External relations − 07-06-2011 - 17:07
Committee: Foreign Affairs
To make EU foreign policy backing for would-be democracies credible and consistent, a real paradigm shift is needed, away from security and stability (as lukewarm support for the "Arab Spring" has shown), towards putting human rights and consolidating democracy first, says a report overwhelmingly approved by Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs on Monday evening.
"What we can and should do is, for one, support the transitions in our neighbourhood wholeheartedly and for another, take a new look at our policies and instruments in the light of both new dynamics and old dilemmas. We often overestimate what we can achieve in the short term but that we equally underestimate what we can achieve in the long run", said rapporteur Veronique De Keyser (S&D, BE).
"More for more"
Transition to democracy should be supported by scaled-up EU, based on the more (aid, integration) for more (democratic reform). This conditionality should translate for example into "more clearly-worded human rights clauses" in agreements with third countries.
Furthermore, the EU's common commercial policy should henceforth be fully coordinated with its overall objectives and must contribute to sustainable development, the eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights. To this end, legally-binding clauses on social and environmental aspects and respect for human rights must be included in all free trade agreements.
To enhance the political dimension of relations with EU partner countries, MEPs underline the need to support groups working for democracy, such as human rights advocates, independent media, political parties, and newly-elected parliaments).
To this end, the report tentatively backs the idea of setting up a European Endowment for Democracy (EED), similar to that in the US. However, MEPs stress that "the future EED should neither substitute nor duplicate the work of the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) and other democratisation tools and external financial instruments already in force and should have different objectives, financial and managerial modalities."
Furthermore, there should be a clear division of responsibilities between the EED and the other instruments, and the European Parliament must have the right to scrutinise the setting up of the possible future EED, they add.
Another tool for supporting democracy which should be better used is EU election observation missions. MEPs call for a highly selective approach to choosing countries for these missions, depending on their real potential impact on the long-term democratisation of the countries concerned.
In the chair: Gabriele ALBERTINI (EPP, IT)
REF. : 20110606IPR20765