The Foreign Affairs committee called on the Council on Thursday to appoint a high-level envoy with an international reputation, tasked with raising the EU's human rights profile worldwide, to the new post of EU Special Representative for Human Rights created in line with the EP's repeated demands.
The recommendation adopted on Thursday insists that the candidate for the post, nominated by High Representative Catherine Ashton, should attend a hearing at Parliament, before being formally appointed by the Council. The EP must have a role in the appointment procedure of this, the first ever thematic EUSR, say MEPs.
MEPs say this new human rights envoy must have a strong, independent and flexible mandate, which should not be narrowed down to specific responsibilities.
In its recommendation, the committee says the mandate should reflect EU human rights policy and cover areas that include strengthening democracy, international justice, international humanitarian law, abolition of the death penalty, freedom of expression, gender issues and children and armed conflict.
The EUSR for HR will be expected to engage with the UN, chair high-level human rights dialogues and lead consultations with third countries on human rights issues, says the committee.
The EUSR for HR should have extensive experience and a proven track record in the field of human rights, as well as being well known on the international stage. The committee advocates a renewable mandate of two-and-a-half years, and says that Parliament should be consulted as part of the renewal process.
The committee also underlines the importance of allocating sufficient financial resources and staff to the EUSR for HR, who should be responsible for setting up the team, it says.
Parliament will vote on the recommendation in plenary session in June.
The appointment of the EUSR for HR and the establishment of his/her mandate is formally a Council decision based on a proposal by the EU High Representative. The appointment is expected to be made by the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June, as part of the so-called "human rights review" package.
In the chair: Elmar Brok (EPP, DE)