Next week the European Parliament will vote in Strasbourg on the Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2013 and the European Union's policy on the matter. The report is presented by the Italian MEP Pier Antonio Panzeri from the Socialist and Democrats group. All in all, the report is very contradictory which makes it difficult to support whereas positive points are being countered with phrases that are clearly in conflict with the principle of subsidiarity and other phrases in the report itself.
The positive side is the protection of freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This issue is one of the focus points of ECPM and we are pleased to see that the report addresses this issue and also gives special attention to the situation of (Christian) minorities in the Middle East. The situation of Christians in countries in Africa and Asia is also explicitly mentioned. (par 128-133).
Unfortunately, the report oversteps EU competence and breaches the principle of subsidiarity when it explicitly criticizes national referendums in several EU Member States, namely Slovakia and Croatia, and national legislation in Lithuania (par. 165). This criticism breaches both the mandate of the EU Institutions and of the Committee for Foreign Affairs responsible of the report.
Furthermore, the report "encourages the EU institutions and the Member States to further contribute to reflection on the recognition of same-sex marriage or same-sex civil union" (par. 162).
As same-sex marriage is not an EU competence, this phrase clearly breaches the principle of subsidiarity and clearly disrespect the views of EU citizens, especially those in Croatia and Slovakia. How can a a report state that it "calls on the EU to respect, promote and defend democratic ownership" and "civil society involvement" in third Countries (Par. 6), and at the same time criticizes democratic referendums and the legitimate expression of citizens within the EU itself?
ECPM is very disappointed that the many positive points in the report are being countered with these negative elements. Why is it so hard to defend the human dignity of all (regardless of religion,ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc) within the limits of EU competence and thus respecting the sovereignty of the Member States?
Why is a report that strongly (and rightly so) steps up for the freedom and safety of minorities in the Middle East at the same time discarding the voice of EU citizens when they make it heard via legal instruments?