Tag Archives: European Parliament

#SOTEU: africa-EU KEY parTNER

Brussels, 16.09.2020. In the annual State of the European Union #SOTEU address the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen devoted special attention to the bloc partnership with African countries:
“”When I came into office, I chose for the very first trip outside the European Union, to visit the African Union, and it was a natural choice. It was a natural choice and it was a clear message, because we are not just neighbours, we are natural partners,” the European Commission president von der Leyen said.
“Three months later, I returned with my entire College to set our priorities for our new strategy with Africa. It is a partnership of equals, where both sides share opportunities and responsibilities.

“Africa will be a key partner in building the world we want to live in – whether on climate, digital or trade”.
The State of the European Union #SOTEU debate is a key moment to demonstrate the European Commission’s accountability towards the EU’s democratically elected representatives. It focuses on important issues like the coming economic recovery, climate change, youth unemployment and migration flows. This annual event is significant to promote a more transparent and democratic Union. It is an opportunity to bring the European Union closer to the citizens, highlighting the year’s core action points and challenges. Citizens’ rights and the democratic process are at the heart of this unique plenary debate.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, MEPs have taken stock of the von der Leyen Commission’s achievements to date.
Ursula Von der Leyen has outlined the impact of the Commission’s work in mitigating the COVID-19 sanitary and economic crisis, and shared her vision for economic recovery, fighting climate change, and the situation in Europe’s neighbourhood.
Political group leaders have assessed the Commission’s work and set out their views, as this annual State of the Union debate is a chance for MEPs to scrutinise the work and the plans of the European Commission and help set the future direction for the EU.
The debate started with an address by President von der Leyen, followed by several rounds of interventions by political group speakers between which Ms von der Leyen answered to MEPs. The German Council Presidency also took the floor.

MEPs condemn Egypt crackdown on protest

The European Parliament strongly condemns the latest state crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests, as well as the ongoing restrictions on fundamental rights in the country. Egyptian authorities have in the past weeks arbitrarily arrested over 4300 people who have been protesting against systemic corruption, repression and austerity measures, and have demanded the resignation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The European Parliament strongly condemns the latest state crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests, as well as the ongoing restrictions on fundamental rights in the country. Egyptian authorities have in the past weeks arbitrarily arrested over 4300 people who have been protesting against systemic corruption, repression and austerity measures, and have demanded the resignation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

MEPs call for an end to all acts of violence and intimidation, and the immediate release of all human rights defenders detained or sentenced for carrying out their legitimate work. They also express grave concern at the reprisals against those in Egypt who cooperate or seek to cooperate with international human rights organisations or the UN’s human rights bodies.

A profound review of the EU’s relations with Egypt is necessary, MEPs say. They argue that the human rights situation in the country requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations, which should be restricted to primarily support civil society. The full resolution, adopted by a show of hands, will be available here (24.10.2019).

MEPs call for an end to all acts of violence and intimidation, and the immediate release of all human rights defenders detained or sentenced for carrying out their legitimate work. They also express grave concern at the reprisals against those in Egypt who cooperate or seek to cooperate with international human rights organisations or the UN’s human rights bodies.

A profound review of the EU’s relations with Egypt is necessary, MEPs say. They argue that the human rights situation in the country requires a serious revision of the Commission’s budget support operations, which should be restricted to primarily support civil society. The full resolution, adopted by a show of hands, will be available here (24.10.2019).

Uganda LGBTI: MEPs express deep concern

MEPs express their deep concern at the possible resurgence of the anti-homosexuality law in the Ugandan political debate, which would, if introduced, include the death penalty for “aggravated acts of homosexuality”.

They take note of the statement made by Ugandan President Museveni’s spokesperson denying that the government has any intention to propose such a new bill, and call on the Ugandan government to stand by this statement .

The European Parliament regrets emphatically the use of the death penalty under any circumstances and reminds the Ugandan government of its obligations under international law and the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected. MEPs also call on the EU delegation in the country to continue to monitor the situation for LGBTI people closely and to actively support civil society organisations and human rights defenders on the ground. The resolution was adopted by 521 votes in favour, 4 against and 110 abstentions and will be available here (24.10.2019).

Security situation in Burkina Faso

Over the past months, we have seen a continued and dramatic deterioration of the security situation in Burkina Faso. I would like to start by expressing our solidarity with the people of Burkina. More than 200 people were killed so far in 2019, including 60 victims in the last month” said Tytti TUPPURAINEN (pictured), Finnish Presidency, in the speech on behalf of High Representative Federica Mogherini at the European Parliament September Strasbourg plenary debate on the security situation in Burkina Faso. (16/09/2019).

“This insecurity climate puts more pressure on already overstretched social servicesThe number of internally displaced persons is now reaching 300,000 people, posing a serious challenge to the delivery of food, health or sanitation services, but also in terms of social cohesion.

The jihadist groups are now targeting both security forces and civilians, with a clear strategy to foster local antagonisms and create a circle of vengeance between different communities. They are trying to incite a war of religion, in a country that has a long history of peaceful coexistence between faiths and communities.

“The European Union is today closer than ever to the people of Burkina Faso. The country is currently at the heart of our action in the Sahel. In the last seven years we have mobilised more than one billion euros for development programs in Burkina.

“High Representative [of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica] Mogherini was in Ouagadougou over the summer, on the occasion of the fifth annual Ministerial meeting between the EU and the G5 Sahel. During the meeting, she announced an extra €138 million in support the Joint military force of the G5 Sahel, which has an important role in fighting terrorism and organised crime across the region.

“Our military and civilian missions in the Sahel are also working more and more across the region, alongside with French operation Barkhane.

“Coordination between security and development policies is one of the essential challenges, and this was one of the main messages that the High Representative [Federica Mogherini] delivered during her visit.

“We are glad that the G5 countries have committed to adopting an Integrated Strategic Framework, precisely to synchronise their efforts on security and on development and to identify priority regions for their action.

“The government of Burkina has also extended the emergency plan for the Sahel to its eastern regions, which is a positive development.

During her visit Ms Mogherini called for urgent progress on security sector reform. The fight against terrorism can only bear fruit if security forces respect the rule of law and human rights. This is the only way to build trust between State authorities and all sectors of the population.

“The recent national dialogue is an important building block for national cohesion. It is crucial that all ethnic communities in Burkina feel that they are part of a common national family. As the terrorist foster hatred and inter-ethnic tensions, the State should push in the opposite direction and invest in a shared sense of belonging for all its citizens.

“Security is vital, but it is not the only answer to the challenges that the country is facing. Linking political, security and development issues will be more and more essential. Let me just mention that, during her trip to Burkina, the High Representative also visited an EU-funded school â€“ because education is the foundation of any country’s strength.

“International coordination is also crucial, and the EU is willing to engage even more with the whole region. This is the reason why we took the opportunity of the ECOWAS extraordinary summit on terrorism in Ouagadougou last Saturday to discuss with countries of the wider region how they can contribute more to contrast terrorism and how we can coordinate our respective actions.

“Since 2015, a peaceful country like Burkina Faso has had to face unprecedented violence. We Europeans have stepped up our support to stop this escalation, to stabilise a crucial region for our own security, and to help the people of the Sahel take their future into their hands. We will continue to be a strong partner for Burkina and for its people”

(Link to the concluding remarks https://europa.eu/!Tp64DB)

 

Tajani reiterates call for Africa Marshall Plan

Italian Member of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani warned about growing inequalities threatening the economic and social development in sub-Saharan Africa. The economic situation in many African countries has aggravated recently, impacting the security situation, gradually eroding social cohesion. The growing inequality leads to instability,  Tajani said. He underlined that the security situation in the Sahel can not be resolved without substantial improvement of the living conditions of populations.

As a president of the European Parliament Tajani has been a strong proponent of the large-scale European investments in Africa – Marshall Plan for “strong engagement against climate change, against poverty, against terrorism, against the war between African countries and for growth”.

During September Plenary in Strasbourg (16-19/9) MEPs debated statements made by Tytti Tuppurainen (President-in-Office of the Council), on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on recent developments in the political situation in Burkina Faso, Colombia and Kashmir.

This month Burkina Faso and G5 Sahel have secured support of the European Union (EU), Berlin and Paris in fighting terrorism. The cross-border joint force of the G5 Sahel was officially launched on 2 July 2017 in Bamako by the Presidents of the five Sahel States exposed to the terrorist threat (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger).

 

MEPs condemn Cameroon use of force

Cameroon authorities must end the use of force against the political opposition, say Members of the European Parliament in a resolution adopted on April 17 in Strasbourg plenary.

As this year, Cameroon’s security forces violently supressed opposition protests and arrested around 200 opposition supporters, including political leader Maurice Kamto,

MEPs condemn the use of such force, call for an independent and transparent investigation into the conduct of the police and security forces against protesters and the immediate release of all detainees held on politically motivated charges. They also want the country’s government to confirm that it will not seek the death penalty for political activists and protesters, while recalling that such punishment has not been used in Cameroon since 1997.

Parliament also urges the government in Cameroon to initiate a consensual review of the country’s electoral system, with the aim of ensuring a free, transparent and credible electoral process. Cameroon’s current President Paul Biya has been in power since 1982, which makes him one of the longest ruling presidents in the world. Since the last presidential elections in 2018 were marked by suspicions of fraud and the reporting of irregularities, MEPs insist that a review of the electoral system takes place before any further elections are held, in order to promote peace and avoid post-electoral crisis

MEPs condemn use of force in Sudan

MEPs strongly condemn the excessive use of force by the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) during the ongoing popular protests against price increases and President Omar al-Bashir’s regime. The Sudanese government recently decided to end subsidies on staple goods in response to aggravating inflation, which is now the second highest in the world at around 122 %.

The European Parliament also deplores the ongoing general repression by the authorities in Sudan, which continue to target activists and human rights defenders, as well as lawyers, teachers, students and doctors.

The resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of human rights lawyer and 2007 Sakharov Prize laureate Salih Mahmoud Osman, who was arrested on 8 January, as well as all other political prisoners currently in detention without charge or trial.ep pleanry stb

MEPs reiterate their demand to President al-Bashir  to comply with international law in accordance with the conventions and treaties to which his government is party. The Sudanese President, in power for 29 years, is the only sitting head of stated wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide committed during his campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Although the Sudanese constitution does not permit him to stand again when his term ends, Mr al-Bashir is currently seeking to amend relevant articles in order to obtain a life mandate.

Louis Michel receives death threats

Since the end of  2018 a prominent Belgium politician, Louis Michel  has been attacked by Congolese opponents and received several letters containing death threats, media reports. (Image: archive).

I have received several threatening letters, I have refused close protection but I am under surveillance, I do not want to say more,” said Louis Michel, the Member of the European parliament (MEP),  former European Commissioner and father of the incumbent Prime Minister.

The threats launch started on December 10, in Oslo, during the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege, after which a dozen Congolese opponents of the Union pour la Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS) movement attacked the politician.

During the month of December, Louis Michel again received letters containing explicit death threats at his home in Jodoigne.

The MEP complained and the case was taken seriously by the State Security who offered him close protection. As he confirms himself, he has not accepted it but he has been under discreet surveillance ever since.

Polls taken over the last decade indicate that roughly 75% of Congolese population self identify as members of the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS).

From 1908 until independence in 1960 the Congo used to be a colony of Kingdom of Belgium. The former colony adopted its name – the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1964.

 

Illegal migrants storm fences in Spain

A several hundreds of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa entered Spain after storming a double barrier between Morocco and the Spanish territory of Ceuta, with some attacking security forces with quicklime, police reported.

The scramble over the barrier is the biggest in Ceuta since February 2017, when more than 850 migrants entered the overseas territory over four days. Today around 600 illegals migrantes participated in breaking into Spanish territory.

At present Spain becomes the number one destination for illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranean by boat, surpassing Italy with 19,586 arrivals so far this year, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

A spokesman for the Guardia Civil police force in #Ceuta told AFP the migrants managed to climb over the double barrier, which is covered in small blades, early on Thursday morning, June 26.

They scrambled over “all of a sudden, with much violence,” and some attacked police with quicklime they had in tubes and bottles.

As a result, “more than a dozen police” were injured, four of whom had to go to hospital for burns in the face and arms.

“There is no possible justification for an organized, illegal, massive and violent assault on a border like today’s : 600 young and strong men have wounded viciously and used quicklime against  22 agents. All my support and admiration for the Guardia Civil” – wrote in her Twitter microblog Beatriz Becerra, MEP, vice-chair of the Subcommittee of Human rights of the European Parliament.

Spanish citizens are waiting for the reaction of government on this outbreak of violence.

AMENDMENT: Spanish newspaper El Pais reports total more than “800 illegal migrants from sub-Sanitarian Africa without documents” early morning hours stormed the border between Ceuta and Marocco.

 

Tajani: “We can’t stop migration”

“Until 2016, 90% of irregular migrants travelled through the Niger to Libya and Europe. In just 2 years, Niger reduced migration flows by 95%, from over 300,000 to about 10,000 in 2018. We need to support this model and extend it to other Sahel countries following the example with Turkey, where we committed 6 billion euros to close the so-called ‘Balkan route’, ” declared European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, at the end of his official visit to Niamey in Niger where he headed a mission of entrepreneurs, researchers, and representatives of international organisations.

“Together with effective control of external borders, the migration crisis must be tackled at source, with investments and economic partnerships triggering economic development and opportunities for young Africans. I am convinced that the mission of economic and technological diplomacy that accompanied me here is a first step to attracting European investment and technology transfers to Niger, “ added Tajani.

President Tajani also underlined the need for a common and strategic European approach to relations with African countries and in particular those in the Sahel region (in addition to Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Chad): “Irregular migration and Africa’s growth require a European-level strategy. Any solution taken at national level ends up being temporary, isolated and ineffective. We need a medium to long term vision, with a real ‘Marshall Plan’ capable of mobilizing large-scale public and private investments in the African continent. In this sense, the collaboration with Niger has been extraordinary and represents a model for many other African countries “.

The President of the European Parliament also visited a refugee reception center run by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) attended by persons evacuated to Niger from Libya. At the center, Tajani expressed his commitment to strengthen the fight against the traffickers who perpetrate unspeakable violence and torture to men, women and children: “These young Somali and Eritrean women refugees told me about the horrible violence they suffered in the Libyan camps. They have been saved thanks to the work of UNHCR and the EU. Their agony drives us to up the fight against the traffickers”.

President Tajani was received in Niamey by the President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of the Nigerian National Assembly Ousseini Tini, and Prime Minister Brigi Rafini. Tajani had meetings and talks with the Presidents of the National Assemblies of the G5 Sahel countries and with the Secretary General of the Community of the 29 States of Sahel and Sahara (CEN-SAD), Ibrahim Sani Abani.

Tajani also stressed the importance of starting a process of democratization in Libya with the aim of stabilizing the entire region: “Apart from Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania are also our key partners to reach a solution to the Libyan crisis. Consequently, I invited representatives from these countries to participate in the conference in support of the organization of democratic elections in Libya that the European Parliament will organize in Brussels on 10 October, ” Tajani announced.

During his visit, the President of the European Parliament also undertook to strengthen the Erasmus + programme for Nigerian students and to conduct further joint initiatives in the strategic sectors of renewable energy, agriculture, water management and digital.

 

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