Written explanations of vote - 8th parliamentary term Eleni THEOCHAROUS

Members can submit a written explanation of their vote in plenary. Rule 194

Zero tolerance for female genital mutilation (B8-0068/2018)


. ‒ Half a million women in the EU and as many as 200 million worldwide are living with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM), one of the most harmful violations of women´s human rights. FGM prevention measures must be included in all policy areas, including health, social work, education and justice. Also, cross-sectoral cooperation and bridge building between organisations working with communities are essential in working towards guaranteeing and safeguarding women’s human rights. There can be no tolerance of violence against women and practices such as FGM.

Fight against fraud to the Union's financial interests by means of criminal law (A8-0230/2017 - Ingeborg Gräßle, Juan Fernando López Aguilar)


The differences which currently exist between the Member States’ laws for tackling and prosecuting fraud against the EUEs financial interests encourage potential criminals to seek out and take advantage of the most lenient judicial systems. Adoption of this Directive means that we have a strong instrument at hand to combat fraud to the EU budget and to return the defrauded funds to the legal economy. This is the first step towards the harmonisation of criminal law in Europe when crimes are committed against the EU budget and it is extremely important.

Towards an EU strategy for international cultural relations (A8-0220/2017 - Elmar Brok, Silvia Costa)


The European Union is dedicated to promoting peace, stability and the well-being of all people. However, current destabilisation and several crises around the world make it essential to find new ways of approaching diplomacy.
Therefore the European Union, whose strength is to be united in its diversity, needs to find innovative ways to engage by creating a space of dialogue and awareness. Culture is an integral part of fundamental human rights as it helps to create individual and collective fulfilment in societies and it is therefore essential for the achievement of the SDGs. The promotion in a positive manner of international cultural relations as a soft-power tool is vital. International cultural relations can contribute to enhancing European values in the rest of the world and raising awareness of other cultures among European citizens and our capacity to learn from them.

Recommendation to the Council on the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly (A8-0216/2017 - Andrey Kovatchev)


Relations with the UN as an organisation lie at the heart of the EU’s and its Member States’ commitment to effective multilateralism in tackling global challenges. The report makes important recommendations on the principle of nations working together to address issues such as security, development, the fight against terrorism and human rights, as well as when it comes to the UN’s reform so as to become more relevant to the current world order. However, introduction of an amendment referring to the efforts made by the UN to facilitate a comprehensive settlement to the division of Cyprus can only be considered unacceptable.

Addressing human rights violations in the context of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, including genocide (A8-0222/2017 - Cristian Dan Preda)


Condemnation of human rights violations in conflict and post-conflict zones, particularly where armed non-state terror groups such as ‘ISIS/Daesh’ operate, is essential. The deteriorating events in the Middle East are paving the way for more severe crimes against humanity and for general human rights violations to take place in lawless areas and conflict zones. Not to mention the hundreds of executions in Burundi since April 2015 that have led a report by the UN Independent Investigation on Burundi to conclude that various persons in Burundi should be prosecuted for alleged crimes against humanity, including genocide. There is an urgent need to focus on the prevention of atrocity crimes and a need to fight impunity of non-state actors.

Working conditions and precarious employment (A8-0224/2017 - Neoklis Sylikiotis)


The ILO defines decent work as full and productive employment, ensuring dignity, fair remuneration, a safe workplace, freedom of expression of opinion, freedom to organise and participate in decisions that affect their lives, equal opportunities, equal treatment for all and gender equality.
New challenges, such as digitalisation, are resulting in a radical transformation of work, with atypical forms of employment becoming increasingly prevalent. For this reason, the Commission and the Member States must ensure decent conditions of employment in new jobs generated by digitalisation. Precarious working conditions have a long-term impact in terms of social protection and pensions, placing workers at greater risk of poverty and deterioration of their fundamental rights.

EU flagship initiative on the garment sector (A8-0080/2017 - Lola Sánchez Caldentey)


While acknowledging that the EU and its institutions are determined to remedy the situation created after the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh - a building that housed several garment factories, causing the death of 1 100 people and 2 500 injured - and while recognising the added value of steps taken within initiatives such as the Bangladesh Compact and the G7’s Vision Zero Fund, this report calls for further action on behalf of the EU and its Member States in order to put an end to the ongoing human rights abuses throughout this supply chain and in order to raise awareness on the conditions under which our clothes are produced.
This initiative calls on the Commission to present binding legislation on due diligence obligations for supply chains in the garment sector aligned with OECD guidelines and international standards on human rights and social and environmental standards. Textile workers around the world, many of them young women and children, suffer long working hours, low wages, violence and hazardous conditions. Such practices result in social dumping and harm EU industries. EU rules are needed so that workers’ rights are respected throughout the entire supply chain

Wholesale roaming markets (A8-0372/2016 - Miapetra Kumpula-Natri)


The abolition of retail roaming surcharges, now scheduled for 15 June 2017, will enable consumers to call, text and use mobile data for the same cost at home and while travelling in another EU country as well as transfer data across borders from another EU Member State for the same cost as at home.
This actually means that users travelling in Europe will be able to check emails, use maps, upload photos on social media, phone and text home without extra cost whereas at the same time this could also open up markets for small and virtual telecoms operators.

European Solidarity Corps (B8-0238/2017)


The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) aims to offer young people between the ages of 18 and 30 the opportunity to take part in a range of ‘solidarity’ activities that address challenges across Europe, not only as a tool for work experience and acquiring skills, but also one that will promote and strengthen common EU values and a sense of European belonging.
This initiative, aims to create 100 000 volunteering and job placement opportunities for young people and for it to succeed proper legislation and funding is needed. However, its funding should not be at the expense of the Erasmus+ or other EU programmes whereas at the same time regular jobs are not replaced by cheap sources of labour.
The European Commission must take into account the strong interest triggered by the ESC announcement. More than 20 000 young people registered since the launch of the new website in December 2016.

Negotiations with the United Kingdom following its notification that it intends to withdraw from the European Union (RC-B8-0237/2017, B8-0237/2017, B8-0241/2017, B8-0242/2017, B8-0243/2017)


Securing equal and fair treatment for EU citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EU is of utmost importance during this process. The UK remains an EU member until its official departure, and this of course entails rights but also obligations, including financial commitments which may run beyond the withdrawal date.
The resolution warns against any trade-off between security and the future EU-UK economic relationship, opposes any sort of cherry picking or a piecemeal economic relationship based on sector-specific deals, and reiterates the indivisibility of the four freedoms of the single market - free movement of goods, capital, services, and people.
Any agreement on a future relationship can only be concluded once the UK has left the EU, as sad as this may be.

Genetically modified maize Bt11 × 59122 × MIR604 × 1507 × GA21 (B8-0236/2017)


We oppose EU Commission plans to authorise imports of food and feed products derived from or containing a herbicide and pest-resistant genetically modified (GM) due to the lack of data on the many sub-combinations of the variety - all of which would also be authorised and due to missing information and poorly-performed studies and tests.
Unfortunately the European Commission is still authorising GMOs in the EU without the support of opinions of member state committees and that is why there should be a reform of the EU’s GMO authorisation procedure, as clearly stated in the resolution.

Addressing refugee and migrant movements: the role of EU External Action (A8-0045/2017 - Elena Valenciano, Agustín Díaz de Mera García Consuegra)


We all know that we are facing an immense crisis and we are all seeing its consequences. People dying on the Mediterranean shores, overwhelming migrant and refugee flows and our inability to act and effectively address the root causes generating this.
Unfortunately, children make up a significant proportion of migrants and refugees and what is more their security and protection is not yet ensured.
At each stage of their journey, migrants are exposed to all kinds of physical and psychological dangers including violence, exploitation, trafficking and sexual and gender-based abuse. Especially children, whether they are unaccompanied, separated or accompanied by their families.
Providing for basic health care, shelter and education is of utmost importance so that we can provide these children with a sense of belonging and hope for the future, as this might be the only thing they are left with now.
At the same time the situation in Turkey is out of control, having an impact on it being considered as a ‘safe country’ and to that end visa liberalisation for Turkey must not be perceived as a reward for cooperating with the EU in the area of migration, but as result of strictly meeting all the benchmarks put in place by the EU.

Women and their roles in rural areas (A8-0058/2017 - Marijana Petir, Maria Lidia Senra Rodríguez)


The report aims to promote women’s access to the labour market in rural areas based on the understanding that women contribute significantly to society but unfortunately are often invisible and disproportionately carry the burden of informal work. Legal recognition is therefore essential to improve women’s position whereas at the same time better access to healthcare, education and care of dependents would significantly improve the living conditions of women in rural areas.
The report calls for application of gender mainstreaming within the CAP and the rural cohesion policies, calls on the Member States to facilitate equitable access to land and to ensure that income generated by family farms is legally equally allocated to working family members. What is also important in this report are the calls on the Commission to submit parental and maternal leave directives, together with a proposal for a paternity leave directive and an EU directive on violence against women, which I fully support.

Equality between women and men in the EU in 2014-2015 (A8-0046/2017 - Ernest Urtasun)


Although equality between women and men is an EU objective and must be an inherent part of all political responses, the regressive tendency towards gender equality is closely linked to the economic crisis and the policies that have failed in acknowledging and rectifying the gender impact of the economic crisis.
The gender pay gap remains at 16.5% whereas the gender pension gap is at an alarming 40%. and has increased in half of EU countries. The proportion of young women who are neither employed, in education nor looking for employment is more than double than of young men. Not to mention the low representation of women in economic positions of power and decision-making and public sector cutbacks affecting mostly women.
To that end, I believe that we should endorse policy recommendations that will help EU policymakers and European citizens enhance the work on advancing women´s rights and gender equality. It is essential that we ensure equal pay for equal work or work of equal value as well as a full range of sexual and reproductive health and rights and a guarantee for a full range of reproductive health and services, including access to safe and legal abortion

Equal treatment between men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services (A8-0043/2017 - Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz)


While the prohibition of harassment, including sexual and gender-based harassment, is embedded in national legislation, women and transgender and intersex persons continue to experience forms of abuse. There is therefore a persisting need to enhance preventive measures against harassment, including raising awareness.
Enhancing cooperation with equality bodies and gathering best practices, making them available to Member States in order to provide the necessary resources for supporting positive action is essential in moving towards this path.
Access to justice for victims of discrimination could be improved by giving independent equality bodies the competences to provide assistance, including free legal aid, and the right to represent individuals in cases of alleged discrimination whereas concerning access to medical goods and services, there is a need to boost access to high-quality free public health services

EU funds for gender equality (A8-0033/2017 - Clare Moody)


We are still a long way from achieving the aim of gender equality and to that end this report calls for the budget to be used much more proactively and targeted to deliver on the goal of gender equality. It gives policy recommendation on how to better internalise the EU declared principle of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the budget allocation and spending decisions of the EU policy areas.
To that end, considering the current crises, there is a necessity of a comprehensive set of EU-wide gender guidelines on migration and asylum policy with adequate funding for comprehensive training programmes for professionals who may come into contact with refugees and asylum seekers. Women and girl victims of armed conflicts have the right to receive the necessary medical care, including access to contraception, emergency contraception and abortion services.

2016 Report on Albania (A8-0023/2017 - Knut Fleckenstein)


. ‒ Albania has made progress on EU-related reforms, in particular concerning the adoption of constitutional amendments paving the way for a comprehensive judicial reform. However, full and timely implementation of reforms and sustained political commitment, as well as the exclusion of criminal offenders from public office, are essential in order to further advance its Albania’s accession process.
Corruption still remains high and prevalent in many areas and continues to pose a serious problem. Key anti-corruption institutions continue to be subject to political interference and have limited administrative capacities, and this needs to be effectively tackled. There is also a great need to reinforce the protection of human rights, minority rights and anti-discrimination policies. Respecting the rights of all ethnic minorities, including the Greek ethnic minority, is essential for the democratisation of Albania and for any progress with the country’s EU accession process.

Revision of the European Consensus on Development (A8-0020/2017 - Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Norbert Neuser)


The European Consensus aims to improve the coherence, effectiveness and quality of the EU’s humanitarian action and thus I fully support the Commission’s revision and all efforts that will improve coherence and coordination of humanitarian work, with the ultimate aim of increasing its effectiveness in addressing poverty.
The New Consensus should reflect the changed global environment for development policy, following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The SDGs and the economic, social and environmental dimensions of development must be at the very heart of the Consensus, whereas joint programming and efficient implementation by the EU and Member States, in order to improve aid effectiveness and promote country ownership are essential.

Annual report on EU competition policy (A8-0001/2017 - Tibor Szanyi)


This report maintains that budgetary and fiscal convergence would reinforce the EU’s economic cohesion and competitiveness and would improve its capacity to face global competition without, however, taking into consideration the differences and the difficulties that distant and small islands of the EU, such as Cyprus and Malta, would face and what the implications would be for their SMEs and economies. The report also calls for the Council to take swift actions towards adopting the Commission’s proposal regarding the harmonisation of a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, again without any consideration of the small economies of countries such as Cyprus.

Promoting gender equality in mental health and clinical research (A8-0380/2016 - Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea)


Empowering women and promoting gender equality is crucial to accelerating sustainable development and thus ending all forms of discrimination against women and girls, including those occurring in mental health and clinical research, and is not only a basic human right, but also has a multiplier effect across all other development areas.
It is a fact that mental health is heavily gendered; gender inequality, income disparities, women’s greater exposure to poverty and overwork, socio-economic discrimination, gender-based violence – including violation of their sexual and reproductive rights – malnutrition and hunger, expose them further to the mental health disorders of depression and anxiety. To that end, the Commission needs to address the root causes of the failure to include women in clinical trials and to allocate more resources for research, prevention, treatment and support services for women as well as enhancing, through lifelong education, the competence of primary healthcare providers to recognise and treat women’s mental health disorders with a view to redressing gender discrimination in healthcare.