MEPs called for binding human rights clauses in all EU international agreements in a vote on Thursday on the EU's report on human rights and democracy in 2013. Guaranteeing common standards for the reception of refugees, tackling Russia's "continuing slide towards authoritarian rule" and adopting a coherent approach to human rights in China were among the issues included in the resolution.
"It is absolutely essential that our societies evolve in the full respect of individual rights. The annual report on human rights is an important evaluation instrument that Parliament uses and it is a basis for defending the right of every individual to be part of humanity" said Pier Antonio Panzeri (S&D, IT), the author of the resolution, which was approved by 390 votes to 151 with 97abstentions.
Binding clauses in international agreements
MEPs call for the systematic inclusion of "binding, enforceable and non-negotiable" human rights clauses in the EU's international agreements, including trade agreements with third countries, whilst ensuring that these agreements facilitate the economic and social development of the countries concerned. They urge the member states and the EU's High Representative for foreign affairs to develop "a human-rights-based crisis-prevention element" which should be included in the forthcoming revised European Security Strategy.
Asylum and refugees
Parliament calls on the EU to guarantee effective common standards for reception procedures throughout the Union. It asks member states to increase cooperation and equitable burden-sharing, including in hosting and resettling refugees and contributing to search and rescue services To this end, it: "calls for the implementation of the crisis mechanism provided for in Article 33 of the Dublin Regulation, which would include a clearly defined minimum contingent per member state, in order to rapidly achieve a functioning crisis mechanism for redistribution to alleviate pressure on the most affected member states where the minimum quota is clearly exceeded."
The cases of Russia and China
The text stresses the "considerable challenges posed by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the continuing military involvement in eastern Ukraine", adding that this policy of aggression is a "continuation of Russia’s slide towards authoritarian rule" and that Russia is now a "strategic challenge" for the EU, and no longer complies with strategic partnership criteria.
Referring to the "failure of the EU-China human rights dialogue" to achieve tangible results, MEPs urge the EU to adopt a more coherent, unified and strategic approach to human rights in China.
The 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC)
MEPs passed a separate resolution on the 28th session of the UNHRC focusing on areas including women's and children's rights, business and human rights and country-specific recommendations. A Parliament delegation will be attending the session from 18 to 19 March.