Between 29 September and 7 October 2014 the European Parliament is conducting interviews with the candidate Commissioners.
During the first two days of these hearings, candidate Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica (Croatia) and candidate Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis (Lithuania) made good impressions on LGBTI rights, although doubts remain.
In the face of an increase in anti-LGBT legislation, the role of Commissioner-Designate for International Cooperation and Development is vital for finding an appropriate response from the EU. The portfolio of Mr Mimica includes relations between the EU and African, Caribean and Pacific (ACP), which are organised through the Cotonou Agreement.
Referring to the increased homophobia, Mimica emphasised that he favours “enhancing the human rights approach to the overall principles that would guide our cooperation and partnership with the ACP countries.”
Seb Dance MEP, Member of the LGBTI Intergroup-designate, who quizzed Mr Mimica on LGBTI rights in development, reacted: “Half of the ACP states criminalise LGBT people one way or another.”
“I am very glad the Commissioner-designate spoke about the need to enhance human rights in the Cotonou Agreement. However, we should remain vigilant to ensure LGBTI people are properly included and new sanctions are foreseen in case of severe human rights violations.”
The portfolio of Mr Andriukaitis includes public health, in which capacity he is responsible to ensure that everyone in Europe benefits from quality health services.
Mr Andriukaitis made a strong statement against discrimination, underlining that especially in the field of health care, discrimination cannot be permitted.
However, responding to a question by Gesine Meissner MEP (Germany/ALDE), on trans-specific health care, he stated that “Member States are responsible for their health care systems,” although pointing out that they should do so in accordance to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Gesine Meissner MEP reacted: “Despite his human rights commitment, I find his answer overall dissatisfying. If he becomes Commissioner, I will urge him to make sure his human rights commitments in health care will be put into practice, and encourage him to do more on transgender people’s health, for instance by working towards the full depathologisation of trans* identities.”
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