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Bank On Nature: Commission and EIB sign first loan agreement backed by Natural Capital Financing Facility to support biodiversity

The European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are announcing today the first loan agreement backed by the Natural Capital Financing Facility (NCFF), a financing partnership between the Commission and the EIB supporting nature and climate adaptation projects through tailored loans and investments, backed by an EU guarantee. Today's agreement will see Rewilding Europe Capital receive a EUR 6 million loan to provide support for over 30 businesses across Europe, focused on restoring and protecting natural areas. This will support and is in line with the upcoming Action Plan of the Commission to improve the implementation of the EU's Habitats and Birds Directives and is expected to create hundreds of new jobs. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said, "Nature is essential for our lives, and our economy. The recent successful evaluation of the EU nature directives illustrated this. The Rewilding Europe project will be the first of many that the Bank on Nature initiative, building on the NCFF, will assist in our plans to create rural jobs and protect nature". The rewilding areas concerned are: Western Iberia (Portugal), Velebit Mountains (Croatia), Central Apennines (Italy), Southern Carpathians (Romania), Danube Delta (Romania), Rhodope Mountains (Bulgaria), Oder Delta (Germany/Poland) and Lapland (Sweden). A signing ceremony with Vice-President Katainen, Commissioner Vella and EIB Vice-President Taylor will take place today at 15.00 and can be followed liveon EbS+. A press release will be available at the time here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: +32 229 56172; Iris Petsa – Tel.: + 32 229 93321; Enda McNamara – Tel.: +32 229 64976)

 

EU's Official Development Assistance reaches highest level ever, with €75.5 billion in 2016

New figures confirm that the EU and its Member States have consolidated their place as the world's leading aid donor in 2016. With €75.5 billion in 2016, this constitutes an 11% increase compared to 2015 levels. The EU's assistance has increased for the fourth year in a row and reached its highest level to date. In 2016, EU collective ODA represented 0.51% of EU Gross National Income (GNI), having increased from 0.47% in 2015. Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “I am proud thatthe EU remains the world's leading provider of Official Development Assistance – a clear proof of our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We call on all development actors to re-double their efforts to do likewise. And we do not stop there. Leveraging private sector investments, helping mobilise domestic resources and intensifying joint efforts with EU Member States, we seek to make the most of all financing sources for development." Read the press release and the fact sheet. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Christina Wunder – Tel.: + 32 229 92256)

 

First Vice-President Timmermans announces Commission plans to revise European Citizens' Initiative Regulation

In a speech this morning at the annual European Citizens' Initiative Day, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced the Commission's plans to revise the European Citizens' Initiative Regulation and further improve the use of this important tool. The First Vice-President said, "I want to make the ECI more accessible and citizen-friendly. I want the ECI to become a popular and living instrument, one that citizens are familiar with… There are obstacles to a more accessible and citizen-friendly ECI which have their origin in provisions of the ECI Regulation itself. We should take a careful look at those too… This process could culminate in a proposal to revise the ECI Regulation this year." The Commission will make proposals later this year, based on lessons learned in the five years since the Regulation came into force, and drawing on a public consultation to be launched before the summer. European Citizens' Initiatives were introduced by the Lisbon Treaty as a democratic tool in the hands of citizens. If a registered Initiative receives the signatures of one million citizens from at least seven Member States, the Commission must decide whether or not it will take the requested legislative action, and explain the reasons for that choice. In the first five years, the Commission has registered over 40 Initiatives, which have collected over six million signatures. Three Initiatives have reached the College of Commissioners for discussion after passing the one million signature threshold and two of the three have seen concrete policy actions in response, including in the Commission's 2017 Work Programme. More information on European Citizens' Initiatives is available on the dedicated website here. (For more information: Alexander Winterstein - Tel.: +32 229 93265; Tim McPhie – Tel.: +32 229 58602)

 

EU releases humanitarian assistance to Africa as needs grow

With an aid of €47 million, the EU will help support the most vulnerable in the Great Lakes as well as in Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, who continue to face the consequences of years of conflict and displacement, as well as widespread food insecurity and natural disasters. Of this support, €32 million will go to populations in the Great Lakes region – including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania, while €15 million will go to the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, including Madagascar, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Lesotho. "We stand in full solidarity with the people of Africa. The assistance announced today will help the millions affected by forced displacement, food insecurity, and natural disasters in the Great Lakes region and in the Southern part of the continent. The EU remains committed to help people in need wherever they are and to leave no one behind," said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides. Humanitarian partners in Democratic Republic of Congo, where more than 2 million people remain displaced by internal conflict and where malnutrition is high, will receive the main bulk (€22.7 million) of the funding allocated for the Great Lakes region. The regional impact of the Burundi crisis will also be covered. In Southern Africa and Indian Ocean, funds will go towards helping those affected by food insecurity caused by prolonged drought, as well as to strengthening capacities to manage recurrent disasters. The largest part (€6.2 million) of the package to this region will go to respond to the needs of the most vulnerable in Madagascar, which was hit by the tropical cyclone Enawo last month – one of the most powerful cyclones to have affected the country during the last ten years. (For more information: Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela – Tel.: + 32 229 65322; Daniel Puglisi – Tel.:+32 229 69140)

 

Capital Markets Union: Commission holds public hearing ahead of Mid-term Review 

The Commission is today hosting a public hearing on the progress of the Capital Market Union (CMU) Action Plan and to gather views on the next steps for this flagship project. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, opened the event in Brussels and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen will give a keynote speech. Panellists will include Members of the European Parliament, representatives from national governments, industry and supervisory authorities, as well as consumer and investor associations. Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: "The CMU involves a deep rebalancing of our financial system so we can offer more funding opportunities to our businesses and more investment choices for citizens. We have already delivered more than half of the first batch of 33 actions. We must now build on this solid start and tackle other barriers to cross-border investment. Today's public hearing is a welcome chance to hear views on how best way to achieve our policy goals". Building on the recent public consultation, today's hearing will inform the preparation of the CMU Mid-term Review, scheduled for June 2017. The programme of the conference is available here. The event is web streamed here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel: +32 229 56153; Letizia Lupini– Tel: +32 229 51958)

 

Un rapport de la Commission montre comment la politique de Cohésion de l'UE peut aider les régions à faible revenu et à faible croissance

Dans ce rapport sur les régions de l'UE qui accusent un retard en matière de croissance ou de richesse, la Commission définit clairement les voies à suivre afin de soutenir des stratégies de croissance régionale avec l'aide des fonds européens. Le rapport évalue ce qui favorise ou entrave la compétitivité de ces régions et les raisons pour lesquelles elles n'ont pas encore atteint les niveaux de croissance et de revenus escomptés. Il identifie également leurs besoins en matière d'investissement - le capital humain, l'innovation, la qualité des institutions ou encore l'accessibilité - ainsi que les instruments de la politique de cohésion de l'UE susceptibles d'aider ces régions à construire leur avenir. La Commissaire européenne chargée de la politique régionale, Corina Crețu, a déclaré: «Pour chaque obstacle au développement, la politique de cohésion propose une solution. Des stratégies de développement régional sur mesure peuvent rendre ces régions plus attrayantes pour les habitants, les travailleurs et les entreprises. Voilà ce que nous faisons: nous aidons les régions à cerner leurs besoins et leurs atouts concurrentiels et nous leur fournissons les outils qui leur permettront de mettre en place de meilleures politiques». Un communiqué de presse et un mémo sont disponibles en ligne. (Pour plus d'informations: Anna-Kaisa Itkonen – Tel.: +32 229 56186; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr - Tél.: +32 229 56169)

 

Concentrations: la Commission européenne autorise l'acquisition du Groupe Prosol par Ardian

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition de Groupe Prosol par Ardian, les deux basées en France. Le Groupe Prosol est un distributeur au détail en France de fruits et légumes frais, de produits de la mer et de produits laitiers. Ardian est une société de capital-investissement. La Commission a conclu que l'opération envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problème de concurrence dans la mesure où les deux entreprises ne sont pas actives sur le même marché ou sur des marchés liés ou complémentaires. La transaction a été examinée dans le cadre de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8442. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso  – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of Hamburg Süd by Maersk Line, subject to conditions

The European Commission has cleared under the EU Merger Regulation the proposed acquisition of container liner shipping company Hamburg Südamerikanische Dampfschifffahrts-Gesellschaft KG (HSDG) of Germany by Maersk Line A/S of Denmark, subject to conditions. Both Maersk Line and HSDG are active worldwide in container liner shipping. The proposed transaction would lead to the combination of two leading container liner shipping companies. Maersk Line is the largest container shipping company, while HSDG is number nine worldwide. The clearance is conditional upon the withdrawal of HSDG from five consortia (Eurosal 1/SAWC, Eurosal 2/SAWC, EPIC 2, CCWM/MEDANDES and MESA) on trade routes connecting (i) Northern Europe and Central America/Caribbean, (ii) Northern Europe and West Coast South America, (iii) Northern Europe and Middle East, (iv) the Mediterranean and West Coast South America and (v) the Mediterranean and East Coast South America. On these routes, the merged entity would have faced insufficient competition after the transaction. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "Competitive shipping services are essential for European companies and for the EU's economy as a whole. The commitments offered by Maersk Line and HSDG will maintain a healthy level of competition to the benefit of the very many EU companies that depend on these container shipping services." A full press release is available online in EN, FR, DE and DA(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Concentrations: La Commission autorise l'acquisition du contrôle conjoint de trois parcs photovoltaïques par Engie, Omnes Capital et Prédica

La Commission européenne a approuvé, en vertu du règlement européen sur les concentrations, l'acquisition des sociétés françaises PV Besse et PV Sanguinet par la société française Futures Energies Investissements Holdings contrôlée conjointement par les sociétés françaises Engie, Omnes Capital et Prédica Prévoyance Dialogue du Crédit Agricole ("Prédica"). PV Besse exploite un parc photovoltaïque à Besse-sur-Isole dans la région du Var et PV Sanguinet possède deux parcs photovoltaïques à Sanguinet dans la région des Landes. PV Besse et PV Sanguinet sont actuellement contrôlées par Engie. Engie est active dans les secteurs du gaz, de l'électricité et des services énergétiques. Omnes Capital est une société de gestion d'actifs indépendante. Prédica est active dans le secteur de l'assurance et fait partie du Groupe Crédit Agricole. La Commission a conclu que l'acquisition envisagée ne soulèverait pas de problèmes de concurrence en raison des chevauchements limités entre les activités des entreprises concernées au niveau de la production, de la vente en gros et de la fourniture d'électricité, ainsi que du développement de parcs photovoltaïques. La transaction a été examinée en vertu de la procédure simplifiée du contrôle des concentrations. De plus amples informations sont disponibles sur le site internet concurrence de la Commission, dans le registre public des affaires sous le numéro d'affaire M.8413. (Pour plus d'informations: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

Mergers: Commission approves energy consulting joint venture between Siemens and Allgäuer Überlandwerk

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the creation of a joint venture between Siemens AG and Allgäuer Überlandwerk GmbH (AÜW), both of Germany. The joint venture is based in Kempten, Germany and operates under the name of egrid applications & consulting GmbH (egrid). egrid is currently solely controlled by AÜW. It will provide energy consulting services on decentralised electricity networks, primarily in Germany. Siemens has worldwide activities in several areas, in particular digitalisation, automatisation and electrification. AÜW is a local energy supplier and operator of a distribution network in Allgäu. The Commission concluded that the proposed transaction would raise no competition concerns due to the limited activities of the joint venture. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.8430.(For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Maria Tsoni - Tel.: +32 229 90526)

 

Eurostat: La production industrielle en baisse de 0,3% dans la zone euro - En baisse de 0,2% dans l'UE28

En février 2017 par rapport à janvier 2017, la production industrielle corrigée des variations saisonnières a diminué de 0,3% dans la zone euro (ZE19) et de 0,2% dans l'UE28, selon les estimations d'Eurostat, l'office statistique de l'Union européenne. En janvier 2016, la production industrielle avait augmenté de 0,3% dans les deux zones. En février 2017 par rapport à février 2016, la production industrielle a progressé de 1,2% dans la zone euro et de 2,1% dans l'UE28. Un communiqué de presse est disponible ici. (Pour plus d'informations:Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278; Maud Noyon – Tel.: +32 229 80379)

 


ANNOUNCEMENTS

Stakeholder Forum concludes the Commission's consultation on the future shape of the European Solidarity Corps *modified on 11/04/2017 at 19:30

Tomorrow in Brussels, a major Stakeholder Forum will bring together around 500 representatives of volunteering and youth organisations, other civil society actors, public employment services, national authorities and young people, to discuss how to further shape and consolidate the European Solidarity Corps. European Commission President Juncker said: "Every gesture of solidarity makes a positive difference to someone. Yet, if we bring individual acts together in a common European effort, a whole society benefits. This is what the European Solidarity Corps is all about. We have to cater for the different needs of our young people, organisations and communities across Europe. We have to ensure that everyone who wants to can take part. And we have to respect and make the most of the diverse cultures and traditions that make our Union what it is.” The Stakeholder Forum will focus on how to make attractive offers to both young people and organisations, how to ensure the Solidarity Corps functions effectively, supports participants' transition into the labour market and participation in society, and is open to young people with fewer opportunities. The Stakeholder Forum wraps up a broad consultation process involving a public consultation and a series of meetings with key interested parties. The input received will feed into the Commission's legislative proposal on the future of the initiative, to be presented in late spring. Already now the European Solidarity Corps offers volunteering opportunities, traineeships and job placements in solidarity projects across Europe. Since the launch in December more than 27,000 young people have registered. The database opened to organisations in March and the first participants already started their placements. The closing session of the Stakeholder Forum with President Juncker, the President of the European Parliament, Tajani and the President of the European Economic and Social Committee, George Dassis, as well as the opening session with Commissioners Oettinger and Navracsics and the President of the Committee of the Regions, Markkula, can be followed live via web-streaming. (For more information: Johannes Bahrke – Tel.: +32 229 58615; Joseph Waldstein – Tel.: +32 229 56184)

Johannes Hahn in Warsaw tomorrow for the Visegrad group Ministerial meeting on Eastern Partnership

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will be in Warsaw, Poland, tomorrow 12 April to participate at the Ministerial Meeting on Eastern Partnership organised by the Visegrad Group (V4). The meeting will bring together Commissioner Hahn, Ministers of Foreign Affairs from EU and from Eastern Partnership countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The participants will take stock of the progress on deliverables and will focus their discussions on priority projects, such as connectivity and economic developments.  Ahead of the mission, Commissioner Hahn said: "The success of the Eastern Partnership is based on our shared values. Our partnership aims to deliver tangible and visible results for our citizens; results that contribute to greater stability and resilience of the region. I am looking forward to participate at the Visegrad group Ministerial. In the last year, we have been advancing in priority areas - economic development, strengthening institutions and good governance, mobility and people-to-people contacts, and notably connectivity, but still more needs to be done. In Warsaw, I will stress that Eastern Partnership is and will remain our priority for the future." Videos and photos of the visit will be available on EbS. (For more information: Maja Kocijancic – Tel.: +32 229 86570; Alceo Smerilli – Tel.: +32 229 64887)

Upcoming events of the European Commission (ex-Top News)

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Text adopted – Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0086 – Thursday, 16 March 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

Texts adopted
PDF 166k
Thursday, 16 March 2017 - StrasbourgProvisional edition
Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0086

European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire and other cases of restriction of freedom of expression (2017/2608(RSP))

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Text adopted – Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire – P8_TA-PROV(2017)0086 – Thursday, 16 March 2017 – Strasbourg – Provisional edition

Texts adopted
PDF 166k
Thursday, 16 March 2017 - StrasbourgProvisional edition
Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire
P8_TA-PROV(2017)0086

European Parliament resolution of 16 March 2017 on Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire and other cases of restriction of freedom of expression (2017/2608(RSP))

This text is still being processed for publication in your language. The PDF version is already available by clicking on the icon above right.

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Press release – Human rights: Zimbabwe, Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia, and Philippines

Parliament deplores the arrest of Pastor Evan Mawarire and political violence against human rights defenders in Zimbabwe, calls for the release of Ukrainians illegally detained in Russia and urges the Philippines to release human rights advocate Senator Leila M. De Lima, detained on drug-trafficking charges, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.

Zimbabwe, the case of Pastor Evan Mawarire

MEPs deplore the arrest of Evan Mawarire, pastor and human rights defender who was arrested on 1 February 2017 at Harare airport, on his return to Zimbabwe after a forced exile. Pastor Mawarire, whose independent social media movement #ThisFlag, catalysed citizens’ frustration with the Mugabe regime during last year’s protests against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty, now faces a 20-year sentence for charges that include subverting the government and inciting public violence. These "politically motivated charges against him must be completely withdrawn", urge MEPs.

Parliament is deeply concerned by human rights organisations’ reports of political violence, as well as restrictions on, and intimidation of, human rights defenders in Zimbabwe and call on its government to respect the human rights of all Zimbabwean citizens, including the freedoms of speech and assembly.

Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and situation in Crimea

The European Parliament reiterates its condemnation of the illegal annexation three years ago of the Crimean peninsula and the City of Sevastopol by Russia. It deplores violations of freedom of speech, abuse of the media, forced imposition of Russian citizenship and the discriminatory policies imposed by the so-called authorities against, in particular, Crimea’s ethnic Tatar minority.

 

Russia should stop giving "all inhabitants of Crimea Russian passports" and "release without further delay all illegally and arbitrarily detained Ukrainian citizens, both in Russia and in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, and to provide for their safe return", urge MEPs. It should also "immediately cease the practices of persecution", as many cases have been reported of “disappearances”, torture and systematic intimidation of local citizens opposed to the annexation of Crimea.

 

MEPs reiterate their call for the immediate reversal of the so-called Supreme Court of Crimea’s decision of 26 April 2016 to ban the Mejlis, the legitimate and recognised representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars, an indigenous people of the peninsula whose "rights have been gravely violated".

 

Philippines, the case of Senator Leila M. De Lima

 

MEPs call for the immediate release of Senator Leila M. De Lima, a human rights advocate, former Chair of the Philippine’s Human Rights Commission and the highest-profile critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, who was arrested and detained on 24 February and could face a sentence from 12 years up to life imprisonment and be expelled from the Senate.

Parliament strongly condemns the many extrajudicial killings by the armed forces and vigilante groups related to the anti-drug campaign, over 7,000 drug-related killings by the police and vigilantes having been reported since President Duterte took office on 30 June 2016. While strongly condemning drug trafficking and drug abuse in the Philippines, MEPs call on the government to prioritise the fight against trafficking networks and drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers.

The EU should "closely monitor the case against Senator De Lima" and "support the establishment at the UN Human Rights Council of an independent international investigation into unlawful killings and other violations by the Philippines in the context of President Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’", says the text.

#humanrights #democracy #Zimbabwe #ThisFlag #Crimea #Russia #Philippines

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Motion for a resolution on Zimbabwe, case of Pastor Evan Mawarire – B8-2017-0196

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations of 1945 and in particular Article 1 (2) on “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Zimbabwe in May 1991,

–  having regard to the most recent local EU statement on Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas since May 2016 thousands of demonstrators – informal traders, unemployed young people and, now, professional people – have taken to the streets in a number of urban centres across Zimbabwe to hold the government to account for increasing corruption, unemployment, poverty and inequality;

B. whereas the protest movement led by clergyman Evan Mawarire, using the hashtag #ThisFlag, has drawn support from churches and the middle class, which had hitherto tended to steer clear of street politics; whereas on 6 July 2016 the opposition movement #ThisFlag called for a national ‘stay-away’ day in protest against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty; whereas this resulted in a massive shutdown of most shops and businesses in the capital and led to a severe crackdown by the authorities;

C. whereas in the face of this increasing activism and human rights defenders mobilization, the authorities intensified the crackdown on government critics, imposing blanket bans on protest in central Harare and arbitrary detaining journalists and activists, some of whom have been tortured;

D. whereas Evan Mawarire, who left the country last year in fear for his life, was arrested this as he landed in Zimbabwe after six months in exile;

E. whereas the deep economic and social crisis which the country has been experiencing for years and which has lately intensified; Whereas the unemployment rate is estimated by international organizations to be close to 80% (excluding the informal sector), whereas the share of the population living below the poverty line is now estimated at over 80%; Whereas repayment of debt and debt interest covers 80% of the country's GDP; Whereas 70% of Zimbabwe's external debt is held by 'public' players such as the World Bank, the IMF and some third states; Whereas hyperinflation has ruined the country and continues to have consequences on the price of foodstuffs and to generate chronic food shortages;

F. whereas the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe has been allocated EUR 234 million for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund, to be focused on three main sectors, namely health, agriculture-based economic development, and governance and institution building;

1. Condemns the violence of the repression of peaceful demonstrations, condemns all intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and violence against human rights activists, the opposition, NGOs and journalists; Stresses the need for independence and impartiality of justice;

2. Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally;

3. Stresses that Zimbabwe must respect and implement international human rights conventions, including the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998;

4. Expresses particular concern over the economic and social situation in Zimbabwe, recalls that the country's main problem is poverty, unemployment and chronic undernourishment; considers that many problems the Zimbabwean people are facing are linked with the sequels of the segregation regime of Rhodesia; considers that these problems can only be solved through the implementation of ambitious public policies on employment, education, health and agriculture;

5. Stresses the fact that Zimbabwe is one of the most indebted country in the world; Call for a human needs-based approach to debt sustainability through a binding set of standards to define responsible lending and borrowing, debt audits and fair debt workout mechanism, which should assess the legitimacy and the sustainability of countries' debt burdens and possible cancellation of unsustainable an unjust debt; Welcomes, in this regard, UN´s work towards an international sovereign debt workout mechanisms and calls on international public actors and in particular the creditor countries with regard to Zimbabwe to eliminate the obstacles to development by canceling the debts they have in the country;

6. Expresses particular concern about the situation of women in the country; Urges the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective implementation of laws that penalize domestic violence, sexual assault and prohibit traditional discriminatory practices; Stresses the need to review the legal regimes of written and customary law so that they are in conformity with the CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol;

7. Strongly condemns the obstruction of food aid for political gain; insists that the EU must ensure that the funding allocated to Zimbabwe for its National Indicative Programme effectively addresses the sectors concerned and the most needed;

8. Stresses that it is important for the EU to start up a political dialogue with the Zimbabwean authorities thereby confirming the EU’s commitment to supporting the local population;

9. Reject all external operations, destabilization strategies and external interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe; considers that it is up to the Zimbabwean people to decide their present and future free from any external interference; underlines that there is a need for solidarity based on the principles of national sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, peace, rights, social progress, friendship and cooperation;

10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the European External Action Service, the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe, the governments of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

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Motion for a resolution on Zimbabwe, case of Pastor Evan Mawarire – B8-2017-0200

The European Parliament,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe, particularly that of 15 September 2016,

-  having regard to the Council decision concerning restrictive measures against Zimbabwe on 15 February 2016,

-  having regard to the joint statement of the European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare and the Head of Mission of Switzerland in Zimbabwe on 9 March 2017 on the abduction of Itai Dzamara,

-  having regard to the statement of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe on the arrest of Evan Mawarire on 1 February 2017,

-  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948,

-  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

-  having regard to the Mandate of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention,

-  having regard to the Chapter 4 (Declaration of Rights) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe of 22 August 2013,

-  having regard to the Cotonou Agreement,

-  having regard to Rule 135 of procedure,

A.  whereas Mr. Mugabe, 93 years old, led the impoverished Zimbabwe since its independence from Britain in the 1980, as Prime Minister from 1980 to 1987 and as President of the Republic since then; whereas President Mugabe maintained the power through corruption, violence and brutal security apparatus;

B.  whereas Zimbabwe is considered a low-income, food deficit country, ranked 156 out of 187 developing countries on the Global Hunger Index, which measures progress and failure in the global fight against hunger, whereas the prevalence of food insecurity and absolute poverty are closely correlated, and poverty is most prevalent in rural areas, with 76% of rural households living on less than 1,25 US dollar per day, compared to 38% in urban areas,

C.  whereas the government of Zimbabwe said that 246 people have died, 128 were injured and approximately 1 985 made homeless after above-normal rains flooded the country, whereas regions now affected by floods have recently suffered from severe drought which left more than 4 million in need of food aid,

D.  whereas unrest erupted on May 2016 on background of cash shortage, widespread unemployment, state corruption and efforts by the authorities to suppress freedom of expression and political opposition; whereas the ban by the government of the use of the national flag by protesters and the introduction of a much-maligned bond notes were both issues that galvanised Zimbabweans against the government,

E.  whereas on 26 August 2016 bloody clashes took place in Harare when the police bludgeoned thousands of protesters who had gathered to express their opposition to outstanding electoral reforms ahead of the country’s 2018 national elections,

F.  whereas various groups have called for demonstrations through internet; whereas the protest movement led by Pastor Evan Mawarire, using the hashtag #This-Flag is an independent social media movement that staged a national stay-away in Zimbabwe on 6 July 2016 in protest against deteriorating socio-economic conditions has drawn a very wide support from the churches and the middle class;

G.  whereas the #This-Flag opposition movement called on 6 July 2016 for a national “stay-away” day in protest against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty, Pastor Evan Mawarire was arrested on 12 July 2016 and charged with “incitement of public violence” in relation to the national stay-away; whereas after a series of death threats he left the country for a six-month stint in exile;

H.  whereas Promise Mkwananzi, the leader of #Tajamuka, a social movement linked to the July stay-away, who was arrested and charged for inciting public violence ahead of the call for “shutdown 3.0” scheduled for 31 August 2016 and has been released on bail; whereas another #Tajamuka activist, Mrs. Linda Masarira, previously arrested in May 2015 and remanded out of custody on free bail was arrested again during the protest in July 2016 and has remained in detention ever since;

I.  whereas Itai Dzamara, a journalist and political activist was abducted on 9 March 2015 by five unidentified men at barber shop in Harare; whereas the High Court ordered the government to search for Dzamara and report progress to the Court every fortnight until his whereabouts were determined;

J.  whereas members of the Central Intelligence Organisation arrested Pastor Evan Mawarire upon his arrival at Harare International Airport on 1 February 2017 as he returned to his country after fleeing in July 2016 and appeared at the Harare Magistrates’ Court two days later where he was denied bail and remanded to 17 February 2017;

K.  whereas according to his lawyer Pastor Evan Mawirere was initially charged for “subverting a constitutionally elected government”; whereas the maximum sentence for this charge is 20 years in prison without the option of a fine, whereas the police, on 2 February, added another charge of “insulting the flag of Zimbabwe” under the Flag of Zimbabwe Act.;

L.  whereas Pastor Evan Mawarire, during his short exile period, vowed to continue to support popular opposition to the Mugabe government in the run up to the 2018 presidential elections in which Mr. Mugabe has already said he will seek another term; whereas Pastor Evan Mawarire said that he might stand in the 2018 General elections, the charges against him are intended to obstruct his work as a human rights defender and political activist and adds to the growing trend by the state to harass and intimidate activists and human rights defenders;

M.  whereas it’s clear that the authorities are abusing the law to persecute Mawarire for his role as leader of the #This-Flag campaign, which led protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government and called on authorities to address rights problems and a failing economy;

N.  whereas his arrest caused an outcry from local and international rights groups, Zimbabwe’s High Court freed Pastor Evan Mawarire on US$300 bail after a week in prison; whereas, however, the sham charges against him – subverting a constitutional government, which carries a 20-year prison sentence, inciting public violence, and insulting the national flag – remain, and are reportedly being investigated;

O.  whereas on Wednesday 22 February 2017, Human Rights Foundation (HRF) discussed the arbitrary detention of Evan Mawarire in a set of high-level meetings with representatives from the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD), and the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders;

P.  whereas Evan Mawarire is confirmed to take part at the upcoming 2017 Oslo Freedom Forum, organized by HRF and taking place on May 22-24;

1.  recalls that Zimbabwe is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement, Article 9 of which stipulates that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of ACP-EU cooperation; reminds that the National Indicative Program (NIP) for Zimbabwe has been allocated EUR 234 million for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund, to be focused on three main sectors among which governance and institution building,

2.  remains deeply worried at the lack of progress in the investigation of Mr Itai Dzamara's case and that raises doubts about the intention of the authorities responsible for the investigation, calls one more time on the Zimbabwean authorities to ascertain Mr Itai Dzamara's whereabouts and to ensure that justice is served;

3.  expresses also its concern about Mrs Linda Masarira’s case convicted on public violence charges arose from last 6 July national strike; calls on the government of Zimbabwe to show restraint and respect the human rights of all Zimbabwean citizens, including the right to free speech and freedom of assembly, reminds the government its responsibilities towards respecting, obeying and not subverting the Constitution, impartially serving all the Zimbabwean people without any exception,

4.  urges the Zimbabwean authorities to drop all charges against Pastor Evan Mawarire, as he has been charged solely for the peaceful exercise of his rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwe constitution and regional and human rights law and standards, recalls that Pastor Evan Mawarire returned voluntarily and freely to his home country after his tiny period in exile, appeals to bead the rule that he should report at Police station twice per week and so that he can enjoy all his constitutional rights,

5.  calls for a peaceful evolution towards the 2018 general elections to be based on a free and fair electoral process, the rule of law and respect for human rights in order to develop a free, prosperous and pluralist democracy;

6.  draws attention to the particular plight of the Zimbabweans victims of poverty and flood this time, but also victims of draught on other times, who are under threat of hunger, calls on the international community to respond to the Zimbabwe’s appeal for aid in order to provide the most basic needs of a large proportion of the Zimbabwean population,

7.  instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the European External Action Service, the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe, the governments of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

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Motion for a resolution on Zimbabwe, case of Pastor Evan Mawarire – B8-2017-0196

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of December 1948,

–  having regard to the Charter of the United Nations of 1945 and in particular Article 1 (2) on “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples”,

–  having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights of June 1981, which Zimbabwe has ratified,

–  having regard to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), ratified by Zimbabwe in May 1991,

–  having regard to the most recent local EU statement on Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Zimbabwe,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas since May 2016 thousands of demonstrators – informal traders, unemployed young people and, now, professional people – have taken to the streets in a number of urban centres across Zimbabwe to hold the government to account for increasing corruption, unemployment, poverty and inequality;

B. whereas the protest movement led by clergyman Evan Mawarire, using the hashtag #ThisFlag, has drawn support from churches and the middle class, which had hitherto tended to steer clear of street politics; whereas on 6 July 2016 the opposition movement #ThisFlag called for a national ‘stay-away’ day in protest against the government’s inaction against corruption, impunity and poverty; whereas this resulted in a massive shutdown of most shops and businesses in the capital and led to a severe crackdown by the authorities;

C. whereas in the face of this increasing activism and human rights defenders mobilization, the authorities intensified the crackdown on government critics, imposing blanket bans on protest in central Harare and arbitrary detaining journalists and activists, some of whom have been tortured;

D. whereas Evan Mawarire, who left the country last year in fear for his life, was arrested this as he landed in Zimbabwe after six months in exile;

E. whereas the deep economic and social crisis which the country has been experiencing for years and which has lately intensified; Whereas the unemployment rate is estimated by international organizations to be close to 80% (excluding the informal sector), whereas the share of the population living below the poverty line is now estimated at over 80%; Whereas repayment of debt and debt interest covers 80% of the country's GDP; Whereas 70% of Zimbabwe's external debt is held by 'public' players such as the World Bank, the IMF and some third states; Whereas hyperinflation has ruined the country and continues to have consequences on the price of foodstuffs and to generate chronic food shortages;

F. whereas the National Indicative Programme (NIP) for Zimbabwe has been allocated EUR 234 million for the period 2014-2020 under the 11th European Development Fund, to be focused on three main sectors, namely health, agriculture-based economic development, and governance and institution building;

1. Condemns the violence of the repression of peaceful demonstrations, condemns all intimidation, harassment, arbitrary arrests and violence against human rights activists, the opposition, NGOs and journalists; Stresses the need for independence and impartiality of justice;

2. Calls on the Zimbabwean authorities to release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally;

3. Stresses that Zimbabwe must respect and implement international human rights conventions, including the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998;

4. Expresses particular concern over the economic and social situation in Zimbabwe, recalls that the country's main problem is poverty, unemployment and chronic undernourishment; considers that many problems the Zimbabwean people are facing are linked with the sequels of the segregation regime of Rhodesia; considers that these problems can only be solved through the implementation of ambitious public policies on employment, education, health and agriculture;

5. Stresses the fact that Zimbabwe is one of the most indebted country in the world; Call for a human needs-based approach to debt sustainability through a binding set of standards to define responsible lending and borrowing, debt audits and fair debt workout mechanism, which should assess the legitimacy and the sustainability of countries' debt burdens and possible cancellation of unsustainable an unjust debt; Welcomes, in this regard, UN´s work towards an international sovereign debt workout mechanisms and calls on international public actors and in particular the creditor countries with regard to Zimbabwe to eliminate the obstacles to development by canceling the debts they have in the country;

6. Expresses particular concern about the situation of women in the country; Urges the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective implementation of laws that penalize domestic violence, sexual assault and prohibit traditional discriminatory practices; Stresses the need to review the legal regimes of written and customary law so that they are in conformity with the CEDAW and the Maputo Protocol;

7. Strongly condemns the obstruction of food aid for political gain; insists that the EU must ensure that the funding allocated to Zimbabwe for its National Indicative Programme effectively addresses the sectors concerned and the most needed;

8. Stresses that it is important for the EU to start up a political dialogue with the Zimbabwean authorities thereby confirming the EU’s commitment to supporting the local population;

9. Reject all external operations, destabilization strategies and external interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe; considers that it is up to the Zimbabwean people to decide their present and future free from any external interference; underlines that there is a need for solidarity based on the principles of national sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, peace, rights, social progress, friendship and cooperation;

10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the European External Action Service, the Government and Parliament of Zimbabwe, the governments of the Southern African Development Community, the African Union, the Pan-African Parliament, the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.

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