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Commission Work Programme for 2015

Greens/EFA motion for resolution

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘Commission Work Programme 2015 – A New Start’ (COM (2014)0910),

– having regard to the Commission communication entitled ‘An Investment Plan for Europe’ (COM (2014)0903),

– having regard to the existing Framework Agreement on relations between Parliament and the Commission, in particular Annex 4 thereto,

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

A. whereas this Commission is right to consider that the outcome of the last European elections is a call for change from citizens and that a ‘new start’ is needed;

B. whereas the communication on the 2015 Commission Work Programme (CWP) is structured like a genuine ‘political programme’, around a few targeted political goals, and whereas this helps make sense of European policy-making and contributes to a more political reading of the Commission’s action;

C. whereas the programme also clearly exposes this Commission’s strong neoliberal bias in many key policy areas, such as trade, employment and agriculture, even if it offers some valuable first steps in urgent and significant areas (lobby register, taxation, resource efficiency, etc.);

D. whereas the structure, heading and wording of the priorities ignore the disastrous effects of austerity policies, and clearly downgrade social and environmental issues as minor concerns, all subordinated to the hypothetical return of growth, blind to the damage done to society and citizens by growing inequality and the environmental crisis;

E. whereas this almost exclusive focus on outdated policies and economics eclipses the references to social justice and inequality, public health, education, culture and many areas that are as crucial to the relaunch of economic activity as they are to the core and heart of European societies;

F. whereas the Commission is the guardian of the EU Treaties, in which the principles of sustainable development, social justice and solidarity, and the fundamental right of European citizens to a clean environment and a high level of environmental protection, are enshrined;

G. whereas, in his public statements, including at his parliamentary hearing, First Vice-President Timmermans caused more uncertainty than reassurance as regards the spirit of the Commission’s ‘better regulation’ agenda, especially when it comes to essential pieces of environmental and social legislation;

H. whereas the concern to reduce burdens where these are unnecessary or outdated is widely shared; whereas, however, several recommendations clearly show a ‘deregulatory purpose’, undermining important European rights and/or standards;

I. whereas reducing the overall costs of regulation for business cannot come at the expense of the health, safety and environmental protection that these regulations provide for European citizens, workers and consumers;

New initiatives

1. Shares the Commission’s concerns regarding the dire state of the Union today, and the urgent need to seriously invest to break the current pattern of stagnation; regrets nevertheless that the Commission’s ‘new start’ mostly reflects the priorities of pre-crisis Europe, choosing to maintain the orthodox framework of the economic policies that led to the crisis and failing to fully recognise what 21st century Europe really needs and what Europeans are actually demanding;

2. Urges the Commission to make sustainability the core of any sound, future-oriented and crisis-solving economic policy and to ensure that it is given substance in this and future work programmes via a dedicated section focusing on the comprehensive and rapid implementation of the seventh Environmental Action Programme and the preparations for a new EU Sustainable Development Strategy; considers that the forthcoming investment plan must respond to such priorities; insists that public investments must focus on the energy transition, eco-innovative SMEs, research and education; is opposed to diverting already planned EU-programme funds, such as Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation funds, towards lesser quality or unsustainable projects;

3. Welcomes the Commission’s intention to come forward with a legislative follow-up to the 2030 Climate and Energy Package, calls for the Commission to bring forward all the necessary legislative proposals (ETS, Effort Sharing Decision, Fuel Quality Directive) as a package, as soon as possible in 2015;

4. Looks forward to contributing to the ‘strategy for a renewed and integrated approach to the single market in goods and services’, particularly focused on sectors where economic potential is greatest; asks the Commission, however, to build this strategy on high levels of safety, security and consumer protection, and to ensure timely transposition and proper implementation of existing legislation before prematurely proposing new or revised legislation;

5. Welcomes the specific attention given to green jobs, eco-innovation, eco-industries, the labour mobility package and the employability package with a follow-up on the Youth Guarantee, but also demands concrete actions; is concerned that the declared ‘priority’ on job creation does not fall within the responsibility of DG Employment but is being developed by Commission actors without a track record on employment and job creation, while job creation is actually the backbone of employment policies; consequently, doubts the Commission’s commitment to the creation of quality jobs that really ‘benefit the citizens’, and instead fears investment activism without job potential;

6. Deplores the absence of specific proposals to address the social urgency caused by austerity policies, especially in the Troika programme countries;

7. Welcomes the proposal for a deeper and fairer EMU; expects, however, even deeper and fairer proposals that fully take into account the comprehensive set of corresponding recommendations adopted by Parliament, that address the growing inequality, and that will eventually make European environmental and social targets as binding as budgetary constraints;

8. Welcomes the first step towards enhanced tax justice against the persistent aggressive tax planning which deprives Europe of its legitimate and necessary budgetary resources, through the obligation on Member States to exchange information on tax rulings; stresses, however, the need to speedily amend existing company-law directives in order to extend and enhance tax transparency for large companies; and calls on the Commission to put forward proposals to this end;

9. Welcomes the proposal to set forth a European migration agenda and to develop a new approach on legal migration, but strongly opposes the dubious and misleading tendency to associate migration and security issues; urges the Commission not simply to focus on labour migration and the needs of European labour markets but also to develop a human rights-based approach to people seeking protection from war and persecution in the EU by creating effective means of legal entry for refugees; encourages the Commission to promote burden sharing and solidarity among Member States;

10. Welcomes the Commission’s intention to democratise the decision-making process with regard to GMO applications; stresses that this review should obviously cover applications both for use in food/ feed and for cultivation;

11. Strongly supports the initiative for a mandatory transparency register, but expresses deep concern at the fact that it would be based on an interinstitutional agreement as such a register is not binding on lobbyists and is thus not mandatory; reiterates, therefore, its demand for a legislative proposal; calls on the Commission to further strengthen its action to combat corruption and, more specifically, to focus on tackling the misuse of EU funds and tax fraud in the Union;

12. Commends the Commission’s transparency initiative, which includes the publishing of contacts between Commissioners, cabinets, directors-general and lobbyists; is concerned, however, at the large number of exemptions from publication; suggests that the Commission begin publishing these meetings in a centralised location rather than on 89 individual websites;

Proposals of the European Commission for withdrawal and REFIT

13. Expresses serious concerns, as regards REFIT in general, that regulatory simplification work has become a pretext for lowering the level of ambition on issues of vital importance to the safety and wellbeing of employees and consumers, or on the protection of the environment;

14. Considers that impact assessments should focus not only on cost and price competitiveness and potential market-losers, but also on public benefits, innovation, potential market-winners and fundamental rights;

15. Takes note of the withdrawal of the legislative proposal restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity; calls on the Commission to seize the opportunity of falling oil-prices to come forward with a new proposal, as such legislation offers an important Community instrument for completing the EU toolkit on climate change and a potential key-enabler instrument for an ambitious energy Union, and would provide Member States with more budgetary resources;

16. Objects to the Commission’s intention to modify the proposal for a revised directive on national emission ceilings as part of the legislative follow-up to the 2030 climate and energy package and the uncertainty created by the contrasting statements regarding the procedure to follow; recalls that the review of the NEC Directive is more than 10 years overdue and that any further delay would only undermine the level of protection for citizens and the environment;

17. Calls for the evaluations of the Fuel Quality Directive and the Regulation to reduce CO2 from light-duty vehicles to be concluded as soon as possible, in order for the Commission to make proposals to amend them in 2015; encourages the Commission to better integrate the EU targets of climate protection and energy consumption into its transport policy;

18. Urges the Commission not to withdraw the amendment of six pieces of waste legislation (‘circular economy’), but instead to support raising the ambition level as part of the ongoing legislative process and, if necessary, to complement it with additional initiatives;

19. Calls on the Commission to ensure that, in the development and implementation of the work programme, the fundamental right of European citizens to a clean environment and a high level of environmental protection is protected, and that the European Council’s commitment to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity by 2020 is upheld, in particular in the light of the evaluation of the Birds and Habitats Directives;

20. Calls on the Commission not to carry out a stand-alone cumulative cost assessment of the EU legislation and policies most relevant to the European chemicals industry, but instead to integrate this aspect into the general fitness check of the most relevant chemicals legislation not covered by REACH so as to ensure a balanced approach that also takes into consideration the benefits of chemicals legislation; asks the Commission, when preparing its review of the Common Transport White Paper, to evaluate its work on the 2011 White Paper’s goals and 40 initiatives;

21. Expects the Commission to withdraw the December 2013 cloning proposals and come forward with new proposals that adequately reflect Parliament’s position, with a legal base providing for the ordinary legislative procedure to be applied;

22. Strongly criticises the Commission’s announced withdrawal of its proposal for the revision of Directive 92/85 on ‘pregnant workers and maternity leave’ and its intention to yield to business demands and thus weaken existing gender equality, health, safety and labour legislation that guarantee high social and equality standards;

23. Demands that the proposal on trade secrets currently being negotiated in its Legal Affairs Committee be withdrawn, as its potential anti-competitive impact, especially towards SMEs, has not been analysed; considers, furthermore, that the current proposal creates legal uncertainty with regard to rights to access to information and worker mobility, and that its loopholes and vagueness could be misused to overprotect commercial information against the general interest;

24. Considers that the ‘comprehensive review of the EU’s trade policy strategy’ should not be limited to its ‘contribution to jobs, growth and investment’ but should also look at the EU’s coherence as regards its development goals, climate targets, environmental priorities and human rights standards; urges the Commission. moreover, to change its practices towards full democratic disclosure of the documentation supporting the negotiation process;

25. Welcomes the incentive-based approach towards ENP countries, based on merits and differentiation, and calls on the Commission, in this connection, to set up the mechanisms for implementing the ‘more for more’ principle, which also implies ‘less for less’ as regards those countries that show no willingness to engage constructively with the EU, and clearly to define the relevant benchmarks, indicators and criteria;

Missing initiatives

26. Takes note that this is only the 2015 CWP; expresses strong concern, nevertheless, at the fact that some key areas and important initiatives would, under the programme in its current state, be left aside; calls on the Commission, therefore, to reconsider and include the following proposals:

– a ‘social veto right’, or any mechanism that can prevent EU legislation that would harm the poorest, increase inequality or decrease social rights from coming into force;

– a revision of the Working Time Directive, in order to dispose of the opt-out on the ‘average 48-hour working week’;

– a proposal for a directive on access to public information in Member States;

– a proposal for a regulation on the security of information technology products and services on the EU market;

– an adjustment of EU public procurement rules so that the source codes of every information technology product or service are made available to the relevant authorities;

– a revision of the Audit Directive to prevent auditing companies from providing tax advice;

– a revision of the Accounting Directive to extend country-by-country tax obligations on companies to all sectors, and furthermore to oblige companies to publish the tax rulings granted to them by Member States and third countries;

– a new legislative proposal for access to justice on environmental matters, in order to ensure implementation of the Arhus Convention in the Union;

– a legislative proposal on environmental inspections as a major instrument to contribute to full implementation of environment legislation in the Union;

– the communication entitled ‘Building a Sustainable European Food System’, as agreed by the DG AGRI, ENVI and SANCO Commissioners in April 2014;

– scientifically based horizontal criteria for endocrine disruptors, thus fulfilling without further delay the Commission’s overdue legal obligations;

– a new framework law for animal welfare, laying down minimum EU welfare standards for all categories of animals;

– a legislative proposal for different types of leave (paternity, adoption, care and filial) in order to help reconcile professional, family and private life, which at the same time could break the deadlock on the maternity leave proposal in the Council;

– a revision of the existing legislation on equal pay for men and women, given that it is ineffective and unenforceable and that, despite countless campaigns, targets and measures in recent years, the gender pay gap remains stubbornly wide;

– a comprehensive European response to the fundamental rights problems of LGBTI persons, in the shape of an EU strategy/roadmap against homophobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, as repeatedly called for by Parliament and Member States;

– the revision of the ECI (European Citizens’ Initiative) Regulation in order to ease the technical requirements and unify the online collection systems for signatures, to harmonise the mechanism for verification of supports in every Member State and to allow non-national EU residents to sign in the host country;

A word on the method

27. Expects that, as regards the financing of the proposed investment plan, the same high standards will apply as those for EU funds, especially with regard to quality control, performance orientation, effectiveness and law-abidance; in addition, demands especially that the criteria set out in the CEF (1316/2013/EC) and TEN-T (1315/2013/EC) Regulations be complied with when selecting transport infrastructure co-financing projects;

28. Urges the Commission to clearly state its intention to respect the equal status of both co-legislative institutions – especially where Parliament is contributing to alleviate the legislative burden, as in the case of the proposal on plant reproductive material (COM(2013)0262; 2013/0137/COD); and warns the Commission against using the Council’s possible stalling measures to bypass Parliament’s position;

29. Urges the Commission to intensify its efforts to monitor the transposition – and enforcement – of EU law by the Member States, especially in the context of a reduced legislative agenda; calls for more effective and systematic inclusion of the national parliaments;

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


Press release

© Alexander Briel
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Responsible MEPs

Bas Eickhout
Bas Eickhout

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