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2016/2224(INI) Legitimate measures to protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies

Progress: Procedure completed

RoleCommitteeRapporteurShadows
Lead JURI ROZIÈRE Virginie (icon: S&D S&D) LE GRIP Constance (icon: PPE PPE), DZHAMBAZKI Angel (icon: ECR ECR), CAVADA Jean-Marie (icon: ALDE ALDE), CHRYSOGONOS Kostas (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL), DURAND Pascal (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), FERRARA Laura (icon: EFDD EFDD), LEBRETON Gilles (icon: ENF ENF)
Committee Opinion CONT DE JONG Dennis (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL) Cătălin Sorin IVAN (icon: S&D S&D), Benedek JÁVOR (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), Julia PITERA (icon: PPE PPE), Hannu TAKKULA (icon: ALDE ALDE), Marco VALLI (icon: EFDD EFDD)
Committee Opinion ECON SCOTT CATO Molly (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE) Olle LUDVIGSSON (icon: S&D S&D), Pirkko RUOHONEN-LERNER (icon: ECR ECR), Beatrix von STORCH (icon: EFDD EFDD)
Committee Opinion EMPL CASA David (icon: PPE PPE) Laura AGEA (icon: EFDD EFDD), Guillaume BALAS (icon: S&D S&D), Amjad BASHIR (icon: ECR ECR), Lynn BOYLAN (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL), Renate WEBER (icon: ALDE ALDE)
Committee Opinion ENVI FLANAGAN Luke Ming (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL) Nikolay BAREKOV (icon: ECR ECR), Nessa CHILDERS (icon: S&D S&D), Mireille D'ORNANO (icon: ENF ENF), Benedek JÁVOR (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), Mihai ŢURCANU (icon: PPE PPE)
Committee Opinion ITRE
Committee Opinion CULT KRASNODĘBSKI Zdzisław (icon: ECR ECR) Jill EVANS (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE)
Committee Opinion LIBE PAGAZAURTUNDÚA Maite (icon: ALDE ALDE) Eva JOLY (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), Dennis de JONG (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL), Monica MACOVEI (icon: ECR ECR)
Committee Opinion AFCO CASTALDO Fabio Massimo (icon: EFDD EFDD) Max ANDERSSON (icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE), Kostas CHRYSOGONOS (icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL), Ramón JÁUREGUI ATONDO (icon: S&D S&D), Morten MESSERSCHMIDT (icon: ECR ECR), György SCHÖPFLIN (icon: PPE PPE)
Lead committee dossier:
Legal Basis:
RoP 54

Events

2017/10/24
   EP - Results of vote in Parliament
2017/10/24
   EP - Decision by Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
Details

The European Parliament adopted by 399 votes to 101 with 166 abstentions, a resolution on legitimate measures to protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies.

A replacement resolution, tabled by the ENF group, was rejected in plenary by 45 votes to 555 with 66 abstentions.

Parliament recalled that whistle-blowers play a central role in reporting unlawful or improper conduct, which undermines the general interest and functioning of society. Citizens and journalists should benefit from legal protection rather than prosecution when disclosing information in the public interest. However, the protection of whistle-blowers is fragmented in Europe, which creates legal uncertainty in cross-border situations in particular.

Protecting whistle-blowers at EU level : Parliament asked the Commission to present a legislative proposal before the end of 2017 , laying down establishing protection for whistle-blowers across the board in both public and private sectors and in national and European institutions.

EU legislation should establish a clear procedure for the correct handling of alerts and for effective protection of whistle-blowers. It should ensure that companies that take fully verified retaliatory action against whistle-blowers might not receive EU funds nor enter into contracts with public bodies.

Parliament called on Member States that have not yet adopted relevant legislation to do so in the near future. It called on the Commission to monitor Member States’ provisions on whistle-blowers and to consider the creation of a platform for the exchange of good practice in this field between Member States, as well as with third countries.

Noting that whistle-blowing should be promoted as an act of good citizenship, Members called for the promotion the positive role that whistle-blowers play, in particular through awareness-raising and protection campaigns.

Reporting mechanism : bearing in mind the absence of clearly identified means of protection and of safe reporting, Parliament called for a reliable system for internal reporting to competent authorities and outside the organisation. Employers should be encouraged to introduce internal reporting procedures and each organisation should establish clear reporting channels with an independent or impartial person or entity to collect reports. Each worker should be informed of the applicable reporting procedure, which should ensure confidentiality and a reasonable period of time in the handling of the report.

Protection given to whistle-blowers : Members considered that when a person is recognised as a whistle-blower, measures should be taken to protect them against any retaliation and for compensation to be granted for any harassment suffered. Retaliation should be penalised and sanctioned effectively. These provisions should be part of the Commission’s draft directive.

Whistle-blowers should also have the opportunity to lodge an application for interim relief to prevent retaliation, such as dismissal. Parliament condemned the practice of gagging orders, which involve filing or threatening to file lawsuits against the whistle-blower in an effort to bring about self-censorship or financial, mental or psychological exhaustion.

Members also suggested that clearly regulated means of reporting anonymously should be introduced. The identity of the whistle-blower and any information enabling his identification may not be revealed without his or her consent and any breach confidentiality of identity should be subject to criminal penalties and sanctions.

Supporting whistleblowers : beyond professional risks, whistle-blowers face personal, psychological, social and financial risks.

For this reason, Parliament considered it necessary to provide psychological support , the granting of legal aid to whistle-blowers who request it and lack sufficient resources, as well as the granting of social and financial aid where necessary in the event of civil or judicial proceedings against them. The Commission is urged look into the feasibility of entrusting the European Ombudsman in this context.

Members called for:

the establishment of a centralised European authority for the effective protection of whistle-blowers and people who assist their acts; Member States to establish independent bodies , with sufficient budgetary resources and appropriate specialists, responsible for collecting reports, verifying their credibility, following up on the response given and providing guidance to whistle-blowers.

Lastly, the resolution stressed that investigations into issues raised by whistle-blowers should be conducted independently and as quickly as possible, while also protecting the rights of individuals that might be implicated by a disclosure.

Documents
2017/10/24
   EP - End of procedure in Parliament
2017/10/23
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2017/10/11
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary, single reading
Details

The Committee on Legal Affairs adopted an own-initiative report by Virginie ROZIÈRE (S&D, FR) on legitimate measures to protect whistle-blowers acting in the public interest when disclosing the confidential information of companies and public bodies.

The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, exercising its prerogative as an associated committee in accordance with Article 54 of the Rules of Procedure, also gave its opinion on the report.

Whistle-blowers play a central role in reporting unlawful or improper conduct which undermines the general interest and functioning of society. However, the protection of whistle-blowers is fragmented in Europe, which creates legal uncertainty in cross-border situations in particular.

Protecting whistle-blowers : before the end of 2017, the Commission is invited to present a legislative proposal laying down the protection of whistle-blowers across the board in both public and private sectors and in national and European institutions.

Citizens and journalists should be given legal protection rather than be prosecuted for disclosing information in the public interest. Also, EU legislation should establish a clear procedure for the correct handling of alerts and for effective protection of whistle-blowers . Companies that take fully verified retaliatory action against whistle-blowers may not receive EU funds nor enter into contracts with public bodies.

Members regretted the fact that only a few Member States have sufficiently advanced early warning system protection systems. They called on Member States that have not yet adopted relevant legislation to do so in the near future and called on the Commission to consider the creation of a platform for the exchange of good practice in this field between Member States, as well as with third countries.

Member States and EU institutions are invited to promote the positive role that whistle-blowers play, in particular through awareness-raising and protection campaigns.

Reporting mechanism : Members called for a reliable system for internal reporting to competent authorities and outside the organisation. Employers should be encouraged to introduce internal reporting procedures and each organisation should establish clear reporting channels with an independent or impartial person or entity to collect reports. Each worker should be informed of the applicable reporting procedure, which should ensure confidentiality and a reasonable period of time in the handling of the report.

Protection given to whistle-blowers : Members considered that when a person is recognised as a whistle-blower, measures should be taken to protect them against any retaliation and for compensation to be granted for any harassment suffered. Retaliation should be penalised and sanctioned effectively.

Whistle-blowers should also have the opportunity to lodge an application for interim relief to prevent retaliation, such as dismissal.

Members also suggested that clearly regulated means of reporting anonymously should be introduced. The identity of the whistle-blower and any information enabling his identification may not be revealed without his or her consent and any breach confidentiality of identity should be subject to criminal penalties and sanctions.

Supporting whistleblowers : Members recalled that, beyond professional risks, whistle-blowers face personal, psychological, social and financial risks.

For this reason, Members considered it necessary to provide psychological support , the granting of legal aid to whistle-blowers who request it and lack sufficient resources, as well as the granting of social and financial aid where necessary in the event of civil or judicial proceedings against them. The Commission is urged look into the feasibility of entrusting the European Ombudsman in this context.

Members called for the establishment of a centralised European authority for the effective protection of whistle-blowers and people who assist their acts. They also called on Member States to establish independent bodies , with sufficient budgetary resources and appropriate specialists, responsible for collecting reports, verifying their credibility, following up on the response given and providing guidance to whistle-blowers.

Lastly, the report stressed that investigations into issues raised by whistle-blowers should be conducted independently and as quickly as possible, while also protecting the rights of individuals that might be implicated by a disclosure.

Documents
2017/10/02
   EP - Vote in committee, 1st reading/single reading
2017/09/12
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/09/08
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/09/07
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/09/06
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/07/26
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2017/07/13
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/07/13
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/06/26
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2017/05/31
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2017/04/12
   EP - ROZIÈRE Virginie (S&D) appointed as rapporteur in JURI
2017/03/23
   EP - FLANAGAN Luke Ming (GUE/NGL) appointed as rapporteur in ENVI
2016/11/08
   EP - SCOTT CATO Molly (Verts/ALE) appointed as rapporteur in ECON
2016/10/27
   EP - CASA David (PPE) appointed as rapporteur in EMPL
2016/10/19
   EP - DE JONG Dennis (GUE/NGL) appointed as rapporteur in CONT
2016/09/29
   EP - CASTALDO Fabio Massimo (EFDD) appointed as rapporteur in AFCO
2016/09/15
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament, 1st reading/single reading
2016/09/15
   EP - Referral to associated committees announced in Parliament
2016/09/08
   EP - KRASNODĘBSKI Zdzisław (ECR) appointed as rapporteur in CULT
2016/09/05
   EP - PAGAZAURTUNDÚA Maite (ALDE) appointed as rapporteur in LIBE

Documents

Activities

Votes

A8-0295/2017 - Virginie Rozière - Am 1 24/10/2017 12:59:36.000

2017/10/24 Outcome: -: 550, 0: 66, +: 45
LT LU EE CY LV SI MT DK IE SK AT FI HR EL BG SE BE HU PT CZ PL NL RO FR GB ES IT DE
Total
8
5
5
5
7
6
6
11
9
11
18
11
11
17
14
19
21
18
19
18
46
24
30
66
62
47
61
86
icon: ENF ENF
31

Belgium ENF

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1

Poland ENF

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1

Netherlands ENF

4

Romania ENF

1
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13

Hungary NI

For (1)

1

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Abstain (1)

2

France NI

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2

United Kingdom NI

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3

Germany NI

2
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66

Lithuania ECR

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1

Latvia ECR

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1

Slovakia ECR

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3

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2

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1

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1
3
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2

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3

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1

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3

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2
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4

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6

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A8-0295/2017 - Virginie Rozière - § 3 24/10/2017 12:59:49.000

2017/10/24 Outcome: +: 338, -: 322, 0: 5
IT EL DE SE IE ES PT AT MT CY RO SI LT BE FI DK EE LU LV CZ HU GB SK HR BG NL FR PL
Total
61
19
85
19
9
46
20
18
6
5
30
6
8
21
11
11
5
6
7
19
19
60
11
11
16
23
66
47
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176

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2

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3

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49

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A8-0295/2017 - Virginie Rozière - § 13 24/10/2017 13:00:05.000

2017/10/24 Outcome: +: 358, -: 285, 0: 24
IT DE FR EL ES PT IE AT MT SE BE CY RO NL FI GB SI LT DK EE LU SK CZ LV HU HR BG PL
Total
61
86
66
19
46
20
9
18
6
19
21
5
30
24
11
62
6
8
11
5
6
11
19
7
19
11
15
46
icon: S&D S&D
176

Greece S&D

2

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1

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3

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icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
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3

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2

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2

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icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
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Italy GUE/NGL

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1

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1

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4

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icon: EFDD EFDD
35

France EFDD

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2

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1

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1
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2

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2

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2

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3

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icon: ALDE ALDE
58

Germany ALDE

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1

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3

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icon: PPE PPE
193

Cyprus PPE

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1

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3

A8-0295/2017 - Virginie Rozière - § 25/1 24/10/2017 13:00:49.000

2017/10/24 Outcome: +: 604, -: 49, 0: 14
DE IT FR ES PL GB RO PT AT BE HU CZ BG SE NL HR EL IE SK LT DK SI MT LU LV FI CY EE
Total
85
60
66
46
47
62
30
20
18
21
19
19
16
19
24
11
19
9
11
8
11
6
6
6
7
11
5
5
icon: PPE PPE
192

Lithuania PPE

1

Denmark PPE

For (1)

1

Slovenia PPE

3

Luxembourg PPE

Abstain (1)

3

Finland PPE

For (1)

1

Cyprus PPE

1

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1
icon: S&D S&D
176
4

Netherlands S&D

3

Croatia S&D

2

Greece S&D

2

Ireland S&D

For (1)

1

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1

Malta S&D

3

Luxembourg S&D

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1

Latvia S&D

1

Cyprus S&D

2

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1
icon: ECR ECR
66

Italy ECR

2

Romania ECR

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1

Bulgaria ECR

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2

Netherlands ECR

2

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

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1

Slovakia ECR

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3

Lithuania ECR

1

Denmark ECR

3

Latvia ECR

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1
2
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
50

Italy Verts/ALE

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1

Austria Verts/ALE

3

Belgium Verts/ALE

2

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2

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2

Croatia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

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1

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1

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1

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1

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1

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1
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
44

Italy GUE/NGL

2

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3

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1

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3

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3

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icon: ALDE ALDE
58

Germany ALDE

2

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1

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3

Portugal ALDE

1

Austria ALDE

For (1)

1

Sweden ALDE

Against (1)

3

Croatia ALDE

2

Ireland ALDE

For (1)

1
2

Denmark ALDE

2

Slovenia ALDE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Latvia ALDE

1

Estonia ALDE

For (1)

Against (1)

2
icon: ENF ENF
31

Italy ENF

4

Poland ENF

Against (1)

1

Romania ENF

Abstain (1)

1

Belgium ENF

Against (1)

1

Netherlands ENF

4
icon: NI NI
15

Germany NI

2

France NI

Abstain (1)

2

Poland NI

Against (1)

2

United Kingdom NI

For (1)

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

3

Hungary NI

For (1)

1
icon: EFDD EFDD
35

France EFDD

3

Poland EFDD

1

Czechia EFDD

Against (1)

1

Sweden EFDD

2

Lithuania EFDD

For (1)

1

A8-0295/2017 - Virginie Rozière - § 25/2 24/10/2017 13:01:01.000

2017/10/24 Outcome: +: 343, -: 277, 0: 33
IT ES DE GB AT IE FI BE PT LT CZ SE RO LU DK CY EE BG NL EL MT LV HR SI HU SK FR PL
Total
58
47
86
59
18
9
11
19
19
8
18
18
29
6
11
5
4
16
23
19
6
7
11
5
19
11
64
47
icon: S&D S&D
168

Ireland S&D

For (1)

1

Belgium S&D

3

Czechia S&D

3

Luxembourg S&D

For (1)

1

Cyprus S&D

2

Estonia S&D

For (1)

1

Netherlands S&D

2

Greece S&D

2

Malta S&D

3

Latvia S&D

1

Croatia S&D

2

Slovenia S&D

For (1)

1
icon: Verts/ALE Verts/ALE
49

Italy Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Austria Verts/ALE

3

Finland Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Belgium Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Lithuania Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Luxembourg Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Denmark Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Estonia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Netherlands Verts/ALE

2

Latvia Verts/ALE

1

Croatia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Slovenia Verts/ALE

For (1)

1

Hungary Verts/ALE

2
icon: ALDE ALDE
56

Germany ALDE

2

United Kingdom ALDE

1

Austria ALDE

For (1)

1

Ireland ALDE

For (1)

1

Portugal ALDE

1
2

Sweden ALDE

3

Romania ALDE

3

Luxembourg ALDE

For (1)

1

Denmark ALDE

2

Estonia ALDE

For (1)

1

Latvia ALDE

1

Croatia ALDE

2
icon: GUE/NGL GUE/NGL
44

Italy GUE/NGL

2

Ireland GUE/NGL

Against (1)

3

Finland GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Portugal GUE/NGL

3

Sweden GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Denmark GUE/NGL

For (1)

1

Cyprus GUE/NGL

2

Netherlands GUE/NGL

3
icon: EFDD EFDD
33

Lithuania EFDD

For (1)

1

Czechia EFDD

Abstain (1)

1

Sweden EFDD

2

Poland EFDD

1
icon: NI NI
15

Germany NI

For (1)

Against (1)

2

United Kingdom NI

For (1)

Against (2)

3

Hungary NI

For (1)

1

France NI

2

Poland NI

2
icon: ENF ENF
31

Italy ENF

For (1)

4

Belgium ENF

Against (1)

1

Romania ENF

Against (1)

1

Netherlands ENF

4

Poland ENF

Against (1)

1
icon: ECR ECR
64

Italy ECR

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

2

Finland ECR

Against (1)

2

Lithuania ECR

Against (1)

1

Romania ECR

For (1)

1

Bulgaria ECR

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

2

Netherlands ECR

2

Greece ECR

For (1)

1

Latvia ECR

Against (1)

1

Croatia ECR

Against (1)

1
icon: PPE PPE
193

Finland PPE

For (1)

1

Belgium PPE

4

Lithuania PPE

Against (1)

1

Luxembourg PPE

For (1)

Against (1)

Abstain (1)

3

Denmark PPE

Against (1)

1

Cyprus PPE

Against (1)

1

Estonia PPE

Against (1)

1

Slovenia PPE

3

A8-0295/2017 - Virginie Rozière - Am 2 24/10/2017 13:01:15.000

2017/10/24 Outcome: -: 346, +: 288, 0: 34
PL FR HU SK CZ DK HR LV IE AT MT SI EE LT EL LU BG PT CY FI DE GB BE NL RO SE ES IT
Total
47
66
19
11
19
11
11
7
9
18
6
6
5
7
19
5
16
20
5
11
85
62
21
24
30
19
47
62
icon: PPE PPE
195

Denmark PPE

For (1)

1

Slovenia PPE

3

Estonia PPE

For (1)

1

Lithuania PPE

1

Luxembourg PPE

Against (1)

3

Cyprus PPE

1

Finland PPE

For (1)

1

Belgium PPE

4
icon: ECR ECR
66

Croatia ECR

For (1)

1

Latvia ECR

For (1)

1

Lithuania ECR

1

Greece ECR

Against (1)

1

Bulgaria ECR

Against (1)

2

Finland ECR

For (1)

2

Netherlands ECR

2

Romania ECR

For (1)

1

Italy ECR

2
icon: ENF ENF
31

Poland ENF

Against (1)

1

Belgium ENF

Abstain (1)

1

Netherlands ENF

4

Romania ENF

1

Ita