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Human Rights Issues.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 11 February 2004

Wednesday, 11 February 2004

Ceisteanna (113, 114, 115)

Pat Carey

Ceist:

175 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the practical response the Irish EU Presidency proposes to make to the Commission's communications on Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union, addressing the issue of EU level accountability for serious breaches of the EU's common values which may occur within a member state; if the proposal to establish a new human rights agency will be subject to full consultation with civil society as to its remit and role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4210/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Foreign)

The Commission communication regarding Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union was circulated in October last. Consideration of the communication is at an early stage, with the Presidency examining ways in which the Council can take forward work on it.

The establishment of a human rights agency referred to by the Deputy relates to a European Council decision of 13 December. On that occasion, the Heads of State or Government decided to extend the European Union monitoring centre's mandate to embrace a human rights agency. The European Commission agreed to submit a proposal to give effect to the Council decision, and this is currently being considered within the Commission. The Council is currently awaiting the Commission proposal.

Pat Carey

Ceist:

176 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, as part of the Irish EU Presidency, he will work to ensure their human rights as part of political dialogue at the highest level with the new neighbouring countries of the Union, and that human rights observance in these countries is the subject of effective monitoring and reporting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4211/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

In June last year the General Affairs and External Relations Council expressed its wish to define an ambitious new range of policies towards its new neighbours based on shared values such as liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. The countries involved in this initiative, which is now known as the European neighbourhood policy, are Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus and the countries of the southern Mediterranean, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria and Tunisia.

The European neighbourhood policy will be implemented by the negotiation of action plans for each of the countries involved. These will be political documents, with clear conditionality on democracy and human rights. They will build on existing agreements with each of the countries, setting out clearly the over-arching strategic policy targets, common objectives, the political and economic benchmarks used to evaluate progress in key areas and a timetable for their achievement which will enable progress to be judged regularly. The Council has requested the Commission to draw up country specific action plans for each of the new neighbouring countries involved on this basis.

During the Irish Presidency of the EU, we will be working closely with the Commission to ensure that a number of action plans will be delivered in our Presidency and that the countries involved will be closely evaluated for compliance with human rights and political commitments. There will be meetings at the highest level with a number of the countries involved. The Deputy can be assured that human rights issues will be central to this dialogue.

Pat Carey

Ceist:

177 Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, as part of the Irish EU Presidency programme, he proposes to advance the inclusion of human rights issues in the political dialogue with all Mediterranean countries, to complement and support the European Commission's current efforts to develop national action plans on human rights and democratisation for these countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4212/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Human rights are already to the fore in the EU's existing relations with our Mediterranean partners through the various Euro-Mediterranean association agreements, each of which includes an article stating that respect for democratic principles and fundamental human rights, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, will guide the internal and international policies of the parties and will constitute an essential element of the agreement. These agreements also commit the parties to develop the rule of law and democracy, including the upholding of fundamental freedoms. The association agreements provide for regular exchanges between the parties and the Irish Presidency will avail of these opportunities to pursue dialogue on all the issues covered by the agreements.

This existing close engagement on human rights is expected to be improved and intensified by the implementation of the European neighbourhood policy. The policy will be implemented by the negotiation of action plans for each of the countries involved. These will be political documents, building on existing agreements with each of the countries and setting out clearly the over-arching strategic policy targets, common objectives, the political and economic benchmarks used to evaluate progress in key areas and a timetable for their achievement which will enable progress to be judged regularly.

We will work closely with the Commission to ensure that a number of action plans will be delivered in the Irish EU Presidency and that the countries involved will be closely evaluated for compliance with human rights and political commitments.

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