Home » General » Text adopted – Results of the European Council meeting (Barcelona, 15/16 March 2002) – P5_TA(2002)0137 – Wednesday, 20 March 2002 – Brussels – Final edition

The European Parliament

–  having regard to the Commission’s communication “The Lisbon Strategy – Making change happen’ (COM(2002) 14) and the 21 other Council and Commission documents submitted to the European Council,

–  having regard to its resolution adopted on 28 February 2002 on the strategy for full employment and social inclusion in the run-up to the spring 2002 summit in Barcelona: the Lisbon process and the way to follow(1)

–  having regard to its resolution adopted on 28 February 2002 on the sustainable development strategy for the Barcelona summit(2)

–  having regard to its recommendation to the Council of 13 December 2001 on the crisis in the Middle East and the role of the European Union in the region(3)
and its resolution of 7 February 2002 on the situation in the Middle East(4)

–  having regard to the Presidency Conclusions of the European Council,

A.  whereas the purpose of the Spring European Council is to review progress made in the ten-year modernising strategy, which was agreed at Lisbon in March 2000 and to which an environmental dimension was added at Göteborg in June 2001, and to give political impetus to the agreed priority areas for the year ahead,

I. The Lisbon Strategy

General political and economic context

1.  Welcomes the overall outcome of the Barcelona European Council, following last year’s review of the Lisbon Strategy in Stockholm; reiterates that the Lisbon policy mix of mutually supportive economic reform, full employment, social cohesion and sustainable development should be maintained in the form of significant progress in all of these fields at each spring European Council;

2.  Welcomes the fact that the European Council has postponed its conclusions on the World Summit on Sustainable Development to the European Council in Seville in June 2002, to allow for a full consultation at EU level on the recently adopted Commission communication ‘Towards a global partnership for Sustainable Development’ (COM(2002) 82); calls for the fullest possible preparations within the EU institutions, and undertakes to hold a full debate on this subject at the May 2002 part-session;

3.  Welcomes the initiative of the Spanish Presidency in bringing the candidate countries into the Lisbon Strategy and looks forward to their inclusion in the Commission’s summary paper for next year’s review;

4.  Emphasises, as regards the implementation of these modernising reforms, the importance of retaining the values of the European social model, while avoiding state intervention which creates dependency and recognising that social protection systems will be strengthened through the “open cooperation’ method; welcomes the European Council’s commitment to full employment and the confirmation of the objective of creating more and better jobs; underlines that improving the quality of employment will make an important contribution to sustainable development both economically, socially and environmentally;

5.  Welcomes the fact that the European Council has once again confirmed the importance of ratifying the Kyoto Protocol and of its entry into force before the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg; considers that the EU should make greater efforts to implement the sustainable development strategy established at the Göteborg European Council to achieve a balance between its economic, social and environmental dimensions and should therefore agree on concrete steps such as a timetable for action, objectives, more indicators and follow up actions; c
alls again for the fullest possible preparations within the EU institutions, including full involvement of the European Parliament, for the follow-up to the Lisbon and Göteborg processes, as well as for the World Summit on Sustainable development in Johannesburg; with this in mind, expresses its very deep concerns about the US climate change programme, and reiterates its commitment to the Kyoto process;

6.  Finds that there is an increased tendency to create inflated expectations to be reached from Council meeting to Council meeting and that the emphasis must be on meeting real and attainable goals to further the economic growth in Europe;

Maintaining the momentum

7.  Considers that the incipient global recovery presents a major opportunity to reinforce the coordination of economic policies and to reaffirm a well-defined economic policy strategy based on growth- and stability-oriented macro-economic policies and continuous progress in economic reform; recognises the need to strengthen a Europe-wide economic and investment policy as a means of stimulating public and private investment and employment through justified economic coordination;

8.  In welcoming the commitment of the European Council to the Stability and Growth Pact, expects Member States to implement the necessary reforms to achieve the medium-term objective of close to balance or in surplus by 2004;

9.  In the context of addressing the important challenge of the ageing population, supports the Council’s call for the reform of pension systems to be accelerated, to ensure that they are both financially sustainable and meet their social objectives; considers that a new strategy of a multidisciplinary nature is required and calls therefore for Parliament to be fully involved when the Commission and Council draft their joint report on pensions for the Spring European Council in 2003; notes the European Council’s first step to discourage early retirement and to increase opportunities for older workers to remain in the labour market;

10.  Reaffirms that the achievement of the Lisbon targets for employment rates and for a European economy based on knowledge is a key element in the strategy; points out that reforms must result in better jobs, in order to create a knowledge-based economy, and that, consequently, substantial investment in people and their potential, particularly in the form of education, training and life-long learning, is essential;

11.  Welcomes the recognition of the role of SMEs as the main driver for innovation but points out to the European Council that responsibility for implementing nearly all the action points in the European Charter for Small Enterprises lies with the Member States;

Active policies towards full employment

12.  Recognises that, in some Member States, the reform of a rigid labour market into a more flexible, balanced and stable one has regrettably dragged on for too long; welcomes the European Council’s intention to review the employment guidelines and measures aimed at improving the quality of professional training; insists that, since economic and social progress must be mutually supportive, these reforms must be achieved in close cooperation with the social partners; notes the intention expressed to increase the involvement of workers in changes affecting them; calls on the Seville European Council to endorse a new EIB facility for individual learning accounts/lifelong learning projects;

13.  Recalls that the Employment and Social Policy Council held on 7 March 2002 had stressed the need to work for equality between men and women by making it easier for men and women to enter and remain in the labour market and had called for new measures directed at reconciling family life and working life, particularly through the creation of services caring for children and other dependants; therefore welcomes the fact that the Barcelona Council conclusions call on the Member States, in line with their national provisions, to aim at providing specific childcare facilities by 2010;

Connecting European economies

14.  Considers that the ongoing process of liberalisation, which will extend competition in the network industries, can and must be completed in full compliance with high-quality services of general interest and high safety standards; welcomes, therefore, the key decisions reached in Barcelona to ensure provision of high-quality public services in the European Union as a matter of fundamental importance for citizens and for territorial and social cohesion;

15.  Welcomes the agreement reached in the energy sector and looks forward to the Council’s reaction to the European Parliament’s first reading concerning the opening of the electricity and gas market; expects the next European Council to decide on a date for the opening of the energy market to domestic customers; believes that the completion of the internal market and further liberalisations in key sectors such as energy are not an end in themselves, but that they can be a means of reaching a more competitive, qualitative and sustainable form of growth with greater social cohesion and better, cheaper and more effective services for citizens;

16.  Reiterates the importance of the Galileo project and welcomes the role played by the Spanish Presidency and the Commission in achieving a breakthrough regarding this ambitious project, and urges the Member States to start the preparatory work without delay in order to make up for lost time;

17.  Welcomes the progress made in creating the “Single European Sky’ before 2004, thus guaranteeing a highly efficient European airspace, as well as a level of capacity that meets users’ requirements;

18.  Endorses the support given to the rapid implementation of the “second railway package’, aimed at phasing in competition in service delivery, and in relation to other transport networks and modes;

19.  Takes note of the way in which the Spanish Presidency has speeded up the integration of financial markets and sought to reap the full benefits of an efficient channelling of saving, by reducing the cost of access to capital to encourage investment in the EU;

20.  Reaffirms its conviction that the agreements made regarding the Lamfalussy proposals will enable the targets and deadlines set in the Financial Services Action Plan to be achieved; expects, in this respect, to receive at an early date the Council’s common position on occupational pension schemes;

21.  Welcomes the re-launch of the e-Europe initiative through an e-Europe 2005 Action Plan for citizens and business; considers that, in order to tackle the slow take-up of e-commerce, priority should be given to transposing EC framework legislation, encouraging broad-band roll-out by means of competition-enhancing measures, and providing secure on-line transactions and network security;

A competitive economy based on knowledge

22.  Commends the European Council for agreeing that overall spending on R&D and innovation should be increased, with the aim of approaching 3% of GDP by 2010; looks forward to further strengthening links between EU-financed research and innovation in companies, for example in clean technologies;

23.  Considers that the European Council could have gone further in endorsing the Commission’s timely communication proposing an Action Plan on Life Sciences and Biotechnology, which recognises the environmental and ethical issues arising; greatly regrets that the deadlines for adopting the Community patent and updating public purchasing rules have been missed, and expects no further delay in their finalisation;

24.  In the paths set out for developing national education systems at all levels, cautions against over-emphasising job skills at the expense of other educational objectives such as civics, social skills, the learning of foreign languages and cultural understanding;

Improving working methods

25.  Welcomes the commitment by the European Council to finding a solution, in time for the Seville European Council, to the serious problem of the Council’s working methods, including the failure by other Council formations to adhere to the undertakings it has given and the deadlines it has laid down;

26.  In pointing out its own readiness to deliver on its legislative responsibility and to work quickly, calls for Parliament, the Council and the Commission to come together to agree on a set of guidelines for greater efficiency and transparency in European law-making;

27.  Considers that these discussions should extend to reviewing the open method of coordination between Member States in areas such as pensions, healthcare and education, to ensure that the European Parliament is fully involved in the work of the Council and Commission in these areas;

28.  Calls on the European Council to build on the results of the Barcelona meeting and to recognise the need for the Community institutions to cooperate with each other, and the applicant states, so that the annual policy strategy, as well as the Lisbon Strategy and its related guidelines, are dovetailed in future;

29.  Welcomes the European Council’s support for political dialogue with the European Parliament; in this context, eagerly awaits the setting up of an interinstitutional working party on better regulation before submission of the Commission Action Plan;

30.  Welcomes the initiative of the Council Secretary-General, Mr Javier Solana, in agreement with the President of the Council, to make all appropriate contacts with the members of the European Council with a view to submitting a report at the Seville European Council in June 2002 proposing specific measures for making the Council more efficient and ensuring grater transparency of the legislative process;

II. Other issues

Middle East

31.  Welcomes the wording of the Declaration on the Middle East of the Barcelona European Council, which is consistent with its own assessment concerning the seriousness of the situation; calls for an immediate ceasefire and for an end to all violence, as it is convinced that the conflict cannot be solved by military means and that only negotiations and dialogue can restore peace and security in the region;

32.  Joins the Council in welcoming Resolution 1397 of the UN Security Council, and the initiative presented by Crown Prince Abdallah of Saudi Arabia; reiterates that it is willing to act as a mediator, along with the other international partners, the Arab League, the countries of the region, the USA, the United Nations and Russia;

33.  Urges the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, therefore, to move to a new phase by accepting international observers, starting fresh negotiations on the basis of UNSC resolution 1397 and of the recent Saudi Arabian initiative and combating terrorism and indiscriminate violence against civilians;

34.  Reiterates its request for an immediate and effective withdrawal of the Israeli army from the territories under the control of the Palestinian Authority and an end to extra-judicial executions; asks the Palestinian Authority to take full responsibility for fighting terrorism; calls on Israel to lift the measures designed to isolate the Palestinian people, to freeze settlements and to observe the fourth Geneva Convention;

35.  Expresses, finally, its openness to, and support for, the initiative taken by its President of offering the seat of the European Parliament as a peace forum and a meeting place for Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat;

Serbia and Montenegro

36.  Welcomes the agreement reached on 14 March 2002 in Belgrade between Serbian and Montenegrin leaders on the principle of a single constitutional arrangement for Serbia and Montenegro, brokered by Javier Solana, Secretary-General/High Repesentative for CFSP of the European Union; expresses its hopes that the implementation of this agreement will make a decisive contribution to the stability of the region; agrees, with the European Council, to support the implementation of the agreement via the stabilisation and association process, respecting fully the policy of conditionality;


37.  Agrees with the European Council that the elections in Zimbabwe cannot be considered to be free and fair; lays the blame for the massive irregularities that occurred with the government of Zimbabwe; congratulates the Zimbabwean people for their civic-minded, peaceful and democratic conduct, expresses its concern as regards the threatened violation of civil and political rights, and considers that the European Union cannot leave this country to its own devices and must take the necessary steps to help Zimbabwe makes its way towards the road to democracy and the rule of law;


38.  Looking ahead to the Monterrey Conference, expresses its satisfaction regarding the agreement reached between the Foreign Affairs Ministers on development aid, but points out that, whilst the aim of achieving an average EU-wide percentage of 0.39% for 2004 is an important first step, the commitment entered into is that of increasing development aid to 0.7% of GNP, in line with the target set by the United Nations;


39.  W
elcomes the relaunch of the 1984 Brussels process on Gibraltar, supports the UK and Spanish governments’ attempts to conclude an agreement before summer 2002 and invites the Commission to explore possible ways in which the EU could underpin any agreement reached;

o   o

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