Alfred SANT : Written explanations of vote 

Members can submit a written explanation of their vote in plenary. Rule 194

Implementing and monitoring the provisions on citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement (B9-0031/2020)  
 

I voted in favour of this Resolution because it is imperative that the way of life of millions of European citizens who are directly impacted by the UK Withdrawal from the EU is protected.
Action has been taken by all national authorities aimed at protecting the interests of citizens living in their territories.
Yet, a very high degree of uncertainty remains.
It is clear that the rights of EU citizens who chose to move to or outside the United Kingdom will weaken.
Most probably such rights will gradually be further reduced and become equivalent to those of other third country nationals.
Given the frame that has been set for Brexit, it is highly unlikely that any fully-fledged agreement on the lines of that established with EFTA countries could be reached any time shortly.
Based on the above, one cannot but share the concerns of many in the European Parliament over the future of those millions of EU citizens who live in the United Kingdom.
Stronger and more long-term assurances are needed.
It is important that EU countries remain united in their understanding of the underlying problem and in their stand to arrive at an equitable solution.

Annual report on the implementation of the common foreign and security policy (A9-0054/2019 - David McAllister)  
 

I have abstained on this report, for the following reasons. In the context of the deterioration of the EU’s strategic environment, this report rightfully stresses the need for a unified action concerning terrorism, cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns, foreign interference in European electoral processes and climate change. Nevertheless, I cannot support the regulation on a European Defence Fund, which is contributing to common foreign and security policy objectives. The reason being that it takes for granted the support of the EU as a whole to the diversion of investment funds from civilian to defence objectives and military programmes. Its budgetary implications are not just an issue for neutral EU members and greater clarity is needed on the legal and financial implications of this initiative. Finally, the report does not refer to national specificities in terms of security and defence. Decisions on common foreign and security policy should remain decisions taken by unanimity. It is the only way forward to safeguard the principle of neutrality upheld by certain Member States, including Malta.

Annual report on the implementation of the common security and defence policy (A9-0052/2019 - Arnaud Danjean)  
 

I have abstained on this report for the following reasons. The present text, reporting on the operations ensuring security at our borders and in its immediate neighbourhood, fails in capturing the complexity of migration, which is not just an issue for Southern Member States. Illegal immigration, piracy and illegal fishing constitute major security risks and are an integral part of our common European challenges. It cannot be stressed enough how maritime security should be at the core of the EU’s security strategy. A proper maritime strategy is the only way forward to ensure the protection of our economic activities, such as fisheries, but also shipping, tourism and all types of maritime operations. Although the reports addresses a number of other challenges to national security across the EU, it does not refer to national specificities in terms of security and defence. Member States all have their different standards in the area of defence and this report does not consider Member States who follow a policy of neutrality. It becomes thus difficult to understand how they could fit into a common security and defence structure.

European Parliament's position on the Conference on the Future of Europe (B9-0036/2020, B9-0037/2020, B9-0038/2020)  
 

I voted for the motion regarding the Future of Europe Conference but I will not conceal my doubts as to whether the Conference will be really worthwhile, and this independently of the structures adopted to run it.
Having been a member of the Convention on a European Constitution of the early 1990s, I have seen at close range how this kind of gathering can excel debating worthy ideas and proposals but lose contact with the concrete realities of getting nation-states to cooperate with each other on a give-and-take basis. Theoretical ideas about federalism or its contrary, both enthusiastically proclaimed, take front row. Documents are adopted that are far reaching but also far from the day-to-day aspirations of people.
The danger remains that discussion of the tasks that could realistically be achieved by tomorrow is obfuscated by what basically amount to verbiage describing visions about what should be done by next month. Tomorrow’s tasks are then delayed while next month’s vision never becomes reality.
Among the areas which could fall victim to this problem are immigration, the banking union, progress to combat climate change and the promotion of real equality.
I hope this will not be the fate of the Future of Europe Conference.

Fair taxation in a digitalised and globalised economy - BEPS 2.0 (B9-0238/2019)  
 

I have voted against this resolution.
The text does not adequately take into account the conditions of smaller Member States with an open economy. Moreover, this resolution considers that tax competition should be eliminated or significantly curbed, a stance that I do not share. Practical solutions that provide full transparency at national and EU levels can be found to counter tax evasion and avoidance, without impinging on the competitiveness of certain countries.
This text supports the establishment of a minimum effective rate of taxation and movement towards an EU system harmonising rules for corporate income tax rates (the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, CCCTB). It does not leave room for any different approach to taxation than the one favouring big countries. In addition, the solutions proposed are built around the idea that large digital firms should be taxed in market jurisdictions where sales and users are located, which would also be favouring larger markets.
Finally, it should be stressed that full and effective tax transparency remains the most workable tool for all Member States to stop companies from avoiding paying their taxes while still allowing for healthy, open competition in the EU.

The Rule of Law in Malta, after the recent revelations around the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia (B9-0240/2019)  
 

I voted against this resolution with the utmost conviction.
The debate has confirmed my worst suspicions about how this Parliament considers rules of law issues.
They are being turned, as has this one, into a partisan tug of war, in which the side wins which is most successful in creating political momentum around significant facts, real or fake.
There is no care about how such facts are assessed and put into perspective.
True: Malta faces great problems of governance that need urgent solution. It also needs to urgently clear in full all criminal and other responsibilities regarding the hideous assassination of Mrs Caruana Galizia.
Malta is passing through a time of political transition, which should have been taken into account here. It was not.
In its “contribution” to the Malta situation, this Parliament has relied on a report by a committee one of whose main members is a leading opponent of the Maltese government. In debate, it concentrated on calling for the immediate resignation of the Maltese Prime Minister, which stamps its resolution with a month-long expiry date. It swamped its resolution with a host of irrelevant, contentious, subjective conjectures that should have no place in a political resolution.
I need say no more.

Macro-financial assistance to Jordan (A9-0045/2019 - Luisa Regimenti)  
 

I voted in favour of giving consent to the third macro-financial allocation to the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan. The assistance will take place in the form of EUR 500 million of EU aid aimed at the recovery of Jordan’s economy.
Jordan is an important actor in the Middle East, and has been for the last years a strategic ally for the European Union. The committed macrofinancial assistance offers a sign of hope in the struggle to overcome the country’s economic problems. Further, it provides support and assistance to a country that hosts the second highest share of refugees per capita in the world, while maintaining a commitment to the fight against Islamic terrorism. Such assistance contributes significantly to Jordan’s efforts to preserve internal stability and enhance growth prospects.
At this point, it is essential that the Memorandum of Understanding for this aid is negotiated in a manner that effectively promotes the development of the Jordanian economy, thereby strengthening the role the country can play to stabilise the region and hopefully create the conditions for a lasting peace.

Election of the Commission  
 

. – I voted in favour of the new Commission. The agenda and the team were shaped by political negotiations and it is to be hoped that this will not just satisfy strategic goals but will make for a strong and dynamic team. Great importance was given in the proposed action programme to the environment. During the mandate ahead, it is hoped that the so-called Green New Deal will not be just a slogan but will, for example, translate into proper cooperation among all Commission directorates in the effort to reverse climate change. Similarly, a gender-balanced Commission like this one should lead to bold policies promoting gender equality across Europe.
Many promises were made around an economy that works for people. The Commissioner for jobs will be in charge of ‘Employment and Social Rights’. In practice this should allow for the injection of a social dimension in a wide range of directives and regulations in the next five years. Another area where leadership from the Commission is expected relates to progress along the road of eurozone reform. Credibility and coherence should be the hallmarks of the President and ‘her’ College to ensure concrete implementation of the ambitious programme they have laid out.

Mobilisation of the European Union Solidarity Fund to provide assistance to Greece (A9-0040/2019 - Eva Kaili)  
 

. – I voted in favour of this report allowing the EU, through the European Union Solidarity Fund, to mobilise over EUR 4 million to Greece in both commitment and payment appropriations. Support through such mobilisation is a practical demonstration of EU solidarity through real and tangible assistance when needed. It is reasonable that Greece gets this assistance in order to deal with damages produced by heavy rains and storms that resulted in flooding and a landslide disaster on the island of Crete earlier this year in February.
Following the disaster, the country applied for a contribution from the Solidarity Fund on 15 May 2019. Such assistance could come at a swifter pace as for those who suffered this damage, every extra day of waiting could be detrimental. Lastly, the mechanism leading to the launching of such assistance might be revisited when directed towards small Member States, and especially those EU countries considered a one-region country under the Solidarity Fund. On both these last two counts, I am thinking specifically of the huge damages suffered by Maltese farmers from a huge storm that hit the island earlier this year, and for which some kind of financial relief arrived very late.

Mobilisation of the Flexibility Instrument to finance immediate budgetary measures to address the on-going challenges of migration, refugee inflows and security threats (A9-0039/2019 - Monika Hohlmeier)  
 

. – The aim of the Flexibility Instrument is to allow the financing of clearly identified expenditures that cannot be covered without exceeding the maximum annual amount of funding allocated under the multiannual financial framework. In this setting, I voted in favour of the use of this special instrument in the EU’s budget heading 3, to address the ongoing and urgent challenges of migration, refugee inflows and security threats since all other financing possibilities under the same heading have been exhausted.
This commitment demonstrates that the pre-established 2020 ceilings for this area do not allow for adequate financing of established priorities. The added amount of EUR 778 million still does not fill the funding gap for these important sectors. Yet, it will definitely be of an added drive towards achieving EU objectives. This money now has to be spent appropriately, and where it is most urgently needed. Finally, this decision further confirms the need for the EU to be more flexible in its budgetary plans, whereby budgetary authorities can have the possibility to put the money where it is most needed at an appropriate time.

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