Tag Archives: MEPs

EU-Mauritania fishery extension

The fisheries agreement with Mauritania and its implementing protocol, the EU’s most significant in economic terms by far, are currently being renegotiated. To allow continued EU fishing activities in Mauritanian waters after the expiry of the latest protocol, the European Commission has proposed to prolong it for a maximum of one year. The European Parliament is due to vote on giving its consent to this extension during the May plenary part-session.

The EU’s fisheries relations with Mauritania date back more than 30 years, with a series of agreements concluded in 1987, 1996 and 2006. The latter, renewable for six-year periods, is now in force. It is one of the few mixed fisheries agreements covering a variety of demersal and pelagic species, including a tuna component. EU fishing vessels operate in Mauritanian waters under a protocol implementing the agreement, which defines the fishing opportunities available and the financial contribution paid by the EU. The latest protocol, concluded in 2015 and modified by Commission decision in 2017, expired on 15 November 2019. An evaluation study recommended its renewal.

Urpilainen committed to Africa

“…On our first trip outside Europe, President Von der Leyen and I went to hear Africa. We experienced a continent of youth, brimming with confidence, full of potential, attractive for the global players. We met a partner that deserves a more positive engagement from us.

“We have already paved the way for change with the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, supported by the External Investment Plan for sustainable investments, and have achieved – in such a short amount of time – tangible progress. Now, we can capitalise on those achievements and go further. It is time for a new chapter that brings a step change in our relationship. For that to happen, we need a new comprehensive strategy.

“A strategy that supports Africa’s political, economic, governance efforts, and its moves to bolster peace and resilience. A strategy with Africa that ensures partners’ ownership and commitment. A strategy that positions better the EU in the new global context, reflecting the aims of this geopolitical Commission and the ambitions of the European Green Deal.

“The Abidjan priorities we set back in 2017 remain valid today; our approach is not to change direction, but to step up a gear for better results.

“The strategy’s comprehensive character will be ensured by its inbuilt links with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate change, the EU Global Strategy, and the European Consensus on Development.

“We will continue to work on economic continental integration, human development, mobility and migration. Thematically, apart from addressing the climate and environmental challenges, we will focus on digitalisation and gender equality, which are major enablers for development. There could not be development without solid governance, respect of human rights, the rule of law and democracy. Therefore, we will pursue our efforts in these areas along with the fight for peace, security and against extremism. Finally yet importantly, we would like to work closer with our African partners on the multilateral rules-based system that is more and more being called into question.

“A key priority through my mandate, I will ensure that the implementation of this Strategy unleashes the power that youth represents. Young people must also own this Strategy.

“Work on the new ambitious framework is already ongoing, both at political and technical level. In the meantime, we continue listening and trying to ensure broad ownership of the Strategy both by yourselves and our Member States, as well as by our African Partners, and civil society, including young people.

“We will hold an EU-AU College-to-College meeting on the 27th of February in Ethiopia and a ministerial meeting in May. Both events will provide key opportunities for dialogue with our African partners.

“The proposal for the new strategy will be on our College agenda for adoption on early March that will mark the beginning of a more concrete work with our key stakeholders…” Strasbourg, 11 Feb 2020 – Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen

 

Libya detention centres debate

The conditions at Libyan detention centres and the procedures used by the country’s coastguard in sea rescues will be the focus of a committee debate on November 21 in Brussels.

MEPs of the Civil Liberties Committee, the Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Delegation for relations with Maghreb countries will assess the conditions facing migrants in Libya against the backdrop of the general situation in the country, with representatives of the European External Action Service and the European Commission.

In a second session, they will delve into what is happening in detention centres and analyse the procedures used by the Libyan coastguard when returning migrants rescued at sea, based on testimonies from representatives of UNHCR, IOM, Médecins sans Frontières and the International Rescue Committee.

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).

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.

China trade in donkey hides devastates communities

Describing the scale of the animal abuse in Chinese trade in donkey hides and its devastating impact for local communities in developing countries, especially in Africa, the Members of the European Parliament called for an urgency of action to protect the equidae as an indefensible contributor to harmonious rural lifestyle.

During the European Parliament Strasbourg Plenary MEPs of the EU Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals considered the welfare of equines – horses, donkeys and hybrids, largely neglected within the existing laws and suffering abuses in Europe, however it is the Chinese traditional medicine, which causes the most abhorrent practices, with systemic torturing and killing of donkeys in pursue of their precious hides. Some farms in Europe also act as suppliers of donkey hides for China, however their activities are far too small to cover the huge demand of Chinese traditional medicine, looking for the animals all over the world, including the poorest villages in Africa, where people depend on donkeys for transport of water and goods.

Chaired by Jacqueline Foster MEP (ECR, UK),  the hearing featured speakers from World Horse Welfare, The Donkey Sanctuary and BrookeAction for Working Horses and Donkeys shared the numerous problems of equines welfare in the EU and worldwide, especially abhorrent abuses of donkeys in Chinese trade.

The Intergroup focused on the trade of donkey hides and the social, economic, and welfare problems that it raises. Ian Arthur Cawsey, UN Ambassador at The Donkey Sanctuary, explained the threat this trade represents, causing a global crisis for donkeys welfare, and even more so for people who depend on them.

During the last decades, China has seen the demand for donkey skins explode to produce ‘ejiao’, a substance used in traditional medicine, health and beauty products. Currently, the Chinese demand is assessed around 4 million donkey skins a year. As the result the global trade in animals increases, and donkeys are being traded and stolen all around the world.

However, these animals support the livelihood of 500 million people across the world and some of the world’s poorest communities. When donkeys are sold or stolen, the additional burden of taking on their work often falls on the most vulnerable members of the society: children and women. “If you have no donkey, you are a donkey yourself“, explains the Ethiopian proverb, hinting on animal key function in fulfilling daily hard work.

Since the skin is valued so much more than the meat, the premature death of the donkeys from deprivation of food and water is actually considered  by Chinese traders as ‘helpful’. The cruel practices also raise serious concerns for public health and the environment, while the growing Chinese demand for donkey skins clearly will never lead to regulated, humane or sustainable production practices.

Petra Ingram, Chief Executive Officer of the Brooke – Action for Working Horses and Donkeys, and Dr. Jennifer Wathan, Senior Manager, gave a presentation on the local impact of the trade in donkey hides on livelihoods in Africa, advocating to think global and act local. A donkey is a valuable asset that provides multiple essential functions to a household. The growing Chinese trade of donkey skins therefore deeply impacts poorest communities in Africa.

Donkeys provide a huge contribution in developing countries all over the world. For example, every day a donkey earns users and owners in Kenya between $5-12, doing tasks such as collecting water, carrying goods to market or in farming. Loss of a donkey not only results in that income being jeopardised, but also increases the burden on families to carry out manual work themselves. Our research shows that vulnerable people are particularly affected, especially women and the elderly who use their donkeys for daily chores and transportation. This can even keep children out of school” Petra Ingram said.

“We hope that highlighting this issue to the MEPs who attended or observed online today will prompt more research, and ultimately bring us closer to tackling the devastating effects of an unregulated trade in donkey hides. Brooke has made some progress, but this is a global crisis, too large for us and other charities to tackle in isolation, so we must work together to raise awareness and gather more evidence to support positive change for the donkeys and the people who depend on them,” Ingram concluded.

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Ramaphosa addresses Europarliament

The President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, has addressed MEPs in a formal sitting in Strasbourg on Wednesday, 14 November during Plenary week.

In view of upcoming VII EU-South Africa Summit in Brussels on 15 November the EU-South Africa strategic relations and cooperation, peace and security in Africa  are among the issues addressed in Mr Ramaphosa’s  speech.

 

The development and trade are the priorities and focus of the bilateral relations between the EU and South Africa.

Through his address President Ramaphosa confirmed his loyalty to the heritage of Nelson Mandela, and determination to continue the development of South Africa in his footsteps.

This millennium Mr.Ramaphosa is the second South African President to deliver a speech in the House since his predecessor Thabo Mbeki took floor in November 2004.

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MEPs denounce violations of human rights in Burundi

During European Parliament Strasbourg plenary week, the MEPs denounced the intimidation, repression and the harassment of journalists and human rights defenders, and urged Burundian authorities to guarantee the respect of the rule of law and human rights, such as the right of freedom of expression and freedom of the media.

They demand an end to any further payments to the Burundian troops engaged in UN and AU peacekeeping missions, which have been used by the government to conceal domestic problems in the country.

The European Parliament appeals to governments in the region to ensure that the return of refugees is voluntary, based on informed decisions and carried out in safety and dignity. 413 000 people have fled the country since the President announced that he will run for a third term.

The resolution was adopted by raising hands.

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