New commissioners’ hearings
Sabine Lösing – Reaction to hearing of HR/VP Federica Mogherini
Luke “Ming” Flanagan reflects on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan
Liadh Ní Riada reflects on Hearing of Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva
Josu Juaristi reflects on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Corina Creţu
Lidia Senra reflects on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan
Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL):
Research must serve needs of society
Speaking at the hearing of Commissioner-designate for Research and Innovation, Mr. K. Moedas, GUE/NGL MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis said: “Today the EU direction on research aims to bridge the gap between science and the market. Within this framework the adoption of incentives for increasing private investments in research is promoted, ensuring the greatest possible profit for multinational companies without society's needs being served.”
He asked Mr. Moedas if he is concerned about the weakening of research to the remaining research fields.
Sylikiotis recalled that Mr. Junker pledged that his Commission would reset Europe on a growth trajectory and people will return to work. He asked Mr Moedas if he considers that the goals of Research should be redefined with a focus on resolving the problems of society, the creation of jobs, the support of public higher education and promoting its development with social character. Furthermore, he asked how the Commission will invest in Research and Innovation when cutbacks have been already proposed for the European budget of 2015 regarding research and in particular the programme Horizon 2020. He also asked what Mr Moedas was willing to do as a new Commissioner in order to ensure that the funds for research will increase.
Concluding, Mr. Sylikiotis asked Mr. Moedas if the Commission would assist the member states to have a starring role in order to ensure that Research will be done in the public interest.
Mr. Moedas, answering the questions of Mr. Sylikiotis, argued that the cutbacks of the funds given for Research, is a severe problem and requested the aid of European Parliament to help increase them. Unfortunately, regarding the issue of public investments Mr. Moedas has not clarified his position saying that public investments can be tapped where there is no sufficient private investments. Moreover he avoided commenting on the need to redefine the goals of Research with a focus on resolving societal problems as well asthe weakening of research in particular research fields.
Cypriot MEP Neoklis Sylikiotis (AKEL):
Assist memorandum countries to support SMEs
SMEs in member states such as Cyprus, which are under a memorandum regime, are one step away from bankruptcy. You should assist the states which are plagued by the economic crisis and the austerity measures by supporting their small and medium enterprises.
Speaking at the hearing of Commissioner -designate for Internal Market, Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises, Ms. A. Bienkovska, Sylikiotis asked her what measures she would promote for supporting the industry and creating new jobs especially in countries plagued by the economic crisis, but also more widely in the South, which is in the process of deindustrialisation.
Sylikiotis recalled that SMEs are the backbone of our economy. So he asked Ms. Bienkovska how she will enhance SMEs when the already decreased funding which is given for supporting these enterprises, in the EU budget of 2015 will take further cutbacks. He furthermore asked what specifically the new Commissioner will do in order to simplify the procedures of SMEs' access to funding, and what measures she will promote to lessen the impacts of the dominant positions which the major multinational companies have in the market.
In his conclusion Mr. Sylikiotis referred to the aim of European Union of stimulating competitiveness and asked Ms. Bienkovska if she will end what it is hitherto applicable, wherein under the pretext of the need of reducing the production costs, a policy of reducing wages and diminishing labor rights, is followed.
Unfortunately, Ms. Bienkovska merely answered in very general manner to Mr. Sylikiotis' questions saying that by her undertaking of the Commissioner's duties she will present a road map for supporting SMEs. To the question regarding the need of supporting small and medium enterprises of member states which are under memorandum regime and to the question regarding the necessity of terminating policies of reducing wages, Ms. Bienkovska avoided making any comment. it was disappointing to hear her reply regarding the problems which SMEs are facing in accessing funding, where she only introduced as a solution the necessity of better information. She assured that all the applicable rules, which are currently caused problems to SMEs, will be simplified.
Marie-Christine Vergiat on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Jourova
Paloma López on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Miguel Arias Cañete
Fabio de Masi on Hearing of Commissioner-designate Jonathan Hill
Culture, education, youth and citizenship cannot be defended by a Commissioner from the Orban government
GUE/NGL MEPs were less than impressed with former Hungarian Minister Tibor Navracsics' hearing performance in Parliament's culture and education (CULT) committee last night and strongly oppose his appointment to the position.
Italian GUE/NGL MEP Curzio Maltese said: “Having previously held the positions of both Justice Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister in Orban's government, Navracsics was politically responsible for the implementation of restrictive reforms which concentrated more and more powers into the hands of one party and one man, most notably the media reform and the reform of the Hungarian justice system.”
Despite his attempts to distance himself from Orban's policies, it is hard to see how Navracsics could defend freedom of expression and a fair distribution of European funds to NGOs when since September his party has been tightening its aggressive policy against NGOs in Hungary. Navracsics claimed this evening in his hearing that Hungary has a “flourishing civil society sector” and that there was “no problem” where NGOs are concerned.
Irish GUE/NGL MEP Liadh Ní Riada commented on the importance of safeguarding European culture: “What we stand to lose is beyond comprehension in terms of the arts, literature, music song and dance, there is no point in lamenting the loss of such rich and diverse cultures after the event, the time is now to safeguard and nurture our culture, to do so is to further ourselves.”
She also highlighted the importance of linguistic diversity in the EU, underlying the need to protect the Irish language's position as an official EU language: “Our language identifies us, our nationality and our culture and indeed stated by the EU as an important priority. Irish is the first official language of Ireland and to not have the right to have full interpretation in the European Parliament flies in the face of the prioritisation of languages.”
GUE/NGL blocks financial lobbyist Hill
After an unsatisfying performance at the 3-hour hearing of EU Commissioner-designate Jonathan Hill, GUE/NGL MEPs asked for a vote on his designation.
“This is a small success for our group,” said German GUE/NGL MEP Fabio De Masi. “Our request for a vote put others under pressure; as a result they made a proposal to hold an extraordinary second hearing with Hill.”
Portuguese GUE/NGL MEP Marisa Matias said: “We've put Hill in detention. His answers were blurry, on the question of Eurobonds he did not even have a vague position.”
The MEPs outlined that they see the other groups' proposal to hold a second hearing as a strategic move to give them time to reconsider Hill's mission statement.
The GUE/NGL position is however crystal clear: there are already far too many financial lobbyists in Brussels and the city of London does not deserve its own EU Commissioner.
Basque MEP Josu Juaristi – Reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Corina Cretu
Following the hearing of Corina Creţu, Commissioner-designate for Regional Policy, GUE/NGL MEPs have expressed their confidence in Creţu given she committed to defending underdeveloped regions.
Creţu firmly committed to defend and work primarily for the least developed and outermost regions. GUE/NGL MEPs felt this position was consistent with their vision of cohesion policy, which remains primarily one of political solidarity. They know that the real work however lies ahead and have all expressed a willingness to work on issues with the future Commissioner.
French MEP Younous Omarjee, REGI committee Vice President, pressed Creţu on how she would deal with the fact that she will take up her functions in a context of near insolvency, i.e. 23 billion euros of debt. He said: “We need vigilance on the renegotiation of the multiannual financial framework (MFF) to ensure that cohesion funds are safeguarded. Corina Creţu explained that regional policy was the only policy area with concrete results for citizens and expressed her commitment to solve this budgetary problem together with the whole Commission. I appreciated her willingness to favour the least-developed regions of the EU.”
GUE/NGL MEPs Martina Michels and Angela Vallina asked the Romanian Commissioner-designate about the sensitive issue of macro-economic conditionality, a mechanism that could lead the EU to block structural fund payments where a member state was in excessive deficit. Corina Creţu committed to using this mechanism only as a last resort and only after a structured dialogue with the European Parliament. “However, she failed to respond to the question how to guarantee full involvement of the regions in possible reshaping of EU funding programs in such situations”, Martina Michels regretted.
Younous Omarjee also addressed the issue of the outermost regions, asking the Commissioner-designate what action she would take to make sure these regions are better taken into account in all EU policies. In her response, Creţu praised MEP Omarjee's recent report on the outermost regions, noting that she recognised the specific challenges these regions face and that particular attention should be given to the provisions to help those territories. She also said she would travel straight to the outermost regions to observe their needs and would address the issue with Jean-Claude Juncker.
She also expressed her willingness to support cross-border cooperation in response to a question from Basque GUE/NGL MEP Josu Juaristi, where he cited the situations in the Basque Country and the North of Ireland as good examples of practical cross-border cooperation in action.
German MEP Stefan Eck – Reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Karmenu Vella
MEPs Cornelia Ernst and Barbara Spinelli react to Hearing of Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.
MEP Tania Gonzalez Peñas reacts to Hearing of Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič.
MEPs appeal to colleagues across all political groups to reject nomination of Tibor Navracsics to the post of Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Citizenship.
Download the letter signed by GUE/NGL MEPs Barbara Spinelli, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Gabi Zimmer, Cornelia Ernst, Marina Albiol Guzman, Eleonora Forenza, Martina Michels, Sabine Lösing, Malin Björk, Curzio Maltese, and Lola Sánchez Caldentey.
Question from Greek MEP Sofia Sakorafa to Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner-designate Johannes Hahn:
“The EU, while invoking democratisation and respect for human rights has participated directly or indirectly in all interventions in the Mediterranean basin. The result: dismantlement of states, thousands of civilians dead and displaced in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, a rise of fundamentalism, advance of the Islamic State, occupation and human rights violations in Palestine and Morocco. The Mediterranean has become an endless cemetery of innocent people. Moreover, the EU concluded Association Agreements and established relations with occupier states that disregard EU principles and values, scorn the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration for human rights and humanitarian law and ignore ostentatiously international agreements and decisions.
In particular, how are you going to force occupier states, such as Israel and Morocco, to comply? How are you going to force Israel to respect international decisions on settlements? Do you consider to use Article 2 of the Association Agreements in order to freeze their effect, for as long as they keep on violating human rights, YES or NO?”
Her reaction on his reply:
“The Commissioner-designate performed his role in a worthy way. It was honest on a political level to answer with “no answer to your question”, rather than talking and saying nothing. But this absolute nothing concerns burning issues related to thousands of dead civilians, interventions in countries, the Israeli occupation and the respect of human rights. Unfortunately, it seems that European foreign policy will continue to produce disastrous results for the people, fully subjugated to the voracious appetites of economic interests, especially German ones.”
GUE/NGL LIBE MEPs' reactions to Commissioner-designate Dimitris Avramopoulos' hearing
Swedish MEP Malin Bjork said:
“Avramopoulos did not provide any satisfactory responses during the hearing, and clearly stands behind current Fortress Europe policies, including strengthening Frontex. On my question calling for actions to act against the sex industry and against the sexual exploitation of women and girls, he did not give any concrete answers, but started to babble about smuggling instead.”
German MEP Cornelia Ernst said:
“Avramopoulos is obviously someone who knows what people like to hear, but he failed to give a concrete account of what he intended to do. We didn't hear his position on how to deal with the tragedies happening at the borders of the EU, where he wants to further strengthen Frontex, nor with regards to anti-terrorism policies, where he wants to uphold fundamental rights without saying how to resolve the conflicting interests in both fields.”
German MEP Helmut Scholz to Commissioner-designate Johannes Hahn:
“You confirm the approach of conditionality, and you call for a “stronger joint ownership” of the EU and the countries of the eastern neighborhood. The Vilnius ENP summit has shown, however, that through this mechanism, the countries concerned, are being deliberately dragged into the rivalry between the EU and Russia. Above all, the mechanism leading to the alternative of the EU or Russia represents high political and economic risk for all. Today, the Eastern neighborhood policy is a source of constantly intensifying conflicts within society and foreign policy. As we have already mentioned several times today the Triangle of relations between EU, ENP countries and the Russian Federation and the necessity for a strategy: what do you intend, Mr. Hahn, to do in order to reduce the spiral of confrontation and conflict in both areas? And what specific changes are you intending to introduce in the ENP regarding the aforementioned self-commitment of balancing interests? Will you also go to Kiev and Chisinau to discuss with governments?
Malmström not fit for purpose on trade
Following a vote in Parliament's International Trade committee (INTA) which saw MEPs deem Cecilia Malmström suitable to take up the position of EU Trade Commissioner, GUE/NGL MEPs have reacted with disapproval.
German MEP Helmut Scholz said: “The S&D Group has declared it is satisfied with Juncker's assurances that commitments on ISDS made in plenary will be respected; we do not share this position. ISDS must be scrapped. It is worrying that Malmström initially declared that she would exclude ISDS from TTIP before swiftly withdrawing the exclusion from an updated text. Who is pulling the strings?
“While it was encouraging to hear her commitments to deliver full transparency and democratic scrutiny to international trade negotiations and agreements, it was disappointing not to hear any precise and fresh ideas from her which could represent a change in direction for EU trade policy. She also had nothing to say on the links between trade and climate change or between trade and de-industrialisation, or on unemployment, creating decent jobs, and guaranteeing food sovereignty.”
Malmström also failed to answer precise questions raised by GUE/NGL MEPs on data protection, the protection of public services and the necessity to activate binding instruments into respective sustainable chapters of trade or investment agreements as well as the democratic clause in specific situations in various regions in the world.
Hearing of Commissioner-designate Dimitris Avramopoulus
Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli (L’Altra Europa con Tsipras) picked up Avramopoulus's comments on the barbed wire fence between Greece and Turkey and asked him about whether his priority would be preventing migration or providing legal channels for migrants. She also sought the Commissioner-designate's views on the issue of mutual recognition of refugee status in Europe.
Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos (SYRIZA) asked Avramopoulus about legal opinion No 44/2014 of the Legal Council of the Hellenic Republic. He said: “This opinion was ratified by the competent Minister of the government of which you are a prominent member and finds that “in case of detention of an alien for 18 months in total upon decision of return or expulsion, the competent authorities can impose the measure of obligatory stay in the place of detention” without any time limits. However, art. 15 of Directive 115/2008 provides that detention should not exceed 18 months maximum. Do you think this practice of the Greek state authorities is compatible with Union law or not? How do you intend to act if other member states follow similar practices in the future?”
Questions by SYRIZA MEP Kostas Chrysogonos to the designate European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Kostas Chrysogonos, SYRIZA Member of the European Parliament asked the designate Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos about the detention of irregular immigrants for more than 18 months, which is the maximum limit according to EU law. “in its legal opinion No 44/2014, which has been ratified by the competent Minister of the Greek government of which you are a prominent member, the Legal Council of the Hellenic Republic has found that “in case of detention of an alien for 18 months in total upon decision of return or expulsion, the competent authorities can impose the measure of obligatory stay in the place of detention” without any time limits,” the Greek MEP said.
Mr. Avramopoulos on his behalf said that detention of immigrants for more than 18 months is illegal. “These people Mr. Chrysogonos and you imply this through your question, are not criminals, and after their 18 months, they should enter in the production procedures,” claimed the Greek Minister of Defence.
In a conclusive comment later on Mr. Chrysogonos said that the designate Commissioner promised several things, without being specific. “The European Union needs a new, complete and human immigration policy, but this presupposes that the countries of final destination of the immigrants will stop playing hide- and-seek and assume their responsibilities. The Delegation of SYRIZA will continue claiming the application of such a policy,” the Greek MEP added.
Below you can find Mr. Chrysogonos’ question, Mr. Avramopolos’ answer and a final comment by Mr. Chrysogonos, in full, written and on video:
Kostas Chrysogonos’ Question:
Dear Mr Commissioner – designate, Αrticle 15 of European Directive 115/2008 provides that detention of irregular immigrants should not exceed a limit of 18 months maximum. However, in its legal opinion No 44/2014, which has been ratified by the competent Minister of the Greek government of which you are a prominent member, the Legal Council of the Hellenic Republic has found that “in case of detention of an alien for 18 months in total upon decision of return or expulsion, the competent authorities can impose the measure of obligatory stay in the place of detention” without any time limits. Do you think this practice of the Greek state authorities is compatible with Union law or not? How do you intend to act if other member states get enthusiastic about this and follow similar practices in the future?
Dimitris Avramopoulos’ Answer:
I do not believe that the term “enthusiastic” is appropriate in this case, because even if this happens I don’t believe that the states would apply it with enthusiasm. You spoke about the case of Greece. I say from the beginning that my intention, from the time when the (European) Parliament claims that I can undertake this position, that I will not be here as a Greek Minister. It happens that I still have this attribute, but I do not speak with this attribute, and this is why I want to be very sincere and explicit in this answer. Detention of immigrants above 18 months is prohibited. It is known however, because you are one the most distinguished Greek lawyers and constitutionalists that the consultations of legal council of state are of consultative character of – they are not of decisive character. You said that they were adopted by a Minister. To be sincere I don’t know about this, but whether he accepted them or not, there is a a specific difference here that we should examine with direct dialogue – I speak henceforth from the side of Committee – with the Greek Authorities. These people Mr. Chrysogonos and you imply this through your question, are not criminals, and after their 18 months, they should enter in the production procedures. Beware however: we have created this way in Europe a grey area. And this grey area is dangerous for these people. They are more easily exploitable, because, precisely, they are undocumented, they circulate in our societies, and certain shifty persons can exploit them. I believe that this grey area should end. And the only way to do so is what we have today said repetitively: the creation of terms and conditions of legal immigration and the asylum regulations that will be applied from next June (2015) answer with precision and effectiveness.
Kostas Chrysogonos’ Comment:
The new Greek Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos undertakes the very important portfolio of Immigration and Internal Affairs at the European Commission from November 1st. In today’s hearing in front of the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament, the new Commissioner gave promises of reviewing the unfair Dublin agreements, under which all the weight of immigration falls on the countries of Mediterranean South, without however undertaking explicit engagements. The European Union needs a new, complete and human immigration policy, but this presupposes that the countries of final destination of the immigrants will stop playing hide- and-seek and assume their responsibilities. The Delegation of SYRIZA will continue claiming the application of such a policy.
GUE/NGL says #StopCañete!
GUE/NGL MEPs will grill Transport Commissioner-designate Maroš Šefčovič later today. Here are their questions ahead of the hearing.
Spanish MEP Tania González Peñas (PODEMOS): “The Europe 2020 strategy tries to create conditions for intelligent, sustainable and conciliatory development. However, transport policy tends to lean towards the excessive and insufficient concentrations of resources by putting the interests of investors and builders before of the interests of citizens.
Let me just mention some examples: the insufficient promotion of public transport services; tolled motorways that have to be rescued by public administrations; the proliferation of airports with little or no air traffic at all; high speed railway structures that are unaffordable for the majority of the population and incompatible with freight transport; and, the recent removal of the motorway Gijón – Nantes, which is strategic, viable and necessary for such a large region of Europe.
How can you ensure that transport policies are going to be designed for the good and needs of all people, considering the vital role transport services have for well-being and social participation?”
Czech MEP Miroslav Ransdorf (KSČM): “What will be your position on the construction of new water canals in Europe in order to reduce transport costs? I know that the Belarus government is preparing the project connecting Western Dvina with Dnieper. This way would make transport between the Mediterranean sea and the Baltic sea four times faster and would help the economies of the Eastern Baltic sphere.”
Spanish MEP Pablo Echenique-Robba to Commissioner-designate Carlos Moedas:
“As a scientist, I am well aware that science and innovation are not a business. However, it is also true that science and innovation boost productivity and the economy of countries like few other activities do. It is estimated, for example, that the Seventh Framework Programme (7FP) has brought between 7 and 14 euros of added value to industry. In terms of long-term impact, the 7FP is estimated to have increased EU GDP by 1%, created almost 1 million jobs and increased exports by 1.5%. I imagine that you, as a businessman, know about these figures, and this impressive multiplying effect.
“Therefore, it is my duty to ask you a direct question: do you envisage a strong budgetary increase — I repeat — a strong increase in both periods of growth and periods of recession, in EU funding for Research, Innovation and Science that have well demonstrated their contribution to the economy or do you defend a policy of “austericide” and irresponsible cuts which, as already demonstrated in your country and mine, only serves to line the pockets of a few and impoverish most?”
“Como científico, soy perfectamente consciente de que la ciencia y la innovación no son un negocio. No obstante, también es cierto que la ciencia y la innovación estimulan la productividad y la economía de los países como pocas actividades lo hacen. Se calcula, por ejemplo, que el Séptimo Programa Marco ha convertido cada Euro invertido en entre 7 y 14 Euros de valor añadido en la industria. Su impacto a largo plazo se estima en un aumento del 1% del PIB de la Unión, la creación de casi 1 millón de puestos de trabajo y un aumento de un punto porcentual y medio en las exportaciones. Supongo que Usted, como hombre de negocios que es, conoce estos datos, este impresionante efecto multiplicador.
“Por eso, es mi deber hacerle una pregunta directa: ¿Apostará Usted por un decidido aumento —repito: un decidido aumento—, tanto en épocas de crecimiento como en épocas de recesión, de las partidas para Investigación, Innovación y Ciencia de la Unión que tanto bien han demostrado hacerle a la economía o defenderá una política austericida e irresponsable de recortes que, como ya se ha demostrado en su país y en el mío, sólo sirve para llenar los bolsillos de unos pocos y empobrecer a la mayoría?”
MEP Marisa Matias reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Carlos Moedas
Mr Oetteinger favours competition instead of secured access to services and digital goods for the majority
GUE/NGL MEPs were not convinced by the presentation of Mr. Oettinger. Apart from some general assessments and a long list of empty promises about digital revolution and the need to develop the informatics sector, the same traditional recipes are again proposed by the future Commissioner who wants to enforce deregulation of the wider digital sector and even more competition.
Even worse, during the hearing Mr Oettinger did not give any clear answers to key questions, such as the protection of personal data, although this issue is at the centre of the recent revelations of the extensive wiretapping of European citizens. No clear answer was given by the future Commissioner on the issue of net neutrality, despite the fact that just few days ago he was declaring that this net neutrality has to be “progressive”.
In a nutshell, it is a strictly economic vision that characterised this hearing where the words “single market”, “aid to the enterprises” and “free market economy” were heard more than the need of a culture open to everyone, that would promote individual and collective emancipation.
Irish MEP Lynn Boylan (Sinn Féin) to Commissioner-designate Vytenis Andriukaitis:
“Trust in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is being undermined by conflicts of interest. Can I ask the Commissioner-designate for concrete proposals to establish better independence structures within the EFSA?”
Questions from Greek MEP Kostas Chrysogonos (SYRIZA) to Commissioner-designate for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, regarding the environment and poverty.
Mr. Kostas Chrysogonos asked the designate European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, what the Commission’s policy would be towards the environment and biodiversity.
He said: “We see that world emissions of carbon dioxide have increased by 46% from 1990 until today while more and more types of life are going extinct.”
The Commissioner-designate also admitted that development policies so far have failed. He insisted though that biodiversity should be included in the daily policies of the Union.
Mr. Chrysogonos also asked a question about which actions Mr. Mimica is willing to take towards tackling poverty and towards wealth distribution. Mr. Mimica responded that it is within his goals to “eradicate” poverty, to make better use of the wealth and to build solidarity functions.
MEP João Ferreira (PCP) reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Karmenu Vella
MEP Liadh Ní Riada (Sinn Féin) reaction to Hearing of Commissioner Karmenu Vella
GUE/NGL INTA MEPs' reactions to Commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström's hearing
German MEP Helmut Scholz (Die Linke):
Dutch MEP Anne-Marie Mineur (SP):
Italian MEP Eleonora Forenza (L’Altra Europa con Tsipras):
“During the hearing, we requested further guarantees to the Commissioner-designate Maelstrom concerning the introduction of clusters in future trade agreement that will lead to the privatisation of public goods and services of general interest such as water management, health and education services.
“Nevertheless, from the answers we got as well as from the development of the debate, our assessment is not positive: indeed even thou i consider an important signal the commitment to increase transparency in trade policy, the political guidelines of Mme Maelstrom candidature remains tied up to a neoliberal approach unable to answer to challenges such as the defence of human rights, the fight against inequalities as well as for a more fair and sustainable development.
“Indeed, despite a generic commitment not to include commons and services of general interest in the forthcoming trade talks, there is a substantial incapacity to take a clear stand against the so called “negative listing” approach, the system used by trade negotiators to liberalize all services but those specifically mentioned
“Furthermore Commissioner candidate Maelstrom did not managed to release a clear and convincing vision concerning the future of the TTIP talks, where i did not notice any substantial change of direction from the De Gutch tenure. This approach is even more evident in regards to our request to exclude ISDS (investor-to-state dispute settlement) from the current TTIP talks: we against any inclusion of such instrument in the negotiation and we are ready to strive for this in the next months.”
Spanish MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey (PODEMOS):
“La audiencia con la candidata a la Comisión de Comercio Internacional Cecilia Malström ha sido una demostración de la política continuista de las instituciones europeas en los últimos años. Es decir, políticas ultraliberales que nada tienen que ver con la defensa de los Derechos Humanos ni la defensa de los intereses de los ciudadanos.
“Hemos puesto el dedo en la llaga con preguntas incómodas, a las que Cecilia Malström ha contestado con evasivas. Tras la guerra en Gaza y la violación sistemática de los Derechos Humanos por parte del estado Israelí, consideramos que debe ser suspendido el Acuerdo de Asociación entre UE- Israel. Sin ir más lejos, es el propio acuerdo quien así lo contempla, que dice textualmente “Las relaciones entre las partes, así como todas las prestaciones del propio acuerdo, estarán basadas en el respeto de los derecho humanos y principios democráticos, que guía la política interna e internacional y constituye un elemento esencial de este acuerdo”. Parece que ni la propia Unión Europea cumple los acuerdos que ella misma firma y suscribe.
“La idea de que el libre comercio beneficia siempre y a todos, es simplemente una falacia o una ingenuidad extrema más cercana a la religión que a la ciencia, y no resiste un profundo análisis teórico, empírico o histórico.
“Como miembro del Parlamento Europeo, apoyo el Mandato de Comercio Alternativo que defiende una política comercial y de inversión que trabaje por los derechos humanos y sociales y para el medio ambiente.”
Dutch MEP Anne-Marie Mineur addresses Commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström: “The European Commission has said that FTAs yield millions of jobs. But if you read the CEPR report of the committee, it appears that 1.3 million Europeans will lose their jobs. Even Professor Felbermayr of the IFO, the author of the EC report, contests the European Commission's figures. A report by the OECD shows that the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA has only led to unemployment, falling wages and job insecurity.”
She asked Malmström to confirm how many people will lose their jobs and what she would put into TTIP to prevent people losing their job security. She expressed her concerns over the worrying enormous profits we are promised as a result of the abolition of non-tariff restrictions, the very restrictions that protect public health and the environment. She asked Malmström what other non-tariff measures they were planning to sell-off.
Finally, Mineur asked about any guarantees Malmström could make that TTIP would not damage privacy regulation.
Questions from MEP Eleonora Forenza (L’Altra Europa con Tsipras) to Trade Commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström:
“Public services such as water distribution, health, education, garbage collection – if democratically run and managed and sufficiently funded – are key factors in guaranteeing a more fair and equal society by making access and quality of those services accessible and affordable for all. Liberalisation and privatisation in services has proven disastrous, both for consumers and workers. That is why an increasing number of local communities strive to reverse and resist privatisation. Yet, the European Commission is heavily engaged in the ongoing, plurilateral TISA negotiations which aim, if ever concluded, to liberalise 90% of all services, including financial services, the deregulation of which already caused havoc for so many people.
What is your opinion concerning the introduction, in future trade agreement such as TISA, or in TTIP and CETA, of clusters that will lead to the privatisation of public goods and services of general interest such as water management, health and education services?
What do you think of the introduction in future negotiations, for example in TISA or TTIP, of the so called “negative list”, this system used by trade negotiators to liberalize all services BUT those specifically mentioned? Concerning the financial sector, do you consider important to preserve the political space of states to regulate the financial sector, and that future trade agreement will not favour money laundering and tax evasion and tax paradises as this is the case with those negotiated so far? Can you ensure this Committee that you will exclude any possibility of investors attacking, using the ISDS system, municipalities that will decide to take back in the public sector the management of the water supply?”
Question from MEP Stefan Bernhard Eck (Mensch Umwelt Tierschutz) to Commissioner-designate for the environment, maritime policy and fisheries Karmenu VELLA:
“Since 2004 EU legislation has banned animal testing for cosmetics , and testing constituents of cosmetics on animals has been banned since 2009. Since March 2009, the marketing of cosmetics that were tested on animals is also banned in the EU. This marketing ban came into force in March 2013. More than 50% of European citizens want, according to surveys, a drastic reduction in animal testing. Yet, despite this legislation, millions of incidences of cruel animal testing occur each year in Europe, including animal testing for household products such as washing-up liquid, furniture polish, shoe polish, etc. After introducing a ban on cosmetic testing it would be a logical consequence to also ban animal testing for household products, as mentioned above.
Mr. Vella, over the next five years, do you intend to ban animal testing for household products and their component parts, and ban the marketing of household products that have been tested on animals?”
Swedish MEP Malin Björk, GUE/NGL FEMM Coordinator, comments ahead of hearing of Commissioner-designate for gender equality, Vĕra JOUROVÁ.
“For GUE/NGL it is essential that women´s rights and gender equality is at the heart of each and every political agenda. We expect that the Commissioner-designate for gender equality, Vĕra JOUROVÁ, can deliver a strong EU Strategy for Equality between women and men that comprises a comprehensive framework to all the different challenges that women and girls are facing in Europe: Men´s violence against women, the severe impact of the austerity measures, restrictions in sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender pay gap and women´s economic independence. To achieve gender equality we need safety for women and freedom from violence, we need to decide freely about our sexuality and our bodies, and we need to be economically independent. As a left group we are here to challenge the status quo! We are the clear voice of solidarity, feminism and socialism and will do our outmost to shape the political decisions towards an inclusive and social Europe!”
Questions MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey (PODEMOS) will put to Trade Commissioner-designate Cecilia Malmström:
On the EU – Israel Association Agreement:
In light of:
– The horrendous military aggression by the Israeli state against the population of Gaza, in which at least 2131 Palestinians were killed, more than 11230 were injured and 450000 were internally displaced;
– The continuous siege of Gaza, continuous violations of human rights and the evidence about war crimes committed by the Israeli military forces which were documented by the Russell Tribunal and presented to Members of the European Parliament last week;
Don’t you think that the EU has an obligation to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement on the basis of Article 2? (Article 2 reads: “Relations between the Parties, as well as all the provisions of the Agreement itself, shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”)
Regarding the labelling of products, in a number of third countries goods are being produced employing materials, capital, land, labour and other factors of production obtained through acts of expropriation, appropriation, pillage or physical coercion by de facto authorities that the Rome Statute, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and Member State legislation define as criminal. The EU regards such acts as internationally unlawful when committed by States. When such facts become known to the Commission with regard to specific goods and specific third country operators, must the Commission take steps to prevent their importation into the EU? And if so, what steps would you take, if you were to become the new EU Trade Commissioner?
Human rights situation in Colombia (from latest UN High Commissioner for Human Rights annual report):
– As at December 2013, there were 5,966,211 victims of armed conflict registered, of whom 5,155,406 were forced displacement victims. The continuing conflict creates additional victims daily. According to the Registry, 55,157 people were displaced between January and October 2013.
– 39 killings of Human Rights defenders. Victims included land restitution claimants, rural community leaders, indigenous authorities and campaigners against mining and large-scale development projects. The Office in Colombia of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently condemned the threats faced by 120 human rights defenders in Colombia during 2014.
– The police have shot to death nine protesters during the demonstrations in 2013.
– The Comptroller General outlined the damaging social and environmental consequences of mining activities and their negative impact on the rights of indigenous and Afro-Colombian peoples, as well as of farmers. The Rural Development Institute documented that businesses had illegally obtained more than 600,000 hectares of land.
– In 2013, 52 LGBTI persons were killed.
– Some high-ranking officers and soldiers in the armed forces are still linked to proceedings for past human rights violations, including for extrajudicial executions.
In the light of these continued human rights violations don’t you think that the EU has an obligation to suspend the Trade Agreement between the European Union and Colombia on the basis of Article 1? (Article 1 reads: “Respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights, as laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and for the principle of the rule of law, underpins the internal and international policies of the Parties. Respect for these principles constitutes an essential element of this Agreement.”)