EU and Ukrainian local governments establish partnerships to support decentralisation reform

The European Union increased its support for local and regional authorities in Ukraine on 8 March, with the launch of five partnerships between Ukrainian and EU regions and cities. The relationships will see Estonian, German, Hungarian, Lithuanian and … Continue Reading

EU must uphold nuclear agreement with Iran and continue dialogue on human rights

16/01/2018EU must uphold nuclear agreement with Iran and continue dialogue on human rightsPresident Trump´s threats to renege on the Iranian nuclear deal, brokered with support from the EU, and the countrywide protests in Iran were debated at the Eur… Continue Reading

Macron’s resettlement plans ‘racist and inhumane’

29/08/2017

Macron’s resettlement plans ‘racist and inhumane’

Cornelia Ernst (L) and Malin Björk

President Macron’s plan for asylum requests to be handled in Libya, Chad and Niger has been condemned by GUE/NGL as racist and a fundamental breach of human rights.

This idea was proposed as Macron hosted a meeting on migration with the leaders of Germany, Italy, Spain, Chad, Niger and Libyan GNA in Paris on Monday.

In addition to this proposal – under the pretext of ‘saving lives’ –  the EU and participating member states have committed to further support various initiatives – financially and technically – to stop people from reaching Europe ‘well before they reach Mediterranean coasts’ – notably through increasing externalisation of border control.

More than 2000 people have died whilst crossing the Mediterranean this year – mostly from Libya which has been described as ‘hell’ by those rescued at sea.

UN human rights experts had already expressed concerns on 17th August 2017 that the European Commission’s proposed action plan – first unveiled in July and which this meeting built on – ‘threatens human lives and breaches international standards by condemning people to face human rights violations in Libya’.

GUE/NGL MEP Malin Björk – the European Parliament’s Rapporteur on the Commission’s Union Resettlement Framework – was deeply angered by the latest proposals:

“This plan is tainted by structural racism towards the African population and migrants.”

“Europe has no right to criminalise mobility or movement – especially not in third countries. Irregular migration is not a crime – by calling it a crime is akin to calling these people criminals. The most worrying aspect of this plan is that it is coupled with stopping spontaneous arrivals at European territory completely. This breaches the international right to leave one’s country and to seek asylum,” argued the Swedish MEP.

“Furthermore, using resettlement as the framework within which EU externalises its borders is to destroy over five decades of humanitarian work and international solidarity. In terms of increased loss of human lives and suffering, the consequences of this plan will be disastrous.”

“It is an approach that shows Europe has a lot of work left to do in terms of anti-colonialism and anti-racism,” Björk said.

GUE/NGL coordinator at the Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, Cornelia Ernst, echoed those concerns:

“I am appalled by how this proposal ignores once again the fact that there is no state in Libya at the moment.”

“There is no accountable authority there, no judicial system – and we hardly know who controls what part of the country. This is lawlessness and that is the opposite of asylum,” said the German MEP.

You can read the letter sent by GUE/NGL MEPs to the Commission and Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council Ministers on 6th of July over the externalisation plans, and warned that such measures will inevitably lead to further human rights violation here

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Cities and regions can find 'right answers to the big development issues'

European Committee of the Regions sets out ways to translate sustainable-development agenda into local and regional policies.

​Visions of a sustainable future set out by the United Nations and the European Union will require a dynamic and sustained collective process that cannot by driven solely by “centrally managed, top-down policies and programmes”, the European Committee of the Regions declared on 12 July in a set of recommendations that also argue that the EU has yet to realise in full the “local and regional dimension” of sustainable development.

The Committee’s opinion, which includes 11 specific recommendations targeted at local and regional governments, suggests approaches that could translate broad framework policies adopted at the UN and in the EU into effective and durable change in social, economic and environmental policies in the EU’s regions and cities. It urges the full integration of local and regional government, identifying this as “the ideal approach for policies that aim to build a sustainable future and combine the 10 [European] Commission priorities with the 11 thematic goals of the Cohesion Funds and the 17 sustainable-development goals (SDGs) in the United Nations 2030 Agenda”.

The report, entitled “Next steps for a sustainable European future – European action for sustainability“, was drafted by Franco Iacop (IT/PES), president of the regional council of Friuli Venezia Giulia. Mr Iacop said: “We cannot simply take a top-down approach to this agenda. We need to give local and regional authorities responsibility and autonomy, so that they can provide the right answers to the big development and social issues of our time. It is only by giving local authorities responsibility and autonomy that the global sustainability agenda will have a lasting impact on people’s lives. The challenge requires a collective effort, and cities and regions have to be recognised as policymakers in their own right, not just executors of national policies. These goals put local and regional administrations at the heart of global action.”

Mr Iacop added that the focus on sustainability should also translate into greater attention to “cohesion” within the EU and into deeper collaboration with countries neighbouring the EU. Mr Iacop himself is supporting international sustainable development through, for example, his involvement in the CoR’s efforts to support Libyan cities. In June, he invited a Libyan delegation to study his region’s fisheries industry, with the aim of helping the development of Libya’s small, family-based fishing sector and the creation of jobs for young people.

The CoR’s recommendations are long-term, extending to the 2030 date set by the UN for each country to meet its goals. However, the opinion also directly addresses decisions that the EU will need to take in the near and medium term, arguing that the mid-term revision of the EU’s budget for 2014-20 must be geared to the SDGs “from the outset”.

While the opinion focuses on implementation of the “very ambitious” sustainable-development agenda within Europe, it repeatedly emphasises links to global action. It includes, for example, a proposal that regions and cities should be represented in “the governing bodies of international development organisations”.

The CoR adopted its recommendations on international development cooperation – the new European Consensus on Development – in February. The Consensus, which was signed by the European Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union on 7 June, endorses the creation of a multi-stakeholder platform on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The CoR will be a member of the platform, as requested by the CoR and supported by the European Parliament in a report authored by MEP Seb Dance (UK/S&D).


Contact:

Andrew Gardner
Tel. +32 473 843 981
andrew.gardner@cor.europa.eu

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GUE/NGL MEPs to join protests against undemocratic G20 summit in Hamburg

05/07/2017

“Many people will peacefully take to the streets to protest against these policies. GUE/NGL MEPs will join me and others in Hamburg to call for a just and more equal world.”

GUE/NGL MEPs to join protests against undemocratic G20 summit in Hamburg

On the 7th and 8th of July the leaders of the world’s largest economies are gathering in Hamburg, Germany for the annual G20 summit. The priority issues on the agenda are climate change, migration and free trade. 

GUE/NGL MEPs are expected to join thousands of others to protest controversial world leaders such as Trump and Erdogan and the policies they represent, which have fuelled conflicts, inequality and environmental degradation around the world. 

Speaking in this morning’s plenary debate with Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and the Estonian Presidency of the EU, GUE/NGL MEP Fabio De Masi warned the leaders of the G20 against the disastrous path they are taking: 

“Tax refugees are the most expensive refugees.  Up to 30 trillion dollars are stashed away in tax havens. About eight people, according to Oxfam, own as many assets as half the world’s population. That’s a sick reality.” 

“We need public investment in housing, schools and universities. However, the negotiations in the EU on a blacklist of tax havens have led to diplomatic horse trading. We need to levy punitive taxes on financial flows into tax havens – both inside and outside the EU,” De Masi urged. 

“The wars in the Middle East from Afghanistan to Iraq, Libya or Syria have created chaos, state collapse, terror and flight. It’s not just bombs that have decimated Africa but also free trade agreements, such as the agreement the EU is pursuing with Japan, following TTIP and CETA.”

“Arms exports, cronyism with the godfathers of terror such as Saudi Arabia and Erdogan – the EU’s bouncer – have propped-up the Islamic state. But the G20 is now discussing military interventions against refugees and further lazy deals with Turkey and Egypt,” the German MEP continued.  

MEP Fabio De Masi, a Hamburg native, criticised the whole premise of a G20 summit, saying that these debates belong to the democratic forums of the UN: 

“The G20 summit will meet in Germany’s most beautiful city. Nevertheless, many will leave the city when Trump or Erdogan visit us. Hamburg – the gateway to the world – will be like an exclusion zone so that protesters do not trouble the heads of state. We do not like shutdowns in Hamburg – as the world-famous Reeperbahn proves every night.”

“Of course, heads of state should talk to each other, particularly in crisis periods. But the G20 is negotiating the fate of the world. These debates therefore belong to the United Nations in New York. Then Mr Trump wouldn’t have to be far from his golf course.“ 

“Many people will peacefully take to the streets to protest against these policies. GUE/NGL MEPs will join me and others in Hamburg to call for a just and more equal world,” De Masi concluded.  

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