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EU Civil Society Alliance launched at start of first European Year of Development

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EYDChildren should not be left behind in the EU’s development plans this year, said World Vision today (15 January) as it joins other civil society organizations and members of CONCORD in Brussels to launch the EU Civil Society Alliance. The launch takes place at the beginning of the European Year for Development 2015 and represents a common effort by NGOs from different sectors to ensure that the post-2015 framework replacing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) addresses issues such as extreme poverty, peace and security, and reaches the most vulnerable children in the hardest places to live. 

Director of Advocacy and Justice for Children World Vision Brussels and EU Representation Deirdre de Burca said: “Progress made over the past 15 years has shown us that the possibility of ending the preventable deaths of children and eradicating extreme poverty is within sight. It is clear that a world where the next generation can not only survive, but thrive, is possible. The success of the new post-2015 framework that will replace the MDGs must be measured by its ability to reach the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children in those places that are most difficult to reach – and the EU is key to this.

“Today’s launch takes place at the start of The European Year for Development. This European Year represents an excellent opportunity not only to showcase the positive impacts of international development organizations like World Vision, made possible through generous supporters, but also to engage people with the challenge of securing justice, equality, opportunity and dignity for all global citizens,” she said.

The official launch of the European Year of Development took place in in Riga, Latvia on January 9 and was attended by high level EU political representatives including Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini. Today’s launch of the EU Civil Society Alliance focuses on strengthening the joint forces of civil society members involved in development so that the best possible outcomes can be achieved for people experiencing hunger, poverty, ill health and early mortality in developing countries. Environmental, human rights, poverty and climate campaigners amongst others intend to identify common issues and challenges and work together during the European Year of Development to raise awareness of what needs to be done to tackle these problems.

"As a child-rights organization, World Vision wants to make sure the succeess of the post-2015 is measured by its impact on the most vulnarable in the hardest-to-reach places benefit," said de Burca. "Reaching the most vulnerable children will require ensuring universal coverage of essential services for every child that will provide the foundation for a better life. Initiatives that target the most vulnerable will need to implement improved health, education and social protection systems that will directly benefit all.

“This year, world leaders must ensure that the post-2015 goals replacing the MDGs are ambitious and reflect a positive vision for the world and all of its people, including children,” de Burca added.

Child protection

Disappearance of #migrant children: ALDE demands clear commitment from EU Commission and member states

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missing migrantsUpon the request of the ALDE Group, the European parliament today (1 March) held a debate on the measures needed to tackle the disappearance of migrant children in Europe. According to Europol, at least 10,000 migrant and refugee children have gone missing after arriving in Europe. The ALDE Group urges the Commission to come forward with a European policy framework to strengthen protection systems for refugee and migrant children, especially for unaccompanied minors.


ALDE MEP Hilde Vautmans, author of the question to the European commission, said: "It is a shame that neither the Commission nor member states assume their responsibility for these vulnerable and young individuals."
“The European Commission must keep up its promise and introduce a strong action plan for all migrant children in order to prevent and react to their disappearance."
“Migrant children must be treated as children and receive the same care and protection as our own. This requires decent living conditions without detention, swift asylum and family reunification procedures, as well as systematic reporting of disappearances, and identification and efficient cooperation between the member states and all relevant actors."
“We all need to take our responsibility and step up the relocation of these children. If not, they will remain in the hands of smugglers."

Nathalie Griesbeck, ALDE LIBE coordinator, added: It has already been one year since EUROPOL announced the disappearance of 10,000 migrant children in Europe and yet, almost nothing has been done."

"Solutions do exist: national authorities must identify and register every single migrant child. They should also assign them a tutor to accompany them and provide them with quality receptions facilities."
“These are simple and feasible solutions. However, to put them in place we need political will that is currently incredibly lacking today. The reality is scandalous and shameful: member states are not willing to cooperate. They do not respect their commitments, they don’t respect European law and they don’t apply the relocation scheme. I strongly condemn, not the EU inaction, but members states’ paralysis and hypocrisy."

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Abortion

#CzarnyProtest: MEPs stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Polish women

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161001czarnyprotest2The Polish government is planning to introduce some of the most severe anti-abortion legislation in Europe. If passed, the legislation will ban abortion even if it is the result of rape, incest or if the girl in question is under fifteen years of age.

The so-called ‘black protest' took place in Warsaw today (30 September) -  thousands of men and women took to the streets. The demonstration will be followed by a strike on Monday (2 October).

The European Parliament’s Social Democrat (S&D) spokesperson for gender equality Marie Arena MEP, who joined the protest, said: “Even the existing laws in Poland are some of the most restrictive in Europe. Despite some exceptions, they effectively leave thousands of women with no legal access to abortion. These new proposals go beyond this and further threaten women’s health, their fundamental rights and basic human dignity.

"The proposals would mean that a thirteen-year-old girl who has been raped by a relative would become a criminal if she terminates the pregnancy. We, as women and as Europeans, have a responsibility to stand up for the rights of girls like this. We are proud to be standing side-by-side with the thousands of Polish women and men marching here today for fundamental rights.”

Birgit Sippel MEP from the Civil Liberties committee said: “We are here this weekend to show our support for Polish citizens, for civil society and for democracy.  Being part of the EU means ensuring that certain unalienable principles are respected. These are under threat in Poland. We are here today to support Polish women in their fight for their fundamental rights. The Polish parliament needs to listen to the will of the people and reject these proposals in their entirety.

“We also must not turn a blind eye to the changes already made by the Polish government. The changes to the press law and constitutional court are a threat to the independence of the media and the judiciary. This is not just the opinion of the S&D Group, this is the opinion of all independent international bodies who have looked at the issue. Poland must immediately change direction and accept the proposals put forward by the European Commission.”

Since the Prawo I Sprawiedliwość (PiS: Law and Justice Party) victory in last year’s general election, a number of concerns have been raised about the ‘rule of law’ in Poland. The actions of the new government triggered the European Commission’s ‘rule of law’ procedure.

Recent events in Poland, concerning in particular the Constitutional Court, have led the European Commission to open a dialogue with the Polish Government in order to ensure the full respect of the rule of law. The Commission considers it necessary that Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal is able to fully carry out its responsibilities under the Constitution, and in particular to ensure an effective constitutional review of legislative acts.

Background

Commission issues 'rule of law' recommendation to Poland

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Belgium

#InternationalWomensDay: Providing support for women refugees

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women refugee

As the number of refugees in Europe continues to climb, the European Parliament wants to draw the attention to those who are among the most vulnerable: women and girls. This is why for this year's International Women's Day, which is held every year on 8 March, it has selected as its theme women refugees. On Wednesday 2 March and Thursday 3 March, the European Parliament is organising several special events to call attention to their situation. 

Photo exhibition

Parliament's visitors centre Parlamentarium in Brussels hosts a photo exhibition showcasing the plight of women refugees throughout their journey across Europe. Parliament had asked award winning photojournalist Marie Dorigny from France to create a photo reportage on the matter. The exhibition is officially opened on 2 March in the presence of  the photographer and Parliament Vice-President Sylvie Guillaume, a French member of the S&D group.  The exhibition can be visited for free until 1 June 2016.

Meeting with members of national parliaments

Parliament's women's rights committee organises an interparliamentary committee meeting on Thursday 3 March. The meeting brings together MEPs, national MPs from member states, candidate countries and Norway as well as representatives from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and the European Commission. The idea is to discuss how to combat violence against women refugees, their situation in healthcare and measures to promote their integration.

The meeting is presided by women's rights committee chair Iratxe García-Pérez (S&D, Spain) while Parliament President Martin Schulz, former Irish President Mary Robinson and Nawal Soufi, a volunteer involved with helping refugees, open the event. Participants include, amongst others, MEPs Ernest Urtasun (Greens/EFA, Spain), Barbara Matera (EPP, Italy),  Maria Noichl (S&D, Germany), Daniela Aiuto (EFDD, Italy), Catherine Bearder (ALDE, UK), Mary Honeyball, (S&D, UK) and Malin Björk (GUE/NGL, Sweden) as well as members of the national parliaments  such as Gisela Wurm (Austria), Anna Vikström (Sweden) and Petra Stienen (the Netherlands).

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