Official Journal of the European Union

CE 259/56

Commission Annual Policy Strategy 2009


European Parliament resolution of 24 April 2008 on the Commission's Annual Policy Strategy for 2009

(2009/C 259 E/09)

The European Parliament,

having regard to the Commission Communication on the Annual Policy Strategy for 2009 (COM(2008)0072),

having regard to the Commission Communication on its Legislative and Work Programme 2008 (COM(2007)0640),

having regard to Rule 103(4) of its Rules of Procedure,


whereas Parliament's Structured Dialogue with the Commission is an important inter-institutional step both for implementing the Legislative and Work Programme for 2008 and in drawing up and for formulating a Legislative and Work Programme for 2009,


whereas, therefore, it is crucial that the Structured Dialogue should be carried out in good time so that efforts can focus on defining the European Union's key strategic objectives for 2009,

Growth and jobs

1.   Underlines, once again, the importance of the rigorous implementation of the Lisbon Strategy, emphasising the interdependence of economic, social and environmental progress in creating a dynamic and innovative sustainable economy;

2.   Welcomes the overdue support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), building on the forthcoming European Small Business Act; considers that Act to be a very important strategy for supporting SMEs; notes, further, that legislation and a financial framework are required to support SMEs in the most appropriate way; warns, however, against the misuse of those instruments for the purpose of closing off national markets and so reducing European competitiveness and consumer choice; urges the Commission, once again, to put forward a legislative proposal on the European Private Company Statute;

3.   Welcomes a more systematic and integrated monitoring of key goods and services markets with a view to identify existing problems; notes that this might include competition sector enquiries and should not be to the detriment of either SMEs or the variety of products and services in the internal market; notes the Commission's intention to bring sectoral legislation in the area of the internal market for goods into line with the New Legislative Framework but calls again on the Commission to monitor the implementation and enforcement by Member States of sectoral legislation, and draws attention to the need for an overall review together with a review of the Directive 2001/95/EC (1) on general product safety; calls for continued attention to be paid to the transposition of key internal market directives, particularly Directive 2006/123/EC (2) on services in the internal market, and for further development of internal market tools;

4.   Welcomes the follow-up to the single market review in 2007 with its initiative on shared partnerships between the Commission and Member States with a view to applying and enforcing internal market law; notes the proposals for amendments to several ‘new approach’ directives with a view to modernising the internal market in goods; invites the Commission to continue to take further action to improve cooperation with the Member States in that field; regrets, however, the lack of concrete harmonisation of legislative proposals in the internal market domain; highlights the importance of mutual recognition combined with targeted harmonisation in the internal market domain with a view to completing the internal market in goods and services;

5.   Considers that achieving the ambitious aims of the Lisbon Strategy requires a new approach to developing and promoting research; asks for a first evaluation of the implementation of the Seventh Research Framework Program (FP7) before the mid-term review, as well as the evaluation of the activity of the European Research Council so far;

6.   Points to the overriding importance of safeguarding the stability of financial markets and reassuring consumers in the light of the current financial crisis; notes that the current crisis shows the need for the European Union to develop oversight measures in order to increase investor transparency, establish better valuation standards, improve prudential supervision, and rate the role of rating agencies; asks the Commission to work in full partnership with Parliament when developing the roadmap agreed by the Ecofin Council in December 2007 in order to improve the Lamfalussy process, financial services legislation, and the transposition and implementation process; considers that the announced targeted review of Directive 2006/48/EC (3) relating to the taking up and pursuit of the business of credit institutions and Directive 2006/49/EC (4) on the capital adequacy of investment firms and credit institutions should improve the prudential framework and risk management of financial institutions, thus increasing confidence between market players; reaffirms the crucial importance of having better, single, representation of the EU in international financial institutions and regrets the absence of a proposal to that effect;

7.   Welcomes, also, the Commission's determination to make progress with work on retail financial services, as integration in this field is still minimal and competition needs to be improved in some areas in order to bring about concrete benefits for consumers; calls on the Commission to follow rigorously the implementation of Directive 2008/48/EC on credit agreements for consumers;

8.   Notes the Commission's efforts to meet the targets for the employment rate set in the Lisbon Strategy; encourages the Commission to continue developing a common approach to flexicurity, which should promote, on the one hand, greater flexibility on the labour market and, on the other, security for workers, accompanied by a balanced implementation of the four pillars of flexicurity, which may be necessary to achieve more favourable economic effects;

9.   Points out that Parliament will be examining the consequences of the recent judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Communities in cases C-438/05 (5), C-341/05 (6), and C-346/06 (7), starting with a debate in plenary, followed by Parliament's report on challenges to collective bargaining;

10.   Regrets the low priority given by the Commission to culture and education in its Annual Policy Strategy for 2009; asks the Commission to consolidate the European Educational Area for all, notably by improving the quality, effectiveness and accessibility of EU education and training systems; stresses that particular attention should be paid to lifelong learning by the development of student mobility, language competences and adult learning; stresses the importance of cultural diversity, in particular in the field of digital content;

11.   Welcomes the Commission's announcement of a future communication on university-business dialogue in order to help ensure that European universities are in a position to compete with the best universities in the world; supports the Commission's initiative of a Green Paper on cultural and creative industries and stresses the need further to develop EU action in that sector, which significantly contributes to job creation and growth; points out that EU action should also aim at strengthening cultural identity and diversity;

12.   Stresses that passenger rights should be assigned a more central place, especially as regards the protection of passengers when travelling long distances by bus and coach, as well as rail and ship passengers; stresses the importance of the successful development of traffic management systems and urges the Commission to continue working towards the development of Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research Programme (SESAR) and the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS);

Climate change and sustainable Europe

13.   Strongly supports the Commission in further developing an energy policy for Europe, with the aim of achieving energy independence and strengthening the solidarity among Member States; undertakes to cooperate closely with the Council and the Commission to find an effective and workable agreement on the energy and climate change package in the shortest practicable time; invites the Commission to provide, as soon as possible, the best and most objective analysis of the possible economic and social implications of rising energy prices, in order to guide the legislative decision-making process in Parliament and the Council in the best possible way; notes also that the European Union needs to continue to demonstrate that economic growth and development can be reconciled in a low-carbon economy; recalls, moreover, the need to ensure that environment and climate change objectives are included in all EU policies and financial programmes;

14.   Is aware that the success of this strategy also depends on the capacity of the European Union to convince its world partners, and in particular the main players, to converge on such a strategy; underlines, therefore, that that the EU should speak with one voice and display solidarity in this field; takes note of the recent paper from the High Representative and the Commission to the European Council entitled ‘Climate Change and International Security’ (8) and emphasises the need for a joined-up approach to issues relating to energy, climate change and foreign affairs; deplores the lack of an annual and long-term strategy for an external European energy policy;

15.   Welcomes the Commission's wish to reduce emissions related to the transport of goods and calls on the Commission to submit a legislative proposal on the inclusion of maritime and inland waterway transport in the emissions trading scheme; welcomes also in this context the development of a new maritime policy and the intention of submitting a proposal on the reform of the common organisation of the market (COM) in fishery and aquaculture products, but urges the Commission to clarify how it intends to redeploy EUR 6 million within the fisheries policy; calls on the Commission to add to the key actions envisaged for 2009 under ‘sustainable Europe’ a new chapter on the reform of the COM in fishery and aquaculture products;

16.   Takes the view that cohesion policy should remain a Community policy in accordance with the Treaty and the solidarity principle, and therefore rejects all attempts to renationalise this policy; considers that the necessary financial resources for cohesion policy must be guaranteed in the future in order to deal with the anticipated new challenges, which have a major territorial impact; notes that, in addition to economic and social cohesion, challenges resulting from demographic changes, urban concentration, segregation, migratory movements, necessary adjustment to globalisation, climate change, the necessity to guarantee energy supplies, and the slow catch-up process of rural areas must be addressed;

17.   Notes that 2009 will see the implementation of the legislative changes agreed upon in the context of the CAP Health Check and expects Parliament's position to be fully respected; welcomes the Commission's indication that in 2009 a number of proposals will be made to reduce bureaucracy and red tape, and trusts that this will also apply to farmers, notably with regard to cross-compliance; welcomes the Commission's intention to promote quality production in agriculture and expects to play an active role in the formulation of concrete proposals; regrets the fact that the Annual Policy Strategy for 2009 fails to take account of growing concerns over food security;

Making the common immigration policy a reality

18.   Welcomes the Commission's commitment to the development of a common immigration policy, and emphasises that a European pact on migration policy should cover issues linked both to tackling illegal immigration and managing legal immigration, and a more ambitious policy on integration of areas falling within the EU's competence, as well as launching a European asylum policy on the basis of proposals to be presented by the Commission before the end of the year; considers it a priority that Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 (9) establishing the criteria and mechanisms for determining the Member State responsible for examining an asylum application lodged in one of the Member States by a third-country national (Dublin II Regulation) should be revisited;

19.   Stresses that border protection is also a priority, and will, in this context, scrutinise the recent proposals for an EU passenger name record, a European Boarder Surveillance System and entry/exit and Frontex evaluation, while insisting on respect for strong data protection rules;

20.   Underlines that it is of the utmost importance to speed up the full implementation of the Schengen Information System (SIS II) and the Visa Information System (VIS); also underlines the need to strengthen Frontex, which is dependent on a commitment by Member States to provide personnel and equipment;

Putting the citizen first

21.   Reiterates its request for a review of the eight sector-specific directives that were to be analysed within the framework of the review of consumer protection rules and the work on the horizontal instruments establishing the internal market principles to complete the internal market; stresses the continuing need for concrete legislation in the domain of CE marking and safety marks; encourages the Commission to develop the guaranteeing and enforcement of consumer product safety rules;

22.   Calls for more initiatives in the field of civil justice in order to deliver the balancing legal framework that would give certainty and access to justice; calls for further progress on the Common Frame of Reference as one of the most significant pre-legislative undertakings, and underlines the necessity for close cooperation between Parliament, the Council and the Commission on this project;

23.   Believes that it does not make sense to outlaw discrimination in one area whilst allowing it in another; awaits the Commission's proposal for a comprehensive directive to combat discrimination under Article 13 of the EC Treaty, as provided in its 2008 work programme, whilst underlining that the Member States' competences in this area must be respected;

24.   Awaits the Commission's proposal on cross-border health, whilst underlining that the Member States' competences in this area must be respected; looks forward to the pact on mental health and also reiterates its commitment to improving health care in Europe, including support for an EU strategy dealing with the fight against cancer, cardiovascular diseases and other common serious diseases, as well as rare diseases;

25.   Deplores the fact that the policy strategy remains vague in the area of public health; encourages the Commission to step up its efforts to tackle health inequalities linked to social, economic and environmental factors, to promote healthy lifestyles and improve health information, as well as strengthen its coordination and rapid response capacities towards global health threats; as regards Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) (10), reminds the Commission that proper implementation of the legislation is a critical success factor; asks the Commission to carry out appropriate preparatory actions for its future tasks under REACH;

26.   Calls for more work to be undertaken as regards tackling organised crime, addressing cyber-crime in particular, and urges the Commission to step up the momentum in addressing the scourge of trafficking in human beings; calls for counter-terrorism policies to be defined comprehensively, and urges the Commission to submit a proposal that safeguards and promotes the interests of the victims of terrorism, and to develop proposals to ensure a greater degree of bio-preparedness;

27.   Calls on the Commission to consider what transitional arrangements should be put in place for the adoption of legislation relating to justice and home affairs pending the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty; underlines that in 2009 the Lisbon Treaty will institute a new role for Parliament in connection with Area of Freedom, Security and Justice policies and the conclusion of international agreements relating to those policies; stresses that this implies a revision of some legislation relating to the existing pillar structure, as well as a review of the status of Europol and Eurojust;

28.   Welcomes the Commission's proposal regarding the rights of children and their protection; notes that the Commission's strategy regarding gender mainstreaming policy is very general; expects the Commission, therefore, to set out, as a matter of urgency, the details of the initiatives to be launched in 2009; calls on the Commission to ensure that Daphne III comes into force in due time;

Europe as a world partner

29.   Welcomes the importance given in the Annual Policy Strategy to the preparation of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty; notes that preparations will have to be undertaken both internally and in the Commission's relations with Parliament and the Council; underlines the importance of adequate preparations for the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, in particular as regards the establishment of a European External Action Service in cooperation with Parliament;

30.   Stresses the importance of defending and promoting human rights and the respect for the rule of law worldwide, in particular in those numerous countries where human rights are not respected;

31.   Underlines the importance of concluding the accession negotiations with Croatia as soon as possible, also as a signal to the wider Western Balkans region that its future lies within the European Union, provided that it can meet the necessary requirements;

32.   Urges the Commission to contribute fully to the revision of the European Security Strategy;

33.   Calls on the Commission to monitor closely the full implementation of the conditions laid down in the Kosovo comprehensive settlement plan and to insist on the foundations for a multiethnic Kosovo; urges the Commission to put in place, together with the Council, the necessary coordination arrangements so that the various EU actors present in Kosovo speak with one voice; calls on the Commission, through the medium of the Stabilisation and Association Process, to support and maintain the course of the Western Balkan States towards EU membership;

34.   Underlines the need for an EU strategy concerning the Baltic Sea region in order to increase cooperation and the integration of the countries in that area and calls on the Commission to present a plan for implementation of the Black Sea Synergy;

35.   Calls for additional measures to strengthen the European Neighbourhood Policy and to make it more relevant to the countries concerned; points out that the European Union must maintain its commitment to democratic values and the rule of law in relation to those countries; calls on the Commission to support the incorporation of a parliamentary dimension into the neighbourhood-east policy through the establishment of an EU-neighbourhood-east parliamentary Assembly, bringing together MEPs and MPs from the neighbourhood-east countries;

36.   Deplores the absence of specific proposals by the Commission on new avenues for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals with a view to achieving the commitments by 2015; urges the Commission to ensure that humanitarian aid provided by the European Union, in particular its food aid in developing countries, is maintained and, if possible, extended in 2009; believes that a successful Doha Development Agenda remains the European Union's trade priority, but regrets that the policy strategy has not yet started a reflection on the WTO's post-Doha Development Agenda; believes that an ambitious sustainable development chapter should form an essential part of any free trade agreement, including the ratification and implementation of core ILO conventions, as well as essential environmental norms;

Implementation, management and better regulation

37.   Affirms that, in relation to Better Regulation, independent impact assessment and the correct implementation, monitoring and reporting of Community law should be a priority; considers, however, that the Commission has a central task in helping Member States to achieve this objective; stresses that the European Parliament should get more closely involved in the monitoring of the application of Community legislation, and underlines the need for closer inter-institutional cooperation with regard to comitology procedures;

38.   Supports Commission proposals aimed at reducing administrative burdens, recalls its determination to reach, and support for reaching, the goal of a 25 % reduction in administrative burdens by 2012, and urges tangible results sooner rather than later; regards this as a key priority, in particular for SMEs, and as an essential contribution to reaching the Lisbon Strategy targets; recalls that all legislation must pursue that goal; points out, however, that simplifying, codifying and recasting the existing acquis should not take place to the detriment of policy objectives;

39.   Emphasises that political priorities should be supported by new budgetary priorities in order for the European Union to play a concrete role;

40.   Expects the Commission to work on the quality of the national declarations (26 Member States delivered a summary of EU expenditure, as provided for by point 44 of the Interinstitutional Agreement between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline and sound financial management (11) and Article 53b of Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002 of 25 June 2002 on the Financial Regulation applicable to the general budget of the European Communities (12)) in order to make them usable by the European Court of Auditors; expects a very early report on the quality of these summaries and proposals on how to improve their quality; underlines, also, the importance implementing the decisions on the 2006 discharge of the general budget, in particular the Structural Funds Action Plan and the follow-up of use of EU funds in external actions;

Communicating Europe

41.   Calls on the Commission to place the citizen at the centre of the European project; urges the Commission to focus its efforts further more the development of an effective communication policy in order to provide citizens with the means to understand the EU better, especially in the year of the European elections; underlines the importance of swiftly implementing the citizens' right of initiative as provided for in the Lisbon Treaty; reminds the Commission of its commitment, in the light of the proposed regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 (13) regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, to develop greater transparency and access to documents;


* *

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

(1)  OJ L 11, 15.1.2002, p. 4.

(2)  OJ L 376, 27.12.2006, p. 36.

(3)  OJ L 177, 30.6.2006, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 2008/24/EC (OJ L 81, 20.3.2008, p. 38).

(4)  OJ L 177, 30.6.2006, p. 201. Directive as last amended by Directive 2008/23/EC (OJ L 76, 19.3.2008, p. 54).

(5)  ‘Viking’ (International Transport Workers' Federation and Finnish Seamen's Union), Judgment of 11 December 2007.

(6)  Laval, judgment of 18 December 2007.

(7)  Rüffert judgment of 3 April 2008.

(8)  S133/08.

(9)  OJ L 50, 25.2.2003, p. 1.

(10)  OJ L 396, 30.12.2006, p. 1.

(11)  OJ C 139, 14.6.2006, p. 1. Agreement as amended by Decision 2008/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (OJ L 6, 10.1.2008, p. 7).

(12)  OJ L 248, 16.9.2002, p. 1. Regulation as last amended by Regulation (EC) No 1525/2007 (OJ L 343, 27.12.2007, p. 9).

(13)  OJ L 145, 31.5.2001, p. 43.