Tag Archives: ChildrensRights

Europe – the continent of solidarity: Joint Statement on the occasion of International Migrant Day

On the occasion of International Migrant Day on 18 December, Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, and Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, made the following statement:  

“On International Migrant Day, we remember all those who live outside their county of birth and are on the move – either by choice or forcibly. We remember that our own continent, Europe, is built on migration. Our common history is marked by millions of people fleeing from persecution, war or dictatorship – looking only 100 years back. Today, our European Union allows people across the continent to freely travel, to study and work in other countries. This has made Europe one of the richest places in the world – in terms of culture, of economy, of opportunities and in terms of liberties. But this day is also an occasion to remember those who have left their homes, in the face of conflict, political oppression, poverty or lack of hope, and who struggle to build a new and decent life elsewhere. While for some, migration is a positive and empowering experience, too many others have to endure human rights violations, xenophobia, exploitation and unacceptable living conditions along their journeys.  

Protecting and upholding the fundamental rights and freedoms of all migrants, regardless of their status, has always been and will always be our priority. This is at the heart of our European Agenda on Migration. We are working relentlessly, inside and outside the European Union, in close cooperation with our Member States and our international partners to save lives, provide protection, offer safe and legal pathways for migration and tackle the root causes that force people to leave their homes in first place, as well as fight the criminal networks that often take advantage of people’s despair.    

We have a shared responsibility towards people on the move and we need to act on a global scale to support them and to uphold the safety, dignity and human rights of migrants and refugees. It requires the engagement and the consistent implementation of international agreements by all.

Europe is committed to remaining the continent of solidarity, tolerance and openness, embracing its share of global responsibility. And for those who we have recently welcomed to Europewe want the same as we want for all Europeans, namely to prosper and flourish and contribute to a better future for our continent.  

We strongly support the 2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and will continue to actively work towards the adoption of the UN Global Compacts on Migration and on Refugees at the United Nations.  

Background 

Over the past 20 years, the European Union has put in place some of the highest common asylum standards in the world. And in the past two years, European migration policy has advanced in leaps and bounds with the European Agenda on Migration proposed by the Juncker Commission in May 2015. Progressively, a more united approach to dealing with migration is emerging, internally and externally. 

Internally, work has been intensified on the reform of the Common European Asylum System to put in place a more effective and fair approach, based on solidarity and responsibility, alongside continuous support to the Member States most exposed and reinforced cooperation with partner countries. 

The European Union has also stepped up its efforts to protect vulnerable groups, in particular children who are among the most exposed of migrants, including through new Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child and recommendations on the protection of children in migration.

Externally, the EU has progressively put in place a genuine external dimension of its migration policy, complementing and reinforcing its actions within the Union. The 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development recognises the positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development. It also recognises that both challenges and opportunities of migration must be addressed through coherent and comprehensive responses.   

Along the migratory routes, we are working to save people’s lives with our international partners, such as the UN agencies. We are fighting the criminal networks involved in migrant smuggling and in trafficking in human beings, through our Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations on the ground and by supporting regional initiatives, such as the G5 Sahel Joint Force. We are also conducting search and rescue operations at sea, with the support of the European Border and Coast Guard and EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. These efforts help to save thousands of lives every month.   

The EU also works on opening up safe and legal pathways through resettlement – to allow those in need of protection to come to Europe without having to risk their lives in the desert and at sea. An ambitious target for the resettlement of 50,000 persons in need of international protection was set by President Juncker in September 2017. A particular focus should be put on resettlement from North Africa and the Horn of Africa, notably Libya, Egypt, Niger, Sudan, Chad and Ethiopia, whilst ensuring continued resettlement from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

We also continue, jointly with our UN and civil society partners on the ground, to support concrete actions in Libya and along the migratory routes, to ensure the respect of human rights, improve migrants’ living conditions and assist migrants and refugees, who too often become victims of smuggling and trafficking networks. The establishment of a joint Task Force between the African Union, the United Nations and the EU, is an important step that will help to accelerate our joint work. In concrete terms, actions will aim to evacuate those in need of international protection to Europe, accelerate the assisted voluntary returns to countries of origin for those stranded in Libya, as well as intensify our efforts to dismantle criminal networks.  

For More Information 

Joint African Union-European Union-United Nations Task Force to Address the Migrant Situation in Libya

2016 New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of children in migration

EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child

Concluding Intense Session, Third Committee Approves 5 Draft Resolutions on Children’s Rights, Assistance to Refugees, Persons with Disabilities

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its seventy‑second session today, approving five draft resolutions on the rights of children, assistance to refugees, persons with disabilities, social development and terrorism.

The role of parents and legal guardians in the education of children, particularly regarding sexual and reproductive health, and opposition to the International Criminal Court once again came to the fore as the Committee took up a draft resolution on the rights of children.

After its introduction, Egypt’s representative, speaking for the African Group, said the draft was unbalanced as it did not include references to the role of parents, presenting an amendment to reflect such guidance.  South Africa’s delegate proceeded to disassociate from Egypt’s statement, resulting in the amendment being considered as introduced by all African States except South Africa.

Uruguay’s representative, speaking on behalf of the draft’s sponsors and urging States to vote against the amendment, said education was a fundamental element for society.  Knowledge about human rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health was a basic tool for preventing and combating all forms of violence against children. 

Several Member States reaffirmed their belief that parents must play a central role in education, with Singapore’s delegate stressing that the upbringing of children was best done by parents and legal guardians, and that she would thus vote for the amendment.  The representative of the Russian Federation called the proposed changes reasonable.

The Committee approved the amendment by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 76 against, with 8 abstentions (Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Maldives, Nepal, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka).

Sudan’s delegate, stressing that the International Criminal Court had obstructed stability in her country, called for references to the Court to be deleted from the draft, a revision that Sudan had proposed for other drafts.

Delegates defended the Court’s role as a force for justice, with Estonia’s representative, on behalf of the draft’s sponsors, saying language on the Court was balanced.  Lichtenstein’s representative, on behalf of several States, assured delegates that the Court had a vital role where national courts were unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction. 

The Committee proceeded to reject Sudan’s proposed amendment by a recorded vote of 19 in favour, 102 against and 39 abstentions.  It then unanimously approved the draft as a whole, as amended, in a recorded vote.  By its terms, the Assembly would take actions related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, non‑discrimination, violence against children, and follow‑up on various matters concerning family relations, economic and social well‑being, child labour, the rights of children in particularly difficult circumstances, and migrant children, among other matters.

Debate over the role of parents and guardians, this time in relation to women’s and girls’ access to sexual and reproductive health, resurfaced when the Committee took up a draft on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Nigeria’s delegate, on behalf of 43 African countries, proposed an amendment that would reflect the role of parents and legal guardians in providing guidance to their children.  As was the case earlier in the day, the Committee approved the amendment, this time by a recorded vote of 82 in favour to 78 against, with 9 abstentions (Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Tuvalu).  Many of those objecting to the amendment, including New Zealand’s delegate, decried that it upset carefully achieved compromise wording, with Argentina’s delegate, among others, stressing it also suggested the rights of girls and women with disabilities were not equally protected, and thus, could not set a precedent.

The Committee then unanimously approved the draft in a recorded vote that saw 176 States voting in favour.  The text would have the Assembly encourage States to review and repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full and equal participation in political and public life.

As the meeting opened, the Committee approved — by a recorded vote of 170 in favour, 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Armenia) — a draft on the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly.

The text would have the Assembly recognize the need to formulate social development policies in an integral, articulated and participatory manner, recognizing poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon.  It would urge States to strengthen social policies, paying particular attention to the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups and inviting them to address the structural causes of poverty.

Delegates expressed regret that the United States had requested a recorded vote on the draft, typically approved by consensus, from a belief that it went beyond the Committee’s purview and would result in a misuse of resources.  China’s delegate, noting his withdrawal of an amendment, said the United States was “too sensitive” and must learn from Beijing’s commitment to compromise.

The Committee also approved by consensus a draft on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa, introduced by Madagascar’s delegate, on behalf of the African Group, with extensive oral revisions.  Under its terms, the Assembly would request the Secretary‑General to submit a report to its seventy‑third session, taking into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.

In final action, the Committee approved a draft on terrorism by a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 1 against (South Africa), with 63 abstentions.  By its terms, the Assembly would strongly condemn all terrorist acts as criminal and unjustifiable while also urging States to protect persons within their territory and subject to their jurisdiction by preventing and countering terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

Having taken note of its tentative work programme for the seventy‑third session, the Committee concluded its work on a lighter note as representatives of the United Kingdom and Egypt took the floor to recite “silly” poems about the body’s work over the past weeks.

World Summit for Social Development

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced a draft resolution titled “Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty‑fourth special session of the General Assembly” (document A/C.3/72/L.12/Rev.1).  The draft aimed to solve the problem of inequality beyond countries, he said, and spoke to the indivisibility of economic and social rights. 

After the Chair noted that a recorded vote had been requested on the resolution, the representative of Ecuador asked which delegation had asked for the vote, and was informed by the Chair that it was the United States.

The representative of the United States, in explanation of vote, said issues remained in the draft that were not linked to social development or the work of the Third Committee, which was a misuse of resources.  Thus, the United States called for a vote and would vote no, urging others to do the same.  Regarding the draft’s reference to foreign occupation, the United States reaffirmed its binding commitment to a solution to the Israeli‑Palestinian conflict.  On operative paragraph 27, she said the United States understood the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to be consistent with the resolution.  Demands that the international community provide market access or debt relief were unacceptable in a Third Committee draft, she said, noting that terminology, such as the word “shall”, was only appropriate in binding texts.

The representative of Ecuador, in a general statement, said the Group of 77 and China regretted that the draft resolution would not be adopted by consensus, noting that it had no programme budget implications.  The goals of eradicating poverty and achieving social inclusion deserved support, he said, urging all to vote in favour of the draft.  

The representative of China said that in the last two days, the United States delegate had mentioned China, thanking her for paying attention to the Chinese “idea”, which was in line with the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter.  The United States might be too sensitive, he said, expressing hope for a more open and inclusive attitude.  China had withdrawn its amendment for the benefit of the Group of 77 and the Third Committee, he said, and the United States delegate should learn from China.  All should make concessions and sacrifices.  The United States delegate should reflect on that point.

The representative of the Russian Federation said international cooperation was a key factor in ending poverty.  She expressed disappointment that the draft had been put for a vote, adding that the Russian Federation would vote in favour.

The representative of Brazil, in a general statement before the vote, urged support for the draft, explaining that it was crucial to find consensus on issues of social development and poverty.

The draft resolution was then approved by recorded vote of 170 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with 1 abstention (Armenia).

By its terms, the Assembly would recognize the need to formulate social development policies in an integral, articulated and participatory manner, recognizing poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon.  It would urge States to strengthen social policies, paying attention to the specific needs of disadvantaged social groups, and invite them to develop comprehensive and integrated strategies to address the structural causes of poverty and inequality.

The representative of Mexico, in explanation of the vote, said he had voted for the draft, reiterating his country’s commitment to sustainable development, underscoring the need to focus on bringing United Nations entities together to achieve the draft’s objectives and avoid duplication of efforts.

The representative of Ecuador called the draft’s adoption important, underscoring the Group’s commitment to work with the Secretariat and Member States to achieve the objectives of the draft.

The Committee then took note of a Secretariat note on the World Social Situation 2017 (document A/72/211).

Report of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The representative of Madagascar, speaking on behalf of the African Group, introduced a draft resolution titled “Assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa” (document A/C.3/72/L.61).  She expressed grave concern over the rising number of refugees and displaced persons in Africa due to conflict, which in turn, triggered violence and food insecurity.  As reported by the Secretary‑General, by the end of 2016, the number of refugees and displaced persons in Africa had risen to more than 5 million and more than 11 million, respectively. 

The deplorable situation had been worsened by funding shortfalls, she said, noting that Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and World Food Programme (WFP) budgets for Africa were among the most underfunded.  The draft highlighted the rising number of refugees and displaced people, stressing the importance of addressing funding gaps.  It also had been updated with initiatives taken during the past year, including the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, which called on donors and partners to fulfil their commitments. 

She then read out numerous oral revisions to the draft, amending preambular paragraphs 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13 and 19.  She also read revisions to operative paragraphs 5, 8, 9, 11, 14, 16, 24, 28, 30, 33 and 34. 

The Committee then approved the draft resolution without a vote.

By its terms, the Assembly would take note of the reports of the Secretary‑General and UNHCR, requesting the former to submit a report on assistance to refugees, returnees and displaced persons in Africa to the Assembly at its seventy‑third session, taking fully into account efforts made by countries of asylum and those aimed at bridging funding gaps.

The representative of the United States, referring to preambular paragraph 19 on the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, said trade‑related language had been overtaken by events and was immaterial, and that any reaffirmation of the outcome document had no standing.  The United States dissociated from language on the New York Declaration, underscoring that no language should prejudge or prejudice upcoming negotiations on safe, orderly and regular migration. 

The representative of Mexico, also speaking on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Uruguay and Costa Rica, called attention to the draft’s lack of reference to the New York Declaration.  African countries were hosting millions of refugees, he said, adding that a more equitable distribution of the burden should be sought.

Rights of the Child

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union and other countries, introduced a draft resolution titled “Rights of the child” (document A/C.3/72/L.21/Rev.1).  She made a series of oral revisions to preambuluar paragraphs 11, 17, 19 and operative paragraphs 6, 17, 21, 23, 26, 30, 35, 36, and 37.  The draft resolution was focused on eliminating all forms of violence against children.  Current trends had shown that an estimated 2 million children could be killed by violence from now until 2030 and she called on States to adopt the draft as orally revised.

The representative of Barbados, on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), accorded high priority to the promotion and protection of children’s rights, stressing that respect and compromise should guide negotiations and calling on States to adopt the draft by consensus.

The representative of Egypt, on behalf of the African Group, expressed deep commitment to protecting children’s rights.  The African Group had participated in negotiations.  However, it found that the text was not balanced as it did not include reference to parental guidance.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulated clearly that State parties should respect local customs and the responsibility of parents in raising their children.

The representative of Egypt, in her national capacity, called for operative paragraph 36(k) to be amended to reflect the role of parents in guiding their children.

The representative of Sudan said the International Criminal Court had been an impediment to the peace and stability in her country, in Africa and in many parts of the world.  She called for references to the Court to be deleted from the operative paragraph.

The representative of South Africa disassociated from the African Group statement read by Egypt’s representative, noting that her country would support the text as amended by the co‑sponsors.

The Secretary noted that three African countries had co‑sponsored the original text.

The representative of Guinea‑Bissau withdrew her country’s co‑sponsorship of the draft resolution.

The Secretary noted the withdrawal.

The representative of Lesotho withdrew as a co‑sponsor of the draft resolution.

The Secretary noted the withdrawal from “L.21/Rev.1” as orally revised.

The representative of Estonia, on behalf of the sponsors, said operative paragraph 16 addressed children and armed conflict, reading the paragraph in full.  The language on the International Criminal Court was well‑balanced, she said, and the European Union was committed to preventing serious crimes falling under the Court’s jurisdiction.  She would call for a vote on that amendment.

The representative of Uruguay, also speaking on behalf of the main sponsors, requested a vote on the African Group’s proposed amendments, saying that education was a fundamental element for society.  Knowledge on human rights, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health was a basic tool for preventing and combating all forms of violence against children.  The wording in operative paragraph 31 regarding the promotion of comprehensive education was an essential part of the text and she urged all to vote against the amendment.

The Committee would first vote on the oral amendment proposed by Sudan’s delegate on operative paragraph 16.

The representative of Liechtenstein, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Iceland, New Zealand and Norway in explanation of vote, said the oral amendment was unfortunate, as it sought to change agreed language.  Operative paragraph 16 recognized the efforts taken to end impunity by punishing perpetrators.  The International Criminal Court had a key role where national courts were unable or unwilling to exercise jurisdiction.  He called on all delegations to vote against the amendment.

The representative of Argentina, also speaking on behalf of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, said the International Criminal Court was an important achievement towards a rules‑based world order.  The language of operative paragraph 13 relating to the Court was not only factually correct, he said, but also thematically relevant and merited being kept in the agreed text, urging all States to vote against the amendment.

The representative of the Russian Federation agreed on the need to ensure responsibility for violations of children’s rights, noting that the Court’s history had discredited it and shown it could not protect their rights.

The Committed then rejected the oral amendment with a recorded vote of 19 in favour to 102 against, with 39 abstentions.

The Chair then asked the Committee to vote on the amendment to operative paragraph 36(k) proposed by Egypt.

The representative of Nigeria said he would support the amendment, as discussions on children must include the role of parents.

The representative of Egypt said she had presented the amendment on behalf of the African Group.

The Secretary said the amendment could not be presented on behalf of the African Group due to South Africa’s earlier statement.  However, it could be presented on behalf of all African States except South Africa.

The representative of Singapore said her country was committed to protecting the children’s rights.  At the same time, Singapore believed the upbringing of children was best done by parents and legal guardians, and thus, would vote for the amendment. 

The representative of Canada, on behalf of Australia, Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, said the amendment would weaken agreed language on gender equality.  The paragraph already included language referring to education in full partnership with parents and legal guardians, and outlined that education should be age appropriate.  The qualifications already addressed sensitivities.  The proposed amendment would upset the carefully balanced compromise.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the amendment was not about gender equality, but rather, the rights of children to education.  Citing article 5 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she said any additions proposed by African Group States were reasonable and she would vote in favour of them.

The Committee then approved the oral amendment to operative paragraph 36(k) by a recorded vote of 90 in favour to 76 against, with 8 abstentions (Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Kazakhstan, Liberia, Maldives, Nepal, Solomon Islands and Sri Lanka).

The representative of Estonia expressed disappointment with the amendment, saying comprehensive education was critical for society.  Adolescents had a right to learn how to stay safe and healthy, and about gender relations.  Violence against children was a topic requiring the strongest possible language.  Operative paragraph 36(k) was not a basis for consensus and she regretted that the vote would lead to a vote on the resolution as a whole.  She urged all delegates to vote in favour of the draft resolution.

The representative of Nigeria in a general statement expressed appreciation for the Third Committee’s solidarity.

The representative of Mauritania stressed the importance of human rights outlined in the most important conventions.  Noting that the family was “a sacred bond” and the natural place for children, he said parents bore the responsibility and absolute right to teach children about the values in which they believed.

The Secretary then said the Third Committee could choose to suspend Rule 130 of the Rules of Procedure to take action on “L.21/Rev.1” as orally revised and amended without a vote.

The representative of the Russian Federation asked whether a precedent would be set were the Third Committee or any other General Assembly Committee to suspend the Rules of Procedure.  She asked whether it had the authorization to do so.  She would like to approve the draft by consensus, but expressed concern about creating precedent and violating the Rules of Procedure.

The Secretary said the Committee could indeed suspend the rule in question without creating a precedent.

The representative of Egypt noted that the Secretary had suspended a rule earlier, and that another rule had been active at another time.  She refused to consider a situation where a precedent would be set, and could not accept “breaking what we are used to doing”.  There should be a vote and she called on the Chair to apply the Rules of Procedure.

The representative of Morocco asked for a clarification on the statement read by Estonia on behalf of the European Union.

The representative of Estonia said she had not requested a vote, but rather, she was operating under Rule 130.

The representative of Singapore called for the Rules of Procedure to be applied and for a vote to be taken.

The representative of Uruguay, in her national capacity, expressed hope the vote on the amendment had been taken out of conviction and not solidarity, as the issue was the rights of the child.

The representative of the Russian Federation noted that if the voting procedure had been begun, it would be a violation of the Rules of Procedure to interrupt it.  The Russian Federation would vote for the draft resolution, and if delegates agreed to give their votes in support of it, that might be a more important signal than a consensus adoption.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised and amended by a recorded vote of 180 in favour to 0 against, with 0 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would take a number of actions related to, among other topics, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, non‑discrimination, violence against children, and follow‑up on various matters concerning family relations, economic and social well‑being, child labour, the rights of children in particularly difficult circumstances, and migrant children, among others.

The representative of the United States, in a statement after the vote, expressed support for the draft resolution.  However, the draft did not change his country’s obligations to treaty law and other human rights instruments to which it was not a party.  The United States understood the resolution to be focused on protecting the rights of vulnerable children, including those with disabilities and those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.  It also would work with relevant partners to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.

The representative of Singapore, in explanation of vote after the vote, welcomed the draft’s approval, and while citing reservations to operative paragraph 11, stressing that she had nonetheless voted in favour of the text.

The representative of Sudan reiterated her country’s dedication to protecting children’s rights.  The International Criminal Court had been unfair to Sudan, which had worked incessantly to maintain peace in the region.  The draft’s sponsors had not heeded suggestions made by her country.

The representative of Israel said his country was committed to protecting the children’s rights and had participated in negotiations on the text.  He asked that politicized language be removed from future texts.

The representative of the Holy See said violence against children undermined their rights and the well‑being of society.  He expressed concern over the hostile amendment, a move which could have been avoided.  All efforts must be made to support parents so that children could grow up in a safe environment, he said, noting that the Holy See’s understanding of sexual reproductive health services did not include abortion.

The Secretary noted the Holy See’s intervention would be considered as a general statement.

The representative of the Russian Federation noted the openness and inclusiveness in negotiation of the draft and expressed hope that a mutually acceptable decision would be reached next year.

The representative of Brazil dissociated from the amended operative paragraph 36(k).

The representative of Morocco, describing a lack of sexual education in school and at home, said young people were finding answers to questions about reproduction online.  The Committee would gain from finding compromises on future resolutions.

The representative of Mexico dissociated from operative paragraph 36(k) as amended.

The representative of Uruguay said her country dissociated from amended operative paragraph 36.

The representative of Argentina said his country had voted in favour of the draft resolution based on its principle of supporting consensus.  He expressed regret that the draft had not been adopted by consensus despite that constructive negotiations had been carried out.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates said her country voted for the resolution and would interpret it according to its national policies.

The representative of Peru disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

The representative of Costa Rica expressed regret that the draft had not been approved by consensus and disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

The representative of Guatemala expressed regret over the lack of consensus and disassociated from paragraph 36(k).

The representative of Panama disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

The representative of Chile disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

The representative of Colombia disassociated from operative paragraph 36(k).

Persons with Disabilities

The representative of New Zealand, on behalf of Mexico and Sweden, introduced a draft resolution titled “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto: situation of women and girls with disabilities” (document A/C.3/72/L.18/Rev.1).  He said girls and women with disabilities faced multiple barriers in life.  The draft resolution focused on realizing their rights in areas such as employment, access to health care, equal recognition before the law and freedom to make their own choices.  Noting that numerous open consultations had been held on the text, he made oral revisions to preambular paragraph 9 and an operative paragraph.

The representative of Nigeria, on behalf of 43 African countries, proposed amendments to operative paragraph 18 to reflect the role of parents in providing guidance to their children, as language reflecting the importance of parental guidance had been rejected by the sponsors.

The Secretary said the draft’s co‑sponsors included Zambia, Morocco and Guinea.

The representative of Zambia withdrew sponsorship of the draft resolution.

The representative of Burundi said her country would like to co‑sponsor the amendment.

The representative of Madagascar said that while the country supported the amendment, it withdrew from co‑sponsorship.

The representative of Chad expressed support for the amendment and withdrew from the list of co‑sponsors.

The representative of Guinea withdrew from the list of co‑sponsors of the amendment.

The representative of Morocco maintained her country’s sponsorship of the draft resolution.

The representative of Sierra Leone withdrew from the list of co‑sponsors and supported the amendment.

A Secretariat official noted that Zambia, Madagascar, Guinea, Chad and Sierra Leone had withdrawn their sponsorship of the resolution.

The representative of New Zealand, on behalf of Mexico and Sweden, said negotiations on the draft had been open and transparent, with numerous opportunities for States to engage over the last two months.  The inclusion of operative paragraph 18 was important to help women and girls with disabilities enjoy their full human rights and freedoms, notably as they were more exposed to unintended pregnancies, child marriage and other harmful practices.  The proposed amendment would upset the careful balance achieved and he called for a vote on it, stressing that the co‑sponsors would vote no and requesting others to do the same.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, in an explanation of vote, expressed regret that oral amendments had been introduced, saying the paragraph in question reflected a “strong middle ground” on issues related to persons with disabilities.  Regretting the lack of a spirit of compromise, she urged all delegations to vote against the amendment.

The representative of Switzerland, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Canada, Norway and Liechtenstein, said the amendment aimed to weaken previously agreed language on gender equality.  The tabled version referred to partnership with parents and guardians, and stated that education should be age‑appropriate.  The proposed amendment upset the carefully calibrated compromise, she said, urging all to vote no.

The representative of Brazil said he would vote against the amendment.  The resolution focused on the rights of women and girls with disabilities, and the paragraph presented by the co‑facilitators already noted the partnership with parents, guardians and health care providers.  He called on all delegations to vote against the draft amendment.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the Committee was voting on the same text for the second day.  The topic of human rights for persons with disabilities was a complex one deserving attention, yet unfortunately, a similar item had been included on the rights of the child resolution, and the co‑sponsors had decided it was also necessary to include the paragraph in a resolution on persons on disabilities.  In the future, co‑sponsors, who understood which resolutions were problematic, should show common sense. 

The representative of Nicaragua said the most important part of society was the family, adding that future resolutions should be better balanced.

The representative of Egypt associated herself with Nigeria’s statement and noted that her country had been among the first to join the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  The language of the paragraph was unbalanced, and delegates should be more careful with transposing language, she said, adding that Egypt would vote in favour of the amendment and calling on others to do the same.

The representative of Uruguay noted that the draft resolution included a clause on full cooperation with parents and legal guardians, and said it was necessary to vote against the amendment.

The representative of Argentina said it was concerning that the same language was being put forward on several resolutions.  The language did not come from the declaration on HIV/AIDS, but from another Third Committee resolution from last year.  He urged all delegates to vote against the amendment, lest they send the message that young women and girls with disabilities did not deserve the same protections as others.

The representative of Morocco said nothing prevented her from accepting an amendment to a resolution she co‑sponsored if she found the amendment to be an improvement to the resolution.  Morocco wished to keep its co‑sponsorship of the draft resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft amendment to operative paragraph 18 by a recorded vote of 82 in favour to 78 against, with 9 abstentions (Cambodia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malaysia, Maldives, Nepal, Tuvalu).

The representative of the Holy See, in a general statement, condemned all forms of violence against people with disabilities, underscoring that a commitment to consensus should be respected in the Committee even while it discussed controversial issues.  He expressed reservations on the text, adding that the Holy See did not view abortion as a dimension of sexual and reproductive rights.

The representative of New Zealand, also on behalf of Mexico and Sweden, expressed disappointment that a vote had been called, as the co‑sponsors believed they had struck a balance in the draft resolution.  By calling for a vote, the Committee sent a message to women and girls with disabilities that they did not have the same rights as others.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally amended with a unanimous recorded vote of 176 in favour.

By its terms, States would be called on to consider signing and ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol thereto.  They would be urged to review and repeal any law or policy that restricted women with disabilities from their full participation in political and public life on an equal basis with others, as well as to ensure the equal access of those women to decent work in the public and private sectors, that labour markets were open and accessible to persons with disabilities, and to take measures to both increase the employment of those women and to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability.

The representative of the United States said women and girls were most marginalized among those persons with disabilities, excluded from services such as health care and education.  Countries did not have to fulfil obligations of international instruments to which they were not party, even though they had supported the resolution.  The United States did not recognize abortion as a form of family planning, she said, noting that she had voted for the draft resolution to urge States to protect the rights of women and girls with disabilities.

The representative of Brazil dissociated from operative paragraph 18 as amended, as it compromised the empowerment of women and girls with disabilities.

The representative of Yemen said his country had voted for the draft resolution as women and girls with disabilities experienced discrimination.  He said the fact that 176 delegates had voted for the draft had shown it addressed the concerns of many countries.

The representative of Argentina said amended operative paragraph 18 weakened the protection of women and girls with disabilities, and he thus dissociated from it.

The representative of Australia, on behalf of Canada, Iceland, Norway, and other countries, would have wanted the draft to have been adopted without a vote in its original version.  She welcomed the draft’s focus on women and girls with disabilities, who faced multiple challenges.  She called on States to provide women and girls access to education and health care, to prevent violence and abuse towards them, and to end to practices such as abortion and sterilization.  Stressing the importance of collecting disaggregated disability data, she said States had the common objective to reduce the spread of HIV and unwanted pregnancies among women and girls with disabilities.  There was a need for more education on responsible family planning, she asserted.

The representative of Libya said the controversial draft on the rights of persons with disabilities should not be introduced in the future.  It was important to respect different cultural practices and values.

The representative of Uruguay said all women and girls with disabilities should have equal rights and he dissociated from operative paragraph 18.

The representative of Netherlands expressed disappointment over the vote on the amendment, as his country did not see operative paragraph 18 as the basis for consensus moving forward.

The representative of Morocco, in a general statement, said the personal, sexual and private life of individuals with disabilities was important.  Morocco had reviewed the provisions of paragraph 18 as drafted by the co‑facilitators, but in the final analysis, had decided to make an addition to the paragraph.  Even if it were considered a weakness by some, she expressed hope there could be consensus on the draft resolution as a whole.

The representative of Colombia said the amended paragraph limited access of women and girls with disabilities to information, and he disassociated from it.

The representative of Costa Rica expressed regret that the draft resolution had not been adopted by consensus, saying sexual and reproductive information for young people was important, and disassociating from the amended paragraph.

The representative of Denmark attached great importance to the rights of girls and women, and did not support the paragraph amended as a basis for consensus moving forward.

Effects of Terrorism on Enjoyment of Human Rights

The representative of Egypt, speaking on behalf of the main sponsors, introduced a draft resolution titled “Effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of human rights” (document A/C.3/72/L.49/Rev.1 and programme budget implications contained in document A/C.3/72/L.70).  He said all human rights were universal, indivisible, and interrelated, and that terrorism hampered economic development.  The draft aimed to condemn all acts of terrorism and incitement, and expressed grave concern over the effect of terrorism on human rights.  The draft resolution called on States to remain alert to the use of information technology for terrorist purposes.  The draft’s adoption should send a strong message that the international community was united in the fight against terrorism.  

The representative of South Africa introduced an amendment to the draft resolution, saying her country’s democracy had been achieved in 1994 through the support of the international community and the Assembly, which had played a pivotal role in recognizing the national liberation movement by distinguishing it from terrorism.  The amendment sought to recognize that the draft resolution did not distinguish just and legitimate movements from terrorist acts.  The stance of the main sponsors was puzzling, given their support for national liberation movements in Africa, she said, adding that the proposed amendment brought the requisite balance to the draft resolution.

The representative of Egypt said it was unfortunate that South Africa had introduced an amendment and underscored Egypt’s unwavering support for the Palestinian cause.  Making such a distinction would conflate legitimate armed struggle with terrorism, he said, asking South Africa to withdraw its amendment.

The representative of South Africa, responding to the request by Egypt’s delegate to withdraw her request for an amendment, said she had not heard of such a request in her 17‑year experience in multilateralism and asked the Committee continue with its proceedings.

The representative of Egypt called for vote on the amendment.

The Committee then rejected the draft amendment by a recorded vote of 21 in favour to 77 against, with 42 abstentions.

The representative of Saudi Arabia said his country respected human rights while fighting terrorism.  He called on delegates to support the draft resolution to demonstrate that countries were united in the fight against terrorism.

The representative of South Africa requested a vote on the draft resolution as a whole.

The representative of Egypt, in a general statement, said he was deeply disappointed by the position of South Africa’s delegate and called on all States to vote in favour of the draft resolution.

The representative of South Africa said it was imperative to abide by international human rights law when fighting terrorism.  South African heroes had been labelled by terrorists in the past. The persecution of South Africa’s heroes was the reason why her country’s foreign policy lay on self‑determination and statehood.  She did not share the view that her intention to call for a vote on the resolution was ill‑founded and said her country would vote against the resolution.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 1 against (South Africa), with 63 abstentions.

By its terms, the Assembly would reiterate that all States should take appropriate measures to deny support for terrorists and terrorist groups, particularly political, military, logistical and financial support.  It would emphasize the importance of cooperation, including through technical cooperation, capacity‑building and the exchange of information and intelligence on counter‑terrorism. 

The representative of Estonia, on behalf of the European Union, said the co‑sponsors went to lengths to accommodate the views of States which had participated in negotiations on the text.  However, the bloc had abstained from the vote as it did not favour a parallel process of protecting rights when fighting terrorism.

The representative of Qatar said all terrorist acts were crimes and it was clear that terrorism shattered human rights and democracy.  The international community should strengthen cooperation on the fight against terrorism, she said, underscoring the need to raise awareness and education in countering terrorism and addressing the deep roots of that phenomenon.

The representative of the United States said her country did not recognize an obligation to recognize human rights law when countering terrorism.  The new report called for in the draft resolution was not an appropriate use of resources.

Having taken note of several documents read out by the Secretary, the Committee then approved its tentative agenda for the seventy‑third session (document A/C.3/72/L.73).

The representative of Syria, on a point of order, wished everyone a happy Thanksgiving.

The representative of Cuba invited everyone to the Cuban festival which would take place on 8 December.

The representative of the United Kingdom asked for the floor on a point of order “to read a silly poem” reflecting on the work of the Third Committee during the session.

The representative of Egypt answered with a poem of his own.

The representative of Nigeria invited all to the African Group’s party.

Security Council: children and armed conflict

Note: Following is a partial summary of today’s Security Council meeing on children and armed conflict. A complete summary will be available later today as Press Release SC/13050.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said children around the world were suffering enormously and unacceptably in conflict, a source of global shame.  Armed groups forced girls and boys to become suicide bombers.  Children were stigmatized by having been recruited by armed groups, yet they were held criminally responsible for acts they were forced to commit.  Parties to conflict often obstructed life‑saving assistance for children, he said, noting that 2016 had witnessed the most child casualties ever recorded by the United Nations in Afghanistan.  There had been a doubling of verified child‑recruitment cases of in Syria and Somalia, in addition to widespread sexual violence against children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and elsewhere, he said, adding that tens of millions of children were also uprooted by fighting.

Despite that bleak picture, however, some progress had been possible, he said.  Changes in the reporting process had allowed for deeper engagement with parties to conflict, and the security forces of five Government security forces and four armed groups had put measures in place to better protect children during 2016.  While there was progress, however, the scale and intensity of some crises required redoubling efforts and taking innovative approaches, he said.  The cross‑border elements of conflict were increasing, requiring the strengthening of engagement with regional and subregional actors.  Additional legal and political commitments to protect children should also be encouraged, he added, appealing to Member States to provide resources in support of initiatives.

He noted that, whereas armed groups and armed forces had released thousands of children in 2016, only half of them had been successfully reintegrated into their families and communities.  More must be done to provide funding for programmes to offer education, job training, counselling and family reunification, he emphasized.  A legal framework to protect children in armed conflict was in place, but accountability for crimes and violations of human rights and humanitarian law must be pursued.  “If we leave the next generation traumatized, seething with grievances, we betray those we serve and ourselves,” he stressed.  Calling upon all parties in conflict to work with the United Nations to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable and precious resource, he urged the Council to strongly support that effort in order to build long-term peace, stability and development.

VIRGINIA GAMBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, pointed out that she had only assumed that position earlier in 2017, and said developments during her time so far had been extremely worrying, with more than 20,000 violations against children documented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) alone during 2016.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict (document S/2017/821), she said 2017 had not been much better.  The number of children recruited and used by armed groups remained at “startling levels” in Somalia and South, and attacks on schools and hospitals had been conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Child casualties were common in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, and in recent months, armed groups and Governments continued to delay and deny them life-saving aid, she said.  Sexual violence against boys and girls was widespread in conflict situations.

“What we have inflicted upon children in war zones in recent years will be our disgrace,” she continued.  “We must take urgent action to address this use of children as expendable commodities by warring parties.”  The announcement of new commitments to protect children was one source of hope, she said, highlighting the Paris Principles as an important initiative.  Other positive steps included ratifications of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and endorsements of the Safe Schools Declaration.  “We need to work together to ensure that these political pledges make a practical difference for children on the ground,” she emphasized.

She went on to say that the report showed there had been tangible progress in diverse situations when political will was applied.  In that regard, the Civilian Joint Task force in Nigeria had signed an action plan, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines as well as the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been delisted, children had been separated from armed cadres in Colombia, and measures had been put in place by the Saudi Arabia‑led coalition in Yemen.  She said her office was helping to strengthen those measures and working with Yemeni and Sudanese authorities to reinforce other mechanisms, open new child‑protection units and provide additional training.  Such examples of cooperation and political engagement should be seen as models, so that best practices could be rolled out in as many places as possible to better protect children, she emphasized.

All efforts to protect children in the context of armed extremism must be carried out under international human rights law, she continued, stressing that, under the Paris Principles, all children allegedly associated with armed groups were primarily victims and must be treated as such.  Their separation, demobilization and reintegration would be much more effective than mass detention, she said, appealing for adequate funding of reintegration programmes that had already helped 100,000 children re‑enter society.  “We must not further victimize children.”  To improve response to violations, it would be necessary to prioritize accountability by strengthening justice systems, enhancing partnerships at all levels, ensuring that dedicated and adequately funded child‑protection capacities accompanied United Nations peace operations, and that peacemaking efforts were reinvigorated.  In that regard, she called for the inclusion of child‑protection provisions in ceasefires and peace agreements.

MUBIN SHAIKH of the non-governmental organization Child Soldiers Initiative described his own six‑year period of radicalization into extremism as a teenager following a trip into Taliban‑controlled areas of Afghanistan.  He said that his radicalization had resulted from “an ideology conflict, poisonous ideology from other teens and a search for meaning and belonging”, but he had turned away from that malevolent way of thinking following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

“I ended up studying Islam properly and went through a period of de‑radicalization,” he said, adding that he had then joined the Canadian Security Intelligence Service as an undercover operative.  He had also become a member of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, exploring the ways in which children, teens and adults were exploited by extremists, including such groups as the Taliban, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabaab, Al‑Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram.

“Around the world, non‑State armed groups, including violent extremists, are using children to sow violence, carry out attacks, build their ranks and prolong their beliefs and agenda into the future,” he said, adding that the recruitment of children was both systematic and intentional.  The groups realized they could gain from children advantages they could not gain from adults since they were easier to forcibly or coercively recruit and indoctrinate, and they were often viewed with less suspicion by security forces.  Describing the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers as a timely and useful document, he emphasized that “we must respond to this challenge preventatively”.  Indeed, it was far better to ensure that children were never recruited in the first place than to address their disrupted childhood, trauma and indoctrination after the fact, he said.

Whether the indoctrination of children was of a religious or radical nature — or carried out by urban street gangs, bandits or pirates — the challenge was the same, he stressed.  They were all robbing children of their innocence and leaving them to die.  Calling for a holistic approach by Governments, security services, the United Nations, military forces, peacekeepers, corrections personnel and others, he said security sectors in particular must be adequately trained to deal with the problem.  “As with all efforts to counter violent extremism, security sector actors must build mutual trust and respect with affected communities, preventing the marginalization and mistrust that can help fuel recruitment,” he said.  A robust, holistic and collective approach “which puts children’s rights up front” would enable the international community to protect children from harm, prevent violence and create a more peaceful and equitable society.

The Council then issued presidential statement PRST/2017/21.

Statements

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and Council President for October, said there was need to move forward to the objective of a world in which children were not victims of armed conflict.  The international community had denounced the recruitment of children by armed forces and groups for more than 20 years, he noted.  France had promoted effective mechanisms to protect children in armed conflict, he said, recalling that 10 years ago, its capital had hosted a conference that had culminated in the adoption of the Paris Principles.  Despite such progress, 230 million children were living under armed conflict, he said, emphasizing that non‑State armed groups and terrorists bore greatest responsibility for violations.

There was a need for prevention based on efforts undertaken to end violent extremism, and also need to raise awareness.  There was also a need to protect schools.  Close cooperation with UNICEF was necessary to ensure the reintegration of children recruited by armed groups, and the deployment of child protection advisers was essential.  The action plans were also an important tool, he said, stressing that everything needed to be done to ensure that the return of children to their families was permanent.  Underlining the indispensable necessity to fight impunity, he said that was the responsibility of States, but pressure musts be brought to bear on those recruiting children and those involved in sexual violence.  The interests of children must prevail, he said, adding that respect for and the strengthening of their rights should be the basis of all commitments.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, recalled her visit last week to Afghanistan, noting that one in three civilian casualties of the conflict there was a child.  Armed groups in that country continued to recruit children, who also remained at risk of sexual violence, she said.  “We, the international community, have a responsibility”, she said, to “do all in our power to give all children the right to their childhood”.  Whereas there was a unique consensus on the matter within the Council, Sweden had a long tradition of working to strengthen the protection of children, she said, emphasizing that the Council could do more to improve its efforts in that regard.

Calling upon Member States that had not yet done so to sign the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration, she said the international community must also ensure that its response to State and non‑State armed groups remained in accordance with international law.  She also stressed the need to prioritize the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups.  “These children should always be treated as victims,” she added.  It was essential to guarantee children the right to education, particularly girls.  As the penholder on children and armed conflict, Sweden welcomed today’s presidential statement, she said, adding that it strengthened the Council’s stance on many relevant issues.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, expressed deep concern at the information provided in the Secretary-General’s report.  The international community must redouble efforts to protect children in armed conflict, he said, noting that his country had supported international mechanisms including the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration.  In his country itself, however, he said that 90 children were killed since the beginning of Russian aggression in the east with many more killed in the downing of the airliner and others maimed by mines.  He regretted that that information did not make its way into the Secretary‑General’s report.  Children displaced by the conflict numbered some 240,000 and there had been forced recruitment of young men and detention of others.  His Government had been working hard to improve the situation of affected children, but in occupied areas in the east, many were deprived of education.  He hoped that the situation would be included in future reports and pledged his country’s continued dedication to the issue.

TARIQ MAHMOOD AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said that no effort should be spared to protect children.  The report was alarming in that light.  Children should not be imprisoned.  He called for all armed groups who had not done so to put measures in place to protect children and prevent their recruitment, and for all who had put measures in place to fulfil their commitments.  He enumerated his country’s support for education for children in conflict areas, along with other aid targeted to such children.  Condemning sexual abuse by United Nations workers, whether they were peacekeepers or agency staff, he stressed that there must be no more impunity for such abuse.  Acknowledging some progress in child protection as described by the report, he attributed some of the positive developments to the Special Representative’s office, pledging continued support to that office.  He called for greater efforts to ensure that children will be protected and educated no matter where they lived.

The representative of Ethiopia said he looked forward to the compilation of best practices on child protection issues, as he was concerned at grave violations, particularly by terrorist groups in recruiting in asymmetric warfare.  The use of children as suicide bombers was a serious matter, as was their forcible displacement.  While welcoming the signing of action plans, he noted with concern issues associated with implementation, including reintegration of children.  He said securing release of children and ensuring their disarmament and reintegration would require sustained support, in particular by child protection advisers.  Parties to armed conflict should treat children who had been used by armed groups as victims.  Internally displaced and refugee children were often unaccompanied and frequently victim of sexual abuse and exploitation and must be treated with care, including education and documentation.  More needed to be done to enhance cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional organizations.  His country had taken various measures to ensure protection of children in areas where Ethiopian troops were deployed, including mechanisms to ensure accountability of any violation committed by its troops.

The representative of Italy said some progress had been achieved, including the signing of 29 action plans, 18 with non‑State armed groups.  There was a need to continue widest addition by States to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration were initiatives that would make a difference.  Child protection should be included in mandates of peacekeeping missions and child protection advisers should be fully funded and staffed.  Peacekeeping personnel should get specific training on child protection.  States needed to develop measures to ensure that recruitment of children was criminalized and perpetrators were brought to justice.  Preventing and responding to child recruitment was not only a matter of concern of the Council but demanded action by all stakeholders, including non‑governmental organizations.  “By serving the interest of children, we serve the best interest of humanity,” he said.

The representative of United States said violations and abuses of international law concerning children were rampant.  Of particular concern was the abuse of children by terrorist groups.  South Sudan remained a major cause of concern, as 17,000 children had been recruited by armed groups, the same number of peacekeepers there, she said.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dozens of armed groups had recruited children and used rape as a weapon of war.  To better help children victims, there was a need to demand that all parties to conflict fulfil all obligations under international law.  When parties failed to comply with their obligations, they should be held accountable.  Atrocities by the regime of Bashar al‑Assad, helped by the Russian Federation, were impossible to calculate and perpetrators of those atrocities should be held accountable.  The United Nations should do more to focus on what happened to children after they were released, she stressed.  Children released by armed groups needed medical and psychological support as well as food, she said, underlining the importance of maintaining the role of child protection officers in field missions.  Progress should be noted, however, including the fact that Governments had signed action plans.

The representative of Uruguay, associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Canada, said all States should put an end to impunity of perpetrators of crimes committed against children and highlighted in that regard the important role of International Criminal Court.  He also drew attention to the sale of weapons to parties that had been identified as violators and urged for an end to those sales.  He noted that there were still 43 States that had not raised the minimum age of enlistment in armed forces to 18 years.  To defend the right to education was a key factor in post‑conflict situations.  Training of staff in peacekeeping missions was also important, he said, and he expressed concern at staffing cuts in child protection efforts in peacekeeping mandates, particularly regarding information gathering.  Children must be treated as victims when they had been recruited by armed groups and detention should be a last measure.  He welcomed the recent signing of action plans by Mali and Sudan.  He stressed the importance of the monitoring and reporting measures to gather information of serious violations against children.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that the key to improving the dire situation of children in conflict situations was the use of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.  His country would continue to support the activities of the Special Representative in that regard and of child protection officers in the field.  Japan had adopted the Paris Principles.  Calling for support to affected States to be supported in reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups, he noted that his country had been doing so in many situations, with employment training included for many.  In general, he reiterated the importance of implementing agreed‑upon frameworks on the ground.  No child should live in fear of attacks.  Together with other partners in the international community, his country would continue its efforts to implement commitments to better the lives of children all over the world.

The representative of Bolivia, acknowledging the serious effects on children in many conflict situations as described in the report, cited the crimes of Boko Haram as particularly striking, along with incarceration and loss of life among Palestinian minors.  To better protect children, the root causes of conflict must be addressed.  He condemned all abuses against children by armed groups, stressing that there were special protections for them in international law because of their vulnerability.  He also called for all those who had not ratified international instruments to do so.  In addition, he emphasized that tangible actions and rehabilitation programmes must be implemented.  He cited the handling of children’s issues in the Colombian peace agreements as a model to be replicated in other areas.

The representative of Senegal, welcoming the work being done by the United Nations to protect children in conflict situations, including actions by the Security Council, said that considerable progress had been made.  It should not obscure the fact that violations against children continued, however, in many current situations.  All actors must redouble their efforts to overcome major challenges, including recruitment by non-State armed groups.  Member States, in addition, must abide by their commitments in the area.  Senegal developed a national strategy regarding protection of children, reintegration of children associated with armed groups and civics education.  Prevention of violations against children and ending impunity were important priorities.  Arguing that better prevention must be based on a reliable early warning system in collaboration with regional partners, he pointed to the Cape Town Principles on protecting children in Africa.

The representative of China said that the international community must take concrete measures to protect children, including zero tolerance for terrorism, fighting terrorist outreach online and working with effected countries, who had the primary responsibility to protect the children within their borders.  While respecting those countries’ sovereignty, the United Nations should coordinate with such countries and regional partners to ensure they were protected, fed and educated.  Agencies such as UNICEF, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank should also help address the root causes of children’s suffering.  His country would continue to support efforts to shield children from suffering harm because of war.

The representative of Russian Federation expressed concern about disrespect for international law in conflict, emphasizing that there could be no excuse for violations of children’s rights.  The Russian Federation was providing humanitarian assistance in Syria, taking the needs of children into account, he said, adding that it had organized the rehabilitation of schools and hospitals, and that Russian doctors were providing medical assistance to children.  Noting that those responsible for the situation of children in Syria preferred not to talk about it, he questioned the change in the format of the documents annexed to the Secretary‑General’s report, in particular, criteria used to determine who would undertake the protection of children and who would not.  International humanitarian law contained standards on the protection of children in armed conflict and there was no need to change international norms, he said.

Emphasizing the importance of enhancing effective implementation, he said the Council’s efforts should focus on approaches approved by the United Nations.  He underlined the integrity and independence of the Special Representative, as well as the need to ensure that the information contained in the report was reliable and without double standards.  In response to the statement by Ukraine’s representative, he said what was happening in that country was openly discriminatory.  For example, a law was being prepared that would bar education in the Russian language to children whose native tongue was Russian, he said, adding that Ukrainian forces had shelled schools, as reflected in reports by United Nations observers.  Everything depended on whether peace could be restored, which could be done through the Minsk Agreement, he said, expressing hope that Ukraine would respect that agreement and implement it.

The representative of Kazakhstan encouraged all Member States to ratify and implement relevant international treaties, and to enact national legislation accordingly.  The United Nations child‑protection capacity on the ground, as well as the capacity to monitor and report grave violations of their rights, must be preserved.  There was also a need for child‑protection criteria in order to establish or renew sanctions committees.  He urged Member States to treat children allegedly associated with non‑State armed groups primarily as victims and use detention as a last resort.  There was a need for adequate resources to ensure children had safe access to education, health care, basic services and trauma counselling.  Every effort must be made to prevent recruitment, large‑scale radicalization and widespread dissemination of terrorism ideology among young people, including by use of the Internet.  It was also important to provide inter‑religious and inter-ethnic education with the goal of forging a national identity based on the shared human value of tolerance in a global civilization.

The representative of Egypt said a radical solution to support child victims of armed conflict had not yet been found.  The Council had provided a legal framework, but it had not been implemented.  He encouraged the Special Representatives to increase dialogue, especially with non-State groups.  Emphasizing that Governments bore primary responsibility for protecting civilians, especially children, he said the Council and the General Assembly were the official institutions for drafting or amending the legal framework of the child‑protection mandate.  Egypt called for addressing the six grave violations identified in the child-protection mandate equally, he said, adding that there was a need to address the root causes of conflicts, notably poverty and under-development.  He called for an end to double standards, pointing out in that regard that the report did not list the ongoing suffering of Palestinian children in areas of Israeli occupation.  Children had a right to education even in times of emergency, he said, underlining that basic education must also be provided to refugee and migrant children.

The representative of Ukraine, replying to the statement of the Russian Federation, said that that latter country was listed as an Occupying Power in Ukraine and was therefore not eligible to pronounce on the situation, at least as long as the country did not return Crimea and make other amends for the situation.

The representative of Belgium, associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, deplored the continued suffering of children in armed conflict.  Noting that his country had endorsed the Paris Principles and the Declaration on Safe Schools and hospitals, he said that prevention of recruitment began by keeping places of learning free of danger.  Combatting extreme violence must begin with attacking its roots and be carried out with full respect of human rights.  Underlining the importance of rehabilitating and reintegrating children who had been associated with armed groups, he described various activities co‑sponsored by his country.  He asked that children’s protection be better pursued through peacekeeping mandates.  He pledged his country’s long-term dedication to the issue through the Security Council, especially if elected as a non‑permanent member, and other forums.

GUSTAVO MEZA‑CUADRA (Peru), expressing grave concern at the situation described in the Secretary-General’s report, called on States that had not yet done so to endorse the Paris Principles as his country had done.  The measures were being implemented with respect for the best actions to be taken for each child.  Reintegration of children affected by conflict was a priority.  As a future non‑permanent member of the Council, Peru would continue to ensure that children’s protections remained central in the organ’s work, along with other efforts to ensure human rights.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, expressed concern over what he called the unacceptable violations of children’s rights presented in the report.  Extremism must be countered in full compliance with international law to effectively protect children.  The signing and effective implementation of action plans with armed groups was an essential tool to achieve concrete progress.  It was vital to continue to create frameworks and mechanisms to protect children, but their implementation was paramount.  In that context, he urged all parties to end attacks on schools and hospitals and stop the military use of institutions of learning in accordance with international law.  Germany intended to further pursue the matter of children in conflict if elected as a non-permanent member of the Council, and was pursuing efforts to strengthen regional networks in favour of children’s protection.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Norway, said there was now a robust framework to open dialogue with parties to conflict.  Nevertheless, children in armed conflict were deprived of the most fundamental human rights.  He was particularly concerned at the impact of asymmetric attacks by non‑State groups on children.  The full respect of international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law had to be the cornerstone of all efforts to address the problem.  Dialogue with non‑State armed groups was necessary to address violations, as had happened in Colombia.  Children exploited by armed groups should be recognized as victims.  Detention for reasons of national security impacted thousands of children in armed conflict, he said, and it was outrageous that they were treated as threats to security.  The obligations of States regarding refugees should not been given up in the context of security.  Prevention of conflict remained the most ethical and effective approach in protecting civilians, including children.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) welcomed the fact that the results achieved by her country had been recognized.  She assured the Special Representative that violations against children would not reoccur.  The changing nature of armed conflict represented a challenge to child protection.  Colombia was no stranger to the problem, she said.  More than 20 years ago, it had put in place legislation to prohibit recruitment of those under the age of 18 in its armed forces.  The peace process had placed child victims, included recruited children, at the heart of negotiations.  There were 132 minors who had been separated from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and placed under the protection of the State.  A National Reintegration Council had been established which undertook reintegration of children separated from the FARC.  Columbia was focused on ending child recruitment and offering released children other life options, including through education.

The representative of Canada, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed conflict, said that s/he remained deeply concerned about the rise of armed groups employing extreme violence and their recruitment and use of children, including the use of children as suicide bombers.  Violent extremism posed unique child protection challenges.  It should be remembered that children associated with armed groups should be considered as victims first and afforded relevant protections under international humanitarian law.  They should be detained only as a last resort and for the shortest period necessary in full respect of international humanitarian law and applicable international human rights law.

S/he also welcomed the vital role played by peacekeepers in promoting child protections and welcomed the release of the new Department of Peacekeeping Operations‑Department of Field Services‑Department of Public Information Child Protection Policy to support those efforts.  Troop- and police‑contributing countries should undertake concrete steps to prioritize and further operationalize child protection within peacekeeping in terms of the training and doctrine of their national forces.  Adequate resources were also needed to deliver mission success.  S/he was concerned that extensive cuts to the staffing and budgets of child protection adviser positions, as well as consolidation efforts, would undermine the Organization’s ability to deliver on the critical child protection mandates put forth by the Security Council.

Speaking in his/her national capacity, s/he said that Canada had developed a national doctrine on addressing child soldiers, the first of its kind worldwide.  Canadian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine Note 2017-01 provided strategic guidance to the country’s forces regarding potential encounters and engagement with child soldiers.  It also provided commanders with baseline guidance through which to develop their predeployment training, and operational and mission‑specific considerations.

The representative of Turkey, shared the concern of the report on the scale and severity of violations against children in conflict, noting the increasing involvement of non‑State actors in such violations, among whom he named ISIL, Boko Haram and PKK/PYD [Kurdish Workers Party/Democratic Union Party], whom he said continued to recruit boys and girls under the age of 15 to carry out terrorist attacks.  The international community must display joint and robust political determination as well as concerted action in addressing the situation.  In that context, Turkey continued to support the well-being of children in vulnerable situations, hosting some 3.3 million displaced by conflict and exerting every effort to meet the education needs of the approximately 835,000 school‑age Syrian children in the country.  He realized its efforts were not meeting all needs; new schools and teachers were urgently needed.  He called once again on the international community to act in conformity with the principle of responsibility and burden-sharing in that regard.

The representative of Liechtenstein, associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict, said the erosion of respect for international humanitarian law being seen today had an impact on children.  Voicing support for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, as well as for the monitoring mechanism established by Council resolution 1612 (2005) to document grave violations, he said that in the last six months alone more than 500 schools had been attacked worldwide.  Pointing to disturbing related trends, including the use of air strikes against schools and the use of schools for military purposes, he strongly condemned such actions and urged all parties to conflict to respect the principle of distinction and other basic rules of international humanitarian law.  Where they were violated, accountability must be ensured, he said, also endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and calling on Member States — especially members of the Council — to follow suit.  In addition, he called on States to prosecute those who had been associated with child recruitment and violence against children to end the impunity gap that persisted in many conflict and post-conflict societies.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflicts and the group of countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, called on Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  He went on to recall the “eerie testimony” of Joy Bishara, who was one of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria, observing that the main purpose of attacks on schools was to spread fear of receiving an education, because education and knowledge were the cornerstones of progress.  On the other hand, lack of education increased the risk of radicalization and the recruitment of children.  “Their place is not on the battlefield, their tools are not bombs and firearms, they should be at their school‑desks, with a pen and a book in their hands,” he emphasized.  He called for holding accountable recruiters, kidnappers, sexual offenders and all other perpetrators for crimes against children in a court of law.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said that more than 2,000 Palestinian children had been killed since 2000 by Israeli occupying forces and settlers.  In 2016 alone, 35 Palestinian children were killed and 887 were injured.  Palestinian children, including in East Jerusalem, were subject to mass arbitrary arrest and detention, house arrest, ill‑treatment, sexual abuse, and torture.  The international community must demand the immediate and permanent release of all children from Israeli captivity.  “There can be no justification for detention and abuse of children,” he stressed.  Deliberate attacks on schools and closures of educational institutions, as well as restrictions on humanitarian access continued unabated.  Palestine reiterated that all those well‑documented Israeli crimes called for the inclusion of Israel and its settlers on the list of parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of conflict.  The absence of such inclusion deeply affected the credibility of the list, and made it vulnerable to criticism of politicization.  He urged the international community to uphold its responsibility and enforce international law to bring Israel’s violations and occupation to an end.

Text adopted – General budget of the European Union for 2018 – all sections – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0408 – Wednesday, 25 October 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to Article 314 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union,

–  having regard to Article 106a of the Treaty establishing the European Atomic Energy Community,

–  having regard to Council Decision 2014/335/EU, Euratom of 26 May 2014 on the system of own resources of the European Union(1)
,

–  having regard to Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 966/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on the financial rules applicable to the general budget of the Union and repealing Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 1605/2002(2)
,

–  having regard to Council Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1311/2013 of 2 December 2013 laying down the multiannual financial framework for the years 2014-2020(3)
(MFF Regulation),

–  having regard to the Interinstitutional Agreement of 2 December 2013 between the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on budgetary discipline, on cooperation in budgetary matters and on sound financial management(4)
(IIA of 2 December 2013),

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 March 2017 on general guidelines for the preparation of the budget(5)
,

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 April 2017 on Parliament’s estimates of revenue and expenditure for the financial year 2018(6)
,

–  having regard to the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, which the Commission adopted on 29 June 2017 (COM(2017)0400),

–  having regard to the position on the draft general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2018, which the Council adopted on 4 September 2017 and forwarded to Parliament on 13 September 2017 (11815/2017 – C8‑0313/2017),

–  having regard to its resolution of 5 July 2017 on the mandate for the trilogue on the 2018 draft budget(7)
,

–  having regard to Rule 88 of its Rules of Procedure,

–  having regard to the report of the Committee on Budgets and the opinions of the other committees concerned (A8-0299/2017),

Section III

General overview

1.  Stresses that Parliament’s reading of the 2018 Budget fully reflects the political priorities adopted by an overwhelming majority in its abovementioned resolutions of 15 March 2017 and of 5 July 2017; recalls that sustainable growth, jobs, in particular youth employment, security and climate change are at the core of those priorities;

2.  Highlights that the Union continues to face numerous challenges and is convinced that, while maintaining budget discipline, the necessary financial resources must be deployed from the Union budget, in order to meet the political priorities and allow the Union to deliver concrete answers and to effectively respond to those challenges; underlines that Union spending should be based on the principle of European added value and should respect the principle of subsidiarity;

3.  Reaffirms its commitment to financing Union policies that enhance jobs and growth in all its regions through investment in research, education, infrastructure, SMEs and employment, in particular youth employment; fails to understand how the Union can achieve progress in those fields considering the cuts proposed by the Council under subheading 1a; decides instead to additionally reinforce research and innovation programmes that have a very high implementation rate and which, due to oversubscription, are faced with a particularly low success rate for applications;

4.  Remains committed to the pledges made by Parliament during the negotiations on the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), namely to minimise the impact of EFSI-related cuts on Horizon 2020 and the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in the framework of the annual budgetary procedure; proposes, therefore, to offset those cuts by restoring the original annual profile of those two programmes, in order to allow them to fully accomplish the objectives agreed during the adoption of the relevant legislation;

5.  Expresses its political support for the establishment of the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) and welcomes the legislative proposal put forward in this regard by the Commission; considers, however, that, pending a decision on the financing of the ESC and the adoption of the relevant regulation under the ordinary legislative procedure, no financial provision should be entered for this purpose in the 2018 Budget; decides, therefore, that relevant appropriations and redeployments, entered by the Commission in the Draft Budget 2018 (DB), should be for the moment reversed, as the decision on the 2018 Budget should not prejudge in any way the outcome of the legislative negotiations; remains fully committed to integrate the decision on ESC financing in next year’s budget immediately via an amending budget, in case the negotiations on the relevant regulation are not concluded before the end of the 2018 budgetary procedure;

6.  Is concerned by the fact that youth unemployment remains at unprecedented levels and is convinced that, in order not to jeopardise the future of an entire generation of young Europeans, additional actions need to be undertaken; decides therefore to reinforce the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) beyond the level proposed by the Commission for 2018; stresses that such reinforcement should be considered as additional to the overall allocation that was politically endorsed for YEI in the context of the MFF mid-term revision, and not as a mere frontloading of that allocation in the 2018 Budget;

7.  Recalls that cohesion policy plays a primary role in achieving economic and social convergence in the Union, and thus in ensuring development and growth; stresses that in 2018, cohesion policy programmes are expected to catch-up and reach cruising speed; emphasises Parliament’s commitment to ensuring adequate appropriations for those programmes that represent one of the core policies of the Union; is however preoccupied by the unacceptable delays in the implementation of operational programmes at national level; calls on Member States to ensure that the designation of managing, auditing and certifying authorities is concluded and that implementation is accelerated; furthermore calls on the Commission to go further with the simplification of the related procedures;

8.  Is highly concerned at the rise of instability and uncertainty both within and outside the Union; insists on the need for a renewed focus on the Union’s approach to cohesion, integration, peace, sustainable development and human rights; calls upon the Commission and the Member States to connect and boost efforts towards further sustaining peace and conflict prevention; recalls the worldwide inspiration brought by the Good Friday Agreement while acknowledging the unprecedented challenges and pressures in the aftermath of the United Kingdom 2016 Referendum; calls upon the Commission and Member States to enhance their support for reconciliation to secure peace and stability in Ireland;

9.  Believes that, while at present the peak of the migratory and refugee crisis seems to have decreased, the Union must stand ready to respond to any future unforeseen event in this area and pursue a more proactive approach in the field of migration; therefore urges the Commission to continuously monitor the adequacy of allocations under Heading 3 and make full use of all available instruments under the current MFF to respond in a timely manner to any unforeseen event that might require additional funding; recalls that, while the Union managed to put in place some mechanisms helping to cope with this situation, still over one hundred thousand refugees and migrants have arrived to Europe by sea so far in 2017 according to the UNHCR; decides therefore to reinforce in a limited manner the Asylum Migration and Integration Fund and the Internal Security Fund, as well as the agencies with responsibilities in the field of asylum, such as the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which need to be provided with adequate financial and human resources; notes, once again, that the Heading 3 ceiling is vastly insufficient to provide for appropriate funding for the internal dimension of the migration and refugee crisis as well as other priority programmes, such as culture and citizenship programmes;

10.  Underlines that Heading 3 has been largely mobilised in recent years to address the migratory and refugee crisis and that such actions should continue for as long as needed; notes however that the funding provided so far is insufficient; decides for this reason to reinforce agencies in the field of Justice and Home Affairs which, due to increased workload and additional tasks, have been facing shortage of staff and funding in the past years;

11.  Underlines that, in light of recent security concerns across the Union, funding under Heading 3 should also have regard to measures which will lead to enhancing the security of Union citizens;

12.  Reiterates that an essential part of the solution to the migratory and refugee crisis as well as to the security concerns of Union citizens lie in addressing the root causes of migration and devoting sufficient financial means to external instruments that aim at tackling issues such as poverty, lack of employment, education and economic opportunities, instability, conflict and climate change which is one of the underlying causes behind increasing migration flows; is of the opinion that the Union should make an optimal use of financial means under Heading 4 which proved to be insufficient to equally address all external challenges, considering that the resources are clearly insufficient and should be increased in a more organic way;

13.  Regrets that, while preparing its position, Parliament has not been sufficiently informed about the budgetary impact of a possible political decision to extend the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT); reiterates its longstanding position that new initiatives shall not be financed to the detriment of existing EU external projects; calls therefore on the Commission, in the event of the prolongation of the FRT, to propose its financing through fresh means and involve more local NGOs in its implementation; notes that the Heading 4 ceiling is vastly insufficient to provide a sustainable and effective response to the current external challenges, including the migration and refugee ones;

14.  Recalls that the Union budget must support the fulfilment of the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Union’s own long-term climate goals by achieving the target of 20 % climate spending in the 2014-2020 MFF; regrets that the Commission has failed to put forward concrete and realistic proposals to achieve these goals; therefore proposes increases above the level of the DB for climate-related actions; notes however that these increases are not sufficient and calls on the Commission to present all the necessary proposals to reach the goals in the forthcoming draft budgets; notes, in this context, that 8,2 % of total commitment appropriations proposed in the DB are related to biodiversity protection; highlights that an annual increase of 0,1 % stands in contrast to the worrying and accelerating decline in species and habitats;

15.  Appreciates that the new approach of ‘Budget Focused on Results’ has for the first time been integrated into the internal budgetary preparation of the Commission in order to review the expenditure based on experience achieved so far and identify possible adjustments;

16.  Restores the cuts proposed by Council to the DB; fails to understand the reasoning behind the proposed cuts, for example those to Horizon 2020 and CEF, two programmes already affected by redeployments to EFSI, as well as those to external policies; contests, in any event, Council’s declared intention to target budget lines with a low execution rate or absorption capacity, as this is not substantiated by the actual implementation figures and ignores the varying implementation patterns of certain programmes;

17.  Concludes that, for the purpose of adequately financing all pressing needs, and considering the very tight MFF margins in 2018, all means available in the MFF Regulation in terms of flexibility will need to be deployed; expects that the Council will share this approach and that an agreement will easily be reached in conciliation, allowing the Union to rise to the occasion and effectively respond to the challenges ahead; underlines that the deviation each budgetary year from the original programming under the current MFF advocates in favour of an upward adjustment of the ceilings in the MFF post-2020;

18.  Sets the overall level of appropriations for 2018 at EUR 162 597 930 901 in commitment appropriations and EUR 146 712 004 932 in payment appropriations;

Subheading 1a – Competitiveness for growth and jobs

19.  Rejects Council’s unjustified EUR 750 million cuts to subheading 1a, which alone represent almost two thirds of the overall Council cuts in commitments in MFF headings; notes that such cuts contradict Council’s own stated political priorities;

20.  Insists that in order to achieve sustainable growth and job creation in the Union, boosting investments in research, innovation, education, infrastructure and MSMEs is key; warns that such cuts proposed by the Council would jeopardise programmes with real European added value and a direct impact on job and growth creation, such as Horizon 2020 or CEF; points out, in particular, that sufficient funding for Horizon 2020 is essential to allow for the development of research and innovation, leadership in digitalisation and for the support of SMEs in Europe; recalls that this programme has demonstrated a strong European added-value with 83 % of Horizon 2020-funded projects that would not have gone ahead without Union-level support; reiterates the importance of the CEF funding instrument for the completion of the TEN-T network and for achieving a Single European Transport Area; consequently decides to reverse all cuts made by the Council and, furthermore, to fully restore the original profile of the Horizon 2020 and CEF lines that were cut for the provisioning of the EFSI Guarantee Fund;

21.  Stresses, in addition, the need to strengthen both the education and training and the youth strands of Erasmus+, as part of strategic investment in European youth;

22.  Stresses that sufficient financial support for microenterprises, entrepreneurs and SMEs should be the key priority for the Union as these are the main source of job creation across Europe; emphasises that securing good access to finance is essential for keeping SMEs competitive and for helping them to overcome challenges related to access to the internal market as well as to the global market;

23.  Decides, therefore, to further reinforce beyond the DB and the pre-EFSI and pre-ESC profiles those programmes that are key to boosting growth and jobs and that reflect widely agreed Union priorities, namely Erasmus+, Horizon 2020 (Marie Curie, European Research Council, SME Instrument), COSME, and EaSI (Progress and Eures); calls on the Commission to provide sufficient funding for budget lines related to WIFI4EU and to keep its investment commitment between 2017 and 2020;

24.  Welcomes the inclusion of the Special Annual Events budget line in the 2018 Budget, which will allow the development of a sense of European belonging among citizens; notes that the scope of the Special Annual Event should demonstrably serve the added value to the European citizens across the Member States;

25.  Stresses the importance of stimulating cooperative defence research in Europe for addressing key capability shortfalls at a time when international developments and uncertainties increasingly require Europe to step up its efforts on defence; supports the increased allocation for the Preparatory Action on defence research; calls for a defence research programme with a dedicated budget within the next Multiannual Financial Framework; reiterates, nevertheless, its longstanding position that new initiatives shall be financed through fresh appropriations and not to the detriment of existing Union programmes; underlines, furthermore, the need to improve the competitiveness and innovation in the European defence industry;

26.  Is of the opinion that increased resources should be allocated in the framework of the 2018 Budget in order to conduct a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the risk posed by third countries in terms of their strategic deficiencies in the area of anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing, based on criteria defined in Article 9 of Directive (EU) 2015/849(8)
, and to establish a list of ‘high-risk’ jurisdictions;

27.  Calls on the Commission to ensure an adequate level of allocations enabling the European Union Reference Laboratory for alternatives to animal testing (EURL ECVAM) to effectively perform its duties and tasks listed in Annex VII to Directive 2010/63/EU(9)
, with particular reference to coordinating and promoting the development and use of alternatives to animal testing including in the areas of basic and applied research and regulatory testing;

28.  As a result, increases the level of commitment appropriations for subheading 1a above the DB by EUR 143,9 million (excluding pre-EFSI and pre-ESC restoration, pilot projects and preparatory actions), to be financed within the margin available as well as a further mobilisation of the Global Margin for Commitments;

Subheading 1b – Economic, social and territorial cohesion

29.  Disapproves of Council’s proposed cuts of EUR 240 million in payments under subheading 1b, including on support lines and reverses them, pending updated forecasts from the Commission;

30.  Notes with increasing concern that the unacceptable delays in the implementation of the European Structural and Investment Funds have undermined their effectiveness and put pressure on the managing authorities and beneficiaries; reiterates once again the risk that the current delays can have on the accumulation of unpaid bills in the second half of this MFF and at the beginning of the next one; reiterates strongly its call on the Member States to seek advice and assistance from the Commission in order to address the delays in the designation of the managing, certifying and auditing authorities; is further alarmed by the downsize trend and the lack of accuracy of the Member States’ estimates;

31.  Recalls that youth unemployment rates remain unacceptably high in the Union; emphasises that, in order to address this issue, it is of importance to ensure proper funding of the Youth Guarantee schemes through the Youth Employment Initiative (YEI) and the ESF; welcomes the agreement on the need to provide fresh funding for the YEI, and the inclusion of the corresponding appropriations in the DB 2018; considers nevertheless that, given the challenges and risks posed by youth unemployment, the YEI should benefit from increased appropriations and therefore decides to bring the YEI to EUR 600 million in commitments in 2018; moreover, considers that professional training actions, towards the youth and in particular the apprenticeship should be eligible for financing under the cohesion policy;

32.  Welcomes the new EUR 142,8 million financial envelope which has been created to facilitate the implementation of the Structural Reform Support Programme between 2017-2020;

Heading 2 – Sustainable growth: natural resources

33.  Recalls that the Commission’s proposal to increase appropriations to finance the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund (EAGF) needs are largely due to a significantly lower amount of assigned revenue being expected to be available in 2018; notes the Council’s cuts of EUR 275 million, but considers that the Commission’s Amending Letter should remain the basis for any reliable revision of EAGF appropriations and restores the DB levels accordingly, pending an examination of this Amending Letter in conciliation;

34.  Stresses that storage programmes have proved effective in times of crisis and that a reduction in the financial resources earmarked in the planning process would be counter-productive;

35.  Underlines that part of the solution to address youth unemployment lies in adequately supporting young people in rural areas; proposes therefore an increase of EUR 50 million above the level of the DB for payments for young farmers; emphasises the need to use the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and other Union funding schemes to facilitate young people’s access to jobs in the fishing industry;

36.  Decides, in line with its Europe 2020 targets and with its international commitments to tackle climate change, to propose an increase of EUR 21,2 million above the level of the DB for climate-related actions; reiterates that both the European Court of Auditors (ECA) as well as ECOFIN ascertained that the Union budget is not in line with its climate targets;

37.  Recalls that taxpayers’ money should not be used to support the rearing or breeding of bulls for fighting activities; believes that breeding or rearing for those purposes should not be eligible for basic payments and asks that the Commission submit a proposal in order to amend the current legislation on this issue;

38.  Increases therefore commitment appropriations by EUR 78,1 million, thus leaving a margin of EUR 619,7 million below the ceiling for commitments in Heading 2 once pilot projects and preparatory actions have been deducted;

39.  Emphasises, with regret, that disasters generally affect those who have less means to protect themselves, whether they be individuals or States; considers that the response to natural or man-made disasters should be as rapid as possible so that damage is minimal and people and property can be saved; calls attention to the need for an additional increase in funds, particularly in the budget lines linked to disaster prevention and preparedness within the Union, taking into account, in particular, fires in Spain and Portugal (resulting in tragic loss of human life), which have a dramatic and substantial impact on people;

40.  Draws attention to the threat factors weighing on numerous forest ecosystems, such as, among others, the spread of invasive alien species, pests (such as pine nematode and others) and forest fires; considers that sufficient financial resources should be addressed through community support programmes and measures to the evaluation of ecological and plant health of forests and their rehabilitation, including reforestation; notes that such resources are particularly important and urgent to some Member States, namely Portugal and Spain following previous successive fires throughout the national territory;

Heading 3 – Security and Citizenship

41.  Emphasises that for Parliament, tackling migration and security must remain top Union priorities and reiterates its conviction that the Heading 3 ceiling has proven vastly insufficient to fund adequately the internal dimension of those challenges;

42.  Notes that, while the number of migrant crossings on the Central and Eastern Mediterranean routes into the Union fell in the first nine months of 2017, pressure on the Western Mediterranean route remains; notes that more than one hundred thousand migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in the first nine months of 2017, with over 75 % arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain; is of the opinion that increased funding is needed to fully cover the needs of the Union in the field of migration, notably through the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund to support Members States in improving integration measures and practices for those in need of international protection, especially unaccompanied minors, and, where necessary, carrying out return operations for those not entitled to protection while fully respecting the principle of non-refoulement; in this context also insists that the EASO shall be equipped with adequate financial and human resources to allow the agency to fulfil its assigned tasks;

43.  Is in favour of the creation of a new budget line for a Search and Rescue Fund to support Member States in their obligations under international maritime law; asks the Commission to present a legislative proposal to set up such an EU Search and Rescue Fund;

44.  Is convinced that, in order to effectively tackle security concerns of Union citizens, the budget of the Internal Security Fund needs additional funds to equip the Member States better in the fight against terrorism, cross-border organised crime, radicalisation and cybercrime; underlines, in particular, that sufficient resources must be provided for reinforcing security infrastructures and boosting information-sharing between law enforcement agencies and national authorities, including through improving the interoperability of information systems while guaranteeing at the same time respect for individual rights and liberties;

45.  Highlights the crucial role played by the Union agencies in the area of justice and home affairs in addressing pressing concerns of Union citizens; decides therefore to increase budgetary appropriations and staffing of the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), including the creation of 7 staff posts for the new operating unit called Europol operating unit for missing children, as well as to reinforce the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), EASO and the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL); reiterates the contribution of these agencies to enhancing cooperation between Member States in the field;

46.  Asks the Commission, in the light of the actual progress made in ongoing interinstitutional negotiations, to provide updated information on the financial implications in 2018 of pending legislative proposals as part of the European Agenda on Migration, in particular the reform of the Dublin system, the Entry/Exit System, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System and EASO, so that it can be taken into account in the conciliation phase;

47.  Regrets Council’s arbitrary cuts of more than EUR 30 million in commitment appropriations to numerous programmes in the areas of culture, citizenship, justice, public health, consumer rights and civil protection, in disregard of these programmes’ excellent implementation rates and despite already insufficient levels of financing that leave many high-quality projects unfunded; restores all lines to the level of the DB and proposes additional increases to relevant lines;

48.  Reiterates its conviction that it is time to boost funding for important Union programmes in the areas of culture and citizenship, in particular Creative Europe and Europe for Citizens, which have a key role in supporting cultural and creative industries, as well as participatory citizenship, especially in view of the European elections in 2019; reiterates that all institutions must honour the political agreement found on the 2018 funding for the European Year of Cultural Heritage by providing sufficient appropriations for it through Creative Europe’s Culture sub-programme, in the absence of a separate budget line for the Year; calls on the Commission to review initiatives under the ‘multimedia actions’ budget line to ensure that the budget effectively supports high-quality independent coverage of Union affairs;

49.  Is in favour of increased transparency of and visibility for the Daphne objective of the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, as a key Union tool in combatting all forms of violence against children, young people, women, LGBTI people and other at-risk groups; supports setting up a European monitoring centre on gender-based violence within the European Institute for Gender Equality;

50.  Reinforces Heading 3 by EUR 108,8 million in commitment appropriations above the DB, excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions, and proposes to finance these reinforcements by a further mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument;

Heading 4 – Global Europe

51.  Stresses once again that the Union’s external action is faced with ever growing funding needs which greatly exceed the current size of Heading 4; considers that the mobilisation of the Union budget to respond to the migration challenge will continue to require dynamic responses in the coming years; stresses that an ad hoc one-year increase, such as that in 2017, cannot be considered sufficient in view of the complex challenges that the Union is facing and the urgent need for stronger Union external presence in today’s global world;

52.  Is of the opinion that priority should be given to the Union’s immediate neighbours and to measures aimed at tackling the main issues they are facing, namely the migratory and refugee crisis and corresponding humanitarian challenges in the Southern Neighbourhood, and the Russian aggression in the Eastern Neighbourhood; believes that stability and prosperity of the Union Neighbourhood are beneficial to both the concerned regions and to the Union as a whole; reiterates its call to increase support to the Middle East Peace Process, the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA to cope with growing needs, in order to achieve the Union’s stated objective of promoting development and stability in the region and support the resilience of Palestinians; reiterates that supporting countries which are implementing association agreements with the Union is pivotal to facilitating political and economic reforms, but stresses that such support should apply as long as those countries meet the eligibility criteria, especially as regards the rule of law and enforcing democratic institutions; therefore decides to increase resources for the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), for the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and for Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA);

53.  Stresses the importance of the role that Europe plays at global level in eradicating poverty and ensuring development of the most deprived regions, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals; therefore, allocates additional financial resources to the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) and Humanitarian Aid; recalls that, since a significant proportion of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea are coming from Sub-Saharan Africa, Union support in this region is key to tackling the root causes of migration;

54.  Opposes the drastic reductions in financial contributions from the external financing instruments (ENI, IPA, PI and DCI) to Erasmus+, despite the fact that youth exchange programs are one of the most successful long-term investments into cultural diplomacy and mutual understanding, and decides therefore to increase these contributions;

55.  In view of the worrying deterioration of the situation as regards democracy, rule of law and human rights, decides to decrease the support for political reforms in Turkey; decides to put part of the remaining appropriations in reserve to be released when Turkey makes measurable improvements in the fields of rule of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom, with the aim of redirecting these funds to civil society actors for implementing measures supportive of these objectives;

56.  Is of the opinion that in order to adequately tackle disinformation campaigns, and to promote an objective image of the Union outside its borders, additional financial means are needed; calls therefore to step up funding to counter disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks; decides therefore to increase resources for strategic communication actions to be carried out in the Neighbourhood as well as in the Western Balkans; recalls the importance of investing in the visibility of the Union’s external action in order to strengthen the impact of funding in that field and enhance Union public diplomacy in line with the ambitions of the Global Strategy;

57.  Deems it necessary to increase appropriations for the Turkish Cypriot Community budget line for the purpose of contributing decisively to the continuation and intensification of the mission of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, the wellbeing of Maronites wishing to resettle and that of all enclaved persons as agreed in the 3rd Vienna Agreement, and of supporting the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, thus promoting trust and reconciliation between the two communities;

58.  Stresses that the trend by the Commission to resort to satellite budgetary mechanisms such as trust funds and other similar instruments has not always proven to be a success; is concerned that the establishment of financial instruments outside the Union budget could threaten its unity and circumvent the budgetary procedure and at the same time undermine the transparent management of the budget and hamper the right of the Parliament to exercise effective scrutiny of expenditures; considers, therefore, that external instruments which emerged in recent years must be incorporated into the Union budget, with Parliament having full scrutiny over the implementation of these instruments; notes that by end of September 2017 a total of EUR 795,4 million has been committed for EU Trust Funds in the 2017 Budget; asks the Commission to present to the European Parliament and the Council the amount it intends to commit in 2018 to the Trust Funds; reiterates its concern that Member State contributions to these Trust Funds tend to lag behind their pledges; takes note of the ECA Special Report 11/2017 on the Bekou EU Trust Fund for the Central African Republic; is concerned about the deficiencies identified by the ECA, such as the lack of assessment for overall needs and the dysfunctional coordination mechanisms with other donors; expresses its intention to assess the added value of EU Trust Funds as an instrument of Union external policy;

59.  Recalls that in accordance with Article 24 of the MFF Regulation, all expenditures and revenues of the Union and Euratom shall be entered in the general budget of the Union in accordance with Article 7 of the Financial Regulation; calls on the Commission to preserve the unity of the budget and to consider it as a guiding principle when introducing new initiatives;

60.  Stresses the importance of election observation missions in strengthening democratic institutions and building public confidence in electoral processes, which in return promote peace-building and stability; emphasises the need to ensure sufficient financial resources for that objective;

61.  Points out that DCI funding shall not be redeployed in order to finance the new Capacity Building for Security and Development (CBSD) initiative under the IcSP; deplores the DB proposal to redeploy EUR 7,5 million from the DCI to the CBSD and stresses the urgent need to find alternative solutions to fill this gap;

62.  Reiterates its request that the budget line for EU Special Representatives be transferred, in a budget-neutral manner, from the CFSP budget to the administrative budget of the EEAS in order to further consolidate the Union’s diplomatic activities;

63.  As a result, decides to reverse almost all of the Council’s cuts and to reinforce Heading 4 by EUR 299,7 million above the DB in commitment appropriations (excluding pilot projects and preparatory actions, the transfer of EUSRs and adopted cuts);

Heading 5 – Administration; Other headings – administrative and research support expenditure

64.  Considers that Council’s cuts do not reflect the real needs and thus jeopardise the already significantly rationalised administrative expenditure; restores therefore the DB for all Commission administrative expenditure, including administrative and research support expenditure in Headings 1 to 4;

65.  Decides, in line with the conclusion of the “Joint Opinion of the Legal Services of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on three aspects of the relationship between OLAF and its Supervisory Committee” of 12 September 2016, to hold 10 % of appropriations of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) until the Supervisory Committee is granted access to OLAF cases files, while slightly reinforcing its budget, in line with increased responsibilities;

66.  Takes note that, at the beginning of 2017, OLAF investigated a severe case of customs fraud in the UK which was caused by undervaluation of imported products and which has created a loss of income of almost EUR 2 billion for the Union budget in the period 2013-2016; is concerned that that fraud has not been stopped to date and that losses to the Union budget are still ongoing; asks the Commission to take into account the slow reaction of the UK administration to its recommendations in this regard when negotiating Brexit; asks those Member States that objected to the Union legal framework for customs infringements and sanctions to reconsider their position in order to allow for a speedy solution of this problem;

Decentralised Agencies

67.  Endorses, as a general rule, the Commission’s estimates of the budgetary needs of agencies; considers, therefore, that any further cuts proposed by the Council would endanger the proper functioning of the agencies and would not allow them to fulfil the tasks they have been assigned; considers that the new posts adopted in its position are needed to fulfil additional tasks due to new policy developments and new legislation; reiterates its commitment to safeguard resources and where necessary provide additional resources as to ensure the proper functioning of the agencies;

68.  In the context of the challenges the Union is still facing in terms of migration and security, and bearing in mind the necessity for a coordinated European response, decides to reinforce the appropriations for the Europol, Eurojust, CEPOL, EASO and the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA);

69.  Recalls the importance for the Union focusing on competitiveness for growth and jobs; recalls the strategic priority for the Union of fully developing and implementing its Galileo and EGNOS projects for which the European GNSS Agency (GSA) is partially responsible; recalls the GSA has a resourcing gap for cyber security and public regulated service and decides, therefore, to increases its level of appropriations;

70.  Considers that additional appropriation and staff are needed for the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) to fulfil its expanded mission related to the implementation of the electricity and gas network codes and guidelines and its monitoring;

71.  Recalls in particular that the European Environment Agency (EEA) helps the Union to make informed decisions about improving the environment, integrating environmental considerations into economic policies and moving towards sustainability, and that, in the context of the 2030 Union climate and energy policy, the Commission has proposed new work for EEA on the Governance of the Energy Union, without any corresponding increase in the establishment table;

72.  Stresses that while the budgetary resources and the number of posts for the European Border and Coast Guard seem adequate for the time being, the future needs of the agency in terms of operational resources and staff will have to be closely monitored;

73.  Welcomes the inclusion of adequate resources provided for in the 2018 budget to support the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs); underlines that the role of the ESAs is essential in fostering the consistent application of Union law and better coordination between national authorities, and in ensuring financial stability, better integrated financial markets and consumer protection and supervisory convergence; emphasises that in the interest of a prudent use of their budgets, the ESAs must stick to the tasks and to the mandate assigned to them by the Union legislator;

74.  Reiterates that, as agreed in the IIA of 2 December 2013, 2018 is the last year of implementation of the 5 % staff reduction and redeployment pool approach to the staffing of agencies; reiterates its opposition to any continuation of a global approach on agency resources after 2018; reaffirms its openness to achieving efficiency gains between agencies through increased administrative cooperation or even mergers where appropriate and through pooling certain functions with either the Commission or another agency; welcomes in this regard the initiative to further coordinate agencies activities via establishing the Network of EU Agencies’ Permanent Secretariat (now called the Shared Support Office) and supports the allocation of an additional establishment plan post to the European Food Safety Agency whose costs will be mutualised from the Union Agencies’ existing budgets and seconded to that office;

Pilot projects and preparatory actions (PP-PAs)

75.  Having carried out a careful analysis of the pilot projects and preparatory actions submitted as regards the rate of success of the on-going ones, excluding initiatives already covered by existing legal bases and taking fully into account the Commission’s assessment of the projects’ implementability, decides to adopt a compromise package made up of a limited number of PP-PAs, in view also of the limited margins available and the ceilings for PP-PAs;

76.  Stresses therefore the efforts made by the Parliament in this regard and asks the Commission to show good will in the implementation of the adopted PP-PAs at the end of the budgetary procedure, regardless of its implementability assessment, as for any decision of the European Parliament and the Council;

Special instruments

77.  Recalls the usefulness of special instruments to provide flexibility over and beyond the extremely tight ceilings of the current MFF and welcomes the improvements brought about by the mid-term revision of the MFF Regulation; calls for an extensive use of the Flexibility Instrument, the Global Margin for Commitments and the Contingency Margin in order to finance the wide range of new challenges and additional responsibilities that the Union budget is facing;

78.  Calls for an increase in the Emergency Aid Reserve (EAR) and the EU Solidarity Fund (EUSF) in light of the most recent and tragic disasters, namely the fires and extreme drought in Portugal and Spain;

79.  Recalls also the significance of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF), the EAR and the EUSF; supports the Commission’s intention to provide for a quicker mobilisation of the EUSF by putting most of its annual amount in a reserve in the Union budget, on top of the amount already budgeted for advances; regrets the Council’s cut in that respect and restores partially the DB level, with the exception of the amount which has been frontloaded to 2017 via Amending Budget No 4/2017 and the mobilisation of the EUSF for Italy; calls for the extension of the scope of the EUSF to provide assistance to victims of acts of terrorism and their families;

Payments

80.  Is concerned about the current under-execution trend in payments throughout the Union budget, not only in subheading 1b, but also in Headings 3 and 4, despite the need to answer the surge of new challenges and the setting-up of flexible funding mechanisms; recalls that for the past two years the payment level of the Union budget was considerably decreased, coupled with a high level of budget surplus; expresses, therefore, its concern that the DB still leaves an unprecedented margin of EUR 10 billion below the payment ceiling, which reflects a low execution trend that may lead to an acute payment pressure at the end of the current MFF;

81.  Insists on the necessity to restore the DB in payments on all lines cut by the Council and reinforces payment appropriations in targeted manner, mostly on those lines which are amended in commitment appropriations;

Other Sections

82.  Regrets the repeated Council practice of increasing the standard flat rate abatement for the Union institutions; believes this to have a particularly distorting effect on the budgets of institutions with historically accurate abatement rates; considers that this approach does not constitute a targeted reduction nor sound financial management; restores therefore the abatement rate at the level of the DB;

Section I – European Parliament

83.  Maintains the overall level of its budget for 2018, as adopted in its abovementioned resolution of 5 April 2017, at EUR 1 953 483 373; incorporates budgetary-neutral technical adjustments to reflect updated information which was not available earlier this year;

84.  Notes that the level of estimates for 2018 corresponds to 18,88 %, which is lower than that achieved in 2017 (19,25 %) and the lowest part of Heading 5 in the past fifteen years; insists nevertheless that the drive for the lowest expenditure possible for the European Parliament should not come at the cost of a reduced capacity for Parliament’s ordinary legislative work;

85.  Reiterates Parliament’s priorities for the forthcoming financial year, namely, consolidating the security measures already taken and improving Parliament’s resilience to cyber-attacks, improving the transparency of the Parliament’s own internal budgetary procedure, and focusing the Parliament’s budget on its core functions of legislating, acting as one arm of the budgetary authority, representing citizens and scrutinising the work of other institutions;

86.  Welcomes the creation of the Parliament’s Bureau Working group on the general expenditure allowance; recalls the expectations of greater transparency regarding the general expenditure allowance and a need to work on a definition of more precise rules regarding the accountability of the expenditure authorised under this allowance, without generating additional costs to Parliament;

87.  Calls on the Bureau to make the following concrete changes concerning the general expenditure allowance:

   the general expenditure allowance should be handled in all cases in a separate bank account;
   all receipts pertaining to the general expenditure allowance should be kept by Members;
   the unspent share of the general expenditure allowance should be returned at the end of the mandate;

88.  Reduces the establishment plan of its General Secretariat for 2018 by 60 posts (1 % staff reduction target), in accordance with the agreement of 14 November 2015 reached with the Council on the general budget of the European Union for the financial year 2016; recalls that the 35 posts granted to Parliament in 2016 related to new activities reinforcing security and, as such were exempted from the staff reduction target, as confirmed at the adoption of the Amending Budget No 3/2016 and the 2017 general budget(10)
; calls on the Commission to adjust its monitoring tables accordingly in order to provide to the European Parliament and the Council with accurate information at all steps of the procedure;

89.  Welcomes the exchange of views on Parliament’s building policy held on 11 July 2017 between the Committee on Budgets, the Secretary General and the Vice-Presidents responsible for Parliament’s building policy; considers that this dialogue ought to be a continuous process, particularly in the light of upcoming Bureau discussions on the refurbishment of the Paul Henri-Spaak building;

90.  Reiterates Parliament’s position as expressed in its abovementioned resolution of 5 April 2017 that there is further room for improvement on the control mechanisms related to European political parties and political foundations; notes in this regard the Commission’s proposal to amend Regulation (EU, Euratom) No 1141/2014(11)
and welcomes any effort to improve the accountability and transparency of spending;

91.  Recalls the 2014 ECA analysis which estimated the costs of the geographic dispersion of the Parliament to be EUR 114 million per year; furthermore, notes the finding from its resolution of 23 October 2013 on the location of the seats of the European Union’s Institutions(12)
that 78 % of all missions by Parliament statutory staff arise as a direct result of the Parliament’s geographic dispersion; emphasises that the report also estimates the environmental impact of the geographic dispersion to be between 11 000 to 19 000 tonnes of CO2
emissions; reiterates the negative public perception caused by this dispersion and calls therefore for a roadmap to a single seat and a reduction in the relevant budget lines;

Section IV – Court of Justice

92.  Restores the DB on all budget items cut by the Council which are essential to the functioning of the Court and restores the estimates for two budget items in order to enhance the Court’s ability to deal with increasingly high translation demands;

93.  Expresses its disbelief at the unilateral statement of the Council and the related appendix on the 5 % staff reduction in the Council’s position on the 2018 draft budget according to which the Court still needs to reduce its establishment plan by 19 posts; underlines that those 19 posts correspond to the 12 and 7 posts duly granted by Parliament and the Council in the 2015 and 2016 budgetary procedures respectively to address additional needs and insists therefore that those 19 posts should not be given back, the Court having already duly achieved its 5 % staff reduction requirement by suppressing 98 posts during the period 2013-2017;

Section V – Court of Auditors

94.  Restores the DB on all items cut by Council, in order to implement the work programme of the Court of Auditors and deliver the planned Audit Reports;

95.  Places a reserve on the item “Limited consultations, studies and surveys” pending the outcome of the ongoing negotiations on the revision of the Financial Regulation, and the revision entering into force in 2018;

Section VI – European Economic and Social Committee

96.  Restores the DB on all items cut by the Council;

97.  Increases two lines above the DB in relation to the work of Domestic Advisory Groups in trade agreements;

Section VII – Committee of the Regions

98.  Restores the DB on all items cut by the Council;

99.  Increases a number of lines above the DB in line with the Committee of the Region’s own estimates;

Section VIII – European Ombudsman

100.  Welcomes the work done by the Ombudsman in finding efficiency savings in her own budget when compared with the previous year;

Section IX – European Data Protection Supervisor

101.  Questions why the Council would reduce the budget of the European Data Protection Supervisor given the additional tasks conferred upon the institution by Parliament and the Council; restores therefore all the budget lines cut by Council to enable the European Data Protection Supervisor to fulfil his obligations and commitments;

Section X- European External Action Service

102.  Restores all lines cut by the Council;

103.  Creates a Strategic Communication Capacity budget item in line with the European Council conclusions of March 2015 and to equip the EEAS with adequate staff and tools to face the challenge of disinformation from third states and non-state actors;

104.  Decides furthermore to transfer EU Special Representatives from the CFSP chapter to the EEAS budget to strengthen the coherence of the Union’s external action;

105.  Provides an additional amount above the EEAS estimates for trainees in Union Delegations, in response to the findings of the European Ombudsman’s inquiry into unpaid traineeships(13)
;

o
o   o

106.  Takes note of the unilateral statement of France and Luxembourg annexed to the Council’s position on the draft budget for 2018, as adopted on 4 September 2017; recalls that representatives of the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed on the pragmatic calendar for the conduct of the budgetary procedure, including the dates for the conciliation period, at the spring budgetary trilogue on 27 March 2017; recalls that the General Affairs Council approved that pragmatic calendar at its meeting of 25 April 2017, in full knowledge of the Parliament’s calendar of part-sessions for 2017; notes, therefore, that the budgetary procedure is proceeding in conformity with the pragmatic calendar agreed between the three institutions;

107.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution, together with the amendments to the draft general budget, to the Council, the Commission, the other institutions and bodies concerned and the national parliaments.

(1) OJ L 168, 7.6.2014, p. 105.
(2) OJ L 298, 26.10.2012, p. 1.
(3) OJ L 347, 20.12.2013, p. 884.
(4) OJ C 373, 20.12.2013, p. 1.
(5) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2017)0085.
(6) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2017)0114.
(7) Texts adopted of that date, P8_TA(2017)0302.
(8) Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing, amending Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council, and repealing Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and Commission Directive 2006/70/EC (OJ L 141, 5.6.2015, p. 73).
(9) Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes (OJ L 276, 20.10.2010, p. 33).
(10) Texts adopted, P8_TA(2016)0401 / P8_TA(2016)0411.
(11) COM(2017)0481.
(12) Texts adopted, P7_TA(2013)0498.
(13) European Ombudsman, 454.2014/PMC.

Notice to members – Petition No 0076/2017 by Chris Nash (British) on behalf of the European Network on Statelessness bearing 21.715 signatures, on ending childhood statelessness in Europe – PE 610.631v01-00 – Committee on Petitions

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