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The European Parliament

Over recent decades, the European Parliament has gradually gained more power. It is currently co-legislator in nearly all aspects of EU law. Together with the Council, it adopts or amends proposals from the Commission, whose work it supervises. It also adopts the budget of the European Union. Over and above these official powers, the Parliament works closely with national parliaments of member States. Regular joint parliamentary assemblies allow it to keep in touch with national perspectives in its discussions.

The European Parliament is the only European Union body to be directly elected by its citizens. It is also one of the largest democratic assemblies in the world. It has 766 members who represent 500 million citizens of the European Union. These members are elected every five years by voters in the 28 member States.

Most of the Parliament’s in-depth work is carried out in specialised committees which prepare reports submitted later for adoption at plenary sessions. To prepare the work of the European Parliament in plenary session, members are allocated to standing committees, each specialising in particular areas. There are 20 Parliamentary Committees, with between 24 and 76 members each, and with a President, Bureau and Secretariat.

FIACAT and The European Parliament

It is mainly through these Committees and Subcommittees that FIACAT can intervene through advocacy work.

Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI) attached to the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET)

This Committee’s responsibilities include in particular:

  1. Relations with other EU institutions and bodies, the United Nations and other international organisations and interparliamentary assemblies for matters falling under its responsibility;
  2. strengthening of political relations with third countries, particularly those in the immediate vicinity of the Union, by means of major cooperation and assistance programmes or international agreements such as association and partnership agreements;
  3. Issues concerning human rights, the protection of minorities and the promotion of democratic values in third countries.

In this context the committee is assisted by a Subcommittee on “Human Rights”. This Subcommittee organises hearings and discussions on all sorts of human rights issues. These discussions lead to the adoption of reports and resolutions, thus contributing to the international debate on subjects such as the death penalty, torture or the fight against impunity. The Subcommittee also strives to react to human rights violations around the world as swiftly as possible by giving a voice to those most affected.

Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI)

This Committee’s responsibilities include in particular:

  1. The interpretation and application of European law, compliance of European Union acts with primary law, notably the choice of legal bases and respect for the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality;
  2. The interpretation and application of international law, in so far as the European Union is affected;
  3. The simplification of Community law, in particular legislative proposals for its official codification;
  4. The organisation and statute of the Court of Justice.

Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE).

This Committee’s responsibilities include in particular:

  1. The protection within the territory of the Union of citizens’ rights, human rights and fundamental rights, including the protection of minorities, as laid down in the Treaties and in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union;
  2. The establishment and development of an area of freedom, security and justice, in particular:

a) Measures concerning the entry and movement of persons, asylum and migration,

b) Measures concerning an integrated management of common borders,

c) Measures relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters.

Intervention by FIACAT and its ACAT network

ACAT groups can thus present, via FIACAT, reports or documents assessing the human rights situation in their countries. This information can also help determine the annual work programme of the European Union. Through these contributions, ACAT groups have the opportunity to influence the European Union’s policies on human rights.

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