Surveillance of external sea borders
The agreement concerns binding rules on search and rescue operations, and on the identification of migrants intercepted at sea in order to enable Frontex to respond more effectively and to prevent deaths at sea. The text defines ‘emergency phases’ for search and rescue operations and places a clear duty upon units participating in Frontex operations to engage and to save lives. The rules on search and rescue operations and the disembarkation of migrants will only cover operations that are co-ordinated by Frontex. This should help to dispel confusion created by EU member states’ differing interpretations of international law and practices.
The ‘operational plan’ governing Frontex-co-ordinated border surveillance operations must now include procedures to ensure that persons needing international protection, victims of trafficking, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons are identified and given appropriate help.
Resolution of credit institutions and certain investment firms in the framework of a Single Resolution Mechanism and a Single Bank Resolution Fund
After three months of negotiation, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on 20 March on the Single Resolution Mechanism Regulation, including a single resolution fund to protect taxpayers against future banking failures by severing the link between states and banks. This new resolution framework would apply to all banks within all participating member states and would be fully implemented from 1 January 2016.
This Commission proposal aims to remedy the difficulties many consumers have in accessing a payment account, the lack of transparency on fees on such accounts and the obstacles to switching from one payment service provider to another.
The S&D Group has strongly supported the Commission's proposal from the outset and has pressed for a serious outcome. Everyone should have access to the standard transactions essential to everyday life, regardless of factors such as their financial situation, employment status, credit history or place of residence in the European Union. Therefore, our Group has supported the inclusion of all service providers and all consumers in the legislative proposal, and included a large number of services in the basic banking account without any limitation on the number of transactions allowed – with as low a price as possible – if a free approach is not adopted by member states.
Key information documents for investment products
This is the first piece of legislation to protect small depositors since bank accounts were guaranteed up to €100,000. The S&D Group was pleased to win all of our key votes in committee, including: securing a broader scope; strengthening the product approval process; promoting environmental and social development in financial investment; and strengthening the control of European supervisory authorities on financial products. Despite the EPP's (European People's Party) refusal to commit to negotiations, the final agreement contains elements of all our achievements in committee.
Introduction of noise-related operating restrictions at European Union airports
The draft regulation harmonises and strengthens rules on how authorities take decisions to set operating restrictions (including bans on night flights) at EU airports to limit nuisance from aircraft noise. The rules are based on principles agreed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), known as the ‘balanced approach’ to noise management, which is designed to identify the most cost-efficient way of tackling aircraft noise at each airport.
At the initiative of the European Parliament, local authorities would retain their powers to decide on noise-related measures at airports. Moreover, the Commission has been obliged to address health-related aspects of aviation noise. The regulation further harmonises, clarifies and strengthens the common rules on how decisions on noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports are taken. The regulation only applies to larger airports, with more than 50,000 civil aircraft movements per year and does not establish specific noise thresholds, which remain the responsibility of national or local authorities.
Framework for the recovery and resolution of credit institutions and investment firms
The Banks Recovery and Resolution Directive sets predictable and credible rules in the event of bank failure in EU member states and establishes solid ex-ante financing for national resolution funds, to be financed by banks. The adoption of this framework is a condition of the Single Resolution Mechanism. After six months of negotiation with the Council, the European Parliament reached a first-reading agreement on 11 December.
Some key features of this overall package are as follows. The competent authority (supervisor) will be able to determine whether an institution is failing or likely to fail. Member states may, in some circumstances, also empower the resolution authority to reach that decision after consulting with the competent authority. A bail-in regime would apply before any intervention from the resolution fund, with individuals and small businesses to get most protection in the event of claims. Public intervention would be limited and restricted, with only specific and temporary support measures allowed, and only subject to state aid rules and after an adequate bail-in process.
European Union Solidarity Fund
The solidarity fund was designed to respond to natural disasters and demonstrate European solidarity towards badly affected regions in EU member states, as well as candidate countries. The new legislative proposal simplifies the current rules to make the payment of aid faster. It also introduces the possibility of making advance payments. The whole proposal is characterised by greater clarity on whom and what will be eligible, particularly with regard to regional disasters. In addition, the reform encourages member states to include the development of risk management and disaster prevention strategies in their agendas. The principles of the fund remain unchanged, as does the fact that its financing is outside the EU budget.
During the past and current legislative periods, the S&D Group has requested the adoption of a new regulation for the solidarity fund including more flexibility and better efficiency. We therefore followed the negotiations closely and significantly improved the final outcome.
Deposit guarantee schemes
The deposit guarantee schemes framework is one of the three pillars of the banking union, alongside the single supervisory mechanism and the resolution framework. The goal of this legislative proposal is to safeguard deposits under €100,000 in EU member states through ex-ante financing for national funds, paid for by banks and not by taxpayers. A political agreement between the Council and the European Parliament was finally achieved on 18 December.
Deposit guarantee schemes for deposits under €100,000 should reach 0.8% of deposits covered in 10 years and should be funded by 70% of contributions in cash and according to the risk profile of the bank. The pay-out period would be seven working days, with transitional measures up to 2024, as well as an early pay-out system within five working days to cover immediate living costs. Member states need to allow for cover beyond the level of €100,000 for temporary high balances such as the results of selling a residential property. The agreement also specifies that the scheme could be used for preventative action (under strict conditions) and should be applied within 12 months of its entry into force.
Agricultural products on the internal market and in third countries
The Council and Parliament have reached a first-reading agreement on information provision and promotion measures for agricultural products. This agreement includes the majority of the S&D Group's priorities, such as the inclusion of national quality schemes and single brands in the promotion measures; the so-called ‘basket approach’ which will be applied to simple programmes involving the sale of wine both in internal markets and outside the EU; and co-financing rates starting at 70% for simple programmes on the internal market.
Inter-institutional agreement on the transparency register
The inter-institutional agreement on the transparency register adopted in 2011 established a revision two years after its first application. This revision, undertaken by the Parliament and the Commission, has found that a mandatory register is needed in order to make policy making and implementation both more democratic and more transparent. The S&D Group therefore calls upon the Commission to make a proposal for a mandatory register and has proposed a series of incentives and clarifications both for the Commission and Parliament in order to encourage organisations to register.