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press release – 18th of July 2017: “S&Ds: The EU must deliver on the SDGs NOW!”

A European Parliament delegation from the Committee for Development Policy to the United Nations Economic and Social Council attend the High-level Political Forum (HLPF) on Sustainable Development that takes place in New York from 17 to 19 July 2017. The 2017 Summit aims to discuss progress made towards meeting the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the global level. S&D MEPs Linda McAvan (UK) and Arne Lietz (DE), who participated in the Forum, called on the European Commission to develop a clear roadmap for achieving the SDGs as soon as possible.

S&D MEP Linda McAvan, EP chair of the committee on development, said:

“2015 was a milestone year for co-operation and development as 150 world leaders adopted 17 SDGs at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York in the hope of ending extreme poverty, combating climate change and fighting inequality and injustice. Delivering on the SDGs is primarily a political choice. It is not only a question of money, nor is it only a question of ‘who does what’. What we need is the political will to work together to develop the right policies in order to achieve them. The EU has a key role to play in this regard. It must ‘lead by example’ in promoting development co-operation by reaffirming its commitment to fighting hunger and eradicating poverty worldwide.”

S&D MEP Arne Lietz, member of the delegation, added:

“Two years have passed since the SDGs were agreed at the UN Summit in September 2015 but we are yet to meet the expectations and deliver on our commitments. It is now high time that the Commission speeds up its efforts and presents a convincing and comprehensive concept on how it wants to achieve the SDGs in the framework of EU policies. We need to start filling the gaps! More needs to be done in most policy areas; for instance in relation to the global value chains in garment and textiles. This was clearly underlined in a session that was dedicated to this topic during the HLPF at the UN headquarters this week. The EU must get serious about the Global Goals. There’s no more time to lose! The Socialists and Democrats will keep putting pressure on the Commission to ensure that the EU delivers on ist commitments.“

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press release – 30th of march 2017: “S&D MEPs visit Bangladesh: growth and development in the garment sector”

Bangladesh has achieved a remarkable track record of economic growth with a corresponding rise in human rights development in the past decades. The garment sector, which was the focus of our visit, has played an important role in that growth and we can see that there have been improvements in both buildings and work place safety since the Rana Plaza tragedy four years ago.

The European Union is currently examining the whole issue of fairness in the garment supply chains worldwide. The ACCORD and ALLIANCE are encouraging examples of what can be achieved when companies, governments and workers pool efforts to improve standards.

The EU is a strong partner of Bangladesh, as reflected in our robust trade relations underpinned by the Everything But Arms (EBA) market access regime. The EBA has among its core values the respect for human rights and labour rights. In this context, we note that Bangladesh was mentioned under a special paragraph in the International Labour Conference (ILO) in Geneva in June 2016.   The ILO called on Bangladesh to address four issues: full alignment of respectively, the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) draft law, the Bangladesh Labour Act (BLA), with the UN core Labour Convention modalities for establishing trade unions and the right of trade unions to operate freely. It is important that these issues are addressed before the 18th May review of the Sustainability Compact and the June annual International Labour Conference.

Since our arrival in Dhaka, we raised this matter with the speaker of the Parliament, the Minister of Commerce, the State Minister of Labour and Employment, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), the brands and labour representatives as well as the ILO. We also had the honour to be received by Her Excellency, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. We felt a  readiness and good will from all parties to engage on this issue and are hopeful that this will translate into concrete progress before the May review of the Sustainability Compact in Dhaka and the Geneva ILO conference in mid-June.

As members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, our engagement with Bangladesh, as with other countries, is guided by our core values, where respect for human rights and labour rights – in particular freedom of association and collective bargaining – rank high. That is why the full implementation of the Sustainability Compact is so important in our view.

The S&D MEPs who took part in the visit to Bangladesh were:

  • MEP Arne Lietz, member of the committee on development (DEVE), the committee on foreign affairs (AFET) and the S&D’s co-rapporteur on the garment report
  • MEP Linda McAvan, the EP’s chair on the committee on development (DEVE)
  • MEP Norbert Neuser, the S&D’s co-ordinator on the committee on development (DEVE)
  • MEP Agnes Jongerius, member of the committee on employment and social affairs (EMPL), and the committee on international trade (INTA)

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06.01.2017 – press release: “Israel and Palestine both ready for new peace talks”

During a visit to Israel and Palestine by the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, both sides confirmed their willingness to start fresh peace talks without preconditions. The Socialists and Democrats Group MEPs participating in the Delegation, Arne Lietz (Germany) and Gilles Pargneaux (France), welcomed these statements. However, they also warned that both sides are blaming the other for not being ready to start the talks. The delegation also visited Jordan.

S&D MEP Arne Lietz described their findings:

“Israeli settlements in Palestine jeopardise the possibility of a two-state solution and peace-building process. During the visit, the UN Security Council vote last December on the illegal Israeli settlements was discussed numerous times. We welcome the result of the vote and invite Israel to follow up on the resolution. The European Parliament should also adopt a resolution on this matter soon.

“During our visit to Bethlehem the city mayor showed us the expansion of the settlements and how they are having an increasingly negative impact on the daily living conditions of Palestinians.”

S&D MEP Gilles Pargneaux added:

“We reminded our interlocutors about the Arab Peace Initiative. Prince Faisal of Jordan is considering bringing it back to the table during Jordan’s upcoming presidency of the Arab League. This could be the next step after the Paris Peace Conference taking place on 15 January.

“During the meetings in Jordan we expressed our appreciation to the country for accepting 1.2 million refugees from Syria, making it one of the biggest refugee communities in the world. We understand the burden which it places on the country and welcome that the European Union is stepping up efforts in helping the Jordanian authorities with the integration of Syrian refugees into the local job market and into their education system.”

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13.09.2016 – press release: “S&Ds: EU Trust Fund for Africa must put the people first”

European Socialists and Democrats condemn any use of the EU Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) for financing border management and controls, underlining the need for using the total amount of development funds solely for development projects such as education, health care and infrastructure.

Following today’s adoption by the European Parliament of a resolution on the EU Trust Fund for Africa, S&D MEP and shadow rapporteur, Arne Lietz said: “Border controls only aggravate the problem; if a person in need has to flee, we must not prevent him/her from applying for asylum in Europe. Tackling the root causes of migration means putting together programmes which would fight against youth unemployment, build up a health care system and improve education, as well as strengthening civil society.”

S&D MEP and development co-ordinator, Norbert Neuser said: “The fact that trust funds are not under the scrutiny of the European Parliament is a huge problem.  Development policy can only be properly implemented if a budget is available for this purpose. The new trend for more flexibility of projects must not jeopardize long-term programmes that eventually lead to sustainable development.

read press release on www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu


28.09.2015 – press release: „The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development creates real perspectives in the fight against poverty“

After 3 years of negotiations the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development this weekend in New York by the Heads of State and Government and High Representatives, represents a historical moment in the fight against poverty, inequality and achieving sustainable development.

S&D MEPs Linda McAvan, Elly Schlein and Arne Lietz attended the UN Summit last weekend in the framework of the official European Parliament’s delegation of the development committee. They took part in various interactive dialogues, side events and bilateral meetings with high-level UN officials, civil society representatives, youth organizations, the private sector and the academia. All meetings focused on the importance of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the follow-up and the review process and financing of development. The ongoing refugee crisis and the root causes of migration were also among the issues discussed.

The Chair of the European Parliament development committee, S&D MEP Linda McAvan said: „We welcome the adoption of the Agenda 2030. Our role now is to make sure that those ambitious 17 goals are translated into concrete actions. She reiterated her call to member states to fulfil their commitment to 0.7% of GDP to Official Development Aid. „Europe needs to better coordinate its internal and external policies as well as to raise public awareness on the sustainable goals and to communicate more effectively the Agenda.“

Shadow rapporteur on European Parliament Resolution on post-2015 development agenda, S&D MEP Elly Schlein said: „We are very happy that the member states were able to adopt this ambitious agenda with all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular the most innovative ones on fighting inequalities, on gender equality and on peaceful societies. Furthermore, it is important that the EU managed to speak with one single voice during the negotiations. Now we will all be ambassadors of these new goals: parliaments, NGOs, civil society organizations and citizens, we will have to monitor closely their implementation, and hold governments accountable to what they agreed to, to make sure we will reach the goals by 2030.“

S&D MEP Arne Lietz pointed out: „It is a great success that one of the central sustainable development goals focuses on good governance which is also an important corner stone for the achievement of other goals and to keep them sustainable. The SDGs will require all countries, both developed and developing, to make a major shift in their national policies including taking social and cultural rights seriously and signing the still open UN protocols on those topics.“

The next step is the implementation of the Agenda which will require a strong commitment of all actors including governments, parliaments, civil society and the private sector both inside the EU and globally. Better policy coherency is needed in order to integrate in a holistic manner the three dimensions of sustainable development social, economic and environmental. Parliaments including the European Parliament will play a critical role in the follow-up and monitoring process of the implementation of the SDGs.

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03.09.2015 – press release: „EU must step up its efforts to ensure education in humanitarian emergencies until the target of 4% by 2019 of EU humanitarian aid funding is met“

Today the Committee on Development has voted in favour of a crucial amendment tabled by S&D Group to be included in the EU budget 2016. The aim of the amendment is providing an additional €26 million to projects ensuring access to education for children in humanitarian crises.

Education in humanitarian emergencies currently receives only 1 per cent of EU humanitarian aid funding, despite the fact that it is the only way to save the future of the affected communities and children and, in many cases, also to shield them from radicalization. Our efforts, coordinated with and supported by Commissioner Christos Stylianides, aims to ensure that the 3 per cent threshold is achieved in 2016 and the target of 4 per cent by 2019.

S&D Group president, Gianni Pittella said:

„The EU´s Children of Peace initiative, born from the EU’s Nobel Prize for Peace, is an excellent example of how we can contribute to improving access to education in fragile conditions. Now the time has come for the EU to become the first international donor setting the target to spend 4 per cent of its humanitarian aid to education projects. Through this amendment our Group calls on the Commission and particularly on Commissioner Stylianides to intensify the efforts in  this direction.“

S&D DEVE rapporteur for the EU budget 2016, Arne Lietz said:

„Education is an investment in the future. It has always been considered a top priority in development cooperation. This should not be different in the field of humanitarian aid. Education must be a principal part of any humanitarian response, especially in refugee camps. Here, we must prevent a lost generation. We have taken a first step in favour of more funding for education in humanitarian crises. Now it is the time for the budget committee, and later on for the plenary, to support this initiative and ensure that education is a principal part of any humanitarian response“

S&D EP standing rapporteur for humanitarian aid, Enrique Guerrero Salom said:

„This amendment should set the basis to achieve a global commitment by international donors to allocate 4 per cent of global humanitarian aid spending to education. The final statement of the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, to be held in May 2016 in Istanbul, should include a clear commitment in this regard. We continue to work in this spirit.“

The budget committee will now vote in the following weeks on this crucial issue.

read press release on www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu


24.07.2015 – joint press release with Richard Howitt, MEP: „Ukraine: More importance must be placed on human rights protection and fight against corruption“

Participating in an ad-hoc delegation of the Human Rights Committee (DROI), S&D members Richard Howitt and Arne Lietz visited the Ukrainian capital Kiev and Dnipropetrovsk in East Ukraine between 20-24 July. The delegation met with Internally Displaced People (IDP), civil society organisations, and local and central authorities, including President Poroshenko and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk.

S&D MEP Richard Howitt, chair of the DROI delegation and S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs, stated:

„The country faces twin challenges from both conflict in the east and the crisis of managing now more than a million displaced people. Interviewing them and the local and international organisations who assist them, it is clear that the generosity which has seen the government and the people provide short-term humanitarian help to those displaced, should now be matched by international support to help enable state authorities to find durable solutions to provide homes and livelihood for those in need. There are very real concerns that the current system in place is leading to IDPs being de-registered and denied access to social benefits, prevented from the right to vote in the October local elections and subject to restrictions of their freedom of movement which see them fall prey to corruption and personal danger.  We understand the scale of the challenge is overwhelming to state authorities, and insist the European Union must be their partner in seeking solutions which are right for the country and which respect human rights for all.

„We deliberately went to the oblast region neighbouring the fighting, receiving evidence that many of those remaining in the non-government controlled areas are innocent victims who simply don’t have the means to escape and who have suffered chronic shortages of food, electricity, drinking water and medicines. We underline the need for unhindered access of humanitarian aid to these areas and call for full respect of human rights by the de facto authorities too.

„Our commitment this week has been to refuse to allow the conflict to block joint efforts for necessary progress in democratic development for Ukraine, towards full respect for human rights and European values. We will never forget the wounds of the country’s traumatised society and repeated our clear call for progress in the investigation of the tragic events that took place in Maidan square and Odessa, stressing that both processes are crucial for reconciliation. We encouraged ratification of the statute for the International Criminal Court, the setting up of an independent police complaints and investigation mechanism and asked for continuous scrutiny of all new legislation for conformity with human rights principles and law.“

S&D MEP Arne Lietz, member of the DROI and AFET Committees, added:

„Another major challenge that the country faces is widespread corruption. The government needs to take resolute action to tackle the problem. We welcome the adoption of new legislation and the establishment of related institution, but we stress the urgent need to have tangible results with the development of a track record of investigations and convictions. It is just unacceptable that impoverished IDPs who flee from the conflict areas are obliged to pay bribes at the check-points.“

read press release on www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu