ambitious targets to be set at EU level for greenhouse gas reduction, renewables and energy efficiency for the post-2020 period, in the context of the Paris UN climate change conference (COP 21) agreement;

15.  Asks the Commission to develop a common strategy for energy and climate diplomacy that would address these global concerns;

16.  Asks the Commission to coordinate efforts to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies;

Ensuring a consistent response to the increased inflow of refugees

17.  Is of the opinion that the European Union must work out concrete solutions to address the refugee emergency in line with international law, in particular by addressing its root causes, by strengthening cooperation with countries of transit and origin of migration flows and by using all available policies and instruments to ensure their stabilisation, rehabilitation and development;

18.  Encourages the Commission, in cooperation with the Member States, to pursue necessary humanitarian assistance and ensure decent living conditions in refugee camps, combined with longer-term development programmes, especially in the field of education;

19.  Points out that the EU asylum and migration policy is not fit for purpose and needs a fundamental rethink, based on Article 80 TFEU; maintains that no reform of the Common European Asylum System should lead to lowering the current level of protection in EU asylum law; calls on the Commission to promote a fair distribution of asylum-seekers between the Member States, replacing the current Dublin system, which is obsolete;

20.  Calls for systematic, enforceable programmes to be put in place urgently for the direct resettlement and relocation of asylum-seekers;

21.  Calls for conditions to be created within the EU for a well-managed reception of asylum-seekers that would ensure their safety and humane, gender-based treatment, paying particular attention to the needs of vulnerable groups; stresses, at the same time, that sufficient resources must be guaranteed to ensure labour market integration and social inclusion of refugees that ensures access to education, healthcare and social security; highlights, in this context, the need for increased funding for the European Social Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived (FEAD) in the framework of the mid-term revision of the multiannual financial framework;

22.  Asks the Commission to make proposals for establishing a proper EU economic and legal migration policy that builds on existing instruments for students, researchers and highly skilled workers, and in the longer term for establishing more general rules based on equal treatment governing entry and residence for those third country nationals seeking employment in the Union with a view to filling the gaps identified in the EU labour market;

23.  Believes that, as international migration is a global phenomenon that is growing in scope, complexity and impact, the EU and the rest of the international community must assume their respective responsibilities in this field;

Addressing the security concerns of citizens

24.  Stresses that internal and external security are increasingly linked;

25.  Urges the Commission, following the adoption of the proposal for a European Border and Coast Guard, to ensure its rapid start-up, and allocation of the necessary human and logistical capacities, with a view to safeguarding the EU and completing the Schengen area with the accession of all Member States seeking to join;

26.  Calls on the Commission, with a view to addressing the threats of terrorism and violent extremism, to monitor closely the transposition and implementation of EU counter-terrorism measures, including effective police and judicial cooperation, timely sharing of information among national authorities and through Europol and Eurojust, and measures to tackle emerging trends of terrorism financing; stresses, furthermore, that the Commission should launch infringement proceedings against Member States that fail to comply with EU law in this area, especially as regards the effective exchange of information;

27.  Calls on the Commission to mobilise expertise and technical and financial resources in order to ensure EU-level coordination and exchanges of best practices in the fight against violent extremism and terrorist propaganda, radical networks and recruitment by terrorist organisations through offline and online means, with a particular focus on prevention, integration and re-integration strategies;

28.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure full implementation of security legislation already adopted; reiterates its call for an in-depth evaluation of the EU counter-terrorism strategy, assessing both the application of the adopted measures and their effectiveness; expects the Commission to update the security agenda as required in the light of the evolving terrorist threat;

29.  Calls on the Commission to present its announced proposals for a proper legal basis for the European Counter Terrorism Centre within Europol, proposals to improve and develop existing information systems, address information gaps and move towards interoperability, as well as proposals for compulsory information sharing at EU level, accompanied by necessary data protection safeguards;

Deploying an ambitious external action agenda: on neighbourhood and on the global system

30.  Welcomes the presentation of the EU Global Strategy, which positions the EU as a geopolitical player in a rapidly changing world, and expects the Commission and the European External Action Service to mobilise in a coherent way all EU external action instruments with a view to achieving improved global governance, wide convergence on better standards, improved security and stronger respect for human rights in the world; stresses, to that end, that the following key elements should be moved to the top of the EU’s external affairs agenda:

–  Promoting stability and prosperity in the EU’s neighbourhood, through initiatives fostering development, democracy, good governance and the rule of law, by enhancing civilian conflict prevention and reconciliation measures, security dialogue and activities in the context of the common security and defence policy, including with the appropriate involvement of NATO, which, for those states which are members of it, remains the foundation of their collective defence and the forum for its implementation;

–  Reviving, with the support of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the common security and defence policy, which can no longer be the weakest link in the EU integration process; ensuring that structures, mechanisms or tools that already exist become an operational reality;

–  Moving forward the enlargement negotiation process by strengthening social, political and economic stability and democracy in the candidate countries, without concessions on the Copenhagen accession criteria;

–  Making development cooperation policy more effective and better coordinated and coherent with other EU external action instruments, while respecting its primary objective as set out in the Lisbon Treaty, and ensuring coherence and consistency between development and security policies, as they are both interlinked, interdependent and mutually reinforcing;

–  Integrating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) in the EU’s external and internal policies; urges the Commission to report on its plan for implementation, monitoring, follow-up and incorporation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs;

–  Promoting trade as an important instrument for fostering growth, jobs and competitiveness and promoting EU standards relating to human rights and sustainable development; the Union’s trade defence instruments must be modernised and vigorously applied, and non-standard methodologies used where appropriate;

–  Adopting solutions to counter hybrid threats and foster the resilience of the EU and Member States, as well as that of EU partners, notably in the EU neighbourhood;

–  Implementing the strategy for international cultural relations, an important soft diplomacy tool for improving relations with EU partner countries and supporting inclusive growth and job creation;

Fair taxation policies for adequate resources

31.  Stresses that there has never been a more urgent need to step up the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance, which represents potential income to national budgets of up to EUR 1 trillion; considers that these resources could have been spent on investing in the future, boosting employment and reducing inequalities;

32.  Underlines that the Commission must continue to act without delay to ensure that profits are taxed in countries where the actual economic activity and value is created in Europe; the EU should work towards a mandatory common consolidated corporate tax base, step up efforts to investigate tax-related state aid breaches, apply common rules on the use and transparency of tax rulings and pursue a determined common approach to close down tax havens;

33.  Calls on the Commission to include in its fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance an external dimension, preventing profits from leaving the EU without being taxed and fighting illicit capital flows from third countries that hinder development and undermine the fight against poverty;

Strengthening the EU budget and financial instruments

34.  Is of the opinion that, in order to act effectively, the EU needs a new financial and fiscal strategy; considers that the Commission should, to this end, propose measures based on the following principles and elements:

–  Mobilising adequate resources swiftly; it is inevitable to reform the system of financing the Union by strengthening genuine own resources or introducing new ones, such as a financial transaction tax, a reformed EU system of emissions trading and carbon taxation or taxation for multinational corporates, in order to make the Union budget more stable, more sustainable and more predictable; at the same time, it is important to respect the principle of universality and to improve transparency;

–  For maximum results, EU budgetary instruments must be managed with close attention to performance and cost-effectiveness, while ensuring compliance and protecting EU financial interests;

–  The EU should take steps to put together resources for responding to the challenges of high youth and long-term unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, and the internal and external dimensions of the refugee emergency;

–  After only two years of implementation, the multiannual financial framework (MFF) has reached its limits; furthermore, without a comprehensive mid-term revision of the MFF, the EU budget will be unable to address additional financial needs and new political priorities, and unable to avoid the resurgence of a payment crisis; calls on the Commission to present a review of the functioning of the MFF before the end of 2016 and to take decisive action to revise the ceilings of the MFF upward and expand its flexibility to respond to circumstances not foreseen in 2013;

–  The European Fund for Strategic Investment (EFSI) needs to be managed in a way that maximises additionality, enables all Member States to undertake higher levels of strategic investment and ensures that funding for investment is contributing to the transition to a sustainable economy and society; EFSI governance should be reformed to enhance accountability and democratic control over this instrument; the Commission’s proposal for the EFSI’s next phase should be based on these objectives;

–  Effective implementation of cohesion policy for 2014-2020 should be accompanied by preparations for its post-2020 phase, respecting its true nature as set out in the Treaties, its importance for the development of the single market and its potential as an investment tool accessible to all regions in the EU; any decrease in cohesion policy budget should be avoided, and synergies between the European Structural and Investment Funds, the EFSI and other EU funding instruments should be strengthened with a view to accelerating smart, green, inclusive growth, with a credible balance between grants and financial instruments being developed;

–  Calls on the Commission to present proposals to reduce the bureaucratic complexity of the CAP for farmers; calls on the Commission to devise improved instruments to deal with extreme crises on the agricultural markets; believes that framework legislation at EU level is necessary to tackle unfair trading practices in the food supply chain so as to ensure that European farmers and consumers may benefit from fair selling and buying conditions;

Completing the Economic and Monetary Union

35.  Insists that democratic accountability must be ensured for all decisions taken in the context of European economic governance;

36.  Holds the view that the EU needs to be working towards upward economic and social convergence, in line with the Europe 2020 Strategy, the Stability and Growth Pact rules and the European Semester governance framework;

37.  The Commission should continue its monitoring of debts, deficits and macroeconomic imbalances and seek to optimise the euro area’s aggregate fiscal stance in a way that respects the Stability and Growth Pact and encourages economic growth and job creation;

38.  Believes that the EU needs to improve the credibility, consistency, national ownership and democratic legitimacy of the European Semester in order to pursue fiscal responsibility and tackle inequalities and imbalances;

39.  Calls for closer economic policy coordination with a view to addressing the euro area’s investment gaps and strengthening reform efforts in order to increase competitiveness and job creation and to sustain demand;

40.  Considers that the banking union needs to be completed;

41.  Asks the Commission to consider with great attention the outcomes of the ongoing reflection on developing an Economic and Monetary Union fiscal capacity;

42.  Asks the Commission to present a consistent and well-substantiated set of proposals on completing the Economic and Monetary Union as identified by the Five Presidents’ Report; notes that this process should remain open to Member States committed to adopting the euro;

43.  Calls on the Commission to deliver on the promises made when presenting the Capital Markets Union and speed up the process of making European capital markets deeper, more harmonised and truly cross-border, with legislative initiatives that follow the community method, including proposals to upgrade in parallel the role and mission of the relevant supervisory authorities;

Strengthening fundamental rights and democracy

44.  Is concerned that the ongoing crises have not only damaged the cohesion of European societies, but also shaken the confidence of European citizens in democratic institutions at EU and sometimes national level; believes, therefore, that enhancing the EU’s democratic legitimacy and restoring trust in its capacity to serve the interests of citizens must be Europe’s highest priority;

45.  Recalls that many of today’s challenges, from climate change to asylum and migration, from financial markets to corporations’ supply chains, and from terrorist networks to failed and rogue states, are transnational and require European solutions defined through the community method, with the full involvement of the Commission and Parliament;

46.  Recalls that, as the guardian of the Treaties, the Commission is responsible for promoting the general interest of the Union (Article 17 TEU), namely peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples (Article 3 TEU); points out that Parliament also has a particular political responsibility in helping to overcome divisions between Member States, defend the general interest of Europeans and ensure democratic legitimacy for decisions taken at European level; at the same time, calls on national parliaments to exert full democratic control over their representatives in the European Council; and calls on the Commission to ensure that all initiatives, including those of the European Council, are based on the Treaties;

47.  Asks the Commission to take initiatives with a view to strengthening the European institutions and encouraging EU citizens to be more involved in European political life; calls for all the EU institutions to connect better with younger generations and their platforms for debate; believes that stronger actions are also possible to inform EU citizens about their rights, reform the European Citizens’ Initiative and strengthen the role of the EU Ombudsman;

48.  Calls on the Commission to enhance cooperation to ensure media literacy and to safeguard media diversity and press freedom;

49.  Asks the Commission to put forward proposals for a Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Pact, taking into consideration Parliament’s forthcoming report; believes that it should also continue to progress towards EU accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), taking into account the Court of Justice opinion on the matter and addressing the remaining legal challenges; calls, as a matter of urgency, for the EU and all its Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention in order to better protect women and girls from violence;

50.  Calls for all the EU institutions to strive for the highest possible standards of transparency, accountability and integrity, and to fight conflicts of interest that are detrimental to the efficiency, fairness and reliability of the laws;

51.  Asks the Commission to propose legislative provisions on the protection of whistle-blowers at EU level, providing legal ways of disclosure and effective sanctions;

52.  Is committed to using all its tools and resources to act as a driving force in a renewed democratic process towards the reform of the European Union;

°

°  °

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