Here, at the end of the week, I give an overview of my work and the currently important debates and issues in the European Parliament.
Calendar week 25
EU funds for Ukraine
On Tuesday, the Development, Foreign Affairs and Budget Committees met in Brussels to discuss EU funding for Ukraine. You can watch the meeting here view. Ukrainian MP Ivanna Klympush-Zynzadze reported that humanitarian aid is currently urgently needed, as well as first aid kits, generators, fuel, water filters and many other goods. In the medium term, reconstruction of civil infrastructure as well as the energy sector and demining will also be major challenges.
The Commission reported in the meeting that over €4.2 billion in assistance has been mobilized for Ukraine, of which €705 million will be spent in the coming weeks. This is to be supplemented by an MFA package of €9 billion this year. So in total that would be around €13 billion this year.
For humanitarian aid, another €135 million has so far gone to Ukraine and €8 million to Moldova, with another €205 million soon to be added. These funds are distributed by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department. This will primarily provide medical care, food supplies, emergency shelter or generators, and support evacuations. In addition, the funds will be used for specialized centers for victims of sexual violence.
About 16 percent of the population in Ukraine is in need of humanitarian aid and about €1.4 billion is still needed here this year to continue the work. The meeting also warned that funds for Ukraine must not come at the expense of other crises and regions in the world – especially given the worsening global food crisis.
Two longer interviews with me appeared this week. One on the occasion of the World Refugee Day at RND and in many German local newspapers. With Deutschlandfunk Kultur I have worked in the format World Time about politically motivated pushbacks and why I don't believe in a new beginning for Frontex. The interview is followed by a feature on the pushbacks.
Meeting with the International Rescue Committee
I had a meeting this week with the International Rescue Committee (IRC)where I discussed the situation of asylum seekers and refugees in Greece, the problem of pushbacks at various external borders, the problems of Member States with the care of people from Ukraine and the general state of reform of the EU common asylum system.
Next Saturday, for the first time in a very long time, an analog event of the Green Party Berlin will take place. In the framework of the Structural reform process we will come together for the Future Conference. For a whole day, we will be able to talk to each other about how the party will position itself in the future. I am very much looking forward to it!
On Sunday, June 19, 2022, my district association Treptow-Köpenick held for the first time in a long time a general meeting in person. Above all, a lot was elected, our delegates for the BDK, LDK, LA and also the women's conference were determined. In addition, the structural reform process of the state association and the central concerns of our district association within the process were also discussed. I was allowed to report on my work in the European Parliament.
Calendar week 24
Frontex investigation team
Frontex investigation teamOn Tuesday, we discussed cooperation with third countries in the Frontex inquiry group. Frontex has been under criticism lately because of several scandals involving the agency, as well as pushbacks in the Aegean Sea and the resignation of Executive Director Leggeri. Since the Frontex mandate for 2019 the Agency has more possibilities to conclude so-called status agreements – legally binding contracts with third countries – one of them was recently concluded with the Republic of Moldova to support the country on its border with Ukraine. This type of cooperation is not easy for the European Parliament to verify, and we do not receive a clear answer from either the Commission or the Agency when we ask about the Agency's cooperation with Libya. You can read my contribution here listen
Foreign Affairs Committee
On Tuesday we have in the Foreign Affairs Committee discussed the parliamentary elections in Lebanon together with the Delegation for relations with the Mashreq countries. We deputies received an assessment of the European Parliament Election Observation Mission in Lebanon. In addition, we exchanged ideas with Dr. Maha Yahya, director of the Carnegie Middle East Centre, and Daniel Aristi Gaztelumendi, executive director of the Middle East Department of the European External Action Service, on the sociopolitical situation in Lebanon.During my speaking time, I asked both of them for their assessments of the election and the situation in the country as a whole. Following on from my impressions of my Delegation trip to Lebanon in February, I was particularly interested in the social mood after the election and the extent to which young people in particular feel represented by the new parliament, which includes 13 independent deputies.
Committee on Internal Affairs
This week, the Committee on Interior and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality discussed with the EU Anti-Trafficking Coordinator, Diana Schmitt. Refugees fleeing Ukraine are predominantly women, children, and the elderly, which puts them at higher risk for trafficking. Moreover, the unprecedented involvement of civilians in hosting refugees, as great and welcome as it is, unfortunately poses an increased risk for human trafficking at the same time. The EU has a Directive on combating trafficking in human beings as well as a Strategy to combat trafficking in human beings, and the coordinator presented her specific strategy for this particular situation of people fleeing Ukraine.
I asked some questions about the difficulties in identifying victims of trafficking or exploitation at the border. You can watch the session here listen to my contribution from 15.58.
Climate and small water bodies in Treptow-Köpenick
Temperatures of well over 30 degrees are expected in Berlin this weekend. Among other things, small bodies of water in the city are important for maintaining the urban climate. In my very water-rich district of Treptow-Köpenick, the BVV faction of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen therefore requested the district officeto place a special focus here once again and to improve the condition of the small water bodies in the district.
Investigative Committee on the Right-Wing Extremist Attack Series in Neukölln
The Parliamentary Investigation Committee of the Berlin House of Representatives was constituted this week. Its purpose is to investigate the series of right-wing extremist attacks in Neukölln and the mistakes made during the investigation. It is an important sign that we as politicians must become more capable of acting against right-wing violence. Learn more here.
Strasbourg Plenary Week in June at a glance
FIT for 55 – Parliament rejects weakened position on European emissions trading
The CDU/EPP conservatives, together in a majority with AfD and other right-wingers, have amended the European emissions trading proposals to fall short of the Commission's proposal. The amended version very clearly bore the hallmarks of the fossil fuel industry lobby and moved far away from the 1.5 degree target. That is why we could not agree to these amendments and voted against the entire ETS. It will go back to the Environment Committee to be renegotiated. We Greens will do our utmost to make it an effective instrument in European climate protection. More information on the FIT for 55 can be found at the Homepage of the European Green Group.
Ukrainian parliament speaker promotes rapid EU accession
It was a great honor for us Members to welcome the Ukrainian Speaker of the Parliament in the plenary. In his speech Ruslan Stefanchuk said Ukraine needed EU candidate status as a message to show that "what we are doing is not in vain. But if we don't get that message on June 24, that will be a message to Putin that he can just go ahead." The EU Commission is expected to make its recommendation next week Friday on whether Ukraine should be granted EU candidate status.
MPs call for protection of the right to safe and legal abortion
The European Parliament has condemned the regression of women's sexual and reproductive rights worldwide, but especially in the US and some EU member states, and called for safe access to abortion. At following a debate in plenary, House members on Thursday approved a resolution, with 364 approvals, 154 disapprovals and 37 abstentions, exhorting the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the landmark ruling in Roe v Wade (1973) that enshrines the right to abortion in the nation's Constitution. You can find the adopted text here.
EU Parliament and Council agree on uniform charging cables
On Tuesday, there was a great agreement between the EU Parliament and EU states: In two years, there will be a uniform charging cable (USB-C) for all smartphones, tablets, etc.. Later, this will also apply to laptops. An end to cable confusion in the EU is in sight! You can find out more on the homepage of Anna Cavazzini, who negotiated for the Green Party.
Lux Parliamentary Audience Award goes to film about Srebrenica
The European Parliament's LUX Audience Award was presented today to the film "Quo Vadis, Aida?" by Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanić. The film is about Aida, who translates for the UN soldiers in the Srebrenica protection zone and tries to save the lives of her husband and children. The film relentlessly shows how the United Nations failed and abandoned the people of Srebrenica. And how Dutch Durchbat soldiers even helped organize the genocide. More than 8000 people were murdered by Serb forces at that time because they wanted to destroy the Bosniaks, the Bosnian Muslims. Žbanić was accompanied at the award ceremony in Parliament by Srebrenica survivor Munira Subašić. Here you can watch the award ceremony again.
Agreement reached on EU-wide minimum wage
The negotiators of the European Parliament, the EU Commission and the Council have reached an agreement on the rules for minimum wages in the EU. The legislation will increase the wages of around 25 million workers in the EU. The minimum wage will not be the same everywhere with this legislation, but to set the minimum wage, EU member states are recommended to start from a basic package of goods and services. The European Parliament will vote on the agreement in July, after which EU governments are expected to give their approval. DW reports.
Calendar week 22
Committee on Internal Affairs
At Interior Committee we have on Monday on the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive for Refugees from Ukraine discussed. To this end, as three weeks ago, the Committee exchanged views with Deputy Director General Beate Gminder for the "Task Force Migration Management" under the EU-Commissioner Ylva Johansson is responsible for. She gave an update on the registration of Ukrainians in the EU and the disbursement of EU funds to Member States to support them in receiving and caring for refugees. Several parliamentarians criticized the double standards in dealing with refugees. In particular, for the treatment of Poland, where refugees from Ukraine are welcomed while other refugees are subjected to pushbacks at the Polish-Belarusian border. The Commission must take more decisive action against such human rights violations.
Frontex – Alya Kalnaya introduces herself
On Monday, the current acting executive director of Frontex, Aija Kalnaja visited, the Committee on Internal Affairsto talk to us about the future of the agency. She distanced herself from Fabrice Leggeri and spoke out in favor of more transparent cooperation with Parliament in the future. She also promised to implement the recommendations made by the Frontex Inquiry Group. Her confirmation as Executive Director ad-interim is expected to take place later this month in the Frontex Management Board. However, we must be involved in the process of selecting the agency's future director. As part of the parliamentary scrutiny of Frontex, we MEPs welcomed the exchange with Aija Kalnaja, but still have many unanswered questions regarding Frontex' involvement in human rights violations. In addition, there was a somewhat surprising statement by Ms. Kalnaja, in which she said, that the employees of Frontex are traumatized because of the eventsIt is the victims of pushbacks who have reason to be traumatized.
Regulation on asylum procedures
On Wednesday, the members responsible for the Asylum Procedure Regulation responsible MEPs to discuss the main aspects of the amended proposal for a regulation. For us Greens, it is crucial that border procedures – the cornerstone of the Commission's proposal for a Common European Asylum System – do not become mandatory for Member States, as these procedures are inadequate and mostly mean the detention of asylum seekers. Furthermore, based on our assessment of the implementation of border procedures and stakeholder assessments, we are convinced that all vulnerable applicants and all minors – unaccompanied or with their families – must be exempted from border procedures.
EIB Global event
On Thursday, an event was held on a Eurodad-commissioned Study which I co-hosted with my colleague Udo Bullmann (SPD). The topic of the discussion was the role of EIB Global, the new development arm of the European Investment Bank (EIB), within the European Financial Architecture for Development (EFAD). In addition to the question of the added value of this new arm and how EU-financed investments in the Global South can serve a public purpose, the discussion also covered issues such as transparency, human rights and environmental standards in development finance. On the future of EFAD, I am currently also working as a shadow rapporteur on a Initiative Report, which hopefully can be completed in the summer.
Question to the Commission on the situation on the Evros River
On an island between Turkey and Greece, people seeking protection are stuck and need help. Greek police refuse to help the people, even though the European Court of Human Rights has ordered them to do so. Spiegel journalist Giorgos Christides has a Video published on Twitterthat those affected have sent him. One woman says in the video: "Please help us. The children are going to die here." The vice president of the EU Commission, Margaritis Schinas, claimed in an interview with de Volkskrant meanwhile, even said that there was no systematic problem with pushbacks in the EU and that NGOs and independent media should not be relied upon to address the issue. I have told the Commission sent a request to learn what they plan to do in the face of ongoing pushback and serious human rights abuses. Read more about this topic at Greek Refugee Council.
Calendar week 20
EU Parliament calls for punishment of war crimes in Ukraine
The Resolution on war crimes in Ukraine and prosecution was adopted by a large majority in the European Parliament. It is about supporting the International Criminal Court in gathering evidence and prosecution, close cooperation with Ukrainian civil society and prosecution of sexual violence, gender-based violence and environmental crimes. The adopted text calls on the EU to support the establishment of a special international court to punish the crimes of aggression committed against Ukraine. In addition, we MEPs have advocated for Sanctions against Putin lobbyist (and former German Chancellor) Gerhard Schröder.
Parliament approves suspension of EU tariffs on all Ukrainian exports
Parliament has spoken in favor of it, suspend import duties on all Ukrainian exports to the EU for one year, to support the country's economy. This temporary liberalization of trade, approved with 515 votes in favor, 32 against and 11 abstentions, comes against the backdrop of the Russian war, which hinders Ukraine's trade with the rest of the world. The procedure was accelerated so that they could be adopted today in plenary. They will completely remove import duties on industrial and agricultural goods and all EU anti-dumping and safeguard measures on Ukrainian steel exports for a period of one year. The EU is Ukraine's most important trading partner, accounting for more than 40 % of total trade in goods in 2021. In turn, Ukraine will account for around 1.2 % of total EU trade.
The Samos 2 do not have to go to jail
Good news, the public pressure has worked! Two refugees who were charged in Greece have been released! They were facing a total of 240 years in prison for fleeing to Greece, although they were obviously innocent. The taz reports about the case.
The state association of the Greens in Berlin has grown many times over in recent years. Not only are we now clearly the second strongest party in Berlin, but membership has also increased significantly. That is why the state executive board is now starting a process of structural reform of the state party. The main focus will be on how we as a party can adapt our structures to meet the challenges. The process will start on Saturday with a kick-off event. More information is available here.
Elections in Lebanon
Lebanon voted on Sunday for the first time since the devastating 2020 Beirut port explosion, the 2019 anti-government mass protests and the state bankruptcy. Voter turnout was just under 50 %. Islamist Shiite Hezbollah and its allies lose majority in parliament. Opposition newcomers, formed from anti-government protests since October 2019, garnered about 10% of the vote. Among the 128 deputies, only eight are women. There are strong doubts that the new parliament can effectively and sustainably tackle the immense problems in Lebanon. Three months ago, I was in Lebanon as head of a delegation from the European Parliament, and I saw here summarized my impressions.
Calendar week 19
Interior Committee on Temporary Protection Directive for Refugees from Ukraine
In the Committee on Internal Affairs on Thursday a discussion on the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive for Refugees from Ukraine on the agenda. To this end, the Committee exchanged views with Deputy Director General Beate Gminder who is responsible for the "Task Force Migration Management" under EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson.
Many parliamentarians expressed their concerns about the disbursement of EU funds for the care of refugees to the governments of the Member States directly, instead of giving them to NGOs or municipalities. They also discussed how to effectively combat human trafficking, especially of Ukrainian women and children, how the registration of Ukrainian refugees is progressing, and how measures currently being taken can be used to benefit refugees from other countries of origin in the long term. Some also highlighted the problems faced by stateless persons from Ukraine and third-country nationals who cannot or do not want to return to their countries of origin.
Foreign Affairs Committee
Since mid-April, I have been a substitute member of an additional committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET). This week, in the Committee meeting Among other things, the report on the control of European funds in Lebanon was discussed. I have been particularly involved with the situation in Lebanon since my Trip to Beirut at the end of February, but also in view of the elections scheduled for Sunday.
African journalists visiting Brussels
In the course of a program of taz Panter Foundation I invited 16 journalists from 15 African countries to Brussels for a two-day program to explore the city, ask questions about the EU, visit the European Parliament and network with various NGOs. As part of the program, the journalists also produced a magazine, which you can download at here and download it. You can find a report of the visit here.
Parliamentary investigative committee on right-wing extremist series of attacks in Berlin-Neukölln
Last week, the Berlin House of Representatives appointed the Parliamentary Investigation Committee (PUA) to investigate the investigative process in connection with the clarification of the series of right-wing extremist crimes in Neukölln that took place in the period from 2009 to 2021. Behind this unwieldy name lies an important goal: to provide clarification. In the course of the legislative period, the PUA will now hopefully create the transparency that we very urgently need in this area. More information and what the state executive board has to say about it can be found at read here.
A guest of the Green Party in Dortmund
On Monday evening I was a guest of the Green Party Dortmund in the House of Diversity and spoke on the topic "European Asylum Policy and Ukraine" with Berivan Ayvaz, Jenny Brunner and Katrin Lögering spoken. In the discussion with my party colleagues and the participants, it was important for me to talk about the potential for change in European asylum policy due to the current situation. And also about how we can extend the great empathy for refugees from Ukraine to other people. You can watch the event here (but you have to scroll forward for a long time and there are problems with the sound at the beginning).
The plenary week in Strasbourg in May
Discharge over Frontex budget denied for now
We Members have denied budgetary discharge to Frontex. Fabrice Leggeri resigned last week, because it became clear that Frontex was systematically involved in pushbacks and Leggeri was covering it up.
There was a large majority of 492 votes against the discharge, which we as the Greens/EFA Group very much welcome, as it is now important to work through the failures of Frontex. Frontex has still not fulfilled the demands of the EU Parliament from the previous discharge report, let alone dealt with the allegations of illegal pushbacks. Furthermore, we as Members of the EU Parliament still do not have the report of OLAF. Without seeing this report, it is not possible to make an informed decision on the budget. Frontex is the EU agency with the largest budget: while it was "only" 118 million euros in 2011, it is expected to become 900 million euros by 2022, as well as include a permanent reserve of 10,000 soldiers. After the resignation of Leggeri, it is not enough to just put new person at the top. We need fundamental reforms so that Frontex focuses on human rights and the rights of refugees.
Frontex referendum in Switzerland
In Switzerland, on May 15, a Frontex referendum will take place, at which it will be decided whether a much higher sum should flow into the EU agency or not. Switzerland has to pay the contributions because it participates in the common border protection as an associated Schengen member. I was a guest of the Green Party in Switzerland to talk about the scandals of Frontex and who is responsible for respecting human rights. You can watch this here in livestream Watch.
Transnational lists for the European election 2024
On Tuesday, we deputies voted by a narrow majority in favor of transnational lists in the 2024 European elections voted. Following a call by the Green Group, the majority of the Parliament also voted in favor of lowering the voting age to 16 years and gender-balanced lists. In concrete terms, this proposal of the Parliament to the Member States means that all voters will receive two votes: one vote for a candidate in the national constituencies and one vote for an EU-wide constituency with 28 additional candidates on transnational lists. Nevertheless, a threshold of 3.5% has been set. The Parliament will submit a proposal for electoral reform to the Member States by the end of the year, which must be ratified by all national parliaments before it can enter into force. From my Group, the main participants in the negotiations were Damian Boeselager, co-founder of Volt, participated and represented our position. Damian expressed after the vote.
Situation of women in Ukraine
On Thursday we have debated the situation of women in Ukraine. Women are raped, abducted, beaten and beaten to death in wars. In Ukraine rape is used as a weapon of war. Most women flee to Poland or Hungary, where they have no access to abortions. My colleague, Kim van Sparrentak, told the Commission again today clearly how important it is to give Ukrainian women this access. There is also a high risk that Ukrainian women in the EU will be forced into prostitution or end up in trafficking circles. The Commissioner, Ylva Johansson, emphasized in her speech that Russia is not only at war with Ukraine, but also and especially with its women. She clearly stated that rape is a war crime and assured that the EU will do everything possible to deal with these crimes and bring those responsible to the international court. She also stressed that with the Temporary Protection Directive, refugees are entitled to medical care, which includes safe abortion. This is what she means by "standing with Ukraine."
Construction of a wall on the Polish-Belarusian border
The final debate this plenary week was about the construction of the wall on the Polish-Belarusian border. There, refugees who do not come from Ukraine continue to be beaten, mistreated and illegally deported. The fence that is now to be built runs through the Białowieża primeval forest and endangers ecosystems there. Ylva Johansson emphasizedthat the EU would not finance fences or walls at the EU's external borders. Unfortunately, the Commissioner did not say that non-Ukrainian refugees at the Polish-Belarusian border also have the right to apply for asylum in the EU.
Calendar week 17
Frontex director Leggeri resigns
After various lies, dozens of scandals, and thousands of pushbacks, must be Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri now finally resigning. The fact that it has taken so long and that mafia-like structures have become possible at Frontex is a scandal that goes far beyond Leggeri. For years, the EU member states and the EU Commission have glossed over serious crimes and thus created a climate in which the violent rejection of protection seekers became the core of European asylum policy at most external borders. The systematic disregard of EU law at the external borders has been under Ursula von der Leyen as Commission President just as possible as the increased criminalization of everyone who wants to help people in a humanitarian way. The fact that the pressure on Leggeri has now become so great that at least he and a few of his cronies will have to resign is a step in the right direction. We have been campaigning for this for a long time and have worked hard on it. But it was only made possible by great investigative journalistic work. A joint investigation by several media outlets only revealed the facts in the middle of the week, That Frontex has documented pushbacks in its own database and classifies them as "preventing departure". With the support of FragDenStaat sues Sea Watch Frontex before the ECJ because of the systematic and illegal pushbacks. They demand that Frontex release its information.
Structured Dialogue with Commissioner Lenarčič for Humanitarian Aid
Earlier this week, the so-called „structured dialogue“ with the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Janez Lenarčič took place in the Development Committee. This debate takes place once a year according to the framework agreement between the European Parliament and the Commission. The Commissioner for Development Cooperation Jutta Urpilainen was prevented at short notice, so this part will be made up in early May. The results of the debate will be included in the 2022 summary report, which will serve as the basis for the resolution of the political groups to be adopted in plenary in July.
During the debate, the commissioner gave, among other things, an update on last year's adopted Commission communication on humanitarian aid, addressed the situation in Ukraine but also other crisis situations that must not be forgotten, among others in Syria or Yemen. The whole debate can be here listen up.
Meeting with LAG Europe
On Monday, LAG Europe organized a meeting on the situation of refugees from Ukraine. In addition to discussing their situation and status in EU countries, the meeting also focused on the impact that the arrival of millions of people has on the EU's common asylum system. Since the Temporary Protection Directive came into force, various problems have been raised in terms of equal access to rights and state services in different Member States. Unfortunately, there have also been cases of discrimination against non-Ukrainians coming from Ukraine and seeking protection. The focus of the Commission and the Council on the European Pact on Flight and Migration has certainly diminished. The solidarity shown to Ukrainians across the EU to show what our societies can do should have a positive impact on the situation of all those seeking protection. It is certainly a positive element that the Commission is proposing protection-oriented solutions and guidelines to ensure that borders are open for those seeking protection from Ukraine. Our task now is to use this momentum to end refoulement at all our external borders.
Lisa Paus becomes Federal Minister for Family Affairs
Lisa Paus was sworn in this week as the new Federal Minister for Family Affairs. She succeeds Anne Spiegel. As a member of the Bundestag for the Berlin state association, she has done important work in recent years, for example in the Wirecard Committee, and helped develop our concept of a basic child allowance. I wish her every success in her new task and am sure that she will master the challenges well.
Calendar week 16
Since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression on the whole Ukraine, according to UNHCR data over five million people fled the country. Because the traditional Easter marches were unfortunately not able to condemn Russian wars and demand necessary consequences, we as Leave No One Behind with Vitsche and Adopt a Revolution have created a alternative easter march organized.
More than half of the people fled via Poland, where a lot of solidarity is shown with Ukrainians who have fled. However, at the border with Belarus people continue to be pushed back. Victims and activists report increasing violence and criminalization.
Interior Committee – EU continues to support Libyan Coast Guard
EU support for Libya has been controversial for years, and the hearing of the LIBE Committee this week brought neither more clarity nor agreement on this issue. In several reports, including from the Human Rights Representative of the UN and of the Council of Europe as well as from various Non-governmental organizations such as ECRE, the EU is unanimously urged to stop funding the Libyan coast guard and to stop supporting the pullbacks in the central Mediterranean. Despite these efforts, the European Commission's Neighborhood Policy Department persists in maintaining EU support for Libya and funding Tripoli's MRCC. Before the EU opens its wallet, the legality and human rights implications of EU funding for a maritime coordination center in a civil war country, with no safe haven for disembarkation, must be investigated.
Development Committee – Situation in Ukraine and Global Food Security
A big topic in the Development Committee right now, in addition to the situation on the ground, is the impact of the Russian attack on Ukraine on global food security.
Interventions in the last committee meeting on the humanitarian situation were made by the European Commission as well as Mykyta Poturayev, Chairman of the Committee on Humanitarian Aid and Information Policy of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (the Ukrainian Parliament), an NGO operating on the ground and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In addition to the great need for assistance, the lack of access for humanitarian workers and the difficulties in organizing humanitarian corridors are of concern.
The war in Ukraine will also have a devastating impact on food security in the Global South, and I will report on this in more detail.
MEP Charles Goerens then presented the report on the future European financial architecture for development, to which I, as the responsible shadow rapporteur for the Greens, will submit amendment proposals by the end of next week. The whole session can be viewed here check.
Moria and pushbacks in the Mediterranean
There were over 10,000 documented pushbacks in the Aegean last year. The 2021 Pushback Report from Mare Liberum shows how normalized and commonplace brutal pushbacks on the border between Greece and Turkey have become. ND summarizes the findings here togetherAfter the fire in Moria a year and a half ago, six Afghans were sentenced, yet there are justified doubts about their perpetration and the judicial process. The Guardian has a longread about the criminalization of refugees and helpers and reworks the story of Moria.
Calendar week 14 – Plenary week in Strasbourg
European Parliament allocates €3.4 billion for Ukrainian refugees
After the Parliament had given the green light at the last plenary session for the reallocation of EU regional and asylum aid to EU countries, hosting people fleeing Russia's invasion of Ukraine, MEPs approved further urgent support measures.
By a vote of 549 to one, with eight abstentions, the House approved the immediate release of Around 3.4 billion euros (out of a total of 10 billion euros) from the „REACT-EU„funds, as well as faster access for EU countries to funds for infrastructure, housing, equipment, employment, education, social inclusion, healthcare and childcare for refugees.
Special session of the Development and Home Affairs Committee on the Temporary Protection Directive and humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian refugees.
Monday evening, the Development and Home Affairs Committees met to discuss with Commissioner Johansson and Commissioner Lenarčič, as well as representatives of UNHCR and UNICEF, the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive and humanitarian assistance to refugees, especially children, as a result of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. While it is a great success that the member states of the European Union were able to agree on activating the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time and show great solidarity in receiving Ukrainian refugees, we must not turn a blind eye to unequal treatment. Thus, the magazine the Spiegel for example recently reportedthat at least one EU-funded detention center for refugees in Ukraine continued to operate after the Russian invasion began, an allegation on which the European Commission has not yet commented. The entire meeting can be viewed here listen, my speech begins 20:35:04.
Resolution and debate on the situation in Afghanistan
During this plenary week, I participated in a debate with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on the situation in Afghanistan, in particular the situation of women's rights, moreover, on Thursday, we adopted by a large majority a Resolution adopted.
In my Speech I pointed out, among other things, the devastating famine in the country and called for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to be maintained and strengthened, especially since women and children are disproportionately affected by food insecurity. In addition, underlying causes must be addressed, such as the freezing of the Afghan Central Bank's reserves caused by international sanctions. You can read the entire debate here listen up.
Another important issue is the unaddressed failure of the EU and its member states to evacuate local forces, human rights defenders and other vulnerable groups, as well as the creation of safe escape routes and more ambitious resettlement programs. Unfortunately, we Greens could not negotiate any demands on this in the otherwise very positive resolution.
Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism
On Wednesday evening, the plenary discussed the Schengen evaluation and monitoring mechanism and voted in favor of the report for which I was responsible. This monitoring mechanism is an important instrument, but it is only as effective as it is if breaches of the rules by the Member States are actually punished and have consequences. Pushbacks at the external borders are violations of fundamental rights that also violate Schengen and EU rules. Our main Green priority was to include fundamental rights monitoring in this mechanism. We also wanted to ensure that violations resulted in consequences to protect the great achievement that is the Schengen area. For this, we found allies in the European Parliament, and hopefully the Council will also take our opinion into account.
Berlin State Delegates Conference
At the state delegates' conference last weekend, the Berlin state association dealt in detail with the reorientation of health policy in Berlin. The Corona pandemic in particular made it clear to all of us that we must be better prepared in the future. But clear words were also spoken about the war in Ukraine. In an urgent motion, the state association clearly condemns the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, but also makes clear demands on the federal government to be able to adequately meet the challenges for our city. You can find a summary here.
Calendar week 13
Ukraine – Situation of refugees and 10 points plan of the EU
EU Parliament President Roberta Metsola has come to a visit to the Ukrainian capital Kiev broken out. The Ukrainian army was able to recapture some strategically important locations and the Russian advance toward Kiev was repelled. Overall, the Ukrainian armed forces are in a much better position than many gave them credit for at the beginning of the war.
Meanwhile, according to UNHCR data more than 4.1 million people have now fled Ukraine, 2.4 million of them via Poland alone. Around 280,000 refugees from Ukraine have been registered in Germany since the beginning of the warbut since not all are registered, the number could be significantly higher. The EU Council and the Commission are continuing with a Ten-point plan on a voluntary distribution of refugees. There will be no fixed quotas for the time being. The plan includes financial support for the member states concerned and the refugees and an EU platform for registration. Information hubs for onward travel will be established and an index showing reception capacities will be created. All member states agreed on the need to maintain uniform standards for the reception of children and minors. In addition, Moldova in particular will receive EU support because the small and relatively poor country has taken in the most people per capita from Ukraine. The EU will also work with third countries such as Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom to accept refugees from Ukraine.
Refugees can find important information in Ukrainian, Russian, and English at the German government's help portal Germany4Ukraine. In addition, you get every working day my "News from Ukraine" on Telegram.
Deferred budget discharge for Frontex
The CONT committee responsible for budgetary control Has decided to postpone the discharge of the Frontex budget for 2020. The annual budget discharge is a power of the European Parliament, which ensures democratic control over the institutions, services and agencies of the EU. The reasons for the CONT Committee's decisions were – in line with the opinion of many members of the Home Affairs Committee – manifold. The agency failed to meet the conditions set out in the European Parliament's previous discharge report and refused to address serious and systematic human rights violations in Greece and Hungary, where Frontex currently operates. Most importantly, OLAF, the EU's anti-fraud agency, found evidence of harassment, misconduct, and Frontex's involvement in illegal pushbacks. Unfortunately, despite the European Parliament's efforts, the report was not made public, but its contents were presented to members of the CONT and LIBE committees in a meeting behind closed doors. The Agency's Board of Directors is also currently discussing the consequences of the findings of the OLAF report. As a Parliament, we must maintain strict control and ensure constant exchange with Frontex, as the agency urgently needs structural changes and a new Executive Director.
Reconciliation ETS and international climate finance
Industrialized countries agreed in the Copenhagen Accord at the 2009 UN Climate Change Conference to raise $100 billion annually for international climate finance starting in 2020. UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, estimated in 2016 thatthat the cost of meeting the climate change adaptation needs of developing countries will reach $140 billion to $300 billion per year by 2030. It is now believed that the upper end of this range may be the most realistic. By comparison, developed countries currently provide less than $100 billion per year in climate finance to developing countries, with only 5 % of the funds allocated to adaptation as a primary objective and another 15 % as a major objective.
At the moment the Realignment of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU Emissions Trading System – ETS) was negotiated, the Development Committee was able to submit an opinion for this, whereby I was responsible for the Green Group. We tried to bring in that the member states have to use a specific percentage of the revenue from emissions trading for international climate financing. So far, this is already possible, but on a voluntary basis, resulting in only 3 % of revenues being spent on climate adaptation measures in the Global South. Unfortunately, due to the lack of support from the other parties, we were unable to push through our amendment with a specific demand of 50% and could only agree on a compromise proposal calling for a „substantial increase“.
State Delegates Conference in Berlin
This weekend, the first state delegates' conference of the year will be held in Berlin. The main topic will be the future of healthcare policy, which is also the subject of the main motion. In the last two years, we have seen clearly what is not going so well in the state of Berlin. But the war in Ukraine will also be addressed, and the state executive board has initiated an urgent motion on this issue. Because of the pandemic we are still meeting digitally, you can follow the debates here.
Calendar week 12
Three summits on Ukraine in Brussels
The Ukraine war was the subject of three summits in Brussels yesterdayNATO's, the G7's and the European Union's. The aim is to isolate Russia, for example by excluding it from the G20 group.
Deputies provide emergency aid for refugees
The European Parliament on Thursday approved the reallocation of EU regional and asylum funds to EU countries hosting refugees from Ukraine. The Parliament adopted the Commission's proposal with an overwhelming majority of 562 votes. There were only two votes against and three abstentions. Relief measures include access to emergency shelters, food and water supplies, and medical care or education. This could include cohesion policy funds from 2014-2020 that have not yet been allocated or used, as well as an additional €10 billion from reconstruction aid for the Cohesion and the territories of Europe. You can learn more about this in the Press release of the European Parliament. This is an important and necessary first step in allocating funds to support refugees, but more needs to be done to ensure sustainable financial support for countries hosting the most refugees.
Committee on Internal Affairs
In a fast-track procedure, a Frontex status agreement was concluded with the Republic of Moldova, ensuring that the agency can be present on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border. Although it is necessary to show solidarity and help Moldova, this fast-track procedure was not the right solution. It would have been sufficient to send Frontex with a provisional agreement to ensure assistance, but maintain the democratic process of concluding a status agreement, ensuring parliamentary oversight and the integrity of the democratic process.
War in Ukraine and food security
The long-planned hearing on food security in the Development Committee (to review: Part 1 from 09:31:10 and Part 2), which was scheduled due to the catastrophic impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 2 „No Hunger“, took on a new, depressing dimension. Ukraine and Russia so far jointly account for 30% of the world's wheat and barley production. A continuation of the war and the associated decline in exports, according to FAO estimates, can lead to malnutrition for another 8-13 million people in the next two years, in addition to the 800 million people already suffering from hunger. The main purpose of the hearing was to identify ways in which targeted development cooperation can help make countries in the global South less dependent on food imports.
The issue was taken up even more concretely during Wednesday's miniplenary, during the discussion on the „need for an urgent EU action plan to ensure food security inside and outside the EU in light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine“. My speech on this, you can here listen. Why we Greens oppose the Commission's plans for more food security, which are mainly based on a softening of the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy, can be heard at my colleague Martin Häusling's website. read epub.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the European Parliament
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in his speech on Wednesday condemned "Putin's criminal invasion of a sovereign, independent democracy: Ukraine“.
"Vladimir Putin has violated the basic principles of international law. And now he is killing innocent civilians by bombing hospitals and homes. This blatant disregard for law and human life poses an immense threat to Europe and the world“, he said.
„We must not let Ukraine down. It is counting on us. Let us therefore use all the means at our disposal. We must continue to impose unprecedented sanctions on Putin and his accomplices in Russia and Belarus and increase the pressure as much as possible“, said the Canadian Prime Minister. You can watch the entire speech here Watch.
With the meeting of March 17, 2022, the district assembly in Treptow-Köpenick has adopted the budget for the years 2022 and 2023. The Greens were particularly critical of the very narrow room for maneuver, the reason being the austerity measures imposed by the Berlin Senate. What opportunities the new budget offers and what priorities have been set with it, you can see here read at the Group.
Calendar week 11
Sound of Peace
On Sunday, we are jointly organizing the big peace rally "Sound of Peace", where Silbermond, Gentleman, Peter Maffay, Revolverheld, Michael Patrick Kelly, Antje Schomaker and Zoe Wees will also be present in Berlin. We call thereby purposefully to the Donate and then distribute the funds to non-profit organizations that, among other things, provide humanitarian aid in Ukraine, support refugees, or help journalists with their work. A list of funded organizations and information about what they do can be found at here.
We also call on all cultural workers and event organizers across countries to join the "Sound of Peace" initiative and organize peace rallies and events. Carry here your concert, event or rally for peace.
Guideline for the reception of refugees from Ukraine
The EU Commission has Guidelines for the application of the Operational Guidelines to assist Member States in the application of the Temporary Protection Directive. In doing so, however, the Member States are free to interpret these a bit more broadly in order to grant protection to more people, and the German government has already promised to do just that. For the homepage of the Green European Parliamentary Group I have A text about my visit to Lviv and the Polish-Ukrainian border. There you will also find our core demands and an assessment of the now activated EU directive for the admission of refugees from Ukraine. How the directive works in principle, you will learn here.
TRIPS waiver update
In the middle of this week, Politico magazine published a Articlewhich shows that a possible agreement has been reached between the EU, South Africa, India and the USA to lift patent rights for COVID-19 vaccines. At first sight reason for joy, we Greens in the European Parliament, strengthened by a Resolution from last June, has long been a temporary waiver of patent rights on medical products for the fight against the corona pandemic. But aside from the fact that this agreement comes plenty late (the TRIPS waiver proposal was already submitted to the WTO by India and South Africa in October 2020), the proposal arguably only covers vaccines, is geographically limited, and only covers patents, not other intellectual property barriers, such as trade secrets, which can include important information to facilitate manufacturing. For an agreement to be reached, all WTO member states would have to agree to the compromise.
The Greens in Treptow-Köpenick want to quickly reorganize the district office in terms of personnel. Until now, positions have often remained unfilled for years, with drastic consequences for the services offered by the district office to the population. A request with demands has been introduced and passed in the District Assembly -Session on Thursday 17.03.2022.
Calendar week 10
My trip to Ukraine
I visited Lviv, Ukraine, and the border crossing between Poland and Ukraine over the weekend to see the situation for myself. Tens of thousands are fleeing to Lviv, only to find safety in other countries. Fathers take wives and children to the train station before they have to return to the war. More than 2.5 million people are according to UNHCR already fled the country. I report about my impressions among others at Late Night Berlin, in the Morning show and in the podcast Generally educated. In my Telegram channel and on my Homepage I will provide daily updates on developments on the ground and in neighboring countries until further notice.
Large majority of European Parliament welcomes EU unity in response to Russian war of aggression and solidarity with refugees from Ukraine
The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine was on the agenda of the European Parliament on Wednesday. MEPs debated the role of the European Union and the changing security situation with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Tuesday's topic was the situation of refugees and we agree: it is our duty to receive people fleeing quickly and without bureaucratic hurdles and to effectively support non-EU countries like Moldova. Those fleeing war from Ukraine or repression from Russia or Belarus must find a safe haven in the EU. An absolute majority of MEPs also welcomed the EU's swift response to ensure the protection of people fleeing Ukraine and called for sufficient financial assistance to sustain support in the medium and long term. The recording of the debate can be found here.
Out with fossil fuels, in with renewables
Putin's war clearly shows us how urgently the European Union must work on its energy independence. We Greens call on the EU Commission to massively accelerate the transition to one hundred percent renewable energies. We call for an EU Energy Independence Fund, into which the EU member states should each pay one percent of their gross domestic product for the development of energy efficiency and renewable energies. The EU Energy Independence Fund can finance 100 million heat pumps and 70 million solar roofs by 2030. For far too long, it has been ignored that energy policy is also security policy. Dependence on fossil imports has left us vulnerable and open to blackmail. Find out more on the homepage of the Green Members of Parliament Micha Bloss and Jutta Paulus.
Parliament calls for halt to sale of citizenship for investment
Golden visas or passports have been offered in recent years by EU member states such as Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Greece and Portugal in exchange for investments. The programs are often used by Russian oligarchs. Limited oversight and lack of accountability lead to security and corruption risks. We welcome sanctions against oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin's regime, but golden passports can be used to circumvent just such sanctions. Parliament now calls by a large majority on the Commission to adopt a legislative proposal that effectively curbs the issuance of golden passports.
Afghan Women Friendship Group
On Monday, the first meeting of the friendship group with Afghan women took place, which was initiated among others by the MEPs Tineke Strik and Pernando Barrena. At this first meeting there were already some guests like the Afghan Nasrin Nilam Rasa, who could tell about her own experiences but also actors of the civil society or activists from Germany. With this friendship group we would like to achieve together that the fate of the Afghan women is not forgotten and that we are sufficiently informed for our parliamentary work. Nasrin Nilam Rasa reported, among other things, that the women in the country have lost all the hard-earned rights of the last 20 years and that the situation is getting worse every day under the Taliban. The next meeting will take place in May.
Calendar week 9
Zelensky speaks live to the EU Parliament
On Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selensky "in a break between the missile attacks“, a significant speech to the European Parliament.
"We are fighting for our rights, our freedoms, our lives and currently for our survival. We are fighting to be equal members of Europe. So prove that you are on our side“, he said to the MPs. "Prove that life will triumph over death and light over darkness“
Here you can see the full speech with German subtitles.
Parliament calls for tougher action against Russia
With a broad majority, MEPs across party lines call for progress on Ukraine's recognition as an EU candidate country. The parliamentary resolution also calls for: The EU should curb imports of Russia's main exports, such as oil and natural gas; sanctions should strategically weaken the Russian economy and industry; a SWIFT exclusion is demanded for all banks in Russia and Belarus. In addition, a faster delivery of defense weapons to Ukraine is to support the country in its resistance against the Russian invasion.
Directive adopted: Admission of all Ukrainian war refugees gets legal framework
All 27 EU countries are ready to accept refugees from Ukraine. After a meeting of EU interior ministers on March 03, 2022, it was announced that the EU will activate a directive guaranteeing protection in the EU to war refugees from Ukraine - without costly asylum procedures. On my homepage you can find more about the background here. I expressly welcome this decision.
I have also commented in the media: "In recent years, refugees from war zones have been repeatedly turned back, although this is forbidden and inhumane. Regardless of today's decision and the criteria established, all those seeking protection have the right to access asylum procedures. There must be no rejections."
Humanitarian aid for Ukraine
On Tuesday morning, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid, Janez Lenarčič, gave an update to the Development Committee on humanitarian aid and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for Ukraine. Most member states are participating in this operation, with the first truck going to Kyiv last Saturday, and more aid on the way. Meanwhile, other countries such as Moldova have also asked for help to better respond to the needs of the high number of refugees. Regarding humanitarian aid, the United Nations currently estimates that about 18 million people in Ukraine and neighboring countries will be in need of assistance, the appeal issued the same day assumes an initial need of 1.1 billion US dollars. The EU has so far been able to mobilize 19 million euros, but in the meantime Ursula von der Leyen has promised another 500 million euros. Ukraine has been receiving humanitarian aid from the EU since 2014, but the critical issue at the moment is access for humanitarian workers, so yesterday's news of the establishment of humanitarian corridors is at least good news. You can watch the whole session here listen, also at DG ECHO there are regular updates.
The Greens in Berlin have strongly condemned Russia's war of aggression on Ukraine. In their press release they make it clear that we, as part of the urban society, clearly stand in solidarity with Ukraine. As part of the state government, we are now trying with the help of the appointed crisis team to provide the arriving people as best we can and to send humanitarian aid in the direction of Ukraine. In the press release you will find some links and hints on how you can help too.
Calendar week 8
Putin starts war of aggression against Ukraine
People suffer and die because the dictator of the largest country in the world finds his country too small. What a terrible madness. The attack must be stopped immediately, the Russian troops must be withdrawn. My group in the European Parliament, as well as the parliamentary group in the Bundestag, are committed to ensuring that there will also be serious sanctions after the shutdown of Nord Stream 2. These sanctions will also hit us, but we are paying part of the Russian war of aggression with our gas bills – we should be prepared to pay the price for this to end immediately. Solidarity costs. I have spoken on my homepage and on Telegram the News from Ukraine, where I will additionally inform about the situation on the ground and at the Ukrainian external borders.
Delegation trip to Lebanon
This week, I was in Lebanon as Head of the EU Delegation, talking to MPs, civil society and refugees. The socio-economic crisis in Lebanon has worsened – many people do not have sufficient access to medical care, electricity and water. Children have stopped going to school for months in order to be able to financially support their parents through work. 74 % of people are affected by poverty, although Lebanon is not a poor country. Of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees the small country has taken in, 90 % live in poverty. The population in Lebanon must be better supported in this crisis, sustainable solutions are needed.
But the situation of refugees from the Syrian civil war was also on the agenda. The vast majority of refugees are not in Europe. These people deserve that we do not think about their fate first, when they have to flee further to Europe out of need and desperation. We also discussed ways to find a way out of the socio-economic crisis and what contribution the EU should make. I will write a longer article about my trip on my homepage.
My district association Treptow-Köpenick is reorganizing itself for the next few years. Together with the board, several new working groups have been founded in recent weeks, for example the Diversity Working Group. In order to be able to explicitly offer young people in the district a networking opportunity, the board now also invites to the first networking meeting for young people in the district. You can find all dates and information here.
Second session week in Strasbourg 2022
ECJ rejects actions by Poland and Hungary against rule of law mechanism
The EU may cut funds to member states that violate the rule of law. That is what the European Court of Justice has ruled - rejecting complaints from Poland and Hungary. The Regulation on budget conditionality aims to protect EU funds from misuse by national governments that violate the rule of law. The regulation came into force on January 1, 2021. So far, the Commission has not applied it. On March 11, 2021, Poland and Hungary challenged the regulation before the EU Court of Justice. On February 16, 2021, the EU Court of Justice ruledthat Hungary's and Poland's complaints against the conditionality rules protecting the European Union's budget should be dismissed. The majority of MEPs agree that the Commission must now also apply the rule of law mechanism consistently.
Commission refuses to respond to pushbacks by Croatia
Together with other members of my group, I have submitted a question to the Commission in which we ask questions about Croatia's systematic pushbacks. In its answer, the Commission refuses to even acknowledge that Croatia systematically carries out pushbacks – although these have been documented thousands of times and for over four years. The Commission also maintains its recommendation to allow Croatia to join the Schengen area, even though Croatia's practice at its external borders clearly violates the Schengen Borders Code. The Commission does not intend to initiate infringement proceedings against Croatia, pointing out that it has repeatedly asked Croatia to investigate the allegations and that Croatia has established a monitoring mechanism for such cases. This attitude is cynical because the Croatian government and authorities are supposed to monitor themselves, when it is they who are responsible for the systematic pushbacks. The monitoring mechanism is not independent and it obviously does not work. Question and answer can be found at my homepage.
On February 17 and 18, the 6th EU-Africa Summit took place in Brussels. This year's summit has been long awaited, as it had to be postponed several times due to the Corona pandemic - it was originally scheduled for the end of 2020. This year's summit was organized around seven different „roundtables“ and most of the outcomes were set beforehand behind closed doors, without significant consultation with civil society or involvement of the parliamentary level. While the final declaration contains quite welcome passages on, among other things, education financing and the transfer to special drawing rights - implementation remains to be seen - there are other sections that are more critical. These include further externalization and the focus on migration prevention and repatriation in the migration sector. More could also have been achieved in the area of global immunization equity. While African countries continue to hope for the EU to give in on the patent issue, here, as expected, it remained declarations of intent for increased vaccine donations and production. You will find a detailed article on the results of the summit soon on my website. The final declaration can be found here.
European Parliament approves 1.2 billion euro loan for Ukraine
Parliament approved a Commission proposal to give Kiev a Macro-financial assistance to grant. Macro-financial assistance is a form of financial assistance offered by the EU to partner countries experiencing balance of payments difficulties. The assistance is disbursed in two tranches. Half of the €1.2 billion loan can be disbursed immediately to support stability in Ukraine if certain conditions are met.
Greek border guards alleged to have thrown protection seekers into the sea
Greek border guards probably threw two men into the sea and killed them. Reports are mounting that the deaths of people are being accepted in order to avoid asylum applications. The mirror has reviewed the case (paywall). The Guardian reports without paywall. BR24 summarizes the results in German and without paywall.
The Treptow-Köpenick district council has issued a joint resolution against right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism at demonstrations in the district. The resolution, which was introduced by the Greens, SPD and Left, was passed with a large majority. During the regular walks in the neighborhood, known members of the neo-Nazi scene in the district are repeatedly recognized, and many of the slogans spread at the demonstrations contain anti-Semitic and right-wing extremist narratives. You can find out more here at the Website of the group.
Calendar week 6
Croatian police are instructed to conduct pushbacks
The Mirror and the tagesschau report on an internal directive that explains to Croatian police officers how they are to carry out illegal pushbacks in the future. In other words, they are following orders and not carrying out pushbacks on their own whim, as the Croatian government previously claimed. The instruction in question is a reaction to a complaint lodged by Mirror and ARD video released in October in which Croatian border guards were filmed torturing and illegally deporting people seeking protection. On a response from the Commission to my inquiry regarding the videos, I have been waiting for four months, although it is actually obliged to answer such written requests within six weeks. In the instruction that has now become public, Croatian border officials are admonished not to allow themselves to be filmed during pushbacks in the future and to search the surrounding area for hidden cameras before conducting pushbacks. The violent pushbacks themselves are to continue as usual.
Internal closed meeting on the Interior Committee
Our group had an internal retreat for the members of the Interior Committee. The coordinators of the various sub-working groups on migration, the rule of law, and security and human rights gave us an update on the latest developments. The central topic was the rule of law, especially in states like Hungary and Poland, where it is increasingly being undermined. We discussed how we as a group want to deal with this problem, also against the background of the upcoming elections in Hungary this year. Nevertheless, we also want to keep an eye on countries where the rule of law is clearly under threat, civil society actors are being criminalized and the work of journalists is being obstructed. We also expect a proposal from the Commission for a directive against gender-based violence on March 8. We will continue to put pressure on the Commission to take decisive action against violations of the rule of law to ensure compliance with the EU acquis across the EU.
External dimension of migration
While little progress has been made so far under the French Presidency in developing the migration and asylum package, there have been several moves to address the external dimension of migration. This will be reflected, among other things, in the results of next week's EU-AU Summit reflect. The report published in January also Council resolution on the establishment of an operational coordination mechanism for the external dimension of migration points to this focus. At the same time, the implementation phase of NDICI-Global Europe, the external financing instrument, which provides 10% of expenditure for measures in the migration sector and is subject to parliamentary control. To discuss all these issues, I and my staff had several meetings this week with Caritas, Diakonie, Brot für die Welt and UNHCR. All organizations share the view that the EU, driven by the member states, is sticking to its current course. The focus is on unilateral measures of externalization, border security and repatriation, and not on the search for sustainable and partnership-based solutions based on legal migration channels, the promotion of intra-African mobility, increased resettlement, but also on real development measures such as investment in education.
Calendar week 5
Taxonomy – Commission engages in greenwashing and classifies nuclear power and gas as sustainable
Ursula von der Leyen has ignored her own expert:ing group and instead allowed herself to be guided by the economic interests of individual member states. Every cent spent on nuclear power plants and gas projects will go to renewable energies. As Greens, we reject the absurd decision to classify nuclear power and gas as sustainable. We call on all members of the European Parliament to vote against this delegated act. An absolute majority in the European Parliament is needed to stop the proposal. A strengthened qualified majority of 20 EU member states representing 65 percent of the population can also block the proposal in the Council of Ministers. Austria and Luxembourg have announced that they will appeal to the European Court of Justice against the delegated act. More background information can be found on the homepages of the Green MEPs Micha Bloß and Jutta Paulus.
Afghan Women Day at the European Parliament
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Afghan Women's Days took place at the European Parliament to draw attention to their difficult situation. For the opening event on Tuesday, various guests were invited, including UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and Afghan human rights activist and former Minister of Women's Affairs Sima Samar. Sima Samar appealed to the rest of the world: the blame game should finally stop and collective responsibility should be taken. You can watch her speech here Watch.
Committee on Internal Affairs
This week we discussed in the LIBE Committee on the readmission agreements that the EU has concluded with third countries. Readmission agreements are either legally binding or non-binding cooperation agreements between individual Member States or the Union and third countries that are countries of origin or transit on flight routes to the EU. They serve to facilitate deportations by ensuring that third countries take back their citizens who are irregularly residing in the EU. The problem with these agreements is that they are often reached under pressure, with development funds or visas being linked to cooperation. The Commission has tried to take a bigger role in implementing and maintaining functioning readmission agreements, but success has been limited. For us Greens, the issues are human rights, the possible tying of funds or visas to readmission, and the long-term impact on the EU's relations with third countries if readmission becomes the central issue of cooperation.
Each year, the Commission presents a report on the status of these readmission agreements; Members of the European Parliament can only read these reports in secure reading rooms. Public scrutiny of the EU's actions towards third countries with which it has or negotiates such agreements is very limited.
Informal Meeting of EU Ministers of the Interior
At the informal meeting of EU interior ministers in Lille, the member states agreed that EU members that do not accept refugees should pay contributions in the future. At the same time, according to the plans, refugees are to be registered more comprehensively upon arrival and filtered with regard to their asylum prospects. In addition, a Schengen Council is to be established. Overall, the French Council presidency is pushing for more deportations and isolation from the outside world. Time Online reports.
Pushbacks through Greece
Greek officials are resorting to increasingly brutal means to keep out asylum seekers. Iranian Parvin A. was pushed six times, tied up and reports being beaten with wooden clubs – and has now called in the UN. Here, Parvin describes her story and Forensic Architecture lay out how they researched. In addition, on the Greek-Turkish border. found the bodies of 19 people, which Turkish officials say were previously pushed from Greece.
Calendar week 4
Holocaust commemoration in the European Parliament
Holocaust survivor Margot Friedländer spoke at a special session of Parliament to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In her speech, the centenarian Holocaust survivor told of her mother and brother who were murdered in Auschwitz and how she herself was arrested and deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Margot Friedländer warned that the memory of the Holocaust today is "politically abused, sometimes even ridiculed and trampled on“: "In disbelief I had to see, at my now one hundred years, how symbols for our exclusion by the Nazis, the so-called Jewish star, are shamelessly used today by new enemies of democracy on the open street to make themselves - in the middle of a democracy! – to stylize themselves as victims. On a day like today, we must stand together so that the memory of the Holocaust remains true and is not abused by anyone." You can read the speech of Margot Friedländer look here and here you can find her speech in written form.
I remain Vice Chairman of the Development Committee
On Wednesday took place the Constituent meeting of the Development Committee at which the chairmanship was newly elected. I am pleased to have been confirmed in my position as Vice Chairman and to be able to use this function in the second half of the legislative period to work on my key issues.
Schengen reform package in the Interior Committee
With the Commission, we have discussed its recently published proposal for a Schengen reform package discussed. I questioned elements of the reform proposal because parts of the package would legalize pushbacks within the EU. As Greens, we also do not feel it is necessary to include a definition for the instrumentalization of refugees and migrants in the new Schengen Border Code, which many are calling for because Lukashenko tried to blackmail the EU. We also need to ensure that future crises, such as the pandemic, not result in endless controls and closures of the EU's internal borders again. Other representatives of progressive parties expressed similar concerns. You can read my speech here listen from 11.12.
85 Percent of EU Development Funds to Serve Gender Equality
The Development Committee (DEVE) and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) have approved the Third EU Action Plan for Equality (Gender Action Plan III) was adopted by a large majority. With this, the European Parliament demands, among other things, that 85 % of EU development spending should serve gender equality. In addition, the EU should take a leading role in promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights in third countries, while member states should ensure universal access at home.
More street trees for Treptow-Köpenick
The BVV faction of my district association in Treptow-Köpenick has introduced a motion for more funds to plant street trees in the district. For a long time, the financing here lay with the state policy, in the face of increasing droughts and the simultaneously shrinking tree population, the district now wants to take care of itself. Learn more on the page of the group.
European Investment Bank unveils new "EIB Global" development branch
European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer presented the new development branch „EIB Global“ and discussed general questions on the future European financial architecture for development with MEPs from the Foreign Affairs, Development and Budget Committee. The debate can be here listen in. I asked questions about, among other things, future cooperation with the EBRD, compliance with human rights standards, and specifically about the planned disbursement of funds to Republika Srpska, even though the parliament there is threatening to secede (from 17:39:25).
Calendar week 3/ First session week in Strasbourg in 2022
Elections for the new President of the European Parliament
Three women stood in the elections for President of the European Parliament this week. The Swedish Alice Bah Kuhnke from our group achieved a respectable success with 101 votes by convincing also MEPs outside our group. Alice has a visible migrant background and told in her speechhow she was threatened by Nazis for the first time at the age of 10 and how she wants to use her candidacy to show other 10-year-olds in Europe that they belong. The Spanish candidate of the Left Group, Sira Rego, received 57 votes.
The Maltese Roberta Metsola was elected as the new President of the European Parliament. Conservatives, liberals and social democrats had agreed on this in advance. I have already worked with Ms. Metsola in the Frontex Committee of Inquiry, and she is regarded as a politician who is also willing to compromise with other groups. However, she has also come under criticism for being an anti-abortion activist. In Malta, abortions are currently prohibited.
Deviation from the previously agreed d’Hondt procedure for the election of vice:presidents
Before the elections, all the groups, with the exception of the far-right ID, agreed that the d’Hondt procedure would be used for the distribution of the 14 Vice-Presidents. With the d'Hondt procedure, the seats would have been distributed proportionally and our Greens/EFA group would have received 2 vice:inside positions. However, the conservative EPP, the S&D social democrats and the Renew liberals then decided that they didn't care about the agreement and then pushed through eleven of their own, even though only nine had been agreed. The remaining seats were then determined in free votes and from our group could still be Heidi Hautala from Finland.
Nuclear power and gas are not sustainable!
The EU's taxonomy regulation is about classifying which economic activities are environmentally sustainable or not. It is about promoting private investment in green and sustainable projects. The EU Commission informed us on New Year's Eve, a few hours before midnight, that nuclear power and gas would be included in the taxonomy and thus labeled as sustainable. Because this is obviously not the case with nuclear power and gas, we are currently still trying to prevent this classification. I have co-signed two letters on this. In one, members of the Greens, S&D and Renew have spoken out against the inclusion of nuclear power and gas. The other is about the Commission's actions, which show disrespect for the Members of the European Parliament. In his speech in the plenary, my group colleague Rasmus Andresen asked French President Emmanuel Macron to give higher priority to the interests of European citizens than to the interests of the French nuclear lobby.
Digital Services Act (DSA)
This week, a large majority of MEPs (530 votes) voted in favor of stricter rules for Facebook, Google, Apple and Co., supporting our group's call for a ban on personalized advertising based on sensitive data such as sexual orientation, ethnic origin, political opinion or trade union membership. You can find out more about the DSA at the Homepage of my group colleague Alexandra Geese.
Animal transport in the EU
Live animal transports mean a lot of suffering for the animals. We Greens want to limit the transport time for animals to a maximum of 8 hours a day, on the road and in the air. Unfortunately, our motion, which was voted in the final report of the Committee of Inquiry for the Protection of Animals during Transport, did not find a majority. From Germany, the members of the SPD and the Left voted in favor of our motion,CDU,CSU, FDP and AfD voted against. Here you can find a graph with the voting behavior.
Demonstrations against Nazis and lateral thinkers in my constituency Treptow-Köpenick
On Monday evening, numerous counter-rallies took place in Berlin to the so-called „walks“ of Corona deniers, Nazis and conspiracy ideologists. Also in my constituency in Treptow-Köpenick there was a counter-rally in front of the city hall Köpenick. Numerous people opposed the Nazis and showed solidarity with the people who have to endure the most in the Corona pandemic. The rally was organized by the Center for Democracy in Schöneweide. You can read a detailed report about the different events at Berlin Counter-Nazis read about it. There you will also always find the calls for the counter-rallies and a lot of information.
Calendar week 2 /2022
Committee on Internal Affairs
At the Session This week, Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, Commissioner Ylva Johansoon and Danish Minister for Migration and Integration Mattias Tesfaye were present. Thematically, those present urged a softening from the EU asylum acquis, which would make access to asylum more difficult for people at our external borders. The first long and difficult discussion revolved around the situation at the Belarusian border and whether the emergency measures proposed by the Commission are really proportionate and necessary now that the crisis has been averted and arrival numbers are very low.
According to the majority of MEPs who spoke, action against Member States whose laws violate the EU asylum acquis and international refugee law would be the necessary step. In her speech, Commissioner Johansson acknowledged for the first time that the laws of member states that have been violated by the Immediate action „benefit“ are not in line with EU law, which will hopefully also result in infringement proceedings.
The second difficult issue concerned the Danish proposal to create an asylum system that excludes arrivals at the external borders, in which these people would no longer be allowed to apply. This would come close to abolishing the individual fundamental right to asylum and the Danish minister Tesfaye was sharply criticized for this by his Social Democratic party colleagues and many others anyway. The Danish case is unique because of Denmark's withdrawal from EU cooperation on justice and home affairs, but it is also dangerous as a precedent.
Meeting with the European Investment Bank (EIB)
Earlier this week, I met with Maria Shaw-Barragan, Director of Investment in Africa, Caribbean, Pacific, Asia and Latin America at the European Investment Bank. The meeting was about the transformation of the EIB into a „Development Bank“ and the new development branch, which started work at the beginning of this year. The background to this development is the general restructuring of EU development funding, based on a Recommendation of an independent group of „Wise Persons“ and a June 2020 Council Recommendation. To this end, the European Parliament's Development Committee is planning a Reportfor which I am responsible for the Greens.
On January 9, 25 people fled to Lesvos, including 17 children. They could not apply for asylum, were imprisoned, beaten and abandoned at night at sea on a rubber dinghy without a motor. These crimes are simply unbearable. Aegean Boat Report reports. It also has in the new Moria on Friday burned again. EU minimum standards are still not nearly met, media are not allowed to report from the camp, and asylum applications are not examined in terms of content.
"Pushback" was named the unword of the year
I think it's very good that pushback was chosen as the unword of the year and that this should trigger a discussion. However, I am not at all convinced by the jury's reasoning and, in my view, clearly misses the core of the problem. I have written my thoughts about this in this longer Thread on Twitter summarized.
On Monday evening, a memorial rally was held to commemorate the Corona deaths in Treptow-Köpenick. At the same time, it was a counter-event to the Monday conspiracy ideological gatherings in the district. Organized by the Center for Democracy and Tolerance, next to which both the office and my constituency office are located, this was an important sign in the district. Learn more about the event on Twitter.
Calendar week 50
Commission proposes to strengthen the Schengen Borders Code
The Commission has proposed the Tighten the Schengen Borders Code from 2016This is in order to make it even more difficult for those seeking protection to gain access to procedures under the rule of law and to criminalise migration and flight even more. The justification for this is the current situation at the Belarusian external border, which is described by the Commission and the Council with completely exaggerated war rhetoric, in which refugees at our external borders are described as a 'hybrid attack'. The Commission's proposal to amend the Schengen Borders Code is characterised by a restriction of asylum procedures based on the rule of law, a deterioration in reception conditions and accelerated return procedures, thus disregarding the founding principles of the European Union, which include the fundamental right to asylum. This proposal follows shortly on the heels of the recent proposal for a Council regulation under Article 78(3) TFEU to respond to the situation on the EU border with Belarus, where Poland, Latvia and Lithuania are flouting EU law and denying people access to asylum procedures. These two proposals have a lot in common, they mean legalising everything that Member States are currently doing in practice in violation of the Schengen Borders Code and asylum acquis. Because it is no longer possible to deny the illegal pushbacks and serious human rights violations at the external borders, an attempt is now being made to partially legalise them.
Plenary vote Reorientation of humanitarian aid
This week, the plenary session of the Report on the refocusing of EU humanitarian action was adopted by a large majority; I had already presented the report in the weekly review for weeks 44 and 45. In 2021, the need for humanitarian aid has risen sharply worldwide - due to the COVID 19 pandemic, but also to climate change and conflicts - and at the same time there is a lack of funding. We therefore call on the Commission to allocate sufficient budgetary resources to EU humanitarian aid to respond to protracted and emerging crises through timely, predictable and flexible funding. EU Member States must also lead by example and allocate a fixed proportion of their gross national income to humanitarian aid to show global solidarity. A key focus in the future direction of humanitarian aid must also be on measures to address climate change.
Sakharov Prize awarded to Alexei Navalny
The imprisoned Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny is to receive the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize. His daughter Dasha Navalnaya will receive it on behalf of her father in Strasbourg on Wednesday. Here you can watch her speech.
Susanne Mertens and Philmon Ghirmai will lead the state party in the next few years, other members are Jana Brix (women's and gender policy spokesperson) and Aida Baghernejad, Dara Kossok-Spieß and Enad Altaweel. I am particularly pleased about the election of Karolina Ziehm, who will in future keep an eye on the state party budget as a financier and who, like me, is a member of the Treptow-Köpenick district association. It was a farewell party conference for the old state executive committee. Many thanks to Nina Stahr and Werner Graf, who led the state party into a successful time. You can find more information here.
Also confirmed at the state candidates' conference were the proposals for the Green senatorial posts in the new Senate. Bettina Jarasch will become Senator for Transport, Environment, Climate Protection and Consumer Protection, Ulrike Gote for Science, Health, Care and Equality and Daniel Wesener will take over the Senate Department for Finance. At the same time, the state party conference also approved the proposed coalition agreement with a large majority.
Calendar week 49
Meeting of EU interior ministers
The EU interior ministers met on Thursday and talked about how to deal with refugees at the external border. The EU Commission has already granted Poland, Latvia and Lithuania the possibility to restrict the fundamental right to asylum and to detain people for up to 5 months under Article 78, paragraph 3 TFEU. For Germany, it is no longer Horst Seehofer who is taking part, but the new Interior Minister Nancy Faeser.
The European Council also concluded thatthat Croatia fulfils the necessary conditions for the full application of the Schengen acquis. This decision is incomprehensible, because only a few days ago, the Council of Europe's Committee against Torture published a report stating, that Croatia is systematically and violently pushing back against refugees. This is, of course, not compatible with the Schengen Borders Code and therefore Croatia should not become a Schengen member as long as people are systematically tortured and beaten at the border. You can read the report of the anti-torture committee at here read.
After all, Germany and 14 other EU member states are taking 40,000 particularly vulnerable people from Afghanistan on. According to this, Germany alone is to take in 25,000 people through the resettlement programme. As recently as August, the Council refused to give a concrete figure.
Situation on the external border with Belarus
On Wednesday, the Body of Nigerian man discovered by Polish police. This is the 14th documented fatality on the Polish-Belarusian border. Five days earlier, the Kurdish Iraqi Avin Irfan Zahir, mother of five children, died.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has obliged Poland in several cases to improve the situation of protection seekers at the border with Belarus by taking emergency measures. In some cases the judges would have ordered that the people be provided with food, water and clothing, that they be allowed to contact their lawyers or that they not be deported to Belarus. It remains to be seen whether Poland has complied with the orders.
Scientific Reflection Symposium: The Coronavirus Pandemic
This week I participated in the CAES (Center for Applied European Studies) Reflection Symposium on the Coronavirus Pandemic. The topic of my panel was "COVID-19 worldwide: The EU as an international helper?", which I discussed together with Dr. Parnian Parvanta, Vice-President of Médecins Sans Frontières. The whole event can be downloaded here In my opening statement, I addressed the shortcomings of the European strategy to achieve global vaccine equity. Among other things, I referred to the slow progress of COVAX, but also to the European Commission's continued rejection of a patent suspension under the TRIPS Agreement, despite the European Parliament's position to the contrary.
Afat, 2, is the 1,000th evacuee from the Kabul airlift.... I am very pleased that, through commitment and donations, so many people have now been evacuated and I hope that the new government will quickly take on more responsibility for people in Afghanistan. Here you can go to the homepage of the Kabul Airlift. In the Leaves for German and International Politics I wrote in detail how the German government abandoned many people in Afghanistan and then we founded the Kabul Airlift.
Thousands of local Afghan forces and their families are still waiting to leave for Germany. Despite almost 25,000 promises of admission, only about 7,000 have come so far.
From 11 to 14 December, the second edition of the charity event „SOS SESSIONS“ will take place – to raise money for the mission of SOS Méditerranée. I will be there, too, and that's why I talked to Radioeins about sea rescue in the Mediterranean. You can listen to the five minute interview here listen.
Berlin admission program
Within the framework of the state admission programme, Berlin has 95 refugees received from Lebanon. These are people from Syria who are particularly in need of protection and who previously lived in Lebanon. Next year, 100 more people are to be taken in.
Calendar week 48
EU Commission wants to make access to asylum at external borders more difficult
The EU Commission wants to soften certain asylum rules for those seeking protection at the border with Belarus. For example, the asylum process could be extended and deportations simplified. In addition, the authorities are to have four weeks, instead of the current maximum of ten days, to register asylum applications. In total, those seeking protection could now be detained for up to 20 weeks. In addition, the Commission wants to allow simpler and faster deportations. In Deutschlandfunk I criticized this proposal (from minute 2.27).
Open letter to the EU Commission on surveillance in Greek camps
Together with my group colleague Alexandra Geese, I have written a letter to the Commission in which we explain how refugees in the new camps on the Greek islands are being monitored around the clock and locked up like felons. The situation is almost certainly contrary to EU law, yet the camps are being financed with €37 million from the Corona reconstruction fund, which is not earmarked for this purpose.
Read here the letter from Alexandra Geese and me to the EU Commissionwhich more than 40 MEPs have co-signed. As the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, we want to raise the issue of disproportionate surveillance methods in plenary in December. The Frankfurter Rundschau reports about our letter.
Coalition agreement and state delegates' conference in Berlin
After the coalition agreement was presented in the federal government last week, the coalition agreement for the state of Berlin has also been available since Monday. I am pleased that repatriations to war and crisis zones will still not take place and that the state of Berlin will in future try harder to work towards residence permits instead of tolerations in such cases in order to create prospects.
In addition, a state naturalisation centre is to be set up to process applications effectively and quickly. The Berlin coalition also wants to support the admission of people seeking protection from the EU's external borders and expand the existing programme for Iraqi and Syrian refugees to include Afghan refugees. Electoral law is also to be reformed at last, so that people without EU passports can also vote in elections to the House of Representatives. You can find the whole draft here.
The state delegates' conference will vote on 11.12.2021 on whether the Greens Berlin agree to the coalition agreement. In addition, the state executive board will be newly elected. I am very happy about the numerous candidacies, including Karolina Ziehm from my district association Treptow-Köpenick. You can read about the debate on this and the upcoming election of the state executive board at green.berlin There you will also find a list of the candidates.
Committee on Internal Affairs
This week, the two remaining dossiers of the Asylum and Migration Pact were discussed by the relevant parliamentarians in a Meeting of the Committee on Internal Affairs presented. Both dossiers are supported by Social Democrats, with whom we have a great deal of agreement in terms of content, but the attitude of Liberal and Conservative MEPs will make a progressive compromise more difficult.
Both reports propose amendments to the key elements of the Commission's proposal aimed at strengthening access to asylum These reports coincidentally come in the same week that the Commission also adopted a council regulation (Parliament has only an advisory role) for the situation on the Belarusian border. This move by the Commission is neither legally sound nor overly elegant in relation to Parliament, which is in the middle of legislative work on the Pact.
During this committee week, the Development Committee discussed access to water as a human right, the upcoming EU-African Union Summit and the situation in Ethiopia. There was also a public hearing on combating child labour in the Global South. The EU-AU Summit to be held in Brussels on 17 and 18 February 2022, building on the already adopted new EU-Africa Strategy. Originally, the meeting was already planned for October 2020, but had to be postponed several times due to the corona pandemic.
Council of Europe Anti-Torture Committee publishes serious allegations against Croatia The Council of Europe's anti-torture committee criticises systematic pushback of asylum seekers by Croatian police in report. There is no longer any doubt – this borders on crimes against humanity. This is no way to become a Schengen member. The press release and the 39-page report of the Council of Europe you can find here.
Calendar week 46 and 47
Coalition agreement was presented
After intensive negotiations, the Coalition agreement now public. I was allowed to help negotiate the areas of flight, migration and integration. Of course, there were compromises, but I am very satisfied with the results.
We are creating a modern citizenship law in which we enable multiple nationality and give people the opportunity to become naturalised after only five years, or even after three years in the case of special integration achievements. Children whose foreign parent has lived legally in Germany for 5 years will be granted a German passport from birth. In addition, we will facilitate naturalisation for the so-called guest worker generation.
We are improving the prospects for people to stay in Germany by turning training tolerations into residence permits, as well as abolishing the Duldung Light and chain tolerations. For more integration and participation, we will open up integration courses to all people who come to Germany, expand the federal government's migration counselling service, and strengthen migrants' self-help organisations and psychosocial support for refugees.
There will be a federal humanitarian admission programme from Afghanistan. Digital humanitarian visas for persons in need of protection will be made possible and resettlement based on UNHCR needs will be strengthened. The local forces procedure will be reformed so that allies receive protection.
Family reunification will now also be possible again for subsidiary protection beneficiaries, in addition, the reunification of siblings will be made possible and the quota of 1000 per month will be lifted, because: Families belong together.
External borders and Belarus
At Interview with RND I clearly criticised Poland's actions and said: 'Poland should be expected to abide by the law and to conduct asylum procedures in accordance with the rule of law. Instead, it has relied on violating the law from day one. Apparently, the aim is to abolish the right of asylum and thus European values in the slipstream of this conflict."
The Belarusian opposition leader Tikhanovskaya gave a speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. She spoke of the people's struggle for freedom against the Lukashenko regime, the political prisoners and how the regime instrumentalises those seeking protection. And she stressed once again that Lukashenko is not the legitimate President of Belarus, must not be recognised and sanctions must continue to apply. On Tuesday there was also a debate on the situation of refugees in Belarus and on the EU's external border with Poland.
The EU Commission provides Poland, Lithuania and Latvia with an additional 200 million euros for "border protection". and in return expects the countries to examine the asylum claims of those seeking protection. The additional funds may not be used for the construction of fences or walls, but for surveillance technology or border protection vehicles.
The Greens in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have called on the state government toto support the admission of people on the Belarusian-Polish border and to reaffirm its own willingness to accept them. The Federal Government, which is still in office, has so far rejected admission from Belarus.
Vote Legal migration
This week in plenary, the report with recommendations to the Commission on policy and legislation for legal migration was adopted by a clear majority. The COVID 19 pandemic has shown once again that migrant workers, including those in systemically important professions, are an integral part of our societies. Nevertheless, legal routes to the EU, including for people in search of economic opportunities, remain an afterthought in the European Commission's „New Pact on Migration and Asylum“ presented in September 2020.
I welcome the legislative own-initiative report, which highlights the benefits of labour migration, calls on the Commission to bring forward ambitious legislative proposals to create pathways for third-country workers of all skill levels, and stresses the importance of preventing exploitation.
An amendment tabled by the right-wing ID Group on EU funding for border protection facilities at the EU's external borders was not adopted, otherwise the report would not have received our group's support. Unfortunately, the amendment tabled by the Greens/EFA together with the left and S&D for an intersectional perspective on labour exploitation did not receive a majority. The Commission now has until 31 January 2022 to submit a legislative proposal to this effect.
The relevant text, including the opinion of the Committee on Development, for which I was shadow rapporteur, can be found at here, a briefing from the European Parliament's scientific service is here accessible.
Global vaccination distribution
While the EU leads the world in vaccination rates, the Global South still has little or no access to vaccines. Only 2.25 % of people in low-income countries are fully vaccinated, compared to around 55 % in Europe. Now that the EU is starting to restrict entry from South Africa, it becomes clear again that new variants could always emerge due to the unfair distribution of vaccines and that it is also in our own interest to vaccinate the world's population. If we continue to neglect vaccination in low-income countries, we will be contributing to a prolongation of the pandemic and taking human lives. That is why I, together with other Members, have written to the European Commission once again urging it to support an exemption from certain provisions of the TRIPS Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 as a priority measure, but also to take other measures. You can find the letter here.
CAP (Common Agricultural Policy)
This week, the European Parliament unfortunately voted in favour of a European agricultural reform that does not deserve the name. The agricultural turnaround remains absent and the common European agricultural policy falls far short of the promises of the Green Deal. The members of the CDU, CSU and FDP voted in favour, we Greens, the SPD and the Left voted against. My colleague, Green MEP Martin Häusling, explained on Deutschlandfunk why we cannot be satisfied with the result.
The Common European Agricultural Policy (CAP) will account for just under €387 billion, roughly one third of the European Union's Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021 to 2027. Three quarters of the payments are still area payments and are subject to few conditions. The package consists of the regulations on national strategic plans, the single common market organisation and the financing, management and monitoring of the CAP. The agreement leaves implementation largely to the EU member states.
Calendar week 44 and 45
Poland and Belarus
In the European Parliament on Wednesday, we held a Plenary debate on the situation on the border between Poland and Belarus. Our Greens/EFA Group is clearly against EU funding for walls, for an end to pushbacks and for a large-scale relocation programme. Socialists and the Left also spoke out clearly against new walls and fences. The conservatives from the EPP demanded funding for new walls and a further expansion of Fortress Europe. The right-wing and far-right groups praised Poland for its current mistreatment of refugees at the EU's external border.
(DE) I find it shameful how the public debate on the Polish border continues to lose sight of the fact that it involves many people whose lives are in danger and who are being deprived of their rights without any plausible justification. Certainly, Poland should be supported in this crisis, but if the support offered (humanitarian, EASO, Frontex), which exists precisely for such purposes, is not accepted and no attempt is made to comply with EU law, we must also ask ourselves what kind of Europe the Polish Government actually wants to live in and whether we simply want to watch it tear down European values with a wrecking ball and watch more and more people die. Of course the EU, Germany and Poland must not allow themselves to be blackmailed. But the enthusiasm with which many are now building walls and demanding illegal measures even before the legal options have been exhausted is more than disconcerting. Walls and fences are a symbolic sham solution. The only and most important solution is to stop luring people to Minsk with lies. The key to this lies with the airlines, in Moscow and in the countries of origin. There is a huge humanitarian disaster looming in the winter, because Poland and Lukashenka won't give in.
Afghanistan: 148 people evacuated from Kabul airlift!
On Saturday, we were able to use the cable airlift to bring 148 people from Afghanistan, including local Bundeswehr personnel. After many smaller evacuation operations, this was the first donor-funded flight to Germany since August. I also shared this message on Twitter.
Frontex investigation team
On 11 November we met with the management of Frontex. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the implementation of the recommendations of the Frontex investigation team. from our report of July 2021 to be monitored by the Agency. Since the publication of the report, the situation at the EU's external borders has worsened. Frontex is either not present because Member States lack the political will to cooperate with the Agency (Poland, Croatia, Hungary) or cannot effectively carry out the tasks of monitoring fundamental rights (as in Greece or Lithuania).
Executive Director Leggeri presented the scant progress that has been made since we began working for greater transparency and accountability at the EU's largest and most expensive agency.
Frontex has not managed to recruit 40 fundamental rights observers. The fundamental rights observers who have been recruited are being hindered in their work. To our surprise, this does not seem to bother the new Commissioner for Fundamental Rights, Jonas Grimheden.
Speech by Filipo Grandi at the opening of the mini-plenary session
Four times a year, the so-called „miniplenary“ takes place in Brussels for one and a half days. At the opening of the session, where among other things the situation on the Polish-Belarusian border was debated, Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, gave a speech on Wednesday that was her here ...you can listen to.
While noting the continued importance of the Geneva Convention on Refugees, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, he also called for better international cooperation on migration. He recalled that over 90 % of refugees and internally displaced persons do not live in high-income countries. Host countries need support through resettlement, humanitarian assistance and development cooperation. He also mentioned the climate crisis, which is leading to more and more displacement and must also be the focus of political action through COP 26. He also referred to the UNHCR position on the Belarusian border, calling for humanitarian access and a move away from a policy of walls and barbed wire.
On Tuesday, in the Development Committee. Report on the refocusing of EU humanitarian action adopted. The report was drawn up in response to a Communication of the European Commission from March 2021 on the same topic. Building on this, the first EU Humanitarian Aid Forum planned.
The European Union, together with its Member States, is the world's leading humanitarian aid donor, providing around 36 % of the world's humanitarian aid, equivalent to EUR 7 577 million. In the report, we call on the Commission to present a sound annual budget for EU humanitarian aid that ensures timely, predictable and flexible funding, both for long-term crises and for responding to new crises.
We also call for greater international responsibility-sharing and an increase in global funding for humanitarian aid. To this end, the EU Member States must lead by example and allocate a fixed proportion of gross national income to humanitarian aid. The report also points out that climate change and environmental crises must be a central part of any future EU humanitarian aid strategy. Working with local communities and indigenous peoples will be crucial to help vulnerable groups build climate resilience. The Commission also needs to assess the gender aspect in humanitarian crises, as women* and girls are often disproportionately affected in conflict and crisis situations.
Calendar week 43
My focus so far this week has been entirely on the beginning coalition negotiations on the new federal government with the FDP and SPD. But of course more happened this week: Here comes my weekly review.
This week, the specialist groups started their work and began coalition negotiations with the SPD and FDP. I am part of the steering group for the area of flight, migration and integration. Together with Luise Amtsberg, Dirk Adams and Filiz Polat, I will try to negotiate a policy in the coming weeks that focuses on the rights and dignity of refugees and people on the run. With the new Federal Government, there is a chance to leave the undignified policies under Horst Seehofer behind us. Boris Pistorius, Frank Schwabe, Nancy Faeser and Aydan Özoguz are negotiating for the SPD. The FDP is represented by Joachim Stamp, Hans-Ulrich Rülke, Linda Teuteberg and Stephan Thoma.
EU Commission does not want to finance walls at external borders
President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen stressed that the EU would not finance barbed wire or walls at the external borders. A number of heads of government, led by the new Austrian Chancellor Schallenberg, have called for just that. Von der Leyen's party colleague Manfred Weber and the far right groups in the European Parliament are also demanding that the EU fund a new iron curtain in Europe.
Committee on Internal Affairs
On Tuesday, Fabienne Keller (Renew) presented her proposal for a regulation on asylum procedures to the Home Affairs Committee. The rapporteur has understood many of the issues raised by progressive parties, experts and NGOs about the dangers of border procedures and the arbitrary detention of asylum seekers on the basis of their application.Nevertheless, her report is a cause for concern. Over the coming months, we will work with other shadow rapporteurs responsible for this important dossier to ensure the fundamental rights and procedural safeguards that asylum seekers need to have a fair process for establishing their need for protection. We will also work to ensure that the rules are implemented by Member States. Due to the nature of asylum procedures in times of systematic human rights violations at the EU's external borders, we will propose an independent, effective monitoring mechanism to ensure respect for human rights and human dignity. You can watch the session here. Fabienne Keller speaks at 17:34:52 and I speak at 17:46:12.
My colleague Theresa Breuer explains in the NZZ how we have evacuated 579 people from Afghanistan so far. You can read the article read here.
Schengen investigation team
The Schengen Inquiry Group this week discussed the violent pushbacks at the Croatian external border and the so-called 'independent monitoring mechanism'. Our group invited the head of the monitoring group, who is also the judge appointed by Croatia to the European Court of Human Rights, and the organisations working within the mechanism. Those responsible for the monitoring mechanism are all close to the government, which is why it cannot be said that the monitoring mechanism is independent. Our questions about its funding and its close links to the Croatian government were not answered. The Croatian Ombudsman, who was invited to the consultative body of the mechanism chaired by the European Commission, shares our concerns about the monitoring mechanism. Those responsible for the monitoring mechanism were generally dismissive of the independent actors invited, but also indignant about the critical questioning by MEPs. Neither the European Commission nor the Croatian authorities seem to care that the level of violence at the Croatian external border has not changed since the establishment of the monitoring mechanism in June. And it was shown once again that the monitoring mechanism is only a fig leaf that is not suitable for checking or even ending the pushbacks at the Croatian border.
On Saturday (30.10.2021) will be elected in my Green district association Treptow-Köpenick. Elections will be held for a new board of directors, cash audit and diet commission, and a vote will also be held for the counting community agreement, a kind of coalition agreement at district level. I wish all candidates good luck and look forward to working with them. More information can be found on the website of the district association.
Calendar week 42
Following the exploratory talks in the federal government, we as Greens are now entering coalition negotiations with the SPD and the FDP. As the asylum and migration policy spokesperson for the Group in the European Parliament, I have been asked by the party to contribute as part of the steering group. I look forward to the challenges and intensive discussions in the coming weeks.
On Wednesday evening pushbacks were debated in the plenary of the European Parliament. The responsible Minister of the Interior, Ylva Johansson, criticised the current Polish practice and stressed that pushbacks must never be normalised and legalised. With the Social Democrats the second largest group in the European Parliament is now also calling for infringement proceedings against Poland, Greece and Croatia.
You can watch the plenary debate watch at this link (from 20:30). The Council of Europe also calls for an end to pushbacks and also criticizes attempts to legalize pushbacks.
On Wednesday the Polish prime minister spoke in the European Parliament and delivered a propaganda show to justify the undermining of the rule of law. He also talked about refugees and the situation on the border with Belarus in order to divert attention from his own authoritarian restructuring of the state. I spoke with Deutschlandfunk about the speech and the situation in Poland.
Although the Polish police illegally pushback hundreds of people every day, and at least eight people have already died on the border with Belarus, Horst Seehofer offers Polish police help in sealing off. However, Seehofer will also soon leave his post as Federal Interior Minister. The Greens in the Bundestag called on the German government and the EU not to illegally turn back refugees. It is a pan-European task to guarantee adequate accommodation and a fair asylum procedure for those seeking protection.
For more than two months 31 refugees have been held at the border between Poland and Belarus and are not allowed to enter either country. In order not to freeze to death they tried to cross the barbed wire yesterday and were then forced back with pepper spray. You can find a video of it on Twitter at Ansgar Gilster.
Action against Frontex
Omar B. and his family were illegally deported to Turkey by Frontex on a plane in 2016, despite having applied for asylum in Greece. The family was then detained in Turkey before being returned to northern Iraq. He is now suing the EU border agency Frontex for damages at the ECJ. His lawsuit should not remain an isolated case.
The Court will have to decide whether Frontex is responsible for the human rights violations that it admits but blames entirely on Greece. This case is important not only because of the danger to which this Syrian family was exposed, but also to clarify Frontex's responsibility towards people who are mistreated in its areas of operation.
After exploratory talks Coalition negotiations for the formation of a state government in Berlin. I am pleased that the Greens, with their strong result, now have even more of a say in this and that Bettina Jarasch, a Green who will contribute her perspective as migration policy spokesperson, will also be involved in the negotiations.
In addition, after some time of preparation, a Reception programme for Syrian protection seekers who are in Lebanon. Up to 100 people are to come to Berlin each year, and the first transfer already took place on 19 October 2021.
Calendar week 41
The agenda of the Delegation for relations with Afghanistan included the still worrying humanitarian situation, which is likely to worsen over the winter months. In this context, also the humanitarian situation Special summit of the G-20 countries The EU wants to make an additional €1 billion available for humanitarian aid. You can read my assessment of this in the Interview with Watson read up.
I also talked to T-online on the occasion of the taps on Afghanistan. Withdrawal must not mean the end of the commitment to the people of the country. on the contrary, the problems are greater now than before, the responsibility even greater.
The exploratory paper of the Alliance90/Greens, the SPD and the FDP forms an excellent foundation for intensive coalition negotiations. The fact that there are also points that hurt is not a weakness of one of the three parties, but the essence of democracy. You can download the paper read here.
A court in Naples finds that returning people rescued at sea to Libya is a crime. The captain of the Asso28 was sentenced to a year in prison for returning 101 people seeking protection to Tripoli. From now on, those responsible for any civilian ship involved in pushbacks can be tried and convicted. epd reports.
This week, in a joint meeting of the Development and Foreign Affairs Committees, I discussed the three finalists of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The prize has been awarded annually since 1988 by the European Union as a distinction to individuals, groups or organisations active in the field of human rights. I am pleased that the Greens nominated 11 Afghan womenwho have worked for equal rights in their home country and for access to education and an inclusive Afghan society have made it to the final selection. The award ceremony will take place during the plenary session in December.
Calendar week 40
On Thursday, the High Level EU Resettlement Forum on Afghanistan took place in Brussels. At the invitation of Commissioner Ylva Johansson, decision-makers from across the European Union came together to discuss the reception and resettlement of people from Afghanistan. Amnesty International made clear demands to the conference, which you can find here. Unfortunately, the representatives of the member states did not agree on any clear targets for resettlement during the meeting.
With the Kabul airlift we were able to evacuate 11 German nationals and two people with German residence permits from Afghanistan to Pakistan on Wednesday – including nine children. It's crazy that we have to do this, but I'm happy for the people that it worked out.
After the failure of the federal government, tens of thousands of people continue to wait out their evacuation. 217 of them were brought to Germany on a charter flight on Thursday.
Pushbacks in Croatia and Greece
Special units from Greece and Croatia systematically commit human rights violations at the EU's external borders. Research by Spiegel, Lighthouse Reports and ARD proves this unequivocally and beyond doubt. On video, one can watch Croatian border officials beating defenseless people and forcibly taking them from Croatia to Bosnia. With recourse to the equipment used and with the help of some witnesses, the journalists clearly prove that these are not individual cases but state-ordered measures. In Greece, the research team was able to prove that the pushbacks in the Aegean Sea were carried out by Greek special forces.
Monitor did a report on this and also accompanied a family on their way from Bosnia to Croatia. The article ends with my assessment of the new monitoring mechanism in Croatia, which unfortunately is only a fig leaf and will not prevent pushbacks and abuse. You can find the article here from minute 16. You can find further research results in the Mirror (Paywall) and at BR24.
Criminalisation of civil society and solidarity in Europe
A report initiated by Parliament itself follows the recent assessment by the Fundamental Rights Agency that civil society is in a difficult situation in almost all EU Member States. The criminalisation of solidarity in the context of migration and asylum or search and rescue operations has long been an issue. The shrinking space for civil society is a major problem that the EU needs to address. With an internal civil society strategy, we could take a step forward in setting a benchmark and reviewing the behaviour of Member States. You can find the report here.
Criminalisation and prevention of solidarity in Greece
In recent years, the Greek government has increased bureaucratic hurdles through various laws, and at the same time there are repeatedly targeted legal proceedings against people who help those seeking protection. How this criminalisation of assistance works was made clear at a hearing in which the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, met with numerous human rights defenders in Greece. A report and further links to the allegations made, can be found at Human Rights Watch.
Vote on the Implementation Report on the EU Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey
This week in plenary, we adopted the implementation report on the EU Trust Fund (EUTF) and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey (FRT) by a large majority. The report was negotiated under the shared competence of the Committee on Budgets, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Development, for which I was responsible on behalf of the Greens/EFA Group.
The report seeks to provide a political assessment of the EU Trust Funds, which have been in place since 2014 and have been extended until December 2021, as well as the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. During the negotiations, the Greens/EFA managed to include positive wording on a number of key issues in the text, including reiterating the concerns expressed by the Parliament on the requests for extension of the EUTFs. The lack of transparency in the implementation of projects, particularly in relation to border and migration management (Libyan coastguard funding), was problematic.
We stress in the text the need to respect the principles of democratic accountability, transparency and sound financial management, and that the instruments in their existing form undermine the role of the European Parliament and the integrity and unity of the EU budget. The text also includes a call for the Commission to carry out a transparent impact assessment, carried out by independent EU bodies and experts, of the effects of EU-funded projects on the human rights of migrants and refugees and on the population of the country concerned.
Calendar week 38 and 39/2021
Evacuations from Afghanistan
We're going to get Kabul airlift still hundreds of evacuation requests from Afghanistan and this failure of the federal government to evacuate continues to bum me out. We have now managed to evacuate a few more people from Pakistan to evacuate outbut it is mainly German bureaucracy that prevents people from being rescued.
According to research by Panorama, German authorities are also delaying and preventing the right to family reunification for refugees. In Germany alone, according to the Foreign Office, more than 4,000 people from Afghanistan have been on the waiting list for an appointment for up to two years in order to be able to submit their documents at all. As a result of the filibustering, they have now come under Taliban rule.
The current federal government wants nach SPIEGEL information are now taking another 200 people a week out of the country via Pakistan. The Foreign Office is trying to sell this as a success after abandoning thousands of local forces and their families when the Taliban overran the country.
Situation at the Polish external border
Several people are at the Border between Poland and Belarus died. At least two of them after they were pushed by the Polish police. The Polish border guard nevertheless proudly announced on Twitter on Tuesdaythat a new record was set and 473 people were prevented from crossing the border or pushed back. These are clear human rights violations. The photo was accompanied by a hooded policeman posing at the border post. The Polish parliament has rejected the State of emergency on the border with Belarus extended for 60 days. The press and aid organisations are thus further denied access.
I have an interview with the Deutschlandfunk on the current situation at Poland's external border. In it, I say that we in the EU lack solidarity and are only making ourselves vulnerable to blackmail because we lack a robust asylum system based on the rule of law.
This week in the Committee on Development we discussed the opinions on the General budget for the year 2022 and on the own-initiative report on legal migration policy and legislation, for both of which I was the shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA Group. I abstained on the final vote on the budget because, despite good passages, the text contained various inconsistencies with the previously tabled budget amendments in the area of funding for biodiversity measures and the export of renewable hydrogen from developing countries.
By tabling numerous amendments and working with the left and liberal forces in the EP, we were also able to secure a narrow majority for a progressive text in the area of legal migration. If it had been up to the EPP and the ECR rapporteur, the text would have been reduced to border security measures and the fight against migration. Here you can read the final statement in a timely manner.
Green Party election success in Treptow-Köpenick
Elections were held in Berlin. In addition to the election for the Bundestag, the election for the House of Representatives and the district councils took place at the same time. In my district association in Treptow-Köpenick the Greens were able to improve significantly and sit in the future with eight deputies in the BVV. At the same time, the district association now also has the right to appoint a city councillor and can play an even more active role in shaping the district. There was also a strong improvement in the election to the House of Representatives. You can find all information about the results read here.
Calendar week 37/2021
I spoke at length on the Dissent podcast about the Kabul airlift, Afghanistan, and the failure of the federal government. You can listen to the one-hour conversation here.
Afghanistan resolution in parliament
In the resolution on Afghanistan, the European Parliament shows a progressive stance - compared to the Council and the Commission - on the current situation in Afghanistan. The resolution contains positive wording on migration-related aspects, including an extension of the ressettlement, humanitarian visas, a special visa programme for Afghan women seeking protection from the Taliban regime, the suspension of returns to Afghanistan and the application of the Temporary Protection Directive. During the negotiations, we Greens/EFA were also able to secure paragraphs on the establishment of a fact-finding mission within the UNHCR, an extension of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), on „Everything But Arms“preferences, on safe passage and the role of EU delegations in neighbouring countries, on insufficient progress on good governance and on the fight against corruption and the rule of law in the context of the war on terror.On local forces and protection, we managed to get a call for EU and Member States to work together to facilitate the further evacuation of EU citizens and vulnerable Afghans, in particular through the use of available safe corridors. Unfortunately, two Green amendments on the extension of temporary visas and the suspension of returns to third countries hosting large numbers of Afghan refugees and to third countries where effective protection of Afghan asylum seekers is not guaranteed were not adopted. Nor did we succeed in deleting paragraphs on the exchange of intelligence and on the EU's ability to act autonomously and on strengthening EU defence cooperation. You can read the accepted text here.
Closed warehouse on Samos
On Saturday, the first closed camp in Greece will open on the island of Samos. Several thousand people can be accommodated here. One of the new things is that all services and procedures for the protection seekers are to be provided behind the barbed wire fence and the 3-meter high wall. The protection seekers should and can thus no longer leave the camp without further ado. While the European Commission still does not want to talk about the fact that these are closed camps, the Greek government talks about it quite publicly without being shy. In view of the even greater isolation, aid organisations describe the new camps as open-air prisons.
Blue Card Reform
Parliament has adopted the EU Blue Card reform approvedwhich aims to facilitate the employment of highly skilled non-EU nationals and reduce labour shortages in key sectors. Under the revised rules, applicants must provide an employment contract or a binding job offer of at least six months and proof of higher qualifications or professional skills. Currently, a 12-month contract or offer is required. The salary threshold for applicants has also been lowered to a minimum of 100 per cent and a maximum of 160 per cent of the average gross annual salary in the member state where the applicant is employed; previously it was 150 per cent with no upper limit.
State of the Union address
Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) has described refugees currently arriving in Poland and Lithuania as a "hybrid attack to destabilise Europe". That's what she said in her State of the Union address on Wednesday, and that choice of words is absolutely wrong. It is true that Lukashenko is exploiting people to put pressure on the EU. But these people are not weapons or ammunition, and therefore we should not speak of a 'hybrid attack'. The RND has summarized the most important points of the speech here. You can read the whole speech watch here.
Calendar week 36/2021
For weeks there have been promises to evacuate people from Afghanistan, but the processes at the Interior Ministry are being dragged out. No one from the Foreign Office lists has yet been promised admission. Even people from German lists who have been evacuated are being forced to travel on to the US. The people in Afghanistan – also German citizens – are simply abandoned. I explained the situation in this video on Insta. At least six people on German evacuation lists have been executed in Afghanistan. People have been virtually prevented from being rescued, despite public claims that they should be evacuated. I spoke to Watson about this.
Afghanistan in Parliament
The situation in Afghanistan has dominated the agenda in the EP this week, with debates at several levels on how to move forward now. On Monday, a joint meeting of the Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI), the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM) and the Delegation for relations between Afghanistan and the EU, of which I am a member, discussed the change in the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan since the Taliban came to power. There are already numerous reports of massive restrictions on women's rights, and the situation is worrying, calling into question all the achievements of the last 20 years. Respect for women's rights must be a prerequisite for any dialogue with the Taliban regime, humanitarian aid must be guaranteed and safe escape routes to Europe must be made possible for women at risk. The whole debate can be listen here. This Human Rights Watch report from early August gives a good overview of how even before the fall of the government, violence against women in Afghanistan was pervasive and often went unpunished.
One year after the fire in Moria
On the night of September 8-9, 2020, the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos burned to the ground. Since then there have been many promises but hardly any change. People on Lesvos are still living in a completely unsuitable tent camp, there are still no adequate supplies of the necessities of life. After the fire disaster, the Commission promised 'No more Morias'. That promise has been broken. When I visited the new Moria a few weeks ago, the conditions were still inhumane. About the current situation I have with the news of the day spoken. You will also find on my homepage a report about my visit to Lesbos. Also at WDR Current I reported on the situation.
Situation in the Canary Islands
In August alone, according to the NGO "Caminando Fronteras", at least 509 people died during the crossing to the Canary Islands. This makes the Canary Islands route currently the deadliest in the world, ahead of the central Mediterranean route. The German-language weekly summarizes the reports. You can get more info in the Spanish-language El Día from Tenerife.
Calendar week 35/2021 – after the summer break
Parliament's summer recess is now over. I have used the time to set up the Kabul Airlift and to check on the ground the situation of refugees on the Greek islands.
Over the past few days, as part of the Kabul Airlift, I have been working to evacuate as many vulnerable people as possible from Afghanistan. In a first rescue operation with a chartered plane, we were able to save 18 people. After the federal government called off the evacuation in Kabul, we were able to get another 189 people into and out of the airport to safety. I was also in Doha this week to continue working on evacuating people there.
Unfortunately, there were also some difficulties and a real evacuation scandal. Thousands of people were put on lists and hope was spread, but these lists did not automatically land at the airport gates, so hardly anyone was given access to the airport. So they claimed in public that they were broadening the criteria, but in practice they only gave access to the airport to a very narrow group of people. Because of this PR show, many went to the airport with hope, but were never scheduled for evacuation. More than 190 people died in an attack in the crowd outside the airport.I speak in this Insta-video about the background of the scandal and the difficulties we had with the Foreign Office. At SWR I also explained that many more people could have been taken out of Afghanistan. You can find all other important information on the Homepage of the Kabul Airlift.
EU Conference of Interior Ministers
At the meeting of EU interior ministers it became clear that the priority of the Council and the Commission is to prevent refugees from Afghanistan from entering the EU. Those who want to flee from the Taliban should, in their opinion, stay in the region – and under no circumstances come to Europe. But neighbouring states have already taken in more than 80 percent of the refugees from Afghanistan. The EU must now save more people instead of sealing itself off further and further. Der Spiegel reports on the results of the conference.
Situation in the Greek islands
During Parliament's summer recess, I was again on Lesvos to see what the current situation is in the new Mavrovouni camp after the fire in Moria. I also met the Frontex forces on the ground to talk to them about the current situation and the pushbacks by the Greek coastguard. I visited various NGOs and civil society actors who are fighting to change the situation politically, but also make offers so that refugees have the opportunity to get through their difficult everyday life a little better. How the situation is currently, I have seen in this detailed article described.
Greece and pushbacks
It was announced this week, that the European Commission has stopped payments to the Greek coast guard for the time being. The background is allegations that the Greek coast guard is systematically involved in human rights violations.
The European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs has exercised its powers as the EU's budgetary authority and voted against granting discharge to the Frontex budget. With this decision, the pressure is high on the agency to fulfil the expected tasks, namely to recruit an adequate number of fundamental rights officers to monitor the missions. You can follow the vote and debate here (from 10.15am).
Evaluation of the Asylum and Migration Pact
The European Parliamentary Research Service presented its Rating of the Asylum and Migration Pact. The European Commission's reform proposal to reform the EU asylum system was already presented a year ago, but without an impact assessment by the Commission. Researchers now point out that the pact's proposals carry many risks, including the extensive detention of asylum seekers at the EU's external borders. It will be an important task for us to create legal clarity and put in place safeguards to ensure that reform does not lead to worse conditions for those seeking protection in the European Union.
Calendar week 28/2021
Outcome of the Frontex investigation team
For four months, the European Parliament has been investigating allegations against Frontex in the Frontex Scrutiny Group. The investigation has made it very clear that there are systemic problems at Frontex. At the heart of the allegations is that Frontex knows about and actively participates in human rights violations at the EU's external borders. The resulting report is a first step in the right direction.
For many months now, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri has repeatedly attracted attention with new scandals and the distortion of facts. He has lied to parliament several times and is actively preventing the cases from being investigated. Despite this, the EU member states are holding on to him. If the EU Member States really want Frontex to improve, they must finally appoint a new Executive Director. Frontex continues to expand. Yet wherever human rights violations are reported the EU agency looks the other way. Neither in Croatia nor in Greece does Frontex have any serious missions to monitor borders across the board. This turns the agency into a tax-wasting machine that serves as a fig leaf to cover up violations of the law by the Member States. Human rights organisations are banned from observing the borders. Frontex looks the other way or is sent away. It is becoming increasingly difficult to observe what is happening at Europe's external borders. Meanwhile, even the locations of sea rescue cases are kept secret. But hundreds of reports of human rights violations must no longer go without consequences. The EU Commission must finally launch an investigation with infringement proceedings against Frontex and Greece. The member states must reorganise Frontex. In view of the devastating report of the Court of Auditors, the EU Parliament should block a further budget increase of Frontex. You can watch the presentation of the report here Watch. (My speech at 9:39).
My guest contribution on the Frontex investigation team
I wrote a guest article for T-Online in which I call for consequences after Frontex covered up human rights violations. It is entitled: "Violence, Breaches of Law, Torture: Anything is Possible at EU Borders."
Open letter to Heiko Maas
The security situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating by the day, the Taliban are conquering more and more territory and a successful peace negotiation seems a long way off. In addition, the humanitarian situation is difficult and the pandemic situation continues to deteriorate. More and more people are having to flee because of this. The Afghan government recently asked for a Deportation stop from Europebut Germany continues to deport. Therefore I have written a letter to Heiko Maas and ask him to adjust the assessment of the current security situation in the situation report, irrespective of any domestic political motives and in accordance with new findings and developments.
Criminalisation of sea rescue NGOs
We also had a debate on the criminalisation of life-saving activities by Member States. Médecins Sans Frontières described the multiple attacks on civil society that are under way in several EU countries. When I asked the Commission why, in the absence of state or EU-led search and rescue operations, it – does not support NGOs that fill the gap and save lives, I got no answer. Until the Commission takes action here against the criminalisation of sea rescue NGOs, people will continue to drown who should not have to. You can watch the meeting here See. (My speech at 10:37)
Green success in lobby control
Lobbying rules in the European Parliament and the EU Commission are to be controlled by an independent ethics body in future - despite opposition from the Christian Democrats and CDU/CSU in the EU Constitutional Affairs Committee. We Greens had already called for this in the European election campaign 2019 demanded, now finally the EU Constitutional Committee for Daniel Freunds Report voted for an independent ethics panel. You can find out more on the homepage of Daniel Freund.
Calendar week 27/2021
The 9.88 billion euro fund for the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) for 2021-2027 aims to strengthen the common European asylum policy. We have achieved that funds can be applied for directly by regional and local authorities, so that EU states can no longer so easily prevent the funding of committed cities and regions. This means that municipalities can no longer be so easily prevented from dealing with flight and migration in a spirit of solidarity.
Talk without guest
I was a guest on the podcast "Talk ohne Gast". I didn't really understand the concept behind it, but the conversation with Till Reiners and Moritz Neumeier was great fun. You can listen to the episode listen to the longer version here or watch in a slightly shortened version here on video.
Subsidies for climate-damaging energy sources
Every year billions of euros of state money are spent on fossil fuels - we Greens want to finally turn off this climate-damaging money tap. What you should also know outside Brussels: Most MEPs from the CDU, CSU and FDP wanted to prevent this. You can find out how the German MEPs voted by contacting my colleague Michael Bloß on Twitter see
Question on Afghanistan
Together with my colleagues Bettina Vollath (S&D) and Clare Daly (GUE), I have this week submitted a written question to the European Commission on Afghanistan. The subject of my question is the current development of the Security situation and the adoption of the Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation (Joint Declaration on Migration Cooperation, JDMC), that is, the new repatriation agreement between the EU and Afghanistan. Since the JDMC was adopted without the involvement of Parliament, I would like to know to what extent the Commission will involve the EP in the future with regard to the agreement. I am also interested in the Commission's assessment of the security situation in the country and the compatibility with deportations to Afghanistan. I have also asked a question about the issuing of visas to local staff. The Commission has 6 weeks to reply to my questions, and I will link the reply here.
Question on the withdrawal of residence permits of Syrian refugees in Denmark
On 26 April, together with a number of left-wing and Socialist MEPs, I sent the Commission a question on the withdrawal of residence permits for Syrian refugees in Denmark. We wanted to know what the Commission's position was on the plans and what, if anything, it intended to do about repatriations to Syria.
In the reply, the Commission writes that it does not support return to Syria and agrees with the assessment of the High Commissioner for Refugees and the United Nations that the conditions for safe, voluntary and dignified return do not currently exist. And the Commission also makes it clear that Denmark remains bound to respect the principle of non-refoulement and also remains committed to examining each case individually. However, our question what measures the Commission intends to take to counter Denmark's behaviour was not really answered. You can find the question and the answer here.
Justice for Stanislav Tomáš
On 19 June, Stanislav Tomáš died in the Czech Republic after two police officers knelt on him. This is a tragic example of racist police violence in Europe. The Anti-racism and diversity group of the European Parliament calls in a Letter to the Commission to make a public statement against police misconduct that disproportionately affects marginalised people such as Roma, PoCs and others. We call for an independent and exhaustive investigation into the case. In addition, the Commission should call on Czech public officials and the media to refrain from stereotyping the victim and further stigmatizing Roma. The focus should remain on the inadequate or non-existent police response that led to the death of Stanislav Tomáš.
Calendar week 26/2021
This week, three committees of the European Parliament met to discuss once again the budget discharge for Frontex. Many different investigations are under way to uncover the specific failings of Frontex. As the budgetary authority, Parliament has a responsibility to hold Frontex to account when it is not operating as required by its mandate. In parallel with the budgetary procedure, the Frontex investigation team is working on its report, concluding its four-month inquiry into the agency's role in human rights abuses. In internal meetings during the remaining weeks of this parliamentary session, the members of the working group will discuss the findings and the recommendations to be included in the written report. You can watch the meeting of the interior committee here.
33 European cities form safe havens alliance
Together they signed a declaration and thus founded the "International Alliance of Safe Harbour Cities".. In the paper, the cities call for the right to asylum to be upheld in every European state, for reception quotas for the voluntary reception of refugees in the municipalities, and for direct funding of reception in the cities by the European Union to the municipalities.
My podcast on Afghanistan
In my podcast, I talk with journalist Shikiba Babori about the current situation in Afghanistan, the troop withdrawal and the future of the people in the Hindu Kush. We focus especially on the rights of women and minorities. We also explain why freedom of the press is better in Afghanistan than in many neighbouring countries. You can listen to the episode here. You can also listen to the podcast on Spotify, Itunes or Soundcloud Subscribe.
Visit to the Greek Greens
This week I was at the Greens in Greece guest. In their webinar, they discussed the implications of the European Commission's proposal for a new common pact on asylum and migration. Greece, as a member state at the EU's external border, is an important building block for all proposed solutions. The Greek civilian population has been trying for years to provide what the member states cannot: humane accommodation and solidarity with people seeking protection in our country. It is good and important that the Greek Greens are actively involved in the discussion here.
Pride in Tbilisi
Currently, the Pride in Tbilisi took place. At the request of local activists, I, together with other MEPs, appealed to the Georgian authorities to provide sufficient protection for the events. Previously, events of the LGBTQI community were often attacked by opponents. The leader of the ruling party, Irakli Kobakhidze, even wanted to cancel Pride. You can read the letter to the Georgian Minister of the Interior here.
Calendar week 25/2021
Frontex investigation team
This week the Frontex investigation team holds its last meetingto complete its four-month inquiry into the agency's role in human rights abuses. In those four months, it has become very clear that there are systemic problems at Frontex in terms of its operations, its management, its financial practices and its accountability. Commissioner Johansson expressed her concern and disappointment to Executive Director Leggeri at our meeting on Wednesday, and the Portuguese Interior Minister, Mr Cabrita, insisted that our investigations must have consequences. In the coming weeks, the group will negotiate its findings and recommendations, which will be incorporated into a report. The question is still whether the Conservatives are prepared to commit to the truth or whether they want to negate the facts and human rights in order to exonerate Frontex and continue building Fortress Europe undisturbed.
From the Sea to the City – Alliance of Host Communities
In Palermo, the European conference "From The Sea to the City" began on Friday, where various European cities are forming an alliance today to welcome refugees. I discussed with Gesine Schwan, Heinrich Bedford-Strohm, Muhamad al-Kashef, Chiara Cardoletti and the mayors of Potsdam and Palermo, Mike Schubert and Leoluca Orlando. More info and the videos of the panels can be found here.
My written questions on "sound cannons" and accommodation on the Greek islands in winter
The Greek border police is using so-called „sound cannons“ at the EU's external borders to prevent people seeking protection from being able to apply for asylum. Not only does this violate EU law, but countries have now outlawed such weapons because they can cause permanent damage. How the European Commission assesses the situation I'm trying to find out with this written question.
The Memorandum of Understanding concluded between the European Commission and the Greek government after the Moria fire disaster stipulates that the new camp on Lesbos will be operational by the end of September 2021 at the latest. However, the tender for the construction has only been published at the end of May. It also provides for a maximum construction period of 8 months, well into next year. How the Commission now intends to keep its promise that protection seekers will not have to freeze in tents for another winter, I ask you in this written question.
Serious human rights violations in Croatia
New videos showhow the sick and pregnant women are also systematically denied access to asylum procedures in Europe that are based on the rule of law. Entire families are being taken back through the forest across the Croatian EU border at night. Ursula von der Leyen is simply watching as the rule of law is abolished at the external borders. The Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee also conducted an unannounced investigation into how Croatian police treat fugitives in the summer of 2020. According to information from investigative journalists, the report clearly confirms the human rights violations at the border. Zagreb is vehemently opposing the publication.
With the Matić Report the European Parliament is clearly committed to sexual and reproductive rights and recognises them as fundamental human rights. The denial of these rights is a form of gender-based violence that is unfortunately a reality in many Member States. Member States must now fully guarantee sexual and reproductive rights and ensure access to safe and legal abortion. In the run-up to the report, anti-feminist actors put massive pressure on progressive MEPs to prevent its adoption. Packages of plastic fetuses were even sent out and fundamentalist lobby organisations did their utmost. But the majority of MPs clearly positioned themselves in favour of the right to self-determination, bodily integrity, equality and non-discrimination. In the current context of strengthening anti-feminist and authoritarian ideologies, this report is a strong sign for feminism and emancipation.
Development Committee There were two votes in the development area. The motion for a resolution on the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25/ Nairobi Summit) was supported by us Greens and adopted with a broad majority. In doing so, the European Parliament endorses the results of the meeting and calls for the implementation and funding of the ICPD action programme. The central demand is universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights as part of universal health coverage. Also adopted was the Report on the role of EU development cooperation and humanitarian aid in dealing with the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic. (DE) The report assesses the EU's global response to the Covid 19 pandemic and makes recommendations on how to tackle the health, social and economic crisis triggered by Covid 19 in the Global South through development and humanitarian aid. Although the text itself did not contain any problematic passages, I abstained from the vote because, due to the EPP and S&D leadership, there was no opportunity to push through progressive demands on debt relief, health and agroecology, among other issues.
Calendar week 24/2021
Nadir crew negotiates to take rescued to Italy instead of Libya
The German observation ship Nadir has found an emergency at sea in the Maltese sea rescue zone. Instead of sending a rescue ship, Malta had only alerted the Libyan coast guard, which wanted to bring the people to the internment camps. The crew refused. With political pressure and negotiations, in which I also got involved, it was finally achieved that the Italian coast guard rescued the people and brought them to Italy. You can read more on the Twitter channel of RESQSHIP and at DW.
Frontex investigation team
This week, the Schengen Inquiry Group met with the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs exchanged. In my contribution, I have tried to describe the complex and deeply worrying situation in which the Agency finds itself, based on our findings. We were able to observe an example of pushback described by Agency staff as the modus operandi of the Greek Coast Guard. This confirms that the Greek government lied to the LIBE Committee and that in order to reduce the number of arrivals, fundamental rights are violated on a daily basis at the Greek-Turkish border. Frontex can either cooperate with the Greek authorities, who are actively violating rights and the agency's own mandate, or stop operating. But in our experience with the agency in Hungary, Frontex is still carrying out operations in support of repatriation, despite the Commission's advice, even when the violations are recognised by the EU's own court, the ECJ. This inquiry brings more and more evidence of the serious problems with the agency and at the Union's external borders. You can watch the whole session watch again here.
Presentation of the election campaign of the Green Party Berlin for the parliamentary elections 2021
Under the claim „klargehtdas“ the campaign of the Berlin Greens for the election to the House of Representatives in September 2021 was presented today. I am pleased that we are entering the race for the Red City Hall in Berlin with Bettina Jarasch. In recent years, she has been a strong advocate for those seeking protection in Berlin as Spokesperson for Refugees and Migration, and hopefully she will soon be able to do the same from the Red City Hall. The election posters are available here.
Conference of Interior Ministers
The Minister of the Interior of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Thomas Strobl (CDU), at the start of the conference of the Ministers of the Interior in Rust in Baden in favour of deportations from Germany to Syria. He knows you can't do that because people are being abused and killed there and it would take a deal with Assad. He's only interested in catering to right-wing populist sentiment.
Implementation of Global Europe-NDICI
As Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Development, I participated this week in the first geopolitical dialogue with Commissioner Urpilainen and High Representative Borrell. This was the first meeting in this series, which is to take place every six months in future as part of the European Parliament's greater rights of participation and control with regard to the implementation of Global Europe-NDICI. The multi-annual indicative programmes for pre-selected countries from the geographical pillar, which will play a key role in development cooperation in the coming years, were discussed. Most of the meeting was held in camera, but you can watch the first part of the meeting at here listen. The EP's monitoring work has only just begun with this meeting, and I will be taking a closer look in the future, especially at the projects that fall under the migration target. What is at stake in this, CONCORD has recently Position paper summarized.
Asylum Procedure Code
On Thursday, what was probably the last meeting on the asylum procedure regulations before the summer break took place. The political groups are still far apart on issues such as the wider use of border procedures and the use of detention in the pre-entry phase of the asylum procedure. Unfortunately, the European Commission has still not provided us with accurate figures on the cost of the proposed procedures or given us a credible simulation of the provisions. Therefore, we must await the internal parliamentary report on the Pact and ensure that our reforms do not codify incorrect practice or lower standards of protection for asylum seekers.
Calendar week 23/2021
EU Parliament calls for temporary suspension of vaccine patents
The European Parliament calls for temporary suspension of Corona vaccine patents, in order to eliminate supply bottlenecks in poorer countries. The call for the suspension of patent protection was controversial in Parliament. 355 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution, 263 against and 71 abstained. MEPs from the CDU, CSU, FDP and AfD tried to prevent the demand. Here you can see how the German MEPs voted.
Covid 19 certificates
Members of the EU Parliament voted with a clear majority for the planned vaccination certificate. We welcome the agreement to ensure free movement in the pandemic by providing a common EU tool to ensure mutual recognition of national COVID-19 certificates. The system will have high data protection standards. The technical approach chosen – a public key infrastructure – ensures that no personal data will need to flow within the EU, but will only be stored on the certificate itself and in the patient file of the doctor or testing or vaccination centre. It is therefore not possible to trace back where a certificate is issued. The certificate is valid for 12 months. You can find out more in the Parliament press release.
Since the announcement and start of the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, the security situation on the ground has deteriorated once again. The Taliban are conquering new territories in the provinces, there are weekly attacks on civilians, especially women and children. Peace negotiations are stalled and the COVID-19 pandemic has further weakened the economy. A catastrophic drought is looming and already a third of the population is dependent on humanitarian aid. Afghanistan is considered the most insecure country in the world, yet regular deportations continue from Europe and the EU has recently signed a new readmission agreement with Afghanistan. I highlighted all these factors in our Afghanistan resolution this plenary week as rapporteur for the Greens, calling for, among other things, a halt to deportations, the issuing of humanitarian visas to local people, greater involvement of the Afghan Parliament and greater accountability for the attacks that have taken place. Unfortunately, I was not able to get all of these demands passed in the cross-party resolution, but on migration at least I was able to get one point on a mandatory human rights review of the new repatriation agreement. Here are the links to my speech on the situation in Afghanistan, to the Green resolution and the cross-party compromise.
European Court of Auditors criticises Frontex
The EU Court of Auditors has massively criticised Frontex in a report. I am calling in Der Spiegel for the EU Parliament to block the Frontex budget. We cannot continue to waste taxes on lack of transparency, inefficiency and human rights violations. You can find the article here.
Interview with Deutschlandfunk Kultur
I spoke with Weltzeit on Deutschlandfunk Kultur about European refugee policy and how the impression is being created that the EU is waging war against people trying to reach Europe on rubber dinghies. You can listen to the conversation here.
Now it becomes known that the construction work for the new camp on Lesbos have not even begun. The agreement concluded between the Greek Government and the European Commission memorandum of understanding however, envisages that it will be put into operation in September 2021. That this is unlikely is also shown by the fact that the public tender for the construction was published only recently. This foresees a completion in the course of 8 months. Already in April I have the European Commission asked to comment on the progress of the construction of the planned new camp on Lesbos, it has not done so so far.
Calendar week 22/2021
Policy against right-wing extremism and for Saxony-Anhalt
I spoke with Sebastian Striegl, chairman of the Greens in Saxony-Anhalt, about the upcoming state elections on June 6. The topic is how best to fight right-wing extremism and what ideas we Greens have for Saxony-Anhalt. The 54-minute conversation you can find me on Instagram see
Frontex investigation team
On Thursday, we spoke to the head of operations of the Italian coastguard, who described cooperation with the Libyan coastguard as cooperation required by law to rescue people. As Libya is not a safe haven and people there face imprisonment, torture and forced prostitution, some of the MEPs questioned this designation. The new fundamental rights officer of Frontex and the UNHCR were also guests. All were aware of the existing problems within Frontex as well as the concerns at the EU's external borders, but instead of discussing the specific cases under investigation, the conversation focused more on the future and the possibilities that the new Fundamental Rights Officer has.
Even though our investigation is drawing to a close, there are still many questions to be answered before we can draw conclusions in our report. It is therefore a pity that the Danish navy and the Spanish coastguard could not come, and that Frontex's former fundamental rights officer was not there either, whose reports Fabrice Leggeri largely ignored, according to Spiegel research.to cover up the pushback scandal. You can follow the entire session here.
Readmissions between Turkey and Greece
Greece rejects asylum applications from people seeking protection and issues exit orders to Turkey. However, Turkey has not allowed any readmissions for over a year now - people have to leave, but cannot. This leads to a situation of "perpetual refugees" who live in miserable conditions in Greece because they no longer receive benefits.
I have asked the EU Commissionwhether this practice is compatible with EU law. In its reply, the Commission statesthat the practice of denying benefits is contrary to European law. Now, at long last, the Greek Government must also comply with the EU directive and, therefore, with applicable law. Unfortunately, however, we currently have a situation both in the camps and at the external borders in which the Greek Government is obviously breaking the law and getting away with it. You can find the question and the answer here.
News from Greece
The Greek authorities started this only yesterday, Vaccinate refugees on Lesvos, Chios and Samos against Covid-19, although the country has been vaccinated since January. It is incomprehensible that the people in the camps are being vaccinated so late, because they are particularly at risk due to the cramped conditions and lack of hygiene, and many are actually infected. On my homepage I inform here regularly on the latest developments in Greece.
Asylum Procedure Code
On Tuesday, the MEPs responsible for reforming the asylum procedure regulation met with the European Commission to discuss their simulation of the new rules. The presentation of their simulation raised more questions than it answered. Although evidence-based policy-making has been our demand as a Parliament in the process of reforming the Common European Asylum System, we expect implementation and impact assessments of the old and new procedures, not fictitious figures simulated with fictitious staff in fictitious centres of the future. The Commission has admitted that it does not have the facts to realistically simulate the application of the rules proposed in the Pact. As we discussed this somewhat opaque simulation, it also became clear that there is no attempt to simulate how the fundamental freedoms and reception conditions of asylum seekers would be affected by the changes. Moreover, there is no data to simulate arrivals in countries like Germany and France, which seem to be the most defensive of the Commission's proposals. Probably mainly because they expect to have to take in fewer protection-seekers with the new pact.
On June 02 Dzmitry Furmanau, for whom I took a prisoner sponsorship, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal column. He is already detained for more than a year. Repeatedly he is transferred to solitary confinement without explanation. There he has to stand in his cell from morning until night. Overall, the conditions of detention in Belarus are catastrophic, as increasing reports of Torture, Suicide (attempts) and Dead prove. Therefore, the EU urgently needs to support political prisoners and democratic activists. Currently there are 472 political prisoners in Belarusian prisons. If you would like to support them, you can contact Politzek ...inspired.
Calendar week 21/2021
Talk with Afghan MPs
As a member of the Delegation for relations between Afghanistan and the EU, I took part in a meeting with the European External Action Service on Friday. The main topic was the security situation - also in view of the imminent withdrawal of NATO troops. You can watch the meeting here (my speech begins at 15:54:55). I also had a meeting with three members of the Afghan Parliament. This exchange also focused on the current security situation, the difficult negotiations with the Taliban and, above all, how we can facilitate closer cooperation. At the last donor conference in November 2020, the EU pledged €1.2 billion for Afghanistan, which is urgently needed. Unfortunately, not all the money is reaching its destination. Corruption is a major problem. This is where the Afghan Parliament can play an important role, if it can properly exercise its budgetary control functions. I have pledged my support in this.
Proposal for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum
On Thursday, the Committee on Home Affairs invited to various panels on the Commission's proposal for a new pact on asylum and migration. Unfortunately, there are still relevant actors who see a Fortress Europe and externalisation of the EU's external borders and cooperation with dictators as the right concept for a common European asylum policy. I was shocked by the ignorance of the governments of Germany and France towards the states on the EU's external borders, which are to be expected to do even more with the pact than they already are. Moreover, we currently have a situation in which people and their rights at the external borders are being trampled underfoot on a daily basis. As the Pact currently stands, this would not change in the future either.You can watch the first part of the session at here and the second here Watch.
Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri tries to cover up pushback scandal and ignores his own human rights commissioner
Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri has been under pressure for months over his border guards' involvement in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean. Internal documents show: Frontex's own human rights officer spoke of "solid evidence" of pushbacks in the Aegean, but Frontex chief Leggeri may have simply ignored her. The Spiegel reports.
Greek refugee camps are being walled up
Under the keyword „modernization“ are just all refugee camps in Greece rebuilt. They are equipped as standard with three-metre-high fences, surveillance technology and personalised access cards. This practice clearly contradicts the EU Reception Directive. I have written to the EU Commission on this this written question sent. I would like to know whether the Commission is aware of these developments, whether it supports the construction of concrete walls to enclose Greek refugee camps and whether this construction work is in line with the EU's values and objectives.
MEPs call for a full return to the borderless Schengen area
Since 2015, border controls between member states of the Schengen area have continued, even though the agreement is designed to abolish them. The Schengen Borders Code must be revised and the Commission should consider infringement procedures against states that continue to carry out controls. MEPs voted in favour of this by a clear majority in the European Parliament's Home Affairs Committee this week. Read more here.
Civilian rescue at sea
On Wednesday, I was invited to Sea-Eye to talk about sea rescue and the role of Frontex in the Mediterranean. The Sea-Eye 4 ended its mission last week, rescuing more than 400 people. People still have to die on the flight to Europe. The solutions are obvious: civilian rescue at sea could also be financed by the European Commission, as a study I commissioned shows. Study ...is the way it's done.
Following the forced landing of Ryanair flight 4978 and the kidnapping of Roman Protasevich by the Belarusian regime, I join other MEPs in calling for consequences. In this letter we call on Siemens to cease cooperation with the regime in Minsk. Specifically, Siemens is supporting Belarus by supplying materials for the construction of a nuclear power plant on its immediate border with the EU. In addition, European banks such as the Eurasian Development Bank and the Landesbank Hessen-Thüringen are granting loans to the Belarusian state, which are being used to build the nuclear power plant.
Calendar week 20/2021
This week I gave a speech in Parliament on preventing sea rescue in the Mediterranean. There were also many important votes on asylum, migration and Corona patents, and a meeting of the Frontex investigation team.
My speech on European sea rescue in Parliament
On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to speak in the EU Parliament about sea rescue in the Mediterranean. I find it pathetic that EU states have decided that people in the Mediterranean should rather drown or be mistreated in Libya than reach Europe alive. You can find my entire speech on my Instagram.
EU Parliament votes for TRIPS waiver
The EU Parliament votes for a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights for Corona vaccines and medicines. Of the German parliamentary groups, the Greens, SPD and Left voted in favour. CDU/CSU, AfD and FDP voted against ensuring that people in poorer countries have sufficient access to necessary vaccines and medicines. Unfortunately, the German government and the EU Commission are also against the plan to temporarily suspend property rights. The voting behaviour of the German delegates can be seen here. Here you will find more information about the TRIPS waiver in general and the positioning of the USA and the EU. Here you can listen to individual speeches from the debate.
EU Parliament calls for respect of human rights in cooperation with third countries
In the externalisation of EU migration policy, responsibility is increasingly being shifted to third countries, with the result, among other things, that people find it more difficult to seek protection in the EU. This week, the European Parliament adopted a report by my group colleague, Tineke Strik, which calls for respect for human rights to be made the focus of all agreements with third countries. This report provides the first operational framework for ensuring effective protection and safeguards throughout the migration policy cycle and across all EU actors and bodies, as well as for enhanced parliamentary scrutiny and democratic oversight. Find out more at Twitter at Tineke Strik.
Parliament votes for more legal access to the EU
With a clear majority of 495 votes in favour and 163 against, the European Parliament has voted in favour of more legal opportunities for labour migration to the EU. The EU Commission is thus called upon to create more legal opportunities for access to the EU and also a talent pool. More on the vote you can find out on Twitter from my group colleague Damian Boeselager.
Commission replies to my question on the situation of shelters on the Greek islands
On 12 March, I sent the Commission a question to find out what specific plans were being made to improve the situation on the Greek islands. The answer states that the accommodation has improved since the fire in Moria. However, even eight months after the fire, the residents do not notice much of this. The situation is far from being humane and from meeting EU standards. The Commission writes: "The Greek authorities have confirmed that the residents of the new centre will be able to enter and leave the camp as they wish". At the moment, people are not allowed to move freely and are locked up. The Commission claims here that this will be different in the new camps, but the Greek government continues to speak publicly of closed campswhich are to be built there. Here the Greek Government seems to be making different promises to the public than to the Commission. You can find the request and the answer on my homepage.
Frontex investigation team
Today, at the sixth meeting of the Frontex Inquiry Group, we spoke to the EU Ombudsman and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, both of whom have raised concerns about the situation at the EU's external borders. You can check out the session here. The week before, we spoke to journalists from Lighthouse Report and Spiegel in the Home Affairs Committee to discuss their investigation into Frontex's role in systematic human rights abuses at the EU's external borders. They told us about their complex investigative methods that resulted in data clearly showing that the agency knows about pushbacks due to the positioning of its operations. In addition, the panellists described cases where Frontex boats themselves were involved in illegal pushback activities. You can find this session here.
On the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Interphobia on May 17, the LGBTI Intergroup of the European Parliament, of which I am a member, organised an event on the rights of LGBTI people in the EU. Civil society representatives were invited from Poland, Hungary and Latvia, where the situation is increasingly deteriorating. You can check out the event here. In Germany, too, in 2020 782 hate crimes against LGBTI persons were registered. This corresponds to an increase of 36% compared to the previous year.
Calendar week 18/2021
…Until everyone is safe
On 5 May, the US agreed to suspend patent rights on COVID-19 vaccines, which is an important signal, because we can only tackle this pandemic together. Pressure must now be exerted on the Commission to reconsider its position. Therefore, together with 155 other MEPs, I signed a letter to the Commission urging it to actively support the temporary suspension of vaccine ownership rights.
If you also want to put pressure on the EU, you can support the European Citizens' Initiative No profit on pandemic Support.
Police violence in Colombia
Since the end of April, people in Colombia have been on strike against a planned tax reform by President Ivan Duque, as well as against increasing poverty and violence. Since then, the police has been acting with extreme brutality against demonstrators, numerous people have been murdered and disappeared. Every two days, a human rights activist or politician is murdered in Colombia; since 2016, this has affected over 1,000 activists. In a letter to the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, I join other MEPs in condemning police violence in Colombia. We are committed to the EU's efforts to ensure that the peace treaty is respected.
News from Moria
On Lesvos, the Kara Tepe camp was closed, although the conditions there were relatively good. People were moved to the new Moria camp called Mavrovouni. Midwife Julia Falkner is on site for Doctors Without Borders and reports on the catastrophic conditions.
Hundreds of people rescued from distress at sea
Civilian sea rescue organisations have rescued more than 600 refugees in the Mediterranean within a few days. The ship Ocean Viking of the organization SOS Méditerranée brought 236 refugees to Sicily on Saturday. In the last few days, Sea Watch has rescued another 456 people.
Mayor calls for European sea rescue programme
The mayor of Palermo calls for a civilian European sea rescue programme in the Mediterranean. European cities, NGOs and aid organisations could work together with the support of the European Union. In June he organises the solidarity congress ‚From the sea to the city‘ together with the mayor of Potsdam.
A study I commissioned shows..: The EU can finance sea rescue. The Commission could provide financial support to non-governmental organisations to set up a civilian European Maritime Rescue Mission. This does not require the consent of the Member States.
Calendar week 17/2021
This week, my work was once again heavily influenced by Frontex. There have been new revelations about Frontex's involvement in illegal pullbacks to Libya and we are also drafting concepts in the Frontex investigation group to be able to hold the agency accountable for misconduct and breaches of the law in the future.
Frontex provides information to 'Libyan Coast Guard' for deadly interceptions
Frontex sends information on sea rescue cases in the Mediterranean via WhatsApp groups and emails directly to the "Libyan Coast Guard". Until now, Frontex also claimed to the European Parliament that they only inform sea rescue control centres about sea rescue cases. This was their justification for not giving coordinates to surrounding ships that could ensure the fastest possible rescue. You can read the research here read in the mirror. A summary and my commentary on the illegal actions of Frontex can be found at here on my homepage.
Frontex investigation team
This week, we spoke with two legal experts about Frontex's duties and responsibilities. Melanie Fink made concrete proposals to improve transparency and the complaints mechanism at Frontex. She also reiterated: Pushbacks are always illegal and have no basis in the rule of law. However, there is still no answer to the question of how Frontex can be brought before a court for violating people's fundamental rights. It is a fundamental flaw in the construction of Frontex that the agency and its head can currently hardly be held accountable for their misdeeds. We must find ways to change that. You can watch the session again here.
Europe in Saxony-Anhalt
On Wednesday, we did an online event on the topics of climate, flight and trade in Saxony-Anhalt. Besides me, the MEPs Ska Keller and Anna Cavazzini, the Minister of the Environment of Saxony-Anhalt Claudia Dalbert and the chairwoman of Toll e.V Juliana Gombe were there. You can check out the event here.
The digital green certificate is accepted
(DE) This week in plenary, we adopted the 'digital green certificate', in other words the EU Covid certificate. The aim of the certificate is to find a uniform EU regulation for border crossings and to reduce the current bureaucratic hurdles, which mainly affect commuters. For us Greens, the very important issues of data protection, the offer of free testing facilities and the principle of non-discrimination in order to avoid a de facto compulsory vaccination were able to be pushed through, so that I voted in favour of the report. Here you can listen to the debate and individual speeches.
Criminalisation of activists
In the friendship group on migration we exchanged views with Helena Maleno from. She worked in Morocco for the rights of refugees until she was recently deported to Spain. She blames the EU, Spain and Morocco for her expulsion. She is not the only activist to be persecuted for her human rights work. She gained access to files about the case against her. Frontex explicitly collected information about her and asked refugees about her as if she were a human trafficker.
Calendar week 16/2021
Frontex investigation team
On Friday, a meeting of the Frontex Investigation Group took place in the European Parliament. I asked questions about the legality of the EU-Turkey deal, the obligation to rescue at sea and the right to leave. Under EU law, asylum seekers must receive an individual assessment of their case after being given a chance to ask for international protection. Non-refoulement, the prohibition of being sent back to a place that puts one's life and dignity in danger, is prohibited. So is the collective expulsion of people who are on the move to seek protection. There is no way around these obligations, either for EU Member States or Frontex. This group will hold further hearings and examine documents to investigate the extent of the agency's complicity in the systematic violations of fundamental rights at the EU's borders.
The you can watch the whole session here. You can find my questions in the timeline at 10:26.47.
Margaritas Schinas as a guest in the Interior Committee of the European Parliament
The subject of the meeting was the situation of vulnerable persons and persons with mental health problems in Greek reception centres. What I personally saw and experienced, and what the media and NGOs documented on the ground, was in complete contradiction to the arguments put forward by the Vice-President. The situation in the Greek hotspots is and has been inhumane, degrading and dangerous to the physical and mental health of the protection seekers housed there. The Vice-President also claimed in his remarks that the Pact's proposals would improve the situation. I believe these statements to be false and, as shadow rapporteur on the Asylum Procedures Regulation, I have to say that the proposed changes would make the hotspot approach the default mode for many protection seekers in the EU. I am sorry to say that it was a very disappointing conversation.
The whole three-hour session you can watch here:
Reception stop for refugees from Greece
103 refugees from Greece landed in Germany on Thursday. The Federal Ministry of the Interior has announced that it does not plan to take in any more refugees. Yet it would be important to continue taking people out of places like the new Moria. A You can find a report about this in the NDR.
Two meetings of the Committee on Development took place this week. On Monday, the rapporteurs presented their Draft on the implementation report on the EU Trust Funds and the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. Although good preparatory work has been done here with regard to the criticism of the European Parliament's lack of co-determination and supervisory rights, important elements are missing with regard to the implementation and objective of the instruments, here my speech on this (skip to 14:42:38). Together with my colleagues from the Committee on Budgets and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, I will be tabling the relevant amendments next week.
On Thursday, the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, was a guest for the so-called „Strategic Dialogue“, a regular exchange between the Commission and Parliament. A wide variety of topics were addressed, but the global vaccination strategy remains at the forefront. Little progress has been made, especially our call for a temporary lifting of patent rights on vaccines and medical devices or therapies is still not being heard. Here you can listen to the session.
Greens in Treptow-Köpenick
My district association Treptow-Köpenick has adopted the district election program at the district members' meeting on 17 April 2021. There was a lively participation of the members in the process. Over 50 amendments were proposed and discussed. The preliminary program can be found here: https://gruene-treptow-koepenick.de/bezirkswahlprogramm/
In the Iraq delegation, we talked about Turkey's role in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Turkey is using the fight against the PKK as a pretext for aggressive operations throughout the region and is fighting Kurdish autonomy efforts in Turkey and its neighbouring states. It is likely to win the fight against them if no third party intervenes. It is also encroaching on Iraq's sovereignty and has established several military posts inside Iraq. Presumably, Turkey's role will soon be discussed in plenary.
Calendar week 15/2021
Climate crisis as a cause of flight
On Wednesday evening, I spoke together with Tina Prietz, direct candidate for the Bundestag election 2021 from Erlangen, about the topic „flight cause climate crisis“.
Climate change is already forcing many people to leave their homes, sometimes only for a short time, often within national borders. Some because their homes are flooded, others because their fields dry out and ecosystems are irreversibly damaged. Still others, the so-called trapped populations, lack the resources to escape their situation.
The World Bank expects 140 million climate refugees by 2050, assuming all other conditions remain the same. In 2008, the IOM already estimated the number of climate refugees in 2050 at up to 200 million. And even if global warming can be limited to "only" two degrees, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that there will be 280 million climate refugees by 2100.
We must face these realities on an equal footing with the Global South and promote opportunities for adaptation to climate change and resilience building. Furthermore, we need a system - if possible on a global level - that takes into account environmental causes as a reason for flight.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to listen to the conversation, but I can offer you the following Publication the Heinrich Böll Foundation and my Blog post on the causes of flight for more information.
How refugees in Greece receive money
In order to support the protection seekers on the Greek islands, the UNHCR has set up a Cash Assistance Programme. Under this scheme, a fixed monthly amount is transferred to an account for the protection seekers, which they can then dispose of freely. In this contribution on my homepage I have summarized how EU funds directly reach refugees in Greece.
Home Affairs Committee on Eurodac
At Tuesday, the Interior Committee discussed the revision of the Eurodac negotiation. The proposal of the right-wing ECR provides for biometric and alphanumeric data to be linked and transmitted to Frontex, Europol and other agencies. Border and coast guards are also to have access to the data. It is planned to feed biometric data also of children into the database. The aim is to identify third-country nationals and, if necessary, to deport them promptly. The proposal is explicitly for the illegalisation of people rescued from distress at sea. Data protection and human rights for refugees play no role in the proposal. The Committee criticises the Commission for wanting to convert Eurodac into a statistical database in order to take repressive action against refugees. It is also problematic that the proposal builds on amendments to a proposal from the previous legislative period without prior agreement and that no proper parliamentary work and scrutiny was possible.
The meeting of the Belarus delegation on Wednesday focused on the situation of trade unionists and the Polish minority in Belarus. Solidarity was expressed with the trade unions in Belarus. Independent trade unions have a hard time and their members are often repressed for trade union activities. Activists are dismissed. Solidarity is forming against this and various programmes have been developed. For example, people in solidarity try to continue paying the wages of dismissed workers or organise food for them.
Asylum Procedure Regulation
This week, MEPs working on the reform of the Asylum Procedures Regulation met with experts from civil society and the European Commission. The situation in the Greek and Italian hotspots was discussed.
I am always concerned about the huge gap between the rights of refugees and the reality on the ground. I want to make sure that the legislation is based on human rights and is also implemented as it is intended. At the moment, I have many questions about the amended Asylum Procedure Code and whether the ideas it contains would contribute to asylum procedures based on the rule of law.
Croatian influence in Bosnia and Herzegovina
(DE) On Wednesday, our working group on the Committee on Foreign Affairs dealt with Croatia's influence on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Unfortunately, the EU country Croatia is causing instability in Bosnia by beating back illegal refugees there and even crossing the border with armed forces to do so, thus violating Bosnia-Herzegovina's sovereignty. The conservative government systematically spreads lies about refugees and how to deal with them. But there is also good news. With Možemo! (We Can), a green-left party has been in the Croatian parliament since the last elections and won seven percent in the 2020 elections.
Calendar week 13/2021
Tareq Alaows withdraws his candidacy for the Bundestag because of racist hostility
Tareq Alaows withdraws his candidacy for the Bundestag for the Greens because of racist hostility and the threat to his family. This makes not only sad, but angry. Tareq is from Damascus and fled to Germany six years ago. On Twitter, many people have set a sign for an open society and against racism under #SolidaritätmitTareq. You can read more about this in the Frankfurter Rundschau.
Study shows: EU Commission may finance sea rescue operations
I have commissioned a studywhich examines which legal obligations and competences the European Union has in sea rescue. This also applies to EU military operations. In addition to the basic obligation to rescue people from distress at sea, the present study sets out in legal terms that it is within the EU's sphere of competence to take more far-reaching measures to rescue people at sea. Both causes of flight and flight itself constitute humanitarian emergencies that call for humanitarian support by the EU. The EU Commission can also support and finance civilian sea rescue organisations against the will of the Member States. In this text I briefly summarize the results of the study.
Conditions in the new Moria remain undignified
The people in the new Moria will probably have to spend another winter in tents. This has been foreseeable since last October, but apparently the EU Commission is now also aware of it. Nevertheless, an evacuation that could quickly end the suffering is not yet planned. The responsible EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson visits the camps on Lesbos and Samos.
The Moria Complex
In my podcast Dickes Brett I talk to researcher Maximilian Pichl about his study "the Moria complex", the establishment of the hot spot, the EU-Turkey agreement and, above all, who is responsible for these conditions. You can listen to our conversation here.
To mitigate the catastrophic consequences of the Syrian conflict, the international community is helping with 5.3 billion euros. Of this amount, 1.7 billion euros will come from Germany. The money is to be used to finance food, medical aid and schooling for children, among other things.
EU Commission takes Poland to the ECJ
The European Commission announced today that it will refer the Polish Government to the European Court of Justice. The reason is the Polish judicial reform, which undermines the independence of Polish judges. Our Greens/EFA Group has repeatedly called on the EU Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against the Polish Government for its numerous attacks on the independence of the judiciary. Here you can read the statement of Terry ReintkeTerry Reintke, shadow rapporteur for the Greens/EFA Group on the rule of law in Poland.
Calendar week 12/2021
European Council negotiates new refugee deal with Turkey
On Thursday and Friday the European Council in a video conference and negotiated, among other things, a continuation of the so-called EU-Turkey deal with Turkey. Nothing has been decided yet, but unfortunately the result threatens a new agreement aimed at sealing off the country instead of providing serious protection for refugees.
The Greens in the Bundestag are calling for an end to the EU-Turkey refugee agreement. In the motion of the Green parliamentary group in the Bundestag it says: "With the agreement with Turkey, which is in essence contrary to asylum law, the EU has accepted that the responsibility to protect refugees lies solely with Turkey – a country which, with increasing human rights violations, is itself driving people to flee."
Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament
On Monday, the meeting took place in the Committee on Internal Affairs and the Committee on Foreign Affairs with representatives of the Portuguese Presidency, the European Commission and the European External Action Service.
The reason for this is the approach that an overarching exchange is needed in order to solve migration issues in a sustainable manner. Here, the focus is on agreements with countries of origin in order to prevent irregular migration. Countries that do not want to take back illegalised people in the EU should be punished for this, e.g. with visa restrictions. MEPs called for independent monitoring mechanisms and criticised the EU's externalisation policy, which leads to human rights violations. Some MEPs urged that agreements with Turkey and Afghanistan should not be extended under any circumstances, but this was unfortunately unsuccessful. The Commission stands by the EU-Turkey deal, even after Turkey has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention.
Afterwards, we exchanged views on the situation of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia within the subcommittee on human rights. The European External Action Service is aware that efforts to date have not been sufficient. The Commission stated that the disastrous situation in December was not unexpected and that there had been similar problems years ago. The Danish Refugee Council said there were thousands of pushbacks and some chain rejections every month. Violence at the borders was systematic. Therefore, independent monitoring mechanisms were needed and the access and work of NGOs had to be restored. You can watch the session here
China imposes sanctions on EU politicians
After the EU imposed sanctions on the Uighur minority in the Chinese province of Xinjiang due to human rights violations, the Chinese leadership reacted with a tit-for-tat response. On Monday, they announced sanctions against several people, including my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer, who heads the EU Parliament's China delegation.Our group chair Ska Keller says in her this statement quite clearly, "We will not be intimidated by threats from autocracies."
This week, the report on the EU-Africa strategy was voted on in plenary and adopted by a large majority. I also voted in favour of this text, which is particularly important in view of the 6th EU-AU Summit and the so-called 'post-Cotonou agreement' (partnership agreement between the ACP countries and the EU). It builds on the Commission Communication “ Towards a comprehensive strategy with Africa“ of March 2020, which argues for a stronger partnership of equals around the following key issues: Green Turnaround and Access to Energy; Digital Transformation; Sustainable Growth and Jobs; Peace, Security, Good Governance and Resilience; and Migration and Mobility. The parliamentary report takes up these themes and also looks at them from the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the text had to make some compromises in the area of migration, we Greens were able to achieve a good result on gender, health, water and sanitation, trade, regional integration, agro-ecology and indigenous peoples through relevant motions at committee level. You will find the final report here find.
Protests in Belarus
A meeting of the friendship groups for a democratic Belarus took place. Groups from various parliaments and people from the Belarusian opposition exchanged views here on ways of supporting the democratic movement in Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya continues to wait for the 4th sanctions list against supporters of the regime and calls for the prosecution of crimes by the regime at the international level. People on the ground report that the repression is not abating and is even getting worse. They call for swift responses to violence perpetrated by the regime. Another way in which the EU can support the Belarusian opposition is through visa facilitation and scholarship programmes. Support for political prisoners is also important. Ihar Bancer has now been released from prison and has ended his dry hunger strike. Dzmitry Furmanau, for whom I sponsored a prisoner, is unfortunately still imprisoned. He has since ended his hunger strike, following a slight improvement in prison conditions. For the release of the political prisoners in Belarus you can here sign.
Calendar week 11/2021
Pioneers of Change Online Conference
Speakers at Pioneers of Change this week include Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen, Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammed Yunus and Fridays For Future activist Franziska Wessel. I also gave a presentation on the benefits of democracy in the EU. The conference will run until 23.03 and you can register for the register here for free and listen to the lectures.
Five years of the EU-Turkey deal
The EU-Turkey deal was agreed five years ago. Time was bought at great cost and not used. The result was undignified mass camps like Moria and a dependence on Erdogan. Now a new version of the deal is being negotiated. In this text I have written down the background in more detail.
Frontex investigation team
On Monday, the Frontex investigation team, of which I am a member, met again. This time we asked the members of the Frontex management board about their internal investigations. According to the investigations, Frontex did almost everything right, except in one case, but they could not or would not name it specifically. In view of the many proven and well-researched cases, it is surprising what a good report Frontex gives itself in its internal investigations.
The whole meeting you can see here.
Report of the Frontex Management Boards
The Frontex Management Board has also published a preliminary report, which their read here can. Unfortunately, it is very obvious that this is not an independent report, but that the management board is trying to make Frontex look as good as possible. This goes so far as to simply adopt the reports of the Greek coastguard, according to which people on the Aegean simply voluntarily head back towards Turkey as soon as they see a Greek coastguard vessel. The report does not address fundamental rights violations, but nevertheless attempts to justify such fundamental rights violations on a legalistic level. It is not surprising that Frontex wants to present itself well after internal investigations, but the statements in this report are simply absurd and show that, unfortunately, there is no interest whatsoever in clarification.
Meeting of EU interior ministers
The interior ministers of the EU states met on Monday to discuss the issues of flight and migration. They came no closer to a humane and common European refugee policy. The only thing they can all agree on is more intensive cooperation with third countries. In concrete terms: more isolation.
You can watch the press conference after the meeting watch here.
Vote on the future financing instrument for development cooperation
On Thursday, a joint meeting of the Committee on Development and the Committee on Foreign Affairs discussed the adoption of the new „Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe“ voted. One day earlier, the Permanent Representatives Committee (Coreper II) had already given its approval for the Council. With a broad majority, the text will now go to plenary, probably in June or July, and will then be implemented as soon as possible. An overview can be found her here.
Calendar week 10/2021
The good news of this plenary week is that the entire EU has been declared an LGBTIQ zone. The bad news is that my three fellow MEPs from Catalonia have been stripped of their political immunity.
EU becomes LGBTIQ zone
EU becomes LGBTIQ zone The European Parliament decided this week to declare the EU an LGBTIQ zone. It is an important response to the homophobic LGBT-free zones in Poland and all the reactionaries and right-wingers in Europe who work against equality and the fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, trans and intersex people.. In this video of our group it explains again why this is important.
Lifting of immunity for deputies from Catalonia
Unfortunately, the European Parliament also voted this week to lift the immunity of the three MEPs Carles Puigdemont, Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí. Not only the conservative and right-wing groups in Parliament voted in favour of this, but also the social democrats. I think it is a great pity and wrong that my colleague and my two colleagues from Catalonia have been stripped of their immunity for obvious political reasons. They were democratically elected and a democratic solution should also be found to the Catalonia issue. The Süddeutsche Zeitung also reported on the case.
Situation in Syria
Ten years ago, on 15 March 2011, the first demonstration against the political regime in Damascus took place, following the hope of the Arab Spring for democratic change. Unfortunately, instead of democracy came war. Over 500,000 people died, millions were displaced.
At the end of March, the EU will host the fifth Brussels Conference in support of the future of Syria and the region. In this context, this plenary week there was a Pronunciation with High Representative Joseph Borrell, in addition, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 10 years of conflict in Syria.The COVID-19 crisis has further aggravated the situation. One of our core demands was the return of European children and women from the camps (Al-Hol and Roj) in north-east Syria, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, we were able to push this through with an amendment.
Situation in Greece
Six months after Europe's largest refugee camp, Moria, burnt down and many promises were made that the situation would now improve, excuses continue to be sought for not complying with minimum standards and for covering up human rights violations. The European asylum policy is a policy of empty promises. The EU Commission has promised the opposite, but the temporary undignified camp on Lesbos will almost certainly still be there next winter.
Many people point out that the new asylum pact must be implemented first, but the proposal will perpetuate the problems and a decision is not to be expected this year. Waiting for the pact before helping people is like stopping playing football in the Bundesliga because you don't like the pitch yet. In Germany alone, several federal states and more than 230 municipalities want to take in more refugees. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer must end his blockade and allow them to rescue refugees from the new Moria. "In a Written question to the Commission I am seeking answers as to why the situation remains as it is. I have also in this video a brief summary of the situation.
Calendar week 09/2021
This week, Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri and EU Commissioner Ylva Johannsson were guests in the Frontex Investigation Group and I dealt intensively with the amendments to the European Asylum Procedures Regulation, on which no quick agreement is currently in sight.
Frontex investigation team
On Thursday, the first proper meeting of the Frontex investigation team took place in the European Parliament. We questioned Frontex head Fabrice Leggeri and Commissioner Ylva Johansson. Leggeri claimed that the agency had not committed any human rights violations, according to its internal investigation. Despite his testimony, he did not address the question of whether the footage and media evidence was fabricated or whether the acts listed were not illegal. We will continue our meetings to discuss with civil society, experts, journalists, member states and EU institutions before publishing our findings and recommendations. We have also successfully lobbied for the meeting to be held in public. Here you can watch the session
Criminal proceedings against Greece
I call for criminal proceedings against Greece because the government systematically violates the rights of refugees, does not comply with standards in camps and criminalises anyone who points this out or defames them with campaigns of lies. T-Online reports. Besides, I've got in this text on my blog summarizes why it is so difficult for victims to sue when their human rights are violated.
Asylum Procedure Regulation
This week was also about the amended Asylum Procedures Regulation, which is being discussed in Parliament and the Council so that both co-legislators can form their respective opinions before negotiating with each other. The German Ministry of the Interior wants compulsory procedures at the external borders because this would shift responsibility to the states at the external borders. Apart from the serious human rights concerns arising from the nature of border procedures, practical issues also divide Member States into groups with opposing views. Even if the Commission tries to focus exclusively on its reform proposals in the Pact, it could be years before negotiations are concluded. Therefore, in addition to our legislative work, we must ensure that the rules, as they currently stand, are fully respected in order to protect the right to seek asylum in the EU in safe and dignified circumstances.
The role of women in the Afghan peace process
On Friday, I organised a briefing with the Heinrich Böll Foundation on the role of women in the Afghan peace process. We were able to win two important guests for the input. Dr. Soraya Rahim Sobhrang is an Afghan women's rights activist and has been the director of Medica Afghanistan since December 2020. Fawzia Koofi is an Afghan politician, author and member of the negotiating team around the peace talks in Doha.
We are witnessing a wave of violence and attacks in Afghanistan targeting journalists, human rights defenders, civil society representatives and civil servants, which has claimed the lives of 1,200 civilians in 2020, an increase of 45 % compared to 2019. Just this week, we learned of the killing of three young female media workers in Jalalabad who were gunned down on their way back from work. These recurring attacks serve to intimidate and create a climate of fear and run counter to the aspiration for a peaceful and democratically organised state, which many Afghan women are fighting for.
In the course of the exchange, it became clear what a difficult task the negotiating team on the part of the Afghan Government is facing, not only with regard to achieving a ceasefire, but also with regard to the concrete implementation of women's rights. Even though the talks are an internal Afghan process, allies, including the EU, are needed to build up pressure and make it clear that women's rights as universal rights must be a fundamental part of a new Afghan constitution.More on the role of women in peace processes and 20 years of UN Resolution 1325 can be found here. here.
Legal migration to the EU
Blue Card, Visa, Labour Migration, Family Reunion, Relocation and Resettlement: On my blog you will now find an overview of legal migration possibilities to the EU. You can read about the possibilities of legal entry and what we Greens are calling for in order to facilitate this. here read up.
Calendar week 08/2021
This week, the Frontex working group, which was set up on the initiative of the Greens/EFA Group, met for the first time. There were also meetings of my two committees, the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs and the Committee on Development.
First meeting of the Frontex investigation team
The European Parliament's Frontex investigation group began its work on Tuesday. The working group of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex. The inquiry group was set up on the initiative of the Greens/EFA Group. I am one of 14 MEPs in the inquiry group, and unfortunately we have every reason to believe that human rights are now being systematically violated at the external borders and that Frontex Director Fabrice Leggeri and EU states are lying to the public and parliaments. You can find a report with further information on tagesschau.de.
Corona vaccines must become accessible to all people worldwide
Together with 114 other Members of the European Parliament, I have this week this letter to the Commission and the Council. We are calling on them to lobby the World Health Organisation to ensure that the patents are also made available to countries in the global south so that they can produce vaccines for their own populations.
Meeting of the Migration Group of the Home Affairs Committee
On Thursday, we discussed the new migration and asylum package with the representative of the Portuguese Presidency, Mário Pedro Magalhães, in the group working group on migration of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. Here we exchanged views on the Council's position on issues such as external border procedures and instruments under the package. Portugal stands for a more progressive migration policy, so we hope to make progress towards a more humane asylum policy during the six months of the Portuguese Presidency.
The Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, was invited to the Committee on Development on Thursday. The topics discussed included his recent visit to Afghanistan, the humanitarian crises in the Tigray region, the use of funds for humanitarian aid, but above all all all the areas of responsibility in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the Humanitarian Airlift and the global supply of vaccines.
There is one point in particular that I will take away from this discussion: Commissioner Lenarčič also confirms that the security situation in Afghanistan is currently at a low point compared to the last two decades. Calling for an immediate ceasefire and increasing funding for humanitarian aid in the region is right and important. Why the EU is working on a new repatriation agreement with Afghanistan at the same time is beyond me. listen to it here.
On Thursday, the Mashreq delegation met. Here, current results of a Opinion poll in Algeria, Jordan, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco and Lebanon. The result was that a clear majority is very concerned about COVID-19. In all countries, women* have suffered more from the pandemic. Corona has ensured that the basic needs of many people are no longer secured and a majority are afraid of losing their jobs this year. The results were particularly serious in Lebanon, where almost all respondents feared losing their income.
Calendar week 07/2021
Situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
On Friday evening, I was a guest at a discussion of the state working group of the Greens in Saxony on the Balkan route. In preparation, I have also this homepage contribution written by explaining where the nearly €90 million that the EU has provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the care of refugees and for migration management in general has gone.
Lead exposure in the new Moria
According to Human Rights Watch, the Greek government is downplaying the risk of lead poisoning at the new Moria. The camp was built on a former shooting range. So apparently, on top of the many risks, there is also the risk of lead poisoning. Read more at Human Rights Watch. With other deputies I have already on 23 December submitted a written question on the subject to the CommissionUnfortunately, we have still not received a reply, even though the Commission is supposed to reply within six weeks.
On Thursday, I attended an event organized by the Heinrich Böll Foundation to present a recent publication called „Climate Justice and Migration – Mobility, Development, and Displacement in the Global South“. As the global climate crisis advances, more and more questions about related mobility are emerging. There is as yet no international legal framework that provides protection for people who have to leave their homes due to climate change. In my speech, I looked at the issue from an EU perspective and formulated a number of recommendations for action, such as increased financial support for projects aimed at helping populations affected by climate change to build resilience, but also changes to the legal framework. Ultimately, however, it should be noted that without genuine political will, little will be achieved. You can also download the publication free of charge or order it as a book here.
Right to abortion in Poland
On October 22, 2020, the Polish Constitutional Court, composed of illegally appointed judges, declared abortion for fetal malformations unconstitutional. This politically motivated decision represents yet another attack on the rule of law in Poland. The ruling results in a near total ban on abortion, as 97.6 % of legal abortions in Poland in 2019 were performed for fetal malformation. To this end, we have MEPs from the Greens/EFA group a question to the Commission posed. In iIn its reply, the Commission saidthat it is up to the Member States to determine health policy. Therefore, unfortunately, we do not expect the Commission to take any prompt action on the right to abortion in Poland.
On Wednesday, I attended the parliamentary delegation meeting of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM). Here, the Secretary-General of the UfM spoke and welcomed the current EU Presidency of the UfM. The EU's core objective is to combat the climate crisis. Climatic changes must be combated, as the Mediterranean region is warming faster than the rest of the world and harbours a large part of the world's biodiversity. At the same time, this is where the greatest extinction of species is occurring. In addition to climate change, pollution, fishing and tourism are also major threats to Mediterranean nature.
Calendar week 06/2021
This week, the EU Parliament voted in favour of my report on procedures at the EU's external borders and a right to repair for citizens. My work was also dominated by discussions on Frontex and with the Belarusian opposition, as well as the humanitarian emergencies in Yemen and Tigray.
Parliament votes in favour of my report on border procedures
The European Parliament has voted by a large majority in favour of my implementation report on procedures at the EU's external borders. This is a clear signal from Parliament for respect for the rule of law and human dignity in the asylum system. I am very pleased that I was able to push this position through as rapporteur.Further information to the report you can find here.
Parliament votes for right to repair
Parliament also voted in favour of a report on the circular economy action plan, on which my party colleague Anna Cavazzini has been working. It is about the right to repair, so that people can use products for longer instead of having to throw them away or replace them. That is consumer and environmentally friendly. MEPs from the Greens, Left and SPD all voted in favour of the report. The AfD, CDU/CSU and FDP MEPs all voted against. In this video it is explained again exactly, where problems currently lie and how we envisage a circular economy in the future.
Interviews on accusations against Frontex
Opposition members in Belarus continue to be detained
In November I took over a sponsorship for Dzmitry Furmanau, who was arrested in May 2020 during an election rally for Tsikhanouskaya. He is accused of organising mass unrest and is one of over 200 political prisoners in Belarus and, like many of them, is currently facing trial. In a friendly meeting with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, a cross-party and informal group discussed measures to support the democracy movement. Tsikhanouskaya stressed that the people of Belarus are waiting for action from the EU and that any initiative would be helpful. Specifically, they are calling for an up-to-date sanctions list and new elections in Belarus.
Impact of Brexit on flight, migration and development cooperation
On my homepage I have written reports on how the Brexit affects the issues I focus on in Parliament. Since 01.01.21, the freedom of movement between the EU and the UK has been severely restricted and they are now considered as respective third countries. Here you will learn, why this is a problem especially for asylum seekers and their families. In addition, Boris Johnson's government has announced that it will drastically reduce the UK's budget for development cooperation. You can read more about it here in my text.
Resolution on the war in Yemen
In response to the recent debate on the situation in Yemen in the Committee on Development, I, together with a number of other Members, secured a resolution on this issue, which was adopted by a large majority on Thursday. In order to fundamentally improve the humanitarian situation, better access for aid deliveries and more funds alone are not enough. The security situation must urgently improve and the country must return to peace. This can also be influenced by the Member States. In view of the repeated violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, the European Parliament calls in the resolution, among other things, for an EU-wide ban on arms exports to parties involved in the conflict, such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Member States are called upon to urgently stop arms deliveries in order not to further fuel the conflict. You can read my speech on Yemen here listen up.
Humanitarian crisis in the Tigray region
Ethiopia has also been in a humanitarian crisis since the outbreak of the conflict over the Tigray region four months ago. Aid organisations have only very difficult access to the areas, the situation is very unclear and the violation of human rights is on the agenda. In particular, the alleged involvement of Eritrean soldiers in the fighting needs urgent clarification. While the EU has been withholding funds to the Ethiopian Government since December, Member States, including Germany, continue to cooperate. If the EU wants to play a strong foreign policy role, joint action is urgently needed here. Here you will find the link to my speech on the current situation.
Calendar week 05/2021
This week I have again been involved with Frontex and will in future be part of a working group of the Parliament's Home Affairs Committee. I also gave a green assessment of the Brexit for the European asylum system and also conducted longer interviews, which you can read and listen to.
European Parliament Home Affairs Committee sets up Frontex monitoring group
Together with Tineke Strik from the Dutch GroenLinks, I have been sent by our group to be part of the working group on Frontex. We will start our work by examining the role of the agency in the pushbacks, about which the mirror and other media reported at the end of last year. In order to enable the group to work efficiently, but also to ensure transparency, there will be monthly reporting to the Home Affairs Committee, as well as cooperation with the working group on Schengen, which monitors the EU's internal and external borders.
Info on the accusations against Frontex can be found here.
A green assessment of Brexit
On Thursday evening, the German Greens in the European Parliament in a webinar, an assessment of the Brexit delivered. I also gave a short presentation on the consequences of Brexit for the issues of flight and migration. Since 01.01.21 the EU and Great Britain are considered as respective third countries. Thus, EU citizens are no longer preferred, for example, in the allocation of jobs. An agreement Protects the rights of people with EU or UK citizenship who already live, work or study in the UK or EU. A new, Points-based migration system regulates labour migration to the UK from now on, with professional specialisation being decisive for the granting of residence permits. The UK's withdrawal from the Dublin Agreement and lack of alternative agreements are particularly problematic for unaccompanied minor refugees, who now have limited hope of family reunification with relatives living in the UK.
My district association Treptow-Köpenick nominates candidates for the election of the House of Representatives
In my Berlin district association Treptow-Köpenick the votes for the state list of the Berlin Greens for the election to the House of Representatives were awarded this week. I am pleased that with Cathrin Wahlen and Jacob Zellmer two committed people from the district association were nominated and wish them every success for the further application.
Talk with NDR Redezeit
On Thursday evening, I was a guest on NDR's Talk Time, where I spoke about the plight of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and on the Greek islands. You can listen to the conversation here.
Interview with Krautreporter
I did a long interview with Krautreporter, in which it is very fundamentally about what a more humane asylum policy in Europe fails. You can read the long interview here.
Asylum Procedure Regulation (APR)
This week, the Portuguese Presidency has held several meetings with Parliament. We MEPs who are working on the amended Asylum Procedures Regulation (APR) were able to discuss the progress and timetable envisaged by the Council with the chairman of the Council's asylum working group.
It is a very important sign from the Council that they are also examining the Commission's proposals, which contain several difficult and legally problematic changes to the APR. The proposal of compulsory border procedures at the EU's external borders divides the Member States. Some want to keep the procedures, others see it as dumping the challenges on the Member States at the external borders.
Calendar week 04/2021
(DE) Mr President, this week, I have once again been intensively involved with Frontex and the current situation in Greece. It is a great success that, at our request, a body of the European Parliament is now looking into the allegations against Frontex.
European Parliament investigates Frontex development in pushbacks
A Frontex working group of the Home Affairs Committee will investigate the scandals surrounding the European border management agency Frontex, MEPs on the committee agreed today. The working group will look into allegations of illegal "pushbacks" against refugees.
We have been calling for this for months. It is an important step on the road to the rule of law at the European external borders. The serious allegations of human rights violations at the EU's external borders must be clarified. The extensive evidence of illegal activities by state actors has shown that pushbacks at the external borders are not an isolated incident. It is important that the European Parliament and the EU Commission also investigate and sanction breaches of the law by Member States. Furthermore, mechanisms need to be developed to re-establish independent human rights monitoring at the borders.
Frontex and national authorities like the Federal Police are not above the law. The many officers on duty also deserve to no longer receive unlawful instructions and to be allowed to speak openly about violations of the law.
Frontex stops work at Hungarian border
Frontex is ceasing its activities in Hungary because the agency would risk engaging in lawbreaking there. However, they want to remain active in Greece, where Frontex has been proven to have broken the law. More background on the decision can be found in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Hearing on the situation of protection seekers on the Greek islands
On Wednesday the head of the EU Commission task force Beate Gminder was a guest in the interior committee. She gave an overview of the situation of the camps on the Greek islands and the planning of new structures. Spyros-Vlad Oikonomou from the Greek Council of Refugees was invited as a representative of those seeking protection. While the Commission and the Greek government spoke of having made a lot of progress, Oikonomou stressed that this progress had in no way contributed to an improvement in living conditions. The health, psychological and also legal situation of the protection seekers is worse than before. The „progress“ of the Commission consists in the transfer of recognized protection seekers to Athens, where they are driven into homelessness. At the same time, living conditions in all camps continue to be inhumane. Unfortunately, the Commission continues to evade MEPs' questions. Also this week's Answer received to my question to the Commission is insufficient. A Summary of the committee meeting can be found here.
Freedom of the press in Iraq
As a member of the Iraq delegation. wrote a letter to the Kurdish prime minister of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, Masrour Barzani. He had called for the release of freelance journalist Sherwan Sherwani. The latter disappeared in October last year and has been in custody ever since, where, according to Reporters Without Borders, he was forced to confess under torture.
Humanitarian situation in Yemen
The humanitarian situation in Yemen was discussed in the Committee on Development this week. Yemen is now in the sixth year of civil war and, despite numerous warnings from humanitarian actors, is heading for one of the worst famines ever known. The health system is overburdened and the COVID-19 outbreak is making the situation even worse. The international donor community, including the EU, is falling far short of set funding schemes, with money not getting to where it is needed. One of Donald Trump's latest official acts, putting the Huthi on the US terror list, further complicates aid delivery. The suspicion arises that EU funds only flow quickly and reliably when many people from a region try to flee to Europe. And because almost no one from Yemen makes it to Europe, the issue unfortunately doesn't seem to be a priority for everyone.
Until a solution to the conflict is in sight, every effort must be made to avoid a famine and to support the civilian population as best as possible. Here you can watch the debate in the Development Committee.
Calendar week 03/2021
In the first plenary week of the year, I gave a speech on the situation of refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina and also wrote an overview of how the current situation came about. We also voted against Nord Stream 2 and are working on a global vaccination strategy.
My speech in Parliament
In my speech, I drew attention to the EU's complicity in the untenable conditions for refugees in Bosnia-Herzegovina. EU governments and the European Commission must not continue to shrug off the humanitarian disaster at the EU's external borders. We must help those who are experiencing a cold winter on the Bosnian border in terrible, dangerous conditions; we must help those who are experiencing the same situation in the Greek hotspots. Having discussed this issue time and time again in the European Parliament, we now need to see action. We Greens/EFA call for a committee of inquiry to investigate the human rights violations, to put an end to illegal practices and to clarify the involvement of the EU border agency Frontex and national authorities.
Current situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina
I have written in this text on my homepage an overview of how it is on the serious situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina could come about. The Bosnian authorities share responsibility for this, but it is mainly the fault of the Commission and the Member States. It must be borne in mind that most of the people who are suffering have been in the EU before, and the EU cannot therefore simply shrug off responsibility.
Plenary debate on the global vaccination strategy against the COVID-19 pandemic
There is broad agreement that the common, solidarity-based European approach to vaccine procurement was and is the right one. The development of effective and safe vaccines in less than a year is a major achievement and an important step towards combating the pandemic. The German go-it-alone approach to securing additional vaccine doses has been - rightly – viewed very critically. Another problem is the lack of transparency and disclosure of the contracts concluded between the EU Commission and pharmaceutical companies. Referring to secrecy clauses here undermines the important control function of the European Parliament.
I am also concerned with the question of how to ensure that vaccination campaigns can also start on time in countries of the global south. Relying on the functioning of the COVAX facility to do this is not thinking far enough, in my opinion. Only an additional temporary lifting of patent rights – as called for in the campaign led by South Africa and India – can grant sufficient and cost-effective production of enough vaccine doses for all in a timely manner. Unfortunately, this effort is currently being blocked by the US and the EU. My goal in the coming weeks is to work with my colleagues in the Green Group to take this issue to a higher level and hopefully get the ball rolling. I will publish a more detailed blog entry about it here soon. In the meantime, you are welcome to watch the plenary debate here listen and find here a very good explanation of the idea of suspending patent rights, produced by Doctors Without Borders.
Vote on Nord Stream 2
The EU Parliament joined with a large majority in our demand for a construction stop for Nord Stream 2. The German MEPs in our group are the only ones to vote unanimously against Nord Stream 2.
Many MEPs from the Union and SPD voted in favour of Nord Stream 2, even though their groups in the European Parliament were also against it. This is also a great success for my colleague Sergei Lagondinsky, who negotiated the immediate stop into the parliamentary bill.
Dozens killed in boat accident off Libya
People are still dying at Europe's borders. This week, too, there was another shipwreck off the coast of the town of Zuwara, in north-west Libya. It claimed the lives of 43 people.
Calendar week 02/2021
I have been particularly busy this week with my report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders, my committees and the global distribution of vaccines. The situation of refugees in Bosnia and Greece is also currently absolutely unacceptable and must be improved quickly.
My report on asylum procedures at the EU's external borders
At the first meeting of the Home Affairs Committee this year, a broad majority my own-initiative report on the implementation of asylum procedures at the EU's external borders adopted. This ability to compromise on the part of Parliament leads me to look forward to good cooperation in future negotiations on the dossiers. of the Asylum and Migration Pact hope.
Schengen and human rights at the EU's external borders
This week marked the start of strategic thinking around the reform of the Schengen rules and the evaluation mechanism. Border controls at the Schengen internal borders are a problem because they should not actually exist. But so are the numerous, systemic, and serious human rights violations at the EU's external borders. I will advocate that any evaluation of Schengen should also include an evaluation of the activities of the Member States at the external borders and that Parliament should exert pressure on the Commission to take action against such serious human rights violations.
Situation in Lebanon and Northern Syria
On Thursday, the Committee on Development discussed, among other things, the humanitarian situation in Syria and Lebanon. The combination of the economic crisis, political instability and the lack of government, the Corona pandemic and the effects of the explosion in Beirut port have led to a worrying situation in Lebanon. Lebanon has hosted the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, and their care is becoming increasingly difficult due to the current situation. The additional aid funds recently announced by the Commission are therefore urgently needed.
The situation of the two million internally displaced persons in northern Syria has also deteriorated further with the onset of winter, and the corona pandemic has not stopped there either. Humanitarian aid is very difficult, as access to the border regions is in part impossible and aid supplies cannot therefore be delivered. Here, too, the EU is called upon to exert pressure so that the aid can reach the people. You can watch the session here.
For a solidary distribution of the vaccine worldwide
Together with other Members, I have co-signed a letter to the Commission and the Council calling for a solidarity-based distribution of vaccines worldwide and, in this context, also pointing out the EU's responsibility towards economically less strong regions. For we can only overcome this pandemic if we combat the virus globally.. You can find the letter on the homepage of my group colleague Reinhard Bütikofer.
Situation in Greece and Bosnia worsens
The situation in the camps at the Greek external borders is getting worse and worse. This week the new camp on Lesbos was once again flooded by heavy rains. In the middle of the week, a winter storm passed over the island and, with winds of up to 80 km/h, caused individual tents and a whole series of toilet containers to be knocked over. Contrary to the assurances of the Greek authorities and the European Commission, there are no facilities to protect people from the wind or heavy rain. In the camp, which is located on an unprotected headland, there are around 7200 people seeking protection.
In Bosnia, 2000 people are trying not to freeze to death in the snow and cold in the forest. The burnt-down Lipa camp is considered uninhabitable despite new tents – and the municipalities are blocking aid. All attempts by the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina to build new camps failed due to the resistance of the municipalities.
Calendar week 51/2020
This week I have been intensively involved with the situation on Lesbos, where the camp was completely under water. The German Presidency, in particular Horst Seehofer, have shown that they have achieved nothing in terms of a common European refugee policy and the ECJ ruled that Hungary's asylum rules violate EU law.
Interview with Die Zeit on Lesbos
On Tuesday I met with Ulrich Ladurner from the time about whether the photos from Lesbos are actually wanted and what Greece and the EU want to achieve with these photos. You can read the whole conversation read here.
Meeting with Human Rights Watch on the situation in Lesbos
I attended a meeting with Human Rights Watch on Monday. It was about a report about the risk of lead poisoning in the new Moria. The location on a former military training ground entails great risks for people's health. It is important to get the people out of this camp and to accommodate them in a humane way and in accordance with EU law.
EU Council of Interior Ministers
The interior ministers of the EU states met on Monday, to discuss the Commission's proposal for a European migration and asylum pact. The German Council Presidency's strategy has failed. It wanted to force a European solution by demanding that the suffering at the external borders only be eliminated by European consensus. Now we continue to have suffering, chaos and violence against those seeking protection, but still no solution. If you want to reach the finish line at some point, you can't always wait for those chaining themselves at the starting point. Especially if you've been waiting for over 5 years. All Horst Seehofer has to show for EU asylum policy, is a progress report without progress. The member states continue to disagree on key points. The German Council Presidency has made no progress towards a common European asylum system. Instead, we are facing another winter of unheated tents and illegal violence by the authorities against those seeking protection. In order to put an end to these undignified conditions, we don't need a new pact, but rather the enforcement of EU law. It needs member states to step forward and show that we won't let protection seekers freeze to death or be put down in Europe because we haven't yet found consensus in warm offices."
ECJ ruling: Hungarian asylum rules violate EU law
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared the actions of Viktor Orbán's right-wing nationalist government illegal. There should be no deportations without a case-by-case examination, according to the ruling from Luxembourg. In an interview with the RND I said: „Some EU states have set up a system of disenfranchisement and mistreatment of protection seekers under the guise of border protection. Countries like Greece and Croatia must finally feel the pressure of the EU Commission. If the EU is not indifferent to human rights, then it needs infringement proceedings by the Commission and also a German government that no longer glosses over the chaos at the external borders;
This week in Parliament, we finalised an important own-initiative report on the implementation of border procedures in the context of the Asylum Procedures Directive. The text highlights the difficulties that asylum seekers face when they enter a border procedure, where their fundamental and procedural rights are often violated. It is good to see that despite differing political views on asylum and migration, MEPs can respect the EU's core human rights principles and find a compromise by applying an evidence-based approach to their decision-making. In preparation for the upcoming negotiations on the Asylum and Migration Pact, the recently concluded European Parliament implementation reports, including mine on border procedures, will help in formulating our negotiating positions on upholding the fundamental right to asylum.
Calendar week 50/2020
(DE) Mr President, this week, we are all pleased that we have a result in the dispute over the rule of law mechanism, even if we are not entirely satisfied with the compromise. On the other hand, I have a success to report on the AMIF, the financial instrument in the EU through which funds are allocated for asylum, migration and integration.
Agreement on rule of law mechanism
After months of the governments in Poland and Hungary blackmailing the EU because they would not accept a rule of law mechanism, an agreement has now been reached. This is important for the economic recovery after this tough Corona year 2020. The agreement is a last-second compromise that includes a rule of law mechanism that is not perfect but is a start, especially in the fight against corruption. We regret that the EU will have to wait for the ruling of the European Court of Justice before imposing sanctions and that the rule of law mechanism will not apply as early as next year, while violations of the rule of law continue. The European Parliament was united behind a stronger rule of law mechanism, while the Council, led by Germany and Angela Merkel, was opposed. You can find more information on the topic on the homepage of my party friend Ska Keller.
Thanks to the compromising mood of the Council and Parliament, this week was the last round of negotiations on the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) of the next budget. AMIF is an important financial instrument because the funds are used to provide concrete assistance to refugees. The Greens have been campaigning for the funds to be allocated directly to regional and local authorities involved in integration, and it is a success for us that this allocation has made it into the final text. We are also pleased that the Member States are obliged to allocate at least 15 % of their national programmes to legal migration and integration and to the implementation of the Common European Asylum System. In this way, countries that are less concerned about hospitality must also play their part if they are to benefit from EU funds. The third victory for us is the 20 % target linked to solidarity. This ensures that the Commission has a vested interest in motivating Member States to commit to resettlement places so that they can meet the target. All in all, we are quite satisfied with the political agreement.
Funds for Afghanistan
This week, the World Bank reported to the Afghanistan delegation in the EP on how Afghanistan is developing. Two weeks earlier, the Geneva Donors' Conference on Afghanistan took place. The Geneva Donors' Conference on Afghanistan was an important event where the international community, including the EU and Member States, came together to pledge financial support to Afghanistan for the next four years.
While the World Bank's assessment is largely positive, the donor countries have raised particular concerns about the stalled peace process, corruption and increasing poverty and violence. Over the next few weeks, we will be looking more closely at where EU funds are going, how they are being used and how the flow of money can be made more transparent. At the Afghanistan conference, pledges of USD 12-13 billion were made for the period 2021-24. The result represents a drop of up to 20 percent from the 15.2 billion pledged four years ago for 2017-20 and is well below UNDP projections for the country's needs. In addition, some countries, including the United States as the largest donor, have not made their pledges for the entire four-year period.
This week, the post-Cotonou negotiations were on the agenda: this is the successor agreement to the Cotonou Agreement, which has been in force since 2003, between 79 ACP countries and the EU, which regulated fundamental cooperation in various areas such as the economy and trade, but also development cooperation. After more than two years of negotiations, an agreement was finally reached on 2 December, and on Wednesday an exchange took place with the EU Commissioner for Development Cooperation, Jutta Urpilainen, who was sitting at the negotiating table on behalf of the EU.So far, we do not have a final version of the new agreement from Parliament, which still has to be confirmed by Parliament before it can actually enter into force. In my view, three crucial points will be important: the wording on migration and, in this context, readmission agreements and conditionality, the compromises reached on the subject of sexual and reproductive health (SRHR) and the future parliamentary formulation.
Calendar week 49/2020
Hearing of the head of Frontex in the European Parliament
On Tuesday, Fabrice Leggeri was invited to the European Parliament's Committee on Home Affairs, of which I am also a member. We were expecting some answers to questions about the involvement of his border agency, Frontex, in serious human rights violations. Unfortunately, Mr Leggeri preferred to beat about the bush, deflect and not answer most of our questions. Leggeri only received positive feedback from right-wing MPs, who described his actions as „heroic“. The MEPs of democratic parties were visibly disappointed by the behaviour of the head of Frontex at the hearing. He lied about one of the pushback executions.... My group and I are now calling for a committee of inquiry to be set up in the European Parliament. You can watch the whole hearing here ...look at it. You can find my question if you set 14:37:10 in the timeline.
Interview with RBB-Inforadio on human rights violations at the external borders
People are abandoned at sea, stolen from and abused. And people are hibernating in camps in unheated tents. These illegal and serious human rights violations by the Member States, but also by Frontex, must stop immediately. I talked about that with the RBB-Inforadio.
Letter to CDU chairman Holger Stahlknecht
The MEPs Anna Cavazzini and Ska Keller and I jointly have a European office in Magdeburg, which means that we are also responsible for communicating European values in Saxony-Anhalt. Unfortunately, the CDU chairman Holger Stahlknecht seems to lack political education, otherwise I cannot explain that he wanted to dissolve a democratic government because of the broadcasting fees in order to make common cause with fascists. As a service-oriented member of parliament, I have therefore sent him a Basic Law and I really hope that he will also read it.
Deputy medical officer accuses AfD city councillor of discrimination
In my constituency of Treptow-Köpenick, the deputy chief medical officer... Denis Hedeler accuses his employer, AfD city councillor Bernd Geschanowski, of discrimination. Denis Hedeler comes from Cuba, is black and married to a man. He has cared for refugees for years and was active for Doctors Without Borders. He now wants to sue because he feels discriminated against on racist grounds. I had a long conversation with him and will continue to follow the case.
Calendar week 48/2020
This week, I have been dealing a lot with money. It is about how the EU will allocate funds in future in the areas of asylum and migration and also in development cooperation. Unfortunately, however, the right-wing populist governments in Poland and Hungary continue to block the future EU budget because they have no desire to abide by the rules of the rule of law.
Frontex involved in human rights violations
Frontex claims to have no information on illegal pushbacks. Internal documents now prove otherwise. It looks like the EU agency is covering up human rights abuses by lying. Next Tuesday the head of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri, will be in the EU Parliament and must face our questions. But it would fall short to attack him alone. It is obvious that the violations of the law at the external borders of EU states – including Germany – have been covered up.
The European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund
The so-called AMIF is the EU's main financial instrument in the areas of asylum, migration and integration. A major negotiating success this week is that solidarity is retained as an objective of the fund. At present, it is still being discussed how much money from this fund can be used in third countries. I am in favour of these monies being spent within the EU. Unfortunately, it also happens time and again that the fund is misused or that the allocation of funds is not sufficiently controlled. For example, Croatia has received over €108 million from this fund since 2017, which is used to pay for border protection and many border officials. Nevertheless, serious human rights violations occur systematically and regularly at the border.
Right to abortion in Poland
The illegitimate Polish Constitutional Court declared abortions de facto unconstitutional and thus illegal. For us, it is clear that the right to sexual self-determination is non-negotiable. A clear majority of the parliament passed a resolution clearly condemning this action. More on this topic can be found on the Homepage of my party friend Terry Reintke, who is shadow rapporteur for the report on the rule of law in Poland.
Hungary and Poland block EU budget
The governments in Poland and Hungary continue to block the EU budget and the much-needed Corona recovery funds. This is somewhat absurd because the two countries are the largest net recipients in the EU and at the same time very badly affected by the corona pandemic. The right-wing populists in Budapest and Warsaw are upset about a rule of law mechanism that is to be linked to the allocation of funds in future. But Orbán and Morawiecki don't want that because it would interfere with them further eroding the rule of law. You can read more on this topic at the Homepage of my party friend Rasmus Andresen.
Report on the allocation of funds in development cooperation
With a total of 74.4 billion in 2018 the EU and the member states are by far the largest donors in international development cooperation. They account for 57% of the world's funds. The European Parliament draws up a report on the use of the funds and, in my group, I am the person responsible for this report. What is particularly controversial here is the question of whether the issues of development cooperation and migration should be mixed up. My group and I are opposed to tying the allocation of funds to political demands such as the prevention of migration. The money should be allocated according to development policy criteria and not according to which state is prepared to pay money to prevent migration and flight. Actually, we had found a good compromise on this issue in Parliament – even with the conservative EPP. Unfortunately, the EPP torpedoed our work and weakened Parliament's position by voting together with right-wing populist and extreme right-wing parties to tie the money to the prevention of migration and flight in the future as well. Particularly at a time when parties like the CDU and CSU are stressing that they have nothing to do with the AfD, it is a great pity that they seem to prefer working with right-wing populists in Brussels on many issues rather than with democrats.
Calendar week 47/2020
This week I have been working intensively on systematic human rights violations at the EU's external borders and on a report on asylum procedures at the external borders. I also hope that the lawsuit brought by the Land of Berlin against Horst Seehofer will be successful.
The state of Berlin sues the Federal Ministry of the Interior
The state of Berlin is suing the Federal Ministry of the Interior so that Berlin can finally take in refugees. The lawsuit is promising. You can find more info about this in the Press release of the Berlin state government. I also have a Expert opinion on the land survey which proves that Seehofer is not allowed to refuse his consent for the admission so easily.
Serious human rights violations at the Croatian external border
Systematic and brutal violence at the Croatian external EU border has been documented for over three years. So far, the Croatian government denies that these illegal pushbacks are taking place at all. Now Der Spiegel publishes a video that proves the practice beyond doubt. A comprehensive Video analysis is available on Youtube. I have tagesschau.de on the subject gave a short interview and prepared a question to the Commission, which more than two dozen MEPs from four different political groups, Greens, Left, Socialists and Liberals, will table jointly.
My report on asylum procedures at EU external borders
I have the lead adopted for a report on the application of border procedures in the Member States. The report evaluates how border procedures under Article 43 of the Asylum Procedures Directive are implemented in the Member States. We Greens had suggested the report so that Parliament would have an evidence-based basis for the negotiations on the Pact. My report makes it clear that border procedures are highly problematic and therefore recommends that they should not be used. We are now in compromise negotiations with the other groups on a common position. An important scientific basis for this report is this very readable study by the EP's scientific service on the implementation of border procedures in the Member States.
Anti-torture committee raises allegations against Greece
Poor conditions in camps, inhumane treatment, illegal refoulement: The Council of Europe's Anti-Torture Committee makes strong accusations against Greece. I have commented on the systematic and coordinated pushbacks by the Greek authorities... a parliamentary question submitted to the Commission. The Commission replied that „it is primarily the national authorities who are responsible for the proper transposition and application of EU law“. The Commission is not fulfilling its role as guardian of the Treaties. Moreover, the Commission continues to speak of pushbacks in the subjunctive – as if these were not already sufficient and proven by serious investigative journalists.
Conference on Migration and Flight
On Thursday I was an active participant in a conference in which we discussed the future of European migration and refugee policy. Among the participants were the President of the European Parliament David Maria Sassoli, the President of the Commission Ursula von der Leyen and the President of the German Bundestag Wolfgang Schäuble. In addition, the responsible Commissioner Ylva Johansson and the German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. I spoke there about the clear deficiencies in the implementation of border procedures, about which I also I wrote a report. The mayors of Lampedusa and Mytilini also criticised that the new pact would not bring an end to the mass camps on the islands and at the external borders.
On Friday, I was at the NDICI trialogue. Trialogue means that Parliament, the Council and the Commission talk and negotiate with each other. NDICI stands for Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument. A great deal of money is at stake here. Specifically around € 71.8 billion for the coming years. My focus in these negotiations is on ensuring that funds for development cooperation are allocated according to development policy criteria. Unfortunately, there has been a tendency for years to link the distribution of funds with migration management. One could also say that states get money for preventing migration and flight. Parliament tends to be on my side on the issues, but the Member States tend not to be. No agreement has been reached here yet.
Calendar week 43/2020
The pandemic situation did not allow this plenary week to take place in Strasbourg, so it took place again, largely digitally, in Brussels.Two of the priorities of our Greens/EFA Group were the Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and Gender justice in foreign and security policy. Other positions and focal points of our Group can be found here.
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
Agricultural subsidies make up the largest item in the EU budget at almost €387 billion, but CAP reforms are incompatible with the European Green Deal and the Farm to Fork Strategyand the Greens/EFA Group called on Parliament to reject the proposal. Despite urgent messages from Luisa Neubauer and Greta Thunberg and various civil society voices, a coalition of liberals, social democrats/socialists and conservatives voted with a two-thirds majority in favour of the reforms, thus initiating a change that is completely out of step with necessary steps to avert climate catastrophe. Thus, 60% of the budget is still barely tied to conditions and only 30% of the direct payment budget is tied to woolly "eco-schemes" instead of formulating clear environmental conditions.
Moreover, the votes were accompanied by gross procedural blunders, so that many MEPs did not have the relevant voting documents in translation until the morning of the vote. All that remains now is to hope that the European Commission follows through on its promise of the Green Deal and overturns the CAP reforms.
For a clear and passionate classification I recommend the speech of the Green MP Martin Häusling.
Gender justice in foreign and security policy
Parliament voted in favour of a resolution on gender equality in foreign and security policy. This calls for an intersectional and feminist approach to EU foreign policy. For example, the resolution dictates the goal of filling 50% management positions in the European External Action Service with women, as well as the final ratification of the Istanbul Convention in all EU member states. These goals are based primarily on the under-representation of women in such leading bodies, which leads to a perpetual cycle of violence against women and minorities.