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’;

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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

Motion for a resolution on the European Parliament’s priorities for the Commission Work Programme 2018 – B8-2017-0435

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Framework Agreement on relations between the European Parliament and the European Commission, in particular Annex IV thereto,

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

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration on the EU’s legislative priorities for 2017 of 13 December 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 2018,

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

A.  whereas the role of the Commission is to promote the general interest of the Union, to take appropriate initiatives to that end, to be committed to applying the rule of law, which is based on the core European values and is fundamental to Europeans living together in peace, to exercise coordinating, executive and management functions, and to initiate legislation;

B.  whereas the Commission has a duty to uphold the Treaties and enforce EU laws; noting with strong regret that both the implementation of EU policies and the enforcement of EU laws and rules are weak, as has become visible in areas such as environmental standards, fundamental rights and the rule of law, free movement of persons, and the Schengen area; whereas the Commission should make implementation and enforcement a top priority in 2017-2018;

AN AREA OF JUSTICE AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS BASED ON MUTUAL TRUST

Justice

1.  Calls once again on the Commission to put forward a legislative proposal on EU administrative law which will guarantee an open, efficient and independent European administration, and to take due account of Parliament’s proposal for an EU regulation in this regard;

2.  Calls on the Commission to take into account concerns over access to and ownership of data in its work on Building the European Data Economy and related liability issues for intermediary service providers and other online platforms in order to ensure legal certainty, increase consumer trust and ensure full compliance with citizens’ rights to privacy and full protection of personal data in the digital environment;

Security

3.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the efficient and coordinated implementation of the European Agenda on Security for the 2015-2020 period and its priorities in the fields of counter-terrorism and cross-border organised crime and cybercrime, focusing on effective security outcomes; reiterates its call for an in-depth evaluation focused on the operational effectiveness of relevant existing EU instruments and on the remaining gaps in this field, prior to the presentation of new legislative proposals as part of the European Agenda on Security; deplores, in this regard, the continued and systematic absence of impact assessments on several proposals presented as part of that agenda;

4.  Calls on the Commission to seek to adopt legal acts amending or replacing the Union acts in the field of police cooperation and judicial cooperation in criminal matters that were adopted before the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, in particular Council Decision 2005/671/JHA and Council Framework Decision 2006/960/JHA on the exchange of information and intelligence between law enforcement authorities, including the exchange of information on terrorist offences, by proposing a horizontal legislative instrument to improve the exchange of law enforcement information and increase operational cooperation between Member States and with EU agencies, with a view to ensuring mandatory exchanges of information for the purpose of combating serious transnational crime;

5.  Calls on the Commission to submit without undue delay an amendment to the new Europol founding regulation, in order to develop a genuine European investigation capacity, equip the agency with a legal capacity to request the initiation of a criminal investigation, and foster the sharing and pooling of information at EU level;

6.  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 reintegration strategies with a clear gender perspective;

7.  Calls on the Commission to fulfil its duty as guardian of the Treaties and assess the compliance with EU primary and secondary law of measures recently adopted by Member States in the field of counter-terrorism and surveillance, bearing in mind that any limitations to fundamental rights should be duly reasoned, provided for by law, respect the essence of the rights and freedoms recognised by the Charter of Fundamental Rights and be subject to the principle of proportionality, in accordance with Article 52(1) of the Charter;

Fundamental rights

8.  Reiterates its call on the Commission to make every effort to unblock the proposal for a horizontal anti-discrimination directive; invites it to upgrade its List of Actions to advance LGBTI Equality to a full European response to the fundamental rights problems faced by LGBTI people, in the shape of an EU roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;

9.  Calls on the Commission to speed up negotiations on the EU’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the first legally binding instrument on preventing and combating violence against women at international level; reiterates it call on the Commission to include a definition of gender-based violence in line with the provisions of the Victims’ Rights Directive and to present as soon as possible a legislative act for the prevention and combating of gender-based violence;

10.  Calls on the Commission to implement the actions outlined in its strategic engagement without delay and incorporate a systematic and visible gender equality perspective into all EU activities and policies;

11.  Encourages the Commission to 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; urges the Commission to urgently seek solutions to the two most problematic issues relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), namely mutual trust and judicial review;

12.  Calls on the Commission to ensure a timely and compliant entry into force of the data protection package, and to support a successful completion of the legislative process for the adoption of the ePrivacy Regulation; urges furthermore that the confidentiality of electronic communication be protected by promoting the use of end-to-end encryption and prohibiting by EU law any obligation imposed by Member States on undertakings providing public communications networks or publicly available electronic communications services that would result in the weakening of the security of their networks and services;

TOWARDS A NEW POLICY ON MIGRATION

13.  Calls for EU legal migration instruments to be replaced by a single horizontal regulation to create a true EU legal migration policy;

14.  Calls for a standalone European humanitarian visa regulation;

15.  Calls for a revision of the Facilitation Directive to clarify the distinction between illegal smuggling activities and the actions of ordinary citizens helping people in need;

16.  Calls for implementation and monitoring reports on the functioning of the European Border and Coast Guard;

A UNION OF DEMOCRATIC CHANGE

17.  Invites the Commission to put forward a proposal for a democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights pact in the form of an interinstitutional agreement, along the lines of the recommendation made by Parliament in its legislative own-initiative report;

18.  Reiterates its call for the setting-up of an endowment for democracy grant-giving organisations that would support local actors promoting democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights within the Union;

19.  Points to growing efforts by third states and non-state actors to undermine through hybrid means, including disinformation, the legitimacy of democratic institutions inside the EU, and urges the Commission to strengthen its resilience against hybrid threats and its capacity to advance strategic communication inside and outside the EU, and to improve its ability to adequately counter false news and disinformation in a systematic manner;

A NEW BOOST FOR JOBS, GROWTH AND INVESTMENT

MFF revision, budget and employment

20.  Recalls that, under Article 25 of the MFF Regulation, the Commission must normally present a proposal for a new multiannual financial framework before 1 January 2018; expects that this proposal will address such priorities as a comprehensive reform of the own resources system on both the revenue and the expenditure side, a greater emphasis on the unity of the budget to ensure full parliamentary control over all expenditure, more budgetary flexibility, including a new special instrument to be counted over and above the MFF ceilings, adjustments to the duration of the MFF to align it with the political cycles of both Parliament and the Commission and the modalities of the decision-making process that would ensure the availability of the necessary financial resources;

21.  Underlines the need for an in-depth reform of the own resources system, based on principles of simplicity, fairness, transparency and accountability; strongly welcomes in this regard the final report of the High Level Group on Own Resources; calls on the Commission to present, by the end of 2017, an ambitious legislative package on own resources post-2020, which would aim at ensuring that the EU budget focuses on areas bringing the highest European added value, phasing out all forms of rebates and ending the ‘juste retour’ approach; expects that any new own resources should lead to a reduction in Member States’ GNI contributions;

22.  Calls on the Commission to maintain the allocation of cohesion policy funds and European Structural and Investment Funds at the level decided in the MFF in 2013; considers, on this basis, that technical adjustment should avoid any decrease in the budget for cohesion policy, given its importance in creating growth and jobs, ensuring cohesion within the EU, and, in particular, supporting SMEs and innovation and research, as well as a low-carbon economy and urban policies;

23.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the EU Urban Agenda and thus ensure the coherent and integrated policy solutions that cities need at European level, and to guarantee the link with the Better Regulation agenda; calls on the Commission to strengthen its internal coordination of issues relevant to urban areas and, for example, expand the instrument of impact assessments so as to include the urban dimension more systematically;

24.  Considers that the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) is essential in tackling youth unemployment, which remains unacceptably high in the EU; calls on the Commission to secure adequate funding to fight youth unemployment and continuing the YEI up to the end of the current MFF, while at the same time improving its functioning and implementation and taking into account the latest findings of the European Court of Auditors special report on youth employment and the use of the YEI (No 5/2017); calls, furthermore, on the Commission to come forward with proposals to facilitate the employment of people aged over 50;

25.  Urges the Commission to put in place all suitable mechanisms for greater mobility among young people, apprenticeships included, as a way to address skills mismatches in the labour market and improve access to employment opportunities;

26.  Calls on the Commission to take further steps in the framework of the New Skills Agenda, such as developing a pan-European skills needs forecasting tool which would make it possible to estimate future skills needs and adapt them better to the jobs available on the labour market, including the blue growth agenda; recalls that, as part of the national strategies for digital skills, developed by Member States in the framework of the New Skills Agenda, it is important to provide adequate funding for educational institutions to ensure the development of the full range of digital skills that individual and companies need in an increasingly digital economy; calls on the Commission to assess and evaluate the financing and investment needs as regards overcoming the digital skills gap;

27.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a Green Paper on inequality and how it is hampering economic recovery; encourages it to analyse and assess this issue as a first step towards proposing political solutions, and to take immediate action to reverse this trend so as to reduce inequalities and poverty, and increase social cohesion;

28.  Calls on the Commission to revise the Equal Treatment Directive and launch the legislative procedure for a directive following the 2014 Commission Recommendation on pay transparency with a view to eliminating the persistent gender pay gap;

Horizon 2020

29.  Recognises the enormous added value of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme for Europe; calls on the Commission to act upon its mid-term evaluation and take Parliament’s resolution into consideration; urges the Commission to continue working towards simplification while minimising barriers to participation and ensuring the highest socio-economic returns – both short-term and long-term – for all parts of the programme, and to work towards an ambitious proposal for the next framework programme; stresses that building synergies with the ESI Funds is needed to bridge the innovation gap within the EU;

A more efficient and multimodal transport policy

30.  Calls on the Commission to implement Article 3 of Regulation 551/2004 establishing a single European upper flight information region (EUIR) and to develop a connectivity index on the basis of other existing indices and the exploratory work already carried out by Eurocontrol and the Airport Observatory;

31.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with guidelines on the timing and instruments to ensure the development of a European approach to rail freight noise; urges the Commission to continue supporting the development of innovative technologies focused on moving more freight from road to rail (Shift2Rail);

32.  Urges the Commission to come forward with a proposal aimed at harmonising the different national legislations in order to enhance the establishment of the European internal market for road transport; calls on the Commission, wherever legitimate, to take the necessary measures against national laws distorting the European single market;

33.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with an integrated and harmonised legislative proposal for the roll-out of connected and automated driving, by enabling cross-border test facilities, drafting proportionate European legislation regarding liability, privacy and data protection and supporting public-private initiatives;

34.  Calls for concrete maritime measures to reduce discharges of ship-generated waste and cargo residues into the sea and to improve the availability and use of facilities in ports to receive ship waste; urges the Commission to support the development of innovative technologies with a special focus on autonomous shipping;

35.  Calls on the Commission to swiftly deliver a multimodal package to ensure an integrated approach to transport policies, which should also include provisions for passenger rights and integrated door-to-door mobility for passengers and freight; asks the Commission to step up its attention to and support for the digital transformation of the multimodal transport sector (e-Documents) and to initiate the deployment of multimodal infrastructure and services along the TEN-T networks;

A DEEPER AND FAIRER ECONOMIC AND MONETARY UNION

36.  Welcomes the Commission’s initiative to enhance cooperation with Parliament in the field of competition; calls on the Commission to continue and strengthen that practice and to consider the application of the ordinary legislative procedure in competition policy, in particular where fundamental principles and binding guidelines are concerned;

37.  Calls on the Commission to come up very rapidly with concrete proposals in the field of retail financial services, noting that retail finance in the EU should work in the interests of citizens and provide better products and more choice on the market;

38.  Calls on the Commission to take effective measures within the framework of the European Semester to ensure that Member States implement the country-specific recommendations and structural reforms in order to modernise their economies, increase competitiveness and tackle inequalities and imbalances;

39.  Urges the Commission to speed up the work on the completion of a Capital Markets Union (CMU), in order to help unleash investment in the EU to create growth and jobs; calls on the Commission to come forward with proposals that improve the business environment in the EU in order to attract more foreign direct investment;

40.  Calls on the Commission, in accordance with Parliament’s resolution of 12 April 2016 on the EU role in the framework of international financial, monetary and regulatory institutions and bodies(1), to streamline and codify the EU’s representation in multilateral organisations and bodies with a view to increasing the transparency, integrity and accountability of the Union’s involvement in those bodies, its influence, and the promotion of the legislation it has adopted through a democratic process;

41.  Calls on the Commission to foster growth by building on a three-dimensional approach aimed at reinforcing investment and financing innovation, including through the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and the CMU, conducting structural reforms to modernise economies and setting a common policy mix;

A CONNECTED DIGITAL SINGLE MARKET

42.  Is concerned by the delays taken by some of the legislative proposals contained in the Digital Single Market Strategy; considers that the EU institutions should not lose the momentum of the strategy and devote every possible effort to delivering and adopting the relevant proposals; asks the three institutions, at the time of its mid-term review, to commit at the highest level to giving them priority treatment in the legislative process so that citizens and businesses can benefit from their results;

43.  Welcomes efforts to develop and modernise the EU’s intellectual property laws, in particular in the area of copyright, in order to render them fit for the digital age and facilitate cross-border access to creative content, thereby creating legal certainty while protecting authors’ and performers’ rights; calls on the Commission to base any legislative initiative to modernise copyright on independent evidence as to the impact on growth and jobs, particularly as regards SMEs in this sector, access to knowledge and culture, intermediary liability, the open internet, fundamental rights and potential costs and benefits for the creative and cultural sectors; considers that copyright should maintain its primary function, which is to allow creators to gain rewards for their efforts through others making use of their work, while harmonising the exceptions and limitations in the field of research, education, preservation of cultural heritage and user generated content ; stresses that the important contribution of traditional methods of promoting regional and European culture should not be hampered by modernisation of reform proposals;

44.  Reiterates its calls for proposals to develop the potential of the cultural and creative sector as a source of jobs and growth; stresses, in this connection, the importance of enforcing as well as modernising intellectual property rights (IPR), and urges the Commission to follow up on its action plan to combat IPR infringements, including a review of the IPR Enforcement Directive, which is out of step with the digital age and inadequate to combat online infringements, and also to follow up on the Green Paper on chargeback and related schemes in the context of a potential EU-wide right to retrieve money unwittingly used to purchase counterfeit goods; calls on the Commission to further strengthen the remit of the EU Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, and welcomes its establishment of a group of experts on IPR enforcement;

45.  Calls on the Commission to ensure the preservation of the internet as an open, neutral, secured and inclusive platform for communication, production, participation and creation, and as a provider of cultural diversity and innovation; recalls that this is in the interests of all EU citizens and consumers and will contribute to the success of European companies globally; emphasises the need to ensure the rigorous application of the net neutrality principle as adopted in the ‘Connected Continent package’;

46.  Urges the Commission to come up with a notice and takedown directive in order to prevent the fragmentation of a digital single market, which would increase legal clarity by harmonising the procedures and safeguards for internet platforms and their users to take down content; stresses that the EU needs an effective due-process architecture to protect citizens from arbitrary content removals;

47.  Calls on the Commission to continue its efforts to secure the swift implementation of the EU e-Government Action plan and calls on the Commission to report back, after the launch in 2017 of the Once-Only Principle large-scale pilot project for businesses and citizens (TOOP);

A DEEPER AND FAIRER INTERNAL MARKET WITH A STRENGTHENED INDUSTRIAL BASE

The single market

48.  Regrets that the Commission has not listened so far to the repeated calls for the creation of a strong single market pillar within the European Semester, with a system of regular monitoring and identification of country-specific barriers to the single market, which have tended to be introduced lately with a greater impact, frequency and scope in Member States;

49.  Reiterates, therefore, its request to the Commission to issue recommendations focused on removing single market barriers in the country-specific recommendations; calls for an in-depth evaluation of single market integration and internal competitiveness; insists that the evaluation of the state of single market integration should become an integral part of the economic governance framework;

50.  Asks the Commission to focus its work on the implementation of the Single Market Strategy and in particular the legislative proposals for a Single Digital Gateway, which should be proposed without delay, and for a Single Market Information Tool; recalls in this context that, in its resolution on the Strategy, Parliament underlined that regulatory differences between Member States regarding differing labelling or quality requirements create unnecessary obstacles to the activities of suppliers of goods and to consumer protection, and to assessing which labels are essential and which are not essential for ensuring consumer information, and regrets that the Commission has not taken any steps in the matter;

51.  Calls on the Commission, with the support of the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) and the national regulatory authorities, to closely monitor the effects of the abolition of retail roaming surcharges from 15 June 2017, in particular the correct implementation and enforcement of the directive with regard to exception schemes, the evolution of data consumption patterns and the retail tariff plans available; urges that the impact of correct implementation of the voluntary fair use policies will have to be assessed;

52.  Urges the Commission to adopt as a matter of urgency the proposal for a revised Commission implementing regulation on deactivation standards and techniques for ensuring that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable; reminds the Commission that its adoption of this new proposal was one the conditions for Parliament adopting the Firearms Directive and asks the Commission, therefore, to deliver without delay in order to close security loopholes and strengthen deactivation regimes in the EU;

53.  Reminds the Commission that the adoption of the Directive on network and information security was a first step that was needed but that cannot be considered sufficient in the medium and long term; asks the Commission to make sure that Member States abide by its provisions and to prepare the ground for a revision of the directive as soon as possible in order to reach a higher level of operational and strategic cooperation between the Member States;

Consumer rights

54.  Considers that the ongoing evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive is an important step towards ensuring that the directive has achieved its objectives and that the anticipated impacts, as described in the original impact assessment accompanying the proposal for the directive, have materialised;

55.  Underlines the need to complete the REFIT Fitness check of consumer law in time so that its results can still be used within this legislative term and that it includes the results of the evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive;

56.  Is concerned by allegations that qualitative characteristics of food as well as non-food products that are sold in the single market under the same brand and same packaging and with the use of other marketing texts could differ between Member States; asks the Commission to look into this question more closely;

A RESILIENT ENERGY UNION WITH A FORWARD-LOOKING CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY

57.  Calls on the Commission, following the adoption of various Energy Union, energy efficiency, market design, renewable energy and other energy-related legislative proposals and communications, to focus its attention on ensuring that Member States fully implement these; considers that, in cases where legal obligations are clearly not being met, the Commission should launch infringement procedures, the aim being to build a genuine Energy Union;

58.  Urges the Commission to complete as soon as possible its already delayed review of the legislation on CO2 emissions from cars and vans and from heavy duty vehicles, and to table legislative proposals for a fleet average emissions target for 2025 in line with the commitments made in the context of the agreement between the co-legislators in 2013;

59.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the EU maintains its leadership role in the implementation and enforcement of the Paris Agreement; asks the Commission to propose Union-wide measures complementary to the EU’s commitment to a 40 % cut in domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with a view to the 2018 facilitative dialogue under the agreement; urges the Commission to prepare a mid-century decarbonisation strategy consistent with the goals set out in the Paris Agreement, including intermediate milestones to ensure cost-efficient delivery of the EU’s climate ambitions; calls on the Commission also to evaluate the consistency of current EU policies in relation to the objectives of the Paris Agreement, including with regard to the EU budget, the phasing-out of fossil fuel subsidies and ocean governance, especially with regard to the importance of the ocean for our climate; calls on the Commission to develop measures to support an orderly transition to a low-carbon economy in order to mitigate the systematic economic risks associated with high-carbon financial assets; expects the Commission to ensure that the work programme reflects the Sustainable Development Goals by putting sustainability at the core of economic policy and reiterates the importance of fully implementing the 7th Environmental Action Programme 2014-2020;

60.  Urges the Commission to bring forward without any delay the initiatives listed in the Circular Economy Action Plan, including in the areas of product policy and food waste, and to monitor the progress towards a circular economy in the framework of the EU semester;

61.  Calls on the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal on environmental inspections – fully respecting the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality – in order to step up the implementation and enforcement of environmental laws and standards;

Agriculture and fisheries policies

62.  Stresses the important role that sustainable agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors play in ensuring food security in the EU, providing jobs and improving environmental standards, and equally underlines the potential of European agriculture in contributing to climate change policies through innovation and adoption of policies which enhance the carbon sequestration potential of European agriculture;

63.  Calls on the Commission to simplify the implementation of the CAP and to cut red tape in order to increase its efficiency, alleviate the administrative burden on agricultural entrepreneurs, and make room for innovations that are indispensable for a forward-looking, competitive European agriculture sector; asks the Commission to ensure that the principle of better regulation is included in the upcoming CAP reform proposal which should provide more room and financial incentives for innovation in agriculture aimed at ensuring long-term food security in the EU, reducing agriculture’s impact on biodiversity and increasing its climate resilience;

64.  Calls on the Commission to make proposals to urgently address the continued loss of natural capital in Europe and to review existing policies, in particular the CAP, with a view to meeting the objectives of the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy;

65.  Stresses the urgency and importance of taking action against the persistently growing threat of increased antimicrobial resistance, since this can have an enormous impact on citizens’ health and productivity as well as on the Member States’ health budgets; calls on the Commission, therefore, to come forward with a proposal for an EU action plan on how to implement in the Union the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance; calls on the Commission also to enhance measures already applied in the current Action Plan against antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and to ensure the consistent implementation thereof by all relevant parties;

66.  Reiterates that, in order to ensure the timely and proper implementation of the common fisheries policy adopted in 2013, the Commission must continue to come forward with legislative proposals for the adoption of renewed multiannual management plans for fish stocks;

67.  Highlights the importance of the strong control system laid down in the Control Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009), which modernised the EU’s approach to fisheries control in line with the measures adopted to combat illegal fishing; calls on the Commission to undertake a comprehensive follow-up and to propose, if necessary, their revision with a view to addressing shortcomings and ensuring proper implementation and enforcement;

68.  Considers that illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is a form of organised crime on the seas, with disastrous worldwide environmental and socio-economic impacts and therefore calls on the Commission to take all necessary action against non-cooperating countries and all organisations contributing to IUU fishing;

TRADE

69.  Emphasises its support for an ambitious and values-based trade agenda which will strengthen the global rules-based system and contribute towards jobs and growth in Europe; welcomes, in this connection, the Commission’s efforts to conclude negotiations with Japan and to push ahead with other ongoing negotiations, such as with Mexico and Mercosur, as well as aiming to commence new ones with, for example, Australia and New Zealand and trying to unblock other negotiations, such as those with India;

70.  Calls on the Commission to reinvigorate the post-Nairobi WTO discussion, since multilateral trade negotiations must remain a priority matter for the EU even when they prove difficult; considers that it would also be worthwhile to look into new areas and issues within the WTO framework, such as digital trade, and welcomes the international initiatives taken by the Commission on investment protection;

71.  Stresses that the modernising and strengthening of the Union’s trade defence instruments is as a matter of urgency and of the utmost importance;

A STRONGER GLOBAL ACTOR

72.  Calls on the Commission to advance with setting up the European Defence Fund, which would encompass adequate funding for both collaborative research on defence technologies and the acquisition of joint assets by the Member States; encourages the Commission to step up the enforcement of the two directives framing the single market for defence and to come up with an initiative on development of shared industry standards for equipment and assets;

73.  Urges to Commission to pay particular attention to the rising tension in the Western Balkans and to seek ways to enhance the EU’s engagement in favour of reconciliation and reforms in all of the countries concerned;

74.  Commends the Commission for its emphasis on the Neighbourhood Policy, both eastern and southern, but underlines that the policy must acquire a more political content, notably through a combination of increased financial assistance, reinforced democracy support, market access and improved mobility; stresses that the policy needs to clearly identify areas of action in order to better address the challenges which the neighbouring countries are facing;

75.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise digitalisation as an integral part of the EU´s foreign policy instruments and to embrace it as an opportunity such as by leading in the fields of internet governance, people´s human rights online, state norms in cyberspace, cybersecurity and freedom online, access and development, digital literacy and net neutrality;

76.  Stresses that the promotion of, and respect for, human rights, international law and fundamental freedoms must be a central common denominator across EU policies; calls on the Commission not to neglect the importance of protecting human rights in the context of counter-terrorism measures; urges the Commission to actively continue pushing for human rights to be implemented effectively through all agreements, in particular the trade, political dialogue and cooperation and association agreements subscribed by the EU, in particular the so-called ‘democracy clause’ and Article 8 of the Cotonou Agreement; calls on the Commission to make a clear monitoring of the human rights situation in the countries with which the EU has agreements;

77.  Calls on the Commission to continue to work to help ensure accountability for war crimes, human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including the confirmed use of chemical weapons; expresses its continued grave concern at the deliberate restrictions that are put in the way of the provision of humanitarian aid and reiterates its call on the Commission to make every possible effort to help ensure that full, unhindered, safe and sustainable country-wide humanitarian access for the UN and other humanitarian organisations is secured in countries where it is needed;

78.  Calls on the Commission to put forward an implementation plan for the revised European Consensus;

79.  Urges the Commission to show ambition in its updated EU Global Strategy and to better position the EU in a rapidly changing world to deliver the institutional and policy changes for the effective implementation of the Agenda 2030; calls on the Commission also to come forward with a proposal for an overarching Sustainable Development Strategy, encompassing all relevant internal and external policy areas, including the UN process, a detailed timeline up to 2030, a concrete implementation plan and a specific procedure ensuring Parliament’s full involvement and to provide information regarding the plan for implementation, monitoring, follow-up and incorporation of the 2030 Agenda into the EU’s internal and external policy;

80.  Emphasises its support for an ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP); believes that the implementation of the upcoming European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and the EU Trust Fund for Africa will be key in assessing the effectiveness of current efforts; calls on the Commission to give an active and effective impulse to the EU’s external policy; stresses that the EU should be a major actor that provides efficient responses to the challenges that Europe is facing, in order achieve the SDGs by 2030 and address the root causes of irregular and forced migration;

81.  Recalls the need to review the Humanitarian Aid Regulation (Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/96 of 20 June 1996), in order to make the EU’s humanitarian assistance more efficient and compliant with international humanitarian law, especially in view of the urgent need for comprehensive action against famine and to ensure a sustainable future for the millions of people affected by conflicts or natural or man-made disasters, as well as for education in the context of protracted crises;

82.  Calls on the Commission to increase its efforts to safeguard the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls throughout the world, and to guarantee that the Global Gag Rule will not restrict EU humanitarian aid funds and the work of foreign family-planning organisations that the EU is funding;

83.  Calls on the Commission to present a legislative proposal on accompanying measures for the ‘Conflict Minerals Regulation’ (2014/0059(COD)) in line with the relevant Joint Communication (JOINT (2014) 8);

84.  Calls on the Commission, given the global nature of the garment industry and of its shortcomings in terms of improving worker’s conditions, to go beyond the presentation of a staff working document on the flagship initiative on the garment sector and to present a legislative proposal for due diligence obligations in the supply chain in the garment sector;

85.  Calls on the Commission to assist developing countries in combating fraud and tax evasion through the establishment of a comprehensive and binding framework;

86.  Calls on the Commission to take an ambitious approach in the context of the future negotiations for the Post-Cotonou Agreement with a view to a binding agreement, tailored to the new realities, with a strong political dimension and an economic development dimension, and oriented towards a framed market economy and inclusive growth;

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*  *

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

General Market

Vital Marine Habitats Being Destroyed by Illegal Fishing Practices, Harmful Subsidies, Speakers Warn at United Nations Ocean Conference

Speakers in the United Nations Ocean Conference today tackled ways to combat illegal fishing practices that were destroying vital marine habitats, as well as eliminate the $35 billion in harmful subsidies that had led to overfishing, distorted markets and chronic mismanagement of the world’s fisheries.

In a morning partnership dialogue on “Making fisheries sustainable”, panellist Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), said trade negotiations in the area of harmful fisheries subsidies were referenced in Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.  The World Trade Organization was in intense negotiations to come up with agreed language on the prohibition of subsidies at its December Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

He said questions hinged on how to identify such behaviour without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization, citing other challenges around providing “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers without undercutting those disciplines.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.

Panellist Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), agreed that harmful subsides could be stopped through WTO.  Multi-stakeholder and targeted support to help coastal communities get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that FAO was prepared to help develop a plan to rebuild fisheries.

On the issue of illegal fishing, Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, who co-chaired the meeting, said the problem should be addressed by a global coalition.  For its part, Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million and seizing repeat offenders.  It also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas and ratified the Port State Measures Agreement.

In the ensuing discussion, representatives of Government, industry and civil society exchanged ideas for addressing those problems, with Norway’s representative stressing that illegal fishing amounted to “stealing from dinner tables”.  Vanuatu’s delegate cited a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters, while the representative of the Republic of Korea, meanwhile, was one of several who pointed to the Port State Measures Agreement as a way to deter those practices.

A speaker from the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial fishing operations that used bottom-trolling and dredging techniques.  She recommended designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers and banning harmful fisheries subsidies.

In the afternoon, the Conference held a partnership dialogue on “Increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Co-Chair Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, opened the discussion with a call for more investment in marine technology and an embrace of broad-based wealth creation.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared, pointing out that in Grenada, mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.

Along similar lines, Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment of Estonia, who also co-chaired the meeting, said empowering local communities was essential.  Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  Cooperative associations had helped to improve market access.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power.

The Conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 8 June.

Partnership Dialogue I

In the morning, the Ocean Conference held a partnership dialogue on the topic “making fisheries sustainable”.  Moderated by Anthony Long, Director, Ending Illegal Fishing Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and co-chaired by Dominic LeBlanc, Minister for Fisheries, Oceans and the Coast Guard of Canada, and Oumar Guèye, Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Economy of Senegal, it featured a panel discussion by Arni Mathiesen, Assistant Director-General, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO); Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly, Director of Global Fisheries and Aquaculture, Monterey Bay Aquarium, United States; Karl Brauner, Deputy Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO); and Milton Haughton, Executive Director, Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism Secretariat.

Mr. LEBLANC said Canada was a proud maritime nation, with fisheries and aquaculture contributing $9 billion to its economy each year, generating countless jobs in rural, coastal and indigenous communities.  The fisheries sector provided the backbone for many national and small-scale economies.  Noting that sustainable fisheries were key to achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals, he said “we need to make a more concerted effort to tackle such things as illegal fishing, underreporting and harmful subsidies that result in over-capacity.”  With international action as the common goal, WTO provided the venue and means to achieve enforceable fisheries subsidies rules.  Fisheries management played an important role in conservation and had led to positive biodiversity outcomes, with a range of measures that protected to single stocks and the ecosystems upon which they relied.  Those conservation objectives must be incorporated into fisheries management plans.  Marine protected areas were an essential component of sustainable fisheries management.  Canada had adopted a milestone to conserve 5 per cent of its waters by the end of 2017, as a sign of its commitment to conserving 10 per cent by 2020.  Describing Canada’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change as “unwavering”, he also underscored the importance of its partnerships with provincial and territorial governments, indigenous peoples, environmental groups and industry in advancing the marine conservation agenda.

Mr. GUÈYE said Senegal was a country of fisheries, with 6,000 actors working in that sector and 75 per cent of people’s animal protein needs coming from fish and marine life.  “Senegal is very interested in sustainable fisheries,” he said, pointing to a law that reserved space for artisanal fisheries, within which large industrial fisheries were prohibited.  In the south, all vessels were banned from approaching the coast.  Senegal also had revised its fisheries code, which now allowed for trout to be fished at 40 centimetres, rather than 20 centimetres, with the greater depths allowing more time for the fish to multiply.  Underscoring the need to combat large-scale fishing, he said another aspect was to combat illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, which should be addressed in the most appropriate manner by a global coalition.  Senegal had toughened sanctions against vessels illegally fishing its waters, impounding and fining them $300 million, and seizing repeat offenders.  The Government also had taken a biological inventory to ensure that species could regenerate, established marine protected areas, acceded to a forum that ensured transparency in the fisheries industry, and ratified the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.  “We have high hopes for this meeting,” he said, and for strong measures to be taken.

Mr. MATHIESEN said fisheries today faced many different problems.  Three, however, stood out, and if they were tackled and solved, other problems would be easier to resolve.  Those three problems included illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; the difficulty of managing migrating fish stocks on the high seas and in sovereign coastal waters; and improving the status of coastal fishing communities in developing countries, including small island developing States.  Several factors drove those problems, including an estimated $35 billion in harmful subsidies, population growth, poverty, economic and forced migration, climate change and unprecedented levels of climate events.  Solutions would include improved science-based local, national and regional fisheries management, while illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing could be addressed through existing instruments.  Strong regional management models were in place, but they required political, scientific and financial support.  Harmful subsidies could be stopped through WTO.  A multi-stakeholder and targeted approach to support coastal communities and get their products to market would meanwhile encourage “blue growth”, he said, adding that the FAO was prepared to help develop a blueprint to rebuild fisheries.

Ms. KEMMERLY said that, about 20 years ago, non-governmental organizations launched a movement that sought to create market demand for sustainable seafood which involved, among other things, encouraging businesses to use their market leverage to improve policy, traceability and social responsibility.  For the non-governmental organization community, sustainability was not just an environmental matter, but also a question of social responsibility.  While mainly focused so far in the United States and the European Union, the sustainable seafood movement was growing in other places, such as Brazil, Japan and South-East Asia.  She went on to describe efforts being made with regard to tuna, with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation engaged in reporting, conservation and traceability measures, and with shrimp, a sector that would require making sustainability profitable for hundreds of thousands of smallholders in South-East Asia.

Mr. BRAUNER said trade negotiations in the area of harmful subsidies were referenced in target 14.6.  It was natural that WTO, the only organization with binding rules and subsidies, and a conceptual approach, was the venue for subsidies negotiations.  WTO fisheries subsidies work had been reenergized by target 14.6, with proposals coming in to fulfil WTO’s part of that target.  WTO was in a period of intense negotiations with proposals from least developed countries, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group, European Union, a group of Latin American countries, New Zealand and Indonesia, all pushing hard for a binding decision to be made at the December ministerial conference.  There was emerging convergence on the prohibition of subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, referred to in target 14.6, and on the prohibition of subsidies for overfished stocks.  Questions hinged on how to identify such behavior, without converting WTO into a fisheries-management organization.  Some developing countries did not want fisheries-management references in the treaty, whereas others said that without such points, subsidies discipline would be impossible.

Another challenge, he continued, was how to provide “special flexibilities” to developing countries to support poor fishers and develop their own fisheries, without undercutting those disciplines.  WTO’s business was about trade flows and products produced on land.  Those taking place under water involved internationally shared resources or those outside national jurisdiction.  For such reasons, the effect of subsidies was not on trade in fish products, but rather on access to resources, with an indirect effect on trade.  Fisheries sometimes represented the only source of employment, which made forgoing the right to Government assistance a major challenge.  Target 14.6 represented a commitment by all Governments — individually — to eliminate harmful fishery subsidies.  In parallel, there was a WTO process under way to achieve a multilateral agreement prohibiting illegal fishing.  There was a possibility for that outcome this year, representing WTO’s contribution to meeting the 2020 date for eliminating the most harmful fishing subsidies.  Such an agreement could undergird individual Government fisheries subsidies reform, which in turn, should facilitate multilateral agreement.

Mr. HAUGHTON said the benefits of creating sustainable fisheries depended on how States implemented governance and management reforms to conserve and protect the marine environment.  “This is undoubtedly the single most important challenge for fisheries in this generation,” he said, noting that the Caribbean Sea was semi-enclosed, representing one interconnected marine ecosystem.  Stocks were shared between two or more States, and in some cases, extended into the high seas.  Cooperation was fundamental for fisheries management.  Caribbean Governments in 2002 had established a regional fisheries body to facilitate cooperation and conservation of fisheries resources.  It was comprised of a ministerial council, a fisheries forum, a permanent secretariat and a number of technical and scientific working groups.  There were three other fisheries bodies that were in the region.

He said small island developing States had multispecies fisheries served by small, open vessels, noting that most commercially important stocks in the region had been over-exploited, while others had not significantly contributed to economic development.  Despite that catches over the last decade were 30 per cent lower than the 30-year average, the overall production trend had been positive.  The regional fisheries management bodies were investing more of their own resources to harmonize their practices.  Partnerships had grown among small-scale operators.  Partnership between and among the three main fisheries bodies had taken the form of formal cooperation agreements to strengthen fisheries management.  More broadly, such partnerships had helped “enormously” in transitioning the region towards sustainable fisheries management.

In the ensuing discussion, Heads of Government, ministers, other senior officials and representatives of Member States, international organizations and civil society covered a wide range of fisheries-related issues, from illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries to zone-based fisheries management and the little-mentioned place of Caribbean sport fishing.

SEREMAIAH MATAI NAWALU, Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Bio-security of Vanuatu, said managing Pacific fisheries through monitoring, control and surveillance efforts, particularly against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, remained a big battle for the Pacific region.  There was also a lack of international cooperation to address subsidies that incentivized overfishing in regional waters.  Tackling those problems and others required a multilateral and integrated approach.

ENELE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, underscored an urgent need for capacity-building, legislation and enforcement measures.  Expressing concern over the weak management of high-seas fisheries, he called on partner nations to adhere to zone-based fisheries management approaches.  He added that an ongoing process under United Nations auspices was required to ensure a commitment to healthy oceans.

TONE SKOGEN, State Secretary of Norway, said illegal fishing amounted to stealing from dinner tables.  The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, which recently came into force, would make illegal fishing less attractive.  Due to continuous research, annually revised regulations and enforcement, Norway’s commercial fish stocks were in good condition.

The representative of the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency recommended zone-based management as a way to empower States to better manage their marine resources while promoting sustainable development.  Noting that Pacific Island countries had a long history of cooperation and investment, he said data-sharing, collaborative asset deployment and other forms of partnership had made a difference in the level of illegal tuna fishing in the region.

The representative of the British Virgin Islands said not much was said about sport fishing, but that activity involved valuable species that were important to marine ecological systems.  He outlined a number of measures being taken in that regard by the territory, including a strengthened licensing regime, assessing the impact of the number of vessels on the water, and controlling the number and duration of fishing tournaments.  He went on to reiterate the British Virgin Island’s commitment to protect reefs and sharks.

Mr. BRAUER, on that point, replied that it was a matter of choosing the most appropriate format for the region.

The representative of the Republic of Korea stressed that the Port State Measures Agreement would help deter illegal fishing.

The representative of Saint Kitts and Nevis said his country comprised some 50,000 people, living on 104 square miles of land surrounded by the Caribbean Sea.  He described a strategic plan for the Government, working with various stakeholders, to chart the course for making fisheries sustainable, by underscoring the need for greater participation among all stakeholders, and more attention to disaster risk management.

The representative of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation said 90 per cent of fishers were in the small-scale sector, which provided half of the world’s catches and more than 60 per cent of fish for human consumption.  Marine resources had declined mainly because of industrial-scale fishing operations.  Underscoring the importance of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries, she said large-scale, non-selective fishing was the greatest negative impact on the marine habitat, much of it conducted through bottom-trolling and dredging, which destroyed fish habitats.  Those practices must be tackled by designating coastal areas for small-scale fishers, and banning harmful fisheries subsidies, including for fuel.

The representative of Iceland said the Government was marking the ocean floor in its exclusive economic zone using multibeam techniques, efforts that were vital to the sustainable use of marine life.  She highlighted Iceland’s commitment on the adoption of formal fisheries management plans, stressing that in the international context, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was the main framework for sustainable management, as long as States met their obligations and worked together.

The representative of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) said its cooperation with law enforcement in the Caribbean had led to the arrest in July 2016 of a vessel carrying out illegal fishing.  Through “Project Scale”, INTERPOL agents in Lyon, with experience in fisheries crime, carried out criminal analysis of illegal fishing activities, which were often linked to human trafficking.  INTERPOL offered a holistic approach, providing and reading notices, and sharing information on the modalities of fisheries crime.  There was also a secure network that linked States and provided investigative support to certain cases.

The representative of Spain underscored the need to tackle illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which he called a “blight” on the seas that destroyed the profitability of companies that complied with rules and regulations.

The representative of Friends of Marine Life said coastal communities in India had been pursuing sustainable fishing practices for centuries, employing traditional knowledge.  However, mega-projects were threatening their livelihoods, he said, identifying — among other challenges — the problems posed by bottom trawling, breakwater construction and overfishing by large vessels supported by large business lobbies.

The representative of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said the elimination of harmful subsidies was central to the multilateral trade agenda.  Fish subsidies contributed to distorting market prices, encouraged unfair competition and expanded inequality between developed and developing countries.  With attention to the issue gaining momentum, he said Member States should work towards a common text for the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.

The representative of Indonesia said there should be a designated body to ensure that the right of oceans to be protected was not bothered by political change or agendas.  The high seas meanwhile needed to be better managed so that distant-country fishing did not harm resource sustainability, she said, adding that the General Assembly should, in its resolutions, acknowledge transnational fisheries crimes.

MARCELO MENA, Minister for Environment of Chile, said his country was specifically combatting illegal fishing and working actively to eliminate harmful subsidies.  In its opinion, stronger international cooperation and regulation — within the framework of existing multilateral agreements and regional fisheries management associations — was needed.  It was vital, he added, to know more about the effects of climate change on fisheries and aquaculture and to set out plans accordingly.

The representative of the Marine Stewardship Council said its certification and labelling programmes for seafood caught in the wild provided an incentive for other fisheries to improve their performance.  Putting the size of the market for certified and traceable seafood products at $5 billion, he said credible certification had an important contribution to make to address the problem of overfishing.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of Thailand, Gabon, Marshall Islands and Sweden.

Representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO), World Bank, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and Vulcan, Inc., International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Comunidad y Biodiversidad and World Economic Forum also spoke.

Partnership Dialogue II

The afternoon featured a dialogue partnership titled “increasing economic benefits to small island developing States and least developed countries, and providing access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets”.  Moderated by Meg Taylor, Pacific Ocean Commissioner, it featured presentations by Mohamed Shainee, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Maldives; Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, United Nations; Laura Tuck, Vice-President for Sustainable Development, World Bank Group; and Mitchell Lay, Coordinator of Caribbean Network Fisherfolk Organization.  The dialogue was co-chaired by Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, and Marko Pomerants, Minister for Environment, Estonia.

Mr. MITCHELL said the issue of jobs and livelihoods that allowed economies to capture more economic value was a common thread for today’s discussion.  “I feel strongly that we need more investment in marine technology,” he said, applicable to small island developing States and least developed countries alike.  On one hand, States must ensure that artisanal fishers were custodians of their marine resources and sustainably reaping the economic benefits.  On the other hand, they must reduce pressures on the resources by providing alternatives and more rewarding livelihoods for coastal communities.  In Africa, for example, mobile phones allowed fishers to check market prices while at sea, leading to better prices for fish, less wastage and more environmental conservation.

Similarly in Grenada, he said mobile apps now helped fishers sell their catch in international markets.  “To lift our people, we must embrace broad-based wealth creation through innovation and technology,” he said, underscoring Grenada’s commitment to the Blue Innovation Institute, which would be a hub for innovation in coastal planning, natural capital enhancement, aquaculture and biotechnology.  Indeed, the size of small islands should be seen as a distinct advantage.  Those countries should be viewed as large ocean States.  He urged embracing the optimism around blue growth, and the idea that, by 2030, such economies had the potential to outpace global economic growth.  Small island developing States could not wait for technology-transfer handouts.  “We need to build on our own institutions, our own scientists, our own intellectual properties and our own entrepreneurs,” he declared.

Mr. POMERANTS said Estonia, a small eastern European country, was roughly the size of the Dominican Republic, with 1.3 million people.  It boasted a maritime area almost as large as its mainland, with one of the world’s longest coastlines per capita and some 1,200 islands.  Small-scale coastal fisheries were an important part of its cultural heritage, and as a sea-faring people, “you can find an Estonian in every port in the world”.  Estonia was sharing its best practices through technology transfer and capacity-building.  The key to sustainability lay in a holistic and integrated framework.

Given the transboundary nature of ecosystems, he said the best results had been achieved by regional marine governance frameworks that facilitated cooperation.  His region’s organization — HELCOM — facilitated marine research, with policies based on the best scientific data.  To improve access for small-scale artisanal fisheries, empowering local communities was essential, he said, stressing that Estonia had granted special status to island communities, where fishing was integral to traditional cultures and livelihoods.  To improve market access, his country had achieved success through cooperative associations.  “There is strength in numbers,” he said, enabling small operators to pool resources and improve purchasing power in terms of price setting.  Community involvement was instrumental to achieving Goal 14, he said, noting that Estonia’s reputation as a digital pioneer could help other countries redefine governance through its e-governance platform.  To ensure sustainable fisheries management, an online fishing permit system had been set up, which today issued 90 per cent of recreational licenses.

Ms. TAYLOR said that, as a Pacific Islander, she hailed from a region dominated — depending on one’s point of view — by small island developing States or big ocean-stewardship States, where the importance of coastal fisheries could not be overstated.  Fishing was a primary source of protein, fish consumption was among the highest in the world and inshore fisheries provided income for 50 per cent of all households.  The interactive discussion could be informed not only by Goal 14, but by other Goals, such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, gender equality and combating climate change.

Mr. SHAINEE said “we don’t talk about issues facing oceans nearly enough”, yet few places depended on oceans more than small island developing States.  Today’s partnership dialogue theme thus addressed what those States could do in their own backyards.  Discussing the situation in Maldives, he attributed the success of its tourism industry — which accounted for 28 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) — to the recognition of its natural heritage as its biggest asset.  Resort development was regulated with a view to protecting the environment, with architecture blending into the natural surroundings.  Upon determining that shark tourism produced more revenue than shark fishing, Maldives declared its entire exclusive economic zone as a shark sanctuary.  Turning to tuna, he said that by catching them on a one-by-one basis, Maldives had created one of the world’s leanest and greenest fisheries which recognized that consumers would pay more for sustainably harvested products.  More tuna meant more sharks and healthier reefs, which attracted tourism, with the benefits multiplying accordingly, he said.

Ms. ‘UTOIKAMANU said Goal 14 was important for nations in special situations such as least developed countries and small island developing States where millions of people depended on marine resources for nutrition and livelihood.  Noting that the national fishing capacity of small island developing States was limited, she emphasized the importance of ongoing cooperation with distant water fishing nations and the international community at large.  Countries in special situations were meanwhile vulnerable to external shocks, as well as rapid population growth, urban congestion, climate change and imported food and energy.  Long-term efforts could be undone in a matter of hours, she said.  Turning to the tourism sector, she said it was critical for small island developing States and least developed countries, having lifted some of the latter into middle-income status.  Tourism could help States meet several Sustainable Development Goals, but if not properly managed, it could degrade the environment.  Water scarcity was another concern, as peak tourist seasons often coincided with dry seasons.  Managing water resources would require a package of relevant measures, but with the right set of incentives and regulations, water management could be improved for all.

Ms. TUCK discussed the Bank’s “Sunken Billions” report which found that, because of overfishing, global fisheries forego more than $80 billion a year, compared to an optimal scenario.  It examined what would happen if fishing was reduced by 44 per cent over an unspecific period of time.  It found that the biomass of fish would almost triple.  Fish would be larger and have a higher value.  If fishing was reduced by 5 per cent annually for 10 years from its 2012 level, the optimal level would be achieved by 2030.  “Sunken billions” referred to the mismatch between increasing fishing efforts and the declining catch.  Giving the oceans a break would lead to increased catch and increased income at the local level.  “We need good governance and capable institutions to ensure that changes are sustainable,” she said.  For example, after decades of being prices takers, the parties to Nauru Agreement gathered in 2008 to use their huge tuna resources as leverage in the Vessel Day Scheme to reduce the fishing effort.  Through a $40 million Pacific region ocean project, the Bank was working to strengthen their capacity and ensure those gains were sustained.  In Kiribati, the financial institution’s technical assistance was helping the Government collect revenue from access fees paid by vessels into an $800 million sovereign wealth fund.  In all such cases, the Bank was supporting measures to enforce tenure rights, and ensure that fishing communities and operators were involved in decisions on fisheries management.

Mr. LAY recommended that States recognize and enhance the contributions of small-scale fisheries to their economies, as well as promote and ensure the security of tenure, in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries.  To enhance productivity, he recommended looking at how to sustainably use the significant — but either un- or under-utilized — ocean resources of many small island developing States, which could supply local populations with adequate food.  Addressing marketing and value-added aspects, he said the entire fish often was not used, which translated to suboptimal food and economic benefit.  Energy production and related activities should be carefully considered so as not to negatively impact small-scale fisheries.  Further, Governments should consider expanding local market access, as small island developing States often produced less than they consumed and lacked effective local marketing mechanisms.  Access and governance issues must be grounded in local realities, especially when considering marine protected areas, which limited small-scale fisheries access.  Similarly, tourism should not negatively impact small-scale fisheries, and conversely, the linkages between fisheries and tourism should be deepened in the context of food and recreational activities, while promoting local livelihoods.  He also advocated support for the development of small-scale fisheries organizations.  “This is the precondition for meaningful participation in the decision making process,” he said.  “If we create spaces for participation, States should carve out support for small-scale fisheries to fill those spaces.”

In the ensuing discussion, participants explored ways to support small island developing countries and, more specifically, access of their small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets.

BARON WAQA, President of Nauru, said countries that benefited from the exploitation of his nation’s tuna stocks must do more to share the burden that such fishing entailed.  Artisanal fishers could be supported through enhanced access to resources and markets, he said, adding that Nauru sought to establish long-term and productive partnerships that would unlock the full potential of sustainable ocean development.

The representative of Seychelles said his country had pioneered a financial instrument to raise $15 million in capital from private investors interested in putting money into sustainable development, including marine conservation, fisheries governance and the diversification of value chains.

The representative of Australia discussed her country’s official development assistance (ODA) in the Indo-Pacific region, including a programme that would support Pacific Island countries to delineate their maritime boundaries.  Another initiative would provide support to prevent and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.

The representative of Rare said the next 10 years must focus on community-led solutions and small-scale fishers, many of whom were women.  His non-governmental organization was committed to mobilizing $100 million to support the sustainability of small-scale fisheries.

GALE RIGOBERT, Minister for Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development of Saint Lucia, said international quota management mechanisms must act in a way that did not disadvantage small island developing States.  Noting that only so much could be achieved without appropriate assistance, she said genuine, mutually beneficial and durable partnerships were needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The representative of the International Renewable Energy Agency described the “SIDS [small island developing States] Lighthouse” initiative to transform energy systems and help those States integrate renewables into their energy mix.  The agency saw big opportunities in ocean energy technology and had recently updated its patent study.

The representative of New Zealand said 60 per cent of the global tuna catch was harvested in the Pacific region.  Yet, Pacific nations received only a small proportion of the market value of that resource.  New Zealand had invested $54 million to improve sustainable fish management and address illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, notably working with the Cook Islands to set up a catch quota system.  She urged countries to cooperate in the establishment of effective WTO disciplines on harmful subsidies.

The representative of Denmark said there were 406 islands in her country, and its marine resources were an integral part of the economy.  Since 2007, Denmark had allocated more fish stocks to coastal fishermen.  More broadly, small island developing States’ dependence on fossil fuels was unsustainable.  As such, Denmark had helped create the SIDS DOCK Support Program, establishing stations to connect small islands’ energy centres — notably in the Seychelles, Mauritius, and Sao Tome and Principe — with global markets.

The representative of the Commonwealth Secretariat said 45 of its 52 members were island States, where fish constituted more than 50 per cent of exports.  She called for addressing harmful subsidies that distorted markets, stressing that national maritime resources had been extracted by third parties without sufficient financial capture on behalf of the State and its citizens.  She proposed the creation of a Blue Commonwealth Charter, which would apply to sustainable oceans economic development, stressing that truly blue economic development must be done in a way that preserved ocean health.

The representative of Conservation International announced a voluntary commitment on social responsibility in global fisheries and aquaculture, as well as a financing commitment for community-managed conservation mosaics along Colombia’s Pacific coast.  Called La Minga — or “Everyone Together” — it would combine community, national and regional budget allocations and a $5 million endowment.

The representative of Papua New Guinea said the ocean and its resources offered food security and jobs for 15,000 people in his country, 80 per cent of whom were women.  Papua New Guinea was engaged domestically, regionally and globally, particularly as a party to the Nauru Agreement.

The representative of FAO drew attention to the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, adopted in 2014.

The representative of India said his country’s assistance to small island developing States and littoral least-developed countries included capacity-building, such as the provision of satellite-based information that promoted more efficient fishing.  He added that, to ensure better market access for artisanal fishers, sanitary trade barriers should be addressed under the aegis of WTO.

The representative of Trinidad and Tobago said her country had adopted globally recognized approaches and tools to alleviate conflicts between artisanal fishers and offshore oil and gas activities.  She also discussed efforts to exploit lion fish for economic benefit by training and incentivizing fishers to target that invasive species and to encourage its consumption by the general public.

The representative of the International Whaling Commission said her organization was studying the impact of whale-watching on individual whales, their population and habitats.  It had also developed a web-based whale-watching handbook to provide relevant information to operators, regulators and the public that included maps, information on species and case studies to assist decision-making.

Also speaking today were ministers and representatives of the Solomon Islands, Madagascar and Kiribati.

Representatives of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Indigenous peoples’ and community conserved territories and areas Consortium, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), CORDIO East Africa, The Nature Conservancy, French Polynesia, Pacific Island Association of Non-Governmental Organizations and the International Seabed Authority also spoke.