High Level Working Group on Gender Equality and Diversity
During this plenary session, Michael was appointed to the High-Level Working Group on Gender Equality and Diversity in the European Parliament and raised the question of respect by the European Parliament of EU anti-discrimination legislation. Michael also pointed out that the EP Action Plan did not pay specific attention to all grounds of discrimination such as age, religion/belief and sexual orientation.
Female Genital Mutilation
The European Parliament renewed its commitment to end female genital mutilation (FGM), through a joint resolution passed with overwhelming majority on Thursday.
The European Parliament called on member states to meet their international obligations to end FGM through prevention, protection measures and legislation. The Parliament reminded the European Commission of its commitment to develop a strategy to combat violence against women, including FGM both within the European Union and with its relations with third countries. Michael Cashman speaking in plenary stated:
“Female genital mutilation is an internationally recognised abuse of human rights, child rights and women’s rights, but it can only be addressed if we recognise the holistic rights of women. Those include sexual health and reproductive rights, the right of a woman to decide what to do with her own body.
I too have witnessed the physical effects on women who have been forced to undergo genital mutilation and it is abhorrent. It is barbaric, it is indefensible. No culture, no religion can defend this practice and I am pleased that the UN General Assembly will consider this vitally important subject at its 67th session.
I am also pleased that the Africa Group will be leading on this, but this is not only happening in Africa and on other continents, it is also happening here, as was said earlier, in Europe.”
The video of the speech is available to view at:
The Conference of Presidents, (leaders of political groups and the President of the European Parliament) after an intensive debate, decided today in Strasbourg that the European Parliament would suspend its cooperation with the Council on the following five dossiers until a satisfactory outcome is achieved on Schengen governance. The Conference of Presidents also decided to remove from the July plenary session agenda the Carlos Coelho report on a proposal for a Schengen Evaluation and Monitoring Mechanism and the Renate Weber report on the Reintroduction of Border Controls.
West Bank Settlements
Continued development of West Bank settlements is the “key and most serious concern” with respect to the peace process said, EU High Representative for Human Rights and Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton on Tuesday, in an address to the EP.
“The prospects for a two state solution are being undermined by developments on the ground,” she said. “Proposals for new settlements around east Jerusalem, the lack of Palestinian involvement in Area C, the growth of settlements in the West Bank, settler violence and the financial situation of the Palestinian Authority all threaten the viability of a two state solution.”
In Other Plenary News
The European Parliament stated that the EU’s financial support for the electoral process in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) should be tied to reforms, in a resolution passed on Wednesday. It called on the DRC to strengthen democratic institutions and guarantee security and the rule of law in time for the next elections. The resolution, adopted by a show of hands, follows up the presidential and parliamentary elections of last November, which saw a large number of irregularities, fraud and violence and violations of fundamental rights.
Trials of Sakharov prizewinners
During the opening of the Plenary President Schulz demanded a fair trial and appeal process for Sakharov prizewinner Layla Zana, who had been sentenced on the basis of Turkey’s anti-terrorism legislation. Another Sakharov Prize winner, Egypt’s Asmaa Mahfouz, would begin her appeal against a prison sentence on 17 June, noted President Schulz, adding that he had written to foreign policy High Representative Catherine Ashton to ask her to ensure that the EU ambassador to Cairo would be present.
Peru and Colombia Trade Agreements
MEPs voted yes to trade agreements with Peru and Colombia, but not at the expense of workers’ rights in a resolution in which, MEPs stressed the trade pact should be linked to the need for enhanced labour and human rights protection. This came after Ollanta Humala, the president of Peru, addressed MEPs in Strasbourg on 13 June, highlighting his country’s pro-democracy direction and stressing its improvement of social inclusion and fight against poverty.
Clearer Food Information
MEPs vote Thursday 14 June on legislation to make it easier for customers to identify food products intended for young children and people with specific medical purposes. The Commission proposes to simplify existing legislation, establishing rules only for a limited number of categories of food considered essential for certain groups such as babies or people under medical supervision. Both the Parliament and the Council will have to approve it.
The goal of these measures is to strengthen the rules regarding the labelling, quality and security, for example by clearly defining the threshold for certain ingredients such as gluten.
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