Monday, 11/12/2017 | 6:07 UTC+0
Libyan Newswire
  • Speakers in General Assembly Urge Greater Efforts to Realize Two-State Solution 70 Years after Adoption of Resolution Partitioning Palestine

    Noting that today marked 70 years since the adoption of a United Nations resolution to partition Palestine, speakers stressed the need to capture momentum, redouble efforts and through dialogue and diplomacy achieve a two‑State solution, as the General Assembly began its annual debate on the Palestinian question.

    The Assembly heard the introduction of four draft resolutions addressing the various United Nations bodies and departments charged with defending the rights of the Palestinian people.  It also heard urgent appeals from many delegates for concrete action to end Israel’s occupation and to continue to support the Palestinian people.  Many speakers demanded that Israel cease its settlement activities and that all parties return to the negotiating table.  Speakers also urged the international community to continue to support the peace process, as well as humanitarian efforts in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

    General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák (Slovakia) stressed that there was no alternative to direct talks, underscoring the need for political support from international, regional and national actors.  It was essential to maintain and increase the positive momentum, he said, stressing: “All this momentum has been driven by diplomacy and dialogue.”  Recalling that the General Assembly had placed the question of Palestine on its agenda in 1947, he noted that many discussions had taken place since then.  “We have heard positions from all parties.  We have called for action, and we have expressed hopes for the future,” he added.  Yet, the question of Palestine remained.  “At any moment, dialogue can take a new course and uncover new scope for compromise,” he added.

    Fodé Seck (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced the four draft resolutions, pledging the Committee’s commitment to continue to work with both Israelis and Palestinians.  He expressed hope that the new dynamic among Palestinian factions would help both parties move forward towards a peaceful solution.  He also called for renewed diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate objective of a two‑State solution based on the pre‑1967 borders.

    Neville Melvin Gertze (Namibia), the Committee’s Vice-Chair, then introduced its most recent report (document A/72/35), covering its work between 4 October 2016 and 5 September 2017.  The Committee urged the international community to redouble its efforts towards the achievement of the two‑State solution in accordance with United Nations resolutions; reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to present his subsequent reports to the Security Council on the implementation of its resolution 2334 (2016) in writing; strongly advocated for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland; and demanded an end to the 10‑year‑old Israeli air, land and sea blockade of Gaza.

    The Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine said that the Palestinian people wanted peace but peace could not coexist with injustice, occupation, colonization and apartheid.  “The people of Palestine will not disappear, nor will they surrender to a dismal fate,” he stressed.  Israel, the occupying Power, had purposely obstructed efforts, blatantly ignoring the demands to cease its illegal policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  It continued to proceed with its settlement activities and systematic destruction of the two‑State solution, and ignored calls to reverse the negative trends on the ground and act to bring an end to its occupation, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 2334 (2016).

    In 2017, the international community again witnessed Israel quadrupling its settlement activities throughout the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, he said.  Israel had also continued to impose severe restrictions on movement, the most hideous of which was its blockade of the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians were being collectively punished and inhumanely isolated.  Israeli provocations, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric against the Palestinians and their leadership were on the rise, one reinforcing the other.  Rather, efforts must be aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace, whereby the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, could live side by side with Israel, based on the pre‑1967 borders.

    Israel’s representative, recalling that, on 29 November 1947, the United Nations had taken a vote to determine the fates of two peoples living in the same land, he declared: “For one of those peoples, it was a moment that turned an age-old dream of self-determination into a real-life miracle.”  He noted that Jews and Arabs had at that time been presented with the chance to build successful and prosperous communities, living side by side.  “The Jews said yes, but the Arabs said no,” he stated, emphasizing Israel’s decision over past decades to choose the path of prosperity and peace.

    “The Palestinians are not anti‑Israel because of borders or governments,” he said, but “because of who we are”.  They had never accepted the existence of a Jewish State in the Holy Land.  Palestinian leaders had never tried to improve the lives of their people and always blamed their situation on Israel.  The Palestinians made those choices every day, regrettably choosing devastation and despair over progress, peace and prosperity.  As long as Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields and deprived them of basic human rights, Gaza would remain imprisoned by its own brutal leaders.  While that group — an internationally recognized terrorist organization — worked to kidnap and kill Israelis, the Palestinian Authority had agreed to work with them.  Still, Israel had not lost hope, and stood ready to negotiate.

    Kuwait’s representative said the Palestinian people were dreaming of breaking their shackles and yet Israel’s “savage” policies continued as the occupying Power confiscated land, expanded illegal settlements and deprived Muslims of the right to practice their rituals.  The question of Palestine was a question of all civil people under occupation. “We have to work hand in hand” to support the “fair cause” of the Palestinian people, he underscored.

    The representative of Libya asked what the United Nations had done for the Palestinian people other than adopting the many resolutions that Israel had ignored.  Recalling how the international community had pressured the Arab world to abandon its historic right to establish a Palestinian State, he asked: “Will the international community stand by to allow Israel to continue its occupation for another 50 years?”  To those that said Libya must not make such statements as its own country was going through a tough time, he said the Israeli occupation was the cause of the spread of terrorism in the region.

    The representative of Japan, condemning all acts, incitements and glorification of violence, called on both sides to take concrete steps to reverse those negative trends.  He noted his country’s support to the region, namely several initiatives which involved cooperation with Israel, Jordan and Palestine.  “This is not to say that economic development is an alternative to a future Palestinian State,” he said.  Instead, the goal was to generate mutual trust leading to meaningful dialogue between the parties.

    Settlement of the dispute was not impossible, Egypt’s representative underscored, noting that his country had recently managed to bring the Palestinian leadership together in signing a reconciliation agreement on 12 October in Cairo.  He called on the international community to take advantage of the historic opportunity and help bring about a two‑State solution.  Both the Israelis and Palestinians would continue to have a claim to the Holy Land, he added, emphasizing the importance of finding a rational solution.

    The Assembly also had before it two reports of the Secretary-General titled “The situation in the Middle East” (document A/72/333) and “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine” (document A/72/368).

    Also speaking were representatives of Maldives, Qatar, Nigeria, Argentina, Brazil, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Bangladesh, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan, Venezuela, India and Turkey.

    The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 30 November, to conclude its debate on the question of Palestine and the situation in the Middle East.

    Opening Remarks

    MIROSLAV LAJČÁK (Slovakia), President of the General Assembly, said that there was no alternative to direct talks.  Stressing the need for political support from international, regional and national actors, he underscored: “This support can bring us closer to a peaceful resolution.”  International and regional tools for mediation and facilitation had led to some promising developments.  The international community had also rallied in response to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, particularly those in the Gaza Strip.  He called for even stronger efforts to strengthen respect for international humanitarian law, and to secure access to people in need.  It was essential to maintain and increase the positive momentum, he said, underscoring Egypt’s contributions as well as commitments made by the Palestinian Authority.

    “All this momentum has been driven by diplomacy and dialogue,” he said, adding that only through both could the momentum be maintained and boosted.  Recalling that the General Assembly had placed the question of Palestine on its agenda in 1947, he noted that many discussions had taken place since then.  “We have heard positions from all parties.  We have called for action, and we have expressed hopes for the future,” he added.  Yet, the question of Palestine remained.  In that context, he warned against failing the people on the ground and urged Member States to see today as a new opportunity for dialogue.  “At any moment, dialogue can take a new course and uncover new scope for compromise,” he added.

    Introduction of Drafts and Reports

    FODÉ SECK (Senegal), Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, introduced four draft resolutions (documents A/72/L.13, A/72/L.14, A/72/L.15 and A/72/L.16).  Pledging the Committee’s commitment to continue to work with both Israelis and Palestinians, he expressed hope that the new dynamic among Palestinian factions would help both parties move forward towards a peaceful solution.  Calling for renewed diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving the ultimate objective of a two‑State solution based on the pre‑1967 borders, he said the draft resolutions focused on the Committee’s work and that of the Secretariat’s Division for Palestinian Rights and the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine of the Department of Public Information.  Draft resolution “L.15”, on the renewal of the Committee’s mandate, took into account the body’s decades of work, while “L.14” requested the Department of Public Information to continue its work for the period 2018‑2019, aiming to enable the media to create conditions that were propitious for the conflict’s peaceful settlement.  Draft “L.16”, meanwhile, took note of the relevance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — especially Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions — to the question of Palestine.

    NEVILLE MELVIN GERTZE (Namibia), Vice-Chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, then introduced its most recent report (document A/72/35), covering its work between 4 October 2016 and 5 September 2017.  Following its introductory chapter, chapter II of the report provided a review of the situation relating to the question of Palestine as monitored by the Committee, including the impasse in the peace process, the tenth year of the Gaza Strip blockade and the dire living conditions there, ongoing Israeli illegal settlement activities and the adoption of Security Council resolution 2334 (2016), as well as heightened tensions at the Al‑Haram al‑Sharif/Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, among others.  Chapters III and IV, meanwhile, outlined the mandate entrusted to the Committee by the General Assembly and contained information on the organization of the Committee’s work during the year.

    Chapter V of the report detailed actions taken by the Committee, he continued, including its participation in Security Council debates and its continued dialogue with members of intergovernmental, interparliamentary, regional and civil society organizations to mobilize support for the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.  Chapter VI provided an overview of the Special Information Programme on the Question of Palestine carried out by the Department of Public Information, while the last chapter contained the Committee’s conclusions and recommendations to the Assembly.  Listing some of those, he said the Committee urged the international community to redouble its efforts towards the achievement of the two‑State solution in accordance with United Nations resolutions; reiterated its request to the Secretary-General to present his subsequent reports to the Security Council on the implementation of its resolution 2334 (2016) in writing; strongly advocated for the Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homeland; demanded an end to the 10‑year‑old Israeli air, land and sea blockade of Gaza and the lifting of all related closures; and urged States and private entities not to contribute to grave Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights, particularly with respect to its illegal settlements.

    RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said today was the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations resolution to partition Palestine.  That decision had infinite consequences as the Palestinian people were still being denied their rights.  He also noted that while Palestine’s respect for United Nations resolution was proven, Israel continued to undermine all efforts to achieve the just solution that United Nations had sought.  Israel, the occupying Power, had purposely obstructed efforts, blatantly ignoring the demands to cease its illegal policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  It continued to proceed with its settlement activities and systematic destruction of the two‑State solution based on the pre‑1967 borders.  Israel further ignored calls to reverse the negative trends on the ground and act to bring an end to its occupation, as called for by the Security Council in resolution 2334 (2016).

    “The Israeli Government is not only in violation of that resolution, but actually brags about doing so,” he said.  In 2017, the international community again witnessed Israel quadrupling its settlement activities throughout the West Bank, especially in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley.  Israel also continued to impose severe restrictions on movement, the most hideous of which was its blockade of the Gaza Strip, where two million Palestinians were being collectively punished and inhumanely isolated.  The people in Gaza were forced to endure a humanitarian crisis so dire that Gaza was predicted to be uninhabitable by 2020.  Israeli provocations, incitement and inflammatory rhetoric against the Palestinian people and their leadership were on the rise, one reinforcing the other.  Provocations also continued against holy sites, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem, most notably at Al-Haram al-Sharif.

    Moreover, the Israeli Government, led by the most extreme members of the Prime Minister’s coalition and aided and abetted by the Israeli justice system, had feverishly advanced discriminatory laws and racist policies, he said.  “The reality is that Israel is in grave breach of all — not just some — of its obligations under international humanitarian law,” he added.  The human toll of that unrelenting dispossession, military occupation and colonization was incalculable.  The occupation had also caused enormous damage to the rule of law and perceptions about justice.  He noted the Human Rights Council’s report on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian territories, adding that the report reflected the illegality of the occupation.

    He called on Member States to uphold international law and affirm support for the Palestinian people, and ensure that they did not in any way comply with Israel’s illegal actions.  Such efforts should finally lead to a day when the international community stops commemorating the tragedy and instead begins building a just peace for a better and secure future.  It was a simple equation, he said, adding that Israel could not continue to be treated as a law-abiding member of the international community, as it trampled the United Nations Charter and resolutions.  The United Nations had a responsibility to redress the injustice and ensure accountability, which “continued to be delayed at best, denied at worst”.

    He welcomed international efforts to achieve a just and comprehensive peace, whereby the State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, could live side by side with Israel, based on the pre‑1967 borders.  He expressed gratitude to the United Nations and its agencies for the humanitarian, socioeconomic, developmental and moral support that had helped sustain the Palestinian people through decades of conflict.  “The people of Palestine will not disappear, nor will they surrender to a dismal fate,” he said.  They wanted peace but peace could not coexist with injustice, occupation, colonization and apartheid.

    DANNY DANON (Israel) said that, with each resolution they adopted and vote they cast, Member States “choose between peace and war, progress and decay, hope and despair”.  Today, the Organization had once again made the choice to debate the so‑called question of Palestine, taking turns targeting Israel including through their empty votes in favour of the annual text.  Recalling that, on 29 November 1947, the United Nations had taken a vote to determine the fates of two peoples living in the same land, he declared: “For one of those peoples, it was a moment that turned an age-old dream of self-determination into a real-life miracle.”  However, “for the other, the result of the vote triggered an aggressive and lasting hatred”.

    Stressing that the United Nations had made the right choice on that day in 1947 — thereby correcting a historic wrong — he noted that Jews and Arabs had at that time been presented with the chance to build successful and prosperous communities, living side by side.  “The Jews said yes, but the Arabs said no,” he stated, emphasizing Israel’s decision over past decades to choose the path of prosperity and peace.  Israelis had worked to help others, always seeking to repair the world.  But their Palestinian neighbours had sought the exact opposite, and had done nothing but try to harm Israel.  “The Palestinians are not anti‑Israel because of borders or governments,” he said, but “because of who we are”.  They had never accepted the existence of a Jewish State in the Holy Land.  Palestinian leaders had never tried to improve the lives of their people and always blamed their situation on Israel.

    Offering the Palestinians a new set of propositions, he said that every $1,000 they chose to spend supporting terrorists and their families could instead be used to fund a high-tech startup, sponsor a Palestinian student, build cultural centres or encourage development, rather than destruction.  The Palestinians made those choices every day, regrettably choosing devastation and despair over progress, peace and prosperity.  Citing the Palestinians’ 2005 opportunity to develop the Gaza Strip following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the area, he said what could have become the next beach resort destination had instead been neglected and even become a haven for terror.  The current state of Gaza could not be blamed on the Europeans, the Americans, the Arabs or the Israelis, as it was a “self-inflicted wound”.  As long as Hamas used innocent Palestinians as human shields and deprived them of basic human rights, Gaza would remain imprisoned by its own brutal leaders.

    Hamas terrorists also continued to attempt to destroy cities, he continued.  While that group — an internationally recognized terrorist organization — worked to kidnap and kill Israelis, the Palestinian Authority had agreed to work with them.  Still, Israel had not lost hope, and stood ready to negotiate.  Having built a vibrant and multicultural society, where all people enjoyed equal rights and protections under the law, the country’s people were free and their hearts and minds were open.  “We seek peace and we dream big,” he said, stressing that the Palestinians would not be able to better themselves simply by worsening Israel.

    MISHAAL K. ALBANNAI (Kuwait) said the Palestinian people were dreaming of breaking their shackles and yet Israel’s “savage” policies continued as the occupying Power confiscated land, expanded illegal settlements and deprived Muslims of the right to practice their rituals.  Israel’s policies, its siege on Gaza and the various restrictions it imposed on the movement of persons aimed to undermine any and all opportunity for a two‑State solution and perpetuate the occupation.  The question of Palestine was a question of all civil people under occupation.  The inhumane and illegal siege on Gaza was a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  He urged the international community, through the Security Council, to provide the Palestinian people with international protection and to immediately put an end to the occupation.  He further urged the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility to support the “fair cause” of the Palestinian people.  “We have to work hand in hand,” he underscored.

    EZZIDIN Y. BELKHEIR (Libya) said the crisis had become part and parcel of the history of the United Nations, which had a responsibility to act in favour of all oppressed people.  He asked: “In reality, what has the United Nations done for the Palestinian people?”  The United Nations had adopted many resolutions calling on the State it established to end its occupation.  Yet, the Israeli occupation had ignored each and every one of them.  The international community had pressured the Arab world and tried to convince it to abandon its historic right to establish a Palestinian land.  Given the fact that Israel would never reconsider its policies, it continued its occupation by adopting many “Judea‑izing” policies that could lead to chaos in the region and beyond.  Israeli armed settlers were an attempt to portray the situation on the ground as a conflict between two civilian groups.  He asked: “Will the international community stand by to allow Israel to continue its occupation for another 50 years?”  Until the Palestinian people have a free and secure state, the international community must continue to pressure Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative and implement various Security Council resolutions, most notably resolution 2334 (2016).  To those that say Libya must not make such statements as its own country was going through a difficult time, he said that the Israeli occupation was the cause of the spread of terrorism in the region.

    SHIUNEEN RASHEED (Maldives) said that the question of Palestine would be answered with the establishment of an independent, sovereign State as called for in numerous United Nations resolutions.  She called on Israel to implement those resolutions and to respect its legal obligations.  There was a total disregard for said resolutions in Israel today, as it continued to designate the West Bank separately from Gaza and in fact considered it part of Israel.  She wondered why Israel was held to a double standard when it came to the rule of law and respect for human rights, saying that international law was not selectively applicable.  To achieve peace in the Middle East, Israel must join the international community in affirming the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people, she concluded.

    ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), recalling that 50 years had elapsed since the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian land began, outlined several positive recent developments that heightened the hope of achieving peace in the region.  Those included the signing of a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, she said, underscoring solidarity with the Palestinian people and its strong support for the two‑State solution.  Calling on the international community to help grant the right to self-determination and the right of return to the Palestinian people, she also warned against all escalations of tension and condemned any attempts aimed at changing the character or legal status of the Al‑Aqsa Mosque.  The Assembly’s annual resolutions on the Middle East and the question of Palestine reflected the seriousness of the issue and called on Israel to end its illegal actions, she said, adding that the texts also underlined the invalidity of its occupation of the Syrian Golan.  In the context of the current conflicts and crises across the Middle East — including the spread of terrorism — it was critical to address the root causes of conflict.

    OLUKUNLE BAMGBOSE (Nigeria) aligned himself with the African Union and called on the international community to find peaceful solutions in the Middle East by paving the way for Israel and Palestine to return to negotiations.  He supported efforts to have the Palestinian Authority assume responsibilities in Gaza.  The international community must persevere in finding a resolution to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which threatened international peace and security.  The Israelis and Palestinians should make a genuine effort to return to the negotiating table, he stressed.  He encouraged Israel to freeze settlement activities and the Palestinians to signal their readiness with internal unity and by addressing their own security challenges.

    MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina) reaffirmed his strongest support for a peaceful two‑State solution to the Palestinian question based on relevant United Nations resolutions.  Reasserting the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, he expressed concern about the persistent and continuous growth of illegal Israeli settlements that only served to perpetuate an unstable status quo.  At the same time, attacks against Israeli citizens were unacceptable, he stressed, also condemning all terrorist actions.  Even though progress on the issue was made in Cairo earlier this year, he noted with concern the excessive use of force by Israeli forces.  Turning to East Jerusalem, he said any effort to deny the historical meaning of the city to Jews, Muslims and Christians was completely unacceptable.

    MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil) underscored that the General Assembly could and should contribute to the implementation of the two‑State solution in all its aspects.  In accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter, Brazil rejected the acquisition of territory through the use of force.  The existence and expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestine, including East Jerusalem, as well as the retroactive legalization of some of those settlements, were an obstacle to the viability of the two‑State solution and to peace in the region.  Brazil hoped that the intra‑Palestinian agreement, signed in Cairo on 12 October, would help immediately alleviate the grave humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip by facilitating the lifting of the blockade and allowing unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and reconstruction efforts.

    YASUHISA KAWAMURA (Japan), listing some of the major challenges facing the Middle East and North Africa, said his country had worked to deal with those issues as a member of the Security Council for the past two years.  Regarding the question of Palestine, he stressed that Israel’s continued settlement activities violated international law and called on it to immediately freeze such activities, which eroded the two‑State solution.  Escalating tensions at holy sites in recent months were another stark reminder of how violence could snowball into a larger crisis.  Condemning all acts, incitements and glorification of violence, he called on both sides to take concrete steps to reverse those negative trends.  For its part, Japan was providing long-term support in the region, including through the Jericho Agro‑Industrial Park and its flagship “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative, which involved cooperation with Israel, Jordan and Palestine.  “This is not to say that economic development is an alternative to a future Palestinian State,” he said.  Instead, the goal was to generate mutual trust leading to meaningful dialogue between the parties.

    KHIANE PHANSOURIVONG (Lao People’s Democratic Republic) expressed deep concern about continued Israeli settlement expansion, which destroyed Palestinian property, homes and economic development.  It also violated international humanitarian and human rights law, impeded the peace process and opportunities for negotiations and peaceful resolution.  He also expressed worries about the plight of Palestinians suffering under the blockade of the Gaza Strip, which could lead to a humanitarian crisis if it continued unabated.  He called upon the occupying Power to lift the blockade and facilitate unimpeded humanitarian relief.  His delegation strongly supported relevant United Nations resolutions and the Quartet Roadmap, which envisaged a sovereign, independent and viable State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital.

    TAREQ MD ARIFUL ISLAM (Bangladesh) said that his Government remained profoundly concerned about the illegal occupation and humanitarian plight of the Palestinian people.  The United Nations should pursue lasting, just solutions to all protracted crises, which posed serious threats to international and regional peace and security.  The continued breaches of international humanitarian law and systemic human rights violations had led to a rise of a culture of impunity in the Occupied Palestinian territories, he highlighted, stressing that the occupying Power continued to inflict violence on the Palestinian people.  The illegal settlements and the construction of the wall around Jerusalem were being deliberately pursued to fundamentally change the demographic of the territories, he said, adding that international protection was needed for those Palestinians who continued to face collective punishment.

    NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) said the dark shadows of Israeli occupation of Palestine had only lengthened in time, and Israel continued to defy logic, morality, international law and global public opinion with impunity.  He echoed the call by the Committee that the path to a negotiated peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue was predicated on an end to illegal Israeli occupation, the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people and the achievement of the two‑State solution.  The role of the Security Council remained crucial, he said, adding that only through a full implementation of its resolutions on Palestine, can the Council strengthen its own credibility and further the ideal of global peace and security.  The political reconciliation forged between Fatah and Hamas in Cairo last month offered fresh reason for hope and optimism.  It not only restored political unity within the Palestinian ranks, but also provided renewed strength and vigour to the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people.

    AMEIRAH OBAID MOHAMED OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates) said that her country had and would always fully support the Palestinian people and would continue to promote their right to establish a Palestinian State on their land based on the borders of 4 June 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital.  She denounced the continued and unjust Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab territories and condemned Israel’s violations of international law as well as relevant Security Council resolutions.  Such illegal practices posed a major obstacle to all international efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace and they undermined the two‑State solution.  To address the suffering of the Palestinian people, the international community should provide assistance in education, health, food and infrastructure.  She reaffirmed the United Arab Emirates’ support for the recent reconciliation agreement in Cairo and asked for reinforced regional and international efforts to ensure that Israel complied with its legal and international obligations.

    JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain), underscoring his country’s support for the Palestinian people and for all efforts to achieve the two‑State solution leading to peace and prosperity in the Middle East, said Israel’s continued settlement activities and human rights violations constituted flagrant violations of that country’s international commitments.  Such actions would only lead to more tension and violence, threatening international peace and security, he warned.  Expressing support for the two‑State solution, as pursued through the Arab Peace Initiative and similar plans, he went on to condemn the more than 10‑year‑old blockade of Gaza as well as Israel’s settlement expansion, its desecration of the holy Al‑Aqsa Mosque and other racist, discriminatory schemes aimed at obliterating Jerusalem’s Islamic character.  “This is the day‑to‑day reality of the Palestinian people for decades,” he stressed, voicing support for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s recent decision to place the city of Hebron on its list of heritage sites and calling on the international community to shoulder its responsibility to help the Palestinian people return to their homeland.

    SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), emphasizing that the two‑State solution as pursued through the Arab Peace Initiative was the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, recalled that Arab countries had reiterated their commitment to that plan at a high-level summit in October.  Indeed, Arab States had always stressed the need for Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, cease its settlement activities and reverse its discriminatory policies against Palestinians.  However, the most important need was for Israel to respect international law.  The question of Palestine, therefore, was not just critical for the Palestinian people, “but to us all”.  Outlining Jordan’s consistent efforts to meet the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Palestinians — and its support for the resumption of serious peace negotiations — she warned that failure to reach a just solution would have regional and international consequences, leading to further extremism.  Welcoming efforts aimed at fostering dialogue, including those proposed by the United States and Egypt, she called on all Member States to provide funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) before the end of 2017, as supporting such critical humanitarian activities was a responsibility for all people.

    RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said that Israel continued to receive support and protection from hegemonic powers aimed at preventing the creation of a State of Palestine by any means, while carrying on one of the longest military occupations of all time.  Some 50 years since the occupation of Palestinian territory began and 10 years since the start of the brutal blockade against Gaza, the human rights situation of the people in Palestine continued to worsen due to the actions of the occupying Power, which had inflicted pain, misery and tragedy on generations of people.  Without doubt, the occupying Power intended to continue its practices with impunity.  Illegal settlement activity continued, despite a Security Council resolution that had called for an end to such activities.  Resolution 2334 (2016) was a milestone decision, he said, but until it was accompanied by concrete actions leading to the occupying Power complying with its provisions, its impact would be lessened and it would simply be one more document that was being ignored.  The Security Council must live up to its responsibility to find a solution to the Palestinian question.  Flagrant human rights violations and crimes against Palestinian men and women continued, even though they had done nothing more than affirm their right to their lands.  The international community could not continue to be a passive witness to the situation in Palestine, he emphasized.

    TANMAYA LAL (India) said his country was working with Palestine on several development projects, including the Palestine‑India Techno Park, Palestine Institute of Diplomacy in Ramallah and India‑Palestine Centre of Excellence in Information and Communications Technology in Gaza.  Those multimillion dollar projects would contribute to long-term development capacity-building.  India was also collaborating with fellow developing countries Brazil and South Africa to support projects in Palestine through the India, Brazil and South Africa Fund.  The Fund, implemented in association with the United Nations Office for South‑South Cooperation in New York, was a unique form of solidarity and cooperation.  Of five projects now completed, three were slated for inauguration next month.  Two of them — Al Quds Hospital and Atta Habib Medical Centre — were located in Gaza.

    FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), voicing support for a negotiated settlement that would lead to the establishment of an independent State of Palestine within the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital, emphasized that only such a solution would provide a just, comprehensive and lasting peace while also achieving the Palestinians’ inalienable rights and ensuring security for both sides.  Israel’s practices in contravention of international law, particularly its systematic expansion of settlements, eroded the viability of the two‑State solution; that country’s provocative actions targeting the status and sanctity of Al-Haram al-Sharif were not helpful for the possibility of a peaceful coexistence.  “All of these combined breed desperation, alienate and radicalize people, and fuel extremism in the region,” he stressed.  Welcoming developments towards reconciliation and unity among the Palestinians, he said Palestine was “doing its part” and Israel must now do the same.  The international community should ensure the recognition of the State of Palestine by more countries and provide political and financial assistance to UNRWA.

    AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) highlighted that his country had recently managed to bring the Palestinian leadership together in signing the reconciliation agreement, which sought to end existing political divisions.  He called on the international community to take advantage of the historic opportunity that had been presented through the signing of that agreement and help bring about a two‑State solution.  Both the Israelis and Palestinians would continue to have a claim to the Holy Lands, he said, emphasizing the importance of finding a rational solution.  Settlement of the dispute was not impossible, he said, and in that connection, the United Nations had a crucial role to play.  The existing United Nations resolutions created an important context and framework which could finally allow for a just settlement of the dispute, through direct negotiations by both parties.

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  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy – A8-0351/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy

    (2017/2123(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

    –  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013, 26 June 2015, 15 December 2016, and 22 Jun 2017,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report on the implementation of the common foreign and security policy (2017/2121(INI)),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2017 on arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP(1),

    –  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy of 25 November 2013, 18 November 2014, 18 May 2015, 27 June 2016, 14 November 2016 and 18 May 2017, and the Council conclusions on the EU Global Strategy of 17 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the 19th Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting in Paris on 13 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the informal meeting of defence ministers and the informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers (Gymnich) in Tallinn on 6-9 September 2017,

    –  having regard to the meeting of EU Ministers of Defence on 30 November 2011,

    –  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on ‘EU’s military structures: state of play and future prospects’(2),

      having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union(3),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2016 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(4),

      having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on ‘Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a common security and defence policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty’(5),

      having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget(6),

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’, presented by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on 28 June 2016,

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’, presented by the VP/HR on 14 November 2016,

    –  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 30 November 2016 to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the European Defence Action Plan (COM(2016)0950),

    –  having regard to the joint declaration of 8 July 2016 by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and the Secretary-General of NATO, the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016 and the Progress report on the implementation thereof adopted on 14 June 2017,

    –  having regard to the Bratislava Declaration of 16 September 2016,

    –  having regard to the new defence package presented by the Commission on 7 June 2017 in the press release ‘A Europe that defends: Commission opens debate on moving towards a Security and Defence Union’,

    –  having regard to the Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence of 7 June 2017,

    –  having regard to Eurobarometer 85.1 of June 2016, according to which half of EU citizens surveyed consider EU action insufficient and two thirds of them would like to see greater EU engagement through Member States’ commitment in matters of security and defence policy,

    –  having regard to the crisis management concept of the Council for a new civilian CSDP mission in Iraq of 17 July 2017 and to the Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1425 of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action in the Malian regions of Mopti and Segou,

    –  having regard to the EU Policy on Training for CSDP adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April 2017,

    –  having regard to the Council Decision of 23 October 2017 on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, within the EEA Joint Committee concerning an amendment to Protocol 31 to the EEA Agreement (Union’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research);

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

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0351/2017),

    The Union’s strategic environment

    1.  Underlines that the rules-based international order and the values defended by Western democracies, and the peace, prosperity and freedoms which this post-World War II order guarantees and which correspond to the foundations on which the European Union is built, are facing an unprecedented number of conventional and hybrid challenges, as societal, economic, technological and geopolitical trends point to the growing vulnerability of the world’s population to shocks and stresses – such as interstate conflicts, natural disasters, extreme weather events, water crises, state collapse and cyber-attacks – that need a united and coordinated response; recalls that security is a key concern for European citizens; states that the Union’s external action is to be guided by the values and principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU;

    2.  Stresses that no single Member State can alone tackle any of the complex security challenges we are facing today, and in order for the EU to be able to respond to this internal and external challenges it needs to step up its efforts towards concrete strong cooperation in the context of CFSP/CSDP, be an effective global player, which implies speaking with one voice and acting together, and focus its resources on strategic priorities; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, which are poverty and raising inequality, bad governance, state collapse and climate change;

    3.   Deplores the fact that transnational terrorist and criminal organisations are increasing in strength and number, potentially facilitated by the defeat of ISIS/Da’esh and the fact that its fighters are fleeing, while instability simultaneously spreads in the southern regions and in the Middle East, as fragile and disintegrating states such as Libya give up on large ungoverned spaces vulnerable to outside forces; expresses its continued concern over the transnational dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region; deeply deplores that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities have generated increased tension in the region and beyond, posing a clear threat to international peace and security;

    4.   Stresses that to the east, Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing, the Minsk agreements – without which there can be no solution to the conflict – have not been implemented and the illegal annexation and militarisation of Crimea, and the imposition of anti-access and area denial systems, continue; is deeply concerned that Russia’s excessive exercises and military activities without international observation, hybrid tactics, including cyber-terrorism, fake news and disinformation campaigns, economic and energy blackmail are destabilising the Eastern Partnership countries and the Western Balkans, as well as are being targeted at Western democracies and increasing tensions within them; is concerned that the security environment surrounding the EU will remain highly volatile for years to come; reiterates the strategic importance of the Western Balkans for the security and stability of the EU and the need to focus and strengthen the EU’s political engagement towards the region, including by strengthening the mandate of our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions; is firmly convinced that in order toovercome the EU’s vulnerability there is a need for more integration as well as coordination;

    5.  Deplores the terrorist threat that is quickly expanding both within Europe and beyond its borders; considers that an incomplete answer on the military level will inevitably lead to ever-growing internal security threats; urgently calls for an European anti-jihadist pact that can tackle these threats in an effective manner;

    6.  Believes that terrorism represents today one of the key challenges to the security of EU citizens, requiring swift, firm and coordinated action, both at internal and external level, in order to prevent further terrorist attacks and to fight its root causes; points out, in particular, the need to prevent radicalisation, to block any source of financial resources to terrorist organisations, to tackle terrorist propaganda and block the use of the internet and social networks for this purpose, including through an automated removal service, and to improve intelligence sharing between Member States, as well as with third countries, NATO and other relevant partner organisations; believes that the mandate of our CSDP missions should include the fight against terrorism in order to contribute more consequently to deradicalisation programmes, notably EULEX in Kosovo and EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia Herzegovina, countries that are confronted with an important number of fighters returning from abroad;

    7.  Is deeply concerned about the increasingly deadly terrorist threat in the Sahel belt as well as its extension to Central Africa, and the instability in the East (Syria, Iraq, Palestine); calls on the VP/HR to ensure that an executive mandate is granted to the CSDP missions and to intervene in a decisive and determined manner;

    8.  Believes that, under the current EU enlargement policy, a credible accession process grounded on extensive and fair conditionality remains an important tool for promoting security by enhancing the resilience of countries in the south-eastern Europe;

    9.   Believes that in a challenging security environment, and at a moment when the EU and NATO are endeavouring to broaden and deepen their cooperation, through Brexit the EU will lose part of its military capability and will possibly no longer be able to benefit from the UK’s expertise, and vice versa; notes that Brexit gives new momentum to initiatives that have long been blocked, and could open the door to new proposals; stresses the importance of continuing close defence cooperation between the EU and the post-Brexit UK, including in, but not limited to, the areas of intelligence sharing and counterterrorism; considers that, if it so requests, the UK should also be able to participate in CSDP missions as part of a new EU-UK defence cooperation relationship;

    10.   Welcomes the renewed US commitment to European security; stresses that the EU stands firmly committed to the transatlantic community of common values and interests; is at the same time convinced that an accountable and self-confident CFSP is needed and that, in this context, the EU must become a self-assured foreign-policy actor;

    Institutional framework

    11.   Believes strongly that, whenever necessary, the EU should take decisive action to determine its future, as internal and external security are becoming increasingly intertwined, and as this has a direct impact on all European citizens; warns that the lack of a common approach could lead to uncoordinated and fragmented action, allows multiple duplications and inefficiency and, as a result, would make the Union and its Member States vulnerable; is therefore of the opinion that the EU should be able to act effectively along the entire spectrum of internal-external security instruments, up to the level of Article 42(7) TEU; stresses that the framing of a common Union defence policy referred to in Article 42(2) TEU has the objective of establishing a common defence and endowing the Union with strategic autonomy to enable it to promote peace and security in Europe and in the world; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of further integrating European defence capabilities;

    12.   Underlines that the EU needs to apply the entire tool-box of available policy instruments – from soft to hard power and from short-term measures to long-term policies in the area of classical foreign policy, encompassing not only bilateral and multilateral efforts in diplomacy, development cooperation, civilian and economic instruments, emergency support, crisis prevention and post-conflict strategies, but also peacekeeping and peace-enforcing, also in line with the civilian and military means described in Article 43(1) TEU – in order to cope with the rising challenges; believes that the CSDP should be built on the principle that European security cannot be guaranteed by relying merely on military assets; considers that EU foreign actions should include an assessment of their impact on EU´s people-centred strategic interests of enhancing human security and human rights, strengthening international law and promoting sustainable peace; underlines the need for the EEAS to step up its capacities to better anticipate crises and counter security challenges at the point of their inception; stresses the need for a more coherent and better coordinated interaction between military, civilian, development and humanitarian actors;

    13.  Welcomes the visible progress made in framing a stronger European defence stance since the adoption of the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) in June 2016; welcomes, in particular, the launching of a European Defence Fund (EDF), the proposed scaling-up of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the legislative proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP); calls on the Member States to increase their future financial contributions to the EU budget in order to cover all additional costs incurred by the EU in connection with the EDF;

    14.   Welcomes EFTA’s adhesion to the preparatory action on defence research, and welcomes in particular the Norwegian contribution of EUR 585 000 for 2017; expresses its wish that Norway may continue to participate in Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit;

    15.   Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages about any conclusion of, or amendment to, international agreements that have defence implications or are in the defence remit; considers that any third-country financial contribution has important budgetary implications for the Union, as a third country could affect the Union’s financial interests in a manner well beyond the size of its contribution by withholding necessary export licenses; stresses that where third parties contribute to Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit, Parliament expects the Commission and the VP/HR to assess the impact of such participation as regards the Unions’ strategic policies and interests before making a proposal, and to inform Parliament about this assessment;

    16.   Highlights the facts that the Commission and an increasing number of Member States have committed themselves to launching the European Defence Union (EDU) and that there is a strong support for this among European citizens; stresses that this corresponds to a demand from EU citizens and from Parliament, notably through numerous appeals expressed in its previous resolutions; highlights the greater efficiency, and the elimination of duplication and reduction of costs, that will result from stronger European defence integration; stresses, however, that the launch of a real EDU requires continued political will and determination; urges the Member States to commit themselves to a common and autonomous European defence, and to aim to ensure that their national defence budgets amount to at least 2 % of their respective GDPs within a decade;

    17.  Is convinced that the only way to increase the Union’s ability to fulfil its military tasks is to increase efficiency significantly with regard to all aspects of the processes that generate military capabilities; recalls that the EU-28 spends 40 % of its GDP total on defence, but only manage to generate 15 % of the capabilities that the USA gets out of the same processes, which points to a very serious efficiency problem;

    18.   Calls on the VP/HR and the Commission to act on Parliament’s calls for an EU Security and Defence White Book in the context of preparing the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), as requested in Parliament’s resolutions of 22 November 2016, 23 November 2016 and 16 March 2017; considers that building the EDU, linking the its strategic orientation with EU contributions to capability development and shaping the European institutional framework for defence, are elements that need to be underpinned by an interinstitutional agreement; stresses that with a comprehensive and trustworthy effort on the part of all stakeholders it is possible to increase the scope and efficiency of defence spending; calls for a powerful role in this process to be defined for neutral countries such as Austria and Sweden, without calling into question the neutrality of individual Member States;

    19.  Stresses that, in addition to a description of the strategic environment and the strategic ambitions, the EU Security and Defence White Book should identify, for the next MFF, the required and available capabilities, as well as any capability shortfalls, in the form of the EU Capability Development Plan (CDP), and should be complemented by a broad outline of the intended Member State and Union actions under the MFF and in the longer term; 

    20.  Welcomes the newly demonstrated political will to make CSDP more effective; supports any attempt to unleash the full potential of the Lisbon Treaty by making cooperation between Member Stakes work, and to make the operationally relevant capabilities for fulfilling Article 43(1) TEU tasks available, by:

    a) urgently installing the start-up fund as foreseen by the Treaty in order to allow fast deployment of operations;

    b) establishing permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on those military aspects that are necessary to implement CSDP tasks such as permanently pooled military units;

    c) reforming the intergovernmental joint financing mechanism Athena in order to operationalise solidarity between those Member States that can only contribute financially and those that can only contribute with troops to a CSDP operation;

    d) making pooling and sharing of capabilities the rule and not the exception, and moving towards the implementation of a majority of the 300 proposals presented by the 28 Chiefs of Defence in 2011;

    e) pooling national resources with regard to research, development, procurement, maintenance and training;

    f) coordinating national defence planning (Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, CARD) as currently planned;

    g) initiating common rules for military certification and a common policy on security of supply;

    h) enforcing, on the part of the Commission, internal market rules in line with the 2009 Defence Procurement Directive with regard to national defence procurement projects;

    21.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to propose a specific programme for defence research, with a dedicated budget and own rules, under the next MFF; stresses that Member States should make additional resources available to that programme, without interfering with existing framework programmes funding research, technological development and innovation, as requested in Parliament’s resolution of 5 July 2017; renews its previous calls on the Commission to provide for Union participation in defence research and development programmes undertaken by Member States, or jointly with industry where appropriate, as referred to in Articles 185 and 187 TFEU;

    22.   Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a EDIDP; underlines that any Union action to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States in the defence remit should have the objective of contributing to the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as referred to, inter alia, in Article 2(4) TFEU, and therefore of covering common development, standardisation, certification and maintenance, leading to cooperative programmes and a higher degree of interoperability; calls on the Commission to promote the new EDIDP as widely as possible, and, in particular, to encourage SMEs to participate in joint, cross-border projects;

    23.  Considers that exports by Member States of weapons, ammunitions and defence-related goods and services form an integral part of EU foreign, security and defence policy;

    24.  Urges the Council to take concrete steps towards the harmonisation and standardisation of the European armed forces, in accordance with Article 42(2) TEU, in order to facilitate the cooperation of armed forces personnel under the umbrella of a new EDU, as a step towards the progressive framing of a common EU defence policy;

    25.  Stresses that the use of all possibilities provided for in the Treaty would improve the competitiveness and functioning of the defence industry within the single market by further stimulating defence cooperation through positive incentives, targeting projects that Member States are not able to undertake, reducing unnecessary duplication and promoting a more efficient use of public money; is of the opinion that the outputs of such strategic cooperative programmes have great potential as dual-use technologies and, as such, bring extra added value to Member States; emphasises the importance of developing European capabilities and an integrated defence market;

    26.  Calls for the establishment of precise and binding guidelines to provide a well-defined framework for future activation and implementation of Article 42(7) TEU;

    27.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the VP/HR to engage, together with Parliament, in an interinstitutional dialogue on the progressive framing of a common defence policy; stresses that, under the next MFF, a fully-fledged EU defence budget should be established for all the internal aspects of CSDP and that a doctrine for its implementation should be developed within the remit of the Lisbon Treaty; underlines the need for a revision of the Athena mechanism in order to widen the range of operations considered as a common cost and incentivise participation in CSDP missions and operations;

    28.  Points out that this new defence budget will have to be financed through new resources in the next MFF;

    29.  Believes that decision-making on CSDP issues could be more democratic and transparent; proposes, therefore, to turn its Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) into a fully fledged parliamentary committee, enabling it to gain greater powers of scrutiny and accountability over the CSDP and to play a prominent role in its implementation, in particular by scrutinising legal acts pertaining to security and defence;

    30.  Regrets the lack of cooperation and information-sharing among security and intelligence services in Europe; believes that more cooperation between intelligence services could help counter terrorism; calls, in this regard, for the establishment of a fully fledged European intelligence system;

    Permanent Structured Cooperation

    31.   Welcomes the willingness of Member States to make binding commitments within the CSDP framework, thereby implementing an ambitious and inclusive Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and calls for its swift establishment by the Council; underlines that the desired inclusiveness of participation must not compromise either full commitment to the CSDP or a high level of ambition among participating Member States; points to the necessity to set clear participation criteria, leaving other Member States the option to join at a later stage; believes that activities within PESCO should always be in full alignment with CSDP;

    32.  Stresses that PESCO should develop within the EU framework and that it should benefit from effective Union support, in full respect of Member States’ competences in defence; renews its call for appropriate PESCO funding to be provided from the Union budget; considers that participation in all Union agencies and bodies falling under the CSDP, including the European Security and Defence College (ESDC), should be made a requirement under PESCO; renews its call for the EU Battlegroup System to be considered as a common cost under the revised Athena mechanism;

    33.  Stresses that it is necessary to ease the administrative procedures that are unnecessarily slowing down the generation of forces for CSDP missions and the cross-border movement of rapid response forces inside the EU; calls on the Member States to establish an EU-wide system for the coordination of rapid movement of defence force personnel, equipment and supplies for the purposes of CSDP, where the solidarity clause is invoked and where all Member States have an obligation to provide aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter;

    34.  Demands the establishment of a fully fledged EU civilian-military strategic headquarters under PESCO – to be composed of the existing Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), and the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) – providing a platform for integrated operational support throughout the entire planning cycle, from the initial political concept to detailed plans;

    35.  Encourages the Member States participating in PESCO to set up a permanent ‘European Integrated Force’, composed of divisions of their national armies, and to make it available to the Union for the implementation of the CSDP as foreseen by Article 42(3) TEU;

    36.  Considers that a common cyber defence policy should be one of the first building blocks of the European Defence Union; encourages the VP/HR to develop proposals for establishing, within the framework of PESCO, an EU cyber defence unit;

    Defence Directorate-General

    37.  Calls for the evaluation, in close coordination with the VP/HR, of the opportunity to establish a Directorate-General for Defence within the Commission (DG Defence), which would drive the Union’s actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States aimed at the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as foreseen by Article 2 TFEU;

    38.   Considers that the proposed DG Defence should have the responsibility to ensure open borders for the free movement of troops and equipment, as a necessary prerequisite for ensuring the degree of strategic autonomy, inter-operability, security of supply, standardisation and military certification arrangements required for: EU contributions to programmes under the CSDP and PESCO; EU-funded defence research; the EU’s strategic autonomy; the competitiveness of Europe’s defence industry, including SMEs and mid-cap companies forming the European defence supply chain; and the interinstitutional arrangements in the defence remit, including the EU Security and Defence White Book; stresses that the proposed DG Defence should contribute to better coordination of tasks among the various actors with a view to achieving greater policy coherence and consistency;

    39.   Underlines that the proposed DG Defence should work in liaison with the European Defence Agency (EDA); considers that the EDA should be the implementing agency for Union actions under the European Capabilities and Armaments policy, where this is foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty; renews its call on the Council to ensure that the administrative and operational expenditure of the EDA is funded from the Union budget; notes that EDA’s increasing new roles and responsibilities should be followed by an increase of its budget, stressing at the same time that the possible establishment of a DG Defence, and renewed efforts to make CSDP more effective, should not lead to resources being diverted to the growth of bureaucratic structures and to duplicating structures;

    Coordinated strategic and annual defence reviews

    40.  Welcomes the strategic review of the EU’s Capability Development Plan (CDP) due to be completed in spring 2018; underlines that the CDP will serve to foster collaboration among Member States in efforts to fill capability gaps in the context of the EDA;

    41.  Welcomes the establishment of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) process; considers that CARD should contribute to the standardisation and harmonisation of the investments and capabilities of national armed forces in an effective manner, ensuring the Union’s strategic and operational autonomy and coherence, and allowing Member States to invest more efficiently together in defence; welcomes the proposal to launch a trial run in 2017;

    42.  Encourages Member States to explore the possibility of joint procurement of defence resources;

    43.  Emphasises that CARD should be based on the EU Security and Defence White Book and the CDP, and should address the full spectrum of CSDP-related capabilities, in particular those of the Member States participating in PESCO; considers that CARD should deliver a set of concrete proposals to fill gaps and identify where Union action would be appropriate, to be taken into account in EU budget planning for the following year; underlines the need for the Commission and the EDA to work together in designing the annual work programmes under the capability and research windows of the proposed EDF; points out that the EDA should have a distinct role not only in designing the programme, but also in the management of projects financed from the capability window;

    44.  Stresses the need for close coordination of all CSDP-related activities, in particular CARD, PESCO and the EDF;

    45.  Considers that the Commission should take up the results of CARD and initiate an interinstitutional agreement that establishes the scope and funding of subsequent Union actions; considers that, drawing on the interinstitutional agreement, the Council and the Commission should take the necessary decisions in their respective remits to authorise such actions; calls for interparliamentary cooperation on defence to review CARD, and for the subsequent development of defence capabilities on a regular basis;

    CSDP missions and operations

    46.   Thanks the more than six thousand women and men who have given good and loyal service in the Union’s civilian and military missions on three continents; values these missions as Europe’s common contribution to peace and stability in the world; regrets, however, that the efficiency of these missions can still be jeopardised by structural weaknesses, uneven contributions from Member States and unsuitability to the operational environment, deploring in particular the limitations in the CSDP missions mandate; stresses, in this context, the need for real effectiveness that can only be achieved with the provision of proper military equipment, and urges the Council and the VP/HR to make use of the possibilities provided for in Article 41.2 TEU to this end; welcomes the increase in Member States’ defence spending in support of our service members; takes the view that this trend needs to be sustained, strengthened and coordinated at EU level; calls for effective measures to be taken to ensure that lessons learned and experience gained as regards the human dimension of CSDP missions are assessed and taken into account when future CSDP missions are designed;

    47.  Welcomes the presentation of the first annual report on the CSDP by the VP/HR; believes, however, that this report should not be of quantitative nature only, describing achievements with statistical data and detailed information, but also focus in the future on evaluating the political impact of CSDP activities in improving the security of our citizens;

    48.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and Member States to orient CSDP missions and operations more toward the priorities of the EU Global Strategy as well as the local and regional realities;

    49.  Believes in the need to contribute further to crisis management and prevention and, specifically, to provide assistance to the reconstruction and stabilisation of Iraq; welcomes the recent decision by the Council to launch a new civilian CSDP mission in support of security sector reform in Iraq, and expects that the EU takes over the international lead in this area, including in counter-terrorism and civilian reconstruction; calls on the EU to ensure that this time there will be better coordination among participating Member States, and with regional as well as local actors;

    50.  Welcomes the activities of EU NAVFOR Med and asks the VP/HR and the Member States to increase the support for local security actors on the southern shore of the Mediterranean;

    51.  Expects from the VP/HR and the Council that EUBAM Libya will be relaunched at the occasion of the renewal of the mandate reaching out to local security actors on Libya’s southern borders; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to come up with fresh ideas on how to tackle the security concerns in the Sahel zone by linking it to EUBAM Libya within its comprehensive and integrated approach and in support of the German-French initiative; welcomes the Council decision of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action for Mali in the Mopti and Segou regions; calls, in this regard, on the VP/HR to inform Parliament how this measure interacts with CSDP missions and operations in the region;

    52.  Welcomes the success of Operation EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina in achieving a military end state; is, however, concerned that the political end state has not yet been achieved;

    53.   Welcomes the recent establishment of a nucleus for a permanent EU operational headquarters, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), as demanded by Parliament in its resolution of 12 September 2013, as it is a precondition for effective planning, command and control of common operations; calls on the Member States to staff it with adequate personnel so that it becomes fully functional, and to task it to plan and command executive military CSDP operations such as EUFOR ALTHEA;

    54.  Considers that, as a consequence of the UK’s announcement of withdrawal from the Union, the command option of EU NAVFOR Somalia / Operation Atalanta needs to be reviewed; stresses the success of the operation, thanks to which not a single vessel has been boarded by pirates since 2014; welcomes the extension of the operation until 2018;

    55.  Notes that only 75 % of the positions in civilian CSDP missions are filled; regrets, in this regard, that the EU staff regulations, which would provide better conditions and protection to mission staff, do not apply to personnel employed by the missions even though they are funded from the Union budget; is convinced that this impedes the effectiveness of the missions; urges the Member States to ensure that all vacant posts in all missions are swiftly filled;

    56.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU Policy on Training for CSDP and the important role the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) plays as central training institution embedded within the CSDP structures; calls on the Member States to provide adequate financial, personnel and infrastructural resources for the ESDC;

    57.  Regrets that Member States are failing to deploy in a swift manner the staff necessary for the preparatory and set-up stages of civilian CSDP missions; welcomes, in this context, the proposal developed jointly by the EEAS and Commission services for a multi-layered approach in order to speed up the deployment of civilian CSDP missions;

    58.  Encourages further efforts to speed up the provision of financing for civilian and civil-military missions and to simplify decision-making procedures and implementation; believes, in this context, that the Commission should introduce, by delegated acts in accordance with Article 210 of the Financial Regulation, specific procurement rules to the crisis management measures under the CSDP in order to facilitate the rapid and flexible conduct of operations;

    59.  Welcomes the establishment of the Mission Support Platform (MSP) in 2016; regrets the limited size and scope of the MSP, and reiterates its call for further progress towards a shared services centre that would allow further efficiency gains by providing a central coordination point for all mission support services;

    60.  Urges the EEAS and the Council to step up their ongoing efforts to improve cyber security, in particular for CSDP missions, inter alia by taking measures at EU and Member State levels to mitigate threats to the CSDP, for instance by building up resilience through education, training and exercises, and by streamlining the EU cyber-defence education and training landscape;

    61.  Believes that the EU and its Member States face an unprecedented threat in the form of state-sponsored cyber attacks as well as cyber crime and terrorism; believes that the nature of cyber attacks makes them a threat that needs an EU-level response; encourages the Member States to provide mutual assistance in the event of a cyber attack against any one of them;

    62.  Calls on the Member States to apply full burden sharing to military CSDP missions by progressive enlargement of common funding toward full common funding, which should enable and encourage more Member States to contribute their capabilities and forces, or just funds; underlines the importance of reviewing the Athena mechanism in this regard and of covering all costs related to the financing of military CSDP operations;

    63.  Urges the Council to act in accordance with Article 41(3) TEU and to adopt without delay the decision of establishing a start-up fund for the urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations for the tasks referred to in Article 42(1) and Article 43 TEU; urges the Council to resolve current problems with financing hybrid missions; calls for more flexibility in the EU’s financial rules in order to support its ability to respond to crises and for the implementation of existing Lisbon Treaty provisions;

    EU-NATO cooperation

    64.  Believes that, in the current context, the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is fundamental to addressing the security challenges facing the Union and its neighbourhood; considers that the EU-NATO Joint Declaration and the subsequent implementation actions have the potential to move cooperation and complementarity to a higher level and to mark a new and substantive phase of the strategic partnership; welcomes the common set of 42 proposals, of which as many as 10 seek to increase resilience against hybrid threats, aimed at strengthening both cooperation and coordination between the two organisations; notes that this work will be taken forward in the spirit of full openness and transparency, in full respect of the decision-making autonomy and procedures of both organisations, and will be based on the principles of inclusiveness and reciprocity without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any Member State; praises the cooperation being undertaken in combating cyber threats, developing strategic communications and coordinating maritime activities and joint exercises, and points to the excellent cooperation and complementarity of the EU’s Operation Sophia and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian; welcomes as well the publication in June 2017 of the two organisations’ first joint implementation report and the progress made in implementing the common set of proposals, and calls for continued progress; stresses the EU’s full commitment to the transatlantic community of common values and interests;

    65.  Notes that a stronger EU and a stronger NATO are mutually reinforcing; considers that Member States need to increase their efforts to act both within an EDU and as autonomous regional security providers, and in a complementary role within NATO, where appropriate; notes that, as set out in EUGS, the EU must contribute to: (a) responding to external conflicts and crises; (b) building the capabilities of partners; and (c) protecting the Union and its citizens; welcomes the set of initiatives that are underway to implement EUGS in the field of security and defence, to develop stronger relations between the EU and NATO, and to enable EU Member States to engage in defence research and develop defence capabilities together; is of the opinion that the security and protection of Europe will increasingly depend on both organisations acting within their remits; calls for efforts to improve cooperation in countering hybrid threats, including through the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and in the exchange of information and intelligence;

    66.  Stresses the importance of cooperation and integration in cyber security, not only between Member States, key partners and NATO, but also between different actors within society;

    CSDP partnerships

    67.  Stresses that partnerships and cooperation with countries that share EU’s values contribute to the effectiveness and the impact of the CSDP; welcomes, in this regard, the contributions of Albania, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zeeland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States;

    68.  Welcomes the signature of the EU-US Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) of 7 December 2016; calls on the VP/HR to inform Parliament about how this agreement has improved the conditions for, and protection of, CSDP mission staff;

    69.  Invites the VP/HR and the Member States to establish EU military attachés in EU delegations contributing to the implementation of the strategic objectives of the Union;

    70.  Welcomes the proposal of the Commission to review the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) in order to support actions carried out under the Capacity Building in Support of Security and Development (CBSD) initiative, which will enable the EU to fund capacity building and resilience and help strengthen the capabilities of partner countries; encourages the EEAS and the Commission to implement the CBSD initiative without delay, to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of CSDP missions and to provide a more flexible and integrated EU approach that takes advantage of civil-military synergies;

    °

    °  °

    71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of NATO, the EU agencies in the space, security and defence fields, and the governments and national parliaments of the Member States.

    (1)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0344.

    (2)

    Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0381.

    (3)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0435.

    (4)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0440.

    (5)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0092.

    (6)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0302.

    Read more
  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy – A8-0351/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual report on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy

    (2017/2123(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Treaty of Lisbon,

    –  having regard to the European Council conclusions of 20 December 2013, 26 June 2015, 15 December 2016, and 22 Jun 2017,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report on the implementation of the common foreign and security policy (2017/2121(INI)),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 13 September 2017 on arms export: implementation of Common Position 2008/944/CFSP(1),

    –  having regard to the Council conclusions on the Common Security and Defence Policy of 25 November 2013, 18 November 2014, 18 May 2015, 27 June 2016, 14 November 2016 and 18 May 2017, and the Council conclusions on the EU Global Strategy of 17 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the 19th Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting in Paris on 13 July 2017,

    –  having regard to the informal meeting of defence ministers and the informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers (Gymnich) in Tallinn on 6-9 September 2017,

    –  having regard to the meeting of EU Ministers of Defence on 30 November 2011,

    –  having regard to its resolution of 12 September 2013 on ‘EU’s military structures: state of play and future prospects’(2),

      having regard to its resolution of 22 November 2016 on the European Defence Union(3),

    –  having regard to its resolution of 23 November 2016 on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy(4),

      having regard to its resolution of 16 March 2017 on ‘Constitutional, legal and institutional implications of a common security and defence policy: possibilities offered by the Lisbon Treaty’(5),

      having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget(6),

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Shared Vision, Common Action: A Stronger Europe – A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy’, presented by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on 28 June 2016,

    –  having regard to the document entitled ‘Implementation Plan on Security and Defence’, presented by the VP/HR on 14 November 2016,

    –  having regard to the communication from the Commission of 30 November 2016 to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on the European Defence Action Plan (COM(2016)0950),

    –  having regard to the joint declaration of 8 July 2016 by the Presidents of the European Council and the Commission and the Secretary-General of NATO, the common set of proposals endorsed by NATO and EU Councils on 6 December 2016 and the Progress report on the implementation thereof adopted on 14 June 2017,

    –  having regard to the Bratislava Declaration of 16 September 2016,

    –  having regard to the new defence package presented by the Commission on 7 June 2017 in the press release ‘A Europe that defends: Commission opens debate on moving towards a Security and Defence Union’,

    –  having regard to the Reflection Paper on the Future of European Defence of 7 June 2017,

    –  having regard to Eurobarometer 85.1 of June 2016, according to which half of EU citizens surveyed consider EU action insufficient and two thirds of them would like to see greater EU engagement through Member States’ commitment in matters of security and defence policy,

    –  having regard to the crisis management concept of the Council for a new civilian CSDP mission in Iraq of 17 July 2017 and to the Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1425 of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action in the Malian regions of Mopti and Segou,

    –  having regard to the EU Policy on Training for CSDP adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 3 April 2017,

    –  having regard to the Council Decision of 23 October 2017 on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, within the EEA Joint Committee concerning an amendment to Protocol 31 to the EEA Agreement (Union’s Preparatory Action on Defence Research);

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

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs (A8-0351/2017),

    The Union’s strategic environment

    1.  Underlines that the rules-based international order and the values defended by Western democracies, and the peace, prosperity and freedoms which this post-World War II order guarantees and which correspond to the foundations on which the European Union is built, are facing an unprecedented number of conventional and hybrid challenges, as societal, economic, technological and geopolitical trends point to the growing vulnerability of the world’s population to shocks and stresses – such as interstate conflicts, natural disasters, extreme weather events, water crises, state collapse and cyber-attacks – that need a united and coordinated response; recalls that security is a key concern for European citizens; states that the Union’s external action is to be guided by the values and principles enshrined in Article 21 TEU;

    2.  Stresses that no single Member State can alone tackle any of the complex security challenges we are facing today, and in order for the EU to be able to respond to this internal and external challenges it needs to step up its efforts towards concrete strong cooperation in the context of CFSP/CSDP, be an effective global player, which implies speaking with one voice and acting together, and focus its resources on strategic priorities; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, which are poverty and raising inequality, bad governance, state collapse and climate change;

    3.   Deplores the fact that transnational terrorist and criminal organisations are increasing in strength and number, potentially facilitated by the defeat of ISIS/Da’esh and the fact that its fighters are fleeing, while instability simultaneously spreads in the southern regions and in the Middle East, as fragile and disintegrating states such as Libya give up on large ungoverned spaces vulnerable to outside forces; expresses its continued concern over the transnational dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region; deeply deplores that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities have generated increased tension in the region and beyond, posing a clear threat to international peace and security;

    4.   Stresses that to the east, Russia’s war against Ukraine is still ongoing, the Minsk agreements – without which there can be no solution to the conflict – have not been implemented and the illegal annexation and militarisation of Crimea, and the imposition of anti-access and area denial systems, continue; is deeply concerned that Russia’s excessive exercises and military activities without international observation, hybrid tactics, including cyber-terrorism, fake news and disinformation campaigns, economic and energy blackmail are destabilising the Eastern Partnership countries and the Western Balkans, as well as are being targeted at Western democracies and increasing tensions within them; is concerned that the security environment surrounding the EU will remain highly volatile for years to come; reiterates the strategic importance of the Western Balkans for the security and stability of the EU and the need to focus and strengthen the EU’s political engagement towards the region, including by strengthening the mandate of our Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions; is firmly convinced that in order toovercome the EU’s vulnerability there is a need for more integration as well as coordination;

    5.  Deplores the terrorist threat that is quickly expanding both within Europe and beyond its borders; considers that an incomplete answer on the military level will inevitably lead to ever-growing internal security threats; urgently calls for an European anti-jihadist pact that can tackle these threats in an effective manner;

    6.  Believes that terrorism represents today one of the key challenges to the security of EU citizens, requiring swift, firm and coordinated action, both at internal and external level, in order to prevent further terrorist attacks and to fight its root causes; points out, in particular, the need to prevent radicalisation, to block any source of financial resources to terrorist organisations, to tackle terrorist propaganda and block the use of the internet and social networks for this purpose, including through an automated removal service, and to improve intelligence sharing between Member States, as well as with third countries, NATO and other relevant partner organisations; believes that the mandate of our CSDP missions should include the fight against terrorism in order to contribute more consequently to deradicalisation programmes, notably EULEX in Kosovo and EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia Herzegovina, countries that are confronted with an important number of fighters returning from abroad;

    7.  Is deeply concerned about the increasingly deadly terrorist threat in the Sahel belt as well as its extension to Central Africa, and the instability in the East (Syria, Iraq, Palestine); calls on the VP/HR to ensure that an executive mandate is granted to the CSDP missions and to intervene in a decisive and determined manner;

    8.  Believes that, under the current EU enlargement policy, a credible accession process grounded on extensive and fair conditionality remains an important tool for promoting security by enhancing the resilience of countries in the south-eastern Europe;

    9.   Believes that in a challenging security environment, and at a moment when the EU and NATO are endeavouring to broaden and deepen their cooperation, through Brexit the EU will lose part of its military capability and will possibly no longer be able to benefit from the UK’s expertise, and vice versa; notes that Brexit gives new momentum to initiatives that have long been blocked, and could open the door to new proposals; stresses the importance of continuing close defence cooperation between the EU and the post-Brexit UK, including in, but not limited to, the areas of intelligence sharing and counterterrorism; considers that, if it so requests, the UK should also be able to participate in CSDP missions as part of a new EU-UK defence cooperation relationship;

    10.   Welcomes the renewed US commitment to European security; stresses that the EU stands firmly committed to the transatlantic community of common values and interests; is at the same time convinced that an accountable and self-confident CFSP is needed and that, in this context, the EU must become a self-assured foreign-policy actor;

    Institutional framework

    11.   Believes strongly that, whenever necessary, the EU should take decisive action to determine its future, as internal and external security are becoming increasingly intertwined, and as this has a direct impact on all European citizens; warns that the lack of a common approach could lead to uncoordinated and fragmented action, allows multiple duplications and inefficiency and, as a result, would make the Union and its Member States vulnerable; is therefore of the opinion that the EU should be able to act effectively along the entire spectrum of internal-external security instruments, up to the level of Article 42(7) TEU; stresses that the framing of a common Union defence policy referred to in Article 42(2) TEU has the objective of establishing a common defence and endowing the Union with strategic autonomy to enable it to promote peace and security in Europe and in the world; emphasises the practical and financial benefits of further integrating European defence capabilities;

    12.   Underlines that the EU needs to apply the entire tool-box of available policy instruments – from soft to hard power and from short-term measures to long-term policies in the area of classical foreign policy, encompassing not only bilateral and multilateral efforts in diplomacy, development cooperation, civilian and economic instruments, emergency support, crisis prevention and post-conflict strategies, but also peacekeeping and peace-enforcing, also in line with the civilian and military means described in Article 43(1) TEU – in order to cope with the rising challenges; believes that the CSDP should be built on the principle that European security cannot be guaranteed by relying merely on military assets; considers that EU foreign actions should include an assessment of their impact on EU´s people-centred strategic interests of enhancing human security and human rights, strengthening international law and promoting sustainable peace; underlines the need for the EEAS to step up its capacities to better anticipate crises and counter security challenges at the point of their inception; stresses the need for a more coherent and better coordinated interaction between military, civilian, development and humanitarian actors;

    13.  Welcomes the visible progress made in framing a stronger European defence stance since the adoption of the EU Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy (EUGS) in June 2016; welcomes, in particular, the launching of a European Defence Fund (EDF), the proposed scaling-up of the Preparatory Action on Defence Research and the legislative proposal for a European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP); calls on the Member States to increase their future financial contributions to the EU budget in order to cover all additional costs incurred by the EU in connection with the EDF;

    14.   Welcomes EFTA’s adhesion to the preparatory action on defence research, and welcomes in particular the Norwegian contribution of EUR 585 000 for 2017; expresses its wish that Norway may continue to participate in Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit;

    15.   Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR, to keep Parliament immediately and fully informed at all stages about any conclusion of, or amendment to, international agreements that have defence implications or are in the defence remit; considers that any third-country financial contribution has important budgetary implications for the Union, as a third country could affect the Union’s financial interests in a manner well beyond the size of its contribution by withholding necessary export licenses; stresses that where third parties contribute to Union-funded programmes that have defence implications or are in the defence remit, Parliament expects the Commission and the VP/HR to assess the impact of such participation as regards the Unions’ strategic policies and interests before making a proposal, and to inform Parliament about this assessment;

    16.   Highlights the facts that the Commission and an increasing number of Member States have committed themselves to launching the European Defence Union (EDU) and that there is a strong support for this among European citizens; stresses that this corresponds to a demand from EU citizens and from Parliament, notably through numerous appeals expressed in its previous resolutions; highlights the greater efficiency, and the elimination of duplication and reduction of costs, that will result from stronger European defence integration; stresses, however, that the launch of a real EDU requires continued political will and determination; urges the Member States to commit themselves to a common and autonomous European defence, and to aim to ensure that their national defence budgets amount to at least 2 % of their respective GDPs within a decade;

    17.  Is convinced that the only way to increase the Union’s ability to fulfil its military tasks is to increase efficiency significantly with regard to all aspects of the processes that generate military capabilities; recalls that the EU-28 spends 40 % of its GDP total on defence, but only manage to generate 15 % of the capabilities that the USA gets out of the same processes, which points to a very serious efficiency problem;

    18.   Calls on the VP/HR and the Commission to act on Parliament’s calls for an EU Security and Defence White Book in the context of preparing the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), as requested in Parliament’s resolutions of 22 November 2016, 23 November 2016 and 16 March 2017; considers that building the EDU, linking the its strategic orientation with EU contributions to capability development and shaping the European institutional framework for defence, are elements that need to be underpinned by an interinstitutional agreement; stresses that with a comprehensive and trustworthy effort on the part of all stakeholders it is possible to increase the scope and efficiency of defence spending; calls for a powerful role in this process to be defined for neutral countries such as Austria and Sweden, without calling into question the neutrality of individual Member States;

    19.  Stresses that, in addition to a description of the strategic environment and the strategic ambitions, the EU Security and Defence White Book should identify, for the next MFF, the required and available capabilities, as well as any capability shortfalls, in the form of the EU Capability Development Plan (CDP), and should be complemented by a broad outline of the intended Member State and Union actions under the MFF and in the longer term; 

    20.  Welcomes the newly demonstrated political will to make CSDP more effective; supports any attempt to unleash the full potential of the Lisbon Treaty by making cooperation between Member Stakes work, and to make the operationally relevant capabilities for fulfilling Article 43(1) TEU tasks available, by:

    a) urgently installing the start-up fund as foreseen by the Treaty in order to allow fast deployment of operations;

    b) establishing permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) on those military aspects that are necessary to implement CSDP tasks such as permanently pooled military units;

    c) reforming the intergovernmental joint financing mechanism Athena in order to operationalise solidarity between those Member States that can only contribute financially and those that can only contribute with troops to a CSDP operation;

    d) making pooling and sharing of capabilities the rule and not the exception, and moving towards the implementation of a majority of the 300 proposals presented by the 28 Chiefs of Defence in 2011;

    e) pooling national resources with regard to research, development, procurement, maintenance and training;

    f) coordinating national defence planning (Coordinated Annual Review on Defence, CARD) as currently planned;

    g) initiating common rules for military certification and a common policy on security of supply;

    h) enforcing, on the part of the Commission, internal market rules in line with the 2009 Defence Procurement Directive with regard to national defence procurement projects;

    21.  Welcomes the Commission’s intention to propose a specific programme for defence research, with a dedicated budget and own rules, under the next MFF; stresses that Member States should make additional resources available to that programme, without interfering with existing framework programmes funding research, technological development and innovation, as requested in Parliament’s resolution of 5 July 2017; renews its previous calls on the Commission to provide for Union participation in defence research and development programmes undertaken by Member States, or jointly with industry where appropriate, as referred to in Articles 185 and 187 TFEU;

    22.   Welcomes the Commission’s proposal for a EDIDP; underlines that any Union action to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States in the defence remit should have the objective of contributing to the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as referred to, inter alia, in Article 2(4) TFEU, and therefore of covering common development, standardisation, certification and maintenance, leading to cooperative programmes and a higher degree of interoperability; calls on the Commission to promote the new EDIDP as widely as possible, and, in particular, to encourage SMEs to participate in joint, cross-border projects;

    23.  Considers that exports by Member States of weapons, ammunitions and defence-related goods and services form an integral part of EU foreign, security and defence policy;

    24.  Urges the Council to take concrete steps towards the harmonisation and standardisation of the European armed forces, in accordance with Article 42(2) TEU, in order to facilitate the cooperation of armed forces personnel under the umbrella of a new EDU, as a step towards the progressive framing of a common EU defence policy;

    25.  Stresses that the use of all possibilities provided for in the Treaty would improve the competitiveness and functioning of the defence industry within the single market by further stimulating defence cooperation through positive incentives, targeting projects that Member States are not able to undertake, reducing unnecessary duplication and promoting a more efficient use of public money; is of the opinion that the outputs of such strategic cooperative programmes have great potential as dual-use technologies and, as such, bring extra added value to Member States; emphasises the importance of developing European capabilities and an integrated defence market;

    26.  Calls for the establishment of precise and binding guidelines to provide a well-defined framework for future activation and implementation of Article 42(7) TEU;

    27.  Calls on the Commission, the Council and the VP/HR to engage, together with Parliament, in an interinstitutional dialogue on the progressive framing of a common defence policy; stresses that, under the next MFF, a fully-fledged EU defence budget should be established for all the internal aspects of CSDP and that a doctrine for its implementation should be developed within the remit of the Lisbon Treaty; underlines the need for a revision of the Athena mechanism in order to widen the range of operations considered as a common cost and incentivise participation in CSDP missions and operations;

    28.  Points out that this new defence budget will have to be financed through new resources in the next MFF;

    29.  Believes that decision-making on CSDP issues could be more democratic and transparent; proposes, therefore, to turn its Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE) into a fully fledged parliamentary committee, enabling it to gain greater powers of scrutiny and accountability over the CSDP and to play a prominent role in its implementation, in particular by scrutinising legal acts pertaining to security and defence;

    30.  Regrets the lack of cooperation and information-sharing among security and intelligence services in Europe; believes that more cooperation between intelligence services could help counter terrorism; calls, in this regard, for the establishment of a fully fledged European intelligence system;

    Permanent Structured Cooperation

    31.   Welcomes the willingness of Member States to make binding commitments within the CSDP framework, thereby implementing an ambitious and inclusive Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), and calls for its swift establishment by the Council; underlines that the desired inclusiveness of participation must not compromise either full commitment to the CSDP or a high level of ambition among participating Member States; points to the necessity to set clear participation criteria, leaving other Member States the option to join at a later stage; believes that activities within PESCO should always be in full alignment with CSDP;

    32.  Stresses that PESCO should develop within the EU framework and that it should benefit from effective Union support, in full respect of Member States’ competences in defence; renews its call for appropriate PESCO funding to be provided from the Union budget; considers that participation in all Union agencies and bodies falling under the CSDP, including the European Security and Defence College (ESDC), should be made a requirement under PESCO; renews its call for the EU Battlegroup System to be considered as a common cost under the revised Athena mechanism;

    33.  Stresses that it is necessary to ease the administrative procedures that are unnecessarily slowing down the generation of forces for CSDP missions and the cross-border movement of rapid response forces inside the EU; calls on the Member States to establish an EU-wide system for the coordination of rapid movement of defence force personnel, equipment and supplies for the purposes of CSDP, where the solidarity clause is invoked and where all Member States have an obligation to provide aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter;

    34.  Demands the establishment of a fully fledged EU civilian-military strategic headquarters under PESCO – to be composed of the existing Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), the Civilian Planning and Conduct Capability (CPCC), and the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) – providing a platform for integrated operational support throughout the entire planning cycle, from the initial political concept to detailed plans;

    35.  Encourages the Member States participating in PESCO to set up a permanent ‘European Integrated Force’, composed of divisions of their national armies, and to make it available to the Union for the implementation of the CSDP as foreseen by Article 42(3) TEU;

    36.  Considers that a common cyber defence policy should be one of the first building blocks of the European Defence Union; encourages the VP/HR to develop proposals for establishing, within the framework of PESCO, an EU cyber defence unit;

    Defence Directorate-General

    37.  Calls for the evaluation, in close coordination with the VP/HR, of the opportunity to establish a Directorate-General for Defence within the Commission (DG Defence), which would drive the Union’s actions to support, coordinate or supplement the actions of the Member States aimed at the progressive framing of a common defence policy, as foreseen by Article 2 TFEU;

    38.   Considers that the proposed DG Defence should have the responsibility to ensure open borders for the free movement of troops and equipment, as a necessary prerequisite for ensuring the degree of strategic autonomy, inter-operability, security of supply, standardisation and military certification arrangements required for: EU contributions to programmes under the CSDP and PESCO; EU-funded defence research; the EU’s strategic autonomy; the competitiveness of Europe’s defence industry, including SMEs and mid-cap companies forming the European defence supply chain; and the interinstitutional arrangements in the defence remit, including the EU Security and Defence White Book; stresses that the proposed DG Defence should contribute to better coordination of tasks among the various actors with a view to achieving greater policy coherence and consistency;

    39.   Underlines that the proposed DG Defence should work in liaison with the European Defence Agency (EDA); considers that the EDA should be the implementing agency for Union actions under the European Capabilities and Armaments policy, where this is foreseen by the Lisbon Treaty; renews its call on the Council to ensure that the administrative and operational expenditure of the EDA is funded from the Union budget; notes that EDA’s increasing new roles and responsibilities should be followed by an increase of its budget, stressing at the same time that the possible establishment of a DG Defence, and renewed efforts to make CSDP more effective, should not lead to resources being diverted to the growth of bureaucratic structures and to duplicating structures;

    Coordinated strategic and annual defence reviews

    40.  Welcomes the strategic review of the EU’s Capability Development Plan (CDP) due to be completed in spring 2018; underlines that the CDP will serve to foster collaboration among Member States in efforts to fill capability gaps in the context of the EDA;

    41.  Welcomes the establishment of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) process; considers that CARD should contribute to the standardisation and harmonisation of the investments and capabilities of national armed forces in an effective manner, ensuring the Union’s strategic and operational autonomy and coherence, and allowing Member States to invest more efficiently together in defence; welcomes the proposal to launch a trial run in 2017;

    42.  Encourages Member States to explore the possibility of joint procurement of defence resources;

    43.  Emphasises that CARD should be based on the EU Security and Defence White Book and the CDP, and should address the full spectrum of CSDP-related capabilities, in particular those of the Member States participating in PESCO; considers that CARD should deliver a set of concrete proposals to fill gaps and identify where Union action would be appropriate, to be taken into account in EU budget planning for the following year; underlines the need for the Commission and the EDA to work together in designing the annual work programmes under the capability and research windows of the proposed EDF; points out that the EDA should have a distinct role not only in designing the programme, but also in the management of projects financed from the capability window;

    44.  Stresses the need for close coordination of all CSDP-related activities, in particular CARD, PESCO and the EDF;

    45.  Considers that the Commission should take up the results of CARD and initiate an interinstitutional agreement that establishes the scope and funding of subsequent Union actions; considers that, drawing on the interinstitutional agreement, the Council and the Commission should take the necessary decisions in their respective remits to authorise such actions; calls for interparliamentary cooperation on defence to review CARD, and for the subsequent development of defence capabilities on a regular basis;

    CSDP missions and operations

    46.   Thanks the more than six thousand women and men who have given good and loyal service in the Union’s civilian and military missions on three continents; values these missions as Europe’s common contribution to peace and stability in the world; regrets, however, that the efficiency of these missions can still be jeopardised by structural weaknesses, uneven contributions from Member States and unsuitability to the operational environment, deploring in particular the limitations in the CSDP missions mandate; stresses, in this context, the need for real effectiveness that can only be achieved with the provision of proper military equipment, and urges the Council and the VP/HR to make use of the possibilities provided for in Article 41.2 TEU to this end; welcomes the increase in Member States’ defence spending in support of our service members; takes the view that this trend needs to be sustained, strengthened and coordinated at EU level; calls for effective measures to be taken to ensure that lessons learned and experience gained as regards the human dimension of CSDP missions are assessed and taken into account when future CSDP missions are designed;

    47.  Welcomes the presentation of the first annual report on the CSDP by the VP/HR; believes, however, that this report should not be of quantitative nature only, describing achievements with statistical data and detailed information, but also focus in the future on evaluating the political impact of CSDP activities in improving the security of our citizens;

    48.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and Member States to orient CSDP missions and operations more toward the priorities of the EU Global Strategy as well as the local and regional realities;

    49.  Believes in the need to contribute further to crisis management and prevention and, specifically, to provide assistance to the reconstruction and stabilisation of Iraq; welcomes the recent decision by the Council to launch a new civilian CSDP mission in support of security sector reform in Iraq, and expects that the EU takes over the international lead in this area, including in counter-terrorism and civilian reconstruction; calls on the EU to ensure that this time there will be better coordination among participating Member States, and with regional as well as local actors;

    50.  Welcomes the activities of EU NAVFOR Med and asks the VP/HR and the Member States to increase the support for local security actors on the southern shore of the Mediterranean;

    51.  Expects from the VP/HR and the Council that EUBAM Libya will be relaunched at the occasion of the renewal of the mandate reaching out to local security actors on Libya’s southern borders; calls on the VP/HR and the Member States to come up with fresh ideas on how to tackle the security concerns in the Sahel zone by linking it to EUBAM Libya within its comprehensive and integrated approach and in support of the German-French initiative; welcomes the Council decision of 4 August 2017 on a European Union stabilisation action for Mali in the Mopti and Segou regions; calls, in this regard, on the VP/HR to inform Parliament how this measure interacts with CSDP missions and operations in the region;

    52.  Welcomes the success of Operation EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina in achieving a military end state; is, however, concerned that the political end state has not yet been achieved;

    53.   Welcomes the recent establishment of a nucleus for a permanent EU operational headquarters, the Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC), as demanded by Parliament in its resolution of 12 September 2013, as it is a precondition for effective planning, command and control of common operations; calls on the Member States to staff it with adequate personnel so that it becomes fully functional, and to task it to plan and command executive military CSDP operations such as EUFOR ALTHEA;

    54.  Considers that, as a consequence of the UK’s announcement of withdrawal from the Union, the command option of EU NAVFOR Somalia / Operation Atalanta needs to be reviewed; stresses the success of the operation, thanks to which not a single vessel has been boarded by pirates since 2014; welcomes the extension of the operation until 2018;

    55.  Notes that only 75 % of the positions in civilian CSDP missions are filled; regrets, in this regard, that the EU staff regulations, which would provide better conditions and protection to mission staff, do not apply to personnel employed by the missions even though they are funded from the Union budget; is convinced that this impedes the effectiveness of the missions; urges the Member States to ensure that all vacant posts in all missions are swiftly filled;

    56.  Welcomes the adoption of the EU Policy on Training for CSDP and the important role the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) plays as central training institution embedded within the CSDP structures; calls on the Member States to provide adequate financial, personnel and infrastructural resources for the ESDC;

    57.  Regrets that Member States are failing to deploy in a swift manner the staff necessary for the preparatory and set-up stages of civilian CSDP missions; welcomes, in this context, the proposal developed jointly by the EEAS and Commission services for a multi-layered approach in order to speed up the deployment of civilian CSDP missions;

    58.  Encourages further efforts to speed up the provision of financing for civilian and civil-military missions and to simplify decision-making procedures and implementation; believes, in this context, that the Commission should introduce, by delegated acts in accordance with Article 210 of the Financial Regulation, specific procurement rules to the crisis management measures under the CSDP in order to facilitate the rapid and flexible conduct of operations;

    59.  Welcomes the establishment of the Mission Support Platform (MSP) in 2016; regrets the limited size and scope of the MSP, and reiterates its call for further progress towards a shared services centre that would allow further efficiency gains by providing a central coordination point for all mission support services;

    60.  Urges the EEAS and the Council to step up their ongoing efforts to improve cyber security, in particular for CSDP missions, inter alia by taking measures at EU and Member State levels to mitigate threats to the CSDP, for instance by building up resilience through education, training and exercises, and by streamlining the EU cyber-defence education and training landscape;

    61.  Believes that the EU and its Member States face an unprecedented threat in the form of state-sponsored cyber attacks as well as cyber crime and terrorism; believes that the nature of cyber attacks makes them a threat that needs an EU-level response; encourages the Member States to provide mutual assistance in the event of a cyber attack against any one of them;

    62.  Calls on the Member States to apply full burden sharing to military CSDP missions by progressive enlargement of common funding toward full common funding, which should enable and encourage more Member States to contribute their capabilities and forces, or just funds; underlines the importance of reviewing the Athena mechanism in this regard and of covering all costs related to the financing of military CSDP operations;

    63.  Urges the Council to act in accordance with Article 41(3) TEU and to adopt without delay the decision of establishing a start-up fund for the urgent financing of the initial phases of military operations for the tasks referred to in Article 42(1) and Article 43 TEU; urges the Council to resolve current problems with financing hybrid missions; calls for more flexibility in the EU’s financial rules in order to support its ability to respond to crises and for the implementation of existing Lisbon Treaty provisions;

    EU-NATO cooperation

    64.  Believes that, in the current context, the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO is fundamental to addressing the security challenges facing the Union and its neighbourhood; considers that the EU-NATO Joint Declaration and the subsequent implementation actions have the potential to move cooperation and complementarity to a higher level and to mark a new and substantive phase of the strategic partnership; welcomes the common set of 42 proposals, of which as many as 10 seek to increase resilience against hybrid threats, aimed at strengthening both cooperation and coordination between the two organisations; notes that this work will be taken forward in the spirit of full openness and transparency, in full respect of the decision-making autonomy and procedures of both organisations, and will be based on the principles of inclusiveness and reciprocity without prejudice to the specific character of the security and defence policy of any Member State; praises the cooperation being undertaken in combating cyber threats, developing strategic communications and coordinating maritime activities and joint exercises, and points to the excellent cooperation and complementarity of the EU’s Operation Sophia and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian; welcomes as well the publication in June 2017 of the two organisations’ first joint implementation report and the progress made in implementing the common set of proposals, and calls for continued progress; stresses the EU’s full commitment to the transatlantic community of common values and interests;

    65.  Notes that a stronger EU and a stronger NATO are mutually reinforcing; considers that Member States need to increase their efforts to act both within an EDU and as autonomous regional security providers, and in a complementary role within NATO, where appropriate; notes that, as set out in EUGS, the EU must contribute to: (a) responding to external conflicts and crises; (b) building the capabilities of partners; and (c) protecting the Union and its citizens; welcomes the set of initiatives that are underway to implement EUGS in the field of security and defence, to develop stronger relations between the EU and NATO, and to enable EU Member States to engage in defence research and develop defence capabilities together; is of the opinion that the security and protection of Europe will increasingly depend on both organisations acting within their remits; calls for efforts to improve cooperation in countering hybrid threats, including through the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and in the exchange of information and intelligence;

    66.  Stresses the importance of cooperation and integration in cyber security, not only between Member States, key partners and NATO, but also between different actors within society;

    CSDP partnerships

    67.  Stresses that partnerships and cooperation with countries that share EU’s values contribute to the effectiveness and the impact of the CSDP; welcomes, in this regard, the contributions of Albania, Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, New Zeeland, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and the United States;

    68.  Welcomes the signature of the EU-US Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) of 7 December 2016; calls on the VP/HR to inform Parliament about how this agreement has improved the conditions for, and protection of, CSDP mission staff;

    69.  Invites the VP/HR and the Member States to establish EU military attachés in EU delegations contributing to the implementation of the strategic objectives of the Union;

    70.  Welcomes the proposal of the Commission to review the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace (IcSP) in order to support actions carried out under the Capacity Building in Support of Security and Development (CBSD) initiative, which will enable the EU to fund capacity building and resilience and help strengthen the capabilities of partner countries; encourages the EEAS and the Commission to implement the CBSD initiative without delay, to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of CSDP missions and to provide a more flexible and integrated EU approach that takes advantage of civil-military synergies;

    °

    °  °

    71.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European Council, the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Secretary-General of NATO, the EU agencies in the space, security and defence fields, and the governments and national parliaments of the Member States.

    (1)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA(2017)0344.

    (2)

    Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0381.

    (3)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0435.

    (4)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2016)0440.

    (5)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0092.

    (6)

    Texts adopted, P8_TA (2017)0302.

    Read more
  • Report – Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy – A8-0350/2017 – Committee on Foreign Affairs

    on the Annual Report on the implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy

    (2017/2121(INI))

    The European Parliament,

    –  having regard to the Annual Report from the Council to the European Parliament on the common foreign and security policy,

    –  having regard to Articles 21 and 36 of the Treaty on European Union,

    –  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations,

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

    –  having regard to the declaration by the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) on political accountability,

    –  having regard to the 2016 European External Action Service (EEAS) communication on a Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign And Security Policy and the 2017 Commission and EEAS joint communication on a Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s External Action,

    –  having regard to the key principles enshrined in the Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy, particularly those pertaining to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states, and the inviolability of borders, being equally respected by all participating states,

    –  having regard to the joint communication from the Commission and VP/HR of 12 December 2011 entitled ‘Human rights and democracy at the heart of EU external action – towards a more effective approach’ (COM(2011)0886),

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

    –  having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the opinion of the Committee on Budgets (A8-0350/2017),

    Introduction

    1.  Is convinced that no single Member State alone is able to tackle the challenges we face today; emphasises that common EU action is the most effective way to preserve Europe’s interests, uphold its values, engage in a wider world as a united and influential global actor and protect its citizens and Member States from increased threats to their security, including in a global digital sphere; is concerned about the EU’s security architecture, which remains fragile and fragmented in the face of continued and fresh challenges every day and in which a ‘hybrid peace’ has become an unsatisfactory reality; urges the Member States to take action and fulfil the wishes of those European citizens who have repeatedly stressed that EU foreign and security policy based on fundamental values and human rights is one of the most important and most necessary of all EU policies; considers that it is high time that Member States implement Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) tools, instruments and policies to enable the EU to respond to external conflicts and crises, build partners’ capacities and protect the European Union;

    2.  Recalls the EU’s commitment to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy guided by the values of democracy, the rule of law, the universality and indivisibility of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and compliance with the UN Charter and international law; considers that, in order to live up to this commitment and to contribute to advancing human rights and democracy in the world, the EU and its Member States need to speak with a united voice and ensure that their message is heard;

    3.  Takes the view that, in order for the EU to succeed in addressing and overcoming the challenges it faces, and in particular security threats, it needs to be an effective, credible and values-based global player, with a capacity for action and effective dialogue with other global players, which implies the EU speaking with one voice, acting together and focusing its resources on strategic priorities;

    4.  Stresses the need for the EU’s external policies to be consistent with each other and with other policies with an external dimension, and to pursue the objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty on European Union;

    5.  Believes that the core milestones for the European Union to deliver on the expectations of its citizens are:

    –  coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges within the EU and a common approach in how to address them; taking into account in particular the prevention of radicalisation, which can lead to recruitment by terrorist groups,

    –  consolidation and deepening of the European project and its external action by, inter alia, enhancing the EU’s cooperation and capabilities in the field of its common foreign and security policy, including information warfare,

    –  cooperation between Member States, partners, and international organisations and institutions protecting peace within clearly defined and carefully chosen conditions to strengthen the rules-based, global political and economic order, including the protection of human rights, and working together with partners to play a leading role in reconciliation, peacemaking, peacekeeping and, where needed, peace enforcement;

    Coordination of an assessment of profound threats and challenges: facing the current political and security environment

    6.  Emphasises that guaranteeing the security of EU citizens and the integrity of the EU’s territory, stabilising the neighbourhood, especially in the Western Balkans with a focus on more visibility of the EU in this region, promoting reforms to preserve a rules-based, cooperative political and economic international order, tackling the root causes of armed conflicts and enhancing policies of conflict prevention, peaceful conflict resolution and dialogue with pluralist democracies committed to the defence of human rights, are the key conditions for the stability of the EU; calls on more active EU public diplomacy and greater visibility for projects implemented by the EU;

    7.  Is of the view that, in an increasingly conflict-ridden and unstable international environment, only a combination of effective multilateralism, joint soft power and credible hard power can be capable of confronting major security challenges, notably the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the violation of the security order in Europe, terrorism, conflicts in the Eastern and Southern neighbourhood, proxy wars, hybrid and information warfare, including digital aggression, and energy insecurity; highlights that these challenges also include the refugee crises in its humanitarian dimension, challenging aggressive behaviour by North Korea, the violation of international law by Russia and China’s growing military power, for which only a strong diplomatic response will suffice;

    8.  Is of the opinion that a more effective common foreign and security policy depends primarily on the establishment of common strategic priorities and visions; takes the view that it is necessary to tackle the root causes of instability, spread largely because of failed or fragile states, and of forced and irregular migration: poverty, the lack of economic opportunities and access to education, social exclusion, armed conflicts, undemocratic and inefficient governance, corruption, climate change, increasing sectarianism, the threat of radicalisation and the spread of extremist ideologies; recalls the action plan adopted at the Valletta Summit calling for a shared responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination; emphasises the importance of breaking the economic model of smuggler networks;

    9.  Underlines the need to counter autocratic and nepotistic trends, to intensify support for democratic forces and to fight against Islamist terrorism in the Southern neighbourhood and among the neighbours of our neighbours and partners, and to target those groups which seek to encourage EU citizens to fight for their extremist cause; recalls that the Sahel region and other connected geographical areas are priority regions for ensuring the security of the European Union; reiterates the need for concerted diplomatic efforts on the part of the EU, the US and other international partners, to work with players in the region, such as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iran, on the need for a clear position against religious extremism and terrorism, and to establish a common strategy to address this global challenge in line with the commitment undertaken at UN level to uphold international law and universal values; believes that diplomatic efforts should be accompanied by the wide range of other tools and instruments at the EU’s disposal, including those for the improvement of political, social and economic conditions conducive to the establishment and preservation of peace;

    10.  Believes that tackling violent extremism should go hand in hand with upholding universal human rights; stresses that the EU must counter and condemn state sponsors of radicalisation and terrorism, particularly where such support is given to entities listed by the EU as terror organisations; underlines the importance of strengthening cooperation with our partners experienced in combating terrorism;

    11.  Stresses that a sustainable solution to the Syrian crisis can only be achieved under the existing UN-agreed framework and needs to be based on an inclusive, Syrian-led political settlement involving all relevant stakeholders; continues to urge all members of the UN Security Council to honour their responsibilities with regard to the crisis; supports the call of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria on the ceasefire guarantor states to undertake urgent efforts to uphold the ceasefire regime;

    12.  Welcomes the EU strategy on Syria adopted in April 2017, which includes extending sanctions to persons involved in the development and use of chemical weapons; encourages the further extension of sanctions to those responsible for human rights violations; stresses that all those responsible for breaches of international law must be held accountable; reiterates its call for the EU and its Member States to explore with partners the creation of a Syria war crimes tribunal, pending a successful referral to the ICC; stresses the need for the EU to demonstrate full commitment in assisting the reconstruction of Syria after the conflict;

    13.  Calls on all parties involved, within and outside Libya, to support both the Libyan political agreement signed on 17 December 2015 and its resulting Presidential Council, which is the only authority recognised by the international community and the UN; underlines that solving the Libyan crisis is a prerequisite for stability in the Mediterranean; emphasises the importance of the Southern neighbourhood and the need to achieve a euro-Mediterranean space of peace, prosperity, stability and integration; underlines its strong support for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with an independent, democratic, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security with the secure State of Israel; stresses the importance of ensuring coherence of EU policy on situations of occupation or annexation of territory;

    14.  Welcomes the continued successful implementation by all parties of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by the EU3 +3 with Iran; stresses that the continued full implementation of this agreement by all parties is key to global efforts on non-proliferation and conflict resolution in the Middle East; highlights that the JCPOA is a multilateral agreement that was endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution and cannot be changed unilaterally; stresses the security risk posed by Iran’s ballistic missile programme and underlines the need for full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which calls on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology;

    15.  Notes that the US Treasury Department has officially updated its Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) counter-terrorism list to include the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC);

    16.  Expresses its deep concern about the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Yemen; emphasises once again that there can be no military solution to the prolonged conflict in Yemen and supports efforts undertaken by the EU and UN towards achieving the ceasefire and laying the ground for peace negotiations; takes the view that the EU must act to ensure the continued existence of ethnic-religious minorities in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria;

    17.  Condemns the repeated use by Russia of its veto powers on the UN Security Council and considers it to undermine international efforts for peace and conflict resolution in Syria and the European Union’s southern neighbourhood more widely;

    18.  Acknowledges that further efforts should be made to make legal migration and mobility possible, including at bilateral level, by fostering well-managed mobility between and within continents, and by encouraging policies that promote regular channels for migration while fighting illegal networks that profit from vulnerable people; underlines the efforts taken by individual Member States in this regard and considers it essential to strengthen the legal and secure access path to Europe; regrets, in this regard, the lack of a genuine, balanced and credible European migration and asylum policy, as demonstrated by the ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean, and calls on the Council and the Member States to act accordingly;

    19.  Strongly believes that a new approach to the EU’s relations with its Eastern neighbours is needed; believes that supporting those countries that wish to have closer ties with the EU must be a top priority for EU foreign policy; believes that the prolongation of sanctions against individuals and entities in Russia is an inevitable outcome of the failure to implement the Minsk agreements and continues to see such implementation by all sides as the basis for a sustainable political solution to the conflict in Eastern Ukraine;

    20.  Emphasises that the possibility of more cooperative relations with Russia is contingent on Russia fully abiding by the European security order and international law; insists that the EU should keep open the option of further gradual sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law; reiterates its commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and all the other Eastern Partnership countries within their internationally recognised borders; stresses that Russia’s decision of 21 March 2014 to incorporate Crimea into the Russian Federation remains illegal under international law and deplores the subsequent decision by the Russian authorities to forcefully impose Russian passports on all inhabitants of Crimea; calls on the VP/HR and the Council to play a more active and effective role in solving protracted and frozen conflicts;

    21.  Deplores Russia’s multiple violations of international law and its hybrid warfare; recognises, however, the possibility of reasoned and coherent selective engagement and dialogue with Russia in areas of common interest, in order to ensure accountability and respect for international law; stresses the need to maintain and encourage the possibility of future cooperation on resolving global crises where there is a direct or indirect EU interest or an opportunity to promote EU values;

    22.  Believes that normalised relations are a necessity for both the EU and Russia, and that any future EU-Russia strategy should emphasise reinforced commitment and support for the EU’s Eastern Partners; stresses that the EU should keep the door open for deepening the bilateral political and economic relationship with Russia, subject to Russia complying with international law and subscribed agreements, and halting its increasingly assertive attitude towards its neighbours and Europe;

    23.  Reiterates that sovereignty, independence and the peaceful settlement of disputes are key principles of the European security order which apply to all states; condemns unreservedly, therefore, Russian aggression in Ukraine, including the illegal annexation of Crimea and the Russian-sponsored conflict in Eastern Ukraine; calls on the EU, its Member States and the international community to demand that Russia must halt its aggression and release all political prisoners; calls for the international community to play a more active and effective role in the resolution of the conflict and to support all efforts for a lasting peaceful solution which respects the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, in particular by the deployment – with the consent of the Ukrainian authorities – of a peace-building and peace-keeping mission to the whole territory;

    24.  Reiterates the need for a strategic refocus on the Western Balkans, recognising that the EU should follow through with its ambitions in the region, as doing so would give a fresh impetus to a credible EU enlargement policy based on the Copenhagen criteria, and strengthen the rule of law and the resilience of state institutions; believes that the stability of the Western Balkans must continue to be a major priority; calls for more efforts in improving the socio-economic and political conditions of the region; is convinced that European integration and regional reconciliation are the best means to address the dangers stemming from destabilising foreign interference and influences, the funding of large Salafist and Wahhabi networks and the recruitment of foreign fighters, organised crime, major state disputes, disinformation and hybrid threats; stresses the need to remain dedicated to fostering highly effective political societies in the region;

    25.  Reiterates that once all those criteria have been met, the doors of the EU are open for membership; welcomes recent efforts undertaken as part of the Berlin Process and Trieste Summit to give additional impetus to the convergence of Western Balkan countries towards EU membership; reiterates that special attention and support should be given to the implementation of crucial institutional and political reforms in the Western Balkans and calls on the Commission to rethink the possibility for additional allocation of financial resources for the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), as one of the most important tools for aiding the implementation of those reforms;

    26.  Recalls that the review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) calls for the involvement of neighbouring third countries; calls for stronger support for the neighbours of our neighbours, on the basis of shared values and interests, in order to tackle global issues and address common challenges; highlights the need to promote the empowerment and protection of women, vulnerable social groups and minorities, in particular in Africa, where close cooperation between European and local SMEs, in partnership with civil society, and where support for building democratic, transparent and effective institutions and the promotion of a rule-based global order, are needed;

    27.  Considers international cooperation and development policies to be fundamental instruments for achieving such objectives and urges a more transparent, improved, efficient and effective allocation and use of EU funding, and greater synergies with other international organisations; emphasises the need to address the major security threats in Africa with a view to eradicating the terrorist threat posed by any terrorist group, to guarantee the prevention of the recruitment of individuals, to combat radical ideologies and to address energy security by means of environmentally friendly and sustainable energy sources while at the same time promoting off-grid solutions;

    28.  Strongly condemns any attempt by incumbent presidents to overstay in power by violating, evading or unlawfully amending electoral laws, and constitutions in particular; condemns, by the same token, any strategy to abolish or circumvent term limits; urges all governments to take measures to ensure the transparency and integrity of the entire electoral process, and to take all necessary measures and precautions to prevent the perpetration of fraud or any illegal practices; expresses its concern, in this regard, about the political crises, and related violence and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, in particular in countries in the Great Lakes Region; reiterates its belief in strong electoral observation missions, and, where necessary, financial, technical and logistical support as a means of achieving fair, credible and democratic electoral processes;

    29.  Encourages the development of a coherent, robust strategy for the Sahel region aimed at improving governance and the accountability and legitimacy of state and regional institutions, at boosting security, at tackling radicalisation and the trafficking of people, arms and drugs, and at strengthening economic and development policies;

    30.  Reiterates the need for an updated strategy for EU-Asia relations; voices support in this context for stronger cooperation within the framework of the Asia-Europe Meetings, including in terms of its parliamentary dimension; encourages support for closer regional cooperation and trust-building measures in South Asia with a view to reducing tensions between India and Pakistan; recommends continued support for EU peace mediation in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process; stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; considers it vital and of great urgency to develop an updated EU strategy for the North-East Asia region in the light of the continued military build-up and the aggressive and irresponsible attitude shown by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK); condemns the tests and provocations by the DPRK, and its multiple violations of UN Security Council resolutions and international obligations; urges the EU’s diplomatic power to be used to apply pressure on the DPRK to persuade its leaders to abandon weapons of mass destruction; calls for the mobilisation of all diplomatic tools, including sanctions, in order to prevent an escalation of this crisis; calls for the irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means and for the full implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions;

    31.  Stresses that preserving peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is of substantial interest to the EU and its Member States; calls on all the parties concerned to resolve differences through peaceful means and to refrain from taking unilateral action to change the status quo, including in the East and South China Seas and the Taiwan Strait, in order to safeguard regional security; reiterates its commitment to supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations and activities;

    32.  Recalls that Latin America shares with the EU common values, principles and trust in effective multilateralism and believes that the EU-Latin American partnership is important and should be strengthened in order to jointly address major global challenges; expresses its grave concern about the attacks carried out against members of the judiciary and the democratically elected opposition and civil society leaders in Venezuela; emphasises that respect for the rule of law, the fight against corruption, progress towards democracy, and fundamental freedoms and human rights are cornerstones for deeper integration and cooperation with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC);

    33.  Reiterates its support for the peace process in Colombia, which is critical for the future of Colombians and for stabilisation in the region; demands that all FARC assets, including the treasure obtained from drug smuggling, be used to indemnify victims of the conflict;

    Consolidation and deepening of the European project through enhanced EU capabilities

    34.  Urges the Commission, the EEAS and the Member States to adopt an EU comprehensive approach at every relevant opportunity, and believes that coherent, coordinated action across EU polices, while taking into consideration and implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular in the areas of humanitarian aid, agriculture, development, trade, energy, climate, science and cyber defence and security, should be applied in the EU’s external action in a consistent and structured manner in order to harness the EU’s collective force; believes that energy security, the respect for human rights and climate diplomacy remain important complementary aspects of the EU’s common foreign and security policy to be addressed as part of the comprehensive approach, and that the Energy Union should be further advanced;

    35.  Recognises that climate change could have a serious effect on regional and global stability, as global warming disputes over territory, food, water and other resources weaken economies, threaten regional security, and act as a source of migratory flows; further encourages the EU and its Member States to consider how national and EU military planning can include climate change adaption strategies and what would be considered an appropriate capability, priority and response;

    36.  Stresses that the future of European defence cooperation is significantly affected by the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU, and calls for the continued engagement of the EU and UK as major international partners in order to maintain European security; stresses that the presidential elections in the United States introduced uncertainty into the transatlantic partnership and highlights the need for a counterweight for EU defence and the establishment of strategic autonomy;

    37.  Takes the view, that in order to make the Common Foreign and Security policy more assertive, effective and values-based, the EU should enhance its energy security, by immediately reducing its dependence, at present, on oil and gas supplied by authoritarian regimes, and by stopping it altogether in the medium term;

    38.  Stresses that the current decision-making process for the CFSP, based on unanimity in the Council of the EU, is the main obstacle to effective and timely external EU action; is of the opinion that qualified majority voting should also be applied for the CFSP; takes the view that the EU institutions must improve their ability to anticipate conflicts and crises, including by means of short- and long-term impact assessments of its policies, in order to address the root causes of the problems; believes that the EU needs to be able to react more swiftly and effectively to developing crises and should place greater emphasis on preventing conflicts by primarily using civilian tools at an early stage; calls on the Member States to put into practice Parliament’s recommendations to embrace the principle of Responsibility to Protect; stresses the need to deepen cooperation between the Member States, partner countries and international organisations, and underlines the importance of an effective exchange of information and coordination of preventive actions;

    39.  Calls on the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States to step up their efforts to increase the EU’s ability to confront hybrid and cyber threats, to further strengthen the capacity of the EU and its partner countries to fight fake news and disinformation, to draw up clear criteria to facilitate the detection of fake news, to allocate more resources and turn the Stratcom task force into a fully-fledged unit within the EEAS; calls, in this regard, for the development of joint, comprehensive risk and vulnerability analysis capacities and methods, and for the EU’s resilience and strategic communication capabilities to be bolstered; stresses the role of independent media – both on- and offline – in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and underlines that common EU TV and radio stations should be further enhanced; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS and Member States on those issues;

    40.  Is of the view that Europe’s power resides in its ability to strengthen a community of values and respect for the diversity of culture that binds together all Europeans; believes, in this context, that the EU plays a major role as a promoter of democracy, freedom, the rule of law, human rights and equal opportunities, and should continue to promote its values outside the EU; recalls that human rights are an integral part of the CFSP and should form a central conditionality of external policies, and furthermore that these policies must be consistent and principled; highlights that cultural diplomacy should become a substantial part of the EU’s external action and urges the Commission to expand the Erasmus+ programme and foster the development of ambitious science diplomacy; calls for closer coordination with ​the ​UNESCO and World Heritage Committee and with non-state actors and civil society organisations as key partners of the EU;

    41.  Points out that it was noted in UN Security Council Resolution 1820(2008) of 19 June 2008 that rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute a war crime, a crime against humanity, or a constitutive act with respect to genocide, and that women must be afforded humanitarian protection in situations of armed conflict;

    42.  Considers that the development of a strong defence industry is strengthening the technological independence of the EU; calls for the industrial and technological resources needed to improve cybersecurity to be developed, including through the promotion of a single market for cybersecurity products; calls for significantly increased financial and human resources to be made available within the EU institutions in order to increase the EU’s cyber security and cyber defence capacity; emphasises the need to mainstream cyber defence into external action and common foreign and security policy, as well as the need for an improved ability to identify cybercrime;

    43.  Notes that information and cyber warfare, targeting EU Member States and other Western countries, is a deliberate attempt to destabilise and discredit political, economic and social structures; recalls that the security of EU Member States which are NATO members is guaranteed under Article 5 of the Alliance; calls for closer coordination on cyber defence between EU Member States, EU institutions, NATO, the United States and other credible partners;

    44.  Stresses the role of independent media in promoting cultural diversity and intercultural competences, and the need to strengthen such media as a source of credible information, especially in the EU and its neighbourhood, and to further strengthen the EU’s capacity to fight fake news and disinformation; highlights in this context the need to develop stronger resilience at EU level against such information spread over the Internet; calls on the Commission to coordinate better with the EEAS on those issues;

    45.  Believes that Europe should further strengthen cooperation on common defence, in order to defend its common values and principles and strategic autonomy; stresses the importance of the link between external and internal security, better use of resources and risk control in the periphery of Europe; recalls that the link between development and security is a key principle underpinning the Union’s approach to external crises and conflicts; calls on the Member States to unleash the Lisbon Treaty’s full potential with regard to the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) and welcomes in this context the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence; encourages a review of the EU’s approach to civilian CSDP missions in order to ensure they are properly devised, implemented and supported; considers that European Defence Agency (EDA) capabilities and permanent structured cooperation (PESCO) and the EU Battlegroups should be used to their full potential; urges the Member States to provide additional funding to that end;

    46.  Believes that the European Union and its Member States must develop effective foreign and security policy, and must work together with NATO and other international partners, the UN, NGOs, human rights defenders, and others on issues of shared concern and in order to promote peace, prosperity and stability around the world; highlights the importance of raising awareness and political commitment for an urgent implementation of an ambitious, effective and structured CSDP; urges the Council, the Commission and the Member States to address the EU’s communication problems by making EU external action more accountable and visible; calls on the Member States and the EU institutions to deliver on defence following the EU Global Strategy and the Commission’s plans to improve EU defence research and capability development;

    47.  Calls on the Commission to fully reflect the growing security challenges in its proposal for the next multiannual financial framework (MFF); considers that both the size and the flexibility of the CFSP budget must match EU citizens’ expectations about the EU’s role as a security provider; insists on the need for a global vision for EU policy and instruments in the field of security, including fruitful coordination with the proposed European Defence Fund; calls on the Member States to aim for the target of spending 2 % of GDP on defence, and to spend 20 % of their defence budgets on equipment identified as necessary by the EDA; points out, in addition, that any new policy must be backed by funding from new sources; notes that various Member States have difficulty in maintaining a very broad range of fully operational defensive capabilities, mostly because of financial constraints; calls for more cooperation and coordination, therefore, about which capabilities should be maintained, so that Member States can specialise in certain capabilities and spend their resources more efficiently; believes that interoperability is key if Member States’ forces are to be more compatible and integrated; recalls that CFSP appropriations represented 3.6 % of the Heading 4 commitments in 2016 and 0.2 % of the whole EU budget; regrets that the size and under-implementation of and systematic transfers from the CFSP chapter reveal a persistent lack of ambition for the EU to act as a global player;

    48.  Notes that deadlocks within the UN Security Council are impeding action by the international community and preventing crisis resolution; calls once again on the Member States to support reforms in the composition and functioning of the Security Council;

    Cooperation within coalitions and with institutions delivering security

    49.  Underlines that it is in the EU’s strategic interest to preserve and deepen its transatlantic relations based on respect for common values, international law and multilateralism; calls for the EU to continue to develop its strategic autonomy and create its own capabilities to better address regional and international conflicts that have an impact on the EU; believes that the EU and US should focus on adapting transatlantic structures to today’s challenges, such as defending human rights, tackling climate change, combating international terrorism and corruption, the prevention of radicalisation, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and countering third-party countries’ efforts to destabilise the EU and NATO; further stresses the importance of continued and reinforced cooperation between the EU and US bilaterally and through NATO on common issues; recalls that the EU and the US are each other’s most important partners and that unilateral moves serve only to weaken the transatlantic partnership; believes that Europe must further enhance a virtuous alliance between the private and public sectors and should reinforce the strategic relationship with the US; calls on the Council and the EEAS to consistently raise the issue of US extraterritorial sanctions in their dialogue with the US Government;

    50.  Strongly supports the 2016 Warsaw Summit Declaration, particularly on EU-NATO cooperation, and welcomes decisions on closer cooperation between NATO and the EU in numerous areas as well as the placement of US, Canadian and other multinational forces at the Eastern flank of the EU;

    51.  Calls for increased intelligence sharing between Member States, increased interinstitutional intelligence sharing, and coordination between the EU, Member States and NATO, and insists that they must continue to cooperate as closely as possible in a complementary manner while fully respecting European core values and norms; acknowledges that information sharing and coordinated action between the EU, its Member States and NATO will produce results in areas such as terrorism response to hybrid threats, situational awareness, resilience building, strategic communications, cyber security and capacity-building vis-à-vis the EU’s partners; believes that further coordination and closer cooperation with other existing multilateral entities such as Eurocorps is needed in order to increase the EU’s security; reiterates that a revitalisation of the strategic partnerships should be a priority for the EU;

    52.  Underlines the role of Parliament in shaping a genuinely common foreign policy in line with the expectations of European citizens; calls on the Council to act in concert with Parliament during the main phases of foreign policy decision-making;

    53.  Acknowledges the work of the VP/HR and calls for her to continue to ensure that future annual reports will be more concise and forward-looking, focusing on the most important priorities for the year ahead and an evaluation of the measures launched in the previous year, including their financial implications, in order to provide a comprehensive overview on the EU’s performance;

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    54.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and the Member States.

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  • Opening speech High-Level Conference on Africa – Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament : ‘A new partnership between the European Union and Africa’

    (check against delivery)

    It is a real pleasure to see this Chamber full to the rafters to discuss the major issue of our partnership with our African friends.

    The African Union-European Union Summit will take place in exactly one week’s time in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

    I will straightaway say that that Summit must be different from the others, and must yield tangible results and a clear and precise roadmap.

    We are privileged to have the President of the Central African Republic and many other African leaders with us here today. 

    This clearly shows that the European Parliament wishes to establish a direct high-level dialogue with the leaders of African countries.

    I have always said that we must look at Africa through African eyes, and this calls for frank and direct peer-to-peer dialogue.

    We have launched that dialogue by inviting the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the President of Côte d’Ivoire to address the plenary.

    We will continue in the same vein.

    The European Parliament has decided to organise an ‘Africa week’ of parliamentary activities. Today’s conference is part of that initiative, which seeks to restore Africa to the heart of the political agenda, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank my colleages in the European Parliament for the firm commitment they have shown to Africa.

    For many years, the Union failed to give Africa the attention it deserves. Often we looked the other way, heedless of the emergencies – humanitarian or linked to climate, security or stability – which Africans have to deal with every day. We failed to recognise that we have an overriding strategic interest in what happens in Africa.

    Europe’s approach was a piecemeal one, with individual countries falling over one another in pursuit of their own interests and agendas. The result was a road paved with good intentions, but there were many missed opportunities and few successes along the way. We failed to exert any real political and economic influence on the future of Africa.

    Globalisation and migration have shown that building walls or putting up barriers is not the solution. Africa’s problems are Europe’s problems too.

    It is time to put our relations on a new footing, before it’s too late. Our links go beyond mere geographical proximity. We have common interests and face common challenges.

    By 2050, the population of Africa will double, to more than 2.5 billion. This population explosion may be a problem, but it may also be an opportunity.

    Desertification, famine, pandemics, terrorism, unemployment and bad governance are exacerbating instability and contributing to uncontrolled immigration.

    Without determined action to tackle these phenomena, new generations will continue to set out for Europe in search of hope and a future. They may be attracted by images on television or on the internet depicting what seems to them to be a land of milk and honey. We urgently need to offer them real prospects in their home countries, so that they stay and help to revitalise them.

    Guaranteeing security and managing migration

    Our citizens want a stronger Union, capable of managing migration and guaranteeing security. They are calling on us to defend our values, by welcoming refugees and protecting the dignity of individuals at all times. But they also want us to be just as resolute in turning away those who have no right to enter Europe.

    We are no longer prepared to stand idly by while migration continues unchecked, while thousands die in the desert or at sea, while human traffickers go about their business, or while men and women who in the 21st century cannot feed their children or get medicines for them when they are sick give up all hope.

    As a first step, we need to strengthen border controls and manage asylum applications and procedures for rejecting applications and readmitting migrants more effectively.

    Shutting down the central Mediterranean corridors, promoting stability and combating terrorism will require investments by the Union on a similar scale to those made to halt migration via the Balkan route. This money has to be spent in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Niger, Chad or Mali.

    I should like to thank the ministers of the government of Mali, a country in the front line of the fight against terror in the Sahel. The ‘G5 Sahel’ Group is an excellent example of regional cooperation which the Union must help to strengthen.

    This money must be used to improve the training given to our border guards and our security forces. It can be used to set up reception centres under the auspices of the UN, where humanitarian protection, food, medicines and childcare are provided; and where asylum applications are dealt with promptly.

    Bringing huge resources to bear at our internal borders will achieve nothing. All suggestions that it will are nothing more than propaganda. Rather, what is needed is adequate funding for Frontex and the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency, which must be given more staff and resources.

    The European satellite systems – Galileo and Copernicus – and new security technologies to be developed jointly must be used for this purpose as well.

    We must also harmonise conditions governing the granting of asylum and readmission procedures, which must be quick and effective.

    At the last part-session in Strasbourg, Parliament adopted by a large majority the mandate for a thoroughgoing overhaul of the Dublin Regulation, to make it fairer, more genuinely solidarity-based and more effective. Now it is up to the Council to act.

    The challenges facing Africa

    But all this is not enough. We need to address the problem at its roots. Unless we can offer them real prospects of well-being and stability, it will no longer be tens of thousands but millions of people who choose to leave their home countries behind. The UN estimates that, even in the short term, more than half a million people every year will seek a better future in Europe.

    Supporting Africa is not only a duty. It is clearly also in our shared economic and political interest.

    Many African countries are already showing that their continent offers genuine opportunities: in 2016, five African economies were among the top ten in the world in terms of growth, with rates of more than 7%.

    Africa has critical raw materials essential for our industries: 64% of the world’s cobalt, without which batteries for electric cars cannot be made, comes from Congo; tantalum, which is used in solar panels, comes from Rwanda; platinum, which is used to limit harmful emissions from cars, comes from South Africa.

    These raw materials are also of interest to our competitors, starting with China, which is seeking to establish a dominant position in order to boost its own industries.

    There is also a problem of environmental sustainability. In the context of the Raw Materials Partnership, which I promoted when I was Industry Commissioner in 2012, cooperation developed between EU and African geological surveys which has led to innovation and greater awareness of the need to protect the environment.

    There are many other good examples of our work with Africa. To start with, there is the integration of markets, under the Lomé Conventions and the current Cotonou Agreement. These agreements have granted free access to the European market for 99.5 % of African products.

    Discussions on the post-Cotonou settlement are continuing. I should like to thank Parliament’s rapporteurs for their contribution.

    Despite these efforts and the tens of billions that have been invested, there is still a long way to go if we are to guarantee decent living conditions and greater security for people in Africa.

    Many parts of Africa are affected by conflicts, instability, terrorism, bad governance – just think about what is currently happening in Zimbabwe, in the Horn of Africa or in the Central African Republic.

    According to World Bank figures, the GDP of all the African countries put together is barely higher than that of France.

    Despite disastrous levels of child mortality – 38% of all the newborns who died in 2015 were African – the continent has the world’s fastest growing population.

    We are far from achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN with a view to reducing poverty: one-third of Africans live below the poverty line; one-sixth of them need humanitarian aid to survive; in rural areas, 60% of people have less than one euro a day to live on.

    Farming and raw materials, including energy, are the main sources of revenue, whilst the level of industrialisation is extremely low.

    Last Monday was Africa Industrialisation Day, which provided an opportunity to emphasise once again that developing a manufacturing base is fundamental to growth and employment.

    Only 15% of Africans have the internet at home. Barely one person in three has electricity.

    Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest illiteracy rates: one child in every five does not go to school, and almost 60% of young people are not undergoing training of any kind.

    Is it any surprise, therefore, that young Africans should believe that they have nothing to lose; that they should decide to risk their lives to come to Europe; or that they should be seduced by people who preach violence in God’s name.

    Many problems could be solved by means of greater investment in education, infrastructure, industry and modern farming techniques. Africa, however, is the continent which attracts by far the lowest volume of foreign investment: barely more than EUR 80 billion a year, only 3% of African GDP. China is the country whose investments are increasing the most in proportional terms.

    Africa’s destiny must be put back in the hands of Africans. But Europe must play its part as well.

    We must work together with Africa, as equals, and make available the fruits of our leadership in the areas of technology, quality, industrial know-how and training.

    Ten years have passed since the EU-Africa strategy was adopted. In that time many hopes have been dashed. Europe has lacked the courage to develop truly effective instruments.

    Instead of consolidating our position as Africa’s main partner, we are losing ground. Not only China but other emerging investors as well, such as Turkey, India and Singapore, are gaining in influence.

    A Marshall Plan for Africa

    The fifth African Union-European Union Summit, which will be held on 29 and 30 November in Abidjan and bring together more than 80 heads of state, comes at a crucial time.

    We must send out a clear signal that we are determined to relaunch and strengthen our partnership, and speak with a single, strong voice.

    The focus of all our efforts must be young people: they hold the key to a more stable, prosperous and modern Africa.

    The EUR 3.4 billion investment plan for Africa is an important step in the right direction. But it is nowhere near enough.

    We must support the efforts Africans themselves are making to establish a sustainable manufacturing base and develop efficient farming, renewable energy sources and proper water, energy, mobility, logistical and digital infrastructure, by drawing up a real ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa. By doing so we will strengthen governance and the rule of law, step up the fight against corruption and foster the emancipation of women and education.

    We must work to ensure that under the next EU multiannual budget at least EUR 40 billion is earmarked for the investment fund for Africa. The leverage effect and synergies generated with the funding provided by the European Investment Bank could make it possible to mobilise some EUR 500 billion in public and private investment.

    On that basis, we can continue to conduct effective economic diplomacy which promotes the integration of markets, the transfer of technology and industrial know-how, sustainability and training.

    The aim must be to establish an environment conducive to the development of a manufacturing base and entrepreneurship and the creation of SMIs and jobs for young people. For that we also need instruments such as Erasmus for young entrepreneurs, which should be extended to cover Africa.

    At the same time, legal immigrants from Africa can meet the demand for workers in some sectors of the economy in the EU and acquire professional skills which they can then use to create businesses in Europe.

    We also need academic and cultural diplomacy which, by expanding Erasmus+ and stepping up cooperation between universities on research and mobility projects, makes it possible for more Africans to study in Europe.

    Conclusions

    More resources are not in themselves the answer. Already today we are investing EUR 33 billion from the EU budget alone, not counting the bilateral aid provided by individual Member States.

    If our taxpayers’ generosity has failed to produce the hoped-for results, we must ask ourselves whether the current development cooperation model is the right one.

    Carrying on as we have always done would be a serious mistake. Our citizens are calling for a political Europe which is capable of making brave choices. Starting with the budget; more of the same is not acceptable, and the budget must reflect the priorities of the peoples of Europe,

    The proposed sum of EUR 40 billion – 12 times more than the current budget for the Investment Plan – is needed to generate an impact commensurate with our objectives. This is a critical mass large enough to attract European private and public investment. 

    It is not a Utopian idea. If the political will is there, resources can be found, partly by using the funds already earmarked for Africa more effectively, partly by providing guarantees under the EU budget, and partly by identifying new sources of funding.

    It is for just that reason that I have proposed an increase in the next budget. Making new resources available must not serve to impose a burden on citizens or SMIs. Instead, we must use new own resources for this purpose, by collecting taxes from those who currently don’t pay them and reducing taxes on those who do pay them.

    I am thinking of tax havens, the internet giants and speculative financial transactions of all kinds.

    Today, the European Parliament is committing itself to playing a central role in a new Partnership with Africa. Our debate, involving young people, political leaders, experts and investors from Europe and Africa, must serve as preparation for the new start we will make in Abidjan.

    This conference must be more than a formal event at which we read out speeches – rather, we must take the opportunity it offers to relaunch our partnership.

    If our partnership really is a priority, then we must meet more regularly – every two years.

    Follow-up meetings should be held at multiple levels on a regular basis, including between the representatives of civil society, business and commerce and the young.

    Abidjan must mark a new beginning in our relations.

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  • Security Council Reiterates its Condemnation of Trafficking in Persons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2388 (2017)

    Secretary‑General Underlines Collective Responsibility to ‘Stop These Crimes’

    The Security Council reiterated its condemnation of trafficking in human beings today, particularly the sale of people by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), as well as other violations and abuses by Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other such groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

    Unanimously adopting resolution 2388 (2017) ahead of a day‑long debate on that subject, the Council underscored the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts so as to ensure that those responsible could be held accountable.  It reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who made up the vast majority of all trafficking victims in areas affected by armed conflict.

    Also by the text, the Council stressed that trafficking undermined the rule of law and contributed to other forms of transnational organized crime that could exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability, thereby undermining development.  The Council underscored the importance of cooperation in enforcing international law in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.

    The Council also expressed, by further terms of the text, its intention to give greater consideration to how peacekeeping and political missions could help host States combatting human trafficking.  It also requested that the Secretary‑General ensure the inclusion of trafficking in assessments of country situations and in the training of mission personnel, which would help in identifying, confirming, responding and reporting on situations of trafficking.

    Briefing ahead of the debate were Secretary‑General António Guterres as well as Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

    Secretary‑General Guterres declared “it is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration and to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, he noted.

    A framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to that framework’s implementation, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

    Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he emphasized, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  He called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

    Mr. Fedotov said the UNODC had designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data‑collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and helped victims.  It was now considering how to strengthen the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordinating Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, he said.  In more general terms, he said widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights during mass movements remained a grave concern.  Thanks to efforts by the Council and the wider United Nations system, there was forward momentum against trafficking, but the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized.

    Ms. Giammarinaro said egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  Violations such as trafficking were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause, she pointed out, saying the Security Council’s agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the processes linked to the Global Compact on Migration and Refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.

    Mr. Chergui said interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, noting that national legal frameworks were inadequate and often needed strengthening.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring: “Our common humanity is at stake.”

    With more than 70 speakers participating in the open debate, delegates affirmed the serious violation of human rights represented by trafficking in persons, with many relating the harrowing stories of victims, particularly women and children.  Some speakers outlined national programmes to help victims and root out trafficking through the three‑part effort of prevention, protection and prosecution.

    While most delegates hailed the resolution, many others questioned the expansion of the normative framework, some expressing regret that too many frameworks would fragment anti‑trafficking efforts.  Spain’s representative suggested that the UNODC take the lead in creating a global strategy.

    In addition, many delegates called for greater legal migration opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of those to whom borders were now closed.  Bolivia’s representative advocated universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.

    Many delegates began their statements by expressing disgust over recently disseminated images of African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves.

    Libya’s representative, condemning such activity, said the authorities had initiated an investigation and would hold perpetrators accountable.  He called on the international community to help his country address challenges posed by irregular mass migration through Libya rather than using such media misrepresentations for defamatory purposes.

    Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russian Federation, France, United States, Bolivia, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uruguay, China, United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Colombia, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Peru, Indonesia, Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, South Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Norway, Morocco, Sudan, Austria, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Canada, Bangladesh, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Botswana, Botswana, Maldives, Malaysia, Belize, Portugal, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands and Armenia.

    Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Organization for Migration also spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See.

    The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 5:09 p.m.

    Briefings

    ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said “criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict”, funding their crimes by brutally preying on the vulnerable.  Sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery were the tools of their trade.  Citing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as having forced women, boys and girls into dehumanizing servitude, he said such activities constituted serious abuses of human rights, as did the horrific practice of selling African migrants as “goods” in Libya.

    “It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable, he emphasized.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime and to increase the number of refugees in the developed world.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

    He said a framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children,

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  • Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

    The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

    Good afternoon, thank you for coming.

    **Mediterranean

    The Secretary‑General will speak to the Security Council this afternoon about the security challenges in the Mediterranean Sea.  He expects to tell the Council that the Mediterranean region faces serious challenges on multiple fronts, including illicit trade in narcotics, weapons and petroleum products; large movements of refugees and migrants; maritime piracy; and human rights violations.  So far this year, at least 2,800 refugees and migrants have perished in the Mediterranean, while countless others died on their way across the desert.  The Secretary‑General will argue that we need a more effective cooperation in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers, while protecting their victims and opening up meaningful opportunities for regular migration.  And right now, as you know Security Council members are holding consultations concerning the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for Syria.

    **Bangladesh/Myanmar

    Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that approximately 620,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since 25 August.  The refugees are mostly living in makeshift settlements without adequate infrastructure or services.  As of today, the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Plan has received nearly $140 million, or just under one third of what is actually needed.  Donors have pledged a total of $360 million for the response, and we urge them to disburse these funds as quickly as possible. For its part, the UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] says that, over the past 10 days, it has received reports of some 30 improvised rafts, carrying more than 1,000 people, arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar.

    As of today, more than 100 Rohingya refugees are known to have drowned in shipwrecks and boat incidents since the start of the crisis, with recent arrivals telling UNHCR that they had been waiting for more than a month in desperate conditions on Myanmar’ shores.  Also, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, wrapped up a visit to Bangladesh.  She said her observations point to a pattern of widespread atrocities, including gang rape and sexual slavery.  Ms. Patten said her office has agreement to develop a framework of cooperation with the Government to strengthen sexual- and gender‑based violence services and programmes.

    **Yemen

    Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, as the blockade by the Saudi‑Led Coalition on Yemen’s Sana’a airport and the country’s main ports in Hodeidah and Saleef is now in its twelfth day, millions of Yemenis continue to require urgent humanitarian assistance to stave off starvation and disease.  The warring parties are obligated under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to all people in need, through all sea ports and airports and throughout the country.  To prevent a health catastrophe, medical supplies need to be imported to contain a new outbreak of diphtheria, which is putting at risk approximately 1 million children.  In addition, fuel is necessary to provide water, but reports say the lack of fuel imports has resulted in three cities shutting down their clean water and sewage systems.  In ten days, there will be no petrol supplies left in the northern parts of Yemen.

    **Iraq

    Turning to Iraq, our humanitarian colleagues there tell us that preliminary findings of a humanitarian assessment mission to Tal Usquf in Iraq’s Ninewa Governorate have recorded 250 houses as either partially or fully damaged following the military realignment in northern Iraq in the middle of last month.  The primary needs in the area were found to include school rehabilitation, medical equipment, and winterization, such as the supply of heating fuel.  Humanitarian workers continue to struggle with effective access to Tal Usquf, due to the closure of key checkpoints in the area.  Meanwhile, some 4,800 people, who had left in the context of the military realignment, have since returned to the area.  Regarding earthquake recovery near the Iran‑Iraq border, the delivery of humanitarian services and assistance continues, as do assessments in the affected areas.  The Darbandikhan water treatment plant has been found to be operational at only 20 per cent capacity following the quake.  Distribution of water purification tablets and water purifiers is planned to ensure people are not exposed to waterborne diseases.

    **Climate Change

    Today, the Climate Change Conference in Bonn is coming to an end.  Our colleagues there tell us that this evening countries are expected to adopt a series of decisions that will advance the process of implementing the Paris Agreement.  Some of the announcements made today include a Global Alliance by more than 20 countries to phase out coal, the launch of an initiative to promote clean biofuels; the expansion of a G7 initiative to increase insurance coverage for climate‑related disasters; a $59 million commitment by Germany to help developing countries in their adaptation efforts; and a pledge by the EU to make up any shortfall in funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Going forward, countries will discuss progress made through the newly established “Talanoa Dialogue”, a mechanism to facilitate dialogue among the Parties.  More information on the UNFCCC’s [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] website.

    **Cameroon

    Our colleagues at the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) said yesterday in a statement that they are concerned about the increase in the number of security incidents in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.  The UN, they say, condemns the use of any form of violence by any party and reiterates its call for calm and restraint.  The UN has continuously stated that the best way to address the situation in the two regions is through a genuine and inclusive dialogue.  The Secretary‑General reiterates the availability of his Special Representative, François Louncény Fall, to assist national efforts in the search for a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis.

    **Colombia

    Turning to Colombia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there tells us they have noted an increase in murders and threats against human rights defenders and community leaders in the Pacific Coast region.  In most cases, the victims are from indigenous and Afro‑Colombian communities.

    **El Salvador

    Staying in the Southern Hemisphere, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, today wrapped up a visit to El Salvador, the first ever by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He said that, 25 years after the end of the civil war, El Salvador has proven itself to be a functioning democracy that honours freedom of expression and the political discourse there is vibrant.  Moreover, by presiding over the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner said the country has demonstrated its willingness to take a leadership role internationally, along with the responsibilities of being on the Council, which is much appreciated.  The High Commissioner thoroughly condemned the violence perpetrated by gangs and organized crime there.  He took note of the Government’s plan to curb and prevent violence, stressing that it needs to be implemented in a comprehensive way, in accordance with international human rights standards.

    **Cambodia

    The High Commissioner has also released a statement expressing his grave concern over the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in Cambodia next year following the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the main opposition party.

    **Antimicrobial Resistance

    Our friends at the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and the World Health Organization (WHO) today released a survey which reveals that countries have stepped up their efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance on farms and in food systems.  The survey found that more than 6.5 billion people — or more than 90 per cent of the world’s population ‑ now live in a country that already has, or is developing a national action plan to tackle the issue.  Nearly all of these plans cover both human and animal health in line with the recommended “one health”, multi‑sectoral approach.

    **Sustainable Development Goals

    A couple of things to flag for you over the weekend and Monday: Over the weekend, in Doha, Qatar, there will be a High‑level Conference to jump‑start 2018 discussions on financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Hosted by Qatar, with the support from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the event will address current challenges in advancing [financing for] the SDGs and implementing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  The results of the Conference will be presented during next year’s high‑level political forum [on sustainable development], which will take place here at UN Headquarters.  More information on Department’s website.

    **Children’s Day

    On Monday, our colleagues at UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] will host an event here at Headquarters to mark World Children’s Day.  The Secretary‑General will be in attendance along with high‑profile supporters, special guests, and 150 children representing some of the world’s most vulnerable children to speak out to the international community on issues that matter to them.  Some of the participants include:  singers, songwriters and musicians Chloe and Halle, who will debut a specially penned track to mark the day; Isabela Moner from Transformers:  The Last Knight and Nickelodeon; Logan actress Dafne Keen; Jaden Michael, the star of Wonderstruck; and Zari, the star of the local Afghan version of Sesame Street.  There will be a blue carpet photo call from 9 a.m. in the East Foyer which you are all welcome to attend.

    **Toilet Day

    I also want to flag that Sunday is World Toilet Day.  This year’s theme is wastewater, and it seeks to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.  Today, more than 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.  As in previous years, there will be a giant inflatable toilet in front of the UN Secretariat on Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The toilet is installed by UN Water with the support of the Mission of Singapore.

    **Press Briefings

    Press conferences:  at 9.45 a.m, Monday, you are expected to hear from Danny Danon, the Permanent Representative of Israel.  He will speak to you at the Security Council stakeout.  At 11 a.m. there will be a press briefing right here in this room on the CARICOM [Caribbean Community]‑UN High‑level pledging conference: Building a more Climate‑resilient community.  This is in the aftermath of the terrible hurricanes that struck the Caribbean region.  After I’m done, you will hear from my competitor, Brenden Varma.

    **Questions and Answers

    Question:  Sure.  I was going to start with… with rosewood, but I have to actually ask you about this… this this François [Louncény] Fall statement.  And the reason I’m… I’m asking is that, as you may know and… and… and five experts of Geneva‑based special rapporteurs, including on freedom of expression, defence of human right defenders and others, issued a statement.  I don’t know… I guess I want to ask you about it.  The statement says… is largely focused on abuses by the Government of Anglophones, censorship, turning off social media.  They have a… a… a death figure.  They talk about torture.  And so I’m wondering.  How is it… how is… I know that they’re not part of the UN system.  They do give briefings in this room.  They are appointed by the Human Rights Council.  What’s the relationship between human rights experts saying the Government is killing Anglophones and François Fall saying territory is important and gendarmes have been killed? It seems like they’re two opposing statements.

    Spokesman:  A, I don’t think they’re in contradiction of each other, and everybody has a different role within the wide and varied UN system.  The special rapporteurs, as you do note, are independent from the Secretariat and the Secretary‑General, appointed by the Human Rights Council.  They are an extremely important part of the UN’s human rights mechanism and, as a matter of principle, countries should cooperate with these human rights experts.  I’m not privy to their research or how they get their information.  As I said, they’re independent.  We have over the past months, expressed our concern at the violence.  We’ve expressed our concern at the lack of Internet access.  The basic message that Mr. Fall and that the Secretary‑General have reiterated is the fact that the situation in these two regions will best be addressed by an inclusive and genuine political dialogue.

    Question:  Just… thanks.  I want to ask one follow-up.  And I asked you before, but I think you’ll see the need to… to actually… to answer it now.  Mr. François Fall, in an interview played on UN Radio, said that secessionists are extremists and that federalism, which used to be the status of this area, is off the table.  Number one, that’s why people don’t see him as a credible mediator, but more importantly, the equation of nonviolent secessionists with extremists is exactly the logic that the Government uses to kill people from… from helicopter gunships, so that’s why I’m asking you.  It seems like some of the problems that the human rights experts are criticizing are, in fact… I don’t want to say caused by Mr. Fall’s statement, but in some way resonant with the logic of… of saying that anyone that says we should be independent is an extremist and should be shot at from a helicopter.

    Spokesman:  I don’t agree with your logic, and I don’t think in any way, shape, or form Mr. Fall should be blamed for what is going on in the country.  Yes, sir?

    Question:  On the JIM Mechanism… is… is the Secretary‑General disappointed by yesterday’s vote and what’s the expectations from today’s consultations?

    Spokesman:  Well, our understanding is that there are consultations going on.  We’ve seen the press reports, as you have, of some sort of a draft resolution calling for a technical rollover.  It’s obviously up for the Security Council to decide on the fate of the JIM, which operates under its mandate.  I think the Secretary‑General has been very clear from the beginning about the importance of the work of the JIM, especially in assigning… excuse me, let me take that again.  The importance of the work of the JIM, especially in terms of accountability and setting accountability for the horrendous use of chemical weapons that we have seen in Syria.  But at this very moment, it’s in the hands of the Security Council.  And the shelf life of the JIM, if unchanged, ends at midnight tonight, if I’m not mistaken.  Stefano?

    Question:  Yes, about Libya.  Yesterday, there was the Security Council meeting on Libya, and today, the Italian Foreign Minister, I know, is going to meet also the Secretary‑General.  Just three days ago, the High Commissioner for Human Rights was saying he had… had a very strong critic on the policy of the European Union on… on the agreement that they reached with Libya to hold the migrants, because the situation of those camps, he said that it’s inhumane and the situation is getting worse instead of better.  So there was just a press conference with the Italian Foreign Minister.  I asked the question what is his… what is his reaction to this critic? And he said that… that Italy is doing anything possible.  He’s also helping the UN agency, and then he said… in Italian, he said… “più buona azione e meno lezione.”  Rough translation is, “more good action and less lecture”.  Now, what is the reaction to something like this? I mean, it looks like Italy…

    Spokesman:  Listen, I… my knowledge of Italian is good, but I will not delve into the subtleties of commenting on something I haven’t heard.  I think the UN system has expressed its concern at the fate of the people who are stuck in Libya, migrants and refugees.  We have seen horrendous reports come out.  There’s been talk of slavery and of just horrendous conditions, and these things need to be addressed.

    Question:  Just a quick follow‑up on that specific question.  What do you think about what, for example, Filippo Grandi had to say we are here, but there are not the security conditions yet to be able to run those… those camps? What does the General Secretary think?  Are the conditions of security…

    Spokesman:  We’re not going to second‑guess the High Commissioner for [Refugees] in terms of when he says what the conditions are needed in order for him to deploy more people on the ground.  That’s his call, and it’s up to him to decide.  The Secretary‑General is not going to second-guess him.  Our efforts, through Mr. [Ghassan] Salamé, is on creating a political solution… working with the Libyan parties to move forward on a political solution to create the conditions that will restore peace and stability to the country.  Mr. Lee?

    Question:  Sure.  Actually, just one… first, a follow‑up on the JIM thing.  I don’t know if you’ll answer it or not, but I did notice that between the two resolutions yesterday, you were… you went into the Council, which is obviously your right, well within your rights.  I just wanted… I guess I’m interested.  Was it within the capacity of knowing whether it would pass so the Secretary‑General could… could report on it?  Just in what capacity…?

    Spokesman:  No, I… the Secretary‑General doesn’t rely on his spokesman to find out what’s going on in the Security Council.

    Correspondent:  That’s why I’m asking.  That’s why it was interesting.

    Spokesman:  I go in because I have the privilege to be able to go into the room and once in a while, I like to go into the room and soak up the atmosphere and see what’s going on.

    Question:  Okay.  Fair enough, fair enough.  Yesterday, I had asked you about… about some questions about this rosewood situation, and I want to say that yesterday, there were 46,000 people petitioning for the Secretary‑General.  Now, there’s 62,000.  But you had said to me, go and read Le Monde, so I did read Le Monde, and… and there’s no mention of Cameroon in it, but, in fact, in the report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, there is… and in other reports, there are talk that some of these logs don’t over come from Nigeria, which would make them outright illegal, signing any certificate for their export.  So, I wanted to… this is the kind of thing I would like to ask Amina Mohammed if she did a press conference, just what did she know about… I’m sure there’s answers.  I’m sure there’s many things that could be said.

    Spokesman:  Next time she’s in front of the press, she will be… she has engaged with journalists who have written stories on this and has not been hiding from anything.  Quite to the contrary.  We have said what we’ve had to say.  I think any further questions on how this issue is dealt with should go to the Nigerian Government.

    Correspondent:  But just so you know, the petitioners are not writing to the Nigerian Government.  They’re saying that there’s inconsistencies…

    Spokesman:  I’ve answered the question about the petitioners.

    Question:  This is kind of a related question that you may or may not like, but there’s a lot of interest by… by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in a… in a… in a move by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end what’s called an embargo on logging, or an embargo on new, you know, industrial logging concessions.  And so people… I could imagine a UN body or the Secretariat itself, since it relates to climate change, might have a position on this.  Sorry to ask you, but given the 62,000 signatures, would Amina Mohammed, otherwise, you know, responsible for sustainable development on many issues, would she be recused from deciding the Secretariat’s position on logging matters until this logging matter is cleaned up?

    Spokesman:  You’re jumping over conclusions that, I think, that have… over facts that have been an Olympic record.

    Correspondent:  Read the petition.

    Spokesman:  I’m not talking about the petition.  I’m talking about your… the logic within your question.  I think Amina Mohammed has, in her past capacity, in her current capacity, has been a very strong advocate against illegal logging and has shown that through her actions.  Thank you.

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