441

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Violence against women in the EU: State of play

02-09-2019

Violence against women is a violation of human rights and a form of gender-based discrimination. Rooted in inequalities between men and women, it takes many forms. Estimates about the scale of the problem are alarming. Such violence has a major impact on victims and imposes a significant cost burden on society. The instruments put in place by the United Nations and Council of Europe, including the latter’s 'Istanbul Convention', to which the EU plans to accede, are benchmarks in efforts to combat ...

Violence against women is a violation of human rights and a form of gender-based discrimination. Rooted in inequalities between men and women, it takes many forms. Estimates about the scale of the problem are alarming. Such violence has a major impact on victims and imposes a significant cost burden on society. The instruments put in place by the United Nations and Council of Europe, including the latter’s 'Istanbul Convention', to which the EU plans to accede, are benchmarks in efforts to combat violence against women. The EU is tackling the problem in various ways, but has no binding instrument designed specifically to protect women from violence. Although there are similarities between national policies to combat violence against women, the Member States have adopted different approaches to the problem. Parliament's efforts have focused on strengthening EU policy in the area. Parliament has repeatedly called for a European Union strategy to counter violence against women, including a legally binding instrument. Stakeholders have expressed a range of concerns, such as the impact of the current economic climate on the prevalence of violence and funding for prevention and support for victims, and have highlighted the need for a comprehensive EU political framework on eliminating violence against women. They have also launched new initiatives of their own. This is a further update of an earlier briefing by Anna Dimitrova-Stull, of February 2014. The most recent previous edition was from November 2017.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Human Rights

28-06-2019

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political ...

In the 70 years since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the first international document to set common standards of achievement for all states – the pivotal role and moral, legal and political significance of human rights in the international arena have become indisputable. However, despite considerable progress in many areas on recognition, codification and implementation, human rights have also come under increased attack. Whether in theatres of war or in the political arena, human rights are now often rejected on ideological grounds. The EU itself has not been spared by the current backlash. In its Member States, a populist wave has empowered some political forces that increasingly question the significance of core human rights, such as the right to freedom of expression. In these troubled times for human rights, opinion polls show that European citizens perceive human rights as one of the most important values for them personally and one of the values that best represent the EU itself. Having emerged from World War II and its atrocities, European countries were determined to secure lasting peace, and the Union they created is founded on respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, which guide and shape its legislation and policies. Within the EU, recent action has included new legislation on data protection and access to justice, the European Pillar of Social Rights, and initiatives to combat inequality, discrimination and hate speech. There is also an acknowledgement that more needs to be done to complete the legal framework to combat discrimination and strengthen internal mechanisms for upholding the rule of law. Human rights are additionally a general objective of EU external action. The EU is deeply committed to promoting human rights, as enshrined in international treaties, in its relations with third countries and with other multilateral regional and global institutions. During Parliament's last mandate, the EU consistently applied and deepened a range of policy approaches that strengthen its role and image as a normative power that inspires others through its example. Maintaining and consolidating this policy remains vital for preserving the EU's image and credibility as a normative power based on values, and one that has the capacity to act at a time when the principle of multilateralism is increasingly questioned. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

LGBTI in Africa: Widespread discrimination against people with non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities

16-05-2019

Three out of five African countries have laws criminalising homosexuality and the public expression of sexual or gender behaviour that does not conform with heterosexual norms. These same laws even sometimes punish LGBTI (lesbian, gay, trans, intersex) rights advocacy. Some African countries have partly decriminalised LGBTI persons or given them better protection. However, across the continent – with the notable exception of South Africa – such persons are still far from fully enjoying the same rights ...

Three out of five African countries have laws criminalising homosexuality and the public expression of sexual or gender behaviour that does not conform with heterosexual norms. These same laws even sometimes punish LGBTI (lesbian, gay, trans, intersex) rights advocacy. Some African countries have partly decriminalised LGBTI persons or given them better protection. However, across the continent – with the notable exception of South Africa – such persons are still far from fully enjoying the same rights as other citizens. Furthermore, recent years have seen the emergence of a worrying trend: the adoption of tougher legislation coupled with clampdowns on homosexuals. An argument frequently used in support of discriminatory legislative and other measures targeting LGBTI persons is that non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities were brought to Africa by Western colonisers and are contrary to the 'African values'. This claim has long been proven false by academic research, but tolerance for LGBTI is still very low in most African countries, and LGBTI people are all too often exposed to discrimination and violence. Against this backdrop, the EU institutions and Member States have a difficult task: on the one hand, they are committed under the Treaties to promote the EU core values in their external relations, and to monitor and tackle abuses in their partner countries. On the other hand, their actions and declarations in this area risk reinforcing the perception that the EU is trying to impose non-African values on Africa, all the more so since the notion of sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for discrimination is contested by African countries in the multilateral arena.

The rights of LGBTI people in the European Union

16-05-2019

The prohibition of discrimination, and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare ...

The prohibition of discrimination, and the protection of human rights are important elements of the EU legal order. Nevertheless, discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons persists throughout the EU, taking various forms including verbal abuse and physical violence. Sexual orientation is now recognised in EU law as grounds of discrimination. However, the scope of the provisions dealing with this issue is limited and does not cover social protection, healthcare, education and access to goods and services, leaving LGBTI people particularly vulnerable in these areas. Moreover, EU competence does not extend to recognition of marital or family status. In this area, national regulations vary, with some Member States offering same-sex couples the right to marry, others allowing alternative forms of registration, and yet others not providing any legal status for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples may or may not have the right to adopt children and to access assisted reproduction. These divergent legal statuses have implications, for instance, for partners from two Member States with different standards who want to formalise/legalise their relationship, or for same-sex couples and their families wishing to move to another Member State. Combating discrimination has become part of EU internal and external policies, and the subject of numerous resolutions of the European Parliament. However, action in this area remains problematic when it touches on issues pertaining to areas traditionally reserved to Member States, such as marital status and family law. This is a further updated version of a Briefing originally drafted by Piotr Bakowski. The previous edition was published in June 2018.

'Everything but Arms': The case of Cambodia

15-04-2019

Cambodia is one of nearly 50 developing countries that enjoy duty-free access to EU markets under the Everything but Arms scheme. In response to the country's deteriorating human rights situation, the EU is now considering whether to withdraw trade preferences.

Cambodia is one of nearly 50 developing countries that enjoy duty-free access to EU markets under the Everything but Arms scheme. In response to the country's deteriorating human rights situation, the EU is now considering whether to withdraw trade preferences.

Venezuela: The standoff continues

12-04-2019

Three months since Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela and won official recognition from over 50 countries, his standoff with Nicolás Maduro continues, as the Chavista regime steps up its pressure on the opposition. The outcome is uncertain, but some progress has been made on the humanitarian front.

Three months since Juan Guaido declared himself interim president of Venezuela and won official recognition from over 50 countries, his standoff with Nicolás Maduro continues, as the Chavista regime steps up its pressure on the opposition. The outcome is uncertain, but some progress has been made on the humanitarian front.

India: taking stock of Modi's five years

10-04-2019

From 11 April to 18 May 2019, 900 million Indians are invited to take part in the world's biggest democratic event: the election of the 543 members of the Lok Sabha (lower chamber). Voting will be held across the country in seven phases and the result will be declared on 23 May. In 2014 the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) obtained the absolute majority in India's Lok Sabha, and Narendra Modi became prime minister. Enjoying a strong and undisputed mandate, Modi has generated expectations ...

From 11 April to 18 May 2019, 900 million Indians are invited to take part in the world's biggest democratic event: the election of the 543 members of the Lok Sabha (lower chamber). Voting will be held across the country in seven phases and the result will be declared on 23 May. In 2014 the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) obtained the absolute majority in India's Lok Sabha, and Narendra Modi became prime minister. Enjoying a strong and undisputed mandate, Modi has generated expectations of unleashing the country's economic potential and has adopted many flagship initiatives in a bid to change the country. In the last five years, India has overtaken China as the fastest growing economy, becoming the world's sixth biggest economy and a space power. Doing business in the country has become easier. Poverty has been reduced. The government succeeded in introducing major fiscal unification reform and a new law on bankruptcy. It failed, however to create the necessary stock of jobs for young people or to promote long-awaited labour reforms. The situation for farmers has worsened, and an overnight demonetisation hindered progress among small businesses and rural communities, while failing to bring real advances in the fight against corruption. State banks hold large stocks of bad loans and the government has increased pressure on the central bank and on its independence. Hindu nationalism and religious intolerance, pressure on freedom of expression, possible state intrusion into privacy, citizenship issues and other topics have been matters for concern in the area of human rights, although the country remains a robust democracy governed by the rule of law. Modi has increased the country's presence in the global arena, although the framework of India's relations with the major powers has not changed. Following two summits in 2016 and 2017, the EU and India have embarked on a road towards cooperation on non-trade issues. Trade has meanwhile stagnated and little progress has been made in negotiations on a trade and investment agreement.

An EU human rights sanctions regime?

02-04-2019

The EU already has multiple sanctions in place targeting individuals responsible for gross human rights abuses in specific countries. There are growing calls for a more global approach targeting violations from all over the world, following the example of the US 2016 Global Magnitsky Act. In December 2018, the Dutch government floated the idea, but it is not yet clear whether it has a good chance of being adopted at EU level.

The EU already has multiple sanctions in place targeting individuals responsible for gross human rights abuses in specific countries. There are growing calls for a more global approach targeting violations from all over the world, following the example of the US 2016 Global Magnitsky Act. In December 2018, the Dutch government floated the idea, but it is not yet clear whether it has a good chance of being adopted at EU level.

EU-Armenia people-to-people contacts

29-03-2019

EU-Armenia relations have recently been strengthened through the two parties' comprehensive and enhanced partnership agreement (CEPA), applied provisionally since June 2018. This instrument, along with additional frameworks – an association agreement, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership – promotes enhanced people-to-people contacts between the EU and Armenia.

EU-Armenia relations have recently been strengthened through the two parties' comprehensive and enhanced partnership agreement (CEPA), applied provisionally since June 2018. This instrument, along with additional frameworks – an association agreement, the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership – promotes enhanced people-to-people contacts between the EU and Armenia.

Taiwan's political survival in a challenging geopolitical context

26-03-2019

Since the landmark victory of Tsai Ing-wen from Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2016 presidential elections, mainland China has intensified the island's international isolation and intimidation through political pressure, economic coercion and military drills. In a January 2019 speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1979 'Message to Compatriots in Taiwan', China's President, Xi Jinping, alluded to the inevitability of unification based on a 'one country ...

Since the landmark victory of Tsai Ing-wen from Taiwan's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2016 presidential elections, mainland China has intensified the island's international isolation and intimidation through political pressure, economic coercion and military drills. In a January 2019 speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1979 'Message to Compatriots in Taiwan', China's President, Xi Jinping, alluded to the inevitability of unification based on a 'one country, two systems' formula, which is widely rejected in Taiwan. Taiwan's successful transition from an authoritarian anti-communist bulwark led by the Nationalist Party or Kuomintang (KMT), to a liberal multi-party democracy that embraces individual political freedoms, the rule of law and universal human rights, is a challenge for the authoritarian one-party system of the People's Republic of China (PRC), as it belies mainland China's rhetoric that a liberal multi-party democracy is unsuitable for Chinese people. Taiwan's political survival within the fragile status quo of cross-strait relations ultimately depends on the United States' continued national interest in ensuring that Taiwan's defence capabilities and the US's military supremacy over the PRC act as a deterrent against a potential invasion of Taiwan by mainland China's military forces. Against the backdrop of the PRC's increasingly aggressive Taiwan policy and growing US-China strategic competition on multiple fronts, the US has expanded its long-standing commitments in support of Taiwan's defence and democracy, and considers the island as a partner in promoting the goals and values of the US's free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. The EU maintains a 'One China' policy, which recognises the PRC government as the sole legal government of China. However, since the EU and Taiwan are like-minded in many regards and the EU respects Taiwan's governance system, it is interested in closer cooperation with Taiwan on non-political issues, even in the absence of diplomatic recognition.

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