Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 244

Posts Tagged ‘rule’

MEPs call on EU leaders to end MFF deadlock without giving in on rule of law

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 28 novembre 2020

In the debate on the European summit of 10-11 December, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen updated MEPs on progress made in Brexit negotiations and on COVID-19. Vaccinations can start before the end of the year if member states get the logistics in place quickly, she said. She also called on the Polish and Hungarian governments to stop withholding much-needed recovery funds from EU citizens; they can turn to the European Court of Justice if they contest Rule of Law conditionality being in line with the Treaties, she said. Finally, she pointed to the climate crisis “rumbling on”, urging member states to agree on ambitious carbon reduction targets. She also announced that the Commission will table a new agenda on the fight against terrorism on 9 December.All political group leaders urged the European Council to agree on the long-term budget and thus allow EU funds to alleviate the economic crisis. ECR and ID group speakers considered the veto by the Hungarian and Polish governments to be legitimate, while all other group speakers called for the deadlock to be broken without giving in on rule of law principles. “No horse-trading”, said the S&D group leader, echoed by her EPP counterpart: “Take the EU to the court, but lift the irresponsible veto”. COVID-19 vaccines are proof that the EU is able to achieve quick progress when all parties and member states work as a team. The same should be true for the recovery, most insisted.On the future EU-UK partnership, many pointed out that Parliament needs time to look into the details of any deal before giving its consent. If necessary, Parliament could meet at the end of December, said the GUE/NGL speaker. Both Greens and Renew Europe chairs stressed that European leaders need to act decisively on the climate now, while the EPP insisted that there must be consequences for Turkey’s long list of breaches of international law and sanctions must be considered.

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Statement by EP Conference of Presidents on long-term EU budget and Rule of Law

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 20 novembre 2020

The Conference of Presidents (EP President and political group leaders) met today and reaffirmed the European Parliament’s position regarding the deal reached with the Council on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) regulation, the related Inter-institutional Agreement (IIA), the related set of unilateral and joint declarations, and the regulation on Rule of Law conditionality.The European Parliament already adopted its opinion on the Own-Resources Decision on 16 September, well in time to allow the Council and subsequently the Member States to ratify the Decision by the end of 2020.We ask the Council to adopt the package and begin the ratification process as soon as possible. The European Parliament’s leadership deeply regrets this delay and reiterates that the agreements reached (on both the MFF and the Rule of Law) are a closed deal and can in no way be reopened.

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Rule of law conditionality: MEPs strike a deal with Council

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 7 novembre 2020

For the first time, we have established a mechanism that enables the EU to stop funding governments that disrespect our values such as the rule of law”, said co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, Finland) after conclusion of the negotiations.“For us it was crucial that final beneficiaries won’t be punished for wrongdoings of their governments and that they continue receiving funds that have been promised to them and that they rely on, even after the conditionality mechanism has been triggered. We can proudly say that we achieved a strong system that will guarantee their protection”, said co-rapporteur Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, Spain)“We did not compromise on the values: we made sure that the rule of law is seen in the context of all the EU values enshrined in the treaties, such as independence of judiciary. Every breach of the rule of law will be covered by the mechanism: from individual breaches to systemic or recurrent breaches for which no mechanism existed so far”, said Mr Sarvamaa.“European citizens expect us to condition the disbursement of EU funds to the respect of rule of law. The mechanism agreed today does exactly that”, concluded Ms Gardiazabal Rubial. MEPs succeeded in ensuring that the new law does not only apply when EU funds are misused directly, such as cases of corruption or fraud. It will also apply to systemic aspects linked to EU fundamental values that all member states must respect, such as freedom, democracy, equality, and respect for human rights including the rights of minorities.Parliament’s negotiators also insisted that tax fraud and tax evasion are considered possible breaches, by including both individual cases and widespread and recurrent issues. Moreover, they succeeded in securing a specific Article that clarifies the possible scope of the breaches by listing examples of cases, such as threatening the independence of the judiciary, failing to correct arbitrary/unlawful decisions, and limiting legal remedies .Crucially, MEPs succeeded in keeping a strong preventive aspect for the mechanism: not only can it be triggered when a breach is shown to directly affect the budget, but also when there is a serious risk that it may do so, thus ensuring that the mechanism prevents possible situations where EU funds could finance actions that are in conflict with EU values.To ensure that the final beneficiaries who depend on the EU support – such as students, farmers, or NGOs – are not punished for the actions of their governments, MEPs insisted that they can file a complaint to the Commission via a web platform, which will assist them in ensuring they receive the due amounts. The Commission will also have the possibility to make a financial correction by reducing the next instalment of EU support to the respective country in question. MEPs succeeded in shortening the time that the EU institutions will have for the adoption of measures against a member state, if risks of breaches of the rule of law are identified, to a maximum of 7-9 months (down from 12-13 months as initially requested by Council). The Commission, after establishing the existence of a breach, will propose to trigger the conditionality mechanism against an EU government. The Council then will have one month to adopt the proposed measures (or three months in exceptional cases), by a qualified majority. The Commission will use its rights to convene the Council to make sure the deadline is respected. The agreed compromise now needs to be adopted formally by the Parliament and EU ministers.

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77% of Europeans insist EU funds be linked to respect for Rule of Law

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 24 ottobre 2020

A majority of EU citizens supports a larger EU budget to overcome the pandemic. Public health is the priority, followed by economic recovery and climate change.In a new survey commissioned by the European Parliament and conducted at the beginning of October 2020, nearly eight out of ten participants (77%) across the EU support the concept that the EU should only provide funds to Member States if the national government implements the rule of law and democratic principles. At least seven in ten participants agree with this statement in 26 EU Member States. 54% of Europeans believe the EU should have greater financial means to be able to overcome the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. In 20 EU Member States, a majority of the participants agrees with this claim; in 14 EU Member States, an absolute majority of participants supports a larger EU budget.Asked about which policy fields this enlarged EU budget should be spent on, more than half of participants (54%) say that public health should be a priority, followed by economic recovery and new opportunities for businesses (42%), climate change and environmental protection (37%) and employment and social affairs (35%). At EU level, climate change and the environment has replaced employment in the top three spending priorities compared to the last survey conducted in June 2020.Public health is the top spending priority for respondents in 18 countries. Estonia, Latvia and Czechia put the economic recovery on top, whilst in Austria, Denmark and Germany citizens favoured most the fight against climate change. In Croatia, Slovakia and Finland, participants chose employment and social affairs as their top spending priority. Taking the necessary decisions on the Recovery Package and the MFF as soon as possible is clearly vital, as demonstrated by the worrying personal financial situation of European citizens since the beginning of the pandemic. A broad majority of citizens fear the pandemic will a direct impact on their personal financial situation –or have already suffered it: 39% of participants say that the COVID-19 crisis has already impacted their personal income, while a further 27% expect such an impact in the future. Only 27% expect the COVID-19 situation not to have an impact on their personal income. In 20 countries, most participants say that the current crisis has already impacted their personal income. Two-thirds of participants (66%) agree that the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic. Only a quarter (25%) disagrees with this statement. These findings are consistent with the results from both previous surveys conducted by the European Parliament in April and June 2020 respectively.

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Rule of law in Poland: “overwhelming evidence” of breaches

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 21 luglio 2020

The Civil Liberties Committee sees “overwhelming evidence” of rule of law breaches in Poland and asks Council and Commission to also keep an eye on fundamental rights.The EP Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee approved on Thursday the draft interim report by chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) with 52 votes for, 15 against and no abstentions, as amended at Tuesday’s voting session.The text focuses on the continuing deterioration of the situation in Poland as regards the functioning of the legislative and electoral system, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges, and the protection of fundamental rights. It “calls on the Council and the Commission to refrain from narrowly interpreting the principle of the rule of law, and to use the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU to its full potential […] for all the principles enshrined in Article 2 TEU, including democracy and fundamental rights”. Noting that the last hearing in the Council “was held as long ago as December 2018”, it urges the Council “to finally act […] by finding that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU, in the light of overwhelming evidence thereof”.The interim report is scheduled to be debated and voted on in plenary in September 2020.

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Rule of law in Poland: MEPs point to “overwhelming evidence” of breaches

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 18 luglio 2020

The Civil Liberties Committee is set to adopt a draft resolution on the continuing deterioration of democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights in Poland.Following Tuesday’s vote on amendments, the draft interim report will be tabled for final approval at committee level on Thursday morning, by chair Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES).The text focuses on the functioning of the legislative and electoral system, the independence of the judiciary and the rights of judges, and the protection of fundamental rights in Poland.MEPs are deeply concerned that the situation in Poland has seriously deteriorated since Article 7 was triggered, despite hearings held with the Polish government in the Council following the December 2017 European Commission proposal, multiple exchanges of views with MEPs, alarming reports by the United Nations, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe, and four infringements procedures launched by the Commission.
the constitutional revision powers taken on by the parliament since 2015, the use of expedited legislative procedures, as well as recent developments pertaining to changes to the electoral law and elections organised during a public emergency;
broad changes to the country’s judiciary, enacted during the last few years, ranging from the way appointments are made, to disciplinary procedures, posing a serious risk to judicial independence;
the situation of fundamental rights, particularly freedom of expression, media freedom and pluralism, academic freedom, freedom of assembly and association;
the de facto criminalisation of sexual education, as well as hate speech, public discrimination, violence against women, domestic violence and intolerant behaviour against minorities and other vulnerable groups, including LGBTI persons, and the drastic limitation, coming close to de facto banning of abortion and limiting access to emergency contraceptive pills.
Consequently, it “calls on the Council and the Commission to refrain from narrowly interpreting the principle of the rule of law, and to use the procedure under Article 7(1) TEU to its full potential […] for all the principles enshrined in Article 2 TEU, including democracy and fundamental rights”. Noting that the last hearing in the Council “was held as long ago as December 2018”, the text urges the Council “to finally act […] by finding that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by the Republic of Poland of the values referred to in Article 2 TEU, in the light of overwhelming evidence thereof”.

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Rule of Law in Poland: concerns continue to grow among MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 28 maggio 2020

The attacks on the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights in Poland need to be addressed urgently, say a majority of MEPs in the Civil Liberties Committee.
In a committee debate on Monday, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) presented his draft interim report on the December 2017 European Commission proposal to act in view of the perceived threats to the independence of the judiciary in Poland. He pointed to the recent worrying developments in the country related to the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights.
Afterwards, the President of the European Association of Judges, José Igreja Matos, and a representative of the Polish judges association IUSTITIA, Joanna Hetnarowicz-Sikora, presented a series of concerns linked primarily to judicial independence and the rule of law. They also mentioned other worries around democracy and elections, as well as fundamental rights (especially those of minorities), such as the freedom of speech and assembly, and their curtailment in light of the pandemic.
Most MEPs shared the concern over the state of EU core values in the country. They referred to a systematic and continuing attack against judicial independence and democratic institutions, which poses a threat to the very structure of the EU, and called for decisive action by the Council and the Commission, including budgetary measures, in order to protect EU core values.
Some speakers mentioned that further input from the Polish authorities is necessary to have a balanced debate, while several references were made to the need for an independent, permanent EU mechanism to ensure that monitoring processes in the area of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights remain impartial and objective.
MEPs have until 28 May to table amendments to the draft interim report. The committee will vote on the text in July, with the plenary vote scheduled in September 2020.

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Democracy and rule of law in Poland: serious concerns about judicial independence, free and fair elections

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 27 aprile 2020

Commission and Council need to act decisively to tackle continuous attacks on the judiciary and avoid elections that do not meet international standards.The Civil Liberties Committee held a debate with Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, the Croatian Presidency of the Council and Polish Ombusdman Adam Bodnar.
Almost all MEPs who took the floor expressed very serious concerns about the “increasing grip of the executive on the judiciary” in Poland, despite the Polish Minister’s assurances that the reforms were not out of sync with existing provisions in other EU member states. Particular concerns were raised about the recent Constitutional Tribunal decision that declared the Supreme Court resolution to be “void”. The resolution was seeking to implement the latest ECJ ruling for interim measures ordering disciplinary proceedings to be suspended. MEPs and some guest speakers alike stated that this decision disregards the primacy of EU law and the authority of the European Court of Justice. Many MEPs also condemned the adoption of recent judicial reforms that Supreme Court President Malgorzata Gersdorf denounced as a “muzzle law” on 23 January.A large section of the debate focused on the risk posed by holding elections at a time when civil rights are being restricted due to the pandemic and the corresponding media environment, although some arguments were presented about democracy being respected by putting in place postal voting provisions for all citizens. MEPs and some guest speakers highlighted that relevant legal reforms are not in line with Poland’s constitution and the standards set by the international community as regards the organisation of free and fair elections. Similar concerns were voiced in relation to potential legal reforms on hate speech and LGBTI rights, especially as civil society is currently unable to react.A majority of MEPs who took the floor criticised the Council for failing to act decisively in the ongoing Article 7(1) procedure and asked the Commission to act immediately to tackle these threats. Some speakers also drew links between EU funding and adherence to the EU principles enshrined in the Treaty.

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The pandemic is no excuse to weaken democracy and the rule of law, MEPs say

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 24 aprile 2020

The Civil Liberties Committee hosted four discussions on Thursday on democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights. Speakers from across the political spectrum warned that important values such as democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights must not be jeopardised by pandemic-related emergency measures, and that decisive action by the European Commission and the Council is needed to safeguard them.In the morning, MEPs exchanged views with Polish Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro, Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders, the Croatian Presidency of the Council and Polish Ombusdman Adam Bodnar. The afternoon debates included an update by the Democracy, Rule of law and Fundamental rights Monitoring Group on recent developments, and two exchanges of views with Commissioner Reynders: one on the emergency measures taken in all member states with a focus on Hungary, and another on the state of play of the EC annual Rule of Law Report.Almost all MEPs who took the floor expressed very serious concerns about the “increasing grip of the executive on the judiciary” in Poland, despite the Polish Minister’s assurances that the reforms were not out of sync with existing provisions in other EU member states. Particular concerns were raised in relation to the implementation of the , ordering the suspension of ongoing disciplinary proceedings against judges. Many MEPs also condemned the adoption on 23 January of reforms that Supreme Court President Malgorzata Gersdorf denounced as a “muzzle law”.Much of the debate focused on the risk posed by holding elections while civil rights are being restricted due to the pandemic and the corresponding media environment, although some arguments were presented about democracy being respected by putting in place postal voting provisions for all citizens. MEPs and some guest speakers highlighted that relevant legal reforms are not in line with Poland’s constitution and the standards set by the international community as regards the organisation of free and fair elections. Similar concerns were voiced in relation to potential legal reforms on hate speech and LGBTI rights, especially as civil society is currently unable to react.Most MEPs are particularly concerned about recent developments in Hungary in relation to the government’s increased powers, with many also worried about other issues, including media freedom, the rights of civil society, discrimination against vulnerable groups and corruption in the country. A majority among them, echoed by Commissioner Reynders, highlighted the need for measures taken in Hungary and all other EU member states in response to the pandemic to be proportional, of limited duration, and necessary.Many committee members also expressed their worry over measures taken by governments across the EU in a diverse range of fields, from access to public documents to social media oversight by national authorities, and from media freedom to sex education, reproductive rights and the rights of the LGBTI+ community. A few speakers, including Committee Chair Lopez Aguilar and Commissioner Reynders, highlighted that respect for data protection and privacy must remain a priority in developing apps to monitor and contain the spread of the pandemic.A majority of MEPs who took the floor criticised the Commission and the Council for failing to act decisively on most fronts, including in completing ongoing Article 7(1) procedures, initiating cases on the infringement of EU law, and issuing rule of law guidelines for COVID-19 emergency measures. Some speakers, including Commissioner Reynders, also drew links between EU funding and adherence to the EU principles enshrined in the Treaty.

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How Vladimir Putin is preparing to rule for ever

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 17 gennaio 2020

What is Vladimir Putin playing at? On January 15th Russia’s president took Kremlin-watchers by surprise. In his state-of-the-union speech, he announced a radical overhaul of the Russian constitution and a referendum on its proposed (still very unclear) terms. This bombshell was immediately followed by another. The prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, resigned along with the entire cabinet. As The Economist went to press, the reasons for Mr Medvedev’s ejection and replacement by an obscure technocrat remained a riddle wrapped in a mystery. To understand what might be going on, start with a simple fact. In the past 20 years Mr Putin’s regime has killed too many people, and misappropriated too many billions, to make it plausible that he would ever voluntarily give up effective power. Under the current constitution he cannot run again for president when his term expires in 2024, since no one is allowed more than two consecutive terms. So everyone has always assumed that one way or another he would game the rules to remain top dog. He already has form on this. His first two terms as president ran from 2000 to 2008. Term-limited out for the first time, he became prime minister for four years, during which time Mr Medvedev served as a distinctly neutered president. In 2012 Mr Putin was back in the suddenly re-empowered presidency, and was re-elected to a second term in 2018. The only enigma has ever been what job he would jump to in 2024. (by The Economist)

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Rule of law in Poland and Hungary: MEPs ask for better protection of EU values

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 20 dicembre 2019

In a debate with Commissioner Reynders and Minister Tuppurainen, committee MEPs condemned the lack of progress in ongoing processes and asked for a permanent EU-wide mechanism.The Civil Liberties Committee debated with the Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders and Finland’s Minister for European Affairs Tytti Tuppurainen on behalf of the Council the two Article 7(1) procedures on Hungary and Poland and the evaluation of the annual rule of law dialogue. The majority of MEPs who took the floor criticised the lack of concrete progress on the Article 7(1) process (initiated by Parliament in the case of Hungary and by the Commission in the case of Poland), especially in light of continued attacks on the rule of law in these countries. They also praised the efforts and determination of the Finnish Presidency and highlighted that the upcoming Croatian Presidency should continue its work, while highlighting that hearings on the situation in both countries were organised too late – over a year after Parliament’s 2018 reasoned proposal. The Committee Chair and rapporteur for Poland Juan López Aguilar (S&D, ES) and the rapporteur for Hungary Gwendolin Delbos-Corfield (Greens, FR), as well as other MEPs, further condemned the continued failure of the Council to formally include Parliament in the Article 7(1) process for Hungary. MEPs stressed that threats to the rule of law need to be addressed in a much more effective and consistent manner, using the entirety of tools currently available (including recourse to the judiciary mechanisms of the EU) but also through the establishment of a permanent monitoring and enforcement mechanism. This would ensure that EU values are respected across the all member states, with many drawing links between EU funding and adherence to the principles enshrined in the Treaty. Most MEPs highlighted that they continue to be concerned about judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees in Hungary. In the case of Poland, MEPs are still worried about the separation of powers, the independence of the judiciary and fundamental rights.

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MEPs put forward several questions on the new rule of law mechanism, the ongoing Article 7 proceedings concerning

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 5 ottobre 2019

Hungary and Poland and whether there should be action against other EU countries. They also asked about the Parliament’s right of initiative, human rights and environmental protection in commercial dealings, as well as holding multinationals to account.Members also questioned the Commissioner-designate on the need to establish an EU strategy for combatting corruption and digitalising judicial systems in the EU.You can watch the video recording of the full hearing here.
At the end of the hearing, Committee Chairs Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) and Lucy Nethsingha (Renew Europe, UK) held a press point outside the meeting room: watch it here Based on the committees’ recommendations, the Conference of Presidents will decide on 17 October if Parliament has received sufficient information to declare the hearing process closed. If so, the plenary will vote on whether or not to elect the Commission as a whole on 23 October, in Strasbourg.

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Ocular Therapeutix™ Reports Inducement Grant Under Nasdaq Listing Rule

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 14 luglio 2019

Ocular Therapeutix™, Inc. (NASDAQ: OCUL), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the formulation, development, and commercialization of innovative therapies for diseases and conditions of the eye, today announced that the Company entered into an employment agreement that provided for the grant of an inducement award outside the Company’s 2014 Stock Incentive Plan in accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The Company granted a stock option to purchase up to 60,000 shares of Ocular Therapeutix’s common stock. The stock option was granted on July 9, 2019. The grant was approved by the Compensation Committee of Ocular Therapeutix and was made as an inducement material to Christopher White’s entering into employment with Ocular Therapeutix as its Senior Vice President, Head of Business and Corporate Development in accordance with Nasdaq Listing Rule 5635(c)(4). The option award has an exercise price of $5.13 per share, the closing price of Ocular Therapeutix’s common stock on July 9, 2019. The option has a ten-year term and is scheduled to vest over four years, with 25% of the original number of shares vesting on July 9, 2020 and the remainder vesting in equal monthly installments over the following three years. Vesting of the option is subject to Mr. White’s continued service to Ocular Therapeutix through the applicable vesting dates.

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Rule of law in Hungary: MEPs request to be heard by EU ministers

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 11 aprile 2019

The European Parliament should be represented in a formal Council of Ministers’ meeting discussing Article 7 procedures concerning Hungary, MEPs insist. Following a last-minute invitation by the Romanian Presidency for an informal exchange of views ahead of the General Affairs Council to be held on 9 April, Claude Moraes (S&D, UK), Chair of the Civil Liberties Committee, and Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL), rapporteur for the EP proposal calling on the Council to determine whether Hungary is at risk of breaching the EU´s founding values, said: “We regret not being able to accept this invitation, due to unavailability at such a short notice. While we thank the Romanian Presidency for this invitation, we would remind of President’s Tajani letter in which he called for the Parliament to be invited to outline its position to a full meeting of the General Affairs Council where the Article 7(1) TEU procedure concerning Hungary will be discussed and for which a reply is still outstanding.
As we already mentioned in previous informal meetings held with the Presidency, to which we have participated in respect of the principle of sincere cooperation, in this procedure, European Parliament, having exercised its right of initiative under the concerned Treaty provision, is to be heard in a Council formal sitting.The European Parliament should not be prevented to exercise its full role, as provided by the Treaties. We continue to be convinced that it is essential for the European Parliament to be invited to a formal Council meeting. Such an in-depth exchange of views in a Council meeting is of the highest significance for the rule of law within the EU, and in line with the principle of sincere cooperation between Institutions”.
In September 2018, the Chamber requested the Council to assess whether Hungary is posing a systemic threat to the EU’s founding values. Should they determine that such a threat exists, EU member states could initiate the procedure laid down in Article 7 the EU Treaty, which may eventually lead to sanctions, such as the suspension of the Hungary’s voting rights in the Council. Judicial independence, freedom of expression, corruption, rights of minorities, and the situation of migrants and refugees are the main Parliament’s concerns.

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Malta and Slovakia: serious shortcomings in the rule of law

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 21 febbraio 2019

The Civil Liberties Committee adopted on Tuesday a draft resolution summarising the conclusions of the working group set up within the Civil Liberties Committee to monitor the situation of rule of law in the EU, particularly in Malta and Slovakia, following the murders of journalists Daphne Caruana Galizia and Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová.MEPs condemn the “continuous efforts of a growing number of EU member states’ governments to weaken the rule of law, the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary”. They underline that the assassinations of Ms Caruana Galizia in Malta and of Mr Kuciak and Ms Kušnírová in Slovakia, and the murder of journalist Viktoria Marinova in Bulgaria, had “a chilling effect on journalists” across the EU.
MEPs urge the Maltese government to set up a full and independent enquiry into the murder of Ms Caruana Galizia and demand that all libel cases brought by members of the government against her and her family be withdrawn.They denounce that the Prime Minister´s chief of staff and the current Minister of Tourism are “the only acting high-ranking government officials in any EU member state who were found to be beneficial owners of a legal entity revealed in the Panama Papers”. They insist that all suspected government links with opaque structures, such as Egrant and the “17 Black” company, deserve to be investigated.
The text points to the many shortcomings in the rule of law in the country identified by the Venice Commission and urges the Maltese government and Parliament to implement all of the Commission’s recommendations without exception.Regarding the investor citizenship and residence schemes -which allow foreigners to gain residence or citizenship rights in Malta in exchange for a large investment-, MEPs want them terminated without delay, as these programmes pose “serious risks” to the fight against money laundering and “result in the actual sale of EU citizenship”.
MEPs acknowledge the progress made in the investigation into the murder of Mr Kuciak and Ms Kušnírová, but insist it should continue both at national and international level. They also demand in-depth investigations into all the alleged cases of corruption and fraud brought up during their inquiries in the country.The resolution voices concern about the allegations of corruption, conflicts of interest, impunity and revolving doors in Slovakia’s circles of power. It also warns against the politicisation and lack of transparency in selection and appointment processes, such as for the position of Head of the Police.The draft resolution was passed by the Civil Liberties Committee with 40 to 7 and 6 abstentions. It will be put to the vote by the full House in the March II plenary session (25-28 March) in Strasbourg.

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Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 21 gennaio 2019

EP wants to triple the budget for the Rights and Values Programme Fast-track procedure to support democratic dialogue where EU values are at risk The EU should do more to promote democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights across the EU, including through support to civil society organisations.MEPs endorsed on Thursday the position of the Civil Liberties Committee to triple the funds allocated in the long-term EU budget (2021-2027) for the Rights and Values Programme, up to 1.834 billion euros (the European Commission had proposed €642 million).
Parliament’s mandate to start negotiations with EU ministers was approved with 426 votes to 152 and 45 abstentions.With a general objective to protect and promote the rights and values enshrined in Article 2 of the EU Treaty through support to civil society organisations at local, regional, national and transnational level, the Programme seeks to promote equality and non-discrimination, encourage citizens’ engagement and participation in the democratic process, and fight violence.MEPs decided to specifically mention the protection and promotion of democracy and the rule of law as the main aim, as these are a prerequisite for protecting fundamental rights and for ensuring mutual trust among member states and of citizens’ trust in the European Union, says the text.Regarding the activities to be funded with EU money, Parliament suggests awareness-raising campaigns on European core values and the rights and obligations derived from EU citizenship. Initiatives to reflect on the factors that lead to totalitarian regimes occurring and to commemorate their victims were also suggested. MEPs also want to support town-twinning projects, human rights defenders and whistle-blowers, measures countering hate-speech and misinformation, and protection of victims of violence, among others.
MEPs agreed that, in exceptional cases, when there is a serious and rapid deterioration of the situation in a member state and the founding values are at risk, the European Commission may open a call for proposals, under a fast-track procedure, to fund civil society organisations to facilitate and support the democratic dialogue in the country.

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Rule of law in Hungary: MEPs demand swift action from EU ministers

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 14 novembre 2018

MEPs urge EU ministers to determine if Hungary is at risk of breaching the EU values and to invite the European Parliament to a formal Council meeting. Ahead of the EU ministers meeting today, Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes (S&D, UK) and MEP Judith Sargentini (Greens/EFA, NL) discussed the Parliament’s position on the rule of law in Hungary in a preliminary meeting with Member States representatives. In September, the Parliament asked EU member states to initiate the procedure laid down in EU Treaty Article 7 to determine whether Hungary is at risk of breaching the EU´s founding values. Mr. Moraes said: “Today together with the Rapporteur, Judith Sargentini, we were present for a first exchange of views in a preparatory briefing with Members States representatives – which however can in no way be considered a formal Council meeting.” “We thank the Austrian Presidency for organising today’s meeting, and especially the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece and Sweden that were represented at ministerial level for their interest and cooperation. However, we have to emphasize that we await a more appropriate and formal Council meeting for handling a matter of the highest significance for the rule of law within the EU”, Mr. Moraes stressed.Ms. Sargentini, who authored the Parliament’s report on Hungary, said: “An overwhelming majority of the Parliament supported my report in September. It is a clear signal that we must draw a line when it comes to breaches in a Member State of our shared European values of democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights. It is now to the Member States to act in a swift, open and effective manner.” “The time taken by the Council to figure out the process does not improve the situation. To the contrary, new worrying developments have taken place in Hungary since the adoption of my report, such as a new law that would undermine the independence of the Hungarian judiciary even further”, Ms. Sargentini noted.“At todays’ meeting, I appreciated the critical questions from the ministers on the situation of civil society in Hungary and on the way the Parliament and myself as rapporteur have been treated by the Hungarian authorities. We count on the support of the Member States present at this morning’s informal meeting to push for Parliament to present its report in a formal Council meeting”, Ms. Sargentini concluded.
Rule of law in Poland and Hungary are the first items on the agenda of the General Affairs Council meeting. Ministers will also hold the annual rule of law dialogue today.

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Rule of law in Malta: speed up murder investigation and halt corruption, MEPs ask

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 21 settembre 2018

Sophia in ‘t Veld (ALDE, NL) , Head of the committee’s delegation to Malta, said: “Given the confidentiality, we have not been able to verify what progress was made in the investigation and if the authorities are still looking into all the different hypothesis about who ordered the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Resolving the crime is crucial, not only for the family of the victim, but for democracy as a whole.We would like to see the libel cases against Ms Caruana Galizia, which are now being faced by her family, withdrawn. We have also asked the minister of justice Owen Bonnici to find a solution for the makeshift memorial for Daphne, allowing people to mourn or make a statement, and to unambiguously condemn the hate campaigns against her and her family”.Ms In ‘t Veld noted the unavailability of minister for tourism Konrad Mizzi to meet with the delegation.“We have several concerns about numerous scandals, such as the alleged sale of humanitarian visas to Libyan nationals, money laundering through Maltese banks or the alleged involvement of people in government circles in corruption cases. The mechanism of “citizenship for investment” though not illegal in itself, could provide a back door to the EU to undesired elements, putting pressure on passport free travel within the Schengen area. The Member States are closely connected, so in order to preserve credibility and trust, it is crucial to uphold the same standards across the EU.We find particularly worrying the passiveness of the institutions in triggering investigations even in the face of incriminating evidence. Everybody is pointing at someone else, so it is unclear who will initiate an investigation into suspicious activities: the police, the magistrates, or just a citizens complaint. We therefore propose to invite the Venice Commission to Malta to assess the systems in place as well as the application in practice. And more broadly, we propose to put a rule of law mechanism in place to analyse the situation of the rule of law in all Member States on an ongoing basis, as per the legislative proposal of the European Parliament.Finally, we call on the government and on the political opposition to act as a unifying and reconciling force to help the Maltese society overcome its divisions and animosity”, she concluded.

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Rule of law in Slovakia: MEPs concerned about corruption and impunity

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 20 settembre 2018

Civil Liberties MEPs, concerned by corruption, conflicts of interest and impunity in Slovakia’s. After a two-day visit to Slovakia, Sophie in ‘t Veld (ALDE, NL), who heads the European Parliament delegation, said: “We are glad to see that the investigation into the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée seems to be advancing. Justice needs to be served, first for the families of the victims, but also to guarantee the safety of all journalists and for the sake of democracy. We have also been able to ascertain that many Slovaks are very committed to creating a modern, transparent and trusted public administration. But we still see corruption, too many conflicts of interest and impunity.We find particularly worrying the revolving doors that politicians use to remain in the corridors of power. We have the same people, the same faces, coming up again and again”.On behalf of the cross-party delegation, she underlined that “this is not about Slovakia, this is about the integrity of the EU as a community of law. We will only preserve the rule of law if all Member States uphold the same standards, such as the separation of powers and the proper enforcement of law and fundamental rights. All EU citizens are entitled to the same standards and we must ensure that this is respected.”Finally, she called for the reinforcement of the role of Europol. “Europe should not become a gangster paradise; crime has no borders while law enforcement is constrained by national boundaries.In Slovakia, MEPs met President Andrej Kiska, Prime Minister Pellegrini and the ministers of justice, Gábor Gál, and the interior, Denisa Sakova. They also quizzed special prosecutors, the national police chief and representatives of other law enforcement bodies, several journalists and editors, NGOs active in the fields of transparency and fighting corruption, and Ján Kuciak’s family lawyer.

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Rule of law in Malta: MEPs demand police investigate all corruption allegations

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 27 gennaio 2018

maltaMalta’s police must investigate all corruption allegations, particularly at the highest political level, to end the perceived impunity in the country, MEPs say.Members of the Civil Liberties Committee and the former Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (PANA) on Thursday discussed the conclusions of a fact-finding mission to Valletta last month to assess the situation of the rule of law and several allegations of corruption and money laundering.Maltese Minister of Justice Dr Owen Bonnici attended the meeting, as did two of the sons of the journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a bomb attack in October 2017.Most of the MEPs criticised the lack of police action, despite the very serious evidence of maladministration involving even members of the Maltese government, and considered the situation in Malta a source of concern for the whole of the EU. Many pointed to the lack of transparency of the Citizenship by Investment programme. Some speakers also asked for more time to get a full and clear picture of what is going on in the country.Mr Bonnici regretted that MEPs are not taking account of the significant reforms adopted by the Maltese government to address corruption and assured them that all serious allegations are being investigated. “It is completely false that this government has put the rule of law in the dustbin”, he stated.

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