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MEPs strongly condemn continuing violence in Yemen and military coup in Myanmar 

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Humanitarian aid for Yemen must be increased, MEPs say, and urge the military in Myanmar to immediately reinstate the civilian government. Parliament condemned in the strongest terms the ongoing violence in Yemen that has, since 2015, “degenerated into the worst humanitarian crisis in the world”. There can be no military solution to the conflict and the crisis can only be resolved sustainably through an inclusive Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned negotiation process, stress MEPs in a resolution adopted on Thursday by 638 votes for, 12 against and 44 abstentions.

Calling on all parties to facilitate the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief and other necessary goods to the population, MEPs point out that nearly 80% of Yemenites— more than 24 million people — need humanitarian support, while 50 000 people are living in famine-like conditions. This figure is expected to triple by mid-2021.

All parties must urgently refrain from starving civilians as a method of warfare, MEPs stress, whilst pushing for targeted measures to be imposed against those taking part in acts that violate international humanitarian law.

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Welcoming the EU’s pledge to triple humanitarian help for Yemen in 2021, MEPs urge the European Commission and EU member states to lead international efforts to urgently scale up humanitarian aid.

Myanmar: All those illegally arrested need to be unconditionally released

In a resolution on the situation in Myanmar, MEPs strongly condemn the military coup of 1 February and call on the military (Tatmadaw) to immediately reinstate the civilian government, end the state of emergency, and unconditionally release all those illegally arrested. The result of the general elections of 8 November must be respected and power handed back to the elected civil authorities.

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MEPs note in this regard that “despite her failure to adequately condemn the human rights violations against Burmese minorities, Aung San Suu Kyi (pictured) continues to be the symbol of the Burmese people when it comes to democratic aspirations and ambitions for a more just and democratic future”.

To guarantee the recognition and representation of all ethnic groups in Myanmar including the Rohingya, the new constitution must be drafted and implemented through a free and fair process, MEPs stress.

They welcome the extension of the 2018 EU sanctions against Tatmadaw military and officials responsible for human rights violations against the Rohingya population. and urge the Council to extend targeted sanctions to the entire leadership of Myanmar’s military, including all those involved in the coup.

Finally, Parliament calls upon the EU and its member states to foster international coordination to prevent any unauthorised goods from being illegally exported from Myanmar, specifically benefitting the military economically.

The resolution was adopted by 667 votes for, one against and 27 abstentions.

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Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

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European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

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The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

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The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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