This week the European Parliament will approve the Juncker Commission. After a bit of drama, one resignation and some reshuffling, the 27 Commissioners plus their Chair, Mr Juncker, will start drafting legislation and managing the day-to-day business of the EU. The European Christian Political Movement (ECPM) will seek to work constructively with the Commission where it can, but oppose it when necessary. Here are our key demands for the Juncker Commission's five year mandate.
First of all the Commission must respect the limitations of its legal basis. In the past we have too often seen an activist Commission trying to influence affairs outside its remit. As 'guardian of the Treaties' the Commission must respect the limitations of the Treaties. This means a most limited role in social issues. The Commission must:
- Respect the rights of member states to legislate on matters of family law, including the definition of what constitutes a family and the associated rights. Furthermore a non-legislative family strategy to truly value and support the families in Europe is needed. The ECPM considers this an area of crucial importance as families are the bedrock of society;
- Respect the rights of member states to legislate on the areas of healthcare and education and not create backdoor options for meddling such as via claims of certain rights or equal treatment;
- Promote, within the limitations of its remits, issues such as maternal health whilst respecting the fact that it is in no position to promote large parts of its Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights agenda, including abortion;
- Refrain from giving financial or political support to a select group of NGOs and lobbyists active on social issues that often in turn pressurize the Commission to act outside its legal boundaries;
- Refrain from pressurizing (potential) candidate countries on areas of social and family legislation where EU member states themselves have different views.
- Finally, the Commission wants to review the list of pending legislative proposal. One of them is the anti-discrimination directive, discussed since 2008, which seems unlikely to be adopted. Many citizens in Europe are afraid that the directive will limit their fundamental rights, for instance their freedom of Religion and conscience. Therefore the ECPM asks the commission to withdraw this proposal.
The ECPM urges the Commission to respect life and the dignity of the human being and therefore to:
- Reconsider its rejection of the "One of Us" initiative and refrain from any involvement, political, financial or otherwise, in issues of artificially ending life, either at its first beginnings or at the end;
- Work with member states, OECD, Council of Europe and others, to combat human trafficking by going after the buyers of sex, whilst offering protection and rehabilitation to the women and men offering sex;
- Work with member states and neighbouring countries to improve Europe's response to the refugee crisis which has led to many thousands of deaths in the Mediterranean.
The ECPM urges the Commission to assist the member states to solve the economic crisis. This means to:
- Enforce existing agreements such as the Stability and Growth Pact (SGP), treating large and small member states alike;
- Leave member states the possibility to make their own policy decisions within the boundaries of the SGP demands. The Commission should not make demands with regards to pension systems, labour markets or housing markets;
- Refrain from creating perverse incentives by Europeanizing debts or liabilities of banks or governments;
- Support SME's, family enterprises, cooperatives and mutual societies, reduce red tape and encourage corporate social responsibility, promote the idea of the ‘Honourable Merchant’ and promote a relational economy.
The ECPM calls on the Commission to increase Europe's resilience to outside pressure with measures that fall within the remits of its competences. The Commission should:
- Encourage a reduction in Europe's energy dependence of unsavoury regimes, by facilitating cooperation among member states and by setting ambitious targets and channelling funds strategically, whilst leaving member states the right to determine their own energy mix;
- Stand by countries in the EU's eastern neighbourhood that suffer under Russian pressure, whilst respecting the EU's absorption capacity and strictly adhering to the Copenhagen Criteria and the strictest interpretation of demands to police and judiciary, quality of public institutions and anticorruption standards;
- promote stability and peace in the EU's Southern Neighbourhood by taking seriously into account the legitimate security interests of the State of Israel;
- Make sure the European defence cooperation does not duplicate NATO, which remains the prime guarantor of peace and security for EU's member states;
- Aid the MH17 crash investigation and propose measures to improve intelligence sharing and improving safety of air travel;
Finally the ECPM believes that the Juncker Commission should guarantee freedom of religion or belief, both within and outside the European continent, as a fundamental human right and a key part of people's identity.
The European Christian Political Movement is represented in the European Parliament by five MEPs:
Peter van Dalen (NL, ECR)
Bas Belder (NL, ECR)
Branislav Skripek (SK, ECR)
Arne Gericke (DE, ECR)
Beatrix von Storch (DE, ECR)