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;

*

*  *

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

General Market

Text adopted – Guidelines for the 2018 budget – Section III – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0085 – Wednesday, 15 March 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(1)
,

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(2)
(hereinafter ‘the Interinstitutional Agreement’),

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(3)
,

—  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(4)
,

–  having regard to the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2017(5)
and the joint statements agreed between Parliament, the Council and the Commission annexed thereto(6)
,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions of 21 February 2017 on the 2018 budget guidelines (6522/2017),

–  having regard to Rule 86a of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0060/2017),

A.  whereas 2018 will mark the fifth year of the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF);

B.  whereas the internal economic and social context as well as external challenges and political uncertainties are likely to uphold the pressure on the 2018 EU budget;

C.  whereas the budgetary reaction to immediate challenges and crises must go hand in hand with sustainable answers that invest in the Union’s common future;

A budget for sustainable growth, jobs and security

1.  Welcomes the important role played by the EU budget in delivering concrete answers to the challenges the EU is facing; stresses that decent, quality and stable jobs, particularly for young people, economic growth and socio-economic convergence, migration, security and tackling populism, as well as climate change, are the main concerns at EU level and that the EU budget remains part of the solution to these issues; stresses that solidarity must remain an underlying principle of the EU budget; underlines that only a strong and targeted EU budget with genuine European added value will benefit all Member States and EU citizens alike; expects the Commission to put forward a draft 2018 budget that enables the EU to continue to generate prosperity through growth and jobs and ensures the safety of its citizens;

2.  Believes that, while maintaining budget discipline, the EU budget must be equipped with the tools to enable it to respond to multiple crises simultaneously, a certain level of flexibility thus being required; is of the opinion that, while growth and jobs continue to remain the core priorities of the EU budget, obtaining sustainable progress and development in these fields has to be accomplished in parallel to addressing EU citizens’ concerns regarding safety and security; reiterates its call for thematic concentration when setting priorities for the 2018 EU budget;

Research, infrastructure and SMEs as key enablers of growth and jobs

3.  Underlines that enhancing the competitiveness of the EU economy, infrastructure, well-funded research, support for developing skills and the continued commitment of the EU to strengthening investment are key to ensuring economic growth and job creation; believes that the creation of socially and environmentally sustainable and well-paid jobs must be one of the main priorities of the EU budget; argues that jobs are created mainly by the private sector, and that adequate budgetary support therefore needs to be devoted to boosting investment in both private and public sectors, with special attention to SMEs; consequently underlines the importance of Heading 1a, which delivers real added value for European citizens and businesses, and calls for an appropriate level of funding for this heading to be ensured;

4.  Stresses that investment in research and innovation, including support for start-ups, represents a precondition for achieving genuine competitiveness in the EU and for ensuring an innovative and competitive EU economy on a global level; regrets the fact that, as a result of an inadequate EU funding in the field of research and innovation there is an alarmingly low success rate for applications, and that several high-quality projects in the field of research and innovation are being left without EU funding; notes that many interested parties, including SMEs, are being deterred from submitting Horizon 2020 project proposals; calls in this respect for an appropriate level of appropriations to be ensured for Horizon 2020, while continuing with its simplification agenda; underlines that an enhanced budget for Horizon 2020 should not be at the expense of other research programmes;

5.  Recognises the fact that SMEs remain the backbone of the European economy and will continue to play a decisive role in creating jobs and growth across the EU; considers also that SMEs are the main source of job creation and therefore need an appropriate access to finance; calls in this respect for COSME appropriations to be increased, taking into account the success of this programme; stresses the importance of strengthening the COSME programme in the new MFF in order to provide SMEs with more substantial support from the EU; believes that establishing synergies with other financial instruments would lead to better results;

6.  Strongly supports the further development and enhancement of interoperability of European infrastructure networks; considers that the financing of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is vital to achieving these objectives, and calls on the Commission to ensure an appropriate level of funding in 2018;

7.  Underlines the important role and potential of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) in reducing the investment gap which still exists in Europe, and recognises the positive results achieved so far; welcomes also the Commission proposal for extending the EFSI until 2020, which should aim to further improve its functioning, including application of the additionality principle and of geographical balance, for which further efforts are needed; underlines that the selection of projects financed through EFSI should be based on quality and demand-driven; welcomes the Commission’s intention to reinforce the role of the European Investment Advisory Hub in terms of providing more targeted local technical assistance across the EU and also to enhance geographical balance; also calls on the Commission to regularly analyse the added value of EFSI through impact assessment of the effects of the fund;

Education and youth employment – prerequisites for the success of the younger generation

8.  Considers education to be a prerequisite for sustainable, well-paid and stable jobs; underlines the importance of mobility as a means of enabling young Europeans to take advantage of people’s variety of skills while expanding opportunities for education, training and employment; welcomes in this respect the role played by Erasmus+ in facilitating the intra-European mobility of young students, apprentices and volunteers; believes that, especially in times of rising nationalism and populism, it is important to facilitate natural interaction between different European nations and cultures in order to enhance European consciousness and identity; calls, in this context, for the funding for the Erasmus+ programme to be further increased in 2018;

9.  Underlines that youth unemployment is one of the main concerns at European level, having a particularly high social impact, especially in the Union’s poorest regions, and that it puts at risk an entire generation of young Europeans, undermining long-term economic growth; stresses that, as part of the conciliation agreement for the 2017 EU budget, an allocation of EUR 500 million will be granted to the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), through an amending budget in 2017; considers YEI to be a fundamental contribution to the Union’s priority objective of jobs and growth, and remains firmly committed to securing adequate funding for fighting youth unemployment and continuing YEI up to the end of the current MFF, while at the same time improving its functioning and implementation; stresses in this respect the importance of the EU Youth Strategy;

10.  Takes positive note of the proposal to launch an ‘18th Birthday Interrail Pass for Europe’; underlines that this project has the potential to boost European consciousness and identity; stresses, however, that the project should not be financed at the expense of other successful EU programmes, notably in the field of youth and culture, and should be as socially inclusive as possible and contain provisions for including residents of Europe’s peripheral islands; asks the Commission to assess the potential cost and funding sources of this initiative and put forward relevant proposals;

Traditional EU budget priorities as investment policies

11.  Strongly supports regional policy as one of the main investment instruments of the EU budget ensuring economic, social and territorial cohesion; underlines that this policy generates growth and jobs in all Member States; is concerned, however, at the unacceptable delays in implementation of operational programmes at EU level under the current MFF, which have led so far to lower investment that has failed to contribute sufficiently to growth and job creation or to reducing economic, social and territorial disparities within and between European regions; calls on the Commission to identify the causes of the delays and on the Member States to cooperate in order to tackle them, in particular so as to ensure that the designation of managing, auditing and certifying authorities is concluded and implementation is sharply accelerated;

12.  Recognises the importance of the European agricultural sector in maintaining food security and managing biodiversity in the EU; expresses its full support for the farmers affected by the Russian embargo, avian flu, the dairy sector crisis and the meat crisis; calls on the Commission, therefore, to continue to support farmers across Europe in coping with unexpected market volatility and in securing safe and quality food supplies; requests that suitable attention be paid to small-scale farming and fisheries;

Internal challenges

13.  Is convinced that, under the current circumstances, the EU budget has proven to be insufficient to deal with the effects of the migratory and refugee crisis and corresponding humanitarian challenges or with the challenges in the security area such as increasing international terrorism; underlines that, on this basis, a sustainable solution must be found to this issue, as it has been demonstrated by the repeated mobilisation of special instruments such as the flexibility instrument that the EU budget was not initially designed to address crises of such magnitude; points out that a coherent strategy for tackling the migratory and refugee crisis, including clear, measurable and comprehensible objectives, has to be adopted; recalls, however, that the need to mobilise supplementary means to face these challenges should not take precedence over other important Union policies, for example in the field of jobs and growth;

14.  Welcomes the role played by instruments such as the Internal Security Fund (ISF) and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) in addressing the effects of the migratory and refugee crisis and corresponding humanitarian challenges, and calls for adequate budgeting in the coming years for these funds; reiterates the importance of the principle of burden-sharing among Member States in financing the efforts needed to adequately provide for refugees; welcomes also the role of the EU agencies in the area of justice and home affairs, such as Europol, the European Border and Coast Guard, EASO, Eurojust, the Agency for Fundamental Rights and eu-LISA, and calls, in this context, for their mandate to be executed on the basis of enhanced budgeting and staffing; is convinced that the EU needs to invest more in the strengthening and the management of its borders, enhancing cooperation between law enforcement agencies and national authorities and fighting terrorism, radicalisation and serious and organised crime by improving integration measures and practices, ensuring the interoperability of information systems, and guaranteeing sound return operations for those not entitled to international protection while fully respecting the principle of non-refoulement;

15.  Underlines that the current budget of the ISF (approximately EUR 700 million in commitments) is not sufficient for tackling the security challenges stemming from international terrorism; calls, therefore, for reinforced financial resources for bringing the security infrastructure up to a more adequate and modern level;

16.  Recalls the importance of European agencies in ensuring the implementation of the European legislative priorities and thereby accomplishing EU policy objectives, such as those related to competitiveness, growth, employment and to managing the current migration and refugee crisis; insists, therefore, that adequate financial and human resources be provided for both administrative and operational expenditure in order to allow the agencies to fulfil their assigned tasks and deliver the best possible results; with regard to the increases in staffing and appropriations for agencies since the 2014 budget, underlines the fact that these are regarded as part of new policy developments and legislation which do not enter in the calculation of the 5 % staff reduction target; stresses, therefore, that the 2018 budget should not foresee any further reductions in the European agencies’ establishment plans beyond the 5 % agreed on for each institution and body of the European Union in the framework of the Interinstitutional Agreement;

17.  Strongly supports initiatives in the field of defence research aimed at encouraging better cooperation between Member States and achieving synergy effects in the area of defence; stresses, however, that this activity should be endowed with fresh resources, as it is a new political initiative with a significant impact on the EU budget; calls, moreover, for the exploration of all possibilities for the financing of a defence research programme with a dedicated budget within the next MFF; recalls that, while the provisions enshrined in the Treaties must be respected, strengthened cooperation in the field of defence is a necessary option in order to meet the security challenges that the EU is facing, which are generated by prolonged instability in the Union’s neighbourhood and uncertainty regarding the commitment of certain of the EU’s partners to the objectives of NATO; underlines, furthermore, the need for improved competitiveness and innovation in the European defence industry that can contribute to stimulating growth and job creation; calls on the Member States to ensure adequate budgeting in order to tackle external challenges in a more congruent way; takes note of the establishment of the European Defence Fund, with its research and capability windows;

18.  Underlines that the EU budget must support the fulfilment of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the EU’s own long-term climate goals by achieving the 20 % climate spending target in the 2014-2020 MFF; notes with concern that the EU’s 2020 biodiversity targets will not be met without substantial additional efforts; stresses, therefore, the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity protection across the EU budget, with particular focus on the LIFE programme and the Natura 2000 network;

External challenges

19.  Stresses that the EU budget is also an instrument of external solidarity, providing urgent assistance in humanitarian and civilian crises by offering support to countries in need; recalls that the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development have been confirmed as a key priority for the EU and its Member States; reiterates, in this context, the EU commitment to contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to achieving the 0,7°% ODA/GNI target within the time frame of the post-2015 agenda; highlights that, in the long-term, development aid yields a return on investment in the form of increased trade and GDP growth in Europe;

20.  Reaffirms its conviction that in order to tackle the root causes of the current migratory and refugee crisis and the corresponding humanitarian challenges, the EU needs to step up its role through investment in the countries of origin of the migratory flows; calls on the Commission in this regard to design a roadmap to tackle the migratory crisis in an effective way; stresses that greater strategic adjustment of all instruments of development policy is needed to ensure steady economic and social development while not undermining the implementation of the existing external policies; notes that investment in infrastructure, housing, education and medical services and support for SMEs, with a particular focus on job creation, social protection and inclusion, are part of the solution for tackling the root causes of migration; welcomes, therefore, as part of the solution to these challenges, the External Investment Plan (EIP), as a coherent and coordinated framework for promoting investment in Africa and in the Neighbourhood countries, keeping in mind that it needs to be fully aligned with and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals; expects that the EIP will promote sustainable development without compromising human rights, climate change mitigation or good governance, and that transparent management of the European Fund for Sustainable Development and its projects will be ensured;

21.  Notes that the current trend on the Commission’s part to resort to satellite budgetary mechanisms such as the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, trust funds and other similar instruments has not proved a success in all cases; is concerned that the establishment of financial instruments outside the Union budget undermines the transparent management of the budget and hampers the right of Parliament to exercise effective scrutiny of expenditure; maintains, therefore, its position that the ad hoc external financial instruments which have emerged in recent years must be incorporated into the EU budget, with Parliament having full scrutiny over the implementation of these instruments; stresses, however, that these instruments should not be financed at the expense of other existing external instruments; takes note of the divergence between Member States’ promises and their actual contribution to these funds, and urges the Member States to stand by their promises to match the contributions of the EU;

22.  Underlines that one of the conditions for preserving stability and prosperity in the EU is a stable EU neighbourhood; calls on the Commission, therefore, to ensure that priority is given to investment in the EU Neighbourhood in order to support efforts to tackle the main issues that this area is facing, namely the migratory and refugee crisis and corresponding humanitarian challenges in the Southern Neighbourhood, and Russian aggression in the Eastern Neighbourhood; reiterates that supporting countries which are implementing association agreements with the EU is pivotal to facilitating political and economic reforms, but stresses that such support should apply as long as those countries meet the eligibility criteria, especially as regards the rule of law and enforcing democratic institutions;

Sufficient payment appropriations resulting in increased credibility for the EU

23.  Reiterates its previous calls for providing the EU budget with an adequate level of payment appropriations in order to allow it to fulfil its main purpose as an investment budget; is convinced that this role cannot be fulfilled if the EU fails to deliver on its commitments and thus endangers its credibility;

24.  Stresses that delays in the implementation of the 2014-2020 programmes under shared management led to a drop in payment claims for 2016 and 2017; is particularly concerned at the possible reconstitution of a backlog of unpaid bills towards the end of the current MFF period, and recalls the unprecedented level of EUR 24,7 billion reached at the end of 2014; welcomes the fact that the Commission, on the occasion of the MFF mid-term revision, provided for the first time a payment forecast until 2020, but stresses that this needs to be duly updated every year, in order to allow the budgetary authority to take the necessary measures in time;

25.  Underlines that, despite a final agreement on the MFF mid-term revision not yet having been reached, several positive elements of the revision that are currently under negotiation – notably in terms of increased flexibility – might prove to be instrumental in preventing and responding to a future payment crisis; believes that if the implementation of cohesion policy were to accelerate as anticipated the increased flexibility might be needed already next year, in order to ensure an adequate level of payment appropriations in the EU budget in response, and to avoid the accumulation of unpaid bills under cohesion policy at the end of the year;

26.  Notes and regrets the fact that corporate tax fraud and tax avoidance have caused huge losses of tax income for Member States, and therefore a reduction in their contributions to the EU budget; considers moreover that such unfair tax competition in some cases means GDP transfer from one Member State to another and GNI transfer to non-EU tax havens, thus reducing aggregate Member State contributions to the EU budget;

27.  Reiterates its long-standing position that the payments of special instruments (the Flexibility Instrument, the EU Solidarity Fund, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and the Emergency Aid Reserve) must be counted over and above the MFF payment ceiling, as is the case for commitments; underlines, in the context of the ongoing MFF mid-term revision, the potential progress achieved on the issue of budgeting the payments of the MFF special instruments with the revision of the 2014 Contingency Margin decision, even if the matter was not unequivocally resolved;

Looking forward

28.  Underlines that according to the MFF regulation, the Commission will put forward by the end of 2017 its proposals for the post-2020 MFF, which should take into account the decision of the United Kingdom to leave the EU which will impact on the post-2020 MFF; stresses that this decision makes it impossible to proceed with business as usual; attaches the utmost importance to the process leading up to the establishment of the new financial framework and a reformed and more efficient EU budget, and expects this to be commensurate to the challenges the Union is facing and to the commitments it has already entered into; calls for a swift and positive conclusion to the ongoing mid-term MFF revision that can ensure both the necessary adjustment of the current financial framework and the degree of additional flexibility of the EU budget that is indispensable for attaining the Union’s objectives;

29.  Underlines that the predictability and long-term sustainability of the EU budget is a prerequisite for a strong and stable European Union; stresses the need to align the duration of the MFF with the political cycles of both Parliament and the Commission; draws attention to the fact that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will provide an opportunity to address the long-standing issues which have prevented the EU budget from reaching its real potential, especially as regards the revenue side, in order to phase out all rebates and correction mechanisms; reaffirms its position in favour of an in-depth reform of EU own resources, and welcomes in this respect the presentation of the final report of the High-Level Group on Own Resources (HLGOR); invites all involved parties to draw the appropriate conclusions from this report and to analyse the feasibility of implementing the recommendations of the HLGOR that would help make the EU budget more stable, simple, autonomous, fair and predictable; expects that any new own resources should lead to a reduction in Member States’ GNI contributions; welcomes the conclusion of the HLGOR regarding the fact that the EU budget needs to focus on areas bringing the highest European added value and regarding the ‘juste retour’ approach, which should end, as it has been shown by the report that all Member States benefit from the EU budget, irrespective of their ‘net balance’;

30.  Encourages the Commission to continue developing and implementing the ‘EU budget focused on results’ strategy; underlines, in this regard, the importance of simplifying rules, streamlining the monitoring process and developing relevant performance indicators;

31.  Stresses that the principle of gender equality should be mainstreamed, wherever possible, as a horizontal policy objective in all titles of the EU budget;

32.  Stresses the importance of Parliament being fully involved in all budget-related matters, as the sole institution democratically elected by EU citizens;

33.  Calls on the Council to live up to its political statements and cooperate to ensure that the EU is equipped with an adequate budget;

o
o   o

34.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission and the Court of Auditors.

(1) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(2) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(4) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(5) OJ L 51, 28.2.2017.
(6) Texts adopted of 1.12.2016, P8_TA(2016)0475.