Women make up 50% of Europe’s population. Nevertheless, equal rights on paper still do not correspond with the daily lives of many women in Europe. Full equality is what I will be fighting for. That is why I joined the European Parliament’s Committee on Women’s Rigts & Gender Equality.
In breach of the European Treaties, women’s rights in the EU are under pressure. Especially from a number of ultraconservative governments in EU member states such as Hungary and Poland. They want to take away a woman’s right to decide over her own body and the way she leads her life. We must defend the rights of women and not allow the clock to be turned back to the 1950s.
Just defending women’s rights is not enough. We need to advance. Women need better representation at the highest levels of politics and government, and on corporate boards. That is why I have signed up for the “Women on Boards” file. An EU law that will allow women to climb all the way to the top.
In all of my work, I strive to have an intersectional approach. Europeans are divers and European women are no different. That diversity should be reflected in who is consulted and affected when making policy choices.
This European Union, with its internal market and common trade policy, has proven to be an economic success. Many of the lessons learnt when we opened up to each other within Europe, can be applied globally. We should strive to have an international mind-set and act accordingly.
As a member of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament, I will work towards excellent trade relations with countries around the world. Europe needs to catch up with China and the US in many areas and we should use our trade potential as leverage.
The EU is at its best, when we leverage our economic strength to achieve other goals. Improving working conditions, promoting gender equality and protecting the environment. We have proven we are able to do these things in the past and we should do so again in the future.
In the European Parliament, I will focus on the new trade agreement with Chile, that is currently negotiated. This will be the first trade agreement that will have a gender and trade provision. More long-term, I will be working to keep trade relations with the African continent high on the EU’s agenda. A more equal relationship between Europe and Africa will be key to a successful future together.
Samira is vice-coördinator for Renew Europe at this topic.
Europe must be the continent of equal opportunity. Our European model that fosters fair working conditions and social benefits is one of our most precious assets. We must keep it and we must keep it up to date.
Europe’s social safety nets are outdated. They are under pressure from an ageing population and many young people feel like they are outsiders, compared to the older generations of workers. The EU’s labour market is not in harmony with the EU’s internal market. This imbalance is hurting Europeans who are looking to seize chances abroad, and limits the opportunities of young people.
There are still barriers that make it hard for people to move from one country to another. Social benefits earned in one member state cannot migrate to another. National social security schemes need to be complemented by European provisions. Furthermore, the European Labour Authority should improve the coordination of various social security systems and monitor whether current rules are being enforced. We need European solutions for European labour problems.
I will also be focusing my attention towards a revamped Erasmus exchange programme. One of the most successful and most beloved European programmes, the Erasmus+ has allowed millions of Europeans to study abroad. There is however room for improvement. Every student should be allowed to take part in Erasmus and accessibility for students in vocational training should be enhanced.
As the first elected Member of European Parliament (MEP) from the Netherlands, with Afro-Caribbean roots, I am dedicated to look after the interests of EU citizens in the Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union. Especially those that are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curaçao, Sint Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. Any inhabitant of these islands that holds a Dutch passport is also an EU citizen and deserves representation in the European Parliament.
I want to be an outspoken voice for those citizens, in the only European institution that represents them directly. During my election campaign, I visited a number of the islands, because I believe their European vote matters. With actions like this, I will continue to emphasise the relationship between all parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the European Union. A relationship that should go both ways.
The Overseas Countries and Territories of the European Union give the EU a global presence that it would otherwise not have. Given the EU’s ambition to be a geopolitical force, it should acknowledge this fact and take good care of these strategic outposts. For instance, the European Union can provide financial support to OCTs that are struggling with the effects of climate change or nearby refugee crises. As an MEP, I work towards improved access to EU funding for the OCTs and to include their perspective in our decision making. To enhance my capacity to do so, I have sought cooperation with like-minded MEPs. Thus, in 2019 Stéphane Bijoux, a French MEP from Réunion, and I launched a dedicated friendship group of members of European Parliament for all Overseas Countries and Territories of the EU.