- After OLAF’s report proved that Frontex was assisting pushbacks in the Aegean sea, in the October Plenary, the EP discharged for the 2020 Frontex funding. It was a necessary face-saving action, but also a good moment for the protection of fundamental rights. One of the few, so far.
- Officials in Brussels are drawing up an emergency plan to resolve escalating tensions between EU countries over how to cope with asylum seekers rescued at sea. Ahead of this special meeting, the Commission is presenting an EU Action Plan on the Central Mediterranean. The action plan highlights that structural solutions require agreement on the full set of asylum and migration reforms currently being negotiated. The Commission proposes a series of 20 operational measures to reduce irregular and unsafe migration, provide solutions to the emerging challenges in the area of search and rescue and reinforce solidarity balanced against responsibility between Member States. While legal pathways are increasingly necessary, this Plan seems to be the umpteenth attempt of the EU institutions to reinforce the EU’s external dimension that results in the violation of migrants’ rights in the Mediterranean region and bypasses the “EU solidarity” practice applied to Ukrainian refugees.
- The EU is enlarging its external borders. On November 16th, 2022, the Commission called upon the Council to take the necessary decisions without any further delay to allow Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia to fully participate in the Schengen area. Given the pushbacks and the violence against migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees that have occurred in these countries, we are concerned about the respect of fundamental rights when crossing the borders. Perhaps this is a part of the EU strategy to “safeguard its borders from the surge of migratory flows” under the control of Frontex, confirming once again the cynicism of the EU institutions.
- During the November Plenary, the EP adopted an own-initiative report by Evin INCIR (S&D, SE) on racial justice, non-discrimination and anti-racism in the EU. After the creation and implementation of the EU anti-racism action plan 2020-2025, the report highlighted the urgent need for the EU to develop and employ an inclusive, comprehensive and multifaceted approach for effectively combatting all forms of racism and discrimination, including structural and institutional racism, on all grounds and in all areas in the EU, with the EU institutions as the leaders in such a fight. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine a joint action against intersectional discrimination if far-right wing MEPs continue to normalise exclusivist values in government, such as what happened during the debate on the Whitewashing of the anti-European extreme right.
- The EP’s Committee on Womens’ Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) published a study on the legislative frameworks for survivors of gender-based violence in the 27 Member States, and recommendations to prevent and combat GBV. Looking at the situation in Greece, it was reported that Greece has no criminalisation of femicide in spite of the increasing numbers of femicides in the country. To learn more about the Greek situation, check out this study.
- This November, the European Pillar of Social Rights turns five! For this anniversary, the European Commission has put forward more than 130 initiatives to implement the Pillar and deliver a social Europe that is fair, inclusive and full of opportunities. Particular emphasis was placed on equal opportunities and access to the labour market and social protection & inclusion. For more information, check it out here.
- This year, the UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change took place in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt: a debatable choice by the UN, given that it is one of the most polluted countries in the world, where human rights violations – particularly freedom of speech – are constantly occurring.
- Youth delegates from a network of European youth NGOs at Cop27 produced a written document demanding the phasing out of fossil fuels. They also urged European leaders to ensure active participation of young people during decision making and the implementation of this goal. But guess what? Oil-producing states managed once again to block any ambition to phase out fossil fuels, and what should have been an occasion to bring people together to share ideas was transformed into a mere spectacle.
- In the motion for a resolution on the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt (COP27), the EP acknowledged that climate change is threatening the access and full exercise of human rights, forcing more than 200 million people to migrate due to its impact. This has also been recognised in the COP27 draft decision, which affirms that climate change is a direct cause of human mobility and displacement. As the extreme weather is dramatically threatening the safety of billions of human beings, we hope that the UN will now formally recognise the status of climate refugees.
YOUTH, EDUCATION AND CULTURE
- Did you know that 2022 has been the European Year of Youth? The initiative was launched by the European Commission one year ago, with the intention to give more space for participation to European youth. It seems, however, that the main point has been lost. In fact, many events and EU funded projects have taken place throughout the year, but the success of this initiative cannot be measured without taking into consideration mechanisms and/or policies that have enhanced young people’s role and position in their society. This is partly what MEPs have said in the last Plenary session, voting a Motion for a Resolution on The European Year of Youth 2022 Legacy.
- The European Commission has published a report on the progress in the creation of the European Education Area. Despite not having full competence on Member States’ education policies, the EU’s objective is to create a common space for quality education for everyone across borders by 2025. Where do we stand now? Here is a brief factsheet. Results and key points will also be discussed at the next European Education Summit (that everyone can follow, and which will take place on December 1st 2022).
- Visit of MEPs to Hungary: Members of the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament have visited Hungary, in a mission to discuss recent developments in education, cultural and media policies, as well as academic freedom, “keeping an eye” on Orban. But is it enough? The country has, indeed, proven its systemic negligence for the rule of law. EU institutions could make use of several means to tackle this issue, such as activating a procedure that would suspend certain rights (like voting in the Council) or freezing access to NextGenerationEU fundings. However, these sanctions still seem to be too controversial to be finally approved.
EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES
- The European Commission has organised the Fifth European Education Summit, which will take place on December 1st, 2022 (9-18 CET time). If you want to follow the debates, click here!
- On December 6th, 2022, the European Economic and Social Committee will host a hybrid hearing event on “My body, my choice: protecting women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights”. Check it out here.
- Do you think your city is youth-friendly and offers innovative opportunities to young people? Then apply for the European Youth Capital 2026! Deadline: February 6th, 2023.