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COVID-19's impact on human rights outside the EU

03-04-2020

In their attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world have imposed limitations on freedom of movement and other related freedoms within their territories, thereby severely curtailing certain fundamental rights. In the event of a public emergency, international human rights norms do allow for the imposition of limitations under strict conditions. Moreover, so far no other approach has been as effective in slowing down the outbreak, while also upholding the right of the ...

In their attempt to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries around the world have imposed limitations on freedom of movement and other related freedoms within their territories, thereby severely curtailing certain fundamental rights. In the event of a public emergency, international human rights norms do allow for the imposition of limitations under strict conditions. Moreover, so far no other approach has been as effective in slowing down the outbreak, while also upholding the right of the most vulnerable to health and life. However, some governments may be abusing the situation to suppress human rights and wield undue power.

What if smartphones could help contain COVID-19?

24-03-2020

In recent years, smartphones have increasingly attracted attention as a key tools in emergency and disaster situations. Almost all smartphones are nowadays equipped with GPS sensors that can track the location of their owners. Comparing the location history of infected individuals with the location history of all other Smartphone users (tested positive or not yet tested) could help health authorities gain much better understanding of where the transmission might have occurred, and who else should ...

In recent years, smartphones have increasingly attracted attention as a key tools in emergency and disaster situations. Almost all smartphones are nowadays equipped with GPS sensors that can track the location of their owners. Comparing the location history of infected individuals with the location history of all other Smartphone users (tested positive or not yet tested) could help health authorities gain much better understanding of where the transmission might have occurred, and who else should be tested with urgency, avoiding the further spread of the infection.

Implementation of the EU trust funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey: Overview

16-03-2020

The EU trust funds (TFs) for external action and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey are innovative tools first introduced under the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2014-2020 period, as made possible by the 2013 Financial Regulation (FR) applicable to the EU budget. Their objective has been to facilitate a swifter and more flexible response to emerging crises and fast moving events, for which funds earmarked in advance had proved insufficient. The EU has set up four trust funds ...

The EU trust funds (TFs) for external action and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey are innovative tools first introduced under the current multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the 2014-2020 period, as made possible by the 2013 Financial Regulation (FR) applicable to the EU budget. Their objective has been to facilitate a swifter and more flexible response to emerging crises and fast moving events, for which funds earmarked in advance had proved insufficient. The EU has set up four trust funds since then, in addition to the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, which, despite some similarities with the trust funds, is a distinct coordination mechanism. The TFs' implementation is ongoing and the Commission reports to the European Parliament regularly on the state of play. Regular reports and evaluations have shown that the EU trust funds have had some positive results, and to some extent met their objectives. However, they have also raised questions. For instance, ad hoc instruments outside the EU budget fall short when it comes to democratic accountability: there is a general need for greater transparency and Parliament scrutiny. Moreover, there is a perceived risk that the TFs could be used to divert development aid funds towards other ends incompatible with official development assistance. While Parliament welcomed the introduction of the EU TFs, acknowledging their advantages, it has insisted that the setting up of instruments outside the EU budget should be the exception to the rule, mostly owing to the above-mentioned concerns. The aim should be to preserve the unity of the EU budget and the principles of accountability, transparency, effectiveness and sound budgetary management, and to safeguard Parliament's right to democratic scrutiny. As argued in a Cost of Non-Europe report, a better coordinated EU development aid budget, incorporating all external assistance, could prove more strategic, bringing efficiency gains, accountability and transparency. This briefing supplements an earlier EPRS briefing on EU trust funds, from November 2015, PE 572.797.

Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea: EU and international action

12-03-2020

The Gulf of Guinea is framed by 6 000 km of west African coastline, from Senegal to Angola. Its sea basin is an important resource for fisheries and is part of a key sea route for the transport of goods between central and southern Africa and the rest of the world. Its geo-political and geo-economic importance has grown since it has become a strategic hub in global and regional energy trade. Every day, nearly 1 500 fishing vessels, cargo ships and tankers navigate its waters. The security of this ...

The Gulf of Guinea is framed by 6 000 km of west African coastline, from Senegal to Angola. Its sea basin is an important resource for fisheries and is part of a key sea route for the transport of goods between central and southern Africa and the rest of the world. Its geo-political and geo-economic importance has grown since it has become a strategic hub in global and regional energy trade. Every day, nearly 1 500 fishing vessels, cargo ships and tankers navigate its waters. The security of this maritime area is threatened by the rise of piracy, illegal fishing, and other maritime crimes. Regional actors have committed to cooperate on tackling the issue through the 'Yaoundé Code of Conduct' and the related cooperation mechanism and bodies. The international community has also pledged to track and condemn acts of piracy at sea. The European Union (EU), which has a strong interest in safeguarding its maritime trade and in addressing piracy's root causes, supports regional and international initiatives. The EU is also implementing its own maritime security strategy, which includes, among other features, a regional component for the Gulf of Guinea; this entails EU bodies' and Member States' cooperation in countering acts of piracy, as well as capacity-building projects. This briefing draws from and updates the sections on the Gulf of Guinea in 'Piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Africa', EPRS, March 2019.

Accords internationaux en marche: Le futur partenariat de l’UE avec les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (« post-Cotonou »)

19-02-2020

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) devait expirer en février 2020. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de revoir les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau ...

L’accord de partenariat entre l’Union européenne et les pays d’Afrique, des Caraïbes et du Pacifique (ACP) devait expirer en février 2020. La renégociation de cet « Accord de Cotonou » offre l’opportunité de revoir les relations entre les pays ACP et l’Union en tenant compte des objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies, de la redéfinition des stratégies européennes dans les régions concernées, des nouvelles ambitions des pays ACP et de l’évolution de l’équilibre des pouvoirs au niveau mondial. Le principal défi pour l’Union européenne est de maintenir ses relations dans les trois sous-régions, tout en restant fidèle aux valeurs promues dans les traités européens. La question du financement est également sur la table. Le groupe ACP et l’Union européenne ont adopté leurs mandats de négociation respectivement en mai et juin 2018 et les négociations ont débuté en septembre 2018. Les parties prenantes se sont accordées sur le principe d’un socle commun complété par trois protocoles régionaux. Ces négociations à plusieurs niveaux ainsi que les discussions en cours sur le futur budget de l’UE ont empêché de finaliser l’accord à temps. Afin d’éviter un vide juridique dans les relations après l’échéance prévue de l’accord de Cotonou, les dispositions de ce dernier ont été prolongées jusqu’au 31 décembre 2020 au plus tard. Quatrième édition. Les Briefings 'Accords internationaux en marche' sont actualisés à des étapes clés de la procédure de ratification. Versions précédentes de ce briefing : PE 625.111, juillet 2018, PE 630.280, novembre 2018, PE 637.981, juillet 2019.

Peace, justice and strong institutions: EU support for implementing SDG 16 worldwide

04-02-2020

The 16th sustainable development goal (SDG 16) to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels' represents a new milestone compared with the earlier millennium development goals. While several of its targets (such as peace, corruption-free institutions and freedom from violence) were once seen as prerequisites of sustainable development, the adoption of SDG 16 marked ...

The 16th sustainable development goal (SDG 16) to 'Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels' represents a new milestone compared with the earlier millennium development goals. While several of its targets (such as peace, corruption-free institutions and freedom from violence) were once seen as prerequisites of sustainable development, the adoption of SDG 16 marked the first time that they were globally recognised as development objectives in themselves. To achieve universal recognition, SDG 16 leaves out explicit reference to internationally recognised political and civil rights norms, attracting some criticism. Its very general scope has also stirred controversy regarding the type of data required in order to assess progress rigorously. The state of play with regard to the implementation of SDG 16 indicates that substantial progress is still needed in order to achieve the SDG targets by 2030. Violent conflicts continue to affect many parts of the world, societal violence remains widespread in many countries and violence against children in particular remains a pervasive phenomenon, especially in developing countries. At the same time, fundamental freedoms have come under increased attack from regimes that disrespect human rights and undermine international and national norms in this area. The EU has committed to contributing to the achievement of all the SDGs, and the specific targets of SDG 16 have been given special recognition. From the Global Strategy to the 'new consensus on development', various policy documents acknowledge the crucial role of peace, democracy, human rights and the rule of law for sustainable development. The interconnection between the pursuit of these fundamental values and EU efforts to help developing countries achieve the SDGs is obvious in numerous measures undertaken in the framework of EU external action. The European Parliament is a strong champion for these values in the world.

Understanding development effectiveness: Concepts, players and tools

09-01-2020

In the context of the limited availability of development aid, there is an increased demand for effective results. This means that both developing and richer countries must commit to spending and using aid more effectively. Public funding is not enough to cover all needs, but it can leverage initiatives from civil society and the private sector. The increase in stakeholders and intervention methods, both in terms of numbers and variety, combined with the necessity to address needs in the field more ...

In the context of the limited availability of development aid, there is an increased demand for effective results. This means that both developing and richer countries must commit to spending and using aid more effectively. Public funding is not enough to cover all needs, but it can leverage initiatives from civil society and the private sector. The increase in stakeholders and intervention methods, both in terms of numbers and variety, combined with the necessity to address needs in the field more precisely, has led to a global rethinking of how to assess development. High-level forums and stakeholder networks have helped to fine-tune the main principles of development effectiveness and to shift from a donor-recipient relationship to a more cooperative framework. Methods and tools have improved and led to better planning, implementation and appraisal of development projects. The EU has been closely involved in designing and implementing the effectiveness principles. The European Parliament often refers to them, insisting that they must not be sacrificed for the sake of short-term interests. This briefing is an update of a previous edition from April 2017.

Reporting on SDG implementation: UN mechanisms and the EU approach

20-12-2019

Adopted in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – clearly links the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) it introduced to a series of targets to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes a detailed mechanism to monitor progress with regard to these targets. At the core of this mechanism are a number of quantified indicators for each target that are regularly revised by the UN and ...

Adopted in 2015 by the United Nations (UN), the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – 'the blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all' – clearly links the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) it introduced to a series of targets to be reached by 2030. The 2030 Agenda includes a detailed mechanism to monitor progress with regard to these targets. At the core of this mechanism are a number of quantified indicators for each target that are regularly revised by the UN and other international agencies. These agencies and the EU provide support to national statistical services across the world in collecting data for the SDG indicators in order to gather reliable and comparable datasets. These data feed the voluntary national reports that countries prepare to exchange good practices and advice on tackling the challenges they encounter in implementing their SDG strategies. High-level forums take stock of both progress and weaknesses in implementation, so as to ensure that everybody is on track in pursuing the SDGs. The EU has long experience in collecting consistent data from its Member States. The European Union Statistical Office (Eurostat) has created a set of sustainable development indicators that provide a good overview of progress within the EU; yet, according to analysts, these indicators do not give a clear picture of the risks of not attaining some goals by 2030. EU development cooperation services have devised a framework of indicators to assess how EU support contributes to other countries' implementation of the SDGs. However, the European Parliament and other stakeholders regret that the spill-over effect of EU policies on third countries remains a blind spot in the evaluation of the EU's contribution to the SDGs. Although technical in nature, SDG indicators and data also have a political dimension, as they clearly measure countries' and other stakeholders' achievements against their own commitments.

Understanding the Sustainable Development Goals

13-12-2019

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have ...

In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be attained by 2030, as a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) and the Rio+20 Summit (2012). Unlike their predecessors, the SDGs commit both developed and developing countries, and embrace the economic, environmental and social aspects of development. The SDGs and the broader 2030 Agenda for sustainable development of which they form the core, are based on the findings that human activities have triggered dramatic changes in the conditions on Earth (climate change and biodiversity loss), which in turn have contributed to the deterioration of human well being. To reverse the trend, there is an urgent need to simultaneously address the multiple causes and consequences of environmental depletion and social inequalities, by developing synergies and managing trade-offs between the SDGs. Challenges in pursuing the SDGs include the fact that countries do not necessarily have an equal start and, even more importantly, that regardless of their stage of development, they can no longer afford to apply the current development model, where production and consumption happen at the expense of natural resources. According to many observers, such a model creates unsolvable tensions between SDGs, notably between the safeguarding of natural resources and the aspirations for improved well-being. The structural transformation that would bring about the desired change requires a joint effort by the international community, but equally so by natural and public or private legal persons, to urgently speed up the process. The European Union has been a leader in drafting and implementing the SDGs; however, the European Parliament considers the EU could go further in devising a common SDG strategy. This briefing updates an EPRS 'At a glance' note published in November 2017, PE 608.819.

EU-Africa academic cooperation

12-12-2019

EU-Africa academic cooperation is one of the priority of the strategic partnership between both regions. It allows the mobility of students, researchers and academic staff as well as the cooperation between academic institutions from both regions. The cooperation is supported, not least with the EU funds, through the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes as well as through the Inter-Africa Mobility Scheme. With the new financial perspective and the new ‘post-Cotonou’ agreement, still in negotiations ...

EU-Africa academic cooperation is one of the priority of the strategic partnership between both regions. It allows the mobility of students, researchers and academic staff as well as the cooperation between academic institutions from both regions. The cooperation is supported, not least with the EU funds, through the Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 programmes as well as through the Inter-Africa Mobility Scheme. With the new financial perspective and the new ‘post-Cotonou’ agreement, still in negotiations, it is important to ensure the future of the EU-Africa academic cooperation is relevant in scale to the needs and expectations and is focusing on topics important for both regions.

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