EU Parliament wants to protect democratic debate in the European elections by introducing financial penalties for EU parties and foundations abusing data in political campaigns.
More than two thirds (67%) of internet users in the EU are concerned that online personal data is used to target the political messages they see, undermining the free and fair competition between all political parties.
The EU has launched several measures to protect our data and is working to make sure that the European elections are not distorted by the misuse of European voters’ personal data.
Ahead of the European elections on 23 – 26 May, MEPs are considering new rules to dissuade and penalise European political parties whose members deliberately infringe data protection to influence the outcome of elections.
Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee approved a report on this on 6 December 2018 and all MEPs will have a chance to vote on it on 12 March.
Sending a very clear message
The MEPs responsible for steering the proposal through Parliament hailed the legislation as an important step forward.
“Especially after the data protection scandal around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, people are more aware of the usage of personal data,” said German EPP member Rainer Wieland, one of the report authors. “This regulation is an important step in restoring citizens’ faith in the EU and democratic participation as a whole.”.
Italian S&D member Mercedes Bresso, one of the other report authors, said: “I don’t think that any party or foundation will risk misusing personal data from European citizens for their own profit. However, it is our responsibility to reinforce the procedures around infringement and sanctions in order to send a very clear message to the very few individuals or groupings that could be tempted to not play by the rules.”
How the new rules would work
National data protection supervisory authorities are in charge of monitoring elections at national level. European political parties organise complementary campaigns at European level including those for the lead candidate, which are also sometimes referrred to with the German term spitzenkandidat.
If a national supervisory authority decides that an infringement has occurred, it would have to notify the Authority for European political parties and foundations, which then decides on the penalty.
EU is strengthening its political partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean
The European Union is strengthening its political partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean by focusing it on four priorities – prosperity, democracy, resilience and effective global governance – for common future.
The vision for a stronger and modernised bi-regional partnership focused on trade, investment and sectoral cooperation is set out in a new joint communication presented by the European Commission and the High Representative. This new partnership aims at working together in changing global and regional realities that require joint efforts to address common challenges and opportunities.
On this occasion, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini commented: “Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe have social, cultural and economic deep links, a long history of common work for peace and prosperity, and share the same attachment to cooperation and multilateralism. With this communication, we lay the ground for further strengthening our collaboration, for the sake of our peoples and of the whole world.”
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said: “Our commitment remains to continue engaging with countries in the region according to their different levels of development through tailor-made partnerships and innovative forms of cooperation such as transfer of knowledge or triangular cooperation. In this context, we will pay particular attention to countries least developed and in situations of conflict where the potential to raise finance is the lowest. Only when we join forces can we deliver on our ambitious Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development or the Paris Agreement”.
Building on the achievements of the last decades, the partnership should concentrate on four mutually reinforcing priorities, underpinned by concrete initiatives and targeted EU engagement with the region:
Partnering for Prosperity – by supporting sustainable growth and decent jobs; reducing socio-economic inequalities; transitioning towards a digital, green and circular economy; as well as further strengthening and deepening the already solid trade and investment relationship
Partnering for Democracy – by strengthening the international human rights regime including gender equality; empowering civil society; consolidating the rule of law; and ensuring credible elections and effective public institutions
Partnering for Resilience – by improving climate resilience, environment and biodiversity; fighting against inequalities through fair taxation and social protection; fighting organised crime; and deepening dialogue and cooperation on migration and mobility, in particular to prevent irregular migration, trafficking in human beings
Partnering for effective global governance – by strengthening the multilateral system, including for climate and environmental governance; deepening cooperation on peace and security; and implementing the 2030 Agenda.
The strategic partnership between the European Union, Latin America and the Caribbean is based on a commitment to fundamental freedoms, sustainable development and a strong rules-based international system. As a result, there is an unprecedented level of integration and our economies are closely interconnected.
The EU has signed association, free trade or political and cooperation agreements with 27 of the 33 Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Close to six million people from both regions live and work across the Atlantic, and more than one third of Latin American and Caribbean students studying abroad do so in the EU. The EU is the third largest trade partner of Latin America and the Caribbean and the first investor. Total trade in goods amounted to €225.4 billion in 2018, while foreign direct investment reached €784.6 billion in 2017.
The EU has promoted the cooperation in areas of strategic interest, efforts to tackle anti-microbial resistance, improving aviation safety, working together against climate change and promoting a safe and human-centric digitalised economy are some concrete examples that illustrate this partnership towards a common future.
The EU has been the largest provider of development cooperation to its partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, with €3.6 billion in grants between 2014 and 2020 and over €1.2 billion in humanitarian assistance in the last 20 years, including assistance under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism in case of natural disasters.
The EU and LAC countries often align in the United Nations, and have closely cooperated on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.
New ACP-EU partnership: EU discusses future EU- Caribbean relations
As the EU works to modernise its relations with the 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), chief negotiators Neven Mimica and Robert Dussey met with ACP Caribbean leaders for a dialogue on the regional EU-Caribbean pillar in the context of the post Cotonou ACP-EU partnership.
Today’s discussions form part of broader regional consultations and are focused on the Caribbean’s specific needs and priorities for the coming years. The outcome will guide the negotiators’ work in creating a tailor-made EU-Caribbean partnership within the future ACP-EU agreement.
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica, who is the EU’s chief negotiator said: “Today’s discussions confirmed a shared vision for the future and a good understanding of the pressing challenges we need to tackle together. In this spirit, the EU’s relationship with the Caribbean will deepen under our future ACP-EU agreement and open up fresh opportunities”.
Professor Robert Dussey, the ACP’s chief negotiator, Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Africa integration of Togo, said: “These regional consultations proved to bring valuable perspectives on this region’s priorities to our talks. Productive exchanges between the two parties will contribute enormously to the current negotiations for the new post-Cotonou Agreement, and especially to those which will begin on the Caribbean Regional Protocol. Today’s meeting follows the consultation held in Samoa with our ACP Pacific partners in February. The Africa consultation is due to take place soon in Eswatini.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Kamina Johnson-Smith, added: “Within the framework of the ongoing ACP-EU post-Cotonou negotiations, the Government of Jamaica is pleased to host the regional consultations for the Caribbean and to have the opportunity to jointly explore with our EU partners some of the urgent issues related to our developmental aspirations.”
The Cotonou Agreement currently governing ACP-EU relations is due to expire in 2020. Negotiations on a new ACP-EU partnership were launched in New York on 28 September 2018 in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly.
The two first series of talks mainly focused on the common foundation at ACP-EU level. This contains the values and principles that bring the EU and ACP countries together. It also indicates the strategic priority areas that the two sides intend to prospectively work on together. In the future agreement, on top of the foundation there will be three action-oriented regional pillars to focus on each region’s specific needs. Through the future partnership, EU and ACP countries will seek closer political cooperation on the world stage. Together, they represent more than half of all UN member countries and unite over 1.5 billion people.
Finnish election shows progressive Europe is coming
The Social Democrat victory in Finland shows progressives have the momentum going into the European elections, the Party of European Socialists said today.
For the first time in two decades, following victory at Sunday’s general election, Finland is on course for a government led by the Social Democratic Party of Finland. SDP leader Antti Rinne will now work to build a progressive coalition and form Government.
PES President Sergei Stanishev said:“On behalf of the whole progressive family I would like to warmly congratulate the SDP for this fantastic victory. Their campaign focused on core progressive values, like strengthening the welfare system and fighting inequalities. This vision for Finland was backed by the voters, just as it is being supported across Europe – left of centre parties are making gains. Finland is the latest sign that progressives have the momentum going into the European elections.”
Sunday’s result showed clearly that progressive politics is the only remedy against the hardline anti-immigrant and climate change denying politics of nationalists, like the True Finns party.
The victory for the SDP comes just months before Finland is set to take over presidency of the European Union in July.
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