Boosting the EU’s capacity to anticipate and respond to health crises
Boosting the EU’s capacity to anticipate and respond to health crises

News | European Parliament

MEPs outline how the EU should strengthen crisis prevention, preparedness and response when addressing future serious cross-border health threats.

The Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted on Tuesday, with 67 votes in favour, 10 against and one abstention, a draft negotiating position for a new regulation on tackling serious cross-border health threats. The text will be voted by all MEPs during September’s plenary session.


Enhanced cooperation and transparency of joint procurement

The COVID-19 crisis revealed further work at the EU level is needed to support cooperation between member states, in particular border regions, say MEPs. They call for clear procedures and increased transparency for EU joint procurement activities and related purchase agreements. Joint procurement should be used to strengthen the negotiating position of participating countries, improve the security of supply and ensure equitable access to medical products, MEPs add.


A transversal vision of health

In the approved text, MEPs call for a “One Health” multi-sectoral approach that, in order to tackle future public health threats, needs to recognise human health as connected to animal health and the environment. In addition, MEPs want to ensure that, alongside monitoring communicable diseases, the monitoring of the impact of these pathogens on non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, cancer, diabetes and mental illness, is also part of EU public health policy.


Better representation of stakeholders and involvement of Parliament

A newly established Health Security Committee, comprising national representatives to discuss political and technical topics, should also involve relevant EU agencies, such as the European Medicines Agency and the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Agencies’ representatives, as well as representatives of the European Parliament, should attend committee meetings as observers, according to MEPs. Their text calls for wider consultation of public health experts, international organisations and healthcare professionals.



“With this report, we strengthen the Commission proposal, allowing the EU to better prevent and respond to any kind of future public health threats. Beyond infectious diseases, the Union is currently not protected enough against environmental, food, biological, chemical or other threats”, said Rapporteur Véronique Trillet-Lenoir (Renew, FR). “Our priority must be to guarantee health solidarity by reducing health inequalities within member states and beyond Europe.” she added.



As part of building a European Health Union, the Commission proposed on 11 November 2020 a new health security framework fit for future health challenges, based on lessons learnt from combatting the coronavirus, which includes a proposal for a regulation on serious cross-border threats to health.

High-Level Conference on the Global State of Human Rights
High-Level Conference on the Global State of Human Rights

News | European Parliament

On 16 July, Parliament will co-host the first-ever Global State of Human Rights conference to discuss the state of human rights internationally.

The conference will bring together MEPs, European Commissioners, Nobel Peace Prize recipients, Sakharov Prize laureates, representatives of international organisations, academia and stakeholders. They will discuss a variety of topics related to the global situation for human rights across three main panels. The conference is jointly organised by the European Parliament and the Global Campus of Human Rights. It will take place at the Monastery of San Nicolò in Venice and on Parliament’s premises in Brussels, as well as remotely.

Participants will hear interventions from, among others, European Parliament President David Sassoli, the President of the Global Campus of Human Rights Veronica Gomez, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, the Secretary General of Amnesty International Agnès Callamard and Denis Mukwege, Nobel Peace Prize recipient in 2018 and Sakharov Prize laureate in 2014. Prominent MEPs in the human rights field, including the Chair and several Members of Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and two Parliament Vice-Presidents, will also actively take part.

Due diligence, global accountability, responding to human rights violations
The panels will explore how EU legislation on due diligence can make corporations and business more responsive to human rights violations, how international justice can help ensure global accountability, and what challenges a values-based foreign policy faces when addressing human rights and global democracy issues.

The conference will be wrapped up by the performance “White torture” by Venezuelan Sakharov Prize laureate Lorent Saleh, which is based on his experience as a prisoner in ‘La Tumba’, the Venezuelan secret service prison.

Nicaragua: MEPs demand the repeal of punitive laws against the opposition
Nicaragua: MEPs demand the repeal of punitive laws against the opposition

Photo by Fernanda LeMarie

News | European Parliament

MEPs condemn restrictive laws devised to criminalise political opponents in Nicaragua and call for all arbitrarily detained political prisoners to be immediately released.

In a resolution adopted on Thursday, MEPs strongly condemn all the Nicaraguan authorities’ repressive actions, in particular the deaths caused, against democratic opposition parties and other opponents of the regime.

MEPs demand the immediate and unconditional release of all arbitrarily detained political prisoners, among them pre-presidential candidates, as well as other opposition activists, human rights defenders and journalists. The government must provide an immediate proof of life and whereabouts of those imprisoned, they urge.

The Nicaraguan regime is deepening its authoritarian drift, they underline, closing off democratic space and international mediation for a peaceful solution to the conflict, clearly impeding free and fair elections due to be held on 7 November 2021.

The resolution denounces several restrictive and punitive laws against the opposition that have been adopted over the last few years. These laws, say MEPs, institutionalise repression and legalise the brutal acts that have been committed in the country since their adoption.

They ask, therefore, for the laws to be immediately repealed and for inclusive dialogue and democracy to be restored as the only peaceful way out of the political, economic and social crisis in Nicaragua. The Parliament also urges the Nicaraguan authorities to make immediate changes to the Electoral Law in accordance with the international parameters demanded by the Organization of American States (OAS) and to allow national and international electoral observation bodies to be present during elections.

MEPs stress that those responsible for the grave human rights violations committed since 2018 must be held accountable.

The resolution also calls on the Council and the member states to swiftly extend the list of sanctioned individuals and entities to include President Daniel Ortega and Vice-President Rosario Murillo, as well as their inner circle, taking special care not to harm the Nicaraguan people.

The resolution was adopted by 629 in favour, 19 against and 40 abstentions.


The human rights and democracy situation in Nicaragua has seriously deteriorated following the violent repression of public protests in April 2018. Since then, at least 130 people have been deprived of their liberty for political reasons and more than 108 000 Nicaraguans have been forced to flee and seek asylum in neighbouring countries, three-quarters of whom have sought protection in Costa Rica.

In its resolution of 8 October 2020, Parliament condemned attempts to adopt an unconstitutional law on the regulation of foreign agents, the special law on cybercrime and a law on hate crimes that provided Daniel Ortega’s government with a repressive tool to silence its critics.

Human rights breaches in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Iran
Human rights breaches in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Iran

Supporters protest outside a court in Hong Kong 

News | European Parliament

  • Chinese and Hong Kong authorities must stop arresting, harassing and intimidating journalists
  • Saudi Arabia must stop executing child offenders
  • Iran must halt the imminent execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Ahmadreza Djalali

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted three resolutions on the human rights situation in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hong Kong, notably the case of Apple Daily

Parliament condemns in the strongest terms the recent forced closure of the Apple Daily newspaper in Hong Kong, the continued freezing of its assets and the arrests of its journalists. This is yet another step by Chinese authorities to dismantle free society in Hong Kong and abolish media freedom and freedom of expression there, MEPs say.

The resolution also calls on the Hong Kong authorities to stop harassing and intimidating journalists, release arbitrarily detained prisoners, and denounces any attempts to muzzle pro-democracy activists and their activities.

While urging the Chinese authorities to repeal the draconian national security law introduced last year, MEPs encourage EU countries to impose sanctions against individuals and entities responsible for serious violations of human rights and international law in Hong Kong under the EU human rights sanctions regime.

They also call on the Commission, the Council and EU countries to decline invitations to government representatives and diplomats to attend the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics unless the Chinese Government demonstrates a verifiable improvement in the human rights situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang Uyghur Region, Tibet, Inner Mongolia and elsewhere in China.

The text was adopted by 578 votes in favour, 29 against and 73 abstentions. For further details, the full version will be available here. (08.07.2021)

The death penalty in Saudi Arabia, notably the cases of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish and Abdullah al-Howaiti

MEPs strongly condemn Saudi Arabia’s ongoing executions of child offenders despite its claims that it has abolished such practices. This includes the recent execution of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish for crimes that may have occurred while he was a minor following his conviction in an unfair trial and involving a confession obtained from him under torture.

Members also call on Saudi Arabia to confirm that all other child offenders in the Kingdom, such as death-row inmate Abdullah al-Howaiti, will not be executed and that ‘confessions’ extracted under torture will be excluded from their cases.

While urging the country’s authorities to genuinely abolish the death penalty for these offenders, the resolution strongly supports EU sanctions against Saudi officials responsible for grave human rights violations. All EU exports of mass surveillance technology and other dual-use items to Saudi Arabia should be suspended, say MEPs.

The resolution also recalls that the Saudi Sakharov Prize laureate Raif Badawi has now been in prison for nine years and urges the EU and the international community to work towards his immediate release.

The text was adopted by 661 votes in favour, 3 against and 23 abstentions. It will be available in full here (08.07.2021).

The case of Dr Ahmadreza Djalali in Iran

Parliament calls on Iran, under its newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, to halt the imminent execution of Swedish-Iranian academic Dr Ahmadreza Djalali. He must be pardoned, released immediately and unconditionally, and be allowed to return to his family in Sweden, says the text.

The resolution also calls on Iran to stop threatening Dr Djalali’s family in both Sweden and Iran. The charges of other arbitrarily detained EU nationals in the country must also be immediately dropped, MEPs demand. This includes German nationals Nahid Taghavi and Jamshid Sharmahd, French nationals Benjamin Brière and Fariba Adelkhah, Austrian nationals Kamran Ghaderi and Massud Mossaheb, in addition to UK nationals Morad Tahbaz, Anoosheh Ashoori, Mehran Raoof and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The Council should consider more targeted EU sanctions against Iranian regime officials and entities involved in the arbitrary detention and sentencing to death of EU nationals, MEPs urge. The text calls on Iran to release its political prisoners, including human rights defenders, as they have been arbitrarily detained solely for exercising their fundamental rights to the freedoms of expression, belief, association, publication, peaceful assembly and media freedom.

For more details, the resolution will be available in full here (08.07.2021). It was adopted by 666 votes in favour, 5 against with 16 abstentions.

Human rights: MEPs want corruption punished under EU sanctions regime
Human rights: MEPs want corruption punished under EU sanctions regime

News | European Parliament

Parliament has adopted a resolution welcoming the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime, while calling for corruption to be included as a punishable offence.

Corruption has a devastating impact on the state of human rights, and often undermines the functioning and legitimacy of institutions and the rule of law, the resolution states. But unlike similar schemes around the world, such as the US Global Magnitsky Act, the current EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime (GHRSR), adopted in December 2020, does not include corruption in connection with human rights violations as an offence punishable by restrictive measures. Parliament wants to change that and urges the European Commission to come forward with a legislative proposal that extends the scope of the GHRSR to cover these crimes.

MEPs should also be able to propose cases of serious human rights violations, in order to increase the legitimacy of the sanctions regime. In addition, Members insist on an inclusive process to facilitate input from civil society.

Qualified majority voting should also be introduced when sanctions are adopted under the scope of the GHRSR, the text urges, as this would implement the regime more effectively.

Counter-sanctions aim to deter the EU from defending human rights

In addition, MEPs condemn any counter-sanctions imposed on the EU, its institutions and Members of Parliament, bodies or citizens, solely for upholding human rights, democracy and the rule of law through the GHRSR.

The EU’s response to such retaliatory measures by third countries must be swift and coordinate, they point out, adding that bilateral agreements with these countries must not undermine the EU’s sanctions framework and its credibility in foreign policy in general.

The text was adopted by 584 votes in favour, 73 against with 33 abstentions.

You can read more about the new framework here.


“The EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime adds a direct and tangible way to respond to serious human rights violations and hold those responsible for abuses accountable. It needs to become an essential element of the EU’s broader strategy on human rights and a fundamental part of our external policy toolbox. I welcome the swift implementation of the new instrument and hope that it will support the objectives of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy”, said David McAllister (EPP, Germany), Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.

“By allowing us to target persons and entities responsible for grave human rights violations, wherever these abuses take place, the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime strengthens the EU’s leading role in human rights . The regime needs to also target economic and financial enablers of human rights abusers, and the Parliament and civil society need to be more closely involved to increase its legitimacy”, said Maria Arena (S&D, Belgium), Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.

Slovenian Presidency to focus on digital and green reforms and future of Europe
Slovenian Presidency to focus on digital and green reforms and future of Europe

Prime Minister Janez Janša presented the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency in the Parliament’s hemicycle in Strasbourg © EU 2021

News | European Parliament

MEPs discussed the planned activities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU with Prime Minister Janez Janša and Commission President von der Leyen.

Prime Minister Janša recalled the various crises that the EU has experienced over the last few years, ranging from financial issues, to migration, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which has forced the European Union to be more strategic and focus on foreign policy.

Under the slogan “Together. Resilient. Europe.”, the Slovenian presidency will focus on recovery and resilience, translating ambitious green goals into binding legislation, strategic autonomy, the digital transition, rule of law and the protection of external borders.

Regarding the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), the Prime Minister stressed that all points of views will be welcomed in the debates. On external relations, special attention will be paid to the Western Balkans.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted ongoing work on recovery programmes in member states and the need to progress with vaccination campaigns. She called for support on EU values, adding that financial interests and media freedom must be protected, and diversity preserved.

Most MEPs welcomed the Slovenian presidency’s priorities, particularly the focus on recovery through the digital and green transition, economic growth and job creation as well as giving impetus and content to CoFoE discussions. Several insisted that work on upholding rule of law across the EU must continue, and cited concerns regarding the situation of independent media and judiciary in Slovenia.

Many speakers urged Janša to nominate the Slovenian representative to the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) without further delay. In his reply, the Prime Minister said this process should be completed by autumn and called on the member states who are not part of the initiative to join, to ensure equal controls on EU funds across the EU.

Catch up with the debate by VOD

Debates and votes today’s plenary session
Debates and votes today’s plenary session

News | European Parliament

Priorities of the Slovenian Presidency: debate with Prime Minister Janša

Starting at 9.00, MEPs will discuss with Prime Minister Janez Janša the programme of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council for the second half of 2021. President Sassoli, Prime Minister Janša and Commission President von der Leyen will give a press conference after the debate, at 11.45. You can follow it live.

Connecting Europe

In a debate with EC Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans, plenary will assess and adopt the upgraded Connecting Europe Facility programme worth €30 billion from 2021 to 2027, which will fund transport, energy and digital projects and ensure that essential Trans-European projects are finished on schedule by 2030.

Rule of law budget conditionality

The guidelines the Commission plans to issue on how to apply the EU Rule of Law Conditionality Mechanism will be the focus of a debate with Commissioner Johannes Hahn to be wrapped-up with a resolution, to be voted on Wednesday. The announcement of the vote results will be on Thursday.

Foreign interference

Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell will explain to plenary how he plans to enhance the EU’s strategy against disinformation. MEPs are likely to ask for more severe sanctions and for a more comprehensive mandate (to include China and other forms of interference such as meddling in elections) and better financing of the Stratcom Task Forces.

In brief:

Foreign Affairs: situation in Nicaragua and Turkey. From 15.00, MEPs will exchange views with High Representative Josep Borrell on the crackdown against the opposition in Nicaragua and Turkey. Resolutions on both topics will be put to the vote on Thursday.

2021-2027 Funds for asylum and border management. Plenary will debate the budgetary programmes on asylum, migration and integration and management of borders with Commissioner Ylva Johansson. The vote is scheduled for Wednesday.

70th anniversary of the Geneva Convention. In an evening debate with the Slovenian Minister for Foreign Affairs Anže Logar and Commissioner Johansson, MEPs are likely to raise the urgent need to reform the Common European Asylum System.


Opening – July plenary session
Opening – July plenary session

News | European Parliament

President Sassoli expressed his solidarity and condolences to the victims of forest fires in Cyprus, at the opening of the plenary session in Strasbourg.

The EU disaster management tool, rescEU has been made available, said the president, to support Cyprus in managing the forest fires that have led to four deaths and have caused enormous suffering and destruction. “When we work together, we are stronger”, he added.

Requests by committees to start negotiations with Council and Commission

Decisions by committees to enter into inter-institutional negotiations (Rule 72) are published on the plenary website.

If no request for a vote in Parliament on the decision to enter into negotiations is made by Tuesday 12.00 midnight, the committees may start negotiations.

Information on the extraordinary remote participation procedure is available here.