Connect with us

European Parliament

Sassoli: The EU is not a frozen system - we have shown we can challenge taboos

SHARE:

Published

on

We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you've consented to and to improve our understanding of you. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Extracts of the speech by European Parliament President Sassoli (pictured) at the European Youth Event in Strasbourg.

“I am very moved to see so many young people in this hemicycle, our plenary, once again full of citizens from all over Europe, gathered here to exchange ideas, debate and vote, to talk about our future, and to bet on the challenges that our future holds for us. This is our Europe. It is not a frozen system. Europe is a mechanism that forges itself through crisis. We have seen – particularly in this year and a half of the pandemic - how far we have come, challenging many taboos, that before the pandemic were untouchable, inviolable rules. We saw that it was convenient for our member states to put those rules aside. Europe needs rules, but new rules that can allow the younger generations to be protagonists and not simply burdened with the debts of the past.

“I am very moved to see so many young people in our plenary for this event. It is incredibly important in the current situation, as the European Union is slowly emerging from this pandemic and is beginning a new chapter by looking to the future. We all know that there will be no going back.

Advertisement

“You all have had to reinvent yourselves, through distance learning. You have been deprived of human relationships at such an important time in your lives and you have had to change your plans for your future and for your career. We have discovered new ways to preserve human and working relationships.

“The European Parliament is very aware of the difficulties that young people in particular are facing. Young people, women, vulnerable groups in our societies are today particularly threatened by the economic and social crisis. We have asked, and will continue to ask , Member States to mobilise all necessary funds to support youth employment, education, mobility and sport.”

Regarding the threat to EU values in certain member states, the President added:

Advertisement

“I know that some countries are undermining the EU at the moment, and we hope and wish that they will reconsider their positions. We cannot allow any country in our Europe to violate fundamental laws and our treaties, and we will be unyielding in this.

The President finished by speaking about the Conference on the Future of Europe:

“We want this conference to open up a new phase, a phase of participation, but also of change. To change the rules, because we have seen in this year and a half that there cannot be taboos. European democracy must be more efficient and effective.

The European Parliament is very ambitious on this. We believe that today it is urgent to look at where we are, and where we want to go. This is an unprecedented exercise, because you, young people, the citizens of the Union, and all of us are called upon to contribute to this debate and to find ways forward together.”

The full speech is available here.

European Parliament

MEPs call for partnership of equals with US to address global challenges

Published

on

MEPs advocate the EU’s strategic autonomy and call for better EU-US co-ordination on China to avoid tensions such as the ones caused by AUKUS deal, Plenary session  AFET.

In a resolution on future EU-US relations, MEPs welcome the US’s support for rules-based multilateralism, as this provides an important opportunity to re-engage, as an equal partner, with the US.

The report stresses that, in deepening transatlantic cooperation, the EU should strive to lead alongside the US, while fostering its strategic autonomy in defence and economic relations as a means to pursue its own legitimate diplomatic, security and economic interests .

Advertisement

Better coordination and consultation on China

The EU and US need to explore areas of possible cooperation and better coordination on China to avoid transatlantic tensions, warn MEPs. They point to frictions that followed the adoption of the trilateral US-UK-Australia security deal known as AUKUS, which was struck without consulting EU allies.

Welcoming the recent progress on the EU’s Indo-Pacific strategy, Parliament specifies that coordination with the US on China should focus on protecting human and minority rights and de-escalating tensions in the South and East China Seas, Hong Kong and across the Taiwan Strait.

Advertisement

It is positive that the inaugural EU-US Trade & Technology Council meeting took place on 29 September in Pittsburgh as planned, MEPs note, despite the tensions that need to be discussed in an open and frank manner.

Lessons from Afghanistan and more engagement in the Eastern Partnership and the Western Balkans

Deploring the Taliban’s violent takeover of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US and European forces, the Parliament calls for deep transatlantic reflection on the lessons from the mission in Afghanistan to promote stability, security and good governance in the world. Transatlantic partners must engage with all of Afghanistan’s neighbours, they urge, bearing in mind the plight of the Afghan people who have sought refuge there and must be helped.

The EU should engage more with the US to renew the strategic partnership with countries of the Eastern Partnership and the Western Balkans, MEPs believe.

They call for coordination on this and on other foreign policy matters and suggest creating a Transatlantic Political Council (TPC) led by the EU High Representative and the US Secretary of State and supported by regular contact with political directors.

The rapporteur Tonino Picula, (S&D, HR) said: “This report could not be more timely. We need a renewed and strengthened transatlantic partnership to tackle the common challenges we face. Some of them have been well known to us for decades, but some are part of newer global dynamics. Without any doubt, the US remains the EU's closest and most important strategic partner. And I believe that a strategically autonomous Union would be the best partner for the United States!”

The resolution was adopted on Wednesday by 550 votes in favour, 83 against and 55 abstentions.

More information 

Continue Reading

Disabilities

Disability rights: A European Disability Card to harmonize status across the EU

Published

on

Mobility, education, housing and active inclusion in public life are key areas where Europeans living with disabilities would benefit from reform, say MEPs.

The EU should have a common definition of disability and introduce a European Disability Card to mutually recognise disability status across the EU, argue MEPs in a resolution approved with 579 votes in favour, 12 against and 92 abstaining.

Other recommendations approved by MEPs include more flexible assistance with rail travel and removing physical and administrative barriers to travel; education systems that can accommodate different kinds of learners and the needs of different students; and providing non-institutionalised, non-segregated housing to citizens with a disability, so that they can be active participants in their community.

Advertisement

Ensuring accessibility

To participate equally in a society increasingly reliant on digital skills, Parliament calls for concrete measures, such as public bodies providing information in sign language, braille and easy-to-read text. Sign language interpretation should be introduced for speech-based events, and government buildings should be accessible, according to MEPs.

Discrimination and violence

Advertisement

They also point out that the EU needs to focus more on combatting violence (including gender-based violence) and harassment, of which people with disabilities are disproportionately the victim, and to close the employment gap between people with a disability and others. Parliament also calls on the Council to move forward with a cross-cutting Anti-Discrimination Directive, currently stuck there.

Quote

Rapporteur Alex Agius Saliba (S&D, MT) said: “People with disabilities continue to face multiple obstacles and discrimination in their lives. One of these is the lack of mutual recognition of disability status between EU Member States, which is a tremendous hindrance to their freedom of movement. Now is time to respond to our citizens’ concerns and to improve the lives of persons with disabilities in a barrier-free Europe. We have to promote their social and economic inclusion and participation in society, free from discrimination, in full respect of their rights, and on an equal basis with others.”

Background
The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) came into effect in the EU in 2011. According to the convention, the Committee on Petitions plays a ‘protection role’ to ensure EU compliance with the CRPD. After receiving dozens of petitions related to these issues, the committee drafted a report assessing the current challenges facing people with disabilities.

More information 

Continue Reading

Belarus

Belarus: Consider taking the Lukashenka regime to international court, MEPs ask

Published

on

Parliament expresses strong solidarity with EU countries affected by Belarusian hybrid attacks, while calling for the Lukashenka regime to be brought to court, Plenary session  AFET.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, Parliament expresses strong solidarity with Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, as well as other EU countries recently targeted by the Belarusian regime’s attempts to direct a substantial number of migrants and refugees towards the EU’s external borders - with hundreds of people detained after crossing over into the EU illegally and even some deaths.

MEPs underline that the ongoing Belarusian state-sponsored irregular migrant crossings into the EU, coupled with a disinformation campaign, are a form of hybrid warfare aimed at intimidating and destabilising the European Union.

Advertisement

They state that both the EU institutions and the member states have to deal urgently with the multidimensional crisis at the Belarusian border, in order to help migrants stuck there and to provide them with the necessary support.

The case of Belarus to the International Court of Justice

In the resolution, Parliament also stresses the need to consider bringing the case of Belarus to the International Court of Justice over crimes committed on a massive scale against the country’s citizens by the regime of illegitimate dictator Aliaksandr Lukashenka. This should be done on the basis of violations to the Chicago Convention, the Montreal Convention and the UN Convention against Torture committed by the Belarusian state, according to the text.

Advertisement

MEPs also continue to condemn “the repression, torture and ill-treatment of the peaceful people of Belarus”, which has not ended since popular protests broke out over the fraudulent presidential elections in August last year.

More EU sanctions needed

In addition, the resolution regrets the fact that the imposed EU economic sanctions have only had a partial effect on the Lukashenka regime. It therefore urges EU countries to further strengthen the targeted economic sanctions, focusing on key Belarusian sectors, and to push ahead urgently with a fifth package of sanctions against Belarusian individuals and entities involved in the endless crackdown.

MEPs further call for unequivocal support for the Belarusian democratic opposition in organising free and fair elections, under international observation. They also condemn the continuous dealings between Aliaksandr Lukashenka and Russian President Vladimir Putin and reiterate the urgency of exposing Russia’s support for Lukashenka’s brutal crackdown on the people of Belarus, as well as its involvement in the hybrid actions against the EU.

The text was adopted with 506 votes in favour, 29 against with 139 abstentions.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending