Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 35 n°195

Posts Tagged ‘citizens’

EU-US visa reciprocity: the Commission must defend the rights of all EU citizens

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 22 ottobre 2020

MEPs call on the European Commission to take the measures foreseen in EU legislation to guarantee full visa reciprocity between the EU and the US.With 376 votes to 269 and 43 abstentions, the Chamber adopted on Thursday a resolution urging the Commission to present a legal act suspending the visa waiver for US nationals for twelve months, as established in the so-called reciprocity mechanism.Bulgarian, Croatian, Cypriot and Romanian nationals are still required to hold a visa to enter the US, while all other EU citizens are exempt from that requirement for short-stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period), as are US nationals when they visit the European Union.According to EU legislation, if a third country does not lift visa requirements within 24 months of being formally notified of a situation of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a legal act suspending the visa waiver for its nationals for 12 months. Both the European Parliament and Council could object to such an act (Article 290(2) of the Treaty).The situation of non-reciprocity affecting Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania was formally raised on 12 April 2014 (at the time, Poland was also affected, but since last year Polish citizens can travel to the US visa-free), so the deadline for the Commission to act expired on 12 April 2016.Parliament already asked the Commission to comply with the rules in a plenary resolution adopted in March 2017.

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Citizens call for a bigger EU budget to tackle crisis, new survey shows

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 18 luglio 2020

A majority (56 %) says the EU should have more financial means to overcome the impact of the pandemic. Public health tops the priority list, with economic recovery and climate change.In a new survey commissioned by the European Parliament and conducted in the second half of June 2020, nearly seven out of ten respondents (68%) want a stronger role for the EU in fighting this crisis. More than half (56%) believe this requires greater financial means for the EU, which should be directed primarily at tackling the impact of the pandemic on the health sector and the economy.More than half of respondents (53%) remain dissatisfied with the solidarity shown between EU Member States during the pandemic, although more people now have a more positive view than was the case in April (+ 5 points).Three out of four European citizens (76%) have heard about the various EU measures proposed to fight the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. 36% of respondents, an increase of three points compared to the first survey of this kind in April, also know what these measures are. Of those who have heard about the EU measures against COVID-19, 49% are satisfied with them. A clear increase of almost 7 points on average (compared to 42% in April) confirms the growing public support for the proposed measures, many of which have still to be implemented.While just over half of respondents across the EU (53%) are not satisfied with the solidarity shown between EU Member States during the pandemic, 39% of EU citizens on average say that they are satisfied. This is an average increase of 5 points since April 2020, most notable in Portugal and Spain (both +9 points), Germany, Greece, Romania and Slovakia (all around +7 points).Around two-thirds of respondents (68%) agree ‘the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic’, backed by an absolute majority in 26 Member States. The strongest support for more EU competences comes from respondents in Portugal and Luxembourg (both 87%), Cyprus (85%), Malta (84%), Estonia (81%), Ireland (79%), Italy and Greece (both 78%), as well as Romania (77%) and Spain (75%).56% of Europeans believe the EU should have greater financial means to be able to overcome the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. In 15 EU Member States, an absolute majority of respondents agrees with this claim, led by Greece (79%), Cyprus (74%), Spain and Portugal (both 71%).Asked about the policy fields where this enlarged EU budget should be spent, public health tops the priority list for European citizens. 55% of respondents find spending on public health to be the most important, coming first in 17 EU Member States. Following this top priority, economic recovery and new opportunities for businesses (45%), employment and social affairs (37%) as well as the fight against climate change (36%) follow suit. In Italy (58%), Slovenia (55%) and Lithuania (54%), funding the economic recovery comes first. Citizens in Austria (48%) and Denmark (45%) see the continued fight against climate change as the EU’s top priority, while in Slovakia (63%), Croatia (58%) and Finland (46%) the most mentioned response is employment and social affairs.A clear indicator showing how important it is to make the necessary decisions for the Recovery Package as soon as possible is the worrying personal financial situation of European citizens since the beginning of the pandemic. Nearly unchanged since April, 57% of respondents say that they have experienced personal financial difficulties. Most mentioned is the ‘loss of income’ (28%), as a key issue in 21 Member States, with highest returns in Hungary and Spain (both 43%), Bulgaria and Greece (both 41%) as well as Italy (37%).

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Deal on digitalisation of access to justice will benefit citizens

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 3 luglio 2020

Parliament and Council negotiators reached an agreement to make access to justice faster, cheaper and more user-friendly for EU citizens and businesses.The two pieces of legislation under negotiation between the two EU legislators, respectively on taking evidence and on service of documents, aim to make judicial cross-border cooperation between national courts more efficient through digitalisation in civil and commercial matters.Main elements of the agreement:
• Courts will be able to exchange documents electronically: changes in both regulations establish a decentralised IT system that will allow for faster, more secure and effective exchange of documents between member states;
• The decentralised IT system will be composed of national, interoperable IT systems, without involving any EU institutions;
• Data protection: information will be kept strictly confidential and personal data and privacy will be protected when documents are transmitted and evidence is being taken; personal data which is deemed irrelevant for a specific case will be deleted immediately;
• Increased use of distance communication: modern communication technologies, such as videoconferencing, that can lower costs and help evidence to be taken more quickly, will be used appropriately and with the consent of the person to be heard.
Greater legal certainty, combined with simple and digitalised procedures, will encourage individuals and businesses to engage in cross-border transactions, thereby boosting trade within the EU, and hence the functioning of the internal market.Parliament and Council now need to endorse the final version of the agreement before it is published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The two regulations will enter into force 20 days following their publication.

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EU citizens want more competences for the EU to deal with crises like COVID-19

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 29 Maggio 2020

Conducted at the end of April 2020, nearly seven out of ten respondents (69%) want a stronger role for the EU in fighting this crisis. In parallel, almost six out of ten respondents are dissatisfied with the solidarity shown between EU Member States during the pandemic. While 74% of respondents have heard about measures or actions initiated by the EU to respond to the pandemic, only 42% of them are satisfied with these measures so far.Around two-thirds of respondents (69%) agree that “the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic”. Less than a quarter of respondents (22%) disagree with this statement. Agreement is highest in Portugal and Ireland, and lowest in Czechia and Sweden.In responding to the pandemic, European citizens wanted the EU to focus primarily on ensuring sufficient medical supplies for all EU Member States, on allocating research funds to develop a vaccine, direct financial support to Member States and improving scientific co-operation between Member States.This strong call for more EU competences and a more robustly coordinated EU response goes hand in hand with the dissatisfaction expressed by a majority of respondents as concerns the solidarity between EU Member States in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic: 57% are unhappy with the current state of solidarity, including 22% who are ‘not at all’ satisfied. Only a third of respondents (34%) are satisfied, with the highest returns in Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal. Respondents from Italy, Spain and Greece are among the most dissatisfied, followed by citizens from Austria, Belgium and Sweden.Three out of four respondents across all countries surveyed say they have heard, seen or read about EU measures to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic; a third of respondents (33%) also know what these measures are. At the same time around half (52%) of those who know about EU action in this crisis say they are not satisfied with the measures taken so far. Only 42% are satisfied, most of all in Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. The degree of dissatisfaction is highest in Italy, Spain and Greece, and quite high in Austria and Bulgaria.A clear majority of respondents (58%) stated in the survey that they have experienced financial difficulties in their own personal life since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. Such problems include a loss of income (30%), unemployment or partial unemployment (23%), using personal savings sooner than planned (21%), difficulties paying rent, bills or bank loans (14%) as well as difficulties having proper and decent-quality meals (9%). One in ten said that they have had to ask family or friends for financial help, while 3% of respondents faced bankruptcy.Overall, respondents in Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain are most likely to have experienced financial problems, while those in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Austria are least likely to report problems. Indeed, in the latter countries, more than half of respondents have not experienced any of these financial problems: 66% in Denmark, 57% in the Netherlands, 54% in Finland and 53% in Sweden.

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Brexit: MEPs concerned about citizens’ rights

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 gennaio 2020

In a resolution adopted on Wednesday, MEPs take stock of citizens’ rights in the context of Brexit and highlight that their consent to the Withdrawal Agreement will take into account “experiences gained and assurances given” about their protection. Parliament expresses concerns especially about the application-based approach used in the UK EU Settlement Scheme, the absence of physical proof for successful applicants, and its accessibility, among other issues.MEPs question the set-up and independence of the UK’s “independent authority” foreseen in the Withdrawal Agreement, stating that they would welcome the establishment of a joint European Parliament – UK Parliament scrutiny mechanism.The adopted text calls for information campaigns to be launched to prepare citizens and urges governments in EU27 member states to adopt consistent and generous measures to provide legal certainty for UK citizens residing in their territory.The resolution was adopted with 610 votes in favour, 29 against and 68 abstentions following a debate on Tuesday that focussed largely on the future of freedom of movement and limiting the impact of Brexit on citizens’ lives.Video of statements by Nikolina Brnjac, representing the Croatian Presidency of the Council and by Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission.

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Citizens to be the cornerstone of the Conference on the Future of Europe

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 gennaio 2020

Citizen and Youth meetings should set the tone for EU reform, according to the resolution adopted on Wednesday. Following a debate with Dubravka Šuica, Commission Vice-President for Democracy and Demography and Nikolina Brnjac, representing the Croatian Presidency of the Council, Parliament adopted a resolution setting out its vision for the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe with 494 votes for, 147 against and 49 abstentions.MEPs want citizens to be at the core of broad discussions on how to tackle internal and external challenges that were not foreseen at the time of the Lisbon Treaty. People of all backgrounds, civil society representatives and stakeholders at European, national, regional and local level must be involved in setting the EU’s priorities in line with citizens’ concerns in a bottom-up, transparent, inclusive, participatory and well-balanced approach.Parliament proposes establishing several Citizens’ Agoras (thematic fora of citizen representatives chosen randomly in line with proportionality and representativeness criteria), and at least two Youth Agoras, each comprising 200-300 citizens with a minimum of three per member state. Citizen representatives will discuss Agora conclusions at the Conference Plenary with MEPs and national parliament representatives, Council ministers, Commission Vice-Presidents and representatives of other EU institutions, bodies and social partners.In addition to high-level support from the presidents of the three main EU institutions, Parliament urges Council and Commission to commit to the possibility of treaty change. The adopted text also underlines that a permanent mechanism to engage citizens should be considered.

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Xylem Named to The JUST 100 America’s Best Corporate Citizens List

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 13 dicembre 2018

Global water technology company, Xylem (NYSE:XYL), has been included on Forbes 2018 “JUST 100” list, a ranking of 100 companies that have made a significant economic and social impact through their core business strategy. Xylem was recognized in the category of Company Leadership and Shareholders, where Xylem ranked second overall and first in its industry.
Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem, said, “We are honored to be recognized by Forbes and JUST Capital for what all of our colleagues do every day to make a difference. This reflects Xylem’s commitment to creating economic and social value through our mission to solve water – by making water safer, affordable and more accessible for people around the world. This guiding principle is core to our business, and will also have a lasting impact on communities. We will continue to share our collective knowledge, expertise and passion to help build a more water-secure world.”Now in its third year, the Forbes “JUST 100” list measures and ranks companies on issues that are deemed most important to the American public and linked to important stakeholder groups – Workers, Customers, Products, Environment, Communities, Jobs, and Company Leadership & Shareholders.Notable Xylem initiatives recognized by Forbes include the Company’s use of local products and resources (+55.8 difference from industry average), leadership acts and communicates with integrity (+50.21 difference from industry average) and use of natural resources efficiently and reduction of waste (+44.89 difference from industry average).Over the past year, Xylem has received a number of recognitions for its leadership in sustainability. Fortune included Xylem in their Companies Changing the World list and Barron’s ranked Xylem in the top 10 on its inaugural list of the 100 Most Sustainable Companies headquartered in the United States. Xylem also received an Engage for Good Gold Halo Award in 2017 for the Company’s Watermark employee volunteerism efforts.

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Citizens Bank and Military Warriors Support Foundation Present Home to Purple Heart Recipient

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 5 novembre 2018

As part of its ongoing commitment to give back to the communities it serves, Citizens Bank has again partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) to donate a newly renovated, mortgage-free house to a deserving veteran and his family.The Aldan, Pennsylvania home – renovated by Citizens Bank colleagues and donated by the bank – was presented today to Private First Class Michael Lowe, who honorably served his country as a combat engineer in Iraq and Korea.Michael was inspired to join the Army in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on New York City on September 11, 2001. He was born in Georgetown, Guyana and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He entered the Army in March 2003 and served until 2006 as a Private First Class Combat Engineer serving in Korea and Iraq. Before retiring from the Army for medical reasons, Michael received several awards and commendations for his service including the Purple Heart.
At a ceremony, Citizens colleagues lined the street to welcome Michael and his family to their new home. Representatives from Citizens Bank and Military Warriors Support Foundation presented the keys to Michael and led him on a tour of his new home.More than 100 Citizens Bank colleagues have donated their time volunteering on various projects to improve the house. Citizens Bank colleagues donated their time and talents, as well as items for the home (television, snow blower, gas grill, gardening tools, small kitchen appliances and silverware, living room, family room, and bedroom furniture) and gift cards for various stores in the area.Additionally, GIANT Food Stores has donated groceries, personal care and home supplies to fill the family’s kitchen and cupboards. The company is also providing the family with free groceries for the year, valued at $2,500 and, as the official grocer of the Philadelphia Phillies will also host Michael and his family at a 2019 Phillies game in Citizens Bank Park.Since 2010, Military Warriors Support Foundation has awarded over 800 mortgage-free homes through their Homes4WoundedHeroes program, and has assisted combat wounded veterans and their families in paying off over $20 million in debt through mentorship.

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Facebook-Cambridge Analytica: MEPs demand action to protect citizens’ privacy

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 29 ottobre 2018

As follow-up action to the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, MEPs call for a full audit on Facebook and new measures against election meddling.In a resolution adopted, MEPs urge Facebook to allow EU bodies to carry out a full audit to assess data protection and security of users’ personal data, following the scandal in which the data of 87 million Facebook users was improperly obtained, and misused.
MEPs say that Facebook did not only breach the trust of EU citizens, “but indeed EU law”. They recommend that Facebook make changes to its platform to comply with EU data protection law.
MEPs note that the data obtained by Cambridge Analytica may have been used for political purposes, by both sides in the UK referendum on membership of the EU and to target voters during the 2016 American presidential election.They highlight the urgency of countering any attempt to manipulate EU elections and to adapt electoral laws to reflect the new digital reality.To prevent electoral meddling via social media, MEPs propose: applying conventional “off-line” electoral safeguards online: rules on spending transparency and limits, respect for silence periods and equal treatment of candidates;
making it easy to recognise online political paid advertisements and the organisation behind them;
banning profiling for electoral purposes, including use of online behaviour that may reveal political preferences;
that social media platforms should label content shared by bots, speed up the process of removing fake accounts and work with independent fact-checkers and academia to tackle disinformation;
investigations should be carried out by member states with the support of Eurojust, into alleged misuse of the online political space by foreign forces.
The resolution summarises the conclusions reached following last May’s meeting between leading MEPs and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and the three subsequent hearings. It also references the data breach suffered by Facebook on 28 September.Civil Liberties Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) said: “This is a global issue, which has already affected our referenda and our elections. This resolution sets out the measures that are needed, including an independent audit of Facebook, an update to our competition rules, and additional measures to protect our elections. Action must be taken now, not just to restore trust in online platforms, but to protect citizens’ privacy and restore trust and confidence in our democratic systems.”

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UNHCR expresses its serious concern about the repatriation of Myanmar citizens from India

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 6 ottobre 2018

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expresses serious concern over the security of seven citizens of Myanmar following their repatriation from India this Thursday. According to the information received from the UNHCR, prior to the execution of the repatriation the seven were transferred to the State of Manipur, on the border with Myanmar, from the central prison of Silchar, in the State of Assam, where they had been detained since 2012. Became aware of the detention and provisions relating to repatriation, and on the basis of reliable reports according to which the seven men belong to the Rohingya minority, UNHCR asked the Indian authorities to grant access to the group in order to assess their needs for international protection. UNHCR regrets that it did not respond to this request and therefore could not guarantee access to a lawyer for state legal services. UNHCR continues to seek clarification from the authorities on the circumstances in which these persons were repatriated Myanmar. The United Nations Refugee Agency is concerned about the lack of access to legal advice and asylum procedures for the assessment of their application for international protection in India. Thousands of Rohingya people have fled Myanmar in recent decades. In the most recent crisis, since August 25, 2017, more than 720,000 Rohingya refugees have been accommodated in Bangladesh. The current conditions in the state of Rakhine in Myanmar do not allow a safe, dignified and sustainable return to the Rohingya stateless refugees.
Approximately 18,000 Rohingya refugees and asylum seekers registered with UNHCR in India are located in different parts of the country. UNHCR issues an identity card to registered refugees and a document to asylum seekers, thus helping to prevent arbitrary arrest, detention and deportation. UNHCR collaborates with state legal services authorities and a network of partners to provide legal assistance to those detained in India who fall under the Agency’s mandate.

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PVH Corp. Named No. 1 Apparel Company on CR Magazine’s 100 Best Corporate Citizens List

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 9 Maggio 2018

PVH Corp. [NYSE:PVH], parent company of iconic internationally and nationally known brands including TOMMY HILFIGER, CALVIN KLEIN, Van Heusen, ARROW and IZOD, today announced it was ranked No. 1 among apparel companies and No. 48 overall on CR (Corporate Responsibility) Magazine’s 2018 100 Best Corporate Citizens list. The ranking recognizes the standout environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) performance of public companies across the United States.“We are proud to receive this honor and be recognized as a leader in our industry,” said Emanuel (Manny) Chirico, Chairman and CEO, PVH Corp. “As one of the world’s largest apparel companies, we recognize our responsibility to address our social and environmental impacts and contribute to a fair healthy future for all. Further, we acknowledge our great opportunity to make positive impacts – from source to store – by empowering the people in our value chain, preserving the environment and supporting our communities.” The 100 Best Corporate Citizens List documents 260 ESG data points of disclosure and performance measures – harvested from publicly available information in seven categories: environment, climate change, employee relations, human rights, governance, finance, and philanthropy and community support. The list ranks the companies in the Russell 1000 Index.“CR Magazine is proud to present the only ESG ranking list that doesn’t rely on self-reporting,” said Dave Armon, publisher of CR Magazine. “Each year, the 100 Best Corporate Citizens ranking measures the success of the Brands Taking Stands movement by celebrating the most successful, most transparent companies that report on their responsible practices. We congratulate those honored on this year’s list for their commitment to corporate responsibility.” PVH’s Corporate Responsibility program is structured with ten commitments across three key focus areas: empowering people; preserving the environment; and supporting communities. The commitments support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, covering issues such as building safety, chemical management, greenhouse gases, inclusion and diversity, and supporting the needs of women and children. Visit to learn more about PVH’s commitment to Corporate Responsibility.

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Czech media freedom: Let citizens decide fate of media-abusing politicians

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 3 giugno 2017

czech-mapMedia freedom must be upheld across the EU, but the Czech case is more a blunder of one politician than a systemic issue, many MEPs said in a debate on Thursday.
The plenary debate was held in reaction to a leaked audio recording, allegedly catching the leader of the Czech coalition ANO party, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, instructing a journalist employed by his media group on how to attack his political rivals. Many MEPs condemned the alleged actions of Mr Babiš, but stressed that this seems to be the failure of a single politician, rather than a sign of the government’s systemic abuse of media. Some said the Parliament should not be discussing the issue at all, arguing that the Czech government has dealt with the situation properly. Others noted that the problem reaches further than the Czech Republic and called for EU measures that would guarantee media pluralism in Europe. Click on individual names to watch the full statements: Cecilia Malmström, the EU Commissioner for Trade, noted in her introductory speech that the Commission’s competences in the field of media freedom and pluralism are limited. “The Commission can intervene in this field exclusively when there is EU legislation at stake and it appears not to be the case in this situation.” She stressed that the EU’s executive body “is aware of the challenges of media freedom and pluralism in various member states” and is “closely monitoring the situation all over Europe.” “No member state in the EU is immune to risks when it comes to media pluralism,” Commissioner Malmström stressed. The transparency of media ownership is an indicator of media freedom, where “the Czech Republic’s perceived risk is slightly higher than the average,” she added.
Luděk Niedermayer (EPP, CZ) stressed that neither Czech citizens, nor the Czech government, has done anything wrong. It is the fault of a few individuals, he insisted. Member states need to properly enforce their legislation and support independent journalism, he said, warning there are external threats too to face, such as Russian propaganda. He concluded by thanking all journalists who withstand political pressure and deliver quality journalism.
Pavel Poc (S&D, CZ) echoed the previous speaker, by saying there is no systematic manipulation of media by the Czech government, just one politician who abused the media and was then sacked from the government. Contempt for democratic institutions is a real threat to media pluralism, he said, warning of the risk of future political abuse of Czech media from politicians enjoying enormous political, economic and media power.
Jan Zahradil (ECR, CZ) considered the debate unnecessary and that the Parliament should not be dealing with this issue. We have media pluralism in the Czech Republic, there is no media monopoly, no threat to media freedom, just one oligarch who has used his media, and the Czech Republic had already adopted a law to deal with such conflicts of interests, he assured the plenary. He also said that the debate was a result of a fight between the ALDE, which criticised Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and EPP, which now wants to counter-attack.
Pavel Telička (ALDE, CZ) was also not quite sure why MEPs were discussing the issue. The EP is supposed to deal with systematic problems, he said, and even though the behaviour of Andrej Babiš was unacceptable, this was just a single case. Instead of discussing a failure of one Czech politician, the Parliament should focus on working on the EU’s future, he stressed. He also pointed out that the Wold Press Freedom Index puts the Czech Republic higher than other EU member states, such as France or UK.
Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL, CZ) also stressed that the criticism should not be directed against Czech citizens or the country per se. There is only one guilty party and that is Andrej Babis, who bought media companies to bolster his political power, she said, noting that this is not the first time EU politicians are trying to influence media in their respective member states. She also criticised ALDE leader Guy Verhofstadt, EU Commissioner Věra Jourová, and MEP Telička for knowing all about Mr Babiš, but looking the other way. The fate of Mr Babiš is now in the hands of Czech citizens, she concluded.
Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL) said this is not the first time that an EU member state is in such a situation, pointing to the situation in Italy in 2009. Plurality of media is vital for democracy and therefore we need EU legislation that will guarantee media pluralism in Europe and ensure that media do not end up in the hands of a few individuals, she stressed.
Rolandas Paksas (EFDD, LT) said this debate was more of a provocation than anything else. We are interfering in the domestic politics of a sovereign state, he warned. While Mr Babiš is one of the most popular Czech politicians, popularity of PM Sobotka is plummeting and some people do not like it here, he said. He also pointed to other issues the Parliament could discuss, such as the way that Sweden or Germany are dealing with immigrants.

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MEPs and Council negotiators agree to waive EU visa requirement for Ukrainians

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 1 marzo 2017

ucrainaUkrainian citizens will be able to travel to the EU visa free under an informal deal struck by Parliament and Council negotiators on Tuesday. Once the change enters into force, and provided they have biometric passports, they will be able to enter the EU for up to 90 days in any 180-day-period for business, tourist or family purposes.
The deal will now have to be endorsed by the Civil Liberties Committee and Parliament as a whole, before being formally approved by the Council of Ministers.
Parliament´s rapporteur, Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG) said “adopting the visa waiver for Ukrainian citizens is an important step forward towards reforming Ukrainian society by bringing people together, building bridges across borders. We at the European Parliament are convinced that Ukrainian citizens now deserve the right to travel freely to the EU. The time has come for the European Council to deliver results.”
Before granting this visa waiver, EU member states revised the visa waiver suspension mechanism to allow visas to be reintroduced more easily in exceptional cases. This revision was approved on Monday by the Council. The legislation will be signed by Parliament’s President Antonio Tajani and representatives of the Maltese Presidency of the Council on Wednesday 1 March and enter into force 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal.
The EU and Kiev began visa liberalisation negotiations in 2008. At the end of 2015, the European Commission concluded that Ukraine had made the necessary progress and had met all the benchmarks, despite the exceptional internal and external challenges it faced in recent years, and presented a proposal to grant its citizens visa-free access to the EU from April 2016.
The visa waiver will apply to all EU member states except Ireland and the United Kingdom. It does not confer a right to work in the EU.

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Civil Liberties MEPs back deal with Council extending right to legal aid

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 9 luglio 2016

european parliamentThe Civil Liberties Committee endorsed on Thursday the deal struck with the Council extending the right to legal aid for citizens suspected or accused of a crime, or named in a European Arrest Warrant. The draft text recognises the right both to provisional and ordinary legal aid, ensuring that persons who cannot afford a lawyer get part or all the costs of their defence and court proceedings covered by the state.Legal aid should be provided at all stages of the criminal process, as Parliament defended. The original Commission´s proposal only envisaged the right to “provisional” legal aid for suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings who are “deprived of liberty”, only until there is a final decision on their eligibility for legal aid. “Ordinary” legal aid refers to all defence costs, including the cost of a lawyer and court fees, during the whole criminal justice process.
The legislation foresees a “means test” to assess whether a person has the economic resources to pay for legal aid. It also includes a “merits test”, designed to determine whether offering legal aid would be in the interest of justice. The latter should assess, for example, the complexity of the case or the seriousness of the offense.Persons named in European Arrest Warrants would also be covered, in both the executing and the issuing member state.The committee backed the agreement with the Council with 44 votes in favour and 1 against. The UK and Ireland decided not to take part in this legislation, while Denmark has an “opt out” by default for matters of Justice and Home Affairs.
The draft directive now needs to be adopted by Parliament as a whole. The vote it is scheduled to take place in October. Following formal adoption by the Council and publication in the Official Journal, member states will have 30 months to transpose it to their national legislation.

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Safe Harbour ruling: The Commission must act now to ensure clarity and safety for citizens and businesses

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 8 ottobre 2015

european commissionThe European Commission has failed to ensure a solid data protection framework for the transfer of EU citizens’ data to US companies. As a result citizens and businesses alike are left with an unclear legislative patchwork after today’s ruling of the European Court of Justice declaring the Commission adequacy decision invalid, says Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), calling for immediate action from the Commission to provide clarity and proper data protection standards for data transfers to the US.Statement from Civil Liberties Committee Chair, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), after the European Commission’s initial response to the Safe Harbour ruling:
“The Commission’s initial response to the European Court of Justice decision to invalidate the Safe Harbour agreement is disappointing as it lacks any real concrete update on what it intends to do regarding replacing the Safe Harbour framework.Despite the fact that the Commission has been in negotiations with the US on reform of the Safe Harbour for nearly two years, we have still not received any update on the negotiations or the impact that this decision will have on the discussions. Given that the European Court of Justice has invalided the Safe Harbour framework immediately, it is also regrettable that the Commission has not specified a timeframe for the conclusion of these discussions.It is unfortunate that the Commission did not follow up on the European Parliament’s repeated calls to suspend the Safe Harbour framework as this would have allowed it to implement transitional measures over a period of time. Instead, as the European Court of Justice ruling takes effect immediately, the issue has become urgent resulting in the need for the Commission to provide immediate clarity to companies who are uncertain as to how they can continue to transfer EU citizens’ data to the US as well as to provide guidelines to the national data protection authorities.Of course, the flow of EU citizens’ data will continue and there are other alternatives that business can use, including standard contractual clauses or binding corporate rules. This shows that the judgement will not result in a dramatic stop to data flows across the Atlantic with serious economic impact – instead it shows that it is possible to continue with data transfers and at the same time implement a framework that will protect EU citizens’ data when being transferred to the US and ensure they have equivalent safeguards to those that exist in the EU.Both the message from the European Parliament and from the European Court of Justice have been clear: the Safe Harbour framework does not protect European citizens private data when being transferred to the US as the EU Charter and EU law require. Now the responsibility to remedy this solution is with the Commission. It must act without delay to fill this void”.

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Dominican Republic President hails major Caribbean human rights advancement

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 3 luglio 2015

daniloSanto Domingo President Danilo Medina today announced the overwhelming success of a series of measures implemented by his government to protect hundreds of thousands of Dominican citizens and irregular migrants from the threat of statelessness.The measures, which included a Naturalisation Plan and a National Regularisation Plan, were implemented by Medina’s government in reaction to a controversial 2013 ruling by the Dominican Constitutional Tribunal that risked making stateless the descendants of undocumented migrants, born in the Dominican Republic.The President hailed the success of the programme, saying: “The recently completed registrations are the most important ever human rights advancement in the Caribbean. Additionally, this mass registration of citizens and immigrants now offers my government a platform to better protect our territorial integrity, combat human trafficking and implement our sovereign right to just and effective migration policy.” In total over 350,000 residents registered with the state under three separate categories over the 18 months to 17 June 2015.55,000 residents born in the Dominican republic of two foreign parents and carrying documents of citizenship issued by the Dominican state before the court ruling were recognised by the Central Board of Elections and the Civil Registry as citizens; 8,755 residents born in the Dominican Republic of two foreign parents under an irregular migrant condition and without foreign papers were registered in the book of foreigners, and may access naturalisation following a period of two years;
288,486 individuals requested the regularisation of their migratory status under the National Regularisation Plan. Pending a review of each applicant’s status to be completed by the end of August, residential status will be granted to successful applicants. avaniterson@cambre-associates.comThe President went on to declare that “if anybody presents a single case of properly documented statelessness to our Government, have no doubt that it will be resolved”. He also stressed that no-one born in the Dominican Republic would be deported.

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United Nations leaves Israel alone in the face of an existential threat, says WJC

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 15 luglio 2014

GazastripNEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress on Sunday criticized the United Nations Security Council and senior UN officials for failing to recognize Israel’s right to self-defense under the UN Charter against armed attacks against its territory and population. “It is once again troubling and shameful to see how the UN and many other governments are failing to grasp the fact that Israel is responding to an armed aggression launched against its territory by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder in response to Saturday’s Security Council statement and comments by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay which questioned the legality of Israel’s action in the Gaza Strip and suggested that Israel was deliberately killing civilians in Gaza.Lauder welcomed the Canadian government’s rejection of Pillay’s comments, which Foreign Minister John Baird had said was an “uncalled-for criticism of Israel”. The WJC president declared: “Canada has once again proven to be a real friend and one of the Jewish state’s closest allies. To put Hamas – a recognized terror organization – and the State of Israel on the same level and then to blame Israel for causing the death of civilians that Hamas deliberately uses as human shields is a way of saying that Hamas’ actions are justified.“Contrary to what Mrs. Pillay claims, the Israel military is taken extraordinary steps to prevent civilian casualties whereas Hamas is cynically seeking as many civilian casualties as possible. It is time for the UN and its leading officials to show some moral backbone, to uphold the principles enshrined in the UN Charter, and to hold Israel to the same standards than any other country battling this sort of existential threat,” he added.A few days ago, Lauder wrote a letter to UN ambassadors, EU foreign ministers, and others, telling them: “If it were your cities under attack, we know you would agree that a sovereign government has a duty to defend its citizens.”The WJC president also criticized the UN Security Council statement on the conflict, saying: “Once again, the council failed to name the cause of this conflict, or to condemn Hamas’ actions. The UN, instead of defending the values on which the organization was founded seven decades ago, continues to blame Israel for everything and is silent on terror groups such as Hamas.”

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Ecumenical European meeting on “Crossing borders – at what price?”

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 29 giugno 2014

migrantsThe 19th General Assembly of the Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe (CCME) started on 26 June at the Sigtuna Foundation. The Church of Sweden and the Christian Council of Sweden, the two Swedish member organisations in CCME, are hosting the event in Sigtuna. One of the issues discussed on the opening day is how the churches can influence European countries to take greater responsibility for the refugee crises in our vicinity. Some 80 delegates from CCME’s member organisations gathered from all over Europe, as well as a few representatives of partner organisations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The opening plenary “Crossing borders – at what price?” about the EU’s external borders included experts from civil society from various EU Member States. A hundred years after national borders were installed it is more difficult than ever to enter Europe, especially for those seeking to escape persecution and war. Swedish-Eritrean journalist Meron Estefanos and Swedish journalist and author David Qviström were two of the speakers. “Migration is of course not a new phenomenon; it has existed throughout the history of humankind,” said Doris Peschke, General Secretary of CCME. “In recent history however, crossing borders from outside the European Union has become rather difficult and risky, while inside the EU citizens and long-term residents have the right to move to another EU country. Thus we see both, progress and setbacks with regard to migration in Europe”. The speakers at the General Assembly included Victoria Kamondji, moderator of CCME; Åke Bonnier, Bishop of Skara Diocese; Karin Wiborn, General Secretary of the Christian Council of Sweden; Alf Linderman, Director of Sigtunastiftelsen; Reverend Håkan Sandvik; Seta Hadeshian, Diakonia and Social Justice Unit Director at the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and Tabitha Kentaro Sabiiti, Policy and Advocacy Officer: Liaison Office to the African Union, the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC). During worship on the theme “Beyond borders” held at the Maria Church participants prayed especially for those who lost their lives on their way to seek safety. Reverend Karin Wiborn said in her sermon; “We use a ship to illustrate the ecumenical work with a boat, the Greek word oikumene means the household or all humanity. Being a part of humanity in an ecumenical way, it could have been me, it is me, suffering. It is me crossing the boarders in Europe. It is me needing.”
The General Assembly will take place at Sigtunastiftelsen (the Sigtuna Foundation) on 26–28 June. Organisational issues such as how closer cooperation with the Conference of European Churches (CEC) could be formed will also be discussed during the days in Sigtuna.
CCME was founded in 1964 by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and today cooperates closely with the Conference of European Churches (CEC). CCME has five areas of work on its agenda: Europe’s responsibility for the protection of refugees, human dignity for migrant workers, work to prevent human trafficking, uniting in diversity and strong ecumenism between domestic and migrant-led churches, and the churches’ work on integration and inclusion.

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Data protection: “Today’s ruling is good news for 500 million Europeans”

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 9 aprile 2014

court justiceReacting to today’s decision by the EU’s Court of Justice to invalidate the 2006 data retention directive, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) said: “Today’s ruling by the Court of Justice is good news for 500 million European citizens. It reminds us that Europe is not only about the Euro and the single market, but it is mainly about rights. The Court of Justice, the highest guardian of Community law, has ruled that privacy and confidentiality of communications must prevail”, he said.”Data protection is a fundamental right secured like never before after the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and threatened by the digital revolution and intrusive practices by big firms, security agencies and mass surveillance, as revealed by the NSA scandal in the USA”, he added.”It is now more urgent than ever that the Council unlock the data protection regulation that the Civil Liberties Committee and the European Parliament approved in this legislative term. The data protection regulation is a European law, directly binding on EU countries, and citizens may directly invoke it before any EU court. If it is not already in force it is not because Parliament has not done its job, but because the Council has not reached a common position yet. We urge the Council to do so in this term. There is still time under the Greek Presidency”, he concluded.

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Supporting Sustainable Economic Growth in Moldova

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 30 marzo 2014

new yorkNew York,  Helping Moldova enhance its structural reform agenda and spur growth, by supporting improvements in the business climate, promoting financial sector stability and development, and improving the equity and efficiency of public expenditures are the core objectives of the First Development Policy Operation (DPO), in the amount of US$30 million, approved today by the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors. The US$30 million supports the Government of Moldova’s National Development Strategy “Moldova 2020” and is a key component of the Moldova Country Partnership Strategy for 2014-2017. It is first in a programmatic series of two operations and builds on the most recent competitiveness-oriented Development Policy Operation approved in November 2012. ”We are pleased to support the Government of Moldova’s efforts to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth by shifting to a growth model based on investments, increased competitiveness, innovation and exports”, said Abdoulaye Seck, World Bank Country Manager for Moldova. „Our support is fully aligned with the country’s national development priorities and aims to address key reforms that can contribute to spurring private-sector led growth, whilst making public investments work better and more equitably to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity for all Moldovan citizens”. The new operation supports a number of important structural reforms through: i) strengthening the regulatory framework to improve predictability of the business environment, facilitate competition and reduce regulatory compliance costs; ii) strengthening financial sector stability, promoting transparency of shareholding, and easing conditions for access to finance; iii) improving the public investment management framework, making investment subsidies in agriculture more efficient and equitable, and improving coverage of well-targeted social assistance programs. “While the first operation marks an important benchmark, we are looking forward to continue our cooperation in advancing structural reforms as part of the second DPO”, said Ruslan Piontkivsky, Task Team Leader of the DPO series. “It is crucial not to lose momentum and to successfully complete all of the initiated reforms.” Since Moldova joined the World Bank in 1992, over US$1 billion has been allocated to 49 operations in the country. Currently, the World Bank portfolio includes 7 active projects with total commitments of US$162.2 million. Areas of support include regulatory reform and business development, education, social assistance, e-governance, healthcare, agriculture, and other. The International Finance Corporation has provided total investments in the amount of US$233 million in 24 projects in various sectors, and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency has provided guarantees totaling US$95 million. Both institutions are members of the World Bank Group.

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