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Procedure : 2017/2028(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A8-0246/2017

Texts tabled :

A8-0246/2017

Debates :

PV 12/09/2017 - 21
CRE 12/09/2017 - 21

Votes :

PV 13/09/2017 - 9.16
CRE 13/09/2017 - 9.16

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0346

Debates
Tuesday, 12 September 2017 - Strasbourg Revised edition

21. Corruption and human rights in third countries (short presentation)
Video of the speeches
PV
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  Președintele. – Următorul punct de pe ordinea de zi este prezentarea succintă a raportului lui Petras Auštrevičius referitor la corupție și drepturile omului în țările terțe (2017/2028(INI)) (A8–0246/2017).

 
  
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  Petras Auštrevičius, rapporteur. – Mr President, I am very pleased to present to you the report on corruption and human rights in third countries. Let me start by thanking all my colleagues from the Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Committee on Development and the Committee on International Trade for their input and great cooperation in preparing this report, as well as, in particular, Ana Gomes who was the rapporteur in 2013.

The aim of this endeavour was to highlight the link between corruption and human rights, to cover the wide scope of human rights violations and to provide recommendations for EU policies. Corruption is regarded as a complex phenomenon of abuse of entrusted power for personal gain, which poses serious obstacles for the realisation of all human rights. It also distorts democracy and political processes. Therefore, in this report we see an intrinsic need to employ a human rights-based approach to the EU anti-corruption policy.

Among other topics, the report highlights business responsibility, investment flows in relation to corruption, the influence of corruption on elections, tax havens, large sporting events and freedom of the media. We continue to insist that the Commission and the External Action Service use all our diplomatic tools so that the European Union takes the lead in the fight against corruption by supporting anti-corruption institutions in third countries, encouraging the sharing of best practices, and negotiating enforceable anti-corruption and anti-money laundering provisions in all future trade agreements that we make. We believe that the European Union can become a credible actor only if we address corruption within our own borders. Thus this report calls for an effective anti—corruption corruption strategy at Member State level too.

As far as aid and financing instruments are concerned, we insist that EU-funded projects be permanently monitored and that any budget support be linked with concrete reforms towards transparency and other anti-corruption measures. Having said this, we must admit that the gap between the policy and implementation still exists and here there is a lack of political will to bridge it, as we have learned very well from recent examples.

The future of the Guatemalan International Commission against Impunity, which is crucial in its fight against corruption in the country and was also mentioned in my report as a successful example of the EU-funded project, is now unfortunately under threat. In addition, we hear of LuxLeaks, Panama leaks, Russia and Azerbaijan Laundromats and other cases where we realise that corruption stretches far beyond state borders and is in fact having dramatic repercussions on very serious international policy decisions.

We therefore call for the highest possible ethical and transparency standards to be upheld in international institutions and national bodies in order to encourage the European Union to have a legal framework in place to deter any type of corruption or fraud. Thus in this report we reiterate our demand to bring the Magnitsky sanctions list against 32 Russian state officials to the Council for its immediate adoption.

Let me finish by quoting John Steinbeck, a Nobel Prize winner from 1962, who said ‘Power does not corrupt. Fear corrupts ... perhaps the fear of a loss of power’. Indeed, I feel as if most of my report was precisely about the fear of the loss of power. I look forward to the debate in this plenary and the smooth adoption of this much-needed report.

 
  
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  President. – Thank you very much. Of course if you misuse power, you are afraid afterwards, or you should be.

 
  
 

Procedura „catch the eye”

 
  
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  Stanislav Polčák (PPE). – Pane předsedající, budu velmi stručný. Chci poděkovat panu zpravodaji za předložení velmi kvalitní a dlouhé zprávy. Podle mého názoru je tak obsáhlá, že skutečně postihla aspekty, o kterých já jsem třeba ani u korupce nevěděl. Nepřišlo mi podstatné zamýšlet se nad tím, že i třeba v rozhodovacím procesu o přistoupení do EU můžou hrát velmi podstatnou roli ty požadavky, které EU bude vznášet. Za to chci zpravodaji poděkovat.

Myslím, že bychom si měli dát pravidla, která budou skutečně obecně platná pro jednání se třetími zeměmi. My totiž mnohdy poskytujeme peníze právě korupčníkům v těch třetích zemích. Je to v souvislosti s rozvojovou pomocí zcela zjevné. Nebo bohužel – doufám, že nechtěně – podporujeme našimi penězi nelegální obchod, nepotismus nebo obchod se zakázaným zbožím. Myslím si, že je skutečně důležité mít jasná, stručná pravidla, která bychom vymáhali ve všech případech a neexistovaly by z nich tak zásadní výjimky, jako jsme toho občas tu a tam svědky.

 
  
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  Νότης Μαριάς (ECR). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, η πάταξη της διαφθοράς και των παραβιάσεων των ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων στις τρίτες χώρες πρέπει να αποτελεί πρωταρχική επιλογή των λαών μας. Η αρπαγή γης αποτελεί δυστυχώς καθημερινή πρακτική στην Αφρική, τη Λατινική Αμερική και την Ασία. Αρπαγή γης από τις ευρωπαϊκές, αμερικανικές και κινεζικές πολυεθνικές που διώχνουν τους αυτόχθονες. Η διαφθορά στις αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες αποτελεί λίπασμα για την εμπορία ανθρώπων και την εκμετάλλευση των παιδιών. Επιπλέον, οι παραβιάσεις των υπολοίπων ανθρωπίνων δικαιωμάτων είναι στην ημερήσια διάταξη, όχι μόνο από τις κυβερνήσεις των τρίτων χωρών, αλλά και από τις πολυεθνικές, οι οποίες διαθέτουν μισθοφόρους και ιδιωτικούς στρατούς προκειμένου να επιβάλουν τα συμφέροντά τους. Τέλος, η διενέργεια ελεύθερων εκλογών και η τήρηση της Δημοκρατίας θα αποτελεί ζητούμενο για αρκετές δεκαετίες, δυστυχώς, για πολλές αναπτυσσόμενες χώρες.

 
  
 

(Încheierea procedurii „catch the eye”)

 
  
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  Christos Stylianides, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, the fight against corruption is one of the Sustainable Development Targets of the 2030 Agenda and is therefore reflected in the New European Consensus on Development adopted in June. The New Consensus will shape the EU’s development cooperation in the years to come. All of the human rights issues that are affected by corruption and highlighted in this report are also addressed by the 2015-2018 EU Action Plan for Democracy and Human Rights, so let me go through the five main issues raised by the report.

Firstly, trafficking in persons. The trafficking in men, women and particularly children is a grave violation of human rights. It also constitutes a serious form of organised crime: a fast-growing, highly profitable business that can corrupt the legal order of a state. The EU has developed a comprehensive legal and policy framework to combat trafficking: I will list the EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings, the EU Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting Victims, and the designation of the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator. This framework has victims at its centre, it is based on the recognition of everyone’s human rights, and it understands the specific needs of women and children.

Our priorities in fighting human trafficking are to enhance the law enforcement and judiciary, and to enable them to disrupt criminal networks more efficiently, but it also stresses the need to foster transparency and accountability. I continue because I strongly believe that we have to show our discipline in the principles of this political body.

Secondly, Business and Human Rights. The EU Council Conclusions of June 2016 on Business and Human Rights renew the commitment of the EU and its Member States to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their implementation. Substantial progress has been achieved. For example, the 2014 EU Accounting Directive on non-financial information disclosure has required companies with more than 500 employees to disclose non-financial information in their management reports. Information includes socially-related aspects, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery issues.

Furthermore, the EU has issued sector-specific guidance notes, including for the development of EU Member States’ National Action Plans. As of today, 12 Member States have adopted National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights, and most of the others are advancing with their National Action Plans on Corporate Social Responsibility or on Business and Human Rights. This is really crucial as the EU is the home base of many multinationals with global value chains and potential human rights impact.

Thirdly, land grabbing. Respect for land rights, including customary and equitable access to land, is essential for sustainable development and for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights. Poor governance disproportionately affects developing countries and the most vulnerable sectors of populations, such as women and indigenous peoples. The European Union, in its cooperation with third countries, supports the promotion and application of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests (VGGT).

Fourthly, freedom of media. Without freedom of expression and freedom of the media, an informed, active and engaged citizenry is impossible. The EU supports the adoption of legislation that provides adequate protection for whistle-blowers and for journalists’ right of non-disclosure of sources.

Fifthly, elections and the functioning of democratically-elected bodies. A transparent, credible and resilient electoral framework, as well as independent and accountable state institutions, are important factors in deterring electoral fraud and corruption in the electoral process.

The European Parliament knows very well the importance of our electoral observation missions in this respect. Since 2000, the European Union has deployed 142 Electoral Observation Missions and Election Assessment Teams, in 64 countries around the globe. In addition, from 2008 onwards, we have deployed 85 smaller Electoral Expert Missions and, from 2011, 14 Election Follow-up Missions.

Furthermore, the EU supports the fight against corruption via public financial management reform, capacity building for law enforcement and the judiciary, as well as through support to civil society and parliaments. The EU also encourages the signing, ratification and implementation of international anti-corruption conventions, including the 2003 UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

Finally, allow me to thank the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and especially the rapporteur, my dear friend Mr Petras Auštrevičius, for a comprehensive and highly useful report. The report rightly highlights the massive human rights implications of corruption and corruptive practices. Thank you – this is our role, to continue regardless of the very difficult conditions.

 
  
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  President. – We should not be discouraged. We should fight on.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Thursday, 14 September 2017.

Written statements (Rule 162)

 
  
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  Jarosław Wałęsa (PPE), na piśmie. – W wielu krajach korupcja stanowi istotną systemową przeszkodę w stosowaniu demokracji, poszanowaniu praworządności, realizowaniu wolności politycznej i trwałego rozwoju, a także w korzystaniu z wszystkich praw człowieka. Korupcja jest zjawiskiem globalnym, rozprzestrzenia się ponad granicami, brutalnie uderza w osoby najbardziej potrzebujące w krajach rozwijających się, osłabia zrównoważony rozwój oraz pogłębia nierówności i przepaść między rządzącą elitą a większością społeczeństwa. Korupcja w sposób negatywny wpływa również na handel i wynikające zeń korzyści. Jestem przekonany, że polityka handlowa może być ważnym narzędziem poprawy sytuacji w zakresie przestrzegania praw człowieka w krajach trzecich w powiązaniu z innymi politykami UE, w szczególności z polityką zagraniczną i współpracą na rzecz rozwoju.

Umowy handlowe można w większym stopniu wykorzystać do zwalczania korupcji i zagwarantowania stosowania międzynarodowych konwencji i zasad w praktyce. W związku z tym należy wspierać zacieśnioną współpracę między krajami i między regionami oraz działalność organizacji społeczeństwa obywatelskiego w walce z korupcją. Ograniczenie tego procederu ma zasadnicze znaczenie dla wzrostu gospodarczego, ograniczenia ubóstwa, stworzenia dobrobytu, edukacji, opieki społecznej i zdrowotnej, rozwoju infrastruktury oraz rozwiązania konfliktów, a także zaufania do instytucji, przedsiębiorstw i działań politycznych. Wierzę, że dla głównego partnera i darczyńcy, jakim jest Unia Europejska, bardzo ważne jest, aby wywierać ciągły nacisk na poprawę sposobu sprawowania rządów poprzez elity w państwach trzecich.

 
Last updated: 14 December 2017Legal notice