Plenary summary: Regulation on Rule of Law conditionality and resolutions on Egypt, Iran, a Council configuration on gender equality, implementation of the Dublin III Regulation and MFF/Rule of Law/Own resources

During its December I plenary session, the European Parliament Plenary debated and voted on several files that relate to the human rights of LGBTI persons: 

LIBE report on the implementation of the Dublin III regulation

On Monday 14 December, Members of the European Parliament debated and adopted the report on the implementation of the Dublin III regulation (Rapporteur: Fabienne Keller, Renew Europe). The report addresses the disproportionate responsibility that Dublin III causes on a minority of Member States and considers that it places an unprecedented and unproportionate burden on frontline countries in terms of registration and reception of asylum-seekers. It further adds that Dublin III, as designed and implemented, has failed to guarantee its main objective, namely swiftly determining the Member State responsible for an asylum application, and thus to ensure a fair distribution of responsibility between Member States, and effective and swift access to asylum procedures. Further, the report:

  • calls for the swift reform of the Common European Asylum System (¶8);
  • Calls on the Commission and the Member States to facilitate the work of EASO staff by allowing interviews of asylum seekers to be held in a language other than that of the country in which it is conducted while ensuring that the applicant is provided with interpretation in a language they understand; calls for the establishment of a European Asylum Agency, with sufficient financial and human resources, to support Member States with Dublin procedures; (¶14)
  • Points out that the protection of fundamental rights must be at the heart of all the measures taken to implement the Dublin III Regulation, including the protection of children, victims of trafficking, LGBTI persons and other vulnerable people; points out the human cost that the deficiencies of the CEAS is causing asylum seekers, whose mental health is already weakened by the traumas they have experienced in their country of origin and potentially along migratory routes; (¶15)
  • Considers that such detention shall be as brief as possible […]; stresses that in the absence of harmonised criteria for determining the risk of absconding, Member States have adopted divergent and sometimes controversial criteria; calls on the Member States and the Commission to clarify a ‘significant risk of absconding’; (¶19)

Watch the plenary interventions here.

Consult the results of the roll-call final vote here (page to be mentioned) (final votes (695): +448, -98, o149)

Joint debate and resolution on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), the Rule of Law conditionality regulation and the Interinstitutional agreement (IIA) on Own Resources

On Wednesday morning, the European Parliament debated jointly the three texts above.

The regulation on Rule of Law Conditionality was adopted after the EP’s approval of the Council’s position and enters into force on 1 January 2020.

Watch the plenary interventions here.

In addition, the EP adopted a resolution on the MFF, Rule of Law Conditionality and Own Resources, in response to the European Council conclusions of 11 December 2020, namely article 1(c). Among others, the resolution states:

  • Reminds that the Commission and its President are elected by the European Parliament; reminds that in accordance with Article 17(1) TEU, the Commission shall ensure the application of the Treaties, and of measures adopted by the institutions pursuant to them; affirms, therefore, that the Commission shall, at any moment and in any circumstances, abide by law, dura lex sed lex; (¶6)
  • Reminds that in accordance with Article 17(3) TEU, the Commission shall be completely independent; (¶7)
  • Reminds that in accordance with Article 17(8) TEU, the Commission shall be responsible to the European Parliament; (¶8)
  • Stresses that co-legislators have agreed that the Regulation on a general regime of conditionality for the protection of the Union budget shall apply from 1 January 2021 and will have to be applied to all commitments and payments; reminds that the applicability of this Regulation cannot be subject to adoption of any guidelines, as the text agreed is sufficiently clear, and no implementing instruments are foreseen; expects the Commission, as the guardian of the Treaties, to ensure that the Regulation is fully applicable from the date agreed by the co-legislators and reminds that annulment of the Regulation or part of it is only possible by the CJEU; affirms that if a Member States seeks the annulment of the Regulation or the parts thereof, the Parliament will defend its validity before the Court and expects the Commission to intervene in support of the Parliament’s position; highlights, in such case, that the Parliament will ask that the Court proceeds in an expedited procedure; recalls Article 265 TFEU and states its readiness to make use of it; (¶9)

Consult the results of the roll-call final vote here (page 544-545).

Resolution on the need for a dedicated Council configuration on gender equality

On Wednesday, the European Parliament debated the need for a dedicated Council configuration on gender equality. The debate is the result of an Oral Question tabled by the Renew Europe group in September which asked:

  1. Does the Council acknowledge that a configuration on gender equality gathering ministers and secretaries of state in charge of gender equality is needed in order to deliver common and concrete measures to address the challenges in the field of women’s rights and gender equality?
  2. Will the Council commit to establishing a Council configuration on gender equality without delay, in order to ensure that gender equality issues are discussed at the highest political level?

Amendments were tabled by the S&D group to broaden the scope of the call for a Council formation on gender equality and equality, but they were not adopted. The final text calls on the following:

  • C. whereas discrimination on the basis of gender and gender identity often intersects with discrimination on other grounds, such as race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation, triggering double and multiple discrimination; whereas a horizontal, intersectional perspective and gender mainstreaming in EU policies are essential in achieving gender equality and equality in general;
  • W. whereas twelve years since its proposal by the Commission, no agreement has yet been reached on the Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation, and the proposal has been blocked in the Council ever since;
  • 4. Underlines that a specific Council configuration on gender equality would represent a key element in unblocking the negotiations on the main files related to gender equality, namely the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the adoption of the directive on improving the gender balance among non-executive directors of companies listed on stock exchanges and related measures (Women on Boards Directive), and the Council directive on implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation (Anti-Discrimination Directive), and in boosting other gender issues that should be addressed in the coming years, such as adding gender-based violence to the list of Eurocrimes and the adoption of a future directive on gender-based violence;
  • 5. Calls on the Council and the European Council to establish a Council configuration on gender equality in order to facilitate gender mainstreaming across all EU policies and legislation;

Watch the plenary interventions here.

Consult the results of the roll-call final vote here (page 145-146)

Resolution on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Egypt

On Thursday, the European Parliament debated the deteriorating situation of human rights in Egypt, in particular the case of the activists of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). The resolution also addresses LGBTI concerns:

  • Deplores once again and in the strongest possible terms the continuing and intensifying crackdown on fundamental rights and on human rights defenders, lawyers, protesters, journalists, bloggers, trade unionists, students, children, women’s rights and gender equality activists, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, political opponents, including their family members, civil society organisations and minorities, solely in response to their exercise of their fundamental freedoms or their expression of dissent, by state authorities and security forces in Egypt; calls for an independent and transparent investigation into all human rights violations and for those responsible to be held to account; underlines the importance of a strong and well-functioning civil society; (¶1)
  • Calls on the Egyptian authorities to adopt a comprehensive law on violence against women and a national strategy to enforce the approved laws against sexual violence; urges the authorities to use available UN guidance, such as the UN Handbook for Legislation on Violence against Women, to set out components on combating violence against women, including protection of survivors and witnesses through trained officers and providers; calls on the Egyptian authorities to cease any type of persecution against women on the grounds of ‘violation of morals’, as against the female human rights defender Amal Fathy; calls on the authorities to immediately put an end to the arrest and prosecution of members of the LGBTI community or individuals solely on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation, such as in the case of Seif Bedour; (¶9

Watch the plenary interventions here.

Resolution on Iran, in particular the case of 2012 Sakharov Prize laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh;

Also on Thursday, the European Parliament debated Iran, in particular the case of the Sakharov Prize laureate Nasrin Sotoudeh. The text of the resolution included a particular mention to LGBTI persons:

  • Calls on the Iranian authorities to address all forms of discrimination against persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, including Christians and Baha’i, and LGBTI persons, and to immediately and unconditionally release all those imprisoned for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief or sexual orientation; (¶11)

Watch the plenary interventions here.