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Briefing – EU-Belarus relations: State of play – Human rights situation and Ryanair flight diversion – 22-07-2021

The falsified presidential elections of August 2020, and the brutal crackdown against peacefully protesting Belarusians, led to the isolation of the Aliaksandr Lukashenka regime. Despite the possibility of starting dialogue with the democratic opposition and Belarusian society, Aliaksandr Lukashenka chose another path, involving continued brutal repression of the country’s citizens. The worsening human rights situation and hijacking of Ryanair flight FR 4978 provoked a response from the EU, including a ban on Belarusian air carriers landing in or overflying the EU, a major extension of the list of people and entities already subject to sanctions, and the introduction of sanctions on key sectors of the Belarusian economy. The EU policy also demonstrates a readiness to support a future democratic Belarus. In this respect, the European Commission presented the outline of a comprehensive plan of economic support for democratic Belarus, worth up to €3 billion. The European Parliament is playing an active part in shaping the EU’s response. Parliament does not recognise Lukashenka’s presidency and is speaking out on human rights abuses in Belarus. The Belarusian democratic opposition, which was awarded the 2020 Sakharov Prize, is frequently invited to speak for the Belarusian people in the European Parliament.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

At a Glance – Resilient supply chains in the green transition: EU-US Explainer – 28-07-2021

The green transition will increase demand for critical minerals, high capacity batteries, and semiconductors. An electric vehicle requires six times more critical minerals than a conventional car, while an onshore wind power plant requires nine times more critical minerals than a comparable gas-fired plant. Likewise, the lithium-ion battery market is expected to become five to ten times larger by 2030 on account of demand for electric vehicles and stationary storage. Meanwhile, semiconductors underpin virtually every technology, giving them industrial and national security significance. Dependence on a few countries (e.g. China) for these critical inputs and technologies has sparked interest in policies to increase supply chain resilience, for instance through greater domestic production. As the EU and US face similar challenges, in June 2021 they agreed to establish the EU-US Trade and Technology Council, which will also address cooperation on supply chains.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Briefing – The financial management of visitor groups to the national parliaments – 08-07-2021

In most Member States, visitor’ groups are not sponsored to visit the national parliament. A visit to the national parliament is free of charge, and all the costs related to the visit, for example travel costs, accommodation and local minor expenses, need to be paid by the visitors themselves.
Germany is the only country which has various kinds of programmes where visitors can be reimbursed. Members of Parliament can invite up to 200 people a year of which the travel costs are partially covered by the German Bundestag. There is also a programme which consists of more days for which all the costs related to travel and accommodation are covered by the German government. The German Bundesrat has a programme in which the 16 federal states can invite people for a visit of multiple days to Berlin. In this case the travel costs and accommodation are paid for by the Bundesrat. For all reimbursements, the rules apply that the receipts and underlying documents need to be provided to the Bundestag and Bundesrat after the visit. All documents and receipts are checked through an ex-post control.
The United Kingdom has a programme in which costs are reimbursed, and this programme is funded by the commercial tours of the parliament. In this case, it can be MPs, Peers or the House of Commons or Lords who can invite visitors who are eligible for reimbursement.
In Hungary, only schools can get reimbursement for their travel costs and the entry fee for the national parliament. All the receipts need to be provided to the visitor service of the parliament.
Some countries do have other schemes in which they provide coverage for schools or costs are covered by the MPs’ own funds.
The Council of the EU does not sponsor visitor groups. All visits are requested by visitors themselves and they need to cover all the costs related to the visit themselves. The questions were also sent to the European Commission but no answer was received.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

Highlights – The Global State of Human Rights: High-Level Conference – Subcommittee on Human Rights

High-Level Conference on the Global State of Human Right
The European Parliament and the Global Campus of Human Rights will hold the first Global State of Human Rights conference on 16 July. The event will gather MEPs, including EP Vice Presidents Heidi Hautala and Fabio Castaldo, and Maria Arena, Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, EU Commissioners, Nobel Peace Prize Recipients, Sakharov Prize Laureates, Political and Security Committee Ambassadors, and representatives from international organisations, academics and stakeholders.

Source : © European Union, 2021 – EP

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