Parliamentary questions
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9 May 2017
O-000041/2017
Question for oral answer O-000041/2017
to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative)
Rule 128
Marietje Schaake, on behalf of the ALDE Group

 Subject: VP/HR - Evaluation of the implementation of the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline

On 12 May 2014 the European Council adopted the EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline (hereinafter ‘the Guidelines’). Article 71 of these Guidelines explicitly provides for an evaluation of their implementation after three years.

The implementation of the Guidelines, and hence the promotion and protection of human rights and freedom of expression online and offline, makes use of a wide variety of tools and (foreign policy) instruments, and also involves various EU institutions, delegations, missions and Member States’ authorities and embassies.

Given this multitude of tools and players, conducting an evaluation of the functioning of the Guidelines that involves all stakeholders is essential in order to assess their effectiveness and improve their implementation. This need is further pointed up by the present situation in which citizens, journalists and bloggers continue to face violence, arbitrary detention, disappearance and sometimes even death, in countries including Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nigeria.

In addition, the EU’s external financial instruments - one of the key tools that it has at its disposal to promote freedom of expression, both online and offline - are currently undergoing their midterm review and will be updated after 2020.

This combination of factors would make an evaluation of the Guidelines at the earliest possible opportunity, i.e. in May 2017, logical if not imperative. Yet the relevant body, the Council Working Party on Human Rights (COHOM), has recently explicitly decided not to conduct an evaluation of the implementation of the Guidelines.

– Why has COHOM decided that it is ‘not appropriate’ to evaluate the implementation of the Guidelines, and what beneficiaries, executives on the ground and experts were consulted before it came to this conclusion?

– Does COHOM foresee any evaluation of the Guidelines at a later stage?

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