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10/12/2016

The Brief: Commission must break abortion silence

The Brief: Commission must break abortion silence

The Brief is EurActiv.com's evening newsletter.

COMMISSION MUST BREAK ABORTION SILENCE

Thousands of women went on strike this week in protest against new laws to ban abortion, which is still illegal in Malta. In Ireland, campaigners are calling for the repeal of laws that criminalise it and encourage dangerous backstreet abortions.

Asked if it supported the rights of women to safe and legal abortion, the European Commission today said it was not a question on which it “had a view”.

That is simply not good enough. The executive does not have the power to legislate on the issue. But it can have an opinion.

The United Nations is a supranational organisation that has to respect the laws of its member states, much as the European Commission must.

Its World Health Organisation publishes information on access to safe abortion. The UN backs the view that criminalising abortion discriminates against a woman’s human right to health.

The Commission has issued rebukes to Warsaw about threats to the rule of law in the country. The EU already works for the global abolition of the death penalty. The ban is laid down in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and European Convention on Human Rights.

There is no similar basis in EU law for access to safe and legal abortion. But we were promised a new, political Commission that would be “big on the big things”.

There are people who turn to the EU for moral leadership when they feel let down by their national governments.

MEPs will debate women’s rights in Poland tonight. The Commission should also take a position on whether access to legal and safe abortion is a human right in the EU.

*As The Brief went to press the Polish government signalled a U-turn on a total abortion ban.

This Brief is powered by FoodDrinkEurope.

THE ROUNDUP

There was more Commission stonewalling when we asked whether UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s Third Reich-lite proposal to force companies to list their foreign workers would break EU discrimination laws. And this after Juncker insisted European citizens would never be harassed in Brexit Britain.

Nigel Farage is back in charge of UKIP, after new/old leader Diane James resigned after 18 days. Check out this video of Brexiteer politicians being asked to stand by their campaign promises.

Theresa May has savaged the “liberal elites” in a flagship speech on the day that Britain slipped below France in the global economy table, and Spain tried to grab some sovereignty over Gibraltar.

France’s Emmanuel Macron plans to bring ‘European democracy to life’. Here’s the latest on the Interrail giveaway from the European Parliament, which managed to find the time to demand stronger trade defences against China.

Meanwhile, the Commission has told the Czechs – whose Communist party could govern next year – that Greek yoghurt is Greek.

Here’s a story about the human cost of returning refugees to Afghanistan, on the second day of the donor conference in Brussels.

Has the Belgian government pulled a fast one in convincing the European Parliament to take the frankly bizarre Wiertz museum off its hands?

The European Parliament throws some shade on Kim Jong-Un with this briefing. “Kim has also declared his intention to turn his country into a sporting powerhouse; however, despite some results in weightlifting, the outcome of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro has been disappointing.”

LOOK OUT FOR…

Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos officially launching the European Border and Coast Guard in Bulgaria tomorrow.

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