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"When freedom of the press ends, so does democracy."        

Jaromír Štětina: “Freedom of the press is a core condition of democracy” 
World 
 

“When freedom of the press ends, so does democracy. We've seen this in the past,” said MEP Jaromír Štětina. The Czech member of the EPP group is a former journalist who lost his job during the Prague Spring back in 1968 when the Warsaw Pact armies invaded Czechoslovakia. He has been a member of the European Parliament since 2014. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we asked him about the importance of free media. Watch our video to find out what he had to say.

Turkey's bid to join the EU under unprecedented strain        

New beginnings: reassessing EU-Turkey relations 
World 
 

From trade to Nato, the EU and Turkey have enjoyed a productive relationship in many domains for decades. However, recently relations have turned frosty as concerns mount over the state of democracy in the country with media outlets being closed and journalists being jailed. MEPs also keep a close eye on developments and wonder if it may not be time to rethink how the EU cooperates with Turkey. Read on for an overview of the options.

Mauritania/Malian refugee/ Fati, 13, poses for a picture in Mbera refugee camp, 50 km away from the Mali border, on Wednesday 13/02/13. Fati arrived to the camp in October 2012, when she was six months pregnant along with her husband. Few weeks after their arrival, her husband left for Nouakchott, Mauritania's capital, to look for a job. UNHCR staff observed several cases of child marriages and forced marriages in the camp. This category needs additional support and protection. ©UNHCR/B.Malum        

Child marriages: MEPs discuss how to put an end to this scourge 
World 
 

One in every three girls in developing countries is married before turning 18, and one in nine before 15. Child marriages limit future prospects as children are usually forced to drop out of school. Girls also face dangerous complications from pregnancy and childbirth, the leading causes of death among adolescent girls in developing countries. They are also at great risk from suffering abuse. On 11 April Parliament's women's rights and human rights subcommittee discussed the issue with experts.

The human cost of fast fashion: the case for a binding framework        

Textile workers: the human cost of cheap clothes 
World 
 

More than 1,100 workers were killed and 2,500 injured when a building housing several clothes workshops collapsed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, nearly four year ago. The tragedy drew attention to working conditions in the sector. On 27 April MEPs adopted a resolution calling for new legislation to ensure that the clothes and textiles we buy are not produced at the expense of the workers. Watch our video to find out more.

EU-Turkey relations turn icy        

EU-Turkey: anatomy of a difficult relationship 
World 
 

“Unacceptable.” President Antonio Tajani was clear this week in his condemnation of Turkey accusing Germany and the Netherlands of Nazi methods for preventing Turkish ministers from campaigning in their countries in favour of a referendum to give the president additional powers. Although the EU and Turkey cooperate on anything from trade to migration, relations have become strained in recent year. Read on for an overview of the current state of affairs.

Conflict minerals: The truth behind your smartphone        

Conflict minerals: the bloody truth behind your smartphone 
World 
 

High-tech equipment such as smartphones, tablets and cars are able to run thanks to minerals and metals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold. However, as their mining and illegal trade are often controlled by armed groups, they also help to feed a vicious circle of conflicts.On 16 March MEPs voted in favour of making EU companies take responsibility for the origin of the minerals they import. Watch our video for more details.

This week in plenary        

March plenary: safe food, melting ice caps and a prejudice that won’t go away 
World 
 

Modern threats and ancient prejudices dominated Parliament’s March 2017 plenary session. The need to ensure that our food is safe was debated as were the threats and opportunities of melting polar ice. At the same time, the inequality still facing women in the workplace was underlined and an MEP who berated women punished, while most MEPs called on Europe to step in and replace the funds the United States is withdrawing from NGOs offering abortions in developing countries.

infographic illustration        

Arctic: MEPs debate strategy to prevent conflicts over polar region heating up 
World 
 

The melting of Arctic ice is unlocking new opportunities in the form of shipping routes and gas and oil stocks, but also increasing tensions and creating risks for the environment. A Parliament report calls for the protection of the Arctic's unique ecosystem and sets out ways to defuse possible tensions. "There is need to avoid the militarisation of the Arctic and respect for international law is essential,"said report co-author Urmas Paet. MEPs debate the report tonight and vote on it tomorrow.

Debate on Gag rule        

Context: MEPs concerned about consequences of global gag rule 
World 
 

Several EU countries have decided to raise money for organisations offering sexual health and family planning services after US President Donald Trump decided to reintroduce a rule banning US financing for NGOs providing or promoting abortion to women in developing countries. This policy is often referred to as the global gag rule. Most MEPs criticised the US decision during a debate on 14 March, asking for action from the EU while some insisted on respecting the rights of unborn children.

Maale Adumim Settlement Israel ©AP Images/European Union-EP        

Israel-Palestine: MEPs express their concerns about peace process 
World 
 

The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is at a critical juncture and the EU and its member states should recognise Palestinian statehood, according to members of Parliament’s Palestine delegation. Led by delegation chair Neoklis Sylikiotis, the five members visited Jerusalem and the West Bank on 20-24 February. In addition MEPs discussed the Israeli government’s recent decision to retroactively legalise settlements illegally built on Palestinian land during a plenary debate on 14 February,

Interview with Artis Pabriks, rapporteur on CETA        

Ceta: “This deal is important for Europe geopolitically as well as economically” 
World 
 

Ceta passed a crucial hurdle on 15 February when MEPs voted to back the landmark EU-Canada trade deal. The agreement removing more than 99% of tariffs can provisionally enter into force as early as April. Speaking following the vote, Artis Pabriks, Parliament's lead MEP on Ceta, said: “Europe cannot survive without free and fair trade and high-quality interaction with other global players.” He also described Ceta as “the gold standard for future trade deals”.