The June issue of Europe Infos focuses on “One of us”, the European Citizens’ Initiative for the protection of human life, registered on May 11 last; on the necessary reform of the European Court of Human Rights, which made significant progress owing to the reflections emerged in a recent meeting; on the public consultation of the European Commission regarding household services on increasing employment and quality in the sector. Other articles delve into religious persecution and right to political asylum; a balance of the situation a year after the Arab Spring; and the measures proposed by the Commission for job market recovery. The editorial is by Frank Turner, OCIPE, on “Economic turmoil and European politics” (click here
“One of us”: protecting life with the European Citizenship Initiative (ECI). Until now, five ECI were registered by the European Commission. The most recent one, on Italian proposal, was given the kick-off on 11 May last. If ECI comply with requirements, they can “propose legislation on matters within the EU competence to legislate”, points out José Ramos-Ascensão
(COMECE Secretary). Matters directly concerning the protection of human life are not part of the competences of the EU as defined by the Lisbon Treaty. Notwithstanding, “in a number of areas under EU competence - such as in research, in cooperation for development in the area of healthcare or, in general, in the EU financial sphere – the protection of human life is sharply at stake”. The subject matter of “One of us” is the legal protection of the dignity, the right to life and the integrity of each human being from conception in those areas of EU competence in which such protection is relevant”. This newly-registered ECI furnishes some examples of concrete EU legislation whose amendment should be proposed by the European Commission in the above-mentioned fields. The ECI has to be backed by at least one million EU citizens coming from at least 7 Member states within a year’s time.Reforming the European Court of Human Rights.
Approximately 150,000 cases sit on the desks of the European Court of Human Rights, waiting for a decision. This signals the need to review the Court’s responsibilities. The theme was the object of the Brighton Conference, organised under the auspices of the UK’s Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in April, which registered significant progress, despite controversies over the issues tackled. The final statement “acknowledges that the authority and credibility of the Court depends in large part on the quality of its judges and the judgments they deliver” along with “reaffirmation of the right of individual application”, said Alessandro Calcagno
(COMECE secretary). Various technical proposals were made regarding the Court’s performance and its relations with Member States. “In any case, whatever direction is taken in the future it should not endanger the role of the Court and play into the hands of the most serious (and frequent) violators of the Convention, a small minority of States that deserves to be kept under close scrutiny”. While on the one side, governments should not dictate to the Court how its jurisprudence should be shaped and the way the Strasbourg judges should carry out their functions, on the other it is also true that the Court should avoid being perceived as either ‘dictating’ or ‘experimenting’ or even ‘intruding’ within respected national traditions in the field of human rights. To avert this risk it is possible to resort to the so-called “margin of appreciation”, a much debated doctrine, enshrined in the Preamble of the Convention. The road paved in Brighton must continue, so as to restore effectiveness and credibility to the Court, although, Calcagno says, “one could wonder whether there is a need to ‘educate’ and to create a culture which encourages, facilitates and values agreements and compromises rather than ‘final showdowns’”.Household services a way out of the crisis.
According to the latest findings of the European statistics office Eurostat, 24 million EU citizens are unemployed. EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor, recently said that personal and household services should play an integral role in the recovery of the employment market. They consist in a “wide range of activities that contribute to the well-being of families and individuals in the home environment, such as childcare, long-term care of the elderly, cleaning, but also household repairs and gardening are encompassed by this definition”, said Markus Vennewald
(COMECE Secretariat). On the basis of a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Commission calculates up to 100 million full-time jobs, marked by high rates of black labour. In order to boost the quality and economic potential of this sector the Commission has launched a public consultation available for completion until 15 July 2012 012 (http://ec.europa.eu/yourvoice/ipm/forms/dispatch