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TOGETHER Draft Declaration on the Future of Europe

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The European Union and Africa have an important and unique partnership, which is at a crossroads. The EU remains the main partner of Africa, but it is no longer the only one. So does Africa still need Europe? We continue to believe the deep, comprehensive and holistic relationship is a vital long-term foundation for political dialogue and progress in both continents.
Investing in young people. The demographic boom in Africa will be an opportunity for the continent rather than a challenge, if we support investment in education. The challenges of the future will only be met if we equip the next generations with the necessary tools, on which an “EU-Africa Erasmus program” can be of great impact, encouraging exchanges between European and African young students, researchers, teachers and entrepreneurs.
Sustainable investments. The S&D Group strongly supports the EU External Investment Plan for Africa (and European neighbourhood) with the aim of improving economic and social development and achieving the SDGs on the African continent. But rather than underpin multinationals which are already champions of tax evasion, or the ones which prey on mineral and natural resources, the EIP must provide support to SMEs, microfinance and job creation programs, especially for young people and women.
Coherent Partnerships for development to address the root causes of irregular migration. Irregular migration is a global phenomenon requiring a coordinated international response and the EU must take a human-rights-based lead in shaping it. We support a strong partnership between Europe and Africa and the efforts in the United Nations to tackle the root causes of migration in terms of improving the economic and social situation, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, and providing education and employment opportunities in countries of transit and origin. We remain strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs, also by improving development cooperation, conflict resolution, and stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth to ensure that people have a real chance of a better life in their homeland. But we also need to ensure we implement Policy Coherence for Development across our agricultural, trade and investment policies, from the Common Agricultural Policy to binding due diligence requirements for EU companies. The security-development nexus remains important for addressing conflict, but poverty-alleviation must remain the primary goal of development assistance. We will never accept aid conditionality linked to migration policy.
Strengthen democracy and human rights. Human rights remain central to our partnership with Africa. We urge the EEAS and Commission to use all available tools to maintain serious human rights dialogues. We will seek innovative mechanisms to give support and visibility to those risking their lives in Africa for the defence of human rights, democracy, social justice, equality and non-discrimination. We reiterate our belief that independent NGOs, media and cultural space are a pre-requisite of a functioning democracy and rule of law.
Gender equality. Without the emancipation of women there is no viability for sustainable development, nor full democracy, nor good governance. Gender equality must be mainstreamed in all EU policies, initiatives and investments towards Africa.
“Does Africa need Europe?” is one of the priorities part of the “Building the Progressive Future Together” statement, debated during our event in Brussels on October 18-19. But the debate goes on. We’re counting on your input, so each of you can play a part in shaping our common future. It’s easy – just sign in add your thoughts to this topic.

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S&D Group vice-president responsible for digital affairs, Josef Weidenholzer, said: “Every day we are learning more about the extent of this scandal. Following a hearing in the UK Parliament, it now seems likely that far more than 87 million Facebook users have had their data compromised by Cambridge Analytica. It is essential that Mark Zuckerberg come to the European Parliament’s responsible committee on civil liberties, justice and home affairs and explain exactly what has taken place, what Facebook knew, and how many EU citizens have been affected. We then need to ensure that laws are in place to prevent this from ever happening again. We are calling for a detailed hearing in the Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, so that we can understand the full effects of this scandal. This is much more than a case of a company misusing peoples’ data for commercial gain – it raises profound questions about how our democracies can be manipulated in the age of social media. We need a full investigation on how these types of practices have been used in recent election campaigns, both in Europe and the US.” S&D Group spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, Birgit Sippel, said: “We have been fighting for years to ensure that citizens’ personal data and privacy is protected online. For too long, the attitude in most governments was that this was a secondary issue. However, this scandal finally seems to have woken everyone up to how important protecting citizens online is. Being outraged by this scandal is not enough; we need action from member states to ensure it cannot happen again. Firstly, we need proper implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will apply as of May 26. Our Group fought hard against the EPP Group and other conservative forces in the Parliament to ensure that we had strong new laws to protect citizens’ personal data. However, strong laws only mean something if they are properly implemented – member states must give their data protection authorities the resources necessary to actually enforce these new rules effectively. “But this is not enough: National governments also need to agree their position on the e-privacy regulation, to ensure that citizens’ private conversations online are kept confidential. The current e-privacy rules do not even cover Facebook! The Parliament adopted strong proposals that would guarantee citizens’ privacy online. However, the Council continues to drag its feet on the issue. This is not acceptable; by refusing to act, national governments are already preparing the way for the next big scandal.”

6 days, 22 hours ago in Data protection in the EU
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