MEPs welcomed the results of the Mali donors conference but insisted on respect for the rule of law and human rights during their discussion on Thursday with the acting president, Dioncounda Traoré. Members of the security and defence, foreign affairs and development committees also stressed the need to establish genuine democracy and decentralisation.
If it is to avoid a further loss of global influence, the EU must use its existing foreign policy tools much more efficiently and it must devise a new security strategy, said MEPs on Thursday. They were taking part in a debate with the Swedish and Polish foreign ministers, Carl Bildt and Radosław Sikorski, and the.chairs of the foreign affairs and defence committees of national parliaments.
The European defence industry's role in ensuring the EU's strategic independence must come before competitiveness, said security and defence MEPs in their debate on Wednesday with Commissioner Michel Barnier. Mr Barnier called for a new impetus for European defence policy.
It is "astonishing" that EU member states were surprised by the terrorist groups' offensive in Mali. Tthe EU should have been better prepared for an escalation of the conflict, and member states should show more solidarity by supporting French operations on the ground, said Security and Defence Subcommittee MEPs in debates with French and European civil and military officials on Wednesday and Thursday.
The EU's common security and defence policy (CSDP) must respond to strategic trends and play a full part in the Union's external relations, said foreign affairs and security and defence MEPs in a debate with Catherine Ashton on Wednesday. Member states should make full use of the CSDP tools and the EU institutions, they added.
EU defence ministers should give higher priority to pooling and sharing member states' military resources in times of tighter national budgets, said security and defence subcommittee MEPs on Tuesday. They also called for better coordination with NATO and more flexible use of EU battle groups.
Foreign affairs and defence committee MEPs welcomed the efforts of France and the EU to put a stop to the brutal crackdown in Syria and bring China and Russia on board in these efforts, at a meeting with French foreign minister Alain Juppé on Wednesday. They applauded his acknowledgement that mistakes had been made in the past in tolerating autocratic regimes for the sake of stability and called on the EU to take the lead in reviving the Middle East peace process.
EU foreign policy High Representative Catherine Ashton is urged in a letter from MEPs today to "demand the immediate and verified release" of Ms Eman al-Obeidy, a Libyan who entered Tripoli's Rixos Hotel on 26 March to tell foreign journalists she had been gang-raped and beaten by pro-Gaddaffi militiamen, but was seized by security men.
A strategic partnership with Russia, territorial missile defence and cyber attacks were among the issues discussed by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen with MEPs and national MPs from the 27 EU Member States at a meeting on Tuesday. The EU civilian mission in Afghanistan and the question of democratic scrutiny over European security and defence policy were also addressed.
Educating youngsters, training police and judges and regional co-operation are vital to combat the growing influence of terrorist organizations in the Sahel region, EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator Gilles de Kerchove told Security and Defence Subcommittee MEPs in a discussion on Monday of security challenges in region, most notably in Mauritania, Mali and Niger.