With the current Eastern Partnership (EaP) framework expiring at the end of 2020, the European Commission and the European External Action Service have recently proposed to focus the future EaP deliverables around five main priorities referring to sustainable economies, good governance, climate, digitalisation and inclusive societies.
COMECE welcomes the proposed overarching policy objective of the new framework on fostering resilience, in particular of young people and persons in situations of increased vulnerability, such as migrants and refugees.
Several of COMECE’s recommendations to the public consultation on the future Eastern Partnership have been reflected in the EU’s proposal, including strengthening the connectivity between rural and urban areas, as well as fostering participatory dialogue and cooperation, so as to favour an enabling democratic environment, and create conditions for justice and respect for the rule of law.
Specific provisions on ecological transition and energy security are also to be welcomed, as well as the proposal for “a new deal for youth” envisaging actions for young people’s socio-economic empowerment.
While the EU’s document encourages the engagement with religious actors as important “opinion leaders”, it fails to make specific references to inter-religious dialogue and religious heritage with regard to initiatives that aim to foster social harmony and a spirit of encounter.
In view of the future Eastern Partnership policy targets due to be endorsed at the upcoming Summit meeting in June 2020, COMECE recommends to include a stronger focus on peace and reconciliation in the context of the protracted conflicts harmfully affecting persons, families and communities across the EaP region.
Moreover, COMECE shares the concern recently expressed by Ukrainian Catholic Bishops in relation to the deplorable practice of “surrogate motherhood” which “is permitted by current Ukrainian legislation”.
In 2015 COMECE made an appeal to “prevent reproductive exploitation through surrogacy, trafficking in human organs and elements of the human body by a strict application of the general legal principle of the non-commercialisation of the human body and its parts, and the principle of prohibition of financial gain using the human body and its parts”.
Through its May 2016’s resolution, the European Parliament invited the EU to pay attention to “the new forms of trafficking and exploitation of human beings, including reproductive exploitation and trafficking in new-born children”.
In the current context, COMECE urges the European Union and its Member States to address these grave human rights concerns through pertinent instruments, including those in the framework of the Eastern Partnership.