Por Soraya Rodríguez Ramos

HomePostsThe logbook of a vertigo legislature in the European Parliament

The logbook of a vertigo legislature in the European Parliament

Soraya Rodríguez analyses the main events that have happened in the 9th legislature of the European Parliament (2019-2024).

The publication “Five Years in Europe” wants to be the logbook of a vertigo legislature in the European Parliament, between 2019 and 2024. My intention is that you look through the lock of these five years to show you, through a very personal vision, some of the important events that have happened at this stage.

For this I have compiled my opinion articles in different media, in which I have analysed the current situation of that moment and the agenda of the parliamentary committees of which I have been a member. You will appreciate that the concerns to which I have devoted my day to day – women’s rights, environmental protection and foreign policy, with a special focus on the subcommittee on human rights – occupy a large part of these texts.

Let me thank from here those responsible for these media for trusting me to analyse the current political situation. Especially El Independiente, with which I have maintained a stable collaboration since the middle of the legislature. Unbeknownst to them, they are the main culprits of the publication of this book.

We have lived moments that will remain in my retina, in my brain and in my heart forever. What we thought impossible just a few years earlier happened very soon, in 2020: a plenary session in which Brexit was confirmed. We lived it with many British colleagues who had campaigned against the UK’s exit from the EU. The decision taken in the 2016 referendum forced them to abandon their almost newly released deputies. That plenary session became our last act together, and we sang, joining our hands, in a hemicycle overwhelmed by emotion: Auld Lang Syne (‘for the old days’). Those who were leaving had difficulty imagining their country outside the EU, and those who stayed, knew that from that moment on we would be more alone.

We endured a pandemic that locked almost an entire planet in their homes, forcing us to adopt a teleworking system we were barely prepared for, and legislate between the emergency and urgency of the first global pandemic ever. We made history: the search for the vaccine, the joint purchases, the issuance, for the first time, of European debt to create the recovery and resilience fund with which we were able to cope with the economic consequences of that earthquake…

What awaited us at the exit of the long tunnel of Covid-19 made us remember the horror of a past that we thought we had overcome and to which we had conjured not to return: Vladimir Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine brought us the first war on European soil since World War II. A contest next to the EU’s borders, with a huge influx of refugees to which we responded with solidarity and reception policies, launching the Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainians in all EU countries. In just 24 hours we decided on the largest package of sanctions against a country in our entire history and approved the shipment of weapons to Ukraine to win a war that we knew from the outset was ours. The economic, energy and security consequences have placed us in a new scenario that will undoubtedly mark the next legislature.

A scenario that will also be marked by our reaction to the brutal, dramatic humanitarian crisis generated by the Israeli army’s military response in Gaza to the Hamas terrorist attack of October 7, 2023. The double measuring rod used by the EU to what the International Court of Justice has described as a possible genocide will undoubtedly determine our role and our leadership in the international concert to defend international law, international humanitarian law and human rights.

To all this, which is not a small thing, we must add a very changing geopolitical context. The U.S. election can lead us back to dealing with a despotic and authoritarian president like Donald Trump, with whom we already had an unpleasant experience in his first term. So, there were many who felt that the United States could go from being an ally which we worked side by side to a stranger who almost turned his back on us. Without forgetting our difficult, complex relationship with China, the great emerging strategic power about which, sometimes the ignorance of its long history prevents us from understanding its present well. And the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, which left the expedited path for the return of the Taliban criminal regime, is a bitter reminder of our collective failure. The international coalition justified its presence 20 years ago to guarantee the life and freedom of Afghan women: 20 years later, their daughters live under the same gender apartheid regime they fought against.

The 2021 Human Rights Report I had the honour to lead as rapporteur of the European Parliament highlighted a dramatic reality: in the world there are more dictatorial regimes and ruled by autocrats than democracies. From the new and old dictatorships in Latin America to the resurgence of instability and coups in Africa.

The growth of a reactionary wave has marked many, too many times, the agenda and the European political debate in these five years. During this time we have seen European parties and governments turn towards a conservatism contrary to rights that we believed as established as political plurality, freedom of the press and respect for minorities. The attacks on the judiciary in Poland and Hungary prompted the activation of the conditionality mechanism for European funds to comply with the acquis communautaire and the rule of law.

The common denominator of this wave of conservatism has been the setback in the recognition and exercise of women’s rights. Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia have yet to ratify the Istanbul Convention, the only international instrument against gender-based violence. Restrictive abortion laws, with practices such as mandatory registration of pregnant women that health workers must communicate to the government, or the persecution and criminalisation of abortion rights activists, have in recent years placed Poland as one of the most repressive countries in the world against sexual and reproductive rights. And it wasn’t just Poland: other Member States such as Malta, where abortion remains illegal in almost all circumstances, including cases of rape and incest, and Hungary, where women are obliged to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus before abortion, have accompanied him in this regrettable group that legislates against European women. A group that, in the case of Poland and Hungary, has also legislated against the LGBTIQ+ collective, with the so-called Polish LGBTIQ+ free zones and the Orbán government’s ban on disseminating collective content in educational or television material for minors.

All this we have faced trying not to lose the direction of the road map that we marked at the beginning of the legislature: the fight against climate change. The Green Deal was designed to address humanity’s most urgent challenge, global warming, and designed to reduce our emissions, improve biodiversity by restoring our ecosystems and invest in research and new technologies to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

Unfortunately, this book contains a chapter that I wish I hadn’t written: the need to defend the rule of law in Spain. Above all, so it assumes that the government of a member State has agreed impunity for criminals by votes to support that government. It has done so by breaking the principle of equality before the law of all citizens and taking us to the last frontier in the defense of our rights: the European Court of Justice.

In this publication, I also wanted to compile all the reports I have been responsible for during this parliamentary term, both those for which I was Parliament’s rapporteur and those for which I was responsible for their handling since Renew Europe. The excellent work of the people who make up my parliamentary office has played a decisive role in this task.

I have been fortunate to work with a team of formidable women, not only for their professional preparation, but also for their dedication and enthusiasm during these five years. Parliamentary assistants are a fundamental part of Parliament’s work in each and every one of the new rules and laws that allow us to advance and develop Europe’s common project. They lead long meetings and negotiations, and weave with knowledge and intelligence the technical agreements that forge the great political consensus on which European politics is built. Their essential work and their thorough dedication, which are often overshadowed by the figure of the MEP for whom they work, also deserves a space and recognition along these lines. I am clear that without these top-level professionals it would have been impossible to carry out all the legislative work and to have presented all the reports for which I have been responsible.

All we have achieved has been with them and for them. Thanks to Valentina Cefalu, Alejandra Muñoz, Rosa Gómez and Ángela Gutiérrez, who worked at different times as heads of my office. Thanks to Laura Herreras and Inés Carrizosa. And to the interns Ana Valverde and Alberto Quero.

Thank you, because without all of you this wonderful trip would not have been possible.

Publication “Five Years in Europe”

Soraya Rodríguez Ramos

Featured image: Mockup Libro Vectores por Vecteezy.

Soraya Rodríguez Ramos

Mujeres al frente es un espacio de reflexión dirigido por la política y abogada española Soraya Rodríguez Ramos. Desde 2019, es diputada del Parlamento Europeo en la delegación del partido Ciudadanos. Desde su escaño de eurodiputada, desarrolla un intenso trabajo como portavoz en Igualdad de Género y Derechos de la Mujer del grupo Renew Europe, así como miembro del Comité de Derechos Humanos y de la Comisión de Medio Ambiente por su compromiso con el cuidado del planeta y la justicia climática.