EU’s commitment to defend human rights and democracy is essential to overcome the increasing number of autocratic regimes

Author: Lucian Goleanu

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On Human Rights Day, the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament calls on the EU to continue its efforts to put the respect of human rights and democracy at the centre of all its policies.

The Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World and the European Union’s policy on the matter, today approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee, focuses on a number of specific challenges such as effects of COVID 19 on the enjoyment of human rights, the precarious situation of human rights defenders, and the right to a safe and healthy environment, including the call for the recognition of ecocide as an international crime under the Rome Statute.

The report also recalls the European Parliament’s request to extend the scope of the EU Magnitsky Act to include acts of corruption and highlights the alternative possibility for the Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal to adopt a new thematic sanctions regime to address serious acts of corruption.

Finally, the report also highlights the need for the EU and its Member states to ensure that cooperation on different areas, such as trade or migration, does not benefit, directly or indirectly, state entities involved in human rights violations. It also calls to include specific and clear benchmarks and monitoring mechanisms for the human rights clauses in international agreements.

MEP Soraya Rodríguez Ramos (Ciudadanos, Spain), Renew Europe Group’s Coordinator in the Subcommittee on Human Rights and rapporteur on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World, said:

"The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have led to a major regression in human rights around the world and have also fuelled a pandemic of intolerance. Today, for the first time in the last 20 years, there are more autocratic regimes than liberal democracies. The weakening of democratic institutions and the rule of law around the world requires a commitment from the EU, both internal and external, to defend our core values, which should constitute, in the end, our main interests."

In the context of Covid pandemic, the report tackles specific issues concerning its impact on women, LGBTIQ and vulnerable groups.

Renew Europe MEP Hilde Vautmans (Open Vld, Belgium), who drafted the opinion in the FEMM Committee for this report, added:

“All around the world, women and girls are particularly hit by the Covid pandemic. A real shadow crisis erupted, filled with online and offline violence. At the same time, they are at the forefront of our fight against this deadly virus on the one hand, but remain underrepresented in decision-making on the other. This is a clear mismatch. If this health crisis has thought us something, it is that we must step up the fight against gender-based violence and empower all women and girls around the world. “