Events in Europe – post election webinar

Post EP elections – What is at stake now for the #Europewewant?

Wednesday, 28 May 12.45h- 14.00h, moderated by CONCORD director Seamus Jeffreson

Watch live below and join the debate on Twitter using the hashtag #EuropeWeWant

Prezi presentation of new EU Parliament

Pre-election events

A first event was CONCORD Italia’s meeting in Rome on 5 May where Italian NGOs will present their views on making a more sustainable Europe to election candidates.

Italy: 5 May, Rome - Verso un’Europa solidale (CONCORD Italia and Forum del Terzo Settore)

UK: 7 May, London Debate with MEP candidates (Bond)

Greece: Wednesday 21st of May 2014 from 14:00 to 17:00 pm, Hellenic Platform representatives will participate in the event “European Dialogue Forum: Create your agenda of European elections candidates“organised by the Institute of Research and Training on European Affairs (I.R.T.E.A) in collaboration with cultural center IANOS (Stadiou 24, Athens).




EU Elections : what it means for Europe’s role in the world

(Brussels, 26/05/2014) The results of the European Parliament elections held between 22-25 May have been marked by a rise in Eurosceptic and extremist parties, despite centrist groups coming out on top overall. The vote comes as inequality and poverty have been on the rise within Europe since the onset of the financial crisis.

Commenting on behalf of CONCORD, the European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs was Sabine Terlecki, Head of Policy:

“Europe’s role in the world, including support to international development and humanitarian programmes, could be affected in the new Parliament by the rise of more inward looking eurospectic and extreme right parties. Yet results show there’s still broad support for parties supportive of development cooperation who favour a European response to global challenges.

“The European Union has a strong record in international development, being the world’s biggest aid donor, giving some E56.517bn in 2013. We hope that all newly elected MEPs realize the importance of having a strong development and humanitarian policy.”

“In just seven months the official European Year on Development 2015 will take place, the first dedicated to external action. MEPs should use 2015 as a moment to really engage in a debate with the general public in Europe about our place in the world.”

“EU institutions need to regain trust with citizens, who want to be part of decisions and have a say in their future. As elected representatives, the new MEPs need to put people first and include the voices of its citizens through greater consultation and dialogue to create a truly representative European Union.“

The new Parliament

The latest projections of seats show that neither party will be close to a total of 376 needed to secure their candidate for the European Commission Presidency and the bargaining behind the curtain already started last night. Backed up by the new EP, the new president of the European commission must ensure that there will be a strong High Special representative and development commissioner who see it at the core of their mandate to tackle the root causes of current and future global challenges.

All newly elected European Parliamentarians regardless of their political color received the mandate by the European citizens to seriously promote core values such as solidarity, equality, tolerance and human rights. Inequality, both at home and abroad, is one of the great challenges that we face today. The new EP must tackle the unfairness of tax fraud and avoidance, unsustainable use of resources and climate change.

seamus europewewant

22-25 May: EU elections – Yes it matters!

Dear colleagues and friends,

In the days to come, millions of EU citizens will have the opportunity to cast their vote on a new European Parliament. EU citizens in the Netherlands and the UK will begin tomorrow, 22 May.

The latest polling results, which can be found here, have shown a worrying rise in voting for extreme right and populistic Eurosceptic parties, particularly in France, with the Front Nationale expected to receive the largest percentage of votes. The rise of extreme right parties can also be seen in the Netherlands, where Partij voor Vryheid (Party for Freedom) are expected to win the second largest number of seats. In Germany, Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) are set to receive nearly 7% of the vote, despite only being established as a political party in 2012. Having a group of European Parliamentarians (MEPs) coming from these parties in the next European Parliament could endanger values of solidarity, equality, tolerance and human rights.

In terms of the overall composition of the new Parliament, it still seems too close to call between the EPP and S&D parties, with only a handful of votes separating the two in the latest polls. Neither party will be close to a total of 376 needed to secure their candidate for the European Commission Presidency, so it seems that a great deal of bargaining is going to be needed by both parties in order to secure the support they need.

Why voting in the EU elections matters?

This may be one of the most important EU elections in the European Union’s history. With a growing number of problems for Europe to solve, at home and abroad, these elections are the chance for Europe to decide how they are going to tackle the challenges we face as Europeans. This is our chance as citizens to say that we want to choose a Europe that is more united, more determined to tackle inequality, injustice and poverty together. The European Parliament is the only democratically elected institution of the European Union, with the elections every 5 years.

In the face of the mounting challenge from Eurosceptic parties at home, who seek to undermine the EU through challenging its ability to act decisively and with authority, it is important that we use the power we have as voters to help create the #Europewewant for the world we want and need, to solve the issues of tax justice, climate change, policy coherence for development, sustainable resource usage and to create a brighter future for all.

The European Parliament has a significant impact on European development policies but it also co-decides on the EU budget and monitors the use of EU funds for international development. Furthermore, these elections are particularly important because, for the first time, the composition of the new European Parliament will determine who will lead the next European Commission, the EU’s executive body. So, we all have a say on who this person will be.

Also, in the autumn, the new European Parliamentarians will approve the new set of commissioners in the commissioner hearings. It is crucial to have a strong EC development commissioner who will steer the negotiation processes of the EU Member States for the new global framework and who sees tackling the root causes of current and future global challenges as the core of their mandate. You can see below what Mr. Klaus Rudischauser, Deputy Director General at DG Development and Cooperation,  thinks should be a priority for the next Development commissioner:

So power balances within the next European Parliament might have a far greater effect on EU development policies than before. For this reason, it is more important than ever that we encourage everyone to vote in these elections, as it really is a chance to shape the future of Europe for the world we want for the next 5 years, and beyond!

What CONCORD feels we can achieve in these Elections

CONCORD firmly believes that there is a chance at these elections to create a better, fairer European Parliament. You can vote for a Parliament that puts its people first, which acts to include the voices of its citizens through greater consultation and dialogue, to create a truly representative European Union.

Inequality, both at home and abroad, is one of the great challenges that we face today. By voting for a European Union that puts tackling inequality as one of its core principles, you can help end the unfairness of tax fraud and avoidance, unsustainable use of resources and climate change.

The new European Parliament has a chance to reinvent the European social model, to create one that will put Europe on a stronger and fairer footing in the world. You can help put justice, human rights, inequality and policy coherence for development at the top of the EU agenda, to help fight for a fairer world for all.

This is within our grasp! All it takes is one vote over the next few days! We can see in these videos interviews below with Southern partners the impact that Europe can have on the world, and why it is important to vote for a Europe that is fair for all!


So let’s stay tuned these last days, each single vote counts: Your vote, of your family, friends and colleagues. Let’s spread again the word why these elections matter for the #Europewewant!

Best wishes,



Blog: Development is not just about aid – we want coherent EU policies

Want to do something to end poverty? Ask your MEP to be coherent!

by Blandine Bouniol, with comments from Evert-Jan Brouwer, Javier Pereira, Fotini Palailogou, Aislinn MacCauley, Lies Craeynest

Eradicating global poverty is the primary objective of the European Union when it comes to cooperation with developing countries. At least it should be.

Perhaps the first thing you think of when it comes to policies to eradicate poverty is aid. The European Commission and the Member States together are the biggest aid donors in the world. Developing countries appreciate and need European aid, and we can all be proud of this.

But development is not just about aid.

From the perspective of the developing countries, Europe is also known for its subsidies to European farmers and companies that local farmers and businesses cannot compete with, its tax havens that enable European companies to dodge taxes they should have paid to the developing countries they operate in, its low tariffs to export to Europe, its companies that grab vast areas of land to produce biofuels or extract raw materials with devastating impacts on local communities, its migration policies detrimental impact on migrants’ rights … all of which fuel injustice, poverty and human rights violations.

Sadly, Europe is giving with one hand and taking with the other hand. What is the logic in that?

On paper, things look pretty good: the EU Treaty says that for any decisions taken in the EU that could have consequences for developing countries, policy-makers must ask themselves whether their decision will contribute to worsen or improve the living conditions of the millions of people in poverty. This principle recognizes the fact that in a globalized world, many of the problems and their solutions are deeply interconnected and cannot be addressed unilaterally. For example, climate change, tax evasion, food security and nutrition are problems that need to be addressed at the global level. It would not make sense to oppose EU citizens and citizens of developing countries.

Given the wording in the EU Treaty, one would expect that policy-makers take the policy options that are the most favourable to both European and developing countries’ citizens… is that being a bit too optimistic?

Will you vote for an MEP who will lift Europe’s obstacles to the mobilization of domestic financial resources by developing countries?

It doesn’t take much to understand that global poverty cannot be solved by aid alone.

More funding and resources are needed to address the essentials and the gaps of development. Money could be mobilized from within developing countries themselves through improved national taxation and trade tariffs. Money could also come from a financial transaction tax, and other innovative financing mechanisms.

So, what is the EU doing about this?

Take for example combating tax dodging by European companies. In the current situation, at least US$859 billion escaped developing countries in 2010 alone, through illicit financial flows. Thus, the world’s poorest countries have been losing around US$100 billion every year, because of tax dodging by EU companies and other transnational corporations, due to insufficient international and European tax policies.

Recently, the EU has made promising moves backed up by a strong political signal from the Heads of States of all EU Member States calling for “taking effective steps to fight tax evasion and tax fraud” in 2013.  The EU, with the large support of the European Parliament, now requires companies in the forestry, extractive and banking sectors to provide a full picture of their actual economic performance for every country in which they trade, which allows tax authorities both in Europe and in developing countries to detect suspicious transactions and collect revenues by making these companies pay a fair share of their profits. The challenge is now to extend this obligation to all large companies in all sectors.

To know more about the EP vote on the Directive on Transparency requirements in relation to information about issuers whose securities are admitted to trading on a regulated market, see: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/transparency-requirements-in-relation-to-information-about-issuers-whose-securities-are-admitted-to-.html

and on the directive on Financial statements and related reports of certain types of undertakings, see: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/financial-statements-and-related-reports-of-certain-types-of-undertakings-draft-legislative-resoluti.html


Money-laundering is another form of tax avoidance

European banks may receive dirty money (from drugs, terrorism, tax evasion) from anonymous companies and wealthy individuals, who may shift money from developing countries to avoid paying taxes. Secrecy on the real “beneficial owners” is the actual problem here. On this topic, the European Parliament adopted a very progressive position in March 2013 calling for the establishment of public registries in each Member State. Divergent views persist amongst EU Member States ministers on whether and how to collect such information and make it available to the public. A final decision on this new European law is expected at the end of the year.

To know more about the EP vote on anti-money laundering: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/prevention-of-the-use-of-the-financial-system-for-the-purpose-of-money-laundering-and-terrorist-fina.html  (specifically EP amendment to article 29).

As former UN secretary General Kofi Annan puts it, “tax avoidance and evasion are global issues that affect us all. For G8 governments it is a loss of revenue. But in Africa, it has a direct impact on the lives of mothers and children”.


Will you vote for an MEP who will lift Europe’s obstacles to the sustainable development of developing countries?

Development is not only a question of money. The quality of the relationship is also an issue: Does Europe consider developing countries as equal partners at the negotiating tables? What roles does the EU envisage for developing countries in the global economy? Is Europe fair to developing countries, provided its historical responsibility vis-à-vis former colonies, and its contemporary responsibility for climate change and other global challenges that hit the world’s poorest the hardest?

The answer is not black and white but there are striking examples of European decisions which clearly contribute to further marginalizing developing countries.

One of them is the recent reform of the EU Common Agriculture Policy (CAP). Despite a very positive contribution by the Parliament’s committee on development, at the time of voting in plenary, the reform ended up being mainly about supporting the competitiveness of the EU’s big agribusiness companies to the detriment of food security in developing countries and environmental protection as well as small scale farmers in Europe. Thus, the complex European subsidy system (export refunds and direct aid payments) remains in place and allows the dumping of cheap European agricultural products on the market of developing countries, at the expense of local farmers. The Parliament even refused to introduce a monitoring mechanism that would allow EU institutions and citizens to know how their agricultural policy actually affects developing countries. Is it so much better to hide our face in the sand?

To know more about the EP vote on abolishing export refunds under the CAP, see: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/decision-on-the-opening-of-and-mandate-for-interinstitutional-negotiations-on-common-organisation-of-56.html and on introducing a monitoring mechanism for external impacts: http://www.votewatch.eu/en/decision-on-the-opening-of-and-mandate-for-interinstitutional-negotiations-on-financing-management-a-32.html

Another area where EU decisions could further marginalise developing countries is in their climate policies, particularly the 2030 Climate and Energy Package. Climate change will and already is having a devastating effect on developing countries, particularly on the food security of the poorest people, and the EU undoubtedly does contribute this phenomenom. While the current proposal put forward by the Commission for emissions cuts of 40% by 2030 is not ambitious enough to address the climate crisis, we could count on a progressive position of the European Parliament in February this year. MEPs counter-proposed to increase the targets to introduce binding targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy development and energy savings. To see how outgoing MEPs voted on key climate votes and which MEP candidates have signed a pledge of climate ambition click here. The fight is not over though and the EU environment ministers still need to come up with their position later this year.



So, why is the EU acting incoherently?

Clearly, there are vested interests that are difficult to part with and many policy makers still maintain a vision of Europe separated from the rest of the world. Being coherent is a matter of political will and forward thinking. The world has changed; business as usual is no option and we need policy-makers who dare to embark on alternative routes, and to promote a vision of a more balanced and fair world relations where each has a role to play and should not be denied the opportunity to explore its full potential.

Ask your MEP candidates:

  • Will you dare to be coherent and stand strong for Policy Coherence for Development and commit NOT to take decisions that could negatively impact the development prospects of poor and vulnerable people in developing countries?
  • Will you demand from the EP President to take a leading role in promoting PCD and to hold the President of the Commission and the High Representative for External Relations accountable for the proper implementation of the EU’s PCD obligation?
  • Will you support the establishment of a mechanism to enable people in developing countries to bring complaints to the EU when they can demonstrate that an EU policy or agreement has had negative impacts on their lives or livelihoods?


CONCORD links:

CONCORD report “Spotlight on Policy Coherence for Development” 2013:


Financing:   http://www.concordeurope.org/11-other-resources

CAP: http://www.concordeurope.org/15-food-security





Story of change: MEPs advance tax justice

How can we tolerate that the European Union loses around € 1 trillion a year in taxes?

Why should poor countries keep losing US$950 billion in illicit financial flows a year, whilst knowing that this is seven times the annual amount they receive in aid?

When will we have the political will to stop wealthy individuals stashing between USD 21-32 trillion in tax havens- the equivalent of the US and Japanese GDP combined-?

Who will tell companies like ExxonMobil that they cannot make over €5 billion in Spain and still get a tax refund of EUR 1.5 million? Should we accept that Google only has to pay 3.2% in taxes on all the profits it made outside the USA, including the European Union?

Nowadays some multinationals and wealthy individuals manage to pay less tax than they should. Tax dodging is possible because of tax loopholes, because wealthy individuals and companies have the financial means to set up tax avoidance operations, and because tax havens exist and create harmful competition, undermining other countries’ capacity to collect taxes. Tax dodging affects us all because it undermines tax revenues which are necessary to fund public services such as health and education.

The problem is worldwide: it affects us in Europe and the average worker in a poor country. Action adopted by the EU to reduce tax dodging will have a big impact both in Europe and in developing countries because EU regulation does affect the behavior of European companies at the global level and because EU decisions can shape the global political agenda. In fact, the EU is bound by the Lisbon Treaty to tackle this problem, and to ensure that all EU policies are coherent with its development objectives, a concept known as Policy Coherence for Development.

One important piece of the puzzle of preventing tax dodging is greater transparency about who owns what and who pays taxes, how much and where. The more transparent the tax system, the more difficult it will be for those cheating to remain unpunished. A better informed public is better positioned to demand accountability and ask the government to adopt policies that address their concerns. For example, transparency would provoke people to demand answers to difficult questions such as why companies have subsidiaries in tax havens even when they do not conduct any business in them.

The European Union and especially the European Parliament is at the forefront of this battle. As explained below, the European Parliament has heard the voices of citizens from Europe and developing countries that claim for greater tax justice, and to pass legislation that will increase the transparency of many multinational companies about where they work and pay their taxes.

Nowadays, it is difficult to have a detailed picture of what multinationals do. They publish annual reports about their global performance but there is no obligation to publish information about each country where they work. For example, what and where are the companies’ subsidiaries? How many people do these subsidiaries employ? How much profit or loss do the subsidiaries make and how much tax do they pay? Do these companies pay taxes at the source, meaning the places they are based? Without this basic information available on a country-by-country basis, it is not possible to know if these companies pay their fair amount of taxes in the countries where their sources of income are, and real business is conducted. In other words, without this information you cannot know if the fact that Google only paid 3.2% taxes on its profits made outside the USA has come at the expense of tax payers in Europe or other countries.

What has the EU done about it?

The European Commission took the first step at the end of 2011 by proposing that multinational companies in the extractive and forestry sectors should publish what they pay to governments in exchange for the extraction of these natural resources. The idea was to increase multinationals’ responsibility and governments’ accountability, especially in developing countries, where natural resources represent an important source of wealth.
In 2012, the European Parliament took a much more ambitious position, eliminating unnecessary exemptions undermining the law and calling for this proposal to be extended to other sectors like banking, telecommunications and construction companies. It did not listen to the business lobbyists who maintained that increased transparency would cost so much that it would force some companies into bankruptcy, or at least make them uncompetitive against non-EU rivals.

Their argument about competitiveness was undermined by the recognition that US, Chinese or Brazilian companies would also have to comply with the law as long as they are listed in European stock exchanges. The position of the Parliament was not fully captured in the final text, because Member States wanted a less ambitious proposal and it was a matter of compromise. But the European Parliament played a key role in strengthening the original proposal and helped to start a very timely debate about the transparency of multinational companies at the European level.
The debate also helped to crystalize another even more important step forward.

In 2013, the Parliament successfully introduced strict transparency requirements for banks in a Directive on banking regulation. This means that soon, banks will have to disclose what they pay to the governments of each country where they are active. They will also have to document how many people they employ, how much profit they make, the taxes they pay and the assets they own in each country. Convinced of the importance of fighting unjust tax practices and aware of the importance of the banking sector as an agent and an enabler of tax dodging, Parliamentarians convinced Member States to support this measure, which took the financial lobby by surprise.

The results?

As of 2015, anyone will be able to find information about the taxes paid by European based or listed multinational companies in the extractive, logging and banking sectors in every country where they operate. More importantly, we will be able to look at the whole international structure of European banks. For example, we would be able to see whether a large proportion of their activities are taking place in tax havens, and ask questions about whether they are helping tax dodgers to hide their money.

The lesson?

The European Parliament can make crucial and effective decisions that will discourage tax dodging and begin to restore genuine justice to systems that have long been corrupted by the power of money. The European Institutions are often accused of being distant from us as European citizens, but this shows they care about the wellbeing of European citizens and their counterparts in developing countries. When citizens are affected, they can make decisions that matter to us and that contribute to promote equality both within Europe and across the world.
The future? Only you can tell.

European elections will be held in May and your vote will make a difference for the next five years. The risk is to have a high number of far-right or left populist and nationalist parties elected (sources mention up to 30%) which do not have social issues at the core of their agendas. This will make consensus building more difficult and hinder progress on tax justice and transparency more difficult to achieve. You have the right to decide who will represent you in Europe- who would you like it to be?


A European Parliament for human rights

A European Parliament for human rights

We want a Europe where human rights are respected. Where human rights are at the forefront of EU policies at home and abroad.

This means that governments, institutions and elected representatives, as “duty-bearers”, need these to respect the core of principles and obligations of European law and international treaties and to fulfill their responsibilities in the area of human rights.

But the path towards this goal starts with YOU.

How can you ensure EU representative fulfill their responsibilities if you do not know what your rights are?!

Learn your rights before the elections!




It is not just about voting: who you vote for does make a difference. Here are a couple of issues and ideas you should look for if you want your representative in the EU to work for a human rights friendly world.

  • Do MEP candidates know that they are duty bearers and have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil human rights?

In December 2010 the European Parliament adopted by 585 votes to 40, with 51 abstentions, a Resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) – effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The analysis of votes shows major support coming from left wing parties (Socialists & Democrats (S&D) and the Greens/European Free Alliance (EFA)) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) while the other right-wing parties votes mostly against or abstained (with the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) Group voting most against and the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Group  abstaining most). The United Kingdom was definitively the country with most MEPs against or abstaining.

In this context, the EFD Group – a group of right-wing national parties – proposed two amendments aiming at eliminating the call for implementation of the Stockholm Programme, which is a five-year plan (2010-2014) with guidelines for a common policy for the protection of fundamental rights, privacy, minority rights and rights of groups of people in need of special protection (AM3 §13 and AM4 §24). The votes can be found here.

In November 2012 the EU Parliament approved a Resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2010 – 2011). Even if it contains the core principles of the human rights based approach in EU policies, it has been adopted with a small 53% majority of votes, while 39% was against and 8% abstained.

The analysis of votes shows clearly a division between right-wing parties, which voted against or in abstention (particularly European People’s Party (EPP), ECR Group and the EFD Group), and the left-wing parties, which strongly and almost unanimously supported the motion (S&D, the Greens/EFA and the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL)). See how MEPs voted here.

One year later the European Parliament voted on the proposal for a decision of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Year of Development (2015). The Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality proposed to incorporate some text clearly illustrating that respect for human rights is a duty and not an option. The legislative text adopted was the result of a great deal of hard work on raising awareness; nevertheless there were 8% against and a 6% abstention. The ECR Group was the first against, represented by 22  members of a total of 57, all from the United Kingdom. See here how MEPs voted.

  • Does the MEP publicly support or ignore the issue of human rights protection as a cross-cutting issue?

In December 2010 the European Parliament approved a Resolution on implementation of the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid: the mid-term review of its action plan and the way forward. The left-wing parties supported unanimously the motion while the party who definitively voted against has been the EFD party. Italy and the United Kingdom were most opposed. If you have a look at the section “explanation of votes” you can see what MEPs think about considering aid policies as a matter connected to civil rights and not only as humanitarian and emergency aid. The voting behavior and motivations can be found here.

Before the approval of the above mentioned Resolution on the effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (December 2010), GUE/NGL proposed amendments exemplifying the good practice of linking external aid policies and the respect of democracy principles.

  • Do MEPs promote children and minorities and aim at eradicating discriminations?

Amendment 20 to the aforementioned motion on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2010 – 2011) proposed by GUE/NGL gives special attention to children and minorities and include specific reference to the principle of equality in dignity and rights of every individual enshrined notably in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In December 2010 the European Parliament adopted the resolution on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union (2009) – effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon, GUE/NGL proposed similarly good amendments (AM 6 §12a (new) and AM15 §50 indent 11b (new))

Click here see how different groups and MEPs from each EU country voted.

  • Will MEPs allocate enough resources (financial, technical, human) to fulfil their obligations arising from International Human Rights Treaties?

Another proposed amendment for the Resolution on the effective implementation after the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon (December 2010) tabled by GUE/NGL deplores the fact that fundamental social rights are increasingly being jeopardized as a result of pressure from budgetary restrictions and calls on the EU institutions to adopt a social non-regression clause prohibiting the enactment of regressive provisions vis-à-vis the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and international conventions on social rights. (AM5 §12 (new))

Link: Amendments mentioned in the blog A European Parliament for Human Rights  

Our vision: A human rights conducive Europe

  • is a Union of Countries and people where equality, non-discrimination, dignity and respect underpin all aspects of politics and practices
  • provides a learning environment where all international mandatory treaties are known
  • embraces inclusion in all policies and encourages all citizens and Country members to participate freely, actively and meaningfully in decision making, including shaping EU policies and practices
  • ensures that everyone in the EU has the information and resources they need to enjoy their rights
  • integrates human rights into all aspects of politics, legislations and practices
  • is fair, accountable and transparent in all of its planning, processes, policies and practices
  • works to empower all human beings, EU citizens or not, to reach their full potential as HR owners, in particular children and those people who are marginalized due to their gender, status or any difference
  • empowers citizens and decision makers to become active members of a global community, sharing knowledge, understanding and learning with others and taking action to create a world where human rights are respected, protected and promoted.


Find out other issues voted by MEPs on http://www.votewatch.eu

For the record…this is what the EU treaty says on human rights:

The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples. […]shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security and justice […]shall combat social exclusion and discrimination, and shall promote social justice and protection, equality between women and men, solidarity between generations and protection of the rights of the child.” as per the European Union Treaties. Moreover, “In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and contribute to the protection if its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earthsolidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the most vulnerable and marginalized, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter”.




Vote for a European Parliament that stands for gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment and rights

Vote for a European Parliament that stands for gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment and rights


Gender equality and promoting women’s rights and empowerment are cornerstones of human rights and critical for development, both within and outside of Europe. When women enjoy equal political, economic, social and cultural rights, their productivity can be unleashed, creating a positive impact on the health and productivity of whole families and communities. This results in overall development. Some progress has been made thanks to the outgoing European Parliament (EP), but much remains to be done over the next five years and beyond. Strong political resolve will be needed more than ever before. We need a new EP that ensures that the EU takes positive and effective actions towards the achievement of gender equality and both women’s and girls’ empowerment and rights worldwide. New and returning MEPs must prioritise these issues both within Europe and in the EU’s external policies and funding. Don’t miss the upcoming EP elections – every vote counts!


Will you vote for an MEP who puts gender considerations at the centre of the Parliament’s everyday work and supports the EP’s role in promoting human rights and gender equality worldwide?

In October 2011, the EP adopted a resolution on gender mainstreaming in the work of the European Parliament to promote equality between women and men in all policies. A considerable majority of MEPs voted favorably, while opposition came exclusively from the centre- or far-right political groups. See here how MEPs and political groups reacted when asked to commit to incorporating a gender perspective into all EP policies and activities.

 In March 2014, MEPs voted on a report on equality between women and men in the EU in 2012. The report was rejected by a narrow margin, with mainly centre- and far-right Members, together with non-attached, voting against it. The EP’s Plenary also rejected a motion for an alternative resolution prepared by the centre-right. See here how MEPs and political groups voted on this crucial report, which highlights, among the other issues, the importance of women’s equal participation in the labour market.

The Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) Committee plays a key role in ensuring that gender is mainstreamed among the EP and the other European Union Institutions work, and in playing an active role in the definition, promotion and protection of women’s rights in the Union and in third countries. It’s not only vital to ensure the continuation of the FEMM Committee in the next European Parliament, but to reinforce its role as well.


Will you vote for an MEP who believes that violence against women and girls is unacceptable, full stop?

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is prevalent worldwide, regardless of level of income. A recent study by UN Women reveals that 7 out of 10 women around the world have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. VAWG is deeply rooted in our cultures, and is largely the result of social and legal norms, which perpetuate discrimination against women and girls.

The EP can play an important role in helping to combat VAWG within Europe, as well as in encouraging Member States to meet their international commitments on this issue. For instance, in May 2011, a majority of MEPs voted in favor of the EU Policy Framework to Fight Violence Against Women. Click here to see how different groups and MEPs voted.


Will you vote for a MEP who believes that everyone has the right to decide what to do with their bodies and lives, free from discrimination and coercion?

Some of the greatest inequalities in the world are in levels of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). For example, 800 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth[1], while between 8% and 25 % of girls in Sub-Saharan African countries drop out of school because of unintended pregnancies[2].

The EP can play a crucial role in ensuring global access to SRHR. Get an idea here of how different MEPs and political groups voted when a progressive SRHR report was sent back to the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee last October. The report acknowledged, among other things, EU Member States’ responsibility to respect and fulfill SRHR and to grant universal access to comprehensive and integrated reproductive health services, education and information. Presented with a new version in December, the EP rejected a first counter-resolution proposed by the far right, but eventually adopted one introduced by conservatives and centre-right groups. This alternative resolution, which reaffirms that the competence to develop policies on SRHR and sexuality education rests with the EU member states, effectively undermined the EU’s ability to act in the area of women’s rights.

Now over to you, the European voter! After seeing how current MEPs and political groups lined up on key votes, you can also further compare candidates’ and political groups’ positions on the Electio 2014 website. Please help to make sure we have a new European Parliament that will take all possible steps to ensure that gender equality; women’s and girls’ rights and empowerment are taken into account in all EU policies!

A European Union that promotes a world where women and girls have a choice and live free from violence and discrimination – isn’t this the “Europe We Want”?



[1] World Health Organization, “Fact sheet N°348″, (2012). www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/

[2] Barot S, “Back to Basics: The Rationale for Increased Funds forInternational Family Planning.”; Guttmacher Institute (2008)




NGOs call on election candidates to side with people, not multinational tax dodgers

Video from Eurodad

In May 2014, tax campaigners from across Europe gathered outside the European Parliament calling for candidates in the upcoming elections to ensure that fighting tax dodging and promoting financial transparency is at the top of their agenda. Show your support by sharing this film on social media!


Video: What can we expect from the new EU Commission in 2014?

EuropeWeWant interviews: Klaus RUDISCHHAUSER on what to expect from the new EU Commission in 2014.

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A European Parliament that stands for climate action

Contribution from the Climate Action Network Europe

With the European elections approaching, CAN Europe wanted to provide the European public with some background information on how Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and their national & European political parties have voted on climate and energy issues in the last five years. Were they supportive or obstructive?

So CAN Europe decided to do some analysis on ten crucial climate and energy votes that took place during the 2009-2014 parliamentary term.

We did this with the hope of giving European citizens some useful information and broadening the opportunity for citizens to act on their desire for more climate action in the upcoming EU elections. This can be done by voting for MEPs who supported stronger climate policies and are running for re-election or by casting their votes for the most supportive parties.

We have looked at votes related to energy targets, greenhouse gas emissions targets, renewable energy policies, climate change in development policies, emissions trading and monitoring. You will find a complete description of the methodology at the end of this blog.

Our analysis and what we found:

Through our analysis we have tried to bring out the major patterns that arose from the voting records that we collected for all MEPs of the present term.
The assessment focuses firstly on MEPs in general, secondly on their European political groups, thirdly on their member states, and lastly on their national parties.

How did our elected officials do?
 The average score of all MEPs is good (57%), and the median is 60%.
 More than a third (36%) of all MEPs achieved a score of very good;
 Less than a third (27%) scored good;
 Less than a quarter (22%) fell into the category of bad;
 And the remainder (15%) scored very bad.

The majority of MEPs scored either very good or good, which in general reflects the fact that out of the three EU institutions (European Commission, European Council and European Parliament) the Parliament is still the most supportive of increased climate action. Unfortunately in the current decision-making process, (in particular during the so-called trialogue between the three institutions) the Parliament is often less influential. However, due to recent legislative changes, the Parliament’s influence will increase in the future.
This change is one of the reasons why it is so important for citizens to register and vote in the EU elections. Through casting our votes, we have a direct say on who will influence important issues such as climate change, human rights, equality and poverty. So every vote counts!

The position of national political parties on climate ambition:

It is difficult to quantify in this blog how all of our national political parties scored.
You can find a list of all political groups and the national parties here!
But to give you a flavor of how some national parties performed, we’ve picked out a few examples. Below is a short list of parties that scored worse than their European counterparts (ie. they scored below the average of their European group).

1. Despite coming 1st out of 7 European groups, the European Greens dropped marks due to the votes of a Spanish group member (score 33%).
The same trend appeared in the European socialists group (ranked 2nd after the Greens); a Polish party member scored badly (30%), and a Luxembourgish member party scored even worse (10%).

2. Among the European groups that scored average or good, some of their national members did not come up well;
within ALDE (ranked 4th out of the EU groups) some national political parties in the following countries scored quite badly; Latvia, 40%; Greece, 40%; Germany, 35%; Netherlands, 33%; and Lithuania, 30%.

3. In the category of “bad” groups, there were national parties that were even worse!
The following countries have party members of ECR (ranked 6th out of 7 European groups) and they scored worse;
Czech Republic, 24%,
Lithuania, 20%,
United Kingdom, 20%,
Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Poland, 19%), and
Polska Jest Najważniejsza (Poland, 17%).

However, there were also some national groups who performed better than their European counterparts!

For example in the European People’s Party (EPP) some national groups in the following the following countries scored better than the European group;
Parti Radical (France, 75%),
Kristdemokraterna (Sweden, 70%),
Centre Démocrate Humaniste (Belgium, 70%),
Det Konservative Folkeparti (Denmark, 70%),
Österreichische Volkspartei (Austria, 65%),
Partido Social Democrata (Portugal, 63%),
Christen Democratisch Appèl (Netherlands, 62%),
Kansallinen Kokoomus (Finland, 62%),
Slovenská demokratická a kresťanská únia – Demokratická strana (Slovakia, 60%), Christlich Soziale Partei (Belgium, 60%),
Erakond Isamaa ja Res Publica Liit (Estonia, 60%),
Fine Gael Party (Ireland, 60%);

Also, in ECR, the following national parties scored better:
ChristenUnie (Netherlands, 70%),
Conservatori e Social Riformatori (Italy, 60%).

As mentioned above, this is just a flavor based on voting behavior that stood out to us.

A full overview of any national party can be found on this website: http://www.climnet.org/voteforclimateaction
And for a full list of national parties that have membership in the 7 European groups please check it out on the Europe We Want website

The votes in question cover the following proposals:
1. To improve the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme;
2. The Mechanism for Monitoring and Reporting emissions;
3. The 2030 renewable energy and energy savings targets;
4. The 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reductions target;
5. The 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target;
6. Renewable energy policies;
7. Energy savings policies;
8. The European support to the international climate negotiations;
9. The integration of climate change in EU development policies;
10. And provision of international climate finance.

How the scores were based:

The scores were based on the votes of all MEPs on these ten issues. For each vote, MEPs were either given a point for voting positively (i.e. either ‘for’ or ‘against’, depending on if the text furthered or hindered the development of climate and energy policies) or no points for any of the other voting behaviours (i.e. “against”, ‘abstain’, ‘absent’, ‘didn’t vote’). Overall scores were assigned to each MEP by averaging out their points. The same was done for the European Parliament’s political groups and all national political parties represented at the European Parliament, based on the points of their respective MEPs. Finally, scores were grouped into four bands that we named for ease of use: very good (75-100%), good (50-74%), bad (25-49%) and very bad (0-24%).

Based on our assessment of fulfilling the human rights of European citizens we should now ask ourselves whether our MEPs consider our human rights when they vote on climate and environment related issues.