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Respect for human rights and better democratic accountability needed for the EU’s external and development policy


14 Jul 2021


Development Policy

The Socialists and Democrats included better democratic control and transparency in a report on how EU money is spent through the Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Thanks to the input from the S&Ds, the report adopted today sends a strong message to the European Commission that it must not forget about development policies and respect for human rights and the rule of law, rather than focusing mainly on migration management.

The S&Ds underline in the report that long-term goals such as the eradication of poverty and improving employment, education, food security and the living conditions of the local populations cannot be second-class priorities when it comes to spending European taxpayers’ money in third countries all over the world.

The Socialists and Democrats call for lessons to be learnt from the last few years and this should result in overcoming the constraints that led to the need to launch Trusts Funds. The S&D MEPs welcomed the creation of the new EU external financing instrument – NDICI - Global Europe – as it includes increasing possibilities within the EU budget to respond to new emergencies, respecting the European Parliament’s rights of democratic control and scrutiny.

Elisabetta Gualmini MEP, S&D negotiator on the report in the Committee on Budgets, said:

“We live in a world full of uncertainty. In this context, the European Union’s capacities for crisis management are essential for our position in global policies, especially in our neighbourhood countries. For the Socialists and Democrats, respect for human rights is not optional – it is a must for all policies funded by the European Union. Furthermore, the EU owes its citizens full transparency on the implementation of projects, in particular those related to border and migration management. Democratic accountability is only possible when the European Parliament is fully involved in this process, making full use of its powers of scrutiny, particularly taking into account that the greater part of this money comes from the EU budget.”

Pierfrancesco Majorino MEP, S&D negotiator on the report in the Committee on Foreign Affairs and in the Committee on Development, said:

“The Trust Funds were born out of the need to deploy rapid responses to emergencies but have often become instruments outside the democratic control of Parliament and have been diverted from their underlying objectives. An excessive focus on the containment of migratory flows has diverted resources from development objectives to focus on short-term goals. This is part of a dangerous logic of externalising borders that, in several cases, has also led to serious human-rights violations, such as the shameful and glaring case of the so-called Libyan coastguard. In addition to asserting the Parliament's role in terms of democratic control and denouncing the dangerous diversion of funds from development objectives, we call for independent monitoring on respect for human rights. Because what has happened and is happening must be fully investigated. This also applies to Facility for Refugees in Turkey, where transparency and respect for human rights and the rights of refugees have to be fully applied.”