[autom.vertaling] Leden van het Europese Parlement beteugelen de plannen van de Commissie om gezondheid en consumentenbescherming samen te voegen (en)

woensdag 22 februari 2006

Vrij verkeer van diensten - 22-02-2006 - 09:02

"To promote the interests of consumers," reads the EC's founding treaty, the Community is to take "measures which support, supplement and monitor the policy pursued by the Member States." Meeting on 21 February, MEPs from the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) signed up to €233 million worth of such measures -- by lending their unanimous support to a 2007-2013 programme of Community action in the field of consumer protection.

The programme's objectives, to be achieved with a range of Community-financed actions and instruments, are fourfold: to aim for a better understanding of consumers and markets; to ensure better consumer protection regulation and greater participation of civil society stakeholders; to guarantee better enforcement, monitoring and redress; and lastly, to help produce better educated, responsible consumers.

Split programme, MEPs tell Commission

The Commission had originally suggested a single action programme for health and consumer protection in hopes of achieving more synergies between the two areas. " Bringing the two areas together", it argued, "will lead to greater policy coherence, economies of scale and increased visibility". MEPs, however, did not agree with this approach. In the words of committee rapporteur Marianne Thyssen (EPP-ED, BE), "neither the practical nor the policy arguments in favour of integrating the aforementioned action programmes are convincing. The synergies aimed at will in practice be much smaller than hoped for." With this in mind -- while citing additional budgetary considerations and noting that health and consumer protection are covered by different legal bases (Articles 152 and 153 of the EC Treaty) -- the Parliament decided last year to separate the integrated programme into two. IMCO therefore dealt only with consumer protection, while the Environment and Public Health Committee (ENVI) was left to address the health component.

Given that MEPs decided to split the joint programme, it was only logical that they would do the same with its budget. 233 million euros, out of a total budget of €1,203 million, was consequently earmarked for consumer protection. However, with a view to the pending negotiations between Parliament and the Council over the 2007-2013 financial framework, IMCO members -- unlike their colleagues from the ENVI Committee (see link below) -- decided not to introduce any other amendments relating to the cost of the action programme. Amending the Commission's original figures, explained IMCO Chairman Arlene McCarthy (PES, UK), would be "premature and would undermine our negotiating position." Reimer Böge (EPP-ED, DE), the EP's rapporteur on the Financial Perspective, speaking before the IMCO committee a day before the vote, agreed. Introducing new figures, he claimed, "would undermine the credibility of the EP in the negotiations".

The committee did vote, however, to decrease some maximum ceilings for Community financing for "actions in pursuit of the aims and objectives" of the programme -- from 60 to 50 percent. It also approved an amendment defining the eligibility criteria for bodies and legal persons seeking to qualify for such financing, all while expanding the list of actions eligible for Community support. Lastly, in keeping with their earlier appeals -- a 2005 own-initiative report by Henrik Dam Kristensen (PES, DK) being one example -- MEPs supported amendments to strengthen assistance to consumer organisations in the new Member States.


Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

chair : Arlene McCarthy (PES, UK)

Procedure: Co-decision, 1st reading

Plenary vote:  March, Strasbourg


REF.: 20060220IPR05452