New EU plan on defending democracy proposed

Photo: EU Josep Borrell

A Joint Communication and the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy for 2020-2024, defining the EU priorities in this area, were adopted on Wednesday by the EU executive and the EC High Representative.

In addition, a joint proposal was put forward to the Council to act by qualified majority voting on issues falling under the plan, aimed at fostering faster decision-making on human rights and democracy. The procedure of qualified majority voting concerning a proposal by the Commission or the High Representative follows a 'double majority' scheme, means 55% of Member States vote in favour (15 out of 27) plus a support by countries representing at least 65% of the total EU population.

Among the lines of action of the newly proposed plan are protecting and empowering individuals, building resilient and democratic societies and promoting a global system for Human Rights and Democracy. Harnessing opportunities and addressing challenges posed by the use of new technologies is also on the list of actions. It is in the strategic interest of the EU to take global leadership on human rights and democracy.

Crisis situations, as the one we are living with the Coronavirus' pandemic, pose particular challenges to the effective exercise and protection of human rights, and put the functioning of our democracies to the test, said High Representative/EC Vice-President Josep Borrell. Today, we propose an ambitious plan to defend human rights and democracy all over the world by using all our resources faster and more effectively, he outlined.

Under the outgoing 5–year plan, the EU supported democracy in more than 70 partner countries with €400m for contributing to the organisation of elections and supporting oversight bodies, independent media, parliaments and political parties to play their essential role in democratic societies. In the same vein, 98 EU Election Observation Missions were deployed worldwide.

Last five years over 30 000 human rights defenders were shielded through the mechanism ProtectDefenders.eu. In 2019 alone, the EU raised Human Rights Defenders cases in dialogues and consultations with over 40 countries.

Advocating for abolition of death penalty, the EU has crucial role in the past five years for elimination of the capital punishment in law in Burkina, Guinea, Benin, Congo, Guatemala, Suriname and Mongolia. The EU-led resolution on a UN moratorium on the use of death penalty was adopted by the General Assembly in 2018 with the support of 121 countries.

The European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan has been working with Taiwanese NGOs to support non-discrimination against LGBTI people. In April 2019, Taiwan passed a bill, the first in Asia that gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

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