Monday, 19/11/2018 | 8:40 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • Amid Instability, Security Challenges, New Partnership for Africa’s Development Critical to Continent’s Socioeconomic Advancement, General Assembly Told

    Speakers Welcome Free Trade Area, Other Steps towards Regional Integration

    The New Partnership for Africa’s Development — now fully embedded in the development paradigms of both the United Nations and the African Union — remained the “rallying point” in Africa’s pursuit of growth, the General Assembly heard today, as delegates drew attention to security concerns and other obstacles still facing the continent.

    Speakers stressed that the partnership, known as NEPAD, was particularly critical in the areas of social and economic development, with several welcoming the recent facilitation of a Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement aimed at harmonizing three sub‑regional blocs which previously had their own rules and models for trade.  Meanwhile, others cited serious challenges facing Africa’s security and stability — ranging from human and drug trafficking to terrorism and the illicit flow of resources away from the continent — and urged development partners to redouble their support for national and regional efforts to combat them.

    Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of NEPAD, speaking on behalf of the African Union, expressed concern that Africa’s inequality gap continued to widen, with negative repercussions for political stability, business, growth and social cohesion.  Demographics ‑ especially youth and youth unemployment ‑ was a critical part of the continent’s development, he said, noting that with a median age of 20, Africa must break the generation‑to‑generation poverty cycle that continued to trap many of its people.  Indeed, some 440 million people on the continent would be entering the labour market by 2030, meaning that Africa must rapidly expand its efforts in job creation, entrepreneurship development and skills training.  NEPAD was engaged in several such initiatives, he said, also describing its work in areas such as infrastructure, Internet connectivity and intra‑continental trade.

    Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, was among the many voices this morning hailing recent accomplishments in the global integration and regional streamlining of African trade.  “The Continental Free Trade Area is no longer a distant dream,” he said, adding that it could very soon become a practical reality.  While major hurdles remained across the continent, NEPAD was a strong sign of regional leadership in development, with the African Union, regional economic communities and sub‑regional organizations acting as engine rooms of progress.  In an increasingly globalized world, no country or region could move forward alone, and efforts in Africa must be supported by a revitalized partnership for development.

    Rwanda’s representative, recalling that the Addis Ababa Action Agenda had established a strong foundation for the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, cited notable socio‑economic progress made across Africa since the latter’s adoption in 2015.  Meanwhile, the recent Kigali Amendment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change had reinforced those agendas by setting environmental targets and timeframes.  Agriculture was an important path for Africa’s sustainable development, she said, noting that an impactful transformation in that area would require strong coordination between partners in country‑led processes.  Among other critical challenges were those related to peace and security, which necessitated stronger efforts in conflict prevention and responses to early warning signs of conflict.

    Egypt’s representative, also drawing attention to the peace and security nexus, highlighted Africa’s leadership on those issues and the importance of maintaining its ownership over the development process.  “There can be no lasting security without inclusive development,” he said, while “peace, security and the rule of law underpinned by credible systems of democratic governance are prerequisites and indispensable factors and drivers of development.”  African countries had taken numerous steps to address security challenges, including establishing the “Group of 5” Sahel force ‑ consisting of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — as well deploying a Multinational Joint Task Force to end the Boko Haram insurgency and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

    Libya’s representative, also echoing concerns over security and stability, agreed that Africa would be unable to move forward in its development without addressing those crucial issues.  Many countries on the continent, including Libya, regrettably continued to suffer from deteriorating security situations.  Calling on Member States to urgently support African countries affected by conflict or emerging from it, he said his country suffered especially from instability resulting from transnational migrant flows, trafficking and other cross‑border issues.  “This is not a national or regional problem,” and therefore the responsibility must not fall on transit countries alone, he stressed, noting that origin and destination countries must also work to address the phenomenon’s root causes.

    Sudan’s delegate, voicing regret that conflicts and other security issues had adversely affected the prosperity of Africa’s people, said climate change and its impacts on food security were another source of grave concern.  African countries and the international community must work together to avoid the destructive impacts of that phenomenon.  Echoing support for the continued integration of the 2030 Agenda into the continent’s development plans, he said regional organizations such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) had an important role to play in that regard.  Additionally, he called for a redoubling of efforts to establish a comprehensive, strategic partnership to fight terrorism and ensure political stability in Africa.

    Delegates from Asia, Europe and other regions also expressed their support for NEPAD and reiterated their commitment to back development efforts on the African continent.  India’s representative, for one, spotlighted trade and diaspora links with Africa ‑ as well as a shared colonial past — and noted that the Africa‑India cooperative relationship included efforts to build capacity, mobilize financial support and share technical expertise.  Indeed, trade between his country and Africa had doubled in the last five years, making India the continent’s fourth‑largest trading partner.

    Before the Assembly for that discussion was a report of the Secretary‑General titled, “New Partnership for Africa’s Development: fifteenth consolidated progress report on implementation and international support” (document A/72/223), which outlined progress made in implementing NEPAD, spotlighted national and regional efforts to mainstream the 2030 Agenda and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, listed recent accomplishments under the partnership and recommended more measures aimed at providing African countries with financing, trade, capacity development and technology transfer.

    Also before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary‑General titled, “Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa” (document A/72/269), covering the period from July 2016 to June 2017, which highlighted major developments related to peace and security and their links with sustainable development in Africa.

    Also speaking were the representatives of Austria (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development), Brunei Darussalam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Kuwait, Thailand, Israel, the Russian Federation, Morocco, Indonesia, Mozambique, Turkey, Myanmar, Algeria, Ethiopia and the United Republic of Tanzania.

    The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 26 October, to take up the report of the International Court of Justice.

    Opening Remarks

    MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said that since its adoption, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) had led to transformative change and big strides in the integration of African trade.  The recent finalization of the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement was an important step that would harmonize three sub‑regional blocs which previously had their own rules and models for trade.  “The Continental Free Trade Area is no longer a distant dream,” he said, adding: “It could very soon be a reality”.  Nevertheless, major hurdles remained and faster progress was required, not only in agriculture and trade, but also in a wide range of key areas, including infrastructure, industry, economic diversification and poverty eradication.

    NEPAD, together with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Agenda 2063, should be harmonized and integrated, particularly regarding reporting, follow‑up and review, he said.  No development in Africa could take hold unless it was led from within.  The adoption of NEPAD was a strong sign of regional leadership in development, which was then reaffirmed through the African Union’s adoption of Agenda 2063.  The role of the African Union, regional economic communities and sub‑regional organizations had been indispensable and had acted as the engine rooms of progress in sustainable development, as well as in building African capacities in peace and security.  There had also been many exciting developments at the national level, as well as on‑going efforts to integrate the goals and targets of international and regional frameworks into national development plans.

    In an increasingly globalized world, no country or region could move forward alone, he stressed.  Efforts in Africa must be supported by a revitalized partnership for development, and in that context, there needed to be closer partnerships between Africa and its development partners, including United Nations bodies and Member States.  Official development assistance (ODA) and other commitments were crucial to enhance finance, technology transfer and market access, while there must be investment incentives at the national, regional and international levels.  “Development in Africa can never be seen as a standalone activity,” he stressed, highlighting that the trade agreement would be hindered without efforts to address the root causes of conflict.  “Foreign direct investment is not on the mind of someone who is running from a shower of bullets,” he said.

    PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said the role of industrialization as a catalyst for sustainable development had been well established and was reflected in the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.  Welcoming efforts by the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research of South Africa and other partners to develop a roadmap for Africa to achieve short‑, medium‑ and long‑term industrialization, as well as efforts by the “Group of 20” (G‑20) nations to support such initiatives through investment promotion and capacity‑building, he said the United Nations should also play its role in assisting countries.

    The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in particular, had a leading role to play in close cooperation with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank and the United Nations Office for Africa, he said.  Among other things, UNIDO assisted developing countries in designing and implementing industrial policies and enhancing local productive capacities and entrepreneurship, and its technical assistance contributed to job creation, advancing economic competitiveness and enabling market access, while also advancing the diffusion of environmentally sound technologies and production practices.

    IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt), speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the peace and development nexus was particularly evident in the two reports of the Secretary‑General.  “As the world is pursuing the new milestone in the global partnership for development […] it is imperative to continue to place Africa at the centre of United Nations efforts to eradicate poverty,” he said, as well as to address the impacts of climate change and ensure inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.  Eradicating poverty remained the greatest development challenge for African countries, where half the world’s poor people lived.  Expressing concern over the fact that ‑ two years into the 2030 Agenda’s implementation ‑ global hunger was again on the rise and affected some 815 million people, he said efforts should focus on the necessary means of implementation, including financial resources, technology transfer and capacity‑building.  “The scale must be ambitious enough to meet the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he stressed, adding that developed countries should fulfil their commitments as laid out in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, including those related to ODA.

    While international support was important, he continued, African ownership of the development process was critical and “is not just a mere concept”.  African countries had taken the primary responsibility for their own development, and their experience with the Millennium Development Goals had shown that significant advances had been made with African nations leading the way.  Nevertheless, systemic issues had affected the continent’s rates of economic growth and international support was not sufficient to bring about a significant reduction in unemployment and poverty levels, nor in advancing other goals.  The challenges facing Africa today traversed peace, security and development, he stressed, noting that “there can be no lasting security without inclusive development” and “peace, security and the rule of law underpinned by credible systems of democratic governance are prerequisites and indispensable factors and drivers of development”.  African countries had taken numerous steps to address peace and security challenges at national and regional levels, including establishing the “Group of 5” Sahel force, consisting of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, the Multinational Joint Task Force and the deployment of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Partners must enhance their support for such peace and security activities, as no country or region could resolve those challenges alone.

    DATO ABDUL GHAFAR ISMAIL (Brunei Darussalam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said it was encouraging to see many African countries intensify their efforts and seize opportunities to accelerate progress towards durable peace, security and development.  Reaffirming its solidarity with Africa, ASEAN supported NEPAD’s implementation, which would provide a strong foundation for Agenda 2063.  ASEAN was exploring ways to promote synergies and complementarities between its ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the 2030 Agenda, he said, adding that there was ample scope for greater collaboration between the two regions on mutual concerns and sustainable development.

    Noting that ASEAN and African countries had an enduring friendship dating back to the 1955 Asian‑African Conference in Bandung, he said ASEAN and its member States stood ready to exchange ideas and share experiences in such areas as agriculture, education, information and communications technologies and innovation, trade and infrastructure development.  Emphasizing that a supportive international environment was vital for Africa’s development, he said development partners, international financial institutions, regional and sub‑regional organizations and the international community, especially the United Nations, must redouble efforts to ensure sustainable peace and development on the continent.

    SURYANARAYAN SRINIVAS PRASAD (India) said that Agenda 2063 was mutually reinforcing with the 2030 Agenda and embraced the core priorities of NEPAD.  International cooperation remained a key element in Africa’s quest to achieve peace and prosperity.  Africa had made rapid strides in recent years — poverty rates had fallen, infrastructure connectivity had improved and economies were more diversified, while banking, telecommunications and retail had expanded, life expectancies had increased, school enrolment had grown and more women were being elected to political office.  Africa’s demographic dividend could be reaped by providing the youth with greater opportunities for education and employment.  Trade and diaspora links as well as a shared colonial past had framed India’s relationship with Africa.  The core strength of the Africa‑India cooperative relationship included efforts aimed at capacity‑building, the mobilization of financial support and the sharing of technical expertise.  He noted that Africa‑India trade had doubled in the last five years, making India the fourth‑largest trading partner for Africa.  Further, he highlighted that the African Development Bank had held its annual board meeting in India.

    Mr. ALMUNAYER (Kuwait) expressed hope that the long‑term development visions of the 2030 Agenda and the 2063 Agendas would be implemented to bring prosperity to Africa.  The harmony and inter‑dependence of the two development plans provided a common path to reach Africa’s aims.  Insufficient financial support, the spread of weapons and transnational crime, and the trafficking of resources were all impediments to development in Africa and undermined progress aimed at achieving development goals.  The recommendations in the Secretary‑General’s report, including those on good governance, the rule of law, the protection of the rights of women, the promotion of peacebuilding efforts and the pursuit of an Africa free of conflict, must be implemented.  He went on to point out that the Kuwait Development Fund had loaned some $20 billion thus far to 106 countries around the world; and that African countries had received 18 per cent of that funding.

    VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda), noting that the Addis Agenda had established a strong foundation to support the implementation of both the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063, said the recent Kigali Amendment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change reinforced those agendas by setting environmental targets and timeframes.  Throughout the continent, notable socio‑economic progress had been made since 2015, including through the African Union’s recent finalization of the Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement.  Agriculture was an important path for Africa’s sustainable development, she said, noting that an impactful transformation in that area would require strong coordination between partners in country‑led processes.  The continent still faced challenges, and development could not be sustained amidst conflict.  She therefore underscored the nexus between security and development, as well as the importance of conflict prevention and response to early warning signals with rapid interventions to protect civilians.  The Joint United Nations‑African Union Framework for Enhancing Partnership on Peace and Security was an important blueprint for boosting coordination between those two organizations, she said.

    OMAR A. A. ANNAKOU (Libya), associating himself with the African Group, said Agenda 2063 was a human‑centred plan for achieving Africa’s sustainable development.  Its goals, as well as those of the 2030 Agenda, must be translated into regional and national policies, while taking into account national priorities and local and cultural specificities.  Despite strong efforts and some progress, Africa was still facing many challenges in implementing the 2030 Agenda, including poverty, violence, conflicts, climate change, capital outflows, migration and more.  The continent also suffered from high unemployment, low education levels and a lack of basic services.  Donor countries must honour their commitments to the continent and support its countries in strengthening economic stability and attracting investment, he said, adding that “this will lead to true human resource development in Africa.”

    Calling for efforts to ensure Africa’s youth were educated and empowered, he went on to say that, many African countries, including Libya, regrettably continued to suffer from deteriorating security situations.  Development was impossible without security and vice versa, he stressed, calling on Member States to urgently support African countries affected by conflict or emerging from it.  “The African continent cannot move forward with development without enjoying peace, security and stability,” he said, noting that Libya suffered in particular from instability resulting from transnational migrant flows, trafficking and other cross‑border issues.  “This is not a national or regional problem,” and therefore the responsibility must not fall on transit countries alone.  Origin and destination countries must also work to address the phenomenon’s root causes.  Member States must not serve as havens for the trillions of dollars of illicit financial flows that continued to “haemorrhage” from Africa, he added, warning that corruption would continue until such havens were eradicated.

    VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with ASEAN and the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted the similarities between Asia and Africa’s development challenges.  Having become a donor country, Thailand was committed to extending its regular support and assistance to Africa through various forms of cooperation, including scholarships, training and local‑to‑local knowledge transfers.  Through the Thailand‑Africa Partnership for Sustainable Development, it sought to share with its African friends the late King Bhumibol’s homegrown approach to sustainable development.  It was also sharing its health‑care experience and know‑how, particularly in areas related to epidemics and rural healthcare management.

    NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that the relationship between Israel and Africa had never been stronger.  African nations faced many of the same challenge as Israel and both sought to use human capital to create sustainable solutions.  Through its Agency for International Development Cooperation, Israel worked with African partner countries, United Nations agencies, civil society and the private sector to further education and training.  In December 2016, Israel hosted a three‑day ministerial conference with African agriculture ministers, followed by a training session on applied research for agriculture experts.  Knowledge gained from those seminars would be useful in making progress on the African Union’s vision of providing support for 25 million farming households employing climate‑smart agriculture practices by 2025.  She went on to note the non‑governmental organization “Innovation Africa” that was working to bring Israeli solar energy and water technologies to remote African villages.

    SERGEY B. KONONUCHENKO (Russian Federation) said that despite continued weak economic growth and crisis situations on the continent, African countries were demonstrating resolute commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063.  It was concerning that the Secretary‑General’s report noted a 3 per cent decrease in foreign direct investment to the continent in 2016.  African countries must have support in achieving the 2030 Agenda, without which there was a real threat that the progress achieved in recent years would stall.  The Russian Federation continuously provided support to Africa through inter‑governmental initiatives, and had forgiven more than 20 billion in African debt, while also using innovative mechanisms to ease African debt burden.  Further, his Government had carried out projects to ensure food security and improve industrial and transport infrastructure through international programmes and other specialized United Nations bodies.  He went on to underscore that his Government was one of the first to react and respond to the Ebola outbreak.  The future of Africa was dependent on the development of the production and trade potential of the continent, he said, adding that his delegation welcomed the establishment of the Technology Bank for Least Development Countries.

    OMAR HILALE (Morocco), stressing that only African action based on regional integration would help the continent overcome challenges to sustainable development, said those actions included the financing of the NEPAD programme.  Indeed, the funding capacity of many African countries remained limited and resource challenges were compounded by difficult access to international markets and decreasing development assistance.  Calling for enhanced partnerships to overcome those issues, he said promoting investment, bolstering technology transfer, improving market access and providing debt relief, among other actions, were critical.  Strengthening the private sector was also crucial to boosting income and job opportunities.  Another important issue was agricultural adaptation, which was critical to ensuring Africa’s food security, and was closely related to the implementation of the Paris Agreement.  Recalling that, in a meeting on the margins of the twenty‑second Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Marrakesh, African Heads of State and Government had committed to supporting such adaptation, he said those efforts would focus in particular on combating desertification and improving the resilience of farmers.  The promotion of South‑South cooperation would also be essential, he said, outlining a major “upswing” in Morocco’s own cooperation with countries across the African continent.

    INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating herself with ASEAN, said the impacts of the global financial crisis still cast a shadow over many countries, with the pace of recovery uneven around the world.  While 2.6 per cent growth in Africa was expected this year, more rapid growth was needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  There must be enhanced international cooperation to mobilize development financing for Africa, as well as initiatives to generate inclusive and sustained growth.  Collaboration between the United Nations and Africa vis‑à‑vis sustainable development must also be enhanced.  Noting that Indonesia had always been a true partner for African countries, she said it would host the Indonesia‑Africa Forum in 2018 to explore economic opportunities, strengthen technical cooperation and enhance the existing partnership between both sides.

    ANTÓNIO GUMENDE (Mozambique), associating himself with the African Group, said that while the modest increase in ODA to Africa ‑ from $54.3 billion in 2014 to $56.6 billion in 2015 — was encouraging, the continued decline in foreign direct investment was of concern, considering its important role in infrastructure development.  Agriculture continued to be a source of survival in Africa, particularly in rural areas where the majority of Africans lived.  In that context, the need to modernize agriculture would be crucial to efforts to eradicate poverty.  His country remained committed to encouraging the participation of all stakeholders in recognition of the essential role of community empowerment in improving the welfare of the most vulnerable, as well as in the protection of the environment.  Agriculture development, food security and nutrition goals demanded investment capacity to create national resilience as well as holistic multisector coordination.  Providing quality health care was another important undertaking in Mozambique, including child immunizations and treatment for HIV/AIDS and malaria.

    FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said his country’s Africa Partnership Policy fully embraced the principle of “African solutions to African issues”.  Those countries and Governments had the best knowledge to address their own challenges, he said, outlining Turkey’s support in such areas as infrastructure development, humanitarian assistance and the maintenance of security and stability.  Since 2005, Turkey had multiplied its ODA to sub‑Saharan Africa by more than 100 times, and it was engaged in several projects relating to macroeconomic management, health, urbanization, agriculture and education.  It also collaborated with small‑ and medium‑sized enterprises to carry out sustainable development projects related to industrialization and job creation, and organized training programmes around the continent and in Turkey.

    HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) associating himself with ASEAN, called NEPAD a collective vision and strategic framework for African countries.  His Government was encouraged by the impressive progress of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa, which targeted 16 cross‑border projects.  Asia and Africa were continents of opportunities and challenges, he underscored.  Given the similarity of the two continent’s development paths, Myanmar recognized the tremendous potential for future collaboration in many areas through South‑South cooperation and the New Asian‑African Strategic Partnership.  Myanmar was a leading country when it came to building friendship and solidarity among Asian and African countries, and in that regard, Myanmar would continue to stand firmly in support of NEPAD’s objectives of political stability, economic growth and sustainable development.

    SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, said the international community should support Africa in creating sustainable growth based on domestic production, effective tax collection and strengthened capacity‑building.  The continent also required improved market access, particularly among developed countries, he said, calling on those nations to show more openness in supporting Africa’s development efforts and its inclusion in the international system.  Economic stabilization measures, as proposed by some voices in rich countries, might impede Africa’s contribution to the world economy.  He said progress in combating poverty in Africa was hampered by several factors, including a multitude of crises, the effects of natural disasters, climate change and volatile commodity prices.  However, the continent’s resilience could and must be strengthened, he said, calling on Africa’s partners to support Agenda 2063 and continental programmes embedded in NEPAD.  He went on to outline initiatives including the Trans‑Sahara Highway project and the installation of 4,500 kilometres of terrestrial optic fibre, both linking Algeria and Nigeria.

    MAHLET HAILU GUADEY (Ethiopia) said that since 2000, Africa had registered encouraging economic growth which had reduced poverty, but the continent still faced multiple challenges.  African leaders had therefore endorsed the Agenda 2063 in order to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent.  The Agenda 2063 was African‑led and African‑owned and was fully aligned with the objectives of the 2030 Agenda.  In realizing the Agenda 2063 vision, special attention must be given to silencing the guns.  Development was the prerequisite for ensuring sustainable peace and security.  It was important to enhance financial, technological and capacity‑building support to the 2030 and 2063 Agendas in a more coordinated and enhanced manner and cooperation and coordination between the United Nations and the African Union should be further coordinated, he said.

    MODEST MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) associated himself with the African Group and said that African countries were determined to eradicate poverty and guarantee prosperity for their peoples.  Africans had always addressed challenges through a common purpose and solidarity.  He stressed the importance of implementing the 2030 Agenda, Agenda 2063 and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  African countries intended to support the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda and to address peace and security challenges through regional initiatives and partnerships with the international community.  Addressing infrastructure development on the continent, investment in industrialization and value addition would be essential for putting the continent on the right track.

    HAMID MOHAMED ELNOUR AHMED (Sudan), associating himself with the African Group, said that Africa’s contributions to human civilization had been proven, yet the continent had been left behind when it came to recent industrialization and development.  Unfortunately, the continent had grown into a region of conflicts, which had resulted in great destruction and adversely affected the prosperity of the African people.  Climate change and its impacts on food security were of grave concern for the African people and in that regard, the international community must work together to avoid the destructive impacts of that phenomenon.  The 2030 Agenda was a roadmap for development in Africa, and in that context, regional organizations including the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) had an important role to play in reaching those development objectives.  He went on to call for a redoubling of efforts to establish a comprehensive, strategic partnership to fight terrorism and ensure political stability in Africa.

    IBRAHIM ASSANE MAYAKI, Chief Executive Officer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Agency, speaking on behalf of the African Union, said NEPAD was embedded in the latter’s Agenda 2063 and served as the “rallying point” in Africa’s pursuit of transformation and growth.  NEPAD was especially critical in areas related to social and economic empowerment, he stressed, noting that his Agency was set to become the African Union’s development agency in the context of its recent reform efforts.  Key to Africa’s sustainable development was the issue of demographics, especially youth and youth unemployment.  Indeed, it was not enough to expand gross domestic product (GDP) levels if such progress was not accompanied by growth and transformative changes in jobs, economic opportunities, access to education and other human development strides.  With a median age of 20, Africa must break the generation‑to‑generation poverty cycle that continued to trap many of its people.  In that vein, he recalled that the African Union had dedicated 2017 to making progress on the issue of youth unemployment, and noted that some 440 million people on the continent would enter the labour market by 2030.

    Outlining the NEPAD Agency’s initiatives in such areas as employment creation and entrepreneurship development, he said Africa needed to rapidly expand its capacity to offer skills and vocational training to its young people and women.  The expansion of African trade — including intra‑continental trade — was equally critical, he said, spotlighting the need to accelerate progress on the policy front.  Changes were necessary in such areas as customs procedures, visa restrictions and bringing to full ratification the use of the single African Passport, as well as enhancing the form, quality and diversity of transboundary goods and services.  Describing other initiatives aimed at improving Africa’s railways and expanding its Internet connectivity, he said the issue of wealth distribution was also a critical one.  The continent’s inequality gap continued to widen, which was bad for political stability, business, growth and social cohesion.  In that regard, the NEPAD Agency was discussing transformative action within a clear medium‑ to long‑term plan, while also working with African Union member States and other actors to foster a better domestic understanding of inequality.

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  • Joint Statement 14th India-EU Summit, New Delhi, 6 October 2017

    European Commission – Statement

    Brussels, 6 October 2017

    1. The 14th annual Summit between India and the European Union (EU) was held in New Delhi on 6 October 2017. The Republic of India was represented by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. The EU was represented by Mr. Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, and Mr. Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission.
    1. The leaders reviewed the wide-ranging cooperation under the India-EU Strategic Partnership. Recognising that India and the EU are natural partners, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen and strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership based on shared principles and values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights and territorial integrity of States.
    1. The leaders expressed satisfaction at the progress made towards implementing the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020 – the roadmap for bilateral cooperation endorsed during the 13th India-EU Summit.
    1. The leaders committed to work in a result-oriented and mutually beneficial manner to further strengthen the India-EU Strategic Partnership by deepening their trade cooperation, enhancing investment flows in both directions and broadening dialogue and engagement on global and regional issues, including climate change, as well as migration and the refugee crisis, and resolved to further strengthen their bilateral and multilateral cooperation in these areas.
    1. The leaders commended the strong engagement of the European Investment Bank in India in a wide range of key sectors, in particular in the field of climate action and renewable energy.
    1. The leaders underlined the importance of regular high level contacts to enhance India-EU co-operation and mutual understanding. They noted the fruitful outcome of the India-EU Foreign Ministerial Meeting in New Delhi on 21 April 2017.

    Foreign Policy and Security Cooperation – Partners for Security

    1. They agreed that India and the EU, as the world’s largest democracies, share a desire to work closely together and with all relevant players to support a rules-based international order that upholds agreed international norms, global peace and stability, and encourages inclusive growth and sustainable development in all parts of the inter-connected and multipolar world. They welcomed the growing convergence on contemporary global issues and agreed to enhance India-EU cooperation in all multilateral fora. They also recognised their common responsibility towards ensuring international peace and security, and an open and inclusive international order.
    1. The leaders confirmed their commitment towards conflict prevention and sustaining peace as fundamental aspects of promoting security and prosperity, fostering non-proliferation and disarmament, and agreed on the need for the global community to unite to address the menace of terrorism and safeguard the security of the global commons – sea lanes, cyber space and outer space. They welcomed the 5th India-EU Foreign Policy and Security Consultations held in New Delhi on 25 August 2017 – a platform to further deepen cooperation in the political and security area.
    1. The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to an open, free, secure, stable, peaceful and accessible cyberspace, enabling economic growth and innovation. In particular, the leaders reaffirmed that International Law is applicable in cyberspace, and that there was a need to continue and deepen deliberations on the applicability of International Law to cyberspace and set norms of responsible behaviour of States. The leaders welcomed the holding of the 5th Global Conference on Cyberspace in New Delhi on 23-24 November. The leaders noted that the bilateral Cyber Dialogue provided a strong foundation for existing and future cooperation and welcomed the holding of its latest round in New Delhi on 29 August this year, and the next India-EU Cyber Dialogue in Brussels in 2018.
    2. The leaders strongly condemned the recent terrorist attacks in many parts of the world, underlining their common concern about the global threat posed by terrorism and extremism. They adopted a Joint Statement on Cooperation in Combating Terrorism with a view to deepening their strategic and security cooperation, and expressed their strong commitment to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, based on a comprehensive approach. The leaders resolved to step up cooperation through regular bilateral consultations and in international fora. In this context, they welcomed the India-EU Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism on 30 August 2017 in New Delhi, and the joint commitment to explore opportunities to, inter alia, share information, best practices, including regarding countering the on-line threat of radicalisation, and to engage in capacity building activities, such as training and workshops. They also emphasised the need to deepen cooperation within the UN and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
    3. The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to strengthening global non-proliferation efforts as highlighted at the India-EU Non-proliferation and Disarmament Dialogue in New Delhi on 18 July 2017. The EU congratulated India on its admission to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The EU welcomed India’s subscription to The Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCoC) and noted India’s intensified engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group, which strengthens global non-proliferation efforts.
    4. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to enhance maritime security cooperation in the Indian Ocean and beyond. Both sides noted the recent joint manoeuvres (PASSEX) between the EU Naval Force and the Indian Navy off the coast of Somalia, as a successful example of naval cooperation. The EU looks forward to India’s possible participation in escorting World Food Program vessels in the near future. They also underlined the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of International Law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982. Both leaders attached importance to the security, stability, connectivity and sustainable development of Oceans and Seas in the context of developing the “blue economy”.
    5. Both sides agreed to enhance the India-EU space cooperation, including Earth observation.
    6. India and the EU reiterated the importance they attach to human rights cooperation, including on gender equality and women empowerment in all spheres of life. In this regard, they looked forward to the next session of their dialogue to be held in New Delhi and supported enhancing interaction in international fora, in particular the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council.
    7. The two sides expressed support to the Government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned national peace and reconciliation. The two sides remain determined to counter all forms of terrorism and violent extremism, considering them fundamental threats to international peace and stability. India and the EU underline the importance of the regional and key international stakeholders to respect, support and promote a political process and its outcome in order to ensure peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan. The EU appreciated the positive role being played by India in extending development assistance in Afghanistan, including for building social and economic infrastructure, governance institutions and human resource development and capacity building. Both sides reconfirmed their commitment to promoting peace, security, and stability and supporting Afghanistan on its development path to become a self-reliable and prosperous state.
    8. India and the EU expressed deep concern at the recent spate of violence in the Rakhine state of Myanmar that has resulted in the outflow of a large number of people from the state, many of whom have sought shelter in neighbouring Bangladesh. Both sides took note that this violence was triggered off by a series of attacks by Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) militants which led to loss of lives amongst the security forces as well as the civilian population. Both sides recognised the need for ending the violence and restoring normalcy in the Rakhine state without any delay. They urged the Myanmar authorities to implement the Kofi Annan-led Rakhine Advisory Commission’s recommendations and work with Bangladesh to enable the return of the displaced persons from all communities to Northern Rakhine State. India and the EU also recognised the role being played by Bangladesh in extending humanitarian assistance to the people in need.
    9. India and the EU reaffirmed their support for the continued full implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Iranian nuclear issue. They recognised confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran is complying with its nuclear-related JCPOA commitments. India and the EU called for the full and effective implementation of the deal, which has been endorsed by the UN Security Council and is a crucial contribution to the non-proliferation framework and international peace, stability and security.
    10. Both sides condemned the nuclear test conducted by DPRK on 3 September 2017, which was another direct and unacceptable violation of the DPRK’s international commitments. They agreed that DPRK’s continued pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and its proliferation links pose a grave threat to international peace and security, and called for the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which has been endorsed by the UNSC and the Six Party Talks. Both sides stressed the responsibility of those who support DPRK’s nuclear and missile programmes. They also stressed the importance of unity of the international community in addressing this challenge, ensuring that all UNSC sanctions are fully implemented by the entire international community, so as to maximize pressure towards achieving a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.
    11. Regarding the situation in Syria, India and the EU reaffirmed the primacy of the UN-led Geneva process and called for full support for the intra-Syrian talks with a view to promoting a political solution in Syria. Protection of civilians and territorial integrity is fundamental and all parties to the conflict and their supporters are expected to live up to their commitments. India and the EU reaffirmed that only a credible political solution, as defined in UNSCR 2254 and the 2012 Geneva Communiqué will ensure the stability of Syria and enable a decisive defeat of Da’esh and other UN-designated terrorist groups in Syria. India and the EU agreed that the second Brussels Conference on Syria in spring 2018 will contribute to sustain international commitment to Syria.
    12. On the Middle East Peace Process, India and the EU reiterated calls on parties to engage constructively so that a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on the two-state solution, could be achieved on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Arab Peace Initiative, for peace and stability in the Middle East.
    13. The two sides also reiterated their full support to the UN facilitated Libyan-led and Libyan-owned political process to forge a lasting solution to the political crisis in Libya. Establishing an inclusive government and building peace and stability in Libya is in the interest of the entire international community.
    14. India and the EU acknowledged the importance of connectivity in today’s globalised world. They underlined that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality and must follow principles of financial responsibility, accountable debt financing practices, balanced ecological and environmental protection, preservation standards and social sustainability.
    15. Both sides underlined the importance of ASEM as an informal platform for connecting Asia and Europe. Both sides also agreed to give new impetus to ASEM in the run up to the next ASEM Summit to be hosted in Brussels, where the focus would be on tackling global challenges together.
    16. The leaders underlined their strong support for a diplomatic solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine through the full implementation of the Minsk Agreements by all parties in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2202 (2015).
    17. The EU hoped for a swift solution, through the due process of law in India, in the case of MV Seaman Guard Ohio, which concerns fourteen Estonian and six British citizens sentenced to prison by an Indian court.

      Global Challenges – Multilateral Cooperation

    18. Both sides reaffirmed their support to the new United Nations reform agenda on the three reform tracks of peace and security, development and management reform. The two sides’ commitment to stronger global governance also translates to reforming the bodies and organs of the UN system, including the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council as well as the revitalisation of the work of the General Assembly, better aligning the work of its committees with the 2030 Agenda.
    19. The two sides agreed to work bilaterally and with partners in the G20, the United Nations and other multilateral fora to address emerging challenges to international security, global economic stability and growth.
    20. The leaders reaffirmed the crucial role of the rules-based multilateral trading system, and the importance of enhancing free, fair, and open trade for achieving sustainable growth and development. They reaffirmed their commitment to work together with all Members of the WTO to make the eleventh WTO Ministerial Conference a success with concrete results, which would reaffirm the centrality of the rules-based multilateral trading system and its importance for open and inclusive global trade.
    21. Both sides recalled the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the joint commitment to its implementation with the complementary new EU Consensus on Development and India’s “sab kasaath, sab kavikas” policy initiatives, and reaffirmed the importance of global partnerships to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and poverty alleviation. In this regard, they reiterated their commitment to collaborate on common priorities and looked forward to exploring the continuation of the EU-India Development Dialogue. Both sides also recognised the need to mutually reinforce the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.
    22. The EU welcomed India’s contribution to peace and development in Africa, including its participation in UN Peacekeeping Missions. The EU and India expressed their commitment to enhancing their consultations and cooperation regarding Africa, with a view to optimising possible synergies between their respective initiatives. They looked forward to India’s participation as an observer at the next EU-African Union Summit.

      Partners in Prosperity through Increased Trade and Economic Cooperation; Partners in India’s Modernisation

    23. The EU leaders welcomed India’s efforts to promote economic and social development and expressed the EU’s continued interest in participating in India’s flagship initiatives such as “Make in India”, “Digital India”, “Skill India”, “Smart City”, “Clean India,” and “Start-Up India”. The EU closely follows Prime Minister Modi’s economic reforms, including the historic introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which can facilitate ease of doing business and promotes market integration in India by realising a simple, efficient and nation-wide indirect tax system. Prime Minister Modi appreciated the ongoing participation by EU companies in the flagship initiatives and called for their deeper engagement in India’s developmental priorities. The EU side encouraged the greater participation of Indian business organizations into the Enterprise Europe Network. The leaders noted the progress made on EU-India cooperation on resource efficiency and circular economy. Both sides agreed to enhanced cooperation and exchange of experience and best practices in the field of Intellectual Property rights (IPR) and public procurement.
    24. The Leaders expressed their shared commitment to strengthening the Economic Partnership between India and the EU and noted the ongoing efforts of both sides to re-engage actively towards timely relaunching negotiations for a comprehensive and mutually beneficial India-EU Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA).
    25. Both parties recognised the importance of trade in agricultural products in general, and rice in particular, and agreed to work together to resolve issues that have the potential of disrupting trade. With regard to import tolerance level of tricyclazole in rice (Commission Regulation (EU) 2017 / 983) the relevant plant protection companies will be invited to present new scientific data in order for the European Food Safety Authority to carry out an additional risk assessment without delay. On this basis, the European Commission would expeditiously consider whether to review the above mentioned Regulation. Both sides supported the early institutionalisation of cooperation between the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), to focus on exchange of knowledge and expertise in the area of methodologies for data collection, risk assessment and risk communication. Furthermore, the EU and India have agreed to further strengthen their cooperation on food safety, notably by:
      • Strengthening existing dialogues like Agricultural and Marine Working Group, SPS-TBT Working Group to cover issues on food safety and agricultural trade between the relevant Indian ministries/departments and relevant European Commission services.
      • Initiating joint projects in areas such as good agricultural practices, development of traceability capacities, and cooperation in laboratory activities, including testing and monitoring.

      The EU would welcome India’s application for protection as a geographical indication of Basmati and shall process any such future application, as expeditiously as possible.

      India welcomes EU’s intention to expeditiously initiate the process of recognising additional seed varieties of Basmati rice under Article 28 of the GATT 1994 for duty derogation, as already requested by India.

    26. Leaders welcomed the establishment of an Investment Facilitation Mechanism (IFM) for EU investments in India as a means to improve the business climate and hoped that the IFM will ease sharing of best practices and innovative technology from the EU to India. Leaders acknowledged that the “Make in India” initiative may offer investment opportunities for companies based in the EU Member States.
    27. Leaders welcomed the establishment of the South Asian Regional Representative Office of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in India and noted that its investments, especially in urban mobility and renewable energy projects, will support India-EU collaboration on the Climate Agenda. The leaders welcomed the new €500 million EIB loan agreement for Bangalore Metro Phase-II Project, which is part of EIBs enhanced commitment of €1.4 billion in loans to India in 2017.
    28. The leaders noted the ongoing positive discussions and the exchange of a Joint Declaration between the Interim Secretariat of the International Solar Alliance (ISA), and the European Investment Bank (EIB) aimed at mobilising investments for broad-based deployment of affordable solar energy applications across the 121 prospective member countries of the ISA.
    29. Both sides adopted a Joint Statement on Clean Energy and Climate Change, reaffirmed their commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement, and agreed to co-operate further to enhance its implementation. India and the EU noted that addressing climate change and promoting secure, affordable and sustainable supplies of energy are key shared priorities and welcomed the progress on the Clean Energy and Climate Partnership, adopted at the 2016 EU-India Summit, and reiterated their commitment to its implementation and further development, in accordance with the work programme agreed at the EU-India Energy Panel meeting in October 2016.
    30. India and the EU reaffirmed their commitment to undertake mutual cooperation for reducing the cost of development and deployment of renewable energy projects through technology innovation, knowledge sharing, capacity building, trade and investment, and project establishment.
    31. The leaders reiterated the importance of reconciling economic growth and environment protection. They highlighted the importance of moving towards a more circular economic model that reduces primary resource consumption and enhanced the use of secondary raw materials. They welcomed the contribution of the International Resource Panel, the Indian Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (through the Indian Resource Panel) and of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) to developing strategies for this crucial economic transition. Both sides agreed that the newly established G20 Resource Efficiency Dialogue will be an ideal platform for knowledge exchange and to jointly promote resource efficiency at a global level. Leaders also agreed to further intensify cooperation on addressing environmental challenges, such as water management and air pollution, acknowledged the progress in implementing the India-EU Water Partnership, including an agreed action programme, the increased cooperation opportunities on research and innovation, looking forward to the third India-EU Water Forum later in the month.
    32. The leaders agreed to work towards an enhanced cooperation on innovation and technology development aiming at actions strengthening cooperation between European and Indian industries and start-up ecosystems.
    33. The leaders welcomed the intensified technical cooperation between the Indian and European telecom standardisation bodies (TSDSI and ETSI), supported by the EU, and focusing on future global standards for 5G, Intelligent Transport Systems, Internet of Things, Future Networks and telecom security. Both sides encouraged the stakeholders to broaden this cooperation, demonstrate concrete technological solutions, and strengthen links between “Digital India” and “Digital Single Market for Europe.”
    34. Both sides noted positive exchanges on Internet Governance, on increasing the ease of doing business for ICT companies on both sides, as well as meetings between the Indian and European start-up ecosystems under a “Start-up Europe India Network”.
    35. The two sides confirmed their interest in further strengthening the cooperation in the area of pharmaceuticals, including capacity building of the regulatory system with particular focus on inspections by creating a more structured and stable training environment. The Indian side also highlighted its interest for cooperation on capacity building of the entire pharmaceutical value chain.
    36. The leaders adopted the India-EU Joint Statement on a Partnership for Smart and Sustainable Urbanisation with a view to step up cooperation including with regard to priority sectors such as the upgrading of urban infrastructure for transport and sanitation, developing Smart Cities in India, as well as promoting the New Urban Agenda of the United Nations adopted in 2016.
    37. The leaders agreed to scale-up cooperation under the renewed India-EU Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement in frontier areas of science and technology and in addressing current global challenges in particular in the areas of health, water and clean energy. They welcomed the agreement to launch a major joint flagship initiative of €30 million on water-related challenges reflecting the pressing need to cooperate on technological and scientific knowledge and management capacities to cope with increasing stress on water resources. Both sides agreed to work towards reciprocal opening of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation ‘Horizon 2020’ and Indian programmes, and called for an intensified two-way mobility of researchers. To this extent, the two sides welcomed the conclusion of the Implementing Arrangement between the Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the European Research Council (ERC).
    38. The leaders encouraged Euratom and the Department of Atomic Energy to conclude the Agreement for Research & Development Cooperation in the field of the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy. They stressed that this cooperation will contribute to further enhancement of nuclear safety and will be mutually advantageous. The cooperation will also lead to improving the skills and deployment of non-power technologies in the areas of water, health care & medicine, environment, etc., for the benefit of the society.
    39. Both sides will continue their strong partnership in the development of fusion energy, building on the agreements to which they are parties, including under the Euratom-India Cooperation Agreement on Fusion Energy research.
    40. The Leaders welcomed the imminent operationalisation of the 2008 Horizontal Civil Aviation Agreement, which will enhance air connectivity between India and Europe and help foster greater people-to-people contacts, business travel and increase in tourism. The leaders considered the opportunity to deepen transport cooperation in areas of mutual interest across all modes of transport, notably maritime, aviation, urban mobility and, rail.
    41. India and the EU agreed to intensify cooperation in skills development and agreed to find complementarities and synergies between India’s Skill India initiative and the EU’s New Skills Agenda for Europe.
    42. The leaders emphasised that, as part of the India-EU Agenda for Action 2020, there was a need to work towards strengthening cooperation on higher-education, including through India’s GIAN programme and the EU’s Erasmus+ programme. The Erasmus+ programme has just celebrated its 5000th Indian alumni and has offered financing opportunities for institutional cooperation to many Indian universities through joint-masters, short-term mobility, capacity building projects and Jean Monnet actions for EU studies. The leaders welcomed that, overall, India has been the number one beneficiary of Erasmus mobility actions in the world since its creation.
    43. The two sides took note of the High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility held in Brussels on 04 April 2017. They welcomed the understanding reached in advancing the Common Agenda on Migration and Mobility, including through technical collaboration and undertaking projects in areas of mutual interest, with a view to better organising migration and mobility between India and the EU.
    44. The leaders agreed to intensify people-to-people exchanges and facilitate increased travel of tourists, business persons, students and researchers between India and the EU. The Indian side noted the ongoing revision of the EU Blue Card Scheme aimed at easing the flow of highly qualified professionals to the EU.
    45. The leaders noted the adoption of the report on “EU’s Political Relations with India” in the European Parliament and welcomed its recommendations for intensifying the exchanges between the Indian and European parliamentary delegations. The leaders also looked forward to intensified exchanges between scholars, think tanks and cultural delegations.

    ****

    STATEMENT/17/3743

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  • Motion for a resolution on the Commission Work Programme 2018 – B8-2017-0450

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the European Council declaration on competitiveness of 19 February 2016,

    –  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement (IIA) between the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission on Better Law-Making,

    –  having regard to the final report of 24 July 2014 of the High Level Group of Independent Stakeholders on Administrative Burdens, entitled ‘Cutting Red Tape in Europe – Legacy and Outlook’,

    –  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 entitled ‘Towards improved single market regulation’(1),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 12 April 2016 on the annual reports 2012-2013 on subsidiarity and proportionality(2),

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

    A.  whereas the best economic and social support that the Member States can offer their citizens to ensure improved quality of life is a growing economy with low inflation and high rates of employment and wage growth, generating the resources required to fund investment for the future, improved infrastructure and public services;

    B.  whereas the Member States face significant economic challenges in a difficult global marketplace which can only be met by creating dynamic, competitive economies with rising levels of productivity and innovation;

    C.  whereas security is a serious concern in an era of domestic and international threats;

    D.  whereas public opinion has grown increasingly wary of a Union which appears to be taking on powers and responsibilities that are more fittingly exercised at the level of its Member States, their regional and local authorities or by citizens themselves;

    E.  whereas EU citizens clearly seek a Union with a light touch which facilitates cooperation among its Member States in areas where this can add value, but above all which respects the essential principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and conferral;

    PART 1: EUROPE IS AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE

    General principles to shape the 2018 work programme

    1.  Underlines the fact that the Member States are the democratic foundation of the EU and that the Commission in its proposals for 2018 must attach sufficient importance to involving national and regional governments in its work;

    2.  Calls on the Commission to keep new proposals to a minimum in 2018, focusing on areas in which European cooperation can add value in line with the principles of subsidiarity, proportionality and conferral;

    3.  Calls for the refashioning of EU policies and programmes in order to allow Member States greater local control over and more flexibility in how they seek to meet agreed European objectives;

    4.  Insists that the Commission increase the level of consultation on possible future proposals with Member States, regional and local governments, and citizens directly; underlines the importance of allowing sufficient time for feedback and the use of more ‘white papers’ and ‘green papers’ to set out various different options;

    5.  Emphasises the importance of delivering value for money and pursuing a policy of zero tolerance in cases of mismanagement and fraud;

    6.  Underlines the importance to the EU of being outward-looking and developing close economic, commercial and strategic ties with friends and allies, particularly those who are close neighbours;

    Priorities for 2018

    7.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise measures in 2018 that will enable the EU to support its Member States in reforming their economies so as to achieve long-term sustainable growth, job creation and prosperity;

    8.  Believes that, at EU level, a crucial instrument to improve the economic outlook is the advancement of the better law-making agenda; calls on the Commission, therefore, to develop the agenda with ambition, in particular:

    –  the SME and competitiveness tests as part of the impact assessments,

    –  the setting of burden reduction targets,

    –  the Annual Burden Survey, and

    –  the work of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board;

    and calls on the Commission to ensure that micro-enterprises are exempted as far as possible from all legislative proposals so that new start-ups and entrepreneurs can be encouraged;

    9.  Calls for the focus to remain on growth-friendly fiscal consolidation; believes that boosting investment should not be seen as an alternative to necessary structural reforms;

    10.  Stresses the importance of competition policy enforcement in creating a level playing field that fosters innovation, productivity, job creation and investment by all players across the single market and across all business models, including SMEs;

    11.  Emphasises the importance of progress in tackling the migration crisis in a way that demonstrates much more sensitivity to widespread concerns within the Member States over uncontrolled migration by providing feasible policy suggestions, and that respects the prerogatives of sovereign Member States in this field;

    12.  Calls on the Commission to prioritise the negotiation of new trade deals with third countries to secure lower prices for European consumers and bigger markets for European producers, generating new jobs and greater prosperity;

    13.  Highlights the importance of the implementation of circular economy policies with a focus on the fight against food waste; calls on the Commission to encourage the Member States to cooperate and exchange good practices;

    14.  Reiterates the need to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities; highlights the genuine importance of achieving the full accessibility of products, services and environments, which is essential for enabling their full participation in society;

    15.  Recalls the need to promote work-life balance for non-official carers who care for dependent relatives (the elderly, children, persons with disabilities) without being in official employment;

    16.  Emphasises the need for a positive and amicable conclusion of the Brexit negotiations, recognising the great contribution that the UK has made to the EU over 40 years, so as to ensure a strong economic and political partnership between the Union and the UK for the future that respects the reasonable requirements and interests of all parties;

    PART 2: SPECIFIC PROPOSALS FOR THE WORK PROGRAMME DELIVERING ON THE 10 PRIORITIES

    1.  ‘A New Boost for Jobs, Growth and Investment’

    Better law-making

    17.  Reminds the Commission that any legislative proposals should be subject to a thorough impact assessment and cost-benefit analysis; asks the Commission to ensure that each impact assessment is targeted so as to demonstrate the possible effects on businesses and the market, and that the proposals are made only if the intended effect is proportionate;

    18.  Emphasises the importance of the Commission including SMEs and competitiveness tests in all impact assessments, notwithstanding the fact that this will help to ensure that companies, SMEs in particular, are not overburdened by legislation; calls on the Commission to roll out the use of the SME Test across all DGs and to cooperate in a more systematic fashion with the Regulatory Scrutiny Board in order to ensure a more structured application of the test in the same manner as it was executed in Regulation (EU) No 910/2014 and Directive 2011/7/EU;

    19.  Strongly suggests that the Commission initiate a ‘cooling off’ period following the conclusion of trilogue negotiations for the completion of an impact assessment and subsidiarity check; invites the Commission to provide for an evaluation and possible follow-up of the independence of the Regulatory Scrutiny Board in fulfilling its role of supervising and providing objective advice on respective impact assessments; calls on the Commission to recognise that the Better Regulation Agenda has an essential local/regional dimension, which is not necessarily addressed through subsidiarity, by expanding its regulatory impact assessment processes (as distinct from ‘territorial impact assessments’) to examine the financial and administrative impact of existing and new standards on local/regional governments;

    20.  Underlines the importance of the annual burden survey (ABS), agreed as part of the IIA on Better Law-Making, as a vital tool to identify and monitor, in a clear and transparent manner, the results of the Union’s efforts to avoid and reduce any overregulation and administrative burdens, especially since they affect SMEs; believes that the ABS must be used to identify the burdens imposed both by the Commission’s individual legislative proposals and acts and by individual Member States’ transposition and interpretation of legislation, known as ‘gold-plating’;

    21.  Calls on the Commission to follow up on the recommendations set out in the annual reports of 2012, 2013 and 2014 on subsidiarity and proportionality; notes, in particular, calls made in the reports for a factually substantiated analysis of all proposals put forward by the Commission on subsidiarity and proportionality grounds; calls for consideration of proportionality (in addition to subsidiarity) in reasoned opinions from national parliaments, which would require a revision of the treaties, for an evaluation of the number of national parliaments required for a yellow card to be triggered, and for the time limit for the submission of subsidiarity opinions by national parliaments to be extended;

    22.  Underlines calls in the reports for Commission assessments of proportionality to discard proposals with disproportionate burdens on competitiveness and SMEs; recalls that a green card for national parliaments has been requested and that Parliament has asked the Commission to undertake a subsidiarity check and full impact assessment at the conclusion of legislative negotiations, to ensure that subsidiarity and proportionality are respected once proposals have been amended;

    23.  Calls on the Commission, pursuant to the relevant provisions of the new IIA, to put forward proposals for establishing burden reduction targets in key sectors as a matter of urgency; calls on the Commission to aim for a 25 % reduction by 2020 of the economic costs linked to regulatory burdens for businesses in each policy area, with a longer-term target of halving the burden of existing Union regulations by 2030; strongly encourages the Commission to apply immediately the ‘for each new standard created two old standards are to be repealed’ formula, by considering the benefits of introducing regulatory offsetting, whereby new rules that add to administrative and regulatory burdens can only be imposed if a corresponding double cut in existing burdens can be identified;

    24.  Calls on the Commission (and on Parliament) to recognise that democratically elected local and regional governments, and their representative associations, are part of the European law-making process; requests specifically that they be exempted from the Transparency Register obligations, as is already the case for individual regions;

    25.  Calls on the Commission to pay more careful attention to ensuring transparency and the separation of powers through stricter compliance with the provisions of Article 290 TFEU, and therefore to refrain from using delegated acts to pass genuine legislative measures that should be adopted under the ordinary legislative procedure;

    26.  Underlines the continued importance of the REFIT Agenda and subsequent legislative proposals following the cumulative impact assessment; calls on the Commission to include the Seveso III Directive under the REFIT rolling programme and to focus primarily on the impact on businesses, particularly SMEs, and their ability to make long-term investments, as well as its effect on the possible relocation of EU-based chemical production;

    27.  Notes the Commission proposals on the European Pillar of Social Rights, which seek to strengthen the social dimension of the EU; calls on the Commission, in this connection, to ensure, while pursuing its priorities, that all initiatives under the auspices of the European Pillar of Social Rights fully respect the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;

    28.  Calls on the Commission to systematically review the social acquis, which consists of more than 50 directives developed since 1958, and to identify opportunities for further simplification and burden reduction, including through the withdrawal or repeal of legislation where appropriate;

    29.  Recognises that women continue to be under-represented in the labour market; believes in this regard that flexible employment contracts, including temporary and part-time contracts, can play an important role in increasing the participation of groups that might otherwise have been excluded from the labour market; considers it inappropriate for the Commission to put forward legislative proposals, including a framework directive on decent work, that would seek to restrict the use of such contracts in the Member States;

    30.  Recalls Article 155 TFEU; calls on the social partners, in the context of current and future framework agreements, to embrace the improved regulation tools, increase the use of impact assessments, and refer agreements proposing legislative action to the Commission’s Regulatory Scrutiny Board;

    Budgetary means

    31.  Notes that the Commission must publish its proposal for a new multiannual financial framework (MFF) before 1 January 2018, as set out in Article 25 of Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013; considers that the next MFF must develop a pathway towards a modern EU budget that adequately addresses current challenges, such as the migrant and refugee crisis, the threat of terrorism, and the UK’s withdrawal from the Union; believes that the Commission should therefore undertake a comprehensive spending review before the negotiations on the next MFF, in order to systematically evaluate each policy area under the EU budget in terms of efficiency, added value and contribution towards overall EU priorities; urges the Commission, furthermore, to align the next MFF with the political cycles of both the Commission and Parliament in order to improve the political ownership and, by extension, accountability of the Union’s multiannual budget; believes that the MFF ceilings agreed in 2013 should be maintained;

    32.  Notes that the Commission will consider proposals from the High Level Group on Own Resources, including new candidates for own resources; urges the Commission not to call for tax-raising powers for the EU; advocates not abandoning the established guidelines on the current system of own resources, such as the balance between the budget and current traditional own resources (for example tariffs and sugar levies), or those on own resources based on gross national income (GNI) believes that own resources should be presented in a clear and uniform way in national budgets in order to ensure the transparency and comparability of the EU’s revenue;

    33.  Considers that the Commission should develop an improved system of budgetary control which is proportionate to the benefits achieved through EU funding; considers that an integral part of this system should be its reporting, which ought to be sufficiently transparent and detailed, including the reporting of information on the recipients of EU funds and whether payments have been made on time; believes that the performance, cost-effectiveness and results achieved via EU funding should always be scrutinised in order to ascertain the sustainable, long-term effects of EU expenditure; recalls Parliament’s call for a dedicated Commissioner for Budgetary Control, replacing one of the existing Commissioners, to work with Member States to resolve cases of fraud and mismanagement; calls for the preparation of proposals to reform the Court of Auditors to serve as both an audit and evaluation authority, undertaking or commissioning independent evaluations of Union programmes;

    Transport

    34.  Underlines the need to continue development of the Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T) and their core network corridors as a matter of priority, in order to link the transport networks of all EU regions and solve problems such as the lack of appropriate infrastructure, accessibility and low interoperability between the eastern and western parts of the EU; stresses the need for synergy between the financial resources of the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the Structural and Investment Funds in order to ensure the best use of all available EU funding; stresses, however, that while the focus of CEF 2.0 should be on innovative financing tools and combining various types of resources, a sufficient proportion of its grants should be set aside for transport infrastructure projects that would not attract private investment owing to different market conditions in different parts of the EU;

    Research

    35.  Calls on the Commission, in its mid-term review and given the level of detail required in a Horizon 2020 project proposal, to introduce stricter selection criteria at the first application stage, as a large number of applicants are investing time and effort in producing a full proposal at the second stage with little likelihood or confidence of success; is concerned that this problem is particularly serious for SMEs;

    36.  Stresses the need for applied research, particularly research that leads to better knowledge, skills and practices, to ensure that new technologies are used in the best possible manner; calls on the Commission to better balance the needs of fundamental, applied and translational research and development, to ensure efficient, fast translation of new discoveries into real technologies and products;

    Skills and education programmes

    37.  Stresses that the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET2020) and the Commission’s new Skills Agenda should complement national actions and support Member States in their efforts to develop formal and informal education and training systems, with a view in particular to improving reading, writing and numeracy skills;

    38.  Calls on the Commission to ensure that the expert community and relevant stakeholders, including parents’ organisations, are actively engaged in policy development;

    39.  Calls on the Commission to assess the effectiveness and added value of EU culture and education programmes, paying particular attention to the Europe for Citizens programme, and to promote the simplification of procedures and sound financial management at all levels;

    Regional development and cohesion policy

    40.  Calls on the Commission to provide a strong indication of how it envisages that post-2020 cohesion policy will be funded and structured and of any reforms to the existing regime; believes that dialogue between all institutions must be prioritised in order to create a transparent decision-making process; stresses the need to express the current ceilings for commitment and payment appropriations under heading 1(b) as a proportion of EU GDP in the overall EU budget;

    41.  Asks the Commission to carry out further studies to ensure that cohesion policy is having its intended impact at beneficiary or project level; believes that this is particularly important given that only an estimated 25 % of the European Social Fund (ESF), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and CEF for the 2014-2020 programming period will have been allocated by the end of 2018;

    42.  Acknowledges that the Omnibus Regulation made a number of important changes focused on simplification, streamlining and flexibility; believes that more can be done to ensure that technical assistance is properly targeted, monitored and evaluated; believes in addition that the Commission should empower local actors by tackling complex approval procedures, late payments to recipients and issues with combining sources of funding, and by promoting grassroots approaches such as Community-Led Local Development;

    2.  ‘A Connected Digital Single Market’

    43.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals to establish the general principle of the free movement of data and to remove data localisation restrictions across the EU;

    3.  ‘A Resilient Energy Union with a Forward-Looking Climate Change Policy’

    44.  Calls on the Commission to monitor the socio-economic consequences of the new electricity market design, particularly in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region, which is likely to bear higher energy transition costs than other EU Member States;

    45.  Is concerned about the implementation of the Energy Efficiency Directive and calls on the Commission to work with Member States following consistent guidelines to ensure effective implementation; supports the ‘efficiency first’ principle where appropriate and believes that targets should be proportionate and realistic;

    4.  ‘Deeper and Fairer Internal Market with a Strengthened Industrial Base’

    46.  Calls on the Commission to present proposals based upon its assessment of the Motor Insurance Directive (Directive 2009/103/EC), in particular on the resolution of issues facing vehicle users arising from the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Vnuk v Triglav, and to consider other improvements for citizens seeking insurance, such as recognition of periods without insurance claims in Member States other than the State in which the insurance is sought, in order that citizens may benefit from offers available to consumers of those Member States;

    47.  Urges the Commission when drafting the revision of the Posted Workers Directive (Directive 96/71/EC) to keep in mind both the proper functioning of the internal market and the principle of freedom to provide services; urges the Commission when drafting civil law rules on robotics to take into account the sector-specific approach proposed by Parliament in order to encourage innovation and respect the different stages of robotic development in the different sectors and between Member States;

    48.  Calls, following the outcomes of the Committee of Inquiry into Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector, for the swift adoption of the 3rd and 4th Real Driving Emissions (RDE) packages with the aim of establishing a precise definition of the conditions under which current CO2 and NOx limits are to be fulfilled;

    49.  Notes that key provisions of the Biocidal Products Regulation on the approval of suppliers and the registration of active substances used for treated articles face significant compliance issues owing to low awareness among affected businesses; strongly urges the Commission to build on the work already undertaken as part of the recent fitness check on the most relevant chemicals legislation (excluding REACH), as well as related aspects of legislation applied to downstream industries, and to include the Regulation under its 2018 REFIT Agenda, with specific regard to the financial and administrative burdens faced by SMEs and micro-enterprises when compiling approval dossiers for the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA);

    50.  Notes the financial and regulatory challenges for Member States in complying with the Nitrates Directive (Directive 91/676/EEC), which is often considered a poor example of effective EU legislation, with numerous infringement cases still pending; emphasises the need to harmonise its reporting cycle with that of the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC, WFD) so that the same monitoring data can be used for the reviews of both Directives, and to limit and simplify nitrate planning requirements which have proven an unnecessary bureaucratic burden for the agricultural sector; urges the Commission to add to the work undertaken in its 2012 fitness check of EU fresh water policy, and to include a systematic review of the Nitrates Directive in its 2018 REFIT Agenda in order to streamline cumbersome requirements and reduce compliance costs;

    51.  Notes that current operational frameworks and data instruments regarding rules for vitamins and minerals used as ingredients of food supplements under the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC) are often mentioned as an example of weak and obsolete EU legislation, with numerous harmonisation gaps across the EU, in terms not only of regulatory fields and inter-agency cooperation, but also of national divergences on the wide range of nutrients and ingredients that may also be present in food; calls on the Commission to revise the work already done and to cooperate closely with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in reviewing the current state of the European health food market, making due use of scientific research;

    52.  Underlines the need to ensure continued investment in the creative cycle and access to high-quality audiovisual media content for consumers, while enhancing protection for minors and supporting the production and distribution of European works; calls on the Commission, in this regard, to follow through on its commitment to carrying out impact assessments and taking evidence-based measures, and to encourage the sharing of best practices across Member States and in industry, while recalling the principle of cultural sovereignty;

    Fisheries

    53.  Welcomes the progress being made by the EU’s fishing fleets in achieving the aims and objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), notably Article 2 concerning environmentally sustainable fisheries; calls on the Commission to support and continue to promote (Eco-) labels as a mechanism for recognising good quality fish caught in a sustainable way and for guaranteeing sea-to-plate traceability; calls on the Commission to ensure that the CFP and the landing obligation are implemented in a sound manner within realistic time frames; calls on the Commission to continue working closely with fishermen and scientists to identify and forecast where choke species may occur and to develop research solutions such as innovative fishing techniques, for example pulse fishing;

    54.  Stresses the need for the Commission to revise Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006 (the Mediterranean Regulation), in particular the part that refers to the ban on the use of certain traditional gears and the provisions that relate to the specific characteristics of fishing gears; has concerns about the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a multi-annual plan for small pelagic stocks in the Adriatic Sea and the fisheries exploiting those stocks, which contains the new management framework;

    55.  Calls on the Commission to find a pragmatic solution with regard to industrial fisheries in order to regulate and limit the practice of using valuable fish resources for fishmeal, in particular when it comes to vulnerable ecosystems in the Baltic Sea; calls on the Commission to review existing legislation to support small-scale fisheries in particular and to elaborate on their definition; stresses the need for the Commission to review the existing legislation with a view to introducing the seasonal closure period for cod fisheries in the Baltic Sea, so as to limit the fishing of cod juveniles;

    Agriculture

    56.  Welcomes the twelve-week public consultation held by the Commission and the fact that President Juncker and Commissioner Hogan have recognised that the CAP needs to be revitalised and receive sufficient funding; hopes that input from farmers, citizens and organisations received during this consultation will shape the future CAP; stresses that the CAP should ensure that taxpayers receive value for money from the investment they make in agriculture, while moving towards the equalisation of direct payments across the Member States and ensuring that the EU can maintain and increase its food-producing potential;

    57.  Is disappointed at the lack of action to ensure the more efficient use of nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which would improve food and energy production; stresses that soil degradation continues to be a major constraint in EU agricultural production;

    58.  Is concerned about the way in which the Commission has dealt with a number of delegated acts; reminds the Commission that delegated acts should address technical and administrative adjustments and not introduce politically-driven agricultural measures into the CAP, thereby bypassing the ordinary legislative procedure;

    59.  Stresses that more voluntary tools must be made available to EU farmers under pillar II to enable them to deal with increased price volatility and prolonged periods of low prices; calls on the Commission to work with Member States in developing the EU’s risk management toolkit; stresses that the main income-stabilising tool for farmers is direct payments under pillar I; calls on the Commission to explore measures that would ensure market transparency throughout the entire food supply chain;

    60.  Calls on DG AGRI to work closely with DGs EMPL and GROW to ensure a real focus on the agri-food sector; notes that if the EU’s agri-food sector is to be competitive on the world market, efforts must be concentrated on job creation, growth and investment in all holdings irrespective of type and size, so that production potential is maximised; stresses that if Europe is to develop its precision farming methods and agri-technologies, the Commission should work with Member States to plan for investment in technical or higher-level agricultural training and education;

    5.  ‘A Deeper and Fairer Economic and Monetary Union’

    61.  Highlights the importance of the achievement of the Capital Markets Union; stresses, however, that any further legislative proposals should be made only if the intended effects cannot be achieved by non-legislative means;

    62.  Highlights that non-legislative steps, including the encouragement of market-driven solutions and the effective enforcement of competition and single market laws, might offer the best way forward in some areas;

    63.  Calls on the Commission to recognise that diversity among business models and the financial markets of Member States can constitute strengths worth protecting for Europe as a whole;

    64.  Stresses the importance of amending regulation to align it with international agreements, for example the ongoing Basel commitments;

    65.  Welcomes the work of the Commission and Member States to actively promote the fight against tax fraud, tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and the use of tax havens, drawing on the expertise of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in fostering good tax governance;

    66.  Calls for strict adherence to the no-bail-out clause as a commendable option for reforming the economic governance framework;

    67.  Highlights the importance of monitoring the implementation of existing Banking Union legislation and enhancing dialogue with sector experts to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of adopted legislation;

    6.  ‘Trade’

    68.  Supports the continued efforts of the Commission to negotiate specific provisions designed to improve the ability of small and medium-sized enterprises to engage in trade and investment; recognises the proliferation of integrated global supply chains in international trade patterns; asks the Commission to pursue a digital trade strategy that takes into account the opportunities it offers to small and medium-sized businesses by facilitating access to global markets; recommends that this strategy endeavour to improve connectivity and capacity-building for e-commerce by eliminating unjustified restrictions on cross-border data flows, providing that adequate rules promoting open, trusted and secure digital trade are in place; encourages the Commission to advance the digital trade agenda in ongoing and future free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations and at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as the organisation must continue to represent a flexible and dynamic forum for negotiations;

    69.  Calls on the Commission to review the current ACP-EU trade framework governed by the Cotonou Agreement, which will expire in 2020; notes that this is a good opportunity to evaluate the relationship and work on a new model that takes into account evidence-based findings on impact, effectiveness, EU added value and current changes in the international context; believes that the new outline should aim to support economic growth in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries and their integration into the global economy; asks the Commission, therefore, to develop a clear and strong trade policy that includes, but is not limited to, private sector development, trade facilitation and reciprocal liberalisation; calls on the Commission to do so in line with the principle of policy coherence for development;

    70.  Recognises and supports the approach taken in the Trade for All Strategy, namely including anti-corruption provisions in future trade agreements, given the known role that corruption plays in facilitating illegal trade; requests that the Commission pursue a trade policy that tackles illegal trade when negotiating with trade partners; recommends doing so in line with the existing international trade frameworks negotiated at multilateral level;

    7.  ‘An Area of Justice and Fundamental Rights Based on Mutual Trust’

    71.  Believes that full interoperability of EU databases in the area of justice and home affairs, to which relevant national authorities have adequate access, including to biometric data, is essential for a more effective fight against organised crime and terrorism; urges the Commission to develop standards for current and future databases that incorporate the principles of security by design and, where applicable, purpose limitation by default; believes, furthermore, that EU systems and the Member States must be able to use information from and exchange information with international databases, such as those managed by Interpol; urges the Commission to work with Member States to ensure the permanent and good-quality uploading of relevant information to EU databases;

    72.  Believes that work on new or updated databases should be a priority, including the Entry-Exit System (EES), the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), the SIS II package, Eurodac, the European Police Records Index System (EPRIS) and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS), and that proper funding should be made available for putting them in place; urges the Commission to follow technological developments continuously in order to improve the information systems, bearing in mind the importance of speed and reliability for their usability;

    73.  Supports the upcoming revision of the Cybersecurity Strategy; calls on the Commission to review existing legislation in the area of cybercrime and to put forward a proposal which establishes a clear framework for the relationship between private companies and law enforcement authorities in the fight against organised crime and radicalisation online, while considering the security of personal data processing and the risk of data breach;

    74.  Calls for more work to be done to counter online propaganda, in particular that which promotes extremist ideologies, but also whose aim is to destabilise, such as propaganda efforts coordinated from Russia; calls for the more appropriate funding of Europol’s Internet Referral Unit;

    75.  Calls on the Commission to coordinate the exchange of best practices on countering radicalisation in prisons in the EU;

    8.  ‘Towards a New Policy on Migration’

    76.  Calls on the Commission to step up efforts to conclude an agreement with all relevant parties in Libya in order to stem the illegal inflow of third country nationals into EU territory;

    77.  Encourages the Commission both to continue negotiations with third countries on return and readmission agreements as a crucial part of a fair asylum system and to review the Return Directive (Directive 2008/115/EC) to evaluate whether it still provides an adequate legal framework for EU return policy; believes that at Member State level voluntary resettlement can be used as an instrument for providing international protection;

    78.  Supports the objective of establishing strict asylum procedures and conditions in the Member States; believes, however, that Member States are and must remain ultimately responsible for their borders, labour market policies, and access to social welfare, healthcare, housing and education;

    79.  Believes that more efforts are needed to ensure support for the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, including by pooling resources, as it takes on important new tasks, including the future ETIAS Central Unit;

    9.  ‘A Stronger Global Actor’

    80.  Calls for regular reviews of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) to ensure that it addresses the constantly evolving situations on the EU’s eastern and southern borders; further insists that the work and budgets of the European External Action Service (EEAS) are properly scrutinised and accounted for; believes that this evaluation should focus not only on whether the money is spent correctly, but also on whether ENP objectives have been achieved;

    81.  Encourages cooperation between the EU, its Member States and international organisations, including the UN, NATO, and the Commonwealth, ensuring recognition of shared global foreign policy, security and humanitarian challenges, and national competence in these areas;

    82.  Insists that the promotion of human rights remains an important dimension of the EU’s foreign policy objectives and all its relations with third countries, including in areas such as religious freedom, freedom of expression, political freedom, the rights of women, children, and persons with disabilities, and the rights of minority groups, including LGBTI people;

    83.  Calls for the continued exertion of diplomatic pressure, including the use of targeted sanctions against individuals, groups and the Russian Government, in order to peacefully resolve the conflict in Ukraine; insists on strict adherence to the non-recognition-policy for Russian-occupied Crimea;

    84.  Encourages further international cooperation in seeking a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that achieves a secure and universally recognised Israel existing alongside a sovereign and viable Palestinian State;

    Security

    85.  Recognises NATO as the cornerstone of European defence and security policy and resists any measures that will undermine the EU’s links with international defence partners; urges the Commission to work with Member States to achieve the target set for NATO members of spending 2 % of GDP on defence;

    86.  Calls on the Commission to examine the objectives and cost-effectiveness of EU civilian missions under the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) with a view to developing more effectively an area of genuine and useful complementarity with the role of other organisations;

    87.  Encourages, as the largest contributor to international action against anti-personnel landmines (APL), a review of the EU’s targeting and funding of mine action in order to bring such action to a successful conclusion within the shortest possible time frame;

    88.  Proposes the identification of research funding and practical action in the field of cybersecurity, particularly the protection of infrastructure and the strengthening of national resilience, in order to determine where the greatest added value lies, taking into account work carried out by other organisations;

    Development

    89.  Believes that the role of the public sector is fundamental to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); believes that the private sector, under free and fair trade conditions, is the driver of wealth creation and economic growth in all market economies, generating 90 % of jobs and income in developing countries; notes that according to the UN, the private sector accounts for 84 % of GDP in developing countries and has the capacity to provide a sustainable base for lower aid dependence and domestic resource mobilisation;

    90.  Calls on the Commission to establish a clear, structured, transparent and accountable framework governing partnerships and alliances with the private sector in developing countries; calls, furthermore, for the setting-up at EU level of sectorial, multi-stakeholder platforms, bringing together the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs), NGOs, think tanks, partner governments, donors and other stakeholders, in order to provide information about opportunities for participating in public-private partnerships (PPPs), exchange best practices, and provide technical support on the legal framework and the challenges expected to arise from collaborative development interventions;

    91.  Welcomes the EIB’s role in local private sector development; underlines the fact that the EIB’s support for microfinance has already been particularly successful, with just EUR 184 million in microcredits sustaining 230 500 jobs in microenterprises around the world, and that these microcredits have a strong gender perspective, generating twice as many jobs for women as for men; calls on the Commission and the Member States to acknowledge the success of microfinance policies by means of an increase in available financial resources; notes that the EIB devotes additional resources to microfinance through the EU’s external lending mandate in all the developing countries in which it is active;

    92.  Recalls that Sustainable Development Goal 3 clearly states that by 2030 everyone should be able to enjoy good mental and physical health throughout their lives; underlines the fact that, each year, 100 million people fall into poverty as a result of health costs which are disproportionate to their incomes, and that, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over one third of the world’s population, and over 50 % in Africa, does not have access to medicines, owing to inequalities such as lower education levels and income, limited access to information, poor infrastructure, and restricted access to medical points in rural areas, with a corresponding lack of diagnoses, leading to a lack of treatment and minimal access to medication;

    93.  Recalls that the aim should be to reach people who need healthcare wherever and whenever they need it, with due respect for the sovereignty of the third countries concerned, while acknowledging that the availability of medicines is affected by conflicts and crises, as are all aspects of healthcare systems; believes that in such cases emergency response systems are necessary to effectively prevent and/or respond to possible outbreaks;

    10. ‘A Union of Democratic Change’

    94.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an IIA with a view to enabling the genuine involvement of the national parliaments’ network in the EU’s legislative process, in accordance with the inseparable principles of conferral, subsidiarity and proportionality; calls on the Commission, to that end, to:

    –  de facto extend the scrutiny period within which national parliaments can issue a reasoned opinion from eight to twelve weeks;

    –  encourage and examine reasoned own-initiative opinions from national parliaments suggesting that the Commission initiate a legislative act within its area of competences (‘green card’);

    –  consider any reasoned opinion on the non-compliance of a draft Union legislative act with the principle of subsidiarity as ‘politically binding’ if it has achieved the established threshold of a third of the votes allocated to the national parliaments, and consequently undertake to instantly and completely remove the challenged draft act;

    –  welcome the parliamentarisation and modernisation of the Luxembourg Compromise as regards reasoned opinions issued by national parliaments on topics they deem to be of ‘very important national interest’ that oppose the adoption of or participation in a given draft act, and invites the Council to hold comprehensive discussions with a view to reaching a consensus;

    –  welcome the right of national parliaments to recall and review implementing or delegated acts adopted by the Commission, as well as their right to full cooperation on requests submitted by any national parliamentary inquiry committee when a European matter is concerned;

    –  review any directive or regulation if requested to do so by the national parliaments;

    –  introduce an automatic sunset clause for certain acts after five or ten years;

    –  initiate the repatriation of so-called shared competences if national parliaments achieving a third of the votes consider that objectives have not, in the light of experience, been sufficiently met through the ordinary legislative procedure and that competences would be best returned to Member States and/or regional and local authorities;

    95.  Calls on the Commission to initiate an ordinary treaty revision procedure under Article 48 TEU with a view to proposing the changes to Article 341 TFEU and Protocol 6 necessary to enable Parliament to decide on the location of its seat and internal organisation;

    96.  Calls on the Commission to put forward a proposal to amend the Statute of the Court of Justice of the European Union to the effect that ‘any judge who has taken part in the consideration of the case may annex to the judgment either a separate opinion, concurring with or dissenting from that judgment, or a bare statement of dissent’;

    o

    o o

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

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  • Written question – Closure of the Austrian-Italian border – E-005772/2016

    In a recent interview the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said that reintroducing border controls at the Brenner Pass in order to combat the influx of migrants would be a ‘political disaster’ for the EU.

    The Austrian Interior Minister, Wolfgang Sobotka, has estimated that one million migrants will cross the Mediterranean from Libya this year. In recent months, since Hungary built a fence along its borders with Romania, Serbia and Croatia, refugees travelling from Turkey via Greece and the Balkans have been crossing the Brenner Pass.

    The open nature of EU borders is giving rise to a range of political, security-related and even cultural problems for countries affected by migration.

    How will the Commission tackle future influxes of migrants, given that it is currently condemning Member States for exercising their sovereign right to do precisely that by strengthening their borders?

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  • Germany, Italy strongly oppose Austria’s border fence scheme

    Refugee crisisGermany, Italy strongly oppose Austria’s border fence scheme

    Published 6 May 2016

    Germany and Italy on Thursday expressed strong objections to what the leaders of the two countries described as the “unjustified” proposal from Austria to erect a fence at Austria’s alpine border with Italy to stem the flow of migrants into the country. Austrian presidential candidate compared the leaders of Germany and Italy to migrant smugglers bringing people over the Mediterranean in shoddy, overcrowded boats.

    Germany and Italy on Thursday expressed strong objections to what the leaders of the two countries described as the “unjustified” proposal from Austria to erect a fence at Austria’s alpine border with Italy to stem the flow of migrants into the country.

    We expressed our total opposition to, and, in some ways, our shock over the position that has been taken by our Austrian friends,” said Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at a joint press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Rome, calling the plan “mistaken” and “anachronistic.”

    I will do all that is possible so that problems are solved in ways other that through border closures,” the chancellor added.

    DW reports that the narrow Brenner Pass has become a point of contention between Italy and Austria, with Italy complaining that some states in northern Europe were allowing southern European nations to bear most of the burden of sheltering and taking care of asylum-seekers.

    On Thursday, far-right Austrian presidential candidate Norbert Hofer, speaking to prestigious Italian daily La Repubblica, exacerbated the situation by comparing Merkel and Renzi to migrant smugglers bringing people over the Mediterranean in shoddy, overcrowded boats.

    It is a shameful remark that many respectable people in Austria should reflect on,” Renzi responded.

    In the first three months of 2016, 14,500 people had crossed from Libya to Italy, according to the UN refugee agency. The Italian authorities worry that the wave of refugees will only increase as the weather improves.

    Hofer is facing a run-off election for the Austrian presidency, a largely ceremonial post, against Alexander Van der Bellen, a Green party politician. The popularity of Hofer’s far-right Freedom Party of Austria has increased with the rise of the refugee crisis.

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