Tag Archives: Democracy

Enhancing the Asia strategy

Enhancing the Asia strategy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Enhancing the Asia strategy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Asia

Enhancing the Asia strategy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council of 4 September 2001. Europe and Asia: A Strategic Framework for Enhanced Partnerships [COM(2001)469 – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Taking account of the developments that have taken place since its 1994 Communication entitled ‘Towards a New Asia Strategy’, the Commission updates the mechanism established by the 1994 strategy. It sets outs a comprehensive strategic framework for relations between Asia, its regions and the European Union (EU) in the coming decade, while recognising the diversity of Asia through different forms of partnership. The Commission aims to strengthen the EU’s political and economic presence in Asia, raising it to a level commensurate with the growing global weight of the enlarged Union.

The new strategy therefore focuses on six key points:

  • strengthening the EU’s engagement with Asia in the political and security fields;
  • further strengthening mutual trade and investment flows with the region;
  • demonstrating the EU’s effectiveness as a partner in reducing poverty in Asia;
  • promoting respect for human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law;
  • building global alliances with key Asian partners (to address global challenges and within international organisations);
  • strengthening mutual awareness between the EU and Asia.

The Communication identifies concrete proposals aimed at strengthening EU-Asia relations in these key areas and launching actions on a broader regional scale.

As regards peace and security, the EU must play an active role in regional fora, promote conflict prevention through the sharing of experiences and strengthen EU-Asia dialogue on justice and home affairs, an area that includes, in particular, the right to asylum, immigration and arms trafficking.

Mutual trade and investment flows must benefit from better market access and investment conditions on both sides. Efforts must be made to encourage contacts between the private sector (especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)) and in particular the high technology sector, strengthen dialogue on economic and financial policy, and enhance market access for the poorest developing countries.

In order to reduce poverty, the Commission will give priority in its cooperation programmes to key issues such as education and health, economic and social governance, and the link between environment and poverty. Enhanced dialogue on social policy issues would make it possible to exchange experiences on the most appropriate method of addressing the challenges of globalisation and modernisation.

Promoting civil society and a dialogue between Asia and Europe must encourage democracy, good governance and the rule of law. As regards human rights, constructive exchanges, such as the dialogue with China on human rights, should pave the way for better cooperation.

It is also important to conclude partnerships and build alliances in addressing global issues such as the reform of the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation, the environment and other challenges, for example international crime, terrorism and the spread of AIDS.

The opening of new delegations is one of the instruments that promotes better mutual knowledge between Europe and Asia. Support should also be provided for university, cultural and scientific exchanges and for civil society contacts between the regions.

The Communication also sets out specific measures to target the EU’s initiatives concerning the different component parts of Asia (South Asia, South-East Asia, North-East Asia and Australasia, which is included for the first time in the EU-Asia strategic framework). These measures aim first and foremost to improve relations with certain countries in the region and cover bilateral issues with each country, while providing a framework for the overall relations between Europe and Asia. The Commission favours a pragmatic approach, based on a specific analysis of its relations with each country or group of countries.

At an institutional level, the EU’s relations with Asia have developed considerably in recent years. The first bilateral summit was held in 1991 with Japan. Similar summits have been organised recently with India and China as well as with East Asia as a whole under the ASEM process (Asia-Europe Meeting). At ministerial level, the EU’s dialogue with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the one hand, and with Australia and New Zealand on the other, continues to make progress.

European policies concerning youth participation and information

European policies concerning youth participation and information

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European policies concerning youth participation and information

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Education training youth sport > Youth

European policies concerning youth participation and information

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council on European policies concerning youth participation and information [COM(2006) 417 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Youth policies serve to facilitate young people’s transition into working life and develop their active citizenship at European level. The White Paper ” A new impetus for European Youth ” led to the adoption of a framework of European cooperation in the youth field, within which the Member States agreed to focus on four specific priorities to promote young people’s active citizenship:

  • information;
  • participation;
  • voluntary activities;
  • a better knowledge of youth.

National reports on participation and information were submitted to the Commission by the Member States. According to the Member States the two European priorities of “participation” and “information”, to which they apply the open method of coordination (OMC), have encouraged national youth policies and remain important for the development of young people’s active citizenship. But they recognise that they must continue to cooperate with each other and with their regional and local authorities if the process is to bear fruit.

This Communication analyses these reports and assesses the achievement of the common objectives in respect of the two above-mentioned priorities throughout the European Union (EU).

YOUNG PEOPLE’S ACCESS TO AND PARTICIPATION IN INFORMATION

The common objectives on information for young people are based on three points: access for young people to information, quality information, and participation by young people in information production.

Access for young people to information

Information tools are available to young people in all Member States. However, only 12 countries have opted for an information strategy which addresses all questions likely to interest young people and which encompasses all levels, from local to European.

Youth information websites are the most important information means of communication information. The European youth portal, created in 2003, establishes links with the national youth portals in 19 Member States. The Member States recognise that this portal has enhanced inter-ministerial cooperation and exchanges in the field of youth information.

The reports express the Member States’ desire to:

  • further develop personalised information services,
  • help young people with fewer opportunities to access tools such as the internet so that they are not excluded from the society of information.

Action is above all based on issues such as free time, youth organisations and voluntary activities, while information on participation, education, employment and travelling in Europe is sometimes neglected.

England has a national online service (Connexions Direct) which offers young people information by telephone, text message, online or by e-mail. In Slovenia, youth information and counselling centres pay specific attention to the young Romany population. In Cyprus and Spain, young people in rural areas are provided with information by mobile units.

Information quality

Member States aim to ensure that information for young people meets certain quality standards. Accordingly, most of them apply the European youth information charter.

Networks play an important role in improving the skills of youth information workers. The European youth information networks EURODESK, ERYICA and EYCA help in the development of training courses for their members. They have also put together a compendium of initiatives regarding quality.

In France, youth information centres have their own staff training structure to ensure that quality standards are met. National quality standards supplement the European youth information charter.

Participation by young people in information generation

Hardly any action has been taken in this field. Nevertheless, a number of reports indicate that young people can be consulted on informational strategies and on the development of information material. In Slovakia, youth information centres cooperate with volunteers who distribute information for young people mainly in schools and universities.

Obstacles and challenges

Member States encounter certain difficulties in achieving the common objectives on youth information. These obstacles can be divided into three categories:

  • methodology: some Member States have emphasised how difficult it is to identify a starting point and indicators to assess progress;
  • coordination between actors: it is necessary to improve coordination between the different institutions concerned with youth;
  • lack of resources, particularly at local level.

The Member States intend to pursue the implementation of the common objectives. The key challenges awaiting them include improved involvement of national youth councils and focusing more on young people with fewer opportunities.

To improve access for young people to information services, the Commission considers it necessary to:

  • establish global information strategies addressing all issues relevant to young people;
  • promote information society tools and innovative approaches.

In the Commission’s view, quality information requires:

  • further development of individual counselling services;
  • systematic application of the European youth information charter.

It is also necessary to enhance the participation of young people in public information strategies and reinforce the role of youth organisations in promoting youth information.

PARTICIPATION BY YOUNG PEOPLE IN DEMOCRATIC LIFE

Action to support young people’s participation in democratic life is better coordinated than in the past. The means used by Member States to achieve the common objectives for participation of young people are, namely, reinforcement of frameworks, support for participative and representative structures, and support for projects.

Reinforcement of frameworks

The legal framework in the field of youth participation has been improved. Some Member States have adopted legislation and others have developed strategic action plans or new obligations to consult young people. The following countries have adopted different measures:

  • Ireland: a youth law;
  • Czech Republic: a youth concept;
  • Portugal: a national youth reform programme;
  • Sweden: a government bill entitled “The power to decide”;
  • Estonia and Slovenia: a strategic plan;
  • Latvia: a political programme for youth;
  • Slovakia: a youth participation plan.

Italy provides special funds to support youth policies.

Support for participative and representative structures

A number of actions have been implemented with the aim of supporting participative structures and promoting dialogue with partners in the youth field. However, better interaction between the local, regional, national and European levels is needed. National reports also show the need for greater efforts at local level, and it is necessary to remove obstacles affecting the participation of certain groups of young people.

Forums for dialogue between young people and decision-makers have been organised more frequently, including regular consultations, meetings and hearings.

Some countries have nominated individuals to take responsibility for youth affairs. Finland has appointed a mediator, the United Kingdom a national youth correspondent, while Lithuania has opted for municipal youth coordinators.

Other countries have developed horizontal practices (e.g. inter-ministerial meetings) or have set up consultative structures such as:

  • national councils (most Member States);
  • youth commissions and local youth councils (Luxembourg, Belgium);
  • youth parliaments (Cyprus and Malta);
  • participative structures for youth (Greece and Spain);
  • structures more specifically for disadvantaged young people (Germany);
  • structures for young people in rural areas (Poland);
  • support structures for youth projects (Austria).

Young people’s interest in representative democracy is declining, but few Member States seem to be working on remedial action. However, some are introducing arrangements to increase young people’s participation in elections:

  • The Netherlands has introduced parallel elections for young people;
  • Finland allows voting in local elections from the age of 16;
  • France has introduced automatic registration in electoral lists;
  • Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have opted for use of the internet.

Support for projects

Participation by young people must be encouraged in fields where projects are undertaken, and young people must be the main actors in their participative projects. It is also essential to support relevant bodies such as youth organisations.

In some Member States efforts have been made to open up projects to young people with fewer opportunities. In France, the “Desire to do something” programme supports and rewards first projects by or for young people and finances innovative and creative projects as well as voluntary activities and entrepreneurial projects. In Denmark, the “Youth policy in Danish municipalities” project stresses the importance of involving young people more in policy-making.

Obstacles encountered

The difficulties encountered by Member States can be divided into four groups:

  • methodology: some Member States have emphasised how difficult it is to identify a starting point and indicators to assess progress;
  • lack of direct or indirect support: it is necessary to allocate resources to structures and projects, and also to provide stable support through legislative action, partnerships with young people or common tools;
  • lack of involvement of young people: although young people have the right not to participate, more can be done to encourage their involvement. Their peers could act as “ambassadors” willing to share their experience. Better recognition and promotion of the individual and social benefits of involvement would also encourage youth participation;
  • inertia of institutional actors: interaction between the local, regional and national levels needs to be improved, the development of youth participation structures should be given more support, and dialogue should be organised with young people on a broader range of issues. The mobilisation of local authorities is crucial for fostering local participation by young people.

As in the case of youth information, the EU Member States aim to pursue the common objectives. They confirm the importance of using information society tools for interactive policy participation (e.g. “policy blogging”) and of developing youth participation in elections.

The Commission feels that participation by young people in civic life necessitates:

  • structured consultation of young people on issues that concern them. This should entail reinforcing the role of national youth councils in the consultation process;
  • local participative structures and systematic involvement of young people in local decision-making bodies;
  • analysis of obstacles to participation affecting certain groups of young people in order to increase representativeness;
  • tools to promote participation (e.g. guidelines for participatory mechanisms).

It is also necessary to develop actions to increase participation by young people in the institutions of representative democracy (e.g. by promoting their involvement in political parties), so that young people take more part in representative democracy.

Finally, it is essential to support the various forms of learning to participate. In this connection synergies must be developed with actions undertaken in the education field. For example, at European level, closer links could be established with the open method of coordination for education and vocational training. Support for the different forms of learning to participate also necessitates better recognition of the different forms of participation by young people.

ACTIVE PARTICIPATION BY YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE EU

Structured dialogue with young people on the European agenda must be improved. The Commission and Member States have agreed on the need to involve young people actively in debate and dialogue for policy-making. The European institutions and Member States have made efforts to implement these principles in practice and foster the involvement of young people in EU development, for example by preparing:

  • a consultation process on the 2001 White Paper “A new impetus for European youth”;
  • regular encounters with youth organisations;
  • a European youth week;
  • consultations on the European youth portal;
  • youth events organised by the Presidency;
  • conferences, campaigns, forums and consultations in Member States.

However, the Commission considers that forums for dialogue with young people on European issues could be developed more and that their structures could be improved at European, national, regional and local levels.

Commission’s ideas for improving structured dialogue

In order to maximise their legitimacy, debates involving young people must be as inclusive and diverse as possible. It is therefore essential to involve disadvantaged young people and those who do not belong to any structures. In order to enable a more coherent and cross-sectoral approach, these debates should also bring together actors who deal directly or indirectly with youth issues.

The Commission plans to support a permanent dialogue for a period of three years in a spirit of constructive partnership. In particular, it proposes to:

  • facilitate dialogue at local level to ensure timely and effective input from young people into EU debates;
  • identify priority themes to be discussed at European level until 2009: social inclusion and diversity in 2007, intercultural dialogue in 2008 and perspectives for continued cooperation in the youth field in 2009;
  • create an informal forum attended by representatives of young people, presidencies, the European Parliament and the Commission;
  • regularly organise a European youth week with the participation of Commissioners and representatives of other European institutions;
  • arrange encounters with young people who do not usually have contacts with the European institutions;
  • organise a youth-specific Eurobarometer (end of 2006);
  • mobilise European information networks to support structured dialogue.

OPEN METHOD OF COORDINATION

The Commission is of the opinion that the OMC should be reinforced. In this connection it proposes that:

  • Member States should single out by the end of 2006 those lines of action for participation and information on which they wish to concentrate and define action plans;
  • Member States should set up a follow-up mechanism involving young people and their organisations and prepare an evaluation report by the end of 2008;
  • Member States should take part, on a voluntary basis, in pilot peer reviews of information and participation;
  • Member States should promote the common objectives among regional and local authorities, youth organisations and young people in general;
  • the Commission itself should consult the European Youth Forum on any proposal relating to the OMC;
  • a working group should define indicators for the implementation of the common objectives on participation and information.

The Council is asked to endorse the proposals set out in the Communication.

Related Acts

Communication from the Commission to the European Council of 10 May 2006: “A citizens’ agenda – Delivering results for Europe” [COM(2006) 211 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

White Paper of 1 February 2006 on a European communication policy [COM(2006) 35 final — Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 30 May 2005 on European policies concerning youth – Addressing the concerns of young people in Europe – Implementing the European youth pact and promoting active citizenship [COM(2005) 206 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Communication from the Commission of 13 October 2005 on the Commission’s contribution to the period of reflection and beyond – Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate [COM(2005) 494 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

European Commission White Paper of 21 November 2001: “A new impetus for European youth” [COM(2001) 681 final — Not published in the Official Journal].

Renewed engagement with Iraq

Renewed engagement with Iraq

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Renewed engagement with Iraq

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Middle east

Renewed engagement with Iraq

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 7 June 2006: Recommendations for renewed European Union engagement with Iraq [COM(2006) 283 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission has proposed renewed EU engagement with Iraq based on its evaluation of the situation in Iraq and of relations between the two partners since the Framework for Engagement drawn up in 2004.

The political and constitutional process in Iraq has made progress, with the formation of the first Government, the 2005 elections and the new constitution. This notwithstanding, Iraq still faces instability, political tensions, and a deteriorating security environment.

In this context, the determinant factors for increased EU engagement are security and respect for the ethnic and religious communities in the political process.

Challenges For Iraq

The main challenges facing the new Iraqi government are interdependent, and are both political and economic in nature. The response to these challenges must be geared to benefiting the population at large and must therefore focus on better administration, economic stability and sustainable growth in order to consolidate democracy and stimulate the economy.

Consolidating democracy and strengthening civil society

Strengthening the democratic foundations of the country is essential to the continued pursuit of the political process of democratisation. The scheduled local and regional elections and the constitutional review process must go hand in hand with a stronger and more active civil society and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

National cohesion requires respect for the ethnic and religious communities. The choice of model of governance and how it is applied within the public administration will be crucial, as the formation of a national unity government has already shown. Nonetheless, national reconciliation remains essential, especially in order to safeguard Iraq’s territorial integrity and prevent negative repercussions in neighbouring states.

Security and the rule of law are indissociable and need to be strengthened. The insecurity generated by sectarian-based violence, the impotence of the security forces, organised crime and street violence has caused widespread internal migration. Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) initiatives to combat violations of human rights, stop the displacement of whole communities and restore confidence are therefore essential.

Achieving the basis for sustainable economic development

Economic recovery presupposes viable basic services and the creation of employment opportunities and income generation activities. The knock-on effects will be felt in improved security and quality of life and a better utilisation of the country’s human capital.

Establishing a functioning administrative framework will make for good economic management, the provision of essential public services and the development and implementation of public policies. Reforming the public administration, with the support of the international community, will make it possible to modernise the civil service and enhance its competence and capabilities.

The country’s economic development needs to be based on:

  • its energy resources. Iraq’s large reserves of oil and natural gas remain largely unexploited (problems include aging infrastructures and outmoded techniques, lack of transparency, looting and trafficking), while heavy dependency on oil revenues makes the country very vulnerable to external economic factors;
  • economic diversification as a factor of prosperity. Water and agriculture are sectors that could generate income, create jobs and encourage investment, but only within the framework of a secure budgetary and regulatory environment.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EU SUPPORT

Iraq is a country rich in human, natural and cultural resources, which can serve as a foundation for stability and prosperity.

A stable and prosperous Iraq is also vital for its neighbours and international partners, including the EU, for security, economic, energy and political reasons. In this context, the EU is well placed to support Iraq, given its geographical proximity, its international role and its experience in post-conflict situations. It can also make good use of such instruments as political dialogue, financial aid, cooperation in the domain of the rule of law and the relations it has developed with Iraq to strengthen its engagement with that country.

In the short term, the EU should, for maximum impact, focus its engagement on certain key objectives that can yield tangible results. Nonetheless, Iraqi political will and improvement in the security situation will determine the nature of the EU’s continued engagement. This engagement must ensure, moreover, that the EU’s actions and its support for the actions of the United Nations and the other international players are carried out in a complementary manner.

A democratic government that overcomes divisions

It is essential that the government and the administration reflect the ethnic and religious composition of the population. Respect for the electoral process is also another way of restoring confidence.

The EU will support civil society and national, regional and local institutions, and will work with the international partners in the political process. Its support could make a contribution to:

  • inter-community relations, and particularly strategies and initiatives promoting respect, dialogue and national reconciliation while at the same time combating sectarianism, and policies supporting a multi-ethnic, pluri-confessional administration;
  • Iraq’s territorial integrity and national unity, promoting regional cooperation and relations with regional players;
  • the constitutional review process, where the Member States can provide valuable experience, and including support for ambitious measures relating to public information and dialogue with the people;
  • democratic and parliamentary institutions, through measures such as technical and other assistance and exchanges and twinning programmes to build up capacity. Support could also include continued assistance for the Independent Electoral Commission and other civil society organisations.

Establishing security through the rule of law and respect for human rights

The EU is already involved in this area, both through the work of individual Member States and in the framework of EU instruments like the EUJUST LEX mission launched in 2005. Pursuing European security and defence policy (ESDP), this mission works with all the players involved to develop an integrated rule of law / criminal justice system.

Its experience can be used to underpin:

  • the preparation of a rule-of-law programme to strengthen the civil and criminal justice systems;
  • development of a culture of respect for human rights and implementation of international conventions while building up the appropriate capacities for safeguarding them;
  • disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration activities (DDR).

Nonetheless, the Iraqi government still needs to curb the militias and non-government militarised groups and to create a supportive framework in which civil society can operate.

Basic services and employment

Improving access for the Iraqi population to basic services (water, education, electricity, health and sanitation) will improve the quality of life and foster sustainable stability. The EU has made a major contribution to such work through Community aid and close cooperation with the UN, but the commitment of the Iraqi government to social development is indispensable, particularly to secure the effective use of the aid supplied. The Iraqi National Development Strategy adopted in 2004 could, once updated, provide a platform for the implementation of these programmes.

Employment is a priority, but it requires an environment conducive to job creation and the development of income-generating activities. This could be addressed by harmonising the various reconstruction programmes, encouraging job creation in the private sector, including in small and medium-sized enterprises, and promoting a diversification of the economy.

Mechanisms to pave the way for economic recovery and prosperity

The Iraqi government needs to commit itself to the economic reforms that will boost growth, development and prosperity, help put an end to corruption and allow it to optimise the use of its resources.

Dialogue, cooperation programmes, exchanges of experience and financial aid are all means through which the EU and Iraq can work towards this end, focusing primarily on:

  • the energy sector. EU action will support both the domestic and the regional framework. A secure regulatory and financial framework will encourage investment and help deter corruption, criminality and organised crime. The establishment of regional networks and technical dialogues for the development and export of oil and gas resources will foster regional cooperation;
  • economic diversification and development of an attractive trade and investment regime. The negotiation of a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) that will bring Iraq closer to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the improvement of Iraqi access to the European market (generalised system of preferences), the engagement of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Iraq, and Community assistance to consolidate the Iraqi Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance will back up this process.

An effective and transparent administrative framework

Iraq must push ahead with public administration reforms (judicial structures, human resources, sound financial management, etc.). A ‘roadmap’ based on realistic goals and benchmarks will help the Iraqi government fulfil its commitments to its international partners.

The EU is well placed to help implement these reforms through experience from the enlargement process and support for building capacity and institutions in other parts of the world. In this context, the negotiation of a TCA with Iraq will be an additional area in which the EU can make a contribution, both by spurring Iraq to establish a functioning administration to manage the implementation of the agreement and by providing a framework for setting up technical working groups to support the exchange of know-how and expertise.

Context

The Commission’s 2004 Communication entitled The European Union and Iraq: A Framework for Engagement and the accompanying letter signed by the Commissioner for External Relations and the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) set out a medium-term strategy for EU engagement with Iraq as a response to the formation of the new Iraqi Interim Government and the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1546.

This medium-term strategy was aimed chiefly at the development of a secure, stable and democratic Iraq, with a sustainable market economy, at peace with its neighbours and integrated into the international community. The EU’s engagement has translated into:

  • support for the political and constitutional process (provision of expertise and resources for the electoral process and the establishment of the rule of law) and stepped-up engagement with the Iraqi political leadership (EU-Iraq Joint Declaration on Political Dialogue signed on 21 September 2005 [PDF ], Troika visits, and the June 2005 EU-US sponsored international conference on Iraq in Brussels;
  • strengthening bilateral relations with the opening of a European Commission delegation and an offer to start negotiations for a TCA;
  • contributing to the international engagement with Iraq by providing substantial financial aid, notably through the International Reconstruction Fund Facility for Iraq, and by maintaining close contact with other key international players committed to supporting Iraq.

Related Acts

Declaration of 22 June 2005 of the Brussels International Conference for Iraq [FR ] [PDF].

EU – Iraq Joint Declaration on Political Dialogue, signed on 21 September 2005 [PDF ].

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 1 October 2003: “The Madrid Conference on Reconstruction in Iraq – 24 October 2003” [COM(2003) 575 final – Not yet published in the Official Journal].

 

Strategy for Iraq 2011-2013

Strategy for Iraq 2011-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for Iraq 2011-2013

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Middle east

Strategy for Iraq 2011-2013

Document or Iniciative

European Commission – Iraq Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .

Summary

The Commission presents the Strategy Paper and the National Indicative Programme which define the priorities for cooperation between the European Union and Iraq.

The cooperation between the partners aims to:

  • develop a secure and stable democracy where fundamental rights and freedoms are respected;
  • establish a market economy and open society with resources to promote equitable economic and social development;
  • promote the country’s political and economic integration into the wider region and the international economic system.

The strategy also supports the country in its progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Strategy 2007-2013

The joint action programming focuses on three interdependent priority areas:

  • strengthening institutions and good governance;
  • socio-economic recovery, through education and strengthening institutional capacity;
  • water management and agriculture.

In addition, the cooperation actions must take account of the following cross-cutting issues:

  • human capital and competence building;
  • human rights, gender equality and the protection of vulnerable groups;
  • environmental protection.

Implementation

The level of political stability and security in Iraq remains insufficient. Furthermore, the implementation of cooperation actions requires flexible methods to be established.

Funding for the strategy is provided by the financing instrument for development cooperation. Funding from thematic programmes may also be applied for, specifically for the protection of human rights, non-state actors and local authorities, migration, food security and the environment.

Lastly, actions must be carried out in coordination with the Commission, the Member States, and the international organisations involved in the reconstruction and development of the country.

Sweden and Italy play a particular role in the implementation of the strategy given the importance and complementarity of their bilateral cooperation with Iraq. The two States shall continue their action under the framework of this European strategy.

Context

The EU and Iraq are progressing towards the conclusion of a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. This Agreement will provide a complete political and legal framework for promoting the development of the country, its stability and integration into the international community.

In 2010, the partners adopted a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy in order to provide a framework for cooperation on matters of energy security, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and of scientific, technological and industrial cooperation.

The strengthening of European democracy

The strengthening of European democracy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about The strengthening of European democracy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > Building europe through the treaties > The Lisbon Treaty: a comprehensive guide

The strengthening of European democracy

The Treaty of Lisbon puts the citizen back at the heart of the European Union (EU) and its institutions. It aims to revive the citizen’s interest in the EU and its achievements, which sometimes appear too remote. One objective of the Treaty of Lisbon is to promote European democracy which offers citizens the opportunity to take an interest in and participate in the functioning and development of the EU.

Such an objective necessarily depends on better recognition of European citizenship in the founding Treaties of the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon also endeavours to simplify and clarify the functioning of the Union in order to make it more understandable, and therefore more accessible to citizens. Finally, the Treaty of Lisbon strengthens the representation and participation of the citizen in the European process. The creation of a citizens’ initiative is one of the main innovations.

BETTER RECOGNITION OF CITIZENS IN THE TREATIES

The Treaty of Lisbon introduces a new article in which it fully recognises European citizenship. Article 10 of the Treaty on EU provides that citizens are directly represented at institutional level by the European Parliament. The article adds that this representative democracy is one of the foundations of the EU. Such recognition does not give citizens new rights but it does have strong symbolic value in that it enshrines the principle of European citizenship in the founding Treaties.

Article 10 also establishes a principle of proximity which provides that decisions must be taken as closely as possible to the citizens. This principle applies especially in the implementation of competences within the EU. This implementation should involve national and local administrations as effectively as possible, so as to bring the EU closer to its citizens.

A EUROPEAN UNION MORE ACCESSIBLE TO CITIZENS

The EU has often dismissed the image of a body with a complex structure and procedures. The Treaty of Lisbon clarifies the functioning of the EU in order to improve citizens’ understanding of it. The vast numbers of legislative procedures are now giving way to a standard procedure and special legislative procedures detailed on a case by case basis. Similarly, the old pillar structure has been abolished in favour of a clear and precise division of competences within the EU.

In the same context, the Treaty of Lisbon improves the transparency of work within the EU. It extends to the Council the principle of public conduct of proceedings, which is already applied within the European Parliament. Moreover, this greater transparency will result in better information for citizens about the content of legislative proceedings.

STRONGER REPRESENTATION AT INSTITUTIONAL LEVEL

The Treaty of Lisbon greatly strengthens the powers of the European Parliament (see European Parliament). The most significant changes include:

  • the strengthening of legislative power: the ordinary legislative procedure, in which the Parliament has the same powers as the Council, is extended to new policy areas;
  • a greater role at international level: the Parliament shall approve international agreements in the fields covered by the ordinary legislative procedure;
  • the strengthening of budgetary power: the Parliament is henceforth placed on an equal footing with the Council in the procedure for adopting the EU’s annual budget.

Moreover, the Treaty of Lisbon enhances the role of national parliaments in the EU (see national parliaments). The latter are also able to defend the views of citizens within the EU. More specifically, national parliaments must henceforth ensure the proper application of the principle of subsidiarity. In this respect, they are able to intervene in the ordinary legislative procedure and have a right of referral to the Court of Justice of the EU.

GREATER PARTICIPATION OF CITIZENS IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

The Treaty of Lisbon establishes a right of citizens’ initiative for the first time, introduced by Article 11 of the Treaty on EU: not less than one million European nationals may invite the Commission to submit a proposal on a specific matter. This provision expresses the EU’s wish to involve its citizens in European projects and in the taking of decisions that concern them.

Such a right is subject to several conditions. The minimum threshold of one million citizens may seem high at first sight. However, it is relatively easy to achieve in a European population approaching half a billion inhabitants and through the use of new communications technologies. Article 11 also provides that the signatory citizens should come from a significant number of Member States, in order to avoid the defence of essentially national interests.

Moreover, the right of citizens’ initiative does not take away the initiative monopoly of the European Commission. The latter remains free to act, or not to act, on the initiative proposed by European citizens. If the initiative gives rise to a legislative proposal, the act will be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure or a special legislative procedure.

Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Relations with third countries > Latin america

Strategy for Venezuela 2007-2013

Document or Iniciative

European Commission – Venezuela Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013 .

Summary

The Commission presents the priorities for cooperation and dialogue aimed at strengthening the existing relationship between the European Union (EU) and Venezuela.

The relationship between the partners is conducted at the regional level, specifically to increase integration and social cohesion between Venezuela and its neighbouring States, and at a bilateral level in order to support the public reforms of the country.

Cross-cutting priorities are also identified in order to ensure that environmental protection, human rights and the equal treatment of men and women are taken into account.

However, in order to respond to the most immediate development needs of the country, the partners also detail specific areas for cooperation.

Modernisation of the State

As a priority, bilateral cooperation shall support measures which aim to improve the functioning of public services, the judicial system and the rule of law. In addition, the EU shall support general modernisation of the public administration, good management of public expenditure and the participation of civil society in public life.

Economic reform

The strategy supports Venezuela’s efforts for economic diversification, the effects of which are favourable for business competitiveness and for the integration of the country in regional and international trade.

Furthermore, in order to promote equitable growth in the long term, several aspects of economic life still need to be improved, specifically:

  • training and skills development for employees;
  • the legal environment, favourable to foreign investment and to trade development.

European initiative for democracy and human rights

European initiative for democracy and human rights

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about European initiative for democracy and human rights

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Human rights > Human rights in non-EU countries

European initiative for democracy and human rights (EIDHR) (2000-2006)

Following the expiry of Council Regulations Nos 975/1999 (developing countries) and 976/1999 (other third countries), which served as the legal basis for the activities carried out under the initiative, this initiative was replaced by the financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide from 1 January 2007.

Background

Created by an initiative of the European Parliament in 1994, the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) grouped together the budget headings for the promotion of human rights, democratisation and conflict prevention, which generally had to be implemented in partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and international organisations.

Article 6 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) reaffirms that the European Union (EU) “is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principles which are common to the Member States”. Article 49 of the TEU stresses that respect for these principles is also required of those countries wishing to join the European Union. In addition, Article 7 introduces a mechanism designed to punish serious and persistent violations of human rights by EU Member States. This mechanism was further strengthened by the Treaty of Nice, concluded in December 2000. It also extended the objective of promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms to development cooperation and to all other forms of cooperation with third countries in accordance with Articles 177 to 181 of the Treaty establishing the European Communities (EC Treaty).

Articles 179 and 308 of this Treaty made it possible to create a legal basis for all the EU’s human rights and democratisation activities, which were further strengthened in 2000 by the solemn declaration of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which now guides the EU’s external relations.

The EIDHR provided added value in relation to the other Community instruments in that it complemented the Community programmes carried out with governments such as the EDF, TACIS, ALA, MEDA, CARDS, PHARE and the rapid reaction mechanism (RRM), and because it could be implemented with different partners, particularly NGOs and international organisations. It could also be used without host government consent or where leading Community programmes were not available for other reasons, such as their suspension. In addition, it complemented the objectives of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).

Thematic priorities

In May 2001, the Commission adopted a communication on the EU’s role in promoting human rights and democratisation in third countries, in which it provides for the development of a coherent strategy and one more oriented towards a certain number of thematic priorities and “target countries” for human rights measures. The new approach has been developed in collaboration with several Directorates-General. The Member States, the European Parliament and NGOs are also involved in its implementation.

In 2005-2006, four thematic campaigns were launched each covering a limited number of specific priorities, as follows:

  • promoting justice and the rule of law
    The measures financed concerned the effective functioning of the International Criminal Court and other international criminal tribunals, abolition of the death penalty and reinforcement of the international mechanisms for the defence of human rights;
  • fostering a culture of human rights
    The funds distributed were used, among other purposes, for the enhancement of civil society organisations in the field of defence of the rights of vulnerable groups, the promotion of international instruments in this field and the fight against torture;
  • promoting the democratic process
    The funds were used to promote democratic electoral processes and to enhance a basis for democratic dialogue in civil society;
  • advancing equality, tolerance and peace
    The measures financed concerned equal rights and equal treatment of individuals, including people belonging to minorities, respect for the rights of indigenous peoples and the commitment of civil society to conflict prevention and resolution.

There were two cross-cutting issues in addition to the thematic priorities: promoting gender equality and the rights of the child.

Delivery

Each region and the eligible countries in that region were the target for two of the four thematic campaigns, except in exceptional cases.

In each campaign, a series of coherent projects were selected. Global projects covered one or more priorities in two or more eligible regions, regional projects covered one or more priorities in one eligible region and national projects covered one or more priorities in one eligible country.

The programming was based on two types of project:

  • macro-projects, i.e. global and regional projects for which minimum aid of 300 000 was granted for the candidates installed in EU territory and a minimum of 150 000 for candidates in the target region or country covered by the project;
  • micro-projects supporting small-scale activities at national level with an aid volume of between 10 000 and 100 000. They could be submitted only by civil society organisations in eligible countries, although these organisations could work in association with EU NGOs.

The budget for the period 2005-2006 was 106 million per year, broken down as follows: 93 % for campaigns (48 % for macro-projects, 32 % for micro-projects and 13 % for election observation activities) and 7 % for unforeseen events.

These campaigns were implemented through calls for proposals for the macro- and micro-projects. Cooperation was encouraged between the EU civil society organisations and those of the eligible countries.

Unlike in previous years, implementation through targeted projects had become the exception. These projects could be submitted by national or international agencies such as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) or the African Union (AU).

A financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world

A financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about A financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Development > Sectoral development policies

A financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights in the world (2007 – 2013)

Document or Iniciative

Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide.

Summary

This Regulation puts in place a financing instrument aiming to encourage democracy and human rights in non-EU countries, and replaces the previous European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights.

Characteristics

The Instrument is aimed in particular at:

  • enhancing respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in the countries and regions where they are most threatened;
  • supporting civil society in its role of promoting human rights and democracy, its action for the peaceful conciliation of particular interests and its duty of representation and political participation;
  • supporting actions associated with human rights and democracy in areas covered by the Community guidelines;
  • strengthening the international and regional framework in the field of the protection of human rights, justice, the rule of law and the promotion of democracy;
  • building confidence in democratic electoral processes by enhancing their reliability and transparency, in particular through election observation.

To pursue these aims, Community aid is in support of the following actions:

  • promotion of participatory and representative democracy, processes of democratisation, mainly through civil society organisations, in particular: promoting the freedoms of association and assembly, opinion and expression; strengthening the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary; promoting political pluralism and democratic political representation; promoting the equal participation of men and women in social, economic and political life; supporting measures to facilitate the peaceful conciliation of group interests;
  • protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international and regional instruments, mainly through civil society organisations.

To ensure the effectiveness and consistency of assistance, the Commission ensures close coordination between its own activities and those of the Member States. Assistance under this Regulation is also consistent with the Community’s policy on development cooperation and with the European Union’s foreign and security policy as a whole. It is also meant to complement assistance under the Community instruments for external assistance and the Partnership Agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific states (ACP).

Management and application

Assistance is implemented through:

  • strategy papers, defining the Community’s priorities, the international situation and the activities of the main partners;
  • annual action programmes based on strategy papers and their possible amendments;
  • and special measures which are not provided for in the strategy papers and which may be adopted by the Commission;
  • ad hoc measures so that the Commission can make small grants to human rights defenders responding to urgent protection needs.

The following are eligible for funding under the Regulation:

  • civil society organisations,
  • public- and private-sector non-profit organisations,
  • national, regional and international parliamentary bodies, where the proposed measure cannot be financed under a related Community external assistance instrument,
  • international and regional inter-governmental organisations
  • natural persons, where their help is necessary for achieving the aims of the Regulation establishing the European Instrument for democracy and human rights.

Exceptionally, other bodies or actors may be financed where necessary to achieve the objectives of this Regulation.

Assistance granted under this Regulation may take the following forms:

  • projects and programmes,
  • grants to finance projects submitted by international and regional inter-governmental organisations,
  • small grants to human rights defenders,
  • grants to support operating costs of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC),
  • contributions to international funds,
  • human and material resources for EU election observation missions
  • public contracts.

Participation in calls for tender or granting subsidy contracts is open to, among others, all physical or moral persons from a Member State of the European Union or resident in one of these, in an acceding country, one which is an official candidate, a member of the European Economic Area, a developing country (as specified by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD), and international organisations.

The Commission is assisted by a human rights and democracy committee.

The Commission presents in an annual report the progress made in applying the assistance for businesses measures under this Regulation.

The instrument has been granted a budget of EUR 1.104 million for the period 2007-2013.

References

Act Entry into force – Date of expiry Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006

30.12.2006 – 31.12.2013

OJ L 386 of 29.12.2006

RELATED ACTS

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2009 amending Regulation (EC) No 1905/2006 establishing a financing instrument for development cooperation and amending Regulation (EC) No 1889/2006 on establishing a financing instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide [COM(2009) 194 final – Not published in the Official Journal].
It is necessary to improve the proper implementation of programmes and projects funded by the instrument for the promotion of democracy and human rights. The Parliament and the Council therefore propose to relax the criteria for eligibility to funding, concerning the costs relating to taxes and duties payable in the beneficiary countries. Tax exemption or tax recovery mechanisms do not exist in all of the States concerned, which constitutes a barrier for participants in the programme.
Codecision procedure: (COD/2009/0060)

Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy

Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

External relations > Eastern europe and central asia

Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 12 May 2010 – Taking stock of the European Neighbourhood Policy [COM(2010) 207 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

This Communication takes stock of progress made since the launch of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). This analysis is intended to guide developments in the policy in the years to come.

All of the ENP partners have taken advantage of the cooperation established. However, not all of them have implemented the necessary policies and legislation. Progress remains to be made in many sectors, including democratic governance.

Strengthening of bilateral relations from 2004 to 2009

Most Mediterranean partners have concluded Association Agreements (AAs) to strengthen their relations with the EU. Similarly, the AAs are gradually replacing the old partnership and cooperation agreements concluded with the eastern neighbours.

Progress in the area of good governance remains insufficient. Delays have also been reported in relation to human rights and the operation of judicial and electoral systems.

The Treaty of Lisbon should help the EU to contribute better to the resolution of protracted conflicts. The EU conducts civilian peace-making missions, relying in particular on the increase in cultural exchanges and trade.

Legal and regular mobility of persons should be encouraged while ensuring tighter control on those who could exploit mobility for criminal purposes. In this context, the EU has taken steps to simplify visa procedures with a view to the total liberalisation of short stay visa regimes.

The progressive establishment of Free Trade Areas (FTAs) involves continuing the alignment of the partners’ legislation with that of the EU, facilitating the trading of goods and services, and encouraging the establishment of companies and direct foreign investment. The setting up of FTAs should also be accompanied by a strengthening of social, consumer and environmental protection.

The EU and its partners should strengthen their cooperation in order to face the common challenges in the field of the environment. Improved environmental governance, higher resource efficiency and appropriate use of ecosystem services are the elements of long-term sustainable development.

Climate change should be taken into account in all of the policies concerned. Efforts should be made to increase energy efficiency, to promote sustainable transport, and to adapt certain sectors to changes in climate conditions (agriculture, water, natural hazards, etc.).

The EU intends to ensure energy efficiency and stable supplies to its territory. To this end, it encourages the use of renewable energies and, in particular, has signed Energy Memoranda of Understanding with a number of eastern countries. In the Mediterranean region, the priorities concern the development of regional interconnections and the use of solar energy.

Reorientation of financial instruments

The financing of the ENP is based on the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI). Since the mid-term review of the programming documents, country allocations have been better adapted to the needs, the levels of ambition and progress and the absorption capacity of partners.

The external mandate of the European Investment Bank (EIB) has been the subject of a mid-term review for the period 2007-2013. The Commission has also proposed to allocate an additional EUR 2 billion to support investments related to climate change, of which up to EUR 1 billion could be used in neighbouring countries.

Progress in multilateral relations

The Union for the Mediterranean is a new political framework which aims to strengthen the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Progress has already been made, despite a political context rendered more complex by the Gaza conflict. Northern African countries have also benefited from the cooperation activities carried out in the context of the Africa-EU Partnership.

The Eastern Partnership was launched in May 2009, to establish a political association and to further economic integration between the EU and its eastern partners. This partnership is based mainly on bilateral relations between the EU and each of its partners. It also comprises a multilateral track aiming to promote cooperation, political dialogue and the exchange of experience and best practice.

Finally, the
Black Sea Synergy
has also helped to encourage regional cooperation. A first sectoral partnership has been launched in the area of the environment.

Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Institutional affairs > The decision-making process and the work of the institutions

Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council, the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions. “The Commission’s contribution to the period of reflection and beyond: Plan-D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate” [COM(2005) 494 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Commission’s Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate sets out a process aimed at encouraging wider debate on the future of the EU, between the EU institutions and citizens.

Objectives

A debate on the future of Europe should address the needs and expectations of citizens in order to maintain trust and involvement in representative democracy. Plan D is therefore about dialogue, debate and listening to citizens’ needs and expectations. It also seeks to encourage communication on the activities of the EU by addressing target audiences, (for example young people), and using mass media, like television and the internet, the latter as an interactive forum for political debate. A specific Eurobarometer survey on the future of Europe will be presented by the European Commission in order to learn from the concerns expressed by citizens.

Plan D should result in a new consensus on the European project and basically addresses two issues:

  • assisting national debates on the future of Europe;
  • presenting initiatives to strengthen dialogue, public debate and citizen participation.

Assisting national debates on the future of Europe

National debates should focus on examining and discussing the added value and benefits for citizens of concrete achievements and projects of the EU.

The European Commission emphasises its wish to assist Member States in the organisation of events aimed at raising the profile of citizen participation in these Europe-wide debates. Co-operation with other EU institutions and bodies as well as national, regional and local parliaments plays an important role in this respect.

Initiatives to strengthen dialogue, public debate and citizen’s participation

Plan D proposes 13 specific EU initiatives and actions in order to strengthen and stimulate dialogue, public debate and citizen’s participation. The European Commission is to play a significant role in these initiatives, in partnership with the other European institutions and bodies.

Specific EU actions include visits by commissioners to Member States and national parliaments, support for citizens’ projects, a drive for more openness over Council meetings, the creation of a network of “European Goodwill Ambassadors” to raise the profile of the European debate, as well as support for projects to increase voter participation.

Feedback process

A feedback process on the results of the national debates will take place in 2006 in order to let citizens’ participation have a direct impact on the political agenda of the EU. The feedback will take the form of a set of conclusions and an overall synthesis of the outcome of national debates, as well as the organisation of a European Conference on the future of Europe on 9 May 2006.

Background

After the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters in June 2005, the Heads of State and Government called for a “period of reflection” in order to enable Member States to initiate national debates on the future of Europe. Plan D seeks to facilitate this process of national debate by putting in place a framework for dialogue and debate.

Plan D will be implemented in combination with an Action Plan ( ), adopted by the Commission on 20 July 2005, to improve communication about the future of Europe.

Related Acts

Action Plan of 20 July 2005 to improve communicating Europe by the Commission [SEC(2005) 985 – Not published in the Official Journal].

This fact sheet is not legally binding on the European Commission, it does not claim to be exhaustive and does not represent an official interpretation of the text of the Treaty.