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Source: European Parliament 2

Debates
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Tuesday, 11 February 2020 – Strasbourg Provisional edition

PRESIDENZA DELL’ON. DAVID MARIA SASSOLI
Presidente

1. Opening of the sitting
 

(La seduta è aperta alle 9.06)

 
2. Proposed mandate for negotiations for a new partnership with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (debate)
 

  Nikolina Brnjac, President-in-Office of the Council. – Mr President, following the entry into force of the Withdrawal Agreement and the actual withdrawal of the United Kingdom, we are about to embark on the new phase of negotiations. In order to do so, we obviously need to give a mandate to the Union negotiator. Such a mandate should be put on sound foundations. I would like in this respect to set out a few considerations that should guide us when preparing this mandate.

First of all, given the comprehensive mandate called for by the European Council, the scope of the negotiations is very broad. We cannot therefore afford to delay their start. An early start calls for an early adoption of the mandate.

We intend to do that at the General Affairs Council on 25 February. This time constraint is made all the more stringent by Prime Minister Johnson’s decision not to extend the transition period beyond the end of 2020. Given the broad scope of the mandate, this will require that several strands of negotiations have to proceed in parallel.

This is a negotiating mandate, not the final outcome of the negotiations. Therefore, it cannot spell out in full detail our expected landing zones, our final offers and the trade-offs we may have to contemplate. Adequate negotiating space should be preserved. Besides – and this goes back to my point about unity and time constraints – a very prescriptive mandate would require more time to resolve possibility, diverging interests and priorities. What we should focus on is the Union’s interest in achieving an outcome that is fair and equitable for all Member States and their citizens. Last, we have to factor in the UK red lines. The UK Government’s intention is to discontinue free movement, with an obvious impact on mobility and citizens’ rights, and also to diverge from the Union’s regulatory framework with no less obvious consequences in terms of access to the single market and trade in general.

On the substance of the mandate, regarding the various sectors that should be covered, I think that we largely share the view in the Parliament’s position, as reflected in your draft resolution. This means a fair degree of ambition as compared to the Union’s relationship with other countries. It should be clear, however, that this cannot amount to giving the UK the same benefit as a Member State, especially in the light of its red lines.

But let me focus briefly on more horizontal aspects of the partnership: governance and level playing field. There should be no doubt here. The EU might be prepared to offer an ambitious free trade agreement with significant market access, but this cannot be to the detriment of the competitive position of EU companies, social and health standards, or state aid rules. In other words, the partnership should include wide—ranging provisions on a level playing field, based on high standards. This is all the more relevant given the UK’s stated intention to diverge from the European Union. In my view, this is closely linked to the issue of effective dispute settlement enforcement and remedies. There is no point in developing wide—ranging level playing field provisions if they cannot be enforced.

I will make two important remarks before closing. First, although we are well aware that the line of the UK’s Government is to put an end to the free movement of persons, we should see to it that the future relationship that we will start to negotiate shortly will be ambitious enough in terms of mobility.

Second, and this is a link to my previous remark, these negotiations will keep both our institutions and the Commission busy for quite some time, but this should not make us forget about the Withdrawal Agreement. We should continue to monitor its thorough implementation. There is therefore once again a shared interest all along the coming negotiations in pursuing the good cooperation that we expected during the Brexit phase.

 
   
 

  Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission. – Mr President, it’s just two weeks ago that we bid farewell to our British friends by singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, and I think it was a most emotional, a very powerful moment in this Parliament: a moment to celebrate the good old times, and I thank you very much for the grace and the kindness of this gesture. This was extraordinary.

Since then, we’ve set our sights on the future of our relations with the United Kingdom, and we will enter these negotiations with the highest ambition. Because good old friends like the UK and us shouldn’t settle for less than this. Prime Minister Johnson said in Greenwich earlier this month that the United Kingdom will, I quote, ‘be a global champion of free trade’. Frankly, this is music to our ears, because at a moment when the rules-based trade system is so challenged, we need our partners to join us in making the system fairer and stronger.

And this is what we Europeans have always fought for over the years: a trade system that is open on one side and that is fair on the other side. Because what do free trade agreements do? Free trade agreements must replace uncertainty with a sound set of rules. They create new markets for small and medium enterprises. Free trade agreements must benefit the people. And this is just the rationale that is behind our trade agreements, for instance with Canada and Japan. They are not just increasing our bilateral exchanges of goods, services, people and ideas. They do that too, but not only. They also raise standards on a broad range of issues, from labour rights to environmental. And this is what makes us proud of them: ask our Japanese friends or ask our Canadian friends. They are glad that we have joined forces to put fairness into our globalised economic system. They are glad that they could join forces with the European Union, because frankly, in today’s world, size does matter – and we have a Single Market of 440 million people. What I just described – this is the ambition we have for our free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

And when we agreed the Political Declaration with the United Kingdom, we ambitioned zero tariffs and a zero-quota trade relation for all goods: something we have never ever before offered to anybody else. A new model of trade, a unique ambition in terms of access to the Single Market. But of course, this would require corresponding guarantees on fair competition and the protection of social, environmental and consumer standards. In short: this is plain and simply the level playing field.

We are ready to discuss all different models of trade agreement. But all these models, whatever you choose, have one thing in common: they all come not only with rights, but also with obligations for both sides. For example, if we take the Canada model – and this is a model Prime Minister Johnson referred to – of course, our deal with Canada eliminates tariffs on a wide set of goods, but not on all. And of course, our deal with Canada eliminates most quotas, but certainly not all. For instance, there are still quotas on beef and sweetcorn. And of course, we still have our standards that have to be respected.

And honestly, I was a little bit surprised to hear the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom speak about the Australian model. Australia, without any doubt, is a strong and like-minded partner. But the European Union does not have a trade agreement with Australia. We are currently trading on WTO terms. And if this is the British choice, well, we are fine with that, without any question. But in fact, we are just in the moment where we are agreeing with Australia that we must end this situation, and we work on a trade deal with them.

Of course, the UK can decide to settle for less, but I personally believe that we should be way more ambitious. And the Prime Minister’s speech in Greenwich is an encouraging starting point. He recalled everything the United Kingdom has achieved in terms of social protection, climate action, competition rules, and I commend the UK for all of that. Indeed, it is not the time to lower social protection or to be lukewarm on climate action. It is not the time to decrease in terms of competition rules. I have heard ambition in Boris Johnson’s speech: ambition on the minimum wage, ambition on parental payments, and he has an ally in me where that is concerned. I have heard ambition on cutting carbon emissions. Ambition on guaranteeing that our firms are competing in full fairness. This is what we also want. Let us formally agree on these objectives. We can trigger an upward dynamic competition that would benefit both the United Kingdom and the European Union.

To our British friends I say: it’s in our mutual interest. And most importantly, it would be consistent with the values we share – values of openness, values of fairness, values of social justice and free enterprise. These are not only values for the good old times. These are values to stay.

Thank you very much for your attention. I just wanted to inform you that the Task Force is ready to start the negotiations. We’re all set.

(Applause)

 
   
 

  David McAllister, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the resolution on the draft mandate, which we are debating this morning, is the first proof of work of the newly created UK Coordination Group. As the Chair, I would like to thank all members of our group, as well as the involved Committees and the political groups, for their contributions in an extremely short period of time. In my opinion, the result is a very good and balanced resolution only nine days after Michel Barnier presented the Commission’s draft mandate.

Our resolution contains Parliament’s views on the content and on the architecture of a future EU-UK relationship. Let me highlight three main principles of particular importance.

Firstly, the integrity and the correct functioning of our internal market, the customs union and the Four Freedoms must be maintained. Secondly, a third country cannot have the same rights and benefits as a Member State of the EU. And thirdly, a level playing field is an overall priority and precondition for any future agreement. We should not, and we will not, enter a race to the bottom.

As Ursula von der Leyen has pointed out, together with our British friends, we should aim for a partnership that goes well beyond trade and is unprecedented in scope: everything from climate action to data protection, fisheries to energy, transport to space, financial services to security. We are indeed ready to design a new partnership with zero tariffs, zero quotas and zero dumping. However a free trade agreement with the UK will not be equivalent to frictionless trade.

Ladies and gentlemen, besides the negotiations on the future relations, the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement is of particular importance. This concerns especially citizens’ rights, financial duties on the protocol on Ireland-Northern Ireland.

Our chief negotiator Michel Barnier, whose work is highly appreciated across party lines in the institutions, has already assured us in the UK coordination group’s first meeting to keep Parliament fully informed at all stages of the procedure.

(Applause)

 
   
 

  Iratxe García Pérez, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señor presidente, en nombre del Grupo socialdemócrata queríamos agradecer a la Comisión Europea, y en particular al equipo del señor Barnier, su esfuerzo en la elaboración de las directrices para la negociación del futuro marco de relación entre la Unión Europea y el Reino Unido.

Con la resolución que este Parlamento se dispone a aprobar, juntos lanzamos un mensaje firme: la ambición de la futura relación dependerá de la voluntad del Gobierno británico de aceptar la conformidad con las normas comunitarias en materia social, laboral, fiscal y medioambiental.

El pasado 1 de febrero el Reino Unido se convirtió formalmente en un país tercero y perdió todos sus derechos políticos. Pero en todo lo demás nada cambiará hasta que termine este periodo transitorio. Tenemos once meses para negociar un complejo acuerdo que defina nuestras relaciones futuras. En la construcción de esta nueva asociación debemos asumir que nada será tan próspero como los derechos y los beneficios de la pertenencia a la Unión Europea.

El Grupo socialdemócrata se ha comprometido a alcanzar un acuerdo integral con el Reino Unido. Sin embargo, cuantas más barreras levante el Gobierno británico, más difícil será lograr un acuerdo ambicioso. Por el contrario, si el Reino Unido tiene la voluntad de mantenerse en un terreno de juego equilibrado como un competidor leal, estaremos en condiciones de ofrecer una asociación que garantice la prosperidad de los ciudadanos y ciudadanas de ambos lados del Canal de la Mancha. Y, para garantizar esta prosperidad, estamos dispuestos a ofrecer un ambicioso acuerdo de libre comercio, sin aranceles ni cuotas, para todos los bienes que entren en el mercado común y otro para los servicios.

Además, si queremos que este beneficio sea real también necesitamos una asociación sólida en materia de cooperación judicial, de seguridad y defensa, de apoyo al orden multilateral, así como abordar cuestiones como la pesca, el transporte, la energía y los servicios financieros.

Pero nuestra oferta no puede hacerse a cualquier precio. Permítanme que sea clara. El Reino Unido tiene que garantizar una competencia leal, autorizar el acceso de las flotas europeas a sus aguas y mantener su compromiso con el Tribunal Europeo de Derechos Humanos en cuanto al cumplimiento de sus sentencias. Además, exigiremos que España tenga la última palabra en los debates entre la Unión Europea y el Reino Unido que afecten a Gibraltar, tal y como ha sido ratificado en las directrices de la Comisión.

Nuestro éxito en las negociaciones dependerá de si somos capaces de hacer prevalecer la que ha sido hasta ahora nuestra mejor arma: la unidad. Solo con la Comisión como única interlocutora con el Reino Unido, y con la plena implicación de este Parlamento para la aprobación última, podrá la Unión Europea preservar el nivel de unidad alcanzado hasta ahora. Juntos hemos logrado proteger la integridad del mercado único, la Unión Aduanera y las cuatro libertades —incluyendo la libre circulación de los ciudadanos—.

No olvidemos que nuestro proyecto se articula sobre la base de un compromiso con valores que son exactamente los contrarios a los manifestados por algunos líderes británicos, impregnados de nacionalismo y de una falsa idea de superioridad. Ahora que afrontamos la relación futura, tenemos la obligación de defender los principios democráticos y las libertades fundamentales que han permitido que nuestro proyecto europeo siga adelante.

 
   
 

  Nathalie Loiseau, au nom du groupe Renew. – Monsieur le Président, le Royaume-Uni a choisi de quitter l’Union européenne et nous, nous avons choisi de la renforcer. Certains pourraient y voir une contradiction qui rendrait la négociation sur l’avenir de notre relation plus ardue. Je crois qu’il n’en est rien.

Il n’en est rien, parce que nous respectons le choix des Britanniques. Ce choix de sortir non seulement de l’Union européenne, mais aussi du marché unique et de l’union douanière, est un choix assez radical, mais nous le respecterons. Il a des conséquences qui sont loin d’être négligeables et qui changent profondément la relation que nous pouvons bâtir ensemble.

Il n’en est rien, parce qu’une Europe forte est dans l’intérêt du Royaume-Uni. Nous sommes des voisins, des alliés et nous sommes le premier partenaire de Londres en termes d’échanges commerciaux, mais aussi d’échanges humains. La géographie est têtue, les faits sont têtus, et nous devons les regarder en face.

Il n’en est rien, parce que nous avons d’immenses défis à relever ensemble: le changement climatique, le terrorisme, les cyberattaques, les virus se moquent des frontières. Il nous faut inventer de nouvelles manières de les combattre ensemble car séparément, nous serions tous perdants.

Nous sommes prêts à un partenariat étroit, solide, durable avec le Royaume-Uni, mais nous sommes aussi porteurs de convictions fortes auxquelles nous sommes profondément attachés et que le Brexit ne peut remettre en cause. Nous avons des normes élevées pour protéger les consommateurs, pour protéger les travailleurs, pour protéger la vie privée et les données personnelles de nos concitoyens et pour protéger notre planète. Nous ne sommes pas prêts à marchander ce pourquoi nous nous sommes tant battus, ce pourquoi nous continuons à nous battre.

Le projet de mandat que nous soutenons pour la négociation avec le Royaume-Uni est l’illustration de ces convictions fortes qui nous animent; il propose un partenariat sans précédent par son étendue et par son ampleur, à la hauteur de ce qui nous rassemble. Il demande donc en retour des contreparties sans commune mesure avec celles qui figurent dans d’autres accords avec d’autres partenaires de l’Union européenne – parce que le Royaume-Uni n’est pas pour l’Europe le Canada, ni le Japon, ni la Corée du Sud, ni Singapour; il est bien plus proche, bien plus important, bien plus interdépendant. Le Brexit n’a vocation à détruire ni les liens qui unissent nos économies, nos cultures et nos peuples depuis des siècles, ni à détruire la construction européenne.

 
   
 

  Peter Kofod, for ID-Gruppen. – Hr. formand! Briterne er og bør fortsat være vores gode venner, tætteste allierede og nærmeste samarbejdspartnere. Jeg ønsker en aftale med briterne, der klart tilgodeser og respekterer de britiske ønsker om at kunne bestemme mere selv hjemme i nationalstaten, f.eks. over, hvem man ønsker at give adgang til sit eget land eller give adgang til forskellige ydelser.

På samme tid ønsker jeg et stærkt samarbejde med briterne, f. eks på handelsområdet, hvor det er væsentligt hjemme, i mit eget land, i Danmark, for fortsat at kunne holde fast i en af vores tætteste og allerbedste handelspartnere. Faktisk trådte Danmark i sin tid ind i det, der var forløberen for EU, netop fordi vi ønskede at blive ved med at handle med Storbritannien.

Da briterne meldte sig ud, gjorde de det klart, at det ikke var en udmeldelse af verden eller Europa, men at det bare var en udmeldelse af EU-systemet. Det synes jeg på mange måder er sympatisk. Jeg håber, vi kan lave en aftale med briterne, der betyder, at brexit respekteres, samtidig med at vi fortsat kan have et meget tæt partnerskab til glæde og gavn for briterne og for os andre, hvor vi reelt deler interesser og værdier; et samarbejde, der baserer sig på sund fornuft og ønsket om fælles bedste i stedet for nærmest nyreligiøs dyrkelse af EU-føderalisme, hvilket desværre engang imellem kan ske i dette hus.

 
   
 

  Philippe Lamberts, au nom du groupe Verts/ALE. – Monsieur le Président, chers collègues, deux faits: le premier, c’est que le Royaume-Uni et l’Union européenne sont liés par la géographie. Ça ne risque pas de changer, donc nous avons intérêt à entretenir des relations aussi étroites et aussi amicales que possible. Deuxièmement: tout le monde au Royaume-Uni, loin s’en faut, n’est pas un nationaliste anglais. L’Union européenne compte au Royaume-Uni beaucoup, beaucoup d’amis; ne nous les aliénons pas.

En matière commerciale, a priori, les ambitions de l’Union européenne et du Royaume-Uni sont antagoniques, puisque le Royaume-Uni souhaite un accès maximal au marché européen, mais refuse l’alignement réglementaire qu’exige, de son côté, l’Union européenne.

Je nous invite donc tous à être créatifs en la matière. Je m’explique: en règle générale, les accords de libre-échange sont utilisés par les milieux d’affaires, je veux dire les détenteurs de capitaux, pour forcer un nivellement par le bas des conditions de travail et de rémunération, des normes sociales, environnementales ou fiscales. Nous pourrions nous saisir de l’occasion d’un traité de libre-échange avec le Royaume-Uni pour faire l’exact inverse.

Aujourd’hui, les législations du Royaume-Uni et de l’Union européenne sont parfaitement alignées dans les domaines de compétence de l’Union européenne, mais donc pas en tout. Dans certains domaines – je pense à la protection de la vie privée, je pense évidemment aux normes sociales – l’Union européenne a des normes plus ambitieuses que le Royaume-Uni. Mais il est d’autres domaines où c’est le Royaume-Uni qui a des normes plus ambitieuses que l’Union européenne – pour certains aspects de la politique environnementale, ou encore en matière de régulation bancaire.

Nous pourrions fixer dans le nouvel accord une règle par laquelle les deux partenaires s’engageraient à appliquer celle des deux normes qui est la plus ambitieuse – et par la plus ambitieuse, j’entends la plus protectrice de la santé, de la vie privée, des conditions de travail et de rémunération, de l’environnement. De la sorte, nous aurions une forme d’émulation vers le haut entre le Royaume-Uni et l’Union européenne. Vous allez me dire que cela ne s’est jamais fait. Eh bien, figurez-vous que je pense que c’est le genre d’accord de libre-échange que beaucoup de nos concitoyens souhaitent aujourd’hui, autrement dit à des lieues de celui que nous allons voter bientôt avec le Viêt Nam.

 
   
 

  Derk Jan Eppink, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, the EU and Britain have entered a tense year. Time is limited and pressure is mounting to agree on an FTA this year. Formally, the negotiation is aimed at agreeing to a legal set of rules, but there is more to it. There is a mindset that varies on both sides of the Channel.

Every bureaucracy tends to cling to its own rules, awarding them holy status. In that respect the EU bureaucracy is not much different from the mandarins that once ruled the Chinese empire. It regards itself as the centre of the world, and of all wisdom. The British mindset is different. Having been an empire itself, Britain derives cultural self-confidence from the idea that it is still is an empire. The old empire does not want to be run by a possibly new one, so it left.

What are the lessons, Mr President? The EU should not be bitter. Brexit is done and we have to put our citizens first. The EU has to be pragmatic and purpose-driven rather than rules—obsessed; focussed on tangible mutual interests, not on bad feelings. The current British government is the most stable in Western Europe – a big majority for five years. Who else can say that? But it should not overestimate the margins of divide and rule that worked for centuries – but not anymore.

Results will only be attainable through political will: the will to succeed. This – though wordy – resolution is the starting point to negotiate. Mr Barnier, you are an experienced negotiator. I hope you will be able to bridge both mindsets – divided by 30 kilometres of water, but still two worlds apart.

 
   
 

  Martin Schirdewan, im Namen der GUE/NGL-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Bei den Verhandlungen über die zukünftigen Beziehungen zwischen dem Vereinigten Königreich und der Europäischen Union geht es eben nicht nur darum, wie die zukünftigen Wirtschafts- und Handelsbeziehungen gestaltet sein werden – nein, es geht um viel mehr: Es geht eigentlich um die Zukunft der Europäischen Union und – missverstehen Sie mich nicht, das ist nicht das Endspiel, und die kommenden elf Monate werden auch kein Endspiel werden, aber es kann ein entscheidender game changer sein. Das Ergebnis dieser Verhandlungen wird auch darüber entscheiden, ob die Mitgliedschaft in der Europäischen Union oder eine Entwicklung außerhalb der Union das attraktivere Entwicklungsmodell ist.

Bislang fehlt in dieser Debatte hier heute ein zentraler Aspekt: Es ist am Ende nicht die Wirtschaft, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen, sondern es sind die Bürgerinnen und Bürger, es sind die sogenannten einfachen Leute, die darüber entscheiden werden, welches das attraktivere Entwicklungsmodell sein wird. Das lehrt uns der Brexit. Das Mandat, das wir hier besprechen, muss deshalb die Interessen der Bevölkerung der Europäischen Union und der britischen Bevölkerung in das Zentrum der Verhandlungen stellen.

Meine Fraktion begrüßt die klaren Aussagen zur Vermeidung von Steuerdumping, zum Schutz von Arbeitnehmerinnenrechten und Arbeitsstandards, zum Verbraucherschutz, zum Umweltschutz. Kein Mensch braucht einen weiteren verschärften Steuerdumpingwettbewerb, kein Mensch will schlechtere Arbeitsbedingungen, außer denen, die davon profitieren, und das sind nicht die Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen. Kurz, wir wollen höchste Standards, den Schutz des Friedens in Nordirland und die demokratische Kontrolle des Verhandlungsprozesses. Viele andere Aspekte des Mandats sehen wir jedoch sehr kritisch bis ablehnend, zum Beispiel die Fragen der militärischen Zusammenarbeit, den positiven Bezug auf die NATO, die geheimdienstliche Zusammenarbeit. Wir werden uns im Interesse unserer Wählerinnen und Wähler konstruktiv in den Planungsprozess einbringen, in dem Wissen, dass ein harter Brexit noch immer möglich ist und das in niemandes Interesse ist.

 
   
 

  Christophe Hansen (PPE). – Monsieur le Président, au terme de la phase de transition, le coût du Brexit aura dépassé les contributions cumulées du Royaume-Uni au budget depuis son adhésion, il y a 47 ans. Ce fait ne vient que confirmer la conviction de tous ceux qui disent que le Brexit est une folie du point de vue économique.

Le Royaume-Uni quitte l’Union, mais reste en Europe et restera sans aucun doute l’une des économies les plus dynamiques à nos portes.

En tant que rapporteur de la commission du commerce international, je dis clairement que ce que nous offrons au Royaume-Uni va au-delà de tous les accords de libre-échange conclus à ce jour par l’Union européenne. Nous offrons une relation libre de droits de douane et libre de quotas limitatifs. Ce qu’on demande en contrepartie, c’est une concurrence à armes égales, pour éviter toute course vers le bas en matière réglementaire, fiscale, environnementale et sociale.

Ce qu’on appelle dans notre jargon le level playing field doit être digne de la Premier League, aujourd’hui et après la phase de transition. à cette fin, nous avons aussi besoin d’un arbitre à la hauteur du défi. Pour ce Parlement, il est clair que lorsqu’il s’agit de droit européen, cette instance ultime ne peut-être autre que la Cour de justice européenne.

Il est évident qu’un accord de libre-échange ne pourra jamais reproduire l’appartenance au marché unique, mais soyons clairs: le niveau d’ambition de cet accord sera aussi fonction du calendrier restreint imposé par la contrepartie britannique.

 
   
   

ELNÖKÖL: KLÁRA DOBREV
alelnök

 
   
 

  Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D). – Madam President, we are here to discuss a very important resolution on the political guidelines for the negotiations between the European Union and the UK – 21 pages, 103 paragraphs, but perhaps the most important is the front page, the signatures of the leaders of a number of major political groups in this Parliament, showing that there is a vast majority supporting this resolution and how united we are in defending our common vision and our common interests. We call on the Member States to do the same, to refuse any bilateral negotiations at this stage, and to act as a bloc, with the Commission and Mr Barnier being the sole negotiators on our part.

We are clear about what we want to achieve – a sound and ambitious strategic, political and economic relationship – but we also say, loud and clear, that we will ensure open, but also fair, competition, a proper level playing field and no regression on the high European standards of environmental, social and labour protection, and also consumer rights and food safety.

We’ve heard some messages of refusal of this by the UK Government, but this will have proportional consequences in terms of the access of the UK to the European market, undermining the ambition of our trade agreement.

Let me conclude by recalling that the first pillar of the future economic relationship with the UK was already agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement. It has to do with Northern Ireland, the alignment of Northern Ireland and border controls in the Irish Sea. So we will work for a new agreement for the future, but we will also ensure full implementation of the commitments in the existing Withdrawal Agreement.

 
   
 

  Morten Petersen (Renew). – Fru formand! Det er på alle måder trist, at et så stort og nærtstående land har valgt at melde sig ud. Det er trist for dem, det er trist for os. Til gengæld er det godt og stærkt, at den beslutning, vi behandler her i dag, er så omfattende, og at den er udarbejdet af så bredt et flertal i Europa-Parlamentet, som tilfældet er. For det sender et meget vigtigt politisk signal om, at vi fra Europa-Parlamentets side vil sikre ensartede og fair spilleregler i det videre samarbejde, såkaldt level playing field. Hvorfor? fordi det ikke går, hvis vi skal konkurrere på lavere standarder inden for miljø, inden for klima, inden for forbrugerbeskyttelse. Det går ikke, hvis vi skal konkurrere på lavere skattesatser, og det går ikke, hvis England måtte forvente fuld og fri adgang til EU’s indre marked uden samtidig at leve op til de regler og krav, der måtte gælde her.

Vi må ikke gamble med EU’s indre marked. Det er en kronjuvel i samlingen, som vi skal passe på.

Vi har på helt kort sigt en ganske særlig udfordring hvad angår fiskeriet: Der er mange jobs på spil, der er mange menneskers levebrød på spil. Det er vigtigt at sige i den sammenhæng, at forhandlingerne om fremtidens fiskeri hverken kan eller skal ses isoleret fra forhandlingerne om samhandlen generelt.

Så det bliver alt sammen svære forhandlinger på en meget trist og dramatisk baggrund, men ambitionen må være, at vi skaber et stærkt partnerskab til glæde for alle.

 
   
 

  Nicolas Bay (ID). – Madame la Présidente, oui, nous devons, bien sûr, avoir une relation privilégiée avec le Royaume-Uni. Notre niveau de vie similaire et notre civilisation commune nous y invitent. Mais cela ne signifie pas pour autant qu’il faille tout lui céder.

Monsieur Barnier, vous avez proposé il y a quelques jours, je cite, d’«éliminer tous les droits de douane et tous les quotas sur les biens échangés avec le continent». En clair, il s’agirait d’un accord de libre-échange et Philippe Lamberts, il y a quelques instants, a fait la même proposition. Vous passez des accords de libre-échange avec le monde entier – ce sera le cas tout à l’heure avec le Vietnam – mais vous ne supportez pas, finalement, que le Royaume-Uni ne fasse plus partie de l’union douanière. Il est désormais un pays tiers, et il faut s’en rendre compte.

Le risque serait de le transformer demain en une porte d’entrée des produits venus du monde entier ne respectant pas nos normes et de mauvaise qualité. La priorité est de protéger nos intérêts, par exemple ceux des pêcheurs français qui réalisent 30 % de leur chiffre d’affaires dans les eaux britanniques. Soixante-dix pour cent des exportations de pêche du Royaume-Uni sont faites vers l’Union européenne; nous avons là un levier colossal pour les négociations futures, pour qu’elles nous soient favorables. Je sais que vous n’appréciez pas la méthode Trump, mais elle fonctionne en matière économique. Nous devons nous en inspirer. Notre marché, nos consommateurs et nos pêcheurs ont droit à ces protections que vous leur refusez systématiquement.

Le Brexit est l’occasion de changer de modèle et d’en mettre en place un nouveau.

 
   
 

  Terry Reintke (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I have to be honest: it’s a very special moment I think, because it’s the first time that we discuss Brexit here in this House without having our UK colleagues being here, and I must say that apart from a bunch that was sitting over there, I really truly miss them, and I think it shows again how sad it is that this Brexit is happening.

Now, I had the great pleasure and the honour to do my Erasmus year in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Still, when I go there today, I really feel at home, and I think these are really the ties that we have to cherish also for the future.

And the economic and trade relationships are going to be absolutely crucial in the future. But if we want to build strong foundations, we also have to look at other issues, and that is why I think we have to fight to keep the United Kingdom in the Erasmus programme. Young people did not vote for Brexit, and I think it would be wrong to take away the opportunities from them that I and many millions of Europeans had in the past after Brexit. And that is why, if we want to build a strong relationship for the future, we should fight for a strong Erasmus programme with the UK in it.

Let us leave a light on and build bridges so that the Brits can find their way back home.

 
   
 

  Zdzisław Krasnodębski (ECR). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Projekt rezolucji zawiera wiele trafnych stwierdzeń i myślę, że grupa ECR może go poprzeć. Bardziej niepokoi jednak duch, który może ożywiać, lub wręcz przeciwnie, negocjacje. Ostatnia wymiana argumentów między Brukselą a Londynem nie napawa wielkim optymizmem. Jest przy tym oczywiste, że kraj trzeci nie może mieć tych samych praw i korzyści co członek Unii, członek EFTA czy członek EEA, ale Wielka Brytania nie będzie jednym z wielu krajów trzecich. Także poza Unią pozostaje wielkim krajem europejskim związanym z innymi krajami Europy historią, gospodarką, współpracą w zakresie bezpieczeństwa. Trzeba przypomnieć, że w najciemniejszych chwilach europejskiej historii w latach 1939-1945 to Wielka Brytania, podobnie jak Polska, heroicznie broniła wartości europejskich. W interesie Europejczyków po obu stronach kanału La Manche leży to, aby nasze wzajemne relacje były jak najlepsze. Nasi negocjatorzy nie powinni o tym zapominać.

 
   
 

  Idoia Villanueva Ruiz (GUE/NGL). – Señora presidenta, la salida del Reino Unido nos abre una ventana de oportunidad para aprender de los errores cometidos y no volver a cometerlos.

Los discursos del odio, la desafección o la incertidumbre pesan sobre quienes entienden que el proyecto europeo debería ser un espacio de progreso y solidaridad y se sienten decepcionados. No podemos ahondar en modelos fallidos que están expulsando a la ciudadanía afuera.

Ahora tenemos la responsabilidad de garantizar los derechos de la gente, de los ciudadanos que viven en el Reino Unido —casi 140 000 españoles residen actualmente allí—. Nos preocupa la situación de los trabajadores, de las 15 000 personas que cruzan cada día la frontera de Gibraltar, cuya situación todavía es incierta.

Necesitamos luchar de forma decidida contra el dumping social y fiscal. No estamos de acuerdo con gran parte del contenido de este mandato en el ámbito de la política exterior y en el de defensa. Creemos que es necesario cambiar hacia posiciones mucho más anticipatorias de los conflictos y no ahondar en sanciones que solo pagan los pueblos.

Desde este grupo parlamentario vamos a seguir trabajando por blindar los derechos de la ciudadanía, los derechos medioambientales y los del sector primario —agricultura, ganadería— para evitar la despoblación de nuestros pueblos. Hay que evitar que se conviertan en moneda de cambio de otros intereses.

 
   
 

  Antonio Tajani (PPE). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, il testo che voteremo punta a rafforzare l’unità tra i 27 paesi e a sostenere in maniera forte Michel Barnier per tutelare i nostri interessi durante la trattativa.

Primo fra tutti interessa tutelare la difesa del mercato interno. Il Regno Unito non può rientrarvi, come un cavallo di Troia, senza rispettare regole e standard. Tutto ciò per garantire sempre di più cittadini ed imprese. La salute degli europei, deve essere garantita, impedendo che entrino prodotti agroalimentari che non rispettino i nostri standard, né facciano concorrenza sleale. Noi siamo italiani e vogliamo mangiare Parmigiano e non Parmesan e credo che tutti gli europei preferiscano mangiare il Parmigiano e non il Parmesan.

I diritti dei cittadini vanno tutelati, per esempio, garantendo l’utilizzo di documenti cartacei e non solo online. E poi le nostre commissioni parlamentari dovranno impegnarsi per tutelare i settori chiave, come la pesca, lo spazio, l’energia, e poi gli interessi della pace in Irlanda e gli interessi spagnoli a Gibilterra, e naturalmente la difesa e la lotta contro il terrorismo.

In conclusione, dobbiamo evitare che il Regno Unito si trasformi in una Singapore europea, che magari non abbia severe regole antiriciclaggio. Tutto ciò per avere relazioni sempre più positive con Londra, che è uscita dall’Unione europea ma che rimane Europa.

 
   
 

  Bernd Lange (S&D). – Frau Präsidentin! Die Entschließung zeigt, dass wir bereit sind, zu verhandeln. Und ich glaube, wir können es auch schaffen, innerhalb von neun Monaten Handelsabkommen zu organisieren, denn die Situation ist nun ein bisschen anders. Normalerweise haben wir zwei unterschiedliche Partner, die sich irgendwie aufeinander zubewegen, und man verständigt sich über gemeinsame Standards oder erkennt Standards an. Jetzt haben wir ein harmonisiertes System und müssen entscheiden, wie weit wir auseinandergehen können. Insofern ist das ein bisschen komfortabler als bei anderen Handelsverhandlungen. Deswegen die drei Pfeiler, normale Handelsverhandlungen müssen eben in den Blick genommen werden. Die Frage der Zollfreiheit ist das gemeinsame Ziel. Das kann man auch aushandeln, wenn sichergestellt ist, dass die Produkte aus Großbritannien, die in die Europäische Union kommen, auch wirklich britische Produkte sind und nicht Produkte, die über Großbritannien aus anderen Ländern in die Europäische Union kommen.

Zum Zweiten geht es um die Standards von Produkten und Dienstleistungen. Da haben wir ein klares Set von Regeln, was Verbraucherschutz und Gesundheitsschutz betrifft. Die SPS-Standards werden in gar keiner Art und Weise anzugreifen sein. Also glaube ich, auch da wird es leicht sein, sich zu verständigen.

Und der dritte Pfeiler ist der komplizierteste. Natürlich gilt es, auch Regeln, die den Handel betreffen, zu diskutieren, damit keine Wettbewerbsverzerrungen da sind. Also die Frage der gleichen Arbeitnehmerrechte, die Frage der gleichen Umweltstandards, die Frage der gleichen Beihilferegelung – ganz wichtig – und die Frage eines harmonisierten Steuersatzes. Denn ansonsten würden wir Wettbewerbsverzerrungen haben, und das kann nicht sein. Wenn es Wettbewerbsverzerrungen geben sollte, dann werden wir natürlich Zӧlle einführen müssen, um das auszugleichen. Es ist völlig absurd, zu meinen, es gibt eine Dumpinginsel jenseits des Kanals mit vollem freiem Marktzugang.

 
   
 

  Luis Garicano (Renew). – Madam President, I would like to thank Mr Barnier for his work and his words.

As the EU and the United Kingdom embark on this new relationship, which I hope is a fruitful one, I want to send a very clear message to the United Kingdom. This Parliament will not allow the United Kingdom to become a tax haven or a money laundromat just offshore Europe. I want to remind you about paragraph 21 of the resolution. It says, ‘We strongly believe that the UK should adhere to the evolving standards on taxation and anti—money laundering legislation within the EU acquis, including tax transparency, the exchange of information on tax matters and anti—tax avoidance measures’. This applies to the territories as well. I would remind you that British overseas territories include Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, the Virgin Islands: crown dependencies include all of those islands that have no taxes on deposits, etc.

Mr Barnier, this is an existential question for Europe. If we allow tax avoidance and money laundering just offshore Europe, our way of life is in danger and our welfare state is in danger. This has to be one of the highest, if not the highest, priority for our negotiations.

 
   
 

  Marco Campomenosi (ID). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, io vedo tanta ipocrisia. Certo, la risoluzione di domani è un testo che probabilmente è fatto anche molto bene, ma il nostro emiciclo di Bruxelles, dove ci siamo riuniti due settimane fa, è ancora bagnato dalle lacrime di molti di voi. Vedo un atteggiamento schizofrenico anche nelle parole usate dalla Presidente della Commissione, che continua a insistere chiamando amici, amici, amici chi avete cercato di umiliare per tre anni. Perché di tre anni persi, stiamo parlando, perché potevamo essere già molto più avanti se qualcuno non avesse fatto finta che la Brexit non ci sarebbe mai stata, che i cittadini britannici si sono sbagliati.

Quindi parliamo di standard, ma domani voterete un accordo commerciale con un paese asiatico che da questi standard che voi pretendete dalla Gran Bretagna è lontanissimo. Quindi dovete solo sperare che non facciano l’accordo prima con gli Stati Uniti, che sostituirebbero i nostri prodotti, e dovete ascoltare i nostri produttori che esportano tanto in Gran Bretagna. Il tempo perso in questi anni è un danno a loro ed è tutta responsabilità vostra.

 
   
 

  Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL). – Frau Präsidentin! Wir alle sind uns bewusst, dass es sehr viele und wichtige Aspekte unseres Verhältnisses zu Großbritannien gibt, die nun geregelt werden müssen. Das ist unsere Aufgabe – im Sinne unserer Bürgerinnen und Bürger, in der wirtschaftlichen, sozialen, ökologischen und auch kulturellen Dimension. Deshalb geht es weniger um ein Freihandelsabkommen, sondern mehr um faire und inklusive Handelsbeziehungen. Ich halte es für bedenklich, alles in einem einzigen De-facto-Assoziierungsabkommen regeln zu wollen, wie es bei TTIP der Fall war. Fragen der Kooperation von Streitkräften, Fragen der Energie- und Netzkooperation, Fragen der polizeilichen Zusammenarbeit oder die Regelung des Luftraums dürfen nicht der parlamentarischen Kontrolle entzogen und den innerhalb des Abkommens geschaffenen Ausschüssen überantwortet werden.

Ich appelliere an den Rat: Schaffen Sie Transparenz, wahren Sie demokratische Ansprüche! Ich lobe ausdrücklich den Ansatz der Kommission, die UN-Nachhaltigkeitsziele zu verankern, dem Pariser Abkommen, der ILO und den Grundrechten, inklusive Datenschutz, großen Raum zu geben. Bremsen Sie nur nicht den ambitionierten Ausbau unserer künftigen Regulierung zum Schutz von Umwelt und Produktsicherheit, indem Sie Themen als eine Frage von Handelshemmnissen handhaben.

 
   
 

  Jorge Buxadé Villalba (ECR). – Señora presidente, señor Barnier, señorías, se acabó el circo de la salida del Reino Unido del club comunitario y hay que ponerse a trabajar.

Hay que ponerse a pactar acuerdos comerciales y económicos que garanticen los derechos de nuestros nacionales. Como ejemplo, el derecho a pescar en aguas británicas de los pescadores españoles o tratados comerciales que garanticen efectivamente la libre competencia de los productos agrícolas del Reino Unido, pero también en materias como la seguridad o la cooperación judicial.

Negociemos fuerte, pero negociemos no menos fuerte de lo que se tiene que negociar con otros países ajenos a Europa con los que cerramos también acuerdos comerciales. En este sentido, creo que es el momento adecuado para dar la batalla y acabar con el proceso de descolonización de Gibraltar, impidiendo que esa colonia británica en territorio nacional español siga parasitando la economía española con prácticas fiscales desleales. Bajo el paraguas de la Unión Europea, Gibraltar se ha consolidado como una base para el lavado de dinero proveniente de actividades criminales.

Por tanto, le exigimos a la Comisión que plante las bases para ese proceso de descolonización. Sabemos que es responsabilidad del Gobierno de España, pero de socios leales, como son los de este club, debe exigirse la colaboración y el respeto a la dignidad de nuestra nación.

 
   
 

  Danuta Maria Hübner (PPE). – Madam President, I would like to talk about financial services, which I believe are crucial for future relations with the UK. We know that an FTA can have only a very small chapter on financial services, addressing only the right of establishment and prudential carve-out mechanism, and EU financial services are about the single market, and it is clear now that it will be an equivalence mechanism that will provide the main framework for the relationship. The Commission has just a few months to prepare all those unilateral equivalence decisions – around forty, I understand – and the financial industry should be fully aware of how little time they have to adjust to the future situation.

Efforts have been made recently, also in this House, to enhance the equivalence framework as the main regulatory tool for financial services in the future relationship with the UK. As equivalence is a unilateral discretionary policy tool, in order to make it deliver, we will need constructive cooperation with UK regulators and supervisors to protect the financial stability and integrity of our financial markets, protect investors and consumers, as well as ensuring LPF. But all of us here in this House must also be aware that for an ambitious, beneficial and successful future relationship with the UK in the area of financial services, it is our duty also to complete as soon as possible the Banking Union and build a genuine capital market union. The EU will preserve regulatory and supervisory autonomy, but so will the UK, and we just heard from the former governor of the Bank of England that the UK will not be a rule-taker. So let me emphasise that, while we should maintain close and ambitions relations with the UK in financial services, we should also spare no effort to reduce potential systemic risk.

 
   
 

  Barry Andrews (Renew). – Madam President, it is with mixed feelings that I make this first contribution to the proceedings of this Chamber because, naturally, it has been difficult to see the departure of the UK for any Irish person, given the very close political, social and cultural affinity that we have with the UK. I’d much rather be here in very different circumstances, but it is fitting that I should speak, for my first contribution, on Brexit, because essentially it is one of the reasons I put my candidacy forward a year ago and, ironically, one of the reasons that I’ve ended up here in the difficult circumstances.

We’re at a delicate stage in proceedings, and there is no example in history where negotiating parties are seeking to impose trade barriers. So it will be difficult. It is amazing to continue to hear UK government officials expressing astonishment that the EU would exercise power, leverage and influence in trade negotiations, given the fact, on the one hand, that the UK were one of the architects of this system and that they have benefited from it so much.

So I would call upon Mr Barnier to continue to speak about the UK as a trading partner and not a trading competitor, and not to imagine that the UK has to be punished in order for the EU to thrive.

 
   
 

  Harald Vilimsky (ID). – Frau Präsidentin, meine sehr geehrten Damen und Herren! Ich möchte die Gelegenheit nutzen, nachdem die britischen Mandatare heute zum ersten Mal nicht mehr unter uns sind, Großbritannien alles Gute zu wünschen für die neu gewonnene Unabhängigkeit und dass nicht länger Brüssel das Zentrum ihrer Entscheidungen ist, sondern in London das Epizentrum der politischen Willensbildung entsprechend vorhanden ist. Das kann einem gefallen, oder das kann einem nicht gefallen. Faktum ist, dass es auf Basis eines demokratischen Mehrheitsentscheides passiert.

Man hat lange genug versucht, hier mit Tricks eines zweiten Referendums und ähnlichem die Briten zu zwingen, in dieser Gemeinschaft zu bleiben. Aber erst die Wahlen ins britische Unterhaus haben klargemacht, dass diese britische Mehrheitsentscheidung eine unerschütterliche ist. Jetzt wird es an Ihnen liegen, an der Europäischen Union liegen, wie man den Briten in ihrer neu gewonnenen Unabhängigkeit begegnet: in Freundschaft und mit Flexibilität, oder dass man die Briten weiter mit einer Regulierungswut so malträtiert, dass sie in weiterer Konsequenz sagen werden „nein, danke“ und sie in eine transatlantische Achse mit den Amerikanern getrieben werden – zum Nachteil auch Europas, zum Nachteil der Arbeitsplätze und der Wirtschaft in Europa. Und Sie werden es bewerkstelligen müssen, den Briten mit Freundschaft und Flexibilität zu begegnen.

 
   
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). – Senhora Presidente, o quadro de relação futura entre o Reino Unido e a União Europeia dependerá, inevitavelmente, da natureza das forças que o negoceiam.

O que temos, de um lado e do outro, são forças apostadas na liberalização e mercantilização dos serviços públicos, no ataque às funções sociais do Estado, na limitação da intervenção dos Estados na economia, na desregulamentação social e laboral, numa perigosa escalada militarista no quadro da NATO e numa agressiva e intervencionista política externa.

Opomo-nos e combatemos firmemente este caminho. Não vemos razão para que não se mantenham, e mesmo reforcem, laços de cooperação mutuamente vantajosos com o Reino Unido, além do campo económico, em domínios como a ciência, o ensino e a cultura, entre outros.

Um quadro de cooperação leal, respeitador da soberania de cada país e dos direitos das comunidades migrantes, em que ganhem os povos, e não um quadro concorrencial que aproveite o grande capital à custa dos povos.

Não é aceitável, em nenhuma circunstância, que se impeça os Estados de construírem este quadro assente nas relações bilaterais com o Reino Unido, nem é aceitável que se atribua o exclusivo do direito de negociação à União Europeia. Dessa forma sabemos sempre que interesses serão servidos e em detrimento também de que interesses.

 
   
 

  Siegfried Mureşan (PPE). – Madam President, dear Michel Barnier, please continue to work as you have done in recent years, preserving the unity of all European institutions. Dear colleagues – let’s be aware – let me underline that Brexit was tearing apart the UK society for years. It was tearing apart political parties, it was tearing apart the UK government and it needed two early elections to settle.

Meanwhile, in the European Parliament, we have fulfilled our mission. We work in a noiseless, very professional way to fulfil our missions. For this I would like to thank colleagues from all political groups which were part of this united majority.

What do we need to achieve as of now? Priority number one needs to be citizens’ rights. We need to give certainty to students, to farmers, to researchers about the future relationship. The objective needs to be as close a relationship as possible, but the instruments are clear – a rules-based relationship. The principle is clear – please respect the rules – and the outcome needs to be in line with today’s mandate of the European Parliament. Only then can we approve it in the end.

 
   
 

  Markus Buchheit (ID). – Frau Präsidentin, meine sehr verehrten Damen und Herren hier im Plenarsaal! Ich werde wahrgenommen als ein Vertreter einer Gruppe, die gemeinhin Ängste schüren würde, unbegründete Emotionen und dergleichen mehr. Nun, wir haben zumindest nichts gesagt in Bezug darauf, dass es in Großbritannien nach dem Brexit zu Lebensmittel- oder Arzneimittelengpässen kommen würde, oder gar zu Verkehrschaos an den Grenzen. Das waren nicht unsere Worte, diese Ängste wurden hier von Vertretern der selbst ernannten bürgerlichen Mitte geschürt.

Ich darf Sie nur um eines bitten – und ich weiß, es fällt Ihnen insbesondere in diesen Tagen schwer –, und das ist die Anerkennung eines demokratischen Prozesses, eines demokratischen Entscheides in Großbritannien: Akzeptieren Sie Großbritannien als Partner, als Gesprächspartner auf Augenhöhe, und betrachten Sie die nun kommenden Möglichkeiten eines neuen Freihandelsabkommens eben auch als Möglichkeit eines Neustartes, als Möglichkeit zum Brückenbau – statt hier mit harter Hand, wie es eben gefordert wurde, vorzugehen – und zum Neustart für unsere Beziehungen diesseits und jenseits des Kanals.

 
   
 

  François-Xavier Bellamy (PPE). – Madame la Présidente, nous le savons bien: la relation qui se construira entre l’Union européenne et le Royaume-Uni, entre nos pays et le Royaume-Uni, sera décisive dans de très nombreux secteurs.

Beaucoup de choses importantes ont été dites, mais je voudrais revenir sur un point fondamental, qui est la question de la pêche. En effet, nous le savons bien, la pêche a été dans le débat britannique un enjeu essentiel qui a décidé du Brexit. Aujourd’hui, nous aurions tout à perdre si la pêche devait être séparée de la négociation globale avec les Britanniques. Je me félicite, je suis très heureux que, grâce au travail énergique de Michel Barnier, en particulier, la pêche ait pu être incluse dans ce mandat de négociation pour faire en sorte qu’un accord global soit négocié, incluant cette dimension.

En effet, si nous n’arrivons pas à avoir d’accord sur la pêche, les tensions seront très vives en mer et le désastre pourrait être grand d’un point de vue économique, mais aussi d’un point de vue écologique. Il nous faut une politique commune de la pêche pour préserver les espèces et cet aspect-là est fondamental pour l’avenir de nos pays.

 
   
 

  Christel Schaldemose (S&D). – Fru formand! Målet med vores forhandlinger her må være at få en ambitiøs frihandelsaftale mellem to nære allierede, EU og Storbritannien. Vi skal i mål, det er efter min mening en bunden opgave; men vi skal også være rigtig klare i vores krav til briterne. Og vores krav er, at vi siger nej til, at briterne svækker arbejdstagerbeskyttelsen eller miljøbeskyttelsen. Vi siger nej til, at briterne sænker deres skatter og hæver deres statsstøtte. Med andre ord: Vi skal være krystalklare i vores krav om at sikre fair konkurrence, lige konkurrence, level playing field.

Når det er sagt, så er det også i EU’s interesse at få en aftale, og vi må derfor ikke lade ærgrelsen over, at vi fik et brexit, stå i vejen for, at vi finder løsninger, der for eksempel sikrer, at EU-fiskere fortsat kan få adgang til britisk farvand. Det er i vores allesammens interesse, at vi får en god handelsaftale med briterne.

 
   
 

  Paulo Rangel (PPE). – Senhora Presidente, Presidência croata, Comissão, Senhor Michel Barnier, julgo que será de sublinhar dois aspetos que não foram, talvez, ainda devidamente sublinhados aqui.

O primeiro, é que é essencial, em qualquer circunstância, que as questões de segurança sejam reguladas na relação entre o Reino Unido e a União Europeia. Basta pensar no que foram os atentados terroristas, no que foi a cooperação policial entre os serviços do Reino Unido e os serviços de vários Estados europeus para ter uma ideia do que seria não ter uma base de acordo entre os dois lados do Canal da Mancha.

Finalmente, parece-me também importante que se possa estender este acordo à área da defesa e a algumas áreas da política externa. Basta, por exemplo, olhar para o que foi a questão do Irão para verificar que o Reino Unido está muito mais alinhado com a visão da União Europeia do que com outras visões. E, por isso, nós devemos trabalhar, quer no campo da cooperação criminal e da segurança, quer no campo da política de defesa e externa.

 
   
 

  Clara Aguilera (S&D). – Señora presidenta, señor Barnier, usted ha sido un buen negociador durante todo el proceso y estoy convencida de que nos va a llevar a un gran acuerdo. Necesitamos, en primer lugar, que haya acuerdo. Como dice mi colega Juan Fernando López Aguilar, necesitamos un acuerdo antes para evitar el abismo.

En segundo lugar, necesitamos que el acuerdo con el Reino Unido sea ambicioso y que defienda y represente bien los intereses del sector agrario y del sector agroalimentario europeos, con nuestros estándares de calidad, que bien conoce el Reino Unido.

Uno de los aspectos importantes del mandato negociador y al que se han referido varias señorías es la pesca. También usted lo conoce perfectamente, puesto que ha tratado estos temas como ministro de Pesca en Francia. Es importante que pudiera cerrar un acuerdo antes del 1 de julio para poder saber si podemos hacer un reparto responsable del TAC y de las cuotas y que, desde luego, nuestro sector pesquero no se vea indefenso ante esta situación

Y, por último, preservar la opinión de España en todo lo que se negocie con Gibraltar. Es muy importante para nuestro país y yo creo que para la Unión Europea.

 
   
 

  Luděk Niedermayer (PPE). – Madam President, first of all, many thanks to the Commission and Michel Barnier for their excellent work, and also thanks to the team drafting Parliament’s resolution. This is a very good resolution and I guess the debate was also good. At the end, almost everything was said, so let me just stress a few points.

First of all, free goes together with fair. These elements cannot be divided. And the second, rights goes together with obligation. Based on those principles, we would be able to build a very extensive, very deep agreement with the UK. We could, but it’s probably not very likely, because we have two constraints. The first is too many red lines and the second is too little time. Nevertheless, we should try our best, and there should be two principles guiding us. First of all, we cannot give up our principles. Principles are very important for us and for our partners. The second was stressed by the Council. Time is short; we must be quick and flexible to get the best results for all Europeans.

 
   
 

  Johan Danielsson (S&D). – Fru talman! Det är viktigt att förhandlingarna nu sker efter tydliga principer. För det första måste vi förhandla som en union; det kan inte fortgå parallella, bilaterala förhandlingar. För det andra måste varje grad av tillträde till vår gemensamma marknad följas av motsvarande regelefterlevnad från Storbritanniens sida. Den framtida relationen ska, som flera redan har sagt, bygga på konkurrens på lika villkor, inklusive arbetsrättsliga och sociala standarder.

Ta transportområdet som exempel. För att kunna garantera fortsatta transporter mellan EU och Storbritannien behöver vi ett avtal. Utan avtal, inga transporter, vilket vore en katastrof, både för EU och för Storbritannien.

Samtidigt måste det märkas att Storbritannien inte längre är en medlem. För vägtransporter, till exempel, är det inte rimligt att Storbritannien fortfarande har möjlighet till cabotagetrafik i EU, och möjligheten till transit genom Kontinentaleuropa måste åtföljas av att EU:s regelverk respekteras fullt ut.

 
   
 

„Catch the eye eljárás”

 
   
 

  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Señora presidenta, señor negociador Barnier, después de tres años agónicos para evitar el abismo de un Brexit sin acuerdo, nos enfrentamos ahora en apenas diez meses a un escenario no menos estresante ―la necesidad de un acuerdo― y que solo puede ser afrontado desde el criterio de la unidad, la exigencia de reciprocidad y el respeto de los estándares europeos con el Reino Unido, que nunca fue Schengen, nunca fue euro y ahora ha pasado a ser un país tercero con todas las de la ley.

Y es importante asegurarlo para evitar que exista un paraíso fiscal en nuestra fronteras ―por ejemplo en Gibraltar―, evitando esa tradición de fraude, ocultación de capitales y contrabando, pero, sobre todo, garantizando en la inclusión del acuerdo el tratamiento que merece la circulación de personas, la cooperación judicial y policial en materia de seguridad y la protección de datos y evitando que pueda producirse nunca más un escándalo como el de la violación de las reglas europeas de protección de datos en el Sistema de Información Schengen. Es importantísimo, por tanto, prestar la atención que merece este capítulo sobre la circulación de personas y las libertades al que hago referencia como presidente de la Comisión de Libertades Justicia e Interior.

 
   
 

  Mairead McGuinness (PPE). – Madam President, I say to Michel Barnier: to use your phrase, ‘the clock is ticking’. And we all know that it took three years, three torturous years, to negotiate the Withdrawal Agreement with only three key points in it. So, therefore, in 10 months we have to do much more and we have to be very careful of the detail. As others have said, we need a level playing field, we need a good relationship with the United Kingdom, so I wish us well in those negotiations.

Colleagues will also know that there is and has been a general election in Ireland and there will be a new government. We hope that that government gets into place rather swiftly, because there is much work to be done.

I hope, too, that they can build on the incredible work and achievements of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, and Minister for European Affairs Helen McEntee, who helped and worked with the European Union to reach that Withdrawal Agreement, in particular on the Irish Protocol.

Ten months is a very short space of time. This Parliament will be watching under the leadership of David McAllister, and we have to work together to keep our unity.

 
   
 

  Mick Wallace (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, sometimes, when I come in here I wonder am I living on the same planet as everyone else. I heard someone say that we shouldn’t allow the UK to become a tax haven.

My God, right now sub-Saharan Africa loses three times as much in capital flight each year as it gains in aid investment and loans. And much of it is channelled, illegally and legally, through the banks in the city of London. It is a tax haven, and it has a network of tax havens to work with. If you are in denial about that, I just don’t understand the thinking.

Unfair trading practices, talk about the merits of a free trade. The truth be told: unfair trade practices are killing farmers, indigenous people trying to make a living all over the planet. When is it ever going to stop?

Brexit should be used as an opportunity to move towards a system in which capital is embedded in local economies, and not moving all over the planet at the expense of the environment and the people of the planet.

 
   
 

  Victor Negrescu (S&D). – Doamna președintă, avem nevoie de un parteneriat cuprinzător cu Marea Britanie. Este evident în interesul nostru, dar este și în interesul Regatului Unit. Un astfel de parteneriat presupune să negociem în detaliu fiecare componentă a acestui acord, în interesul cetățenilor pe care îi reprezentăm.

Am vorbit de protecția datelor, de protecția inovației, de schimburile comerciale, de standardele europene, dar, evident, toate aceste lucruri trebuie să ia în considerare și nevoia unui parteneriat care să cuprindă și alte dimensiuni: partea de securitate și de apărare, protecția drepturilor europenilor care locuiesc acolo și, de ce nu, poate continuarea participării Marii Britanii la o serie de programe europene, în măsura în care își doresc acest lucru și noi ne dorim acest lucru.

De aceea, sunt convins că negociatorul nostru, domnul Michel Barnier este mai mult decât capabil să facă lucrul acesta. Am avut plăcerea să lucrez cu el în trecut și sunt convins că putem livra un astfel de parteneriat strategic în timp util, în așa fel încât toate aceste lucruri să fie garantate pe mai departe.

 
   
 

  Eugen Tomac (PPE). – Doamna președintă, domnule Michel Barnier, avem o situație pe care noi nu ne-am dorit-o. Nu noi am dorit ca Marea Britanie să plece din Uniunea Europeană, nu noi am dorit să creăm acest moment pe care trebuie să-l gestionăm în prezent. Însă, vă rog un lucru foarte important, să respingeți ferm orice condiționalități inacceptabile, orice chestiuni absurde pe care guvernul de la Londra va dori să le discute cu noi. Trebuie însă să vă gândiți la trei elemente importante: să vă gândiți și la britanicii care nu și-au dorit ca Marea Britanie să plece din Uniunea Europeană; atunci când discutăm cu Londra, să vă gândiți că sunt 3,5 milioane de cetățeni europeni în Marea Britanie și 1,5 milioane de cetățeni britanici în Uniunea Europeană. Pe ei trebuie să-i protejăm. Și nu în ultimul rând, toată acțiunea noastră trebuie gândită în perspectivă, pentru că într-o zi, Marea Britanie va trebui să revină alături de noi.

 
   
 

  Clare Daly (GUE/NGL). – Madam President, as an Irish citizen, we’ve obviously always had a very close and intertwined history with the UK – not all of it welcome, but that’s another story. But that relationship will continue, and it is in our mutual interest that it should be a cooperative one.

Now, Ms von der Leyen talked about there needing to be rules to bring fairness to the heart of business. But the key question is: fairness for who? Because if the rules continue to favour big business, the big corporations, the arms industry, the big farmers, and so on, then citizens will be left behind. That was one of the reasons for Brexit, and it was one of the key reasons for the almighty trouncing that Leo Varadkar’s team got in the Irish election this weekend. It was a rejection of neoliberalism.

Now, I wish you well in your negotiations. You have a number of issues to deal with, not least the situation of the medical profession and the need for you to work inter-institutionally to deliver progress. I echo the points of my colleagues about the data issues and the breaches by the UK. But critically, I urge you to protect, and have no backtracking on, the Good Friday Agreement.

 
   
 

  Александър Александров Йорданов (PPE). – Уважаема г-жо Председател, г-н Барние, между нас и Великобритания тепърва ще има проблеми. Вече е ясно, че те ще проличат в преговорите за търговското споразумение, но тези преговори, тези проблеми, не трябва да се отразят на общите интереси и политика в сферата на сигурността и отбраната. Необходимо е да засилим сътрудничеството си в рамките на НАТО, като единствен в момента гарант за европейската, а и за световната сигурност.

Трябва да бъдем в позиция да координираме взаимоотношенията си с Великобритания във външната политика. Имам предвид съществуването на горещи или замразени конфликти като Руската агресия срещу Украйна, кризата в Сирия, напрежението в Близкия Изток, политиката на Иран, тероризма. Ситуацията всъщност след Брекзит ни дава възможност за по-добро сътрудничество в триъгълника Европейски съюз – Великобритания – Съединени щати.

 
   
 

  Robert Hajšel (S&D). – Vážená pani predsedajúca, ja by som sa chcel naozaj zastaviť nad tým, ako by mali vyzerať naše vzťahy do budúcnosti s Veľkou Britániou. Musíme sa snažiť naozaj o najvyššiu, čo najvyššiu možnú úroveň vzťahov a usilovať sa o niečo viac, ako je jednoduchá zmluva alebo dohoda o voľnom obchode. Musíme aj počas týchto negociácií zostať dôveryhodnými partnermi, ktorí sa môžu spoľahnúť na seba aj z hľadiska pretláčania zahranično-politických priorít. Potrebujeme férovú súťaž, aby tu nebol žiadny dumping, aby sme naozaj mohli spolu obchodovať bez nejakých bariér, ale zároveň Veľká Británia tiež nemôže napríklad aplikovať prehnanú štátnu pomoc, nemôžu, nemôže uvoľniť zo svojich vysokých európskych, doteraz európskych sociálnych a environmentálnych štandardov, ale musí sa pridržiavať svojich záväzkov v rámci boja s klimatickými zmenami. V prvom rade však ide o zaistenie čo najvyššej úrovni práv pre našich občanov, ktorí tam študujú, pracujú alebo obchodujú. Musíme im dať istotu, aby mohli žiť čo najlepšie, tak ako žili doteraz.

 
   
 

(„Catch the eye” eljárás vége)

 
   
 

  Michel Barnier, Chef de la task-force pour les relations avec le Royaume-Uni. – Madame la Présidente, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, Madame la Ministre, à l’occasion de votre dernière session à Bruxelles – et Ursula von der Leyen a fait référence à cette séance émouvante –, vous avez dit au revoir à tous vos collègues britanniques quittant le Parlement en raison du Brexit. Vous me permettrez, au début de cette session, de saluer les nouveaux collègues qui vous rejoignent et de leur dire, aussi, la disponibilité qui est la nôtre, celle de la Commission, pour leur mandat.

Je voudrais commencer par vous remercier pour votre confiance, qui me touche, et encourage une équipe exceptionnelle que j’ai l’honneur d’animer et qui est celle de la Commission européenne, qui est aussi votre équipe de négociation. Je voudrais aussi vous remercier pour le contenu de votre résolution, qui marque des principes, des valeurs, des positions. Votre négociateur a besoin et aura besoin tout au long des mois qui viennent de cette détermination, de cette résolution, pour l’aider dans cette négociation, qui sera difficile.

Tout à l’heure, Mairead McGuinness a dit: «the clock is ticking». Je veux juste rappeler, sur ce sujet du temps, que le temps de la transition, qui est fixé dans le traité de retrait, est un temps en effet limité, qui peut être prolongé d’un an ou de deux ans par un accord commun. S’il n’est pas prolongé, comme nous le comprenons, cela veut dire que le Royaume-Uni quittera le 31 décembre de cette année le marché unique et l’union douanière. C’est un choix, et ce choix du temps est fixé par le premier ministre britannique, pas par nous.

Et il faut que chacun comprenne bien que ce temps contraint, avant que le Royaume-Uni ne quitte le marché unique et l’union douanière, ce temps contraint choisi par le premier ministre britannique a des conséquences. Chacun doit évidemment les assumer. Cette contrainte du temps, ce n’est pas nous qui la posons dans la négociation.

Mais cette contrainte veut dire aussi une chose, car nous ne sommes pas dans une négociation commerciale – quand nous négocions avec le Canada ou avec le Japon, nous essayons de nous rapprocher, de faire de la convergence. Certains pensent que cette convergence n’est pas suffisante, mais nous y arrivons. Si nous ne parvenons pas à un accord avec ces pays, nous prenons plus de temps. Nous donnons plus de temps à la négociation: un an, deux ans… Pour le Canada, cela a pris sept ans. Et en attendant de trouver un accord, c’est le statu quo, pour les deux parties.

Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, je veux rappeler que, dans le cas précis où nous sommes, ce ne sera pas le statu quo. Si nous ne trouvons pas d’accord le 31 décembre sur le commerce, ce ne sera pas le statu quo puisque ce jour-là, comme l’a choisi le premier ministre britannique, et pas plus tard que ce jour-là, le 31 décembre prochain donc, le Royaume-Uni sortira du marché unique et de l’union douanière et reviendra en arrière, si je puis dire, dans le cadre de l’OMC.

Ce qui veut dire qu’au-delà des contrôles que nous ferons de toute façon, en raison du Brexit, sur l’ensemble des produits qui viendront du Royaume-Uni (comme nous faisons ces contrôles sur tous les produits qui viennent de pays tiers et qui entrent dans le marché unique, pour protéger les consommateurs et les entreprises), au-delà de ces contrôles, qui de toute façon sont nécessaires, il y aura dans ce cas précis, s’il y a un échec, s’il n’y a pas d’accord, il y aura des quotas et des droits de douane sur tous les produits britanniques. Voilà la conséquence, si nous ne parvenons pas à un accord dans cette contrainte de temps choisie par le premier ministre britannique.

Mesdames, Messieurs, tous vos groupes ont appelé à une relation forte, à la hauteur de notre histoire commune. Et nous n’oublions pas, je n’oublie pas, cette histoire commune et cette solidarité du Royaume-Uni, en particulier dans les heures les plus sombres du siècle dernier. Une relation logique, évidemment, Philippe Lamberts le disait, quand on regarde la géographie. Une relation nécessaire, quand on mesure les intérêts économiques, mais aussi les enjeux climatiques ou les enjeux de sécurité. Une relation lucide et exigeante, quand on écoute – ce que je fais très soigneusement – certains discours britanniques en ce moment sur l’usage qui serait fait – je parle au conditionnel, je ne veux pas faire de procès d’intention – de la nouvelle capacité de divergence réglementaire que le Royaume-Uni a voulu obtenir avec le Brexit.

Cette relation forte, ambitieuse, lucide, exigeante, c’est l’état d’esprit de la Commission européenne, comme l’a dit notre présidente Ursula von der Leyen tout à l’heure, et c’est ce qui est contenu dans la proposition de mandat qui est sur votre table et qui est en discussion au Conseil pour être approuvé, j’espère, le 25 février prochain.

Une négociation, Mesdames et Messieurs, avec un partenaire – je reprends les mots de Barry Andrews tout à l’heure –, un partenaire qui doit bien comprendre – et je le dis calmement mais fermement – que l’ouverture de nos marchés, l’accès aux données – je réponds, Madame in’t Veld, à votre question –, les équivalences pour les services financiers – évoquées par Danuta Hübner –, je répète: l’ouverture de nos marchés, l’accès aux données, les équivalences – je dis bien les équivalences pour les services financiers – seront proportionnelles aux engagements pris ensemble pour respecter un vrai level playing field. Une cohérence réglementaire dans certains domaines, la protection des citoyens et, je me permets de l’ajouter, n’ayons pas la mémoire courte: la stabilité financière de notre continent et de la zone euro.

Je voudrais télégraphiquement répondre à quelques points précis.

D’abord, Geert Bourgeois a évoqué tout à l’heure la question de la coopération, notamment en mer du Nord, sur l’énergie. Je ferai d’ailleurs le point aujourd’hui avec le vice-président Timmermans sur cette question. Nous souhaitons évidemment, Monsieur Bourgeois, une coopération avec le Royaume-Uni dans cette région de la mer du Nord sur les questions énergétiques. Cette coopération est d’ailleurs prévue dans notre projet de mandat. Mais le Brexit a des conséquences mécaniques et logiques. Les Britanniques ne sont plus dans l’Union européenne, donc le cadre de coopération doit être revu, logiquement. Le Royaume-Uni ne participe plus aux instances européennes parce qu’il l’a voulu, c’est son choix, et donc nous devons trouver, Monsieur Bourgeois, un autre moyen de coopérer avec eux et nous le rechercherons.

Paulo Rangel tout à l’heure, M. López Aguilar à l’instant, M. Rzońca également, ont évoqué la sécurité interne et externe. C’est aussi dans notre mandat que d’ouvrir plusieurs tables de négociations sur les sujets de la sécurité intérieure, la coopération en matière d’extradition, Europol, Eurojust, anti-money laundering, Prüm, le PNR… Autant de sujets qui exigent un accord avec les Britanniques dans l’intérêt commun, pour la protection de la sécurité des citoyens. Mais aussi, et M. Alexandrov l’évoquait à l’instant, la sécurité extérieure. Je veux dire à ce sujet de la défense et de la politique étrangère que le Brexit ne doit pas normalement avoir de conséquences sur la coopération bilatérale que plusieurs de vos pays ont avec le Royaume-Uni – je parle de coopération entre tel ou tel pays de l’Union et le Royaume-Uni –, et donc ne doit pas non plus avoir de conséquences sur ce que nous faisons ensemble dans l’OTAN.

Ce dont il s’agit là, pour cette négociation, c’est la coopération entre l’Union européenne, notamment les nouvelles initiatives que nous prenons pour la défense, et le Royaume-Uni, s’il le veut bien. Donc, nous avons fait une proposition et nous avons confirmé cette proposition d’ouverture d’une table de négociation sur ces sujets. La déclaration politique fait référence clairement à la sécurité extérieure et à la défense. Nous avons besoin de textes sur ces sujets pour insérer dans le droit et dans les textes juridiques des coopérations administratives ou politiques – je pense à l’Agence de défense, je pense à la lutte contre les cyberattaques, je pense à la coopération entre les services de renseignement, je pense aussi à la possibilité pour les Britanniques de participer, s’ils le veulent, à des opérations extérieures de l’Union, militaires ou civilo-militaires, et je pense évidemment à la coopération politique avec un pays très important qui reste membre du Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies.

Tout cela doit se traduire dans des textes et nous sommes prêts à en discuter, encore faut-il que nous soyons deux pour le faire. Donc, nous sommes ouverts et nous restons ouverts à cette négociation pour améliorer la gestion en commun des enjeux de sécurité et de la stabilité du continent.

Nous sommes également prêts à discuter de tout le reste. Tout à l’heure, Mme Terry Reintke évoquait Erasmus. Nous devons évidemment continuer la coopération en matière universitaire, la coopération en matière de recherche, la participation des Britanniques, s’ils le souhaitent, aux programmes européens. Et nous aurons une table de négociations, dès le mois de mars, sur l’ensemble des programmes européens – je dis bien l’ensemble des programmes, y compris Erasmus –, mais ce sera avec un cadre juridique et un cadre financier différents d’aujourd’hui.

Danuta Hübner a évoqué tout à l’heure la question des services financiers et de cette relation que nous devons avoir avec le Royaume-Uni. Au-delà de ce qui est écrit dans le projet de mandat et de ce que nous faisons habituellement dans des accords avec des pays tiers, il n’y aura pas de négociations à proprement parler sur les services financiers. En revanche, nous devons trouver une relation avec le Royaume-Uni, compte tenu de l’importance de la place de Londres et de la City, que je connais bien. Nous allons donc utiliser – Danuta Hübner y a fait référence – la boîte à outils des équivalences. Comme nous le ferons en matière de données, nous utiliserons la boîte à outils des adequacy decisions. Nous ne négocions pas sur ces sujets avec le Royaume-Uni, nous vérifions la cohérence et, quand nous le jugeons possible, nous donnons des équivalences sur tel ou tel secteur de l’industrie financière. C’est ce que nous avons fait avec le Canada, ce que nous faisons avec les États-Unis, ce que nous faisons avec le Japon, et ça marche. Je ne vois donc pas pourquoi ça ne marcherait pas avec le Royaume-Uni.

Mais je voudrais profiter de cette session pour dire clairement à certains responsables britanniques qu’il ne doit pas y avoir d’illusion sur cette question: il n’y aura pas d’équivalence générale et globale, ou permanente, sur les services financiers. Il n’y aura pas non plus de cogestion d’équivalence financière avec le Royaume-Uni. Nous garderons la maîtrise de ces outils et nous garderons l’autonomie de décision. Je veux aussi, parallèlement, rappeler que dans cette période-là, nous avons des raisons supplémentaires de continuer à agir, et c’est l’objet du travail de notre vice-président Valdis Dombrovskis pour l’union des marchés de capitaux et la poursuite et la consolidation de l’union bancaire.

Enfin, la pêche. M. Bellamy, mais aussi M. Millán Mon, M. Peeters, Mme Schaldemose, Mme Aguilera ont évoqué, parmi d’autres, cette question que je connais assez bien pour avoir eu l’honneur d’être ministre des pêcheurs de mon propre pays pendant quelques années. Je veux simplement dire à ce sujet que l’accès réciproque aux eaux territoriales et aux marchés – je dis bien l’accès réciproque aux eaux et aux marchés – sera un point indissociable de l’accord de commerce, car il s’agit bien de commerce. Ce sera donc un point indissociable de l’accord de commerce et du level playing field dans cette négociation.

Mesdames et Messieurs, nous avons toujours respecté, même si nous l’avons regretté, le choix du Royaume-Uni de quitter l’Union européenne. Le premier ministre, Boris Johnson, que nous respectons, a dit qu’en quittant l’Union européenne, le Royaume-Uni ne quittait pas l’Europe. Nous sommes heureux de cette résolution. La question qui est posée et à laquelle, pour l’instant, nous n’avons pas de réponse est la suivante – elle est assez simple, mais assez grave: le Royaume-Uni quitte l’Union européenne, quitte le marché unique et l’union douanière, mais veut-il aussi quitter ou s’éloigner de notre modèle économique, social et réglementaire européen? Un modèle qu’il connaît bien, puisque nous l’avons construit avec lui depuis 47 ans. Telle est la question à laquelle nous attendons une réponse. De quelle distance le Royaume-Uni veut-il s’éloigner de notre modèle social, économique et réglementaire? Et je voudrais simplement dire que c’est lui, Mesdames et Messieurs, je le dis avec beaucoup de clarté et de calme, c’est le Royaume-Uni qui fixera le niveau d’ambition de notre future relation dans ces domaines, c’est lui qui choisira le niveau de cohérence réglementaire, qui déterminera, du coup, l’ambition, ou qui choisira le niveau de concurrence réglementaire. Et je recommande que la réponse à cette question que nous posons soit bien réfléchie dans le temps contraint que nous avons devant nous.

Je termine par trois réflexions télégraphiques. Mesdames, Messieurs, j’ai toujours dit la vérité devant vous et je continuerai. Le Brexit, ça ne peut pas être business as usual. Il y a des changements dans tous les domaines. Certains changements peuvent être plus ou moins grands ou temporaires, d’autres changements sont définitifs. Le Brexit fait que le service financier britannique perd son passeport financier. Il n’y a pas de reconnaissance mutuelle.

Le Brexit a pour conséquence qu’en toute hypothèse, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, nous imposerons le 1er janvier prochain des contrôles sur tous les produits qui rentreront dans le marché unique, comme nous le faisons pour tous les autres pays tiers du monde. Nous devons cette protection aux consommateurs, aux budgets nationaux et européens, et nous la devons aussi aux entreprises. Donc, ce ne sera pas business as usual. Mais nous allons essayer de limiter les conséquences en trouvant un bon accord.

Deuxième réflexion: nous devons nous attacher à faire respecter et à respecter aussi nous-mêmes l’accord de retrait. Ce n’est pas une banalité. L’accord de retrait comporte 600 pages, il est maintenant ratifié par vous et par la Chambre des communes, il doit être mis en œuvre. Je ferai rapport publiquement devant vous et devant le Conseil, régulièrement, sur l’état de préparation tout au long de cette année, en particulier sur la mise en œuvre du protocole en Irlande, qui garantit une paix toujours fragile.

Enfin, cette négociation sera difficile, très difficile, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés. Je recommande donc que nous restions prêts à toutes les hypothèses, y compris celle où nous ne parviendrions pas avant le 31 décembre à un accord basique. Nous restons prêts à mener cette négociation avec du respect, comme je l’ai toujours fait, et beaucoup de calme, sans aucune agressivité. Je ne perdrai jamais de vue, au-delà des difficultés de la négociation quotidienne, la nécessité de trouver, en votre nom, un accord ambitieux avec un grand pays ami, voisin et allié, et je continuerai toujours, avec une détermination totale, à défendre les intérêts de l’Union européenne, de ses citoyens, de ses entreprises, à défendre l’intégrité du marché intérieur et unique, qui ne sera pas, n’a jamais été et ne sera jamais négociable.

Enfin, évidemment, Madame la Présidente, le Parlement peut être assuré que la Commission européenne, que votre négociateur, seront toujours prêts à travailler avec vous, à vous écouter, à faire rapport devant vous. Je marquerai donc la même disponibilité, comme je l’ai dit tout au long de ces trois années avant le Brexit et comme je l’ai dit l’autre jour– c’était un groupe animé par Guy Verhofstadt, en présence de David McAllister et du groupe de coordination et en présence de tous les présidents de groupe – je continuerai d’être totalement disponible pour travailler avec le Parlement européen, en confiance avec vous.

 
   
   

VORSITZ: KATARINA BARLEY
Vizepräsidentin

 
   
 

  Maria Grapini (S&D), în scris. – Plecarea Marii Britanii din UE nu este o bucurie, dar este un fapt împlinit. Accentul trebuie pus acum pe Acordul care se va încheia între UE și Marea Britanie. Fără taxe și cote este un principiu care ar fi benefic pentru ambele părți. Important este să se respecte standardele de produs pentru a avea o concurență corectă și o securitate a consumatorilor. Parteneriatul economic, securitatea și respectarea principiilor nediscriminării și reciprocității depline în domeniul mobilității sunt lucruri care trebuie cuprinse în acord. Transportul terestru și cel european trebuie abordate ambițios în acordul negociat cu Marea Britanie și trebuie identificate soluții optime pe aceste subiecte. Drepturile cetățenilor trebuie respectate și trebuie să fie plasate pe primul loc în Acordul de retragere.

 
   
 

  Łukasz Kohut (S&D), in writing. – In the discussions concerning future relations between the European Union and Great Britain we have to remember that we are talking not only about the economy, not only about capital flows, taxes or physical borders. We are also talking about education, culture and exchange of scientific research. We should create such conditions in which the latter are not hindered by the mere fact that Great Britain is not a member of the EU anymore. Most young people in Great Britain voted against Brexit – some polls say that 7 out of ten young Britons, aged from 18 to 24 years of age, voted against it. Thus, it is my strong belief that Great Britain should be as closely involved in programmes like Erasmus+, Creative Europe, Horizon Europe etc. as possible. If the bridge between the EU and the Great Britain is to connect and be ready for a future come-back of Great Britain to the EU, it has to be open. As a former Erasmus student myself I can testify to the power of such connections first-hand.

 
   
 

  Grace O’Sullivan (Verts/ALE), in writing. – The result of the Irish election this weekend was a Green wave of two shades, delivered big gains for Greens and for Sinn Féin. Brexit did not figure in the election, thanks to the EU’s work in minimising the damage to Ireland from the UK’s exit. But challenges remain, and this election result could foreshadow more issues regarding the Irish border into the future. This Parliament, and the Commission, must do all they can to ensure that the free movement of peoples and the permeability of the border is maintained into the long term. We need clarity from the UK government on the protocol for Northern Ireland, and the highest level of alignment possible. Another immediate issue facing the negotiations is the July deadline for an agreement on reciprocal access to each other’s waters so we can allow our fishers to keep fishing in a sustainable manner, with minimised disruption. Such a timeline seems unrealistic for an area of such complexity, and the Parliament’s PECH Committee will have to play an active role in ensuring we reach a deal that prevents significant damage being done to both EU and UK fishers and the sustainability priorities of the CFP.

 
3. Composition of committees and delegations : see Minutes
4. Conclusion of the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement – Conclusion of the EU-Viet Nam Free Trade Agreement (Resolution) – EU-Viet Nam Investment Protection Agreement – EU-Viet Nam Investment Protection Agreement (Resolution) (debate)
 

  Die Präsidentin. – Als nächster Punkt der Tagesordnung folgt die gemeinsame Aussprache über

– die Empfehlung von Geert Bourgeois im Namen des Ausschusses für internationalen Handel zu dem Entwurf eines Beschlusses des Rates über den Abschluss des Freihandelsabkommens zwischen der Europäischen Union und der Sozialistischen Republik Vietnam (06050/2019 – C9-0023/2019 – 2018/0356(NLE)) (A9-0003/2020),

– den Bericht von Geert Bourgeois im Namen des Ausschusses für internationalen Handel mit einem nichtlegislativen Entschließungsantrag zu dem Entwurf eines Beschlusses des Rates über den Abschluss des Freihandelsabkommens zwischen der Europäischen Union und der Sozialistischen Republik Vietnam (2018/0356M(NLE)) (A9-0017/2020),

– die Empfehlung von Geert Bourgeois im Namen des Ausschusses für internationalen Handel zu dem Entwurf eines Beschlusses des Rates über den Abschluss im Namen der Union des Investitionsschutzabkommens zwischen der Europäischen Union und ihren Mitgliedstaaten einerseits und der Sozialistischen Republik Vietnam andererseits (05931/2019 – C9-0020/2019 – 2018/0358(NLE)) (A9-0002/2020) und

– den Bericht von Geert Bourgeois im Namen des Ausschusses für internationalen Handel mit einem nichtlegislativen Entschließungsantrag zu dem Entwurf eines Beschlusses des Rates über den Abschluss im Namen der Europäischen Union des Investitionsschutzabkommens zwischen der Europäischen Union und ihren Mitgliedstaaten einerseits und der Sozialistischen Republik Vietnam andererseits (2018/0358M(NLE)) (A9-0014/2020).

 
   
 

  Geert Bourgeois, Rapporteur. – Madam President, tomorrow we will vote on the EU—Vietnam Free Trade Agreement and the Investment Protection Agreement. These are the first state—of—the art trade and investment agreements on which this newly-elected Parliament is asked to give its consent.

It’s a unique opportunity for this Parliament to underline the ambition of the EU to become a geopolitical actor and player: not as an empire that imposes rules, but as a global power that defends multilateralism, resists protectionism and reaches out to partners such as Vietnam. It is up to the European Union to promote rules-based trade and show by example that trade delivers, brings peoples together and raises standards worldwide on safety, labour, environment and human rights. It’s also a question of credibility. We need to show Vietnam and future trading partners that the EU is a credible partner that sticks to its commitment and that we are still able to negotiate, sign and conclude trade agreements.

Eight years after starting the negotiations with Vietnam, this Parliament has been given the opportunity to debate the most comprehensive trade deal between the EU and a middle—income country in its history. As such, this deal with Vietnam sets a new benchmark for Europe’s engagement with emerging economies. If we look at this trade agreement, it is of the utmost importance to stress, first of all, the economic value that will give a boost to the prosperity of both the EU and Vietnam. It represents a great opportunity for European exporters and investors. It will eliminate 99% of tariffs within seven years, and this will result in additional exports in both directions. This will clearly result in many tens of thousands of new and, on average, better-paid jobs through increased use of international standards. This deal will also cut non—trade barriers and reduce costs for our companies. We will gain better access to each other’s public markets, including for SMEs.

Vietnam has a vibrant economy of more than 90 million consumers, a growing middle class and a young, dynamic workforce. The country is open to the world and embraces modern standards. Vietnam was the first in the world, even before Canada, to accept the principle of a modern investment court system (ICS), a modern ICS proposal that has mostly been drafted by this very Parliament with independent judges, a code of conduct, protection of the right to regulate and facilitated access to the court for SMEs. This agreement thus brings new opportunities for companies, both big corporations and SMEs.

Vietnam is also the gateway to the entire Asian region. This agreement brings the long—term goal of an EU—Asian trade agreement from region to region a step closer, and this should be our objective. These agreements are also instruments to promote and protect European standards and values. Vietnam respects clear commitments to the ratification of two additional core International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions: its revised Labour Code, its improved labour and human rights situation and the implementation of the Paris climate agreement.

For all these reasons and the creation of prosperity by free and fair trade and the fact that the EU is taking responsibility to set the standards worldwide and taking the lead on rules—based trade in times of rising trade tensions, protectionism and unilateralism, I therefore ask for the consent of this House so that the peoples of the European Union and the people of Vietnam can further strengthen their ties in the future and so that we can allow free and fair trade to bring people closer together.

(Applause)

 
   
 

  Phil Hogan, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, honourable Members of the European Parliament, the Free Trade Agreement and the Investment Protection Agreement with Vietnam are the most ambitious ever concluded with a developing country.

The agreements will further reinforce our already-strong trade and investment ties, and they will also provide an additional opportunity to strengthen the cooperation established under other EU instruments, for example on illegal logging or IUU (Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated) fishing.

The agreements will strengthen our presence in Asia, following the ‘new generation agreements’ in force, such as those with Korea, Japan and Singapore. They will constitute an additional stepping-stone towards our engagement with the ASEAN region.

The benefits of the agreements are many: preferential access to a vibrant economy of almost 100 million people; removal of non-tariff barriers for our exporters, which they currently face, for example, on cars, on wines, and spirits; harmonised sanitary and phytosanitary rules allowing for more predictable procedures; and removing access barriers for EU products.

EU companies will have access for the first time to the Vietnamese public procurement market, and there will be protection of the European geographical indications such as Parmigiano-Reggiano, Champagne and Rioja wines. We will also have improved access to the Vietnamese market in services, such as finance, distribution, logistics or environmental services.

The Investment Protection Agreement, similar to agreements with Singapore and Canada, includes the modern and reformed investment protection framework with an investment court system for the resolution of investment disputes.

However, our agreements will be on trade and investment, and I’m aware that the European Parliament has put a strong emphasis on the trade and sustainable development chapter of the Vietnam Agreement. And I fully agree with this approach. It is encouraging to see the level of engagement by Vietnam in order to prepare for the implementation of their commitments, with important progress made even before the agreements are in force at all. The pressure that has been exerted by the European Union is bearing fruit, and I welcome this development.

On labour issues, Vietnam adopted a new labour code last November, which recognises the principle of freedom of association at enterprise level. The revised code also includes new provisions on collective bargaining in line with the ILO Fundamental Convention, which was recently ratified by Vietnam.

Vietnam has now ratified 6 out of the 8 ILO conventions, and it has a clear plan to ratify the outstanding conventions by 2021 and 2023. Work is also ongoing in Vietnam to eradicate child labour, with encouraging preliminary results unveiled recently by the ILO, which is a significant reduction of more than 40% since the last survey of 2012.

So these developments are remarkable. But nevertheless, the Commission will scrutinise implementation to ensure that Vietnam effectively pursues this ambitious labour reform agenda.

Vietnam has also started preparing the ground for the institutional structure that is foreseen under the Free Trade Agreement, including the involvement of independent civil society organisations, such as domestic advisory groups.

The human rights situation is certainly an area of concern in our relationship with Vietnam, but I remain convinced that constructive channels of communication, including the Annual Human Rights Dialogue, is the way to voice our concerns and address these shortcomings.

So Madam President, I firmly believe that these agreements will create the best platform for further engagement and constructive dialogue with Vietnam in all fields. On the other hand, our failure to ratify the deal would leave the European Union with fewer options to pursue a reform agenda in Vietnam and would undermine the credibility of the European Union as a reliable partner.

 
   
 

  Isabel Wiseler-Lima, rapporteure pour avis de la commission AFET. – Je vais voter pour ces deux accords avec le Viêt Nam, parce que je suis intimement convaincue qu’ils sont une chance tant pour le peuple vietnamien que pour les Européens.

Du point de vue des droits humains au Viêt Nam, bien sûr que nos réticences sont énormes, mais là aussi, je suis convaincue que nous devons profiter de l’ouverture que crée l’implantation d’entreprises et d’investissements européens soumis à des critères et obligations européens. L’isolation du Viêt Nam serait à mes yeux la pire des situations. Avec cet accord, le gouvernement vietnamien s’engage à respecter les droits fondamentaux et surtout, il accepte le suivi de l’application des règles par une commission conjointe des parlements européen et vietnamien. L’accord prévoit également, et c’est une grande victoire, que la Commission européenne instaure un mécanisme de plaintes indépendant en ce qui concerne les droits de l’homme. Enfin, le Viêt Nam a proposé que la commission des droits de l’homme du Parlement européen participe au dialogue Viêt Nam-Union européenne sur les droits de l’homme. Ceci est une première et permet au Parlement d’être présent à une table de négociations où d’habitude il ne siège pas. Profitons de toutes les ouvertures pour faire avancer les droits de l’homme.

 
   
 

  Iuliu Winkler, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Madam President, honourable colleagues, distinguished Commissioner, the negotiations between the European Union and Vietnam started in 2012. They were first concluded in 2015, subsequently reopened and then finalised in June 2019.

These eight years has witnessed dramatic progress in Vietnamese society, economy, labour conditions, environmental protection and sustainability. One of the crucial ferments of these changes is the European Union. The perspective of enhancing EU—Vietnam cooperation by implementing the Free Trade Agreement and the Investment Protection Agreement gives positive motivation to the Vietnamese authorities.

Just recently we have received a work plan on domestic advisory groups, a work plan and implementation plan on the Labour Code and a positive answer to the establishment of a Joint Parliamentary Oversight Committee between the National Assembly of Vietnam and the European Parliament.

This House faces tomorrow a crucial choice: to grant or not to grant consent to the EU—Vietnam agreements. Postponement would be the 20th century choice. When we give homework to Vietnam and then send them home to do the work. Granting consent is the 21st century European choice, when we formulate our expectations and then we say to our Vietnamese partners: ‘let’s do it together’.

As the shadow rapporteur for the EPP Group, my appeal is to vote for consent tomorrow and then to work together – the EU and Vietnam – for a better, freer and more sustainable future.

 
   
 

  Bernd Lange, im Namen der S&D-Fraktion. – Frau Präsidentin! Willy Brandt hat vor fünfzig Jahren das Konzept „Wandel durch Annäherung“ entwickelt, um mit Ländern, die fundamental andere Auffassungen haben, trotzdem in den Dialog eintreten zu können und über eine Verbesserung der Situation für die Menschen vor Ort zu diskutieren. Das ist genau der richtige Weg, auch in der Beziehung zu Vietnam zu versuchen, über einen Dialog eine Verbesserung der Situation der Menschen vor Ort zu erreichen – gerade mit Vietnam, einem Land, mit dem wir viel Handel treiben. Ich bin überzeugt, dass viele von Ihnen, meine lieben Kolleginnen und Kollegen, Kleidungsstücke aus Vietnam tragen, Schuhe aus Vietnam tragen, alle Smartphones von Samsung kommen aus Vietnam, alle Tablets von Samsung kommen aus Vietnam. Und ich möchte, dass wir hier Regeln setzen, damit die Produktion in Ordnung ist, was die Standards anbetrifft, was den Einsatz von Chemikalien anbetrifft und vor allen Dingen, was die Arbeitnehmerrechte anbetrifft. Und Herr Kommissar, bei aller Wertschätzung: Diese Errungenschaften hat das Europäische Parlament durchgesetzt. In den letzten zwei Jahren haben wir intensiv verhandelt. Und ich bin stolz auf dieses Parlament, dass es die Möglichkeiten, die wir haben, genutzt hat, indem wir durchgesetzt haben, dass fundamentale ILO-Kernarbeitsnormen ratifiziert und umgesetzt werden, dass wir es hingekriegt haben, dass ein verbindlicher Umsetzungsplan, der von der ILO kontrolliert wird, von Vietnam auf den Tisch gelegt worden ist, dass wir es durchgesetzt haben, dass die Domestic Advisory Groups der zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisationen durch unabhängige zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen besetzt werden, dass der Raum für die Zivilgesellschaft erweitert worden ist, dass wir wirklich eine Verbesserung auch der Menschenrechtssituation hingekriegt haben, dass der Unterausschuss für Menschenrechte des Europäischen Parlamentes erstmalig in den Menschenrechtsdialog integriert worden ist – das hat es bisher noch nie gegeben –, und dass wir auch eine Zusammenarbeit der Parlamente bei der Umsetzung des Abkommens durchgesetzt haben. Also insofern können wir als Parlament wirklich stolz sein, dass wir das erreicht haben.

Aber ich sage auch: Die Arbeit fängt jetzt an, weil wir weiter dafür streiten werden, dass durch das Abkommen die Situation der Menschen vor Ort verbessert wird. Also die Arbeit fängt an!

 
   
 

  Karin Karlsbro, on behalf of the Renew Group. – Madam President, honourable Commissioner, Members of Parliament, Europe stands strong for free trade. Tomorrow we can make history. These are the most ambitioned agreements that the EU has ever negotiated with a developing country. There will be an economic win-win for both parties.

The EU and Vietnam are already important trading partners. This trade will continue, with or without agreements. But with these agreements, our trade will become more equitable, more predictable and more sustainable for the environment, for the people and for the climate.

During the negotiation, Vietnam has improved workers’ rights; 6 out of 8 ILO conventions have been signed; child labour has been significantly reduced. We know that some voices have been raised wanting to postpone tomorrow’s vote, as the democratic development in Vietnam has not been enough, and yes, we wish that we could have seen much more progress when it comes to democracy and human rights. But we have to ask ourselves in this Chamber: do we want to have a better chance to promote democracy without the Agreement?

Let’s not make the reformists or the freedom fighters who want more EU presence disappointed. We should take every opportunity to use these agreements as platforms for freedom and for democracy, and during the last week under the Parliament’s scrutiny, some small positive signals have come.

Let us now vote in favour of these agreements, and let us use the monitoring time to promote democracy, to promote human rights in Vietnam together.

 
   
 

  Danilo Oscar Lancini, a nome del gruppo ID. – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, prima ancora di qualsiasi valutazione commerciale, dobbiamo ricordare che il Vietnam è uno Stato politicamente repressivo in cui il partito comunista ha il monopolio del potere e non ci sono media indipendenti. Nessun dissenso è tollerato, le critiche al governo sono punite con lunghe pene detentive, non vi sono sindacati liberi, i culti religiosi sono controllati dallo Stato. Molti degli impegni enunciati dalle autorità vietnamite sono formulati senza precise scadenze. Accontentarsi di dichiarazioni di intenti troppo generiche è un’imperdonabile ingenuità.

A livello ambientale è evidente il contrasto con i sacrifici che l’UE impone ai suoi paesi membri: in Vietnam il carbone è la principale risorsa per la produzione di energia elettrica, si prevede un contributo del carbone al mix energetico di oltre il 40 % e il completamento di circa 100 centrali a carbone entro il 2030. Mancano poi sia i progetti che un serio impegno finanziario per la depurazione delle acque industriali e di quelle del fiume Mekong, una minaccia per i mari e per la salubrità di quel riso vietnamita a cui si vorrebbe concedere l’accesso a dazio zero in Europa per un quantitativo di 80 000 tonnellate all’anno, con rischio di triangolazioni da paesi limitrofi come la Cambogia. Questo purtroppo è indice della scarsa sensibilità mostrata dalla Commissione verso un settore importante e sensibile come quello risicolo.

Resta pericolosamente in bilico la questione della tutela della proprietà intellettuale, oggi affidata in Vietnam ad una normativa farraginosa e per nulla efficace. Ciò potrebbe causare danni alle nostre aziende.

Abbiamo il dovere di non dimenticare queste considerazioni al momento del voto, affinché non vengano traditi quei valori che la nostra Europa proclama da sempre e che dovrebbe anche difendere invece di pensare solo al tornaconto economico.

 
   
 

  Saskia Bricmont, au nom du groupe Verts/ALE. – Madame la Présidente, après avoir voté contre un report de l’accord hier, notre assemblée s’apprête à faire le premier grand écart depuis l’investiture de la Commission européenne: entre ses valeurs, ses principes, ses déclarations en matière de respect des droits humains – dont votre rapport, Madame, le rapport Wiseler-Lima sur les droits humains dans le monde, que nous votions pas plus tard que l’an dernier –, mais aussi le pacte vert, en ratifiant l’accord de libre-échange et d’investissement avec le Viêt Nam.

Le Viêt Nam s’est engagé dans une réforme de son code du travail, certes, et ratifiera les conventions de l’OIT, mais pour rendre effectives la liberté d’association et d’expression et l’émergence de syndicats indépendants, c’est une réforme du code pénal qui doit avoir lieu; elle est indispensable. Et c’est ce que nous avons demandé par des courriers adressés aux autorités vietnamiennes; nous avons demandé un report du processus de ratification pour y travailler ensemble avec le Viêt Nam, par le dialogue. Mais, Monsieur Lange, le Viêt Nam a opposé une véritable fin de non-recevoir à ces questions, à ces demandes.

Nous savons donc aujourd’hui que les réformes demandées n’auront pas lieu, notamment au niveau pénal, et nous serions pourtant prêts, en tant qu’assemblée parlementaire, à accepter cela, au nom de quoi? D’intérêts économiques. Mais lesquels, Monsieur Hogan, lesquels, Monsieur Bourgeois? Puisque le rapport, l’évaluation économique de la Commission européenne montrent que le déficit de notre balance commerciale va être encore aggravé par cet accord. Nous n’avons apparemment pas rencontré les mêmes secteurs économiques du bois, du textile, du riz, qui demandent, comme nous, un report de cet accord. Pire, les autorités vietnamiennes justifient l’arrestation de journalistes indépendants – pour ne pas le citer, M. Pham Chi Dung –, au nom des limites à la liberté de la presse. Un beau pied de nez pour notre assemblée qui, par la voix de son président, avait interpellé le Viêt Nam à ce propos. Un grand écart aussi avec le pacte vert. Effectivement, nous allons récompenser un pays qui pratique pêche et déforestation illégales en renforçant sans condition un accord de libre-échange et nos investissements sur place.

C’est sans parler aussi du conflit d’intérêts potentiel qui secoue ce dossier depuis le début, puisque nous avons continué nos travaux comme si de rien n’était. Chers collègues, ces dernières semaines, vous avez reçu comme moi les appels de centaines d’ONG, de citoyens, de syndicats qui, apparemment, n’ont pas votre oreille aujourd’hui. La demande de report est relayée de leur part aussi au motif de la dégradation ces dernières semaines, ces derniers mois, ces dernières années, de la situation des droits humains au Viêt Nam.

J’osais espérer, chers collègues libéraux socialistes, un revirement de votre part par rapport à la négociation que nous avons depuis quelques semaines. Force est de constater aujourd’hui que le pacte vert et les droits de l’homme ne sont pas encore en voie d’être respectés par notre assemblée.

 
   
 

  Jan Zahradil, za skupinu ECR. – Paní předsedající, po 8 letech vyjednávání a projednávání jsme skoro u cíle. Dovolte mi proto několik slov z pozice bývalého zpravodaje těchto smluv od začátku až do loňského podzimu.

Především bych rád zdůraznil, že tu smlouvu dojednala řádně Evropská komise podle zásad obchodní politiky EU a podle mandátu, který udělila Evropská rada. Myslím, že EU musí vyslat signál, že stojí na straně volného obchodu, že stojí na straně odstraňování obchodních překážek v době rostoucího protekcionismu a v době, kdy Spojené státy se stáhly z již dojednané obchodní dohody se zeměmi jihovýchodní Asie. Máme jedinečnou šanci toto vakuum vyplnit.

Žádná jiná dohoda s žádnou jinou zemí jihovýchodní Asie v tuto chvíli není na cestě, není v dohledu. Myslím, že Vietnam vyrůstá v geopolitickou mocnost, je to země s více než 90 miliony lidmi. Je to předsednická země ASEAN, je to nestálý člen Rady bezpečnosti OSN a je v politickém i v ekonomickém zájmu EU tuto dohodu mít. Pokud ji neuzavřeme, nevyhraje EU, vyhrají Spojené státy nebo Čína, ale my z toho rozhodně profitovat nebudeme.

 
   
 

  Emmanuel Maurel, au nom du groupe GUE/NGL. – Madame la Présidente, alors, est-ce qu’il faut approfondir un partenariat avec le Viêt Nam? Oui, nous sommes tous d’accord. Est-ce que ça passe nécessairement par un accord de libre-échange? Eh bien non, et c’est là que le débat intervient entre nous.

Vous, vous pensez – c’est un peu la pensée magique – qu’un accord de libre-échange, ça règle forcément tous les problèmes. Or non, ce n’est pas vrai. D’abord, je ne partage pas l’optimisme de la Commission, qui dit que c’est un accord gagnant-gagnant. Non! Aujourd’hui, le déficit de la balance commerciale de l’Union par rapport au Viêt Nam représente 30 milliards. Dans l’étude d’impact de la Commission, on nous dit que d’ici 10 ans, ce sera 40 milliards. Et qui va payer? Sans aucun doute, un certain nombre de salariés européens dans les secteurs les plus vulnérables, par exemple le textile. Alors, pour faire du Viêt Nam une sorte de grand atelier du monde, le risque, c’est quand même des délocalisations.

On nous dit que les salariés vietnamiens vont y gagner parce qu’ils vont adopter les normes de l’OIT, mais enfin, on a des exemples! Regardez la Corée du Sud: on nous avait fait des promesses qui n’ont jamais été tenues.

Donc moi, je crois que vous faites preuve soit d’une grande naïveté, soit d’une vraie hypocrisie, une hypocrisie sur les droits de l’homme, parce que franchement, on ne peut pas dire aujourd’hui que le gouvernement vietnamien ait répondu à nos attentes. C’est même tout le contraire: au dernier classement sur la liberté de la presse, le Viêt Nam arrive 176e sur 180 pays dans le monde.

Mais surtout, je renvoie la Commission à cet incroyable double langage: on vote l’état d’urgence climatique, on vote le pacte vert européen et en même temps on passe, business as usual, un accord de libre-échange qui est clairement climaticide et qui ne protège pas le développement durable. Franchement, ça donne l’impression d’une Union européenne qui préfère toujours le commerce à des valeurs fondamentales qui devraient normalement tous nous animer dans cet hémicycle.

 
   
 

  Tiziana Beghin (NI). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, signor Commissario, tre anni fa, votando la mia risoluzione sulla Strategia commerciale per l’Unione europea, il Parlamento chiedeva a gran voce accordi con paesi ad alto tasso di crescita. Ed è stato ascoltato!

Il Vietnam è la nuova tigre asiatica: con un PIL che aumenta del 7 % all’anno, è un paese che sta diventando velocemente più prospero e che incrementa quindi la sua richiesta di beni ad alto valore aggiunto, proprio i beni che noi produciamo qui in Europa.

L’accordo porterà a zero quasi tutti i dazi doganali su questi ed altri prodotti. Alcuni di questi dazi, come quelli sui vini e sui formaggi per esempio, oggi arrivano fino al 50 %, per non parlare poi di quelli delle auto fino all’80 %.

Quest’accordo poi tutelerà 169 DOP, DOC e IGP, di cui ben 38, il 22 %, sono italiane. Quindi, se penso per esempio al mio paese, l’interscambio non fa che aumentare. Le nostre esportazioni sono aumentate del 12 % lo scorso anno, spingendo l’import-export a quota 3,7 miliardi e facendo del Vietnam il nostro primo partner commerciale per quel che riguarda i Paesi ASEAN. È un numero che migliorerà ancora grazie all’accordo. La domanda di prodotti italiani è altissima: oltre 300 milioni di euro per il nostro export di moda, oltre 65 per il cibo e quasi mezzo miliardo per i macchinari.

Colleghi, non c’è dubbio che l’accordo da un punto di vista strettamente commerciale sia vantaggioso, e che quindi meriti il nostro voto favorevole, ma c’è un problema. La situazione dei diritti umani in Vietnam non sembra fare progressi e alcune riforme migliorative in questo senso sono ancora in corso di approvazione.

Personalmente sono certa, come altri colleghi, che l’accordo porterà prosperità, aiuterà a cambiare la situazione in futuro e per questo, se ci sarà il voto domani, lo approveremo. Ma io vorrei chiedere a voi colleghi di posticipare la votazione. Vorrei chiedere di lasciare tempo agli amici vietnamiti per completare le riforme democratiche che abbiamo chiesto loro, mostrandoci ancora un po’ di buona volontà. Vorrei inoltre che il Vietnam liberasse i prigionieri politici e di coscienza, che approvasse le convenzioni fondamentali sui diritti dei lavoratori. Colleghi, il Vietnam è un paese amico. Non c’è dubbio che l’accordo entrerà in vigore prima o poi, ma è proprio agli amici che si deve chiedere di più.

 
   
 

  Christophe Hansen (PPE). – Madame la Présidente, le gouvernement américain affirme que la règle du plus fort serait le principe directeur des modèles commerciaux du XXIe siècle. Demain, Mesdames et Messieurs, nous aurons la chance historique de leur prouver le contraire, montrant au monde entier que notre engagement au regard d’un commerce juste et basé sur des règles claires, indépendamment de la taille du partenaire, reste la règle d’or à suivre.

Oui, le Viêt Nam est un pays en voie de développement et évidemment, le processus de modernisation économique, environnementale et surtout sociale est loin d’être achevé. Or la ratification de cet accord n’équivaut pas, comme le président Bernd Lange l’a souligné à juste titre, à mettre fin à la conversation, il n’équivaut pas à fermer les yeux sur la situation des droits de l’homme au Viêt Nam, et surtout pas à donner un chèque en blanc au gouvernement vietnamien. D’ailleurs, notre Président Sassoli rencontre le vice-ministre aux Affaires étrangères, Bùi Thanh Son, aujourd’hui, ici, au Parlement européen.

Quarante-cinq ans après la fin de la guerre du Viêt Nam et trente ans après l’ouverture de nos relations diplomatiques, l’approbation que je soutiens et qui n’attend que d’être prononcée nous permettra justement d’intensifier le dialogue avec nos homologues vietnamiens en nous appuyant, cette fois-ci, sur de véritables leviers et plateformes crédibles. Le comité conjoint revendiqué et obtenu par ce Parlement nous permettra justement de faire pression afin de promouvoir le changement socioéconomique et l’amélioration de la vie de tous les Vietnamiens.

 
   
 

  Patrizia Toia (S&D). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, sono indubbi i vantaggi che questo accordo potrà portare sia all’economia europea e all’economia italiana, alle esportazioni italiane, sia certamente anche in quel paese per un salto in avanti anche del loro sviluppo. Ne siamo ben consapevoli e lo consideriamo un fattore importante.

Tuttavia, non possiamo nasconderci. La situazione è ancora molto critica che permane in quel paese. Critica sotto il profilo dei diritti umani in generale, per quanto riguarda i diritti sindacali, per quanto riguarda le libertà politiche e i prigionieri. Io continuo a sottolinearlo, e mi stupisco che non ci sia attenzione anche dalla Commissione – signor Commissario, posso avere la sua attenzione? Posso avere la sua attenzione? Mi rivolgo alla Commissione! Vabbè scriveremo –, per chiedere che ci sia, anche per quanto riguarda l’intervento della cooperazione allo sviluppo, qualche cosa di coerente. Sottolineo il tema del lavoro forzato minorile e del lavoro delle donne in condizioni non accettabili.

Non è colpa solo del Vietnam. È la catena del valore globale che porta alcuni paesi a essere subfornitori di lavoro al minimo ribasso. Dobbiamo ribellarci a questo. Allora non so, certamente i passi avanti sono stati fatti, lo dico con orgoglio a nome di chi del mio gruppo ha trattato e ottenuto moltissime cose. Però, forse, dobbiamo ancora chiedere di più per il lavoro delle persone, donne e bambini. Quindi dovremo monitorare molto bene quest’accordo. Qui si giocherà la serietà della Commissione e in particolare di chi si occupa di cooperazione internazionale.

 
   
 

  Herve Juvin (ID). – Madame la Présidente, chers collègues, nous ne voterons pas un traité dont nous estimons qu’il n’est pas bon pour l’Union européenne, qu’il n’est pas bon pour la France et qu’il n’est pas bon pour le Viêt Nam.

Depuis des années, nous dénonçons l’aberration écologique des supply chains qui font trois fois le tour de la planète. Depuis des années, nous soulignons les dangers de la dépendance stratégique à l’égard de sources d’approvisionnement situées à des milliers de kilomètres et où, en dépit de nos belles intentions, nous ne contrôlons rien réellement. Et depuis des années, nous dénonçons aussi les ingérences dans les affaires intérieures de pays souverains auxquelles donnent trop souvent lieu les traités de libre-échange.

Voilà pourquoi nous ne signerons pas ce traité, parce que nous pensons que le XXIe siècle tourne la page du libre-échange et de la globalisation. Nous considérons que le XXIe siècle va être celui des relocalisations, de la poursuite de l’autonomie industrielle des nations, conscientes des exigences de leur indépendance. Par-dessus tout, nous considérons que le XXIe siècle va être le siècle du patriotisme économique.

Nous souhaitons que le Viet Nam, comme l’Union européenne, travaille à son indépendance et à ses libertés stratégiques.

 
   
 

  Mazaly Aguilar (ECR). – Señora presidente, lo acabamos de oír esta mañana. Globalmente, el Acuerdo comercial con Vietnam beneficia a varios sectores de la Unión Europea y, en el ámbito agroalimentario, la carne o el vino o el queso pueden ser varios de ellos. Sin embargo, es lamentable, una vez más, que la Comisión Europea renuncie a proteger a uno de sus sectores sensibles, como es el arroz.

Vietnam tienen los precios del arroz más bajos de todo el Sudeste Asiático y compite directamente con variedades que se producen en España e Italia. Los arroceros españoles están indignados con esta nueva concesión y su impacto en los precios de un sector ya de por sí en crisis.

Ser deficitarios en la producción de arroz no significa que la apertura de fronteras no cause un daño irreparable a la producción europea. No consigo entender por qué, después de aplicar la cláusula de salvaguarda a principios del año 2019 con Myanmar y Camboya, la Unión Europea siga cometiendo los mismos errores y no valore el impacto que estas importaciones van a causar en el mercado europeo y en un producto sensible como es el arroz.

El sector arrocero europeo cumple un papel clave tanto en la economía como en la conservación de áreas geográficas con un alto valor ambiental. Exigimos a las autoridades de la Unión Europea que realicen estudios de este impacto y que den los pasos necesarios para aplicar nuevas y más efectivas cláusulas de salvaguardia.

 
   
 

  Ivan Vilibor Sinčić (NI). – Poštovana predsjedavajuća, mnogo je razloga za odbacivanje ovog sporazuma. Treba samo reći da je ovaj ugovor, odnosno ugovori pošto imamo objedinjenu raspravu, napisan na način da je prilagođen interesu korporacija.

Navest ću tri stvari. Prva stvar, ugovor daje posebna prava investitoru, dakle radi se o ISDS-u, odnosno state dispute settlement mehanizmu, radi se o tome da kada dođe do nekog spora nije nadležan domaći sud, nego nekakav tamo daleki međunarodni arbitražni sud.

Mnogo je tragičnih primjera i ovdje kod nas u Europi na narodu Europe gdje se takav mehanizam pokazao štetnim, navest ću samo recimo iz regije Abruzzo gdje je odbijeno, dakle, produljenje koncesije na eksploataciju ugljikovodika i onda su naftne korporacije tužile tu regiju. Ili recimo kod nas u Dubrovniku gdje je investitor u slučaju golfa na Srđu izgubio na hrvatskim sudovima. To mu nije bilo dosta pa je pokrenuo arbitražni spor za 500 milijuna dolara.

Ovaj mehanizam jednostavno potkopava vlastite institucije, kakve jesu da jesu, i suverenitet zemalja pa će tako i Vijetnama. Zamislite jedan veliki sraz između neke općine u Hrvatskoj od par tisuća stanovnika i desetak milijuna kuna proračuna protiv neke mega korporacije u milijardama. Zamislite tek kako bi to moglo biti u Vijetnamu.

Ovdje nema govora o zelenom planu u koji se Komisija toliko kune. Također, kao što se krše ljudska i temeljna prava recimo u Hrvatskoj, što Komisija ignorira, Hrvatska je članica, zamislite što će tek biti u Vijetnamu. Mi u Hrvatskoj znamo dobro kako to izgleda, tu stradaju prava okoliša, samo se bogati establišment.

 
   
 

  Raphaël Glucksmann (S&D). – Madame la Présidente, chers collègues, nous avons décrété l’état d’urgence climatique, nous avons voté le pacte vert il y a tout juste un mois de cela et demain, on nous demande quoi? On nous demande de voter un accord de libre-échange de plus, comme si de rien n’était.

Cet accord, contrairement à nos promesses écrites noir sur blanc dans la résolution sur le pacte vert européen, ne comprend aucun mécanisme contraignant concernant le chapitre «Développement durable». Alors la question qui se pose à nous est simple: accordons-nous le moindre prix à nos paroles, à nos propres paroles?

Chers collègues, le Viêt Nam enferme les activistes écologistes, les syndicalistes, les défenseurs des droits humains. L’un d’entre eux, Pham Chi Dung, a été arrêté précisément parce qu’il nous a écrit une lettre pour nous demander de ne pas signer l’accord en l’état. Si vous n’accordez aucun prix à vos propres paroles, ayez la décence d’accorder du prix à ses paroles à lui. Ne validez pas l’accord tant qu’il est en prison pour nous avoir parlé.

Chers collègues, il y a quelque chose au-dessus du dieu Commerce. Il y a notre avenir à tous, il y a nos principes. Eh bien demain, c’est l’occasion de le démontrer.

 
   
 

  Marie-Pierre Vedrenne (Renew). – Madame la Présidente, Monsieur le Commissaire, chers collègues, le Viêt Nam est notre deuxième partenaire économique en Asie du Sud-Est et l’Union européenne attend de nombreux bénéfices de cet accord commercial. Oui, cet accord permettra de protéger 169 indications géographiques, dont 36 AOP françaises. Nos entreprises pourront exporter de nombreux produits sans droits de douane. Nous bénéficierons d’un meilleur accès aux marchés publics. Autant de points offensifs obtenus dans ces négociations.

Mais la situation des droits de l’homme reste préoccupante. De nombreux prisonniers politiques et journalistes sont toujours détenus, malgré les demandes répétées de libération de l’Union européenne.

Si des progrès ont été réalisés avec les ratifications de conventions internationales, nous devons être intransigeants sur le respect du chapitre sur le développement durable. Notre politique commerciale doit être guidée par nos valeurs et le respect des droits de l’homme, mais la ratification de cet accord, chers collègues, n’est pas une fin en soi. La clé de la réussite résidera dans le succès de sa mise en œuvre, tout cela dans un contexte international synonyme de guerre commerciale.

 
   
 

  Yannick Jadot (Verts/ALE). – Madame la Présidente, chers collègues, que n’avons-nous pas entendu pendant la campagne électorale des européennes, partout en Europe? C’en était fini des accords de libre-échange qui donnent des droits aux multinationales contre les États, contre les législations environnementales, contre les législations de protection de la santé ou des droits sociaux. C’en était fini de ces accords de libre-échange qui participent au dérèglement climatique, notamment à travers la déforestation. C’en était fini des accords de libre-échange qui attaquent la biodiversité, par exemple à travers la pêche illégale. C’en était fini de ces accords de libre-échange contraires à la démocratie, aux libertés individuelles.

Et là, le premier accord arrive et tous ces groupes, les sociaux-démocrates, Bernd Lange, les libéraux et En marche, les conservateurs: vous allez tous voter un accord de libre-échange contraire aux déclarations et aux engagements de la Commission européenne sur le pacte vert, sur les valeurs de l’Europe et sur une mondialisation régulée.

Comme par hasard, nous avons ce débat après un débat sur le Brexit. Mais n’avez-vous pas compris aussi que le Brexit a été voté parce que nous abandonnons les classes populaires ici pour aller les exploiter dans des conditions abominables sans liberté, sans droits sociaux, de l’autre côté de la planète?

Alors, chers collègues, un peu de décence vis-à-vis des Vietnamiens, un peu de décence vis-à-vis de vos électeurs. Rejetez cet accord de libre-échange qui n’est en rien compatible avec les valeurs de l’Europe.

 
   
 

  Eugen Jurzyca (ECR). – Vážená pani predsedajúca, hoci Vietnam nie je demokratická krajina, zmluvu s ním podporujem z nasledujúcich dôvodov:

v roku 2009 bol Vietnam tridsiatym druhým najväčším importérom z pomedzi krajín EÚ, do krajín EÚ, v 2008 už bol na desiatom mieste. Táto zmena prebiehala a bude prebiehať zo zmluvou alebo bez zmluvy. Rozdiel je v tom, že ak bude prebiehať so zmluvou, tak sa dramaticky zvýši šanca, že sa vo Vietname vďaka zmluve pretlačí viac demokracie. S odchodom Veľkej Británii z EÚ narástlo riziko zmenšenia obchodného priestoru, teda aj potenciálu ekonomického rastu. Navyše EÚ predsa ostáva možnosť uvaliť sankcie, či dokonca odstúpiť od zmluvy, ak by sa demokracia vo Vietname nezlepšovala. Verím, že po desiatich rokoch od podpisu týchto zmlúv bude Vietnam oveľa demokratickejší a bližší trhovej ekonomike, než je dnes. Bude bohatší, bude v ňom žiť menej chudobných, prevažovať bude trhová ekonomika a ľudské práva budú chránené lepšie, rovnako ako životné prostredie.

 
   
 

  Miroslav Radačovský (NI). – Vážená pani predsedajúca, budem podporovať dohodu uzavretú s Vietnamskou socialistickou republikou, a to z toho dôvodu, dňa 5.2.2020 som sa zúčastnil konferencie v Bruseli za účasti predstaviteľov Bangladéša.

Riaditeľka asociácie odevných výrobcov a exportérov Bangladéša okrem iného uviedla: „Prijatím dohôd medzi Európskou úniou a Vietnamom by prišiel Bangladéš o vývoz textílií do USA v zruba v hodnote 13 miliárd ročne.“

Je každému z nás zrejmé, že Európska únia je najväčším importérom odevov z Bangladéša. Ak Vietnam ako hlavný konkurent Bangladéša získa nulové dovozné cla do EÚ, bangladéšsky podiel na trhu sa výrazne zmenší.

Verím, že odporcovia dohôd medzi EÚ a Vietnamom nie sú ovplyvnení veľkými kooperáciami v odevnom priemysle. Všetci vieme, aké pracovné podmienky vrátane pre maloleté deti pri výrobe odevov, ktoré nosíme, sú v Bangladéši. A ešte jedna vec, som jeden z mála teda europoslancov, ktorý si pamätá vojnu vo Vietname. Pamätá si dedinku My Lai, pamätá si Dien Bien Phu, my sme dlžní Vietnamu, hrdinskému ľudu Vietnamu, aby sme túto dohodu uzatvorili. Neuzatvorením tejto dohody by sme opätovne bombardovali vietnamský národ. To je všetko.

 
   
 

  Dita Charanzová (Renew). – Madam President, Mr Commissioner, this will be the first major trade agreement that this new Parliament will ratify, and it will send several positive messages. Firstly, to an ever more protectionist world, that the EU still believes in rule-based free trade. Secondly, to the region, bringing us one a step closer to a regional ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) agreement. Thirdly, to our citizens and businesses, that we are dedicated to expanding better conditions for business to thrive, grow and generate more jobs. And finally, it is proved that trade can positively influence other areas. The negotiations helped push Vietnam towards important labour reforms. By having this framework in place, we will now have a way to constructively engage on topics ranging from human rights to the environment and, as with any agreement, implementation will be the key. And you can count on this Parliament to do our job.

 
   
 

  Marco Campomenosi (ID). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, bisogna usare le parole giuste per commentare quello che dice la Commissione europea. Bugia: no sviluppo locale, non creerà sviluppo ad aziende vietnamite, servirà solo a incentivare la delocalizzazione di imprese europee e di grandi multinazionali verso un paese come il Vietnam.

Ennesimo colpo, peraltro, al settore risicolo italiano ed europeo, in generale. Vergogna! Vergogna, perché – l’hanno detto in molti – i diritti umani non sono certo rispettati in Vietnam, gli standard sociali sono bassissimi. Ennesimo accordo commerciale che favorirà una concorrenza salariale al ribasso e i nostri lavoratori lo sanno bene.

Ipocrisia! Ipocrisia perché il Green New Deal che volete imporre alle nostre aziende e che costerà loro moltissimo, ovviamente non può essere imposto al Vietnam e il Vietnam si guarderà bene dall’andare in quella direzione, peraltro con standard che pretendete magari di chiedere alla Gran Bretagna, che già rispetta, e invece non vi fate alcun problema, nella vostra fallimentare politica commerciale, a stringere accordi con paesi lontanissimi da ogni livello di tutela sociale e ambientale.

 
   
 

  Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, agreements between the EU and Vietnam are undoubtedly important geopolitically, and Vietnam has also made progress in reforming its labour laws – but it has, on the other hand, failed to amend its penal code to allow workers to enjoy those rights. Oppression has become more severe even during the last stage of the finalisation of these agreements. Parliament, if giving its consent tomorrow, takes a heavy responsibility of making its own demands happen in reality on sustainable development, human rights and participation of an independent civil society, and, as our own Committee on Foreign Affairs demands, the Commission and its Vietnamese counterparts still must set up an independent monitoring mechanism on human rights and an independent complaints mechanism with the recourse to remedy. So this all is why our Group, the Greens/European Free Alliance, cannot yet support these agreements.

 
   
 

  Adam Bielan (ECR). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Zarówno umowa o wolnym handlu (FTA), jak i umowa o ochronie inwestycji (IPA) to rzeczywiście najambitniejsze umowy tego rodzaju zawarte kiedykolwiek z krajem rozwijającym się. Negocjując je, Komisja starała się osiągnąć dwa podstawowe cele: po pierwsze, zapewnić podmiotom gospodarczym z Unii możliwie najlepsze warunki dostępu do wietnamskiego rynku; po drugie, zapewnić cenny drugi punkt odniesienia (po umowie z Singapurem) dla innych negocjacji prowadzonych przez Unię w tym regionie. Oba te cele zostały w pełni osiągnięte. Umowy wykraczają poza istniejące zobowiązania podjęte w ramach WTO w wielu obszarach, takich jak usługi, zamówienia, bariery pozataryfowe oraz ochrona praw własności intelektualnej, w tym oznaczeń geograficznych. We wszystkich tych obszarach Wietnam zgodził się również przyjąć nowe zobowiązania, które znacznie wykraczają poza to, do czego zobowiązał się w innych umowach, w tym we wszechstronnym i progresywnym porozumieniu o partnerstwie transpacyficznym. Umowy zniosą niemal wszystkie ograniczenia celne dla wzajemnej wymiany handlowej. Są dobrze zbilansowane i pozytywnie wpłyną na gospodarkę zarówno Unii, jak i Wietnamu. Dzięki tym umowom Unia zyska większe możliwości wywarcia nacisku na Hanoi w kwestii praw człowieka. Dlatego apeluję o głosowanie za ratyfikacją tych dokumentów.

 
   
 

  Enikő Győri (PPE). – Elnök Asszony! Látom, a szélsőségek összeérnek ma ebben a Házban. Javaslom az ellenzőknek átgondolni, hogy mi is a mi elsődleges dolgunk. A mi dolgunk az, hogy az európai vállalatoknak lehetőségeket teremtsünk, és ebből pedig a mi polgáraink hasznot húzzanak. A több kereskedelem Vietnám polgárainak is esélyt jelent a fejlődésre, és arra, hogy a mi normáink követésével a szabadságuk kiteljesedjen. Szereptévesztésben van az, aki azt gondolja, hogy az Uniónak állandóan oktatni és kioktatnia kell, ahelyett, hogy kis tisztelettel közelít a partnerekhez és jó kapcsolatokra törekszik. A párbeszéd és a vállalások ellenőrzése fog hozzájárulni Vietnám emberjogi, munka- és környezetvédelmi fejlődéséhez, nem pedig az, ha hátat fordítunk.

Aki a két egyezmény ellen érvel, az nem akarja, hogy az európai vállalatok hozzáférjenek, Hanoi vagy Ho Si Minh-város közbeszerzési piacához. Kedves ellenzők, ne akarjanak rosszat az európai vállalatoknak és a vietnámiaknak. A Bizottságtól azt kérem, hogy naprakész, gyakorlati információkkal segítse, hogy az európai kkv-k a legteljesebb mértékben kihasználhassák a két egyezményt.

 
   
 

  Inma Rodríguez-Piñero (S&D). – Señora presidenta, señor Hogan, el acuerdo entre la Unión Europea y Vietnam tiene una gran importancia estratégica por el impulso que da a nuestras relaciones comerciales con la región de la ASEAN y por el firme compromiso de Vietnam en defensa del multilateralismo y del desarrollo sostenible cuando el mundo más lo necesita.

Se ha negociado una reducción arancelaria ambiciosa, una cooperación reforzada y, sobre todo, un capítulo vinculante de desarrollo sostenible que define un marco de relaciones laborales con Vietnam más acorde a los principios y convenios de la OIT.

El Parlamento Europeo, gracias al empuje de mi grupo parlamentario y también de otros grupos, ha conseguido medidas y compromisos fehacientes del Gobierno vietnamita en materia de derechos laborales y de respeto de los derechos humanos, especificados en programas de trabajo. Y quiero agradecer los esfuerzos realizados a las autoridades de Vietnam. Pero todavía queda mucho por hacer y a los socialistas nos sigue preocupando la situación de los derechos humanos, en especial en lo que afecta a las libertades fundamentales.

Por ello seguiremos de cerca el cumplimiento de lo acordado y le pido, señor comisario, que también tome las medidas adecuadas para asegurarnos de que este acuerdo no perjudica a los agricultores europeos y, en particular, a los productores de arroz. Pero creo que este acuerdo es un instrumento importante para avanzar y lo apoyaré.

 
   
 

  Pierre Karleskind (Renew). – Madame la Présidente, Monsieur le Commissaire, chers collègues, je voudrais rejoindre notre collègue Bartolo, qui était rapporteur pour la commission PECH, sur la nécessité de lutter contre la pêche illégale.

Lutter contre la pêche illégale, c’est évidemment assurer une gestion durable des ressources halieutiques, c’est aussi s’assurer d’éviter la concurrence déloyale avec les pêcheurs qui sont soumis aux contraintes que nous avons sur notre continent.

Le Viêt Nam a un carton jaune sur la pêche illégale, mais il faut souligner les efforts qui ont été entrepris par ce pays, notamment dans le cadre des négociations qui aboutissent aujourd’hui à cet accord de libre-échange. Il faut aussi noter que dans cet accord, il est mentionné explicitement que les partis qui signent l’accord lutteront activement contre cette pêche illicite.

Alors est-ce suffisant? Eh bien, si ce n’est pas suffisant, allons plus loin. Allons plus loin et mettons en place des garde-fous, comme la suppression des tarifs préférentiels pour les produits de la pêche tant que, à l’avenir, il y aura carton jaune. C’est le sens de l’amendement que Renew a déposé et que je vous invite à soutenir.

 
   
 

  Maximilian Krah (ID). – Frau Präsidentin, meine Damen und Herren! Handel nutzt grundsätzlich beiden Seiten. Als ständiger Berichterstatter für Bangladesch und andere Länder weiß ich, wie Entwicklungsländer auf Vietnam schauen, weil zum ersten Mal ein Schwellenland die Möglichkeit erhält, sich über ein individuelles Freihandelsabkommen an die europäische Wirtschaft anzukoppeln und zu entwickeln. Gerade deshalb ist dieses Abkommen wichtig, weil es den vielen Schwellenländern eine Chance und einen Weg bietet, den wir ihnen einräumen sollten. Aus diesem Grunde werbe ich um Ihre Zustimmung.

Das Freihandelsabkommen ist ausgewogen, es reflektiert die verschiedenen Ansichten hier im Hause zum Handel mit anderen Ländern, und es macht allen Schwellenländern ein eigenes europäisches Angebot für die weitere Entwicklung, damit es zu einem Wohlstand in der Heimat kommt und nicht dazu, dass diese Menschen ihr Glück anderweitig und in anderen Ländern suchen müssen.

Insofern: ein gutes, ausgewogenes Abkommen, das ein positives Licht auf Europa und den Handel wirft. Ich bitte um Ihre Zustimmung.

 
   
 

  Άννα-Μισέλ Ασημακοπούλου (PPE). – Κυρία Πρόεδρε, στηρίζουμε τη συμφωνία ελεύθερου εμπορίου μεταξύ Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και Βιετνάμ, διότι είναι μία πολύ καλή συμφωνία η οποία έχει οικονομικά οφέλη για όλους: με τη σταδιακή κατάργηση σχεδόν όλων των δασμών, με την άρση των δασμολογικών ποσοστώσεων, ανοίγοντας τις αγορές στους παρόχους υπηρεσιών της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και δίνοντας πρόσβαση στους διαγωνισμούς δημοσίων συμβάσεων. Η συμφωνία έχει οφέλη για πολλά κράτη μέλη, μεταξύ των οποίων και για τη δική μου χώρα —την Ελλάδα, όπου θα βοηθήσει στις εξαγωγές φαρμακευτικών ειδών και αγροτικών προϊόντων, εξασφαλίζοντας την προστασία γεωγραφικών ενδείξεων σημαντικών ελληνικών προϊόντων, όπως είναι η φέτα και το ούζο. Επιπλέον, η συμφωνία θα θωρακίσει τα εργατικά δικαιώματα, θα ενισχύσει τη δημοκρατία και τον σεβασμό των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων και θα συμβάλει στη μάχη κατά της κλιματικής αλλαγής. Οπότε, στην εποχή των εμπορικών πολέμων, έχει και μία συμβολική αξία. Καταδεικνύει ότι η Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση επιμένει σε ένα πολυμερές σύστημα ελεύθερου εμπορίου βασισμένο σε δίκαιους κανόνες, που συνάδει με τις αρχές και τις αξίες της ενωμένης Ευρώπης. Σας καλώ να την υπερψηφίσουμε.

 
   
 

  Angelika Winzig (PPE). – Frau Präsidentin, Herr Kommissar, Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Die Geschichte hat gezeigt, dass Handel und offene Märkte Wohlstand schaffen und sichern. Ich komme aus einem Land mit einer 60 %-igen Exportquote, sechs von zehn Euro werden im Ausland verdient, und jeder zweite Arbeitsplatz hängt direkt oder indirekt vom Export ab, und es soll mir jemand sagen, wie wir in Zukunft ohne Export unsere Sozialsysteme weiter sichern.

Das Handelsabkommen mit Vietnam ist in der Tat ein besonderes, weil es in dieser Form noch nie mit einem kommunistischen Schwellenland geschlossen wurde und weil es auch ein Türöffner für weitere Abkommen sein wird. Es hat neben der Implementierung europäischer Standards auch eine große politische Dimension, nämlich die Einhaltung der Grundrechte. Deshalb wurden Mechanismen für die Evaluierung der Grundrechte, aber auch Sanktionen bei Verstößen verankert.

Positiv anzumerken – und Herr Lange hat es ja bereits gesagt – sind die Arbeitsrechtsnormen, die 2023 endgültig ratifiziert werden. Die politischen Alphawölfe haben kein großes Interesse an einem wirtschaftlich erfolgreichen Europa, und deshalb ist es wichtig, dass wir unsere erfolgreiche Handelspolitik mit weiteren Abkommen auch konsequent fortführen.

 
   
 

  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, Commissioner Hogan, our rapporteur, Mr Bourgeois, and others have outlined many of the benefits of this Free Trade Agreement, both for Vietnam and for the European Union, because free trade agreements are, after all, about a win-win for both sides.

As a standing rapporteur for the ASEAN region and a former rapporteur for the EPP for Singapore, I welcome our Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam. This is the first really comprehensive agreement we will be doing with a developing country, and that’s very important. Because it’s one thing to do it with a developed economy, and it’s another thing – so it’s a very positive message – to be doing agreements with developing countries like Vietnam.

To those who oppose it, I would say to them: will any of the issues that you have be improved by opposing this agreement? The answer is no. As has been pointed out, there were already huge improvements even during negotiations that will continue when we develop the Agreement.

 
   
 

  Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez (PPE). – Señora presidenta, comisario Hogan, el acuerdo de libre comercio con Vietnam supone una señal importante, tanto fuera como dentro de Europa.

Fuera, porque la Unión Europea demuestra una vez más que es la gran potencia comercial a nivel mundial; demuestra que, a pesar de los intentos de los populistas por levantar barreras arancelarias y volver al proteccionismo, Europa sigue siendo la mayor defensora del libre comercio.

Y es importante también dentro de Europa; es importante para las miles de empresas que ven en la desaparición del 65 % de los aranceles una gran oportunidad de negocio, un nuevo mercado que se abre cuando otros se cierran.

Para España esto será esencialmente beneficioso para sectores como el cárnico, cada vez más presente en Asia, así como para el sector del aceite de oliva, del vino y de las bebidas espirituosas, que ven reconocidas muchas de sus indicaciones geográficas y denominaciones de origen.

Para aquellos que no resulten beneficiados estaremos vigilantes para garantizar que este acuerdo no se firme a costa de nadie y que todos los españoles y los europeos salgamos ganando con él. Por ello, pido el apoyo para este acuerdo.

 
   
 

  Hildegard Bentele (PPE). – Frau Präsidentin, sehr geehrte Kollegen und Kolleginnen! Ich unterstütze den Abschluss des EU-Vietnam-Abkommens, weil wir damit neben der Schaffung und dem Erhalt von Arbeitsplätzen in Vietnam und auch in der EU eine gute Entwicklung in Gang gesetzt haben, die insgesamt eine positive Auswirkung auf die vietnamesische Gesellschaft haben kann. Das Wichtigste ist, dass wir mit dem Abkommen einen festen Rechtsrahmen, eine Plattform für Dialog, Kontrollmechanismen und eine ständige Kommission, die mit Abgeordneten aus beiden Ländern besetzt ist, eingesetzt haben, in denen wir nicht nur über die Inhalte des Handelsabkommens sprechen können, sondern auch über die Umsetzung des Pariser Klimaabkommens und den Green Deal, über Pressefreiheit und über Menschenrechte. Wir geben eben keinen Blankoscheck. Wir stehen am Anfang einer Partnerschaft, die wir mit Leben erfüllen müssen. Die Kommission und wir als Abgeordnete haben jetzt die Verpflichtung und Aufgabe, dieses Abkommen zum Modell und Vorbild zu machen. Ich freue mich, dass offensichtlich eine große Mehrheit in diesem Haus diese Chance nutzen möchte.

 
   
 

  Lídia Pereira (PPE). – Senhora Presidente, Senhor Comissário, caros Colegas, o acordo de comércio livre entre a União Europeia e o Vietname, além de economicamente vantajoso, já conseguiu influenciar a adoção de um novo código de trabalho no Vietname.

Os reconhecimentos do direito à negociação coletiva, juntamente com o direito à liberdade sindical, devem-se à nossa ação. No entanto, não posso deixar de sinalizar que devíamos ter sido mais ambiciosos no prazo para a ratificação da Convenção da OIT sobre a Abolição do Trabalho Forçado e na adoção de medidas para o cumprimento do Acordo de Paris.

As alterações climáticas não conhecem fronteiras e temos pouco tempo para o muito que há para fazer. Ainda assim este acordo é um excelente exemplo da utilização da nossa política comercial para a promoção dos princípios e dos valores europeus.

Caro Comissário, caros colegas, perdemos o Reino Unido, mas não deixámos de ser uma potência comercial e não podemos, por isso, dar qualquer passo atrás no exercício da nossa capacidade para a promoção dos direitos humanos, para o reconhecimento dos direitos sociais e laborais e, não menos importante, para a proteção do meio ambiente e da biodiversidade.

 
   
 

Spontane Wortmeldungen

 
   
 

  Maria Arena (S&D). – Madame la Présidente, voter un accord commercial libéral avec un régime autoritaire communiste au nom de la défense des droits de l’homme relève vraiment du surréalisme – et vous savez que je suis belge d’origine, pays du surréalisme, comme M. Bourgeois. Mais je pense qu’ici, nous décrochons la palme d’or.

Pourtant il était, il est possible de faire mieux par rapport à cet accord. Pourquoi le mécanisme de règlement des différends entre États ne couvre-t-il pas le développement durable? Pourquoi, quand il s’agit des droits sociaux et environnementaux, n’y a-t-il plus de mécanismes contraignants assortis de sanctions?

Un changement de ce type, Monsieur le Commissaire, est tout à fait possible, mais encore faut-il en avoir la volonté politique. Vous, Monsieur le Commissaire, mais aussi nous, en tant que Parlement, donnons-nous le temps encore de modifier cet accord, comme nous l’avons fait avec l’ISDS en son temps. Tout le monde, ici au Parlement, disait que l’ISDS était magnifique. Nous avons mené la bataille, nous avons gagné en changeant l’ISDS en ICS. Nous avons une bataille à mener ici: faisons du développement durable un chapitre contraignant, avec sanctions.

 
   
 

  Jordi Cañas (Renew). – Señora presidenta, la ignorancia no debería ser excusa que justificase argumentos demagógicos. Sinceramente, el comercio existe con Vietnam. Es que a algunos parece que se les tiene que explicar lo obvio. El comercio existe: 43 000 millones en importaciones; 13 000 millones en exportaciones. Es que, de verdad, existe.

Entonces, ¿queremos que ese comercio este ajustado dentro de unas reglas y unas normas? Sí. ¿Este acuerdo beneficiará e impulsará el cumplimiento de esas normas, el cumplimiento de los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible, de los derechos humanos, de condiciones medioambientales? ¿Las mejora o no? Las mejora. Es mejor un acuerdo que un no acuerdo.

Yo no sé si algunos quieren cambiar el mundo desde declaraciones, desde posiciones extremistas, Savonarolas medioambientales, pero así igual ganan votos, pero no contribuirán a mejorar la calidad de vida de ningún ciudadano en ninguna parte del mundo. Este es un acuerdo que puede intentar lograrlo, que define un marco y crea obligaciones. Y será nuestra responsabilidad intentar que se ejecute adecuadamente, y ahí tenemos que ser vigilantes. Pero lo que no lo haremos será desde declaraciones extremistas que solo tienen como objetivo reforzar y ganar votos en vez de intentar avanzar en los derechos humanos, en los derechos sociales, en los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible y en el respeto medioambiental.

 
   
 

  Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL). – Frau Präsidentin! Blicken wir auf die zweite Hälfte des 20. Jahrhunderts – Stichwort Befreiungskrieg, Vietnamkrieg, Agent Orange –, wird die gewaltige Dimension der Herausforderung der wirtschaftlichen Aufholprozesse, der Transformation in Vietnam durchaus deutlich – und damit auch die Aufgabenstellung, die sich die damalige Führung gestellt hat: Öffnung hin zum Weltmarkt, um diese wirtschaftliche Sozialentwicklung zu ermöglichen.

Deshalb, liebe Kollegen Simon und Cañas: Anstatt ein reines Freihandelsabkommen und zusätzlich noch ein Investitionsschutzabkommen mit der Sozialistischen Republik Vietnam abzuschließen, hätten wir die Gelegenheit nutzen sollen, ein Kooperationsabkommen abzuschließen. So hätten wir die Verbesserung der Lebens- und Arbeitsbedingungen in Vietnam, die Fragen des Klimawandels gemeinsam mit unseren Partnern in den Vordergrund rücken können. Ich begrüße durchaus die Schritte Vietnams zur Ratifizierung bestimmter Kernarbeitsnormen der ILO und erkenne die Hoffnung an, die vietnamesische Gewerkschafterinnen und Gewerkschafter dieser Entwicklung entgegengebracht haben. Dem Kapitel über Arbeits- und Umweltschutz fehlen jedoch die Zähne. Deshalb meine Unterstützung für den europäischen Gewerkschaftskongress, wenn er vor dem Abkommen in der jetzigen Form und seiner Ratifizierung warnt.

 
   
 

(Ende der spontanen Wortmeldungen)

 
   
 

  Phil Hogan, Member of the Commission. – Madam President, first of all, I want to thank the House for their contributions, but it is an opportunity as well to thank some people that have been involved in the EU—Vietnam negotiations.

Can I thank Mr Lange, the Chair of the Committee on International Trade (INTA), Mr Bourgeois, the rapporteur, and all the shadows who have been involved in the scrutiny of this particular deal? To note that the four committee Chairs that are indirectly involved in this scrutiny have given their support for the deal. Can I thank former Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, and the DG TRADE officials for their tremendous work over many years in relation to this deal?

As many speakers have said, these are the first trade and investment agreements to be voted on by this Parliament. And I hope that they will receive your approval so that our companies, particularly our SMEs that have been mentioned by many of you, can start tapping into the potential and generate growth and employment.

In such uncertain times for global trade, a positive vote of course will send a strong signal in relation to the EU’s commitment to an open and fair trade based on rules and values. I can assure you that we will monitor implementation very closely, because I agree with many of you that there are issues that have to be resolved and will constantly require us to ensure the Vietnam lives up to its commitments. I’m fully aware of these particular sentiments.

But, in relation to some of the specifics that we mentioned, horse trade is usually associated with market access, and this has been a very good deal in terms of EU-Vietnamese reciprocity in so many products. Mr Juncker has mentioned issues in relation to food and can I confirm that the Free Trade Agreement liberalises all EU export offensive interests, like beef, pork, poultry, wines, spirits and beer, but it also has safeguards for some of our sensitive issues, like rice, sugar, sweetcorn and canned tuna.

These safeguards are a new dimension in relation to our free trade agreements in recent years, which includes for the first time a free trade agreement that we are ratifying where safeguards are given in respect of tariff rate quotas (TRQs). We have also got recognition by Vietnam in this deal for the European Union to be treated as a single entity for sanitary and phytosanitary terms, which will reduce a lot of the non-tariff barriers that we have. Equally, our 169 geographical indications right around the European Union have been protected.

On the trade and sustainable development (TSD) chapter, improving the implementation and enforcement of all our agreements is very important, and this is a key priority for the Commission. Vietnam is a good example of where they are making considerable efforts even before the deal has been implemented in relation to TSD matters, with important progress being made.

So the pressure that you’ve applied is certainly bearing fruit. But we have also established an institutional structure through the domestic advisory groups, which will include all stakeholders, including NGOs, civil society, businesses and all the services that will have an input in relation to the implementation of this agreement.

The implementation is very important. That’s why we’re establishing as well in the Commission a chief trade enforcement officer during the course of the next few months. The new labour code, which was adopted in November 2019, recognises the principle of freedom of association possibly to set up independent trade unions at enterprise level, as I mentioned earlier, which is outside the scope of the dominant Vietnam general confederation of labour.

So Vietnam has started the implementation. It has a master plan that’s going to be implemented by January 2021 and one of the aspects is to check its consistency with all other legal documents, including the penal code and the criminal code. The ILO Conventions has said that six out of eight are implemented. We’re at the same stage as we were in terms of the implementation of this agreement with Japan. So I think this is good progress by Vietnam.

Vietnam has started preparations to set up these independent civil society organisations, and last week they gave me an action plan and a timescale in relation to their implementation. I mentioned child labour. There has been a 40% reduction since 2012 and of course they are committed to a new action plan to eradicate poverty over the 2021—2025 period.

Some Members have mentioned human rights, and rightly so. It does remain an area of concern in our relationship with Vietnam, but we must take into account where the country has come from and see clear evidence of progress in the last 25 years, notably in the socioeconomic domain.

Human rights improvements are central to our engagement, and there’s a binding and enforceable link between the FTA, investment protection agreement (IPA) and the partnership and cooperation agreement (PCA) that allows for total or partial suspension of the agreement in case of systemic or severe breaches on human rights. We also have an annual human rights dialogue and there’s a meeting next week in Hanoi so these are all, I think, positives.

There are divergences between us and I’m not saying anything otherwise, but we are convinced that the agreements provide an initial platform to engage with Vietnamese society and governments on these issues. This is the view of several Vietnamese NGOs who say that the implementation of this agreement would open more space for civil society. Now clearly Ms Daly and Mr Wallace have not heard those particular voices in relation to that part of the deal.

The EU is of course also closely concerned about political prisoners and persons of concern. We have a list of persons of concern that we have been regularly raising in our exchanges at the highest level. And we are striving to make sure that the EU delegation are not only consistently ensuring that these people are released, but also attending trials, meeting family members and providing the best possible facilities for the families of these political prisoners.

The FTA and the IPA will create another important and conducive environment to ensure that these issues are not put under the table, but are consistently high on the agenda. The lack of ratification of the agreement would leave the European Union with no instrument at all to support a reform agenda for Vietnam, and we will push Vietnam closer to other partners that do not necessarily share the same values if we don’t have this agreement.

The institutional set up again, as I mentioned in the context of various fora to speak about these issues, is very important. Environment was mentioned: of course Vietnam is one of the countries that are most affected by climate change. So surely they are interested in implementing the Paris Agreement, which they have signed up to. And, under the trade and sustainable development chapter, this is explicitly mentioned. So their national determined contributions are going to ensure, like other partners around the world where we do deals, that are going to have to implement this in a legally binding way, as they have signed up to in relation to the Paris Agreement.

So this is another win and another example of where we are providing the framework where we can implement, through this free trade agreement, the necessary leverage to ensure that these commitments are met.

Vietnam has also concluded with the EU a forest law enforcement, governance and trade voluntary partnership agreement (FLEGT VPA), which has been enforced since 1 June 2019. And this particular partnership agreement aims to ensure that all timber products imported into the European Union from Vietnam are legal. This is very significant as Vietnam is a major processing hub, importing timber from over 80 countries, including from a number of high-risk countries in the region such as Cambodia.

Under the VPA, Vietnam has to introduce mandatory due diligence obligations for its importers. Vietnam is currently working on the implementation of this particular scheme through the various licences that will have to ensure traceability.

So our one major success in this field has been the open and constructive participation of all the relevant stakeholders in Vietnam during the negotiation phase. These are the issues that have come to the fore and we have got a response. We have to continue ultimately of course to reach our final destination and our objectives.

Finally, on this issue in relation to concern about the investment court system, following the European Parliament’s demands, the investment protection agreement with Vietnam includes the most modern and reformed investment protection framework in any agreement with an investment court system for the resolution of investment disputes, replacing the traditional investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) arbitration mechanism, and this has been confirmed as the proper way to go by the European Court of Justice decision that was recently made.

So all of the elements of the ISDS under CETA are included in the IPA with Vietnam, which is an additional stepping stone towards the establishment of a multilateral investment court.

Finally, in conclusion, could I say that, by voting in favour of this free trade agreement, you are voting in favour of a deal that will give us the political and institutional influence and the proper structures to make improvements on issues like human rights, like labour rights, like climate change and like environment policies. By voting ‘no’ you are consigning our influence to resolutions and letters that may or may not be taken into account and will most probably be ignored.

This agreement puts the EU and Vietnam together in a political structure and enforcement mechanisms that will deliver common objectives, in particular in the policy areas that have been mentioned in this House. I know that many of these issues have been of concern for many years. Now we have a structured way in which we can deal with these issues. So it is time to be positive, to acknowledge that the EU stands together with the people of Vietnam, and vote positively for this deal.

 
   
 

  Geert Bourgeois, Rapporteur. – Mr President, at the end of the debate, first I want to thank my colleagues in the Committee on International Trade (INTA), the shadow rapporteurs, and especially our Chair, Mr Lange. I want to thank my predecessor, the former rapporteur Jan Zahradil, and I would also like to thank Commissioner Hogan for our good cooperation and for rightfully underlining the importance of this trade and investment agreement with Vietnam. I totally agree with your conclusion, Mr Hogan, and I take note of your clear commitment to oversee all aspects relevant for the implementation of the agreement and the continuous assistance of the Commission in order to help Vietnam pursue its reform process and to lend the country the financial and technical aid necessary to achieve its goals.

I would like to thank colleagues for all their valuable contributions. Most of the points of concern raised during this debate were also my concerns. However, I think we have sufficiently addressed most of the concerns during our preparatory work. I believe these agreements will serve as an effective instrument to promote fundamental values and create a more level playing field.

Vietnam has committed to a series of important measures, and I agree with you, Mr Lange: thanks to the clear political messages of this Parliament, I’m happy to say that during the negotiation process ahead of this debate and during my own interactions, the Vietnamese Government has demonstrated a trustworthy and clear political will to deliver on important issues. The role of the European Parliament was, and is, essential in this respect. We will continue to closely follow up on the proceedings of the independent organisations taking part in the domestic advisory groups. After ratification, we are also looking forward to strengthening political dialogue with our Vietnamese colleagues through the establishment of a joint parliamentary cooperation framework. We will also look into the proposal of associating our colleagues on the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) to the already existing annual human rights dialogue.

Vietnam is a country in transformation. I believe these agreements will further contribute to the improvement of its prosperity, labour, human rights and living standards. The EU needs to support this aim fully in order to bring forward this positive agenda for change in Vietnam, and therefore I passionately call upon all my colleagues in this House to vote tomorrow in favour of the consent for both agreements, so that the EU can take up its role as a geopolitical actor in the region and show Vietnam that we are a genuine and reliable partner today and for the future.

 
   
   

PRESIDENZA DELL’ON. DAVID MARIA SASSOLI
Presidente

 
5. Resumption of the sitting
 

(La seduta è ripresa alle 15.07)

 
6. Announcement by the President
 

  Presidente. – Conformemente al regolamento ho deciso di irrorare una sanzione nei confronti di Ioannis Lagos per aver turbato la seduta in Aula del 29 gennaio 2020 con l’uso di un linguaggio ingiurioso e l’esposizione e lo strappo di un foglio che simboleggiava una bandiera nazionale.

La sanzione consiste nella perdita del diritto all’indennità di soggiorno per un periodo di sette giorni e nella sospensione temporanea dalla partecipazione alle attività del Parlamento e dei suoi organi per un periodo di quattro giorni consecutivi a partire da oggi 11 febbraio.

Questa decisione è stata notificata naturalmente oggi all’interessato che può introdurre un ricorso interno contro questa decisione dinanzi all’Ufficio di presidenza conformemente al regolamento.

 
7. Approval of the minutes of the previous sitting : see Minutes
8. European Central Bank – annual report 2018 (debate)
 

  Costas Mavrides, Rapporteur. – Mr President, this report reflects the well-established relationship between the European Parliament and the ECB. In fact, such a report is the main instrument for expressing our views towards ECB policies for maintaining price stability and strengthening the eurozone economies, thereby leading to a higher degree of real economic convergence.

The timing is important. This report is the first of the new legislative term and following the election of the new ECB President. And, of course, like the President has said, we are very glad to have you here today with us, Ms Lagarde. The report focuses on the review of the current ECB policies, future monetary policy, actions against climate change, and a stronger global role for the euro.

Regarding the monetary policy actions of the ECB in 2018 and their impact on the euro area economy, we welcome the ECB’s role in safeguarding euro stability. The non-standard monetary policy measures put in place by the ECB contributed to economic recovery, to an improvement in financing conditions and to compressing yields across a wide range of asset classes. We also stress that the very low or negative interest rates offer opportunities to consumers, companies (including SMEs), workers and borrowers who can benefit from stronger economic momentum, lower unemployment and lower borrowing costs. At the same time, we ask the ECB to keep monitoring potential risks to its balance sheets, asset price inflation, disadvantages to savers and the potential impact on pension and insurance schemes. However, we are concerned that after a short economic recovery, euro area growth momentum has slowed to 1.1% of GDP in the euro area, and therefore we note the need to maintain both the liquidity conditions and a degree of monetary accommodation. Recognising the sustainable growth cannot be achieved by monetary policy alone. We underline that supportive fiscal policy is also necessary.

We also agree with ECB President Christine Lagarde’s statement that a review of the ECB’s monetary policy framework is timely and warranted, and we stress that this should be done by organising a public consultation and involving Parliament. An important point also raised in this report is the finding of the European System of Central Banks Expert Group on low wage growth, stating the disconnect between wage growth and labour market recovery ceteris paribus. Accordingly, the unemployment rate in August 2019 stood at 6.2% in the EU and 7.4% in the euro area, the lowest since July 2008. But this drop in unemployment has not been reflected in wage growth.

Two words strengthening the role of the euro area. It requires the right structural conditions, including the deepening of the European Monetary Union, the completion of the Banking Union with the European Deposit Insurance Scheme and the completion of the Capital Market Union. Special emphasis is given to the fight against climate change and the implementation of the Paris Agreement. We stress that the ECB is bound by the Paris Agreement on climate change and this should be reflected by implementing the environmental, social and governance principle into its policies.

We underline other aspects interrelated with ECB policies regarding Brexit, the Capital Markets Union, crypto-assets, the need to increase monitoring and to have a comprehensive regulatory framework, the importance of micro, small and medium-sized businesses in the EU and their access to credit, more efforts to ensure the financing of the real economy and much more.

On accountability, we welcome the increasing accountability under the Presidency of Mario Draghi and we express our will for even greater accountability, dialogue and openness with the current President.

A final point. It is essential to formulate our monetary policy but also to communicate it to our citizens, as they need to understand the importance and the impact of those policies on their lives. I would like to thank all the shadow rapporteurs for their constructive and fruitful collaboration during the negotiations, and I do believe that the European Parliament and the ECB have a common objective. This was my primary objective when I drafted this report – to improve the lives of our citizens by achieving real economic convergence and to strengthen the role of the EU as it is our common home.

 
   
 

  Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank. – Mr President, Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis, rapporteur Mavrides, honourable Members of the European Parliament, I am delighted to participate for the first time in a plenary session and to discuss your draft resolution on the ECB’s Annual Report for 2018.

Independence and accountability are two sides of the same coin for the ECB, and one will not exist without the other. This is why the ECB’s relationship with the European Parliament is so important. The ECB’s Annual Report is a central element of this relationship, and Parliament’s resolution and the subsequent feedback we publish are evidence of the good dialogue between our two institutions.

Having only joined the ECB almost to the day 100 days ago, I read the draft resolution with particular interest. What struck me in particular was our shared assessment of many of the challenges facing the ECB and the euro area. I felt exactly the same as I was listening to you, Mr Mavrides. Indeed, the universal nature of these challenges underscores the need for our continued dialogue.

Today, I would like to focus on two of the overarching concerns that stand out from the draft resolution. Number one, the role of monetary policy in the current economic environment and, number two, the structural challenges facing the euro area economy.

Euro area growth momentum has been slowing down since the start of 2018, largely on account of global uncertainties and weaker international trade. Moderating growth has also weakened pressure on prices, and inflation remains some distance below our medium-term aim.

Against this background, the ECB’s Governing Council has acted in a determined fashion to achieve price stability, which is the mandate that we have under the ECB Treaty. The ECB’s monetary policy since 2014 relies on four elements: a negative policy rate, asset purchases, forward guidance, and targeted lending operations. These measures have helped to preserve favourable lending conditions, support the resilience of the domestic economy and – most importantly in the recent period – shield the euro area economy from global headwinds.

Our policy stimulus has supported economic growth, resulting in more jobs and higher wages for euro area citizens. As you just mentioned, Mr Mavrides, euro area unemployment, at 7.4%, is at its lowest level since May 2008. Wages, as you have mentioned as well, increased at an average rate of 2.5% in the first three quarters of 2019, significantly above their long-term average. 2.5%.

But monetary policy cannot, and should not, be the only game in town. The longer our accommodative measures remain in place, the greater the risk that side effects will become more pronounced. We are fully aware that the low interest rate environment has a bearing on savings income, asset valuation, risk-taking and house prices. We are closely monitoring possible negative side effects to ensure that they do not outweigh the positive impact of our measures on credit conditions, job creation and wage income. Such reflections played a role, for example, when the Governing Council decided to introduce a new regime for remunerating the excess reserves held by banks with the Eurosystem, the famous clearing system that we introduced.

Other policy areas – notably fiscal measures and structural polices – also have to play their part. These policies can boost productivity growth and lift growth potential, thereby underpinning the effectiveness of our measures. Indeed, when interest rates are low, fiscal policy can be highly effective: it can support euro area growth momentum, which in turn intensifies price pressures and eventually leads to higher interest rates. The European Green Deal and national initiatives to finance the ecological transition could add to these dynamics by contributing to stronger and more sustainable growth.

The European Parliament’s draft resolution on the ECB’s Annual Report highlights three structural developments affecting the ECB’s operating environment: digitalisation, climate change and the institutional architecture of Economic and Monetary Union. I would like to use the remaining time that I have to discuss very briefly these three challenges.

Digitalisation and climate change were not made in Europe. They are global phenomena. They will not wait for us to gear up and get ready; they will affect us whether we are ready or not. So we need to prepare as best we can. In this spirit, the ECB is assessing the potential and implications of technological developments for payment services and financial stability, and it is also making an active contribution to such innovations.

To this end, we set up a Eurosystem task force in January to investigate the opportunities and challenges associated with different potential designs for a central bank digital currency and to test how they would work in practice. In particular, we want to assess whether a central bank digital currency could serve a clear purpose for the public and support the ECB’s objectives. Together with five other central banks and the Bank for International Settlements, we will share experiences in this area and assess the potential cross-border use of such digital currencies.

We also have to gear up on climate change – and not only because we care as citizens of this world. Like digitalisation, climate change affects the context in which central banks operate. So we increasingly need to take these effects into account in central banks’ policies and operations.

The ECB has already moved in this direction. First, we are working to extend our knowledge about the economic impact of climate change and ensure that its effects are better reflected in our economic analyses, in our models and in our forecasting methods. Second, through its financial stability tasks, the ECB is monitoring systemic risks stemming from climate change and the transition to a carbon-neutral economy. This work will ultimately enable us to test how well the euro area banking sector is able to withstand climate-related risks.

Finally, the ECB has taken steps to align its own investment decisions with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This is so in our staff pension fund, for instance, where we decided to switch to a low-carbon index, and we are investigating what else we can do in our market operations.

The strategy review launched by the ECB’s Governing Council last month will also take stock of how rapid digitalisation and the threat to environmental sustainability – together with globalisation and evolving financial structures – have further transformed the environment in which monetary policy operates. The strategy review will consider all aspects of the ECB’s policy framework. We need to reflect on how we can best deliver on the ECB price stability mandate for the benefit of all European citizens. As part of this process, we will consult with the public and listen to their views, expectations and concerns with an open mind.

We will indeed also work very closely with those in your Parliament who are directly interested and concerned about those particular matters and we have begun that journey.

While I have thus far focused on the ECB, it is important to recognise that digitalisation and climate change are universal developments that affect all of us in Europe and worldwide. But Europe is uniquely positioned to master these challenges. Building on common safeguards and competitive incentives, the Single Market offers enormous potential for economic modernisation. Europe can harness this potential in its quest to design effective and affordable responses to the challenges at hand.

But an important pillar of Europe’s response to an increasingly globalised world – Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) – should not be forgotten in the process. And the role of the European Parliament, as co-legislator, in getting our response right cannot be understated.

Over recent years, the euro area’s architecture has evolved substantially. But as you know, some essential elements are still missing or are incomplete, hampering its ability to deliver its full potential for euro area citizens. This is why the ECB has been advocating and will continue to make the case for a more complete EMU: Economic and Monetary Union.

Very quickly, I will remind you of what I mean by that. It is a full banking union underpinned by a common deposit insurance scheme; it’s a true capital markets union that channels investment to innovative and productive uses; and it is a central stabilisation function as a common line of defence in case and when we have shocks. A more resilient Economic and Monetary Union with these elements would not just help to protect our living standards from adverse domestic and global developments. It would also support Europe’s influence in the world, including by making the euro more attractive worldwide.

Let me close by highlighting the joint nature of the challenges. What I have discussed will require all parties to do their bit to enable Europe to perform at its best for all of its citizens. This includes the ECB, which within its mandate is ready to play its part. As I said at the beginning, the universal nature of these challenges also underscores the need for continued dialogue between the ECB and the European Parliament. In this spirit, I am very much looking forward to the exchange that we will have during the rest of this afternoon.

 
   
 

  Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President of the Commission. – Mr President, it’s a pleasure to be here today to discuss with you and with Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), the very timely report on the ECB annual report.

By a coincidence of the calendar, the European Central Bank launched a review of its monetary policy strategy on 23 January, the day of adoption of the report at committee level. I would like to thank the rapporteur, Costas Mavrides, and the members of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) for their work.

The Commission largely shares the general lines of the report. We concur with the view that the ECB’s statutory independence in the conduct of monetary policy is crucial to the objective of safeguarding price stability.

Today’s debate reinforces this independence in that it bridges political independence and democratic accountability. Like the report, the Commission considers that monetary policy alone, which is an ECB competence, is not sufficient to achieve sustainable growth and price stability. The euro area economy should also be supported by a mix of growth—friendly structural reforms and by appropriately-differentiated fiscal policy. This is all the more important as the European economy, while continuing to expand, has entered a period of more subdued growth. This is linked to the less-supportive external environment, ongoing structural shifts and high uncertainty, for instance regarding trade policies.

Let me make specific reference to a couple of points in the report that are relevant to the Commission’s political agenda. First, the Commission has made the transition to a climate—neutral economy a priority with the European Green Deal. The European Green Deal will make consistent use of several policy levers: regulation and standardisation, investment and innovation, national reforms, dialogue with social partners and international cooperation.

In the context of the European Green Deal, we agree with the ECB’s conclusion that climate—change—related financial stability risks hold the potential to become systemic for the euro area, in particular if markets are not pricing these risks correctly. We will soon launch a consultation on the next steps on the sustainable finance agenda. Our aim is to develop a renewed sustainable finance strategy by early autumn which, among other things, will aim to improve the way climate and environmental risks are managed and integrated into the financial system. We will also establish the EU Green Bond standard and explore how it can increase public and private finance for sustainable investments.

The review of our own economic governance framework will, just like the ECB strategic review, look into the effectiveness of our rules in delivering on its key objectives. Debt sustainability remains important, as financial stability is a pre-condition for growth and job creation. But we will also encourage broad debate on the framework in order to make it more efficient.

Second, we welcome the call for swift completion of the Capital Markets Union and the Banking Union, including setting up a European deposit insurance scheme. A strong monetary union is key to fostering the international role of the euro. In this respect, we welcome Parliament’s encouragement to work with the ECB and all relevant stakeholders on those projects.

The Commission has started technical work on crisis management and insolvency law. This is an important avenue to be further considered to complete our crisis management framework and help make progress towards a steady—state Banking Union.

Third, I would like to underline the importance of our work on payments and crypto-assets. I would like to thank the ECB for their crucial work on payment infrastructure. This is essential to make instant payments in Europe a reality. I also welcome that the ECB and other central banks are looking at the potential of central bank digital currency and are engaging with European payment actors to bring about faster, more efficient and cheaper payments.

I have no doubt that today’s debate will be very fruitful, and I trust that you will confirm the constructive engagement that has developed between the European Parliament and the ECB over the past years.

 
   
 

  Markus Ferber, im Namen der PPE-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, Frau Präsidentin, Herr Vizepräsident, liebe Kolleginnen, liebe Kollegen! Zunächst einmal ein ganz herzliches Dankeschön, dass Sie heute zum ersten Mal in Ihrer Funktion als Präsidentin der Europäischen Zentralbank zu uns gekommen sind. Sie lösen damit auch ein Versprechen ein, das Sie uns im Ausschuss für Wirtschaft und Währung gegeben haben, sich nicht nur um die Geldwertstabilität zu kümmern, was ja Ihr Mandat ist, sondern auch einen intensiven Dialog mit der Öffentlichkeit zu führen, und das über diesen Resonanzboden des Europäischen Parlaments. Dafür ein herzliches Dankeschön.

Ihr Vorgänger, der auch regelmäßig hier erschienen ist, hat mit seinen geldpolitischen Maßnahmen sicherlich einen Beitrag dazu geleistet, Zeit zu kaufen, die die Mitgliedstaaten hätten nutzen sollen, um ihrerseits entsprechende Vorbereitungen auch für schwierigere Zeiten zu treffen. Sie haben jetzt angekündigt, eine neue geldpolitische Strategie vorzulegen und zu diskutieren, und ich hoffe, dass in der Phase, in der diese Diskussion innerhalb der Zentralbank stattfindet, geldpolitische Entscheidungen nicht auf Eis gelegt sind, sondern Sie trotzdem in der Lage sind, aktuell zu reagieren, denn Ihr eigener Finanzstabilitätsbericht weist ja mittlerweile doch auf eine Reihe von Problemen hin, mit denen wir es aufgrund dieser langen Phase von niedrigen Zinsen zu tun haben, mit denen wir konfrontiert sind.

Ich bin Ihnen sehr dankbar, dass Sie heute das Thema angesprochen haben, über eine eigene Digitalwährung nachzudenken. Ich sage Ihnen ganz offen: Wir als EVP haben lieber eine Digitalwährung der EZB als eine von Facebook, und in dem Sinne haben Sie unsere Unterstützung.

 
   
   

VORSITZ: OTHMAR KARAS
Vizepräsident

 
   
 

  Jonás Fernández, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señor presidente, presidenta, vicepresidente, en primer lugar, quiero agradecer los nuevos prismas, los nuevos aires que la presidenta del BCE ha traído a esta Cámara y ha traído al Banco Central Europeo. Pero me gustaría insistir en que aún estamos lejos de cumplir con el mandato de la institución —que, además, los agregados monetarios, la evolución del crédito, no apuntan hacia el cumplimiento rápido del objetivo de situar la inflación cerca del 2 %— y, por lo tanto, dentro de la independencia de la institución, me gustaría insistir en la necesidad de nuevos instrumentos, de nuevas políticas, para poder situar la inflación cerca de su objetivo.

Por otra parte, me gustaría también recomendarle o pedirle que pida un apoyo sincero desde el lado fiscal para ayudarla a usted a cumplir con el objetivo de inflación. Y celebro el inicio de esa revisión estratégica, que debería ser algo más que un retoque en la metodología del índice de inflación, para introducir nuevos objetivos, nuevos instrumentos, nueva comunicación —como usted quiere— en el trabajo del BCE.

 
   
 

  Luis Garicano, on behalf of the Renew Group. – Mr President, I would like to thank Mr Dombrovskis and to welcome Madame Lagarde. It is really great to have her here.

First of all, I would like to thank Mr Costas Mavrides for his excellent work on the report. As you see in the report, Madame Lagarde, we are worried about the incompleteness of our banking union. I’m glad to hear Mr Dombrovskis say that the Commission’s work programme is going to push in this direction.

We share very much the views that you expressed about what the priorities are, Madame Lagarde. We think that the ‘doom loop’ is alive and well. We think that it is still the case that, if we have a big bank fail, there will only really be states behind that bank and that our construction will not be sufficient. Because we have done a banking union that was supposed to consist of three pillars.

The first pillar, which is supervision, is in place. The second pillar, which is resolution, is kind of in place, but not really in office – ‘in office but not in power’ I guess is a better way to put it. It is not really acting to resolve most situations and most banks which are failing. The third pillar, as Madame Lagarde has pointed out, the deposit insurance, is not yet there.

We believe that we need a banking union that cuts this knot between the banks and the states. We think that we need this principle of bail—in, rather than bail-out, to be enforced. And that means that the Commission has a lot of work to do.

We will support that work and will really encourage you. We realise that it is politically difficult. I think the Parliament is ready to come behind a solution and I ask Madame Lagarde for your support. And Mr Dombrovskis for your work on this, thank you very much.

 
   
 

  Gunnar Beck, im Namen der ID-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident, verehrte Anwesende, sehr geehrte Frau Präsidentin! Mit diesem Jahresbericht huldigt dieses Haus Mario Draghi. Die EZB schaffe Wachstum und Beschäftigung, nur die Inflation müsse steigen, deshalb werde weiter Geld gedruckt. Draghi hat fürwahr mehr Geld gedruckt als irgendwer, irgendwann, irgendwo seit 1925. Die EZB druckte 40 % der Wirtschaftsleistung, Fed und Bank of England nur 25 % und 15 %, und freudiger als Draghi brach noch niemand EU—Recht. 2009 war die Wirtschaft der EU deutlich größer als die US-Wirtschaft. Auch die Finanzkrise traf die USA härter.

Dann kam Draghi, und 2018 hatte die EU weiter mehr Menschen, aber die kleinere Wirtschaft. Die Jugendarbeitslosigkeit in Südeuropa beträgt bis zu 35 % – welch ein Erfolg bei immer weniger Jugendlichen! In Deutschland schmelzen Erspartes und Altersversorgung dahin wie die Gletscher im Sommer. Draghi hinterlässt verbrannte Erde. Wem zum Nutzen? Erstens den Großvermögenden, die weiter das Ihre mehren, und zweitens den unverantwortlichen Regierungen, denn ohne Draghis Negativzinsen könnte sich Frau Merkel ihre Weltrettungsfantasien gar nicht leisten.

 
   
 

  Stasys Jakeliūnas, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, I’d like to thank Mr Mavrides, the rapporteur, for working and putting together all the different opinions of the different groups, and putting that into a future vision for the ECB and for us here, at Parliament.

Let me highlight a couple points in addition to what was already said.

Madame Lagarde, when we asked you about the Central Bank digital currencies at the ECON hearing, you responded that we need to ‘rush slowly’ and welcome you elaborating on that here. Mr Dombrovskis also concurred. That means that the importance of this project is well understood, and I think that it will be supported by Parliament here.

The second point I would like to mention is probably the need to renew discussion on the financial sector supervision architecture. It remains very fragmented in the European Union with four models or so being used, and the mandates of the European institutions either overlapping or not very clear. If we are very serious about the banking union, capital markets union, etc., if we want the financial sector – which is a significant part of the economic infrastructure – to work for people, we need to revitalise discussion on that. I would welcome your participation in that discussion too. The European Commission, and we at the European Parliament, would be ready to contribute to revitalising that discussion.

 
   
 

  Johan Van Overtveldt, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, Madame Lagarde, I think price stability was and remains the primary objective of the ECB. You cannot have price stability without financial stability; financial stability is a precondition for price stability. Now what do we see in the world and in Europe today? Extreme low interest rates, strongly-reduced credit spreads, softened credit terms, feverish mergers and acquisition activity, high levels of speculative IPOs, spectacular growth of shadow banking, equity valuations totally out of line with historic price-earnings ratios, and USD 15 trillion of negative-yielding debt. I think it’s fair to say, if you see those eight developments all together, that financial stability is under a lot of pressure – and that’s an understatement. Unconventional monetary policies have been contributing to these developments and so should really be, basically, fundamentally reconsidered.

 
   
 

  Δημήτριος Παπαδημούλης, εξ ονόματος της ομάδας GUE/NGL. – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κυρία Lagarde, σας καλωσορίζουμε στην ολομέλεια, όπως και εσάς, κύριε Dombrovskis. Νομίζω ότι ο μεγάλος ένοχος γι’ αυτά που κάνουν το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο να ανησυχεί είναι απών από αυτήν τη συζήτηση. Το μεγάλο φρένο σε αυτά που πρέπει να κάνουμε είναι το Συμβούλιο· είναι οι κυβερνήσεις. Εκεί μπλοκάρει η ολοκλήρωση της τραπεζικής ενοποίησης και ο τρίτος πυλώνας, κύριε Garicano· στο Συμβούλιο. Γιατί η Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα ζητάει το EDIS, η Επιτροπή το προτείνει και στο Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο η πλειοψηφία το θέλει. Και ο κίνδυνος δεν είναι μόνον η οικονομική επιβράδυνση. Ο κίνδυνος είναι μια νέα οικονομική κρίση, κυρία Lagarde.

Δέκα χρόνια μετά την κρίση που ξέσπασε στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες, οι Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες έχουν ανακάμψει και εμείς ακόμη συζητάμε το ενισχυμένο πλαίσιο της οικονομικής διακυβέρνησης που θα βαθύνει την οικονομική πολιτική και τη νομισματική ενοποίηση και θα καταστήσει την Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και την ευρωζώνη πιο ισχυρές. Και αυτό λείπει. Όπως λείπουν και τα χρηματοδοτικά μέσα για να υλοποιηθεί το Green Deal. Διότι —και πάλι— το Συμβούλιο θέλει να περικόψει τον οικονομικό προϋπολογισμό για το νέο πολυετές πλαίσιο, σε αντίθεση με το Ευρωπαϊκό Κοινοβούλιο που ζητάει περισσότερα χρήματα για να μειωθούν οι ανισότητες, για να επενδύσουμε στην αντιμετώπιση της κλιματικής κρίσης, για να κρατήσουμε την πολιτική συνοχής και για να φύγουμε μπροστά με επενδύσεις στην καινοτομία. Επομένως, η έκθεση του κυρίου Μαυρίδη είναι μια ευκαιρία για να δούμε τι πρέπει να αλλάξει για να συμπαρασύρουμε και αυτούς που βάζουν φρένο.

 
   
 

  Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE). – Mr President, I would like to wholeheartedly thank Ms Lagarde, and congratulate the European Central Bank (ECB) and its new leadership for, may I say, finally taking the climate and environmental risks as economic risks, as financial stability risks and, hopefully, also as systemic risks to be judged by the systemic risk board in the future.

I am very happy to hear that that is going to be reflected in the ECB’s strategy review, and I am looking forward to that. I hope that will be reflected in all of the ECB’s market operation that these substantial amount of financial flows we have to use either against or for the environment.

Also, I’m glad to hear that the Commission is moving rapidly with the sustainable finance package and a plea for both actors: please ensure that indicators, the metering system and the lifecycle analyses there is harmonised and, overall, used in the same methodology in different institutions so that we duly know what we are doing.

 
   
 

  Stéphanie Yon-Courtin (Renew). – Monsieur le Président, chers collègues, Madame la Présidente Lagarde, merci de votre présence parmi nous; merci, Monsieur le rapporteur, pour votre excellent rapport.

Nous partageons, Madame, vos constats quant à une situation économique en faible croissance et aux nombreux défis qui sont à relever pour l’économie. Représentants directs des citoyens européens, nous constatons toutes ces inquiétudes sur nos territoires. La croissance modérée n’apporte finalement pas l’effet escompté sur les salaires, ni sur la consommation. Les prix du logement dans certaines régions augmentent de façon exponentielle. Plus globalement, le ralentissement de l’activité économique en Chine ou le Brexit risquent de perturber davantage l’économie.

Dans cette période d’incertitude et de transition numérique et écologique, je me réjouis de votre initiative de lancer la révision de la stratégie de politique monétaire de la BCE, qui devra intégrer tous ces changements. De nombreux chantiers sont donc à prendre en compte dans cette feuille de route de la BCE, notamment la réalisation de vrais progrès – bien réels – en matière d’équilibre hommes-femmes dans la nomination aux postes à responsabilité; l’étude de la pertinence d’une monnaie numérique BCE, certes, mais également la surveillance de l’évolution des cryptomonnaies pour lutter plus efficacement contre le blanchiment d’argent dans le financement des territoires; et des efforts visant à conférer une vraie dimension internationale à l’euro et à renforcer son rôle de monnaie de réserve.

Dans l’élaboration de cette stratégie, Madame, je me réjouis de la méthode de dialogue et d’ouverture que vous envisagez, conformément à l’engagement pris lors de votre première audition au Parlement. Je salue enfin, à ce titre, les consultations publiques que vous allez mener, dont la première fin mars à Bruxelles avec la société civile, et j’espère que nous y serons associés.

 
   
 

  Hélène Laporte (ID). –Monsieur le Président, Madame la Présidente, mes chers collègues, Madame, vous êtes connue pour faire preuve de sagesse en raison de votre habileté à gérer des intérêts contradictoires, un tableau qui est très flatteur, mais qui va être mis à rude épreuve à ce poste de présidente de la BCE, tout d’abord parce que la future revue de la politique monétaire, c’est un petit peu le serpent qui se mord la queue. Pour lutter contre la déflation et le chômage, votre prédécesseur, Mario Draghi, a adopté, en plus de la baisse des taux d’intérêt directeurs, des mesures non conventionnelles. Cette politique présente malheureusement les défauts de ses qualités: les taux d’intérêt négatifs sont nuisibles aux épargnants et favorisent l’émergence de bulles spéculatives, appelant une normalisation de cette politique monétaire, normalisation qui fragilise la reprise économique. Tout d’abord, comment comptez-vous sortir, entre guillemets, de cette impasse?

Par ailleurs, en dépit de votre attachement à l’indépendance la plus totale de la BCE, vous avez déclaré vouloir faire du changement climatique un sujet prioritaire pour répondre aux attentes de la Commission. En somme, une BCE plus verte, mais surtout, il faut l’admettre, plus politisée. Une orientation qui risque pourtant d’outrepasser les statuts de la BCE en empiétant sur les compétences souveraines des États membres. Comment appréhendez-vous cette contradiction?

 
   
 

  Sven Giegold (Verts/ALE). – Herr Präsident, Frau Lagarde! Vielen Dank für Ihre Worte hier und gut, Sie hier zu sehen. Ich möchte Sie eigentlich ebenso wie ein Vorredner auch auffordern, sich diesen Bereich der Kryptowährungen und der Chancen der Digitalisierung für neue Zahlungsverkehrsmethoden genau anzuschauen. Eine Zentralbank, die tatsächlich Bürgerinnen und Bürgern über Methoden des Internets und der Digitalwährung direkt Zugang zum Zahlungsverkehr verschafft, kann letztlich dafür sorgen, dass digitale Dienstleistungen billiger werden, und damit etwas in der öffentlichen Hand halten, wo es auch hingehört. Digitale Währungen sind kein Raum für Kriminelle wie heute, wo illegaler Zahlungsverkehr durchgeführt wird, und digitale Währungen gehören auch nicht in die Hand von transnationalen Unternehmen. Daher bieten Sie doch hier einen echten Vorteil für die Bürgerinnen und Bürger, indem Sie selber elektronisches Geld auf den Weg bringen, mit der Sicherheit der Zentralbank und den neuen Technologien, die uns zur Verfügung stehen. Ich hoffe, das nehmen Sie mit auf den Weg.

 
   
 

  Stefan Berger (PPE). – Herr Präsident! Frau Lagarde, ich finde es gut, dass Sie angetreten sind, einen neuen Stil in der EZB zu etablieren, dass Sie die Politik überprüfen wollen und auch neu kommunizieren und besser erklären wollen. Das ist richtig, das ist notwendig, aber wenn sich nach der Überprüfung herausstellt, dass die Politik falsch ist, dann kann sie nicht nur anders kommuniziert werden, sondern sie muss dann auch geändert werden.

Der Bericht zeigt, dass der HVPI – also der Wert, in dem Inflation gemessen wird – 1,2 % für 2019, 1 % für 2020 und 1,5 % für 2021 aufweist. Wenn das so ist, dann werden Sie Ihr Ziel von 2 % nicht erreichen. Und wenn das so ist, dann stellt sich doch die Frage, ob die EZB vielleicht ihr Ziel nicht mal in einen Korridor stellen sollte, denn wir sehen, dass nach einer Dekade Niedrigzinsen insbesondere Staaten wie die Bundesrepublik Deutschland durchaus von negativen Effekten betroffen sind. Wir sind eine Nation von Sparern mit hohen Spareinlagen bei den Banken, und das ist ein schwieriges Problem. Deswegen bitte ich Sie, diesen Punkt in ihre kritische Überprüfung mit einzubeziehen.

Letzter Satz: Die EZB möchte die Bankenunion und die europäische Einlagensicherung vorantreiben. Das ist grundsätzlich in Ordnung, aber bevor man die Einlagensicherung vorantreibt, müssen die Voraussetzungen geschaffen sein. Man schließt keine Feuerversicherung mit einem Partner ab, dessen Haus schon brennt. Ich bitte Sie, dass Sie auch das berücksichtigen.

 
   
 

  Pedro Silva Pereira (S&D). – Senhor Presidente, como este Parlamento já reconheceu, a intervenção do Banco Central Europeu, sob a liderança de Mário Draghi, foi essencial para corrigir os erros iniciais de resposta à crise, salvar o euro e ajudar a economia europeia a recuperar da grande recessão.

Hoje, com a nova liderança da Sr.ª Lagarde, há ventos novos, designadamente uma revisão estratégica importante para alinhar a política do BCE com os objetivos de combate às alterações climáticas e o Pacto Verde, sem prejuízo do seu mandato. Mas se o que está a mudar é importante, não menos importante é o que se mantém: uma política monetária de estímulo à economia que continua a ser necessária com o atual abrandamento económico e a necessidade de cumprir as metas de inflação confiadas ao BCE.

Enquanto os governos com margem de manobra orçamental se recusarem a contribuir com uma política orçamental mais expansionista é de uma política monetária expansionista que a zona euro continua a precisar.

 
   
 

  Engin Eroglu (Renew). – Herr Präsident, sehr geehrte Frau Präsidentin Lagarde, sehr geehrter Herr Dombrovskis, liebe Kollegen! Ich möchte bei dem Bericht einen Fokus legen, und zwar ist das das Bargeld. Sie, Frau Lagarde, haben in letzter Zeit sehr oft darüber gesprochen, dass Sie das Vertrauen der Bürger gewinnen wollen. Das habe ich mir zu Herzen genommen und möchte Ihnen da gerne etwas auf den Weg mitgeben: Die Bürger in der Europäischen Union haben Angst vor der Abschaffung des Bargelds. Die Abschaffung des 500-Euro-Scheins ist sozusagen ein Indiz dafür. Dadurch verlieren die Bürger weiter an Vertrauen in die Europäische Union. Bargeld ist jedoch ein wichtiges Zeichen von Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit. Hinzu kommt, dass Bargeld vor Negativzinsen geschützt ist. Daher war es für mich wichtig, die Beibehaltung des Bargelds als Position des Parlaments hervorzuheben, und ich habe einen Änderungsantrag gestellt, der nunmehr auch in Nummer 75 in diesem Papier dargestellt ist. Ich möchte Ihnen gerne mitgeben, dass Sie den Bürgern sozusagen die Gewissheit geben, das Bargeld zu erhalten als vertrauensbildende Maßnahme, und aber auch, um Unabhängigkeit und Freiheit der Bürger zu gewährleisten.

 
   
 

  Antonio Maria Rinaldi (ID). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, Presidente Lagarde, dalla lettura delle relazioni annuali della BCE vi è il costante elogio dei tassi negativi come la migliore strategia per il rilancio dell’economia dell’eurozona.

Non crede invece che il perdurare di questa politica di tassi negativi abbia avuto come effetto deleterio quello di aver messo in ginocchio le banche commerciali, il vero motore propulsivo per le piccole e medie imprese oltre che per le famiglie, riducendo ai minimi i margini d’intermediazione, quindi lo stimolo a concedere credito, paradossalmente invece favorendo le banche d’affari, proprio quelle a più forte operatività speculativa?

Inoltre, non crede che, dopo le operazioni straordinarie come il QE, che hanno aumentato il bilancio della Banca centrale europea a più di 4,65 trilioni di euro facendo esplodere la massa monetaria M3 senza tuttavia né raggiungere, se non marginalmente, l’economia reale né il target inflativo, ottenendo uno stato di deflazione permanente, sia arrivato il momento di prendere in considerazione strategie da “Helicopter money” per rilanciare i consumi, visto i dati catastrofici delle produzioni industriali registrati nell’eurozona?

 
   
 

  Alfred Sant (S&D). – Mr President, congratulations to my friend Costas Mavrides on an excellent report. I would also like to focus on an area which merits greater attention in my view, but from a different perspective to what has been done up to now, namely the situation of banks, big and small, in the eurozone.

We are underestimating how difficult the situation has become. Discussion of the subject is constrained because many would not like it to sound as an attack on the ECB’s monetary easing policies. True. So long as fiscal policy is not being deployed to bolster economic growth, such policies remain essential, and I agree with that. But, they’re also causing collateral damage to banks.

Other very significant factors are adding to the damage, like an overload of regulations raising operational costs. Yet, while the Capital Markets Union is being promoted in Europe, the reliance on banks for business financing has grown. Banks are curtailing their services to cut costs and to remain profitable, with negative economic and social consequences.

It is illusory to hope that this will lead to the emergence of European champions in the banking sector. If eurozone banks retract their capillary outreach in national economies, citizens and SMEs – but not only they – will suffer.

 
   
 

  Aurore Lalucq (S&D). – Monsieur le Président, je remercie Mme Lagarde d’être avec nous.

Vous avez choisi, Madame, de poursuivre une politique monétaire dite d’assouplissement quantitatif pour soutenir l’activité économique, et nous sommes nombreux dans cette maison à avoir reçu cette annonce avec un certain soulagement car, du fait des égoïsmes nationaux et de l’idéologie dominante sur ce continent, nous n’avons malheureusement toujours pas de budget réel, ce qui est absolument incroyable et inconcevable pour la première puissance économique mondiale. Mais cette situation fait que beaucoup repose sur vos épaules et que votre politique doit être parfaite.

Nous avons entendu énormément d’avancées dans votre discours, mais il manque encore un point, qui est celui de la spéculation. Sur ce point, je reste sur ma faim. Nous savons que les politiques d’assouplissement quantitatif ces dernières années ont certes soutenu l’économie réelle – il fallait le faire –, mais qu’elles ont aussi engendré une hypertrophie de la sphère financière, et je voudrais savoir ce que la Banque centrale européenne compte concrètement faire pour lutter contre la spéculation.

 
   
 

  Paul Tang (S&D). – Mr President, I would like to welcome Ms Lagarde. A fresh wind is blowing through the ECB. No public spats, but a constructive dialogue: how can we prop up eurozone growth? How can the ECB stop funding polluting activities? How can we promote gender equality among ECB decision-makers? And of course, every new job starts with credit, and the trick is: don’t waste it.

That is why, Ms Lagarde, I call upon you to make real progress now that you can. The ECB needs to get in gear to implement the EU taxonomy and avoid activities that do ‘significant harm’. Besides, you should encourage governments to invest substantially in sustainability, reaping the benefits of the low interest rate and pushing that rate upwards, and in that way restore the full potential of monetary policy. Continue confidently along this path, Ms Lagarde, and I have no doubt that the male central bankers will dance to your tune.

 
   
 

  Agnès Evren (PPE). – Monsieur le Président, Madame la Présidente, Monsieur le Commissaire, le rapport annuel sur la Banque centrale européenne 2018 que nous voterons demain en séance plénière sera le premier document que nous vous transmettrons au nom du Parlement européen. J’espère que ces recommandations permettront de servir de base pour un dialogue fréquent avec notre commission des affaires économiques et monétaires.

Dans ce rapport, nous évoquons notamment les enjeux auxquels seront confrontées nos économies, et donc la Banque centrale européenne, dans les années à venir. En janvier, à Davos, lors du Forum économique mondial, vous avez notamment évoqué la nécessité de renforcer la cyber-résilience en Europe. Dans le top 5 des risques mondiaux pour 2020, une cyberattaque de grande ampleur aurait des conséquences considérables pour l’économie européenne.

Il est donc plus urgent que jamais de renouveler l’architecture de coopération européenne et internationale en la matière. Nous devons élaborer des stratégies communes et déployer des efforts coordonnés pour faire face aux risques créés par la transformation numérique.

L’acceptation des risques auxquels nous sommes confrontés est une première étape, mais la prochaine doit être l’action. Nous devons garantir la résistance des infrastructures des marchés financiers et promouvoir la coopération en la matière entre les banques de la zone euro. Je sais, Madame Lagarde, pouvoir compter sur votre fermeté et votre implication pour relever ce défi.

 
   
 

Spontane Wortmeldungen

 
   
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). – Senhor Presidente, como aqui foi reconhecido, as prolongadas medidas não convencionais de política monetária não têm sido suficientes por si só para travar a pronunciada desaceleração económica, além de que tendem a esgotar o seu alcance.

Não sabemos quando virá o próximo pico da crise, mas sabemos que encontrará as economias da periferia da zona euro tão desprotegidas como há uma década. Com um elevado endividamento, ele próprio uma consequência da moeda única, e esgotado o alcance das medidas não convencionais ficará exposta, mais exposta, toda a sua vulnerabilidade, a vulnerabilidade destes países, presos na armadilha do euro, armadilha que impõe políticas, designadamente no plano orçamental, que trava o crescimento, esmaga o investimento e os salários, degrada o aparelho produtivo e os serviços públicos. Os mesmos que dizem ser necessária uma política orçamental favorável ao crescimento tudo fazem para impor o obstinado cumprimento de um pacto de estabilidade em versão revista e reforçada.

Eis a armadilha do euro. Dizem que é preciso aprofundá-la. O que é necessário, porém, é desmontá-la.

 
   
 

  Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, la strada verso una Unione economica e monetaria più solida è piena di questioni ancora irrisolte. Questioni che richiedono sforzi da parte di tutti per la loro soluzione. Dopo alcuni progressi timidi registrati durante la crisi, il ritmo delle riforme è totalmente rallentato. Alcuni progetti, anche se fra i meno controversi, sono stati attuati, ma una proposta fondamentale per completare l’unione bancaria come il sistema europeo di assicurazione universale dei depositi fatica ancora a procedere.

Data la persistente vulnerabilità dell’Eurozona e il completamento dell’EDIS, un pezzo fondamentale per garantire i risparmiatori con un rafforzamento delle misure di riduzione dei rischi, restano una necessità per l’Unione. Andando avanti con l’EDIS potremmo ridurre la frammentazione finanziaria, garantendo un ruolo più ampio ai capitali privati nell’ammortizzare gli shock economici e finanziari.

Ma voglio ribadirlo: insistere solo sulla riduzione del rischio come condizione preliminare per il lancio dell’EDIS è sbagliato. Non si può cercare di ridurre il rischio mettendo ponderazione, ad esempio, sui titoli di Stato. Sarebbe assurdo. Lasceremo un sistema finanziario europeo più fragile e sottoposto all’influenza dei contingenti. Dobbiamo agire subito, il prezzo da pagare sarebbe terribile per rimanere immobili.

 
   
 

  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Mr President, first of all, it is good to see Madame Lagarde here. I congratulate her on her appointment. And, indeed, herself and her predecessor Mr Draghi are to be congratulated on keeping the euro afloat and keeping the European economy in a stable position. Having said that, I want to ask one question in particular.

We have had an election in Ireland and one of the big issues there was in relation to housing. Mr Kelleher referred to the interest rates, but not only the interest rates, but also the rules of borrowing. We have a situation now where people who are well educated, with very good jobs, cannot afford to buy a house.

There are other issues in relation to the supply of housing, but even where the supply is available, this is causing a huge concern for them. And many people are now living with their parents because, while having been well educated, as I said, good jobs, well paid, they cannot afford to buy a house because of the rules implemented by our banks.

Can she offer some leeway in that regard and some hope to those people that what was the norm in the past can apply in the future – you have a good job, you can buy a house?

 
   
 

  Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D). – Señor presidente, señora presidenta Lagarde, vicepresidente Dombrovskis, yo, en primer lugar, quiero trasladar mi apoyo al informe que ha preparado Costas Mavrides, del Grupo Socialista. Creo que es muy completo y contiene los elementos esenciales.

Quizás un elemento adicional, en la línea de lo que también ha señalado el portavoz en la materia del Grupo Socialista, el señor Fernández, es la consideración de nuevos instrumentos. Yo creo que es evidente que, solamente con los tipos ultrabajos y con el programa de compras, va a ser difícil conseguir el objetivo. Es verdad que se necesita el apoyo fiscal, pero el objetivo de inflación del Banco Central Europeo es incondicional; debe tender, debe cumplir su mandato, de manera incondicional.

Tal vez este instrumento, a su consideración, podría ser una transferencia directa a los hogares de la eurozona para impulsar el consumo y alcanzar de esta manera el objetivo de cerca pero debajo del 2 %.

 
   
 

(Ende der spontanen Wortmeldungen)

 
   
 

  Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank. – Mr President, I didn’t know that you had to be standing to address this Assembly, so I offer my apologies for not having done so in the first place and therefore I will align with the rule that you seem to have amongst you. I would like to first of all thank you very much for this dialogue that we had. It’s very much part of what we at the European Central Bank, and more broadly within the euro system, want to actually have with public opinions, with civil society representatives, but more importantly, with those who represent the citizens of Europe: that is you, Members of Parliament, who have been elected by them. This is very much part of the accountability that we have towards you and, through you, to the citizens of Europe. We have conducted a few changes in the last few months, but certainly one of those that I very much look forward to implementing as we go into the strategy review that has been approved last month, is the constant dialogue that we need to have, and what we have called the outreach with you and, through you, with the citizens of Europe. So thank you for that.

I thought I would just touch on some items of our strategy review to address some of the points that you have made. First of all, some of you have touched on the monetary policy and the current components of the instruments that we use in order to implement our policy and have been doing so since 2014. To those who argue that this monetary policy, and particularly its unconventional tools, have been counterproductive, I would very strongly encourage them to look at the impact that those unconventional tools have had on the economy – in which way it has actually increased growth and helped our economies around Europe and the euro area in particular to fare better than it would have had it not been for those instruments that were used as part of the unconventional policy.

It’s obviously very difficult to quantify carefully and precisely by how much growth has been lifted in the euro area, but our models actually indicate that that growth has been probably higher by a margin of about 2.5% to 3% ever since those policies were put in place. In the same vein, it has contributed to inflation which, as you know, ever since the euro was put in place and ever since the strategy was revisited in 2003, is measured with reference to inflation, and clearly those unconventional tools that have been used since 2014 have helped inflation go up a bit. Well, certainly we would have liked it a lot more than that, and maybe this would have been the case if other tools had been used in conjunction with our monetary policy. But be it as it was, certainly inflation has increased by a factor of about half a percentage point probably, which is certainly not bad, given the level where we are. To those who were mentioning, by the way, that inflation was hovering around 1%, I would simply remind you that in January inflation was at about 1.3%, which is certainly not the goal that we have, but certainly a bit more than the 1% that was mentioned.

Those unconventional tools that were used and the instruments that were deployed helped our economies and continue to help our economies. When you look at the volume and the number of new financing that are put in place for the real economy, whether it’s the corporate or whether it’s the households, we are seeing clearly financing that is very low in terms of cost, and I take the point that you made, sir, about the Irish banks and how much they charge and what interest rates they include, and we’ll look into that for sure. But the cost of financing has been low and lower for the real economy. And number two, the volume of financing of the economy has increased and has continued to increase. You will have seen some comments recently about the fact that this continuum is slowing down. Yes, it is a little bit – for the corporate, not for the households – but it is continuing to grow nonetheless. So I would contend that, in the main, it has had a very positive effect on our economies, and as part of our strategy review, we’ll look at how much and how effective it has been. But we will also look, as some of you have mentioned, to the potential side effects and to the accumulated side effects that it could have on citizens and on the economies as well. So that will be very much part and parcel of our review.

The second point that I would like to emphasise briefly, and I’ve focused on the monetary policy tools and how we will look at them and measure them and measure the benefits as well as the negative effect, is climate change. Nobody can ask the European Central Bank to substitute what governments should do and what policies should be in general. As former managing director of the IMF, I think I’d be remiss not to remind all of us that one of the key tools in relation to climate change is clearly the proper pricing of carbon, and this is not something that a European Central Bank or any central bank in the world can actually decide. So as we go through our strategy review, we will determine where and how the issue of climate change and the fight against climate change can actually have an impact on our policies, whether it’s in relation to our price stability primary objective and how it impacts this primary objective, or whether it’s in relation to the management of risk that we are accountable to our European citizens and to you when we look at the composition of our portfolios and the one that we manage, and whether or not risks are actually properly priced and whether the climate change risks associated with some of the collateral that we have in our portfolios, for instance, are measured or not. So in that respect, climate change will be one of the items that we will take into account, together with the more traditional aspects that we will be measuring, and it’s in the context of that strategy review, Mr Vice-President, that we will continue this dialogue, not only with you, but also with the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON). The president of ECON was here and many members of the Committee are present in this room. We will continue to engage: we will have that dialogue, and we want that very much to be a two-way street.

Now, I offer our apologies to those who had very specific questions on particular countries, but I propose to take that up bilaterally with those who are interested in specific countries or banks going forward.

 
   
 

  Costas Mavrides, Rapporteur. – Mr President, I too will be brief. I’d like to note two points. Madame Lagarde, today you have seen that in the European Parliament we can have different views. And a thing about the past, about Mr Draghi. Mr Draghi might not have been perfect, but his legacy was that he was determined to save the eurozone, and in fact I would say that maybe he has also saved the European project. Some people cannot forgive him for that.

As far as today is concerned, though, you rightly said in your initial statement that we basically share the same view about challenges, and I would add that even Mr Dombrovskis and to some extent the Commission shares that same view.

That’s why I would add to that, though, that certain elements, just like what you noted before, are missing. I think that the major challenge for all of us is to deliver – to deliver to the European citizens and to improve their lives in certain specific ways – completion of the Banking Union, completion of the Capital Markets Union, and much more. Therefore it is up to you, Madame Lagarde, and we are going to support you in striving towards a real convergence of the economies. Thank you for being here today with us.

 
   
 

  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Die Abstimmung findet am Mittwoch, 12. Februar 2020, statt.

 
9. The breach of Council Decision 2017/2074 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela – illegal entry on the territory of an EU Member State of a person included in the list of sanctions (debate)
 

  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, the current subject of debate concerns an alleged breach of European Union sanctions currently in force vis-à-vis Venezuela. These were put in place in 2017 as part of the European Union’s efforts to foster a credible and meaningful process that can lead to a peaceful, negotiated solution for the reinstatement of democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela.

These measures include a travel ban and asset freeze regarding 25 individuals, among them the Vice-President of Venezuela, Delcy Eloína Rodríguez Gómez, included on this list having been designated by the European Union on 25 June 2018. A travel ban requires the European Union Member States to take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into, or transit through, their territories by the listed persons.

As you know, there is a division of competences in the area of sanctions within the European Union. First of all, Member States are responsible in all cases for the implementation and verification of sanctions adopted by the European Union in their own jurisdictions. Member States, I repeat, are responsible in all cases for the implementation and verification of sanctions adopted by the European Union. Therefore, when the issue of a possible violation of sanctions arises, for example an assets freeze or, as here, a travel ban, it is for the Member States concerned to investigate and determine whether this has in fact been the case.

With regard to the wider oversight of the implementation of sanctions, the Commission has an overall monitoring role concerning the uniform application of such measures in an area with these competences. For example, this is the case for asset freeze and sectoral measures, but it is not the case for travel bans or arms embargoes. We can discuss the political appropriateness for Member States to give this competence to the European Union, although this would require a treaty change. But the situation, for the time being, is clear. The Commission cannot initiate any infringement procedure regarding a possible travel ban violation. Travel bans are, in practice, only contained in Council decisions and they do not therefore fall under Union law. Consequently, the Commission does not play a role in monitoring the implementation and cannot initiate an infringement procedure.

As High Representative, talking here from the side of the Council, I am also responsible for ensuring the consistent application of the common foreign and security policy, including sanctions adopted by Member States in Council. In this context, the European External Action Service, in consultation with the European Union, where competent, would be directly in touch with the European Union Member States regarding alleged violations in order to ensure that these sanctions are being applied in a homogenous way in all Member States.

 
   
   

VORSITZ: RAINER WIELAND
Vizepräsident

 
   
 

  Dolors Montserrat, en nombre del Grupo PPE. – Señor presidente, Venezuela y la política venezolana han venido a España de la mano de Iglesias y Monedero. No son mis palabras, sino las de Pedro Sánchez, actual presidente del Gobierno de España. Las dijo en el año 2016, y ahora sabemos que para él no era una crítica, sino un elogio. Hoy, Iglesias es el vicepresidente de su gobierno y la política chavista ensucia la imagen de su gobierno.

El Gobierno de Sánchez es quien ha abierto las puertas de Europa al chavismo, porque un ministro socialista, José Luis Ábalos, se reunió con la vicepresidenta del dictador Maduro, Delcy Rodríguez, en territorio español, en suelo europeo, vulnerando el régimen de sanciones que la Unión Europea impone a un régimen totalitario, que pisotea los derechos humanos.

El Gobierno de Sánchez no solo ha incumplido. El Gobierno de Sánchez miente. Cualquier nueva versión sobre el encuentro convierte en mentira la anterior. Ha perdido toda la credibilidad y deben ser las instituciones europeas las que investiguen la verdad.

El venezolano es un pueblo hermano para el español. Por los millones de venezolanos pisoteados por el déspota Maduro, por los millones de venezolanos que han huido de su país, necesitamos conocer la verdad y que se cumpla el régimen de sanciones.

Los españoles y el resto de los europeos, este Parlamento, siempre hemos alzado la voz en defensa de la libertad de Venezuela. Por ello, pedimos al Consejo de la Unión Europea que investigue lo ocurrido, que ayude a esclarecer la verdad y que nunca más se repita un escándalo que avergüenza a Europa.

(La oradora acepta responder a una pregunta formulada con arreglo al procedimiento de la «tarjeta azul» (artículo 171, apartado 8, del Reglamento interno))

 
   
 

  Cristina Maestre Martín De Almagro (S&D), pregunta de «tarjeta azul». – Señor presidente, quisiera preguntarle a la señora Montserrat si ve procedente utilizar el Parlamento Europeo como instrumento para atacar al Gobierno de España, incluso sabiendo que esta Cámara no tiene competencias en lo que usted está trasladando. Si la respuesta es que sí es procedente, tal vez algunos grupos políticos se vean tentados a llevar otros asuntos de interés nacional, sobre los que muchos ciudadanos quieren saber, como, por ejemplo, que por primera vez dos presidentes del Gobierno, Aznar y Rajoy, hayan sido llamados… (el presidente retira la palabra a la oradora).

 
   
 

  Javier Moreno Sánchez, en nombre del Grupo S&D. – Señor presidente, señorías, Dolors, Jordi, en este debate nueve de los diez oradores somos españoles. A los promotores de esta iniciativa les pregunto —además el hemiciclo está casi vacío—: ¿Siguen pensando que este es un debate europeo? ¿No estarán haciendo el ridículo? ¿Piensan seguir utilizando esta Cámara para hacer oposición desleal al Gobierno de España?

Señorías del PPE, de Ciudadanos y de Vox, ustedes son unos irresponsables y unos desleales que están dañando gravemente la imagen de España en este Parlamento. Ustedes no han pensado ni un minuto en el pueblo venezolano, que lo que espera de nosotros es apoyo, diálogo, unidad, y no división y confrontación.

El Gobierno de España ha actuado y actúa como interlocutor reconocido por el Gobierno y la oposición venezolana para conseguir una solución política, democrática y negociada, que conduzca a unas elecciones libres y justas. Y, en ese momento, en ese momento, el Parlamento Europeo actuará enviando una misión electoral.

Por favor, aprendan a trabajar en esta casa y no hagan el ridículo.

(El orador acepta responder a una pregunta formulada con arreglo al procedimiento de la «tarjeta azul» (artículo 171, apartado 8, del Reglamento interno))

 
   
 

  Jordi Cañas, en nombre del Grupo Renew. – Señor presidente, va a ser complicado sobrevolar el barro socialista, pero lo voy a intentar.

A mí, señor Borrell, me hubiera gustado que usted hubiera intervenido como alto representante y no como exministro de Asuntos Exteriores del Gobierno del señor Sánchez. Y le explicaré el porqué. Pues porque este no es un debate nacional. Este es un debate sobre la legitimidad, la credibilidad de la política exterior europea y sobre el respeto a esta Cámara. Yo no sé cómo respetan esta Cámara trayendo aquí este chapapote. Sinceramente, lo lamento muchísimo, lo lamento muchísimo.

Porque el respeto a esta Cámara significa respetar lo que impulsa. Y esta Cámara, por ejemplo, ha pedido redoblar los esfuerzos, redoblar las sanciones contra el régimen de Nicolás Maduro —con su voto, quiero recordar—. Por lo tanto, cuando un Estado miembro decide violar las Resoluciones de esta Cámara está faltando a la legitimidad que tiene esta Cámara y el conjunto de sus instituciones.

¿Cómo van a confiar los demás en la Unión Europea cuando ni los Estados miembros respetan las decisiones adoptadas por esta Cámara y sus instituciones? Tenemos que recordar que esas Resoluciones nos obligan a todos, también a los Estados miembros, al Consejo y, perdone, a la Comisión. Porque la Comisión tiene el rol de velar para que los incumplimientos se sancionen. Es evidente que el Gobierno de España ha faltado a la verdad, es evidente que ha incumplido la decisión adoptada por esta Cámara.

Lo que es evidente es que la Comisión no ha hecho nada. Y es muy sencillo. ¿Notificó el Gobierno al Consejo la excepción al Gobierno del señor Maduro? No, no lo hizo. ¿Está ese documento al alcance de los ciudadanos? No, no lo está. Y a usted no le preocupa… (el presidente retira la palabra al orador).

 
   
 

  Ernest Urtasun, en nombre del Grupo Verts/ALE. – Señor presidente, no hay caso europeo, porque la aplicación de las sanciones y de la decisión del Consejo es una competencia nacional. Lo que hay es que se ha traído aquí un debate que debería estarse produciendo en el Congreso de los Diputados. Y yo quiero pedir perdón al conjunto de señorías por haber ocupado una parte del debate del Parlamento Europeo con un debate que, básicamente, estamos manteniendo nueve españoles entre nosotros, y creo que es bastante lamentable.

Tengo que decir, además, de forma muy honesta, que creo que, haciendo este tipo de cosas, degradamos la imagen de la delegación española en esta casa, y me parece que no deberíamos hacer este tipo de ejercicios —de verdad lo digo y lo digo con toda sinceridad—. Y después me gustaría trasladar un mensaje a los diputados europeos de Renew y del Partido Popular Europeo que hoy no han venido —la gran mayoría, algunos sí; a los que están les respeto mucho— y, en cambio, el lunes decidieron votar celebrar este debate.

¿Qué vamos a hacer a partir de ahora? ¿Cada vez que en algún Estado miembro haya un debate de política nacional vamos a traerlo aquí? ¿En qué vamos a convertir esta Cámara? Yo pido un poco de respeto y de responsabilidad por los trabajos muy serios e importantes que tenemos que hacer aquí, en esta casa.

 
   
 

  Hermann Tertsch, en nombre del Grupo ECR. – Señor presidente, la verdad es que tiene guasa, señor Borrell, que nosotros —el Parlamento, la Comisión, el Consejo—, que estamos haciendo injerencias permanentemente en todas partes, resulta que es una injerencia que reaccionemos a la violación de una decisión de la Unión Europea de imponer sanciones a una serie de criminales que gobiernan en esa mafia comunista y narcotraficante de Venezuela. Tiene guasa que ante eso resulta que nosotros no podemos hacer nada, cuando nos estamos metiendo en la educación de los húngaros, nos estamos metiendo en la justicia de los polacos, etcétera, etcétera.

Y, por otra parte, por Dios, no digamos que esto es un debate español. Esto es un debate sobre el respeto de las reglas de la Unión Europea, que han sido violadas groseramente por un gobierno socialcomunista que tenemos en España desde hace un mes y que ya ha hecho una cita clandestina con un régimen criminal en territorio español, quién sabe para qué, quién sabe con qué condiciones y quién sabe con qué razones oscuras.

 
   
 

  Idoia Villanueva Ruiz, en nombre del Grupo GUE/NGL. – Señor presidente, miren, es absolutamente grotesco e irresponsable el uso que se hace, una y otra vez, del pueblo de Venezuela. Solo les deja en evidencia —bastante poco les importan a ustedes los venezolanos y las venezolanas—. Venezuela es un país dividido. Lo que necesita es responsabilidad; necesita que acabemos con las sanciones que sufre el pueblo, que apoyemos el diálogo, la negociación y que se puedan celebrar elecciones con garantías.

Veíamos al señor Tertsch mandar un mensaje a todo el Parlamento Europeo diciendo que en España creaba una enorme ansiedad con quién se encuentra el ministro de nuestro país. ¿En serio? ¿De verdad? ¿Ansiedad? Ansiedad, señor Tertsch, genera el poder dar un futuro a nuestros jóvenes; ansiedad generan los agricultores que no están recibiendo precios justos; ansiedad generan los cortes de luz en Granada por parte de multinacionales como Endesa que se saltan los derechos fundamentales. Pero poco les veo yo a ustedes defender los derechos de los españoles y las españolas frente a esas élites.

Ustedes criminalizan el diálogo, alientan a rebeliones armadas. Y yo les digo solo una cosa. Nuestro país, España, es mucho mejor que el blanco y negro con el que ustedes lo quieren pintar. Nuestro país tiene futuro y lo va a llevar adelante nuestra gente.

 
   
 

  Mónica Silvana González (S&D). – Señor presidente, efectivamente, este no es un debate europeo, este es un debate que se debe discernir en el Congreso español. Están ustedes haciendo el ridículo y, por mucho que se pongan todos juntos, son los que son. Son una minoría que no alcanzan a construir una mayoría en el Parlamento español.

Yo también pido disculpas al resto de diputados por tener que soportar un debate que debería haberse producido en el Congreso de España. Obedece a que su fuerza política no tiene más que diez diputados; su fuerza política va a desaparecer, porque todas las estadísticas, todas las encuestas, dicen justamente que son insignificantes. Así que, señor Cañas, señorías del Partido Renew, señorías de Ciudadanos, traigan a este Parlamento soluciones constructivas para aliviar el dolor del pueblo venezolano.

Les invito a que vengan a la Comisión de Desarrollo y busquemos juntos soluciones para paliar el dolor con ayuda humanitaria y desarrollo para el pueblo venezolano.

Señorías, aquí no hay caso, porque la vicepresidenta de Venezuela no estuvo en territorio Schengen. Por lo tanto, no cruzó ningún filtro de pasaporte. ¿Creen ustedes que esto aporta algo para aliviar el dolor del pueblo venezolano? El Gobierno de España continuará, liderado por Pedro Sánchez, buscando una solución democrática… (el presidente retira la palabra a la oradora).

 
   
 

  Ibán García Del Blanco (S&D), pregunta de «tarjeta azul». – Señora Charanzová, quería preguntarle a su señoría, que se lamentaba profundamente de que esto se hubiera transformado en un debate español, que qué esperaba. Si, al final, evidentemente, esto es un asunto de política nacional, que se va a dirimir, además, en el Congreso de España, que tiene un debate previsto para los próximos días. Al final, aquí, simplemente se trata de la imposibilidad de un Grupo que no acaba de encontrar su espacio político y que, de alguna manera, quiere saber qué es lo que tiene que hacer y cuáles son las competencias de cada uno de los parlamentos ¿No se siente usted engañada por sus compañeros de Ciudadanos?

 
   
 

  Javi López (S&D). – Señor presidente, sin duda, lo que está en juego es la credibilidad de la Unión Europea. La credibilidad de esta Cámara, que se dedica ahora a fiscalizar la labor de los gobiernos nacionales. Porque esto es lo que hoy estamos debatiendo aquí.

No es que hoy Borrell haya dicho que, competencialmente, son los Estados miembros y los gobiernos los que aplican las sanciones. Es que lo han dicho una docena de portavoces durante las últimas semanas. Una Comisión Europea que, por cierto, tiene miembros del Partido Popular Europeo y de los liberales —que les han repetido una y otra vez el mismo mensaje—. Y, además, hoy merece la pena recordar que, este debate, ¿qué es lo que nos muestra? Que a ustedes les importa poco España y nada Venezuela. Lamentablemente, ustedes traen aquí el debate para tapar sus problemas a la hora de fiscalizar y hacer su labor en el Congreso de los Diputados.

Los socialistas continuamos comprometidos con Venezuela, y no con el uso político del dolor de los venezolanos, que es lo que ustedes hacen aquí una y otra vez. El dolor de un pueblo como el de Venezuela no es un arma arrojadiza y menos para hacer política nacional aquí en el Parlamento Europeo.

(El orador se niega a que Hermann Tertsch le formule una pregunta con arreglo al procedimiento de la «tarjeta azul»)

 
   
 

  Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D). – Señor presidente, soy canario, próximo al pueblo venezolano, que incluye a los descendientes de la comunidad canaria en Venezuela.

He participado en todos los debates sobre Venezuela y advertí al alto representante Borrell de que no habría Pleno sin un debate sobre Venezuela. He votado las Resoluciones que intentan apoyar el cambio democrático en Venezuela y que exigen la unidad del Parlamento Europeo.

Pero esto no es un debate sobre Venezuela, ni sobre el sufrimiento del pueblo venezolano. Ni siquiera es un debate sobre España. Es un debate traído por quienes se oponen al Gobierno de España, porque están en minoría en el Congreso de los Diputados y pretenden, por tanto, banalizar, multiplicando los debates sobre Venezuela, la posición del Parlamento Europeo, haciéndole daño también al Parlamento Europeo y a su credibilidad, que tanto invocan.

Porque nada perjudica tanto la credibilidad de las Resoluciones del Parlamento Europeo como la desunión en el Parlamento Europeo, intentando criticar al Gobierno de España a propósito del sufrimiento del pueblo de Venezuela. Por tanto, señores del Partido Popular y de Ciudadanos, no hagan el ridículo ni rayen en lo grotesco. Ayuden al pueblo venezolano en lugar de traer aquí un debate que no tiene otro objetivo que criticar al Gobierno de España.

 
   
 

  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). – Senhor Presidente, se preciso fosse ainda, este debate descredibiliza, ainda mais, a direita mais reacionária e descabelada deste Parlamento. O ódio que os move leva-os agora a transportar a política espanhola aqui, para o Parlamento. No fundo, tudo serve para alimentar esta sanha irracional.

Uma sanha que omite as consequências desumanas das sanções que continuam a defender, para o povo venezuelano e para as comunidades imigrantes na Venezuela, designadamente a comunidade portuguesa. Uma sanha que expõe, que os expõe, aliás, como à União Europeia, ao ridículo internacional pelo não reconhecimento de um Governo sucessivamente sufragado pelo voto popular e pela insistência no apoio a um fantoche de Trump, que perdeu qualquer crédito, mesmo junto da oposição venezuelana.

E, enfim, quem assim age, movido pelo ódio, e só pelo ódio, acaba, inevitavelmente, a tropeçar nos próprios pés, como aqui ficou demonstrado neste debate.

 
   
 

  Sira Rego (GUE/NGL). – Señor presidente, yo no sé ustedes, pero, con este debate, yo tengo la sensación de estar ante el berrinche de un niño al que se le ha roto un juguete. Solo así se puede entender que el grupo parlamentario que más representación ha perdido en las elecciones generales en mi país se empeñe en mantener abierto un debate que hasta la propia Comisión Europea entiende que está cerrado.

La verdad es que es lamentable ver que, mientras nuestro gobierno hace un esfuerzo porque les vaya bien a las familias trabajadoras —subiendo el salario mínimo interprofesional, reforzando los servicios públicos, luchando contra la ludopatía—, ustedes se dedican, aquí y en otros lugares, a lo mismo, al chascarrillo, al veto fanático y a hacer piña con sus amigos de la extrema derecha. Yo les pediría que nos hicieran un favor y nos ahorraran a todos y a todas este bochorno, ahora y en el futuro, y sugeriría un poquito más de responsabilidad y un poquito más de trabajo por los intereses de nuestro pueblo.

 
   
 

  Clare Daly (GUE/NGL). – Mr President, I think it’s an absolute joke, actually, that we are here discussing this nonsense. I’ve been very open in my criticism of the Spanish Government in different situations, so now, when they do something that’s correct, I will be equally forthright in welcoming the initiative that they took, and in their stance in supporting dialogue in this situation. How else do you think that this situation is going to be resolved!

We should be discussing here, actually, the situation where we have supported the imaginary president Juan Guaidó, the chosen one of a nakedly US-backed coup, a defeated attempt, a crowd who have been exposed for embezzling the humanitarian aid and squandering it. We should be dealing here with the impact of the sanctions on the people of Venezuela, the hardship that that has caused, the difficulties there. That is not something that any of us should be standing over – we should be working to end that nightmare. I salute the efforts that have been taken, and I condemn the initiatives taken here to derail that project.

 
   
 

(Ende der spontanen Wortmeldungen)

 
   
 

  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vicepresidente de la Comisión / Alto Representante de la Unión para Asuntos Exteriores y Política de Seguridad. – Señor presidente, en efecto, se trata de sanciones europeas. Pero, de acuerdo con las normas europeas, la implementación de estas sanciones y la vigilancia de las mismas corresponde a los Estados miembros. Eso también es una norma europea. ¿O no lo es? Para cambiarla haría falta cambiar el Tratado.

Ustedes saben —o deberían saber perfectamente— que esta clase de restricciones a los viajes son decisiones del Consejo y, por lo tanto, no caen bajo el control de la ley europea, no son Union law. Puede que a un ciudadano normal, un ciudadano que no es un experto en estas cuestiones, le pueda sorprender, pero a ustedes no les debería sorprender. ¿Por qué les sorprende? Es la decisión del Consejo y, como tal, no es Union law. Y, en consecuencia, la Comisión no tiene ningún papel en controlar su aplicación y no puede iniciar un procedimiento de infracción.

Ustedes son eurodiputados. Ustedes deben saber eso, ¿no? ¿Les sorprende? Les sorprende. Pues tendrán ustedes que estudiar un poco más, porque no les debería sorprender. Que una decisión del Consejo no es Union law, eso lo saben ustedes de sobra, y, por lo tanto, la Comisión Europea no puede intervenir ni puede iniciar un procedimiento de infracción. Y también, de acuerdo con nuestras normas, hemos dicho que son los Estados miembros quienes tienen que vigilar su implementación.

Entonces, se trata de una norma europea que tiene que aplicar un Estado miembro y cuya aplicación tiene que ser controlada a nivel del Estado miembro. ¿Dónde está el fallo lógico en mi argumento? Porque, si yo no tengo fallo lógico, lo tienen ustedes.

 
   
 

  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

 
10. US Middle East plan: EU response in line with international law (debate)
 

  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, I am really grateful for having this opportunity to address you today on the Middle East peace process. This issue is of fundamental strategic importance to the European Union. For too long, we have been witnessing a conflict that has caused endless suffering for generations of Israelis and Palestinians alike. The increasingly dire situation on the ground, including violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion – illegal, by the way – and the consequences of the ongoing occupation, has destroyed hope on both sides and reduced the viability of a two-state solution.

At an international level for a number of years there has been little or no substantive engagement in efforts to resolve the conflict. Indeed, as one observer pointed out to me recently, there is neither peace nor a process. In recent years, we on the European Union side are perhaps the only actor who has stayed the course. We have been vocal in our support for a negotiated two-state solution based on the internationally agreed parameters and in accordance with international law. This means a two-state solution based on the parameters set in the Council Conclusions – our Council – of July 2014, that meets Israeli and Palestinian security needs and Palestinian aspirations for statehood and sovereignty, ends the occupation that began in 1967, and resolves all permanent status issues in order to end the conflict.

Our vision, our European vision, is a principled one and a pragmatic one. It reflects our broader attachment as Europeans to the rules-based international order. We are also active on the ground. No other international actor has been as engaged as we have been in practical efforts to build a future Palestinian state. In 2019 alone, the European Union and its Member States had an open portfolio of some 600 million in assistance to the Palestinians. I said during my hearing: it means – 600 million is almost EUR 1.5 million a day.

Where are we today? It remains my firm view that there is still a way forward if both parties are willing to resume credible and meaningful negotiations. International support for any such efforts would clearly be crucial to their success. In this regard, the tabling of concrete proposals, such as the United States one, could be helpful, both as a catalyst for deeper reflection on the way forward and as a potential opportunity to quick-start a political process which has been at a standstill for too long.

However, as I have said, the proposal tabled two weeks ago clearly challenges the internationally-agreed parameters, and it is difficult to see how this initiative can bring both parties back to the table. 25 out of 27 Member States in the Foreign Affairs Council supported this consideration. Two were against, so it was not a unanimous decision of the Council and I could not present it like this, but as a statement of the High Representative, which I am repeating here again.

Last week I was in Washington; they were very busy days, talking with all foreign affairs external policy higher authorities of the US Government. I put this point to my interlocutors. We need to ask ourselves whether this plan provides a basis for progress or not. We need to know whether the proposals themselves are really open for negotiation. Is it the starting point, or the end point? For the European Union’s part, our position is clear. We are ready to work with the international community to revive a political process in line with international law, which ensures equal rights and which is acceptable to both parties. Thank you for your attention and I am looking forward to an important discussion, which I’m sure will follow.

 
   
 

  Anna-Michelle Asimakopoulou, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, I would say the following to Mr Borrell.

Mr Borrell, you stated that the United States Middle East peace plan departs from internationally agreed parameters. You also used rather pointed language originally when you said that part of this plan, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged. Naturally this evoked a reaction from our Israeli friends, who warned that this type of – what they called – ‘threatening’ language could lead to the EU’s role in the peace process being minimised. Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership has angrily dismissed President Trump’s plan as a conspiracy.

I think it’s frankly unreasonable to expect that either side would greet this proposal with any real enthusiasm, but I would like to choose to view the glass as half full and not half empty. So this plan could perhaps serve as a basis for resuming talks in earnest with the understanding that there are, in fact, painful concessions to be made on both sides. This is your moment to shine, Mr Borrell. Europe could perhaps assume a much more prominent role, an active role, as an honest broker of just and lasting peace. It could encourage both sides to consider the plan as a starting point for reopening meaningful goodwill negotiations.

 
   
 

  Kati Piri, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, we do not know what President Trump’s deal of the century actually is apart from being one-sided, illegal and intentionally provocative, but it is most certainly not a genuine effort at finding a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Let me be clear, negotiations between Israel and Palestine were broken off in 2014 and must be resumed as soon as possible. But that is not what this plan will lead to. This plan disregards the international rules-based order. It not only normalises illegal settlements but also clears the way for the utterly illegitimate annexation of the Jordan Valley and 30% of the West Bank. We must make clear that such actions will have serious consequences for our relationship with Israel if that happens. Inevitably, it will also lead to more suffering for the Palestinian people, whether that is because their land is annexed, their water resources are taken or because they lack control over their own borders. This is a cynical plan of two far-right leaders seeking a cheap popularity boost ahead of elections. This is a slap in the face of Israelis and Palestinians who genuinely want to find a solution. I therefore call on you, Mr High Representative, to continue supporting all efforts that truly involve both parties. The people of Israel and Palestine need a real peace plan and if we, as Europeans, can play a constructive role in that, we should do so.

 
   
 

  Hilde Vautmans, namens de Renew-Fractie. – Voorzitter, geachte hoge vertegenwoordiger, wij zijn de afgelopen weken weer eens meegezogen in een Trumpiaanse rabbit hole: een tweestatenoplossing voor Israël en Palestina, met alle voordelen voor Israël en de kruimels voor de Palestijnen. Trumps plan was eigenlijk niet meer dan een eenstaatplan voor Israël, vermomd als tweestatenoplossing. Een gemiste kans, zou je zeggen, ware het niet dat Trumps voorstel de fragiele relatie tussen Israël en Palestina nu helemaal heeft doen afspringen.

Daarom, mijnheer Borrell, is er meer dan ooit een rol voor de Europese Unie weggelegd. Amerika heeft de voorbije jaren veel te eenzijdig de Israëlische kaart getrokken. De geloofwaardigheid van de VS in het Midden-Oosten ligt aan diggelen. Een geloofwaardigheid die u, die Europa nog wel heeft. Gebruik deze geloofwaardigheid dus, door op te treden als onpartijdige partner, als honest broker, om als het ware de door Trump gemaakte brokken te lijmen, zodat Israël en Palestina opnieuw aan tafel gaan of zodat er op zijn minst indirecte onderhandelingen kunnen plaatsvinden.

En laten wij duidelijk maken dat onze Europese rode lijnen breed gedragen zijn door de internationale gemeenschap. Ik denk, meneer Borrell, dat een internationale vredesconferentie op hoog niveau waarvan u de leiding neemt, de weg vooruit is. Onze steun heeft u alvast.

 
   
 

  Anna Bonfrisco, a nome del gruppo ID. – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, egregio Vicepresidente e anche Alto rappresentante, questa è una discussione particolarmente delicata. Come Unione europea abbiamo l’obbligo di chiarire la nostra posizione, soprattutto perché Belgio, Estonia e Germania, come membri non permanenti, stanno affiancando la Francia nel Consiglio di sicurezza delle Nazioni Unite.

Essendo poi avvenuta la Brexit, siamo chiamati a esercitare un’azione di politica estera che sia allo stesso tempo nuova e prospettica, in una geopolitica da XXI secolo, che passa dalla tutela della sicurezza europea, dal grande tema dell’immigrazione, dall’energia, dal cambiamento climatico, dal 5G fino agli investimenti europei in quei paesi.

Il trattato di Lisbona le attribuisce la promozione della pace e della sicurezza nel mondo. E per questo, con riguardo al Medio Oriente, la invito a considerare principalmente tre elementi: la minaccia esistenziale allo Stato di Israele è viva più che mai, e questo è inaccettabile. Israele è primariamente uno Stato nazione ebraico. Noi europei, nella nostra radice più profonda, siamo ebrei. Non perda, signor Alto rappresentante, la sua più importante occasione di dimostrare da che parte sta l’Europa.

 
   
 

  Reinhard Bütikofer, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, a great number of victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have long been languishing for a peace plan. Such a peace plan must, of course, include painful concessions, but concessions from both sides. It must include security for Israel, but it must also include a viable sovereign, contiguous state for the Palestinians living side by side with the Israelis.

This is not what Trump is presenting to us. It’s not a fresh start, it’s a dead end. The so—called peace plan is neither about peace, because it doesn’t overcome it prolongs the conflict, nor is it a plan as a point of departure for negotiations. It’s rather a dictate. When they talk about a peace plan they are effectively pushing for annexation – and a two-state solution is different from one state plus one canton. We cannot …

(The President cut off the speaker)

 
   
 

  Charlie Weimers, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, High Representative Mr Borrell, you called on both sides to reengage and refrain from any unilateral actions that would exacerbate tensions. This is a peace plan widely accepted in Israel, but fully rejected on the Palestinian side. Fine, but Palestinians will not even sit down at the table. Many in the Palestinian population prefer violence.

In fact, last month, Palestinian NGOs refused EU funding rules prohibiting our aid to be channelled to terrorist groups. In their refusal, these NGOs, 70% funded by the EU, are calling what they believe to be your bluff. High Representative, show them that the EU means business; encourage long-term re-engagement and easing of tensions; say a thousand times: no, no, no to EU funding Palestinian rejectionist and terrorist policies.

(Applause from certain quarters)

 
   
 

  Manu Pineda, en nombre del Grupo GUE/NGL. – Señor presidente, el tándem Trump-Netanyahu, en un alarde de cinismo sin precedentes, ha presentado lo que ellos han calificado como el «gran acuerdo del siglo». Pero no es legítimo hablar de acuerdo cuando una de las partes afectadas, el pueblo palestino, ni ha sido consultado ni ha firmado ningún tipo de pacto.

Esta parodia no es legal, porque vulnera el Derecho internacional e infinidad de resoluciones de las Naciones Unidas. Así que, si esto ni es acuerdo, ni es legal, ni es legítimo, no se puede llamar el «gran acuerdo del siglo». Podríamos llamarlo la «gran estafa del siglo», que tiene como objetivo acabar con el pueblo palestino y, además, tapar las vergüenzas de dos criminales perseguidos en sus distintos países. Podríamos hablar de eso y sería más acertado.

El señor Borrell hizo recientemente un pronunciamiento que me parece que es excelente, y quiero desde aquí felicitarle y agradecérselo. Pero creo que es el momento, señor Borrell, de pasar a los hechos. Es necesario su pronunciamiento, pero es necesario que en un momento como este la Unión Europea rompa el Acuerdo de Asociación con Israel y reconozca al Estado… (el presidente retira la palabra al orador).

 
   
 

  Sven Mikser (S&D). – Mr President, it is hard to regard the most recent US peace plan as credible since it does not meet the principal parameters for peace. It is not fair and even-handed, it does not follow the basic principles of international law and its drafters only managed to engage one of the two parties to the conflict.

Whatever domestic political ends in the US or in Israel the plan’s launch may have served, its chances of revitalising the peace process are, unfortunately, virtually non-existent. Moreover, if Israel, following Palestinian rejection of the plan, were to restart settlement activity or go on to annex parts of the occupied territories, it may be entirely counterproductive to sustainable peace and eventually prove detrimental to the two- state solution altogether. The EU must stick to its principal position of holding firm to international law. We must continue to uphold the position that only a negotiated two-state solution can, in a sustainable manner, address the legitimate Israeli security concerns and deliver a Palestinian statehood.

But, in addition to having a clear and principled understanding of where we need to be at the end of the process, the EU also needs a credible plan of its own on how to get there from where we are today. This is ever more critical as the US appears to be abandoning its role as an even-handed broker.

 
   
 

  Bernard Guetta (Renew). – Monsieur le Président, comme il a tort! Comme M. Trump se trompe avec ce plan de paix qui n’en a que le nom, car enfin la paix, Monsieur le Président, n’est pas seulement celle des rapports de force. La paix, Monsieur le Président, doit être fondée sur assez d’équité pour assurer un avenir d’entente et non pas seulement de coexistence.

Entre Israël et la Palestine, il n’y aura de paix durable et vraie qu’à cette condition: l’équité. Et ce n’est pas elle que vous proposez. Alors, nous ne vous appuierons pas, nous ne vous suivrons pas, mais continuerons à dire à nos voisins et amis israéliens et palestiniens que Jérusalem doit être la capitale partagée de deux peuples égaux en dignité, sécurité et bien-être. Les aveugles diront que ce n’est plus possible, car les faits accomplis primeraient. Mais le réalisme, le vrai, commande de s’en tenir à l’utopie de la justice, celle qui, toujours, finit et doit finir par triompher.

 
   
 

  Margrete Auken (Verts/ALE). – Hr. formand! Tak til hr. Borrell for den klare erklæring om Israels ulovlige besættelse af Palæstina. De har både ret og pligt til at sige sådan, uanset hvad for eksempel Ungarn måtte mene. Hvis EU passivt lader Israels besættelse ekspandere, bryder vi ikke bare FN’s, men også vore egne love. Jeg vil imidlertid godt vide, hvad der konkret menes med, at annekteringer ikke vil forblive “unchallenged”. Forhåbentlig at EU omsider reagerer med handling, ikke kun med ord.

I 2016 vedtog FN’s sikkerhedsråd resolution 2334. Den omfatter også “differentiation”, altså en adskillelse mellem Israel og bosættelserne. Vi bør derfor gøre “differentiation” til EU’s styrende princip og stoppe al samkvem med bosættelserne om handel, økonomi, kultur osv. Og så har vores høje repræsentant myndighed til ikke blot at fordømme Israels ødelæggelse af EU’s betalte projekter, til at lindre palæstinensernes liv, men også til at kræve kompensation. Israel har ødelagt for millioner. De penge skal tilbage til EU’s skatteborgere. Men tak for indsatsen indtil nu.

 
   
 

  Mounir Satouri (Verts/ALE). – Monsieur le Président, le plan pour le Moyen-Orient de l’administration Trump est un pas en arrière dangereux et une étape de plus dans la négation du droit international. Ce n’est pas un accord, mais la validation de la politique du fait accompli d’Israël. Une vision unilatérale du conflit que vous avez le mérite, Monsieur Borrell, d’avoir condamnée.

On se contente décidément de bien peu face à la gravité des faits. Puisque les États membres sont incapables d’unanimité pour appeler au respect des résolutions des Nations unies, faisons respecter le droit avec les moyens qui sont les nôtres. D’abord, exigeons d’Israël qu’il compense ou restitue ces destructions de projets financés par l’Union. Pas moins de 97 structures sont concernées, pour une valeur de 500 000 euros en 2019. Approfondissons la politique de différenciation entre les frontières internationales reconnues d’Israël et les colonies. Condamnons clairement l’institutionnalisation des discriminations. Enfin, j’allais dire, et surtout, remettons sur la table, comme le demandent les Palestiniens, une conférence internationale pour la paix au Moyen-Orient.

 
   
 

  Tanja Fajon (S&D). – Spoštovani gospod predsednik, Trumpov tako imenovani mirovni načrt za Bližnji vzhod je prevara, je umazana igra in je udarec mednarodnemu pravu proti prizadevanjem pri iskanju mirovne rešitve za enega najbolj perečih vprašanj Bližnjega vzhoda. Miru, zato ne bo.

Načrt ameriškega predsednika je še en korak na poti do uveljavitve popolnega apartheid režima, ki ga Izrael že izvaja nad Palestinci in v praksi povsem onemogoča vzpostavitev suverene in sploh mogoče palestinske države. Trump se očitno ne zaveda, da miru na Bližnjem vhodu, predvsem za Izrael, ne bo mogoče doseči brez rešitve izraelsko-palestinskega konflikta. Zato vas, spoštovani Borell, podpiram pri vztrajanju pri mednarodnem pravu in boju proti nezakoniti priključitvi Zahodnega brega in doline reke Jordan Izraelu.

Evropa bi morala takoj prepovedati uvoz izdelkov, proizvedenih v nezakonitih judovskih naselbinah, ter ustaviti vse evropske investicije. Izraelski dostop do programov Unije pa nujno pogojiti z napredkom v mirovnem procesu.

 
   
 

  Ernest Urtasun (Verts/ALE). – Señor presidente, el plan de Trump supone una voladura del consenso internacional sobre el conflicto israelopalestino. Está basado en la unilateralidad, en la anexión, en la desigualdad de derechos, en el desprecio del Derecho internacional y provocará una ocupación perpetua y un conflicto permanente. Como decía mi colega anteriormente, no es un plan de paz, es un dictado.

Ante ello, quiero agradecer el comunicado valiente del alto representante sobre la materia y también decir que es el momento de defender los consensos básicos internacionales en materia de este conflicto: que queremos un proceso político negociado, una solución de dos Estados, el respeto del Derecho internacional y la igualdad de derechos. Y para ello creo que los Estados miembros, para mantener y seguir manteniendo viva la esperanza de una solución con dos Estados, deben empezar a considerar seriamente el reconocimiento de Palestina como Estado para hacer que ello sea posible.

Y, finalmente, quisiera pedir al alto representante —y eso es muy importante en estos momentos— que la política de diferenciación entre las fronteras del 67 y las anexiones ilegales de territorio por parte de Israel sea mantenida por parte de la Unión Europea.

 
   
 

  Brando Benifei (S&D). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, mi unisco a molti colleghi nel condannare e rigettare fermamente il piano proposto da Trump per la soluzione della questione israelo-palestinese, un puro atto di propaganda elettorale a favore di Netanyahu, il quale da mesi cerca di recuperare una solida maggioranza e sviare l’attenzione dai suoi processi per corruzione, e un atto di propaganda per Trump stesso, che cerca di mostrarsi un leader mondiale di grande influenza.

Il piano è inaccettabile. Nessuna consultazione dei palestinesi, l’annessione della Cisgiordania, Gerusalemme capitale esclusiva di Israele: questi sono solo alcuni punti dell’accordo che viola il diritto internazionale praticamente in ogni modo possibile.

Penso che abbia fatto bene, quindi, signor Alto rappresentante a rigettarlo con fermezza e ribadire la posizione europea per una soluzione a due Stati sulla base dei confini del ’67. Ha fatto bene ad avvertire che qualsiasi atto di annessione avrà gravi conseguenze. È ora di cominciare a dirlo, non può l’Europa essere condiscendente. Noi non staremo mai in silenzio davanti alla negazione della storia e del diritto internazionale.

 
   
 

  Tonino Picula (S&D). – Poštovani predsjedavajući, nijedan mirovni plan ne može uspjeti ako nema podršku svih sukobljenih strana, a način na koji je objavljen ovaj plan najviše govori o političkim slabostima dvojice lidera koji su ga predstavili.

Plan je izraz unilateralne politike trenutne američke administracije i kroničnog odbacivanja multilateralizma. Sjetimo se Pariškog sporazuma, odnosa prema Kurdima, uloge u Siriji, sporazuma s Iranom. Određeni elementi koji su predstavljeni kao veliki ustupci zapravo su već dogovoreni tijekom ranijih pregovora i pokušaja pronalaska rješenja. Posebno zabrinjavaju dijelovi plana koji se odnose na Jordansku dolinu i dijelove Zapadne obale.

Ovaj prijedlog samo demonstrira dubinu razlika između suprotstavljenih dionika. Svi uključeni trebaju se suzdržati od jednostranih poteza i iskreno se uključiti u istinske pregovore o pronalasku trajnog rješenja, a ono je dvije neovisne, demokratski konsolidirane suverene države, koje će omogućiti miran i siguran suživot ljudi s obje strane granice. Takvo rješenje mora, naravno, biti utemeljeno na međunarodnom pravu.

 
   
 

Spontane Wortmeldungen

 
   
 

  Milan Zver (PPE). – Gospod predsednik, pozdravljam Trumpov bližnjevzhodni mirovni predlog, predvsem zaradi tega, ker je uravnotežen, nekaj dobijo Izraelci, zagotovilo za mir in varnost, nekaj pa tudi Palestinci, in to svojo državo.

Demokratske države so več ali manj ta predlog podprle, vse tiste druge, ki to niso, pa so ga zavrnile skupaj s Palestinci, ki jim očitno ta status quo ustreza in nočejo miru. Tudi Iran je to zavrnil, ta predlog. Vprašal bi gospoda Borella, ki je nedavno bil v Iranu, ali ste se z oblastmi v Iranu pogovarjali o tem predlogu? In drugič, ali ste režim opozorili na drastične kršitve človekovih pravic v tej državi? In pa tretjič, zakaj ste sploh bili tam glede na to, da samo pomagate legitimirati režim, ki drastično krši človekove pravice?

 
   
 

  Domènec Ruiz Devesa (S&D). – Señor presidente, señor alto representante, Josep Borrell. Yo respaldo el comunicado que ha emitido. Me parece importante también en términos procedimentales para superar los bloqueos que se dan a menudo en el Consejo por solamente uno o dos países. Y sobre la materia, que es la propuesta de paz del presidente Trump, no voy a repetir lo que ha dicho usted y lo que ha dicho la mayoría de los oradores sobre los problemas que presenta y que, por tanto, es impracticable.

Pero, también, algunas señorías han aludido a la necesidad de que haya una alternativa europea. Si bien no una propuesta detallada como la que ha presentado el señor Trump, quizás algún tipo de iniciativa procedimental en el sentido de una nueva conferencia de paz sobre Oriente Medio —como la que en su día tuvo lugar en Madrid en el año 1991— y, si no es posible en este momento, empezar a trabajar para que se den las condiciones para que se pueda realizar.

 
   
 

  Nicolae Ştefănuță (Renew). – Domnule președinte, domnule Înalt Reprezentant Borrell, în ultimele decenii de negocieri pentru pace în regiune, întreaga comunitate internațională a afirmat importanța promovării unui plan bazat pe principiile dreptului internațional. Orice plan de pace este binevenit, atât timp cât este în conformitate cu aceste principii, este incluziv și propune existența a două state, două state pentru două popoare, care să coexiste în pace și în securitate. În lipsa unui astfel de plan, status quo-ul actual se va menține, din păcate. Nu putem grăbi oportunist ceea ce pentru decenii a trenat în durere. De aceea, vreau să menționez ideea colegei Vautmans, potrivit căreia o conferință de pace multilaterală, care să asigure un format incluziv, unde să fim și noi la masă, este direcția în care trebuie să mergem.

 
   
 

  Beata Kempa (ECR). – Panie Przewodniczący! Przysłuchiwałam się dzisiaj tej debacie: z jednej strony zwolennicy planu pana prezydenta Trumpa, a z drugiej strony przeciwnicy tego planu. Bardzo mało konkretów, a tam rozgrywają się dramaty. Każdy, kto był chociażby w Jerozolimie, rozmawiał, wie, że tych dramatów jest bardzo wiele i że tak naprawdę dorasta nowe pokolenie, które znowu możemy nazwać pokoleniem straconym, bo jest przygotowywane do tego, jak ze sobą walczyć, a nie jak ze sobą współistnieć po obu stronach.

Panie Przedstawicielu, Pan powiedział, że odbył Pan bardzo wiele rozmów z partnerami w Stanach Zjednoczonych. Proszę powiedzieć, z kim Pan odbył te rozmowy i jakie są konkluzje tych rozmów. Plan konstruktywny jest bardzo potrzebny. Każdy, kto o takim planie myśli i przedstawia konstrukcje, propozycje, może nas przybliżyć wreszcie do tego, żeby w tym regionie nastąpił pokój. Dlatego myślę Panie Przedstawicielu, że… (Przewodniczący odebrał mówczyni głos)

 
   
 

(Ende der spontanen Wortmeldungen)

 
   
 

  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, I would like to thank all of you. We know this is a very divisive issue. It is in the Council and it is in the Parliament. But I would like to remind you that I’m not expressing my personal opinion. My job is to be the High Representative of the Council and I have to represent what I think is the opinion of the Council.

Mr Zver, I haven’t said that this statement was the position of the European Union. I precisely said – and you should have listened to me – that since it was not unanimous – and it is in the records – I could not present an agreement of the Council. It was a statement of the High Representative, representing whom? Representing the 25 Member States who agreed with the statement. I said very clearly – you didn’t notice – so I will repeat it. It was not a statement of the European Union. It was a statement of the High Representative and was not unanimous.

Mr Zver, why did I go to Iran? Because I have a mandate – a unanimous mandate – from the Member States of the Council asking me to go and talk with everyone in the broader region of the far Middle East to try to see if there is any possibility for us, the European Union, to contribute to increasing stability and peace in the region. I have a mandate to go and talk to everybody. Everybody means everybody, and I have been talking with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia, I went to Jordan, I have been talking with the Emirates, I went to Tehran and I will go to Iraq in order to have a look at what we Europeans can do in order to contribute, if we can, to the peace and stability of this region.

I am sorry, Mr Zver. I was confused. It was not you who spoke about what was or was not in the statement of the European Union. I think it was our colleague, Mr Ruissen. Sorry, I made a mistake. So my answer was directed to Mr Ruissen. My answer to you was relating to what I did in Iran. For sure we talked with the Iranians about everything that worries them and that worries us, but the main purpose was to ask what we can do in order to save the nuclear deal and what we can do in order to stabilise the region. We didn’t spend much time talking about the Israeli—Palestinian issue because the Iranians are very much aware that they have nothing to say on that problem.

Another Member – I think it was Ms Kempa – asked with whom I have been talking in the USA. Well, with the most prominent people, with Secretary of State Pompeo, with the National Security Advisor, Mr O’Brien, with Mr Kushner, the author of the plan, and with Ms Nancy Pelosi. And for sure the first three were very much in favour of their plan, while Ms Nancy Pelosi, who as you know is a Democrat, was very critical of it.

As I say, I am not expressing my opinion. In fact my opinion is of no interest here. I am expressing the majority of the Council, and the majority of the Council has supported the statement in which we sent a message saying that, first, everybody has to refrain from any unilateral actions contrary to international law which could exacerbate tensions further. We are asking that no one annexes the Jordan Valley. Yet this may happen. If it happens, you can be sure that it is not going to be peaceful. Maybe for some it doesn’t matter, but for us it matters a lot because we cannot provoke a wave of violence – another wave of violence – in Palestine.

We are asking Palestinians to keep calm and not go to violent demonstrations. We asked for the proposal to be considered as a starting point and I said clearly that maybe it could break the stalemate and create the dynamics in which we can go and talk again about what we can do in order to look for a solution to this very old, damaging and painful problem.

I am not denying the possibility of this being a starting point. What I am denying is not this possibility, but the fact that it is being considered as an end point because, if I tell you ‘come and negotiate, but I’ll tell you one thing. If we don’t agree, I will implement my proposal anyway.’ – this is not a big incentive to negotiate. ‘Come and negotiate but be aware that, if you don’t agree with me, I will implement the proposal anyway.’ Do you call that a negotiation? That’s what we refuse. And that is what we have been saying.

And believe me, we invited Secretary of State Pompeo to come to the Foreign Affairs Council to explain directly to all Member States their proposal. I know that there are some who are closer to this position and others who are very far away from it. I know that there is not going to be a unanimous position on this. It’s too divisive. But we have to discuss and we have to look, if not for unanimity, for the majority – whatever it is – and, believe me, I don’t think the majority of the Member States of the European Union are considering this proposal as a good starting point. But we’ll do our best and talk with everyone in order to try to break this stalemate and push for negotiations.

Some very optimistic people asked me why we don’t try to do something like we did many years ago in Madrid – the Oslo process and the Madrid process. I think we have the commitment to do something. We cannot just refuse. We cannot say that’s not good enough. We have to look for something that works and this is going to be part of the discussions that we are going to have next Monday in the Foreign Affairs Council.

 
   
 

  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

 
11. The current security situation in Syria (debate)
 

  Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Mr President, the war in Syria is now in its ninth year. It is the most severe humanitarian catastrophe and security crisis; it is unfolding right now in the north-west of the country, and in other parts of Syria we continue to see instability and dramatic human suffering.

Last Thursday, we heard the United Nations Special Envoy Geir Pedersen and the Head of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Mark Lowcock briefing the United Nations Security Council on the situation in Idlib. They described how regime forces led by Russia and Iran are launching heavy military offensives with no regard for the civilian population or civilian infrastructure. ‘We appear to have lost sight of the principle of proportionality’, the United Nations Special Envoy said.

The intensification of military operations in Idlib has resulted in the indiscriminate killing of hundreds of civilians. Attacks continue on civilian targets in densely populated areas, on medical facilities and settlements for internationally displaced people. These are blatant and serious violations of international humanitarian law. There has to be accountability for those responsible.

Since military operations began in Idlib in February 2019, one year ago, more than one million people have been displaced towards Turkey – we are talking about one million displaced people in one year – and every day more Syrians are fleeing the fighting and another wave of refugees is quite possibly in the making.

We also see clashes between the Syrian regime and Turkish forces, plus the risk of Turkish and Russian militaries confronting each other. These tensions could in turn trigger a wider regional conflict. The ceasefire agreed between Ankara and Moscow must be implemented. This is the situation.

Now, let me say this. After almost a decade of violence, the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the regime and its backers must cease. Too many people have died and those that are alive face a bleak future. The EU has major stakes in Syria, and in the surrounding region. We cannot afford more regional instability and another migrant crisis. We must avoid a resurgence of Daesh and other terrorist organisations on Europe’s doorstep.

The EU has a duty to preserve the rules-based international order, including the legitimacy of the United Nations Security Council. Yes, I know, we say that again and again, and we have to continue saying that. Recent military gains by the Syrian regime are not translating into stability. On the contrary, the Syrian regime will not bring peace and stability to Syria if it continues to pursue on military logic and the repression of its people. The economic situation is deteriorating rapidly, exacerbated by the banking crashes in Lebanon. The regime must change its behaviour.

We have stated from the very beginning that only a comprehensive and inclusive political solution, in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254, will allow sustainable peace and stability in Syria and the region. The EU will continue to support the efforts of United Nations Special Envoy Pedersen in relaunching the Constitutional Committee in Geneva. We also need to focus on other parts of this resolution, such as a nationwide ceasefire, the release of detainees, and making progress on the file of missing persons.

Let’s recall that the European Union is, and remains, the largest humanitarian donor to Syria and its people, both inside, and to Syrian refugees and host communities in neighbourhood countries. We are supporting the resilience of ordinary civilians and civil society to maintain the social fabric of Syrian society. We are convinced that our support is a fundamental investment – it is not an expenditure, it is an investment – in the future of Syria and the region, which is part of our future, and as a partner of the global coalition to defeat Daesh the EU is conducting stabilisation projects in the north-east of Syria. We are always prepared to do more on all these lines of action, within the limits of our common red lines. These are: no normalisation with the regime, no risking of our funding being diverted to the regime or to the terrorists, and no reconstruction before a political process is firmly under way.

We will continue to apply European Union sanctions targeting individuals and entities associated with the regime and responsible for its repressive and inhuman policies – and not the Syrian people. As I said before, the conflict in Syria is a geopolitical struggle. The European Union has a responsibility to lead for the sake of the Syrian people and to protect our own interests. While difficult, we must redouble our efforts to identify common interests with our other international stakeholders – Russia, the US, Turkey and others – and maybe I will have occasion to update on our discussions with Washington about this issue.

 
   
   

PRZEWODNICTWO: EWA KOPACZ
Wiceprzewodnicząca

 
   
 

  Michaela Šojdrová, za skupinu PPE. – Paní předsedající, vážený pane vysoký představiteli, děkuji za Vaši zprávu. Válka v Sýrii, jak jste již uvedl, trvá 9. rok. Provincie Idlíb je posledním bojištěm syrského konfliktu, kterým se zřejmě Asad vypořádá s opozicí a upevní svoji moc.

Civilisté utíkají před vládními Asadovými jednotkami k turecké hranici, ta je nepropustná a podle humanitárních organizací se tam tísní kolem milionu lidí, někteří se stěhují opakovaně. Souhlasím s tím, že EU musí těmto lidem poskytovat humanitární pomoc a apeluji také na pokračování v projektech v provinciích zasažených konfliktem.

Víme, že zhruba 70 % prchajících civilistů jsou ženy a děti. Právě proto chci vyzvat, aby EU pokračovala v podpoře vzdělávání dětí i ve velmi těžkých podmínkách uprchlických táborů. Víme, že je to důležité, aby tyto děti neztratily perspektivu, ale není to řešení, o které nám musí jít dlouhodobě.

V této chvíli je osud Idlíbu závislý na jednáních mezi Damaškem, Moskvou, Ankarou a Spojenými státy a já se chci zeptat: Jakou roli zde hraje a bude hrát EU? Vy jste zde velmi správně zmínil roli Spojených národů. Myslím si, že dlouhodobé řešení musí být v režii OSN. Sankce a humanitární pomoc, kterou prosazuje EU, jsou na místě, ale já Vás vyzývám k tomu, aby zde byla daleko silnější role EU pro dlouhodobé uspořádání v Sýrii.

 
   
12. The new comprehensive EU-Africa strategy (debate)

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