REPORT on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 – A9-0026/2021

Source: European Parliament

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021

(2020/2244(INI))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 17 September 2020 on the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 (COM(2020)0575),

 having regard to the Commission proposal of 18 November 2020 for a joint employment report from the Commission and the Council (COM(2020)0744),

 having regard to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Economic Outlook, Volume 2020 Issue 2, of 1 December 2020,

 having regard to the International Labour Organization (ILO) Global Wage Report 2020-21 of 2 December 2020 on wages and minimum wages in the time of COVID-19, and the ILO Monitors on COVID-19 and the world of work,

 having regard to its resolution of 19 January 2017 on a European Pillar of Social Rights[1],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 14 January 2020 entitled ‘A strong social Europe for just transitions’ (COM(2020)0014),

 having regard to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,

 having regard to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), in particular goals 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 10 and 13,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 11 December 2019 on the European Green Deal (COM(2019)0640),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 27 May 2020 entitled ‘Europe’s moment: Repair and Prepare for the Next Generation’ (COM(2020)0456),

 having regard to the Recovery and Resilience Facility,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 27 May 2020 entitled ‘The EU budget powering the recovery plan for Europe’ (COM(2020)0442),

 having regard to its resolution of 16 November 2017 on combating inequalities as a lever to boost job creation and growth[2],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 27 May 2020 entitled ‘Adjusted Commission Work Programme 2020’ (COM(2020)0440),

 having regard to the Commission proposal of 28 May 2020 for a Council regulation establishing a European Union Recovery Instrument to support the recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic (COM(2020)0441),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 1 July 2020 on a European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social fairness and resilience (COM(2020)0274),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 19 February 2020 entitled ‘Shaping Europe’s digital future’ (COM(2020)0067),

 having regard to Commission staff working document of 1 July 2020 accompanying the proposal for a Council recommendation on a Bridge to Jobs – reinforcing the Youth Guarantee (SWD(2020)0124),

 having regard to its legislative resolution of 10 July 2020 on the proposal for a Council decision on guidelines for the employment policies of the Member States[3],

 having regard to its legislative resolution of 8 July 2020 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013 as regards the resources for the specific allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative[4],

 having regard to the Spring 2020 European Economic Forecast published by the Commission on 6 May 2020,

 having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 18 September 2020 on decent minimum wages across Europe[5],

 having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 16 July 2020 on the recovery plan for Europe and the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027[6],

 having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 11 December 2019 entitled ‘Common minimum standards in the field of unemployment insurance in EU Member States – a concrete step towards the effective implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights’[7],

 having regard to the study by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) of 24 June 2020 entitled ‘COVID-19: Policy responses across Europe’,

 having regard to the Political Guidelines for the next European Commission 2019-2024 entitled ‘A Union that Strives for More’, presented by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on 9 October 2019,

 having regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), proclaimed by the Council, the Commission and Parliament on 17 November 2017,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 10 March 2020 entitled ‘A New Industrial Strategy for Europe’ (COM(2020)0102),

 having regard to the OECD study of 15 June 2018 entitled ‘A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility’,

 having regard to Directive (EU) 2019/1158 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on work-life balance for parents and carers and repealing Council Directive 2010/18/EU[8],

 having regard to its resolution of 26 May 2016 entitled ‘poverty: a gender perspective’[9],

 having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee of 19 September 2018 on the digital gender gap[10],

 having regard to Eurofound’s sixth European Working Conditions Survey – Overview report (2017 update),

 having regard to the joint report of the Commission and Eurofound entitled ‘How computerisation is transforming jobs: evidence from Eurofound’s European Working Conditions Survey’, published in 2019,

 having regard to the study of the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) Scientific Foresight Unit (STOA) of 31 March 2020 entitled ‘Rethinking education in the digital age’,

 having regard to its resolution of 15 November 2018 on care services in the EU for improved gender equality[11],

 having regard to the Commission communication of 2 June 2016 on a European agenda for the collaborative economy (COM(2016)0356),

 having regard to its resolution of 11 September 2018 on pathways for the reintegration of workers recovering from injury and illness into quality employment[12],

 having regard to the debate with representatives of national parliaments on the priorities of the 2021 European Semester,

 having regard to its resolution of 17 December 2020 on a strong social Europe for Just Transitions[13],

 having regard to the joint report of the Commission and the OECD of 19 Nov 2020 entitled ‘Health at a Glance: Europe 2020 – State of Health in the EU cycle’,

 having regard to the Commission staff working document of 20 February 2013 entitled ‘Investing in Health’ (SWD(2013)0043),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 4 April 2014 on effective, accessible, and resilient health systems, (COM(2014)0215),

 having regard to the opinion of the Commission’s Expert Panel on Effective Ways of Investing in Health of 25 November 2020 on the organisation of resilient health and social care following the COVID-19 pandemic,

 having regard to the Council conclusions of 17 October 2019 on the Economy of Wellbeing,

 having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Culture and Education,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A9-0026/2021),

A. whereas according to Eurostat’s first estimation of annual growth for 2020[14], GDP fell 6.8 % in the euro area and 6.4 % in the EU; whereas according to the Commission’s winter 2020 European economic forecast, EU GDP will grow marginally by 1.4 % in 2021 and the GDP of the euro area will grow by 1.2 %, with the EU’s economic output barely returning to pre-pandemic levels in 2022; whereas private consumption growth is forecast to be moderate in 2022, largely due to lingering uncertainty about employment and income prospects, which are likely to keep precautionary savings at an elevated level; whereas, on the other hand, capital spending is set to benefit from highly accommodative monetary policies, increased public investment and targeted government support schemes for firms; whereas the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy (ASGS) did not consider the scenario of a third or further waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, which could exacerbate the current conditions of economic and social crisis to an even greater extent;

B. whereas in some Member States, the EU funds and programmes provided for in the 2014-2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF) have not yet been fully implemented; whereas financing for the Next Generation EU (NGEU) recovery instrument, in particular the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF), will only be available after the ratification of Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2020/2053[15] by the Member States;

C. whereas the EU institutions have on multiple occasions recognised the need for actions addressing and tackling health inequalities and protecting people’s health during the current economic recession[16];

D. whereas the COVID-19 outbreak has reversed the positive trend in the employment rate of the last six years in the EU-27, resulting in a reduction in the number of people in work of about 6.1 million in the second quarter of 2020 and a predicted decrease of 4.5 % over the year 2020[17]; whereas according to Eurostat, in 2019, before the pandemic, 8.5 % of the EU population aged under 60 years lived in households where the adults had worked less than 20 % of the maximum weekly working hours during the past year and were facing worrying situations of in-work poverty[18]; whereas precarious employment is still a significant concern that negatively affects labour markets; whereas workers who remain employed have faced a considerable reduction in hours worked and, consequently a loss of income, and whereas this development has the biggest impact on workers that belong to vulnerable groups; whereas it is of particular concern that in a forthcoming Eurofound report, the decline in employment headcount in the EU-27 during the first wave of the pandemic is shown to have been associated with a greater outflow to inactivity than to unemployment and a resulting weakening of labour market attachment[19];

E. whereas the average number of hours worked is set to increase faster than headcount employment and employment may also fall further when short-time work schemes are discontinued; whereas the reallocation of workers is usually a lengthy process and employment is therefore expected to decline slightly in 2021; whereas, despite the expected economic rebound next year, the EU unemployment rate is set to rise further from 7.7 % in 2020 to 8.6 % in 2021 and it is expected to decline in 2022 to 8.0 %, with divergences between Members States that will persist[20];

F. whereas investments that can lead to enhanced total factor productivity should be welcomed in the light of the mixed results to date, including the pre-pandemic slow pace of economic recovery and the increase in precarious employment; whereas the ongoing twin transitions, green and digital, will have important, but different, impacts on employment by sector, region and type of worker; whereas that will create new opportunities, as well as significant socio-economic challenges, in many regions and industrial sectors; whereas the EU needs a common strategy to accompany workers and businesses concerned in order to ensure that no one is left behind; whereas the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated those impacts, especially in labour markets trends, and will likely also affect demand for education, training and upskilling; whereas the COVID-19 outbreak caused significant changes in the practices of the labour market, with over a third of EU workers being required to work from home[21]; whereas disconnecting from work should constitute an essential principle allowing workers to refrain from carrying out work-related tasks and engaging in electronic communication outside working hours without facing any repercussions, and thus to enjoy an adequate work-life balance;

G. whereas before COVID-19, although there were differences between Member States, economic trends were generally described as positive in the European Semester annual reviews; whereas evidence shows that persistent and increasing inequalities remain among persons and between and within states and regions; whereas this leads to multiple divergences that need to be tackled with an intersectional approach in order to ensure equality of opportunities and a life of dignity for all groups; whereas while some regions facing more challenges in decarbonising their industries are to be targeted with financial support, like the Just Transition Fund, others that are too dependent on tourism and related services are not eligible for specific transition funds, despite some of them being the territories with the highest unemployment rates; whereas COVID-19-related support provided to workers and businesses varies greatly among the Member States; whereas global challenges such as digitalisation and the fight against climate change will persist, regardless of the COVID-19 crisis, and require a just transition so as not to leave anyone behind;

H. whereas the COVID-19 crisis has led to a worsening of wage inequality around the world, only partly offset by state subsidies and minimum wage policies, leading to severe situations of precariousness and lack of protection; whereas lower paid workers, who are disproportionately women and young people, are the most affected by the socio-economic consequences of the crisis and the consequent rise in inequalities, while the stability of their work-life balance is already being challenged;

I. whereas social protection systems vary between Member States and are under severe pressure to mitigate the social impact of the crisis, and ensure decent living conditions for all and access to essential services such as health, education and housing; whereas housing and childcare costs may force households into poverty and whereas it is important to take this into account when measuring in-work poverty and looking to integrate housing costs into standard indicators of social reporting; whereas in 2018, 9.6 % of the EU-27 population lived in households that spent 40 % or more of their equivalised disposable income on housing, although substantial differences between Member States were recorded; whereas in-work poverty in the EU has been increasing since the 2008 economic and financial crisis and it is estimated that 10 % of EU workers are at risk of poverty[22];

J. whereas the youth unemployment rate has increased due to the COVID-19 crisis, reaching 17.1 % in September 2020, and is expected to continue rising; whereas 11.6 % of young people aged between 15 and 24 are not in education, employment or training (NEET)15 ; whereas the COVID-19 crisis has had an impact on access to education for disadvantaged social groups such as single-parent, low-income and large families, who have struggled to access or afford digital education equipment for their children; whereas increasing inequalities between generations affect the sustainability of our welfare system as well as our democratic health; whereas the economic fallout will have long-term negative effects on youth employment, and whereas young people might find themselves with fewer and/or lower-quality opportunities and poor working conditions;

K. whereas women are particularly vulnerable to labour market changes owing to social care duties and uneven distribution of unpaid household and care work, discrimination on grounds of pregnancy and motherhood, occupational segregation and their more precarious employment; whereas an intersectional evaluation shows that women in vulnerable groups, such as young women with children and particularly single mothers, Roma women, women with disabilities or women of migrant origin, are more likely to be in a worse position[23];

L. whereas the gender employment gap (11.4 %), gender pay gap (14 %) and gender pension gap (30 %) remain unacceptably high; whereas closing the gender employment gap is a social and economic imperative, due to the implications for women’s lives, including their financial security and quality of life, and its persisting economic costs, which amounted to around EUR 320 billion in 2018 (2.4 % of EU GDP)[24]; whereas improving employment opportunities for women, ensuring equal pay, facilitating a good work-life balance, and adequately accounting for periods spent raising children in retirement pension schemes, including for men, are vital to sustainable social and economic growth and development and long-term fiscal sustainability in the EU;

M. whereas people who are marginalised or suffer from social exclusion and poverty are facing particular challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and whereas the labour market changes caused by it have disproportionately affected them; whereas the EU’s Roma population continues to face some of the worst socio-economic indicators, with over 80 % experiencing poverty and social exclusion, only 43 % in paid employment and disproportionately high NEET rates; whereas the Roma have been particularly badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis, not least in terms of access to education and training;

N. whereas people with disabilities have faced even more limited access to services due to the pandemic; whereas the digital divide – including digital poverty, low digital literacy and difficulties with universal design – increases barriers to social rights for people with disabilities; whereas evidence gathered by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights demonstrated the significant obstacles in access to education faced by children with disabilities[25];

O. whereas unemployment among temporary workers has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic; whereas one in five workers in the EU has a poor-quality job; whereas it is expected that in the next decade, job polarisation and non-standard forms of employment will increase further and there will be more jobs at the higher and lower ends of the skills spectrum[26]; whereas technological change and the use of artificial intelligence might alter the labour market significantly; whereas this might lead to further disparities in earnings; whereas labour demand has consistently been weakest in the middle of the job-wage distribution, most noticeably during the period of recession and employment contraction that ran from 2008 to 2013[27]; whereas this trend is likely to be further reinforced by the pandemic; whereas low-skilled jobs will always be essential for societies and must come with decent pay and conditions; whereas the labour market faces a rapid shift towards a greener and a more digital environment, creating jobs that require updated competencies, and whereas there is a considerable major need to focus on the training, reskilling and upskilling strategy for employees of all ages; whereas this has to be simultaneously combined with improving working conditions and creating new quality jobs for all;

P. whereas sustainable development is a fundamental objective of the European Union and social sustainability is a fundamental prerequisite for fair and inclusive green, digital and demographic transitions; whereas the social market economy is based on two complementary pillars, namely the enforcement of competition and robust social policy measures, which should lead to the achievement of full employment and social progress; whereas the three pillars of sustainable development are the economic, the social and the environmental; whereas sustainable development is based, among other things, on full employment and social progress; whereas this is a fundamental objective of the European Union laid down in Article 3(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU);

Q. whereas inequalities in health determined by socio-economic status were already substantial before the COVID-19 crisis; whereas gains in life expectancy in the EU have slowed and faltered; whereas the COVID-19 crisis has worsened physical and mental health outcomes, especially of the most vulnerable groups;

R. whereas the impact of COVID-19 has been exacerbated by pre-existing inequalities that have been increasing over the past decade; whereas disinvestment in public services following the global financial crisis contributed to the widening of inequalities in relation to health needs;

S. whereas new forms of employment that are expected to significantly transform the way of working in the future have emerged or intensified, such as teleworking and non-standard ways of working; whereas new realities have also emerged and existing trends have intensified during lockdowns, including the blurring of boundaries between work and private life, increased domestic violence, health problems among workers not only directly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as musculoskeletal disorders and psychological troubles, as well as difficulties maintaining a good work-life balance in the new reality of work patterns and the necessity to combine work with care duties, and often home schooling;

T. whereas the pandemic has exacerbated health and social inequalities[28] for wide-ranging groups including children in low-income families and older people, and whereas an increase in the poverty rate (more than 90 million citizens are currently at risk of poverty in the EU[29]), is predicted to be one of the side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and is affecting new groups of citizens; whereas Eurofound suggests complementing the Social Scoreboard accompanying the EPSR with additional indicators such as job quality, social justice and equal opportunities, robust social welfare systems and fair mobility;

U. whereas social dialogue is a crucial part of the EU social model as it helps to find tailor-made solutions for the labour market; whereas social dialogue has been weakened and collective bargaining coverage has fallen across the EU as a result of the decentralisation process that followed the 2008 crisis and labour market reforms introduced in some Member States, as pointed out in the European Semester country reports; whereas Eurofound has shown that the involvement of social partners in devising labour market policy responses to COVID-19 has been more limited than it would be in non-crisis situations in many Member States[30];

V. whereas income inequalities remain at a high level in the EU; whereas tax and labour cost competition is harmful for the single market and for cohesion among the Member States; whereas well-designed progressive tax and benefit systems, social investment and the provision of quality public and social services are essential levers for preventing the transfer of disadvantage from one generation to the next;

W. whereas the pandemic has greatly affected the educational system in the EU, leading to the closure of schools, universities and colleges; whereas the negative physical, mental health and educational impacts of proactive school closures on children will likely outweigh the benefits of decisions to close schools, in particular in areas with a population at risk of poverty or social exclusion;

X. whereas the demographic challenge requires a comprehensive approach based on a mix of inclusive, non-discriminatory policy solutions in the fields of pensions, social security and protection, quality and accessible care services and infrastructure for children, the elderly and persons with disabilities, support to families, housing, early childhood education, long-term care, health systems, including preventative care and psychosocial support, the fight against poverty and social exclusion, the integration of migrants and work-life balance, gender equality, healthy and active ageing, high levels of employment and wages; whereas good working and living conditions throughout one’s lifetime are key to preventing care needs, and whereas adequate and affordable housing and high-quality local areas, including physical, social and service dimensions, are important, as they facilitate independent living;

Y. whereas Eurofound has shown that the long-term care workforce has grown by one third over the past decade and is a key sector to consider, not only to guarantee quality of life for an ageing population, but also in terms of gender equality in three regards: currently most long-term care is provided by informal carers, most of whom are women; most workers in the sector are female and this has hardly changed; and most care receivers are women, who on average have a higher life expectancy than men in all Member States[31];

Z. whereas we are facing a critical time in our history, with the idea that economic growth automatically trickles down to all sectors of society being widely discredited; whereas we are witnessing a thinning of the middle class, increasingly precarious job conditions and in-work poverty for blue collar, low-skilled and platform workers and growing polarisation in terms of income and wealth; whereas the cultural and creative sectors and the tourism sector, including events and performances, cultural tourism, intangible cultural heritage practices, alongside small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the self-employed, local and family businesses, have been severely affected economically by the measures meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19;

AA. whereas the risk of poverty among people in non-standard forms of employment appears to have increased since the recession and this trend has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic;

AB. whereas, contrary to the crowding-out hypothesis that has prevailed in economic thinking for the last three decades, public investment and its crowding-in effects should play a central role in this new economic paradigm; whereas cohesion policy, as the EU’s main investment policy for social, economic and territorial development, has demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing inequalities and regional differences, in particular in the poorest regions; whereas social cohesion is a pre-condition for sustainable economic growth, job creation and employment;

AC. whereas the COVID-19 pandemic and crisis has shown that fighting homelessness is a public health matter; whereas on any given night in the European Union, an estimated 700 000 homeless people have to sleep on the street or in shelters, a number that has increased by 70 % in the past 10 years;

1. Recalls that the Commission outlined, in the ASGS 2020 and the European Semester Spring and Summer Package 2020, that the European Semester should help to achieve the implementation of the European Green Deal, the EPSR and the UN SDGs; welcomes the inclusion of the EPSR and the UN SDGs in the ASGS 2021; urgently calls for fairness and social rights to be given the same importance as macro-economic objectives in a social and economic model that improves the well-being of people in the EU; emphasises the central role of the Social Scoreboard in the European Semester[32];

2. Notes the conclusion of the European Fiscal Board that the fiscal framework has to be revised in order to limit complexities and ambiguities, to offer better and more permanent protection for sustainable growth-enhancing government expenditure, and to set realistic targets for debt reduction in Member States that will not undermine upward social convergence; urges the Commission to ensure that all of the Member States’ socio-economic, macro-economic and fiscal policies contribute to and are fully consistent with the objectives and targets of the EPSR, the European Green Deal and the UN SDGs and that social and environmental targets and objectives are introduced in the framework of the multilateral surveillance procedure referred to in Article 121 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), as well as in the context of a reinforced macro-economic imbalance procedure; considers that the inclusion of the UN SDGs and the social pillar within the scope of the European Semester will require the adjustment of existing indicators and the creation of new ones to monitor the implementation of EU economic, environmental and social policies, as well as coherence between policy goals and budgetary means; calls on the Commission to develop without delay a UN SDG expenditure tracking methodology for the EU budget that can also be used to assess national recovery and resilience plan (NRRP) investments;

3. States that 10 years after the introduction of the European Semester cycle of economic policy coordination, employment and social imbalances in the EU, such as labour market segmentation, wage dispersion, growing inequalities and poverty, especially child poverty, have not been resolved and have actually worsened, demonstrating that public policies in some Member States did not have enough leverage to build robust social protection systems and a fairer EU labour market, and that stronger policies and coordination at EU level are needed; strongly believes that EU support must go beyond making funds available; highlights the importance of taking lessons from the current health and economic crisis and acting proactively in the future;

4. Highlights that democratic accountability for the current Semester evaluation process needs to be strengthened; calls on the Commission and the Member States to reform the financial legal framework and the European Semester process in order to strengthen democratic accountability and the involvement of the European Parliament, to strengthen the role and participation of EU and national social partners, and to protect social progress objectives relating to social welfare systems and quality employment in future adjustment programmes and in the European Green Deal framework;

5. Emphasises that it should be better involved in the European Semester process, including the country-specific recommendations; stresses the important role of a more inclusive social dialogue with social partners, civil society, youth organisations, and local and regional authorities in shaping the European Semester; stresses that an effective, transparent, comprehensive, result-oriented and performance-based social tracking methodology – to be developed for the RRF – will improve the European Semester by better reflecting social, gender and environmental challenges and placing them on an equal footing with fiscal coordination, and by, for example, paying more attention to aggressive tax planning, poverty reduction, gender equality, social justice, social cohesion and upward convergence;

6. Believes that the Sustainable Semester Process has to focus equally on three dimensions: environmental sustainability, economic sustainability and social sustainability; reiterates that social sustainability can only be achieved through the reduction of inequalities and poverty and by offering social and employment opportunities and shared prosperity; stresses that social justice, decent work with living wages, equal opportunities, fair mobility and robust social welfare systems are essential elements in the just transition to a sustainable and social EU; calls on the Commission to carefully assess the dimensions of the Annual Sustainable Growth Survey to ensure they are fully in line with Article 3 of the TEU, which establishes sustainable development as the objective the EU has to work toward, based on balanced economic growth and price stability, a highly competitive social market economy, aiming at full employment and social progress, a high level of protection and improvement of the quality of the environment; calls on the Commission and the Member States to focus, together with the European Parliament, on addressing these challenges through EU eco-social policies combining shared economic prosperity, social progress and sustainable development;

Social dimension within the Recovery and Resilience Facility

7. Welcomes the adoption of the RRF; acknowledges that the RRF will be linked to the European Semester process; underlines that the coordination between the two processes has to be transparent and must support the overarching EU objectives such as the implementation of the EPSR, the UN SDGs, the EU Gender Equality Strategy, the European Green Deal and the digital transition; highlights that the European Semester, including the principles of the EPSR, is the framework to identify national reform priorities and monitor their implementation; insists that reforms have to be based on solidarity, integration, social justice and a fair distribution of wealth, with the aim of creating quality employment and sustainable growth, ensuring equality of, and access to, opportunities and social protection, protecting vulnerable groups and improving the living standards of everyone in the EU;

8. Understands that Member States must include measures on social and territorial cohesion, children and young people in their national recovery plans in order to access the fund; notes that social milestones and targets have been neither explicitly defined nor earmarked in the RRF Regulation, but that, according to the adopted regulation, the Commission should set out the common indicators to be used for reporting on progress and for the purpose of monitoring and evaluating the facility, and should define a methodology for reporting social expenditure, including on children and young people, under the facility; points out the particular importance of indicators related to the implementation of the EPRS principles, quality employment, upward social convergence, equality of and access to opportunities and social protection, education and skills, and investment in access and opportunities for children and young people related to education, health, nutrition, jobs and housing, in line with the objectives of the Child Guarantee and Youth Guarantee; calls on the Commission to work with the European Parliament, social partners and civil society, in the context of the recovery and resilience dialogue, to define these indicators, in accordance with those established by the European Parliament resolution on a strong social Europe for just transitions, in order to assess the investments in and reforms of the NRRPs, as well as the proposed measures to ensure progress towards these goals;

9. Points out that Member States will design their own tailored NRRPs based on the criteria and six-pillar approach of the RRF and the investment and reform priorities identified as part of the European Semester process, in line with their national reform programmes, national climate and energy plans, Just Transition plans, Youth Guarantee implementation plans, and the partnership agreements and operational programmes set up for EU funds; recalls that each Member States must include in its NRRP a detailed explanation of how the plan contributes to the implementation of the EPSR, as well as how it strengthens quality job creation, upward social convergence, investments in young people and children, gender equality and equal opportunities for all; encourages the Member States to also include social targets and milestones and specify the estimated amount of investment in social progress towards them; insists that the NRRPs must contribute to achieving the UN SDGs, implementing the EU’s sustainable growth strategy as set out in the European Green Deal, and fulfilling the principles of the EPSR; calls on the Member States to make full use of the potential offered by the general escape clause to support companies which are in difficulty and are lacking liquidity, particularly by improving access for SMEs to public and private funding, safeguarding the jobs, wages and working conditions of people working in the EU and investing in people and social welfare systems;

10. Calls on the Commission to include the social indicators from the Social Scoreboard of the European Semester, in particular those related to decent work, social justice and equal opportunities, robust social welfare systems and fair mobility, in the common indicators to be used in the RRF for reporting on progress and monitoring and evaluating the plans, as well as in the methodology for reporting on social investment, including for the Child Guarantee and Youth Guarantee; stresses that the European Parliament will closely analyse the delegated act that the Commission will present on this matter, in order to establish if the social indicators, scoreboard and social methodology comply with the objectives, and to verify that there are no objections to be made;

11. Believes that robust welfare systems built on strong economic and social structures help Member States to respond more efficiently and in a fair and inclusive way to shocks and to recover more swiftly from them; highlights that social welfare systems contribute to guarantee that EU societies and everyone living in the EU have access to the integral services and economic support they need to lead a decent life, covering the following areas of intervention: social security, healthcare, education and culture, housing, employment, justice and social services for vulnerable groups; highlights furthermore that social welfare systems play a key role in achieving sustainable social development, combatting poverty and social exclusion, and promoting equality and social justice; warns that during the COVID-19 crisis, social welfare systems have been under unprecedented pressure, as they were not designed to cover the social demands triggered by a healthcare and economic emergency; calls on the Member States, with the EU’s support, to strengthen their social welfare systems so that they can perform well and assist the entire population, particularly in situations of crisis or systemic shocks, including by establishing targets for social investment that match digital and green investments in ambition;

12. Calls on the Commission and the Member States, in their recovery measures, to address the needs of children and take measures to ensure equitable access for all children to early years support, education on new technologies, skills and the ethical and safe use of digital tools, and opportunities for social, mental, cultural and physical wellbeing; calls on the Commission to propose an ambitious anti-poverty strategy and allocate a larger budget to the Child Guarantee; calls on the Commission to ensure that the upcoming Child Guarantee guarantees equal access for children to free healthcare, free education, free childcare, decent housing and adequate nutrition;

13. Believes that sustainable growth and fairness-enhancing reforms and investments outlined in the NRRPs must address structural weaknesses of social services and social protection systems and strengthen their resilience; reiterates the importance of the cohesion policy, which it understands to be a strategy to promote and support the ‘overall harmonious development’ of its Member States and regions, with the aim of strengthening economic and territorial development and social cohesion by reducing disparities within the EU, with a focus on the poorest regions; in this sense, points out that the reforms and investments in social and territorial cohesion should also contribute to fighting poverty and tackling unemployment, lead to the creation of high-quality and stable jobs and the inclusion and integration of disadvantaged groups, and enable the strengthening of social dialogue, entrepreneurship, social infrastructure, social protection and social welfare systems;

14. Believes that to ensure the EU remains resilient, we must focus all policies on ensuring a lasting recovery and avoiding the premature ending of measures and financial tools to support companies and workers, and strengthen them where and when needed; welcomes the activation of the general escape clause under the Stability and Growth Pact until at least the end of 2021; expects that it will remain activated for as long as the underlying justification for the activation exists; insists that any future adjustment programmes should focus on sustainable growth and quality job creation and be coherent and not hamper reforms or investments in social progress towards the social milestones and targets identified in the European Semester process and the NRRPs, in particular progress towards the reduction of poverty and inequalities; points out that financial support through the RRF will have to be ensured in order for Member States to achieve these social milestones and targets; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure sustainable investment and to support SMEs and their employees in the transition to a more digital and greener economy and the resumption of economic activity, and to give adequate consideration to SMEs by analysing the possible effects of fiscal consolidation policies on them, as SMEs are one of the main engines of the EU economy and vital for sustainable growth;

15. Believes that the economic governance framework must avoid procyclicality, which could result in increases in poverty and inequalities and a deviation from the social objectives agreed in the RRF; calls for the potential social negative consequences of the deactivation of the general escape clause to be evaluated in accordance with Article 9 of the TFEU; calls on the Commission and the Member States, in the context of the Recovery and Resilience Dialogue and the interinstitutional agreement on better law-making, to work together with the European Parliament in order to propose the necessary economic governance changes that will ensure social progress and protect the most vulnerable from bearing the consequences of any potential future adjustment programmes;

16. Acknowledges that the NGEU is substantial, but regrets that the limited size of the EU budget, together with its expenditure-driven nature and its principle of equilibrium, mean that its redistribution and stabilisation functions are also very limited; acknowledges the importance of social and cohesion policies, and looks forward to strengthening them if more needs arise; stresses that it is therefore all the more important to take full advantage of all possibilities under the MFF, the NGEU and the own resources system to support an inclusive national recovery, social justice, and environmental, economic, social and inclusive resilience, and to boost social policies and investments, while also strengthening the EU budget with a broader portfolio of own resources;

17. Believes that the NGEU, the MFF and the EU budget must dedicate investments to social objectives, and in particular social progress, as stipulated in Article 3 of the TEU and Article 9 of the TFEU, that match in ambition investments in the green and digital areas, and believes that the reduction of poverty and inequalities should also be a transversal consideration across all expenditure decisions; believes that the redistribution and stabilisation functions of the EU budget might need to be strengthened for a strong and inclusive recovery; calls on the Member States to take full advantage of all possibilities under the MFF, the NGEU and the own resources system to support social objectives and social justice in their national recoveries, in order to reinforce the social ambition in both the MFF and the RRF; calls on the Member States to accelerate the implementation of EU programmes and funds pursuant to the 2014-2020 MFF, and to urgently ratify Council (EU, Euratom) Decision 2020/2053 of 14 December 2020, and stresses that the implementation of the roadmap for the introduction of new own resources will be crucial to repaying the money spent under the EU recovery instrument without an undue reduction in EU expenditure or investment in employment and social policies under the 2021-2027 MFF;

18. Welcomes the inclusion within the European Semester of components referring to the specific activities in the education, culture, sport and media sectors carried out under the RRF; calls on the Commission to closely monitor the Member States’ progress reports on the implementation of the NRRPs within the European Semester exercise in order to verify to what extent the objectives of the RRF have been met;

19. Stresses that the ASGS 2021 mentions delivering on the EU objective of competitive sustainability, but that this concept is not defined as an objective in the EU Treaties and it is not featured in the UN SDGs; calls on the Commission, therefore, to deliver on the objectives defined in Article 3 of the TEU and Articles 8-11 of the TFEU, as well as to be more precise in the definition of resilience, understood to be an ability to not only withstand and cope with challenges, but also to undergo transitions in a sustainable, fair and democratic manner[33];

20. Highlights that social progress is one of the EU goals stipulated in Article 3(3) of the TEU; notes that the MFF agreement must properly address the serious social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for a robust response to invest in avoiding a further increase in unemployment, poverty and social exclusion, ensuring that no one is left behind; emphasises the need to make social progress an investment priority, together with the green and digital transitions, in order to protect everyone in our societies, particularly the most vulnerable, against the negative impact of the current crisis and to mitigate the widening of inequalities; recalls that the Commission estimates the investment needed in social infrastructure to be EUR 192 billion, with health and long-term care accounting for 62 % (EUR 57 billion for affordable housing, EUR 70 billion for health, EUR 50 billion for long-term care, and EUR 15 billion for education and life-long learning)[34]; reiterates the importance of projects that generate positive social impacts and enhance social inclusion; recalls that social progress plans must be included in NRRPs and outline the implementation of the EPSR and social investment in order to reduce the investment gap in social infrastructure; stresses the role of the European Parliament as co-legislator and calls for its input to be taken into account to ensure democratic monitoring in the recovery and resilience plans; calls on the Member States to put in place mechanisms that guarantee dialogue with regional social partners;

21. Calls on the Member States to increase their gross domestic product allocations for education and to make, in their NRRPs, ambitious investment in all levels of education – including vocational and educational training, upskilling and reskilling – a condition for an economic recovery that fosters social cohesion and tackles inequalities;

Social dimension

22. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to actively tackle the digital divide in access to public services, many of which have been digitalised during the COVID-19 pandemic, by ensuring EU support, including financial support, for social innovation at local level aiming to make public services more easily accessible, including capacity-building and the scaling up of innovative bottom-up initiatives for e-inclusion and data literacy, so as to ensure that everyone in the EU has access to high-quality, accessible and user-friendly services of general interest; stresses the importance of further improving digital skills and promoting the digital transformation of businesses and public administrations; underlines that the digitalisation of public services can help to facilitate fair labour mobility, particularly with regard to the coordination of social security systems, and calls on the Member States to commit to this digitalisation; stresses that the Members States should also focus on innovation and investments in improved connectivity and infrastructure for urban and rural households and along major transport corridors;

23. Calls on the Member States to take the measures needed to reinforce their digital infrastructure, their connectivity and the educational methods used in their schools, universities and learning centres, to accelerate reforms implementing the digital transformation, thus ensuring that everyone in the EU can benefit, and to make a particular effort to ensure that online education is accessible to all; recalls, in this context, the need to adequately train teachers, trainers and parents, who all play a crucial role in the digital transformation, especially with regard to new formats such as distance and blended learning; points out the need to thoroughly assess the impact of overexposure to the digital world and calls for measures that promote better understanding of the risks posed by digital technologies, which may affect children and young people in particular; stresses that, in the long term, access to digital and online education is not to be intended to act as a replacement, but rather as a complement to the direct interaction between teachers and learners, as only in-person learning can effectively ensure the acquisition of interpersonal and social skills;

24. Stresses the need for the Commission and the Member States to collect better and more harmonised data on the number of homeless people in the EU, as this constitutes the basis of any effective public policy;

25. Stresses that investment in social rights is important, as is the effort to mainstream the principles enshrined in the EPSR, taking due account of different socio-economic environments, the diversity of national systems and the role of social partners;

26. Is concerned about the large amounts of tax revenue that are not collected due to large-scale tax avoidance; calls on the Council to speed up the negotiations on legislation regarding public country-by-country reporting and a common consolidated corporate tax base, and to revise the criteria for both the Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation and the EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions;

27. Calls on the Commission and the Council to do their utmost to fight tax evasion and tax avoidance and effectively counter harmful tax practices adopted by some Member States;

28. Regrets that the way data is presented in the joint employment report is not clear and that the data is often inconclusive or difficult to compare, regarding the evolution of wages, productivity, capital gains and profits, subsidies and tax breaks for corporations, and the tax wedge for labour and capital; warns that multifactor productivity is not being measured; calls on the Member States to include the Gender Equality Index as one of the European Semester’s tools and to analyse the structural reforms from a gender perspective; recalls that to understand new demands, behaviours and responses, better gathering, monitoring and use of existing and new forms of data and evidence is needed; is concerned about the lack of references to combatting discrimination and racism and to ensuring equality of opportunity and a life of dignity for all groups, including of children and in terms of their access to education; calls on the Commission to strengthen the implementation of anti-discrimination legislation, policy and practice in order to effectively counter discrimination on all grounds, including antigypsyism, and preserve social, mental, cultural and physical well-being in the recovery measures;

29. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to develop a sustainable quality employment package, taking into account diverse forms of national practices and the role of social partners and collective bargaining, including legislative initiatives aimed not only at improving wages but also at ensuring decent working conditions for all, with a particular focus on telework, the right to disconnect, work-life balance, mental well-being at work, parental and care-related leave, occupational health and safety, the rights of platform workers, ensuring quality jobs for essential workers, and strengthening democracy at work and the role of the social partners and collective bargaining; stresses that creating quality employment is one of the objectives included in the RRF Regulation and that this should be done through a comprehensive package of reforms and investments as well as measures ensuring stable contracts, decent wages, collective bargaining coverage and social protection floors, including decent pensions above the poverty threshold; calls on the Commission to include these indicators in the guidelines for assessing social progress under the NRRPs; points out that labour market reforms undertaken as part of the NRRPs must be in line with the attainment of these objectives;

30. Notes that macroeconomic policies that ensure high levels of quality employment, as well as fair taxation, are essential for the sustainability of our national pension systems in a demographic context of ageing Member State populations; stresses the need for further support for workers and businesses as the Member States continue to strive for macroeconomic stability in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis; calls for a coordinated approach at EU level in order to avoid unfair and unhealthy labour cost competition and increase upward social convergence for all;

31. Stresses that social dialogue and collective bargaining are key instruments that help employers and trade unions to establish fair wages and working conditions, and that strong collective bargaining systems increase the resilience of the Member States in times of economic crisis; firmly believes that a democratic, resilient and socially just recovery should be based on social dialogue, including collective bargaining; reiterates its view that the Member States should take measures to promote high trade union density and reverse the decline in collective bargaining coverage; points out the importance of ensuring that workers in the EU are protected by adequate minimum wages, the law or collective agreements, ensuring they have a decent standard of living wherever they work; welcomes, in this regard, the Commission’s proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages in the European Union, which aims to increase collective bargaining coverage and ensure that workers in the European Union are protected by minimum wages set at adequate levels;

32. Calls on the Member States to take measures to promote effective access to social protection systems in order to ensure adequate social protection floors for all workers (in particular vulnerable workers such as those in non-standard forms of work, the self-employed, migrants and those with disabilities), in particular by following the Council Recommendation of 8 November 2019 on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed[35]; welcomes, once again, the adoption of this recommendation as a first measure and the Commission’s commitment to strengthening social protection systems in the EU, but stresses the need to make universal access to social protection a reality, especially in the current difficult situation; calls on the Member States to develop and strengthen incentives to increase employment opportunities for older workers, while concurrently ensuring the adequacy and sustainability of pension systems;

33. Calls on the Commission to give priority to the publication of its strategy on the rights of people with disabilities and urges the Member States to keep in mind and work on compensating the disproportionate negative effects that measures adopted in the context of the pandemic have on vulnerable groups;

34. Recalls that the COVID-19 crisis has put Member States’ public health systems under unprecedented stress, which underlines the importance of adequate financing, notably by making best use of the RRF to enhance crisis-preparedness capacity and strengthen social and institutional resilience, as well as the importance of capacity, accessibility, effectiveness and quality of public health and sufficiently staffed healthcare systems, including to accelerate the coordinated distribution of and timely access to vaccines for all Member States and to all people; welcomes the building of a strong EU Health Union in this regard; calls on the Member States to ensure equal and universal access to high-quality healthcare, including preventive, long-term care and health promotion, with a special focus on quality care for the elderly, notably by making dedicated investments in the field and ending precariousness and the abuse of temporary work in the health sector;

35. Recalls that the employment gap, the gender pay gap and the gender pension gap remain extremely high; underlines that the European Semester process and the RRF should contribute to tackling these challenges; calls for gender equality to be strengthened through the integration of gender mainstreaming, and for the Commission to accelerate the introduction of an effective, transparent, comprehensive, result-oriented and performance-based methodology for all EU programmes; welcomes the Commission’s intention to introduce binding pay transparency measures, including a male-female wage equality index; urges the swift adoption of these measures in order to avoid further gender-based inequalities; calls on the Member States and the Commission to support entrepreneurship among women and facilitate access to financing for them; calls on the Member States to unblock the negotiations on the Women on Boards Directive in the Council;

36. Calls on the Commission to expand the country-specific recommendations in the future to include an outcome regarding the involvement of social partners in wage-setting mechanisms and the effectiveness of their involvement;

37. Stresses that the timely, effective and equitable implementation of the EU skills agenda is critical for promoting employment in the health sector and tackling skills shortages in new fields of work; warns, however, that a skills agenda is not enough to tackle the increasing precariousness and in-work poverty in the EU labour market; calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure that high-quality, affordable and inclusive skills and vocational training are developed through the obtaining and mutual recognition of qualifications and the recognition and validation of competencies, learning outcomes and diplomas at all education levels, as well as of non-formal learning with tailored support and active outreach, notably for the most marginalised groups in society, thus avoiding stereotyping; emphasises the need to encourage lifelong learning practices across the EU, as they will prove an essential element for the transition towards a digital, green, competitive and resilient EU economy;

38. Recalls the importance of EU programmes such as the Youth Guarantee, whose package has recently been strengthened; calls on the Member States to quickly implement this programme, in close alignment with EU funds such as the European Social Fund Plus, to address their NEET situation, with particular concern for those living in rural areas and regions with natural or demographic constraints in their labour markets, in order to ensure that all young people under the age of 30 receive a good-quality offer of employment, continued education, vocational education or training, are able to develop the skills needed for employment opportunities in a wide range of sectors, or are offered a remunerated apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education;

39. Encourages the Member States to temporarily adapt the EU School Fruit, Vegetables and Milk Scheme to the closure of schools, when closures are required to fight the pandemic, in order to ensure that children maintain healthy eating habits during such periods, to prevent malnutrition among those at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and to support local producers;

40. Highlights the importance of horizontal coordination between EU programmes and national measures for social justice and equality, social development, combating the risk of poverty and social exclusion, including child poverty and in-work poverty, and preventing the emergence of skills shortages and income inequalities; points out that the European Social Fund is a prime example of the aforementioned horizontal coordination; strongly underlines, at the same time, that the social and employment impact should be a transversal consideration across all expenditure programmes;

41. Emphasises that the EU budget’s backstop, its borrowing and lending functions, and in particular the EU instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE scheme), are perfect examples of how the credit capacity and reputation of the EU budget can be used to support Member State actions in line with EU priorities, particularly in the exceptional circumstances created by a health and economic crisis that was unprecedented in the history of the EU;

42. Calls for better coordination between environmental, economic and social policies and between the different recovery funds and structural funds, in order to improve synergies and boost social investment resources, including those aimed at first respondents to the crisis such as essential workers, embedding the principle of leaving no one behind; calls on the Commission and the Member States to involve all relevant national, regional and local authorities, at their appropriate levels, in the design and implementation of European-Semester-related actions, in particular in the health and social fields, which often fall outside of economic and fiscal considerations;

43. Welcomes the inclusion of housing affordability in the European Semester; calls on the Commission to propose an EU framework for national homelessness strategies, and further calls on the Member States to adopt the principle of housing first, which helps to substantially reduce the rate of homelessness, prioritising the provision of permanent housing to homeless people, proposing ways to tackle energy poverty, stopping forced evictions and stopping the criminalisation of homelessness; stresses, moreover, the need to collect better and more harmonised data on homeless people in the EU; calls on the Commission and the Member States to come up with specific proposals to adequately address the problem of energy poverty in the context of the European Green Deal;

44. Calls on the Commission to present an instrument to mitigate the effects of asymmetric shocks that is effective in the long run, such as an adequate and workable unemployment (re)insurance scheme that would be able to back up national schemes when a part of the EU experiences a temporary economic shock; stresses the paramount importance of supporting investment and access to finance in the EU in order to help SMEs with solvency difficulties, create quality employment in strategic sectors and promote territorial, economic and social cohesion in the EU; highlights the fact that the new European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for displaced workers could be mobilised to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis on employment; calls, therefore, on the Member States to rapidly submit to the Commission applications for funding to support EU workers who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 to retrain, requalify and reintegrate into the labour market;

45. Welcomes the fact that the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund is also being used to respond to this pandemic, by supporting the restructuring needs of EU companies; notes that the limit on worker dismissals for access to the fund has been reduced to the minimum of 200, and that this EU tool could help to fund personalised support measures, such as tailor-made training courses and re-skilling and up-skilling programmes; calls on the EU institutions involved to be flexible and quickly analyse the activation requests, ensuring that the time needed to mobilise the fund is reduced to a minimum;

46. Stresses that the brain drain phenomenon widens the economic and social development gap within the EU; calls on the Commission to assess brain drains in certain regions and sectors and propose support measures where needed, as well as to support mobile workers by ensuring freedom of movement of workers, without restrictions, and strengthening the portability of rights and entitlements; asks the Commission to put forward a proposal for a digital EU social security number;

47. Notes the need to provide specific support for the media sector, which plays a key role in our democracies, in a way that respects and promotes media freedom and pluralism at a time when the online environment is increasingly dominated by a few large players, with increasing market power and mobile tax bases, sometimes hampering the ability of many smaller EU companies to start up and scale up across the single market, as highlighted in the Commission communication on the EU Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021[36]; draws the attention of the Member States to the specific measures set out in the Commission Media Action Plan unveiled on 3 December 2020 to help the broadcasting, news publishing and cinema sectors to recover from the big loss in advertising revenues experienced due to the lockdown imposed by the pandemic and to boost their production and distribution of digital content;

48. Points out that fairness conditions should be considered for companies that wish to access public funds and support in order to avoid such support going to companies based in a jurisdiction referred to in Annex I to the Council conclusions on the revised EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes[37], and points out that they should not subvert collective bargaining, workers’ participation or co-determination in company decision-making processes in accordance with national law and practice, and should be conditional on maintaining the same level of working and employment conditions and rights, including protection against dismissals and reductions in wages, with no bonuses or dividends paid to managers or shareholders respectively;

49. Stresses that the assessment of the rule of law and the effectiveness of the justice system should thus continue to be included in the European Semester;

°

° °

50. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The COVID19 pandemic, even though it continues, has already brought a great toll on lives, health and care systems, and in our economies, producing profound impact on the way people live and work. The alarming economic figures are bringing about severe social and political consequences, which come on top of an already alarming situation and deep ongoing structural changes due to green and digital transitions that are affecting the way we produce and consume and that will especially affect the world of work.

 

Indeed, we were already facing alarming situations, although showing important differences among and within member states, as high inequalities by income, gender or territory, increasing polarisation within labour markets -including precariousness and the extension of non-standard labour arrangements with less social protection for workers-, wages stagnation, slow growth or high percentage of youth unemployed and NEETs. Covid-19 has exposed the effects – especially clear after the last crisis and the EU political response to it -, of cuts and underinvestment in health, social care and other services such as training and education which are not providing equal opportunities for all anymore with the subsequent democratic disaffection. In addition, the COVID19 pandemic, the lockdown and the disruption of global supply chains, might have accelerated some trends linked to digitalisation as automation of production and deep sectorial restructuration. Structural changes can be linked to opportunities but also to unemployment, regional disparities and redistribution conflicts.

 

Facing that scenario, the EU and its member states are, on the one hand, fighting to combat COVID-19, rebuilding our economies, containing the damage and accelerating the recovery. And, on the other hand, they are stepping up the fight against the climate crisis and environmental degradation and preparing our societies and economies for the green and digital transitions, knowledge-based society and labour markets. We expect we have learned the lessons from the previous crisis and that these transitions will be just, without leaving anyone or any territory behind without compromising the heritage of future generations.

 

The Union’s response to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis has been decisive and different from previous ones, but we need to make sure it is made with a strong social commitment and that emergency measures will be prolonged as long as it is necessary, making them coherent and coordinated in order to reduce risk and uncertainty, which are basic principles for the good functioning of our economies. The mortality and health crises, the decline in GDP and in employment were tackled with an unprecedented support in the EU and its Member States through the new SURE instrument and through unprecedented flexibility in the use of cohesion policy funds under the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative and the Next Generation EU, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RFF) with 672.5 billion of loans and grants of frontloaded financial support. Now, Member States will encompass in their recovery and resilience plans their national agenda of reforms and investments designed in line with the EU policy objectives, centred around the green and digital transitions.

 

This year’s semester package is linked to the RRF. While it integrates more social aspects than in previous years, these aspects are not fully explored in the RRF in a way they could be monitored as it is for instance the case of environmental targets. In fact, the objective of this report is twofold.

 

On the one hand, it is calling the Commission and the Member States for the Semester packages and RRF to consistently respect and implement the European Pillar of Social Rights and integrate the upcoming Action Plan for its development. The report on a strong social Europe for Just Transition approved by the European Parliament on the 17th December 2020 is a guideline for this purpose.

 

And, on the other hand, it intends to show how transcendent it is to fully include this social approach, not only for improving social cohesion and social justice, but also for our economic performance and resilience and for our democratic health and the continuation of our common European project.

 

 

The social dimension at the semester package

 

Under the COVID19 health, economic, social and political scenario is crucial to ensure we will make all possible efforts and put in place the right policies to go out of the pandemic and recover our economies and to make sure our systems are resilient. Short-termism and financialization have made our economies vulnerable. Governments should reduce the risk in order to rebuild business and families’ trust and recuperate investment and consumption. The SFR includes the concept of resilience, which builds on the concept of sustainable growth envisaged in the SDGs. Resilience is defined as the ability not only to withstand and cope with challenges but also to undergo transitions in a sustainable, fair, and democratic manner.

 

Social objectives should be mainstreamed in all relevant legislation and regulations linked to the Recovery Plan, referring to the EPRS. Recovery and resilience plans need to reflect a substantive reform and investment efforts but neither of them could be absent in order to advance towards an economy market with a greater equality and social justice. For that, we need to accompany national plans with a strong social commitment. In order to create stable and quality jobs, to reduce inequalities, narrow the gender employment, pay and pensions gaps – by reinforcing work-life balance, and moving towards a new organisation of care – and to provide protection for all workers in their workplace or space and guarantee a minimum income to avoid social exclusion of the most vulnerable persons and groups in an upward convergence dynamic on working and living conditions. To reassure the assistance of the most vulnerable, we need to put in place income support policies, which makes sense from both social and economic point of view. Therefore, a European Reinsurance Scheme should be put in place.

 

As it stands in the report “On a Strong Social Europe for Just transitions”, just transitions mean a switch to a greener and digital economy that affects horizontally and in-depth regions, cities and local population, but also different sectors and workers. To ensure just transitions, it is of utmost importance that social aspects apply in the upcoming decision-making improving the democratic control assuring the EP is involved in the whole process. We need to restructure social governance and the financial instruments to achieve socially just transitions in Europe. Only if we invest in education and training accrediting their competence for every worker and potential worker and ensure sufficient protection and the access to quality services, including care services, we can make sure that no one is left behind. The achievement of just transitions must be directly linked to the implementation of the EPRS. We need to advance in the coherence of our economic and social policies, if they are kept in separate tracks it will never deliver a more resilient economy and society.

 

Additionally, we need to include gender mainstreaming with an intersectional approach taking into consideration other inequality vectors such as disability, age, ethnic, migrant origin, sexual orientation or geographical origin. The COVID-19 and the lockdowns have already shown the unequal gender work burden both at the labour market and especially at home. Time use surveys show that despite important national differences, women undertake more unpaid work than men in all European countries, which is directly linked to employment, wages and pension gaps and labour segregation. The emphasis on green and digital investments could end up with major opportunities for male workers, increasing the different gender gaps with the subsequent consequences on increasing poverty risk and exclusion and deepening demographic trends such as low fertility rates, depopulation and ageing. We need to add a strong commitment for social investment to the green and digital investments, including social infrastructure. That will make our welfare and care systems more resilient to potential crisis and will help to close the gender employment gaps due to strong gender occupational segregation, that will not disappear in the short run, even if desirable. The participation of local governments through social innovation could be crucial in this respect. Investments in health, care and education should be central, including universities and research centres.

 

To this end and taking into account the emergence of the COVID-19, it is essential for us to advance towards a Care Deal that can allow us to combat simultaneously the demographic transition towards older societies with higher dependency rates and, therefore, the sustainability of our welfare systems, and gender inequality in labour markets. Advancing on gender equality is not only socially fair, but also economically efficient for a knowledge-based society due to the educational gender gap with more women holding upper education degrees. We need to move towards a new organization of care in which the social care mandate is not naturally assigned to women and become a social common responsibility. The vulnerability of the elderly on long-term care centres -and workers caring for them-, all over Europe show how urgently we need to arrive to a care deal.

 

 

The crucial role of the social dimension

 

Even if we make the right political decisions and the pandemic would soon be over, the economic fallout from COVID-19 is likely to be severe and long lasting, not only in GDP terms. The economic fallout and recovery will interact with great transformation that will end up with European labour markets undergoing major changes and our welfare and care models undergoing deep challenges we need to face. In fact, it is urgent to strengthen our welfare and care systems reassuring the standard of living of the population, their dignity and trust in democratic institutions. The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty and accelerated some changes that were already underway. Historical evidence shows us that rapid changes are difficultly absorbed by our economic systems. For instance, the pandemic could have accelerated the path to robotisation with consequences in the level of employment, on inequalities inside labour markets and distributed conflict.

 

The coincidence of deep structural transformation towards a green and knowledge-based digital economy and transformations imposed or accelerated by the pandemic need to including the social at the core of our common and national policies, in order to achieve higher levels of social cohesion in our societies. This is essential in order to lead human behaviour towards the changes needed to combat the pandemic and to sustain implementation programs if citizens perceive those policies are reflecting the interests of all. Our economies, business and families need trust, in order to boost investment and consumption. The role of the public sector in fighting uncertainty and designing inclusive plans is crucial. Including the social at the heart of the semester package and the recovery and resilience plans is not only socially desirable but economically as well as political desirable too.

 

Unless the economic policy is coherent with our social goals, our policies promoting equal opportunities, even if well designed, will not be successful. For instance, education has ceased to be the social lift that it was in previous decades. This leads to a perpetuation of inequalities throughout the life cycle that brings important economic problems since talents are equally distributed in social classes or gender, but opportunities are not. It also has a disconnection effect between social and political groups, as large layers of the population feel that governments not only promote policies that exclude them every time, but also when they defend that there is equality of opportunity, transferring them the responsibility for their “failure”, creating disaffection with democracy and the European project.

 

In the last years, the evolution of the European and World Values Surveys waves shows us citizens are running away from democracy, especially the youngest ones. This disaffection with the democratic form of government is accompanied by a wider scepticism towards liberal institutions. Citizens are growing more disaffected with established political parties, representative institutions, and minority rights. Tellingly, they are also increasingly open to authoritarian interpretations of democracy and an easy prey for disinformation and populism. And we have already seen the consequences for the European project with Brexit.

 

To conclude, we face a critical time in our history, in which the paradigm of the past, the idea that economic growth automatically trickles down to all sectors of society, is widely discredited as several international institutions and academic centres stand. A social market economy should be based on social justice and social fairness. We should help our society to face the changes occurred due to long-term trends, on-going transitions and the COVID-19 crisis in an effective opportunity to become more resilient in order to reach to the highest standards of quality of life and promote well-being for all. As we go through the green and digital transitions, as well as an ageing population and a care crisis, we understand that the European economy, its labour market, and employment relations, welfare and care system will have to adapt accordingly and very rapidly and with important citizen support. We need to sustain the full use of flexibility in the application of the EU rules on public finances and fiscal policies, in order to accommodate the exceptional funding to prevent and mitigate the social consequences of the Covid-19. Our well-being and that of future generations, our democracies and our common European project depend on us. We need to provide new answers for new and old challenges.

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON BUDGETS (4.2.2021)

for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: employment and social aspects in the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021

(2020/2244(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion (*): Nils Ušakovs

(*) Associated committee – Rule 57 of the Rules of Procedure

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Budgets calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Asserts that the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is reshaping the European Semester process, providing incentives and means to better address social and employment imbalances and inequalities in EU Member States and stimulating reforms that create high quality jobs; underlines that the two processes should be fully coordinated in order to maximise synergies between EU level policies and strategic guidance with nationally implemented policies in building strong social structures for resilience and supporting a sustainable, fair and inclusive recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis while strengthening gender equality and preserving jobs in particular in the regions hardest hit by the pandemic;

2. Highlights the importance of the full and most efficient use of the Next Generation EU (NGEU) funds to respond to long term structural challenges, particularly in social and employment policies; stresses the importance of implementing the RRF in the most swift and targeted manner, effectively and transparently, without substituting recurring national budgetary expenditure, making best use of the Technical Support Instrument; stresses in this regard the crucial role of high-quality public administrations in implementing recovery resources;

3. Recalls that the COVID-19 crisis has put Member States’ public health systems under unprecedented stress, which underlines the importance of adequate financing, in particular by making best use of the RRF to enhance crisis-preparedness capacity, and of strengthening social and institutional resilience as well as the capacity, accessibility, effectiveness and quality of public health and sufficiently staffed healthcare systems, including in order to accelerate a coordinated distribution and timely access to vaccines to all Member States and to all people; welcomes the building of a strong EU Health Union in this regard;

4. Stresses that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a severe health, economic and social crisis, and is concerned about the consequences of the deep recession caused by the COVID-19 crisis, notably on unemployment and working conditions, in particular among vulnerable workers and groups, such as young people and those employed by SMEs, and in the most affected sectors, and particularly culture, education and tourism, as well as about poverty and social inequalities; stresses the key role of employment support schemes, access to high-quality public services, education and vocational training that, among other objectives, constitute a reliable pathway towards long-term employment, digitalisation and access to digital tools and partnerships between public and private financial institutions to support SMEs, as well as to adequate minimum wages in Europe in line with Principle 6 of the European Pillar of Social Rights, respecting national laws and practices to ensure a just and socially-balanced recovery, and taking different starting points across Member States into account;

5. Highlights that women, as well as recipients of remittances and vulnerable and marginalised groups such as migrant workers, have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; underlines that women constitute a majority of workers in the care sector and sectors particularly affected by lockdowns, and that women more often have to balance work with unpaid care, which is especially difficult for women with small children, while also being victims of the sharp increase in cases of domestic and gender-based violence; recalls that the employment gap, the gender pay gap and the gender pension gap remain extremely high; underlines that the European Semester process and the RRF should contribute to tackling these challenges; calls for strengthening gender equality through the integration of gender mainstreaming, and for the Commission to accelerate the introduction of an effective, transparent, comprehensive, result-oriented and performance-based methodology for all EU programmes;

6. Notes that in the area of social and employment policies, NGEU and the EU budget can play a subsidiary but instrumental role in triggering, bundling and directing sustainable investments in social development and resilience, and in promoting innovative action and education initiatives; calls for better coordination of national and European policies and investments that promote overarching EU objectives such as the European Green Deal, the just green and digital transitions and the full implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the EU Gender Equality Strategy and the Barcelona targets for high quality and affordable childcare and early childhood education;

7. Highlights the importance of horizontal coordination between EU programmes and national measures for social justice and equality, social development and combating the risk of poverty and social exclusion, including child poverty, in-work poverty and preventing the emergence of skills shortages, and income inequalities; points out that the ESF is a prime example of the aforementioned horizontal coordination; underlines strongly at the same time that the social and employment impact should be a transversal consideration across all expenditure programmes;

8. Emphasises that the EU budget’s backstop, its borrowing and lending functions, and in particular the European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE scheme), are perfect examples of how the credit capacity and reputation of the EU budget can be used to support Member State actions in line with European priorities, particularly in the exceptional circumstances created by a health and economic crisis unprecedented in the history of the EU;

9. Acknowledges that the NGEU is substantial, but regrets that the limited size of the EU budget, together with its expenditure-driven nature and its principle of equilibrium, mean that its redistribution and stabilisation functions are also very limited; acknowledges the importance of social and cohesion policies, and looks forward to strengthening them if more needs arise; stresses that it is therefore all the more important to take full advantage of all possibilities under the multiannual financial framework (MFF), the NGEU and the own resources system to support an inclusive national recovery, social justice, and environmental, economic, social and inclusive resilience, and to boost social policies and investments, while also strengthening the EU budget with a broader portfolio of own resources;

10. Emphasises that Parliament should be better involved in the European Semester process, including the Country Specific Recommendations; stresses the important role of a more inclusive social dialogue with social partners, civil society, youth organisations, local and regional authorities in shaping the European Semester; stresses that an effective, transparent, comprehensive, result-oriented and performance-based social tracking methodology – to be developed for the RRF – will improve the European Semester by better reflecting social, gender and environmental challenges and placing them on an equal footing with fiscal coordination, and by for example paying more attention to aggressive tax planning, poverty reduction, gender equality, social justice, social cohesion and upward convergence.

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

1.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

32

4

3

Members present for the final vote

Rasmus Andresen, Robert Biedroń, Anna Bonfrisco, Olivier Chastel, Lefteris Christoforou, David Cormand, Paolo De Castro, José Manuel Fernandes, Vlad Gheorghe, Valentino Grant, Elisabetta Gualmini, Francisco Guerreiro, Valérie Hayer, Eero Heinäluoma, Niclas Herbst, Monika Hohlmeier, Mislav Kolakušić, Moritz Körner, Joachim Kuhs, Ioannis Lagos, Hélène Laporte, Pierre Larrouturou, Janusz Lewandowski, Margarida Marques, Siegfried Mureşan, Victor Negrescu, Andrey Novakov, Jan Olbrycht, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Karlo Ressler, Bogdan Rzońca, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Nils Torvalds, Nils Ušakovs, Johan Van Overtveldt, Rainer Wieland, Angelika Winzig

Substitutes present for the final vote

Damian Boeselager, Petros Kokkalis

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

32

+

NI

Mislav Kolakušić

PPE

Lefteris Christoforou, José Manuel Fernandes, Niclas Herbst, Monika Hohlmeier, Janusz Lewandowski, Siegfried Mureşan, Andrey Novakov, Jan Olbrycht, Karlo Ressler, Rainer Wieland, Angelika Winzig

Renew

Olivier Chastel, Vlad Gheorghe, Valérie Hayer, Moritz Körner, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Nils Torvalds

S&D

Robert Biedroń, Paolo De Castro, Elisabetta Gualmini, Eero Heinäluoma, Pierre Larrouturou, Margarida Marques, Victor Negrescu, Nils Ušakovs

The Left

Petros Kokkalis, Dimitrios Papadimoulis

Verts/ALE

Rasmus Andresen, Damian Boeselager, David Cormand, Francisco Guerreiro

 

4

ECR

Bogdan Rzońca, Johan Van Overtveldt

ID

Joachim Kuhs

NI

Ioannis Lagos

 

3

0

ID

Anna Bonfrisco, Valentino Grant, Hélène Laporte

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON CULTURE AND EDUCATION (26.1.2021)

for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

on the European Semester for economic policy coordination: Employment and Social Aspects in the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021

(2020/2244(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Sabine Verheyen

 

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Culture and Education calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Recalls that education is an investment in our common future: it has a positive impact on social cohesion, which is a pre-condition for economic growth, job creation and employment; emphasises the role of education and culture in the personal development and critical thinking of citizens, in social mobility, in the promotion of creativity and innovation, and in raising awareness of major collective challenges such as climate change, the digital transformation and paradigm-shifting technologies; recalls the objective to continuously improve the EU’s and the Member States’ education, training and skills policies in order to deliver inclusive, accessible and high-quality education and comprehensive lifelong learning, and training for all, and the upgrading of skills and reskilling, notably of people with lower levels of education or employability and young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) and the long-term unemployed; upholds the need to prepare for the future impact that technological progress will have on the labour market and public, including automation, artificial intelligence and robotics, as well as on everyday life and on our personal and collective relationship with knowledge, learning and information; recalls, in this respect, the relevance of acquiring media literacy skills in order to combat disinformation and build an active digital citizenship;

2. Stresses the need to deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR); calls for the timely adoption of the Child Guarantee and a vigorous implementation by the Member States of the Youth Guarantee, and for the Sustainable Development Goals on quality education to be achieved, so that everyone can afford quality and inclusive education, training and life-long learning in order to be able to participate fully in society and join the labour market; urges the Commission to swiftly present an action plan for the implementation of the EPSR and to further refine the indicators of its social scoreboard, as well as their monitoring;

3. Stresses the need for the Member States to increase the mutual recognition and portability of skills, diplomas and personal qualifications in the internal labour market, thereby contributing to the building of a European Education Area that will improve labour mobility and enhance the international competitiveness of the EU’s economy;

4. Is of the opinion that the unprecedented EU financial support for a post-COVID-19 recovery should strive to recover lost jobs and economic growth in a way that is inclusive and benefits everyone equally, and should address structural socio-economic disadvantages, including early school leaving and school failure; recalls that continued schooling is closely linked to access to the social protection systems that provide for the basic needs of children and their families, including quality nutrition and healthcare; emphasises that the European green and digital transition cannot be effectively achieved without a gradual and comprehensive transformation of the education and training systems, which would require major investment and a particular focus on the fact that nobody is to be left behind; emphasises the need to learn from the COVID-19 crisis by applying the good practices used in some countries, such as peer learning and using digital tools in education;

5. Is concerned about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education, as severe discrepancies in digital education exist between the Member States, with 32 % of pupils in some Member States not having had any access to education for several months due to a variety of reasons, both structural and material in nature; is worried about the impossibility for students at university and in vocational and educational training (VET) to follow their normal curricula, which will affect their already hindered access to the labour market, whereas according to Eurostat, in 2018 26.3 % of young people aged between 16 and 29 were already at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU[38]; underlines that a green and digital transition in the EU should be based on fairness in society and should address areas such as employment, skills and education and provide support and immediate help for accessing basic needs to those people who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as younger generations, women, people with disabilities, single parents, the elderly and other vulnerable groups; stresses the role of teaching health education and basic medical prevention in schools in mitigating the effects of pandemic outbreaks and in the prevention of and preparedness for future public health emergencies;

6. Calls on the Member States to increase their gross domestic product allocations for education and to include in their national recovery and resilience plans (NRRPs) ambitious investments for all levels of education, including for VET,  upskilling and reskilling, as a condition for an economic recovery that fosters social cohesion and tackles inequalities;

7. Welcomes the inclusion within the European Semester of the components referring to the specific activities in the education, culture, sport and media sectors of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF); calls on the Commission to closely monitor the Member States’ progress reports on the implementation of the NRRPs within the European Semester exercise in order to verify to what extent the objectives of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) have been met;

8. Calls on the Commission to better integrate education into the European Semester framework and to expand its current focus to include social objectives, digital education and the quality of the education provided, in order to assess the evolutions and reforms of the educational systems and consistently check the implementation of the EU action plans, agendas and recovery targets across the Union;

9. Urges the Member States to develop NRRPs with at least 25 % earmarked for social investment, and to prioritise, especially in their country-specific recommendations, targeted investments in digital infrastructure and equipment for educational establishments and learners in order to enable equal access to distance and online learning for children, students and young people with disabilities, people with fewer opportunities and people from disadvantaged groups, remote and rural areas and those with special educational needs, as every child and young person should get an opportunity to access education;

10. Notes the heavy toll the COVID-19 pandemic has taken on the creative and cultural sectors and industries, including events and performances, cultural tourism, intangible cultural heritage practices, and the existential threat it represents to many artists and creative businesses; deplores the fact that the impact on culture was not reflected in the Commission communication of 17 September 2020 on the EU’s annual sustainable growth strategy 2021 (COM(2020)0575) and asks the Commission and the Member States to identify and adopt specific initiatives to protect this sector; calls, more specifically, on the Member States to include a strong focus on culture with at least 2 % of their national RRF budgets allocated to the cultural and creative sectors, as the whole sector is among the hardest hit, and will continue to be among the hardest hit in the medium term, and is potentially the most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; encourages the Member States to accelerate efforts to improve their social protection systems and the working conditions for the workforce in this sector;

11. Calls on the Member States to integrate the recommendation made by Parliament to prioritise investments in education and training by allocating at least 10 % of their national RRF budgets to the sector in order to enable their  adaptation to the new challenges generated by the pandemic and to a fair digital and green transition;

12. Urges the Commission and the Member States to use the RRF to establish the conditions needed to ensure access to digital and blended education throughout the European Union, so that it can act as a complementary tool for in-person education and make education systems more inclusive, with a particular focus on equal access to high-quality education and training for disadvantaged groups to compensate for the fact that an individual’s socio-economic background is currently one of the factors will determine children and young people’s educational outcomes; is worried that the share of NEET young people has risen sharply and calls for targeted funding to allow for new opportunities for this vulnerable group; recalls the aim of the EU Skills Agenda to drastically reduce the digital skills gap, while taking into account the fact that 42 % of Europeans still lack basic digital skills, thus allowing for active digital citizen participation; urges the Commission to better integrate digital education into the European Semester; stresses, further, the need to address the significant gender gap in digital skills and tech sector jobs;

13. Calls on the Member States to take the measures needed to reinforce their digital infrastructure, their connectivity and the educational methods used in their schools, universities and learning centres and to accelerate reforms implementing the digital transformation, thus ensuring that all Europeans can benefit, and to make a particular effort to ensure that online education is accessible to all; recalls, in this context, the need to adequately train teachers, trainers and parents, who all play a crucial role in the digital transformation, especially with regard to new formats such as distance and blended learning; points out the need to thoroughly assess the impact of overexposure to the digital world and calls for measures that promote better understanding of the risks posed by digital technologies, which may affect children and young people in particular; stresses that, in the long term, accessibility to digital and online education is not to be intended to act as a replacement, but rather a complement to the direct interaction between teachers and learners, as only in-person learning can effectively ensure the acquisition of interpersonal and social skills;

14. Urges the Commission to support those Member States that are further behind in establishing their digital infrastructure and connectivity, by making available additional expert consultations;

15. Welcomes the fact that the Recovery and Resilience Facility supports the digital transition with a minimum level of 20 % of expenditure related to digital, and in this regard stresses the need to ensure that a maximum number of EU citizens can benefit from gigabit society connectivity, including those living in rural and remote areas; stresses that broadband should be considered a public good and its infrastructure should be adequately funded in order to be universally accessible as a critical step in closing the digital divide and to ensure fair and just access to the digital economy;

16. Notes the need to provide specific support for the media sector, which plays a key role in our democracies, in a way that respects and promotes media freedom and pluralism at a time when the online environment is increasingly dominated by a few large players, with increasing market power and mobile tax bases, sometimes hampering many smaller European companies from starting-up and scaling up across the single market, as highlighted in the Commission communication on the EU annual sustainable growth strategy 2021; draws the attention of the Member States to the specific measures set out in the Commission Media Action Plan unveiled on 3 December 2020 to help the broadcasting, news publishing and cinema sectors to recover from a big loss in advertising revenues due to the lockdown imposed by the pandemic and to boost their production and distribution of digital content; considers that such measures should be part of the minimum 20 % of expenditure of every NRRP to be earmarked for the digital sector;

17. Calls on the Member States to strengthen the recovery and the crisis resilience of the sport sector in general, and of grassroots sport in particular, and to ensure that the sports sector has full access to the RRF; emphasises that sport fulfils important societal functions, by promoting inclusion, integration and values such as mutual respect, solidarity, diversity and equality ,including gender equality, and stresses that it is beneficial for addressing and preventing the physical and mental health impact of extended home confinement and closure of schools; calls, in this regard, on the Commission to strengthen inclusion through sport and to explore new avenues to maximise its impact and reach;

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

26.1.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

0

4

Members present for the final vote

Asim Ademov, Isabella Adinolfi, Andrea Bocskor, Gilbert Collard, Laurence Farreng, Tomasz Frankowski, Alexis Georgoulis, Hannes Heide, Irena Joveva, Petra Kammerevert, Niyazi Kizilyürek, Victor Negrescu, Marcos Ros Sempere, Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Massimiliano Smeriglio, Michaela Šojdrová, Sabine Verheyen, Salima Yenbou, Theodoros Zagorakis, Milan Zver

Substitutes present for the final vote

Ibán García Del Blanco, Marcel Kolaja, Radka Maxová, Diana Riba i Giner

 

 

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

 

24

+

ID

Gilbert Collard

NI

Isabella Adinolfi

PPE

Asim Ademov, Andrea Bocskor, Tomasz Frankowski, Michaela Šojdrová, Sabine Verheyen, Theodoros Zagorakis, Milan Zver

Renew

Laurence Farreng, Irena Joveva, Radka Maxová

S&D

Ibán García Del Blanco, Hannes Heide, Petra Kammerevert, Victor Negrescu, Marcos Ros Sempere, Domènec Ruiz Devesa, Massimiliano Smeriglio

The Left

Alexis Georgoulis, Niyazi Kizilyürek

Verts/ALE

Marcel Kolaja, Diana Riba i Giner, Salima Yenbou

 

4

0

ECR

Elżbieta Kruk, Dace Melbārde, Andrey Slabakov

ID

Gianantonio Da Re

 

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

23.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

40

7

8

Members present for the final vote

Atidzhe Alieva-Veli, Abir Al-Sahlani, Dominique Bilde, Gabriele Bischoff, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Milan Brglez, Sylvie Brunet, Jordi Cañas, David Casa, Leila Chaibi, Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Özlem Demirel, Klára Dobrev, Jarosław Duda, Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Nicolaus Fest, Loucas Fourlas, Cindy Franssen, Heléne Fritzon, Helmut Geuking, Elisabetta Gualmini, Alicia Homs Ginel, France Jamet, Agnes Jongerius, Radan Kanev, Ádám Kósa, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Katrin Langensiepen, Miriam Lexmann, Elena Lizzi, Radka Maxová, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Dragoș Pîslaru, Manuel Pizarro, Dennis Radtke, Elżbieta Rafalska, Guido Reil, Daniela Rondinelli, Mounir Satouri, Ernő Schaller-Baross, Monica Semedo, Beata Szydło, Romana Tomc, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Marianne Vind, Maria Walsh, Stefania Zambelli, Tatjana Ždanoka, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Alex Agius Saliba, Marc Botenga, Gheorghe Falcă, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, José Gusmão

 

[1] OJ C 242, 10.7.2018, p. 24.

[2] OJ C 356, 4.10.2018, p. 89.

[5] OJ C 429, 11.12.2020, p. 159.

[6] OJ C 364, 28.10.2020, p. 124.

[7] OJ C 97, 24.3.2020, p. 32.

[8] OJ L 188, 12.7.2019, p. 79.

[9] OJ C 76, 28.2.2018, p. 93.

[10] OJ C 440, 6.12.2018, p. 37.

[11] OJ C 363, 28.10.2020, p. 80.

[12] OJ C 433, 23.12.2019, p. 9.

[15] Council Decision (EU, Euratom) 2020/2053 of 14 December 2020 on the system of own resources of the European Union (OJ L 424, 15.12.2020, p. 1).

[16] Council note of 16 October 2020 on the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of a Programme for the Union’s action in the field of health for the period 2021-2027 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 282/2014 (‘EU4Health Programme’), and European Parliament resolution of 7 July 2020 on the EU’s public health strategy post-COVID-19 (texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0205).

[17] Commission proposal of 18 November 2020 for a joint employment report from the Commission and the Council (COM(2020)0744).

[18] Eurostat, Over 20% of EU population at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2019, European Commission, Luxembourg, 2020.

[19] Eurofound, COVID-19: Some implications for employment and working life, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021 (forthcoming).

[20] J. Hurley, COVID-19: A tale of two service sectors, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021.

[21] Eurofound, Living, working and COVID-19, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, p.9.

[23] Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Opinion on Intersectionality in Gender Equality Laws, Policies and Practices, European Institute for Gender Equality, Vilnius, 2020.

[24] Eurofound, Women and labour market equality: Has COVID-19 rolled back recent gains? Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020.

[25]  European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Coronavirus pandemic in the EU – fundamental rights implications: focus on social rights, Bulletin 6, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020.

[26] Eurofound, Upward convergence in the EU: Concepts, measurements and indicators, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018.

[27] European Commission, Labour market and wage developments in Europe defy economic slowdown, European Commission, Brussels, 2019.

[28] EuroHealthNet, Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring health equity – The role of the European Semester, EuroHealthNet, Brussels, 2020.

[29] Eurostat, People at risk of poverty or social exclusion, European Commission, Luxembourg, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/t2020_50/default/table?lang=en

[30]  Forthcoming reports: Eurofound, COVID-19: Some implications for employment and working life, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021; Eurofound, Involvement of social partner in policy making during COVID-19, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021.

[31]  Eurofound, Long-term care workforce: employment and working conditions, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2021.

[32] Social Score of Indicators. Eurostat 2020 https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/european-pillar-of-social-rights/indicators/social-scoreboard-indicators

[33] Commission communication of 9 September 2020 entitled ‘2020 Strategic foresight report – Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe’ (COM(20200493).

[34] Commission staff working document of 27 May 2020 entitled ‘Identifying Europe’s recovery needs’ (SWD(2020)0098).

[35] OJ C 387, 15.11.2019, p. 1.

[36] Commission communication of 17 September 2020 on the Annual Sustainable Growth Strategy 2021 (COM(2020)0575).

[37] OJ C 64, 27.2.2020, p. 8.

REPORT on the request for waiver of the immunity of Nuno Melo – A9-0024/2021

Source: European Parliament 2

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the request for waiver of the immunity of Nuno Melo

(2020/2050(IMM))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of João Nuno Lacerda Teixeira de Melo, submitted on 6 February 2020 by the Tribunal Judicial da Comarca de Braga, Juízo de Punção Criminal de Guimarães, Juiz 2 (Braga District Court, Guimarães Criminal Court, 2nd judge), in the context of criminal proceedings initiated following the lodging of a civil indictment before that court (Proceedings 1039/17.2T9VNF), announced in plenary on 9 March 2020,

 having heard Nuno Melo in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union and to Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the Members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

 having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011, 17 January 2013 and 19 December 2019

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

23.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

25

0

0

Members present for the final vote

Manon Aubry, Gunnar Beck, Geoffroy Didier, Pascal Durand, Ibán García Del Blanco, Jean-Paul Garraud, Esteban González Pons, Mislav Kolakušić, Sergey Lagodinsky, Gilles Lebreton, Karen Melchior, Franco Roberti, Marcos Ros Sempere, Ernő Schaller-Baross, Stéphane Séjourné, Raffaele Stancanelli, Marie Toussaint, Adrián Vázquez Lázara, Axel Voss, Marion Walsmann, Tiemo Wölken, Lara Wolters, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniel Buda, Andrzej Halicki, Emil Radev, Kosma Złotowski

 

 

REPORT on the request for waiver of the immunity of Antoni Comín i Oliveres – A9-0021/2021

Source: European Parliament 2

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the request for waiver of the immunity of Antoni Comín i Oliveres

(2020/2025(IMM))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity received on 13 January 2020 and transmitted by the President of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court) and made by the President of the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo in connection with special proceedings No 3/20907/2017 on 10 January 2020; having regard to the announcement of the said request for waiver of immunity in plenary on 16 January 2020,

 having heard Antoni Comín i Oliveres in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

 having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011, 17 January 2013 and 19 December 2019[1],

 having regard to the decision of the Spanish Junta Electoral Central (Central Electoral Board) of 13 June 2019

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

23.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

15

8

2

Members present for the final vote

Manon Aubry, Gunnar Beck, Geoffroy Didier, Pascal Durand, Ibán García Del Blanco, Jean-Paul Garraud, Esteban González Pons, Mislav Kolakušić, Sergey Lagodinsky, Gilles Lebreton, Karen Melchior, Franco Roberti, Marcos Ros Sempere, Ernő Schaller-Baross, Stéphane Séjourné, Raffaele Stancanelli, Marie Toussaint, Adrián Vázquez Lázara, Axel Voss, Marion Walsmann, Tiemo Wölken, Lara Wolters, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniel Buda, Andrzej Halicki, Emil Radev, Kosma Złotowski

 

 

REPORT on the request for waiver of the immunity of Valter Flego – A9-0023/2021

Source: European Parliament

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the request for waiver of the immunity of Valter Flego

(2020/2054(IMM))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity of Valter Flego, dated 19 February 2020 by the President of the Council of the Rijeka County Court in the Republic of Croatia in connection with criminal proceedings pending before the Rijeka County Criminal Court, and announced in plenary on 26 March 2020,

 having regard to the waiver by Valter Flego of his right to be heard under Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

 having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011, 17 January 2013 and 19 December 2019[1],

 having regard to Article 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia and to Articles 23 to 28 of the Standing Orders of the Croatian Parliament,

 having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A9-0023/2021),

A. whereas the presiding judge of Rijeka County Criminal Court submitted a request for waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Valter Flego in connection with pending proceedings brought against him for the criminal offence of abuse of office under Article 291(1) and (2) of the Criminal Code[2];

B. whereas in his capacity as Mayor of the Town of Buzet, Croatia, from 1 April 2010 to 30 May 2013, he allegedly facilitated the illegal payments of salary supplements to himself as Mayor, to his Deputy Mayor, to the Director of the Office of the Mayor and to three other directors;

C. whereas Valter Flego was elected to the European Parliament as result of the elections of May 2019;

D. whereas the alleged offence does not concern opinions expressed or votes cast by Valter Flego in the performance of his duties within the meaning of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

E. whereas Article 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union provides that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament;

F. whereas pursuant to Article 75(2) and (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia:

‘No representative shall be prosecuted, detained or punished for an opinion expressed or vote cast in the Croatian Parliament.

No representative shall be detained, nor shall criminal proceedings be instituted against him, without the consent of the Croatian Parliament’;

G. whereas the alleged offence has no clear or direct bearing on the performance by Mr Flego of his duties as a Member of the European Parliament;

H. whereas it is for Parliament alone to decide, in a given case, whether or not to waive immunity; whereas Parliament may reasonably take account of the position of the Member in order to decide whether or not to waive his immunity[3];

I.  whereas the purpose of parliamentary immunity is to protect Parliament and its Members from legal proceedings in relation to activities carried out in the performance of parliamentary duties and which cannot be separated from those duties;

J. whereas the offences of which Valter Flego is accused took place prior to his election to the European Parliament;

K. whereas, in this case, Parliament found no evidence of fumus persecutionis, i.e. factual elements which suggest that the intention underlying the legal proceedings in question is to undermine the Member’s political activity, including his activity as a Member of the European Parliament;

L. whereas Parliament cannot assume the role of a court, and whereas, in a waiver of immunity procedure, a Member cannot be regarded as a defendant[4];

1. Decides to waive the immunity of Valter Flego;

2. Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Croatian authorities and to Valter Flego.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

23.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

24

1

0

Members present for the final vote

Manon Aubry, Gunnar Beck, Geoffroy Didier, Pascal Durand, Ibán García Del Blanco, Jean-Paul Garraud, Esteban González Pons, Mislav Kolakušić, Sergey Lagodinsky, Gilles Lebreton, Karen Melchior, Franco Roberti, Marcos Ros Sempere, Ernő Schaller-Baross, Stéphane Séjourné, Raffaele Stancanelli, Marie Toussaint, Adrián Vázquez Lázara, Axel Voss, Marion Walsmann, Tiemo Wölken, Lara Wolters, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniel Buda, Andrzej Halicki, Emil Radev, Kosma Złotowski

 

 

REPORT on the activities of the European Ombudsman – annual report 2019 – A9-0013/2021

Source: European Parliament

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2019

(2020/2125(INI))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2019,

 having regard to Articles 15, 24, third paragraph, 228 and 298, first paragraph, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU),

 having regard to Article 10(3) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU),

 having regard to Decision 94/262/ECSC, EC, Euratom of the European Parliament of 9 March 1994 on the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman’s duties[1],

 having regard to Articles 11, 41, 42 and 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union,

 having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

 having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Ombudsman’s activities,

 having regard to Rules 54, 142(2) and 232(1) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to its resolution of 17 January 2019 on the Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry O1/2/2017 on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the European Union[2],

 having regard to the European Code of Good Administrative Behaviour adopted by Parliament on 6 September 2001,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Petitions (A9-0013/2021),

A. whereas the annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2019 was formally submitted to the President of Parliament on 5 May 2020 and whereas the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, presented the report to the Committee on Petitions in Brussels on 3 September 2020;

B. whereas Emily O’Reilly was re-elected European Ombudsman by Parliament at its plenary sitting in Strasbourg on 18 December 2019;

C. whereas Article 41(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that ‘every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union’;

D. whereas Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights states that ‘any citizen of the Union and any natural or legal person residing or having its registered office in a Member State has the right to refer to the European Ombudsman cases of maladministration in the activities of the institutions, bodies, offices or agencies of the Union, with the exception of the Court of Justice of the European Union acting in its judicial role’;

E. whereas it is essential that EU citizens have enough information to be able to follow EU policy and law making, and participate meaningfully in European democratic processes; whereas people’s trust in public administrations is enhanced when they can see that institutions are working for the public good and maintaining high ethical standards;

F. whereas the Ombudsman’s main priority is to ensure that citizens’ rights are fully upheld, in accordance with the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, and that the right to good administration reflects the highest standards expected of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union, with the exception of the activities carried out by the Court of Justice of the European Union acting in its judicial role; whereas the Ombudsman plays a vital role in helping EU institutions become more open, effective and citizen-friendly with the aim of strengthening citizens’ confidence in the Union;

G. whereas the European Ombudsman launched a strategic initiative on the leave rights of certain EU staff members and the best interests of the child (SI/1/2019/AMF)[3], which led to the harmonisation of the rules of the Commission and the Council on the leave rights of staff members who become parents through surrogacy; whereas no comparable results were produced at the European Parliament owing to an unwillingness to adapt its rules on leave;

H. whereas 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the European Ombudsman; whereas since its opening, the Ombudsman’s office has dealt with 57 000 complaints leading to over 7 300 inquiries; whereas the continuous efforts of the office and its staff towards respecting and upholding transparency, ethics and accountability in the EU administration should be duly recognised and commended;

I. whereas, according to the Eurobarometer survey conducted in June 2019, 44 % of citizens trust the European Union and 46 % do not; whereas it is essential for the institutions to be held accountable so as to increase the level of satisfaction of EU citizens;

J. whereas Article 10(3) of the TEU provides that ‘every citizen shall have the right to participate in the democratic life of the Union’ and that ‘decisions shall be taken as openly and as closely as possible to the citizen’;

K. whereas Article 24 of the TFEU provides that ‘every citizen of the Union may apply to the Ombudsman established in accordance with Article 228’;

L. whereas Article 228 TFEU empowers the Ombudsman to conduct inquiries into maladministration in the activities of the Union institutions, bodies, offices, and agencies, with the exception of the Court of Justice of the European Union acting in its judicial role;

M. whereas 19 619 citizens requested assistance from the Ombudsman in 2019, and 16 045 were given advice via the interactive guide on the Ombudsman’s website; whereas in 2019 the Ombudsman registered 2 201 complaints and received 1 373 requests for information;

N. whereas of the 2 201 complaints dealt with by the Ombudsman, 879 fell within and 1 330 outside her remit;

O. whereas of the 2 201 complaints, the Ombudsman provided advice to the complainant or passed the matter on in 862 cases, in 883 cases the complainant was informed that no additional advice could be provided, and 456 complaints gave rise to an inquiry;

P. whereas of the inquiries closed by the Ombudsman, 26.9 % concerned requests for information and access to documents, 22 % concerned service culture, for example kindness towards citizens, language-related matters and time limits, 19.8 % concerned the appropriate use of discretionary powers, including in infringement proceedings, 13.2 % concerned respect for procedural rights, including the right to be heard, 13 % concerned the proper management of administrative and staff matters, 12.3 % concerned recruitment and 8.4 % concerned respect for fundamental rights;

Q. whereas the length of most of the inquiries closed by the Ombudsman in 2019 ranged between three (43.4 %) and 18 months (10.2 %); whereas the average length of time needed to close an inquiry was less than seven months;

R. whereas as part of her inquiries, the European Ombudsman is entitled to submit proposals to EU institutions and bodies on how to address a problem or improve their administrative practices; whereas these proposals take the form of solutions, recommendations and suggestions;

S. whereas according to the annual ‘Putting it Right?’ report, published in December 2019, which analyses the institutions’ responses to the Ombudsman’s proposals in the context of inquiries closed in 2018, the implementation rate achieved by the EU institutions in response to the Ombudsman’s proposals is 77 %; whereas 11 institutions achieved an implementation rate of 100 %, while the Commission, the institution against which a majority of the complaints were lodged, achieved a rate of 70.9 %;

T. whereas in her strategic work in 2019 the Ombudsman opened four new strategic inquiries: on transparency in the preparatory bodies of the Eurogroup, on the ‘revolving doors’ at the Commission, on the treatment of persons with disabilities under the EU Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme, and on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the activities prior to the submission of medicinal products with a view to their authorisation;

U. whereas in 2019 the Ombudsman opened nine strategic initiatives, including on the effectiveness of the mechanisms put in place by the Member States for dealing with complaints relating to the Structural Funds, on the transparency of the Brexit negotiations, on the transparency of EU lobbying and the EU Transparency Register, on the EU procedure for food risk assessment, on the transparency of meetings between the President of the European Council and interest representatives, on improvements to the European Citizens’ Initiative, on the integration of children with disabilities into European Schools and on the right to leave of EU staff members who become parents through surrogacy;

V. whereas the role of the European Ombudsman as a member of the EU Framework of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) is to protect, promote and monitor its implementation at the level of the EU institutions; whereas the European Ombudsman chaired the EU Framework in 2019;

W. whereas Article 19 of the UNCRPD provides that the parties ‘recognise the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community’;

X. whereas on 12 February 2019 Parliament approved its draft regulation laying down the regulations and general conditions governing the performance of the Ombudsman’s duties (Statute of the European Ombudsman)[4]; whereas this new regulation is now awaiting approval by the Council;

Y. whereas in 2019 the European Ombudsman opened 458 inquiries, of which 2 were opened on its own initiative, while closing 560 inquiries (552 complaint-based and 8 own-initiative); whereas the greater part of the inquiries once again concerned the Commission (274 inquiries or 59.7 %), followed by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO) (44 inquiries or 9.6 %) and the EU agencies (33 inquiries or 7.2 %), and the rest were distributed as follows: Parliament (21 inquiries or 4.6 %), the European External Action Service (EEAS) (17 inquiries or 3.7 %), the European Investment Bank (7 inquiries or 1.5 %), and other institutions (54 inquiries or 11.8 %);

Z. whereas the proper application of EU law and the fulfilment of the obligations arising therefrom are the responsibility of the institutions and bodies of the EU, in line with the obligations stemming from the Treaties and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;

AA. whereas the Ombudsman launched an inquiry into the decision of the European Banking Authority (EBA), announced publicly on 17 September 2019, to allow its Executive Director to become Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), a lobby organisation for the financial industry; whereas the Ombudsman found instances of maladministration by the EBA in its failure to mitigate the risks of conflicts of interest when it approved the job move and in continuing to give its outgoing Executive Director access to confidential information;

AB. whereas the Ombudsman launched an inquiry following a complaint concerning corporate sponsorship of the Presidency of the Council of the EU; whereas the Ombudsman noted that the use of sponsorship by the Presidency entails reputational risks for the EU as a whole and recommended that the Council issue guidance to Member States on the issue of sponsorship of the Presidency in order to mitigate these reputational risks;

1. Welcomes the annual report for 2019 presented by the European Ombudsman;

2. Congratulates Emily O’Reilly on her re-election as European Ombudsman and on her excellent work; endorses her commitment to continuing her efforts to ‘ensure that the EU delivers the highest standards of administration, transparency and ethics’, and to guaranteeing the accessibility and quality of the services that the EU provides to EU citizens; reiterates that transparency is a principle complementary to the rule of law and democracy and that its implementation should be aimed at allowing citizens to participate in the decision-making process;

Transparency and ethics

3. Expresses satisfaction with its fruitful relationship with the European Ombudsman, a key and indispensable partner of the European Parliament, which re-elected the outgoing Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly, for a second term of office and endorsed her proposal for a special report on transparency in the Council by adopting a resolution approved by a plenary majority in January 2019;

4. Welcomes the close cooperation between the Ombudsman and her team and the Committee on Petitions, which makes it possible to improve the quality of European administration and the accessibility and quality of its services for EU citizens;

5. Stresses the need for the EU institutions to maintain the maximum level of transparency and objectivity, so that citizens can follow and take an active part in the decision-making process in order to strengthen their trust in and feeling of proximity to the institutions, while guaranteeing access to all relevant information so that they can fully exercise their democratic rights and ensuring a genuine capacity to hold the institutions to account;

6. Highlights that the lack of transparency of the EU legislative process increases citizens’ distrust and weakens the legitimacy of the decision-making process as a whole;

7. Welcomes the European Ombudsman’s ambition to maintain in all circumstances a high level of vigilance in upholding the highest possible standards of transparency and ethics, including in a health crisis;

8. Urges the European Ombudsman to continue promoting greater transparency in legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the European Union, as regards both public access to its legislative documents and its decision-making process, so that its deliberations can be more readily understood;

9. Urges the Council to implement the European Ombudsman’s recommendations, and to revise its confidentiality policy to ensure the highest level of transparency in its work so that timely public access to legislative documents is easily available; calls for the transparent and systematic identification of Member State governments when they set out their positions, since as co-legislator the Council must be held accountable to the public for its actions; recalls the suggestions made in its resolution of 17 January 2019 on the Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry OI/2/2017 on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the EU;

10. Regrets the practice of Member States holding the Presidency of the Council of accepting corporate sponsorship; believes that such a practice must be prevented in order to preserve the reputation and integrity of the Council and of the EU as a whole;

11. Urges Member States to be more diligent in meeting their obligation to cooperate with the Ombudsman;

12. Notes that, in keeping with the European Ombudsman’s recommendations, the Commission and the Council have maintained a high level of transparency in the legislative process throughout the negotiations on EU-UK relations, publishing more than 100 negotiating documents and making the Chief Negotiator’s timetable available to citizens, and urges them to do the same when drawing up the future free trade agreement; calls more broadly on the Commission to fulfil its obligations regarding sustainability impact assessments of all EU trade agreements;

13. Recalls that the fundamental rights of a large number of citizens of the Republic of Cyprus are being violated by the military occupation and racist regime imposed by the Turkish army of occupation within the territories of the Republic of Cyprus;

14. Points out that for years transparency, and in particular access to documents, has been the main subject of complaints, and welcomes the fact that in connection with a number of inquiries the European Ombudsman has called for public access to be granted; deplores, however, the fact that the European Ombudsman’s recommendations are not always implemented and that OLAF’s report on the use of a loan granted to the German car manufacturer Volkswagen has still not been published; calls for EU legislation on access to documents (Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001[5]) to be updated in order to facilitate the European Ombudsman’s work; urges the Council to reopen its discussions on the basis of the position adopted by Parliament on 12 June 2013;

15. Welcomes the more ambitious approach taken to the transparency of the bodies preparing meetings of the Eurogroup, which agreed, following a request from the Ombudsman, to publish the dates and draft agendas of Eurogroup meetings earlier than before, to provide more details in the letters summarising the meetings and to include more information on the Eurogroup website concerning its activities;

16. Welcomes the European Ombudsman’s repeated efforts to combat conflicts of interest; stresses the need for increased transparency in the Council; strongly supports the recommendations issued by the Ombudsman to the General Secretariat of the Council in relation to case 1946/2018/KR; welcomes the publication, following this inquiry, of the minutes of meetings held between lobbyists, the President of the European Council and the members of his cabinet, and highlights the need for the adoption of a fair and ambitious legal act on the Transparency Register in order to make it fully mandatory and legally binding for all EU institutions and agencies and to create obligations for third parties and interest representatives, thereby ensuring the full transparency of lobbying; notes the Commission’s decision not to follow the recommendations of the Ombudsman in case 1302/2017/MH and not to grant access to the documents relating to the opinions of its Legal Service concerning the Transparency Register;

17. Welcomes the fact that, following a complaint lodged in 2019 regarding the use of sponsorship during the Romanian Presidency, the European Ombudsman took a clear stance on the issue of Presidency sponsorship[6], as the perception of outside influence may undermine the integrity of the EU as a whole; takes note of the steps taken by the Council in response to the Ombudsman’s recommendation that guidance should be provided to the Member States on the issue of Presidency sponsorship; encourages the Council to follow up on the issue without delay; welcomes the decision of the German Presidency to refrain from any sponsorship and encourages other Member States to follow suit;

18. Notes the undertaking given by the Commission, following an inquiry by the Ombudsman, to publish the agendas and minutes of meetings of the ‘advisory bodies’ which influence EU policy-making and the comments made by participants in previous groups, and, for any future such group, to apply the same standards of transparency as those adopted by the expert groups;

19. Highlights the importance of public access to documents containing the positions taken by Member States in decision-making processes; supports the findings of the Ombudsman in relation to case 2142/2018/EWM and deplores the Commission’s continued refusal to grant access to the requested documents dealing with the risk assessment of pesticides on bees;

20. Notes that the Commission has committed to implementing many of the European Ombudsman’s proposals, such as asking individuals who switch to the private sector to provide additional information about the organisation they are joining and more details about the type of professional activity they are embarking on; emphasises that such transfers cannot be taken lightly, as they could lead to conflicts of interest when former public officials take up a job with a firm to lobby on policies that they previously legislated or worked on; notes that according to a recent report[7] 99 % of requests for transfer into the private sector were approved by the Commission, with a rejection rate of only 0.62 %, which points to the need to strengthen oversight; recalls that ethics rules are not a mere formality and should be adhered to by all institutions; urges the Commission to implement all recommendations made by the Ombudsman, to take a more robust approach to the issue of ‘revolving doors’ and to follow through with the proposed measures, including forbidding new activity when there is evidence that this activity would lead to a conflict with the legitimate interests of the Commission and publishing, directly on its ethics website and in a timely manner, all related information on each case of former senior staff members assessed with a view to implementing the one-year lobbying and advocacy ban;

21. Points out that the EU public administration must improve those of its rules and standards designed to prevent conflicts of interest and guarantee respect for the duty of discretion and integrity; calls on the European Ombudsman to promote the highest ethics rules and standards throughout the EU institutions, agencies and bodies, ensuring that they are fully and consistently implemented; calls for the evaluation of the declarations of interests submitted by Commissioners-designate to be carried out independently by appropriate means; underlines the need to revise the current rules and practices in order to strengthen integrity requirements for Commissioners both during and after their mandates and stresses that Commissioners’ post-term-of-office notification periods must be increased;

22. Underlines the urgent need for the existing Code of Good Administrative Behaviour to be improved and upgraded by adopting a binding regulation on the matter;

23. Commends the Ombudsman’s activities on revolving doors cases which have led, inter alia, to the EBA revising its policy on the assessment of post-employment restrictions and prohibitions for staff, as well as improving its procedures for the immediate suspension of access to confidential information for staff known to be moving to another job; calls on the Ombudsman to continue her efforts to ensure that all EU institutions and agencies introduce effective rules aimed at preventing revolving doors cases and any possible conflicts of interest;

24. Fully endorses the European Ombudsman’s confirmation of her finding that four instances of maladministration marred the appointment process of the most senior Commission official, and welcomes the new Commission’s introduction in 2019 of a specific appointment procedure for its Secretary-General, which includes the publication of a vacancy notice and the inclusion of the appointment on the agenda of the weekly meeting of Commissioners, with sufficient time for it to be given proper consideration;

25. Notes that, following the own-initiative inquiry undertaken by the Ombudsman, the EMA introduced measures aimed at improving the independence and objectivity of the marketing authorisation process for medicinal products and increasing transparency in areas such as clinical trials; calls on the EMA to implement the Ombudsman’s new recommendations in order to ensure its independence and impartiality and avoid any conflict of interest;

26. Welcomes the increased and necessary importance attached by the European Ombudsman to problems involving procurement procedures;

27. Welcomes the consolidation of the Award for Good Administration, which aims to reward initiatives and projects by the EU administration that have a positive impact on the lives of EU citizens; congratulates the Commission on its receipt of the award in recognition of its strategy to reduce plastic pollution; considers that greater media coverage of this award would show EU citizens that the EU institutions are working to provide tangible solutions;

28. Welcomes the European Ombudsman’s increased focus on cases concerning the Commission’s management of EU-funded projects; urges the Commission to guarantee the transparent distribution and management of funds; calls, in particular, on the Commission to ensure that resources made available through the European Structural and Investment Funds are disbursed by the Member States in accordance with the requirements laid down in the UNCRPD on independent living for persons with disabilities;

29. Invites the Committee on Petitions to examine cases in which the Ombudsman’s proposals to the EU institutions were not acted upon;

Disability

30. Welcomes the European Ombudsman’s role in protecting, promoting and monitoring the implementation of the UNCRPD by the EU administration, and in strengthening the EU agenda for the rights of persons with disabilities; calls on the Ombudsman to closely monitor the proposals made by the Commission concerning the new European Disability Strategy for the post-2020 period; considers it urgent to address the lack of an appropriate legal basis ensuring that EU spending complies fully with the UNCRPD;

31. Congratulates the European Ombudsman on her strategic inquiry into the accessibility of Commission websites for persons with disabilities, and welcomes the Commission’s efforts to put her ideas into practice by providing more information in easy-to-read formats; notes, however, that a complex approach is needed to make the EU institutions’ home pages accessible to persons with all kinds of disabilities, including national sign languages; suggests that disabled persons’ organisations should be involved in this process;

32. Congratulates the Ombudsman on having opened a necessary inquiry into the accessibility of online tools used by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), following a complaint by a person with a visual impairment;

33. Calls on the Commission to propose a comprehensive, ambitious and long-term European Disability Strategy for the post-2020 period in order to make possible, inter alia, the full and consistent implementation of the UNCRPD;

34. Acknowledges the rise in the number of people helped by the Ombudsman’s office in 2019 compared to 2018 (19 619 up from 17 996), as well as its efforts to find practical solutions to citizens’ problems, whether by providing advice through the interactive guide on the website and replying to requests for information, or in its handling of new complaints (2 201 such complaints in 2019); points out the need to ensure that the office has the necessary budgetary and personnel resources to continue helping EU citizens in an adequate and efficient manner;

Complaints

35. Notes that in 2019 the Ombudsman received numerous complaints from EU citizens residing in a Member State other than their own who encountered difficulties in trying to register for and/or vote in the 2019 European Parliament elections, and points out that the right to vote in elections is a fundamental right recognised in the EU Treaties;

36. Congratulates the Ombudsman on the inquiries opened in 2019, which covered the following main topics: transparency in the EU institutions, the transparency of lobbying activities, service culture, fundamental rights, ethics issues, citizens’ participation in EU decision-making, the proper management of staff issues and recruitment, and sound financial management;

37. Notes that in 2019 the Ombudsman dealt with 1 300 complaints which did not fall within her mandate, mainly because they did not concern the activities of an EU institution or body; endorses the Ombudsman’s approach of replying to everyone who seeks her assistance, explaining her mandate to them and providing advice, and redirecting them, as far as possible, to other bodies which may be able to help them, and encourages her to continue to do so;

38. Urges the European Ombudsman to remain vigilant and resolute in handling complaints concerning fundamental rights, including equality, non-discrimination and the right to be heard; welcomes her inquiry into the European Asylum Support Office and her interviews with asylum seekers, and her inquiry into the Commission’s handling of a complaint concerning discrimination against Roma in Italy;

39. Notes that the number of inquiries concerning EPSO rose from 23 in 2018 to 44 in 2019; urges the European Ombudsman to monitor closely the proper implementation of anti-discrimination measures which apply to all recruitment procedures; suggests a strategic inquiry into the methods used by EPSO and other agencies in order to ascertain that principles of fairness and openness are fully in place in all recruitment procedures;

40. Notes that the number of complaints falling outside the Ombudsman’s mandate has remained relatively stable (1 330 cases in 2019 compared to 1 300 cases in 2018); takes the view that better and coordinated communication at the level of all the EU institutions as to the competencies of the European Ombudsman could help to reduce the number of complaints falling outside its mandate and streamline the response to citizens’ problems;

41. Welcomes the European Ombudsman’s commitment to the right of citizens to be involved in the EU democratic process, as demonstrated by her organising of the annual conference of the European Network of Ombudsmen in April 2019 on the need to strengthen citizens’ participation in the democratic process; endorses her decision to reply to all those seeking assistance in the language of their complaint, and calls on the EU public administration to make every effort to ensure that citizens are able to communicate effectively with her in the 24 official languages of the EU and in national sign languages; welcomes the European Ombudsman’s draft guidelines on the use of languages on the websites of the EU institutions; underlines that such guidelines are of the utmost importance in protecting Europe’s rich linguistic diversity; notes that the websites of the EU institutions should better exemplify the equality of all 24 official EU languages;

42. Endorses the efforts of the EU institutions to follow the Ombudsman’s recommendations (77 %) and encourages them to continue in this direction; remains concerned at the persistent rate of non-compliance (23 %); is aware that the Ombudsman’s suggestions are not legally binding; urges the institutions, bodies and agencies to react promptly, effectively and responsibly to the Ombudsman’s recommendations and critical remarks;

43. Welcomes the fact that, on average, the length of inquiries into cases closed by the European Ombudsman in 2019 was less than seven months; notes, however, that closure of some cases can take up to 18 months; calls on all the EU institutions to improve their cooperation with the office of the Ombudsman in the interest of EU citizens, who expect swift answers to their problems;

44. Welcomes the redesign of the Ombudsman’s website, making it a more accessible and functional instrument for EU citizens; encourages the Ombudsman to further develop the translation of her publications into the different languages of the EU;

45. Acknowledges the important contribution made by the European Network of Ombudsmen to the exchange of best practices and in providing information on the remit and competences of its members and the proper implementation of European law; suggests that this network could be more closely involved in overseeing the proper use of EU funds; suggests that it could also offer support to national or regional ombudsmen who come under strong pressure from their governments, particularly in connection with violations of rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights; calls on this network to consider the role that national and regional ombudsmen could play in increasing the involvement of EU citizens in the EU decision-making process; stresses that the network could also contribute to promoting a culture of good administration at the level of the Member States by enhancing cooperation and raising awareness among national ombudsmen of the importance of defending the rights of citizens; points out that resources allocated to the network should be strengthened; calls on the European Ombudsman to organise, at the European Ombudsman’s seat, a regular meeting of the European Network of Ombudsmen, whose core task is to ensure respect for fundamental rights;

46. Strongly welcomes the European Ombudsman’s strategic initiative on the leave rights of certain EU staff members and the best interests of the child; takes the position that the inconsistency of the European Parliament’s rules with those of the other institutions[8] with regard to the leave rights of staff members who become parents through surrogacy, such as infertile, same-sex and single parents, ignores the primacy of the overriding best interests of the child and places such staff members at a significant risk of discrimination; recalls the conclusions of the Ombudsman regarding the importance of protecting the best interests of the child; calls for Parliament to engage in interinstitutional dialogue and to adopt a decision harmonising these rules with those of the Council and the Commission;

Statute and powers

47. Calls on the Council to approve the revised Statute of the European Ombudsman, so that the Ombudsman’s office is better able to promote the highest standards of ethical behaviour in the institutions and is properly mandated to perform its tasks effectively;

48. Calls for Parliament to overhaul the nomination process for the election of the European Ombudsman, so that the election at the beginning of the parliamentary term can take place in a more informed, uniform, transparent and orderly manner; calls specifically for a more detailed description of the time limits for the collection of signatures and the campaigns of the nominees;

49. Congratulates the European Ombudsman on her previous five-year strategy ‘Towards 2019’, which introduced a more strategic approach to promoting good administration; awaits the publication of the future strategy, which will have to take account of the unprecedented situation facing Europe;

50. Recalls that the seat of the Ombudsman is that of the European Parliament; encourages the Ombudsman, therefore, to prioritise the use of the premises available in Strasbourg;

51. Calls on the Ombudsman, in the interests of transparency, to publish the events which she intends to host, stating where each event will take place;

°

° °

52. Instructs its President to forward this resolution and the report of the Committee on Petitions to the Council, the Commission, the European Ombudsman, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, and their ombudsmen or similar competent bodies.

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

The annual report on the activities of the European Ombudsman in 2019 was formally submitted to David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, on 5 May 2020 – electronically, owing to the special circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report was presented at a meeting of the Committee on Petitions, which is responsible for relations with the Office of the European Ombudsman, on 3 September 2020 by Emily O’Reilly, who had been re-elected European Ombudsman at Parliament’s plenary sitting of 18 December 2019 in Strasbourg.

The Office of European Ombudsman celebrates the 25th anniversary of its establishment this autumn against the backdrop of a health crisis on a scale never seen since the European Union was founded. The European Ombudsman’s task is to ensure that citizens’ rights are fully upheld and that the right to good administration reflects the highest standards expected of the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union in all circumstances. The European Ombudsman also plays a key role in helping the European institutions to improve openness, effectiveness and proximity to citizens, with a view to enhancing citizens’ trust in the EU and thereby facilitating participation in civic life.

The European Ombudsman, whose appointment is approved by the European Parliament and the Commission, finds that there is maladministration ‘where a public body fails to act in accordance with a rule or principle which is binding upon it’.  In the case of the institutions, these rules and principles include respect for the rule of law, the principles of good administration and fundamental rights. The European Ombudsman is empowered to receive complaints about maladministration in the work of the EU institutions[9] – the legal basis for her mandate is Article 228 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). The right to submit a complaint to the European Ombudsman is provided for in Article 24 TFEU and in Article 43 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Lastly, Article 41 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights enshrines the right to good administration as a fundamental right. It is binding on the administration of the European institutions and stipulates that ‘every person has the right to have his or her affairs handled impartially, fairly and within a reasonable time by the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the Union’.

 

In 2019, the European Ombudsman dealt with 2201 complaints and opened 456 inquiries on the basis of complaints and two own-initiative inquiries. She closed 552 inquiries opened on the basis of complaints and eight own-initiative inquiries.

 

Of the 458 inquiries opened, 274 (59.7%) concerned the Commission, 33 (7.2%) the EU agencies, 54 (11.8%) other bodies, 44 (9.8%) the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO), 21 (4.6%) the European Parliament, 17 (3.7%) the European External Action Service and 9 (2%) the European Anti-Fraud Office. As the Commission is the main EU institution whose decisions have a direct impact on citizens, it is logical that it should be the chief subject of citizens’ complaints.

 

The majority of inquiries closed in 2019 concerned transparency and accountability, as well as access to information and documents (151), followed by service culture (123), the appropriate use of discretionary powers (111), upholding of procedural rights (74), sound management of staff matters (73), recruitment (69), upholding of fundamental rights (47), sound financial management (36), ethics (15) and public participation in the EU decision-making process (12).

 

Your rapporteur notes that, wherever possible, the European Ombudsman tries to achieve a positive outcome by working towards an amicable solution that is satisfactory to both the complainant and the institution concerned. In 2019, 316 cases were closed without any finding of maladministration, 187 cases were resolved amicably and in 30 cases the European Ombudsman considered that there were insufficient grounds for continuing the inquiry.

 

Twenty-nine cases were closed with critical comments being addressed to the institutions concerned on the basis of a finding of maladministration, and the suggestions were (partially) accepted. The European Ombudsman may also make additional remarks which are intended not to criticise the institution concerned, but to guide and advise it on how to improve the service offered. In response to receipt of a draft recommendation, the Treaties require the institution concerned to forward a detailed opinion to the European Ombudsman within three months.

If an EU institution fails to respond satisfactorily to a draft recommendation, the European Ombudsman can send a special report to the European Parliament. The report is the last weapon available to the European Ombudsman when dealing with a case. From this point it is for Parliament to decide on any further steps, such as drawing up a resolution. Special reports are submitted to the Committee on Petitions, the committee responsible for the relations with the European Ombudsman.

 

In January 2019, Parliament endorsed her proposal for a special report on transparency in the Council by adopting a resolution approved by a plenary majority in January 2019 (the European Ombudsman’s strategic inquiry OI/2/2017 on the transparency of legislative discussions in the preparatory bodies of the Council of the European Union).  These inquiries by the European Ombudsman are valuable because, on the one hand, they offer remedies to the problems identified and point to ways of continuously improving the governance of the European institutions, and, on the other, they hold the institutions accountable to European citizens and serve to maintain or enhance citizens’ trust in the EU and its leading institutions.

 

Your rapporteur therefore welcomes the European Ombudsman’s initiatives to keep the general public informed and ensure that the institutions learn from their mistakes, and points out that the Office of the European Ombudsman publishes annually on its website a study on the follow-up by the institutions to her critical comments inviting the institutions to react.

 

Your rapporteur also commends the Office of the European Ombudsman for the greater efforts it made in 2019 to improve its online communication, for example by highlighting successful inquiries on the homepage of its regularly updated website. This provides the public with easy-to-understand information about the European Ombudsman’s activities. Communication about the activities of the European Ombudsman through social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram) also helps to enhance the visibility and understanding of her work.

 

These communication approaches foster participation by civil society in the European project. In that connection, your rapporteur emphasises the way the European Ombudsman has given thought to the matter of citizens’ participation in the democratic process or measures to improve inclusiveness in the institutions.

 

In 2019, a year marked by European elections, the European Ombudsman took part, as a member of the European Network of Ombudsmen, in its annual conference, which was held in April 2019 in Brussels and brought together members of the Network and representatives of the EU institutions and other organisations. Participants looked at ways of enhancing citizens’ participation in the democratic process. They considered new initiatives on public mobilisation and participation in civic life, and how existing structures and institutions need to adapt to these, including the role ombudsmen have to play.

 

Lastly, in 2019 the European Ombudsman also chaired the EU Framework for the Protection, Promotion and Monitoring of the Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, of which the European Parliament’s Committee on Petitions and the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, the Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Commission and the European Elderly Forum are also members. As a member of this framework, she defends, encourages and monitors the implementation of the UN convention by the EU administration.

 

With the support of the European Disability Forum, the European Parliament and the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency, the European Ombudsman worked on ideas to be put to the Commission for a more ambitious and comprehensive post-2020 European Disability Strategy. The European Ombudsman followed up on the suggestions for improvement made in the context of her strategic inquiry on the accessibility of the Commission’s websites and online tools for persons with disabilities.

 

As regards the election of the European Ombudsman, your rapporteur calls on the European Parliament to consider ways of improving the appointment process so that the election at the beginning of the parliamentary term can take place in a more transparent, uniform and orderly manner.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

26.1.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

27

0

7

Members present for the final vote

Alex Agius Saliba, Andris Ameriks, Marc Angel, Andrus Ansip, Margrete Auken, Jordan Bardella, Alexander Bernhuber, Markus Buchheit, Ryszard Czarnecki, Eleonora Evi, Agnès Evren, Gheorghe Falcă, Mario Furore, Gianna Gancia, Ibán García Del Blanco, Alexis Georgoulis, Peter Jahr, Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro, Dolors Montserrat, Ulrike Müller, Emil Radev, Sira Rego, Frédérique Ries, Massimiliano Smeriglio, Yana Toom, Loránt Vincze, Thomas Waitz, Stefania Zambelli, Tatjana Ždanoka, Kosma Złotowski

Substitutes present for the final vote

Sylvie Guillaume, Ádám Kósa, Andrey Slabakov, Ramona Strugariu

 

REPORT on the implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD – A9-0014/2021

Source: European Parliament

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT – SUMMARY OF FACTS AND FINDINGS

Having a job is vital in our lives. It is essential for engaging in human interactions, for gaining the necessary financial means to lead a happy and healthy life, for realising our human potential, for becoming part of our society. However, we, persons with disabilities, are systematically deprived of our ‘right to engage in work’[1], which right is protected and promoted by several international human rights documents and by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and we are excluded from the labour market. Across the European Union, employers often rather pay a fine than employ us.

Official disability statistics are scarce and mostly not disaggregated by type of disability, race/ethnic origin, sexual orientation, etc., and there is hardly any data on the type of employment persons with disabilities have access to, still we know this much: only 50.6% of persons with disabilities are in employment (48.3% of women and 53.3% of men), compared to 74.8% for persons without disabilities[2]. The most recent statistics available reveal that only 20.7% of women with disabilities are in full-time employment, compared to 28.6% of men with disabilities[3]. Nevertheless, these figures do not uncover how many people are employed in the open labour market, and exclude persons with disabilities living in institutional care who are far less likely to have a job or to be included in the community in any possible way. You can find further data below.

It goes without saying that employment is not the only area where discrimination against us, persons with disabilities, is widespread. But it is definitely an area, which – through safeguarding equal rights and opportunities – could bring about transformational changes both for the persons with disabilities concerned but also for the entire society.

Our societies are not homogeneous. We all have different identities, capabilities, knowledge and skills, and in the European Union, which prides itself of being in the forefront of the fight for fundamental rights, equality and non-discrimination should be ensured for everyone, including for persons with disabilities, who themselves are a heterogeneous group of people with several coexisting identities and different abilities.

Nevertheless, in spite of all our commonly agreed upon values and treaties, our minorities, including persons with disabilities, continue to experience widespread and systemic deprivation of their rights starting from education, access to justice, access to sexual and reproductive health rights, to the right to live independently and live free from violence and abuse, to have adequate standard of living and social protection, etc. It is high time that we all understood that all of us have multiple/intersectional identities, that the provision of human rights is not a favour we should ask for from others but it is the bare minimum that we have to give to each other. We are a diverse society and diversity is a value and strength that will help us rise to our ever-changing set of local and global challenges. We, persons with disabilities, with all our talents and skills are one of the sources of this diversity.

One of the most prevailing rights violations that we, persons with disabilities, experience is the denial of our participation. This is why, for the preparation of this report, your rapporteur has asked for the input of persons with disabilities and their representing organisations during a series of discussions in June and July this year, and also during the actual drafting process in August and September. Moreover, as we firmly believe that not only the drafting of our report but also the end result should be more accessible for persons with disabilities, we have added an easy-to-read part to our report too. We are indebted to Aurelie Baranger, Christian Takow, Helen Portal, Fanny Lamon and Soufiane El Amrani for having prepared the easy-to-read version.

Your rapporteur would hereby like to express her gratitude to the colleagues who participated in our stakeholder consultations, namely

 Aurelie Baranger and Christian Takow from Autism-Europe,

 Claudia Rustige and Klaus Meyer zu Brickwedde from the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Inklusionsfirmen,

 Lars Bosselmann and Antoine Fobe from the European Blind Union,

 Marine Uldry and Haydn Hammersley from the European Disability Forum,

 Natasa Kokic and Frank Sioen from the European Network on Independent Living,

 Mark Wheatley and Jorge Crespo Garcia from the European Union of the Deaf,

 Helen Portal from Inclusion Europe,

 Renee Jopp and Hildur Onnudottir from the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus, and

 Laura Marchetti, Marie Fallon Kund and Jonas Bull from Mental Health Europe.

Due to them sharing their knowledge and experience on the most pressing concerns and challenges of persons with disabilities and the rights violations that they often encounter, mentioning good practices and sustainable policies, and suggesting the changes that they would like to see relating to EU policies and legislation, we have managed to gain a clearer picture of the employment-related situation on the ground and compile a more comprehensive list of demands.

Your rapporteur would also like to express her thanks and appreciation towards Dr. Jone Elizondo Urrestarazu, the representative of Equinet, who has provided us with her priceless insights into the legal aspects and tools of tackling the employment-related discrimination that persons with disabilities face in the EU Member States, and towards two distinguished disability lawyers from the academia, Professor Delia Ferri from the National University of Ireland Maynooth and Professor Mark Priestley from the University of Leeds, who have been kindly sharing their expertise and proposals with us concerning the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities. Furthermore, your rapporteur would like to thank the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), the European Roma Grassroots Organisations (ERGO) Network, ILGA-Europe, and the Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) for sending us their written contributions highlighting issues concerning intersectional discrimination. Finally, your rapporteur is grateful for the opportunity to consult the experts of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights relating to the use and collection of equality data.

All these colleagues agreed with us that having a job is vital in our lives. As some of them have put it: ‘Having a fulfilling job is definitely one of the most powerful expressions of inclusion. It is both good for the person who is employed, but also for colleagues, who see inclusion in action!’[4]; ‘Education and employment are crucial to live independently.’[5]; ‘Work and employment means being a full member of society and being a colleague and not a benefit recipient. People define themselves through work and their meaningful contribution to working life.’[6]; ‘In an ideal world, work and employment would mean empowerment, independence and full inclusion in society. I think this is what we need to strive for.’[7]

Your rapporteur hopes that in the foreseeable future we will manage to see the benefits of having inclusive workplaces and living in an inclusive society, and that we will jointly deliver on our official EU motto ‘United in diversity’. However, there is still a long road ahead of us. We hope that you all will help us achieve this goal.

 

 Easy to-read version 

 

It is a report of the European Parliament.
The European Parliament is a place where important decisions
of the European Union are made.
 

The European Union is a group of 27 countries.
We call it the EU.
They have joined to be stronger
politically and economically.

The EU makes laws and actions on important things
for the people of those countries.
 

This report is about the work situation
of persons with disabilities.
 

Too many persons with disabilities
do not have a job in the European Union.
They are treated worse than other people
because of their disability.
It is called discrimination.
 

That means that they cannot be part of the community.
That means that they are poorer.
That means that they cannot show
how clever and talented they are.
 

 

Too many persons with disabilities
only have a job in a sheltered workshop.
Sheltered workshops are places were disabled people
are put aside from other people to work.
It means that they do not have
colleagues without disabilities.
It means that they earn less money
and have fewer rights
than persons without disabilities.
 

Women with disabilities have bigger problems.
It is harder for women with disabilities to find a job
than for men with disabilities.
Women with disabilities earn less money
than men with disabilities.
 

Women with disabilities are often victims
of sexual harassment and abuse.
Sexual harassment is when someone
forces another person
to talk about sex or ask for sexual things.
Abuse is when someone treats you badly.
 

Persons with disabilities can also have problems
to find and keep a job
when they are people of colour
or from a different culture.
For example, a Roma person with disabilities
is often poorer than other persons with disabilities.
 

People with disabilities with a different sexual orientation
also face more discrimination.
They can have more difficulty to find a job
and they can be treated badly at work.
 

We want to change this situation.
We have written this report
with the help of persons with disabilities.
We demand a lot of things to change in Europe.
 

 

These are the changes that we want:
 

 

We want a disability quota in the European Union.
A quota is when a minimum number
of persons with disabilities work in a company.
That means that all big companies
will have to employ persons with disabilities.
 

We want companies to provide reasonable accommodation.
That means that companies make changes
so that the persons with disabilities can work there.
 

We want that persons with disabilities
get support to find a good job.
We want that persons with disabilities
get support to do their work well.
We want that these support persons
stay with persons with disabilities
as long as they need help.
 

We want that persons with disabilities
do not lose their disability benefits if they start working.
Disability benefits is the money a person with disabilities
receives from the State because of the disability.
We want persons with disabilities
to be paid the same as persons without disabilities
for the same job.
We want that persons with disabilities
feel safe in their workplace.
 

We want a society
where persons with disabilities are useful.
That means that we recognise
how talented and hardworking they are.
 

THE EMPLOYMENT-RELATED SITUATION OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES

IN NUMBERS

 

In order to demonstrate the grave effects of the inequality of and the discrimination against persons with disabilities in the labour market, your rapporteur intends to draw your attention to the latest available survey findings and research results which also reveal the heterogeneity and diversity within the group:

The rate of unemployment of persons with disabilities (17,1%) is almost twice of the general population (10,2%)[8], and the unemployment of persons with disabilities lasts longer than that of the persons without disabilities regardless of qualifications.

The rate of unemployment is the highest amongst young persons with disabilities (age group 16-24) with 24,9% of them being unemployed compared to 16,6% in the general population, which is inextricably linked with education opportunities.[9]

Women with disabilities, who constitute 16% of the total population of women, and 60% of the overall population of persons with disabilities in the EU, continue to face multiple and intersectional discrimination in all areas of life. Only 20,7% of women with disabilities are in full time employment, compared to 28,6% of men with disabilities[10]. The economic inactivity rate among women with disabilities is over two thirds of the total population of women of working age (16-64 years).

There are over 30 million blind and partially sighted persons in wider Europe; the average unemployment rate of them is 75% – and even higher among women – leading to their social exclusion and poverty[11].

There are approximately one million deaf sign language users in the EU and 51 million hard-of-hearing people, many of whom are also sign language users[12] whose unemployment is underreported and inadequately researched.

There are approximately seven million persons with intellectual disabilities in the EU whose employment level is considerably low.[13]

Estimates indicate that across Europe only around 10% of persons on the autism spectrum are employed, mostly in part-time and low-paid jobs, in under-qualified positions or in sheltered settings[14].

29.5% of women and 27.5% of men[15] with disabilities are at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the EU compared to 22.4% of the entire population. Persons with disabilities are more likely to face in-work poverty than those without disabilities (11% versus 9.1%)[16] due to the extra costs related to their disability, e.g. healthcare, logistical and human support, the fact that they earn less than their colleagues in an equivalent role and are less likely to get a promotion[17], and due to their loss of disability entitlements once in work. The risk of poverty is emphasised for those declaring more severe levels of disability.

A disproportionate number of persons with disabilities are homeless[18] and there is an increased risk for persons with disabilities to become homeless[19].

Due to the cumulative effects of intersectional discrimination, Roma persons with disabilities are assumed to face more barriers, experience greater unemployment, more severe poverty and less access to education and services than their peers without disabilities.[20]

LGBTI persons with disabilities face added obstacles in employment; 16% of them report being denied jobs or promotions because of their identity, compared to 10% for LGBTI staff in general; one in four LGBTI persons with disabilities have been subject to derogatory remarks, bullying and abuse and were outed without consent.[21]

A recent EU-wide survey with persons with disabilities shows that 96% of them find access to the open labour market inadequate or requiring improvement, only 10% of them find that that the existing legislation is adequate to protect persons with disabilities against discrimination in the open labour market, and 18% of them were not aware of the existence of a legislation in their country which would protect them against discrimination.[22]

 

 

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

on the implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD

(2020/2086(INI))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Treaty on European Union (TEU), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Charter),

 having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and its entry into force in the EU on 21 January 2011, in accordance with Council Decision 2010/48/EC of 26 November 2009 on the conclusion, by the European Community, of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,

 having regard to the General Comments of the UNCRPD Committee on the implementation of the UNCRPD, in particular General Comment No 2 (2014) of 22 May 2014 on accessibility, General Comment No 3 (2016) of 26 August 2016 on women and girls with disabilities, General Comment No 5 (2017) of 27 October 2017 on living independently and being included in the community, and General Comment No 6 (2018) of 26 April 2018 on equality and non-discrimination,

 having regard to the Concluding Observations of the UNCRPD Committee of 2 October 2015 on the initial report of the European Union,

 having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

 having regard to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (UN 2030 Agenda) and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),

 having regard to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

 having regard to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,

 having regard to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention),

 having regard to the European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR),

 having regard to the Europe 2020 target relating to the fight against poverty and social exclusion,

 having regard to Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation (Employment Equality Directive)[23],

 having regard to Council Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000 implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin[24],

 having regard to the Commission proposal for a Council Directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (COM(2008)0426) and Parliament’s position thereon of 2 April 2009[25],

 having regard to Directive (EU) 2016/2102 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2016 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies[26],

 having regard to Directive (EU) 2019/882 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 April 2019 on the accessibility requirements for products and services[27],

 having regard to the regulations laying down the rules on the EU funding programmes under the multiannual financial framework, especially the European Social Fund (ESF), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the Erasmus programme, and the Just Transition Fund, which provide EU financial assistance for improving the situation of persons with disabilities,

 having regard to Council Directive 89/391/EEC of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work[28], in particular the employer’s obligation to ensure the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to work and the fact that they may not impose financial costs on workers in order to fulfil this obligation,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 15 November 2010 entitled ‘European Disability Strategy 2010-2020: A renewed commitment to a barrier-free Europe’ (COM(2010)0636) (Disability Strategy),

 having regard to the Commission staff working document of 2 February 2017 entitled ‘Progress Report on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020’ (SWD(2017)0029),

 having regard to the Commission recommendation of 22 June 2018 on standards for equality bodies[29],

 having regard to the Commission pilot project of 2013 on an EU disability card,

 having regard to its resolution of 8 July 2020 on the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families in the COVID-19 crisis[30],

 having regard to its resolution of 18 June 2020 on the European Disability Strategy post-2020[31],

 having regard to its resolution of 11 November 2018 on the situation of women with disabilities[32],

 having regard to its resolution of 30 November 2017 on the implementation of the European Disability Strategy[33],

 having regard to its resolution of 7 July 2016 on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with special regard to the Concluding Observations of the CRPD Committee[34],

 having regard to its resolution of 20 May 2015 on the List of Issues adopted by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in relation to the initial report of the European Union[35],

 having regard to its resolution of 25 October 2011 on mobility and inclusion of persons with disabilities and the European Disability Strategy 2010-2020[36],

 having regard to its resolution of 6 May 2009 on the active inclusion of people excluded from the labour market[37],

 having regard to its resolutions of 17 June 1988 on sign languages for deaf people[38], of 18 November 1998 on sign languages[39], and of 23 November 2016 on sign languages and professional sign language interpreters[40],

 having regard to its resolution of 17 April 2020 on EU coordinated action to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences[41],

 having regard to its resolution of 16 January 2019 on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union in 2017[42],

 having regard to its resolution of 15 September 2016 on application of Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation[43],

 having regard to the relevant studies of its Policy Department A, especially the study on ‘Discrimination and Access to Employment for Female Workers with Disabilities’ of 2017, and the study on ‘Reasonable Accommodation and Sheltered Workshops for People with Disabilities: Cost and Returns of Investments’ of 2015,

 having regard to the relevant studies of the European Parliamentary Research Service, in particular the European Implementation Assessments of 2016 entitled ‘EU Implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)’ and ‘The obligations of the EU public administration under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’,

 having regard to the growing body of case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the interpretation of Directive 2000/78/EC,

 having regard to the Annual Report 2018 and 2019 of the European Ombudsman,

 having regard to the European Ombudsman’s strategic inquiries into how the Commission ensures that persons with disabilities can access its websites (OI/6/2017/EA), how the Commission treats persons with disabilities under the Joint Sickness Insurance Scheme for EU staff (OI/4/2016/EA), and its decision in the joint inquiry in cases 1337/2017/EA and 1338/2017/EA on accessibility for visually impaired candidates of selection procedures organised by the European Personnel Selection Office to recruit EU civil servants,

 having regard to the European Ombudsman’s own-initiative inquiry concerning respect of fundamental rights in the implementation of the EU cohesion policy (OI/8/2014/AN),

 having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on ‘Shaping the EU agenda for disability rights 2020-2030’,

 having regard to the thematic reports of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, including their Coronavirus pandemic bulletins,

 having regard to the Compendium of Practices on Equality Data and to the Guidelines on improving the collection and use of equality data (Equality data guidelines) prepared by the Subgroup on Equality Data of the EU High Level Group on Non-discrimination, Equality and Diversity,

 having regard to the Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality,

 having regard to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,

 having regard to the reports and recommendations of representative organisations of persons with disabilities, especially Autism Europe, the Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Inklusionsfirmen, the European Blind Union, the European Disability Forum, the European Network on Independent Living, the European Union of the Deaf, Inclusion Europe, the International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus and Mental Health Europe, as well as the reports and recommendations of Equinet and academics working on the rights of persons with disabilities,

 having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure, as well as Article 1(1)(e) of, and Annex 3 to, the decision of the Conference of Presidents of 12 December 2002 on the procedure for granting authorisation to draw up own-initiative reports,

 having regard to the opinions of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Committee on Petitions,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (A9-0014/2021),

A. whereas persons with disabilities[44] (PwD) have the right to full participation in the labour market and society but their fundamental rights are often withheld in the EU; whereas they are overwhelmingly excluded from the open labour market and denied their right to engage in work on an equal basis with others or face major difficulties in achieving equal access to and equal conditions of participating in the labour market;

B. whereas PwD continue to face multiple and intersectional discrimination and disadvantage based on their disability and their gender, race, ethnicity, age, religion or belief, sexual orientation, migration status or socioeconomic background, including their education level; whereas discrimination is present across the different phases of the work cycle, beginning with recruitment, which can lead to the social exclusion of PwD; whereas discrimination and the lack of workplace diversity cause significant human and economic costs;

C. whereas the Charter prohibits discrimination on any ground, including that of disability, and recognises the rights of PwD[45];

D. whereas the EU became a party to the UNCRPD in December 2010, with the Convention coming into force for the EU in January 2011; whereas the UNCRPD is binding upon the EU, its institutions and its Member States, which have a direct obligation to fully implement it, including its Article 27 on work and employment; whereas since its adoption, some, but not sufficient, progress has been made in achieving the goals of the UNCRPD;

E. whereas the EU is, therefore, obliged to act in a manner which is compatible with the UNCRPD and the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) is obliged to interpret EU legislation, including the Employment Equality Directive, in a manner which is compatible with the UNCRPD;

F. whereas the UNCRPD rejects the medical model of disability and endorses the human rights and the socio-contextual model of disability instead; whereas the UNCRPD demands inclusive equality for PwD; whereas the UNCRPD recognises the right of PwD to work on an equal basis with others, to choose their occupation freely, to be accepted and to work in an open, inclusive and accessible work environment;

G. whereas in line with the definition and requirements under the UNCRPD, reasonable accommodation focuses on the specific needs of an individual, while positive actions apply to a whole group of persons subject to potential discrimination; whereas both are necessary to safeguard the achievement of workplace diversity and to ensure that PwD can equally exercise their right to work; whereas there is a lack of clear EU guidelines concerning reasonable accommodation, which is not sufficiently understood by employers and is often unavailable or insufficient; whereas reasonable accommodation of the needs of workers with disabilities has an essential impact on their job quality and career prospects and the sustainability of work;

H. whereas one of the key aspects of the employment of PwD is their participation in community life and the transition from institutional to community-based support; whereas the process of deinstitutionalisation in the Member States needs to be finalised, as PwD have the right to live in the community and to be fully included in it; whereas the progress in deinstitutionalisation is uneven across the Member States and despite the introduction of policies and the allocation of substantial funding in the EU, there are still one million people living in institutions;

I. whereas the Employment Equality Directive (‘the Directive’), which entered into force in 2000, is currently the key EU legal instrument to provide protection against discrimination for PwD; whereas safeguarding equality and non-discrimination is a shared competence between the EU and its Member States;

J. whereas the Directive is only in partial alignment with the UNCRPD, as it does not embrace the human rights model of disability, it does not address discrimination based on assumed or future disability, it does not target intersectional discrimination, it does not require Member States to adopt positive action measures, it is limited to the field of employment, occupation and vocational training and does not extend to all areas of life as required by the UNCRPD, it does not tackle freedom of movement for the purpose of employment, it does not require the creation of independent monitoring mechanisms, it does not provide for the systemic involvement of PwD and their representative organisations in the monitoring process, and it lacks the obligation to gather disaggregated data;

K. whereas the Directive does not legally require Member States to designate an equality body to work on discrimination on the ground of disability, which is highly problematic since equality bodies play a central role in the implementation of equal treatment directives on the grounds under their mandate, such as gender, and race and ethnic origin;

L. whereas collection of comparable data on equality is vital for evidence-based policy- and decision-making; whereas there is a lack of official statistics, in particular on PwD living in institutional care settings and on characteristics such as their race/ethnic origin or sexual orientation, which has also been pointed out in the Equality data guidelines; whereas Regulation (EU) 2019/1700[46] will significantly remedy the situation relating to household survey data on employment, data disaggregated by types of disability and data on country of origin (first and second generation), and envisages pilot studies on persons in institutions; whereas gaps will continue to persist and should be remedied;

M. whereas only 50.6 % of PwD are in employment (48.3 % of women and 53.3 % of men) compared with 74.8 % of persons without disabilities[47]; whereas PwD living in institutions or considered to be unable to work are excluded from these statistics[48]; whereas these figures do not reveal the type, quality and conditions of employment, for example whether employment is provided in the open labour market, and if an employee status with the enjoyment of labour rights and the provision of a minimum wage is guaranteed; whereas PwD are a diverse group and are often subject to intersectional discrimination, the cumulative effects of which have a tangible impact on employment;

N. whereas in certain Member States PwD are overwhelmingly employed in sheltered workshops; whereas such sheltered workshops should aim to serve inclusion, rehabilitation and transition to the open labour market as soon as possible; whereas sheltered workshops are often a segregated environment in which workers with disabilities do not have an employee status, labour rights, or a guaranteed minimum wage; whereas this clearly constitutes a violation of the UNCRPD; notes that in some Member States, sheltered workshops are currently used as a transition to the open labour market; whereas European level research into the characteristics and diversity of sheltered workshops, sometimes also termed sheltered employment, could help to identify best practice, improve the debate and ensure compliance with EU legislation and the UNCRPD; whereas inclusive models of supported employment may, if rights-based and recognised as employment, respect the rights of PwD and serve inclusion and transition into the open labour market;

O. whereas the rate of unemployment of PwD (17.1 %) is almost twice that of the general population (10.2 %)[49], and the unemployment of PwD lasts longer than that of the persons without disabilities, regardless of qualifications;

P. whereas the rate of unemployment is highest among young PwD (those aged between 16 and 24), at 24.9 % compared to 16.6 % in the general population; whereas this difference is inextricably linked to education opportunities;

Q. whereas women with disabilities, who constitute 16 % of the total population of women and 60 % of the overall population of PwD in the EU, continue to face multiple and intersectional discrimination in all areas of life; whereas the economic inactivity rate among women with disabilities is over two thirds higher than that of the total population of women of working age (16-64 years); whereas only 20.7 % of women with disabilities are in full time employment, compared to 28.6 % of men with disabilities;

R. whereas women mostly have the responsibility for taking care of the household, and account for the large majority of caregivers for persons with disabilities; whereas single mothers who look after children with disabilities are at serious risk of falling victim to poverty and social exclusion; whereas age discrimination affects all age groups, together with possible stereotypes and barriers; whereas elderly women with disabilities are often the sole carers for family members with disabilities; whereas this has a direct effect on their vulnerability to poverty and social exclusion, as well as on their access to jobs and their professional development, and may negatively affect their employment conditions;

S. whereas there are more than 30 million blind and partially-sighted persons in wider Europe; whereas the average unemployment rate among them is 75 % – and even higher among women – leading to their social exclusion and poverty[50]; whereas there are approximately one million deaf sign language users in the EU and 51 million hard-of-hearing people, many of whom are also sign language users whose unemployment is underreported and inadequately researched; whereas there are approximately seven million people with intellectual disabilities in the EU whose employment level is considerably lower than the average[51]; whereas estimates indicate that across Europe, only around 10 % of persons on the autism spectrum are employed, mostly in part-time and low-paid jobs, in under-qualified positions or in sheltered settings[52];

T. whereas among PwD, 29.5 % of women and 27.5 % of men are at risk of poverty and social exclusion in the EU compared to 22.4 % of the population as a whole; whereas PwD are more likely to face in-work poverty than those without disabilities (11 % as opposed to 9.1 %) due to the extra costs of their disability, such as healthcare, logistical and human support, their loss of disability entitlements once in work and the fact that they earn less than their colleagues in an equivalent role and are less likely to get a promotion[53]; whereas the risk of poverty is emphasised for those declaring more severe levels of disability;

U. whereas a disproportionate number of PwD are homeless and PwD run an increased risk of becoming homeless; whereas homeless people may develop a disability, such as amputated limbs, due to the risks arising from their living conditions;

V. whereas, due to the cumulative effects of intersectional discrimination, Roma PwD are assumed to face more barriers, experience higher levels of unemployment, more severe poverty and less access to education and services than their peers without disabilities[54];

W. whereas LGBTI PwD face added obstacles to employment, with 16 % reporting having been denied jobs or promotions because of their identity, compared with 10 % of LGBTI staff in general; whereas one in four LGBTI PwD have been subjected to derogatory remarks, bullying and abuse and were outed without consent[55];

X. whereas a recent EU-wide survey of PwD shows that 96 % find that access to the open labour market is inadequate or that it requires improvement, while only 10 % find that the existing legislation is adequate to protect PwD against discrimination in the open labour market, and 18 % were not aware of the existence of legislation in their country which would protect them against discrimination[56];

Y. whereas this data demonstrates that the EU Disability Strategy 2010-2020 did not place enough emphasis on employment of PwD and the intersectional discrimination they face;

Z. whereas harassment in the workplace, including sexual harassment and retaliation for speaking up, hinders access to work and employment, job retention and equal career paths, in particular for women with disabilities;

AA. whereas disadvantage, exclusion and discrimination against PwD in the labour market are not a standalone challenge but are interrelated with the lack of inclusive education, including in early childhood; lifelong learning, including vocational training; the barriers, segregation and discrimination present in the fields of housing and health; and the lack of accessibility of transport and other services and products; whereas a complex approach and comprehensive measures are therefore needed to remedy the situation;

AB. whereas measures to promote mental well-being and prevent mental ill-health and psychosocial disabilities in the workplace are crucial;

AC. whereas the accessibility of workplaces, transport and support services, in particular personal assistance, and society at large is essential for PwD to effectively enjoy their right to independent living and their right to work; whereas the Member States should also support the creation of a barrier-free built environment; whereas once transposed, Directive (EU) 2019/882 on the accessibility requirements for products and services will provide a significant improvement for a barrier-free society, and whereas its transposition therefore needs to be timely and closely monitored;

AD. whereas removing benefits as soon as PwD commence paid work is a high-risk, high-stress policy, a major obstacle to access to work, and socially unjust because it does not factor in the higher costs of living with a disability;

AE. whereas the different definitions of disability, the diversity of disability assessment and the various and often unclear classification methods applied across Member States, as well as the lack of mutual recognition of disability status, hinder freedom of movement within the EU for PwD;

AF. whereas awareness raising is essential to enable employers and workers to act and react adequately, on the basis of knowledge of their obligations and rights in the area of non-discrimination;

AG. whereas new technologies, notably AI systems, have the potential to develop efficient, accessible and non-discriminatory hiring processes, but non-inclusive technological developments could represent a risk of adding new barriers and forms of discrimination; whereas Article 9 of the UNCRPD requires accessible information as well as access to communication technologies and systems on an equal basis with others;

1. Calls on the EU institutions and the Member States to reaffirm their commitment to realising inclusive equality for PwD and to fully implement the UNCRPD, including its Article 27 on work and employment; to this end, calls on them to step up their efforts and strive to create an inclusive, accessible and non-discriminatory labour market with a holistic life cycle policy approach for PwD and for all, in compliance with the EU Treaties and the rights laid out in the EPSR as well as the international values enshrined in the UN 2030 Agenda and the SDGs; calls for the EU and the Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD;

2. Believes that a revision of the Employment Equality Directive must take place as soon as possible with a view to fully harmonising it with the provisions of the UNCRPD and implementing a participatory process aimed at ensuring the direct and full involvement of representative organisations of persons with disabilities;

For an inclusive and accessible workplace

3. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt universal design standards and guidelines on the accessibility of environments, programmes, services and products, including workplaces, their equipment and facilities, in order to make them usable by all;

4. Calls on the Member States to ensure the provision of reasonable accommodation for PwD in the workplace, without any cost being borne by workers; calls on the Commission to prepare clear EU guidelines on reasonable accommodation detailing what forms it might take in line with an individual’s needs so that Article 5 of the Directive can be transposed effectively into national law; calls on the Commission to launch infringement procedures and to encourage Member States to ensure that a sanction system is in place in case of non-provision of reasonable accommodation, as it constitutes a form of discrimination; considers that Parliament might use the option of calling on the Commission to launch such infringements procedures; calls on the Member States to prepare support and guidance materials and provide relevant training in accessible formats for employers, duty bearers, workers and PwD in order to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and awareness about the practical implementation of reasonable accommodation, thereby also dispelling myths about its prohibitive costs;

5. Strongly deplores the uneven and poor enforcement of Council Directive 2000/78/EC in some Member States, which are failing to effectively and uniformly monitor and sanction persistent violations of EU law;

6. States that the right of all persons to equality before the law and protection against discrimination constitutes a universal right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, of which all Member States are signatories; recalls that Convention No 111 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) prohibits discrimination in the field of employment and occupation;

7. Urges the Member States to use or examine the introduction of compulsory workplace diversity quotas in order to foster an inclusive workplace with effective and proportionate sanctions for non-compliance; suggests that fines should be re-invested for inclusion; stresses that such measures must be proportionate, taking account of small organisations; urges the Member States to support public and private undertakings in implementing annual diversity plans with measurable targets and periodic evaluation, and to support employers in recruiting PwD through measures such as the establishment of a voluntary list or single window of applicants with disabilities from which to recruit candidates; calls on the Member States to accompany the introduction of quotas with training for employers on the content and scope of applicable rules; calls on the Member States to task public employment services with preparing a voluntary list of job-seekers with disabilities to help employers meet the requirement of diversity quotas;

8. Calls for the EU institutions to lead by example by setting a diversity quota, and a specific diversity quota concerning the recruitment of PwD, developing internal guidelines on reasonable accommodation, ensuring fairness and full accessibility in the recruitment process and in the workplace, and employing persons with all types of disabilities at all levels and actively seeking PwD to fill positions; calls on the Member States to do the same in their public administrations;

9. Calls on the Member States to adopt sustainable inclusive employment policies, such as adapted recruitment procedures, job carving, customised, flexible and supported employment, job sharing, individual placement and support, and inclusive enterprises, taking into account the specific characteristics of persons with different types of disabilities and thereby facilitating their access to the labour market; calls on the Member States

 to use fiscal incentives and other financial support measures for companies, including SMEs, that recruit PwD or provide vocational training and apprenticeships for them;

 to support inclusive companies that provide employment for PwD in the open labour market through public procurement;

 to promote tailored labour intermediation models;

 to promote corporate social responsibility concerning the employment of PwD and support Social Economy organisations which reinvest their profits in social goals;

 and to inform employers about these policies and incentives;

calls on the Member States to support companies that offer targeted positive action measures to tackle multiple disadvantage; calls on the Member States to exchange best practices in order to identify and apply a targeted mix of measures to support equal employment of PwD;

10. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to urgently put in place measures to assess the key trends for the future of work from a disability perspective with the active involvement of PwD, in order to identify and launch specific actions to make the labour market more inclusive considering the diversity of PwD; stresses in that context the importance of inclusive and accessible initiatives with appropriate funding aimed at lifelong learning, including vocational education and training (VET) and skills development for PwD from an early age, with a particular focus on digital and green skills in line with the fast-changing realities and demands of the current and future labour market; underlines, furthermore, the importance of providing appropriate support to PwD throughout their lives, making better use of innovative technologies to level the playing field and remove barriers to education and employment, and to help PwD gain access to digital tools and software that are indispensable for their independent living;

11. Calls on the Member States to increase the capacity of public employment services to create a network of inclusive companies, to recruit, at every level, specialised employment auxiliaries such as job coaches, providing individualised needs assessment, training and support to PwD who are looking for a job, and job delivery assistants for as long as needed to help PwD perform their work in the open labour market;

12. Calls on the Member States to promote human-rights based approaches in education with a view to establishing inclusive and non-discriminatory education systems, as well as to support the development and provision of training on universal design, reasonable accommodation and workplace diversity for university students at the relevant faculties with the involvement of PwD, and to facilitate the training of job coaches, job delivery assistants, disability and diversity advisers with a focus on the specificities of different disabilities;

13. Calls on the Member States to continuously assess, jointly with representatives of PwD, the characteristics, diversity and effectiveness of existing sheltered workshops in providing PwD with skills to gain employment in the open labour market, to ensure that they are covered and protected by legal frameworks covering social security, working conditions, minimum wages and non-discrimination, while phasing out provisions that violate the UNCRPD, especially its Article 27; calls on the Commission to monitor this process; recalls that sheltered workshops should be limited to an option for a temporary period for PwD in their working life cycle; calls on the Member States, in that respect, to develop and promote inclusive employment models on the open labour market and outside sheltered workshops in full compliance with the UNCRPD; further insists that workers with disabilities in sheltered workshops should at least be ensured the rights and status equivalent to the labour rights of people working in the open labour market; calls on the Member States, in this regard, to speed up deinstitutionalisation, provide effective, regional and decentralised systems of care, including social activation services, at all levels of the society, and ensure the smoother involvement of persons with disabilities in the open labour market and in society as a whole;

14. Deplores the fact that discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation may undermine the achievement of the objectives of the Treaty on European Union (TEU);

15. Welcomes Commission initiatives such as the Access City Award, and advocates initiatives at national, regional and local level;

16. Regrets that persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities experience multiple legal, institutional, communicational and social barriers to exercising their rights, which prevents them from voting, standing for election to public office, exercising civic participation or simply having a say in their own lives; encourages the Member States to take immediate measures to reform their legal frameworks in order to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life, in line with Article 12 of the UNCRPD, and recalls that the political rights of persons with disabilities and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others must be guaranteed, in compliance with Article 29 of the UNCRPD;

17. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee that EU funds are not spent on segregated employment schemes for PwD with no prospect of finding non-sheltered employment;

For a non-discriminatory workplace

18. Urges the Commission and the Member States to intensify their work with PwD, their representative organisations and equality bodies with the objective of preparing and launching comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns and targeted training in accessible formats and sign languages, aimed at employers, duty-bearers in all fields and society more broadly about the capabilities and contributions of PwD, and about the benefits of diversity, equality and non-discrimination, in order to eradicate the existing stigma and prejudice against PwD, to fight bullying, harassment and exploitation, and to achieve inclusive equality for all;

19. Highlights the importance of access to information for victims of discrimination; considers it necessary that Member States take the appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable and accessible legal advice and assistance can be obtained and are provided to victims at all stages of the legal process, including confidential and in-person counselling and emotional, personal and moral support, by equality bodies or appropriate intermediaries; calls on the Member States, furthermore, to combat harassment and violence in the workplace which violate a person’s dignity and/or create an offensive environment at work;

20. Calls on the Member States to take active measures to safeguard non-discrimination for all, including PwD, to ensure, in line with the UNCRPD, the accessibility of workplaces, transport and of the built environment, and to provide reasonable accommodation for PwD at all stages of work, from recruitment through career advancement, for safe and healthy working conditions and employment rehabilitation; calls for the EU institutions to take the same measures; calls on the Member States to ensure that PwD can exercise their labour and trade union rights on equal terms, and that they are protected from violence, mobbing, cyber-bullying and harassment, including sexual harassment, in particular that inflicted on women with disabilities; to this end, urges the Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention, which is supposed to have a transversal impact on all EU legislation with a specific focus on women with disabilities who face multiple discrimination and are more vulnerable to harassment in the workplace; calls for the EU institutions to take the same measures;

21. Stresses, furthermore, the need for a Disability Rights Guarantee with specific measures that address the needs of women with disabilities;

22. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to guarantee that inclusion policies pursued at sectoral and company level are established in consultation with workers’ representatives;

23. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to grant support to workers with disabilities resulting from an accident, continuing their employment or offering the person concerned an equivalent job that reflects their new skills, without loss of the rights and working conditions they enjoyed before the injury;

24. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to take a preventive and inclusive approach to occupational safety and health when supporting the recruitment and return to work of persons with disabilities; notes that this could be achieved via integrated pathways combining occupational safety and health (OSH) prevention with various forms of employability measures such as individualised support, counselling, guidance, and access to general and vocational education and training;

25. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to address the existing gender, disability and ethnic pay gap, and in so doing to combat direct and indirect wage discrimination and the risk of in-work poverty for workers facing barriers at work and who are subject to multiple discrimination, especially LGBTI persons, women, Roma and refugees; awaits the Commission’s presentation of the announced legislation on pay transparency in the workplace in quarter one of 2021 to fight the pay gap faced by disadvantaged social groups, in particular PwD;

26. Stresses that protection of trans people against employment discrimination must be effective and calls on the Member States to combat this discrimination, especially in the area of employment;

27. Calls on the Member States not to deprive PwD of their disability entitlements covering their disability-related extra costs when entering the labour market or when surpassing a certain income threshold, as this practice contributes to in-work and old-age poverty because these entitlements serve to support PwD in overcoming barriers and they can help guarantee their dignity and equality;

28. Calls on the Member States to allow sufficient flexibility in the provision of social support and benefits to ensure their adjustability to the individual needs and career paths of PwD;

29. Calls on the Commission to assess whether the Member States have detailed provisions in place to ensure that people can exercise their right to maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and care leave, as well as arrangements for flexible working, and whether these are adapted to the diverse needs of mothers with disabilities, mothers of children with disabilities or a long-term illness, or mothers in specific circumstances, such as those dealing with premature births; calls for more ambitious measures to promote men’s equal role as carers; calls on the Member States to present national strategies to support informal carers; insists on the need for high-quality and accessible childcare services to ensure equal participation of women in the work environment;

30. Calls on the Commission to propose legislation on the standards for equality bodies following consultations with organisations representing PwD, thereby providing them with a stronger mandate and adequate resources to safeguard the equal treatment of PwD and ensure accessible information dissemination for all;

31. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to provide sustainable funding for capacity-building of representative organisations of PwD recognising their important role in tackling discrimination against PwD;

32. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to harmonise the definition of disability and to ensure mutual recognition of disability status across Member States so as to ensure the free movement of PwD and the enjoyment of their EU citizenship rights; to this end, calls on the Commission and the Member States to conduct a study of the existing legislation and collect best practices from the Member States; acknowledges that free movement is a fundamental right in the EU; calls on the Commission and the Member States, therefore, to extend the usage of the EU disability card to all the Member States and to widen its scope, through it allowing for the recognition of disability status and access to services throughout the EU, thereby making it easier for persons with disabilities to live and work abroad; calls on the Commission to set up a central information point in national sign languages and in accessible formats for PwD about the services available for PwD in the different Member States;

33. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to recognise and promote user-led personal assistance in line with General Comment No 5 of the UNCRPD Committee, to foster independent living and inclusion in the labour market; recalls that owing to the special nature of personal assistance, free movement provisions need to be adapted to the needs of PwD; calls for EU action to address personal assistance, especially concerning free movement of PwD and their personal assistants;

34. Recalls that new technologies represent both opportunities and challenges for all workers, in particular PwD; stresses in this regard that new technologies might pose major accessibility challenges for PwD; therefore, underlines that accessibility must be included as a pre-condition in any EU initiative, and that the EU should take action to support the application of universal design and ensure the availability and affordability of assistive technologies; calls on the Commission to ensure, in line with the UNCRPD, full and effective accessibility of information and communication technologies and systems on an equal basis and apply, in this context, guidelines supporting AI developers to take into account the needs of PwD through the development processes, avoiding the creation of new discriminatory biases; calls on the Commission and the Member States to support research programmes focused on the development of assistive technologies including robotics, digital technologies and artificial intelligence with the aim of enabling the full integration of PwD in all aspects of life; calls on the Member States to ensure that PwD have access to affordable digital tools and software which are tailor-made to their needs and to build on the expertise of organisations representing PwD in defining the most suitable digital tools or software for the individual needs of the PwD;

Further targeted actions and mainstreaming the rights of PwD

35. Welcomes the Commission’s public consultation on its post-2020 EU Disability Strategy; calls on the Commission to place special emphasis in the Strategy on employment, as well as to cover all the provisions of the UNCRPD, to set clear, measurable and ambitious targets relating to workplace diversity reflecting the heterogeneity of PwD, to address multiple and intersectional discrimination, and to monitor the efficiency of the strategy with the involvement of PwD and their representative organisations; stresses that collaboration with authorities, social partners, organisations and civil society at European, national and local levels is indispensable to ensure the implementation of the Strategy and the UNCRPD; calls on the Commission to propose measures to tackle the COVID-19-related challenges and rights violations of PwD; stresses that disability discrimination has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, endangering the lives of PwD and threatening their physical and mental health; calls on the Commission to link the future Disability Strategy to the European Semester process;

36. Calls for the collection of EU-wide disability-related data with a human rights-based approach, including on employment and VET, disaggregated by gender, age, disability type, race/ethnic origin, sexual orientation, education level, etc., including PwD who have until now been left out of the statistics; calls for the collection of data related to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on PwD in order to put forward policies to prepare for future crises;

37. Calls for all the EU institutions and the Member States to act in accordance with the slogan ‘nothing about us without us’ and to establish close cooperation with PwD and their representative organisations, to build on their expertise and actively involve them in all stages of relevant decision-making, legislation, strategies, policies and programmes, including mainstream ones;

38. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to mainstream the rights of PwD, taking into consideration the specific situation of those subject to multiple discrimination, in all employment-related proposals, including the ones concerning the expected transformations in the future of work, as well as when designing and implementing actions aimed at developing digital and green skills;

39. Calls on the Commission, in particular the Equality Task Force, and the Member States to systematically mainstream the rights of PwD, with special attention to those subject to intersectional discrimination, in all the relevant laws, policies and programmes, since equality in employment is indivisible from equal access to education, health, housing, justice and social protection, and to expand the focus on accessibility to make progress towards an accessible built environment, public spaces, transport, and information and communication technologies, etc.; stresses in this regard the need to appoint a disability focal point in all EU institutions, including in all Commission DGs and EU Agencies, in addition to establishing an interinstitutional coordination mechanism in order to ensure disability mainstreaming in all EU legislation;

40. Is concerned about the existence of significant barriers to access to information and communications for persons with disabilities, particularly for persons who are blind or deaf, have intellectual disabilities or are on the autism spectrum; recalls that differences in individuals’ abilities to receive and impart information and to use information and communications technologies represent a knowledge divide that creates inequality;

41. Calls for a cross-cutting, comprehensive review of Union law and policy to ensure their full compliance with the UNCRPD;

42. Calls on the Member States to address discrimination and violence against children with disabilities through an integrated approach, recognising that they face a higher risk of being victims of such behaviours; stresses that the voice of children with disabilities should be represented in the design, implementation and monitoring of laws, policies, services and measures addressing them;

43. Stresses the need to include specific and adequate provisions in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum to properly address the needs of persons with disabilities at all stages and in all processes;

44. Regrets that Union law does not protect individuals from discrimination on the ground of disability outside the workplace and employment;

45. Calls on the Council to unblock the negotiations on the proposed horizontal anti-discrimination directive without any further delay and move towards an agreement, thereby extending protection to PwD outside the sphere of employment;

46. Expresses its deep concern that most mainstream programmes, including those covered by Structural Funds, fail to reach out to the most deprived groups, including PwD; calls, therefore, on the European Court of Auditors to check the performance of EU programmes, with special emphasis on education and employment programmes, for example the European Social Fund Plus (ESF+), the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI), the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and Erasmus+, in a thorough manner;

47. Calls on the Commission to guarantee that EU funds will respect EU and international human rights standards and conventions such as the UNCRPD and will not support any measures and programmes that contribute to segregation or to social exclusion; furthermore, calls on the Commission to fund actions creating accessible environments, products, services, practices and devices, fostering deinstitutionalisation and supporting personal assistance, and to guarantee that EU-funded actions reach PwD and ensure their active involvement in society;

°

° °

48. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and candidate countries, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, the European Court of Auditors, the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Ombudsman, the Committee of the Regions, the European Economic and Social Committee, for distribution to subnational parliaments and councils, the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON CIVIL LIBERTIES, JUSTICE AND HOME AFFAIRS (13.1.2021)

for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

on the implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD

(2020/2086(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová

 

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Recalls that the purpose of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), to which the EU is also a party, is to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms by all persons, irrespective of any long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments; stresses that, by ratifying the UNCRPD, the EU and its Member States have associated themselves with the efforts agreed at international level to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities and promote their inclusion in society and active employment; highlights that according to the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), while the ratification of the convention by all Member States and the EU itself represents a major milestone, gaps persist between the promise of the convention and reality on the ground[57];

2. Calls on the EU and its Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UNCRPD;

3. Emphasises that the right of persons with disabilities to benefit from measures designed to ensure their independence, social and occupational integration and participation in the life of the community is also enshrined in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is binding on the EU and on the Member States when they are implementing Union law; recalls that the EU and its Member States must respect the rights and observe the principles laid down in and promote the application of the Charter; highlights the need to improve awareness of and information on the Charter;

4. Stresses that, in setting out the right to live independently and be included in the community, Article 19 of the UNCRPD brings together the principles of equality, autonomy and inclusion; calls for a shift in living arrangements and support services for persons with disabilities from institutional and other segregating settings to a system enabling social participation; calls on the Member States to include specific targets with a defined timeframe in their deinstitutionalisation strategies, to adequately finance them and to develop mechanisms to ensure effective coordination between relevant authorities across different administrative sectors and levels[58];

5. Points out that an inclusive and human rights based approach to education is a necessary prerequisite for fostering participation in society and promoting access to the labour market for persons with disabilities;

6. Takes the view that the promotion of equality in the field of employment and occupation can be effective only if discrimination is comprehensively combated in all areas of life, at both the European and national levels; highlights that reasonable accommodation and accessibility are key components in establishing disability-inclusive policies, as recognised by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities[59];

7. Calls on the Member States to fully implement EU accessibility-related legislation; takes the view that physical, regulatory, digital, logistical and social barriers to accessibility should be eliminated; calls on the Commission and the Member States to promote accessibility and universal design standards for environments, programmes, services and products, to be adopted in consultation with persons with disabilities and their representative organisations; stresses the need to step up research and innovation in the field of accessible technology applied to social and cultural activities and to work processes, including solutions for broadening teleworking opportunities, in order to facilitate participation in society and access to employment for persons with disabilities;

8. Is concerned about the existence of significant barriers to access to information and communications for persons with disabilities, particularly for persons who are blind or deaf, have intellectual disabilities or are on the autism spectrum; recalls that differences in individuals’ abilities to receive and impart information and to use information and communications technologies represent a knowledge divide that creates inequality; requests the promotion of the use of accessible and user-friendly means, modes and formats of communication;

9. Regrets that Union law does not protect individuals from discrimination on the ground of disability outside the workplace and employment;

10. Urges the Council to unblock the negotiations on the proposed horizontal equality directive, which would allow protection against discrimination outside the area of employment and occupation through a horizontal approach;

11. Stresses that the UNCRPD prohibits discrimination in a broad sense, including the denial of reasonable accommodation and multiple and intersectional discrimination that derive from a combination of grounds; draws attention to the particularly vulnerable situation of women with disabilities and urges for a swift ratification of the Istanbul Convention by the Union and the Member States; recalls that the UNCRPD also provides for positive discrimination measures to be implemented by the Member States when necessary, which can include specific incentives in the employment area[60];

12. Calls for a cross-cutting, comprehensive review of Union law and policy to ensure their full compliance with the UNCRPD;

13. Stresses the need to include specific and adequate provisions in the New Pact on Migration and Asylum to properly address the needs of persons with disabilities at all stages and in all processes;

14. Calls for measures to combat preconceived notions regarding the skills and abilities of persons with disabilities, ensuring that they do not suffer discrimination based on such prejudices; highlights that some persons with disabilities may face additional and specific barriers due to a combination of disability and other factors, including socio-economic factors; underlines in this respect the need for an intersectional and holistic life-cycle approach to prevent stigmatisation, social exclusion and poverty; calls for comprehensive awareness-raising campaigns to highlight the contributions of persons with disabilities to society, aimed at the general public, parents and children, as well as public officials and professionals; highlights that the media can play an important role in disseminating information about persons with disabilities and in contributing to bringing about a change for the better in public attitudes towards them;

15. Stresses the need for a common definition of ‘disability’ at EU level across all areas of EU policy, including definitions of relevant key terminology; notes that there is no mutual recognition of disability status between EU Member States; calls on the Commission to consider further actions on mutual recognition of disability status and possible measures to facilitate the free movement of people with disabilities; calls on the Commission to encourage the participation of the Member States in the voluntary system of mutual recognition of the EU disability card;

16. Welcomes the inclusion of the EU disability rights strategy for 2021-30 in the Commission’s work programme for 2021; insists that the future strategy should focus on the full implementation of the UNCRPD and reflect the outcome of the public consultation conducted prior to its preparation by the Commission; stresses that the collaboration of authorities, organisations and civil society at the European, national and local levels is indispensable in order to ensure the implementation of the UNCRPD; stresses that the principle of ‘nothing about persons with disabilities without persons with disabilities’ should be applied in all decision-making processes; encourages the Member States and the EU institutions to ensure adequate funding for and enhance cooperation with organisations representing persons with disabilities;

17. Regrets that persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities experience multiple legal, institutional, communicational and social barriers to exercising their rights, which prevents them from voting, standing for election to public office, exercising civic participation or simply having a say in their own lives; encourages the Member States to take immediate measures to reform their legal frameworks in order to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy legal capacity on an equal basis with others in all aspects of life, in line with Article 12 of the UNCRPD, and recalls that the political rights of persons with disabilities and the opportunity to enjoy them on an equal basis with others must be guaranteed, in compliance with Article 29 of the UNCRPD;

18. Calls on the Member States to address discrimination and violence against children with disabilities through an integrated approach, recognising that they face a higher risk of being victims of such behaviours; stresses that the voice of children with disabilities should be represented in the design, implementation and monitoring of laws, policies, services and measures addressing them;

19. Regrets that the risk of being subjected to exploitation, violence and abuse is significantly higher for persons with disabilities[61]; is concerned about the lack of awareness of victim’s rights and of the possibility of seeking redress, and about underreporting of all forms of discrimination and violations of the fundamental rights of persons with disabilities; stresses that according to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), an important contributor to underreporting is the fear of persons with disabilities that they will not be taken seriously by authorities[62]; urges the Commission and the Member States to ensure that all relevant authorities and practitioners are targeted in capacity-building efforts to ensure their understanding of the fundamental rights-based approach to disability; believes that national equality bodies must be strengthened and access to judicial and non-judicial mechanisms must be improved, including by adapted assistance and communication methods, as well as by simplifying often lengthy and complex legal procedures;

20. Regrets that discrimination and exclusion experienced by persons with disabilities have been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular regard to persons living in institutions[63]; stresses that psychosocial support and empowerment are very much needed to combat the effects of isolation and the increase in domestic violence, which has a particular impact on persons with disabilities[64]; is concerned by the insufficient investment and the lack of action by authorities in this regard; calls for targeted efforts to ensure appropriate personal protective equipment for professionals in and users of care and support services in order to enable the continuation of these services in a safe environment; calls on the Commission and the Member States to mobilise essential investment and resources to guarantee the continuity of care and support services, in line with the principles of the UNCRPD and the European Pillar of Social Rights, in the framework of the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII and CRII +);

21. Stresses that the collection of robust, disaggregated, comparable disability-related data is necessary for evidence-based policy-making in accordance with the UNCRPD; regrets that policy implementation is not comprehensively monitored through results indicators; proposes that progress should be measured against specific and updated targets established at Union level on the basis of Eurostat work; insists that monitoring should involve an independent entity that includes persons with disabilities; urges Member States to process equality data in full compliance with Union data protection and privacy law.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

12.1.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

53

4

7

Members present for the final vote

Magdalena Adamowicz, Malik Azmani, Katarina Barley, Pietro Bartolo, Nicolas Bay, Vladimír Bilčík, Vasile Blaga, Ioan-Rareş Bogdan, Patrick Breyer, Saskia Bricmont, Joachim Stanisław Brudziński, Jorge Buxadé Villalba, Damien Carême, Caterina Chinnici, Clare Daly, Marcel de Graaff, Lena Düpont, Cornelia Ernst, Laura Ferrara, Nicolaus Fest, Jean-Paul Garraud, Maria Grapini, Sylvie Guillaume, Andrzej Halicki, Balázs Hidvéghi, Evin Incir, Sophia in ‘t Veld, Lívia Járóka, Marina Kaljurand, Assita Kanko, Fabienne Keller, Peter Kofod, Łukasz Kohut, Alice Kuhnke, Jeroen Lenaers, Juan Fernando López Aguilar, Lukas Mandl, Nuno Melo, Roberta Metsola, Nadine Morano, Javier Moreno Sánchez, Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Nicola Procaccini, Emil Radev, Paulo Rangel, Terry Reintke, Ralf Seekatz, Michal Šimečka, Birgit Sippel, Martin Sonneborn, Tineke Strik, Ramona Strugariu, Annalisa Tardino, Tomas Tobé, Dragoş Tudorache, Bettina Vollath, Jadwiga Wiśniewska, Elena Yoncheva, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Nathalie Loiseau, Sira Rego, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Hilde Vautmans, Petar Vitanov

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

53

+

EPP

Magdalena ADAMOWICZ, Vladimír BILČÍK, Vasile BLAGA, Ioan-Rareş BOGDAN, Lena DÜPONT, Andrzej HALICKI, Balázs HIDVÉGHI, Lívia JÁRÓKA, Jeroen LENAERS, Lukas MANDL, Nuno MELO, Roberta METSOLA, Nadine MORANO, Emil RADEV, Paulo RANGEL, Ralf SEEKATZ, Tomas TOBÉ, Javier ZARZALEJOS

S&D

Katarina BARLEY, Pietro BARTOLO, Caterina CHINNICI, Maria GRAPINI, Sylvie GUILLAUME, Evin INCIR, Marina KALJURAND, Łukasz KOHUT, Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR, Javier MORENO SÁNCHEZ, Birgit SIPPEL, Petar VITANOV, Bettina VOLLATH, Elena YONCHEVA

RENEW

Malik AZMANI, Sophia IN ‘T VELD, Fabienne KELLER, Nathalie LOISEAU, Maite PAGAZAURTUNDÚA, Michal ŠIMEČKA, Ramona STRUGARIU, Dragoş TUDORACHE, Hilde VAUTMANS

GEENS/EFA

Patrick BREYER, Saskia BRICMONT, Damien CARÊME, Alice KUHNKE, Terry REINTKE, Tineke STRIK

THE LEFT

Clare DALY, Cornelia ERNST, Sira REGO, Miguel URBÁN CRESPO

NI

Laura FERRARA, Martin SONNEBORN

 

4

ID

Nicolas BAY, Jean-Paul GARRAUD, Marcel de GRAAFF

ECR

Assita KANKO

 

7

0

ID

Nicolaus FEST, Peter KOFOD, Annalisa TARDINO

ECR

Joachim Stanisław BRUDZIŃSKI, Jorge BUXADÉ VILLALBA, Nicola PROCACCINI, Jadwiga WIŚNIEWSKA

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY (3.12.2020)

for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

on the implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD

(2020/2086(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Rosa Estaràs Ferragut

 

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A. whereas women are most affected by unemployment and whereas, on average, in the EU, just 48.3 % of women with disabilities have a job, as compared with 53.3 % of men with disabilities[65] and only 20.7 % of women with disabilities are in full employment, compared with 28.6 % of men with disabilities[66];

B. whereas figures show that, on average, 29.5 % of women with disabilities in the EU run the risk of falling victim to poverty and social exclusion, compared with 27.5 % of men with disabilities[67];

C. whereas core EU values are being undermined, as shown by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) survey[68], and twenty years after the adoption of the Employment Equality Directive, LGBTI people continue to experience discrimination at employment level;

D. whereas women and girls face various forms of discrimination throughout their lives and those with disabilities face multiple and intersectional forms of discrimination based on both gender and disability, including direct and indirect discrimination, discrimination by association, denial of reasonable accommodation and structural or systemic discrimination;

E. whereas such discrimination also affects education; whereas digital and green transitions generate a demand for workers with increasingly specialised digital and green skills; whereas gender gaps in digital-related education and gender divides in the digital labour market persist; whereas persons with disabilities are often excluded from education and, consequently, from the labour market and employment opportunities, rendering access to full-time employment more difficult and thereby exacerbating inequality in employment and remuneration; whereas awareness raising is essential in order for employers and workers to act and react appropriately, on the basis of knowledge of their obligations and rights in the area of non-discrimination;

F. whereas women mostly have the responsibility for taking care of the household, and account for the large majority of caregivers for persons with disabilities; whereas single mothers who look after children with disabilities are at serious risk of falling victim to poverty and social exclusion; whereas age discrimination affects all age groups, together with possible stereotypes and barriers; whereas elderly women with disabilities are often the sole carers for family members with disabilities; whereas this has a direct effect on their vulnerability to poverty and social exclusion, as well as on their access to jobs and their professional development, and may negatively affect their employment conditions;

 

1. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to systematically integrate the interests and rights of women and girls with disabilities into all action plans, strategies and policies, in particular with regard to education, employment and social policy, with a focus on discrimination on grounds of gender and disability;

2. Regrets the fact that age is an important ground for employment discrimination; considers that older women are often still exposed to stereotypes and barriers on the job market and calls for intergenerational justice based on solidarity;

3. Stresses that protection of trans people against employment discrimination must be effective and calls on the Member States to combat this discrimination, especially in the area of employment;

4. Calls on the Member States to study the possibility of introducing strategies for positive action for groups that suffer from severe and structural discrimination, such as the Roma, into the Directive;

5. Calls on the Member States to launch awareness-raising campaigns on anti-discrimination and provide clear information to workers and the general public on their rights and obligations, including the rights to work and employment, with a specific focus on accessibility, including access to information and communication, and reasonable accommodation in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in order to eradicate all forms of explicit or latent discrimination, with the goal of learning how to detect, tackle and denounce discrimination, including an intersectional approach tackling multiple forms of discrimination and how to access current anti-discrimination legislation; invites the Member States to exchange best practices in this regard, focusing on those most at risk, including women with disabilities, while involving social partners, as those forms of discrimination hinder the deployment of educational and training investments and efforts, and constitute a barrier to career development;

6. Stresses that the right to work is an essential precondition for women with disabilities to enjoy effective equal rights, economic independence and professional fulfilment; calls on the Commission and the Member States to take steps and positive action and adopt adequate policies to ensure that girls and women with disabilities benefit from the same rules as everyone else with regard to access to the labour market, hiring and promotion, equal access to training and reskilling, equal access to credit and other productive resources, equal pay for work of equal value and participation in decision-making on an equal footing with all other employees; calls on the Member States to adopt measures to combat discrimination and harassment in the workplace, including sexual harassment faced by women with disabilities, such as action plans to tackle employment discrimination, especially with regard to gender, nationality, social background, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnic origin, and religion; calls on the Member States to adopt measures to combat harassment at the workplace for persons with disabilities; also stresses the need for a Disability Rights Guarantee with specific measures that address the needs of women with disabilities;

 

7. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to mainstream the rights of women and girls with disabilities when designing and implementing actions aiming at developing digital skills and lifelong learning, thereby contributing to accessible, non-stereotyped education systems, with inclusive education measures to enable women and girls with disabilities to participate in the labour market, with a specific focus on digital capabilities and lifelong learning, and to guarantee that women and girls with disabilities can choose their areas of study, in order to enable them to opt for work which they want to do and which is commensurate with their abilities, and not be limited by inaccessibility, prejudices and stereotypes, thus promoting their social inclusion;

8. Calls on the Commission to assess whether the Member States have detailed provisions in place to ensure that people can exercise their right to maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave and care leave, as well as arrangements for flexible working, and whether these are adapted to the diverse needs of mothers with disabilities, mothers of children with disabilities or a long-term illness, or mothers in specific circumstances, such as those dealing with premature births; calls for more ambitious measures to promote men’s equal role as carers; calls on the Member States to present national strategies to support informal carers; insists on the need for high-quality and accessible childcare services to ensure equal participation of women in the work environment;

9. Recalls that, as declared by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, failure to provide reasonable accommodation to women with disabilities may constitute discrimination in accordance with Articles 5 and 6 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

10. Calls for relevant, accurate data to be gathered, where possible, on gender and the disability variable in the labour market, as well as its social dimension, with the goal of using this data as a basis for national and European strategies regarding disabilities, employment and gender equality;

11. Looks forward to the evaluation of the current European disability strategy and the Commission proposal on the future European disability equality strategy for the next multi-year period, to be published in 2021, combining horizontal and targeted approaches and incorporating a strong gender perspective, including through policies that promote employment, training, job placements, equal career paths, equal pay for work of equal value, adaptation in the workplace and further education, paying attention to the digital inclusion of women with disabilities and the need to safeguard work-life balance;

12. Calls on the Council to adopt the horizontal Anti-Discrimination Directive and to take an intersectional approach in all EU anti-discrimination policies and legislation;

13. Calls for optimisation of the use of existing EU funding instruments, such as the Rights, equality and citizenship (REC) programme, to promote accessibility and non-discrimination, and to address the employment and socio-economic conditions of women with disabilities; calls on the Member States to facilitate access to funding for relevant stakeholders, including civil society organisations and equality bodies;

14. Also calls on the Commission and the Member States to take steps, such as by optimising the EU Structural Funds, to encourage and promote businesses that are committed to recruiting people with disabilities, in order to improve their access to employment opportunities, and to support persons with disabilities in becoming entrepreneurs, such as by devising an externally recognisable certification mark, with the goal of showcasing their compliance with the rules in place and the work they are doing, and providing them with the opportunity to share the initiatives implemented to achieve this;

15. Calls on the Member States to pay particular attention to detecting violence against women and girls with disabilities, with a view to identifying and preventing it in a timely manner.

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

1.12.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

31

1

2

Members present for the final vote

Christine Anderson, Simona Baldassarre, Robert Biedroń, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Annika Bruna, Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Frances Fitzgerald, Cindy Franssen, Heléne Fritzon, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Lívia Járóka, Arba Kokalari, Alice Kuhnke, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Andżelika Anna Możdżanowska, Pina Picierno, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Samira Rafaela, Evelyn Regner, Diana Riba i Giner, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Sylwia Spurek, Jessica Stegrud, Isabella Tovaglieri, Ernest Urtasun, Hilde Vautmans, Elissavet Vozemberg-Vrionidi, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou

Substitutes present for the final vote

Lena Düpont, Elena Kountoura, Radka Maxová, Silvia Modig, Vera Tax

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

31

+

ECR

Andżelika Anna Możdżanowska

GUE/NGL

Elena Kountoura, Silvia Modig

ID

Simona Baldassarre, Annika Bruna, Isabella Tovaglieri

PPE

Lena Düpont, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Frances Fitzgerald, Cindy Franssen, Lívia Járóka, Arba Kokalari, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Elissavet Vozemberg‑Vrionidi, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska

Renew

Radka Maxová, Samira Rafaela, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Hilde Vautmans, Chrysoula Zacharopoulou

S&D

Robert Biedroń, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Heléne Fritzon, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Pina Picierno, Evelyn Regner, Vera Tax

Verts/ALE

Alice Kuhnke, Diana Riba i Giner, Sylwia Spurek, Ernest Urtasun

 

1

ID

Christine Anderson

 

2

0

ECR

Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Jessica Stegrud,

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON PETITIONS (4.12.2020)

for the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

on the implementation of Council Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation in light of the UNCRPD

(2020/2086(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Demetris Papadakis 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Petitions calls on the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Highlights the fact that the Committee on Petitions receives a large number of petitions on the lack of implementation of the principle of equal treatment as regards access to inclusive education, employment, vocational training, promotion, and the working conditions of persons with disabilities, and a more complex approach is therefore needed; reiterates the need to make the Petitions Web Portal more accessible, transparent and open to all citizens;

2. Condemns the fact that, according to these petitions, persons with disabilities continue to encounter many challenges and discrimination related to accessibility, participation in employment, education and mobility within the EU; considers it unacceptable that many employers are still not taking appropriate measures to tackle these issues, despite such measures being crucial to the economic and social inclusion of the 100 million persons with disabilities in the EU and despite the fact that artificial intelligence, digital technologies, tools and applications are available to meet the individual needs of persons with disabilities; highlights that this leads to the exclusion of a large proportion of the human resources available; considers distance employment an important tool to increase the level of employment of workers with disabilities and to foster the effective transformation of workplaces into accessible ones; highlights the need to cooperate with the private sector to provide the appropriate working tools;

3. Notes that the provision of reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities is one of the key elements of the directive and that the Commission should continue to monitor rigorously its correct transposition into national legislation;

4. Deplores the fact that discrimination based on religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation may undermine the achievement of the objectives of the Treaty on European Union (TEU);

5. Reiterates its call on the Member States to take specific measures with a view to ensuring full equality in practice to prevent or compensate for disadvantages linked to disabilities, taking into account the opportunities provided by artificial intelligence, and recommends that the Member States ensure that the employment of people with disabilities is addressed in their national reform programmes; calls on the Member States to encourage enterprises to ensure greater inclusion of people with disabilities within their businesses; encourages, in this context, the simplification of financial and technical support for the hiring of people with disabilities, and the adaptation of recruitment procedures so that people with disabilities have easier access to job offers and application procedures; stresses the need to upscale digital skills among the working population, and stresses that digitalisation will contribute to greater social inclusion and will help older people and workers with disabilities remain in the labour market longer;

6. Strongly deplores the uneven and poor enforcement of Council Directive 2000/78/EC in some Member States, which are failing to effectively and uniformly monitor and sanction persistent violations of EU law;

7. States that the right of all persons to equality before the law and protection against discrimination constitutes a universal right recognised by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the European Convention on Human Rights, of which all Member States are signatories; recalls that Convention No 111 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) prohibits discrimination in the field of employment and occupation;

8. Underlines the fact that Council Directive 2000/78/EC does not contain any definition of the concept of disability and encourages the Member States to interpret EU law in such a way as to provide a basis for a concept of disability in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD);

9. Calls on the Member States to complete the Union’s anti-discrimination legal framework, and welcomes, in this regard, the accession of the EU to the UNCRPD; recalls that the UNCRPD is binding upon the EU, its institutions and its Member States, which have a direct obligation to fully implement it, including its Article 27 on work and employment; highlights the importance of updating the legal framework relating to persons with no legal capacity, through the adoption of supported decision-making regimes and with a view to ultimately enabling the practical exercise of their right to employment;

10. States, in accordance with Article 6 of the TEU, that the European Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to all Member States, and that fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, constitute general principles of EU law;

11. Stresses that Member States should make considerable efforts, within defined timeframes, to tailor workplaces to the individual needs of persons with disabilities in order to improve their accessibility and to accommodate the special needs of workers with disabilities, so as to promote, in the private sector, a supportive environment for employing persons with all types of impairments on the open labour market; stresses the importance of the more widespread use of modern technologies to this end and insists on promoting dialogue among social partners with a view to fostering equal treatment, including at legislative level where appropriate, and through the constant exchange of best practices, in order to foster in particular the inclusion of women with disabilities, people from a disadvantaged socio-economic background, national and linguistic minorities, and LGBTQ+ people with disabilities; believes that relevant research should be made available in simple language; considers, in this context, that incentive and reward policy is effective in improving workplace accessibility;

12. Calls on the Commission as a matter of urgency, in the light of these systematic enforcement issues, to establish effective monitoring of compliance with the directive at all levels in all Member States, to launch immediately the necessary investigations into possible breaches of the directive, and to open infringement procedures against the Member States responsible, where appropriate;

13. Highlights the importance of access to information for victims of discrimination; considers it necessary that Member States take the appropriate steps to ensure that reasonable and accessible legal advice and assistance can be obtained and are provided to victims at all stages of the legal process, including confidential and in-person counselling and emotional, personal and moral support, by equality bodies or appropriate intermediaries; calls on the Member States, furthermore, to combat harassment and violence in the workplace which violate a person’s dignity and/or create an offensive environment at work;

14. Welcomes Commission initiatives such as the Access City Award, and advocates initiatives at national, regional and local level;

15. Calls on all Member States and the Commission to take effective action, in cooperation with disabled persons’ organisations and social partners, to achieve the social and economic integration of people with disabilities, to raise awareness of their rights, to share research and best practices, and to combat youth and senior unemployment, as unemployment may lead to poverty, social exclusion, mental health problems and homelessness; calls on the Member States to ensure access for persons with disabilities to quality education, reasonable accommodation, employment measures such as the Youth Guarantee and exchange programmes such as Erasmus+; reiterates the importance of avoiding segregated employment by linking people with disabilities to the open labour market, and thus providing them with the possibility of gaining employment in a field of their choice;

16. Stresses that persons with disabilities have enormous potential and talent, which should not be wasted; points out that, given the economic impact of the pandemic, the EU should make full use of the potential of all its citizens;

17. Encourages the Member States to maintain or adopt measures intended to prevent or compensate for disadvantages, supports organisations whose main object is carrying out concrete actions for people in need, and believes that case-by-case analysis of proportionality and cost-benefit calculations will continue to have an impact on specific measures taken by Member States, in the name of positive action;

18. Calls on the Commission to strengthen the focus on the transition from institutional to community- and family-based services in accordance with the UNCRPD and to address the shortcomings identified by the Ombudsman in case 1233/2019/MMO;

19. Calls on the Member States to promote access to employment and integration into the labour market for all workers regardless of their age, and to apply measures relating to gender, disabilities, remuneration, training, career development, and health and safety in order to protect all workers in the workplace;

20. Stresses that measures to combat discrimination on grounds of age must as a matter of principle avoid differentiating between young people and the elderly, and that any form of unjustified age discrimination must be tackled in an appropriate manner;

21. Highlights the role of women, who typically have primary responsibility for taking care of children and dependants with disabilities, and the fact that disabled women face double discrimination which has statistically led to a higher unemployment ratio; stresses that this has a direct effect on women’s opportunities and means of accessing the job market and advancing in their professional development, and may negatively affect their employment prospects; states that women are those most affected by unemployment and suffer negative discrimination in terms of employment, in particular pregnant women and mothers, including mothers who are breastfeeding; calls on the Member States to promote research into this topic, since data is scarce, and to establish a flexible parental leave system, with a job guarantee once the parental leave is over, which is equally accessible regardless of gender;

22. Considers that many persons with disabilities can be decisive role models for us all, showing what can be achieved through willpower and how problems can be overcome; notes that these challenges enhance specific skills, as evidenced by the presence of persons with disabilities in the management of leading organisations;

23. States that in implementing the principle of equal treatment, the EU should, in accordance with Article 3(2) of the TEU, aim to eliminate inequalities, and to promote equality between men and women, especially since women are often the victims of multiple discrimination;

24. Points out that single-parent families, primarily single mothers, can be found much more frequently among the working poor, and that all measures adopted should focus on single parents;

25. Insists on updating and renewing the post-2020 European Disability Strategy, with the aim of further reducing inequalities for people with disabilities and promoting their social and economic inclusion and tailor-made independence, taking into account the challenges and issues relating to disabilities that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic; notes that confinement measures taken by governments and teleworking may have negatively affected persons with disabilities, regardless of whether they received care at home or in institutions; stresses the need to consider the provision of financial support to employers of disabled persons in order to provide them with the equipment required for teleworking;

26. Calls on the Commission and Member States to guarantee that EU funds are always spent in line with EU and international human rights standards and are never spent on segregated settings – whether for living or employment – for persons with disabilities, with no prospect of finding a non-institutional residence or non-sheltered employment;

27. Highlights that the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have had a disproportionate effect on people with disabilities; urges governments to consider the impact that confinement requirements and teleworking have on persons with disabilities; calls on the Commission and the Member States to address the problems mentioned in the European Parliament’s resolution of 8 July 2020 on the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities in the COVID-19 crisis and in its resolution of 18 June 2020 on additional funding for biomedical research on Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

3.12.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

30

0

4

Members present for the final vote

Alex Agius Saliba, Andris Ameriks, Marc Angel, Andrus Ansip, Margrete Auken, Jordan Bardella, Alexander Bernhuber, Markus Buchheit, Ryszard Czarnecki, Eleonora Evi, Agnès Evren, Gheorghe Falcă, Emmanouil Fragkos, Mario Furore, Gianna Gancia, Ibán García Del Blanco, Alexis Georgoulis, Peter Jahr, Radan Kanev, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro, Dolors Montserrat, Ulrike Müller, Emil Radev, Sira Rego, Frédérique Ries, Monica Semedo, Massimiliano Smeriglio, Yana Toom, Loránt Vincze, Stefania Zambelli, Tatjana Ždanoka, Kosma Złotowski

Substitutes present for the final vote

Demetris Papadakis

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

30

+

EPP

Alexander Bernhuber, Agnès Evren, Gheorghe Falcă, Peter Jahr, Radan Kanev, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Dolors Montserrat, Emil Radev, Loránt Vincze

S&D

Alex Agius Saliba, Andris Ameriks, Marc Angel, Ibán García Del Blanco, Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro, Demetris Papadakis, Massimiliano Smeriglio

RENEW

Andrus Ansip, Ulrike Müller, Frédérique Ries, Monica Semedo, Yana Toom

GREENS/EFA

Margrete Auken, Tatjana Ždanoka

ECR

Ryszard Czarnecki, Emmanouil Fragkos, Kosma Złotowski

EUL/NGL

Alexis Georgoulis, Sira Rego

NI

Eleonora Evi, Mario Furore

 

 

4

0

ID

Jordan Bardella, Markus Buchheit, Gianna Gancia, Stefania Zambelli

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

27.1.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

47

1

4

Members present for the final vote

Atidzhe Alieva-Veli, Abir Al-Sahlani, Marc Angel, Dominique Bilde, Gabriele Bischoff, Vilija Blinkevičiūtė, Milan Brglez, Sylvie Brunet, David Casa, Leila Chaibi, Margarita de la Pisa Carrión, Özlem Demirel, Klára Dobrev, Jarosław Duda, Estrella Durá Ferrandis, Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová, Rosa Estaràs Ferragut, Nicolaus Fest, Loucas Fourlas, Cindy Franssen, Heléne Fritzon, Elisabetta Gualmini, Alicia Homs Ginel, France Jamet, Agnes Jongerius, Radan Kanev, Ádám Kósa, Stelios Kympouropoulos, Katrin Langensiepen, Miriam Lexmann, Elena Lizzi, Radka Maxová, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Dragoș Pîslaru, Manuel Pizarro, Dennis Radtke, Elżbieta Rafalska, Daniela Rondinelli, Mounir Satouri, Beata Szydło, Eugen Tomac, Romana Tomc, Yana Toom, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Nikolaj Villumsen, Marianne Vind, Maria Walsh, Stefania Zambelli, Tatjana Ždanoka, Tomáš Zdechovský

Substitutes present for the final vote

Irena Joveva

Substitutes under Rule 209(7) present for the final vote

Andrea Bocskor

 

[1] Article 15 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union

[2] EU SILC 2017

[3] Gender Equality Index 2019

[4] Lars Bosselmann, European Blind Union

[5] Senada Halilcevic, Inclusion Europe

[6] Claudia Rustige, Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Inklusionsfirmen e.V.

[7] Marine Uldry, European Disability Forum

[8] EU SILC 2017

[10] Gender Equality Index 2019

[13] Inclusion Europe

[22] The survey has been carried out by ENIL.

[23] OJ L 303, 2.12.2000, p. 16.

[24] OJ L 180, 19.7.2000, p. 22.

[25] OJ C 137 E , 27.5.2010, p. 68.

[26] OJ L 327, 2.12.2016, p. 1.

[27] OJ L 151, 7.6.2019, p. 70.

[28] OJ L 183, 29.6.1989, p. 1.

[29] OJ L 167, 4.7.2018, p. 28.

[32] OJ C 363, 28.10.2020, p. 164.

[33] OJ C 356, 4.10.2018, p. 110.

[34] OJ C 101, 16.3.2018, p. 138.

[35] OJ C 353, 27.9.2016, p. 41.

[36] OJ C 131 E , 8.5.2013, p. 9.

[37] OJ C 212 E , 5.8.2010, p. 23.

[38] OJ C 187, 18.7.1988, p. 236.

[39] OJ C 379, 7.12.1998, p. 66.

[40] OJ C 224, 27.6.2018, p. 68.

[42] OJ C 411, 27.11.2020, p. 94.

[43] OJ C 204, 13.6.2018, p. 179.

[44] We apply the concept of ‘persons with disabilities’ as provided in Article 1 of the UNCRPD: ‘Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which in interaction with various barriers may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.’

[45] Articles 21 and 26 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

[46] Regulation (EU) 2019/1700 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 October 2019 establishing a common framework for European statistics relating to persons and households, based on data at individual level collected from samples, amending Regulations (EC) No 808/2004, (EC) No 452/2008 and (EC) No 1338/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1177/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Council Regulation (EC) No 577/98.

 

[47] EU statistics on income and living conditions (EU-SILC) 2017.

[50] ONCE and the European Blind Union, ‘Report on the situation of blind and partially sighted persons regarding employment in Europe after 10 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: Challenges and Opportunities’, October 2019.

[51] Inclusion Europe.

[52] Autism Europe, ‘Autism and Work – Together we can’, 2014.

[53] Equality and Human Rights Commission, research report 107 – Pay Gaps Research, ‘The Disability Pay Gap’, August 2017.

[54] European Centre for Minority Issues, study #8, ‘Not Even in the Margins: Where are Roma with Disabilities?’, February 2016.

[55] Stonewall, ‘LGBT in Britain – Work Report’, 2018.

[56] The survey was carried out by the European Network on Independent Living (ENIL).

[57] FRA Fundamental Rights Report 2019.

[58] FRA, From institutions to community living for persons with disabilities: perspectives from the ground, 2018.

[60] Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, General comment No. 6 (2018) on equality and non-discrimination.

[61] Council of Europe, Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse of persons with disabilities – Contribution to the Council of Europe Strategy on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2017.

[62] OSCE, Hate Crime Reporting, 2015, and OSCE-ODIHR, Factsheet on hate crime against people with disabilities, 2017.

[63] FRA, Coronavirus pandemic in the EU – Fundamental rights implications bulletins, 2020; Inclusion Europe, Neglect and discrimination. Multiplied – How Covid-19 affected the rights of people with intellectual disabilities and their families (2020).

[64] United Nations, Policy Brief: A Disability Inclusive Response to COVID-19, May 2020.

[65] European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC 2017).

[66] European Institute for Gender Equality (Gender Equality Index 2019).

[67] European Union Statistics on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC, 2018).

[68] A long way to go for LGBTI equality, FRA, 2020.

REPORT on the proposal for a Council Directive amending Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation – A9-0015/2021

Source: European Parliament

DRAFT EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION

on the proposal for a Council directive amending Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation

(COM(2020)0314 – C9‑0213/2020 – 2020/0148(CNS))

(Special legislative procedure – consultation)

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Commission proposal to the Council (COM(2020)0314),

 having regard to Articles 113 and 115 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, pursuant to which the Council consulted Parliament (C9‑0213/2020),

 having regard to Rule 82 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (A9-0015/2021),

1. Approves the Commission proposal as amended;

2. Calls on the Commission to alter its proposal accordingly, in accordance with Article 293(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;

3. Calls on the Council to notify Parliament if it intends to depart from the text approved by Parliament;

4. Asks the Council to consult Parliament again if it intends to substantially amend the Commission proposal;

5. Instructs its President to forward its position to the Council, the Commission and the national parliaments.

 

Amendment  1

Proposal for a directive

Recital 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(1) In order to accommodate new initiatives of the Union in the field of tax transparency, Council Directive 2011/16/EU21 has been the subject of a series of amendments over the last years. These changes mainly introduced reporting obligations, followed by communication to other Member States, related to financial accounts, advance cross-border rulings and advance pricing arrangements, country-by-country reports and reportable cross-border arrangements. In such a way, these amendments extended the scope of the automatic exchange of information. The tax authorities now have a broader set of cooperation tools at their disposal, to detect and tackle forms of tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

(1) In order to accommodate new initiatives of the Union in the field of tax transparency, Council Directive 2011/16/EU21 has been the subject of a series of amendments over the last years. These changes mainly introduced reporting obligations, followed by communication to other Member States, related to financial accounts, advance cross-border rulings and advance pricing arrangements, country-by-country reports and reportable cross-border arrangements. In such a way, these amendments extended the scope of the automatic exchange of information. The tax authorities now have a broader set of cooperation tools at their disposal, to detect and tackle forms of tax fraud, tax evasion and tax avoidance, in order to safeguard tax revenues and to ensure fair taxation.

_________________

_________________

21 Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1).

21 Council Directive 2011/16/EU of 15 February 2011 on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC (OJ L 64, 11.3.2011, p. 1).

Amendment  2

Proposal for a directive

Recital 1 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(1a) The broader set of cooperation tools, the digital transition and the aim of enhancing cooperation between national authorities require qualified human resources and adequate financial resources. To that end, the changes proposed must be accompanied by an adequate level of investment, mainly in the adaptation of informatics and digital infrastructure and professional training. Ultimately, Member States’ capacity to process all financial information received should be enhanced and tax administrations’ financial, human and IT resources should be increased.

Amendment  3

Proposal for a directive

Recital 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(2) In the past years, the Commission has been monitoring the application and, in 2019, completed an evaluation of Directive 2011/16/EU22. While significant improvements have been made in the field of automatic exchange of information, there is still a need to improve existing provisions that relate to all forms of exchanges of information and administrative cooperation.

(2) In the past years, the Commission has been monitoring the application and, in 2019, completed an evaluation of Directive 2011/16/EU22. While significant improvements have been made in the field of automatic exchange of information, there is still a need to improve existing provisions that relate to all forms of exchanges of information and administrative cooperation. In order to take into account the evolution of the situation with regard to tax transparency, that Directive might need to be updated regularly.

_________________

_________________

22 European Commission, Commission Staff Working Document, Evaluation of the Council Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC, SWD(2019) 328 final.

22 European Commission, Commission Staff Working Document, Evaluation of the Council Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation and repealing Directive 77/799/EEC, SWD(2019) 328 final.

Amendment  4

Proposal for a directive

Recital 3

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(3) Pursuant to Article 5 of Directive 2011/16/EU, following a request of a requesting authority, the requested authority is to communicate to the requesting authority any information it has in its possession, or that it obtains as a result of administrative enquiries, which is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Member States concerning the taxes falling within the scope of that Directive. To ensure effectiveness of the exchanges of information and prevent unjustified refusals of requests, as well as to provide legal clarity and certainty for both tax administrations and taxpayers, the standard of foreseeable relevance should be clearly delineated. In this context, it should also be clarified that the standard of foreseeable relevance should not apply to requests for additional information following an exchange of information in accordance with Article 8a of Directive 2011/16/EU concerning an advance cross-border ruling or an advance pricing arrangement.

(3) Pursuant to Article 5 of Directive 2011/16/EU, following a request of a requesting authority, the requested authority is to communicate to the requesting authority any information it has in its possession, or that it obtains as a result of administrative enquiries, which is foreseeably relevant to the administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Member States concerning the taxes falling within the scope of that Directive. To ensure effectiveness of the exchanges of information and prevent unjustified refusals of requests, as well as to provide legal clarity and certainty for both tax administrations and taxpayers, the standard of foreseeable relevance should be clearly delineated in line with the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union which states that the term ‘foreseeable relevance’ is intended to provide for exchange of information in tax matters to the widest possible extent. In this context, it should also be clarified that the standard of foreseeable relevance should not apply to requests for additional information following an exchange of information in accordance with Article 8a of Directive 2011/16/EU concerning an advance cross-border ruling or an advance pricing arrangement.

Amendment  5

Proposal for a directive

Recital 3 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(3a) The Union and the Member States should ensure a harmonised system of penalties and sanctions across the Union in order to prevent the exploitation by platform operators of loopholes and differences among Member States’ taxation systems. Where the rules are infringed, financial penalties and exclusion from public contracts should be considered. In extreme and repeated cases, the possibility of revoking the business licence of the platform operator should be an option.

Amendment  6

Proposal for a directive

Recital 4 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(4a) In order to keep taxpayers correctly and fully informed, the competent authorities of Member States should disclose the income categories with regard to which the information is automatically shared with competent authorities of other Member States and third countries or jurisdictions.

Amendment  7

Proposal for a directive

Recital 4 b (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(4b) Any information regarding cross-border schemes with implications for third countries should also be disclosed to the tax authorities in those countries. That requirement should concern in particular developing countries, which often have a more limited access to international systems of exchange of tax information.

Amendment  8

Proposal for a directive

Recital 6 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(6a) Proper identification of taxpayers is essential to effective exchange of information between tax administrations. A taxpayer identification number (TIN) should always be made available when required by Directive 2011/16/EU and a European TIN should be created to provide the best means for that identification. The European TIN would allow any third party to quickly, easily and correctly identify and record TINs in cross-border relations and serve as a basis for effective automatic exchange of information between Member States’ tax administrations.

Amendment  9

Proposal for a directive

Recital 7

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(7) Tax administrations frequently request information from digital platform operators. This causes platform operators significant administrative and compliance costs. At the same time, some Member States have imposed a unilateral reporting obligation, which creates an additional administrative burden for platform operators, as they have to comply with multitude of national standards of reporting. It would therefore be essential that a standardised reporting obligation apply across the internal market.

(7) Tax administrations frequently request information from digital platform operators. This causes platform operators significant administrative and compliance costs. At the same time, some Member States have imposed a unilateral reporting obligation, which creates an additional administrative burden for platform operators, as they have to comply with a multitude of national standards of reporting. It would therefore be essential that a standardised reporting obligation apply across the internal market. That standardisation is essential in order to promote three major objectives: to minimise compliance costs for operators, to increase the efficiency of national authorities and to reduce bureaucracy for both taxpayers and tax administrations.

Amendment  10

Proposal for a directive

Recital 7 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(7a) The digitisation of the economy is one of the cornerstones of the Union’s future economic and growth strategy. The Union should be an attractive terrain for digital companies, in particular for their commercial, innovation and employment potential. However, digital goods and services tend to be highly mobile and intangible and therefore more prone to suffering from aggressive tax planning practices, since many business models do not require physical infrastructure in order to carry out transactions with customers and generate profits. That calls into question the suitability of the Union corporate tax models designed for brick and mortar industries, including with regard to the extent that valuation and calculation criteria could be reinvented to reflect the commercial activities of the 21st century. Moreover, that leads to a situation in which online sellers and sellers operating via platforms currently have the opportunity to generate revenues that are poorly reported and thus at high risk of remaining undertaxed or untaxed.

Amendment  11

Proposal for a directive

Recital 13

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(13) Given the digital nature and flexibility of digital platforms, the reporting obligation should extend to those platform operators that perform commercial activity in the Union but are neither residents for tax purposes, nor incorporated or managed nor have a permanent establishment in a Member State. This would ensure a level playing field among the platforms and prevent unfair competition. In order to facilitate this, foreign platforms should be required to register and report in one single Member State for the purpose of operating in the internal market.

(13) Given the digital nature and flexibility of digital platforms, the reporting obligation should extend to those platform operators that perform commercial activity in the Union but are neither residents for tax purposes, nor incorporated or managed nor have a permanent establishment in a Member State. This would ensure a level playing field among the platforms and prevent unfair competition. In order to facilitate this, foreign platforms should be required to register and report in one single Member State for the purpose of operating in the internal market, taking into account the location of their global or regional headquarters, their effective place of management as well as the existence of substantial economic activity in that chosen Member State.

Amendment  12

Proposal for a directive

Recital 14 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(14a) Considering that the progressively digitised and globalised economy reveals complex and challenging dimensions, such as crypto-assets, it is important to increase cooperation between national tax administrations in that field. A clear definition of crypto-assets, taking into account the ongoing work within the OECD and FATF, is important in combating tax evasion and promoting fair taxation. The FATF adopted a broad definition of virtual currency and recommended incorporating within the scope of AML/CFT obligations any natural or legal person who conducts activities including exchange between crypto-assets, transfer of crypto-assets and participation in and provision of financial services related to initial coin offerings. The proliferation of crypto-currencies is a topical matter and should be considered in any effort to increase administrative cooperation, based on the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. Also, given global technological advancement, there is a need for advanced supervisory mechanisms that are in close contact with the relevant counter-criminal financing bodies.

Amendment  13

Proposal for a directive

Recital 15

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(15) The objective of preventing tax evasion and avoidance could be ensured by requiring digital platform operators to report income earned through platforms at an early stage, before the national tax authorities carry out their yearly tax assessments. To facilitate the work of Member States’ tax authorities, the reported information should be exchanged within one month following the reporting. In order to facilitate the automatic exchange of information and enhance the efficient use of resources, exchanges should be carried out electronically through the existing common communication network (‘CCN’) developed by the Union.

(15) The objective of preventing tax evasion and avoidance could be ensured by requiring digital platform operators to report income earned through platforms at an early stage, before the national tax authorities carry out their yearly tax assessments. To facilitate the work of Member States’ tax authorities, the reported information should be exchanged without undue delay and at the latest within one month following the reporting. In order to facilitate the automatic exchange of information and enhance the efficient use of resources, exchanges should be carried out electronically through the existing common communication network (‘CCN’) developed by the Union. The digital infrastructure should be resilient and guarantee the highest standard of security.

Amendment  14

Proposal for a directive

Recital 15 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(15a) This Directive should ensure that competent authorities can access data on the duration of rental contracts where short term property renting is limited in time, so as to facilitate the implementation of those limitations and a control over rental price increases in the Union.

Amendment  15

Proposal for a directive

Recital 15 b (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(15b) Individuals who have access to information relating to sensitive tax information of platform operators and multinational corporations regarding tax evasion and tax avoidance practices, should be encouraged to come forward and cooperate with the authorities with discretion and respect for the public interest, and they should be fully protected if they do so.

Amendment  16

Proposal for a directive

Recital 16

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(16) The evaluation of Directive 2011/16/EU carried out by the Commission demonstrated the need for consistent monitoring of the effectiveness in the application of that Directive and of the national transposing provisions enabling this application. In order for the Commission to continue to properly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the automatic exchanges of information under Directive 2011/16/EU, Member States should be obliged to communicate the statistics on such exchanges to the Commission on an annual basis.

(16) The evaluation of Directive 2011/16/EU carried out by the Commission demonstrated the need for consistent monitoring of the effectiveness in the application of that Directive and of the national transposing provisions enabling this application. In order for the Commission to continue to properly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the automatic exchanges of information under Directive 2011/16/EU, Member States should be obliged to communicate the statistics on such exchanges to the Commission on an annual basis. They should also communicate to the Commission, on an annual basis, all relevant information related to obstacles for the proper implementation of that Directive.

Amendment  17

Proposal for a directive

Recital 16 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(16a) The Commission shall within two years of the entry into force of this Directive present a report on the implementation and efficiency of the provisions that this Directive introduces into Directive 2011/16/EU and make specific proposals, including legislative proposals, for its improvement. That report should be made public.

Amendment  18

Proposal for a directive

Recital 19

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(19) Multilateral controls carried out with the support of the Fiscalis 2020 programme established by Regulation (EU) No 1286/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council5 have demonstrated the benefit of co-ordinated controls of one or more taxpayers that are of common or complementary interest to two or more tax administrations in the Union. As there is no explicit legal base for conducting joint audits, such joint actions are currently conducted based on the combined provisions of Directive 2011/16/EU regarding the presence of foreign officials in the territory of other Member States and on simultaneous controls. However, in many cases this practice has proven to be insufficient and lacking legal clarity and certainty.

(19) Multilateral controls carried out with the support of the Fiscalis 2020 programme established by Regulation (EU) No 1286/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council5 have demonstrated the benefit of co-ordinated controls of one or more taxpayers that are of common or complementary interest to two or more tax administrations in the Union. Therefore, on-site inspections and joint audits should be part of the Union framework of cooperation between tax administrations. As there is no explicit legal base for conducting joint audits, such joint actions are currently conducted based on the combined provisions of Directive 2011/16/EU regarding the presence of foreign officials in the territory of other Member States and on simultaneous controls. However, in many cases this practice has proven to be insufficient and lacking legal clarity and certainty. It is therefore important to eliminate that legal uncertainty and provide those controls with a legal basis within the framework of administrative cooperation.

__________________

__________________

5 Regulation (EU) No 1286/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing an action programme to improve the operation of taxation systems in the European Union for the period 2014-2020 (Fiscalis 2020) and repealing Decision No 1482/2007/EC (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 25).

5 Regulation (EU) No 1286/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 December 2013 establishing an action programme to improve the operation of taxation systems in the European Union for the period 2014-2020 (Fiscalis 2020) and repealing Decision No 1482/2007/EC (OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 25).

Amendment  19

Proposal for a directive

Recital 20

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(20) Member States should adopt a clear and efficient legal framework to allow their tax authorities to perform joint audits of persons with cross-border activity. Joint audits are administrative enquiries conducted jointly by the competent authorities of two or more Member States, to examine a case linked to one or more persons of common or complementary interest to these Member States. Joint audits can play an important role in contributing to the better functioning of the internal market. Joint audits should be structured to offer legal certainty to taxpayers through clear procedural rules, including for mitigating the risk of double taxation.

(20) Member States should adopt a clear and efficient legal framework to allow their tax authorities to perform joint audits of persons with cross-border activity. Joint audits are administrative enquiries conducted jointly by the competent authorities of two or more Member States, to examine a case linked to one or more persons of common or complementary interest to these Member States. Joint audits can play an important role in contributing to the better functioning of the internal market. Joint audits should be structured to offer legal certainty to taxpayers through clear procedural rules, including for mitigating the risk of double taxation. In addition to the legal framework required, Member States should provide for conditions that facilitate the organisation of joint audits at an operational level, notably by supporting training, including linguistic training, for staff likely to perform joint audits. It is recalled that the Fiscalis programme can provide financial support in that regard.

Amendment  20

Proposal for a directive

Recital 21

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(21) In order to ensure the effectiveness of the process, responses to requests for joint audits should be provided within a given timeframe. Rejections of requests should be duly justified. The procedural arrangements applicable to a joint audit should be those of the Member State where the relevant audit action takes place. Accordingly, evidence collected during a joint audit should be mutually recognised by the participating Member State(s). It is equally important that the competent authorities agree on the facts and circumstances of the case and endeavour to reach an agreement on how to interpret the tax position of the audited person(s). In order to ensure that the outcome of a joint audit can be implemented in the participating Member States, the final report should have equivalent legal value to the relevant national instruments that are issued as a result of an audit in the participating Member States. Where necessary, Member States should provide the legal framework for the performance of a corresponding adjustment.

(21) In order to ensure the effectiveness of the process, responses to requests for joint audits should be provided within a given timeframe. Rejections of requests should be duly justified, should only be allowed to be given for the reasons laid out in this Directive and should be subject to a right of response by the requesting authority. The procedural arrangements applicable to a joint audit should be those of the Member State where the relevant audit action takes place. Accordingly, evidence collected during a joint audit should be mutually recognised by the participating Member State(s). It is equally important that the competent authorities agree on the facts and circumstances of the case and endeavour to reach an agreement on how to interpret the tax position of the audited person(s). In order to ensure that the outcome of a joint audit can be implemented in the participating Member States, the final report should have equivalent legal value to the relevant national instruments that are issued as a result of an audit in the participating Member States. Where necessary, Member States should provide the legal framework for the performance of a corresponding adjustment.

Amendment  21

Proposal for a directive

Recital 24 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(24a) It is equally important to emphasise that not only the exchange of information between tax authorities but also the sharing of best practices contributes to more efficient tax collection. In line with the Fiscalis 2020 Programme, Member States should give priority to the sharing of best practices among tax authorities.

Amendment  22

Proposal for a directive

Recital 26

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(26) In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of Directive 2011/16/EU and in particular, for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission to adopt a standard form, with a limited number of components, including the linguistic arrangements. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council25.

(26) In order to ensure uniform conditions for the implementation of Directive 2011/16/EU and in particular, for the automatic exchange of information between tax authorities, implementing powers should be conferred on the Commission to adopt a standard form, with a limited number of components, including the linguistic arrangements. Those powers should be exercised in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council25. The Commission is entitled to produce reports and documents, using the information exchanged in an anonymised manner, so as to take into account the taxpayers’ right to confidentiality and in compliance with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

_________________

_________________

25 Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13).

25 Regulation (EU) No 182/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 2011 laying down the rules and general principles concerning mechanisms for control by Member States of the Commission’s exercise of implementing powers (OJ L 55, 28.2.2011, p. 13).

Amendment  23

Proposal for a directive

Recital 26 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(26a) Any processing of personal data carried out within the framework of Directive 2011/16/EU should continue to comply with Regulations (EU) 2016/679 and (EU) 2018/1725. The data processing provided for in Directive 2011/16/EU has the sole objective of serving a general public interest in the field of taxation, namely, combating tax fraud, tax avoidance and tax evasion, safeguarding tax revenues, and promoting fair taxation, which strengthens opportunities for social, political and economic inclusion in the Member States. Therefore, in Directive 2011/16/EU, the references to the relevant Union law on data protection should be updated and supplemented by the rules set out in this Directive.

Amendment  24

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 1 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 3 – point 9 – point a

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(a) for the purposes of Article 8(1) and Articles 8a, 8aa, 8ab and 8ac, the systematic communication of predefined information to another Member State, without prior request, at pre-established regular intervals.

(a) for the purposes of Article 8(1) and Articles 8a, 8aa, 8ab and 8ac, the systematic communication of predefined and new information to another Member State, without prior request, at pre-established regular intervals.

Amendment  25

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 1 a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 3 – point 14

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(1a) In Article 3, point 14 is amended as follows:

14. “advance cross-border ruling” means any agreement, communication, or any other instrument or action with similar effects, including one issued, amended or renewed in the context of a tax audit, and which meets the following conditions:

“14. “advance ruling” means any agreement, communication, or any other instrument or action with similar effects, including one issued, amended or renewed in the context of a tax audit, and, irrespective of its formal, informal, legally binding or non-binding nature, which meets the following conditions:

(a) is issued, amended or renewed by, or on behalf of, the government or the tax authority of a Member State, or the Member State’s territorial or administrative subdivisions, including local authorities, irrespective of whether it is effectively used;

(a) is issued, amended or renewed by, or on behalf of, the government or the tax authority of a Member State, or the Member State’s territorial or administrative subdivisions, including local authorities, irrespective of whether it is effectively used;

(b) is issued, amended or renewed, to a particular person or a group of persons, and upon which that person or a group of persons is entitled to rely;

(b) is issued, amended or renewed, to a particular person or a group of persons, and upon which that person or a group of persons is entitled to rely;

(c) concerns the interpretation or application of a legal or administrative provision concerning the administration or enforcement of national laws relating to taxes of the Member State, or the Member State’s territorial or administrative subdivisions, including local authorities;

(c) concerns the interpretation or application of a legal or administrative provision concerning the administration or enforcement of national laws relating to taxes of the Member State, or the Member State’s territorial or administrative subdivisions, including local authorities;

(d) relates to a cross-border transaction or to the question of whether or not activities carried on by a person in another jurisdiction create a permanent establishment; and

 

(e) is made in advance of the transactions or of the activities in another jurisdiction potentially creating a permanent establishment or in advance of the filing of a tax return covering the period in which the transaction or series of transactions or activities took place. The cross-border transaction may involve, but is not restricted to, the making of investments, the provision of goods, services, finance or the use of tangible or intangible assets and does not have to directly involve the person receiving the advance cross-border ruling;

(e) is made in advance of the transactions or of the activities in another jurisdiction potentially creating a permanent establishment or in advance of the filing of a tax return covering the period in which the transaction or series of transactions or activities took place. The transaction may involve, but is not restricted to, the making of investments, the provision of goods, services, finance or the use of tangible or intangible assets and does not have to directly involve the person receiving the advance ruling;”

 

(This amendment applies throughout the text. Adopting it will necessitate corresponding changes throughout.)

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32015L2376)

Amendment  26

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 1 b (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 3 – point 16

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(1b) In Article 3, point 16 is deleted.

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/en/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32015L2376)

Amendment  27

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 5a – paragraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

1. For the purposes of a request as referred to in Article 5, the requested information shall be deemed to be foreseeably relevant where at the time the request is made the requesting authority considers that, in accordance with its national law, there is a reasonable possibility that the requested information be relevant to the tax affairs of one or several taxpayers, whether identified by name or otherwise, and be justified for the purposes of the investigation.

1. For the purposes of a request as referred to in Article 5, the requested information shall be deemed to be foreseeably relevant where at the time the request is made the requesting authority considers that, in accordance with its national law, there is a reasonable possibility that the requested information be relevant to the tax affairs of one or several taxpayers, whether identified by name or otherwise, and be justified for the purposes of assessing, collecting and managing taxes.

Amendment  28

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 2

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 5a – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. With the aim to demonstrate the foreseeable relevance of the requested information, the requesting competent authority shall provide the requested authority with supporting information, in particular on the tax purpose for which the information is requested and the grounds that point to the requested information as being held by the requested authority or as being in the possession or control of a person within the jurisdiction of the requested authority.

2. With the aim to demonstrate the foreseeable relevance of the requested information, the requesting competent authority shall provide the requested authority with supporting information.

Amendment  29

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3 a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 7 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(3a) In Article 7(1), the first subparagraph is replaced by the following:

1. The requested authority shall provide the information referred to in Article 5 as quickly as possible, and no later than six months from the date of receipt of the request.

“1. The requested authority shall provide the information referred to in Article 5 as quickly as possible, and no later than three months from the date of receipt of the request.”

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  30

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 3 b (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 7 – paragraph 6 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(3b) In Article 7, the following paragraph is added:

 

“6a. Before 1 January 2023, the Commission shall submit a report that provides an overview and an assessment of the statistics and information received on a country-by-country basis, on issues such as the administrative and other relevant costs and benefits, including incremental tax revenues, of exchanges of information on request, as well as practical aspects linked thereto, including the number of accepted and refused requests received and sent per country, time required for handling and other relevant aspects for a comprehensive assessment.”

Amendment  31

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 4 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1 – introductory part

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

The competent authority of each Member State shall, by automatic exchange, communicate to the competent authority of any other Member State all information that is available concerning residents in that other Member State, on the following specific categories of income and capital as they are to be understood under the national legislation of the Member State which communicates the information:

The competent authority of each Member State shall, by automatic exchange, communicate to the competent authority of any other Member State all information that is available or could reasonably be made available concerning residents in that other Member State, on the following specific categories of income and capital as they are to be understood under the national legislation of the Member State which communicates the information:

Amendment  32

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 4 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 3

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Member States shall inform the Commission annually of at least two categories of income and capital mentioned in the first subparagraph with regard to which they communicate information concerning residents of another Member State.

Member States shall inform the Commission annually of all categories of income and capital mentioned in the first subparagraph with regard to which they communicate information concerning residents of another Member State.

Amendment  33

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 4 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8 – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. Before 1 January 2023, Member States shall inform the Commission of at least four categories listed in paragraph 1 in respect of which the competent authority of each Member State shall, by automatic exchange, communicate to the competent authority of any other Member State, information concerning residents in that other Member State. The information shall concern taxable periods starting on or after 1 January 2024.

deleted

Amendment  34

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 4 – point a a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8 – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(aa) In paragraph 3, the first subparagraph is deleted.

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  35

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 4 – point b a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8 – paragraph 3a – subparagraph 2 – point a

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(ba) In paragraph 3a, second subparagraph, point (a) is replaced by the following:

(a) the name, address, TIN(s) and date and place of birth (in the case of an individual) of each Reportable Person that is an Account Holder of the account and, in the case of any Entity that is an Account Holder and that, after application of due diligence rules consistent with the Annexes, is identified as having one or more Controlling Persons that is a Reportable Person, the name, address, and TIN(s) of the Entity and the name, address, TIN(s) and date and place of birth of each Reportable Person;

(a) the name, address, TIN(s) and date and place of birth (in the case of an individual) of each Reportable Person that is the ultimate beneficial Account Holder of the account and, in the case of any Entity that is an Account Holder and that, after application of due diligence rules consistent with the Annexes, is identified as having one or more Controlling Persons that is a Reportable Person, the name, address, and TIN(s) of the Entity and the name, address, TIN(s) and date and place of birth of each Reportable Person;

Amendment  36

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 – point -a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8a – title

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(-a) The title is amended as follows:

Scope and conditions of mandatory automatic exchange of information on advance cross-border rulings and advance pricing arrangements

“Scope and conditions of mandatory automatic exchange of information on advance rulings and advance pricing arrangements”

 

(This amendment applies throughout the text. Adopting it will necessitate corresponding changes throughout.)

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  37

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 – point -a a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8a – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 4

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(-aa) In paragraph 2, the fourth subparagraph is deleted.

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  38

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 – point -a b (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8a – paragraph 3 – subparagraph 2 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(-ab) In paragraph 3, the following subparagraph is added:

 

“The competent authority shall not negotiate and agree new bilateral or multilateral advance pricing arrangements with third countries that do not permit their disclosure to competent authorities of other Member States as from 1 January 2022.”

Amendment  39

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 – point -a c (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8a – paragraph 4

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(-ac) Paragraph 4 is deleted.

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  40

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 – point a a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8a – paragraph 6 – point a

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(aa) In paragraph 6, point (a) is replaced by the following:

(a) the identification of the person, other than a natural person, and where appropriate the group of persons to which it belongs;

“(a) the identification of the person, including natural persons, and where appropriate the group of persons to which it belongs;”

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  41

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 – point b

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8a – paragraph 6 – point b

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) a summary of the advance cross-border ruling or advance pricing arrangement, including a description of the relevant business activities or transactions or series of transactions and any other information that could assist the competent authority in assessing a potential tax risk, without leading to the disclosure of a commercial, industrial or professional secret or of a commercial process, or of information whose disclosure would be contrary to public policy.

(b) a summary of the advance cross-border ruling or advance pricing arrangement, including a description of the relevant business activities or transactions or series of transactions, all relevant direct and indirect tax implications such as the effective tax rates, and any other information that could assist the competent authority in assessing a potential tax risk,  but omitting information that could lead to the disclosure of a commercial, industrial or professional secret or of a commercial process, or of information whose disclosure would be contrary to public policy.

Amendment  42

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8aa – paragraph 2

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(5a) In Article 8aa, paragraph 2 is replaced by the following:

2. The competent authority of a Member State where the country-by-country report was received pursuant to paragraph 1 shall, by means of automatic exchange and within the deadline laid down in paragraph 4, communicate the country-by-country report to any other Member State in which, on the basis of the information in the country-by-country report, one or more Constituent Entities of the MNE Group of the Reporting Entity are either resident for tax purposes or subject to tax with respect to the business carried out through a permanent establishment.

“2. The competent authority of a Member State where the country-by-country report was received pursuant to paragraph 1 shall, by means of automatic exchange and within the deadline laid down in paragraph 4, communicate the country-by-country report to any other Member State in which, on the basis of the information in the country-by-country report, one or more Constituent Entities of the MNE Group of the Reporting Entity are either resident for tax purposes or subject to tax with respect to the business carried out through a permanent establishment. The competent authority of a Member State where the country-by-country report was received pursuant to paragraph 1 shall also communicate that report to the competent services of the Commission, which is responsible for the centralised register of country-by-country reports. The Commission shall publish anonymised and aggregated country-by-country report statistics on an annual basis for all Member States.”

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  43

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 5 b (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8ab – paragraph 14 – point h a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(5b) In Article 8ab, paragraph 14, the following point is added:

 

“(ha) the list of beneficiaries, which is updated on a yearly basis.”

Amendment  44

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8ac – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1 – point h

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(h) the Financial Account Identifier to which the Consideration is paid or credited, insofar as it is available to the Reporting Platform Operator and the competent authority of the Member State where the Seller is resident has not notified the competent authorities of all other Member States that it does not intend to use the Financial Account Identifier for this purpose;

(h) the Financial Account Identifier to which the Consideration is paid or credited, as it is collected by the Reporting Platform Operator;

Amendment  45

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8ac – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 2 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

The information referred to in points (a) and (b) shall be made accessible to other authorities in receiving Member States in order to deter and prosecute infringements of local or national laws or regulations, without prejudice to the rules on tax secrecy and data protection applicable in the Member State in which the Reportable Seller is resident.

Amendment  46

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6

Directive 2016/11/EU

Article 8ac – paragraph 3

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

3. The communication pursuant to paragraph 2 shall take place using the standard form referred to in Article 20(7) within 2 months following the end of the Reportable Period to which the reporting obligations of the Reporting Platform Operator relate.

3. The communication pursuant to paragraph 2 shall take place using the standard form referred to in Article 20(7) without undue delay and at the latest within one month following the end of the Reportable Period to which the reporting obligations of the Reporting Platform Operator relate.

Amendment  47

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 6

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8ac – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Member States shall lay down rules pursuant to which a Reporting Platform Operator may choose to register with the competent authorities of a single Member State in accordance with the rules laid down in paragraph F of Section IV of Annex V.

Member States shall lay down rules pursuant to which a Reporting Platform Operator may choose to register with the competent authorities of a single Member State in accordance with the rules laid down in paragraph F of Section IV of Annex V, taking into account the location of its global or regional headquarters, its effective place of management as well as the existence of substantial economic activity in that chosen Member State, in the absence of identification for VAT purposes as indicated in paragraph F of Section IV of Annex V.

Amendment  48

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 7 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8b – paragraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

1. Member States shall provide the Commission on an annual basis with statistics on the volume of automatic exchanges under Articles 8(1), 8(3a), 8aa and 8ac and with information on the administrative and other relevant costs and benefits relating to exchanges that have taken place and any potential changes, for both tax administrations and third parties.

1. Member States shall provide the Commission on an annual basis with all relevant material information, including statistics on the volume of automatic exchanges as well as an assessment of the usability of the data being exchanged under Articles 8(1), 8(3a), 8aa and 8ac, and with information on the administrative and other relevant costs and benefits relating to exchanges that have taken place and any potential changes, for both tax administrations and third parties.

Amendment  49

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 7 – point b

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8b – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) Paragraph 2 is deleted.

deleted

Amendment  50

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 7 – point b a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 8b – paragraph 2

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(ba) Paragraph 2 is replaced by the following:

2. Before 1 January 2019, the Commission shall submit a report that provides an overview and an assessment of the statistics and information received under paragraph 1 of this Article, on issues such as the administrative and other relevant costs and benefits of the automatic exchange of information, as well as practical aspects linked thereto. If appropriate, the Commission shall present a proposal to the Council regarding the categories and the conditions laid down in Article 8(1), including the condition that information concerning residents in other Member States has to be available, or the items referred to in Article 8(3a), or both.

“2. Before 1 January 2022, the Commission shall submit a report that provides an overview and an assessment of the statistics and information received under paragraph 1 of this Article, on issues such as the effective use of the data received by Member States for tax or other purposes, administrative and other relevant costs and benefits of the automatic exchange of information, as well as practical aspects linked thereto. The Commission shall present a proposal to the Council regarding the categories and the conditions laid down in Article 8(1), including the condition that information concerning residents in other Member States has to be available or be made available, and the items referred to in Article 8(3a), including beneficial ownership.

When examining a proposal presented by the Commission, the Council shall assess further strengthening of the efficiency and functioning of the automatic exchange of information and raising the standard thereof, with the aim of providing that:

When examining a proposal presented by the Commission, the Council shall assess further strengthening of the efficiency and functioning of the automatic exchange of information and raising the standard thereof, with the aim of providing that:

(a) the competent authority of each Member State shall, by automatic exchange, communicate to the competent authority of any other Member State, information regarding taxable periods as from 1 January 2019 concerning residents in that other Member State, on all categories of income and capital listed in Article 8(1), as they are to be understood under the national legislation of the Member State communicating the information; and

(a) the lists of categories of income and capital laid down in Article 8(1) be made available by Member States, even if not currently available, and accordingly exchanged;

(b) the lists of categories and items laid down in Articles 8(1) and 8(3a) be extended to include other categories and items, including royalties.

(b) the categories of income laid down in Article 8(1) be expanded to non-financial assets such as real estate, art or jewellery and new forms to store wealth such as free ports and safe deposit boxes;

 

(ba) the lists of items laid down in Article 8(3a) be extended to include the ultimate beneficial ownership data and to tackle circumvention through second or multiple tax residencies;

 

(bb) Member States be generally allowed to use the information received for other purposes than those referred to in Article 16(1);

 

(bc) effective use of the data received be correctly evaluated.”

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  51

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 8 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 11 – paragraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

1. With a view to exchanging the information referred to in Article1(1), the competent authority of a Member State may request the competent authority of another Member State that officials authorised by the former and in accordance with the procedural arrangements laid down by the latter:

1. With a view to exchanging the information referred to in Article1(1), the competent authority of a Member State may request the competent authority of another Member State that officials authorised by the former and in accordance with the procedural arrangements laid down by the latter:

(a)  be present in the offices where the administrative authorities of the requested Member State carry out their duties;

(a)  be present in the offices where the administrative authorities of the requested Member State carry out their duties;

(b)  be present during administrative enquiries carried out in the territory of the requested Member State;

(b)  be present during administrative enquiries carried out in the territory of the requested Member State;

(c)  participate in the administrative enquiries carried out by the requested Member State through the use of electronic means of communication, where appropriate.

(c)  participate in the administrative enquiries carried out by the requested Member State through the use of electronic means of communication, where appropriate.

A competent authority shall respond to a request in accordance with the first subparagraph within 30 days, to confirm its agreement or communicate its reasoned refusal to the requesting authority.

A competent authority shall respond to a request in accordance with the first subparagraph within 30 days, to confirm its agreement or communicate its reasoned refusal to the requesting authority.

 

In cases where a reasoned refusal is provided, the requesting authority may contact again the competent authority with additional elements, in order to obtain an authorisation for its official to carry out the tasks referred to in paragraph 1 (a), (b) or (c). The competent authority shall respond to that second request within 30 days of its receipt.

Where the requested information is contained in documentation to which the officials of the requested authority have access, the officials of the requesting authority shall be given copies thereof.

Where the requested information is contained in documentation to which the officials of the requested authority have access, the officials of the requesting authority shall be given copies thereof.

Amendment  52

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 10

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 12a – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. Where a competent authority of one Member State requests a competent authority of another Member State (or other Member States) to conduct a joint audit of one or more persons of common or complementary interest to all their respective Member States, the requested authorities shall respond to the request within 30 days from the receipt of the request.

2. Where competent authorities of one or more Member States request a competent authority of another Member State (or competent authorities of other Member States) to conduct a joint audit of one or more persons of common or complementary interest to all their respective Member States, the requested authorities shall respond to the request within 30 days from the receipt of the request.

Amendment  53

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 10

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 12a – paragraph 3 – introductory part

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

3. A request for a joint audit by a competent authority of a Member State may be rejected on justified grounds and, in particular, for any of the following reasons:

3. A request for a joint audit by a competent authority of a Member State may be rejected for any of the following reasons:

Amendment  54

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 10

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 12a – paragraph 4 – subparagraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Where a requested authority rejects the request, it shall inform the requesting person(s) of the grounds for doing so.

Where a requested authority rejects the request, it shall inform the requesting person(s) on which of the two grounds referred to in paragraph 3 the request was rejected.

Amendment  55

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 12 – point a

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 16 – paragraph 1 – subparagraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Information communicated between Member States in any form pursuant to this Directive shall be covered by the obligation of official secrecy and enjoy the protection extended to similar information under the national law of the Member State which received it. Such information may be used for the assessment, administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Member States concerning the taxes referred to in Article 2 as well as VAT and other indirect taxes..

Information communicated between Member States in any form pursuant to this Directive shall be covered by the obligation of official secrecy under the national law of the requested Member States and requesting Member State and enjoy the protection extended to similar information under the national law of the Member State which received it. Such information may be used for the assessment, administration and enforcement of the domestic laws of the Member States concerning the taxes referred to in Article 2 as well as VAT, information referred to in Article 8ac(2), second subparagraph, and other indirect taxes.

Amendment  56

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 12 – point b

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 16 – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. With the permission of the competent authority of the Member State communicating information pursuant to this Directive, and only in so far as this is allowed under the legislation of the Member State of the competent authority receiving the information, information and documents received pursuant to this Directive may be used for other purposes than those referred to in paragraph 1.

2. Information and documents received pursuant to this Directive by a competent authority of a Member State may be used for other purposes than those referred to in paragraph 1 only insofar as that is allowed under the laws of the Member State of the competent authority receiving the information.

The competent authority of each Member State shall communicate to the competent authorities of all other Member States a list of purposes for which, in accordance with its domestic law, information and documents may be used other than those referred to in paragraph 1. The competent authority that receives information may use the received information and documents without the permission referred to in the first subparagraph for any of the purposes listed by the communicating Member State.

 

Amendment  57

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 12 – point b a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 16 – paragraph 4

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(ba) Paragraph 4 is deleted.

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  58

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 13 a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 17 – paragraph 4 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(13a) In Article 17, the following paragraph is inserted:

 

“4a. The possibility referred to in paragraph 4 of refusing the provision of information shall not apply if the requesting authority is able to demonstrate that the information will not be disclosed to the public and will only be used for the purpose of the assessment, management and control of the relevant tax affairs of the person or group of persons concerned by the request for information.”

Amendment  59

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 15

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 21 – paragraph 7 – subparagraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

The Commission shall develop and provide technical and logistical support for a secure central interface on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation where Member States communicate with the use of standard forms pursuant to Article 20(1) and (3). The competent authorities of all Member States shall have access to that interface. For the purpose of collecting statistics, the Commission shall have access to information about the exchanges recorded to the interface and which can be extracted automatically. The access by the Commission shall be without prejudice to the obligation of Member States to provide statistics on exchanges of information in accordance with Article 23(4).

The Commission shall develop and provide all necessary technical and logistical support for a secure central interface on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation where Member States communicate with the use of standard forms pursuant to Article 20(1) and (3). The competent authorities of all Member States shall have access to that interface. The Commission shall ensure that the central interface is secured with the highest level of cybersecurity and technically certified procedures to guarantee data protection. For the purpose of collecting statistics, the Commission shall have access to information about the exchanges recorded to the interface and which can be extracted automatically. The access by the Commission shall be without prejudice to the obligation of Member States to provide statistics on exchanges of information in accordance with Article 23(4).

Amendment  60

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 17

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 23 – paragraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

2. Member States shall examine and evaluate, in their jurisdiction, the effectiveness of administrative cooperation in accordance with this Directive in combating tax evasion and tax avoidance and shall communicate annually the results of their evaluation to the Commission.

2. Member States shall examine and evaluate, in their jurisdiction, the effectiveness of administrative cooperation in accordance with this Directive in combating tax evasion and tax avoidance  and they shall examine and evaluate the compliance costs that can result from a possible over-reporting situation. Member States shall communicate annually the results of their evaluation to the European Parliament and the Commission. A summary of those results shall be made public, taking into account taxpayers’ rights and confidentiality. The information shall not be disaggregated to such a level that it can be attributed to a single taxpayer.

Amendment  61

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 17 a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 23 – paragraph 3

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(17a) In Article 23, paragraph 3 is replaced by the following:

3. Member States shall communicate to the Commission a yearly assessment of the effectiveness of the automatic exchange of information referred to in Articles 8, 8a, 8aa and 8ab as well as the practical results achieved. The Commission shall, by means of implementing acts, adopt the form and the conditions of communication for that yearly assessment. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 26(2).

3. Member States shall communicate to the Commission a yearly assessment of the effectiveness of the exchange of information on request referred to in Articles 5, 6 and 7 and of the automatic exchange of information referred to in Articles 8, 8a, 8aa and 8ab as well as the practical results achieved, including the incremental tax revenues associated with administrative cooperation. The information communicated shall be disaggregated by the Commission, at minimum to a country-by-country level. The Commission shall, by means of implementing acts, adopt the form and the conditions of communication for that yearly assessment. Those implementing acts shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 26(2).

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  62

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 17 b (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 23a – paragraph 1

 

Present text

Amendment

 

(17b) In Article 23a, paragraph 1 is replaced by the following:

1. Information communicated to the Commission pursuant to this Directive shall be kept confidential by the Commission in accordance with the provisions applicable to Union authorities and may not be used for any purposes other than those required to determine whether and to what extent Member States comply with this Directive.

1. Information communicated to the Commission pursuant to this Directive shall be kept confidential, insofar as its non-disclosure does not harm public interest, the information can be attributed to a single taxpayer and its disclosure would infringe taxpayers’ rights.

(https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A02011L0016-20200701)

Amendment  63

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 23a – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Information communicated to the Commission by a Member State under Article 23, as well as any report or document produced by the Commission using such information, may be transmitted to other Member States. Such transmitted information shall be covered by the obligation of official secrecy and enjoy the protection extended to similar information under the national law of the Member State which received it.

Information communicated to the Commission by a Member State under Article 23, as well as any report or document produced by the Commission using such attributable information, may be transmitted to other Member States. Such transmitted information shall be covered by the obligation of official secrecy and enjoy the protection extended to similar information under the national law of the Member State which received it.

Amendment  64

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 23a – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Reports and documents produced by the Commission, referred to in the first subparagraph, may be used by the Member States only for analytical purposes, and shall not be published or made available to any other person or body without the express agreement of the Commission.

Reports and documents produced by the Commission, referred to in the first subparagraph, may be used by the Member States only for analytical purposes, and be accessible to all interested parties and subsequently be public, insofar as the information they contain is not attributable to a single taxpayer, and their disclosure complies with Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents.

Amendment  65

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 18

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 23a – paragraph 2 – subparagraph 3

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Notwithstanding the first and second subparagraphs, the Commission may publish annually anonymised summaries of the statistical data that Member States communicate to it in accordance with Article 23(4).

The Commission shall publish annually anonymised summaries of the statistical data that Member States communicate to it in accordance with Article 23(4).

Amendment  66

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 19 – point b

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 25 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Member States shall ensure that, in the event of a personal data breach in the meaning of point 12 of Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679, the competent authorities may ask the Commission, as processor, to suspend, as a mitigating measure, the exchanges of information under this Directive with the Member State where the breach occurred.

Member States shall ensure that, in the event of a personal data breach in the meaning of point 12 of Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 or in the event of a breach of the principles of the rule of law as referred to in Article 4 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 of the European Parliament and of the Council*, the competent authorities may ask the Commission, as processor, to suspend, as a mitigating measure, the exchanges of information under this Directive with the Member State where the breach occurred.

 

_________________

 

* Regulation (EU, Euratom) 2020/2092 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2020 on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget (OJ L 433I, 22.12.2020, p. 1).

Justification

The possibility to suspend the exchanges of information under this Directive should also be applicable in the event of a breach of the principles of the rule of law in accordance with the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget.

Amendment  67

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 19 – point b

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 25 – paragraph 5 – subparagraph 2

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

The suspension shall last until the competent authorities ask the Commission to enable again the exchanges of information under this Directive with the Member State where the breach occurred..

The suspension shall last until the competent authorities ask the Commission to enable again the exchanges of information under this Directive with the Member State where the breach occurred. The Commission shall enable the exchanges of information only when there is technical evidence that the data flow is secured.

Amendment  68

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 20

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 25a – paragraph 1

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and concerning Articles 8aa, 8ab and 8ac, and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of national provisions adopted pursuant to this Directive and concerning Articles 8aa, 8ab and 8ac, and shall take all measures necessary to ensure that they are implemented, in accordance with Annex V. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

Amendment  69

Proposal for a directive

Article 1 – paragraph 1 – point 20 a (new)

Directive 2011/16/EU

Article 25b (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

(20a) The following Article is added:

 

“Article 25b

 

Review

 

By… [two years after the date of entry into force of this amending Directive], the Commission shall present a report on the implementation and efficiency of the provisions introduced by Council Directive (EU) …/…*+ and make specific proposals, including legislative proposals, for the improvement of this Directive. That report shall be made public.

 

When examining a proposal presented by the Commission, the Council shall assess further strengthening of the obligation to report by the Reporting Platform Operators.

 

 

________

 

* Council Directive (EU) …/… of … amending Directive 2011/16/EU on administrative cooperation in the field of taxation (OJ….)”

 

+ OJ: Please insert the number of this amending directive in the text, and complete the footnote with the number, the date and the OJ reference.

Amendment  70

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – paragraph 2 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

This Annex also contains several possible penalties, in accordance with Article 25a, which can be applied by Member States.

Amendment  71

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – Section I – point A – paragraph 3 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

3a. “Excluded Reporting Platform Operator” means a Reporting Platform Operator whose revenues, generated in the Union during the previous calendar year, did not exceed EUR 100 000.

Amendment  72

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – Section I – point A – paragraph 4 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

4a. “Excluded Relevant Activity” means any non-remunerated and non-monetary exchange of goods and services.

Amendment  73

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – Section III – point B – paragraph 2 – point b

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) the Financial Account Identifier, insofar as it is available to the Reporting Platform Operator and the competent authority of the Member State where the Reportable Seller is resident has not notified the competent authorities of all other Member States that it does not intend to use the Financial Account Identifier for this purpose;

(b) the Financial Account Identifier, as collected by the Reporting Platform Operator and insofar as the competent authority of the Member State where the Reportable Seller is resident has not notified the competent authorities of all other Member States that it does not intend to use the Financial Account Identifier for this purpose;

Amendment  74

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – Section III – point B – paragraph 3 – point b

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

(b) the Financial Account Identifier, insofar as it is available to the Reporting Platform Operator and the competent authority of the Member State where the Reportable Seller is resident has not notified the competent authorities of all other Member States that it does not intend to use the Financial Account Identifier for this purpose;

(b) the Financial Account Identifier, as collected by the Reporting Platform Operator and insofar as the competent authority of the Member State where the Reportable Seller is resident has not notified the competent authorities of all other Member States that it does not intend to use the Financial Account Identifier for this purpose;

Amendment  75

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – Section IV – point C – paragraph 1 a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

By… [two years after the date of entry into force of this amending Directive], the Commission shall assess the efficiency of the administrative procedures and the quality of implementation of the due diligence procedures and reporting requirements. The assessment may be accompanied by legislative proposals if improvement is needed.

Amendment  76

Proposal for a directive

Annex I

Directive 2011/16/EU

ANNEX V – Section IV – point F a (new)

 

Text proposed by the Commission

Amendment

 

Fa. Penalties for infringements

 

Member States shall lay down the rules on penalties applicable to infringements of reporting obligations by Reporting Platform Operators. The penalties provided for shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive. Member States are invited to ensure a common set of sanctions to ensure similar penalties in the Union and avoid registration shopping based on the severity of penalties applied.

 

Member States are especially encouraged to consider as penalties options for restrictions of regulated means of payment, the charging of additional consequential fees per transaction, the exclusion of public contracts and, in extreme and repeated cases, the revoking of the business licence of the platform operator.

 

REPORT towards a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism – A9-0019/2021

Source: European Parliament

MOTION FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION

towards a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism

(2020/2043(INI))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the Agreement adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris on 12 December 2015 (the Paris Agreement),

 having regard to the UN Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report 2019,

 having regard to the special reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on global warming of 1.5 °C and on the ocean and cryosphere,

 having regard to the Commission communication of 11 December 2019 on the European Green Deal (COM(2019)0640),

 having regard to the Commission communication of 17 September 2020 on stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition (COM(2020)0562) and its accompanying impact assessment (SWD(2020)0176),

 having regard to the European Council conclusions of 12 December 2019 and of 17-21 July 2020,

 having regard to its resolution of 23 July 2020 on the conclusions of the extraordinary European Council meeting of 17-21 July 2020[1],

 having regard to the conclusions and recommendations of the European Court of Auditors in its special report No 18/2020 of 15 September 2020 entitled ‘The EU’s Emissions Trading System: free allocation of allowances needed better targeting’,

 having regard to its resolution of 28 November 2019 on the climate and environment emergency[2],

 having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2020 on the European Green Deal[3],

 having regard to its position on the 2030 climate target, namely a 60 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared with 1990 levels[4],

 having regard to Rule 54 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the opinions of the Committee on International Trade, the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (A9-0019/2021),

A. whereas the adverse impacts of climate change represent a direct threat to human livelihoods and terrestrial and marine ecosystems, as confirmed by the IPCC special reports on global warming of 1.5 °C and on the ocean and cryosphere; whereas these impacts are unevenly distributed, with most adverse effects being felt by poorer countries and people;

B. whereas according to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 2030 climate change is expected to contribute to approximately 250 000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress;

C. whereas the average global temperature has already risen past 1.1 °C above pre-industrial levels[5];

D. whereas the EU and its Member States are committed under the Paris Agreement to delivering climate action on the basis of the latest available scientific evidence and now have the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest;

E. whereas over the past few decades, the EU has managed to successfully decouple territorial greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from economic growth, with GHG emissions falling by 24 %, while GDP grew by more than 60 % between 1990 and 2019; whereas this does not take into account the EU’s emissions embedded in its international trade and therefore underestimates its global carbon footprint;

F. whereas in 2015 the ratio of imported to exported emissions in the EU was approximately 3:1, with 1.317 billion tonnes of CO2 imported and 424 million tonnes exported[6];

G. whereas existing EU law has been effective in delivering the climate goals adopted so far; whereas the current design of the Emission Trading System (EU ETS), in particular the existing provisions on carbon leakage, has not provided effective incentives for the necessary decarbonisation of certain sectors, notably in industry, and has in some cases led to unjustified windfall profits for the beneficiary companies, as highlighted by the European Court of Auditors[7];

H. whereas the Commission should continue its work on developing methodologies to ascertain a product’s carbon and environmental footprint, by employing a full life cycle approach and ensuring that the accounting of embedded emissions in products reflect reality as far as possible, including emissions from international transport;

I. whereas the Commission should also study the traceability of products and services in order to identify more precisely all the impacts of their life cycles, such as the extraction and use of materials, the manufacturing process, the use of energy, and the mode of transport used, with the aim of setting up databases;

J. whereas around 27 % of global CO2 emissions from fuel combustion currently relate to internationally traded goods[8]; whereas 90 % of international goods transport is carried out at sea, leading to significant GHG emissions; whereas only GHG emissions from domestic waterborne navigation were included in the EU’s initial nationally determined contribution (NDC); whereas this is subject to revision in light of the EU’s enhanced 2030 target;

K. whereas the COVID-19 crisis has delivered some important lessons, hence why the Commission’s proposal for a new recovery instrument – Next Generation EU – underlines the need to strengthen European autonomy and resilience and the need for short circuits, in particular shorter food supply chains;

L. whereas it is essential that the Commission has an integrated vision of climate policies, for example by addressing emission reduction targets, such as those for maritime transport, in coordination with carbon pricing strategies;

M. whereas ensuring effective and meaningful carbon pricing as part of a broader regulatory environment can serve as an economic incentive to develop production methods with a lower GHG footprint and can spur investments in innovation and new technologies, providing for the decarbonisation and circularity of the EU’s economy; whereas an effective Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) can play a role in that context;

N. whereas trade can be an important tool to promote sustainable development and help fight climate change; whereas the EU’s single market is the world’s second-largest consumer market, putting the Union in a unique position as a global standard setter;

O. whereas combating climate change is a factor in competitiveness and social justice and offers major potential in terms of industrial development, job creation, innovation and regional development;

P. whereas Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) allows World Trade Organization (WTO) members to implement measures that are necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health (b), or natural resources (g);

Q. whereas the EU should accept that a third country can set up a CBAM if that country implements a higher carbon price;

R. whereas US President Biden has taken a favourable stance through his electoral platform to seek to ‘impose carbon adjustment fees or quotas on carbon-intensive goods from countries that are failing to meet their climate and environment obligations’; whereas this would create a new opportunity for cooperation between the EU and the US in fighting climate change and restoring this key partnership;

S. whereas the EU’s increased ambition on climate change should not lead to the risk of carbon leakage for European industries;

General remarks

1. Is deeply concerned that currently none of the NDCs submitted, including those of the EU and its Member States, are in line with the objective of keeping the global temperature increase, as provided by the Paris Agreement, to well below 2 °C, while pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels;

2. Is concerned by the lack of cooperation by some of the EU’s trade partners in international climate negotiations over the past few years, which, as recently observed at COP25, undermines our collective global ability to reach the objectives of the Paris Agreement; encourages all parties to support a collective and science-based global effort that can deliver the achievement of these goals; calls on the Commission and the Council to uphold a transparent, fair and inclusive decision-making process in the UNFCCC;

3. Stresses that the EU and its Member States have the responsibility and opportunity to continue assuming a leading role in global climate action along with the other leading global emitters; points out that the EU has been leading global climate action, as evidenced by its adoption of the objective to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest and its plan to scale up its 2030 GHG emission reduction target; strongly encourages the Commission and the Member States to intensify their climate diplomacy ahead of and after the adoption of the legislative proposal for a CBAM and, in particular, to ensure continuous dialogue with trade partners in order to incentivise global climate action; stresses the need for concurrent diplomatic efforts to ensure that the EU’s neighbourhood countries are engaged early on;

4. Highlights the central role of citizens and consumers in the energy transition, and the importance of stimulating and supporting consumer choice in order to reduce the effects of climate change by promoting sustainable activities and collateral benefits that lead to a higher quality of life;

5. Takes note of the Commission’s proposal to set the EU’s 2030 climate target to ‘at least 55 % net emissions reduction’ compared to 1990 levels; highlights the fact, however, that Parliament adopted a higher target of 60 %;

6. Notes that while the EU had substantially reduced its domestic GHG emissions, the GHG emissions embedded in imports to the EU have been constantly rising, thereby undermining the Union’s efforts to reduce its global GHG footprint; underlines that the net imports of goods and services in the EU represent more than 20 % of the Union’s domestic CO2 emissions; considers that the GHG content of imports should be better monitored in order to identify possible measures to reduce the EU’s global GHG footprint;

Designing a WTO-compatible CBAM

7. Supports the introduction of a CBAM, provided that it is compatible with WTO rules and EU free trade agreements (FTAs) by not being discriminatory or constituting a disguised restriction on international trade; considers that as such, a CBAM would create an incentive for European industries and EU trade partners to decarbonise their industries and therefore support both EU and global climate policies towards GHG neutrality in line with the Paris Agreement objectives; states unequivocally that a CBAM should be exclusively designed to advance climate objectives and not be misused as a tool to enhance protectionism, unjustifiable discrimination or restrictions; stresses that this mechanism should support the EU’s green objectives, in particular to better address GHG emissions embedded in EU industry and in international trade, while being non-discriminatory and striving for a global level playing field;

8. Stresses that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States should be given special treatment in order to take account of their specificities and the potential negative impacts of the CBAM on their development;

9. Recalls the specific constraints and challenges facing the outermost regions, compounded, in particular, by their remoteness, their insularity and the limited size of their market, and calls for the CBAM to give special consideration to their specific characteristics, in accordance with Article 349 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU);

10. Reiterates that the introduction of a CBAM should be part of a package of legislative measures to ensure the swift reduction of GHG emissions deriving from EU production and consumption, in particular by scaling up energy efficiency and renewable energies; stresses that the CBAM should be coupled with policies aimed at enabling and promoting investments in low-carbon industrial processes, including through innovative financing tools, the new Circular Economy Action Plan and a broader EU industrial policy that is both environmentally ambitious and socially fair, with a view to steering a decarbonised reindustrialisation of Europe to create quality jobs at a local level and ensure the competitiveness of the European economy, while fulfilling the EU’s climate ambition and offering predictability and certainty to secure investments towards climate neutrality;

11. Emphasises that product standards can ensure low-carbon, resource-efficient manufacturing as well as help to guarantee minimal negative environmental impacts from product use; therefore asks the Commission to propose, as a complement to the introduction of a CBAM, more ambitious and binding norms and standards on products placed on the EU market in terms of GHG emission reduction and savings on resources and energy, in support of the Sustainable Product Policy Framework and the new Circular Economy Action Plan;

12. Considers that in order to prevent possible distortions in the internal market and along the value chain, a CBAM should cover all imports of products and commodities covered by the EU ETS, including when embedded in intermediate or final products; stresses that as a starting point (already by 2023) and following an impact assessment, the CBAM should cover the power sector and energy-intensive industrial sectors like cement, steel, aluminium, oil refinery, paper, glass, chemicals and fertilisers, which continue to receive substantial free allocations, and still represent 94 % of EU industrial emissions;

13. Underlines that the GHG emissions content of imports should be accounted for on the basis of transparent, reliable and up-to-date product-specific benchmarks at the level of the installations in third countries and that, as a default, if data is not made available by the importer, account should be taken of the global average GHG emissions content of individual products, broken down by different production methods with varying emission intensities; considers that the carbon pricing of imports should cover both direct and indirect emissions and therefore also take into account the country-specific carbon intensity of the electricity grid or, if data is made available by the importer, the carbon intensity of the energy consumption at the level of the installation;

14. Notes that the Commission is currently assessing all the different options for the introduction of a CBAM, ranging from tax instruments to mechanisms using the EU ETS; stresses that the modalities for the design of a CBAM should be explored alongside the revision of the EU ETS so as to ensure they are complementary and consistent, and to avoid overlapping that would lead to double protection of EU industries; underlines the importance of a transparent process behind a CBAM, including by engaging with the WTO and the EU’s trading partners in coordination with the European Parliament and carefully assessing and comparing the effectiveness, efficiency and legal feasibility of different forms of a CBAM with a view to reducing total global GHG emissions; insists that the primary aim of the CBAM is environmental and that environmental criteria should therefore play an essential role in the choice of instrument, ensuring a predictable and sufficiently high carbon price that incentivises decarbonisation investments in order to realise the aims of the Paris Agreement;

15. Stresses the importance of assessing the impacts of each option on the living standards of consumers, especially those belonging to more vulnerable groups, as well as their impact on revenue; calls on the Commission to also include in the impact assessment the consequences for the EU budget of the revenue generated from the CBAM as an own resource, depending on the design and modalities chosen;

16. Considers that in order to address the potential risk of carbon leakage while complying with WTO rules, the CBAM needs to charge the carbon content of imports in a way that mirrors the carbon costs paid by EU producers; stresses that carbon pricing under the CBAM should mirror the dynamic evolution of the price of EU allowances under the EU ETS while ensuring predictability and less volatility in the price of carbon; is of the opinion that importers should buy allowances from a separate pool of allowances to the EU ETS whose carbon price corresponds to that of the day of the transaction in the EU ETS; underlines that the introduction of the CBAM is only one of the measures in the implementation of the European Green Deal objectives and must also be accompanied by the necessary measures in non-ETS sectors as well as an ambitious reform of the EU ETS to ensure it delivers meaningful carbon pricing that fully respects the polluter pays principle, and to contribute to the necessary GHG emissions reduction in line with the EU’s updated 2030 climate target and 2050 net zero GHG emissions target, including by addressing the linear reduction factor, a rebasing of the cap and assessing the potential need for a carbon floor price;

17. Highlights that an excise duty (or tax) on the carbon content of all consumed products, both domestic and imported, would not fully address the risk of carbon leakage, would be technically challenging given the complexity of tracing carbon in global value chains and might place a significant burden on consumers; acknowledges that a fixed duty or tax on imports could be a simple tool to give a strong and stable environmental price signal for imported carbon; believes, however, that given its fixed nature, such a tax would be a less flexible tool to mirror the evolving price of the EU ETS; stresses that, in practice, an evolving tax that automatically mirrors the price of the EU ETS would be equivalent to a notional ETS; acknowledges that, should the CBAM be of a fiscal nature, there is a possibility that a mechanism based on Article 192(2) of the TFEU would be introduced;

18. Stresses that importers should have the option to prove, in accordance with EU standards for monitoring, reporting and verification of the EU ETS, that the carbon content of their products is lower than those values, and avail of a payable amount adapted accordingly, to encourage innovation and investment in sustainable technologies across the world; considers that this should not impose a disproportionate burden on SMEs; highlights that the implementation of the mechanism will need to be underpinned by a set of EU standards that will prevent it from being circumvented or misused, and will require strong independent infrastructure in order to be administered;

19. Stresses that the CBAM should ensure that importers from third countries are not charged twice for the carbon content of their products to ensure they are treated on an equal footing and without discrimination; calls on the Commission to assess carefully the impact of the different CBAM options on Least Developed Countries;

20. Highlights that unlike the ETS, the mechanism should not treat burning wood for fuel as carbon neutral and within the revised and updated framework the carbon embedded in logged wood and depleted soil should have a price;

21. Urges the Commission to minimise the risk of exporters to the EU trying to bypass the mechanism or compromise its effectiveness, for example by re-routing production between markets or exporting semi-finished goods;

Trade-related aspects of a CBAM

22. Calls for the Paris Agreement and its 1.5 ℃ goal to become one of the main guiding principles of trade policy, to which all trade initiatives and their policy tools must be adjusted, by including it in, inter alia, FTAs as an essential element; is convinced that such a purpose-built trade policy can be an important driver in steering economies towards decarbonisation in order to achieve the climate objectives set in the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal;

23. Expresses its deep concern over the erosion of the multilateral trading system; calls on the Commission to actively engage with trade partners’ governments to ensure a continued dialogue on this initiative, thereby providing incentives for climate action both within the Union and by its trading partners; underlines that trade policy can and should be used to promote a positive environmental agenda and to avoid major differences in the levels of environmental ambition between the EU and the rest of the world, and that a CBAM should be designed as an action complementing actions under the trade and sustainable development chapters of the EU’s FTAs; underlines that global action which makes the CBAM redundant must be the final goal of the initiative, as the rest of the world catches up with the level of ambition the EU has set for reducing CO2 emissions; is therefore of the view that the CBAM should be regarded as a means to help the acceleration of this process and not as a means of protectionism; expects the Commission to initiate negotiations on a global approach within the framework of the WTO or the G20;

24. Considers that international trade and trade policy are key enablers of the transition towards a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, circular global economy and, as such, support the global efforts towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement; considers that there is an urgent need to pursue a comprehensive reform of the WTO, enabling it to guarantee fair trade, while at the same time combating global warming; notes that the GATT rules date back to 1947 and is of the view that they need to be rethought in the present context of climate crisis; expects the Commission to take urgent initiatives for WTO reform in order to achieve compatibility with the climate objectives; calls on the Commission to intensify its efforts to achieve global CO2 pricing and to facilitate trade in climate and environmental protection technologies, for example through trade policy initiatives such as the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement;

25. Calls on the Commission to pursue multilateral WTO reforms that bring international trade law into line with the goals of the Paris Agreement and other aspects of international law, in particular the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO); points out that a CBAM is compatible with WTO rules if it is designed with a clear environmental objective in mind to reduce global GHG emissions and if it upholds the highest environmental integrity;

26. Underlines that the CBAM can help to contribute to the SDGs; recalls that the promotion of decent work is also an SDG and urges the Commission to ensure that goods placed on the EU market are produced under conditions that respect the ILO conventions;

27. Notes that in order to be compatible with WTO rules, GATT provisions such as Article I (the principle of most-favoured nation treatment), Article III (the national treatment principle) and, if necessary, Article XX (general exceptions) could be the basis for any CBAM design, whose rationale should be solely and strictly environmental – reducing global CO2 emissions and preventing carbon leakage;

28. Underlines the principle of non-discrimination under GATT Article III; stresses that treating imports and domestic production in the same way is a key criterion for ensuring WTO compatibility of any measure; emphasises that the CBAM should constitute an alternative to existing measures on carbon leakage under EU law in sectors covered by the EU ETS in so far as it would create a level playing field between EU domestic and foreign producers by applying a charge on the embodied carbon emissions of all goods in those sectors, regardless of their origin, thereby ensuring full protection against carbon leakage for European industry and avoiding emission transfers to third countries; emphasises that the implementation of the CBAM should therefore go hand in hand with the parallel, gradual, rapid and eventual complete phasing out of those measures for the sectors concerned so as to avoid double protection for EU installations, while assessing the impact on exports and dependent sectors along the value chain; emphasises that the design of the CBAM should follow a simple principle whereby one tonne of carbon should not be protected twice;

29. Underlines the importance of ensuring a global level playing field for the competitiveness of European industries without generating harmful effects on climate and the environment; urges the Commission, therefore, to consider the possible introduction of export rebates, but only if it can fully demonstrate their positive impact on climate and their compatibility with WTO rules; stresses that in order to prevent perverse climate effects by incentivising less efficient production methods for European exporting industries and ensure WTO compatibility, any form of potential export support should be transparent, proportionate and not lead to any kind of competitive advantages for EU exporting industries in third countries, and should be strictly limited to the most efficient installations so as to maintain GHG reduction incentives for EU exporting companies;

30. Stresses that any mechanism must create an incentive for industries in the EU and abroad to produce clean and competitive products and avoid carbon leakage, without endangering trade opportunities;

31. Notes that the CBAM is part of the European Green Deal and a tool to achieve the EU’s goal of net zero GHG emissions by 2050; notes that the most carbon- and trade-intensive industrial sectors could potentially be impacted by the CBAM, either directly or indirectly, and that they should be consulted throughout the process; notes further that the CBAM could influence supply chains in such a way that they would internalise carbon costs; stresses that any CBAM should be easy to administer and not place an undue financial and administrative burden on enterprises, especially SMEs;

The CBAM and own resources

32. Acknowledges that the CBAM could be implemented either as an extension of the current regime of customs duties or as a complementary scheme within the existing EU ETS framework; emphasises that both approaches could be entirely consistent with an own resources initiative;

33. Supports the Commission’s intention to use revenues generated by the CBAM as new own resources for the EU budget, and asks the Commission to ensure full transparency about the use of those revenues; highlights, however, that the budgetary role of the CBAM should only be a by-product of the instrument; believes that those new revenues should allow for greater support for climate action and the objectives of the Green Deal, such as the just transition and the decarbonisation of Europe’s economy, and for an increase in the EU’s contribution to international climate finance in favour of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, which are most vulnerable to climate change, in particular to support them to undergo an industrialisation process based on clean and decarbonised technologies; calls on the Commission to take into account the social effects of the mechanism in its upcoming proposal with a view to minimising them; stresses that the revenues generated from a CBAM should by no means be used as disguised subsidies for high-polluting European industries, as this would ultimately compromise its WTO compatibility;

34. Recalls that Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed to the creation of new own resources, including the CBAM, during the next multiannual financial framework under the Interinstitutional Agreement on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management, as well as on new own resources, including a roadmap towards the introduction of new own resources (IIA)[9]; stresses that assigning the financial flows generated by the CBAM to the EU budget would help to mitigate issues of fiscal equivalence and ensure a fairly distributed impact across Member States, as well as ensuring a lean structure with minimal administrative overhead costs; concludes, therefore, that defining the proceeds as an EU own resource would reduce the share of GNI-based contributions in the financing of the EU budget, and would thus help to mutualise the impact of the CBAM in a fair way across all Member States; considers that any savings at national level due to lower GNI-contributions will increase Member States’ fiscal space; stresses that the implementation of the mechanism should be accompanied by the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies granted to energy-intensive industries, in particular tax exemptions and breaks on energy used by energy-intensive industries;

35. Takes note of various prudent revenue estimates, ranging from EUR 5 to 14 billion per year, depending on the scope and design of the new instrument; highlights the fact that the EU budget is in any event uniquely suited to absorbing revenue fluctuations or even long-term regressive effects;

36. Is determined to ensure that the CBAM-based own resource will be part of a basket of own resources sufficient to cover the level of overall expected expenditure for the repayment costs of the principal and interests of the borrowing incurred under the Next Generation EU instrument, while respecting the principle of universality; recalls moreover, that any surplus from the repayment plan must still remain in the EU budget as general revenue;

37. Stresses that the introduction of a basket of new own resources, as provided for in the roadmap towards the introduction of new own resources under the IIA, could facilitate a better focus of expenditure at EU level on priority areas and common public goods with high efficiency gains compared to national spending; recalls that any failure to respect the terms agreed in the IIA by one of the three institutions could expose it to a legal challenge by the others;

38. Calls on the institutions to follow up actively in the spirit and to the letter of the roadmap towards the introduction of new own resources under the IIA, which prescribes that this new own resource is to enter into force by 1 January 2023 at the latest;

Implementing the CBAM and other aspects

39. Stresses that the implementation of the CBAM must be accompanied by the removal of all forms of environmentally harmful subsidies granted to energy-intensive industries at national level; calls on the Commission to evaluate the different practices of Member States in that matter in the light of the polluter pays principle;

40. Requests that the CBAM be monitored through an independent body, under the auspices of the Commission, which should regularly report and provide transparent information to Parliament, the Council and Commission on request and at least twice a year;

41. Notes that the EU is the world’s largest carbon importer and that the carbon content of exported goods from the EU is well below the carbon content of imported goods; deduces that European efforts to combat climate change are greater than the average international effort; highlights that in order to measure the overall climate impact of the Union, a solid reporting method is needed that takes into account the emissions of imported goods and services to the EU;

42. Stresses that sufficient international climate efforts, such as robust, widespread and consistent international carbon pricing and fully competitive low-emission technologies, products and production processes will render the mechanism obsolete over time; considers that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions, and therefore believes that the EU should continue to support the establishment of a global framework for CO2 pricing in line with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement; encourages the Commission to design the mechanism with a clear and ambitious timeline for its implementation and evolution; recalls that some technical solutions for mitigating CO2 are still at the pilot stage and thus calls on the Commission to continue efforts to develop them further; calls on the Commission to design the mechanism as part of a comprehensive and long-term-oriented policy package that is consistent with achieving a highly energy- and resource-efficient, net-zero GHG economy by 2050 at the latest;

43. Recalls that the EU’s climate policy, industrial policy and the goal to maintain and increase sustainable economic growth must go hand in hand; stresses that any mechanism must be embedded in our industrial strategy, creating an incentive for industries to produce clean and competitive products;

44. Underlines that a properly functioning mechanism should ensure the reduction of emissions imported into the EU and provide the most effective climate protection against the risk of carbon leakage while respecting WTO rules; stresses that the mechanism should be designed in way that ensures its effective and simple application and at the same time prevents circumventing behaviour such as resource shuffling or the import of semi-finished or end products not covered under the mechanism;

45. Calls on the Commission to provide technical advice and support to industries at home and abroad, especially for SMEs, in setting up reliable GHG emission accounting systems for imports in order to maintain a strong European industry without causing technical obstacles for trading partners;

46. Calls for a special evaluation of the impact of the mechanism on SMEs and on competition within the internal market; calls for the creation, if needed, of a support mechanism for SMEs to successfully adjust to the new market reality, thereby preventing them from being victims of unfair practices by larger market players;

47. Notes, furthermore, that in order to prevent unfair competition on the European market, no competitive disadvantages among competing materials should be created by the mechanism; underlines that the most climate-friendly materials should not suffer competitive disadvantages;

48. Emphasises its importance in ensuring that European citizens and their interests are represented and in contributing to the achievement of EU priorities such as climate protection, sustainable growth and international competitiveness; calls on the Commission and the Council, therefore, to fully involve Parliament, as co-legislator, in the legislative process to establish the mechanism;

°

° °

49. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council and the Commission.

 

EXPLANATORY STATEMENT

Climate change can no longer be dismissed as a matter for scientists and future generations. Every day, we see its disastrous consequences right on our doorstep, and are left aghast by the devastating images that reach us from around the world. Climate disasters such as fires, heatwaves, droughts, floods, tidal waves, hurricanes, ice loss, pandemics and displaced people are all part of the reality in which we now live. And temperatures have only risen by an average of 1.1°C!

The Paris Agreement was a call to arms. We need to step up our efforts and aim higher because if we continue along the current path our climate policies will lead to warming of 3 to 4°C, if not more according to the bleakest scenarios. This would unleash unknown chaos across the globe! The European Union has to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions it produces and those which, increasingly, it imports. And it has a pivotal role to play in multilateralism and essential international cooperation. As an economic and trading power, it must lead by example.

The people of Europe have woken up to the dangers and the urgency. They are doing their bit. Young people are taking part in climate protests. A growing number of economic actors are investing huge sums in renewables, in the energy efficiency and sobriety of buildings and transport, and in decarbonising industry and services. Farmers are showing that agriculture can actually help cool – rather than warm – the planet. To fight climate change we need to do more than just counter its dangerous effects; we need a collective will to transform our development model into something more sustainable, more socially fair, more resilient and more sovereign. Decarbonisation is not only imperative but should also be seen as an opportunity, as a powerful motor for job creation, technological, social, industrial and democratic innovation, and a regional leveller.

With the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest, the Green Deal and the Climate Law, the fight against climate change lies at the very heart of the Union’s political agenda. Yet Parliament resolutions, the Commission’s agenda and Council discussions call on us to do more and better. The target to reduce emissions by 40% by 2030 is obsolete; scientists recommend raising the bar to 65%. Whatever the revised target, though, we will have to scrupulously and systematically review all related European policies, particularly the ETS Directive, which has a considerable influence on carbon pricing and so the strength of the incentive to switch from carbon. No climate policy can be labelled ambitious unless it slashes carbon allowances, abolishes the free allowances hobbling the carbon market, and sets a floor price for each tonne of CO2.

Although it still falls short, the Union’s climate policy goes further than that of many of its trading partners. If the fight against climate change is to be harnessed as an industrial, economic and social opportunity, decarbonising our economy must not trigger a fresh wave of deindustrialisation, since this would entail carbon leakage and investment losses. It is our duty to ensure that the demands we place on our companies do not put them at a disadvantage with respect to competitors exporting to the internal market and producing in countries that have set their sights lower than the Union. This is precisely why we need a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM).

An essential tool, the CBAM will fuel a virtuous cycle aimed, first and foremost, at climate protection. It has several goals:

 to enhance the Union’s climate action;

 to encourage our partners to raise their level of ambition;

 to protect our manufacturers from unfair competition;

 to spur the reshoring of economic activity back to Europe;

 to boost the Union’s own resources.

To achieve these goals, the CBAM must meet several criteria.

 It must eventually apply to all imports to ensure that it covers our entire carbon footprint and prevents distortions on the internal market. Temporarily, it will apply to the main raw materials, since their production emits high amounts of CO2 and is covered by the EU carbon market.

 It must come into effect as soon as possible and by no later than 2023. The shorter the transition period, the more effectively it will dovetail with the ETS market. An effective CBAM should spell the end of free allowances. These form the main instrument shielding against carbon leakage, but they have had strong perverse repercussions and led to windfall profits, as noted by the European Court of Auditors in its special report 18/2020, entitled ‘The EU’s Emissions Trading System: free allocation of allowances needed better targeting’.

 It must be consistent with multilateral trade rules insofar as several articles of the GATT make provision for acting in pursuit of interests greater than trade, such as the environment or health.

 It must feed into the European budget as a new own resource. We believe this revenue stream should be channelled towards the Green Deal and the just transition, with a significant share earmarked for the transition in the poorest countries and those most affected by climate change.

People in Europe are looking to the European Union for decisive and ambitious climate action. They want to see it break with the naivety or cynicism it has shown in trade policy, all too often signing deals in complete disregard for the ensuing social, environmental and industrial costs.

The carbon border adjustment mechanism presents us with a fantastic opportunity to act simultaneously on several fronts: climate, industry, jobs, resilience, sovereignty and reshoring. As such, it represents a major political and democratic litmus test for the Union. The European Parliament must show the way!

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE (14.12.2020)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

on towards a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism

(2020/2043(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion (*): Karin Karlsbro

(*) Associated committee – Rule 57 of the Rules of Procedure

 

 

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on International Trade calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Welcomes the European Union’s goal of achieving a socially just transition to climate neutrality by 2050, as well as the goal of reducing emissions by 60 % by 2030 as proposed by Parliament; calls for the raised level of ambition in climate efforts in EU trade policy, as well as in many other policy spheres, to be continued; calls for the Paris Agreement and its 1.5 ℃ goal to become one of the main guiding principles of trade policy, to which all trade initiatives and their policy tools must be adjusted, by including it in, inter alia, free trade agreements (FTAs) as an essential element; is convinced that such a purpose-built trade policy can be an important driver in steering economies towards decarbonisation in order to achieve the climate objectives set in the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal; emphasises that, as a result of the EU’s increased level of ambition on climate change, the risk of carbon leakage could increase; urges the Commission to ensure full carbon-leakage protection in all its policies, while taking into account the competitiveness of European industry and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); notes that, while the Union had reduced its domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 23.2 % below 1990 levels in 2018, its GHG emissions embedded in international trade have been constantly rising; underlines that the net imports of goods and services into the EU represent more than 20 % of the Union’s domestic CO2 emissions;

2. Supports, in the absence of a global carbon price and a multilateral solution, the Commission’s intention to propose a fair and transparent, efficient and market-based EU carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) on condition that it is compatible with and WTO rules and EU FTAs (by being non-discriminatory and not constituting a disguised restriction on international trade), and that it is proportionate, based on the polluter pays principle and fit for purpose in effectively delivering the EU’s climate objectives; considers that a CBAM must apply to goods from all third countries which are not yet part of an effective carbon pricing scheme, or equivalent measures with similar goals and costs to those of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU-ETS), to avoid any discrimination based on origin, and that costs for less ambitious carbon pricing must be deductible from the CBAM;

3. Is convinced that the objective of a CBAM should be avoiding the risk of carbon leakage for the EU and therefore contributing to the overall objective of reducing global emissions and helping the EU to meet its commitments; highlights the fact that an EU CBAM is exclusively designed to further climate objectives, as well as to reduce the risk of carbon leakage, and that this should be done in a proportional and balanced way, be evidence-based and must not be misused as a tool to enhance protectionism, unjustifiable discrimination or restrictions in an already burdened global landscape of international trade; calls for excessive bureaucracy to be avoided in this context; notes that one of the consequences of the measure will be preventing the risk of shifting production outside the EU, as such relocation could nullify the EU’s efforts to reduce emissions and to promote the EU’s international environmental protection policies;

4. Notes that, in order to be compatible with WTO rules, the provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), such as Article I (the principle of most-favoured nation treatment), Article III (the national treatment principle) and, if necessary, Article XX (general exceptions) could be the basis for any CBAM design and its only rationale should be strictly an environmental one – reducing global CO2 emissions and preventing carbon leakage;

5. Calls for thorough impact assessments to be submitted by mid-2021, together with the legislative proposal, for the utmost transparency, and for incentives to be provided for cooperation, as well as engagement, with the WTO and EU’s trading partners, in coordination with the European Parliament; notes that the impact assessment must be conducted with the goal of reducing the risk of carbon leakage and, consequently, of total global emissions; therefore asks the Commission to include the following aspects in the impact assessment:

a. the effects of CBAM on sustainable innovation and changes in trade flows and supply chains;

b. an assessment of the added value of CBAM compared to alternative options;

c. possible pilot sectors for early implementation in which the carbon contents of goods are easily identifiable;

d. the possible impact on EU industry that could result from a mechanism centred solely on basic materials that could lead to a shift in imports towards intermediate and final products not covered by the mechanism, in particular if the mechanism replaces existing carbon leakage measures;

e. whether and how the power sector should be included in the specific case of imports of high-carbon electricity;

f.  the possible effects on EU companies, especially SMEs, in terms of global competition if products are affected by higher prices for their components;

g. an analysis of a combination of key variables, including the sectors, countries and GHG emissions included in CBAM, and their relationship to existing carbon leakage measures;

h. special consideration for least developed and developing countries to make sure that a CBAM does not have a negative effect on their development;

6. Notes that the impact assessment must carefully consider how the CBAM would interact with existing carbon leakage measures under the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), including whether the current measures or free allowances should be complementary to the CBAM in the initial phase, or whether they should be removed, while avoiding double protection and discrimination against imports, and whether CBAM should be introduced gradually or not, so as to ensure WTO compatibility, while maintaining predictability and stability for EU companies;

7. Stresses that any mechanism must create an incentive for industries in the EU and abroad to produce clean and competitive products, and avoid carbon leakage, without endangering trade opportunities; highlights the role such a mechanism could play, if balanced and appropriately implemented, in energy-intensive industries, such as steel, cement and aluminium, given the trade exposure experienced by those sectors and their participation in the ETS;

8. Notes that CBAM is part of the European Green Deal and a tool to achieve the EU’s goal of no net emissions of GHG in 2050; notes that the most carbon- and trade-intensive industrial sectors could potentially be impacted by the CBAM, either directly or indirectly, and that they should be consulted throughout the process; notes further that CBAM could influence supply chains in such a way that they would internalise carbon costs; stresses that any CBAM should be easy to administer and not place an undue financial and administrative burden on enterprises, especially SMEs;

9. Calls for the CBAM revenues to be used to support global and European climate action; suggests that the revenue must be reinvested in the EU budget for the purposes of research, innovation and the development of carbon-neutral technologies in support of industry’s sustainable transition, and in climate aid to ensure WTO compatibility;

10. Expresses its deep concern over the erosion of the multilateral trading system; calls on the Commission to actively engage with trade partners’ governments to ensure a continued dialogue on this initiative, thereby providing incentives for climate action both within the Union and by its trading partners; underlines that trade policy can and should be used to promote a positive environmental agenda and to avoid major differences in the levels of environmental ambition between the EU and the rest of the world, and that a CBAM should be designed as an action complementing actions under the trade and sustainable development chapters of the EU’s FTAs; underlines that global action which makes the CBAM redundant must be the final goal of the initiative, as the rest of the world catches up with the level of ambition the EU has set for reducing CO2 emissions; is therefore of the view that CBAM should be regarded as a means to help the acceleration of this process and not as a means of protectionism; expects the Commission to initiate negotiations on a global approach within the framework of the WTO or the G20;

11. Calls for a calculation method for carbon contents that does not discriminate between EU and third-country producers, and that comes as close as possible to the real carbon content of the goods concerned; notes the difficulties related to calculations of the carbon content of products from the EU Member States and third countries, and calls for continuous efforts to ensure the comparability of the carbon content of products; highlights that technology for the tracing and tracking of the carbon content and performance of complex products could be helpful in the enforcement of a CBAM for those products; notes that the CBAM must create incentives for countries and producers to share information on carbon pricing and on products’ carbon content;

12. Considers that international trade and trade policy are key enablers of the transition towards a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, circular global economy and, as such, support the global efforts towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement; considers that there is an urgent need to pursue a comprehensive reform of the WTO, enabling it to guarantee fair trade, while at the same time combating global warming; notes that the GATT rules date back to 1947 and is of the view that they need to be rethought in the present context of climate crisis; expects the Commission to take urgent initiatives for WTO reform in order to achieve compatibility with the climate objectives; calls on the Commission to intensify its efforts to achieve global CO2 pricing and to facilitate trade in climate and environmental protection technologies, for example through trade policy initiatives such as the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement.

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

10.12.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

34

2

5

Members present for the final vote

Barry Andrews, Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, Tiziana Beghin, Geert Bourgeois, Udo Bullmann, Jordi Cañas, Daniel Caspary, Miroslav Číž, Arnaud Danjean, Paolo De Castro, Emmanouil Fragkos, Raphaël Glucksmann, Enikő Győri, Roman Haider, Christophe Hansen, Heidi Hautala, Danuta Maria Hübner, Herve Juvin, Karin Karlsbro, Maximilian Krah, Danilo Oscar Lancini, Bernd Lange, Margarida Marques, Gabriel Mato, Sara Matthieu, Emmanuel Maurel, Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, Samira Rafaela, Inma Rodríguez-Piñero, Massimiliano Salini, Helmut Scholz, Sven Simon, Dominik Tarczyński, Mihai Tudose, Kathleen Van Brempt, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Jörgen Warborn, Jan Zahradil

Substitutes present for the final vote

Marco Campomenosi, Nicola Danti, Manuela Ripa

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

34

+

PPE

Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, Daniel Caspary, Arnaud Danjean, Enikő Győri, Christophe Hansen, Danuta Maria Hübner, Gabriel Mato, Massimiliano Salini, Sven Simon, Jörgen Warborn

S&D

Udo Bullmann, Miroslav Číž, Paolo De Castro, Raphaël Glucksmann, Bernd Lange, Margarida Marques, Inma Rodríguez-Piñero, Mihai Tudose, Kathleen Van Brempt

RENEW

Barry Andrews, Jordi Cañas, Karin Karlsbro, Samira Rafaela, Nicola Danti, Marie-Pierre Vedrenne

ID

Herve Juvin, Danilo Oscar Lancini, Marco Campomenosi

VERTS/ALE

Manuela Ripa, Heidi Hautala, Sara Matthieu

ECR

Emmanouil Fragkos

NI

Tiziana Beghin, Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó

 

2

ID

Roman Haider, Maximilian Krah

 

5

0

ECR

Geert Bourgeois, Dominik Tarczynski, Jan Zahradil

GUE/NGL

Emmanuel Maurel, Helmut Scholz

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC AND MONETARY AFFAIRS (11.12.2020)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

towards a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism

(2020/2043(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion (*): Luis Garicano

 

(*) Associated committee – Rule 57 of the Rules of Procedure

 

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Believes that the main aim of the carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) should be to fight climate change and support the EU’s climate objectives by addressing the risk of carbon leakage and providing incentives to investment in green and energy-efficient technology at EU and global level, thereby contributing to the global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; believes that the ultimate aim should be to work towards an effective global climate policy;

2. Considers that the recently adopted European Green Deal objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050, the target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60 % by 2030 agreed by Parliament, as well as the Union’s international engagements under the Paris Agreement, will require significant decarbonisation efforts at the EU level, leading to an increase in the carbon price paid by domestic producers under the EU emissions trading system (EU ETS), likely well beyond the current price; considers, therefore, that in the absence of a global price on carbon emissions, the risk of carbon leakage might intensify; welcomes, in that context, the Council and the Commission’s commitment to implement a WTO-compatible carbon border adjustment mechanism which would ensure that the price of imports reflects their carbon content, helping to level the playing field between domestic and foreign producers and thereby assure that the EU’s climate objectives are not undermined by the relocation of production and by increased imports from countries with less ambitious climate policies, which would in turn help to ensure a just transition;

3. Notes that the Commission is currently assessing all the different options for the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism, ranging from tax instruments to mechanisms relying on the EU ETS; highlights that an excise duty (or tax) on the carbon content of all consumed products, both domestic and imported, would not fully address the risk of carbon leakage, would be technically challenging given the complexity of tracing carbon in global value chains and might place a significant burden on consumers; considers that in order to address the risk of carbon leakage while complying with WTO rules, the CBAM needs to charge for the carbon content of imports in a way that mirrors the carbon costs paid by EU producers; believes, in that regard, that the mechanism should ensure a single carbon price, both for domestic producers and importers, in order to comply with the WTO principle of non-discrimination; is of the opinion that the option which best mirrors the carbon cost paid by EU producers, ensuring automatic price adjustment and compliance with the non-discrimination principle, is a mechanism based on the EU ETS; encourages the Commission therefore to implement a system that would require importers to purchase allowances for the volume of carbon emissions incorporated in their products; considers that this could be achieved through the creation of a specific pool of allowances for imports linked to ETS prices (a notional ETS) or through the incorporation of importers into the existing EU ETS pool of allowances; notes that the latter might entail additional technical challenges, such as ensuring price stability (which could potentially be addressed by increasing the existing cap to an appropriate level and making use of the market stability reserve) and introducing safeguards to avoid the risk of potential market interference; acknowledges that a fixed duty or tax on imports could be a simple tool to give a strong and stable environmental price signal for imported carbon; believes, however, that given its fixed nature, such a tax would be a less flexible tool to mirror the evolving price of the EU ETS; stresses that, in practice, an evolving tax that automatically mirrors the price of the EU ETS would be equivalent to a notional ETS; acknowledges that, should the CBAM be of a fiscal nature, there is a possibility that a mechanism based on Article 192(2) of the TFEU would be introduced; insists that the primary aim of the CBAM is environmental and thus environmental criteria should play an essential role in the choice of instrument; stresses that in line with this goal, the selected instrument needs to ensure a predictable and sufficiently high carbon price that incentivises decarbonisation investments in order to fulfil the aims of the Paris Agreement;

4. Considers that the CBAM should ideally apply to any import (from raw materials to intermediate or end products) with basic materials covered by the EU ETS embedded in it, in order to avoid distortions between products in the internal market and along the value chain; acknowledges the technical difficulties of covering all basic materials covered by the EU ETS as early as 2023 and understands that sectors deemed to be at highest risk of carbon leakage might be prioritised in the initial stage; warns the Commission, nevertheless, about the potential damage to EU industries if not all EU ETS sectors are covered and calls on it to propose the broadest sectoral scope possible; urges the Commission, should it take a step-by-step approach, to include a binding calendar for broadening the coverage of the CBAM;

5. Considers that, ideally, the CBAM should measure as precisely as possible the carbon content of imports under its scope; recommends, nevertheless, that a feasible design be introduced that objectively measures the carbon content of each import based on its basic material composition (as outlined in the proposal from the European Economic and Social Committee); recalls that this approximation would weigh each basic material covered by the EU ETS and multiply it by a default carbon intensity value; stresses, however, that importers should have the option to prove, in accordance with EU standards for monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of the EU ETS, that the carbon content of their products is lower than those values, and avail of a payable amount adapted accordingly, to encourage innovation and investment in sustainable technologies across the world; considers that this should not impose a disproportionate burden on SMEs; highlights that the implementation of the mechanism will need to be underpinned by a set of EU standards that will prevent it from being circumvented or misused, and will require strong independent infrastructure in order to be administered;

6. Proposes that the implementation of the CBAM trigger the gradual phasing-out of the free allocation of allowances until they are completely eliminated, following an appropriate transition period, since this mechanism should ensure that EU producers and importers have to pay the same carbon costs in the EU market; highlights the need for a phasing-out of free allowances during a transition period compatible with a predictable timeline; believes that the transition period should provide regulatory certainty to resource- and energy-intensive industries; stresses that there should be no double protection and that the mechanism needs to be WTO-compatible; believes that for that purpose, the CBAM should deduct the value of free allowances from the payable amount charged to importers, so that the CBAM and free allowances can coexist without resulting in double compensation and while remaining WTO-compliant; notes that this phasing-out should be accompanied by the introduction of support measures for exports that would remain WTO-compliant and consistent with the EU’s environmental objectives; calls on the Commission to assess the introduction of partial export rebates based on the existing benchmark logic of most-carbon-efficient producers, not refunding more than the current level of free allowances, in order to maintain strong decarbonisation incentives while ensuring a level playing field for EU exports;

7. Stresses that the CBAM should ensure that importers from third countries are not charged twice for the carbon content of their products to ensure they are treated on an equal footing and without discrimination; calls on the Commission to assess carefully the impact of the different CBAM options on least-developed countries;

8. Calls for the proceeds of the CBAM to be considered EU revenues;

9. Believes that the above proposal provides a strong basis for compatibility with WTO rules, since it does not discriminate between producers and importers (nor among them), is based on transparent and science-based objective criteria and fulfils its primary objective of protecting the environment and health; calls on the Commission to engage in bilateral and multilateral discussions with trade partners to ease the implementation of the CBAM and avoid retaliation; insists on advancing the Commission’s work on environmental sustainability in the WTO to bring international trade law in line with the climate objectives of the Paris agreement; calls on the Commission to involve Parliament at all stages of the development process of the CBAM; calls for the establishment of a monitoring mechanism and review process in which Parliament is involved to the fullest extent.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

10.12.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

39

7

8

Members present for the final vote

Gunnar Beck, Marek Belka, Isabel Benjumea Benjumea, Stefan Berger, Gilles Boyer, Francesca Donato, Derk Jan Eppink, Engin Eroglu, Jonás Fernández, Raffaele Fitto, Frances Fitzgerald, José Manuel García-Margallo y Marfil, Sven Giegold, Valentino Grant, Claude Gruffat, José Gusmão, Enikő Győri, Danuta Maria Hübner, Othmar Karas, Billy Kelleher, Aurore Lalucq, Philippe Lamberts, Aušra Maldeikienė, Pedro Marques, Jörg Meuthen, Csaba Molnár, Siegfried Mureşan, Caroline Nagtegaal, Luděk Niedermayer, Lefteris Nikolaou-Alavanos, Lídia Pereira, Kira Marie Peter-Hansen, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Dragoș Pîslaru, Antonio Maria Rinaldi, Joachim Schuster, Ralf Seekatz, Pedro Silva Pereira, Paul Tang, Irene Tinagli, Ernest Urtasun, Inese Vaidere, Johan Van Overtveldt, Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, Marco Zanni, Roberts Zīle

Substitutes present for the final vote

Marc Angel, Manon Aubry, Gabriele Bischoff, Damien Carême, Eugen Jurzyca, Chris MacManus, Margarida Marques, Andreas Schwab

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

39

+

GUE/NGL

Manon Aubry, José Gusmão

PPE

Isabel Benjumea Benjumea, Stefan Berger, Frances Fitzgerald, José Manuel García Margallo y Marfil, Danuta Maria Hübner, Othmar Karas, Aušra Maldeikienė, Siegfried Mureşan, Luděk Niedermayer, Lídia Pereira, Sirpa Pietikäinen, Andreas Schwab, Ralf Seekatz, Inese Vaidere

Renew

Gilles Boyer, Engin Eroglu, Billy Kelleher, Dragoș Pîslaru, Stéphanie Yon Courtin

S&D

Marc Angel, Marek Belka, Gabriele Bischoff, Jonás Fernández, Aurore Lalucq, Margarida Marques, Pedro Marques, Csaba Molnár, Joachim Schuster, Pedro Silva Pereira, Paul Tang, Irene Tinagli

Verts/ALE

Damien Carême, Sven Giegold, Claude Gruffat, Philippe Lamberts, Kira Marie Peter Hansen, Ernest Urtasun

 

7

ECR

Derk Jan Eppink, Eugen Jurzyca, Roberts Zīle

ID

Gunnar Beck, Jörg Meuthen

NI

Lefteris Nikolaou Alavanos

PPE

Enikő Győri

 

8

0

ECR

Raffaele Fitto, Johan Van Overtveldt

GUE/NGL

Chris MacManus

ID

Francesca Donato, Valentino Grant, Antonio Maria Rinaldi, Marco Zanni

Renew

Caroline Nagtegaal

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON BUDGETS (11.12.2020)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

on Towards a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism

(2020/2043(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Elisabetta Gualmini

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Budgets calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

1. Recalls that a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) has long been a candidate for a genuine, green source of own revenue in the EU budget, and was among the ‘basket’ of preferred options for new own resources in Parliament’s legislative resolution of 16 September 2020[10];

2. Acknowledges that the primary purposes of the CBAM must be to protect the climate, mitigate the carbon leakage dilemma, provide a level playing field for decarbonisation costs, and increase demand for low-carbon products and processes, as well as to prevent distortions to competition and trade, and to safeguard the competitiveness of EU industries; stresses that the CBAM will help the EU to meet its climate targets while ensuring a level playing field in international trade, reducing off-shoring of production to third countries with less ambitious environmental regulations, and respecting the ‘polluter pays’ principle, with the aim of galvanising the rest of the world into taking climate action in line with the Paris Agreement and the European Green Deal; believes that the eventual outcome of the introduction of a CBAM would be more innovation and investments in greener technologies; highlights, moreover, the necessity for the CBAM to be designed with the highest environmental integrity in mind;

3. Calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough impact assessment of the different designs for the implementation of the CBAM before presenting a legislative proposal; calls for this impact assessment to from the beginning take into account different scenarios, such as the possibility of covering all present and prospective emissions trading system (ETS) sectors, and the specific characteristics of the sectors that could be covered by the mechanism; considers it indispensable for the assessment to evaluate the impact of different designs on their capability to reduce GHG emissions, their economic and social consequences on the EU industrial sector, with specific regard to SMEs, the competitiveness of EU exporters, and possible counter measures by third countries and their suppliers towards EU industries; believes, at the same time, that in order to maintain strong decarbonisation incentives and to ensure a level playing field for EU goods in third markets, the impact assessment should also examine the merits and likely consequences of export rebates (including if phased in) in the sectors covered and not covered by the CBAM, as well as their complementarity with the carbon leakage measures under the ETS scheme; stresses the importance of assessing the impacts of each option on the living standards of consumers, especially those belonging to more vulnerable groups, as well as their impact on revenue; calls on the Commission to also include in the impact assessment the consequences for the EU budget of the revenue generated from the CBAM as an own resource, depending on the design and modalities chosen;

4. Underlines the importance of avoiding distortions to the internal market, as well as protectionist measures against the EU; notes that the EU’s higher ambition on climate change leads to an increased risk of carbon leakage, due to the lower environmental standards and lack of ambitious climate actions in third countries; urges the Commission, therefore, to ensure full carbon leakage protection in all its policies accordingly; suggests a World Trade Organization-compatible, non-discriminatory and progressive mechanism, and strongly encourages the Commission to remain open to a multilateral approach that can contribute effectively to global climate actions in line with the Paris Agreement, and that could avoid retaliation against the EU economy; urges the Commission, at the same time, to pursue multilateral WTO reforms that bring international trade law in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement; considers that – given the global pandemic and ensuing economic crises – it becomes all the more indispensable to develop international policies which can reconcile climate action imperatives with industrial competitiveness and fair trade;

5. Acknowledges that the CBAM could be implemented either as an extension of the current regime of customs duties or as a complementary scheme within the existing ETS framework; emphasises that both approaches could be entirely consistent with an own resources initiative; highlights that the latter model, centralised according to ETS standards for sectors, materials and carbon prices, would facilitate the establishment of equivalent levels of carbon pricing on EU and non-EU products, and therefore guarantee a fair level playing field in international trade, and compatibility with WTO law, and specifically with Article III of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT); points out that, while the final mechanism should eventually cover as wide a range of imports as possible, the initial CBAM design could be limited to certain sectors of the economy, chosen on the basis of the impact assessment;

6. Recalls that Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed to the creation of new own resources, including the CBAM, during the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) in the Interinstitutional Agreement on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management, as well as on new own resources, including a roadmap towards the introduction of new own resources (IIA); stresses that assigning the financial flows generated by the CBAM to the EU budget would help to mitigate issues of fiscal equivalence, and ensure a fairly distributed impact across Member States, as well as ensuring a lean structure with minimal administrative overhead costs; concludes, therefore, that defining the proceeds as an EU own resource would reduce the share of GNI-based contributions in the financing of the EU budget, and would thus help to mutualise the impact of the CBAM in a fair way across all Member States; considers that any savings at national level due to lower GNI-contributions will increase Member States’ fiscal space; stresses that the implementation of the mechanism should be accompanied by the removal of environmentally harmful subsidies granted to energy-intensive industries, in particular tax exemptions and breaks on energy used by energy-intensive industries;

7. Welcomes the fact that if the CBAM becomes a basis for an own resource according to the IIA, it will bring the revenue side of the EU budget into closer alignment with strategic policy objectives such as the European Green Deal, the fight against climate change, the circular economy and the just transition, and thereby help to generate co-benefits, incentives and EU added value; considers that CBAM revenues would be, by their nature and origin, strictly linked to climate policies, external borders and trade policy at the EU level, and would therefore constitute a highly suitable basis for an EU own resource; stresses that the revenues generated from the CBAM would thus not be used, for reasons of environmental integrity, to subsidise policies or actions which run counter to the Paris Agreement and the objectives of the European Green Deal;

8. Underlines that the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions content of imports concerned should be accounted for on the basis of transparent and reliable product-specific benchmarks representing the global average GHG emissions content of individual products, while taking into account different production methods with varying emission intensities; considers that the carbon pricing of imports should also take into account the country-specific carbon intensity of the electricity grid;

9. Takes note of various prudent revenue estimates, ranging from EUR 5 to 14 billion per year, depending on the scope and design of the new instrument; highlights the fact that the EU budget is in any event uniquely suited to absorbing revenue fluctuations or even long-term regressive effects;

10. Is determined to ensure that the CBAM-based own resource will be part of a basket of own resources sufficient to cover the level of overall expected expenditure for the repayment costs of the principal and interests of the borrowing incurred under the Next Generation EU instrument, while respecting the principle of universality; recalls moreover, that any surplus from the repayment plan must still remain in the EU budget as general revenue; underlines that any earmarking of CBAM revenues would contravene the IIA, the Own Resources Decision and the Financial Regulation;

11. Stresses that the introduction of a basket of new own resources, as provided for in the Roadmap towards the introduction of New Own Resources under the Interinstitutional Agreement, could facilitate a better focus of expenditure at Union level on priority areas and common public goods with high efficiency gains compared to national spending; recalls that any failure to respect the terms agreed in the IIA by one of the three institutions could expose it to a legal challenge by the others;

12. Calls on the institutions to follow up actively in the spirit and letter of the Roadmap for the introduction of New Own Resources under the Inter-institutional Agreement, which prescribes that this new own resource is to enter into force at the latest by 1 January 2023.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

10.12.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

33

2

4

Members present for the final vote

Rasmus Andresen, Robert Biedroń, Anna Bonfrisco, Olivier Chastel, Lefteris Christoforou, David Cormand, Paolo De Castro, José Manuel Fernandes, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Vlad Gheorghe, Elisabetta Gualmini, Francisco Guerreiro, Valérie Hayer, Eero Heinäluoma, Niclas Herbst, Monika Hohlmeier, Moritz Körner, Joachim Kuhs, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Ioannis Lagos, Hélène Laporte, Pierre Larrouturou, Janusz Lewandowski, Margarida Marques, Siegfried Mureşan, Victor Negrescu, Andrey Novakov, Jan Olbrycht, Dimitrios Papadimoulis, Bogdan Rzońca, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Nils Torvalds, Nils Ušakovs, Johan Van Overtveldt, Rainer Wieland, Angelika Winzig

Substitutes present for the final vote

Herbert Dorfmann, Niclas Herbst, Petros Kokkalis

 

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

33

+

Greens/EFA

Rasmus Andresen, Damian Boeselager, David Cormand, Francisco Guerreiro

GUE/NGL

Petros Kokkalis, Dimitrios Papadimoulis

ID

Hélène Laporte

PPE

Lefteris Christoforou, Herbert Dorfmann, José Manuel Fernandes, Niclas Herbst, Monika Hohlmeier, Janusz Lewandowski, Siegfried Mureşan, Andrey Novakov, Jan Olbrycht, Rainer Wieland, Angelika Winzig

Renew

Olivier Chastel, Vlad Gheorghe, Valérie Hayer, Moritz Körner, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Nils Torvalds

S&D

Robert Biedroń, Paolo De Castro, Eider Gardiazabal Rubial, Elisabetta Gualmini, Eero Heinäluoma, Pierre Larrouturou, Margarida Marques, Victor Negrescu, Nils Ušakovs

 

2

ID

Joachim Kuhs

NI

Ioannis Lagos

 

4

0

ECR

Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, Bogdan Rzońca, Johan Van Overtveldt

ID

Anna Bonfrisco

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

OPINION OF THE COMMITTEE ON INDUSTRY, RESEARCH AND ENERGY (17.12.2020)

for the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

towards a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism

(2020/2043(INI))

Rapporteur for opinion: Jens Geier

 

SUGGESTIONS

The Committee on Industry, Research and Energy calls on the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as the committee responsible, to incorporate the following suggestions into its motion for a resolution:

A. whereas Article XX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) allows World Trade Organization (WTO) members to implement measures that are necessary to protect human, animal or plant life or health (b), or natural resources (g);

1. Welcomes the Paris Agreement as an international commitment to fight climate change and underlines the necessity of conducting a thorough evaluation of the compatibility of all international rulebooks with these climate goals; notes that the EU is responsible for 9 % of global greenhouse gas emission levels and is the third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world; also notes with concern the lack of sufficiently ambitious international climate efforts and measures to implement the decisions made under this agreement, as well as the withdrawal of the USA from it;

2. Welcomes the European efforts in this regard, such as the introduction of the European Green Deal and the goal to achieve a cost-efficient, just, socially balanced and fair transition leading to climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest; stresses the need to uphold a 60 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, while making sure that the polluter-pays principle is consistently applied;

3. Believes that asymmetric climate protection measures are not sufficient to combat climate change; underlines that trade policy can and should be used to promote a positive environmental agenda whilst maintaining the EU’s competitiveness, and to address major differences in environmental ambition between the EU and the rest of the world; believes furthermore that a WTO-compatible EU carbon border adjustment mechanism (‘the mechanism’) can incentivise low-emission imports and the creation of low-emission technologies and products in the EU, leading to an urgently needed reduction of EU imported emissions; considers that the mechanism could lead to an increase in international efforts to combat climate change and could be a first step towards international carbon pricing if implemented in a proportional and balanced way; states further that the mechanism should lead to the creation of a virtuous circle to combat climate change on an international level, e.g. by making it part of the negotiations for multilateral environmental agreements;

4. Notes that the EU is the world’s largest carbon importer and that the carbon content of exported goods from the EU is well below the carbon content of imported goods; deduces that European efforts to combat climate change are greater than the average international effort; highlights that in order to measure the overall climate impact of the Union, a solid reporting method is needed that takes into account the emissions of imported goods and services to the EU;

5. Emphasises that the main goal of the mechanism is to facilitate the achievement of carbon neutrality and to incentivise international efforts to combat climate change; underlines that the mechanism should enable European industry to contribute substantially to the EU’s climate goals and third countries to contribute substantially to international climate goals by fostering substantial efforts to decarbonise manufacturing processes, and underlines at the same time that this should create a level playing field for European industry; points furthermore to the need to consider the emissions resulting from the transport of imports when calculating carbon content pricing; considers it necessary for the scope of the mechanism to cover as large a part of the carbon footprint of a product as possible, i.e. through the inclusion of emissions from energy in production and ultimately along the value chain while not causing internal market distortions, notably on downstream markets;

6. Stresses that sufficient international climate efforts, such as robust, widespread and consistent international carbon pricing and fully competitive low-emission technologies, products and production processes will render the mechanism obsolete over time; considers that climate change is a global problem that requires global solutions, and therefore believes that the EU should continue to support the establishment of a global framework for CO2 pricing in line with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement; encourages the Commission to design the mechanism with a clear and ambitious timeline for its implementation and evolution; recalls that some technical solutions for mitigating CO2 are still at the pilot stage and thus calls on the Commission to continue efforts to develop them further; calls further on the Commission to ensure targeted and timely carbon leakage protection for all sectors considered to be at risk; calls finally on the Commission to design the mechanism as part of a comprehensive and long-term oriented policy package that is consistent with achieving a highly energy- and resource-efficient, net-zero greenhouse gas economy by 2050 at the latest;

7. Underlines further that the mechanism should be part of a wider set of policies and complementary measures with goals to enable and promote investments in low-carbon industrial processes, reduce the emission intensity of industry and incentivise energy efficiency measures and the use of renewable energies; states that the mechanism needs to be accompanied by an industrial policy that is environmentally ambitious, economically sound, socially fair and strengthens resilience and global competitiveness; suggests further to support the renovation of building stock, the substitution of raw construction materials, the implementation of the Just Transition Mechanism and incentives to purchase low-carbon materials through public procurement, as well as strong public innovation policies excluding support for fossil lock-in technologies; stresses the need to consider the complementary role of improved product standards in line with the EU Circular Economy Action Plan;

8. Recalls the results achieved by the Union through the rules on product requirements and labelling, which were able to stimulate responsible consumption, engage European citizens, and support industrial competitiveness and innovation; calls on the Commission to explore analogous product policies that could push forward new standards and create lead markets for low-carbon, resource-efficient products and technologies with a view to securing the transition to a sustainable economy and helping to guarantee that product use has minimal negative environmental impacts;

9. Emphasises that asymmetrical climate actions worldwide, and more specifically the lack of ambitious climate actions by European trading partners, could increase the risk of carbon leakage, leading to an increase in global emissions and a competitive disadvantage on international markets for European industry, and that they hence could put at risk European jobs and value chains; stresses that European industry is suffering increased economic pressure due to cheap imports from trading partners and the COVID-19 crisis; thus urges the Commission to ensure more targeted and effective climate and carbon-leakage protection in the design of the mechanism;

10. Stresses that preventing the risk of carbon leakage goes hand in hand with preserving EU industrial competitiveness and avoiding emission transfers to third countries via the reallocation of industrial activities, investments and jobs; highlights that activities taken in order to prevent any risk of carbon leakage should be consistent with climate goals; stresses that strategic sectors are particularly exposed in terms of impact on their output and investment capacity; underlines the need to assess the possible risks of extra-EU industrial delocalisation and outsourcing; points furthermore to the need to create incentives for third-country governments and exporters to reduce their emissions;

11. Recalls that the EU’s climate policy, industrial policy and the goal to maintain and increase sustainable economic growth must go hand in hand; stresses that any mechanism must be embedded in our industrial strategy, creating an incentive for industries to produce clean and competitive products;

12. Suggests a progressive and sector-specific mechanism that first includes, after a thorough impact assessment, sectors with the highest carbon content and trade intensity, such as the energy-intensive steel, cement and aluminium industries, the power sector and the plastics, chemicals and fertiliser industries, before being enlarged over time; believes that such a design could reduce international retaliation and serve as a test phase for European industry; stresses however that this should not lead to internal market distortions or excessive administrative burden, which could limit fair, open and rule-based market competition and have a particularly adverse effect on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), or become a tool for protectionism;

Trade aspects

13. Emphasises that European industry, including SMEs, should have the possibility to access the global supply chain and global markets to remain competitive; expresses its deep concern over the effect of the erosion of the multilateral trading system, increased trade barriers and trade conflicts on the European trade balance; insists that the mechanism be designed in a way that reduces the risk of renewed trade disputes; therefore calls on the Commission to take a multilateral approach, without prejudice to the mechanism’s effectiveness, through continued dialogues with its international trading partners, especially with those with different approaches to climate protection, with the aim to avoid possible international retaliation measures against the EU;

14. Urges the Commission to make the mechanism non-discriminatory and compatible with the WTO acquis and provisions in the EU’s trade agreements, preferably by using Articles XX(b) and (g) of the GATT Agreement; encourages the Commission to ensure a level playing field in international trade, bearing in mind the EU’s status as the world’s largest trading block; stresses that due respect must be paid to the principles of a free and fair global market;

15. Calls on the Commission to continue promoting a global framework for CO2 pricing and facilitating trade in climate and environmental protection technologies, for instance through trade policy initiatives such as the WTO Environmental Goods Agreement; stresses that the Union can play a pioneering role by including ambitious energy and sustainability chapters in its trade agreements;

Methodology

16. Underlines that a properly functioning mechanism should ensure the reduction of emissions imported into the EU and provide the most effective climate protection against the risk of carbon leakage while respecting WTO rules; stresses that the mechanism should be designed in way that ensures its effective and simple application and at the same time prevents circumventing behaviour such as resource shuffling or the import of semi-finished or end products not covered under the mechanism;

17. Believes that the actual carbon content of imported goods should be taken into account in the calculation method to the maximum extent possible, while not causing additional difficulties and disadvantages for European industry; notes the difficulties in gathering verified and reliable data on the carbon content of end or intermediate products due to international value chains; therefore asks the Commission to assess the technical feasibility and availability of reliable data from importers and exporters, e.g. by exploring the potential of advanced technologies like block chain, and to propose solutions if needed; stresses therefore the importance of establishing a thorough monitoring, reporting and verification system in order to evaluate the efficiency of the mechanism; considers that independent third-party verification could be considered a tool to ensure the reliability of the data;

18. Calls on the Commission to provide technical advice and support to industries at home and abroad, especially for SMEs, in setting up reliable greenhouse gas emission accounting systems for imports in order to maintain a strong European industry without causing technical obstacles for trading partners; calls further on the Commission to ensure that importers are allowed to demonstrate the low carbon content of their products, giving them the opportunity to have their carbon payments lowered or be exempted for these products; calls on the Commission to guarantee feasibility and compatibility with the EU emissions trading system;

19. Notes further that in order to prevent unfair competition on the European market, no competitive disadvantages among competing materials should be created by the mechanism; underlines that the most climate-friendly materials should not suffer competitive disadvantages;

20. Believes that the mechanism should take account of the specific situations of least developed countries that have not emitted much historically; stresses that it should not hamper their sustainable development and that their situation should not be further aggravated by relocating polluting industries which are detrimental to the environment and local populations;

21. Calls on the Commission to analyse the possibility of starting to implement the mechanism with a gradual phasing out of free allowances, which would be kept during a transitional phase until the mechanism is fully phased in and efficient; stresses that there should be no double protection and that the mechanism needs to be WTO-compatible;

22. Invites the Commission to assess the possibility of establishing fully WTO-compatible export rebates for the most virtuous industrial actors in terms of carbon efficiency in the design of the mechanism;

23. Underlines that according to its resolution of 14 November 2018 entitled ‘the Multiannual Financial Framework 2021-2027 – Parliament’s position with a view to an agreement’[11] and its legislative resolution adopted in plenary on 16 September 2020 on the draft Council decision on the system of own resources of the European Union[12], the resources generated by the mechanism shall be considered European own resources;

24. Calls on the Commission to take into account the social dimension of the mechanism in its upcoming proposal in order to ensure fair burden-sharing; notes that the mechanism could lead to higher product prices for consumers; underlines that consumers, especially those with low incomes, should not suffer from a higher burden on their purchasing power; calls on the Commission and the Member States to assess the potential impacts on living standards, especially of those from vulnerable groups and in Member States that heavily rely on imports from third countries, and to take effective measures to support low-income households and work towards compensating the risk of any rise in the price of imported goods as a result of the implementation of the mechanism;

25. Calls on the Commission to conduct a thorough impact assessment of all the available options for different mechanisms, designs and alternatives before presenting a legislative proposal, in order to evaluate how far they incentivise international climate action and prevent the risk of carbon and investment leakage and to see which instrument achieves the goal of global climate ambition in the most effective way; advises the Commission to make the objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2050 the leading factor in the choice of the form of the mechanism;

26. Calls on the Commission, in its impact assessment, to identify measures for sectors where the risk of carbon leakage is highest while taking into consideration their competitiveness; calls on the Commission to assess the effects of the mechanism on trade partners, including on our neighbouring countries and developing countries; calls further on the Commission to make the results of the impact assessment publicly available as soon as possible, and before the publication of its legislative proposal;

27. Calls for a special evaluation of the impact of the mechanism on SMEs and on competition within the internal market; calls for the creation, if needed, of a support mechanism for SMEs to successfully adjust to the new market reality, thereby preventing them from being victims of unfair practices by larger market players;

28. Emphasises its importance in ensuring the representation of European citizens and their interests are represented and in contributing to the achievement of EU priorities such as climate protection, sustainable growth and international competitiveness; therefore calls on the Commission and the Council to fully involve Parliament, as co-legislator, in the legislative process to establish the mechanism.

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

Date adopted

15.12.2020

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

37

32

4

Members present for the final vote

François Alfonsi, Nicola Beer, François-Xavier Bellamy, Hildegard Bentele, Tom Berendsen, Vasile Blaga, Manuel Bompard, Paolo Borchia, Markus Buchheit, Cristian-Silviu Buşoi, Jerzy Buzek, Carlo Calenda, Andrea Caroppo, Maria da Graça Carvalho, Ciarán Cuffe, Nicola Danti, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Christian Ehler, Valter Flego, Niels Fuglsang, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Claudia Gamon, Jens Geier, Nicolás González Casares, Bart Groothuis, Christophe Grudler, András Gyürk, Henrike Hahn, Robert Hajšel, Ivo Hristov, Ivars Ijabs, Romana Jerković, Eva Kaili, Seán Kelly, Izabela-Helena Kloc, Łukasz Kohut, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Andrius Kubilius, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Thierry Mariani, Eva Maydell, Joëlle Mélin, Iskra Mihaylova, Dan Nica, Angelika Niebler, Ville Niinistö, Aldo Patriciello, Mauri Pekkarinen, Mikuláš Peksa, Tsvetelina Penkova, Morten Petersen, Markus Pieper, Clara Ponsatí Obiols, Jérôme Rivière, Robert Roos, Sara Skyttedal, Maria Spyraki, Jessica Stegrud, Beata Szydło, Riho Terras, Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Patrizia Toia, Evžen Tošenovský, Marie Toussaint, Isabella Tovaglieri, Henna Virkkunen, Pernille Weiss, Carlos Zorrinho

Substitutes present for the final vote

Damien Carême, Eleonora Evi, Klemen Grošelj, Alicia Homs Ginel, Elena Lizzi

 

 

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE ASKED FOR OPINION

37

+

EPP

François-Xavier Bellamy

S&D

Carlo Calenda, Niels Fuglsang, Lina Gálvez Muñoz, Jens Geier, Nicolás González Casares, Robert Hajšel, Alicia Homs Ginel, Ivo Hristov, Romana Jerković, Eva Kaili, Łukasz Kohut, Miapetra Kumpula-Natri, Dan Nica, Tsvetelina Penkova, Patrizia Toia, Carlos Zorrinho

RENEW

Nicola Beer, Nicola Danti, Valter Flego, Claudia Gamon, Klemen Groselj, Christophe Grudler, Ivars Ijabs, Iskra Mihaylova, Mauri Pekkarinen, Morten Petersen

Greens

François Alfonsi, Damien Carême, Ciarán Cuffe, Eleonora Evi, Henrike Hahn, Ville Niinistö, Mikuláš Peksa, Marie Toussaint

GUE

Manuel Bompard

NI

Clara Ponsatí Obiols

 

32

EPP

Hildegard Bentele, Tom Berendsen, Vasile Blaga, Cristian-Silviu Buşoi, Jerzy Buzek, Maria da Graça Carvalho, Pilar Del Castillo Vera, Christian Ehler, András Gyurk, Seán Kelly, Andrius Kubilius, Eva Maydell, Angelika Niebler, Aldo Patriciello, Markus Pieper, Sara Skyttedal, Maria Spyraki, Riho Terras, Henna Virkkunen, Pernille Weiss

ID

Paolo Borchia, Markus Buchheit, Elena Lizzi, Isabella Tovaglieri

ECR

Izabela-Helena Kloc, Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Robert Roos, Jessica Stegrud, Beata Szydło, Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Evžen Tošenovský

NI

Andrea Caroppo

 

4

0

RENEW

Bart Groothuis

ID

Thierry Mariani, Joëlle Mélin, Jérôme Rivière

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

5.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

58

8

10

Members present for the final vote

Nikos Androulakis, Margrete Auken, Simona Baldassarre, Marek Paweł Balt, Traian Băsescu, Aurélia Beigneux, Monika Beňová, Sergio Berlato, Alexander Bernhuber, Malin Björk, Simona Bonafè, Delara Burkhardt, Pascal Canfin, Sara Cerdas, Mohammed Chahim, Tudor Ciuhodaru, Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé, Esther de Lange, Christian Doleschal, Marco Dreosto, Bas Eickhout, Cyrus Engerer, Eleonora Evi, Agnès Evren, Pietro Fiocchi, Andreas Glück, Catherine Griset, Jytte Guteland, Teuvo Hakkarainen, Martin Hojsík, Pär Holmgren, Jan Huitema, Yannick Jadot, Adam Jarubas, Karin Karlsbro, Petros Kokkalis, Joanna Kopcińska, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Javi López, César Luena, Fulvio Martusciello, Liudas Mažylis, Joëlle Mélin, Tilly Metz, Silvia Modig, Dolors Montserrat, Alessandra Moretti, Dan-Ştefan Motreanu, Ljudmila Novak, Grace O’Sullivan, Jutta Paulus, Stanislav Polčák, Jessica Polfjärd, Luisa Regimenti, Frédérique Ries, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Rob Rooken, Silvia Sardone, Christine Schneider, Günther Sidl, Ivan Vilibor Sinčić, Linea Søgaard-Lidell, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Nils Torvalds, Edina Tóth, Véronique Trillet-Lenoir, Petar Vitanov, Alexandr Vondra, Mick Wallace, Pernille Weiss, Michal Wiezik, Tiemo Wölken, Anna Zalewska

Substitutes present for the final vote

Manuel Bompard, István Ujhelyi, Inese Vaidere

 

FINAL VOTE BY ROLL CALL IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

58

+

NI

Ivan Vilibor Sinčić

PPE

Traian Băsescu, Alexander Bernhuber, Nathalie Colin-Oesterlé, Christian Doleschal, Agnès Evren, Adam Jarubas, Fulvio Martusciello, Liudas Mažylis, Dolors Montserrat, Dan-Ştefan Motreanu, Ljudmila Novak, Stanislav Polčák, Jessica Polfjärd, Christine Schneider, Edina Tóth, Inese Vaidere, Pernille Weiss, Michal Wiezik

Renew

Pascal Canfin, Martin Hojsík, Jan Huitema, Karin Karlsbro, Frédérique Ries, María Soraya Rodríguez Ramos, Nicolae Ştefănuță, Linea Søgaard-Lidell, Nils Torvalds, Véronique Trillet-Lenoir

S&D

Nikos Androulakis, Marek Paweł Balt, Monika Beňová, Simona Bonafè, Delara Burkhardt, Sara Cerdas, Mohammed Chahim, Tudor Ciuhodaru, Cyrus Engerer, Jytte Guteland, Javi López, César Luena, Alessandra Moretti, Günther Sidl, István Ujhelyi, Petar Vitanov, Tiemo Wölken

The Left

Malin Björk, Petros Kokkalis, Silvia Modig, Mick Wallace

Verts/ALE

Margrete Auken, Bas Eickhout, Eleonora Evi, Pär Holmgren, Yannick Jadot, Tilly Metz, Grace O’Sullivan, Jutta Paulus

 

8

ECR

Sergio Berlato, Pietro Fiocchi, Joanna Kopcińska, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Rob Rooken, Alexandr Vondra, Anna Zalewska

The Left

Manuel Bompard

 

10

0

ID

Simona Baldassarre, Aurelia Beigneux, Marco Dreosto, Catherine Griset, Teuvo Hakkarainen, Joëlle Mélin, Luisa Regimenti, Silvia Sardone

PPE

Esther de Lange

Renew

Andreas Glück

 

Key to symbols:

+ : in favour

 : against

0 : abstention

 

 

[4] Amendments adopted by the European Parliament on 8 October 2020 on the proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing the framework for achieving climate neutrality and amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1999 (European Climate Law), Texts adopted, P9_TA(2020)0253.

[5] World Meteorological Organization (WMO), ‘Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019’.

[6] Fezzigna, P., Borghesi, S., Caro, D., ‘Revising Emission Responsibilities through Consumption-Based Accounting: A European and Post-Brexit Perspective’ in Sustainability, 17 January 2019.

[7] See ECA Special Report No 18/2020.

[8] Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ‘CO2 emissions embodied in international trade and domestic final demand: methodology and results using the OECD inter-country input-output database’, 23 November 2020.

REPORT on the request for waiver of the immunity of Clara Ponsatí Obiols – A9-0022/2021

Source: European Parliament

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the request for waiver of the immunity of Clara Ponsatí Obiols

(2020/2031(IMM))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity received on 10 February 2020 and transmitted by the President of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court) and made by the President of the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo in connection with special proceedings No 3/20907/2017 on 4 February 2020; having regard to the announcement of the said request for waiver of immunity in plenary on 13 February 2020,

 having heard Clara Ponsatí Obiols in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

 having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011, 17 January 2013 and 19 December 2019[1],

 having regard to the decision of the Spanish Junta Electoral Central (Central Electoral Board) of 23 January 2020[2],

 having regard to European Council Decision (EU) 2018/937 of 28 June 2018 establishing the composition of the European Parliament[3] and to European Council Decision (EU) 2019/1810 taken in agreement with the United Kingdom of 29 October 2019 extending the period under Article 50(3)TEU[4],

 having regard to the announcement made in plenary on 10 February 2020 that in accordance with the European Council’s decision of 28 June 2018 and following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, Parliament took note of the election of Clara Ponsatí Obiols as Member of the European Parliament with effect from 1 February 2020,

 having regard to Article 71(1) and (2) of the Spanish Constitution,

 having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A9-0022/2021),

A. whereas the President of the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo requested the waiver of the immunity of Clara Ponsatí Obiols, Member of the European Parliament, with regard to Article 9 subparagraph 1(b) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union in connection with special proceedings No 3/20907/2017 – the criminal proceedings for an alleged offence of sedition, as laid down in Articles 544 and 545 of the Spanish Criminal Code, and of an offence of misuse of public funds, as laid down in Article 432 of the Spanish Criminal Code in conjunction with Article 252 thereof;

B. whereas the acts subject to prosecution were allegedly committed in 2017; whereas the order of prosecution in this case was issued on 21 March 2018 and confirmed by subsequent orders dismissing appeals; whereas the investigation was closed by order of 9 July 2018 and confirmed as final on 25 October 2018; whereas by order of 9 July 2018 Clara Ponsatí Obiols, among others, was declared to be in contempt of court and a decision was taken to stay proceedings in relation to her and other persons until they had been found;

C. whereas Clara Ponsatí Obiols was declared elected by the Spanish Junta Electoral Central (Central Electoral Board) on 23 January 2020; whereas following the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union on 31 January 2020, Parliament took note of the election of Clara Ponsatí Obiols as Member of the European Parliament with effect from 1 February 2020;

D. whereas the status as Member of the European Parliament was acquired with effect on 23 January 2020; whereas the request for the waiver of immunity therefore concerns facts and prosecution that pre-dates the acquisition of the status and thereby of the immunity as Member of the European Parliament;

E. whereas the Committee on Legal Affairs took note of the documents presented to Members of the Committee by Clara Ponsatí Obiols pursuant to Rule 9(6) of the Rules of Procedure and considered by her relevant to the procedure;

F. whereas Member States’ authorities decide on the appropriateness of the court proceedings;

G. whereas it is not for the European Parliament to query the merits of national legal and judicial systems;

H. whereas the European Parliament lacks any competence to assess or query the jurisdiction of the national judicial authorities in charge of the criminal proceedings under consideration;

I. whereas in accordance with Spanish law as interpreted by the national courts and as communicated to Parliament by the Member State, the Second Criminal Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo is the competent authority to request the waiver of immunity of a Member of the European Parliament;

J. whereas the proceedings do not concern opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of the duties of the Member of the European Parliament for the purposes of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

K. whereas Article 9 subparagraph 1(a) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of the parliament of that state;

L. whereas Article 71(1) and (2) of the Spanish Constitution provides that:

‘1. Deputies and senators shall enjoy absolute privilege in respect of opinions expressed in the performance of their duties.

2. During their term of office, deputies and senators shall also have immunity and may only be arrested if they are found in the act of committing an offence. They cannot be charged or prosecuted without the prior authorisation of the relevant legislative chamber’;

M. whereas the request for the waiver of immunity informs, with regard to the application of Article 71 of the Spanish Constitution and, specifically, the stage of proceedings as of which it is not necessary to request parliamentary authorisation to carry out criminal proceedings against an accused person who acquires the status of member of parliament, that a waiver request is not necessary in cases where the status of member of parliament is acquired while a previously opened trial is ongoing or in cases where a member of parliament takes office after formally being prosecuted; whereas it is not therefore required to request a waiver of immunity under Article 9 subparagraph 1(a) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union in order for measures to be taken in the territory of Spain;

N. whereas it is not for the European Parliament to interpret the domestic rules on the privileges and immunities of Members of Parliament;

O. whereas Article 9 subparagraph 1(b) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of any other Member State, immunity from any measure of detention and from legal proceedings;

P. whereas on 4 November 2019 the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo ordered to issue ‘(i)n order for criminal proceedings to take place […] as appropriate: a national arrest warrant(s), European arrest warrant(s) or an international arrest warrant(s) for the purposes of extradition’ in respect of, among others, Clara Ponsatí Obiols, who was confirmed to be in contempt of court; whereas, as explained in the request for the waiver of immunity, on 3 February 2020 the decision with regard to the issuing of the national search, arrest and detention warrant as well as the European arrest warrant and the international search and arrest warrant against Clara Ponsatí Obiols for the purpose of her extradition was upheld and, at the same time, a request for the waiver of her immunity was made in order to proceed with the execution of the European arrest warrant that had been issued;

Q. whereas, pursuant to Rule 9(8) of the Rules of Procedure, the Committee on Legal Affairs shall not, under any circumstances, pronounce on the guilt or otherwise of the Member, nor on whether or not the opinions or acts attributed to the Member justify prosecution, even if, in considering the request, the Committee acquires detailed knowledge of the facts of the case;

R. whereas in accordance with Rule 5(2) of the Rules of Procedure, parliamentary immunity is not a Member’s personal privilege but a guarantee of the independence of Parliament as a whole and of its Members;

S. whereas the purpose of parliamentary immunity is to protect Parliament and its Members from legal proceedings in relation to activities carried out in the performance of parliamentary duties and which cannot be separated from those duties;

T. whereas the accusation clearly bears no relation to the position of Clara Ponsatí Obiols as Member of the European Parliament but to her former position as Regional Minister for Education of the Govern (Catalan regional government);

U. whereas Clara Ponsatí Obiols is one of the individuals among a group of individuals who find themselves in a similar situation of being prosecuted and charged with the offences in question, with the only difference being that she currently enjoys immunity as a Member of the European Parliament; whereas it should therefore be borne in mind that Clara Ponsatí Obiols is not the only prosecuted person in the case in question;

V. whereas the incriminated facts were committed in 2017 and the criminal proceedings in question were initiated against Clara Ponsatí Obiols in 2018; whereas on this basis, it cannot be claimed that the judicial proceedings were launched with the intention of hindering the future political activity of Clara Ponsatí Obiols as a Member of the European Parliament, when at that time her status as a Member of the European Parliament was still hypothetical and future;

W. whereas in this case, Parliament has thus found no evidence of fumus persecutionis, i.e. factual elements which indicate that the intention underlying the legal proceeding may be to damage a Member’s political activity and thus the European Parliament;

1. Decides to waive the immunity of Clara Ponsatí Obiols under Article 9 subparagraph 1(b) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

2. Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Spanish authorities and to Clara Ponsatí Obiols.

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

23.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

15

8

2

Members present for the final vote

Manon Aubry, Gunnar Beck, Geoffroy Didier, Pascal Durand, Ibán García Del Blanco, Jean-Paul Garraud, Esteban González Pons, Mislav Kolakušić, Sergey Lagodinsky, Gilles Lebreton, Karen Melchior, Franco Roberti, Marcos Ros Sempere, Ernő Schaller-Baross, Stéphane Séjourné, Raffaele Stancanelli, Marie Toussaint, Adrián Vázquez Lázara, Axel Voss, Marion Walsmann, Tiemo Wölken, Lara Wolters, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniel Buda, Andrzej Halicki, Emil Radev, Kosma Złotowski

 

 

REPORT on the request for waiver of the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó – A9-0020/2021

Source: European Parliament

PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION

on the request for waiver of the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó

(2020/2024(IMM))

The European Parliament,

 having regard to the request for waiver of the immunity received on 13 January 2020 and transmitted by the President of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo (Supreme Court) and made by the President of the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo in connection with special proceedings No 3/20907/2017 on 10 January 2020; having regard to the announcement of the said request for waiver of immunity in plenary on 16 January 2020,

 having heard Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó in accordance with Rule 9(6) of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to Articles 8 and 9 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union, and Article 6(2) of the Act of 20 September 1976 concerning the election of the members of the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage,

 having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 21 October 2008, 19 March 2010, 6 September 2011, 17 January 2013 and 19 December 2019[1],

 having regard to the decision of the Spanish Junta Electoral Central (Central Electoral Board) of 13 June 2019[2],

 having regard to the announcement made in plenary on 13 January 2020 that following the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 19 December 2019, Parliament took note of the election of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó as Member of the European Parliament with effect from 2 July 2019,

 having regard to Article 71(1) and (2) of the Spanish Constitution,

 having regard to Rule 5(2), Rule 6(1) and Rule 9 of its Rules of Procedure,

 having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs (A9-0020/2021),

A. whereas the President of the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo requested the waiver of the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, Member of the European Parliament, with regard to Article 9 subparagraph 1(b) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union in connection with special proceedings No 3/20907/2017 – the criminal proceedings for an alleged offence of sedition, as laid down in Articles 544 and 545 of the Spanish Criminal Code, and of an offence of misuse of public funds, as laid down in Article 432 of the Spanish Criminal Code in conjunction with Article 252 thereof;

B. whereas the acts subject to prosecution were allegedly committed in 2017; whereas the order of prosecution in this case was issued on 21 March 2018 and confirmed by subsequent orders dismissing appeals; whereas the investigation was closed by order of 9 July 2018 and confirmed as final on 25 October 2018; whereas by order of 9 July 2018 Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, among others, was declared to be in contempt of court and a decision was taken to stay proceedings in relation to him and other persons until they had been found;

C. whereas following the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union of 19 December 2019, Parliament took note of the election of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó as Member of the European Parliament with effect from 2 July 2019;

D. whereas the status as Member of the European Parliament was acquired with effect on 13 June 2019; whereas the request for the waiver of immunity therefore concerns facts and prosecution that pre-dates the acquisition of the status and thereby of the immunity as Member of the European Parliament;

E. whereas the Committee on Legal Affairs took note of the documents presented to Members of the Committee by Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó pursuant to Rule 9(6) of the Rules of Procedure and considered by him relevant to the procedure;

F. whereas Member States’ authorities decide on the appropriateness of the court proceedings;

G. whereas it is not for the European Parliament to query the merits of national legal and judicial systems;

H. whereas the European Parliament lacks any competence to assess or query the jurisdiction of the national judicial authorities in charge of the criminal proceedings under consideration;

I. whereas in accordance with Spanish law as interpreted by the national courts and as communicated to Parliament by the Member State in question, the Second Criminal Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo is the competent authority to request the waiver of immunity of a Member of the European Parliament;

J. whereas the proceedings do not concern opinions expressed or votes cast in the performance of the duties of the Member of the European Parliament for the purposes of Article 8 of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

K. whereas Article 9 subparagraph 1(a) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of their own state, the immunities accorded to members of the parliament of that state;

L. whereas Article 71(1) and (2) of the Spanish Constitution provides that:

‘1. Deputies and senators shall enjoy absolute privilege in respect of opinions expressed in the performance of their duties;

2. During their term of office, deputies and senators shall also have immunity and may only be arrested if they are found in the act of committing an offence. They cannot be charged or prosecuted without the prior authorisation of the relevant legislative chamber’;

M. whereas the request for the waiver of immunity informs, with regard to the application of Article 71 of the Spanish Constitution and, specifically, the stage of proceedings as of which it is not necessary to request parliamentary authorisation to carry out criminal proceedings against an accused person who acquires the status of member of parliament, that a waiver request is not necessary in cases where the status of member of parliament is acquired while a previously opened trial is ongoing or in cases where a member of parliament takes office after formally being prosecuted; whereas it is not therefore required to request a waiver of immunity under Article 9 subparagraph 1(a) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union in order for measures to be taken in the territory of Spain;

N. whereas it is not for the European Parliament to interpret the domestic rules on the privileges and immunities of Members of Parliament;

O. whereas Article 9 subparagraph 1(b) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union states that Members of the European Parliament enjoy, in the territory of any other Member State, immunity from any measure of detention and from legal proceedings;

P. whereas on 14 October 2019 the Second Chamber of the Spanish Tribunal Supremo ordered to issue ‘(i)n order for criminal proceedings to take place […] as appropriate: a national arrest warrant, a European arrest warrant or an international arrest warrant for the purposes of extradition’ in respect of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó, who was confirmed to be in contempt of court; whereas, as explained in the request for the waiver of immunity, on 10 January 2020 the appeal against this decision was dismissed with regard to the revocation of ‘the relevant national search, arrest and detention warrants, as well as the international and European arrest warrants’ and upheld ‘against the order of 14 October 2019 and the ruling of 18 October 2018, […] pursuant to the interpretation given by the CJEU in its judgment of 19 December 2019 recognising the appellant(s)’ privileges and immunities under Article 9 of Protocol No 7 to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, in their capacity as Member(s) of the European Parliament’, and it was also decided to request that the European Parliament waive the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó ‘in order to proceed with the execution of the European arrest warrant(s) that have been issued’ and to inform the executing authority in Belgium thereof;

Q. whereas, pursuant to Rule 9(8) of the Rules of Procedure, the Committee on Legal Affairs shall not, under any circumstances, pronounce on the guilt or otherwise of the Member, nor on whether or not the opinions or acts attributed to the Member justify prosecution, even if, in considering the request, the Committee acquires detailed knowledge of the facts of the case;

R. whereas in accordance with Rule 5(2) of the Rules of Procedure, parliamentary immunity is not a Member’s personal privilege but a guarantee of the independence of Parliament as a whole and of its Members;

S. whereas the purpose of parliamentary immunity is to protect Parliament and its Members from legal proceedings in relation to activities carried out in the performance of parliamentary duties and which cannot be separated from those duties;

T. whereas the accusation clearly bears no relation to the position of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó as Member of the European Parliament but to his former position as the President of the Generalitat (Government) of Catalonia;

U. whereas Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó is one of the individuals among a group of individuals who find themselves in a similar situation of being prosecuted and charged with the offences in question, with the only difference being that he currently enjoys immunity as a Member of the European Parliament; whereas it should therefore be borne in mind that Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó is not the only prosecuted person in the case in question;

V. whereas the incriminated facts were committed in 2017 and the criminal proceedings in question were initiated against Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó in 2018; whereas on this basis, it cannot be claimed that the judicial proceedings were launched with the intention of hindering the future political activity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó as a Member of the European Parliament, when at that time his status as a Member of the European Parliament was still hypothetical and future;

W. whereas in this case, Parliament has thus found no evidence of fumus persecutionis, i.e. factual elements which indicate that the intention underlying the legal proceeding may be to damage a Member’s political activity and thus the European Parliament;

1. Decides to waive the immunity of Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó under Article 9 subparagraph 1(b) of Protocol No 7 on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Union;

2. Instructs its President to forward this decision and the report of its committee responsible immediately to the Spanish authorities and to Carles Puigdemont i Casamajó.

 

INFORMATION ON ADOPTION IN COMMITTEE RESPONSIBLE

Date adopted

23.2.2021

 

 

 

Result of final vote

+:

–:

0:

15

8

2

Members present for the final vote

Manon Aubry, Gunnar Beck, Geoffroy Didier, Pascal Durand, Ibán García Del Blanco, Jean-Paul Garraud, Esteban González Pons, Mislav Kolakušić, Sergey Lagodinsky, Gilles Lebreton, Karen Melchior, Franco Roberti, Marcos Ros Sempere, Ernő Schaller-Baross, Stéphane Séjourné, Raffaele Stancanelli, Marie Toussaint, Adrián Vázquez Lázara, Axel Voss, Marion Walsmann, Tiemo Wölken, Lara Wolters, Javier Zarzalejos

Substitutes present for the final vote

Daniel Buda, Andrzej Halicki, Emil Radev, Kosma Złotowski