Hautala calls Ashton to vigorously promote human rights

As the new foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton settles into her role, Chairwoman Hautala together with the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr GabrieleAlbertini, have written to Ms Ashton to remind her of the Parliament’s fundamental expectations with regard to the central role human rights and democracy in the external policy of the EU. [:]

The joint letter explained, that within the European Parliament the Subcommittee on Human Rights functions as an integral part of the Foreign Affairs Committee and within which all the main debates and reports on human rights issues are prepared. The Subcommittee plays key role in the EU as it scrutinizes key areas of EU foreign policy, in particular, the implementation of the human rights clause in EU’s international agreements, all the human rights dialogues and consultations with third countries, EU guidelines in the field of human rights, the implementation of the EIDHR, the human rights impact of the EU internal policy on the external policy and the work of the EU in the UN Human Rights Council.

As the establishment of the European External Action Service is still taking shape, the joint letter underlines the need for Ms Ashton to integrate the respect for and the promotion of human rights in the External Action Service. Moreover, the Chairs note in the joint letter that Parliament insisted in this respect already in its resolution of 22 October 2009 by stating that the responsibility of the EEAS was to guarantee full application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in all aspects of the Union’s external action in accordance with the spirit and purpose of the Lisbon Treaty. “No doubt, the key challenge for Ms Ashton in this regard is to integrate human rights in all fields of EU external policies and ensure that this achieves tangible results”, Ms Hautala adds.

The joint letter also notes that the Council and Commission should make greater efforts to improve the ability of the European Union to respond rapidly to breaches of human rights by third countries and adds that measures should be taken to ensure that human rights issues are followed in a more systematic way by the EU missions.

The signatories also stressed the necessity to enhance the transparency and the access to sensitive and confidential documents between EU institutions, notably regarding all confidential démarches undertaken vis-à-vis authorities of third countries in the field of human rights. Such access to confidential sources while fully respecting confidentiality would develop a more effective inter-institutional cooperation, the Chairs consider.

The letter further states that as the Subcommittee in particular and Parliament in general very much appreciate the input to institutional cooperation and to EU effort in the field of human rights of the successive Personal Representatives of the High Representative, the Chairs would very much like to receive the assurance of Ms Ashton that she will be taking Parliament’s views into account in ensuring an effective place for the work on human rights in all her future actions and in particular in the future European External Action Service.