General Market

Text adopted – EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage – P8_TA-PROV(2016)0406 – Tuesday, 25 October 2016 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 February 2016 on an EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage (COM(2016)0049),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 25 February 2015 entitled ‘A Framework Strategy for a Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’ (COM(2015)0080) and the annexes thereto,

–  having regard to the 2030 Energy Strategy, as outlined in the Commission communication of 22 January 2014, ‘A policy framework for climate and energy in the period from 2020 to 2030’ (COM(2014)0015),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 23 July 2014 entitled ‘Energy Efficiency and its contribution to energy security and the 2030 Framework for climate and energy policy’ (COM(2014)0520),

–  having regard to the Fifth IPCC assessment report – Working Group I report, ‘Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis’,

–  having regard to Directive 2014/94/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure(1) ,

–  having regard to the Paris Agreement reached in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 15 December 2011 on the Energy Roadmap 2050 (COM(2011)0885),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 8 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050’ (COM(2011)0112),

–  having regard to the Third Energy Package,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 16 February 2016 entitled ‘An EU Strategy on Heating and Cooling’ (COM(2016)0051),

–  having regard to Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC,

–  having regard to the Special Report No 16/2015 of the European Court of Auditors, ‘Improving the security of energy supply by developing the internal energy market: more efforts needed’,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 December 2015 entitled ‘Towards a European Energy Union’(2) ,

–  having regard to Rule 52 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and the opinions of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and the Committee on Transport and Tourism (A8-0278/2016),

A.  whereas gas can play an important role in the EU energy system for the coming decades, in industrial production and as a source of heat in buildings and as a support to renewable energy while the EU meets its targets on greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewables and makes the transition to a low-carbon economy in which the role of gas will gradually decrease in favour of clean energies;

B.  whereas natural gas is a fossil fuel that can emit significant amounts of methane along its life cycle (production, transport, consumption) if not managed properly; whereas methane has a global warming potential significantly higher than CO2 on a 20-year timescale and thus has a considerable impact on climate change;

C.  whereas the European Union is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 80- 95 % below 1990 levels by 2050;

D.  whereas European gas import dependency in the upcoming years is expected to grow, and in certain Member States has already reached 100 % in cases where there are no or limited numbers of alternative suppliers or supply routes;

E.  whereas liquefied natural gas (LNG) presents an opportunity for Europe in terms of both increasing competitiveness by exerting downward pressure on natural gas prices and increasing security of supply; whereas natural gas is also a flexible backup to renewables in electricity production;

F.  whereas using natural gas in transportation (CNG and LNG), as provided for by Directive 2014/94/EU on the deployment of alternative fuels infrastructure, would generate great environmental benefits;

G.  whereas the EU should actively pursue the development of its domestic conventional gas resources, such as those discovered in Cyprus;

H.  whereas the EU, as the second largest LNG importer in the world, should play a more proactive role in the international energy diplomacy arena;

I.  whereas it is important to promote an integrated proposal for the use of indigenous energy sources, such as natural gas deposits in the Cyprus EEZ, and to support the creation of a LNG liquefaction terminal in Cyprus in order to exploit deposits from neighbouring areas also;

J.  whereas the EU is still not able to fully exploit the benefits of an integrated internal energy market, owing to a lack of sufficient interconnections and coherence and the incomplete implementation of the Third Energy Package;

K.  whereas the framework strategy for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy defines five mutually reinforcing and closely interrelated dimensions, namely: energy security; a fully integrated European energy market; energy efficiency; decarbonisation of the economy; and research, innovation and competitiveness; whereas the strategy should also promote affordable energy prices for all;

Introduction

1.  Welcomes the Commission communication entitled ‘An EU strategy for liquefied natural gas and gas storage’; believes that an internal energy market which fully integrates LNG and gas storage will play a significant role in achieving the ultimate objective of a resilient Energy Union;

2.  Recalls that the EU strategy for LNG and gas storage is one element of the Energy Union, which aims to gives concrete expression to the EU’s ambition to bring about a quick transition to a sustainable, secure and competitive energy system, and also aims to end dependence on external gas suppliers; stresses that one of the goals of the Energy Union is to make the EU the world leader in renewable energies;

3.  whereas, in line with the COP 21 Paris Agreement, the EU gas policy needs to be adapted to comply with the concluded goal of limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels; whereas gas is expected to continue to play a role in the EU energy system until 2050 when, in accordance with the Paris Agreement and the EU Energy Roadmap, greenhouse gas emissions will have to be reduced to 80-95% below 1990 levels, especially in industrial production and as a source of heat in buildings; whereas the role of gas will diminish and needs to be phased out in the long term as the EU meets its ambitious targets on greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and renewables and makes the transition to a sustainable economy;

4.  Is of the opinion that energy security can be achieved in the most efficient way through better coordination of national energy policies, the establishment of a real Energy Union with a single energy market, and a common energy policy, as well as through cooperation among the Member States on the matter in accordance with the principles of solidarity and trust; believes, in this context, that further integration of energy policy should be for the benefit of the Member States, in line with EU targets and international obligations as well as with the stated objectives, and should not conflict with the interests of the Member States or their citizens; supports the efforts to forge a common EU position in multilateral energy institutions and frameworks;

5.  Considers that all EU citizens must have access to a secure and affordable energy supply; highlights, in this context, current developments in global LNG markets, where oversupply has led to lower prices, presenting an opportunity to deliver lower energy costs to EU consumers through relatively cheaper gas supplies; stresses that safe, affordable, sustainable energy is a key driving force in the European economy and is essential for industrial competitiveness; calls for the EU and its Member States, as part of the EU energy strategy, to give priority to eliminating energy poverty, and to enhance energy supply through the sharing of best practices at EU level;

6.  Stresses that an EU strategy for LNG must be consistent with the framework strategy for a resilient Energy Union, so as to contribute to increased security of energy supply, decarbonisation, the long-term sustainability of the economy and the delivery of affordable and competitive energy prices;

7.  Agrees with the assessment of the Commission that Member States in the Baltic Sea region and in central and south-eastern Europe, and Ireland – despite the huge infrastructure development efforts realised by certain Member States – are still heavily reliant on a single supplier and are exposed to supply shocks and disruptions;

8.  Acknowledges that the availability of LNG, including supporting pipeline infrastructure, in these Member States could significantly improve the current supply security situation not only in physical but also in economic terms, contributing to more competitive energy prices;

9.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to promote and incentivise a more efficient and better use of existing infrastructure, including gas storage;

10.  Draws attention to the potential of power-to-gas technology to store renewable energies and to make them usable as carbon-neutral gas for transport, heating and power generation;

11.  Stresses the need to make the EU gas system more diverse and flexible, thus contributing to the key Energy Union objective of a secure, resilient and competitive gas supply; calls on the Commission to develop a strategy that aims at lessening EU gas dependency in the long term, reflecting its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission to 80-95 % below 1990 levels by 2050, and stresses in this regard that treating energy efficiency as a ‘first principle’ and gradually phasing out fossil subsidies would significantly reduce the EU’s dependency on imported fossil fuels;

12.  Recalls that the Parliament has repeatedly called for binding climate and energy targets for 2030 of at least a 40 % domestic reduction in GHG emissions, at least 30 % for renewables and 40 % for energy efficiency, to be implemented by means of individual national targets;

13.  Stresses the need, before supporting new regasification terminals, to promote the most efficient use of existing LNG terminals from a cross-border perspective, so to avoid technology lock-in or stranded assets in fossil fuel infrastructure and ensure that consumers do not have to bear the costs of any new projects; believes that the Commission needs to carefully revise its analysis for gas demand and risks and needs assessments;

Completing missing infrastructure

LNG infrastructure

14.  Recalls that the EU as a whole is sufficiently supplied with LNG regasification terminals, and acknowledges that, owing to weak internal gas demand in past years and a relatively high global LNG price, several of the EU’s LNG regasification terminals are experiencing low utilisation rates; underlines that all Member States, especially those depending on a single supplier, should have access to LNG, either directly or indirectly through other Member States;

15.  Underlines that, in most cases, priority should be given to market-based solutions and to the utilisation of existing LNG infrastructure on a regional level; notes, however, that solutions can be different depending on national and market specificities, such as level of interconnectivity, availability of storage solutions and market structure;

16.  Stresses that in order to avoid stranded assets, it is necessary to carry out a careful analysis of LNG supply alternatives and options from a regional as well as an environmentally sustainable perspective, taking account of the Union’s climate and energy targets and the principle of geographical balance, before deciding on new infrastructure, in order to improve energy security and guarantee the most efficient use of existing infrastructure;

17.  Stresses the importance of regional cooperation when building new LNG terminals and interconnections, and underlines that Member States with access to the sea should cooperate closely with landlocked countries in order to avoid over-investment in unnecessary and uneconomic projects; stresses that, in this regard, a more optimal use of west-east and north-south corridors, with improved reverse flow capacity, would increase the LNG supply options; believes that knowledge and information could be developed jointly on issues such as energy storage facilities and tendering processes for LNG and interconnectors; strongly believes that the EU strategy has to ensure that LNG is accessible at regional level all over Europe;

18.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to put in place strategies to support facilities that can be used in the future to manage the transfer and storage of renewable natural gas;

19.  Stresses that the strategy should also include the use of LNG as an alternative to the development of gas distribution and transmission infrastructure in areas where it is not currently cost-effective; notes that small LNG installations can provide the optimal infrastructure for increasing the use of natural gas in areas where investments in gas infrastructure are unprofitable, including for increasing the use of gas to generate heat and thus curb so-called low-stack emissions;

20.  Urges the Commission and the Member States to fully implement key projects of common interest (PCIs), and to assign high priority primarily to the most economically and environmentally efficient projects identified by the three regional high-level groups; stresses that building LNG terminals which are necessary for and compatible with gas demand is not sufficient, and that supporting pipeline infrastructure with appropriate tariffs is indispensable for the benefits to be realised outside the receiving countries;

21.  Welcomes the fact that important LNG projects (e.g. the North-South corridor) are being defined as projects of common interest; calls on the Commission to fully include Balkan countries when planning the further reconstruction of the gas pipeline and TEN-E network to ensure a key role of the EU energy sector in the region;

22.  Supports the Commission proposal in the ongoing revision of the Security of Supply Regulation to review the existing reverse flow exemptions on interconnectors, and endorses the increased role of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) in the process; notes the understaffing and lack of resources of ACER; underlines the need to provide ACER with the necessary resources, in particular sufficient own staff, to allow the agency to fulfil the tasks assigned to it by the legislation;

Storage infrastructure

23.  Recalls that geology is a major determining factor when developing new gas storages, and notes the current excess capacities in European gas storages; stresses that regional cooperation and an adequate level of gas interconnections, as well as the removal of internal bottlenecks, could significantly improve the utilisation rate of existing gas storages; highlights the need to ensure the application of the highest environmental standards in the planning, construction and use of LNG storage infrastructure;

24.  Recalls that the cross-border accessibility of gas storages is one of the key tools to implement the principle of energy solidarity during gas shortages and emergency crisis;

25.  Emphasises that a more extensive use of Ukraine’s storage capacity will only be possible if an appropriate and stable commercial and legal framework and the integrity of supply infrastructure is guaranteed in Ukraine and provided the right level of gas interconnections is in place so that energy can flow freely across the borders without physical barriers; furthermore emphasises that as Ukraine’s gas-dependent industrial sector rebounds in the short term, additional gas supplies will have to be imported; considers that the EU should support Ukraine in transitioning from dependency on Russian natural gas to LNG;

Connecting LNG and storage to markets

26.  Emphasises the importance of the work of regional high-level groups, such as the Central East South Europe Gas Connectivity High Level Group (CESEC), the Baltic Energy Market Interconnection Plan (BEMIP) and the South-West Europe group; believes that this type of voluntary-based regional coordination is highly effective, and welcomes the facilitating role of the Commission in these arrangements; stresses the need for pragmatic and timely execution of the approved action plans, and urges close follow-up of implementation;

27.  Stresses the importance of finding cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable energy supply options to increase long-term security of supply for the Iberian peninsula, Central and South-East Europe, the Baltic states and Ireland, all of which are insufficiently connected to and/or integrated with the internal energy market and deserve the full support of the EU in the name of the principle of solidarity; also highlights the need to support the most vulnerable countries that continue to remain energy islands, such as Cyprus and Malta, in order to diversify their sources and routes of supply; stresses, in this context, that LNG and gas storage must contribute towards ending energy isolation of whatever kind that affects Member States and regions in the EU;

28.  Calls for gas production in the Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian regions, as well as for interconnecting landlocked countries in Central and South-East Europe to these new capacities in order to diversify supply sources in those regions; notes that this will allow for competition between gas from multiple sources and will replace imports of natural gas volumes under oil-indexed contracts, thus increasing Member States’ bargaining power; stresses that no single energy source will ever fulfil the EU’s energy needs and that diversity in the case of both domestic and foreign markets is essential; considers, therefore, that the development of the domestic conventional gas resources discovered in Cyprus should be actively pursued;

29.  Supports the Commission’s ambition to provide more information and assistance to project promoters on various project financing options, such as the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), and on various technical solutions;

30.  Notes that finding cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable solutions should be a key principle in reaching the EU and regional optimum, and calls on the Commission, the Member States and the national regulatory authorities to allocate the limited resources available to the development of critical infrastructure so as to attract private investment for LNG infrastructure and interconnectors;

31.  Expresses concern at the fact that gas imports from Russia were 7 % higher in 2015 than in 2014, and at the fact that 41 % of gas imports from outside the EU in 2015 came from Russia; highlights the vital role of LNG and gas storage, in addition to increased efficiencies and renewable energy deployment, in reducing dependence on Russian gas;

32.  Expresses concern at the proposed doubling of capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline, and the counterproductive effects this would have on energy security and diversification of supply sources and the principle of solidarity among Member States; highlights the geopolitical implications of the project and the underlying principles of a fully integrated, secure, competitive and sustainable Energy Union, stressing that as such it should not benefit from EU financial support or from derogations from EU law; underlines that a doubling of the capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline would give one company a dominant position on the European gas market, which should be avoided;

33.  Considers that if, contrary to European interests, Nord Stream 2 were to be built it would necessarily require a sound assessment of LNG terminals’ accessibility and a detailed state of play on the North-South Gas Corridor;

Completing the internal gas market: commercial, legal and regulatory aspects

Making the EU an attractive market for LNG

34.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the Third Energy Package and gas network codes;

35.  Highlights the important role that well-interconnected liquid gas hubs play on the gas markets, that would ensure a single integrated market where gas can freely flow across borders in line with market price signals;

36.   Stresses that significant gas reserves in the North African countries and recent discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean provide the region with an opportunity to emerge as a vibrant centre for transporting gas into Europe; believes that new LNG capacity being developed in the Mediterranean could form the basis of an infrastructure hub;

37.  Insists that the completion of the internal gas market and the elimination of regulatory obstacles would greatly improve the liquidity of gas markets; urges stakeholders to finalise the network code on rules regarding harmonised transmission tariff structures for gas as soon as possible;

38.  Recalls the continuous need for active cooperation between governments, national regulatory authorities and main stakeholders on cross-border investments, keeping always in mind a European perspective besides the national interests;

Gas storage in the internal market

39.  Highlights the need to develop harmonised tariff structures across the EU and to increase transparency in tariff definition in order to achieve a higher utilisation rate of existing gas storages; takes the view that the network code on rules regarding harmonised transmission tariff structures for gas should take into consideration the need for harmonisation;

40.  Supports the Commission’s proposal to enable the deployment of bio-methane and other renewable gases which comply with relevant EU quality standards in gas transmission, distribution and storage; recommends, in this respect, the consideration of technical parameters, gas quality, cost efficiency, economies of scale and possible local or regional grid solutions;

41.  Urges the Member States to fully implement the third energy package, particularly in relation to the provisions on granting access to bio-methane to the grid and to storage facilities; highlights in this regard Directive 2009/73/EC, according to which Member States should ensure that, taking into account the necessary quality requirements, biogas and gas from biomass or other types of gas are granted non-discriminatory access to the gas system, provided such access is permanently compatible with the relevant technical rules and safety standards;

42.  Encourages LNG and storage operators, in cooperation with national regulatory authorities, to develop new flexible products and services, compliant with the EU current legislation, in order to make LNG regasification and storing more attractive and maximise the utilisation of existing LNG and storage facilities;

Optimising the role of storage for security of gas supply

43.  Highlights the role of the immediate, high-flexibility services that gas storage offers in certain Member States, and points out the different role that storage can play during a supply disruption compared to LNG where logistics in the supply chain might not grant the same responsiveness;

44.  Underlines the importance of eliminating regulatory barriers to developing regional storage concepts; believes that certain storages could offer tailor-made international services, i.e. storage services tied with cross-border transportation; proposes that the regional high-level groups cooperate more extensively to find innovative solutions on how to use strategically valuable assets effectively at regional and European level;

The EU as a player on international LNG markets

45.  Notes the emerging global trend of increasing liquefaction capacity and its potential impact on the European gas markets;

46.  Considers that, through its emergence as an important market, the EU can contribute to the evolution of gas trading rules with a view to improved flexibility and the convergence of global gas markets;

47.  Supports the Commission, the European External Action Service and the Member States in their active engagement in energy diplomacy in order to promote a rule-based, transparent and well-functioning global gas market;

48.  Stresses the importance of reducing or removing the EU’s gas and oil dependence on imports from authoritarian regimes that violate human rights, in keeping with the EU’s founding values and the effectiveness of EU external action;

49.  Calls for greater institutional convergence and synergy, and, in particular, for the better integration of external energy security priorities in policies pursued by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR), and for better coordination between the VP/HR and the responsible Commissioners; calls on the VP/HR, along with the Member States, to enhance existing means and establish new means of energy cooperation with current and potential suppliers, as well as with transit states and other key players; calls, in this context, on the VP/HR to inform Parliament regularly on the implementation of the EU Energy Diplomacy Action Plan;

50.  Stresses the necessity of eliminating all barriers to global free trade in LNG, the production of which must be sustainable; in this context, urges US policymakers to increase investment certainty by introducing clear criteria and deadlines in the authorisation process for gas exports to non-FTA countries;

51.  Underlines the need to raise awareness of the environmental, climate and social impacts of imported LNG in global free trade fora; underlines, in particular, the need to ensure that fugitive methane emissions are minimised;

52.  Stresses that the use of LNG may also lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from maritime and road transport, provided that all effective measures are taken to minimise methane slip throughout the lifecycle of the fuel, including the production, distribution, and combustion phases; calls, therefore, for adequate measures to minimise methane slip in the overall LNG chain through the use of the best available technologies, and to ensure adequate R&D financing for that purpose;

53.  Stresses that trade plays a key role in energy security, and that strong energy partnerships, reinforced by the inclusion of energy chapters in the EU’s trade agreements, are essential tools; considers it of key importance that the EU’s trade policy should enhance the Union’s and Member States’ energy diversification and reduce their dependency on imported energy from too few suppliers; stresses that the EU should explore new partnerships, review its existing ones and hold specific energy talks with other partners in areas such as – but not limited to – Central Asia, North Africa and the Americas; notes that the EU should play a more proactive role in the international energy diplomacy arena; calls for greater coherence between the EU’s trade and energy policies; underlines the need to increase transparency in international negotiations on LNG; believes that current and future negotiations with partners such as the US and Australia should include a strong energy component; underlines that the EU should collaborate closely with international partners towards a competitive and transparent global LNG market;

54.  Recalls that in order to meet the current challenges and implement its energy and climate change objectives in the context of global constraints in those policy fields, the EU and its Member States must, on the basis of existing legal frameworks and multilateral conventions, also take common action on the international stage by raising energy security and sustainability issues in international trade forums, including with partner countries dependent on gas imports; stresses that, at the same time, the EU should support and promote energy efficiency;

55.  Considers that trade policy generating significant opportunities for EU Member States’ private and public companies in clean, secure and energy-efficient technologies is particularly important, especially in light of the growing global energy demand; calls for tariffs on clean technologies to be reduced significantly within the Green Goods initiative and also within EU free trade agreements, which must tackle non-tariff barriers to trade in energy sources;

56.  Highlights the importance for EU energy security of the ‘Energy and Raw Materials’ chapter of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement; welcomes the Commission’s work towards removing export restrictions on US gas to the EU;

57.  Considers that the 12,2 billion cubic metres per year being added to the market in 2016 through Sabine Pass LNG on the US East Coast, along with potentially a further 74 billion cubic metre capacity being added through various US projects before 2020, represents a significant opportunity for Europe to increase energy trade links with the US; believes that the conclusion of the work on the ‘Energy and Raw Materials’ chapter of TTIP will significantly boost EU gas supply options;

58.  Considers that European companies should not be restricted from operating on third countries’ energy markets under the same conditions as domestic companies; stresses that third-country companies operating on European energy markets must comply with European law; stresses that such entities must have a transparent structure making it possible to track their shareholders;

59.  Stresses the need to ensure the highest environmental protection in the planning, construction and use of LNG as well as in the exploitation of indigenous reserves and sources, and to respect the international labour standards on occupational health and safety; underlines the need to raise awareness of the environmental, climate and social impacts of imported LNG; reiterates the need to involve local communities and to rely on realistic assessments regarding consumption and – in the event of construction –the planning of new infrastructures; emphasises the potential offered by the transition to LNG for ending the dependency of maritime transport on coal; calls for the EU to provide financial support for European projects for this purpose;

60.  Points out that, given the prospects for growth in the supply of LNG in coming years, this strategy may be complemented by an assessment of needs, in terms of LNG-carrying vessels and measures to enable the EU shipbuilding industry to seize this opportunity, thereby contributing to the target of increasing the industry’s share of GDP to 20 % in 2020; calls for safety standards so that the transport of LNG can be monitored and, if necessary, subjected to more stringent conditions in the context of measures to prevent terrorism;

Sustainability and the use of LNG as an alternative fuel in transport, heat and power

61.  Acknowledges the potential of LNG as an alternative fuel, both in road and maritime transport; underlines that wider use of LNG in freight transport could contribute to the decrease of global CO2 , SOx, and NOx emissions, especially through using more LNG engines in maritime transport;

62.  Underlines the fact that the network of fuelling infrastructure is a prerequisite for substantive deployment of LNG as an alternative fuel in the transport sector; calls, in this regard, on the Commission and the Member States to ensure full implementation of Directive 2014/94/EU on alternative fuels, including the establishment of LNG refuelling points across the TEN-T corridors and at maritime and inland ports, replacing more polluting conventional fuels; underlines, however, in this regard that LNG should not take the place of renewable energy sources, so as to ensure consistency with sustainability goals;

63.  Calls for the development of maritime routes, notably in the archipelago of the Azores which, given its geographical situation, could serve as a key fuel station for the transatlantic routes of LNG; urges the Commission to make funds available to support European projects to this end;

64.  Asks the Commission to create, jointly with the Member States and their regions, a common project of ‘LNG Blue Corridors for Islands’ for the maritime sector, including ports of the TEN-T Comprehensive Network, in order to establish the necessary LNG infrastructures and link this network to the TEN-T Core Network;

65.  Calls on the Member States, in addition, to ensure the implementation of Directive 2014/94/EU as regards the establishment of CNG refuelling points, so as to ensure that motor vehicles running on that fuel can circulate in urban/suburban agglomerations and other densely populated areas, and at least along the existing TEN-T Core Network, thus ensuring that those vehicles can circulate throughout the Union;

66.  Stresses the need to establish common technical specifications for LNG refuelling points for seagoing ships, inland waterway vessels and motor vehicles, as provided for in Directive 2014/94/EU; calls for rigorous harmonised safety rules and training for LNG storage, bunkering and on-board use throughout the Union, allowing also the possibility of simultaneous bunkering and cargo operations; notes that this work should be carried out in close cooperation with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and EMSA;

67.  Stresses the need to ensure adequate R&D financing for the development of improved technologies for inland waterway vessels, seagoing ships and motor vehicles with the aim of swiftly shifting to a lower-carbon fleet, as well as for the development of unmanned systems for the installation of LNG refuelling points; also calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for the development of vessels and motor vehicles running on LNG, or retrofitting those running on conventional fuels to enable them to use LNG;

68.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for the transport of LNG by rail, as this will on the one hand reduce road transport and on the other hand contribute to the environmentally sound and safe transport of a fuel which is low in pollutants;

69.  Calls on the Commission, after consulting the stakeholders, to consider whether, alongside Regulation (EC) No 443/2009 setting CO2 emission performance standards for new passenger cars, it might establish a CO2 equivalent for hydrocarbon emissions, not least with a view to informing consumers;

70.  Notes that the use of small-scale LNG technology in certain areas, such as long-range transportation or industrial high-performance applications, could not only contribute to climate policy objectives but also result in significant business advantage;

71.  Notes that LNG, and in particular CNG, is also a viable solution for public transport, which is already available and can help reduce air and noise pollution, thus improving living conditions, especially in urban agglomerations;

72.  Notes that although LNG and CNG can present viable transitional solutions to reduce the environmental impacts of transport, their long-term benefits will be only realised if a smooth transition towards the use of liquefied biogas (LBG) and other forms of renewable energy is simultaneously promoted by also ensuring the interoperability of LNG and LBG systems; emphasises that the EU strategy for LNG needs to fit into the wider European climate and energy targets and priorities, and correspond to the COP21 agreement, with a focus on reducing demand, improving energy efficiency and phasing out fossil fuels;

73.  Emphasises that an efficient network of refuelling infrastructure is a prerequisite for the substantive deployment of LNG as an alternative fuel in the transport sector; calls on the Commission and the Member States to create incentives for the development of such infrastructure in order to close the existing gaps in provision and create a complete supply network;

74.  Stresses the importance of LNG infrastructure at maritime and inland ports in terms of promoting multimodality, as such infrastructure can be used by seagoing ships, inland waterway vessels and trucks for the further overland transport of the fuel; urges national and regional operators to cooperate closely with the aim of enhancing the multi-functionality and exploitability of this infrastructure;

75.  Considers that fostering the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel in transport is an important global challenge, and calls for a commitment to achieving emissions reductions to be obtained through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO);

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76.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Member States, the Energy Community Secretariat and the Contracting Parties of the Energy Community.

General Market

Text adopted – Blue growth – enhancing sustainable growth in the marine, maritime transport and tourism sectors – P7_TA(2013)0300 – Tuesday, 2 July 2013 – Strasbourg – Final edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 13 September 2012 on ‘Blue Growth – opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’ (COM(2012)0494),

–  having regard to the Commission report of 11 September 2012 on ‘Progress of the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy’ (COM(2012)0491) and the accompanying Commission staff working document (SWD(2012)0255),

–  having regard to the Limassol Declaration of 8 October 2012 on a Marine and Maritime Agenda for growth and jobs,

–  having regard to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), which entered into force on 16 November 1994,

–  having regard to the proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for marine spatial planning and integrated coastal management (COM(2013)0133),

–  having regard to the Commission staff working document of 31 October 2012 entitled ‘Overview of EU policies, legislation and initiatives related to marine litter’ (SWD(2012)0365),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 29 August 2012 entitled ‘Marine Knowledge 2020 – from seabed mapping to ocean forecasting’ (COM(2012)0473),

–  having regard to the Commission White Paper of 28 March 2011 entitled ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource-efficient transport system’ (COM(2011)0144),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 30 June 2010 entitled ‘Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’ (COM(2010)0352),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 21 January 2009 entitled ‘Communication and action plan with a view to establishing a European maritime transport space without barriers’ (COM(2009)0010),

–  having regard to the Commission communication of 10 October 2007 entitled ‘An Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union’ (COM(2007)0575),

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 7 June 2006 entitled ‘Towards a future Maritime Policy for the Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas’ (COM(2006)0275),

–  having regard to its resolution of 27 September 2011 on ‘Europe, the world’s No 1 tourist destination – a new political framework for tourism in Europe’(1) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 21 October 2010 on ‘Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) – Evaluation of progress made and new challenges’(2) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 May 2010 on strategic goals and recommendations for the EU’s maritime transport policy until 2018(3) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 16 December 2008 on the regional development aspects of the impact of tourism on coastal regions(4) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2008 on an integrated maritime policy for the European Union(5) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 12 July 2007 on ‘A future maritime policy for the European Union: a European vision for the oceans and seas’(6) ,

–  having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 20 March 2013 on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions – ‘Blue Growth – opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’,

–  having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions of 31 January 2013 on ‘Blue Growth – opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth’,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Transport and Tourism and the opinions of the Committee on Regional Development and the Committee on Fisheries (A7-0209/2013),

A.  whereas over 70 % of the earth’s surface is covered by oceans and seas which can play a crucial role in addressing the long-term challenges facing the EU, such as climate change and global competitiveness;

B.  whereas there are six major coastal zones in the EU (the Atlantic, the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the outermost regions), which differ in their territorial resources and the type of activities pursued there;

C.  whereas approximately half of Europe’s population lives along the 89 000 kilometres of Europe’s coastline, and it is therefore important that regional and local authorities take this demographic pressure into account when implementing public policies;

D.  whereas technological progress and the search for new sources of sustainable growth are expected to increase the size of the maritime economy to EUR 590 billion by 2020, providing a total of 7 million jobs;

E.  whereas the expected increase in human activity will be taking place in a fragile marine environment in which only 10 % of marine habitats and 2 % of marine species are healthy, which demonstrates that maritime economic activities should not undermine marine sustainability;

F.  whereas investment in natural and human capital is essential in order to meet the current challenges, most notably that of making human activity economically and socially sustainable, ensuring environmentally sound conditions, and adapting to climate change so as to combat coastal erosion and marine acidification and preserve biodiversity, taking into account that healthy, productive ecosystems are vital for the development of a sustainable, competitive blue economy;

G.  whereas the size and scope of the environmental impacts of the Blue Growth focus areas are highly uncertain and potentially harmful, given our limited knowledge about the intricate complexity of the marine ecosystems, and related decision-making must therefore be guided by the precautionary principle enshrined in Article 191(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

H.  whereas the coastal and maritime policy should be included in the general framework of the 2014-2020 programming period, also with a view to achieving the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 strategy;

I.  whereas the objective of smart, sustainable and inclusive growth for coastal and island areas must be backed up by a rigorous analysis of the systemic and structural handicaps that characterise these areas;

J.  whereas the EU’s island system, as far as maritime transport is concerned, has to bear significantly higher costs than the other coastal areas of the EU;

K.  whereas the seasonal nature of tourism strongly compromises the development of coastal and island areas and an ad hoc strategy should be developed to counter this problem;

L.  whereas there is a need for coordination between the macro-regional strategies and the respective action plans for the Union’s sea basins;

M.  whereas this report is Parliament’s roadmap for the further advancement of blue growth;

General Framework

1.  Welcomes the Commission’s communication on Blue Growth, which forms the maritime dimension of the Europe 2020 strategy and gives a clear indication of the potential of the maritime economy to create smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and generate employment opportunities;

2.  Welcomes the Commission’s report on the progress of the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP); reiterates its support for the IMP and stresses that the promotion of this policy remains the primary means for enhancing blue growth;

3.  Acknowledges that the seas and oceans will increasingly play a key role in global economic growth in the future; considers that the Blue Growth Strategy, as part of the Integrated Maritime Policy, will encourage the development of synergies and coordinated policies, thus generating European added value and contributing to job creation in maritime sectors;

4.  Considers that, in order to boost the competitiveness of the Union’s maritime economic sectors in the global market, local, regional, national and European authorities must create the necessary conditions for sustainable growth, namely by establishing maritime spatial planning systems, upgrading infrastructure, creating access to professional skills and securing funding; stresses the importance of sharing information and best practices between the different levels of public authorities through the creation of a specific EU platform;

5.  Notes that securing adequate funding will be a challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in blue growth sectors, and therefore welcomes initiatives such as new EU rules for venture capital funds, which will facilitate the access of SMEs to funding;

6.  Considers that at a time when Member States are cutting public investment, it is urgently necessary that development policies and above all high-cost projects, such as transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructure projects, receive adequate funding during the 2014-2020 programming period and beyond; calls on the Member States to channel available financial instruments and European funding towards blue economy projects;

7.  Stresses the importance of taking into account, in particular in the next multiannual financial framework 2014-2020, the specific needs of the bailed-out Member States that are facing increased difficulty in undertaking high-cost projects, as well as those of the outermost and island regions, which present structural constraints due to their remoteness and natural characteristics;

8.  Notes the conditions of economic crisis and the social problems that are affecting many areas, particularly islands, above all in the Mediterranean and especially those which are very distant from the mainland; underscores that the remoteness of the islands in relation to the single market exposes them to industrial and economic stagnation and depopulation, which must be the target of specific measures on the part of the EU institutions; urges the Commission, therefore, to consider establishing free zones as a tool which, by reducing the tax burden and attracting foreign direct investment, could halt the downward spiral that is affecting island areas by driving growth and development;

9.  Highlights the role of sea-basin strategies in fostering regional development and economic, territorial and social cohesion, revitalising the European economy, encouraging inclusive blue growth, creating jobs and protecting marine and coastal biodiversity; calls for such strategies, linked to current and future macro-regional strategies, to be effectively rolled out for all European maritime basins and for appropriate EU and other financial and administrative resources to be dedicated to their implementation; considers that the role played by the regions in drawing up sea-basin strategies needs to be strengthened; acknowledges, in this regard, the contribution of territorial and crossborder cooperation to addressing the problems faced by coastal and maritime regions;

10.  Welcomes the progress made regarding implementation of the EU strategies for the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic regions, and reiterates its request to the Commission for the formulation of an EU strategy for the Black Sea region;

11.  Calls on the Union and the Member States to give strong support to the creation of regional and crossborder maritime clusters; underscores the strategic importance of such clusters as centres of excellence for economic activity related to blue growth; believes that developing them will promote the sharing of knowledge and good practice, generate synergies between the various sectors of the blue economy, and help to attract investment;

12.  Stresses the inherent linkages between economic growth and climate change, and emphasises that all maritime activities must be aligned with the EU Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change with the view to contributing to a more climate-resilient Europe;

13.  Stresses, in particular, that the increased economic activity associated with blue growth must not come at the expense of marine and coastal ecosystems, which are extremely sensitive and are among the first to suffer from the impacts of climate change; emphasises that blue growth must be compatible with the environmental objectives and the ecosystem approach of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), as well as the Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive, recalling that in cases of uncertainty the precautionary principle must be observed; stresses that all economic activities associated with blue growth should ensure maritime safety and security;

14.  Notes with concern the environmental impact of marine litter in all European sea basins, and calls on the Commission and the Member States to focus on the full implementation and enforcement of the relevant EU directives, such as those on waste management, port reception facilities for ship-generated waste, water quality and marine strategy;

15.  Stresses that all maritime activities, including those that take place within the framework of the IMP, should be conducted in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS); underscores the need for a common EU approach to the exploration, exploitation, conservation and management of the sea’s natural resources, which ensures the efficient and secure delimitation of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) between EU Member States and third countries in accordance with international law;

16.  Stresses, in that regard, the need for legal certainty for all stakeholders investing in maritime areas, and supports fresh incentives to boost the exploitation of Member States’ exclusive economic zones;

Maritime Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Management

17.  Welcomes the Commission’s legislative proposal for Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) as measures necessary for managing the increasing number of maritime and coastal activities and protecting the marine environment, ensuring that various activities can coexist harmoniously and avoiding conflict over the use of coastal and sea areas; considers it necessary in this regard to opt for an ecosystems-based approach to the management of human activity on the coast and at sea;

18.  Notes that MSP is expected to bring business costs down and improve the investment climate, while ICM will facilitate the coordination of activities in the coastal zone and will bring about an overall improvement in the governance of this zone;

19.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that best practices are disseminated and that lessons are learned from preparatory actions in this area, since there are significant differences between Member States in the development of management systems for maritime and coastal areas; considers, nonetheless, that a tailored approach is needed, so as to leave the Member States scope, when implementing EU maritime and coastal planning guidelines, for taking account of local specificities and needs in liaison with local authorities;

20.  Believes that the land-sea interface needs to be strengthened in the context of spatial planning in order to safeguard continuity of human activities and of the supply chain and ensure that coastal areas are properly connected with their hinterland; believes that this could help avoid the phenomenon of coasts being treated as borders;

21.  Stresses that the gaps in scientific knowledge on maritime activities and their environment constitute obstacles for spatial planning, and highlights the importance of the initiative ‘Marine Knowledge 2020’ and its specific objectives, such as the mapping of the seabed of European waters by 2020; considers that the seabed should be uniformly mapped so that the information can be accessed by interested European bodies, specifically research centres, universities, and public institutions;

22.  Urges the Commission to help Member States launch plans to map and survey wrecked ships and submerged archaeological sites, which form an important part of the Union’s historical and cultural heritage; stresses the need to facilitate the understanding and study of such sites and help prevent the despoliation to which they are being subjected, thus enabling them to be properly preserved;

Maritime skills and employment

23.  Considers that overall employment in the blue economy may exceed the estimated number of 7 million jobs by 2020, if it is supported by training policies aimed at ensuring the presence of a mobile workforce with sufficient skills and experience;

24.  Reiterates its call for a significant improvement in working, health and safety conditions in the maritime professions; encourages the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts in this field in order to improve career security and make jobs in the blue economy and related sectors more attractive;

25.  Stresses the need to improve the working conditions of seafarers by appropriate means, to incorporate the ILO Maritime Labour Convention into Union law, and to propose a programme for the qualification and training of seafarers, in particular the recruitment of young people, including those from third countries;

26.  Calls on the Commission to monitor closely and to support efforts at regional level to assess the skills and professions which will be in demand in blue economic sectors, and to ensure that initiatives such as the ‘EU Skills Panorama’ reflect the needs of the blue economy;

27.  Considers that the Commission should, together with the Member States, draw up an action plan to promote professions that are directly or indirectly linked to the blue economy, in order to attract people into them;

28.  Calls on the Commission to promote initiatives to encourage the mobility of workers between economic sectors and Member States, such as a multiannual action for exchanges of students, teachers and young professionals, on the Erasmus model; supports cooperation between enterprises and training providers with the aim of preparing graduates for jobs in new areas;

29.  Calls on the Commission to cooperate with the representatives of the maritime economic sector and training providers with a view to establishing and funding European Sector Councils on Employment and Skills, in order to register jobs, changes in skills required and related training needs;

30.  Calls on the Commission to develop an initiative to encourage the mobility of research staff, especially in coastal areas, with specific reference to the areas of tourism, energy and biotechnology, along the lines of Erasmus, to be implemented as a priority during low tourist seasons in order to balance, in a sustainable manner, the flows of people in increasingly sensitive ecosystems, whilst at the same time optimising the use of the infrastructure of coastal areas and islands;

Research and innovation

31.  Notes the EU’s world-class research capacity in maritime fields and its importance for substantiated policy-making and innovation-driven business, but also the difficulty experienced by business in commercialising research output;

32.  Underlines that the Horizon 2020 programme, with simpler procedures and better support for innovation, could provide significant aid for marine and maritime research with a view to enhancing market uptake, building on the experience of the ‘Ocean of Tomorrow’ projects;

33.  Calls on the Commission to update its European Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research by 2014, proposing concrete measures to improve synergies and knowledge dissemination among researchers in the EU;

34.  Notes that only healthy marine ecosystems can be a basis for a sound and sustainable blue economy; calls on the Commission to continue researching the cumulative impacts of human uses of the marine environment and of maritime activities in all sectors;

35.  Calls on the Commission to provide adequate long-term environmental monitoring and conduct research on early warning systems;

36.  Emphasises the importance of projects like the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET) for facilitating the exchange and availability of research data;

Shipping and shipbuilding

37.  Notes with concern that shipping within the EU continues to be hampered by administrative and customs red tape that compromises the vision of a European maritime transport area and prevents growth in the industry, especially in maritime cabotage and motorways of the sea; believes that a uniform set of rules for intra-Union shipping needs to be developed as it is crucial to ensuring the free movement of goods and persons in EU waters;

38.  Is satisfied at the success of the ‘Blue Belt’ pilot programme, and calls on the Commission to make the necessary legislative proposals for the creation of the Blue Belt, including the necessary revision of the EU Customs Code, before the end of 2013;

39.  Points out that the promotion of maritime transport will contribute not only to economic growth and employment, but also to attaining the target set in the White Paper ‘Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area’ of shifting 50 % of road freight to the railways and waterborne transport by 2050;

40.  Stresses the need to broaden the role of the motorways of the sea as main European corridors, and underscores that, in order to ensure the long-term competitiveness of European maritime transport, it is essential to create seamless transport chains for passengers and cargo across transport modes; calls on the Commission to issue a communication on the progress, development and future of the motorways of the sea; takes the view that major islands should be fully integrated into the motorways of the sea in order to improve their accessibility and increase their economic competitiveness;

41.  Stresses that maritime safety is crucial for the sustainable promotion of maritime transport, sustainable economic growth, maritime employment and sustainable environmental standards in this sector; stresses that the principle of prevention should be applied to anticipate new risks and prevent all types of maritime transport disasters; notes that action in that matter must be taken within the EU, but also at international level, and notably within the International Maritime Organisation;

42.  Stresses that implementation of the Third Maritime Safety Package is improving the quality of European flags, the activity of classification societies, port control, vessel traffic monitoring, accident investigation and victim protection; calls on the Member States to speed up the efficient implementation of this legislative package;

43.  Stresses that maritime transport policy should take into account all relevant economic, environmental and public health concerns; calls on the Commission to closely monitor the impact of the EU shipping sector’s compliance with environmental and public health requirements and, where appropriate, propose specific measures to counteract negative effects on its competitiveness; notes that legislation requirements relating to the scrapping of ships and the sulphur content of marine fuels should ensure a high level of environmental protection, while safeguarding effectively the objective of shifting transport from road to sea, in line with the Union’s climate change targets;

44.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to significantly step up their efforts to reach an international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport, taking into account the growing impact of greenhouse gas emissions from ships;

45.  Points out that eco-friendly fuels such as LNG can play an important role in achieving the target of reducing the EU’s CO2 emissions from maritime bunker fuels by at least 40 % by 2050;

46.  Emphasises the need to support the development of effective and sustainable port services and infrastructure that can cope with the challenges of the expected increase in shipping traffic, and of reducing environmental and noise pollution, shifting traffic from land to sea and ensuring the smooth switching of passengers and goods from one mode of transport to another; advocates the parallel development in European ports of ship repair and scrapping;

47.  Draws attention to the possibility of setting up logistics platforms to facilitate the transport of goods between Europe and the other global economies; highlights the strategic importance of maritime transport and links between the outermost regions and other areas on the mainland;

48.  Stresses that the EU shipbuilding industry has the potential to increase its contribution to growth and employment by exploiting the opportunities arising from demand for ‘clean ships’ (increased energy efficiency and reduced SOx and NOx emissions) as well as vessels and structures suitable for the construction, installation and operation of offshore wind farms; calls on the EU shipbuilding industry to take up this opportunity, especially given the expected increase in short sea shipping along the EU coastline;

49.  Urges the Council to reach an agreement with Parliament to adopt a regulation providing for vessels to be dismantled in a way that respects the environment and the workers’ working conditions, thereby enabling the EU’s shipbuilding industry to recycle materials more competitively;

50.  Calls on the Commission to facilitate the implementation of the LeaderSHIP 2020 strategy, by supporting the actions identified to address the challenges faced by the European shipbuilding industry, such as access to finance, skills and international competitiveness;

Maritime and coastal tourism

51.  Calls on the Member States, with the direct involvement of local and regional authorities, as well as civil society organisations, to support initiatives to develop and upgrade sustainable tourism infrastructure, with particular emphasis on the needs of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility, and to make every effort to eliminate bureaucracy and lack of transparency in the sector while respecting environmental legislation;

52.  Calls for tourism to be promoted and sustained as a driver for growth and jobs in coastal areas; takes the view that a healthy environment is fundamental to any form of tourism in coastal regions and that every effort must therefore be made to protect it; highlights the need to provide sustainable infrastructure for the development of new forms of tourism, in particular tourism sectors with high growth potential, such as eco-agro-fishing tourism and sustainable water sports; welcomes initiatives to promote crossborder tourism strategies on a sea-basin basis;

53.  Emphasises that the erosion of the European coastline, the safeguarding of Europe’s environmental and animal heritage, and the improvement of water quality remain important issues to be tackled; stresses, therefore, the need to properly invest in these areas in order to develop sustainable and good-quality beach and underwater tourism;

54.  Stresses that measures for exploiting and developing the coastal, maritime and marine heritage must be planned in parallel with measures for its conservation and restoration;

55.  Notes the importance of creating or upgrading specialised high-level schools (for the administration and economy of tourism enterprises, for tourism professions, maritime colleges, cookery schools, etc) and of improving training provision with a view to boosting the quality of tourist services and products, the use of new technologies and the process of adapting to climate change;

56.  Stresses the need to simplify visa procedures, to reduce the costs involved and to issue multiple-entry visas to visitors from third countries, in particular from the BRIC countries; calls on the Commission to investigate and immediately implement new, ‘smart’ ways of issuing tourist visas in order to maximise incoming tourist flows;

57.  Stresses that the cruise industry is an important economic resource for European ports and neighbouring local communities, which is also vital in the development and use of more energy-efficient ships with lower emissions; encourages the planning of attractive tourist programmes designed to enhance the visitor’s experience by highlighting the maritime, cultural and historical importance of port destinations;

58.  Calls on the Commission to step up its efforts to boost the competitiveness of European ports by supporting and coordinating port infrastructure capacities and upgrading the services provided (e.g. by bringing them into line with the Schengen requirements) in order to make European ports more attractive for cruise ships and more beneficial for local and fishing communities, thereby enabling them to diversify their activities; calls on the Commission to take into account the particular features of ports in island and outermost regions;

59.  Requests that it be made obligatory in port modernisation and expansion projects to equip passenger terminals and new passenger ships with facilities for people with reduced mobility;

60.  Reiterates the importance of coastal and seagoing passenger transport, especially via ferries and cruise ships, and notes the entry into force of Regulation (EU) No 1177/2010 on the rights of passengers travelling by sea, which should help enhance quality maritime tourism; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to set a campaign in motion to improve the quality of passenger and cruise ships with regard to passengers’ rights, on the basis of operators’ best practices;

61.  Underscores the importance of yachting and sailing for maritime tourism; calls on the Commission to examine, in the context of its forthcoming communication on maritime tourism, the social and economic impact of this sector, the scope for harmonisation and simplification at EU level of the rules governing the issuing of operating licences, navigating and operating conditions, safety requirements, yacht maintenance and repair work, and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in this sector;

62.  Reasserts the importance of beach tourism as a feature of some European coastal regions; calls on the Commission to carry out an impact assessment to verify whether Directive 2006/123/EC could have a negative impact on SMEs in this sector, and, if deemed necessary, to propose measures to alleviate this impact and to ensure that the specific characteristics of this professional activity are taken into account in the application of the Directive;

63.  Calls on the Commission to encourage the Member States, regions, autonomous communities and other stakeholders in coastal and island areas to develop and implement, in a systemic manner, the ‘ancient trade routes’ initiative approved by Parliament in the 2013 budget, both in the Mediterranean and in other European basins, especially in order to diversify tourism products and reduce the seasonal nature of tourism;

64.  Calls on the Commission to include sustainable maritime, island and coastal tourism in related actions and programmes, such as the ‘EDEN – European Destinations of Excellence’ and the Calypso programmes, and to support initiatives that encourage the diversification of coastal, maritime and marine tourism, help make tourist activities and employment less seasonal and stimulate adaptation to climate change; considers, in this regard, that the diversification of tourism can help to increase the attractiveness of maritime regions and enable them to move beyond the traditional ‘sun, sea and sand’ model;

65.  Calls for the promotion of maritime resorts, as these can reduce seasonal variations and create a multiplier effect for local and regional economies, by integrating fishing communities and striking a balance between economic growth and sustainability;

66.  Calls on the Commission to take account of the contribution and role of local culture and artisanal gastronomy in the development of European coastal tourism; considers it necessary to use and coordinate existing policies and tools and to draw up new programmes and actions in order to encourage synergies among, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the primary and tertiary sectors in coastal areas of the EU;

67.  Urges the Commission to include in the Virtual Tourism Observatory a section dedicated to maritime and coastal tourism, ensuring links between research institutes, enterprises and public authorities with the aim of driving forward market research, providing enterprises and public authorities with forward-looking information on the development of supply and demand and creating more favourable business conditions, whilst also providing information on the links between biodiversity, climate protection and sustainable tourism initiatives;

Blue energy

68.  Notes that climate change is one of the main threats to marine biodiversity worldwide, and that the energy aspects of a blue growth strategy must be based on renewable energies and energy efficiency;

69.  Acknowledges, in that regard, the importance of Europe’s seas and oceans for the EU’s energy security and the diversification of its energy sources and supply routes;

70.  Notes the potential of offshore wind, tidal, wave and ocean thermal energy, as well as of the conventional offshore energy sector, to generate sustainable jobs in coastal regions, reduce emissions and contribute to the EU’s medium and long-term energy targets; highlights the fact that significant investment in redeveloping grid connections and in transmission capacity will be required to exploit this potential;

71.  Emphasises that blue energy is an asset for the European maritime economy; urges the Commission and the Member States to contribute to realising the potential of blue energy by making use of sea-basin strategies, paying special attention to the possibilities offered by the outermost regions owing to their location and natural characteristics;

72.  Calls on the Commission actively to support the EU’s global leadership in this area by developing a European industrial strategy for blue energy, as it has done in the past for other sectors;

73.  Calls on the Commission to adopt, in its forthcoming communication in this area, an integrated approach to the development of marine energy resources, by exploiting synergies between offshore wind energy and other forms of renewable marine energy; emphasises that such an approach must allow energy to be supplied from a full and sustainable range of sources, in line with the precautionary principle and ensuring maritime security and safety, and that it must also include plans for adequate infrastructure to transport sea-generated energy to land and ensure interconnection with the conventional electricity grid;

74.  Calls on the Member States to work together to facilitate the sustainable construction of the North Sea Offshore Grid for renewable energy; calls on the Commission to make a proposal for a corresponding regulatory framework;

Fisheries and aquaculture

75.  Emphasises that aquaculture and fisheries should contribute to food production on a sustainable basis throughout the Union and to long-term food security and consumer protection; considers that the development and innovation of a sustainable aquaculture and fish processing industry should be encouraged, by cutting down bureaucracy and promoting employment opportunities in these sectors and improving the quality of life in both coastal and rural areas;

76.  Emphasises the importance of developing sustainable aquaculture in order to reduce overfishing of European fish stocks and dependence on imports of fish from third countries, which account for over 60 % of the fish consumed within the EU;

77.  Points out that aquaculture in the EU already provides 80 000 jobs and has the potential significantly to improve the economies of coastal communities, bearing in mind UN estimates that production of farmed fish will exceed that of conventional fisheries by 2019;

78.  Calls on the Commission, in its forthcoming strategic guidelines for aquaculture in the EU, to promote offshore aquaculture, which can be combined with blue energy facilities so as to reduce pressure from over-intensive aquaculture on coastal ecosystems and on other activities; highlights the need for the Member States’ respective integrated management plans to simplify the administrative burden and ensure the allocation of suitable space for the development of these activities;

79.  Stresses the importance of the future European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), which for the first time combines Integrated Maritime Policy and fisheries funding, as well as that of the European Investment Bank (EIB), in supporting the sustainable and environment-friendly development of fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing, as well as revenue diversification in fishing communities dependent on those sectors, in particular in respect of small-scale coastal fisheries, vocational training for women and young people, and attracting new entrepreneurs to the sector;

80.  Acknowledges that protecting Europe’s maritime borders is a challenge for Member States; considers that a successful blue economy requires secure EU maritime borders, with a view to ensuring the protection of the marine environment, fisheries controls, the fight against illegal fishing and law enforcement; points, therefore, to the importance of setting up a European coastguard to coordinate operations and surveillance at sea; stresses, furthermore, the importance of stepping up regional cooperation initiatives relating to the fisheries sector;

Marine mineral extraction

81.  Recognises the existence of favourable conditions for marine mineral extraction; stresses, however, that the seabed environment is linked to the rest of the planet through interchanges of matter, energy and biodiversity, which, if disrupted, may cause unpredictable changes in fish stocks and a loss of biodiversity;

82.  Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to the environmental consequences of mining the seabed, especially in highly sensitive marine environments, to support relevant research projects, to apply the precautionary principle, and to cooperate with the authorities of third countries involved in the sector in the attempt to fill existing gaps in scientific knowledge more rapidly;

83.  Recognises that a more efficient use of resources, combined with enhanced recycling policies, offer a more cost-effective and sustainable approach to meeting our mineral needs than the intensive exploitation of underwater resources; deplores the fact that shortcomings in the recycling of raw and rare earth materials are contributing to an increase in waste, and calls, therefore, for measures to boost recycling industries so as to offer an alternative to sea mining; notes the long-term employment opportunities offered by this alternative approach;

Blue biotechnology

84.  Recognises that blue biotechnology has the potential to create high-skilled employment and has much to offer in critical areas such as health, nutrition and innovation; welcomes the Commission’s intention to support the research and innovation needed to promote this activity in the field of entrepreneurship;

85.  Emphasises the potential of marine biodiversity, in particular in the still widely undiscovered deep sea, for the blue biotechnology sector, but stresses the need for a cautious exploration of this highly sensitive ecosystem;

86.  Calls on the Commission to clearly define the issues and challenges related to blue biotechnology (for example bio-nanotechnology, biomaterials and the introduction of genetically modified fish, shellfish and micro-organisms), and to employ a scientifically sound approach based on the precautionary principle in order to identify, assess and manage the associated environmental and health risks;

87.  Calls on the Commission to promote partnerships between the private sector and research institutes, as well as crossborder partnerships such as the European Marine Biological Resource Centre, since marine biotechnology and access to marine biodiversity require scientific knowhow and sophisticated and expensive equipment;

o
o   o

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

(1)OJ C 56 E, 26.2.2013, p.41.
(2)OJ C 70 E, 8.3.2012, p. 70.
(3)OJ C 81 E, 15.3.2011, p. 10.
(4)OJ C 45 E, 23.2.2010, p. 1.
(5)OJ C 279 E, 19.11.2009, p. 30.
(6)OJ C 175 E, 10.7.2008, p. 531.
General Government

Text adopted – Maritime dimension of the common security and defence policy – P7_TA(2013)0380 – Thursday, 12 September 2013 – Strasbourg – Final edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Title V of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), and in particular to Articles 42, 43 and 45 thereof,

–  having regard to Article 222 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

–  having regard to Article 194 TFEU,

–  having regard to the European Security Strategy entitled ‘A Secure Europe in a Better World’, adopted by the European Council on 12 December 2003, and to the report on its implementation entitled ‘Providing Security in a Changing World’, endorsed by the European Council of 11-12 December 2008,

–  having regard to the European Integrated Maritime Policy of 2007 (COM(2007)0575) and its Progress Report of 2012 (COM(2012)0491),

–  having regard to the 7 October 2012 Declaration of the European Ministers responsible for the Integrated Maritime Policy and the European Commission, on a Marine and Maritime Agenda for growth and jobs, the ‘Limassol Declaration’,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on Maritime Security Strategy of 26 April 2010,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2013 on EU strategy for the Horn of Africa(1) ,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations and to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 10 December 1982,

–  having regard to the Joint Proposal for a Council Decision on the arrangements for the implementation by the Union of the Solidarity Clause of 21 December 2012(2) ,

–  having regard to the Commission Green Paper of 7 June 2006 entitled ‘Towards a future Maritime Policy for the Union: European vision for the oceans and seas’ (COM(2006)0275),

–  having regard to its resolution of 20 January 2011 on a sustainable EU policy for the High North(3) and to the Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council of 26 June 2012 on Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region: progress since 2008 and next steps(4) ,

–  having regard to the European Defence Agency (EDA) Code of Conduct on Pooling and Sharing of 2012,

–  having regard to the Alliance Maritime Strategy adopted by NATO on 18 March 2011,

–  having regard to the Council Joint Action on a European Union military operation to contribute to the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy off the Somali coast (Atalanta) of 2008(5) ,

–  having regard to the Council Decision on the European Union mission on Regional Maritime Capacity Building in the Horn of Africa (EUCAP NESTOR) of 2012(6) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2010 on civilian-military cooperation and the development of civilian-military capabilities(7) ,

–  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Horn of Africa of 14 November 2011, and, in particular, to the Strategic Framework set out in the annex thereto,

–  having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2012 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(8) ,

–  having regard to its resolution of 14 March 2013(9) on EU-China Relations,

–  having regard to its resolutions of 23 October 2008 on piracy at sea(10) and 10 May 2012 on maritime piracy(11) ,

–  having regard to Rule 48 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A7-0220/2013),

A.  whereas EU Member States comprise a coastline of over 90 000 kilometres in length bordering two oceans and four seas, in addition to overseas territories and national security installations throughout other oceans; whereas EU Member States are responsible for the control, security and safety of the European coastal and territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), continental shelf, maritime infrastructure and marine resources; whereas Member States have the responsibility of being the principal security provider for seafarers on ships flying their flag and for their citizens; whereas States’ inability to control their maritime space has consequences well outside their coastal and maritime zones;

B.  whereas the maritime boundaries of the Member States form the external borders of the European Union;

C.  whereas maritime spaces are open, vast and boundless, and are only limited by maritime jurisdictions; whereas maritime spaces are difficult to control, especially since international maritime law aims principally at facilitating trade and guaranteeing free movement;

D.  whereas 90 % of the EU’s external trade and 40 % of its internal trade is transported by sea; whereas the EU is the world’s leading maritime shipping actor, with European ship owners managing 30 % of the vessels and 35 % of world shipping tonnage – inter alia 55 % of container vessels and 35 % of tankers, representing 42 % of the value of global seaborne trade; whereas taken together the EU Member States constitute the world’s biggest EEZ (of around 25 million square kilometres);

E.  whereas any EU maritime strategy should first and foremost promote the basic principles laid down in Article 21 TFEU such as democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, respect for human dignity, the principles of equality and solidarity, and respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law; whereas States have a duty to endeavour to enforce and reinforce international law, particularly UNCLOS, and to guarantee the flow of maritime routes and the preservation of the Global Commons, and of commercial and environmental interests;

F.  whereas the importance of global maritime flows for the Union has increased exponentially as a result of economic growth, globalisation and growing global interdependence; whereas the geostrategic maritime balance is fast changing, with emerging powers adopting access denial technologies and strategies to assert themselves in regional and global maritime areas, constraining US and European access; whereas a more complex and diffuse maritime security environment with a loose and varied application of international treaties makes effective multilateralism and international cooperation in regulating maritime affairs more difficult; whereas it is in the EU’s interest to ensure maritime security not only in the waters off its coasts but throughout the world’s oceans and seas;

G.  whereas several factors such as poverty, lack of development, low levels of state control and law enforcement and the vulnerability of routes facilitate the proliferation of different types of threats to maritime security; whereas those threats can derive both from the behaviours of states interested in disturbing international maritime flows and from the illegal activities of non-state actors, such as transnational crime (e.g. arms or drugs trafficking), international terrorism or piracy, that exploit the weaknesses of a fragmented local, regional and global maritime governance system; whereas legal and illegal activities at sea have been growing in number and complexity as a result of this multiplication of actors present at sea making it increasingly difficult to distinguish legal activities from illegal ones; whereas this puts pressure on the EU to invest in a holistic approach in order to address the complexity of transnational challenges, which no Member State can meet alone;

H.  whereas the global outlook on naval capabilities and power projection is fast changing, with emerging and established powers increasingly calling into question UNCLOS principles, international arbitration and regulation; whereas, most significantly, China pursues its String of Pearls policy, endeavouring to increase and extend its presence at sea for a multitude of stated and unstated reasons, from securing trade and energy routes to controlling marine resources and maritime critical infrastructure, clashing with the maritime interests of virtually all of its neighbours in the South and East China Seas;

I.  whereas the EU and all its Member States are contracting parties to UNCLOS, and therefore the Convention constitutes part of the acquis communautaire;

J.  whereas, as a global actor, the EU must consider security challenges and possible autonomous responses, especially with regard to the nearby Mediterranean Sea, the Horn of Africa and West Atlantic areas, but also the Pacific, via East and West, and from the Arctic to the Antarctic;

K.  whereas illegal maritime non-state actors proliferate, threatening critical maritime routes and infrastructures and exploiting the weaknesses of states and their jurisdictions;

L.  whereas the fight against these non-conventional threats often takes place in challenging and dangerous environments, thus requiring both civilian and military means; whereas the CSDP, with both a civilian and a military dimension, is an appropriate framework to use to combat dangerous threats at sea and along the coast;

M.  whereas the EU cannot ensure global maritime security on its own; whereas it needs to achieve strong partnerships with third countries and regional organisations, especially in remote areas, for instance in Asia, where it is more difficult for the EU to deploy its own resources;

N.  whereas the European Security Strategy (ESS) does not refer specifically to the maritime dimension, except by identifying piracy as a threat to the EU; whereas the European Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) addresses maritime issues but barely touches upon the security dimension, thus leaving aside an area of increasing concern for the EU; whereas there is an imperative need to revise the EU approach to maritime security, notably with the adoption of a European Maritime Security Strategy (EMSS) clarifying how the IMP should contribute to the implementation of the ESS; whereas this EMSS should define the EU’s security interests and strategic goals, and identify objectives, risks, the available and necessary means for intervention, as well as possible theatres;

O.  whereas the EMSS is needed in order to mainstream the stakes, risks and opportunities that the Union faces at sea, including protection for European citizens and their assets; whereas that strategy should promote European values and principles, and must be forward-looking and proactive and mobilise all relevant institutions and actors, both civilian and military, and emphasise, in particular, the fact that EU Member States can no longer afford to develop and maintain naval capabilities with the sole objective of using them exclusively in potential high-intensity operations;

P.  whereas conflict and instability affecting the EU’s interest in open maritime flows and safe access require greater insight into the nexus between human security, state governance and development, and whereas the EU’s strategy for the Horn of Africa should therefore be used as a model for a comprehensive approach involving EU’s political, diplomatic, social, and economic tools; whereas this comprehensive approach must be at the core of the EMSS and should involve coordination among different EU initiatives, agencies and instruments, with a view to addressing the root causes of instability and helping to solve conflict, enforce peace and assist state-building, governance and development, including security sector reform, energy supply, maritime and other trade and transport security, fisheries and environment protection and the impact of climate change;

General remarks on a future European Maritime Security Strategy

1.  Strongly believes that the EU has a vital interest in a secure, open and clean maritime environment that allows the free passage of commerce and people and the peaceful, legal, fair and sustainable use of the oceans’ riches; that maritime flows represent the lifeblood of European trade and are conduits of European prosperity and influence; that the security of European citizens and the promotion of the principles of Article 21 TFEU are an EU and Member State responsibility; and that the EU institutional framework, both civilian and military, should, therefore, be further developed in order to provide for the objectives, means and capabilities necessary to meet that responsibility;

2.  Reminds Member States that only in a spirit of commitment, mutual understanding and genuine solidarity will the Union be able to fulfil its role as laid down in the Lisbon Treaty and its stated ambition to be a global security provider; recalls, in this connection, that Article 42(7) TEU (‘mutual defence clause’ or ‘mutual assistance clause’), Article 222 TFEU (‘solidarity clause’), and Article 42(6) TEU (permanent structured cooperation), introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, provide the institutional framework for effective solidarity among all the Member States in the field of security and defence of the Union; recalls that those instruments have yet to be implemented; commends, in particular, the Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) for the Joint Proposal on the arrangements for the implementation by the Union of the solidarity clause and invites them to assess what this would entail in the event of it being activated to address any challenges at sea or involving maritime assets or infrastructure; urges the Council to swiftly approve this proposal;

3.  Underlines that UNCLOS provides the legal framework for all types of activities carried out in the oceans and seas and that it can serve as a guide for the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes; calls, therefore, on the EU and its Member States to promote the universality of the Convention and to insist on the need for uniform and consistent implementation of its provisions;

4.  Recognises that the European Union already possesses some of the necessary means and instruments to respond to global maritime security challenges and to the need for a secure and stable environment, through the EEAS and the European Commission, the financial instruments, development cooperation, humanitarian assistance, crisis management, trade cooperation, and other relevant tools for action; notes, however, that most of the technical and material assets are in the hands of Member States and that their willingness to enhance their cooperation is paramount for the future of European maritime security;

5.  Notes, however, that a European Maritime Security Strategy is needed to ensure an integrated and comprehensive approach, focusing specifically on the threats, risks, challenges and opportunities present at sea; that the EMSS, while grounded in European values and principles, must develop synergies and joint responses mobilising all relevant institutions and actors, both civilian and military; that the EMSS should identify all potential threats, from conventional security threats to those posed by natural disasters and climate change, from threats affecting the protection of vital marine resources to the security of maritime infrastructure and trade flows; that it must also identify the specific means and capabilities needed to address all challenges, including intelligence, surveillance and patrolling, search and rescue, sealift, evacuation of EU and other nationals from crisis zones, enforcing embargoes, and assistance to any CSDP-led missions and operations;

6.  Invites the High Representative, the Commission and the Council to elaborate an EMSS centred on articulation and coordination among all European actors and Member States relevant to maritime security; urges the Commission and the HR/VP, accordingly, to address the shortcomings of the 2007 IMP, which does not include a security dimension, as well as the limits of the ESS, which fails to tackle maritime security threats and risks; is of the view that the EMSS’s level of ambition, means and capabilities should be anchored in the ESS and the IMP and should be framed by the need to act as a global security provider, thereby ensuring free maritime flows and access on the high seas worldwide; highlights the fact that regulating maritime security will in the short, medium and long term affect all other components of European security and prosperity;

7.  Calls on Member States to closely assist and actively engage with the EEAS and the Commission in elaborating the new EMSS, with the aim of making efficient use of all their varied assets, as well as bearing in mind the identification and creation of new capabilities through pooling and sharing; furthermore, considers that the new strategy should also integrate joint bilateral or multilateral force creation initiatives such as the Franco-British Declaration of 2 November 2010;

8.  Highlights the fact that an integrated maritime approach such as this, which combines civilian instruments and military tools and encompasses both internal and external aspects of security, is already taking shape at national level in some Member States as well as being applied between certain Member States bilaterally, and should therefore be reinforced at Union level; stresses the role that can and should be played by maritime nations in fostering positive regional maritime integration; stresses that regional maritime integration initiatives can and should lead to the pooling and sharing of critical naval assets in order to meet the EU’s capacity needs;

Potential risks

9.  Acknowledges that increasing traffic at sea and the development of off-shore and coastal activities are challenging maritime security by making it increasingly difficult to distinguish legal activities at sea from illegal ones;

10.  Notes that the EU is facing conventional threats to its security, in particular since the emergence of new maritime powers has rendered more likely potential interstate rivalries over the ownership of maritime areas (disputes over jurisdiction, territorial claims, exploration and exploitation licences in Deep Sea Zones); notes, in addition, that emerging countries have developed their maritime capabilities (navies, submarines) and, at the same time, tend to call international maritime law principles into question;

11.  Warns against the illegitimate exploitation of important natural resources and minerals in EU Member States’ waters or in neighbouring seas; notes that the unmanaged race for marine, natural and mineral resources may have a damaging impact on the marine ecosystem, thus increasing the environmental impact of activities at sea; recalls that the exploitation of marine resources can also lead to an undesirable militarisation of maritime zones; however, emphasises the right of every Member State to engage in the exploration and exploitation of its marine natural resources, in a manner that complies with international law and environmental regulations;

12.  Notes that the EU needs to build strong partnerships with third countries and regional organisations in order to ensure the security and the stability of commerce and resource exploitation; highlights the fact that a strong maritime dimension of the CSDP would provide the EU with the ability to act as an effective international arbitrator when needed;

13.  Warns that states which are unwilling to cooperate with the international community and abide by international treaties and standards and which have the geographical position to block trade routes, as well as having the technological and military capabilities to do so, are one of the major maritime security concerns at this time; considers that all diplomatic attempts should be made by the EEAS and the HR/VP to engage with them in dialogue and cooperation;

14.  Notes that while State-versus-State military confrontations cannot be completely ruled out, direct and indirect risks to the security of the EU are mostly posed by non-conventional threats taking advantage of difficulties in enforcing the law in maritime zones, coastal areas and in general resulting from state failure, state fragility or lack of state control;

15.  Notes that one of the main threats to EU maritime security is the rise of maritime terrorist activities around the world that directly threaten EU civilian and military vessels, port facilities and energy installations and take advantage of the sea to attack and infiltrate land-based targets; notes that these actors interact with transnational organised criminal networks engaging in illegal activities at sea, such as smuggling, human trafficking, illegal immigration, drugs and weapons trafficking, including the trafficking of small arms, light weapons and WMD components; underlines the fact that such illicit activities worsen political and humanitarian crises, obstruct social and economic development, democracy and the rule of law, fuel deprivation and cause migration, internal displacement of people and immense human suffering;

16.  Is alarmed by increasing evidence that terrorist networks and non-state actors are acquiring sophisticated maritime capabilities, including submarine capabilities, radar and detection technologies, as well as having access to logistics data pertaining to the international shipping industry, mining capabilities and Water-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (WBIEDs), thus significantly improving their threat potential and ability to escape control and indicating an expansion of their activities close to Europe, notably on both sides of the South Atlantic Ocean;

17.  Considers that the perpetuation of frozen conflicts near various maritime areas, such as the South Caucasus, South Eastern Mediterranean or the Sea of Japan, is one of the leading sources of instability worldwide, endangering transport and energy routes, promoting the weapons trade as well as facilitating the activities of non-state actors such as criminal networks and terrorist cells;

18.  Remains concerned by the piracy along the eastern and western African coastline; points out that pirate attacks (armed robbery, kidnapping of vessels and crews, and money extortion) are seriously hindering freedom of access and flow in those seas and thereby represent a considerable threat to international trade and maritime security; points out that piracy is generally a problem stemming from lack of governance and development of the coastal states concerned; hopes that the EU will build on the achievements of the CSDP operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta to launch CSDP operations to combat piracy elsewhere;

19.  Warns against the problems posed by piracy, international terrorism and organised crime in general for the security of navigation in vital maritime transit choke points; stresses that some of the most important waterways which ensure global energy supplies are geographically located in or accessed via some of the most unstable maritime zones, as is the case of the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca;

20.  Notes that the fight against non-conventional activities needs to rely on the whole range of CSDP instruments, including military, since interventions often take place in highly difficult landscapes, with actors having at their disposal a wide range of dangerous weapons; claims that, following the model of EU action in the Horn of Africa where the EUNAVFOR Atalanta operation and the EUCAP NESTOR operation are ongoing, CSDP operations must be accompanied by the other EU external instruments with a view to addressing the social, economic and political root causes of crises and ensuring sustainable security for the regions concerned;

21.  Notes that irregular migration is likely to continue putting pressure on EU maritime borders, especially in the light of political and economic evolution in the southern neighbourhood and the prospect of continued instability in northern Africa, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa; recalls, however, that migration must not be regarded as a security threat, but rather as a human phenomenon that requires a robust management strategy which combines regional, political and diplomatic cooperation and development policies and investment in regional partnerships; draws attention to the fact that this effort requires the development of maritime capabilities and coastguard activities to patrol and rescue migrants travelling on board illegal vessels;

22.  Acknowledges that increasing traffic at sea is likely to increase the potential for disasters such as oil spills and other environmental pollution incidents, toxic waste dumping and illegal oil bunkering; stresses that the EU must further develop a strategy that builds on past experience of serious environmental disasters at sea by ensuring that all EU actors, bodies and agencies, in combination with Member State authorities, intervene in a coordinated manner, with a view to creating the appropriate synergies, in a spirit of solidarity and more effective action;

Critical maritime zones

The Mediterranean

23.  Underlines the fact that the Mediterranean Sea presents an array of challenges that could potentially threaten the stability of the EU and direct EU interests, particularly given the political upheaval and social and economic hardship likely to persist in some of the coastal states; notes that illegal activities fostered in consequence, such as terrorism and all sorts of illicit trafficking, have an impact on the EU’s maritime security, including the security of energy supplies to the south; believes that investment in maritime regional cooperation is urgently required, and must involve European and regional cooperation, intelligence, surveillance, patrolling and coastguard activities, all of these requiring adequate means of naval power projection;

24.  Stresses that the Mediterranean is home to a number of regional conflicts involving maritime border disputes and therefore urges the EU to commit itself to avoiding the further escalation of conflict around the Mediterranean, which will amplify existing threats, such as the consequences of the civil war in Syria and the impact on its maritime zone and on that of neighbouring countries, the political instability and lack of governance capacities in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, the knock-on effect in neighbouring Morocco and Algeria, which are still at odds over the Western Sahara conflict and directly affected by the escalation of the conflict in Mali and the Sahel region; further alerts to the danger stemming from the interconnectedness of the crises in the Mediterranean and the instability and conflict in the Middle East, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa;

25.  Notes that the recent discoveries of natural gas in the eastern Mediterranean have created a new geopolitical environment and significantly increased the potential for disputes, directly affecting the legitimate interests and sovereign rights of the EU Member States; expresses concern that Turkey, Russia, the US and Israel have increased their naval presence in the Mediterranean; further notes the implications of the unresolved disputes with Turkey in the Aegean and the escalation of tension resulting from the intended exploitation of Greek and Cypriot offshore hydrocarbon reserves; urges the EU, therefore, to act in asserting its position in order to avoid conflict over natural resources in the Mediterranean and consequential security threats for EU Member States in the area, which could ultimately affect the EU as a whole;

The Baltic Sea

26.  Notes that, barring the Russian sea areas, the Baltic Sea is an EU inland sea and a vital traffic route for several coastal states; notes that the stability of the Baltic Sea region and the smooth running of maritime transport depend on reconciling political interests, both of individual EU Member States and between the EU and Russia; notes that the political stability of the Baltic is bound up with matters related to protection of the position of language minorities in coastal states, energy transportation operations, the busy merchant shipping traffic, possible oil tanker accidents, and contamination of fish stocks and the environment; notes that further challenges are posed to maritime safety and security in the Baltic by the chemical weapons on the seabed, dumped after the end of the Second World War, the obsolete nuclear power plants along the shores, possible terrorist attacks on energy shipments, and possible illegal arms shipments via Baltic ports;

The Black Sea

27.  Believes that today the Black Sea is, in geostrategic terms, one of the most important maritime regions bordering the EU, namely in light of the need to ensure the EU’s energy security and the diversification of its energy supplies; notes that the region bears a high potential for risks in the medium and long term, given its strategic position as an important transport route for goods and energy, its proximity to volatile areas with protracted conflicts, such as the contested territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the related conflict between Moscow and Tbilisi; underlines the fact that, since the energy security of several EU Member States is heavily dependent on the security of gas and oil routes going through and near the Black Sea, the EU has a strategic interest in deterring the escalation of protracted regional conflicts and in identifying long-lasting solutions to them; points out that, for that purpose, the EU may need, when necessary, to mobilise European naval assets;

28.  Recalls its resolution of 20 January 2011 on an EU Strategy for the Black Sea(12) , and reiterates the need for the EU to play a more active role in shaping the Black Sea security environment; calls again on the Commission and the EEAS to draw up a strategy for the Black Sea region that effectively addresses maritime security and safety challenges;

29.  Highlights the need for an enhanced dialogue with strategic partners on conflict prevention and resolution but also stresses the importance of engaging in regional multilateral initiatives such as the Black Sea Synergy in order to tackle threats such as criminal networks involved in human, drugs and weapons trafficking or problems such as illegal fishing and environmental degradation;

The Atlantic Ocean and West Africa

30.  Notes that the Atlantic Ocean is Europe’s lifeline for trade; is concerned that the Atlantic, and in particular the Caribbean zone, is a route used for the transit of drugs coming from South America; is worried by the fact that the development of economic activities in the coming decades, notably with the enlargement of the Panama canal, could foster the rise of criminal activities in the zone;

31.  Believes that the West African coast, and specifically the Gulf of Guinea, today hosts some of the most substantial impending threats against Europe; is deeply concerned that along the West African coastline serious challenges are developing in relation to criminal activity, trafficking of drugs, human beings and weapons; concurrently, Gulf of Guinea countries are increasingly an operating ground for regional terrorist networks, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria, whose actions spill over to neighbours and which are linked to networks with global outreach, such as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as the crisis in Mali is vividly illustrating;

32.  Notes with concern that countries in the Gulf of Guinea are subject to continued political instability, some facing state failure, as is the case of Guinea-Bissau, which has become a platform for drug trafficking originating in Latin America and targeting Europe;

33.  Notes that the region is also an important energy provider, since Gulf of Guinea countries currently account for 13 % of oil and 6 % of gas imports to the EU, with Nigeria being responsible for 5,8 % of total EU oil imports; expects the importance of the region to increase as a result of recent discoveries of offshore oil and gas reserves; worries, therefore, that competition for offshore natural resources may bring with it further conflict and criminal activity;

34.  Points out that instability, terrorism and criminality off the West African coast are deeply linked to instability in the Sahel region as a whole; urges the EU, therefore, in the context of the CSDP civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Niger, to integrate counter-terrorism efforts in the Sahel region in a regional and comprehensive strategy to fight threats at sea off the West African coast, in particular in the Gulf of Guinea; in this connection, calls on the EU to ensure coordination between the two CSDP missions in the region – EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUTM Mali – as well as with the efforts on the mainland and those at sea, in order to fight terrorism and other organised crime in the region;

35.  Welcomes the announcement by the Commission of the Critical Maritime Routes in the Gulf of Guinea Programme (CRIMGO), which is aimed at improving the safety of the waters of the Gulf of Guinea by providing training for coastguards and setting up a network of information-sharing among the authorities of seven coastal states of West Africa, to be funded by the Instrument for Stability; calls for the swift implementation of CRIMGO off the West African coast; calls also for specific mechanisms for cooperation to be set up to link this Commission-funded programme and the CSDP missions EUCAP Sahel Niger and EUTM Mali, whose undertakings are intrinsically linked to the causes of instability off the Gulf of Guinea;

36.  Stresses that there is a need to enhance the effectiveness of EU activities in the Gulf of Guinea; suggests that specific synergies be created in order to bring added value from the articulation of existing EU instruments and structures such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA);

37.  Calls on the HR/VP to map EU Member States’ and ACP partners’ facilities in strategic locations – such as the Lajes Air Base in the Azores, Portugal, and the Cape Verde islands – which may be used to develop specific naval and air operations to counter proliferation, terrorism, piracy and organised crime in the Gulf of Guinea and wider South Atlantic Ocean, in a three-way partnership involving transatlantic cooperation with the US, Canada, Brazil and other Latin American countries as well as EU-African Union cooperation;

The Gulf of Aden and the West Indian Ocean

38.  Points out that, because of piracy, the Gulf of Aden is today one of the most dangerous maritime areas in the world; recalls that piracy is a special form of organised crime that calls for a special, comprehensive and holistic approach which addresses the causal relationship between piracy and social, political and economic governance, as the Horn of Africa and Somalia contexts demonstrate in particular; notes that tracing the money flow from ransom payments, dismantling criminal networks and prosecuting the perpetrators are also crucial components of the fight against piracy and can only be achieved by reaping the benefits of cooperation between Member State authorities, Europol and Interpol; notes that herein lies a concrete link between external security policy and internal law enforcement;

39.  Welcomes the creation of the civilian CSDP mission EUCAP Nestor that is designed to strengthen maritime capabilities in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean, and which aims to provide a more sustainable and local contribution to achieving the objectives of operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta;

40.  Highlights the recent success achieved by EUNAVFOR Atalanta – which must continue – in curbing the occurrence of pirate attacks in the western Indian Ocean and in enhancing the credibility of the CSDP; notes that Operation Atalanta is the first ever CSDP naval mission and that it should constitute a model for the further development and implementation of the maritime dimension of the CDSP, taking stock of its successes, its shortcomings and lessons learned; welcomes the positive role taken by the EU with EUNAVFOR Atalanta in the SHADE (Shared Awareness and De-confliction) mechanism in promoting coordination between the multinational, national and regional naval forces operating in the area, and notably with NATO’s operation Ocean Shield; also welcomes the good cooperation between EU agencies (such as the EU Satellite centre SatCen and EMSA) and third actors, particularly in the field of satellite vessel imagery interpretation, even when there are no formal arrangements underpinning such cooperation; calls on the EU to formalise the bridging among existing EU tools and bodies, such as that developed among Atalanta, EMSA and SatCen, so as to avoid duplication of tasks, resources and expertise and to reap the clear operational benefits of such synergies;

41.  Stresses that the comprehensive approach concept, which in this particular case stems from the Strategic Framework Strategy for the Horn of Africa, is evident in the combination of the three ongoing CSDP missions in the region (EUNAVFOR Atalanta, EU Training Mission in Somalia and EUCAP Nestor), flanked by political engagement and development policies; welcomes the activation of the EU Operations Centre, with the aim of facilitating the coordination and strengthening the synergies among these missions, which represents a significant step in the development of CSDP; points out that this example of complementarity and coordination should inspire other such actions where CSDP missions and operations are engaged in response to a multifaceted problem; notes that a permanent military planning and conduct capability could only further enhance the integration of any naval component in CSDP missions and operations;

42.  Acknowledges the on-board protective measures set up by shipping companies; supports the recent requests from the maritime industry for private maritime security firms to be regulated and renews its call, firstly, on the International Maritime Organisation, flag states, and the maritime industry to work together to draw up a code of conduct laying down clear, consistent, and enforceable internationally agreed standards governing the use of privately contracted armed security guards on ships and, secondly, on private maritime security firms to act strictly in accordance with those standards;

The Arctic

43.  Stresses that the opening of the Arctic sea passages is a direct consequence of climate change, and highlights the fact that, first and foremost, the EU should invest itself in the preservation and conservation of the region and its critical environmental assets while ensuring that Arctic resources are utilised sustainably and in a manner that respects local populations; underlines the importance of overall stability and peace in the region; stresses, therefore, the need for a united, coordinated EU policy on the region, in which the EU’s priorities, potential challenges and strategy are clearly defined; highlights the fact that, alongside the Danish, Finnish, and Swedish interests in the Arctic, a future accession of Iceland to the EU would deepen the Union’s transformation into an Arctic coastal entity, underlining the need for an ever more coordinated Arctic policy at EU level; welcomes, in this regard, the aforementioned Joint Communication entitled ‘Developing a European Union Policy towards the Arctic Region: progress since 2008 and next steps’ and reiterates the need for a policy dialogue with all partners in the region, including Russia;

44.  Underlines the importance of the new trade routes through Arctic sea passages, including for the EU and its Member States’ economies; underlines the fact that the EU and its Member States should actively uphold the freedom of the seas and the right to free passage through international waterways; stresses that existing long-standing territorial disputes between Arctic states should be resolved peacefully and calls for greater EU involvement in the region and an assessment of what tools and capabilities might be needed to respond to conflict in the area; highlights, in any case, the need to avoid the militarisation of the Arctic; calls on the Commission to put forward proposals as to how the Galileo Project could benefit EU Arctic policy and how it could be developed to enable safer navigation in Arctic waters, thus investing in the safety and accessibility of the North East Passage in particular;

The Pacific Ocean

45.  Underlines the global importance of the Pacific Ocean, and notably of the South China Sea through which one third of the world’s trade is transported; is alarmed at the escalating tension, and urgently appeals to all the parties involved to refrain from unilateral political and military actions, to tone down statements and to settle their conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea by means of international arbitration, in accordance with international law, in particular UNCLOS, in order to ensure regional stability and the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea;

46.  Considers that a way forward for a possible peaceful resolution of the tension in the areas of the South and East China Seas is the negotiation and joint implementation of codes of conduct for the peaceful exploitation of the maritime areas in question, including the establishment of safe trade routes and quotas for fishing or attribution of areas for resource exploration;

47.  Calls on the HR/VP to identify the risks to peace and security if tension and armed conflict were to escalate in the East and the South China Seas;

48.  Notes that certain states, notably Australia, are already significantly active politically in the Pacific and that the EU should rely on bilateral and multilateral cooperation in order to ensure security and safety in the region;

49.  Stresses the importance of the enlargement of the Panama Canal, which should be completed in 2014, for changing the geostrategic maritime balance and the extraordinary opportunities that this will open up to the EU and Member States; warns that Member States’ shipping and port infrastructures should be prepared to face the predictable increase in maritime commercial flows and the security and safety risks entailed, arising inter alia from additional environmental stress and criminal activity; emphasises that this connection between the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans could become a significant alternative transport route from Asia to Europe and vice-versa via the west;

Existing tools and capability development

50.  Strongly believes that the financial and economic crisis should be seen as an opportunity to implement the ‘Pooling and Sharing’ initiative in the field of maritime capability generation in a truly European manner, in particular by taking advantage of the LeaderSHIP 2020 initiative and fostering networking between operators in the shipbuilding and repair sector and the ancillary industries, which can contribute to maintaining credible military capabilities and is the only way to guarantee that Europe is able and fit to meet global security challenges affecting both its waters and its naval capabilities;

51.  Regrets the fact, however, that EU Member States have been imposing severe cuts in national defence budgets in response to the financial crisis and economic slowdown, and that such cuts, which are mostly uncoordinated at EU level and disregard the European Security Strategy, may entail serious consequences for the Union’s ability and preparedness to face maritime and other security challenges and meet international obligations, and hinder its role as provider of global security;

52.  Stresses that the ‘Pooling and Sharing’ priority put forth by the EU to bring about more coordination, smarter defence spending and greater economies of scale among the Member States, has yet to deliver results, including in the field of maritime security capabilities;

53.  Commends the work of the EDA in laying the groundwork for achieving ‘Pooling and Sharing’ through harmonising requirements and projects as regards naval training and logistics; welcomes the Wise Pen team’s 2012 study of maritime requirements and capabilities; in light of the EDA’s mandate and expertise, urges the Members States to resort to its advice and technical assistance when faced with the need to cut defence budgets, so as to avoid compromising strategic capability development across the EU, which needs to address gaps and shortfalls in a coordinated manner; encourages Member States to work with the EDA to identify capability needs, particularly civilian, military and dual-use capabilities in the maritime domain; urges the HR/VP, assisted by the EDA and DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, to identify all naval and maritime assets that meet the maritime capabilities and requirements of 2012 and which are at risk of being lost by EU Member States as a result of financial and economic constraints, and to look at ways to preserve them and put them at the service of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy and the future EMSS;

54.  Recalls that dual-use capabilities are necessary for the implementation of the CSDP, in light of the complex security challenges in today’s world; stresses that the current crises in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa have highlighted the need for a comprehensive approach that harnesses, on the one hand, the full range of civilian-military engagement and, on the other, dual-use equipment and capacities, including European naval capabilities and civilian and military shipbuilding capacities ensuring vessel security and resilience; invites the Member States to work with the appropriate EU bodies and agencies, notably the Commission, the EDA and the European Space Agency (ESA) in seeking EU funding for dual-use capability development, which is a way to fill in capability gaps at the national, regional and Union level; recalls the dual-use potential of the Galileo programme and its value for the implementation and effectiveness of CSDP operations, particularly in the maritime domain; stresses nonetheless that priority should be given to more transparency, efficiency and multilateral approaches in the field of capability development;

55.  Recalls the need for the consolidation of an EU-based and EU-funded technological base in the field of defence, including naval construction and equipment production capabilities; recalls, in light of the current economic and financial crisis, that the inception of, and support for, capable, self-sustainable European defence industries means the creation of jobs and growth; calls for a more qualitative dialogue with industrial stakeholders, as the development of naval capacities entails many years of commitment; stresses the need for EU Member States and the industry to rationalise and harmonise standards to ensure European operational compatibility in the field of maritime and naval capabilities, including communication systems and technology;

56.  Believes that the EDA’s Maritime Surveillance Networking (MARSUR) constitutes one such innovation, which brings added value to the development of the maritime dimension of the CSDP; strongly urges that appropriate fields of cooperation be established between MARSUR and other EU projects aiming at developing maritime surveillance, such as Copernicus – The European Earth Observation Programme (former GMES – Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), projects for marine and security services or EMSA’s work in maritime surveillance;

57.  Takes the view that the work developed by EMSA, ESA and the Copernicus programme can further serve to implement the maritime dimension of the CSDP, and should be formally put to that use; emphasises that their expertise puts them in an excellent position to provide services and support to ongoing CSDP missions in matters of surveillance, patrolling activities or the collection, study and dissemination of satellite information, inspired by the partnership developed, albeit informally, between EMSA and operation EUNAVFOR Atalanta;

58.  Calls for the creation of a truly European coastguard function, based on the experience already gained by Frontex and the European Patrol Network, to which distinct governmental bodies and entities provide capabilities, acting within a remit of case-law stemming from Justice and Home Affairs cooperation, aimed at protecting EU borders, European citizens and the lives of people in danger on the coastal waters of the Union;

59.  Commends the work done in the framework of the development of the Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) to achieve an effective European maritime surveillance capacity; calls therefore on the EU to invest meaningfully in further developing the CISE framework, inspired by the experience gained with projects such as the MARSUNO, the BluemassMed and EUROSUR, with a view to being prepared to track, monitor and respond to maritime challenges in EU Member States’ waters or in the vicinity of the EU;

60.  Given that EU and NATO members have only one set of naval forces, calls for greater strategic coordination between the two organisations on maritime security; is of the view that the future EU Maritime Security Strategy should be independent of, yet complementary to, that of the Alliance in order to help tackle a maximum number of the abovementioned challenges while ensuring optimal use of the limited maritime assets; welcomes the positive results arising from the co-location of the two organisations’ Operational Headquarters at Northwood; believes that the EU should focus on the clear added value stemming from its comprehensive approach to dealing with multifaceted challenges, as demonstrated in the case of the diplomatic, financial and judicial follow-up to Atalanta’s effective fight against piracy; calls for further improvements in information-sharing between NATO and the EU, as well as enhanced coordination with other international actors;

61.  Regrets the fact that the situation which persists today is one of duplication, overlap, waste of resources and turf war among EU bodies and agencies working in the field of maritime security; urges the EU to further study ways in which it can reduce the administrative and financial burden stemming from useless overlap of functions, expertise, equipment and resources among several EU bodies and actors, thus enabling the HR/VP to assert her coordinating function;

62.  In this light, calls for coordination and articulation efforts to be mainstreamed into the EU Maritime Security Strategy, in which clear guidelines should be outlined for specific cooperation between relevant Commission Directorates-General, including Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Home Affairs, Justice, Enterprise and Industry, Mobility and Transport, Taxation and Customs Union, Research and Innovation, and Development, as well as the European External Action Service and the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments; the same should be done for inter-agency cooperation between the EDA, EMSA, SatCen, Europol, Frontex, the EU Military Staff, the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate, the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre and the relevant authorities in the Member States;

63.  Welcomes the activities of the Chiefs of European Navies (CHENS) in promoting understanding between European navies and examining issues of mutual interest; calls for the results of the CHENS annual meetings and its specialised working groups to nourish the EU Maritime Security Strategy and its implementation at the CSDP level in order to foster further cooperation and ensure an integrated and effective approach;

64.  Invites the forthcoming Defence European Council in December 2013 to adopt an EU Maritime Security Strategy that includes the views of the European Parliament as expressed in this report; reminds the Member States that today’s world and, particularly, its challenges and threats call for consistent, coherent and cogent action to protect the 500 million EU citizens; recalls that these challenges also demand an EU foreign policy that is founded on the need for, and promotion of, peace and security worldwide;

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65.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the President of the European Council, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, the Council, the Commission, the parliaments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of NATO and the President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

(1)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0006.
(2)JOIN(2012)0039 – 2012/0370(NLE)
(3)OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 71.
(4)JOIN(2012)0019.
(5)OJ L 301, 12.11.2008, p. 33.
(6)OJ L 187, 17.7.2012, p. 40.
(7)OJ C 99 E, 3.4.2012, p. 7.
(8)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0455.
(9)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0097.
(10)OJ C 15 E, 21.1.2010, p. 61.
(11)Texts adopted, P7_TA(2012)0203.
(12)OJ C 136 E, 11.5.2012, p. 81.