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Förfarande : 2018/2117(INI)
Dokumentgång i plenum
Dokumentgång : A8-0403/2018

Ingivna texter :

A8-0403/2018

Debatter :

PV 28/11/2018 - 28
CRE 28/11/2018 - 28

Omröstningar :

PV 29/11/2018 - 8.18
Röstförklaringar

Antagna texter :

P8_TA(2018)0483

Debatter
Onsdagen den 28 november 2018 - Bryssel Reviderad upplaga

28. Försvar av akademisk frihet inom EU:s yttre åtgärder (debatt)
Anföranden på video
PV
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  Puhemies. – Esityslistalla on seuraavana Wajid Khanin mietintö akateemisen vapauden puolustaminen EU:n ulkoisessa toiminnassa (2018/2117(INI)A8-0403/2018).

 
  
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  Wajid Khan, Rapporteur. – Madam President can I firstly thank all the shadow rapporteurs for their input in this report. Academic freedom is not some dry obscure subject. I want to highlight two reasons why academic freedom matters so much. The contributions that academics make and the fact that attacking academics is an early step on a familiar path towards tyranny. The truth is, threats to academic freedom impact everyone in our society, when researchers, professors and students can’t explore certain issues, society doesn’t get the benefit of their skills and talents looking into important questions. When research on gun violence, tobacco or other health-related issues can’t happen, public health is endangered. When research into global warming, pollution and air quality doesn’t happen, the whole of society and the environment suffers. Attacks on academic freedom hamper social, political, economic and cultural development.

Today, I hosted an event on academic freedom in the Parliament. I learned that 294 attacks have been reported on higher education communities in 47 countries between September 2017 and August this year.

Thousands of academics and students are threatened, attacked, imprisoned, censored, expelled or even killed each year because of what they teach, write or say. Recently, I was in Turkey as part of a Subcommittee on Human Rights mission. Turkey is a clear example of a country where a crack down on critical thinking occurs with an unprecedented witch-hunt targeting teachers, academics and other professionals. But Turkey is not the only country threatening academic freedom, we also hear reports of the detentions of Uighur scholars and students in China, targeted attacks on scholars in Iran, pressures on student expression in Nicaragua, mounting tensions in the United States and state-driven threats to institutional autonomy in Russia.

I should also address the elephant in the room, the terrible attacks on academic freedom in our own EU Member State, Hungary.

Sadly, violations of academic freedom claims are rarely brought under human rights law. This is in part due to a lack of familiarity with issues of academic freedom amongst human rights advocates; and secondly, the fact that claims often referred to other rights being violated, such as freedom of expression or opinion. As a result, standards in this area are under developed and violations of academic freedom go underreported. Therefore, recognising these incidents as a part of a single global phenomenon is a crucial first step in devising solutions.

There is an urgent need to raise awareness of the importance of academic freedom and to create opportunities to improve the capacity for its advocacy and defence. There is also an urgent need to explain why academics’ work is fundamental to democratic societies and the protection of our rights, especially in the current rise of autocratic leaders. There are organisations and universities that already do excellent work monitoring and reporting attacks and assisting those who are under threat.

I have been hugely inspired by the work of Scholars at Risk which launched its EU chapter today in this Parliament. However, they struggle with financial and administrative limitations, which preclude otherwise qualified at-risk academics or students from being able to obtain access to programme opportunities. More needs to be done and the EU could lead in this area, supporting persecuted and at-risk academics as well as defending and promoting academic freedom worldwide.

Madam President my report deals with the EU’s exchange external actions as its title says but we cannot approach and tackle external issues without being honest with what is happening in our own backyard. We cannot talk about the inclusion of academic freedom in the Copenhagen criteria for EU candidate countries without referring to the case of Hungary, a Member State that has been through the accession process. This case provides evidence that there are shortcomings in the accession process and an urgent need to address it. We cannot be hypocrites. The EU global strategy clearly states that living up consistently to our values internally will determine our external credibility and influence. That is why I am saddened and disappointed by some of my EPP colleagues’ actions. It seems that, for some, the priority about this report was to ensure that it does not make references to EU Member States actions, it seems that the priority was to protect Mr Orbán.

Finally, to those people we say that we will not be silenced, we will be banging on about this for years to come. We will keep highlighting the importance of academic freedom and institutional autonomy and we will never stop saying that academics must be free to research and publish the truth, in Hungary, throughout the EU and across the world.

(Applause)

 
  
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  Johannes Hahn, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Madam President, the Khan report rightly draws attention to the importance of academic freedom for open and stable pluralistic societies. The right to think and speak freely is fundamental for democracy and we see the increasing attacks on academic freedom as part of a general trend of shrinking civil and political rights across the globe.

Let me assure you that we wholeheartedly share the concerns expressed in the report and welcome the initiative by Mr  Khan to respond to this crisis, which is building up and threatening to erode our liberal societies.

I note that this morning Mr Khan organised a roundtable on ‘Ideas are not crimes’ where colleagues from the European External Action Service (EEAS) already had an opportunity to share some of our activities in this area.

Human rights and democratic values are at the heart of our external relations and policies and I thank the European Parliament for its leading role in upholding these values.

The Khan report affirms that ideas are not crimes and that critical discourse is not disloyalty and that academic freedom plays an essential role in educational advancement and the development of humankind in modern society. This is true and our actions show that we mean it.

The Khan report calls for explicitly recognising the importance of academic freedom in public statements, policies and actions relating to the EU’s external action.

We are doing this in our relations with partner countries. The most recent statement on Turkey on 16 November 2018 condemns the detention of prominent academics and civil society representatives and calls for a rapid resolution based on the principles of presumption of innocence and in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

We also address these issues in our human-rights dialogues, raising attacks on basic freedoms like freedom of thought, speech, assembly and association in general terms, and by enquiring about specific cases.

Academic freedom and freedom of thought are closely linked to fundamental freedoms and implicitly covered by some of our human-rights guidelines – notably the EU Guidelines on Freedom of Expression – on-line and off-line (ex 2014), EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders (ex 2016), and EU Guidelines on the Promotion and Protection of Freedom of Religion or Belief (from 2013).

These guidelines were drafted to ensure a maximum of coherence, consistency and visibility of human-rights priorities in external relations. They provide practical guidance for the work of delegations in this domain.

On top of these guidelines we have a number of financial instruments which directly support our human-rights agenda which scans for vulnerable groups like journalists, human-rights defenders and religious minorities. Academics have directly or indirectly benefitted from a number of such instruments.

For instance, the PreotectDefenders.eu programme covers all types of human-rights defenders including academics or people defending academic freedom – at least 219 academics with this instrument. The EIDHR (European Instrument for Democracy & Human Rights) emergency fund also covers human-rights defenders including academics at risk helping them with relocation if necessary.

A number of EIDHR projects are implemented by our support universities. Our flagship is the European Masters Programme on Human Rights, which was established in 1997 thanks to the vision of ten pioneer universities.

EMA (The European Master’s Programme in Human Rights and Democratisation) is the oldest Masters programme supported by the European Union. Over the years, it has developed according to changing approaches to human rights and democratisation in Europe and in the world and to more integrated strategies in trans-European human-rights education.

Today, EMA counts on the participation of 41 prestigious universities and human-rights centres from all Member States of the European Union. The EIDHR also supports the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Thank you for your attention. It’s clear that the recommendations proposed by Mr Khan’s report and the actions of the Commission and the EEAS follow the same joint objectives. I therefore look forward to our discussion on how to improve our cooperation on this matter even further.

 
  
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  Andrea Bocskor, a PPE képviselőcsoport nevében. – Köszönöm szépen, Elnök Asszony, és köszönöm a lehetőséget, hogy a Néppárt árnyékelőadójaként kifejthettem a véleményem erről a jelentésről, melynek a címe: Ajánlások a Tanácsnak, a Bizottságnak és a külügyi főképviselőnek, hogy az EU külügyi tevékenysége során hogyan védjék az akadémiai szabadságot.

A téma nagyon fontos, hiszen az akadémiai szabadság, a kutatás és a tudományos élet megvédése egy nemes cél, és mint tapasztaljuk, szerte a világban számtalan eset van, amikor tanároknak és tudósoknak menekülniük kell, hogy az életüket megmentsék. Amikor olyan oktatási törvényeket alkotnak, hogy több százezer kisebbségi nyelvű diákot és egyetemistát fosztanak meg az anyanyelven való tanulás jogától – és még sorolhatnám – az általános megfogalmazásokkal tehát egyetértek.

Azonban sem ezekkel a konkrét jelenségekkel, sem egyetlenegy harmadik vagy partnerországgal nem foglalkozik a jelentés nevesítve, csak Magyarországgal és a CEU-val érdekes módon. Mi ez, ha nem egy újabb politikai koholmány Magyarországgal szemben? Egy újabb lejárató kampány, amit a baloldal, a szocialisták, a zöldek és a liberálisok közösen szerveztek, hogy politikailag lejárassák Magyarországot.

És a legszomorúbb az egészben az, hogy Önök, kedves harcias jogvédők, sosem szólaltak még fel a kárpátaljai magyar iskolarendszer védelmében, amit az új ukrán oktatási törvény alapján akarnak felszámolni, de még a marosvásárhelyi magyar egyetem ügyében sem szólaltak meg, amit a románok szeretnének beolvasztani. Tehát világos, hogy a maguk célja nem az akadémiai szabadság védelme valójában, hanem csupán az, hogy egy újabb támadást indítsanak Magyarország ellen. Sajnálom!

 
  
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  Clare Moody (S&D). – Madam President, I would like to thank my colleague, Wajid Khan, for his excellent work. This report highlights the need to defend academic freedom when it is under threat. That must also include inside the EU.

Hungary signed up to European values in the Copenhagen criteria, and we have to call out the assault on those values that is happening there today. Forcing the Central European University out of the country is a clear breach of all that Hungary signed up to. Further, European citizens in Hungary are being prevented from following gender studies because the Hungarian Government refuses to accredit them.

We cannot preach values abroad which are ignored in the EU. I hope this Parliament will support the amendments that highlight and condemn undermining European values by any country, inside or outside the EU.

 
  
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  Judith Sargentini, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Madam President, in the report on Hungary that this Parliament voted in September, we addressed the issue of the Central European University and its insecure situation in Budapest. Since then, things have got worse. I have to conclude that the Hungarian Government is on purpose trying to ruin a highly regarded university and it sends a message to its people that it looks down on academic debate.

I’m outraged, not only at the Hungarian Government, but also at the 27 Member States that have still not found the courage to correct their fellow Member. How is it possible that, in Europe in 2018, an academic institution is being bullied into closing down? Is this our Europe? This is such a bad example for the rest of the world. I stand with the Central European University, and all prime ministers should do so too.

 
  
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  Johannes Hahn, on behalf of the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. – Madam President, allow me to conclude by again thanking Mr Khan for raising awareness about the urgent need to continue and step up our action to preserve academic freedom and the right to think and speak freely. I would also like to commend him for his efforts to launch the Scholars at Risk Europe network, which took place this morning on the occasion of the Round Table.

Finally, let me also thank all honourable Members for their interventions, comments and suggestions. It’s a topic which unfortunately will accompany us and therefore we need all dedication and commitment to fight against any shrinking of academic space.

 
  
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  Wajid Khan, Rapporteur. – Madam President, it is great to have a Commissioner Hahn, who actually sounds like ‘MEP Khan’. Thank you for your kind words, Commissioner. I’d just like to say, once again, thank you to all colleagues who have worked and made contributions toward this report. Hopefully tomorrow we can vote the amendments through, as well as the final report.

I’m very disappointed that my esteemed colleague, the PPE shadow rapporteur, isn’t here to listen to your comments, Commissioner, and to other interventions from esteemed colleagues who have worked on this report.

I’ll keep it brief: thank you very much to everybody and I look forward to tomorrow’s vote.

 
  
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  Puhemies. – Keskustelu on päättynyt.

Äänestys toimitetaan torstaina 29.11.2018.

 
Senaste uppdatering: 5 april 2019Rättsligt meddelande